Perfect Naples Itinerary (Best of Naples + Pompeii)

The perfect itinerary for one day in Naples and Pompeii (+ a map with all must-see sights and where to try the best pizza Margherita).
one day in naples itinerary

Naples is the largest city in southern Italy. In fact, it’s the third-largest city in the country, right after Rome and Milan. However, don’t expect a typical Italian city. Naples is very colourful, real, filled with much energy, but at the same time a bit chaotic and dirty. Yet, there is one thing I can’t deny, the city has a unique charm that you won’t find anywhere else.

Located in the Campania region of Italy, Naples is mostly known as the birthplace of pizza Margherita. And although it’s worth visiting even only for its pizza, Naples has so much more to offer! Founded by the Greeks in 600 BC, the city boasts a rich history, two royal palaces, three castles and some of Christianity’s oldest frescoes!

One day in Naples itinerary

Naples is a perfect stop on your way to the Amalfi Coast or Pompeii. It also makes a great day trip from Rome (trains take just over an hour).

No matter if you’re staying overnight or visiting the city on a day trip, this one day in Naples itinerary is all you need. My travel guide will show you the best of the city in less than a day. The itinerary starts from the city’s historic centre, thus you can follow it without any adjustments even if you’re visiting Naples on a day trip.

To explore the city with a guide, join this Free Walking Tour of Naples. Another option is this Naples Downtown Tour and Veiled Christ Entry, which includes a free entrance to the famous Cappella Sansevero and its beautiful marble statues.

You can find a detailed map of the itinerary at the end of my travel guide.

Following this one day in Naples itinerary, you’ll experience a little bit of everything the city has to offer, from royal places and ornate churches to delicious pizza and wine. Although not such a popular destination as Rome and Florence, the city still welcomes a huge number of tourists throughout the year. Thus, I’d recommend booking in advance tickets to the most popular attractions, such as Cappella Sansevero.

My favourite place to stay in Naples is Relais Della Porta (spacious comfortable rooms and bathrooms). The location is very central and convenient, just a short walk from all tourist attractions.

Booking.com
Always book tours or skip the lines tickets with Tiqets, Civitatis or GetYourGuide (you get a mobile ticket voucher + free cancellation). Tickets from the attractions’ official websites, in most cases, are non-refundable.

Perfect one day in Naples (Tried and tested itinerary)

  • Start the day with Neapolitan pastries and espresso
  • See the Veiled Christ at Sansevero Chapel Museum
  • Visit Church of St. Gregory of Armenia
  • Via San Gregorio Armeno and Via dei Tribunali
  • Admire the frescoes at the Church of Gesù Nuovo
  • Try some Neapolitan pasta
  • See the triumphal arch at Castel Nuovo
  • Visit the Royal Palace of Naples
  • Admire Mount Vesuvius from Castel dell’Ovo
  • Taste some authentic Neapolitan pizza

For my trip to Naples, I used this DK Eyewitness Travel Guide. I love their travel guides, as they have practical information, walking tours and a fold-out map!

One day in Naples

Morning

Breakfast

08:10 AM – 08:50 AM
Start your one day in Naples with some Neapolitan pastries and a shot of espresso. Sfogliatella and baba are the two most popular pastries in the region of Campania. Sfogliatella is a shell-shaped Italian pastry, filled with almond paste and sweet ricotta. Baba is a sponge cake soaked in a liquor syrup, usually rum.

For the best Neapolitan pastries go to Sfogliate e Sfogliatelle or Scaturchio. Note that Sfogliate e Sfogliatelle opens after 09:30 AM (perfect for a late start of the day).

Sfogliate e Sfogliatelle
Sfogliatella
Scaturchio Baba
Baba

See the Veiled Christ at Sansevero Chapel Museum

09:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Sansevero Chapel Museum (Museo Cappella Sansevero) houses sculptures and artworks by some of the leading Italian artists of the 18th century. The most famous statue is the Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino. Carved from one block of marble, it depicts Christ lying dead under a shroud.

Sansevero Chapel Museum is one of the most popular sights in Naples, so book your ticket in advance here.

Note, that it is not permitted to take photographs inside the chapel.

