As Italy’s third largest city, Naples unsurprisingly attracts over a million tourists to its shores each year. Rome, the country’s capital, and the geographical wonder of Venice are more famous worldwide, but Naples has all of this magic and more with its rich history and sensational seaside setting. When you are planning your trip, make sure to explore Italy tours that cover the Neapolitan coastline and you will discover a cultural heritage that ranges from the destruction of Pompeii to the birth of pizza. What more could you want from a travel adventure? Read on to find more reasons to spend a weekend in Naples.
How to spend a weekend in Naples
Wander the largest Piazza in Naples
First and foremost is a visit to the spectacular Piazza del Plebiscito. Symbolic of the unification of Italy in the mid-19th century, this grandiose piazza dates from 1860. Neapolitans used rock from Mount Vesuvius which is the key feature of the Naples skyline. Most prominent in the square is the San Franceso di Paola Basilica. It’s one of Naples’ largest churches, with a sweeping semi-circular gallery in a Neoclassical style. Straight across the piazza is the Royal Palace of Naples which dates back to the 1600s.
Visit the Castles
Another must-see attraction in Naples is the Castel dell’Ovo, or ‘Castle of the Egg’. Legend says Virgil buried the egg of a mermaid in the castle. This ancient site which sits on a peninsula overlooking the gulf of Naples has been important since the time of the Ancient Greeks. The present-day castle was constructed here in the 12th century by Normans, on the remains of Roman-era structures. Spectacular views and thousands of years of history await tourists visiting this majestic monument.
Nearby sits another striking castle, the Castel Sant’Elmo. Naples is actually home to seven castles, the most of any city in the world. Hike to the Castel Sant’Elmo to explore an imposing medieval fortress and for spectacular aerial views of the city.
Take a Day Trip from Naples
For history with a twist, venture out to Mount Vesuvius and the ruined city of Pompeii. One of only two active volcanos in Continental Europe, Vesuvius and the area surrounding it are now protected areas. Tourists can hike through the national park and stand on the crater edge of this awe-inspiring natural treasure. Before the hike, stop off to see the ancient ruins of Pompeii which was destroyed when Vesuvius erupted in the 1st century AD. You can do the whole in a day trip from Naples.
For a completely different experience that places more emphasis on relaxation, head out to the Amalfi Coast for a dose of sun, sea, and sand. Relax in Positano or Sorrento and explore the nearby coves or try your hand at water sports. You could also sail out to the Island of Capri which is famous for its dramatic scenery and fantastic shopping opportunities. Nearby Ischia boasts thermal spas that have attracted visitors for years, while Procida’s charm is in its colorful houses and quiet streets.
Explore Art & Artefacts
As well as copious amounts of natural beauty, Naples is famous as a center for contemporary art. Travelers can take in world-class pieces at PAN, the Palace of the Arts, an 18th-century gallery that showcases everything from paintings and photography to live performances. Away from the traditional galleries, of which there are several, you can also find modern art simply by wandering Naples’ streets. The metro in particular is a hotbed of striking graffiti in impressive unique designs.
To explore man-made creations that are less contemporary, a visit to the Naples National Archaeological Museum is a must. It is one of the grandest and most impressive archaeological museums in the world. The museum has an unmatched collection of Roman antiquities – many of them coming from the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Furthermore, the museum itself dates back to the 17th century, a living piece of history housing centuries of heritage.
Weekend in Naples: Taste Traditional Dishes
No tour of Naples is complete without tasting Italy’s most famous traditional dish – pizza. Naples is the birthplace of pizza. Modern-day pizza as we know it was borne out of similar flatbreads that have been consumed in Naples for hundreds of years. During your visit, make sure to check out the best pizza parlors in Naples – it will be the best version of the dish you have ever tasted!
As a coastal city, Naples also has fresh and plentiful seafood. If you fancy something sweet, children and adults alike will enjoy indulging in smooth ice cream in an endless array of flavors. In fact, the food in the Campania region is some of the best in Italy, and that’s saying something!
Final Thoughts on a Weekend in Naples
So there you have it – a weekend in Naples promises fascinating heritage, mouth-watering cuisine, stunning art and architecture, and spectacular seaside scenery. There is a reason why this picturesque place is known as the soul of Italy.