The capital of the southern Campania region of Italy, the major port city of Naples is the gateway to many of Italy’s most historic and renowned places, offering access to the glamorous Amalfi Coast and the historic ruins of Pompeii. Naples itself is a fascinating port of call with centuries-old art and architecture, along with a wealth of historic landmarks and cultural attractions. And of course, you can’t visit Naples without frequenting one of its pizza restaurants for an authentic Neapolitan slice.
Why cruise Naples
One of the major Italian ports on a Mediterranean cruise, Naples is perfectly situated for cruise passengers to discover Italy’s most famed sites, from the dazzling Amalfi Coast to the historic ruins of Pompeii. The third largest city in Italy, Unesco-listed Naples itself is a fabulous port of call, a thriving metropolis boasting piazzas, castles and historic churches. Don’t leave without trying the world-famous pizza.
What to see and do in Naples
Naples’ National Archaeological Museum houses important Roman artefacts from nearby Pompei, Stabiae and Herculaneum. Among the notable works found in the museum are the Herculaneum papyri, carbonised by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, founded after 1752 in Villa of the Papyri.
Palazzo Reale di Napoli
Located in Piazza Plebiscito, the Royal Palace is one of the city’s major landmarks and It was one of the four residences near Naples used by the House of Bourbon during their rule. Today, the palace and adjacent grounds house the famous Teatro San Carlo (opera house), the smaller and recently restored Teatrino di Corte, the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, a museum, and offices. Beneath the palace lies the Bourbon Tunnel, an ancient underground passage that was built to connect the palace to the military barracks and was used as an air raid shelter during WWII. Atmospheric tours of the tunnel are available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and during the holidays.
Teatro di San Carlo
Connected to the Royal Palace and adjacent to the Piazza del Plebiscito, the beautiful opera house in Naples was commissioned by the Bourbon King Charles III of Naples. Opened in 1737, it is the oldest continuously active venue for opera in the world. The opera season at Teatro di San Carlo runs from late January to May, while the ballet season starts from April and runs until early June.
The spectacular medieval cathedral of Naples was commissioned by King Charles I of Anjou in the 13th century, but wasn’t completed until the 14th century during the rule of Robert of Anjou. The cathedral was built on the foundations of two palaeo-Christian basilicas, traces of which are still visible, and excavations underneath the building have unearthed Greek and Roman artefacts. The church is also filled with lavish frescoes and a vial of the blood of Saint Januarius, which is brought out three times a year. Naples is home to several other notable churches well-worth a visit, including Pio Monte (which features Caravaggio’s famous painting, The Seven Works of Mercy), San Gregorio Armeno, San Domenico and San Lorenzo.
Museo di Capodimonte
Art lovers will be in their element at the Museo di Capodimonte. One of the largest museums in Italy, Naples’ premier art museum is located in the Palace of Capodimonte, a grand Bourbon palazzo. The museum’s vast collection, which traces its origins back to 1738, includes paintings from the 13th and 18th centuries with major works by Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, El Greco, Giovanni Bellini, Simone Martini, Jacob Philipp Hackert and many others.
This medieval castle, located in front of the Piazza Municipio and the city hall (Palazzo San Giacomo), is another major architectural landmark in Naples. First erected in 1279, it was a royal seat for kings of Naples, Aragon and Spain until 1815. Today, the castle is a popular venue for cultural events and also houses the Municipal Museum. Another notable castle in Naples is Castel dell'Ovo, a seaside fort located on the former island of Megaride that’s now a peninsula.
If you have more time, then it’s definitely worth venturing out of the city centre. Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius are typically combined given their close proximity and you can travel there independently or book an excursion with your cruise line, which typically pack in other excursions to the Amalfi Coast, Capri or Sorrento. Pompeii can get very hot and crowded so it’s best to head there in the morning and leave the best part of the day to visit the Amalfi Coast. Give yourself another day if you wish to visit the island of Capri, known for its stunning natural sights such as the Blue Grotto, and its high-end designer shopping and world-class restaurants.
Need to know when travelling to Naples
Getting around in Naples
Cruise ships dock at Naples’ cruise terminal Stazione Maritima, part of the city’s port. From the cruise terminal, there’s a passenger walkway that leads you to the Piazza del Plebiscito in the city centre, roughly a 10-minute walk. Many of the city’s historic attractions can be reached on foot. To visit Sorrento, it’s a 40-minute ferry ride, while Pompeii can be reached from the port by train and Capri by hydrofoil, which departs from the Molo Beverello pier. There’s also a ferry to Capri that departs from Calata di Massa, which is a 10-minute walk from the cruise port. Alternatively, many cruise lines offer shore excursions to see these popular destinations.
When to go to Naples
Naples can get blisteringly hot during the peak summer months. To enjoy sightseeing in more comfortable conditions, head to the city in the cooler months of April, May, September and October.
The currency in Italy is the euro. ATMs are scattered around the city of Naples.
If you hold a British Citizen passport, you don't need a visa to enter Italy if you're planning a stay of no longer than three months.
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