Naples is probably not the first city that comes to your mind when thinking about Italy but let me tell you that it has the most Italian atmosphere of all cities I’ve ever visited, especially for low-budget visitors. Naples keeps the essence of old Italian towns in a city with lots of different activities for reasonable prices. When you arrive in Naples, it’s amazing how the city welcomes you, with its smells, its people, and especially with its food. We suggest spending at least two and a half days in the city to see more than just the typical tourist places Naples has to offer.
Arriving in the “City of the Sun”
Our trip starts in the city center of Naples. We recommend the Toledo zone, which is close to most interesting places and within reach by foot or in a few minutes by metro. Also, you can find lots of affordable accommodations in old apartments for rent. Most of the owners live in the city and so they can give you lots of tips on how to spend a marvelous weekend there. Our apartment was right in the center of Via Toledo. The buildings in that neighborhood have a charming appearance which reminds you of old Italian movies, with adorable stairs and surrounded by lovely courtyards full of proud neighbors who love to share lots of stories with you about their beloved city.
A Free Walking Tour to begin with on a Friday evening is always a good idea to get a first impression of a new place. It lets you learn about the city and get to know the most important places while you are supporting mostly young students with their finances. Around 6 pm, you have several options to choose from, but we highly recommend the historic tour. It’s a cheap way to get to know the main points in Naples and then discover the least touristy places on your own. The guide will show you the principal churches, like Gesu Nuovo, Santa Chiara, and San Gregorio, as well as some of Naples most beautiful squares, such as Piazza Dante, Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, Piazza Gesu Novo, and Piazza del Plebiscito.
For dinner you can try one of the hundreds of Trattorias in the old neighbourhood, but if you are looking for a full Italian experience, we suggest the Trattoria Nennella in Quartieri Spagnoli. It was founded in 1949 by a woman who wanted to feed the U.S. army while they were fighting against fascism. For 12€ you can have an antipasto plus two dishes, dessert, and wine, and enjoy the most typical Neapolitan dishes in the most magical Italian atmosphere you can imagine. Having dinner in Nennella is always a “partito” with lots of music, noise, and fun, always with the typical checkered tablecloths. Usually, there’s a long line of people waiting to get assigned to a table, but you can pass the time by enjoying a delicious Aperol Spritz.
After that, we recommend taking a walk around this special neighborhood where people’s home lives can be observed right from the streets since all the doors are open which gives you the chance to see how they live. The neighbors are so nice that they will happily tell stories of the Quartieri Spagnoli and how this neighborhood hasn’t changed in years. Now you can walk to your hotel to take a rest and recharge your batteries for the next day.
Naples For History And Food Lovers
On a Saturday morning in Naples, there is nothing better to do than having a delicious breakfast in Gambrinus. Walk down the Via Toledo until you get to the Via Chiaia, take a seat and enjoy the nice views of the Piazza Plebiscito. I highly recommend you to order babá and sfogliatella to taste two of the most representative sweets of Naples, and of course you can’t leave without having one of their delicious cappuccino. Now you are full of energy to start your day and it’s time to move around like a true Neapolitan.
Take the funicular from Augusteo up to Funicolare Centrale Station, located at the top of the Vomero district. This neighborhood is known as the most expensive one in the city where you can visit Castel Sant’Elmo, a medieval castle and museum at the top of the highest hill in the city. This is also “the place” to take stunning pictures of Naples with which you can impress your friends, family, and followers. This also seems to be the perfect moment for an aperitif, while enjoying the astonishing views.
Afterwards, it’s time to put something in our stomachs: lunch time! Go down again and take the funicular from Morghen to Montesanto, walk down the Via Porta Medina, and there you will find the best place to taste great and freshly caught fish. Pescheria Azzurra gives you the opportunity to taste fish and other seafood dishes at a very reasonable price. The shop is split in two parts, one half for the restaurant and the other one for the regular fish shop. The most recommended dishes are Pesce Fritto and Pasta Fruitti di Mare, with a good white wine, all for 30€ for two people – could this get any better? In order to finish this banquet, head to Pasticceria Spagnuolo, which is waiting for you with delicious Italian espresso and tasty sweets.
The next activity on this Saturday must be the Napoli Sotterranea Tour. We recommend booking this tour some days in advance because it is in great demand. It is better to reserve for the afternoon, around 4 pm is just perfect. This is a tour in the heart of Naples where you will walk below the surface through narrow tunnels used in the past by the Ancient Greeks, and then later used as aqueducts by the Romans and in the 20th century as a refuge for many people during the fascist period in Italy. Moreover, you will experience some surprises that we won’t reveal now.
This tour takes around two hours, so after that you can walk around the historic neighborhood and do some shopping for your friends and relatives, such as some dry pasta, sweets, or gifts and souvenirs. Don’t forget to make a stop at every church you find, since all of them are incredibly beautiful from the inside. Another interesting activity in the evening is to visit some metro stations such as Garibaldi, which has won some European Architectural Prizes and might surprise you.
Yes, yes, we are now coming to the best part of the trip – Saturday evening dinner at L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele! We love this pizzeria. It’s the best place in Naples to taste Pizza Margherita where the pizza originated. You can have a great dinner for only 20€ for two people. Usually, it is full of people and there is a long waiting line, but please don’t let that scare you away. If you have a chance, try to share your table with other people. It is fun to share this experience with people from all over around world who are there to taste this delicious dish. To cap the night, we suggest you have a cocktail in the Beluga Sky Bar in the Romeo Hotel which offers some extraordinary views!
The Birthplace Of Pizza
It’s a new day, Sunday morning, and with a little hangover, there is nothing better than a relaxing walk to Galleria Umberto I, a public shopping gallery which is the little sister of the one in Milan, but equally lovely. There you can sit in La Sfogliatella Mary, one of the most well-known bakeries in Naples. Sweets are always good when having a hangover and to refuel some energy for the day. Then, the next stop is the seafront castle Castel d’Ovo. You can enjoy a walk along the Naples Gulf while marveling at the majestic Vesuvian Volcano on the horizon, not to mention to take some beautiful pictures!
Depending on the time of your trip back home, you can take an express visit to Pompey, but if you are really interested in going there, we recommend at least one more day to do so. Returning from the visit, you can stop in L’ Antica Pizza Fritta da Zia Esterina Sorbillo; pizza fritta is not the most healthy pizza you will eat, but it is a must and the best cure for hangovers. We suggest you order Complete Salame, which consists of Ricotta di Bufala, Provola di Bufala, Salame Nazionale and organic tomatoes, for only 3.50€, the perfect way to end a perfect trip to one of Italy’s most fascinating cities.
Follow this weekend plan from Nunu and you will be able to enjoy Naples like an Italian! And in case you would like to see more of her trips, follow Nunu on Instagram for more interesting travel tips and stories!