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About Naples (Napoli)
When you search online for the “safest destinations for solo travellers” Naples, Italy definitely isn’t the first on the list. Naples has a long-standing reputation for being a dangerous city and the city’s trash problem. One article even labelled Naples as “The Italian City Everyone Hates,” and another British newspaper, The Sun, ranked Naples as“One of the world’s top 10 dangerous cities, along side Raqqa in Syria”. But I couldn’t disagree more! In fact, Naples was the first European city I’ve ever travelled solo to and I even stayed there for about 2 months, volunteering for a local non-profit organization (to read more: “My IVHQ Experience: An Honest Review of my First Solo Volunteer Trip Abroad to Italy”).
Personally, I felt just as safe as I did when travelling alone to any other part of the world and incorporated the exact same safety measures as I always do on all my solo travels (read: “Top 11 Safety Tips From A Female Solo Traveller”). But to stay on the side of caution, I reached out to a risk assessment company for their services and paid for a safety report on Naples, Italy. Even though I felt very safe as a solo female traveller when I was there a couple years ago, I wanted to be completely sure that there weren’t any alarming security issues before recommending it to other solo travellers. Here are the current findings, FYI the report was conducted on July 2018 – Naples, Italy – A Safety Risk Assessment Report July 2018.
During my time in Naples, I fell in love with the authenticity of the city; the narrow cobblestone streets filled with antique shops and restaurants, the buzzing sound of Vespas weaving in and out of traffic, and the graffiti walls painted with unique street art – I was intrigued by it all! Although Naples isn’t considered the “cleanest” city in Italy, it definitely has its own unique sense of charm, beauty, and a story to tell of its own. It has improved significantly in the past few years and if you want to experience a true authentic side of Italy, visit Naples.
Below, you’ll find a solo guide to Naples to help you navigate around this often overlooked but beautiful city!
Quick Facts & Info you should know:
- Location – The regional capital of Campania (southern Italy) & third-largest city after Rome and Milan. The city where pizza was invented!
- Population – over 980,000 Neapolitans
- Language – Italian. More specifically, the “Neapolitan language”, dialect used in southern Italy in the Naples area or in Campania.
- Religion – Catholic faith is extremely important
- Common words -Hello- Ciao, Goodbye- Arrivederci, Thank you- Grazie, You’re welcome- Prego
- Communication (the language of hand gestures) – Learning the meaning behind hand gestures can be very helpful! Click here to find out the meaning behind some of the most common ones.
- Tipping etiquette – Tipping is generally optional. Taxi rides, round to the nearest Euro. Fine dining, 10%. Pizzerias, 1 or 2 Euros. Coffee bars, €0.10 coin, usually placed on the bar. If drinks are served to you at your table, a larger tip is appreciated.
- Sports – Football (soccer) Team: S.S.C. (Società Sportiva Calcio) Napoli
- Telephone Codes – Country area code: +39; Naples Area code: 081
- Currency – EURO (sign: €, code: EUR) – to check your currency conversions, www.xe.com
- Plug Adapter – 220V to 230V, with a frequency of 50H
Getting Around Naples – Modes of Transportation
Metro (*remember to validate all transportation tickets, or else you will be fined!)
For a print out of map click –> Naples – Metro Map
- Naples Metro System: Unico Napoli
- Ticket costs: €1.50 (90 min ticket), €4.50 (daily), €42.00 (monthly)
- Metro time: 6:00 am – 23:15 pm
- For more information: www.anm.it
Line 1: Operated by ANM
Duomo and Università (southern edge of the centro storico)
Municipio (hydrofoil & ferry terminals)
Toledo (Via Toledo & Quartieri Spagnoli)
Dante (western edge of the centro storico)
Museo (National Archaeological Museum)
Metro Line 2: Operated by TrenItalia
Piazza Cavour (La Sanità & northern edge of centro storico)
Piazza Amedeo (Chiaia) & Mergellina (Mergellina ferry terminal)
Change between lines 1 and 2 at Garibaldi or Piazza Cavour.
–Circumvesuviana – Naples Circumvesuviana connects the city center with the city’s eastern suburbs around Mount Vesuvius. Follow signs from Napoli Centrale station that run to Sorrento via Ercolano (Herculaneum), Pompeii and other towns along the coast.
-You will need a Unico Campania TIC ticket, or an EAV ticket (only valid on EAV transport), which can both be purchased at the Central Station.
- The Napoli ↔ Sorrento train runs daily, about every half hour during peak hours, and the entire journey takes just a little over an hour.
