So you’ve found yourself in the wonderful chaos and culture that is Naples, Italy, and you’ve explored the sights and consumed the pizza. Wondering what else you can do to make the most of your time in the area? Don’t worry – you’re in a region rich in local culture, history, sights, and things to do. And the good news is that they’re all possible to do and are popular day trips from Naples!
A guest post by Nicky from That Anxious Traveller
So as a frequent traveler to the area, here are my top picks for places that’ll give you a great experience, as well as have you reaching for the Instagram app on your phone.
No trip to the Naples region is complete without a trip to see how the rich and famous cope on the gorgeous, sun-kissed island of Capri (truly, they have a hard life). Easily reachable by frequent and fast boats departing from Naples’ Molo Beverello port, you’re immediately transported into La Vita Bella. Yachts bob on crystal blue waters, designer shops line the immaculate streets, flowers bloom in shady gardens whilst the sun beats upon luxury villas. And there’s plenty to do even if you don’t quite have the budget of minor royalty: the island is a paradise for walkers and hikers.
Take the Via Pizzolungo trail from the famous Faraglioni viewpoint for jaw-dropping views, an ancient Roman nymphaeum, and the scent of warm pine trees in a sea breeze. A bus will take you to the smaller town of Anacapri, where you can visit the famed Blue Grotto, or take a chairlift to the highest point of the island. Capri is a wonderful assault on the senses.
Pompeii is bigger, more famous, and more varied; the town contains everything from gladiatorial arenas, to a brothel which is remarkably popular with tourists (you’ll most likely have to join a short queue to see inside).
Herculaneum is smaller and quieter, but better preserved – there’s far more color than Pompeii, and even double-story houses and wooden partitions have survived.
With both historical sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii easy to visit (simply take the Circumvesuviana train from either of the stations in Naples), there’s really no excuse not to visit and see how life was back in 79 AD before a volcanic eruption suddenly wiped out life in both towns. Both sites carry an air of sadness – they’re essentially mass graves, and the plaster casts of the victims in Pompeii and the excavated skeletons in Herculaneum are heartbreaking – but the history is absolutely outstanding. Join a tour or rent an audio guide if you’re a newcomer to the story, and bring a hat and comfy shoes.
Once you’re back in Naples, expand your knowledge of the sites by visiting the Archaeological Museum, which preserves many of the artifacts found at both Pompeii and Herculaneum.
An unapologetic resort, Sorrento is a fantastic place for shopping, relaxing, and people-watching. Sitting directly opposite Naples on the shore of the bay – either take a boat from Molo Beverello, or the Circumvesuviana train will take you directly there – it’s a great place to pick up some local crafts. Fabric and textiles are commonplace, cameo jewelry made from shells are a specialty, and the famous inlaid wooden boxes, specific to Sorrento, are king. You’ll find craftsmen hunched over benches in their workshops, and a dazzling variety of designs, colors, and sizes available. My particular favorites are the music boxes, which play the achingly-beautiful tune of Torna A Surriento (“Return to Sorrento”) when opened.
After you’ve completed your bargain-hunting, retire to a street cafe in Piazza Tasso, order a coffee and a pizza, and watch the world go by. On your way back, check out the views of Naples across the bay, Vesuvius lurking nearby – it’s picture perfect.
The Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is one of the best places to visit in Italy, and it’s easy to see why – green mountains drop dramatically down towards the blue seas, with tiny pastel-colored towns clinging to the edges, whilst roads snake around the landscape and give the travelers upon them the most breathtaking of views.
Plenty of Naples tour companies service the area, or if you want to save some cash and don’t mind having a longer journey, go to Sorrento and catch a bus from the station there. And at the center of it all is the town of Amalfi, much smaller now than in its medieval heyday (an earthquake caused most of the town to slide into the sea in 1343), but just as charming, with great places to eat and cute ceramic and clothing shops. The magnificent cathedral towers above everything, a symbol of the town’s prosperity and devotion, whilst the inside of the building is a treasure trove of art and artifacts. The journey to Amalfi itself is an experience: you’ll marvel at the driving skill of the local bus drivers as they coax their vehicles around the tiniest of corners and through the smallest gaps, and feel your stomach drop as you peer down at waves crashing against the rocks. A trip along the Amalfi Coast is never forgotten.
Just along the coast from Amalfi is the Instagram-perfect town of Positano (follow the same travel directions as for Amalfi). Another haunt of the celebrity world, Positano is a perfect Mediterranean location; glamorous people and gorgeous views, as the scents of lemon and sea salt gently fragrance the air. It’s the ideal place for a lazy day on the beach with an occasional dip into the clear waters, with nothing more pressing on your mind than where the next gelato is coming from – and you have plenty of choice in that matter! Or maybe choose a granita instead, made from chipped ice and mixed with the ubiquitous lemon juice, served fresh and cool.
After you’ve soaked up the sun, explore the shops, selling everything from made-to-measure sandals to fine artwork from the galleries, and stroll along a promenade draped with flowers and greenery. Author John Steinbeck wrote that “Positano bites deep”, and he wasn’t wrong – it’s a magical place, and the memories of it will stay with you for a very long time.
We asked our travel blogger friends to share their favorite day trips from Naples.
Rome, the capital city of Italy, a historical beauty not to be missed when visiting Italy. Whether you are traveling solo, in a couple, or on your Italian family holiday, there is so much to see and do in Bella Roma. But if you plan well, you can see most of the main sites of Rome in a day.
Not so long ago, traveling from Naples to Rome for a day trip would have been considered a waste of time. But with the Frecciarossa trains, you can do so in just 1h 10mins. So, if you leave early enough, you could arrive at the main train station in the center in time for a typical Italian breakfast. a ‘cafe’ and ‘cornetto’ to start your day.
