An easy, self guided walking tour of Naples in one day. With lots of insider tips from a local, and info on the best places Naples has to offer when it comes to shopping and food! Let me show you this short Naples itinerary: I’m more than sure you’ll love it so much that you’ll want more!
Naples is a very popular port for the best cruise ships, as well as one of the most loved stops for the cruisers interested in foodie tours to taste the traditional Neapolitan dishes. Many decide to pay for an expensive day tour: there’s no need to!
Here’s a self-guided walking tour to spend one day in Naples, full of useful tips from a local! There are so many things to do in Naples, but I know just the way to plan a budget one day trip. Let’s see how!
Many people hop on a ferry from the Amalfi Coast to Naples and go straight for a visit to Pompeii. Others disembark from a cruise ship and pay for expensive tours that only show them the outskirts of my city: visiting Naples in a day doesn’t mean that you only get to see one street!
I am well aware that planning a three or four days trip would be the perfect way to visit the third Italian city by population. Yet if you can’t do that, there’s still the chance to get the most out of a short itinerary!
One day in Naples means that you will have to skip the popular spots like via San Gregorio Armeno (also known as Christmas Alley.
That’s where you can see the Naples Nativity scenes market!).
Yet not many people know that from Molo Beverello (the main harbor) you can just walk to some of the top things to see in Naples!
One day trip to Naples: how to get there
If you are visiting the Amalfi Coast and its beaches, getting to Naples is particularly easy. Either you get a bus to Sorrento and then a train to Napoli Centrale (the biggest train station in Naples city center), or you hop on a ferry.
There are daily ferries (here we call them “metro del mare“, which means “sea subway” in English) from Amalfi, Positano and Sorrento to Naples. Prices and journey time depend on where you are staying on the Amalfi Coast.
On average it should take you about 2 hours to get to Naples from Amalfi.
That means you’ll have more than enough time to visit this traditional Italian city I love so much!
Worried you’ll need a bit of help?
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I’m not saying it to scare you away, because Naples is a safe city. Yet the Naples public transportation system can be quite confusing. Due to the terrible traffic jams on the Amalfi Coast, our buses tend not to show up when they should!
For a winter trip you might be forced to use the Circumvesuviana because ferries can be suspended due to the bad weather.
The good news is that you will be able to see the Naples metro stations “Art Stations” program, even on a short visit!
Toledo is considered the most beautiful subway station in Europe and it’s located in the middle of my suggested itinerary.
To get there you will obviously need to use the Naples metro. Line 2 is where most of the Art stations are located!
Buy a ticket TIC Unico Campania.
You will need to ask for a “biglietto unico giornaliero” (daily ticket) for Naples. It costs 4,50€ and you can obviously use it for the whole day.
Bonus: if you really don’t feel like exploring Naples on your own, book a 2-hour walking tour with a local guide. You will be able to visit the historical city center, hear legends about Naples and learn its history. The tour starts in Piazza Municipio, by the fountain of Neptune, so pretty close to the harbor!
Check out prices and availability here!
A daily ticket is the most cost-effective way to spend one day in Naples. Using the Naples public transportation system is in fact cheap and easy. As opposed to having to rent a car!
Parking and driving in Naples isn’t very easy – and I’m saying this as a local!
Remember that validating your ticket on every ride is mandatory, in Italy. Even if you are using a daily ticket. If you are using a Trenitalia ticket (ex. if you’re coming from Rome) you have to validate it at Naples train station.
With a Unico Campania, you will be using Circumvesuviana trains. To validate your ticket, write down your name, date of birth and the day date with a pen on the ticket in a clear, readable way.
If you fail to do so, you might get fined!
Are you on a cruise? There’s no need to buy a public transport ticket! This is a self-guided walking tour to spend one day in Naples.
You will disembark (as those who are getting to Naples from the Amalfi Coast) at Molo Beverello, which is the starting point for this itinerary.
Useful info: Molo Beverello is also where you have to go for a day trip to Capri.
Because we’re just planning a Naples walking tour, there won’t be enough time to visit Capri.
Add it to your Italy bucket list for your next trip!
Please don’t rush your trip to attempt a full Naples itinerary in one day. As a local I strongly encourage you to explore at your own pace… while eating delicious Neapolitan treats.
I am sure you will fall in love with Naples so much that you’ll want to get back for a longer trip!
What to do in Naples in one day: a walk through history
From the harbor you will immediately notice the unmistakable shape of the Maschio Angioino castle, also known as “Castel Nuovo“. It dominates the scenic Piazza Municipio.
