Did you know that in just over an hour by train, you could be well on your way to visiting some of the world’s best museums, biting into some of the world’s best pizza, and diving into a cultural world unlike any other in Italy? Bella Napoli – Naples, as it’s known state-side – is a close neighbor (and rival) to Rome, but it’s truly a world apart. Many visitors taking a day trip to Naples just pass through en route to visit Pompeii, which is well worth the visit. But Naples stands alone.
It’s a fascinating city with a rich, protected culture. It’s a city that gets a bad rap for being dangerous, especially for tourists (foreign and Italian!). Like traveling anywhere, a certain amount of caution is important (see our tips below), but recent infrastructural improvements, regulation, and crackdown on crime has made Naples a much safer place to visit. And being so close to Rome, Naples is a great city for a day excursion from the Eternal City if you don’t have the time to visit for longer.
Here’s all you need to know to plan your Day Trip from Rome to Naples.
There are both high speed, express and regional trains that connect Rome with Naples that leave every 10-20 minutes. For the most convenient and comfortable ride, take a high speed train which departs from Termini Station in Rome and takes you directly to Stazione Centrale in Naples in 1 hour and 10 minutes. Check out our post on taking trains around Italy to learn the difference between the different options.
Once you arrive in Naples, getting around is easy with the underground metro and taxis. Like in Rome, a metro ticket is €1.50 and lasts for 90 minutes, including all train exchanges. Around the historic center, walking or a taxi is your best option – but reaching more distant neighborhoods is much easier and cheaper with the metro. That said, taxis are quite inexpensive. You can grab a taxi most reliably by going to a designated taxi stand (located in most piazzas, attractions, and stations) or calling +39 0812222 or +39 081 8888. *If you plan to take a taxi, make sure you’ve got cash as many won’t accept card payments.
One of the best experiences in Naples is just seeing the city itself. A walk around the historic center is a quick introduction into the special culture that gives Naples its (in)famous reputation. See families of four on a single scooter, regal buildings covered in vines and grafiti, crowded markets selling everything from chickens to lemons, and crowded streets filled with men in business suits, hipsters on bikes, and housewives in vintage Fiats. It’s the mixture of everything that gives the city such a unique magic. As soon as you step out of the station, you’ll find yourself in Piazza Garibaldi, in the heart of the historic center. If you head west from the station – directly across from the piazza – you’ll enter into a web of small streets of the historic center. Here you’ll find the famous Via San Gregorio Armeno known for all it’s small figurine shops used in Nativity Scenes during Christmas. Keep track of where you are as it’s easy to get lost among the small streets, but here you’ll get a real sense of life in Naples.
There are also plenty of world-class museums to check out in Naples. The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli houses some of the most impressive works from ancient Rome, including statues recovered from imperial and noble villas, in addition to world-class Neopolitan masterpieces. The Royal Palace of Naples was one of the four palaces used by the Bourbon kings in the 18th and 19th centuries. For modern art, check out the exhibits at Madre where traveling photography and sculture exhibitions come through.
One of the most iconic images of Naples is it’s Castel del’Ovo that juts out into the big blug Bay of Naples. The foundations of the fortress can be traced back to the 6th century BC and it’s considered the birthplace for the city of Naples. The peculiar name (“Egg Castle”) comes from a legend by the Poet Virgil who claimed to have hidden a magic egg in the fortress’ foundation. Should the egg be broken, it would signal the demise of the city of Naples. A visit to the castle and a sunset walk along the waterfront at the Bay of Naples are musts for any visit to the city.
The Neopolitans are as faithful to their cuisine as the Romans are; it’s a pretty strong trait in Italians all over the country, actually. But hands down the most famous dish to come out of Naples is the pizza. Traditionally the only kinds of pizza available were pizza bianca (just pizza crust with olive oil), pizza rossa (just tomato sauce), and the margherita (with tomato, mozzarella di buffala and basil). Of course now the sky is the limit with pizza toppings all over the world, but in Naples, these are still the most important pies.
If you visit Da Michele (Via Cesare Sersale, 1) you’ll most likely run into a long line out the door and your options are limited to the only 3 types mentioned above. Da Michele has been awarded the best pizza in Naples (and by extention then, the world), and they’re purists. For something a little more inventive, check out Concettina ai tre santi (Via Arena della Sanità, 7) before grabbing your train back to Rome. Opened by a young, passionate Neopolitan pizzaiolo who learned the ropes from his grandmother, the alternative pizza place is a bit innovative with their menu but stays true to the traditions. Or get out of the center and grab a bite where the locals go at 50 Kalò (Piazza Sannazaro, 201/c), where the pizza takes center stage. No frills but a good wine list, you’ll enjoy a solid pie amidst an authentic Neopolitan hustle and bustle.
There are plenty of fabulous wine bars in Naples where you can just watch the street life pass you buy or enjoy a glass of local wine. One of our favorites is L’ebrezza di noe (Vico Vetriera a Chiaia 8b/9) located in the posh Chiaia neighborhood of Naples. A new cocktail culture is shocking the whole Italian peninsula and Naples is no exception. Step into the speakeasy world of l’Antiquariato (Via Vannella Gaetani, 2) for a world-class cocktail, either a classic or one of their own concoctions.
**Naples is unarguably one of Italy’s most beautiful cities. The architecture speaks of a storied past, filled with power and royalty. Just like in Rome, different neighborhoods have their own flavors and distinct cultures, so be sure to move around and explore different parts of the city. But be attentive of your things! Lock your vacation rental or hotel room well when you leave, and don’t carry too much with you. Pick pockets are even more prevalent in Naples, which makes foreign visitors popular targets. Keep bags that you’re carrying closed and within sight.
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Have you taken a day trip from Rome to Naples? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!