Naples in three days
Visiting Naples isn’t just about the city center; the bay of Naples has a huge amount to offer and something to suit just about any tourist. Here’s a good suggestion for how you could spend three days in and around Naples.
Day One: Pompeii and Vesuvius
Doing Pompeii and Vesuvius in one day is not for the feint hearted, but follow our plan and it’s definitely do-able. Rise early, grab yourself a quick cappuccino and cornetto from the bar outside the hostel and make your way into the port to catch the bus to Pompeii. Try and get the bus around 8 or 9 to make the most out of your day; after all, you do have a volcano to scale and an ancient buried city to explore…Pompeii isn’t great food-wise, so in order to avoid over-priced and low-caliber grub, take some snacks with you.
From the ‘Pompeii Scavi’ stop (be careful: the bus keeps on going, we don’t want you ending up deep in mafia country) head into the ‘Vesuviana Mobilità’ office, directly in front of you when you get off the bus. Here they sell the tickets for the bus that takes you within spitting distance of the summit of the volcano (yes, it is still active but you should be safe enough, it hasn’t erupted now since 1944). It’s just a short walk further until you can peer into the crater itself, although don’t forget to take a good look around you; this is one of the best views of Naples and the bay possible. Make sure you take it all in but don’t get too comfortable, you still have the ancient city of Pompeii, buried by Vesuvius’ famous explosion in AD 79, waiting for you at the bottom.
Get the same bus down as you got up, and this will drop you right at the entrance of the ancient city. Pay your entrance (it’s half price for EU citizens under 25 and teachers so make sure you take some ID) and I’d recommend getting the audio-guide, which takes you on a guided tour of the whole site. In total the audio-guide takes 5 hours, but you can always skip around the tracks to suit your own schedule. I attempted to do Pompeii without a guide apart from the free little booklet they provide but regretted it, you end up walking around like a lost sheep, getting bored and going home early.
Buses aren’t so frequent on the way back, so get on the Circumvesuviana train from where you got off the bus. This train takes you all the way backs to the central station in Naples and jump on the R2 bus back to the hostel. An all-day ticket (the Unico Campania Fascia 3 Giornaliero)to and from Pompeii, including all buses in Naples itself, will set you back €4,60.
I know it sounds all sounds a bit daunting but don’t worry, you’ll get all your energy back in the evening on you return to Naples, with a delicious meal at Hosteria Toledo (http://www.hosteriatoledo.it/). This cute little restaurant is set in the Quartieri Spagnoli, just off the main drag Via Toledo. Here you can sample the array of Naples’ finest traditional dishes made in-house including homemade pastas, fish and meat. It’s also reasonably priced; a two course meal with wine here will cost you around €15.
If you still have any energy left, why not have a drink in the lively Piazza Bellini. The bars here are relaxed but get very busy with people sitting outside during the summer months. 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, tomorrow’s another big day!
Day Two: The city of Naples
Many tourists bypass Naples to get down to the Amalfi Coast or to go to the islands, but they just don’t know what they’re missing. Naples is jam-packed full character, with history and museums galore. So that you can get the most out of your day exploring the city, here is our suggestion for Naples in only a day.
Naples is what some would describe as an acquired taste. There’s nowhere quite like Naples for getting the true ‘Italian experience’; the atmosphere in this city is second to none. It is, however, not for the feint-hearted but in order to really appreciate all it has to offer you need to embrace all the city has to offer. Forget all the scare stories you’ve been told, Naples is like any other big city you’ve travelled through. you’re no more likely to lose your purse or wallet here than in Milan or Rome.
There’s nothing better to start off your day in Naples than a rich, Neapolitan coffee (just about any bar will do but for something a bit special try the caffè alla nocciola with a delicious pastry. All sugared-up, get yourself lost in the winding streets and alleyways of the centro storico (the old town) visiting along the wall Piazza del Gesù, Spaccanapoli, the Duomo, Via San Gregorio Armeno famous for it’s year-round nativity scene shops, Piazza Dante and Piazza Bellini.
Having worked up an appetite experiencing Naples’ historic centre, there’s a treat in store. Naples is known worldwide as the home of the pizza, and believe me, you will not be disappointed. Head to Via Tribunali and one of the two most famous pizzerias: Gino Sorbillo or Di Matteo both as good as each other, these are best (and for some reason cheapest) in the city.
