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One Day in Naples: How to Spend the Perfect 24 Hours in Naples

While Naples is the embodiment of Italy at its most extreme and frenetic, the upside is that it is also arguably Italy at its finest. Its intriguing history, rich cultural attractions, delectable cuisine, unrivaled scenic setting along with its jovial natives, energy, and chaos make Naples my all-time favorite city. While one day in Naples isn’t enough to explore what the city has to offer, it still accords you enough time to get a fair impression of the place. Here are our recommendations on the best things to do in Naples in one day.

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Why You Should Visit Naples

Naples has always been the black sheep of Italian cities, the outcast, shunned by its more illustrious northern siblings. Unfortunately, Naples has usually been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons and has garnered a reputation for being a crime-riddled, indigent, and filthy city.

Due to this rather unsavory reputation, Naples doesn’t get nearly as many tourists as it deserves. But like all pariahs, Naples is simply the most interesting city in Italy.

While it is definitely saddled with its share of problems, Naples is looking better than it has in a long time. Napoli’s temperate climate means a pleasant stay at any time of year.

Tourist numbers have been on the rise of late, so better get there soon. The relative proximity and frequent connections to Rome (trains take just over an hour) make Naples an ideal day trip from Rome for those short on time.

Founded by the Greeks in the eighth century BC, Naples has been under Byzantine, French, Spanish, and Austrian rule, each of which left its mark. This has blessed Naples with a rich array of cultural assets and must-see attractions for tourists, rivaling those in Rome.

The streets of Naples are layered with proof of centuries-old occupation blended into the fabric of the current day. 

If you are a glutton, Naples will give your taste buds a run for their money. The cuisine of Naples alone is one of the best reasons to visit the city. The city is a gastronomic powerhouse with a delectable range of seafood and pastries.

But more than anything else Naples is known as the birthplace of pizza and is home to some of the best pizzerias in the world. This signature dish is taken very seriously by the locals and a visit to Naples just for eating pizza won’t leave you disappointed.

Is Naples Safe?

The question of whether “Naples is safe” or “is Naples safe to travel for tourists” is something that I get asked often. Fair dinkum and I won’t sugarcoat it, petty street crime is a big problem in Naples, and tourists are frequent targets, especially around the touristy spots. 

The two most seedy neighborhoods of Naples that should usually be avoided are Scampia and Secondigliano. However, these areas lie about 10 kilometers north of the center and contain no tourist attractions, so there isn’t really any reason for tourists to venture there. 

By taking a few precautionary measures, you shouldn’t encounter any issues while sightseeing in Naples. Be vigilant, keep cameras and jewelry concealed, avoid obvious map reading, and secure bags and purses, especially on buses and the metro, and outside restaurants.

Thieves and con artists are a dime a dozen around the touristy locales, so be a bit more circumspect. Don’t venture into neighborhoods that make you uncomfortable. 

Overall, we felt relatively safe in Naples and violent crime isn’t as big a problem as the media may have you believe. Jacky was very apprehensive about visiting but was truly surprised by the city once we got there.

How to Get Around During Your One Day in Naples

As with most European cities, the best way to see Naples and discover its many hidden gems is on foot. While Naples isn’t the most pedestrian-friendly city in the world, you will truly appreciate its charm by walking.

The city center and many of the major attractions are easily accessible on foot or by public transport. Nearly all the attractions we’ve included in our one-day itinerary to Naples are within comfortable walking distance of each other. 

In case you’re interested in seeing the highlights of Naples on foot, check out this rewarding Naples walking tour.

Some parts of Naples have a steep hilly terrain which can make walking cumbersome, especially if you have weak knees or foot problems. Remember to take precautions when crossing the road.

Traffic in Naples is as chaotic as I have seen and drivers often pay no regard to traffic lights and zebra crossings, and fast-moving scooters appear from nowhere. It was alright for me due to my experience with unruly traffic in India but Jacky was rather miffed with the maelstrom of vehicles.

Using public transport in Naples is also a good alternative to get around and I would recommend using it to get to some distant attractions in order to save a bit of time. The Naples public transportation system consists of buses, trams, a metro, and a funicular railway. 

