We’re not sure if this city is your first choice of destination in Italy but, when Naples is given a chance, you will struggle to find a more vibrant, gritty and historical city worth its reputation.
Photos by Michelle King, Dmitry K, Greenwich Photography
Grand Hotel Vesuvio
In a hotel that is appropriate for kings and queens, it is no wonder that King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain have stayed here. The Grand Hotel Vesuvio knows how to start and end your day, from its wide choice of breakfast to a rooftop bar with small jacuzzi. However, it is the priceless view of Naples Bay, Castell Dell’Ovo and Capri that is forever etched in one’s mind long after the stay is over.
La Ciliegina is the best combination of central, with its convenient location and quiet surroundings. The interior concept is classical and intimate with spacious rooms that feel a luxury in a dense city like Naples. The staff at La Ciliegina work hard to ensure that you have the best stay in Naples, a welcome touch after a day of travel, but the real treat is taking breakfast, conveniently served on the rooftop overlooking Mount Vesuvius.
Naples is the birthplace of pizza, so in a city where bad pizza is understandably hard to find you should know where to head for the exceptional. Pizzeria Sorbillo is where legendary pizzas are made and come recommended by both travelers and locals alike. The Sorbillo family opened their doors in 1935 and are now one of the oldest pizzaiolo families in Naples. Nowadays, Gino and Antonio Sorbillo run the shop, serving the best Neapolitan pizza to diners from all over the world.
Sea Front Pasta Bar
The Sea Front Pasta Bar combines pasta with fresh Italian ingredients that are prepared in an open kitchen that offers an excellent view of Castel Nuovo. It is located on the second floor of a pasta shop that, believe it or not, sells 126 types of Pasta di Gragnano, so after dinner you are welcome to buy your favorite pasta or discover a new one! But, make a reservation beforehand as the restaurant only hosts 18 guests at a time.
Pescheria di Napoli
Naples is a coastal city so seafood is a big part of the regional menu. Pescheria di Napoli works as a seafood market by day and restaurant by night, so you are guaranteed to have the freshest produce. There is no menu at this restaurant as everything is cooked according to the day’s catch and Pescheria di Napoli cooks Italian food that is meant to be shared with good company.
Imagine biting through a pastry of thin, hot, crispy layers filled with Italian cheese, this is a signature of Sfogliatella Attanasio. It is a bite of heaven where the only problem is you keep on biting and keep on asking for more! Dedicate an early morning and anticipate a frenzied queue to get this Sfogliatella, an experience that is definitely worth it and certainly the right way to start any day in Naples.
Limoncello di Napoli
Limoncello is a popular South Italian liqueur and a great souvenir for family and friends who can handle their alcohol. Simply put, there is no lemon like Napoli lemons which can sometimes be as big as your palm! In Limoncello di Napoli, you can take a factory tour and discover craft that goes into a bottle before doing some free tasting. With its variety of limoncello, there is no guarantee you will be able to resist taking a bottle or two home with you!
The choice is a leisurely walk down this street or to shop, shop, shop away. Via Toledo is the main street of Naples with a mix of modern, international brands and local, Italian handicrafts to suit every style. Some parts of the street are only accessible for pedestrians and the labyrinthine alleyways of the Spanish Quarter make it a great destination to explore in the afternoon. At the end of Via Toledo, treat yourself with a grand view of the Piazza del Plebiscito.
Explore Ruins of Pompeii
Relive the ancient history of Pompeii, just a short train ride away from Naples! The extensive area can be overwhelming so it is advisable to hire a guide and go early in the day. If the idea of spending hours under the Italian Sun exploring the city of Pompeii doesn’t tempt you, then just pay a visit to the National Archeological Museum of Naples which also houses many of Pompeii and Herculaneum’s artefacts.
Climb Mount Vesuvius
It’s only fitting that while in Naples you find out the reason why there are so many ruins in Pompeii to visit. Yes, Mount Vesuvius is an active volcano that buried the city of Pompeii and nearby cities thousands of years ago. If you are in a mood for adventure, set aside half a day to trek this mountain. The hike itself isn’t rigorous, with less than 200 vertical meters. At the top, you will be rewarded with a view of Naples Bay and the feel of being a part of history.
Spend an Evening at Teatro di San Carlo
When you go to Teatro di San Carlo for the opera, you will be entertained not just by the show but also by the impressive history of the theatre. Built in 1737, Teatro di San Carlo is the oldest active opera house in the world. For a fan of performance art, take a guided tour of the theatre and surprise yourself with an evening of the finest Italian opera.
Take a Ferry to Sorrento
Should central Naples get too chaotic for you, just hop on the ferry and visit Sorrento! The ferry ride itself offers a stunning view of the Sorrento Peninsula. Upon arrival, you will notice the laidback vibe of Sorrento, distinctive from Naples, with colorful houses, pebble beaches and charming restaurants. Stay longer for the sunset and just enjoy the Italian life.