In this article, I propose a perfect 2-day Naples Italy itinerary. Since Naples is one of the most beautiful cities near Rome, my hometown, I visit it quite often.
You may have wondered how many days are enough to visit Naples. Well, 48 hours is just the minimum amount of time you can devote to this city, vibrant with culture, beauty, and delicious food. It is the birthplace of pizza!
A famous local saying goes:
“A foreigner in Naples cries twice: when he arrives and when he leaves.”
When you set foot in the historic center of Naples, Italy, the hustle and bustle of people and scooters, the local dialect shouted from house to house, the apartment-filled old palaces will make you “weep” if you are not used to it.
But for sure, you will never want to leave the capital of “southern Italy” again.
Naples rises at the foot of Vesuvius, the volcano that destroyed the city of Pompeii in 79 A.D.- and stretches to the sea. The Gulf of Naples offers breathtaking sunsets, and the Mergellina waterfront is the perfect place to admire them while sipping a glass of wine.
In addition to natural beauty, enjoys a vast artistic heritage: some of the best places to see and main attractions include sculptures like the Veiled Christ, churches, and museums that will leave anyone who loves art speechless.
Naples Itinerary in 2 days
Table of Contents
- Naples Itinerary in 2 days
- Day 1 – morning
- GESU’ NUOVO CHURCH AND PIAZZA
- VIA SAN GREGORIO ARMENO
- UNDERGROUND NAPLES
- EUROPE’S MOST BEAUTIFUL METRO AND LUNCH
- Day 1- afternoon
- SPANISH QUARTERS
- Castel Sant’Elmo, Certosa, and Museum of San Martino
- Dinner and nightlife
- Day 2 – morning
- MASCHIO ANGIOINO
- SAN CARLO THEATER
- ROYAL PALACE
- PIAZZA DEL PLEBISCITO AND NEAPOLITAN PIZZA
- Day 2 – afternoon
- THE OLDEST CASTLE IN NAPLES
- Galleria Umberto 1st and relax in Mergellina
- How to get to Naples
- How to get from Naples airport to the historic center
- Driving and parking in Naples
- Is Naples safe?
- Where to stay in Naples – best accommodation for travelers
- Beyond Naples – day trips from Naples
Day 1 – morning
You will need very little to adapt to the vitality of this city that has been the birthplace of so many influential people, including famous Italian philosophers like Benedetto Croce.
The best way to do this is to walk on the city’s most famous street, Spaccanapoli, which literally means “cuts Naples in half.” Use the metro and get off at the Dante stop to get here. You will be in the heart of Naples’ city center or centro storico.
About two kilometers long, Spaccanapoli St. collects many of the city’s treasures.
PLEASE NOTE: Spaccanapoli is just the traditional name of this street, which is named after 7 different streets on the maps.
Why not book a Naples Walking Tour? Let a local expert bring the city to life.
GESU’ NUOVO CHURCH AND PIAZZA
Start with the Gesù Nuovo Church and Piazza. A typical Neapolitan Baroque building, the church features paintings, stupendous columns, and marble compositions. The highlight is the church’s peperino stone facade, whose blocks are carved to form spikes, like the armor of a prehistoric animal.
Immediately outside the church, the Piazza del Gesù Nuovo is a great place to admire the Obelisk.
The charm of this work lies in its legend. On the tip of the Obelisk is a bronze statue of the Virgin Mary, but it is said that if you look at it from behind at dawn or dusk, you will see the likeness of the devil.
Continue on Spaccanapoli St., which here takes the name Via Benedetto Croce St., and you will arrive at the San Severo Chapel Museum. It is worth the €10 entrance fee to enter the chapel, which houses some of Italy’s most spectacular sculptures.
The chapel dates back to the 16th century when the nobles of the Sansevero family built it as a tribute to the Virgin Mary, who had performed miracles at this site.
As you enter, you will see yourself surrounded by beautiful white marble sculptures. The most spectacular is the Veiled Christ: a sculpture by Neapolitan Giuseppe Sanmartino (18th Century) representing Jesus Christ covered by a shroud.
Inside the Sansevero Chapel is also another sculpture that one cannot help but admire: the Veiled Modesty by Antonio Corradini. This time, the subject is a young noblewoman (Cecilia Gaetani dell’Aquila d’Arargona) covered by a veil. The artist used a sculptural technique to represent the veil as if wet, making it adhere perfectly to the woman’s body.
VIA SAN GREGORIO ARMENO
Continue along Spaccanapoli to see another famous street.
