On my visit to the Amalfi Coast, as part of a bigger trip I did with my girlfriend Monika to Greece & Italy, we finished our Italy stay with one night in Naples. It wasn’t originally a destination we were planning our trip around, but the easiest way for us to visit the Amalfi Coast, as well as Pompeii, was to fly through Naples. And I’m so glad we did.
Whether you’re just passing through, or visiting Naples for a few days, it is a city truly worth seeing and spending at least one night in. I would say 2-3 nights would be ideal, as one day was simply not enough to see all the things I wanted to see there. But if you are in that part of the world purely to see the breathtaking Amalfi Coast or the ancient ruins of Pompeii, and you only have one day, I have you covered. Here is the ultimate one day itinerary for visiting Naples, Italy.
Catacombs of San Gennaro
If I only could only do one thing in Naples (besides eat pizza), I would visit the Catacombs of San Gennaro. In fact, we arrived at our hotel along the Lungomare around 11:30am and couldn’t check in yet. Instead of exploring some of the nearby attractions, we decided to make the call and visit the Catacombs first.
It’s a bit tricky to get to the Catacombs as they are located a little outside of the city but you can find out more information here about How to Visit the Catacombs of San Gennaro. You can only enter the catacombs with a guided tour. You can buy tickets online or at the site in person. They have set tour times and offer tours in English and Italian.
Once inside the Catacombs you will walk through a myriad of ancient burial grounds highlighted by the tomb of San Gennaro himself. It's unlike almost anywhere else on the earth. Expect to spend about an hour on the tour and give yourself 30 minutes to get there and to get back afterwards, making a visit last around 2 hours. This would be the first thing I would do so you can get the biggest one out of the way first.
Walk through the Streets
Naples is a great city to walk around in. Sometimes walking takes just as long as being in a taxi, especially if you are exploring the city center areas. After the Catacombs de San Gennaro, we walked back to the city center which took about 30 minutes. We passed tons of unique neighborhoods with narrow alleys and clothes hanging out to dry on every balcony. It made for some amazing photographs.
You can walk down San Gregorio Armeno to visit "Christmas Alley", where you can buy some unique Christmas ornaments. Afterwards, walk to the city center area where you will be able to knock off a few big places to visit in a row.
Visit some of Naples’ Top Attractions
Several of Naples’ best attractions are all located within a few minutes walk of each other. This is how I would spend the middle part of your day, sandwiched by getting pizza for lunch in the area.
The Galleria Umberto has stunning architecture and is open to the public to walk through and enjoy. A visit here only takes 10-15 minutes to admire the complex.
The other three attractions all offer guided tours, and you may have to make a decision on which one to tour for the sake of time. When I was there unfortunately the Teatro San Carlo was closed, so that made my decision easier. Had it been open for tours that day, I would have prioritized this theater as it looks incredible, straight out of a classical movie.
We toured the Castle N’uovo and really enjoyed the tour. The imposing views from the outside are balanced with the interesting history of the castle. You will see ancient ruins that were discovered underneath the castle, including skeletal remains still in the dirt, as well as get to climb up to the terrace of the castle with views over Naples and out to sea to Mount Vesuvius.
The other option to see in this area would be the Palazzo Reale. Guided tours are offered here but unfortunately by the time we finished the tour of the Castle N’uovo, the tours were done for the day. Regardless if you take a tour or not, it is still worth a stroll through the vibrant plaza. For more ideas on what to see in Naples, check out The Best Things to do in Naples.
End the Day Strolling Along the Lungomare
A gentle stroll through the charismatic neighborhood of Santa Lucia will lead you to the Lungomare: a seaside boardwalk stretching down the coast. Take a walk here to see great views of the sea and Mount Vesuvius, as well as the Castle O’uvo.
If a tour of Castel O’uvo is something higher on your list, I would make sure to go earlier in the day while the castle is still open. We didn’t get there until the evening when it was closed but we saw a beautiful sunset over the water and Mount Vesuvius which was a perfect way to end our one day in Naples.
Eat Some Pizza
This should go without saying, but make sure you EAT SOME PIZZA while you are in Naples! It could be for lunch, dinner, or both (and breakfast too!). I doubt any of the pizza in the city is bad, but we were recommended two places by locals there and they both were equally the best pizza I’ve ever eaten.
We asked our guide at the San Gennaro Catacombs for a recommendation and she suggested Starita - a must if you are in the area.
Our hotel staff suggested Sorbillos on the Lungomare next to our hotel, and that also proved to be incredible. My advice would be to ask some locals their favorite places, after all their ancestors invited pizza!
My one day in Naples looked a little bit like this, and I wish I had more time to tour the Teatro San Carlo, Palazzo Reale, and Castel O’uvo, as well as explore more of the neighborhoods and streets by foot. Two nights probably gives you enough time to get it done, but if you have only one night, these would be my recommendations.