- Napoli to Sorrento Napoli to Sorrento Schedule
- Sorrento to Napoli Sorrento to Napoli Schedule
Transportation to/from the Airport:
Alibus Airport Shuttle
The Naples Alibus Airport Shuttle is a cheap alternative to taking a taxi to/from Naples Capodichino Airport and the Central Train Station and Naples Molo Beverello Port at the city center and is more convenient than using the city buses.
Ferrys and hydrofoils
The main Naples ferry and cruise port is right in the centre of Naples and is a single entity with both cruise and ferry services located all together. The port is referred to as Molo Beverello.
You can buy tickets at the port or online.
Alilauro Hydrofoils – between Naples Beverello and Capri, Ischia, Sorrento
Caremar Hydrofoil and Ferries – between Naples Beverello and Capri, Ischia, Procida
Gescab Hydrofoils – between Naples and Capri
NLG Hydrofoils – between Naples and Capri
Medmar Ferries – between Naples and Ischia & Procida
SNAV Ferries – between Naples Beverello and Capri, Ischia, Procida
Safety: Is Naples safe for tourists and solo travellers?
Naples has a reputation for being Italy’s most dangerous city with mafia-related violence, garbage problems, and tourists being targets of petty crimes like pickpocketing. But despite what you may have heard or read, I personally felt very safe and took the same precautions as I did with any other place I travelled solo to. For an official assessment, read Naples, Italy – A Safety Risk Assessment Report July 2018.
Tips to stay safe in Naples:
Do not wear flashy or expensive brands, beware of your surroundings and try to blend in, do not go out alone at night, keep your valuables close to you (I like to use a fanny pack and wear it around my waist or across my chest to prevent pickpocketing), be careful when crossing the street and watch out for those Vespas! With all things always listen to your intuition when travelling on your own (read more on safety: “Top 11 Safety Tips from a Female Solo Traveller”)
Areas to avoid in Naples – Train stations at night, especially Piazza Garibaldi, the central train station (reports of lots of pickpocketers in this area, be careful when entering and exiting the station). Small vendors around this area, do not feel obligated to buy, they can be extremely persistent). Vespas sometimes zoom by and snatch your purse, pay attention when walking along the narrow streets. Spanish Quarter, is fine during the daytime, but still, I would not advise going, especially at night. Just as a general rule, go with someone or a group of people when travelling around Naples at night. Avoid Via Marina and Scampia.
Safest neighbourhoods in Naples – Chiaia, Via Toledo, near Centro Storico, Posillipo, Vomero
Where to stay in Naples
Famous Landmarks to visit in Naples, Italy
Castel dell ‘Ovo (Egg Castle) –Located in the seaside, the castle’s name comes from a legend about the Roman poet Virgil, who was known in the Middle Ages as a great sorcerer. Read the full story of why this castle is called the “egg castle” here.
Castel Nuovo (new castle) – An important cultural centre located in front of Piazza Municipio, this medieval castle was once a royal seat for kings of Naples, Aragon and Spain.
Church of San Domenico Maggiore (Chiesa di San Domenico Maggiore) – One of the most beautiful churches in Naples, the architecture, and especially the ceilings designed by Franceso Solimena, a famous baroque painter in Naples.
Gesù Nuovo – the name of a church and a square in Naples located just outside the southern boundaries of the Historic centre. You can find 3 important landmarks: The Church of Gesù Nuovo, The Church of Santa Chiara, the spire or guglia of the Immaculate Virgin.
Museo Cappella Sansevero – “Veiled Christ” sculpture by Neapolitan artist Giueseppe Sanmartino in 1753, showing the figure of Christ lying and covered in cloth. Facial features, as well as body markings from crucifixion, are so real that its as though the statue comes to life. The visual effects are stunning!
Naples Cathedral (Duomo di Napoli) – Is a Roman Catholic cathedral and the main church in Naples that dates back to the 13th century. It is the seat of the city’s Archbishop and contains the relics of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples (celebrated in yearly at the Festival of San Gennaro, one of Naple’s most important religious festivals).
Naples Historic Centre (Centro Storico) – This historic UNESCO World Heritage Site showcases 448 historical and monumental churches, the highest in the world for a single city including the Church of Santa Chiara, Church of San Domenico Maggiore, San Severo Chapel, and Castel Nuovo just to name a few. Visit the underground city of Naples and/or take a walk along the narrow main streets of Spaccanapoli (the name literally means “Naples splitter” and has been called this because if observed from above, this long street divides the Naples historic city into two parts.
National Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale) – One of the most important archaeological museums in the world. You can find many sculptures and artifacts that were recovered from Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Piazza del Plebiscito – The name is coined from the 1860 plebiscite unification between the kingdom of the Two Sicilies to the Italian State.
The Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale di Napoli) – Located in the heart of Naples, it was one of the four royal residences used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies between 1734-1860.
Famous streets/areas worth visiting
Historic Centre (Centro Storico) – the area where the city’s most historic buildings are found
Spaccanapoli – the street that splits the historic centre into two
Via San Gregorio Armeno – Christmas Alley, famous for nativity scene figurines and trinkets
Piazza del Plebiscito – the biggest square in Naples, an area used for art installations and concerts.
Chiaia– Classy bars with live jazz music, great restaurants and boutique shopping
Vomero (hillside) – beautiful hillside views, an affluent area in Naples
Spanish Quarters (Quartieri Spagnoli) – It is one of the less affluent areas, that suffered from high unemployment and the strong influence of Camorra (mafia), yet one of the most authentic places you can go in Naples (you can see laundry hanging from windows and the same vendors that have been there for years, etc.). Try the restaurant Da Nennella, for some excellent Neapolitan traditional food! I recommend you only go during the day.
Naples Day Trips
Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii, Herculaneum (Erolano)
HOW TO GET HERE:
Circumvesuviana train (these trains are located downstairs from the regular trains).
-Runs from two stations, including the main Central (Garibaldi) Station.
-From Naples journey times are about 20 minutes to Ercolano Scavi (Herculaneum) and 40 minutes to Pompeii.
-From Sorrento journey times are about 50 minutes to Ercolano Scavi (Herculaneum) and 30 minutes to Pompeii.
Mt. Vesuvius (Hike to the Vesuvius Crater) – Most well-known for the 79 AD eruption that wiped out the Roman cities of Pompeii & Herculaneum (Erolano), this volcano is located on Italy’s west coast overlooking the Bay and City of Naples. It is currently still active and can be of great danger to the neighbouring cities around it if it were ever to erupt again! If you decide to brave it out, you can trek up to take a look at the crater (the hike is not that challenging, but it is a great experience, especially with the fascinating fact that this was the volcano was responsible for destroyed cities!).
FACT: Scientists have warned that if Mt. Vesuvius were to erupt today, it would be no less dangerous as it was back in the day and that the volcano is just merely “napping”!
Pompeii – An UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pompeii is an archaeological site in southern Italy’s Campania region, near the coast of Naples that was once a large Roman city. It was completely destroyed and buried in volcanic ashes following the eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. It killed thousands of people and forced the entire town to flee. You can view the plaster bodies, the amphitheatre, houses, baths, and is a large space for exploration.
TIP: go early in the morning or later part of the day as is it heats up during the day. Make sure to pack a hat, umbrella, sunscreen, sunglasses and lots of water! This place gets incredibly crowded and may be difficult to walk around.
Herculaneum (Ercolano) – An UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ercolano also known as Herculaneum is located just a few miles from Pompeii and approx. 150 miles south of Rome, close to Naples in Campania. This Roman city was also demolished by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD, the same volcano that destroyed Pompeii.
TIP: Herculaneum has better-preserved homes, mosaics, temples, and baths but is a smaller city than Pompeii (much of the site has yet to be excavated). It has fewer plaster bodies, but it is also less crowded, has more shade during the summer season and roads are easier to walk on.
Amalfi Coast, Positano, and Sorrento
Amalfi Coast – Located on the stretch of coastline along the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula, in the Campania region, with cliffside homes, coastal views and winding roads. The most popular destinations are Amalfi and Positano (other ones include Ravello and Praiano). Sorrento is often mistaken as part of the Amalfi Coast and although it may be easy to travel to Sorrento from the Amalfi, they are two distinctly separate locations. The Amalfi Coast is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. TIP: There’s a difference between “Amalfi” and “the Amalfi”, the first refers to the Town of Amalfi and the latter refers to the general area of the Amalfi Coast. Transportation: Boat services aren’t available all days of the year, the regular season is from May to October, but sometimes there are cancelled because of the bad weather and rough seas.
HOW TO GET HERE: http://www.napoliunplugged.com/get-amalfi-coast.html
Positano – Coined as the “Jewel of the Amalfi Coast”, it is one of the most picturesque towns dotted with cliffside villages on the Amalfi Coast and is proud of its thriving fashion industry (Moda Positano, Positano Fashion). The narrow, steep cobblestone streets are lined with boutiques, cafes, restaurants beautiful beaches, and swarmed with tourists!
