Today’s guide to a weekend break in Naples comes from Laura Thayer, an art historian and writer living in Italy.
“If you still believe that old saying that ‘there’s nothing south of Rome,'” she says, “then you’ve got one big surprise in store for you when you arrive in Naples, Italy.”
Let’s hear her recommendation for a cheap weekend break in Naples.
A Weekend Break in Naples
Take a wild ride through the city’s varied past by exploring Greek and Roman ruins, visiting the French Angevin castles and the grand palaces built under the Spanish Viceroyalty and Bourbon rulers. You’ll find a little bit of everything in this vibrant city that stretches out along the Bay of Naples, making it an invigorating and exciting weekend break destination.
Walking in Naples
When you arrive, head to the Piazza Trieste e Trento where you’ll find the beautiful, glass-domed Galleria Umberto I shopping centre, the famous Teatro San Carlo opera house and Piazza Plebiscito, Naples’ grandest piazza.
Nearby is the formidable Castel Nuovo with its impressive marble entrance dating from 1443. Visit Caffè Gambrinus, an exquisite reminder of belle époque Naples, for a traditional strong Neapolitan espresso.
Food & Atmosphere in Naples
Walk along the Spaccanapoli, the ancient Greek street that means “split Naples.” This is where you’ll discover the true character of Naples, with laundry lines criss-crossing the palazzos, scooters whizzing by and the tempting scent of pastries wafting past. Try the famous local Sfogliatella – a pastry filled with orange and cinnamon-infused ricotta cheese.
After a break, head to the Duomo, or Cathedral of Naples, to experience the rich artistic and religious history of Naples.
Museums in Naples
Don’t just think of Rome and Florence when it comes to Italian museums. Naples has both the National Archaeological Museum, which houses one of the world’s most impressive collections of ancient art, and the Capodimonte Musuem, where you’ll find one of Italy’s finest collections of 14th – 19th century art.
Getting To & Around Naples
Thanks to easyJet, getting to Naples from many European cities doesn’t have to break the bank. You can fly direct to the Naples Capodochino International Airport from London, Berlin, Liverpool and Geneva, as well as Milan and Venice from within Italy. Flights from other destinations are often cheaper into Rome, but it’s only a two to three hour train ride south to Naples.
Most of the top attractions in Naples are in the Centro Storico and the good news for budget travellers is that the best way to navigate the historical centre of Naples is on foot. However, the city is criss-crossed with bus, metro and funicular railways and public transport is highly recommended over attempting to drive in the chaotic traffic of Naples!
You don’t have to bust your budget renting a car or taxi to visit the important archaeological sights of Pompeii and Herculaneum either. The Circumvesuviana train line connects Naples with nearby Pompeii, Herculaneaum and the beautiful resort town of Sorrento.
Laura Thayer is an art historian and freelance writer living on the Amalfi Coast in Campania, Italy. She writes about life on the Amalfi Coast at her own site Ciao Amalfi.
* All photos in this post are copyright, Laura Thayer, Ciao Amalfi!