Three Days in Naples
Italy’s Amalfi coast is famed for its beauty, but Naples itself demands at least three days
Day One: Pompeii and Vesuvius
Doing Pompeii and Vesuvius in one day is not for the faint hearted, but follow this plan and it’s possible. Rise early, grab yourself a quick cappuccino from a bar and catch a bus to Vesuvius. If you want to make the most of your day, try and be on your way there early; after all you do have a volcano to scale and an ancient, buried city to explore. Also before you go, be aware that Pompeii isn’t great when it comes to food so avoid the over-priced food by taking snacks with you.
Make sure you jump off at the Pompeii Scavi bus stop and be careful because it’s not the last station!
From here head into the Vesuviana Mobilita Office – directly in front of you when you alight. It’s here where you can buy tickets for the bus that takes you within spitting distance of the volcano summit and yes, it’s still active but you should be safe enough given that it hasn’t erupted since 1944. It’s just a short walk to peer into the crater itself, although don’t forget to take a good look all around you too, because up here, you get one of the most magnificent views of Naples and the bay. Make sure you take it all in but don’t get too comfortable because you still have the ancient city of Pompeii – buried by the famous Vesuvius explosion in AD 79 – waiting for you below.
Take the same bus back down the volcano and get dropped off at the entrance of the ancient city.
The fee to get in is half price for EU citizens under-25 and for teachers too, so make sure you take some ID along with you.
It really is worth picking up the audio-guide which gives you a street by street tour of the whole site. In total this audio tour takes five hours, but you can skip certain sections to suit your own schedule. If you do attempt Pompeii without this guide and simply use the free booklet instead, there’s a good chance you might regret it and end up walking around in circles like a lost sheep.
Buses aren’t so frequent on the way back to Naples, so instead get on the Circumvesuviana train – which goes from the station where you rocked up. This train takes you all the way back to the central station. An all-day ticket (the Unico Campania Fascia 3 Giornaliero) to and from Pompeii, including all buses in Naples itself, will set you back just 4,60 Euros.
Doing all of this in a day might sound a little daunting but don’t worry, you’ll get all your energy back after a delicious dinner at Hosteria Toledo in Naples. This cute little restaurant is set in the Quartieri Spagnoli, just off Via Toledo – the main drag. Here you can sample an array of the finest traditional dishes, including homemade pastas, local fish and a selection of meats. It’s also affordable with a two course meal and wine costing 15 Euros.
If you fancy a nightcap before bed, why not have a drink in the lively Piazza Bellini? The bars here are relaxed but they get very busy with people sitting outside during the summer months and some are cheaper than others, so shop around if you’re on a budget. Take in the atmosphere but make sure you don’t over-do it because tomorrow is another big day!
Day Two: The City of Naples
Many tourists bypass Naples and head straight down to the Amalfi Coast or to the islands, but they don’t know what they’re missing! Naples is jam-packed with character, history and museums galore. In fact it’s so saturated with culture that you really need an efficient and streamlined guide to make the most out of the city in a day. Luckily enough, that’s coming right up!
Some people see Naples as an acquired taste, but there is nowhere quite like it in the world, especially if you’re looking for an authentic Italian experience. The atmosphere in this city is second to none and there’s no better way to start a day in Naples than with a rich, Neapolitan coffee. Just about any bar will do the trick and do it well, however for something a bit special, try Caffè Alla Nocciola and pick up a delicious pastry while you’re at it. Once you’re all sugared-up, take a leisurely stroll through the winding streets and alleyways of the centro storico (the old town) and make sure you take in the Piazza del Gesù, Spaccanapoli, the Duomo, Via San Gregorio Armeno (famous for its year-round nativity scene shops) the Piazza Dante and Piazza Bellini.
Having worked up an appetite exploring the city’s historic centre, here’s the reward! Naples is known worldwide as the home of pizza and you will not be disappointed. Head to Via Tribunali and scout out Gino Sorbillo or Di Matteo – two of the city’s most famous pizzerias and both as good as each other. Better yet, the pizzas here are some of the cheapest in Naples.
After spending the first half of your day in the thick of it, see the city and its famous neighbour Vesuvius from above. Head down the main shopping street – Via Toledo, until you reach the magnificent Piazza Plebiscito which houses the Royal Palace. Just next door to this is the famous San Carlo theatre – a spectaular sight in its own right and also a spot recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From here wander through the Galleria Umberto until you’re back on Via Toledo and facing the funicular train stop – Piazza Augusteo. This is where the view comes in!
Take the train to the last stop – Piazza Fuga and follow signs to Castel Sant’Elmo. It’s from here that you have the most fantastic view of Naples and its surroundings. You can see the ominous Mount Vesuvius and the beautiful coastline too, not to mention the bustling city below. A few moments here with a cold drink from the bar should hit the spot and if you have a chance, you should continue on to the Certosa di San Martino – a Carthusian monastery that’s worth a visit.
Day Three: The Islands of Capri & Ischia
Capri is a must see for any tourist and Naples is the perfect base to visit it from. Staying on Capri is typically an option reserved for the super-rich, so taking a ferry over from the mainland for a day trip is the perfect option for most. The island of Capri is certainly luxurious but luxury does not come cheap.
For an equally beautiful but cheaper and arguably less touristy option, try the island of Ischia – Capri’s bigger cousin is cheaper and has better beaches.
That said visiting Capri is still well worth it. Ferries arrive at the Marina Grande, a short funicular train ride away from Capri Town – the largest town on the island. Capri Town is a maze of teeny, tiny, cobbled streets and exclusive boutiques, with beautiful views of the island’s sheer-cliff shoreline. For a change of scenery hop on the miniature bus to this tiny island’s other town and long-term rival, Anacapri. Here you can take a short chairlift to the island’s highest point and enjoy some picture postcard views.
If you fancy a swim there are options on Capri. A tourist favourite on the Capri coastline is the Grotta Azzura (the Blue Grotto). Boat trips can be taken from Marina Grande. The grotto was reportedly used as a swimming pool by Emperor Tiberius and, depending on your guide and the weather conditions, you can quite literally bathe in this cave’s history!