You’ve spent the morning very much in the thick of it, so how about seeing the city and its famous neighbor Vesuvius from above? Feel free to relax your stomach for a while over another coffee before heading down the main shopping street Via Toledo until you reach the magnificent Piazza Plebiscito housing the Royal Palace. Right next-door is the famous San Carlo theatre itself recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. From here, wander through the Galleria Umberto until you’re back onto Via Toledo and facing the funicular train stop ‘Piazza Augusteo’. Take the train to the last stop ‘Piazza Fuga’ and follow signs to Castel Sant’Elmo. From here you get the most fantastic view of Naples and it’s surroundings. You can see the ominous Mount Vesuvius, the beautiful coastline as well as the bustling city below you. Sit here among the lovers and enjoy a cold drink from the bar. If you have a chance the Certosa di San Martino, the Carthusian monastery is certainly worth a visit.
If Naples hasn’t already completely worn you out then it has one last trick up its sleeve: Nennella. There are huge amount restaurants worth a mention in Naples but, if you have just one night in the city, Nennella is an unfortgeattable experience. Run by a family (and yes, mamma is in the kitchen) this restaurant is not the kind of place where you can sit for hours sipping at your drink but there’s nothing like force-feeding you atmosphere. Don’t worry if the waiters start dancing-or even if they force you to dance with them-its all part of the experience. Plus: a four-course meal with all the cheap table wine you can handle will set you back around 12 Euros…
Day Three: Capri Island
Capri is a must-see for any tourist, and Naples is the perfect base to visit it from. Staying on Capri is typically reserved for the super-rich, so getting the ferry over from the mainland for a day trip is the perfect option for most. The island of Capri is luxurious, but luxury doesn’t come cheap. For an equally beautiful but cheaper and arguably less touristy option, try the island of Ischia, Capri’s bigger cousin. Ischia also has the better beaches, so if you’re looking to have a day lazing around on the beach and having a dip in the Mediterranean then head here.
Having said that, visiting Capri is well worth it. If you are trying to save money just make yourself up a lunch to bring with you to avoid tourist-priced food. To have as much time on the island as possible before the last boat home in the evening, get up early, grab a quick breakfast to enjoy on the ferry and head to the port, Porta di Massa, about 5 minutes walk from the Hostel. The cheaper ferries cost €9.60 and take around 1 ½ hours, but if their timetable doesn’t suit you, hydrofoils leave from the adjacent port, Molo Beverello, roughly every half an hour, cost around €17 and take 45 minutes. Both ferries will bring you into the Marina Grande, a short funicular train away from Capri Town, the largest town on the island. Capri Town is fairly self-explanatory; a seriously cute maze of teeny tiny cobbled streets and exclusive boutiques, leading you out every now and again to another beautiful view of the island’s cliff shoreline. For a change of scenery hop on an über-cute 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 for picture postcard views.
If you do fancy a swim, there are options on Capri, although the majority of the coastline is cliffy. Catch another bus (don’t worry, the island is only big enough for each coach trip to take about 15 minutes, even allowing for traffic!) to Marina Piccola and wind your way down the steps to the small but gorgeous beach at the bottom.
Another tourist favorite is the Grotta Azzura (the Blue Grotto). Boat trips can be taken from Marina Grande, where the ferry docks, and cost around €15-20. Although they will definitely ask, don’t feel forced to give your guide a tip, unless you feel he deserves it. The grotto was reportedly used as a swimming pool by Emperor Tiberius and, depending on your guide and weather conditions, you can literally bathe in this cave’s history…
Make sure you don’t miss the last ferry: times vary with the seasons, so make sure you ask at the reception before you go, and prepare yourself for another feast back in Naples. You might well fancy another pizza (and I don’t blame you) so try whichever pizzeria you didn’t make it to yesterday. If you fancy trying any other one of Naples’ specialties, our recommendation is Trattoria del Buongustaio. Another classic Neapolitan restaurant, Trattoria del Buongustaio is cheap and very cheerful. Try the steak and friarielli or any one of the primi that change day by day…if it’s on offer, the genovese is particularly good.
On the way back to the hostel buy a bottle of wine- there are plenty of local ones to try out- and sit out in Piazza del Gesù watching one of the frequent live concerts that this square hosts.