It’s the first thing you’ll see as you begin your Naples walking tour.
This mighty castle was built between 1279 and 1284 by Charles I of Anjou, and has welcomed important writers, poets and artists.
Such as? Think of Giotto, Petrarch and Boccaccio, among others.
The Palatine Chapel, which is today the seat of the Civic Museum, is still intact.
According to the legend, inside the Castel Nuovo underground prisons there was a huge crocodile. They fed him the prisoners who had earned a death sentence.
Actually there never was a crocodile in Naples, but everyone used to think so. The prisoners were terrified of being sentenced “to death” (by crocodile)!
The Town Hall in Naples is located inside an historical building, Palazzo San Giacomo, at Piazza Municipio. This is one of the largest squares in Europe! The area was recently restored and it’s magnificent.
Via Medina is a large street where there are lovely Christmas decorations that you’ll see if you’re planning to visit Italy in winter. Cross it carefully and walk towards one of my favorite fountains in Naples.
Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune) has been brought back to life in 2018. It is one of the most instagrammable spots in Naples.
Palazzo San Giacomo at its back, Castel Nuovo on the front, the historical Grand Hotel de Londres on the side and the Neapolitan baroque architectural style everywhere. Basically anywhere you look there’s something you’ll love!
Near the fountain there are a few benches you can use, and a nice café.
Stop here to eat some Italian gelato or to drink a cup of Neapolitan coffee: there’s some shade, which is perfect if you’re going to visit Naples in summer!
When you’re ready to go, walk the promenade next to the Maschio Angioino to the Royal Palace of Naples. This palace and museum is usually featured among the top places to visit in Naples.
Naples Royal Palace was one of the four residences used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the “Regno delle due Sicilie” (Kingdom of the Two Sicilies).
The others were the Royal Palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte (overlooking Naples) and Portici, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.
If it’s still early in the morning, you can visit the Royal Palace: I love the marble staircase at the entrance! In case you’re a movie nerd like me, you’ll like to know that this staircase looks a bit like the Grand Staircase of Honour at Caserta.
It was featured in movies like Angels and Demons, Mission Impossible III and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the clones (did I mention I’m a nerd?).
Visiting Naples Royal Palace should take at least one full hour, but if you like history and art, you might stay for a couple of hours (worth the time, in my opinion).
You’ll see the Royal Apartments, the roof gardens, the Throne room and the National Library.
Tickets cost 6€, but if you are living in the EU and are between 18 and 25 years old, you’ll only pay 2€! Visitors under 18 years old who live in the European Union can visit the Naples Royal Palace for free.
If you don’t have enough time or don’t want to pay for a ticket, you can visit part of the gardens for free (not the roof gardens).
You’ll also get to take pictures some amazing statues that are very famous here. I’d say it’s still a great add to your short Naples itinerary. Keep reading for a legend us locals know by heart!
Iconic spots that you should add to your Naples itinerary
I promised a short itinerary for one day in Naples without breaking the bank, didn’t I?
While you will not be able to see the magnificence of our most amazing theatre in Naples from the outside, the San Carlo Opera House is still something to add to your short Naples itinerary.
“Teatro San Carlo” is connected to Naples Royal Palace.
The building has been recently restored. Yet if you won’t pay attention, you might miss out entirely.
Many people who have visited Milan believe that Teatro alla Scala is the oldest opera house in Italy. Yet they are wrong! Teatro San Carlo is the oldest active venue for public opera in the world: it was opened in 1737!
Since you only have one day, you might not have time to visit this iconic Opera House. Visiting would in fact take at least 40 minutes. A guided tour also has to be booked in advance and might be cancelled without notice.
I suggest you add Teatro San Carlo to a full Naples itinerary for your next trip. When you’ll have more time!
While my itinerary for one day in Naples suggests you keep walking in front of you to make one nice loop that will get you back to the Molo Beverello, you have the option to stop again at this point.
Across the street from the entrance to the San Carlo Opera House there’s the Galleria Umberto I (which, again, looks a lot like the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan).
Under the glass dome there are many shops and cafes.
It is one of those places you should always add to a Naples tour.
If you follow this short Naples itinerary there’s a good chance you’ll get to take amazing pictures of Piazza del Plebiscito without the usual crowd of tourists. So keep walking towards Piazza Trieste e Trento: I promise you’ll have time to stop at the Galleria later!
