There is so much to see in Naples (Campania) and it is not easy to choose. The city enraptures you with its smells, its tastes, its sights, its popular folklore and its immense artistic and cultural heritage. The Neapolitan historical centre was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
So what to see in Naples? Here are the 12 places that deserve to be seen at least once in a lifetime. Even if you have to go back several times! An ideal list for those who choose to visit Naples in a weekend.
1. Piazza del Plebiscito
If there is a symbolic place in Naples, it is Piazza del Plebiscito: symbol of the new “Neapolitan Renaissance”.
Important buildings surround the square: the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola with its neoclassical colonnade, the beautiful Royal Palace, the Prefecture Palace and the Salerno Palace.
Spaccanapoli is the road that runs from the Quartieri Spagnoli to the Forcella district, cutting Naples in a straight line. This street has ancient origins: it is in fact one of the three decumans into which the Romans organised the city.
Strolling along Spaccanapoli you will discover the true soul of Naples: churches, murals, palaces, artists and craftsmen.
3. Sansevero Chapel and the Veiled Christ
A visit to the Sansevero Chapel, the artistic and scientific temple of Prince Raimondo di Sangro, is a must during your stay in Naples.
Inside there is the famous Veiled Christ: an authentic pearl of Baroque art created by the Neapolitan Giuseppe Sanmartino in 1753. The work is carved entirely from a single block of marble and it represents, on a real scale, the body of the dead Jesus Christ covered by a veil.
A legend has developed around this marble veil: some believe it to be a veil made of fabric and transformed into rock by a special liquid invented by the Prince of San Severo (an illustrious alchemist); others, however, claim that the surprising effect is all the result of Giuseppe Sanmartino’s talent.
Opening hours: 9am – 7pm, closed on Tuesdays
Tickets: Full price € 8. People from 10 to 25 years: €5. You can buy your ticket online here.
4. Capodimonte Museum in Naples
The Capodimonte Museum is located in the magnificent Reggia built by Charles of Bourbon in 1734. It was inaugurated in 1957 and it is now one of the 30 most visited museums in the world.
The museum is spread over three floors. On the first floor there is the Historical Apartment and the rich Farnese collection with works by Titian, Masaccio, Botticelli, Raphael, Guido Reni, Brueghel the Elder, Andrea del Sarto and many others.
On the second floor there is the gallery with works from the 13th to the 18th century: Ribera, Goya, Pinturicchio, Vasari, Mattia Preti and Caravaggio’s extraordinary Flagellation of Christ.
On the third floor there is a collection of 19th century and contemporary art with masterpieces by internationally renowned artists: Andy Warhol, Mimmo Jodice, Alberto Burri, Mario Merz, Joseph Kosuth, Enzo Cucchi, Michelangelo Pistoletto.
In addition to the beauty of the building and the works it contains, at Capodimonte you can also walk around and enjoy the 124 hectares of the Real Bosco.
The Museum provides a shuttle bus, the Capodimonte Shuttle, which allows tourists to reach the Museum and the Bosco easily from Piazza Trieste e Trento in 22 minutes.
Opening hours: 8.30am – 7.30pm, closed on Wednesdays
Tickets: Full price €10, people from 18 to 25 years €2. You can buy your ticket online here.
5. Castel dell’Ovo
Cuddled by the waves of the sea, Castel dell’Ovo stands on the ancient islet of Megaride. It owes its name to an ancient legend according to which the Latin poet Virgil has hidden a magic egg in the Castle dungeon to ensure that it would never collapse.
The ascent to the upper part of the castle offers very suggestive views, but the most beautiful point is certainly the Terrace of the Cannons: from here you can enjoy a wonderful view over the Gulf and the entire city of Naples.
Opening hours: 8.30am – 5pm, closed on Sundays
6. The Cathedral and the Treasure of San Gennaro
Obviously, we cannot exclude from this list of things to see in Naples a visit to the Cathedral, dedicated to the patron saint of the city: San Gennaro.
Inside the Cathedral, in the Royal Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro are preserved his bones and two ancient ampoule containing the Saint’s blood. These ampoule are displayed three times a year: on the Saturday before the first Sunday in May, on 19 September and on 16 December. On these days it is possible to observe the miracle of the Saint: the melting, or rather liquefaction, of blood.
Next to the Cathedral there is the Museum, opened in 2003. It is a meticulous display of everything related to the Saint’s life: art collections including jewellery, statues, busts, fine fabrics and paintings of great value.
Cathedral opening hours: 8.30am – 1.30pm | 2.30pm – 7.30pm
Cathedral free entrance
Royal Chapel opening hours: Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm | Sunday 9.30am – 1.30pm
Royal Chapel tickets: full price €5
7. Maschio Angioino
The Maschio Angioino represents the symbol of the royal power of the d’Angiò family. The fortress has five towers; among the things to see there is the Triumphal Arch connecting the Torre di Mezzo and the Torre di Guardia, made of marble with rich decorations, reliefs and sculptures. The interior houses the Civic Museum of Naples.
Opening hours: 8.30am – 5pm, closed on Sundays
8. National Archaeological Museum of Naples (MANN)
The National Archaeological Museum was opened in 1816 and, today, it is one of the most important in the world for the quality and quantity of the works it houses. The Museum, housed in the Palazzo degli Studi, consists of three main sections: the Farnese collection, the Pompeian collections and the Egyptian collection.
Don’t miss the “Secret Cabinet” with its frescoes and ancient sculptures dedicated to the theme of eroticism.
Opening hours: 9am – 7.30pm, closed on Tuesdays
Tickets: full price €13, reduced price €2
9. San Carlo Theatre
The San Carlo Theatre is one of the largest Italian theatres and one of the oldest in Europe, recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site. It was built in 1737 by architect Giovanni Antonio Medrano: 184 boxes plus a royal box, seating 1379 people.
The Theatre can only be visited with a guided tour: Monday to Sunday from 10.30am to 5.30pm.
10. Underground Naples
Naples rests on an intricate network of caves, tunnels and aqueducts, an underground world more than forty metres deep. Inexpressible beauty and evocative places to discover.
The underground tunnels have an ancient history, with origins dating back 5000 years ago: visiting Napoli Sotterranea means taking an authentic journey through history.
Visits to the Naples Underground are only possible by guided tours that last about two hours and need to be booked.
Guided tours timetable: 10am – 12pm – 2pm – 4pm – 6pm
11. San Gregorio Armeno, Naples
In San Gregorio Armeno it is Christmas all year round, which is why it is also nicknamed “the street of nativity scenes”. Every month, even when it is hot and Christmas is far away, the masters are at work building the typical cork nativity scenes and terracotta shepherds. Talking to craftsmen is a journey into the traditions of Naples.
12. Toledo Underground Station
Toledo Metro Station deserves a special mention. A jewel designed by the Catalan architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca; it has often been described as the most beautiful metro station in Europe.
What to see nearby
- Capri (approximately 2 hours by ferry)
Capri is the best known island in Campania and often visited by stars and celebrities. It can be an ideal destination for a hit-and-run holiday: from the legendary Faraglioni rocks to the Grotta Azzurra and the famous Piazzetta.
- Sorrento (1 hour by car)
Picturesquely situated on a tufa terrace overlooking the Gulf of Naples, Sorrento is the most famous town on the Sorrento coast. A well-known holiday resort praised by poets, celebrated in songs and immortalised in paintings.
- Vesuvio National Park (25 minutes by car)
The territory of the Vesuvius National Park is a concentration of naturalistic riches, the history of volcanology, breathtaking landscapes, age-old crops and traditions that make the Vesuvius area one of the most fascinating and most visited places in the world.
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