Bus and tram journeys take time in getting around Naples because of the heavy traffic. The metro is the best option and metro line 1 is the most useful for tourists with departures every 9 minutes.

The chief central squares have display panels indicating the main bus, tram and metro stops. The funicular railways offer a convenient link to the hilly neighborhoods, particularly Vomero.

A single ticket costs 1.50 EUR and is valid for 90 minutes whereas the day ticket offers unlimited rides for 4.50 EUR and is valid till midnight on the day that it is validated.

Tickets can be purchased from the machines at the metro, funicular, and train stations or from tobacconists. Remember to validate your ticket before departure by stamping it in a machine.

I wouldn’t recommend using a taxi for sightseeing during your one day in Naples. However, they can be handy if you are feeling jaded and are looking for a more comfortable way of travel.

If you want to take a taxi, make sure it is from an official rank. Taxis in Naples can be found at the official ranks at the train and metro stations, and in the main squares.

In case you’re interested in seeing the highlights of Naples on bike, check out this excellent Naples Bicycle Tour.

For those craving an audio guide and extra comfort, you can also get around the city with Naples Hop-On Hop-Off Tour.

Your One Day in Naples Itinerary

For this one-day in Naples itinerary, I have included some of the major attractions in the city. For your convenience, this post includes a free map that highlights the main points of interest in Naples for one day. You can find the addresses of the attractions by clicking on the icons in the map. 

Of course, everyone travels at a different pace so feel free to choose the destinations according to your own pace. The earlier you start your day the more time you’ll have to see the attractions.

Below I have compiled a list of the best things to see (or eat) in Naples over the course of one day:

  1. Breakfast
  2. Piazza del Plebiscito
  3. Royal Palace of Naples
  4. San Carlo Theater
  5. Via Toledo
  6. Galleria Umberto I
  7. Sample Neapolitan pastries
  8. Spanish Quarter
  9. Lunch
  10. Toledo Metro Station
  11. National Archaeological Museum of Naples
  12. Take a Stroll in the Historic Center of Naples
  13. Santa Chiara
  14. Naples Cathedral
  15. Sunset Views From Castel Sant’Elmo
  16. Feast On An Authentic Neapolitan Pizza

1. Breakfast

Naples: People dining inside the elegant Gran Caffè Gambrinus

Kickstart your one day in Naples by treating yourself to a hearty breakfast with some Neapolitan delicacies and a shot of espresso.

Neapolitans are devoted sweet-tooths and with such an alluring variety of pastries and sweets, Naples is the last place you want to be if you’re on a diet.

One of the best cafés in Naples for breakfast is the grand Gran Caffè Gambrinus, the city’s oldest and most venerable café. This historic mid-19th-century café has an elegant belle époque interior and was once a stylish literary café that became a popular meeting point for the Neapolitan literati, critics, and artsy bohemian types.

It’s sort of like one of the traditional Viennese cafés. Although the food here isn’t as top-notch as some other places in Naples and sit-down prices are steep, the sleek ambiance and Neapolitan coffee are unrivaled.

Gran Caffè Gambrinus is open daily from 7 am– 1 am (to 2 am Friday, to 3 am Saturday).

2. Piazza del Plebiscito

One Day in Naples: Piazza del Plebiscito with the sweeping colonnade of San Francesco di Paola Church.

The Piazza del Plebiscito is a large and elegant piazza (public square) that is one of the major points of interest in Naples.

Of all the piazzas we saw in Naples, this was easily our favorite. It is named after the plebiscite held in 1860 that united Naples with the Kingdom of Italy and its House of Savoy. 

The square is defined by the grand, sweeping colonnade of San Francesco di Paola, a 19th-century church constructed in the Neoclassical style. Inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, the church has a circular plan with radiating chapels.

The large cupola rises to a height of 53 meters and is 34 meters wide, complete with rosettes. The church of San Francesco di Paola is most impressive at night when it is floodlit.

An interesting fact is that Piazza del Plebiscito was used as a public parking lot from the 1960s to 1994 when it was restored and opened to the public. Today, Piazza del Plebiscito is completely closed to traffic and Neapolitans use it as a gathering place and is popular with buskers and artists.


Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and its history can be traced back over 2,800 years to the eighth century BC when people from the Greek colony of Cumae founded what was then called Parthenope. The Italian name for the city ‘Napoli’ itself stems from the Greek word Neapolis or “new city.”

3. Royal Palace of Naples

24 Hours in Naples: Facade of the Royal Palace of Naples

The Royal Palace of Naples (Palazzo Reale) was one of my favorite things to see in Naples. The size and splendor of this royal palace are a great example of the Bourbon dynasty in its pomp and fitting for a city that was once one of the most important in Europe.

It was built in the early 17th century as the King Philip III of Spain was supposed to be coming to visit Naples and it was deemed that the other royal residences were not suitable for a king to stay in. 

It was redecorated and renovated by successive rulers and is filled with salons designed in the most extravagant 18th-century Neapolitan style. On the facade stand eight marble statues of prominent kings who ruled Naples from the 12th century to the unification of Italy.

Royal Palace of Naples: The monumental pink and white marble staircase inside

Ascend the monumental pink and white marble staircase to the vast, lavishly decorated Royal Apartments and witness how to see how the other half lived in those days.

Weave your way through some 30 grandiose and extremely seductive rooms where Neapolitan royalty ruled and entertained in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Naples Royal Palace: Tapestries and other artifacts in the lovely Hall of Hercules.

We were completely blown away by the large and eclectic trove of Baroque and Neoclassical trompe l’oeil paintings, frescoes, chandeliers, opulent furniture, and also the gold reliefs lining the stuccoed ceilings.

It’s difficult to not be impressed by the Teatrino di Corte, a private theater that is decorated with paper-mâché sculpture, and the ridiculously large, tapestry-hung Hall of Hercules.

The best thing of all was that the palace was virtually empty when we were there meaning that we could see all the exhibits properly.

The Royal Palace of Naples is open Thursday-Tuesday from 09:00-20:00 (last entrance is at 19:00). The entrance costs 10 EUR.

4. San Carlo Theater

Naples San Carlo Theatre: The six-tiered gilded horseshoe shaped interior of the opera. PC: Isogood_patrick/

The San Carlo Theater (Teatro di San Carlo) is not only one of the must-see sights in Naples but also one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. Milan’s La Scala might be the most famous opera house in Italy, but the San Carlo Theater is older and more beautiful.

This majestic Neoclassical structure was constructed in only nine months after an 1816 fire burnt down the original. It is well renowned for its atmosphere and acoustics. 

The immaculate interior of the San Carlo Theater is a six-tiered horseshoe of 184 boxes with red velvet upholstery which is sumptuously decorated in gold leaf with painted stage curtains.

You’ll immediately realize why this theater was the envy of Europe when it opened in 1737. The focal point of the auditorium is the royal box, surmounted by the crown of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Naples Opera: The gold-studded Royal Box of the San Carlo Theatre.

I was also most impressed with the ceiling fresco depicting Apollo presenting poets to Athena.

To see the interior of the San Carlo Theater, you can either see a performance here or go for a guided tour as we did. We really enjoyed our tour as our guide Alessandro, a stage actor, and born raconteur told us some fascinating facts about the history of the San Carlo Theater in an animated fashion.

Several guided tours are available daily in English and Italian. You can check out the opening hours and prices here. You’ll want to reserve about an hour for this tour.

5. Via Toledo

Naples: People and vehicles on Via Toledo, the main shopping street in Naples

Via Toledo (or Via Roma) is Naples’ principal shopping street which stretches for over 1.5 kilometers in a dead-straight line, climbing the hill up to the National Archeological Museum and separating two very different parts of Naples.

Via Toledo got its start as a military road built by the Spanish Viceroy Don Pedro of Toledo (thus the name), who brought Naples to prominence in the 16th century. 

Along its route are a series of fascinating buildings, demonstrating a range of architectural styles. It’s interesting to note how Via Toledo changes character as you head north, it begins elegantly and then less so.

6. Galleria Umberto I

Naples Galleria Umberto I: People walking inside the elegant glass-iron covered passage

The Galleria Umberto I is a public shopping gallery in Naples that is lined with elegant shops and cafes. Going there is one of the best free things to do in Naples. Don’t go here for shopping though.

