- The third largest city in Italy, with a population of 960,000.
- The capital city of the Campania region, Naples is one of the oldest cities in Europe – with a historic centre that counts 448 churches.
- Considered the portal into Southern Italy – its location is excellent for day trips to nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum, while the beaches along the Amalfi Coast and Sorrentine Peninsula attract sailing charters.
- Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano in mainland Europe, and can be seen looming across the Bay of Naples.
- The city is the birthplace of Pizza.
- Nickname: City of the Sun, Parthenope, City of 500 Domes
- Currency: Euro (EUR).
- Spoken languages: Italian and the local Neapolitan language (recognized by UNESCO as part of the cultural heritage).
- Best time to visit: from March to September (pleasant Mediterranean climate). Note: most businesses shut for the holidays in the last three weeks of August.
- Arriving from the airport: Capodichino Airport (NAP) is a short 7 km (4.3 miles) outside the city centre and serviced by Alibus Airport Shuttle with single tickets priced at €3. Taxis charge a fixed rate of €16 to Stazione Centrale or Centro Storico.
WHERE TO STAY
The neighbourhood of Chiaia faces the waters of the bay along a promenade that’s popular for both its historical and modern buildings, from churches to contemporary art galleries, as well as shopping venues. Via Toledo is as central as it gets, with all the major sights within walking distance of a street brimming with authentic family-run restaurants, snack bars and independent boutiques. As Naples is easy to navigate on foot, staying in Centro Storico affords the best cultural immersion while still having access to budget accommodation.
- The Campania ArteCard allows travel on all modes of transportation, with free or discounted access to major attractions. The 3-day pass costs €27, while the weekly pass costs €30. It is available at the airport, online, or at participating museums.
- Unico Napoli tickets allow travel across ANM buses, Metro underground railway lines and cable cars. Prices start at €1.20 valid for 90 minutes from validation, and €3.60 for a daily pass (which must bear name and date of birth of the passenger).
- Taxis are expensive and tend to take longer than walking due to heavy traffic. They are nevertheless easily recognizable due to the Pulcinella emblem on their white doors (pointy hat and long, beak-like nose). Starting fare is €3 for weekdays until 10pm with €0.05 for each successive 65 meters while weekend rates start at €5.50. Book through 081 728 1663.
- Drinking age is 18 and last call is 3 AM.
- Head to Piazza Bellini and join the hip crowd at the city’s most popular square for weekend entertainment. Note: the terraces are usually packed from early evening.
- Elegant wine bars or enoteche dot the Chiaia promenade and offer a sophisticated night out listening to jazz music.
- Cheap drinks and the dressed down crowd mingle at Piazza del Gesu.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Catacombe di San Gennaro are ancient underground burial sites located in Capodimonte. The Catacombs are also the site of pilgrimage in honour of the city’s patron saint, whose remains were later relocated to the city cathedral.
- Museo Cappella di San Severo features artwork from prominent 18th century Italian artists, thought its crowning gems are 3 idiosyncratic sculptures that appear to be made of marble.
- Pompeii and Herculaneum were lost to the world following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The preserved remains of both cities are archaeological treasures and have aided studies into the ancient civilisations.
- Teatro San Carlo predates its Milanese and Venetian counterparts by several decades, and is Europe’s oldest and longest running theatre.
- Medieval Castel Nuovo represents Naples’ continually changing architecture throughout the centuries and offers exhibits on prominent 19th century Italian art.
- Spaccanapoli bisects the city centre with a street that is known for its monuments, lively characters and authentic atmosphere.
- Via San Gregorio Armeno is famous for the nativity scene workshops that burst with life beginning September and culminate during the Christmas season.
- Piazza Plebiscito is a huge open-air arena used for concerts, major events and art installations. Find Palazzo Salerno, Palazzo Reale, Palazzo delle Prefattura and Basilica di San Francesco di Paola across the corners of the square.
- Metro dell’Arte is an ongoing art project across the metro stations of the city that aims to present contemporary art to the transiting public. Stazione Toledo won the 2012 Daily Telegraph award for most beautiful station in Europe.
- Naples’ reputation as the birthplace of pizza means a trip to the city wouldn’t be complete without a trip to one of its pizzerias, particularly along Via dei Tribunali.
- Contradiction is part and parcel of the Neapolitan package. Try not to get offended by things you see and respect that Naples is very much its own city.
- Where to find good cheap eats: Via San Teresa a Chiaia is a strip of budget restaurants to satisfy any palate and pocket, while the waterfront or Lungomare offers seafood menus for fixed prices.
- Dangerous areas: Piazza Garibaldi (in front of the train station) can be unsavoury at night. Much has been said about the crime syndicate running the city, but a visitor with no business with the mafia has nothing to fear.
RECOMMENDED NAPLES GUIDE BOOKS
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days