Church of St. Gregory of Armenia

10:10 AM – 10:40 AM
Although small, the Church of St. Gregory of Armenia (Chiesa di San Gregorio Armeno) is one of the most opulent Baroque churches in Naples. Built in the 16th century over the remains of a Roman temple dedicated to Ceres, the church houses the relics of St. Gregory, the first bishop of Armenia.

Church St. Gregory of Armenia

Via San Gregorio Armeno and Via dei Tribunali

10:40 AM – 11:10 AM
While you’re in the area, take your time and explore the historic streets of Via San Gregorio Armeno and Via dei Tribunali. A nativity scenes market is set all year around on Via San Gregorio Armeno. You can actually visit the workshops and see the craftsmen at work or buy a Christmas item for your nativity scene.

On Via dei Tribunali you’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants and of course the iconic rows of colourful laundry strung across the buildings.

Via dei Tribunali

Church of Gesù Nuovo

11:20 AM – 11:50 AM
Originally the Church of Gesù Nuovo (Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo) was built as a palace in 1470 for Roberto Sanseverino, Prince of Salerno. However, political intrigues caused the property to be confiscated and later sold to the Jesuits. The latter converted the palace into a church, keeping its unique facade, covered in pyramid shapes.

Don’t miss to take a look inside, the interior with its golden ornaments, vault frescos and marble columns, is more than impressive.

Church Gesù Nuovo

Try some Neapolitan pasta

12:00 PM – 01:30 PM
For lunch head to Tandem Ragù or PastéNa. I know Naples is the home of pizza, but you can’t leave the city without trying the famous Neapolitan ragù. It’s a delicious meat tomato sauce with chunks of meat. It’s very similar to (and as tasty as) the popular Bolognese version, but in the Bolognese version, the meat is finely chopped.

PastéNa is perfect for a quick lunch, however, if you want to sit and take a little break, head to Tandem Ragù.

Tandem Ragù
Tandem Ragù
PastéNa
PastéNa
Afternoon

Castel Nuovo

01:30 PM – 02:00 PM
Castel Nuovo is one of the three main castles in Naples and probably the most imposing one. It was built in the 13th century by King Charles I of Anjou, who moved the capital of the kingdom of Sicily from Palermo to Naples. After the Spanish Empire took over in the 15th century, Alfonso V of Aragon rebuilt the castle. Castel Nuovo remained a royal seat for kings until 1815.

You can visit the castle on a guided tour or on your own. However, most of the areas are restricted only to the guided tour. So I’d recommend either admiring it from outside or booking the guided tour (see the available slots here).

In any case, don’t miss to take a closer look at the triumphal arch at the main entrance, made entirely from white marble. It was built to commemorate the conquest of Naples in 1443 by Alfonso V of Aragon.

Castel Nuovo

Visit the Royal Palace of Naples

02:00 PM – 03:30 PM
The Royal Palace of Naples (Palazzo Reale) was built in the early 17th century for a visit of King Philip III of Spain. Later, in the 18th and 19th century it served as a royal residence of the Bourbon kings during their reign of the kingdoms of Naples and the Two Sicilies.

Today, you can tour the opulent interior of the palace, including the Royal Apartments, the Court Theater, the Throne Room, and the Royal Chapel.

Consider booking your ticket in advance here, if you’re visiting in the high season.

Palazzo Reale
Royal Palace Naples

Admire Mount Vesuvius from Castel dell’Ovo

03:45 PM – 04:30 PM
Built by the Normans in the 12th century, Castel dell’Ovo is the city’s oldest castle. It was the royal residence of the Norman kings until King Charles I of Anjou built Castel Nuovo and moved the court there. In the following centuries, Castel dell’Ovo served as the seat of the Royal Chamber and of the State Treasury, as well as a prison.

Castel dell’Ovo means Egg Castle in English and its name comes from a legend about the Roman poet Virgil, who had a reputation as a seer and a sorcerer. According to the legend, Virgil put an enchanted egg in the castle’s foundation to strengthen them. However, if one day the egg breaks, the castle and Naples itself would be destroyed.

It’s free to visit Castel dell’Ovo. From its roof you can enjoy panoramic views of the bay and of Mount Vesuvius.

Castel dell'Ovo
Mount Vesuvius

Dinner

It’s time to treat yourself to an authentic Neapolitan pizza. Try Pizza Margherita, which is usually made with San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. There are so many places in Naples, where you can taste a decent pizza, that you’ll be spoiled for choice. Yet, I’d recommend you to visit one of the following – Pizzeria Imperatore 1906, Insolito La Pizzeria Gourmet or Pizzeria Laezza.

