Why Visit Naples Italy

With so many great towns and cities in Europe, why visit Naples, Italy? Well, Naples is a beautiful mix of being a little chaotic and a little grimy. The thing about it is that we loved it.

Our family loved every bit of it. It’s one of the many reasons why your trip to Italy must include Naples. From the well worn and aged facades of its reverent buildings, to the cracks and crevices of its well hidden back streets and alleys, Naples has a beauty uniquely its own.

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The city is often overlooked and used as a stopover. It gets a bad reputation at times because of its rough edges and dingy cover, but it’s beautiful because of it. If you’re not yet convinced to include Naples in your next trip to Italy, consider these things:

The Vibe of the City

There are some things that just elude words. No matter what combination you come up with, you can’t quite adequately describe what you’re trying to describe. That’s what it’s like to visit Naples.

There is certain energy, a certain life that permeates the city and vibrates outwardly and affects anyone who has the privilege of being in this lively city.

Via Toledo just outside Dante station in Napoli

I felt it the moment I emerged from the underground metro station and planted my feet on Via Toledo. The buzz of the traffic, the chattering of voices, Italian voices, the movement, the constant movement, people, cars, scooters, motorcycles, the high summer sun.  

The scooters driving on the sidewalk. The lenient attitude towards traffic and red lights in particular.

It’s all amplified by the narrow streets. Even streets that receive a lot of traffic can be just wide enough to fit a couple of lanes and slim sidewalks on each side.

The buildings close enough to almost touch each other with sunlight pouring down between the slender openings. Slight side streets with neighbors talking to each other across their short balconies decorated with fresh laundry.

Via Francesco Saverio Correra in Napoli
Side streets in Napoli

I quickly learned that one Italian city is not all Italian cities. Rome was its own thing and so was Naples. There’s a reason Naples is called the heart of Italy.

The food in Naples Italy is spectacular

Margherita pizza and Limoncello

The food in Naples is magnificent. It is the birthplace of pizza after all, so you shouldn’t expect anything less. A simple pizza made of crust, cheese and crushed tomato was the most exquisite pizza that I’ve ever tasted in my life.

The crust is impossibly thin and is just enough to support each slice. The simple fresh ingredients are amazing. Any self respecting Neapolitan restaurant will serve the margherita pizza. There is also the marinara option which only includes tomato.

Cannoli in Napoli
Grilled calamari

Pizza isn’t the only thing that you’ll enjoy in Naples. It has the benefit of being a port city. Just as you would imagine, the seafood is a close second to the pizza.

It’s ubiquitous and you can find many places that will serve good, fresh seafood. You don’t have to sacrifice quality for price as both the pizza and seafood is reasonably priced.

While you’re in Naples, make sure that you try Limoncello. It looks like lemonade but it punches like vodka, so don’t say that I didn’t warn you. At least Naples is a very walkable city, so you won’t have to worry about driving.

Limoncello is made and sold in other parts of Italy as well but my first time trying it was in Naples. While you’re there, maybe you can have the same experience of underestimating lemonade’s bad boy cousin and taking that first surprising sip. You won’t forget it.

Enjoying a gelato in Napoli

Gelato is found in abundance throughout Italy and Naples is no exception. It was just as plentiful and tasty as the gelato that we had in Rome, but it was much cheaper.

You don’t have to go far to find a gelataria or café that sells this Italian treat. There are few things better than strolling Naples’ streets and back alleys gelato in hand. If you’re in Italy anywhere I shouldn’t have to tell you that gelato is a must.

Great day trips and cities near Naples Italy

Naples is in a prime location. Because of this, it’s often recommended that it be used as a base to explore the region. While that is a good idea, if that’s the singular purpose for visiting you’re selling the city and yourself short.

Once you finish discovering the crazy greatness that is Naples, do take advantage of its perfect location. You’re a short ferry ride from the famous island of Capri. You’re also a short ferry ride from two lesser known but equally beautiful islands in Ischia and Procida. Any island that you choose will likely leave you happy.

While Capri is more well known, Ischia and Procida are equally beautiful but much less expensive.

Sant' Angelo in Ischia
Procida

If you want to venture further south, you’re also within day trip range of the Amalfi Coast. The metro/train system is very easy to use and serves the general area really well. 

This is a bit further at about 2 hours each way. If you can spare the time and don’t mind the commute, you’re well within range to enjoy this world famous area from your stay in Naples.

Another option is the beautiful city of Sorrento which is a little over an hour from Naples. It’s a great destination for a day trip. Of course you would want to spend more than a day in Sorrento. If you can manage an extended stay, be sure to check out these amazing things to do in Sorrento.