Via di San Gregorio Armeno St. is home to dozens of small workshops where all the creativity of Neapolitan artisans finds expression. The Nativity scene is a traditional element of Italian Christmas decorations. You will find current characters in a satirical key in these workshops, along with figurines carved with classic Nativity characters.
Have fun admiring figurines of politicians, actors, soccer players, and even reproductions of the Pope.
In short, this street is one of the most attractive in the city; if you don’t visit it, you can’t say you’ve been to Naples. Besides, it is also the perfect place to buy souvenirs.
When you reach the end of the street, you cross Via Dei Tribunali St. Here, you can find many venues to have a mid-morning snack. Those who love savory food should try the Neapolitan “cuoppo.” Cuoppo is a paperboard cone full of tiny fried foods.
For those who prefer a sweet treat, the mandatory stop is at one of the many pastry shops you will encounter on this street. Ask for baba’, sfogliatella, and pastiera, the most typical pastries of the Neapolitan tradition. But mind, do not get too full. Leave some space for lunch.
Napoli Sotterranea is a network of tunnels and galleries underground in the city. Perfect for lovers of history and adventure, this part of the city will awaken the Indiana Jones in you and is one of the best things to do in Naples.
You’ll discover evidence from multiple historical periods in these tunnels. Findings belonging to the Greek era of the 3rd century B.C., Roman remains from the Augustan age, and even from World War II. The tour lasts between 90 minutes and 2 hours.
I recommend booking it in advance because it is easily sold-out. You can do that here.
You might enjoy reading some of my other articles about Italy. Check out things to do in Rimini, wineries in Montepulciano, Rome landmarks, the most beautiful cities in Italy, Italian Landmarks and things to do in Sicily.
EUROPE’S MOST BEAUTIFUL METRO AND LUNCH
The tour will end around lunchtime. It’s time to go to Trattoria Da Nennella in Piazza Carità and have Neapolitan pasta e patate. There are many specialties to try at this trattoria, but the one you absolutely must order is precisely the dish just mentioned. One of the city’s typical dishes consists of pasta, potatoes, provolone cheese, cherry tomatoes, and bacon. This trattoria is one of the most popular in Naples, so book your table in advance.
About a 5-minute walk from the trattoria is a metro stop that is also a must-see contemporary art stop: the Toledo metro station. You will see quite a few people queuing up at the box office that sells metro tickets; do it too, the line will be fast.
You only need the ticket to walk down to the platform and then go right back up by the escalator. This way, you will have plenty of time to admire the ceiling of the subway, which is an immense mosaic reproducing the seabed. The artwork by architect Oscar Tousques Blanca makes the station, according to the Daily Telegraph, the most beautiful in the world.
Day 1- afternoon
Now, take a walk through one of the city’s popular neighborhoods. You are right in the Spanish Quarter.
The area is so named because Spanish troops settled here in the 16th century.
Today, walking through the alleys and narrow streets, at every corner, you can take a photograph that is a postcard of Naples. Clothes hanging on the wires that go from one building to another, open doors from which you glimpse inside the houses, mopeds with drivers without helmets returning home. If you wish to learn about the ways of southern Italians, you can do so here.
The Spanish Quarters are also famous for murals, the ones you absolutely must visit are:
- Modesty – is a reproduction of the sculpture found in the Sansevero Chapel.
- The mural portraying soccer player Diego Armando Maradona has become a cult place for all soccer fans and sports lovers.
- The murals of Totò and Peppino, icons of Italian comedy.
A tour of the Spanish Quarters will take you 1-2 hours.
Castel Sant’Elmo, Certosa, and Museum of San Martino
Now, get to the Naples area with the most beautiful views. Just outside the Spanish Quarters, you will find the C.V. Emanuele funicular stop. Take it to go up the Vomenro hill, which overlooks the historic center of Naples; it is only one stop.
There are some historical and artistic landmarks to see here, but if you realize you are short on time, know that the view alone is worth the short funicular ride.
The attractions are Sant’Elmo Castle – to be reserved for sunset time- and the Certosa and Museum of San Martino. The monumental complex of the Certosa dates back to 1325 and undertook several renovations, the most obvious being the transition from Gothic to Baroque, a work by architect Giovanni Antonio Dosio. This splendid building and its museum are full of art, like frescoes and paintings.
The cloister is the most attractive architectural element of the whole complex, conveying peace to those who walk through it. Sant’Elmo Castle also dates back to the 14th century. It was a prison from the 16th Century to 1952 and today hosts a museum.