Neapolitan pizza
More ideas for your one day in Naples

If you have a little more than a day, or just want to replace some of the sights from this Naples itinerary, take a look at these additional attractions and tours.

A Taste of Old Napoli

There is no better way to discover a city, but taking a food tour. The Taste of Old Napoli Tour will take you to authentic shops and small restaurants, away from the tourist traps. You’ll try a real Neapolitan pizza and even deep-fried pasta! And how about visiting the city’s largest food market, stocked with the tastiest street food?

Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary

Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta) is the main cathedral and the seat of the Archbishop of Naples. Originally constructed in Gothic style in the 13th century, the cathedral had undergone many restorations in the centuries that followed. Today, it is a complicated mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles.

The cathedral holds the skull and the blood of San Gennaro. The blood is kept in vials and it miraculously liquefies twice a year. This is called the Miracle of Saint Gennaro.

Cathedral Assumption of Mary

Museum of the Treasure of San Gennaro

Right next to the cathedral is the Museum of the Treasure of San Gennaro (Museo del Tesoro di San Gennaro). Here you’ll find artworks and religious jewellery collected by popes and kings during a period of seven centuries.

Treasure of San Gennaro

Basilica of San Francesco

The Basilica of San Francesco (San Francesco di Paola) is located on Piazza del Plebiscito, right opposite the Palazzo Reale. The impressive 19th-century church is built in Neoclassical style, inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. Its large cupola rises to 53 meters (174ft) in height and it’s 34 meters (111ft) wide!

Basilica San Francesco

Santa Chiara Monastery

Santa Chiara Monastery (Complesso Monumentale di Santa Chiara) is a little oasis of calm right in the beating heart of the city. The monastery was built in 1340 by King Robert of Anjou (Robert the Wise) and his wife Queen Sancia di Majorca.

Visit the church for its magnificent cloister. It is richly decorated with colourful majolica tiles and 17th-century frescoes depicting scenes of the Old Testament. A real feast for the eyes!

Santa Chiara Monastery

National Archaeological Museum

To see the best treasure discovered in Pompeii, head to the National Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale). Amongst the number of antiquities from Pompeii and Herculaneum are frescoes and mosaics, sculptures, bronze finds and carbonised papyrus. In addition, you’ll find an extensive collection of ancient Roman and Greek artefacts.

You can skip waiting in line by getting your ticket here.

Galleria Umberto I

Galleria Umberto I is a 19th-century public shopping gallery, inspired by the magnificent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. Don’t come here for shopping, but do come to see the elegant glass-covered passages and its impressive dome.

Galleria Umberto I

Panoramic views from Castel Sant’Elmo

Looking for the best view of Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples? Well, head to Castel Sant’Elmo. This star-shaped 13th-century fortress, standing on Vomero hill, offers a 360-degree view of the city and beyond.

You can either walk up to Castel Sant’Elmo or take the funicular.

Toledo Metro Station

If you’re using the metro, don’t miss a trip to Toledo station, one of the most beautiful metro stations probably in all of Italy.

Toledo Metro Station

Discover the Naples underground

Another world lies beneath Naples – tunnels, caves, and catacombs are scattered all around under the city. There are a few places where you can actually go under the surface with a guide and explore what lies beneath. If this is your thing, I’d recommend Catacombs of San Gennaro (Catacombe di San Gennaro) and Bourbon Gallery (Galleria Borbonica).

Catacombs of San Gennaro
The Catacombs of San Gennaro are an extensive ancient burial site, which dates back to the 2nd century AD. One of the highlights is the impressive Byzantine paintings and frescoes from the 5th century! The Catacombs of San Gennaro can be visited only as a part of a guided tour (see all available spots here). The ticket gives you free entry to the Catacombs of San Gaudioso as well.

Bourbon Gallery
Bourbon Gallery was commissioned by King Ferdinand II of Bourbon to serve as a secret escape route for the royal family in 1853. During World War II, the tunnel was used as an air-raid shelter, and later became a dumping ground for vintage cars. The Bourbon Gallery can be visited only as a part of a guided tour (see all available spots here).