Instead, be awed by ornately decorated Neoclassical fronts and the elegant glass-iron covered passage following a cross shape, with each of its four arms opening onto a street on one end and meeting at a rotunda. Note the central floor decoration featuring the signs of the zodiac.

The vaulted glass ceiling and its giant 56-meter dome create a fascinating sense of light and space. A beautiful mosaic of the zodiac spans out from the gallery’s central point.

The Victorian gallery was built in the late 19th century to reinvigorate the district after a devastating cholera epidemic occurred here. Its architectural elements are reminiscent of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.

The Galleria Umberto I is open 24/7.

7. Sample Neapolitan Pastries

Italian pastries: Woman holding a sfogliatella, a shell-shaped, cheese-filled Italian pastry.

When visiting Galleria Umberto I, make sure to pay a visit to La Sfogliatella Mary, a delightful little pasticceria that is regarded by many locals as one of the best places in Naples to get Neapolitan pastries. The two most celebrated Neapolitan pastries are sfogliatella and baba.

Sfogliatella is a shell-shaped, cheese-filled Italian pastry native to the region of Campania and is ubiquitous throughout Naples’ cafes and pasticcerias.

It is made from flaky dough and is traditionally filled with butter, sugar, cinnamon, sweet ricotta, semolina, and candied orange peel. We were both quickly hooked and consumed several during our time in Naples.

Italian pastries: Baba, a mushroom-shaped small yeast cake doused in a liquor syrup

Baba is a mushroom-shaped small yeast cake doused in a liquor syrup, usually rum, but also limoncello. It is sometimes topped with whipped cream, custard, and seasonal fruit.

Baba didn’t sit too well with Jacky but I gorged on at least two a day during our stay in Naples.

8. Spanish Quarter

Naples: Traffic moving along a narrow lane in the Spanish Quarter

Pay a quick visit to the Spanish Quarter (Quartieri Spagnoli), one of Naples’ most densely populated working-class districts. This atmospheric quarter dates back to the 16th century and is so-called because it was part of an extension to Naples ordered by Viceroy Don Pedro de Toledo, notably for quartering  Spanish troops.

In spite of its reputation for petty crime, it’s quite safe to venture into the Spanish Quarter during the day, but do keep a tight leash on bags and wallets.

The Spanish Quarter is well known to visitors for its characteristic narrow streets, grid-like layout, and buildings so close together as to barely admit any sunlight.

The quarter’s alleys are festooned with washing lines and one-room windowless dwellings and its walls are decorated with ancient posters and graffiti. 

Here, you’ll encounter urchins, hawkers, makeshift market stalls, and the omnipresent revving Vespa scooters in full flow. This presents a great sight to photograph.

For an intimate experience of getting acquainted with the Spanish Quarter, you should sign up for a guided tour with a local. >>> Book your tour.

9. Lunch

For your one day in Naples, you should enjoy some of the best local cuisine. Head to Trattoria da Nennella, one of the best restaurants in Naples.

Located in the Spanish Quarter, this boisterous restaurant may not be to everyone’s liking, but we feel that it provides a true experience of Neapolitan home-cooking, and the food here, especially the pasta, is to die for. 

The menu at Nennella is not fixed, the courses reflect the season. After sampling the local starters, then comes the pasta dish (Primo Piatto).

Neapolitan pasta dishes are generally simple and made with fresh ingredients. Following the pasta, many Neapolitans have a relatively light course of grilled fish and salad (Secondo Piatto).

Last, but definitely not least, a tiny glass of the delightful local liqueur, limoncello, will add the finishing touch to your lunch.

Trattoria Nennella is open Monday-Saturday from 12:00-15:00 & 19:15-23:15. No reservations are taken, just put your name on the list when you arrive. The queue moves pretty fast.

10. Toledo Metro Station

Naples Metro: Magnificent blue mosaic tiles of the splendid Toledo Station

Many of the best things to do in Naples lie underground. The Toledo Metro Station on the L1 line of the Naples metro is an architectural wonder that is one of the best things to see in Naples.

Designed by Spanish architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca, Toledo Metro Station opened in 2012 after many delays and was paid for by public funding.

