Naples

Naples, a bustling city of a million people, can be a challenge for visitors because of its hilly terrain and its twisty, often congested streets. Although spread out, Naples invites walking; the bus system, funiculars, and subways are also options for dealing with weary legs.

The city stretches along the Bay of Naples from Piazza Garibaldi in the east to Mergellina in the west, with its back to the Vomero Hill. From Stazione Centrale, on Piazza Garibaldi, Corso Umberto I (known as the Rettifilo) heads southwest to the monumental city center—commonly known as Toledo—around the piazzas Bovio, Municipio, and Trieste e Trento; here is the major urban set piece composed of the Palazzo Reale, Teatro San Carlo, and Galleria Umberto Primo.

To the north are the historic districts of old Naples, most notably the Centro Storico, I Vergini, and La Sanità; to the south, the port. Farther west along the bay are the more fashionable neighborhoods of Santa Lucia and Chiaia, and finally the waterfront district of Mergellina and the hill of Posillipo. The residential area of Vomero sits on the steep hills rising above Chiaia and downtown.

At the center of it all is picturesque Spaccanapoli—the heart of the Centro Storico. This partly pedestrianized promenade rather confusingly changes its name as it runs its way through the heart of old Naples—it's labeled as Via Benedetto Croce and Via San Biagio dei Librai, among others. Tying much of this geographic layout together is the "spine" of the city, Via Toledo—Naples's major north–south axis, which begins at Piazza Trieste e Trento and heads up all the way to Capodimonte; it's basically one straight road with four different names (five if you count the official name of Via Roma, which is how the locals refer to it).

Via Toledo links Piazza Trieste e Trento with Piazza Dante. Going farther north you get into Via Pessina for about 100 yards, which takes you up to the megajunction with the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. North of that, you head up to the peak of Capodimonte by traveling along Via Santa Teresa degli Scalzi and then Corso Amedeo di Savoia.

To make things a bit more confusing, parts of Via Toledo are pedestrianized—that means no buses or scooters, thankfully—from just south of Piazza Carità (where Via Toledo/Roma intersects with Via Diaz) all the way to Piazza Trieste e Trento.

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  • 1. Castel Nuovo

    Toledo | Castle/Palace/Chateau

    Known to locals as Maschio Angioino, in reference to its Angevin builders, this imposing castle is now used more for marital than military purposes...Read More

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  • 2. Certosa e Museo di San Martino

    Vomero | Museum/Gallery

    Atop a rocky promontory with fabulous view of the entire city and majestic salons that would please any monarch, the Certosa di San Martino...Read More

  • 3. Museo Archeologico Nazionale

    Centro Storico | Museum/Gallery

    Also known as MANN, this legendary museum has experienced something of a rebirth in recent years. Its unrivaled collections include world-renowned...Read More

  • 4. Museo Cappella Sansevero

    Centro Storico | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The dazzling funerary chapel of the Sangro di Sansevero princes combines noble swagger, overwhelming color, and a touch of the macabre—which...Read More

  • 5. Museo di Capodimonte

    Capodimonte | Museum/Gallery

    The grandiose 18th-century Neoclassical Bourbon royal palace houses fine and decorative art in 124 rooms. Capodimonte's greatest treasure is...Read More

  • 6. Napoli Sotterranea

    Centro Storico | Building/Architectural Site

    Fascinating 90-minute tours of a portion of Naples' fabled underground city provide an initiation into the complex history of the city center...Read More

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  • 7. Palazzo Reale

    Toledo | Castle/Palace/Chateau

    A leading Naples showpiece created as an expression of Bourbon power and values, the Palazzo Reale dates to 1600. Renovated and redecorated...Read More

  • 8. Pausilypon Archaeological Park

    Posillipo | Archaeological Site/Ruins

    Located at the top of Posillipo's hill, this small yet magical complex has a 1st-century villa and two amphitheaters; access is though the Grotta...Read More

  • 9. Pio Monte della Misericordia

    Centro Storico | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    One of the Centro Storico's defining sites, this octagonal church was built around the corner from the Duomo for a charitable institution seven...Read More

  • 10. Reggia di Caserta

    Castle/Palace/Chateau

    Located 16 miles northeast of the city, the palace known as the Reggia shows how Bourbon royals lived in the mid-18th century. Architect Luigi...Read More

  • 11. San Lorenzo Maggiore

    Centro Storico | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    One of the city's unmissable sights has a travel-through-time descent to Roman and Greek times, as well as the grandest medieval church of the...Read More

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  • 12. Sant'Anna dei Lombardi (Chiesa di Monteoliveto)

    Toledo | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Long favored by the Aragonese kings, this church, simple and rather anonymous from the outside, houses some of the most important ensembles...Read More

  • 13. Santa Chiara

    Centro Storico | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Offering a stark and telling contrast to the opulence of the nearby Gesù Nuovo, Santa Chiara is the leading Angevin Gothic monument in Naples...Read More

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  • 14. Basilica Santa Maria della Sanità

    Sanità | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Dominican friars commissioned this Baroque, Greek cross–shape basilica, replete with majolica-tiled dome, in the early 17th century. The church...Read More

  • 15. Castel dell'Ovo

    Santa Lucia | Castle/Palace/Chateau

    The oldest castle in Naples, the 12th-century Castel dell'Ovo dangles over the Porto Santa Lucia on a thin promontory. Built atop the ruins...Read More

  • 16. Castel Sant'Elmo

    Vomero | Castle/Palace/Chateau

    Perched on the Vomero, this massive castle is almost the size of a small town. Built by the Angevins in the 14th century to dominate the port...Read More

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  • 17. Catacombe di San Gennaro

    Capodimonte | Archaeological Site/Ruins

    These catacombs—designed for Christian burial—date back at least as far as the 2nd century AD. This was where St. Gennaro's body was brought...Read More

  • 18. Cimitero delle Fontanelle

    Sanità | Cemetery

    Once a quarry for the city's tufa stone, this site was first used as a mass burial ground in the 16th century following a devastating plague...Read More

  • 19. Complesso Museale Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco

    Centro Storico | Museum/Gallery

    Once a tavern, this building was rebuilt by the Monte di Pietà charity in 1616 as a church, and its two stories are fascinatingly complementary...Read More

  • 20. Duomo

    Centro Storico | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Hemmed in on three sides, this cathedral is a trip through the city's history. Although the cathedral was established in the 1200s, the building...Read More

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