Here, you can visit the Hermit’s Cave, the Castellan’s Tower, the Church of Sant’Erasmo, and the Piazza d’Armi. From the piazza, you can admire the impressive view overlooking the city, Vesuvius, and the Gulf of Naples. The piazza is the perfect place to admire sunsets and enjoy that breathtaking view encompassing Spaccanapoli, the Vesuvius, and the Gulf of Naples.
Dinner and nightlife
For this first day, I have selected a few little restaurants where you can eat typical seafood dishes of the area.
Those who want to treat their taste buds like those of a king, note these starred restaurants:
- Palazzo Petrucci, the first restaurant in the capital to receive a Michelin star. You can find this venue in Posillipo, on the Villa Donn’Anna Beach.
- Veritas, this time we are in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, again the restaurant can boast a Michelin star.
Just in case you need a couple more options where you can eat very well:
- Il Miracolo Dei Pesci, located in Largo Sermoneta, right on the waterfront.
- L’Ostricaio in the Chiaia neighborhood.
And after dinner, where to go?
Those who want a lively evening should definitely hit the various lounge bars and wine bars in Chiaia.
If you want to spend a romantic evening instead, stay on Vomero Hill, where you can admire the city’s night view. Otherwise, you can move to Mergellina and stop at one of the many Chalets.
Day 2 – morning
On the second day, you continue visiting this wonderful city by moving next to the sea.
The first attraction of the morning is the Castel Nuovo Fortress, commonly known as “Maschio Angioino.”
It is a castle built in 1266 at the behest of Charles I D’Anjou. There are many works to admire inside this fortress:
- The Triumphal Arch was inspired by the arches of Roman times.
- The Palatine Chapel, the interior which features a perfect Gothic style.
- In the Armory Hall, you can find artifacts from the Roman era.
- The Hall of the Barons is the main hall of the entire complex; in this hall, you’ll admire frescoes by the famous Medieval painter Giotto.
- The Prison once even hosted a crocodile that terrorized inmates.
SAN CARLO THEATER
Walking for a few minutes after seeing the Maschio Angioino until you reach San Carlo Theater, one of the oldest in Europe.
The famous novelist Stendhal called this theater the most beautiful in Europe. The theater dates back to 1737 when King Charles of Bourbon requested that the theater be in direct communication with The Royal Palace. Thanks to a door at the back of the stage, the sovereign and his family could access the theater without having to leave their palace.
Entrance costs €6.
Just in front of the largest square in Naples, Piazza del Plebiscito, is a sumptuous palace that housed the Spanish royal rulers in Naples.
The Royal Palace of Naples was designed by architect Domenico Fontana and built in the 17th century.
For a ticket of €10, you can admire:
- The Royal Chapel, inside which are paintings made by the best-known painters of the Borbon era.
- The promenade, where you can visit the Courtyard of the Carriages, the Royal Gardens and the Belvedere Courtyard -from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Gulf and Vesuvius.
- The exterior facade of the palace – here, you can find eight statues depicting the various rulers of the kingdom of Naples.
PIAZZA DEL PLEBISCITO AND NEAPOLITAN PIZZA
After this tour of art, history and architecture, you will be hungry. Head to one of the best pizzeria in Naples: Gino Sorbillo Lievito Madre al Mare. It seemed strange that a blog about the perfect itinerary for Naples had not yet mentioned the dish that has made this city famous worldwide. I wanted to keep the best pizza for last.
The art of making Neapolitan Pizza is a UNESCO Intangible Heritage and in Naples, you’ll have the most delicious and affordable pizza in Italy. Reach the pizzeria on foot. But first, walk through the most famous piazza in Naples.
Piazza del Plebiscito features an imposing colonnade reminiscent of ancient Greek monuments.
Here, you can admire the San Francesco da Paola Basilica dome towering over the entire square, together with two smaller domes. Immediately in front instead are two equestrian statues depicting Ferdinand I and Charles III.
Day 2 – afternoon
THE OLDEST CASTLE IN NAPLES
The first thing to do in the afternoon is a lovely walk along the seafront towards Castel dell’Ovo. This castle was the first to appear in Naples. Its name remembers the legend that a siren here laid an egg later hidden in the castle’s meanders by Virgil, one of Italy’s most famous poets. Tradition says it’s right this egg that allowed the building to remain standing for so long despite the sea’s fury.
Every last night of the year, Naples’ government arranges spectacular fireworks from Castel dell’Ovo, for which the city is famous throughout the country. It is a tradition for locals to spend almost an hour, starting at 0:45 a.m. admiring this spectacle reflected in the gulf waters.