When you head down the escalators you get the impression that you’re descending underwater. This is due to the design of the floor and the walls augmented by deft plays of light and the magnificent use of blue mosaic tiles.

On your way up you see warm and golden tones indicating that you’re rising above the seafloor. An oval-shaped opening also alternates between a blue and turquoise glow. 

Naples Metro: The beautiful blue-paneled interior of Toledo Metro Station

I’ve seen a couple of beautiful metro stations in Europe, most notably in Stockholm, and Toledo Metro Station is definitely one of the most impressive.

There are also various other interesting artworks like a mosaic that depicts scenes from Neapolitan life. We escalated and de-escalated a couple of times to enjoy all the features.

11. National Archaeological Museum of Naples

Naples sightseeing: Entrance of the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.

It’s difficult to choose but the National Archaeological Museum of Naples was probably my favorite attraction in Naples. Simply put, it is one of the best museums in the world, especially for the archaeology of the Roman age.

The most valuable treasures of antiquity from these important excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum, which were both buried by Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79 are found in the National Archeological Museum in Naples

The museum is huge and is divided into three main sections. Ideally, you should allow at least half a day to see and appreciate everything in there, but since you have only 24 hours in Naples, stick to some of the main works like the Farnese sculpture collection, the mosaics, the Secret Cabinet, and the collections of wall paintings and bronzes.

The ground floor of the museum has sculptures from the Farnese collection, displayed at its best in the mighty Great Hall, which holds imperial-era figures from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome.

National Archaeological Museum of Naples: The monumental Farnese Hercules sculpture

Particularly impressive is the gargantuan Farnese Hercules (Room 12) which Napoleon is said to have regretted leaving behind when he removed his booty from Italy in 1797.

The sculpture shows the mythical hero at rest, knackered after having completed his round of 12 super-human tasks.

National Archaeological Museum of Naples: The tangled Farnese Bull sculpture

The colossal Farnese Bull (Room 16) is widely considered the largest single sculpture ever recovered from antiquity.

This tangled sculpture is carved out of one piece of marble and tells the story of a classic Greek myth. King Lycus was infatuated with Dirce and abandoned his pregnant wife, Antiope (standing regally in the background), to be with her.

Antiope gave birth to twin boys. When they grew up, they killed their philandering father and tied Dirce to the horns of a bull to be pounded against a mountain.

National Archaeological Museum of Naples: Group of men admiring the Alexander Mosaic.

The mezzanine floor is home to the museum’s collection of remarkably preserved mosaics (Rooms 57-64). The small chips of colored glass and stone (tesserae) give invaluable insight into quotidian Roman customs, beliefs, and humor.

These were excavated from the walls and floors of Pompeii’s ritzy villas and the images of animals, battle scenes, and masks are all worth seeing. Watch out for the splendid Battle of Alexander Mosaic (Room 61) which depicts Alexander the Great’s battle against the Persian emperor Darius III.

The far end of the mezzanine floor is also home to the fascinating Secret Room (Room 65) contains erotic material taken from the brothels, baths, houses, and taverns of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Archaeological Museum Naples: Statue of the half-man, half-goat Greek god Pan copulating with a female goat.

It includes languidly sensual wall paintings, preposterously shaped phallic oil lamps, frescoes of couples engaging in sex, and scenes of fornication. The most scandalous statue here is that of the half-man, half-goat Greek god Pan copulating with a female goat.

The basement is dedicated to the antiquities and hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt. If you have kids in tow, they will enjoy this area, with its mummies, sarcophagi, and jewelry.

The National Archeological Museum in Naples is open Wednesday-Monday from 09:00-19:30 (last admission at 18:30). The entrance costs 22 EUR and is worth every cent. To save time, you can also book your ticket online through the museum website or GetYourGuide

To give your National Archeological Museum visit more context, you can also opt for a guided tour, which provides a richer experience than simply viewing the exhibits.

12. Take a Stroll in the Historic Center of Naples

Naples: People walking in the historic center of Naples

Naples’ historic center (Centro Storico) landed itself on the UNESCO World Heritage site list in 1995.

It’s the heart of the city and a place not to be missed. The area is home to a ton of historic and monumental churches, meaning there’s something to marvel at around nearly every corner.

