Napoli is a crazy place, often thought of as the poorer relation to Rome and Milan, and sometimes compared to such cities as Cairo and Marrakech. Sitting under the ominous gaze of Vesuvius, the residents seem to live undeterred by the potential threat on their doorstep that was responsible for the downfall of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
A lot of it's streets are in desperate need for a clean up and pedestrians run the gauntlet with mopeds and cars that try and fit down the narrow streets all at the same time. But, beyond all the mayhem, is an intriguing and welcoming place with great food and nightlife. Napoli also makes an excellent base to explore surrounding area, with Vesuvius, Herculaneum and Pompeii under an hour away by train. The islands of Capri and Ischia, Sorrenti and the surrounding Amalfi Coast also offer escapes from the frenzy of the city, but at the cost of more touristic surroundings.
Italy is in the EU so the euro is the currency here, prices, in general, are cheaper than those in the north of Italy, with it feasibly possibly to survive on a budget of under €20 a day. The weather is very hot in the summer, and due to this, a lot of the city shuts down and escapes to the coast, so the best time to visit in either spring or autumn when the weather is a lot more moderate. Even in May it is advisable to come with sunscreen as the sun can still burn.
Travel is very cheap, a one day ticket should not cost you more than €5 and a return ticket on the ferry around €10. Most of the centre of Napoli is walkable, so if possible, try and book accommodation near the centre.
Despite it's reputation for petty crime and mafia style corruption, Napoli is safe as long as you are sensible. Keep bags and valuable secure on your person and avoid travelling alone in the more seedy areas at night. It is also advisable to keep your eyes open at all time, especially when crossing the road, as the cars and mopeds seem to have little regard for pedestrians. Amazingly, it all seems to work, watch how the neopolitans do it.
For a good set of maps I recommend the Footprint Naples Guide
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If your coming by air you'll arrive at Napoli Airport (Capodichino) which is clean and well run so you shouldn't wait too long before getting out. From the airport a taxi costs around €20-25, but the best way to get into the centre is to catch the Alibus which costs €3, payable when you get on and goes to the Central Station on Piazza Garibaldi and then onto the Port. Another alternative is the 3S Bus which is cheaper than the alibus (€1.50) and also goes to the Piazza Garibaldi, for this bus you must purchase your ticket in advance from the hotel reservation desk or from tabacchi/newstands. If you are planning to go elsewhere from Napoli, most routes run out of the Central Station on Piazza Garibaldi. Trains to Ercoli (Vesuvius and Herculaneum), Pompeii and Sorrento use the Circumversuviana line and its worth buying a daily (giornaliero) Unico ticket, Fascia 5 for about €5.50, you can also use these on local buses. Ferries or Hydrofoils run from the Port (Molo Beverello) next to Castel Nuovo (some routes run from Porticciolo di Mergellina further along the seafront. Trips to Capri, Ishia, Sorrento and other areas of the Amalfi Coast are run from here, the hydrofoil in general is about twice as fast as the ferries but often costs twice as much (around €10.30 one way to Ischia for example, where ferry is about €5)
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Hostel of the Sun (via Melisurgo, 15) - Reccommended by a friend this hostel has a good reputation for being safe, affordable and very friendly.
Hostel Soggiorno Imperia (Piazza miraglia 386) - Situated in a great central location, this hostel is on the top floor meaning a climb of 5 flights. But once your there, the place is clean, friendly and affordable with private rooms from €25 a night (based on shared bathroom facilities. Dorm rooms are a little cheaper.
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Things to do
Capella Sansevero (Via de Sanctis 19) - Check out the awesome sculptures by Francisco Queirolo and Guiseppe Sanmartino
Castel dell'Ovo - The 'egg' castle down on the seafront by Borgo Marinaro sits on a lump of volcanic rock and gives nice views out to sea. There are some nice little restaurants nearby around Borgo Marinaro.
Castel Nuovo (Piazza Municipio)
Castel Sant'Elmo (via Tito Angelini 22) - Get the funicular from the station near the start of Via Toldeo by Palazzo Reale up to the Castel Sant'Elmo for great views of Naples, the castle itslef also holds good contemporary art exhibitions.
Catacombe di San Gennaro (via Capodimonte 16)
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (Piazza Museo) - Finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum and other important Roman artefacts. Allow at least half a day.
Napoli Sotterranea (Piazza San Gaetano 68) - Take a tour of Napoli's underground, where you can see the cities' ancient aqueducts which were once street level, also included in the €10 tour is the roman theatre which you bizarrely enter via someone's garage and then under a bed! Tours mon-fri 12.00, 14.00 & 16.00 while on the weekends at 18.00 aswell.
Piazza Dante - Take a tour of the metro to see contemporary art, at least 5 stations from Dante have works either just outside or within the station.
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Herculaneum (Ercoli) - Catch the train on the Circumversuviana line from the Stazione Vesuviana on Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi (just down from the central station, although you can also catch the same train from the Central Station). Buy a Unico Daily ticket (€5) which will allow you to travel for the whole day. From the station Herculaneum (25 mins from Napoli) is a 7 minute walk down the hill and costs €10 to get in (although you can but a ticket that covers Pompeii and Oplontis aswell for €18). Herculaneum is a smaller site than Pompeii and should take you a morning or afternoon. The best time to come is late afternoon or just when it opens to avoid the crowds.
