Follow my ultimate guide to 1 day in Naples: land of great pizza and the freshest fish. And of Mount Vesuvius. The people of Naples are vivacious, and have a true sense of carpe diem, since they live in the shadows of an active volcano. If you only have 24 hours in the city, I recommend seeing a couple of popular sights and definitely eating some good pizza (don’t fret if you’re not that into pizza; fresh seafood is also abundant).
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Languages: Italian (mixed local Neapolitan dialect)
Voltage: 230V. See my post on Essential Items to Pack in your Carry-on for tips on what plug adapters to buy.
Major Train Station: Napoli Centrale (P.za Giuseppe Garibaldi, 80142 Napoli NA, Italy)
Major Airport: Naples International Airport
Ultimate Guide to 1 Day in Naples: Getting There
Even though it’s listed as an international airport, do check if there are any direct flights from your city to Naples International Airport. We weren’t able to book one from Canada, so we had to fly into Rome and then take a high-speed train to Naples. We made it to our train during the 2 hour time window and the high-speed train we took got us into Naples Centrale station in about an hour and half.
I highly recommend taking the high-speed train if you’re already in Italy. It usually deposits you right downtown of whichever city you’re visiting. The trains are fast, comfortable, and you get to enjoy the scenery and relax. Buy tickets online at one of the operators (I usually use ItaliaRail or TrenItalia) for an assigned seat and you might even score a few discounted business class tickets online which come with snacks and wider leg room (see my guide on 24 hours in Venice for more info on high-speed trains).
Don’t drive. Hire a driver.
I highly recommend hiring a driver (or taxi) to get from the train station to your hotel (or you can take the subway, or even walk, depending on the distance and your luggage situation). Naples driving situation is chaotic, hectic, and mostly insane. At some point, you’ll be asking yourself why is a driver’s license even required? Rules of the road seem arbitrary and pedestrians cross the streets at will; no need to look both ways, just march right out into the road and drivers abruptly brake for them.
Our driver, Pasquale, was a recommendation from the hotel (MAISON DANTE DE CHARME below) we stayed at. He was friendly, quirky, joyful. And extremely punctual. He got us to our tours right on time. I highly recommend taking a taxi or driver if you need and don’t bother driving at all. Rates will vary, but a 20
minute-ish ride from the train station to the hotel cost us about 20 EURO for 4 people and luggage.
Ultimate Guide to 1 Day in Naples: Where to Stay
Maison Dante de Charme is in a prime location almost directly across from a subway station (Dante’s Square) for easy access to transport. Naples streets are busy everywhere but this hotel is tucked just far enough away from the main streets that you’re mostly guaranteed a restful sleep.
The hotel has great room service; they even folded my pyjamas! I felt truly taken care of. Getting into the hotel is almost like playing a video game. You’re provided passcodes to the hotel’s entrances and lockboxes so you can get your own keys after hours. The hotel owner sent us all the videos and instructions to our What’s App for easy following. Just make sure you get roaming data for your phone and make sure it works in Italy. Maison Dante de Charme set us up with our driver Pasquale, so I definitely recommend asking your hotel if they have driver’s on their roster to help you with transport.
Ultimate Guide to 1 Day in Naples: What to See and Do
Tour the Naples Underground
Spend a few hours in the Napoli Sotterranea (Naples underground aqueducts) and marvel at Greek engineers who built the city’s first underground aqueduct. It’s almost a 4 story trek underground to see the ancient cisterns and tunnels. It’s incredibly high in some places and extremely narrow in others. The tunnels were also used as bomb shelters during WWII and there’s a whole tank made out of leftover Fiat parts that were discarded in the tunnels years after the war.
There’s even a deactivated bomb that entered the tunnels but didn’t explode.
The tour is advertised as non-claustrophobic but there is a section where you have the option to walk through the narrowest of tunnels the Greeks built to speed water through the aqueducts. You don’t have to walk through it if space is an issue and can wait in another main room.
Part of the tour also involves visiting an ancient Greco-Roman theatre where the foundations were engineered by the Romans to be earthquake-proof. Some modern day apartments are built on top of those ancient foundations. Those apartment dwellers are technically living on top of the theatre where emperors Claudius and Nero performed.
Visit the Galleria Umberto mall and tour a local gallery
Get some sunlight after the underground tour by visiting the Galleria Umberto I. It’s a beautiful mall with vaulted, glass ceilings and the floors are also quite beautiful. It’s a nice spot to shop for some high-end Italian leather and to pick up something tailor made.