One of the greatest pleasures of sightseeing in Naples is watching local life in the streets. I could have easily spent a day strolling through the labyrinth of cobbled streets and narrow alleys, browsing the small shops, and engaging in people-watching.

You’ll witness street musicians, beautiful churches, artists’ workshops, a heady mélange of visitors, hordes of locals engrossed in watching football, and so much more.

You can even find a few souvenirs along the way as many fascinating antique and secondhand shops here sell all kinds of ornaments, bric-a-brac, and antiques

Naples sightseeing: People strolling on the streets in the historic center.

The narrow streets effuse all sorts of odors, not all pleasant. Votive candles glow in wall niches and I love how you can gaze into people’s homes and catch families dining and chatting in their apartments.

The historic center was how I always pictured Naples to be, a bustling cauldron teeming with life. It is perhaps the most characteristic part of the city.

A particular highlight here is Spaccanapoli, which translates to ‘Naples Splitter’. Spaccanapoli literally cuts through the core of the city’s historic center, splitting Naples in two. It is an ancient street left over from the original Greco-Roman city of Neapolis.

Spaccanapoli is a sequence of streets that are today Via Della Anticaglia (Decumanus Superior), Via Dei Tribunali (Decumanus Major), and the road which starts as Via Benedetto Croce and becomes Via San Biagio Dei Librai (Decumanus Inferior).

13. Santa Chiara

Naples Santa Chiara: Octagonal pillars and walls decorated with with colorful majolica tiles.

In a city where Baroque is the predominant style, it is nice to find an attraction defined by the more austere Gothic fashion. The Santa Chiara religious complex, an important Angevin monument with a majolica-tiled cloister, is undoubtedly one of the top 10 things to see in Naples. 

Dating from the 14th century, the church and adjoining convent were built for was built by Robert of Anjou (‘Robert the Wise’) and his exotically named wife Sancia di Majorca in French Gothic style.

It was restored in the 18th century in Baroque style, but bomb damage after World War II necessitated extensive repair work when the original Gothic style was reinstated.

The tomb of Robert of Anjou is the largest funerary monument of medieval Italy, and behind this is the delightful tiled cloister. 

Naples Santa Chiara: Colorful 17th-century frescoes adorning the walls of the cloister.

The cloister is a welcome oasis of calm, a shady haven of fruit trees and a garden of roses that are planted with neatly clipped box hedges, and furnished with benches.

Its 72 octagonal pillars connect the low walls and are exotically decorated with colorful majolica tiles depicting bucolic, maritime, and mythological scenes.

The walls of the cloister are tastefully covered with 17th-century frescoes depicting allegories and scenes of the Old Testament.

Santa Chiara is also home to a museum showing bits from the church before the bombing, as well as the excavated, remains of a Roman bath complex outside and a remarkably well-preserved sauna.

The Santa Chiara cloister is open from 09:30–17:30 (Monday-Saturday) and 10:00–14:30 (Sunday). The last entrance is 30 minutes before closing time. The entrance to the cloister costs 6 EUR.

14. Naples Cathedral

Must-see Naples: The Neo-Gothic facade of the Naples Cathedral

There are close to 500 historic churches in Naples, most of which are ornately decorated and offer glimpses into Italian life. Out of all these churches, none is more sacrosanct than the Naples Cathedral (Duomo di San Gennaro or Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta), one of the most important landmarks in Naples. 

Originally constructed in the Gothic style in the 13th century, Naples Cathedral was redecorated in the late 17th century in Baroque fashion and now sports a late nineteenth-century Neo-Gothic facade. The cathedral is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, San Gennaro. 

Naples Cathedral: The swirling dome fresco of the Chapel of San Gennaro. PC: Isogood_patrick/

The interior of Naples Cathedral never fails to dazzle and the sixteen pillars of the long nave support arches flanked by granite columns. One of the highlights is the Chapel of San Gennaro, the third chapel on the right as you enter the cathedral.

It’s fascinatingly ornate, containing the precious vials of the saint’s blood and his skull in a silver bust reliquary from 1305. Look out for the swirling dome fresco, with its depiction of Paradise. 