By Chontelle from Mum’s Little Explorers
Get in early and book online to visit the Vatican Museum and inside The Colosseum if they are on your bucketlist. That way you can avoid the lines when you arrive. Start early at the Vatican as you may spend a couple of hours inside.
Then either walk or take the Metro a couple of stops Piazza Del Popolo (Flaminio Metro Stop) where you can start your historical city walk. Make your way down the main shopping strip, Via Del Corso swerving in and out of the little side streets to visit the Spanish Steps, The Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and The Trevi Fountain, Piazza Venezia and finish up outside of the Colosseum. Try some pizza, or have some gelati along the way!
If you have the time, finish your day off in the picturesque area of Trastevere in the south of the city where you can admire the views along the river or eat at one of many popular restaurants. When you are ready, simply take the bus no. 64 back to Termini train station to get your late train back to Naples. Of course, you could spend days, weeks, or in my case even years in Rome and still not see everything there is to see. But a day trip will give you a taste of its beauty. And if you throw your coin in the Trevi Fountain it will ensure your return one day!
The largest island in the Bay of Naples, Ischia is one of Italy’s best-kept secrets. Offering over 18 square miles of lush volcanic island paradise, Ischia offers visitors over 100 thermal springs that claim to have countless healing properties, stunning secluded beaches and a dramatic history, not to mention its friendliness on the wallet, a cheaper alternative to the glamorous neighboring island of Capri, known as the playground of the rich and famous.
By Samantha from The Wandering Wanderluster
Reachable in just 1 hour 30 minutes by Catamaran, it is an affordable and easy day trip, and a welcomed change from the narrow streets and noise of Naples’ city center. For a small island, there is a surprising amount of things to do that will easily fill an entire day. Adventurous types may wish to hike up to the summit of Mt Epomeo or hire a scooter to explore the island, while those who prefer a slower, relaxed pace may want to visit the highly photogenic Aragonese castle and spend the day wandering around this peaceful hamlet, enjoying the fresh seafood cuisine and local wine.
Beach lovers should head to Maronti, known for its dazzling turquoise waters and 3km soft sand beach while those seeking the healing waters of Ischia may wish to visit Giardini Poseidon, where you can relax in one of 20 pools ranging in temperatures and a nearby sandy beach.
While most of the day trips around Naples are close to the coast, you need to go a little bit inland to find one of the most impressive ones – Caserta. The highlight here (and, really, the only reason for visiting) is Caserta Palace. By some definitions, this is the largest palace in the world and was built in the eighteenth century by the Bourbon Kings of Naples. They wanted something to rival the Palace of Versailles in France and, when you visit Caserta Palace, you can see they achieved their aim!
By Michael Turtle from Time Travel Turtle
You can take a tour through some of the main rooms and see the majestic public halls as well as the more ornately-decorated private chambers. You’ll find chandeliers, a golden throne room, priceless artworks, and a huge marble staircase! As a visitor, you’ll see only a fraction of the interiors and that will still take an hour or two.
But it’s the park behind the palace that is even more impressive and one of the main reasons that Caserta has been designated as a World Heritage Site. It stretches out for more than 3 km until it hits the slope of a nearby hill. A large water feature runs down the middle of it and there are pockets of forests on each side.
It is easy to get to Caserta from Naples. There is a direct train from Napoli Centrale that takes about 45 minutes. There are also some nice places for a meal or a drink if you don’t feel like rushing back.
Mount Vesuvius is the volcano that dominates the skyline around the city of Naples, it is most famous for its eruption in 79AD when it wiped out the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum with pyroclastic flows. While I was visiting Naples I had to visit as I love volcanoes and had heard so much about this one.
It is very easy to get to by public transport from Naples, though you can also do by the tour. From the train station get the Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento and get off at the Ercolano Scavi stop (this is the stop for Herculaneum). In the car park, there are buses that go up to Mount Vesuvius once they have filled up.
By Clare Colley from Travels In Peru
Once at the car park it is then around a 20-minute walk uphill to the summit of the crater, depending on your fitness levels. It is worth stopping through and admiring the views on the way up as they are amazing on a clear day.
It is great to hike up to look inside the crater of the volcano that has not erupted since 1944. It is an active volcano though there is nothing to see in the crater as it is currently dormant. You can walk around maybe half of the crater and the views towards the sea are beautiful.
If you have some time in Naples then I would definitely recommend a trip to Mount Vesuvius and maybe combine it with a trip to Herculaneum too.
The archaeological park in Paestum showcases some of the most well-preserved Greek Doric temples in the world. They are just as impressive, if not more so than the ancient ruins in Greece itself!
By Wendy Werneth from The Nomadic Vegan
This UNESCO World Heritage Site contains three temples dedicated to the gods Hera, Athena, and Neptune, all of which were built around 500 BC and are in an amazing state of preservation 2,500 years later. Surrounding the ancient Greek city is a monumental stone wall, punctuated by 24 watchtowers.
The amphitheater is also mostly intact, and several other structures are still partially standing. The city was originally founded by Greek colonists, who named it Poseidonia. It was the Romans who later gave Paestum its current name.
Allow yourself plenty of time to explore both the archaeological site and the National Archaeological Museum of Paestum. On display in the museum are a number of archaeological treasures from the site. The most famous is the Tomb of the Diver fresco.
Found inside a tomb that dates from 480 BC, this wall painting portrays a naked man gracefully diving into a pool of water. It is the only example in the world of Greek painting with figured scenes from this period that has survived in its entirety.
Trains leave fairly frequently from the Napoli Centrale station to Paestum. The “Regionale” trains take about 1 hour and 15 minutes and cost 6.50 euros each way, while the “Intercity” trains cost almost double and are only slightly quicker.
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