FACT: Positano is one of the chicest and exclusive places to stay in the Amalfi Coast, but it comes with an expensive price tag!
HOW TO GET HERE: http://www.napoliunplugged.com/get-amalfi-coast.html
Sorrento – Sorrento is a popular destination for visitors to stay and use as a base to easily get around Positano, Amalfi, Pompeii, Capri and Ischia. It has a wide range of accommodations to suit different budgets, easy to get around by public transportation and has relatively “flat” roads, making it easier to walk around.
FACT: Sorrento is not located on the Amalfi Coast, it is located on the Sorrentine Peninsula. It can get very crowded with tourists and tour groups during the high seasons.
TIP: I would recommend staying in Sorrento as your base, as accommodation is much more affordable than Positano or the Amalfi Coast. It is easier to get around transportation wise, but if you are tight on time, it is definitely worth it to book a private driver or with a tour travel group to take you around (especially during the high seasons, the headache of the traffic and the time you’ll be saving!).
HOW TO GET HERE: Circumvesuviana train Central (Garibaldi) Station goes straight to Sorrento.
The Islands of Ischia, Procida, and Capri
Ischia – is the largest of the island in the Bay of Naples and is considered “the hidden gem” in comparison to the famous island of Capri (often very crowded with tourists!). Ischia, is a volcanic island most known for its mineral-rich thermal hot springs and is a popular destination for the local Italian families to go during the summer.
TIP: If you have only time to go to one island, go to Ischia, you won’t be disappointed (personally I prefer to go to less crowded and more local areas).
HOW TO GET HERE: www.ischiareview.com/how-to-get-to-ischia.html
Procida – is the smallest and the prettiest island out of the three and one of the “best-kept secrets”! It is famous for many movie settings including “The Talented Mr. Ripley” with Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow. This charming fishing village has an authentic and peaceful feel, decorated with beautiful Mediterranean pastel colours, balconies, traditional designs of arches and stairs.
TIP: There are some excellent restaurants by the seaside, be sure to try some fresh fish, spaghetti with sea-urchin and even some stewed rabbit!
HOW TO GET HERE: www.naplesbayferry.com/en/how-to-get-to-ischia-and-procida
Capri – the most famous island out of the three, Capri is always buzzing with tourists. This beautiful island is filled with upscale hotel, restaurants, boutiques and yachts can be seen from the coastlines in the summer. Well-known for its handmade leather sandals, pick up a custom pair while you tour around the island!
TIP: To fully experience Capri, spend at least one night on the island (it can be quite expensive!). Take a tour of the Blue Grotto (a dark cavern where the sea glows electric blue, the result of sunlight passing through an underwater cave). This natural cavern is 25 meters wide and 60 meters long, with a tiny entrance less than a meter high. To enter, visitors lay back in wooden rowboats and glide through the low cave mouth.
HOW TO GET HERE: Download map here www.capri.net/en/getting-here
Where to eat & local foods (& tipping etiquette)
Top 7 local Neapolitan food you must try:
(*For a full food guide –>“Naples Locals Food Guide: 7 Neapolitan Foods You Must Eat and the Best Places to Try Them”)
1. Sfogliatella – A triangular-shaped filled Italian pastry native to Campania, 2 types: Sfogliatella Riccia & Frolla.
2. Frittatina (or frittata di pasta) – Egg-based Italian pasta dish similar to an omelette deep fried in a pan.
3. Babà (rum cake) – A yeast-leavened sweet cake soaked in alcohol (usually rum or limoncello).
4. Pizza Fritta (fried pizza) – Street food, fried pizza made by sealing the toppings between two layers of pizza dough and deep-fried until crispy.
5. Coffee – Must try the espresso!
6. Gelato – Italian ice cream
7. Pizza – Naples is the birthplace of pizza! Click “Top 5 Places to Find the World’s Best Pizza in Naples, Italy” (includes directions and tips) for the best pizzerias in town!
*Tipping etiquette – tipping is generally optional. Taxi rides, round to the nearest Euro. Fine dining, 10%. Pizzerias, 1 or 2 Euros. Coffee bars, €0.10 coin, usually placed on the bar. If drinks are served to you at your table, a larger tip is appreciated.
Best Shopping Areas in Naples
Famous for well-tailored suits, quality leather goods, porcelain and handmade trinkets, you can find many trendy and fashionable shops along the streets of Naples. Everything from handmade clothing, ceramic ornaments and crafts, antiques, artwork to high-end designer labels.