The ruins at Pompeii

Getting to Pompeii from Naples

It’s fairly easy to get from Naples to Pompeii. Pompeii sits about 45 minutes southeast of Naples, and is easily accessible by public transportation which makes it a great excursion to take. From within Naples you can make your way to the main train station, Napoli Centrale. From there you can take the train from Naples to Pompeii and the ancient ruins. The stop is right near the entrance to the site.

You can usually purchase Pompeii tickets at the site. Depending on the time of year, the lines can be long at times.

If you want to skip the line or purchase tours to Pompeii you can do that here.

Take the train from Naples to Rome

Depending on which train you take, Naples is either one or two hours away from Rome. So if you’re visiting Naples you can make a quick trip to Rome . Or if you’re visiting Rome, it’s really easy to hop a train and head on down to Naples. If you have the time, you can combine the cities for an extended stay.

The ride from Naples directly to Fiumicino airport was quick and painless also, so if you need to return for your flight home that’s a good option. The Naples to Rome train is clean and makes for a nice ride. There’s even a bit of scenery of countryside and mountains while you ride.

You can enjoy Naples Italy on a budget

Whether its food, accommodations or other items that you’d purchase while shopping, Naples is a reasonably priced city for travelers.

It’s pretty easy to enjoy Naples on a budget. The food that you love in Rome is in Naples but tastes just as good and is cheaper. The margherita pizza (the whole pizza) that I described earlier was purchased for a mere 3 euros. The same gelatos that we had in Rome were always a euro or two cheaper in Naples.

The accommodations were less expensive also. It’s the benefit of not being the tourist destination that Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice are. There were plenty of places to shop up and down via Toledo that sold quality goods at reasonable prices.

Via Toledo in Napoli

The People

One of the best parts of Naples is the people. We found nearly everyone that we came in contact with to be incredibly helpful and friendly. Many people went out of their way to help us out and did so with a smile on their face.

Since it’s not as frequented by tourists there weren’t as many people that spoke English in Naples. That wasn’t much of a barrier for us or them. When we’d get on our bus we’d verify that the bus was going to our destination of choice.

The bus drivers always remembered that we asked and would shout out our stop when we’d get there. If the driver was slow alerting us, fellow passengers would let us know that we were at or approaching our stop.

When the route was altered and we needed to get off a stop earlier, they made sure that we knew. Even when asking for directions people were quick to help out and/or find someone who spoke some English so that they could help us.

This occurred in restaurants, walking down the street, in stores, everywhere we went.

They also love kids, so families are more than welcome. Both my son and daughter were greeted regulary and received more than their fair share of smiles and welcomes.

Kids waiting for the bus in Napoli

It can be intimidating visiting a place that speaks a different language than you. It can be especially intimidating when you wander off of the well worn tourist trail. But Neapolitans made sure to make us feel welcomed. And we were.

Authenticity

Sun shines between two buildings in Napoli

The more tourists that visit a city, the more tourist areas, restaurants and shops pop up. Every one of those places erode a bit of the soul and naturalness of the location.

Naples doesn’t have that problem.

Naples is by and large a city for Neapolitans. Sure there are some outsiders there to visit on holiday, but not nearly in the numbers that descend upon Rome.

That’s a good thing because it helps preserve what makes Naples so special. It gives a more honest peek into real Italian life. The sights, the sounds, the movements, the pace.

Woman standing outside a fruit market in Napoli

There’s a purity there because it feels as if it hasn’t been compromised by outsiders. It remains itself for you to discover. It’s not chic and pristine like Paris, elegant and proper like London, or venerable and distinct like Rome.

The imperfections make the city what it is, so don’t visit and expect any other glistening European city, because this is not it. But it doesn’t need to be, because it’s Naples and that’s all you’ll ever want it to be.

Is Naples Italy Worth Visiting?

Napoli sign

YES!!! So don’t let Naples slide too far down your list when deciding where to visit in Italy. Admittedly there’s an impressive list of cities and areas to choose from, but Naples is one of the best options for all types of travelers including families.

Naples is worth visiting for the tremendous combination of great food, authenticity, affordability and overall charm. There are so many things to see and do, often at a significant discount compared to other well known Italian destinations.

The streets of Napoli

Naples is fairly easy to visit from Rome so even if you only have a day, you’ll find that Naples is a wonderful destination. If you’re planning visit Naples you’ll want to check out this itinerary as well as our essential guide on what to pack for your trip. Safe travels!

Author

  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog, smilesonarrival.com, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

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