Piazza Trieste e Trento is located in Naples city centre and can be recognized by the Fontana del Carciofo (Artichoke Fountain: I swear that’s the English translation!).
Once you get there, I dare you not to stop there with your mouth hanging open.
Bonus: You can see the sights of Naples on a sightseeing tour by electric bike, with an experienced guide! The tour lasts 2.5 hours and includes helmets and child seats rental, snacks and… the chance to take awesome pictures!
Check prices and availability here!
I am Italian, Naples is my hometown, and still I feel in awe whenever I come here.
From this point you will see Via Toledo and Via Chiaia, the main shopping streets in Naples where you can buy awesome souvenirs from Italy.
Then the San Carlo Opera House, the Royal Palace of Naples, the historical Grand Cafe Gambrinus and Piazza del Plebiscito.
And that’s why I told you that this is the best itinerary out there if you only have one day in Naples! You’ll get to see the most amazing spots in my city in just a few hours. It is the area that will make you fall in love with Naples, if you haven’t already!
Piazza del Plebiscito is easily another one of the top attractions in Naples. This huge square is close-by to a lot of popular spots.
If you haven’t visited Naples Royal Palace, know that on a side of Piazza del Plebiscito you will get to see the statues of the eight Kings of Naples for free.
Naples Royal Palace: The Local Legend You Should Know
As you might have guessed already, Neapolitans are quite creative with their legends.
When the statues of our Kings were built outside the Naples Royal Palace (in 1888), people immediately created a funny story about them.
As you walk from Piazza del Plebiscito towards the Gulf of Naples, look at the statues.
Charles V is pointing his finger to the floor: “Who peed on the floor?“
Charles III of Spain replies, while looking terrified: “I didn’t do anything!“
So Joachim Murat boldly confesses: “I did it, so what?“
At this point an enraged King Vittorio Emanuele II grabs his sword and threatens: “How dare you! I’ll castrate you as a punishment!“
Now look at the statues and imagine them talking among each other! They look as if they are actually having this conversation, it is pretty realistic, albeit it reflects the way of the “scugnizzi“. The Neapolitan kids usually playing soccer in Piazza del Plebiscito and having fun.
What can I say… Napoli, I love you!
The essence of every Naples tour: sea, sun and espresso
Piazza del Plebiscito is the place where in May 2013 Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street band gave one of the most amazing concerts of their carreer.
I was there and upon seeing the Boss tearing up a little while telling us “It’s beautiful to be home“, made me feel so proud of my city.
Because the acoustic in this square is absolutely amazing, it is occasionally opened for concerts, like the free one we have every New Year’s Eve. Make sure you add it to your bucket list if you’re planning to visit Naples for the holidays!
The half-moon church you see on one side is the Church of San Francesco di Paola with its beautiful colonnade. It extends on both sides as if to hug Piazza del Plebiscito.
This is one of the most fascinating city center attractions!
If you cross diagonally the whole square, you’ll get to Borgo Santa Lucia and the Grandi Alberghi, one of the most expensive lodging areas in Naples, and for a good reason.
Stop there to take awesome pictures of the Gulf of Naples: you will see Castel dell’Ovo (Egg Castle) in the distance!
As you get back to the Fontana del Carciofo, you will find two of the nicest cafes in Naples. One is Grand Cafe Gambrinus, which opened in 1860 and is like a museum inside. The other one, a few steps away, is the tiny Bar del Professore, which is the local alternative to Starbucks.
Here you can try espresso with white chocolate, hazelnuts cream, pistachio and so much more!
Grand Cafe Gambrinus is pretty elegant and can be expensive, but it’s the place where you might see politicians, movie stars or singers.
Bar del Professore is tiny and less expensive (more easygoing), so you won’t really be able to sit down.
It doesn’t matter which one you choose as long as you drink the famous Naples coffee!
Note: don’t eat anything! We’re almost at my favorite foodie spots in Naples!
Naples Traditional Pastry: Sfogliatella
Via Toledo isn’t only the most famous shopping street in central Naples.
It’s also the one place where you will find some of the oldest shops (you can order handmade leather gloves here), awesome Christmas decorations, and the entrance to the Toledo Art Station. Considered the most beautiful in Europe according to The Daily Telegraph and CNN.
While you stroll down this popular street in Naples old city center, you have two options for a sweet break.
Well, to be honest, two of my favorite sfogliatella shops ever, even if there are many more places where you can buy yummy treats along via Toledo!
The first one is Pintauro, an historical little pastry shop on Via Toledo.
