Naples is one of the most beautiful Italian destinations, full of interesting museums, impressive castles, parks, palaces and churches. Art lovers, history enthusiasts and foodies will find something for themselves here. The huge variety of attractions is, of course, an advantage, but if you plan to stay in the city for only a few days, their number may give you a headache. Which ones to choose and which ones to skip? How to plan a 3-day city break to see as much as possible, not to lose too much time in transit and not to spend the whole time with your nose in a guidebook? If you ask yourself these questions, don’t hesitate - use our practical tips to get the most of your visit! Reading our article you will find out what to see in and around Naples during your 3-day vacation, it will also help to avoid an organizational chaos!
If you have the opportunity, plan your trip in such a way that on the first day you check into your hotel as early as possible and immediately set out to explore the city. It is worth starting from the historic center of Naples. This part of the city, fully designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, extends over as much as 1,700 hectares, making it the largest area of its kind in Europe.
You'll find most of the sights in the historic center along Via dei Tribunali and the so-called Spaccanapoli, a route that remembers antiquity and consists of several smaller streets. It's here that you'll find, among others, the churches of Santa Chiara, San Domenico Maggiore, the Renaissance-style Santi Filippo e Giacomo and the Gesù Nuovo with its striking facade. You'll also find landmarks such as the Palazzo Venezia and the Piazzetta Nilo with its marble statue of the Nile God. This is also where the Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale di Napoli) is located. These are buildings you simply must see when visiting Naples!
If you want to see them in a relaxed and informative way the best option will be to take our Old Town Naples free walking tour. This way you will be introduced to all the main sights of the historic center of Naples by a professional, local guide. You can book your place for this tour here.
What else to see in Naples on the morning of your first day? Be sure to check out the Sansevero Chapel (Cappella Sansevero)! It is located near the church of San Domenico Maggiore. It is here that you can admire the famous marble sculpture of Christ wrapped in a shroud. According to legends, it was supposed to have been created as a result of alchemical practices, as carving such intricate details without help of some supernatural force would have been impossible. If you wish to visit the chapel, make sure to do an online reservation in advance.
When strolling through the center of Naples, one must see the amazing underground city hiding under the narrow, winding streets of the Old Town. Its history dates back to the 4th century BC. Here you can admire ancient tunnels, aqueducts, halls full of interesting exhibits and even an underground theater! The entrance, signed "Napoli Sotterranea," is located on Via dei Tribunali, adjacent to the Basilica of San Paolo Maggiore.
All of the aforementioned monuments are in very close proximity, so you can go to any of them without using public transportation or cabs.
After exploring the historic center of the city, it's time to head elsewhere. We suggest a half-hour walk to Piazza del Plebiscito. If you prefer, part of the route can be covered by public transportation, but if you decide to walk, you'll find many atmospheric restaurants along the way, perfect for a quick lunch.
When visiting Naples in 3 days, you simply can't miss Piazza del Plebiscito. This is one of the biggest squares in Italy - it covers about 25,000 square meters. Its name derives from the plebiscite during which the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies joined the unified Italy. Most impressive building in this huge square is the Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale). In addition to an interesting museum and the National Library, Palazzo Reale also houses the oldest opera theater in Italy: the Teatro San Carlo. Its beautiful interior and arcades make it one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. Besides the palace it is also worth seeing the neoclassical Basilica of St. Francis, located on the square.
How to visit Naples to learn as much as possible about its history? Of course the best option is to go on a tour with our experienced, local guide - we mentioned the Old Town tour before but it's also worth choosing one that includes Piazza del Plebiscito and the nearby Piazza Municipio, along with the Fountain of Neptune and Palazzo San Giacomo. To cover all that we recommend joining the Welcome to Naples Free Tour with Walkative!
What else should you do on your first afternoon? Within a five-minute walk from Piazza del Plebiscito there is one of the city's most unusual sights: the Galleria Umberto. It's a Neo-Renaissance shopping arcade with an impressive steel and glass roof - one of Naples' architectural gems.Check out especially the ornate details on the floors, walls and ceilings.
In the Galleria Umberto you can end your first day and enjoy a delicious dinner in one of the local restaurants. We also recommend going to the waterfront and having a relaxing evening with the sound of the waves and the sea breeze. 3 days in this city is not much, but with good organization and a clear sightseeing plan you are sure to have time to see this beautiful place thoroughly. Now, are you ready to check out what awaits you on the second day?
