When you’re thinking of Italy, your first thought is probably pizza, pasta, passionate Italians speaking with their hands, scooters, and all sorts of other stereotypes. Well.. it all sort of makes sense once you step in Napoli, or Naples, the largest city in the Campania region.
Neapolitans say that in Naples you cry two times: when you arrive and when you leave (Chi viene a Napoli piange due volte: quando arriva e quando parte). I know people who absolutely hated Naples, and quite frankly, it is not for everyone. Naples is for people who love adventures, food, authenticity, challenges and diversity. One cannot deny that Naples is chaotic, but it is also charming in its own way. There is so much to do in and around the city but in the following lines, I will share the best things to do in Naples, best places to try the most amazing food in my experience, how to find you way in and around the city.
Food, Food, Food!
There is a reason why I am putting food in the first place. Food in Naples is religion, it is what attracts millions of people every year, what keeps this city moving. Be it in a restaurant or on foot, food in Naples is EVERYWHERE. It comes in different shapes, different tastes, and it is incomparable to all other places I’ve been to.
You have to know that in most restaurants in Naples you need to line up. It can last between 5 min to 1 hour depending on the time of the day. You just need to say your name and how many people you want a table for, and they will either give you a number or they will call your name. Of course it depends on the place but I am sharing my most favourite places to eat in Naples:
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele: recommended to visit around 20:30-21h as the queues are shorter (around 15-20 min max; otherwise you will wait for approximately 1 hour for a table, but it is absolutely worth it
Pizzeria Da Attilio: the waiting lines are similar, pizza is soft and fresh
Pizzeria 400 Gradi: no lines, great selection of pizzas
La Vera Pizza Fritta da Gennaro: for the true Neapolitan fried pizza; note that it is more of a fast food and there are no tables
Trattoria da Nennella: amazing atmosphere, music, people, dances, great wine for only 5€ the bottle and a delicious three-course menu for 13€. I always visit this place when in Naples
Cala la pasta: perfect pasta in a tiny little restaurant where they make the food next to you
La Sfogliatella Mary: for the local pastry called sfogliatella. It is a crispy sweet snack filled with ricotta cheese and candied orange
Antico Forno delle sfogliatelle calde Attanasio: same pastry for a snack before you leave for your destination, located close to the train station
Sindaco Naples Delicacies: for the local specialty baba which is soft sweet bread soaked in sweet rum. It is my personal favourite!
Cammarota Spritz: small aperol spritz for 1€ the glass; it has a great atmosphere with lots of young people, music in a tiny street in the Spanish Quarter; they are always busy and very loud!
Where to stay in Naples
The most common accommodation options are Booking and Airbnb. Quite frankly, I am trying to avoid Airbnb as much as possible in my recent trips. With the rent and property prices going constantly up in pretty much all parts of Europe, it is becoming increasingly difficult for locals to afford a home in cities popular among tourists. Airbnb is making this problem worse with many centrally located apartments being offered as short-term accommodation just for profit. I personally prefer using Booking and in addition, the more reservations you make on the platform, the more discounts you have access to.
I would generally avoid the central station area. I love Naples, but my lord, is it dirty in this part of town. Trash is everywhere you look around and it could be quite unpleasant if you are visiting for the first time. The area surrounding Via Toledo and the historic center (Centro Storico) could be quite busy in high season but price and location ratio is the best you can get. You can walk everywhere and enjoy your surroundings when staying in those areas. I personally have stayed at the Palazzo Rota Guesthouse and it was a spacious, clean and in a walking distance from the main streets.
If you are staying in one of the areas above, you won’t really need to use public transport. Naples is not a huge city and most tourist attractions can be visited by foot. However, you can use the metro within the city with just a tap of your bank card at the entrance and at the exit of the metro or buy a ticket in the metro station from a ticket machine. The price of each single ticket is €1.20. You may also buy a daily ticket for €4.50 and you can use it not only for the metro, but also for the bus and funicular.
From and to the airport: just outside the airport arrivals exit, you will see arrows pointing to the Alibus stop. The ticket costs 5 and it will take you directly to the central railway station (Piazza Garibaldi) for approximately 15 minutes. You can buy the ticket online in advance (see here), or on board directly with a tap of your bank card. Thereafter, you can use the metro station to get to your final destination.