San Gennaro was martyred at Pozzuoli, just outside Naples, in 305 AD. When his body was transferred here, two vials of his dried blood liquefied in the bishop’s hands, since which time the “miracle” has continued to repeat itself no fewer than three times a year. On the Saturday before the first Sunday in May, the 19th of September, and the 16th of December, the blood is brought out for the infamous blood liquefaction ceremony There is still a great deal of folklore surrounding this event. San Gennaro is regarded as the savior and defender of Naples, and if the miracle does not occur, it is considered inauspicious for the city of Naples. Neapolitans take this ritual with deadly seriousness and you’ll witness people of every age and background imploring and cajoling that Gennaro do his civic duty by consenting for his blood to liquefy and thus protect the city. On previous (but not all) occasions when the blood failed to liquefy on the saint’s feast day, it signaled bad news for Naples. The miracle did not occur in 1939 and 1940, coinciding with the beginning of WWII and Italy’s entry into the conflict, and again in 1944, an event followed by Vesuvius’s last eruption. Two months after the blood failed to liquefy in September 1980, the Irpinia earthquake devastated dozens of structures in Naples. In 1988, the day after the blood failed to liquefy, SSC Napoli (Naples’s major soccer team) lost an important soccer match to their rivals, AC Milan, which cost them the Serie A title that year. Whatever the truth of the miracle, it’s undoubtedly a major event in the Neapolitan calendar.

The other main attraction is the Basilica of Santa Restituta which is actually a separate church. Officially the oldest structure in Naples, erected by Constantine in 324, the basilica is supported by columns that were taken from a temple to Apollo on this site. The basilica contains some fabulous Romanesque frescoes and mosaics.

Naples Cathedral is open daily from 08:30-13:30 & 16:30-19:30. The baptistery is open from 08:30-12:30 & 16:00-18:30 (Monday-Saturday) and from 08:30-13:00 (Sunday). The entrance to the cathedral is free while the entrance to the baptistery costs 2.50 EUR.

15. Sunset Views From Castel Sant’Elmo

Naples travel: Castel Sant’Elmo, a star-shaped 13th century fortress

Take the funicular to the Castel Sant’Elmo, a star-shaped 13th-century fortress atop Vomero Hill. The fortress now contains a decent modern art museum and exhibition center.

However, most people come to Castel Sant’Elmo since it offers the best viewpoint in Naples. You can walk around the entire battlements for a 360-degree view of Naples and beyond. 

Naples Castel Sant’Elmo: Beautiful woman looking at the camera, with the Bay of Naples in background

Nestled in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius in the Bay of Naples, Naples has one of the most beautiful natural settings of any city in the world.

The Bay of Naples is sheltered by the curve of hills to the east which creates a natural semi-circular amphitheater and is exposed to the sea.

Naples: Panoramic view of Mt. Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples.

The most stunning view is of Mt. Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples to Capri. Castel Sant’Elmo also accords a perfect view of Spaccanapoli slicing its way through the core of the historic center.

I recommend going in the late afternoon just before sunset. The panoramic vista of Naples is equally amazing when the city lights up.

Castel Sant’Elmo is open daily from 08:30-19:30 (last admission is at 18:30). The entrance costs 5 EUR.

16. Feast On An Authentic Neapolitan Pizza

Naples Pizza: A mouth-wateringly aromatic Pizza Marinara

Cap-off your one day in Naples by treating yourself to an authentic Neapolitan pizza, the food the city is best known for.

Maybe it’s the water, or the quality of the flour or yeast used, but Neapolitan pizza is inimitable. Nowhere else in the world will you get such aromatic and delicious pizza. 

Authentic Neapolitan pizza is prepared according to stringent criteria and toppings are made with San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella (traditionally).

Buffalo milk has a tangy quality and the cheese has a unique smoothness. This makes the crust light, spongy, and chewy and the pizza just melts in your mouth.

The main problem is choosing the right pizzeria as the options are extensive. Of course, you’ll get good pizzas throughout Naples but finding what is the best pizza in Naples is a conundrum.