Then lastly visit an art gallery where you can see an original Caravaggio painting. We made it in time to visit the Gallerie d’Italia which houses a Caravaggio and other paintings by his students. They also have a stunning collection of Attic and Magna Graecia pottery.
Some fun sights to see include the statue of Pulcinella where it’s said rubbing his nose brings good luck. And admire the graffitis of Sophia Loren all around you.
Ultimate Guide to 1 Day in Naples: Where to Eat
Don’t skip happy hour!
Most bars serve drinks and appetizers (like tapas or pintxos) with your drink order during happy hour (starts at around 5 – ish), so don’t freak out if you see an appetizing plate of snacks magically appear with your drinks. Depending on the bar, the snacks can be quite extensive: we had grilled calamari and chips in one bar, and fried risotto, corn, more fried fish, and some salad for another. It’s a fun way to take a break after hours of walking.
Pizza places (and non-pizza) places to try.
Again, with only 24 hours to spend in the city, we definitely recommend picking a pizza place and giving real Neapolitan pizza a try. Our favourite was Pizzeria da Attilio (see below) for pizza, but if pizza isn’t for you then there are wonderful seafood restaurants all around too.
‘A PUTECA D’ ‘A PIZZA
This tiny joint serves sinfully scrumptious and satisfying fried pizzas. Think of fried pizzas as pizza dough filled with pizza toppings, folded, and then deep fried to golden, delicious perfection. We stumbled by this joint and ordered a fried pizza filled with arugula, cheese, and prosciutto. You can get fried pizza with almost any sweet or savoury ingredients you like and enjoy it while admiring the store’s Pulcinella mosaic store front.
Obviously, you must try pizza from the birthplace of pizza. And yes there’s a million pizza restaurants all claiming to serve THE best neapolitan pizza since the creation of pizza. Da Attilio is where other pizza masters go when they want a good pizza. The wood-oven fired pizza all have perfect leopard spots on the bottom of the dough. The dough is perfectly chewy but not bready and doesn’t bloat you after you’ve eaten the entire thing.
Da Attilio is located right next to a fishmonger store, so some pizza specials might include fresh fish on pizza which I encourage you to try. I promise the fish the pizza master uses isn’t “fishy” or smelly (if you’re worried about fish smelling like fish). Fresh fish is a delight and a luxury and I urge you to try it if you’ve only ever had access to frozen fish.
I ordered a memorable pizza: mine had roast pumpkin and porcini on buffalo mozzarella cheese. It was sublime, light, and absolutely satisfying. We had the special pizza of the night: fresh anchovies with lemon cream and mozzarella cheese. The anchovies were sweet tasting and perfectly flaky. No reservations allowed so show up 30 minutes before opening hour to snag a table.
A slightly more touristy pizzeria but pizza is delicious all the same. Da Attilio is our favourite but a good second option if da Attilio is full. You’ll still be required to wait but there’s a bit more seats so you’ll have a higher chance of getting in. They have a fried pizza option to take away if you’re truly in a rush, but we recommend sitting down and enjoying your dinner. I had a pesto pizza which was divine and it paired wonderfully with a glass of Lacryma Christi, a local red wine.
Ultimately our favourite restaurant in Naples. If you’ve got a few more days in Naples, then it’s a good intermission to all the pizza you’ll eat. I highly recommend this place for pasta and seafood if you only have one night for a dinner meal.
We ordered baccalà frito (fried cod), which is one of the best fish and chips I’ve had. Cod was perfectly, and lightly, battered. We also had classic bruschetta and mixed salad to start, and I had a mixed seafood pasta as the main course. It. Was. Divine.
For dessert, I had one of the best tiramisu I’ve ever tasted (even rivaling that of I Tre Mercanti in Venice). It was light, fluffy, and smooth as heaven. My family had baba al rum, one of the largest I’ve ever seen and quite delicious.
I highly suggest L’Ostricaio for seafood enthusiasts and to get a nice break from pizza before you try more pizzas. And definitely have gelato afterwards to end your trip to Naples on a sweet note.
Have a bit more time to spend in Italy? Check out my other travel guides, like Chloe’s Guide to 3 Days in Naples and the Amalfi Coast, or Chloe’s Guide to 8-10 Days in Italy, for inspiration on how to make the most of your Italian dream trip!