Spanish Quarter

The Spanish Quarter (Quartieri Spagnoli) is one of the most characteristic places of Naples. Built in the 16th century for quartering the Spanish troops, today it is a colourful, bustling, energetic and crowded place. Tiny alleys, open-air food markets, delicious local restaurants, crowds and scooters, this is what to expect. Take your time and explore this chaotic and atmospheric part of Naples.

Spanish Quarter
Must buy tickets in advance

Sansevero Chapel Museum – the most popular attraction in Naples. Lines are long even before the opening times, so book your ticket in advance here.

Getting around in Naples

Find here a detailed map of this Naples walking itinerary.

The best way to get around the city is on foot. In fact, this one day in Naples itinerary is designed to be walkable. Naples is a big city, but the main landmarks are located within a comfortable walking distance from each other. And if you choose a hotel right in the historic centre, you probably won’t use public transport at all.

Yet, if walking is not your thing, consider taking the hop-on hop-off bus. The ticket is valid for 24 hours and takes you around the historic centre and along the waterfront.

In case you need to use public transport, there are trams, buses and a metro system available. Single metro tickets cost €1.10 and can be purchased from ticket desks and machines at each station (see all kinds of tickets here). Remember to validate your ticket!

Note that the traffic in Naples is very chaotic, so pay more attention when crossing the road.

How to get to Naples

By train

Naples is accessible by train from the major Italian cities, including Rome and Florence. The Naples Central Station (Napoli Centrale) is just a short walk from the historic city centre. Check timetables and book train tickets online at Trenitalia official website.

By car

Finding free parking in Naples is tough, plus you have to consider the so-called ZTL zones (limited traffic zones). Book a hotel with parking, or look for parking lots in advance. A convenient parking lot is Parcheggio Brin, not far from the Central Railway station. Another option is to park at the airport (15min away by bus) or use the ANM lots in the suburbs (they are connected to the city centre by public transportation).

To get the best car rental rate, take a look at Rentalcars (they compare deals from all major companies, giving you the best price).
By air

The Naples International Airport (NAP) is just 5km away from the city centre. Besides taking a taxi, there are two options to get to the city centre:

  • the easiest option is to book a private transfer directly to your hotel. I recommend this airport transfer (more than 380+ excellent reviews)
  • another option is to take the airport shuttle Alibus, which connects the airport with the Central Railway Station. The service runs every 20 minutes and the journey is approximately 15-20min.

Day trips from Naples

Pompeii

Pompeii

Located half an hour away by train, Pompeii is the most famous archaeological site near Naples. The ancient city was buried in ash, including its residents and houses in 79 AD, when the nearby volcano, Vesuvius, erupted. Due to the ash that preserved the city remarkably well, today you can take a glimpse into ancient Romans’ lives.

Queues in Pompeii are always long, so book your ticket in advance here to save time. Don’t forget to download a map here, the site is huge.
Book your tickets now online

How to get to Pompeii

  • the easiest way is to book a guided tour, that will allow you to visit the city with an expert guide and learn the history behind it (this Pompeii Ruins & Mount Vesuvius Tour is the most popular one)
  • on your own – take a Trenitalia train from Napoli Piazza Garibaldi to Pompeii train station. From there it’s about 700m to one of the entrances.
  • on your own – take a Circumvesuviana train from Napoli Piazza Garibaldi to Pompei Scavi Villa Dei Misteri. From there it’s just a short walk to one of the entrances.

I would recommend you to use the Trenitalia trains, they are modern and comfy, unlike the Circumvesuviana trains (ticket price is the same). Moreover, Circumvesuviana trains delay a lot, and often you need a bit of luck to catch the right train.

Lunch in Pompeii
After exploring Pompeii for hours, it’s time for some delicious pasta and gelato. Head to Ninì In Centro and Emilia Cremeria (one of the best gelato I’ve tried).

Ninì In Centro
Emilia Cremeria

Herculaneum

Herculaneum

Like Pompeii, Herculaneum was also buried by the ash of Mount Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 AD. However, due to its location, a bit further away from Mount Vesuvius, Herculaneum is much more well preserved than its famous neighbour.

You can see some amazing frescoes and mosaics in many of the houses, as Herculaneum was a much wealthier town than Pompeii. In fact, it was a popular seaside retreat for the Roman elite.