We recommend starting the second of your 3 days in Naples with a visit to the Spanish Quarter (Quartieri Spagnoli). This is a place that used to have bad associations and was frowned upon by tourists, but today enchants everyone with its unique atmosphere. You will find plenty of awesome murals here, depicting a wide variety of characters from pop culture, celebrities, scenes from movies or interesting quotes. Football fans will certainly be interested in Via Emanuele de Deo. The walls of the buildings here are decorated with numerous likenesses of Diego Maradona and all around you will find symbolic altars commemorating him playing for SSC Napoli.
In Quartieri Spagnoli, life goes on with a very specific rhythm. Small chapels are found at every turn; first floor apartments have no windows, and their doors are open directly onto the street. Laundry cords stretch between balconies, buckets and baskets hang from the windows on ropes - this is how bread is delivered to the upper floors. When visiting Naples, you simply have to get there to see how different this place is from the rest of the city.
What else is worth seeing in Naples on your second day? From the Spanish Quarter, you'll reach the National Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli) in about twenty minutes. Its collections include ancient mosaics from the ruins of Pompeii (the city destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius) and numerous sculptures from antiquity - including the 2nd century Heracles of Pharnissus.
On the afternoon of the second day, after visiting the Archaeological Museum, you can take a stroll to the nearby Rione Sanità neighborhood. How to get there? First, walk along Piazza Cavour, and then turn into the second street on the left: Via Crocelle a Porta San Gennaro. This way you will enter this part of the city from the best possible side. You will definitely enjoy walking down the main avenue full of stores, stalls and atmospheric restaurants. What's a must-see in Neapolitan's Rione Sanità neighborhood? There is the basilica of Santa Maria della Sanità with its rich decor and distinctive dome, towering over the entire area. From inside the basilica you can descend to the catacombs of San Gaudioso. They were built at the turn of the 4th and 5th centuries. Remains of the structure - including mosaics and frescoes - can still be admired today.
In order to explore Naples and its surroundings at a leisurely pace in 3 days, some sights must unfortunately be left behind. However, some are so important that it is impossible to skip them. For those fascinated by art, one of such places is the Capodimonte Museum (Museo di Capodimonte). Its extensive collections include works by such masters as Caravaggio, Raphael Santi, Titian, El Greco and Pieter Bruegel (the elder). Whether you prefer Renaissance, Baroque or contemporary paintings, you'll find something to your liking here. In addition, the Capodimonte museum is housed in a beautiful palace formerly owned by King Charles III - it's worth seeing it, at least from the outside.
Depending on how long it takes you to visit the Museo di Capodimonte, you can then head to the nearby Catacombs of San Gennaro (St. Januarius) or grab a snack and move on to the next stage of your sightseeing plan. The catacombs of San Gennaro are the largest of their kind in all of southern Italy, and date back to the 2nd century. How to visit the catacombs? They are located just below the Madre di Buon Consiglio church. They have two levels, and it's best to start at the upper level and then descend lower. The original burial place of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, is located under the basilica.
What's worth seeing in and around Naples before returning from vacation? Our final suggestion for a third day in Naples is the Cartouche of St. Martin (Certosa di San Martino) or the Castle of Sant'Elmo (Castel Sant'Elmo) - or both of them if you have enough time. The Carthusia as well as the castle are located on Vomero Hill. The hill itself offers an amazing view of the city and the bay.
A thorough tour of Naples and its surroundings in 3 days is not possible, but this does not mean that it is not worth spending a short vacation here. On the contrary - the sunny capital of Campania is an excellent idea for a small city break. After all, if you don’t manage to see all you want, you can always come back!
So how to visit Naples in 3 days to make the most of your time? Below you will find a brief summary of our suggestions:
Day One: guided tour of the historic city center, underground Naples and/or Sansevero chapel (be sure to book online!), followed by a guided tour of the area of Piazza del Plebiscito and San Carlo Theater, evening Galleria Umberto and a coastal walk.
Day two: a tour of ancient Naples and the National Archaeological Museum and/or a visit to the Spanish Quarter, followed in the afternoon by a visit to the Rione Sanità district and the catacombs of San Gaudioso.
Day three: the Capodimonte museum and the catacombs of San Gennaro, and later the sights on Vomero Hill: the Cartouche of St. Martin and/or the castle of Sant'Elmo.
We hope you like our plan and enjoy your Naples city break!