The Neapolitan baroque architectural style is probably going to distract you. But don’t you worry!
Pintauro spreads such a sweet scent on the street that you won’t miss it!
They make sfogliatelle, babà and struffoli (sometimes on a stick, like the dango we ate in Japan!).
Basically all the best Naples traditional pastries!
Another great sfogliatella store is just a few steps away, at the entrance of Galleria Umberto I.
Sfogliatella Mary has always been my favorite pastry shop in Naples.
When I was a university student I made sure to walk by this tiny place every day to eat a fresh-from-the-oven sfogliatella frolla.
Both these sfogliatella shops don’t have tables. You will have to eat your sfogliatella while enjoying your short Naples itinerary. On the go.
If you ask them, they will prepare your sfogliatella to go, so you can bring it back on your cruise ship or wherever you want.
Naples traditional pastry has to be eaten fresh. Sfogliatella frolla can also last a couple of days, but sfogliatella riccia won’t be as crunchy and delicious if you eat it the following day!
I prefer Sfogliatella Mary also because there are many cafes inside the Galleria Umberto I. I like to sit down for an espresso, or I just walk around doing some window shopping: there are many designer shops, just like in all the more touristy italian cities!
Bonus: Are you a foodie? One of the tastiest tours will guide you to eat the best street food in Naples, on a 2.5 walk. The tour includes all the food tastings and the help of a professional (local) guide.
Check out prices and availability here!
As I already mentioned several times, tipping in Italy is not expected, not even when you buy the most popular pastry in Naples! Have a look at my tipping guidelines for Italy to make sure you won’t come across as rude!
One day in Naples: Where to Eat
Since you’re visiting Naples, which is one of the Italian cities where food is everywhere (yes, I’m totally biased), you should absolutely make a few foodie stops for treats along the way.
One of my friends has been telling me that “Naples smells like delicious food everywhere you go” and that is true!
- Dolcezze Siciliane sells delicious pastries from Sicily at Molo Beverello!
- La Passione di Sofi on Via Toledo sells “cuoppo” which is a cone of paper filled with deep fried goods!
- Gay Odin on Via Toledo produces hand made chocolate treats since 1800: they also sell tiny Mount Vesuvius that they sell as souvenirs!
- Pintauro on Via Toledo sells Naples traditional pastry, like sfogliatelle, babà and Neapolitan struffoli
- La Sfogliatella Mary sells sfogliatelle (obviously), tiny caprese cakes, babà (also with whipped cream and fresh fruit) and more!
Quick Ideas for your Naples Walking Tour
- Walk around Naples Historic Center
- View the Art in Naples metro stations
- Look for Naples famous lucky charm: “Corniciello”
- Eat gelato in Piazza del Plebiscito
- Drink espresso at Gran Caffè Gambrinus
- Shop for souvenirs at Via Toledo
- Eat Naples traditional pastry: sfogliatella
- Visit Naples Royal Palace
- Admire the Real Teatro San Carlo
- Stroll through the Galleria Umberto I
Frequently Asked Questions – Naples From a Local’s P.O.V.
Is one day in Naples enough?
It is impossible to visit a city as big as Naples in less than two or three days! Yet one day is definitely enough for a short self guided walking tour of Naples!
Is Naples worth visiting?
There are so many things to do in Naples, and I’m not saying this because I live here! Even if you only visit to try the original wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, it’d still be worth a visit.
Naples is also home to one of Italy’s best archaeological museums: the Naples National Archaeological Museum. Add it to your itinerary for your next trip!
Is Naples (Italy) dangerous?
I often write about how safe Naples can be. Although my city does have a mixed reputation when it comes to safety, I do not think it’s more dangerous than any other place in Italy.
As any big city, there are safe and unsafe areas. Overall, Naples is a lively place where the locals are always super friendly and welcoming.
Is Naples walkable?
Yes, Naples is absolutely walkable!
The most walkable areas in Naples are the one I’ve mentioned here for my short Naples Itinerary, and Corso Umberto I, which we know as “Rettifilo“. It’s the street that connects the main train station with the Northern part of Naples.
Are there beaches in Naples Italy?
One of the beaches in Naples where all the locals go is known as Lido Mappatella. It’s tiny and it’s located near Lungomare Caracciolo.
The most beautiful beach in Naples is in my opinion Spiaggia della Gaiola, which is a marine protected area.
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The best 45 things to do in Naples
How to spend one day in Naples
Naples cafes and how to drink espresso
Is Naples really dangerous?
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This post is also available in: Italiano