The Best Things To Do in 24 Hours in Naples, Italy
Updated: Oct 4, 2022
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Is 24 hours really enough time to see all that Naples has to offer? Not really. But we did our best, and I think we did a pretty good job overall. There was a lot of fast paced walking involved, and of course we visited on one of the few days of the year that it rains in the city. But, rain has never slowed me down before! Unfortunately we couldn't fit in a visit to the famous and must-see underground city (next time!), but going from what people have told me it's something you have to do if you're in Naples.
If you're coming from the airport, and not renting a car, your best option is to hop on the Alibus Airport Shuttle which is €5 each way and gives you a couple of drop off options in the city. For those of you looking for storage options in Naples for your luggage, Stasher is the perfect option if you're only in Naples for a short while.
We rented a car when we were leaving the city, and it was a good decision because the driving was ridiculous in the historic city centre. We were only in Naples for one night, but picked the perfect place to stay in the heart of the city, B&B Via Toledo 156, which you can read more about further down this blog post. Take a look at my picks for the best things to do in Naples below.
Things To Do in Naples
Castel dell'Ovo is one of the world's oldest fortifications, and since it's right on the coast, provides picture perfect views of the city. It's also completely FREE to explore, which is fantastic if you're visiting Naples on a budget.
You've probably seen a lot of photos of Galleria Umberto I on social media, and it's just as impressive in real life. It sits opposite the Teatro di San Carlo and is only a few minutes walk from the royal palace. Our B&B was located practically next to this attraction, which sits just off of Via Toledo, an ancient and very popular shopping street in Naples.
Piazza del Gesu Nuovo is one of the many squares in Naples, this one is home to the very unique church, Gesu Nuovo. We came across this area by chance, trying to find a short cut to another location, but it was quite busy and there were a number of tour groups around it.
Piazza Bellini is a very popular square that's full of bars and restaurants. This is another part of the city we happened to stumble upon, and it also boasts the excavated remains of a 4th century Greek city wall.
Naples Cathedral is completely FREE to enter, which I was pleasantly surprised about. It was completed in the 14th century and is stunning to walk around inside. There's quite a lot of free attractions in Naples to enjoy, so you can definitely visit the city without spending a lot.
Naples is a great city to explore, and each street is unique. Quite a lot of them have beautiful decorations hanging between the buildings with little messages on them. Just make sure you move out of the way of the scooters, because they definitely aren't going to stop for you.
Don't even bother looking up where to get the best pizza in Naples, because Pizzeria Di Matteo is it. They are widely known to have the best pizza in the city, and although it doesn't look fancy, I guarantee you'll be blown away by the taste. There is a takeout part or you can pass through that and sit inside. They also have a delicious selection of fried foods that are incredibly cheap. We ended up buying a mixture of everything in the display case, and went back more than once, even though we were only in Naples for one day. After all, isn't one of the key reasons to visit Italy for the pizza?
Castel Nuovo was built in the 13th century and is located just across from the port area. It's very easy to locate if you take the bus from the airport to the city centre (you can see it from the bus stop). Although we didn't go inside, you can explore the castle for €6, but I read a number of reviews that said it wasn't worth going inside, so the choice is yours.
Piazza del Plebiscito is absolutely gorgeous to walk around, and is located opposite the Royal Palace and the San Marco opera house. We arrived just after it had finished raining, which is why this normally packed piazza is almost empty. This is a definite must see in Naples, and if you only have one day in the city, there are a number of key attractions in and around this landmark for you to check off your itinerary.
If you want to walk along the coastline, make sure you check out the Santa Lucia area which has been very important since the city's founding. It's known as the fisherman's area of the city, and still boasts its original charm with lots of popular bars to stop at.
Minus the brooding clouds, which I can almost guarantee won't be there on any other day, walking along the Lungomare Seafront promenade is both free and beautiful. We started our walk from Santa Lucia, where you can see a breathtaking view of Mount Vesuvius in the distance, and ended at Castel dell'Ovo. So if you're debating what to do in Naples, this promenade passes quite a few interesting locations.
