Are you flying Naples to head to the Amalfi coast this summer? Have you considered making a stop off in Naples en route? Well last week I spent a few days exploring Naples on a photography type press trip and I hope my insights here can give you some inspiration and encouragement to make a stop off in this wonderful and charismatic Italian city.
THINGS DO and see IN NAPLES. Museums, Churches and A Banksy.
A highlight for me, as ever on these kinds of trips, is simply wandering around the old towns, finding small decaying streets to get lost in, soaking up the atmosphere and eating and drinking as much as I can. For this the Historic part of Naples is perfect for that kind of activity and will give you plenty of inspiration to whip out the camera and take a lot of pictures. Here are things you can do and visit whilst out and about touring the streets.
Churches:- Naples is a city filled with churches, 500 of them in fact, and if you go to just one then you simply have to make a stop off at the main "Duomo". Its a lavish cathedral with gorgeous neo-Gothic facade & art-filled chapels, plus 4th-century mosaics & relics.
We also visited the beautiful, serene and walled courtyard of Santa Chiara, one of Naples most beloved churches. I found it a great place to find your zen and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Inside Santa Chiara you will also find fascinating tombs, ancient bath and an archeological museum.
Gallery Borbonica. For a super unique and somewhat eery experience that you probably won't find anywhere else I highly recommend going deep underneath Naples by visiting the underground caverns and "bourbon tunnels" at gallery Borbonica. You'll be blown away by the sheer size of this place and they've a number of fantastic tours if you want to be guided through each cavern. Also when the tunnels were re-discovered several vehicles and motorcycles of the 40s, 50s and 60s as well as statues and remnants of World War II were left to rust and the gallery allows you to get up close so you can inspect for yourself. It also only cost 10 euros to get in (a total bargain!) and is currently sitting at number 2 on Trip Advisor for "Things to do in Naples" so you really don't want to miss out.
Its worth noting that for the 'Standard tour" there isn't even a need to book in advance and you can start the visit every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10.00 12.00 15.30 17.30 starting from either of the entrances.
Parco Sommerso di Gaiola Area Marina. An hour long hike which includes trekking through a fascinating tunnel, which was used to shelter people during World War ll, takes you to a peaceful coastal park. If the weather is right I hear its a great place to relax, kayak and with snorkelling that allows you to see ancient ruins.
City Bus Sightseeing. Without trying to state the obvious but this is an open top bus that tours Naples, provides historical information on each site and allows you to hop on and hop off at your own pace, and all for about £18 for 24hr. We did this and it took us to some great photogenic vies of the city and surrounding volcanoes. Its starting point for us was near the Gaiola Area Marina and Gallery Barbonica so it was another way of getting us transported back into the historic centre.
Graffiti and street art fans would love getting lost whilst wandering around central Naples thin alleyways. This place has some seriously interesting street art. The highlight for me was the Banksy. A piece of his called the Holy Virgin is, I believe, his only work in Italy.
If you want to cheat feel free to check my map which shows the exact-ish location of the Naples Banksy.
Eating and drinking in the Centre of Naples
If you live like me and think PIZZA IS EVERYTHING then let this be the main reason you make a stop in Naples. I can say without a doubt I ate the best pizza in my life over at Sorbillo. The foodies from London that have witnessed the rise of Franco Manca will have already been lucky enough to of had a taster of what Napoleon soft sourdough pizza has to offer and how it can bring pure happiness. This place is like there but with 10 times more flavour.
It also only costs around £3 for a margarita and £5 for something slightly more fancy. Unbelievable really when you think about it. Such value for money.
For dessert, after dinner, we went over the road to a super local cafe called Mazz (Via dei Tribunali 359) and had coffee and cake. I had the Sfogliatella a shell-shaped filled Italian pastry native to Naples and Campania. Sfogliatella means "small, thin leaf/layer", as the pastry's texture resembles stacked leaves. Be warned. Crumbs will go everywhere! If you want a softer, easier to eat, dessert go for the rum baba. The alcohol in this one really making it a perfect post dinner treat! (or have both like I did, ha)
And what about in the evening? Its Saturday night and you want a bit of fun? Well after a bit of aimless wandering and asking the locals we found out that Piazza Bellini was the place to be. Its super lively and even though there was a drizzle coming from overhanging clouds many people were still out on the streets enjoying a drink or two. We opted for a rather random but nice and busy bar in the square and had reasonably priced cocktail (£4-£6ish).... I of course, like always when Italy, had a the classic Aperol Spirtz!
The coolest and most quirky bar in town appeared to be a bookstore, Libreria Berisio, that turned into a bar at night with an intimate stage where a very decent live band was playing. Its not the biggest place but that just makes it feel a whole lot more cozy. If you don't believe me it's been voted the 2nd best place for nightlight on Trip Advisor.
Accommodation options in Naples
If you only have a weekend in Naples then its 100% best to stay in the centre and within walking distance to the Historic Centre and a short ride to the port.
We stayed in the rather glamorous 4 star Marriott owned Renaissance Naples Hotel Mediterranean. Prices for a double or twin start at around £97. And the key highlights for me were the breakfast views over the city and port, the option for a rooftop hot tub and Its very close to the Toledo metro station stop (worth in itself exploring due to the unique modern design!). Its only 2.5km from the train station too and 5.9km from the airport. See more helpful reviews on Trip Advisor.
Looking for cheaper accommodation in Naples? Well on Airbnb there are some great options for hiring a room for around £24 to £35 and you can get your own place or penthouse with wonderful sea views for around £65 per night.
Transportation into and around central Naples
All the connection from airport to the city centre by bus are managed by the society Alibus. The bus does three stops connecting Airport - Train Station - Port . Routes every 20 minutes and the ticket is just 3 euros. Its all pretty simple stuff.
By Taxi It only costs around £12 to get into the Historic Centre or the main train station from the airport. Here you find all the taxi costs and more helpful info: http://www.aeroportodinapoli.it/taxi/#english
Within Naples itself there is also an easy to use underground network. Click here for a helpful Naples metro map. It appears that the metro runs from 6am to anything from 10.30pm to 12.30am depending on the line. The PDF provided has more details.
AND THATs it FOLks, do let me know what you think in the comment section below!
This is my first blog post on the new blog so any feedback will be so greatly appreciated.