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 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

  • 5. Reggia di Caserta


    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

  • 6. 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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  • 7. 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

  • 8. Gallerie d'Italia Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano

    Toledo | Castle/Palace/Chateau

    Tucked inside this beautifully restored 17th-century palazzo, once a bank, is a small museum that's worth seeking out for its outstanding collection...Read More

  • 9. Madre

    Centro Storico | Museum/Gallery

    With 8,000 square meters (86,111 square feet) of exhibition space, a host of young and helpful attendants, and occasional late-night events...Read More

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  • 10. Museo Civico Gaetano Filangieri


    Housed in a 15th-century palazzo, this museum was opened in 1888 by Gaetano Filangieri, prince of Satriano, to house his large and varied collection...Read More

  • 11. Museo Diego Aragona Pignatelli Cortes


    Set behind what would be a very English expanse of lawn (minus the palm trees), this salmon-pink building with its Athenian-style porch was...Read More

  • 12. Palazzo delle Arti di Napoli

    Chiaia | Museum/Gallery

    Occupying the enormous Palazzo Rocella, PAN, as this arts organization calls itself, mounts temporary art exhibitions and operates a center...Read More

  • 13. Teatro San Carlo and MeMus Museum

    Toledo | Arts/Performance Venue

    Out of all the Italian opera houses, La Scala in Milan is the most famous, but San Carlo is more beautiful, and Naples is, after all, the most...Read More

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