Regular Shopping Hours
Monday – Saturday usually between 9-10 a.m. – 1:30-2 p.m. then closed in the afternoon for a couple hours, re-opens around 4:30-8:00 p.m. Only some stores open on Sundays.
Here are some of the best shopping areas in Naples:
Via Toledo – One of the longest shopping streets in Naples, where you can find lots of shops and department stores. You’ll come across the grande Galleria Umberto I, a glass roofed shopping mall, located directly across from the San Carlo opera house (Teatro di San Carlo).
↠ Directions: Click here to get step-by-step directions to Via Toledo from the main bus, metro and train stations in Naples.
Via Chiaia, Via dei Mille – Streets lined with boutique shops, artwork and antiques. One of my favourite places to shop and eat (great night life too, click here for “nightlife in Naples”). Via dei Mille is where you can find exclusive (pricey) high-end shops.
↠ Directions: Click here to get step-by-step directions to get to Via Chiaia from the main bus, metro, train stations in Naples.
Vomero Hill (Via Scarlatti) – An affluent area located on a hilltop overlooking great views of Naples. An elegant, less crowded and less congested area to shop. Great place to find shoes, brand name shops and lovely cafés.
↠ Directions: Click here to get to Vomero Hill by cable car, bus and/or metro.
Via San Gregorio Armeno & the historic district (Spaccanapoli) – You can find unique antique pieces, souvenirs, handmade leather journals, beautiful nativity figurines and ceramic Christmas ornaments throughout the narrow alleyways.
Fun Fact: Pulcinella, a clown-like figure dressed in a white costume and black face mask, a character from the old theater is sold in almost every shop. Pulcinella is often depicted as eating pizza or spaghetti and acting out as a prankster. Pulcinella is the unofficial mascot of Naples and brings good-luck, especially when holding a red horn (corno), designed to ward off evil spirits.
↠Directions: Click here to get step-by-step directions to San Gregorio Armeno from the main bus, metro and train stations in Naples.
Shopping Tips – where to go to find your favourite items
Designer brands – Via Chiaia and Via Toledo (Gucci, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton)
↠Directions: see above
Christmas Ornaments – San Gregorio Armeno (Historic District) aka Naples Christmas Valley – famous nativity scene figurines made from terracotta, all handmade.
↠Directions: see above
Shoes (shoe alley flea market) – Poggioreale Flea Market (Mercatino di Poggioreale or Mercato Caramanico) – Naples shoes galore! You can find lots of shoes, handbags, clothing and did I mention lots of shoes?!
↠Directions: Take the Corso Malta Tangenziale exit, go straight until the first stop light, turn left on via Nuova Poggioreale. Via Marino di Caramanico is the second side street off via Nuova Poggioreale.
Antique market (Fiera Antiquaria Napoletana) – runs along the road that separates Villa Comunale Park from Via Caracciolo, Naples seafront promenade, Lungomare.
↠Directions: Located in Villa Comunale (city park), along the Naples waterfront between Mergellina and the Castel Dell’Ovo. Drive, or take the Metropolitana to Mergellina station
Crafts and handmade products – Quartieri Spagnoli – has the largest number of vintage craftsman shops and authentic Neapolitan restaurants. I don’t recommend you go here at night.
↠Directions: Click here for step-by-step directions on how to get to Quartieri Spagnoli by train, metro and bus.
Clothing, bags, shoes etc. – Mercatino dell’Umberto – stalls lining the north side of Via Vittorio Imbriani with clothing, bags and other merchandise
Posillipo Market – located at Parco Virgiliano a Posillipo, open only on Thursdays. You can find everything from clothes, bags, jewellery to household items.
↠Directions: Click here for step-by-step directions by Train and/or bus to Posillipo
Legal drinking age is 18. Minors 16 or 17 years of age having a glass of alcohol at a restaurant with a meal is accepted. If you’re looking to experience some of the nightlife in Naples, here some areas to check out:
Chiaia – a trendy spot for elegant lounge wine bars and live jazz music
Piazza del Gesu Nuovo (off Via Benedetto Croce) & Piazza San Domenico Maggiore (off Via del Sole) – a popular hangout for young people and students, local bars and restaurants.
Piazza Bellini – local bars and clubs, people drink beer outside on the streets, popular hangout for young people.
Teatro di San Carlo (opera house) – A night at the opera (this is one of Europe’s oldest and famous theatre in Naples).
Piazza del Gesu, 7, Naples
+39 081 551 2707
Van San Carlo, 9, Naples
+39 081 402 394
Emergency – 113
Police – 112
Fire – 115
Ambulance – 118