Legend has it that the classic Margherita Pizza was named in honor of the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, after her visit to Naples in 1889. You can see the colors of the Italian flag in its toppings, basil for the green, cheese represents the white, and tomato sauce for the red. Although it is often stated that the Margherita was also invented then, it is considered false as a pizza made with the same toppings was already prevalent in Naples in the late 18th century.

Naples Pizza: Traditional Pizza Margherita

We dined at several top-notch pizzerias during our vacation in Naples and there were several worthy contenders. Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo, located in the heart of the historic center is undoubtedly one of the best pizzerias in Naples.

In fact, it’s so popular that many Neapolitans regard it as the best place to get a pizza in Naples. There’s inevitably almost always a queue, which can take sometimes take up to an hour but is well worth the wait.

You can opt for classics like the Margherita and Marinara or go for more creative options. Either way, you won’t go wrong with any choice, and will leave you very satiated afterward.

Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo is open Mon-Sat from 12:00-15:30 and 19:00-24:00.

Extending Your Stay

Ideally, we would recommend that you spend at least 2-3 days in Naples. There are many great sights that we had to exclude from our ‘one day in Naples’ itinerary, such as the Capodimonte Museum, the Bourbon Tunnel, the Certosa di San Martino monastery complex, and the Catacombs of San Gennaro.

And don’t forget that you can also hike Mt. Vesuvius, visit the historic cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, or marvel at the beauty of the Amalfi Coast on a day trip from Naples.

Where to Stay in Naples

The best place to stay in Naples would be in the historic center or in the vicinity somewhere as many of the star attractions are close by. By staying here you’ll also get to experience Naples at its most vibrant.

Hostel: Hostel of the Sun, great option just outside the historic center close to the harbor

Budget: B&B San Gaetano, excellent low budget option in the historic center

Mid-range: Napoliseason Rooms and Breakfast, a top-notch choice next to Castel Sant’ Elmo in the upscale district of Vomero

Splurge: Grand Hotel Oriente, a superb choice just outside the historic center, two minutes from Toledo metro station

Further Reading For Your Naples Visit

That summarizes our comprehensive guide on how to spend one perfect day in Naples. However, we reckon you’ll find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Naples & the Campania region!

More Information About Italy

Venice: Find out the 30 best things to do in Venice!

Venice: Check out the 14 best traditional souvenirs to buy in Venice!

Venice: Check out the 30+ must-see sights along the Grand Canal in Venice!

Venice: Check out the 22 must-try foods in Venice!

Venice: Discover how to spend one perfect day in Venice!

Trieste: Discover the 18 best things to do in Trieste!

Rome: Check out the 20 historical sites in Rome you shouldn’t miss!

Rome: Check out our ultimate guide to visiting the Roman Forum!

Rome: Find out the 30 best things to do in Rome!

Rome: Discover how to spend one perfect day in Rome!

Now, what do you think? Is Naples on your bucket list? Or is there anything else that shouldn’t be missed during one day in Naples? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

About Mihir

Hello there, fellow globetrotters! I’m Mihir, a passionate travel blogger with an insatiable wanderlust. My journey across the world is fueled by curiosity and a hunger for unique experiences. As a travel writer, photographer, and adventurer, I’ve explored more than 35 countries, aiming to provide readers with a distinctive glimpse of our diverse world. Join me as I blend captivating storytelling with stunning visuals, guiding you through hidden gems and cultural treasures. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, craft beer, classic movies, history, and Australian Rules Football (Go Dons!).

14 thoughts on “One Day in Naples: How to Spend the Perfect 24 Hours in Naples”

  1. How are you? we will have one full day in Naples and looks like your day was fantastic, how long it took you guys to do all the stops?

    1. Hi Mario! This is a pretty packed itinerary for which you’d probably need around 12 hours. But you can also skip a few stops or do it over 2 days as others have suggested.
      Hope you enjoy your time in Napoli!

    1. Hi Adriana, you can find the link to the map just below the heading “Your One Day in Naples Itinerary.” Happy travels 🙂

  2. Thank you for this vivid description and recommendations about Napoli. I’ll try it out with my daughters tomorrow 🙂

  3. We did it in two days! It was perfect, thanks!
    And then on the next day we did Pompeii and we are soooo impressed!

    Love your blog! Keep it up!

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