The funicular in Naples is located right in the centre of the city and takes you up to a fantastic viewpoint. It costs only €1.10 for a single fare. There's also a castle at the top of the hill if you have time to walk to it. This is one of many fun things to do in Naples, and won't take a lot of time out of your day.
The best way to get up to Mount Vesuvius is to take the Vesuvio Express from Ercolano (where Herculaneum is), which costs €20 and includes the entry fee at the volcano and a return bus ride. However, if you're as unlucky as we are and go on a day when the weather has made them close Vesuvius, you can drive up yourself (if you have a car). Well, you can drive up as far as cars are allowed to go, which adds an extra 30 minutes onto the hike, on top of the 20 minutes from where the bus would stop further up the volcano. We tried to drive to the top on our way out of Naples once we picked up our rental car, but could only go part of the way since it was closed off due to the weather. But we got some nice views on the way up!
Where To Stay in Naples
There are lots of hotels in Naples to choose from, but we found that a lot of them were very expensive because of their location. Instead of a hotel, we opted to stay at B&B Via Toledo 156, which is both budget friendly and very centrally located on one of the main historic shopping streets in the city, making it the best place to stay in Naples. We had a lovely double bedded room, and the breakfast was a great selection of traditional Neapolitan and Italian pastries as well as different breads. You can read more about our stay at this B&B here.
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Day Trips From Naples
Naples is located in the perfect spot to do a number of day trips from. Of course, most people want to see Pompeii or the Amalfi Coast if they have a day to spare. After our 24 hours in Naples, we drove down to Cilento for a few days (one of the best places to visit in southern Italy in my opinion), and on the way back to the airport in Naples we stopped at both Herculaneum and Pompeii. Some say you can't visit both sites in a day, but we did and we only had half a day to do it. It's definitely doable if you start in the morning, as the sites are open until 7:30pm in peak season. The queues can be long, so I chose to book the Pompeii & Herculaneum: Skip the Line ticket, which does as it says, lets you skip the lines that'll be miles long in peak season! They also have a number of other tours and ticket combinations in Naples and the surrounding area.
It may not be as popular as Pompeii, or as enormous, but I would highly recommend making a stop at Herculaneum. It sits 20 minutes outside of Naples, at the base of Mount Vesuvius. It's incredibly well preserved, even more so than Pompeii, and is a history lover's dream. We had hardly any time to spare here, so were thankful that it wasn't too big to walk around. If you buy a ticket on the day here, it'll cost you €11 for one adult, or they have reduced prices for certain age groups.
Obviously no trip to Naples is complete without a visit to Pompeii. It's only a 25 minute drive from Naples, and there are loads of coach tours that go to it too if you aren't renting a car during your trip. We took our rental car and found parking easily enough, even on a Sunday. I'd recommend picking up an audio guide so you get a better understanding of what you're looking at. The site is massive. Visiting Pompeii could easily take a full day in itself, but if you only have a few hours like we did don't worry, you can see it all if you basically run! If you buy a ticket on site it'll cost you €11 each for an adult (the same as Herculaneum).
So, is Naples worth visiting? I'll let you be the judge of that. But in my opinion Naples is a great city in Italy to visit, with lots of attractions (many of them free or very cheap), as well as the world's best pizza. It's well worth staying in for a couple of days, but if you only have 24 hours in Naples, there's a lot you can fit in too. If you're looking to travel further down the coast, I'd recommend visiting Cilento, which is where we went on our little southern Italian road trip for a few days. You can read about where we stayed and what there is to do in the area in B&B Baia di Trentova: A Secret Italian Getaway on the Cilento Coast. And if you're thinking of heading up north, check out my post covering things to do in Milan too. Don't forget to follow me on my travels on Instagram as well!