Pompeii - Catch the train to XX (approx 45 mins from Napoli) and it should be apparent where you should go. Pompeii is a large site so it may be worth taking a day to do it. Guides are available from €10 per person and audio guides from €6.
Vesuvius - Catch the train to Ercolano and outside the station there should be some minbuses available for €10 per person taking you up to the volcano (about 40 mins drive), you will be given about an hour to walk around the crater, also offering stunning views of the Bay of Naples. Entry into the volcano area is €5.50. A bus also runs up and down for a much cheaper price but the times are are less frequent and the journey takes longer.
Capri - Catch the ferry from the Port, Ferries or Hydrofoils run from the Port (Molo Beverello) next to Castel Nuovo (some routes run from Porticciolo di Mergellina further along the seafront. A trip to capri should take about 35 mins by hydrofoil and cost about €10. The Blue Grotto is one of the highlights of Capri, if you are wanting to stay overnight, be warned the accommodation is quite expensive. Capri is also one of the most touristic of all the main islands
Ischia - The first island where the Greeks landed in ancient times, it is less touristy than Capri and is doable in a day trip. Ischia is the largest of the islands and you could easily spend a weekend here. Castello Aragonese is recommeded for good views of Ischia Ponte (the main town), especially spooky is the Nun's Cemetary in the castle. Other possibilities on Ischia include Monte Epomeo, Forio and one of the Spas on the Island.
Vera Pizza (Via S.Pietro a Maiella) - Small but friendly local pizziera serving just pizza, but good quality.
Scaturchio (Piazza S.Domenico Maggiore) - Excellent patisserie, the Sfogliatelle is recommended.
Campagnola (Via dei Tribunali 47) - Great local restaurant with a local menu, you'll need some knowledge of Italian to order something other than the house pasta. Very cheap, half a litre of wine only €1.20
Antica Pizzeria Port Alba (Via Port Alba) - Claiming to be the oldest pizza parlour in Napoli, Port Alba serves good food at affordable prices
Risterante Al Plebiscito (Via Gennaro Sorra) - Cheap Pizzieria with nice courtyard just behind Piazza del Plebiscito
Pizzi Cotto (Via Mezzocannone 129) - Cheap, friendly pizza place with good food, popular with the locals
Pizziera Bellini (Via S.Maria di Constaninapoli) - Good quality restaurant aimed at tourists, but serving nice portions, good service in a good setting.
La Cantina di Via Sapienza (Via Sapienza 40-42) - Rustic family run restaurant with flowers on the tables, helpful service and cheap food. The Penne Aum Aum is only €3, also recommended the meatballs and for dessert, the strawberries with lemon juice.
Caffetteria Marsal (Via Eldorado) - Next to Castel dell'Ovo this is a great place to chill in the sun with a bite to eat and drink.
Orange Tree Restaurant (Via Enea, Ischia) - Just off the main high street in Ischa Ponte, this is a lovely restaurant set in a charming garden courtyard, although rather bizarrely the oranges on the trees were plastic! Despite this the service is good, friendly and the food is great.
Risterante Pizzeria Bar (Via Plinio, Pompeii) - Just away from the most touristic and expensive places, this pizziera is a good place to eat when visiting Pompeii
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Bars & Clubs
Trinity Cafe (Calata Trinita Maggiore) - Just off Piazza del Gesu, this is small take away bar/shop where you can purchase plastic glasses of beer to drink in the square. The Neapolis Blonde Beer is recommended.
Cafe Toraldo (49 Via S Paolo) - Very cheap local Italian Bar, worth searching out if you fancy a cheap drink
Greenwich Pub (Via S.Giovanni Maggiore Pignatelli) - Laughable attempt at an english bar serving just Tennants (Scottish?!) Branded beer, bar staff that speak no English and awful wallpaper
Superfly (Via Cisterna dell'Ollo 12) - Great jazz bar with a lively and friendly atmosphere, be sure to get here early to get one of the five bar stools!
Cafe (Piazza del Gesu) - Originally named, small little bar where you can be one on one with the bar staff
Tempiodi Bacco (Vico San Domenico Maggiore 1) - Expensive and trendy wine bar with ethnic decor playing world and dub music. You can only buy wine here and the cheapest bottle is €22, the owner also gets very upset if you buy the cheapest brands, not recommended for traveller's on a budget!
Cafetteria Domenico (Piazza S.Domenico Maggiore) - Cafe with limited seating inside but has a nice large seating area in the Piazza where you can watch the world go by. They serve good bar snacks free of charge.
Gran Caffe Aragonese (Piazza S.Domenico Maggiore) - Great chilled cafe on the Piazza with great wine and views, good bar snacks and a friendly english speaking waiter.
Bourbon Street Jazz Club (Via V Bellini) - Excellent and surprisingly cheap jazz bar/club with a good cocktail menu. Check the listings for live nights as the night we went there was no live music.
St.James (Piazza Bellini) - Irish Bar with outside seating, but with an expensive if limited drinks menu
Internet Bar (Piazza Bellini) - It does what it says on the tin, cheap internet available here or enjoy a reasonably priced beer in the tree covered area out front.
Music Bar (Piazza Bellini) - Small bar with outside seating popular with musicians, you can often hear the sound of bongos coming out from inside.
Letterario Intra Moenia (Piazza Bellini 70) - Literary cafe with a decent menu for the cultured amongst you. They also have internet access and occasionally put on literary meetings, concerts and poetry evenings.
Info compiled by Andy Webb.
View Napoli Gallery
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