You can book your skip the line ticket to Herculaneum here.

How to get to Herculaneum

  • take a Trenitalia train from Napoli Piazza Garibaldi to Portici-Ercolano train station. From there it’s about a 20min walk to the entrance.
  • take a Circumvesuviana train from Napoli Piazza Garibaldi to Ercolano Scavi. From there it’s about a 10min walk to the entrance.

How to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum in one day

It’s possible to visit both Pompeii and Herculaneum in one day (in fact it’s what I did). However, take a look at my advices below to make the most of your time:

  • book tickets to Pompeii and Herculaneum in advance, otherwise, you will waste too much time waiting in lines
  • start with Pompeii, it is much bigger and you’ll need hours to see everything
  • if possible take an early train at around 8 AM
  • if you use Trenitalia trains, these are the train stations for your journey – Napoli Piazza Garibaldi – Pompeii train station and then Pompeii to Portici-Ercolano. The disadvantage is that you’ll have to walk more than if you’re using the Circumvesuviana trains.
  • if you use Circumvesuviana trains, these are the train stations for your journey – Napoli Piazza Garibaldi – Pompei Scavi Villa Dei Misteri and then Pompei Santuario – Portici-Ercolano. The disadvantage is that there are often delays and the trains are a little bit shabby.

Royal Palace of Caserta

Royal Palace of Caserta

The Royal Palace of Caserta (Reggia di Caserta) is known as the Italian Versailles. This 18th-century palace was used as a residence by the House of Bourbon during their rule of the Kingdoms of Naples and the Two Sicilies. Reggia di Caserta features 1200 rooms and vast gardens.

To see the English gardens take the shuttle bus that runs every 15min between the palace and gardens. It’s a 3km walk one way!

You can book a skip the line ticket to Reggia di Caserta here.

How to get to the Royal Palace of Caserta
Take a Trenitalia train from Napoli Piazza Garibaldi to Caserta train station (40min journey). The palace is just a short walk from the train station.

Sorrento, Amalfi and Capri

Sorrento is a charming Italian resort town, just an hour away by train from Naples. If you’re looking for beautiful beaches, cobblestoned streets and great food, look no further! Moreover, Sorrento is the gateway to the Amalfi Coast and Capri.

How to get to Sorrento, Amalfi and Capri

  • take a Circumvesuviana train from Napoli Piazza Garibaldi to Sorrento train station (1h10min journey). The city centre is just a short walk away. Getting to Sorrento is easy, but to explore further – Capri or Positano on the Amalfi Coast, you have to change to a bus, train or ferry from Sorrento to your desired destination. So, I would recommend you take a guided day tour from Naples (see below the most popular ones) or dedicate more than one day to Amalfi.
  • Amalfi Coast Full-Day Trip – on this day trip you’ll enjoy a scenic drive through southern Italy’s most famous coastline and visit the charming towns of Amalfi and Ravello
  • Island of Capri Full-Day Tour – discover the lovely island of Capri with an expert guide, including the famous Blue Grotto, Monte Solaro, Villa San Michele, and La Piazzetta

How many days in Naples

Is one day in Naples enough?

One day in Naples is enough to see the city centre, visit the most popular sites and try some Neapolitan pizza. Yet, if you want to take a food tour, visit some of the gorgeous churches, the National Archaeological Museum or the Naples Underground, I’d recommend you spend two days here.

What if I have less than a day in Naples?

If you have less than one day in Naples, do a walking tour of the city, but admire the sights from outside, and don’t forget to try some Neapolitan pizza. You’ll probably have time for 1 or 2 attractions, so decide what you want to see and book tickets in advance.

1 or 2 days in Naples?

If possible, spend 2 days in Naples and use the city as a base to get to Pompeii. Dedicate the first day to exploring Naples and on the second – visit Pompeii on a day trip from Naples.

Best time to visit Naples

The best time to visit Naples is spring (April, May) or autumn (September, October). Avoid the summer if possible, it gets really hot and this is the peak season. Winters are mild and sunny, so if you’re looking for some winter sun, this is your destination.

How would you spend one day in Naples?
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About the author
AvatarMilena Yordanova
I’m a full-time travel blogger based in Sofia, Bulgaria. I love to travel and to discover new places, cultures and food. I’m an expert in travel planning and I am here to help you plan your dream vacation.

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