Galleria Umberto 1st and relax in Mergellina
After visiting the castle, head to Galleria Umberto I, also known as the “living room of Naples.” Here, you can relax and taste traditional Neapolitan sweets. A curious peculiarity of this gallery is its floor, depicting the various zodiac signs. Instagram lovers are fond of taking pictures of themselves with their signs and posting them on their profiles.
After exploring the Galleria, head to Mergellina. To get here, take the 151 bus directed to Morelli and get off at Bruno-Sannazaro. Once in Mergellina, you can enjoy the city’s waterfront with the view of Vesuvius and breathe in the sea breeze. Posillipo
As the last stop on this epic 2-day itinerary for Naples, I can’t not mention Posillipo. Posillipo is the wealthiest area of the city, and here you’ll find luxurious villas and 5-star hotels. In addition to wonderful residential buildings, this area also offers parks and beautiful views.
Virgiliano Park, where Virgil’s tomb is located, offers magnificent views of Vesuvius and the islands of Ischia, Capri, and Procida. La Ghiaiola, on the other hand, is a street from which you can spot see caves and islets of tufa rock. Nearby is the Submerged Park of Ghiaiola, which you can visit by kayak or a special little boat with a transparent bottom.
To end on a high note, you must have an aperitivo with a sea view. The area has plenty of cafes to enjoy a good drink while watching the sun set into the sea: there is no better way to say goodbye to this city.
Now that you know Naples deserves at least two days, I’ll share practical tips for planning your trip.
How to get to Naples
You can get to Naples either by train from all parts of Italy or by plane from other parts of the world.
The central train station is located in Piazza Garibaldi and features a metro station. If you prefer to walk from the central station to the historic center, know that Spaccanapoli and Piazza del Gesù Nuovo are about 2 km away.
How to get from Naples airport to the historic center
Alibus airport shuttles depart from Naples Capodichino Airport and make the following stops:
- historic center (Central Train Station)
- Immacolata/Porta di Massa tourist port, from where ferries leave for the islands
- Molo Angioino Beverello, from where cruise ships and hydrofoils depart (they get to Amalfi Coast)
Driving and parking in Naples
If Naples is one of the stops on your southern Italy road trip, I strongly advise against driving through the historic center. Apart from the restricted traffic zones that Naples has like all other cities in Italy (if you accidentally cross one of these you will win a fine), consider the city traffic.
Naples is famous for having rather wild car and scooter traffic. There seems to be a very special traffic code in use in this city that outsiders are obviously not familiar with. As soon as you arrive in the city, look for a secure paid parking lot where you can stash your car while you explore beautiful Napoli.
Is Naples safe?
In the collective imagination, the grand city of Naples has gained a reputation for being somewhat unsafe. This is now just a myth that must be dispelled. In recent years, security on the city’s streets has been tripled to give tourism a chance to flourish as it deserves.
Nevertheless, there is the possibility of being mugged, which is avoided by taking simple precautions:
- Do not wander around with very valuable items in sight such as Rolex watches or flashy gold chokers.
- Avoid going into the alleys at night alone.
- Another tip I can give you is not to interact too much with street vendors or card players on street corners (although the latter is an almost harmless cultural vignette).
Where to stay in Naples – best accommodation for travelers
Getting from one attraction to another in the historic center of Naples requires good walking or using public transportation. The best choice is to stay near Spaccanapoli, from which you have access to the main monuments, piazzas and restaurants within short walking distance.
The Santa Chiara Boutique Hotel is located in the heart of the historic center and offers finely decorated rooms. Il palazzo che lo ospita è antico e affascinante.
Beyond Naples – day trips from Naples
Naples is an excellent base for visiting fantastic destinations worth visiting, such as the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Herculaneum and the Royal Palace of Caserta.
You can reach some of these places easily on a day trip by relying on a guided tour:
This short trip to Naples will leave your eyes full of beauty and your heart full of desire to return here. If you have taken the time to learn about local dishes, you may also need to add a hole in your belt. The best time to visit Naples is on either side of the summer eg April/May and September/October, rather than the high season of summer.
You will now fully understand the meaning of the Italian saying that a foreigner in Naples cries twice, when he arrives and when he leaves.
With an itinerary so full of things to do and see in Naples, plan to arrive in the city early in the morning and leave in the evening. If the attractions seem too many, aim to explore these three areas at least:
- Vomero Hill
This will give you a taste of the best Naples has to offer in terms of scenery.
BIO: Lisa is an Italian mom passionate about travel and writing. You can read more from her on her blogs Rome Travelogues and I’m Learning Italian.
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