The city of Naples is not always at the top of backpackers’ “things to do in Italy” list. But no doubt, you will end up here when you travel to Italy. The city is a gateway to the Southern region of Italy and due to its useful location near Pompeii, Capri and Sorrento it’s a good place to start your exploration of Southern Italy.
Naples is also the birthplace of pizza and anyone that visits risks becoming one, it’s everywhere and it’s cheap. In this article, we have backpackers on a budget in mind and list the top 10 best things to do in Naples Italy.
Join Some Free Walking Tours
When backpacking on a budget, the best way to see the city you are visiting is to take full advantage of the free walking tours. The city of Naples is no exception, there are a lot of things to see here. It’s a fantastic way to get a feel for a city and a chance to learn about the history and culture of those who know best.
We highly recommend the ‘Hidden Beauty of Naples Tour’, here you will get to check out all the best sights in Naples in a pleasant and easy-going experience. Here, you will get to see the Piazza Plebiscito, Piazza del Gesù, St. Chiara, Piazza San Domenico, and the incredible Via Tribunali. Just strolling through the historic neighborhoods of Naples will make you feel like you have stepped back in time. Make sure you take full advantage of the free walking tour opportunities.
Couchsurf Or AirBNB
When it comes to accommodation in Italy, prices can get expensive. Luckily it’s 2019 and we have amazing apps such as Couchsurfing and Airbnb. Both companies offer backpackers the chance to find cheap accommodation in key areas of the city for a low price. You will most likely be renting someone’s apartment whilst they are not using it or you can choose a shared accommodation in which you just rent a room within their apartment. Either way, each Airbnb website should be able to find you some suitable accommodation.
The best thing about these Airbnb websites? They give you an opportunity to stay in areas of cities that tourists would never think of staying, allowing you to have a more authentic experience and access to unique things to see in the city. Who knows, you may even get to meet the owner and they take you out for a real Naples experience or even just give you some resident-only information that other tourists wouldn’t normally get.
Hike Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius in the famous volcano that wiped out the city of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79AD. The volcano is still active but you can hike it. Don’t worry it’s not due to erupt for another couple of thousand years. Moderate to strong hikers should find the steep but short climb easy enough.
Those who conquer the volcano will be treated to incredible views on the inside of the volcano crater, as well as views of Naples Bay. It will cost around €25 altogether for the transport and hiking fees. You can book with any of the people selling the tours along the streets of Naples. If hesitant, do some research online about the best tour company in advance.
The city of Naples is the birthplace of pizza, so it’s everywhere and it’s cheap! Backpackers on a budget should focus on eating pizza in Naples. You can get pizza at most places for under €11 ($10) and it’s probably going to be the best pizza you can have. The best pizza in Naples is the classic simple pizzas such as Margherita and Marinara, both are focused on a secret recipe tomato sauce and the finest cheese available.
Pizza is a big deal in Naples. So, don’t miss your opportunity to try some of the best the world has to offer. That’s not to say you don’t have other options, most restaurants have now expanded to include a whole variety of different pizzas and calzones (pizza folded in half).
Visit The Archaeological Museum Of Naples
The city of Naples has a rich and fascinating history so where better to visit and learn more than the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. Inside, things to see include some of the best ancient Roman artifacts on display in the whole of Italy.
Additionally, there are also artifacts from the city of Pompeii and even the casts of bodies found after it was destroyed by the Mount Vesuvius volcano. There are sculptures here that date back over 1,800 years old; giving you an insight into the lives of people living in Ancient Rome. The museum is really well presented and full of information for visitors.
Backpackers will gain entry for just €8 ($9) and the museum is open daily 9 am – 7.30 pm (excluding Tuesdays).
Via Benedetto Croce Street
The bustling streets of Naples are full of wonderful sights and smells, but Via Benedetto Croce Street is the best. Here you will be able to discover the vast array of Neapolitan artisanal products including street food, handcrafted goods, and plastic rosaries.
Street food tours are available here, which is a great way to get a taste of traditional Neapolitan food. Tours can cost upwards of €25 per person and worth every cent. However, if tours are over your budget, then you can discover the food set over 4 blocks for yourself. There are hundreds of wonderful shops to explore and things to see. It’s also an opportunity to sneak into the historical buildings of Palazzo Venezia or Palazzo Petrucci along the way.
Much lesser known to backpackers than the famous ancient city of Pompeii, the city of Herculaneum was also buried by the ashes of the volcano eruption in 79AD. Once a humble little fishing village of only 4,000 inhabitants, it’s now a fascinating, well-preserved area to visit and learn about its history.
Unknown to most, Herculaneum was actually the first victim of the eruption. Many here were killed instantly after the eruption and their bodies preserved. Today, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site; certainly well worth the visit. Also, it is actually far better preserved than the city of Pompeii.
Things to see in Herculaneum include the square shrine Sacello Degli Augustali dedicated to Hercules and the Thermae (thermal baths). They were once used by villages of Herculaneum 2000 years ago. Tickets to Herculaneum are around €13 ($14.50).
Museo Cappella Sansevero
The stunning Museo Cappella Sansevero is a must for any visitor to the city of Naples. The museum is located right in the heart of the city. It displays some of the most unique artifacts, statues, and sculptures from ancient Rome. Here you can see the infamous pieces such as the ‘Veiled Christ’; famous throughout the world for its mesmerizing tissue-like marble work.
‘Disillusion’ is a group of sculptures from the 18th century that represent the artists new found freedom from sin. Don’t miss the incredible, albeit slightly creepy display, ‘Anatomical Machines’. Two very real human skeletons with their arteriovenous still intact were revealed at the Museo Cappella Sansevero in the second half of the 18th century. These skeletons were made by the Palermo doctor Giuseppe Salerno, and the method in how he was able to preserve the circulatory system is still being argued over today, almost 250 years later.
The Holy Mile (Miglio Sacro)
The Holy Mile is a sacred one-mile-long walk from the tomb of St. Gennaro to his treasure. The tour does a great job of exploring the once multicultural and enigmatic area of Rione Sanità. Here, people from China to Africa once settled here and still do to this day. It is a vibrant attack on your senses with unique smells, sounds, colors, and faces.
Along the streets, you can expect to find some of the old coaches once used by various important people. This includes the Pope, kings, and cardinals. The itinerary is as follows: Basilica of Incoronata Madre del Buon Consiglio, Catacombe di San Gennaro, Basilica of San Gennaro Extra Moenia, Fontanelle Cemetery, Basilica of Santa Maria Della Sanità, Palazzo Sanfelice, Palazzo Dello Spagnuolo, Church of St. Mary of the Virgin, and finishing at Porta San Gennaro.
People who guide you on this tour will tell you that by taking the Holy Mile experience, you are reaffirming the importance of this area; one of old nobility and prosperity. The tour is priced at €15 ($16.50). Also, backpackers can expect a good three and half hour tour for that price.
Watch a Film Under the Stars at N’ato Cinema
Let’s be honest, there is only so much culture and history one can take in. If you fancy an escape from the usual touristy activities, then you should watch a movie under the stars in an open-air cinema. Now, at the former Nato di Bolognia base, you can do just that. Films include the latest Hollywood features to small arthouse and independent films.
However, this is a summer-only activity and tickets go quick so make sure you plan ahead. Some evenings are reserved for films with a social theme linked to the Neapolitan territory and the directors may even be present. Tickets are usually €4.50 ($4) and showings run from Thursday to Sunday.