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Heading to the historic city of Napoli on a time budget? Not to worry; seeing the birthplace of pizza in 3 days is entirely possible with enough planning. So this carefully curated 3 day itinerary for Naples will help you plan an unforgettable vacation in southern Italy, no matter how short.
Naples is an ancient city, and its history is on display wherever you go. Whether strolling through the historic center or taking a tour through the Royal Palace, you’re bound to feel the centuries of culture and history around every turn.
This guide will cover everything from what to see in Naples, Italy, to where to stay and eat. Let’s jump right in!
Top Sights for Your Three Days in Naples
With only 3 days to see the best of Naples, you’ll want to know what the major attractions are. Below are some of the must-see Naples sights you will want to include in your 3-day itinerary.
Also known as Duomo di Napoli, this beautiful structure was completed in the early 14th century. Besides the spectacular Neo-Gothic facade, this main church in Naples houses intricate frescoes, sculptures, canvas paintings, and grand altars — and you can see it all for free!
One of the most interesting items in this cathedral is a vial of the blood of San Gennaro — to whom the church is dedicated. According to legend, the vial of blood turns liquid during special festivities.
Naples National Archaeological Museum
The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (MANN) houses one of Italy’s most important collections of archaeological art and artifacts, primarily focused on ancient Rome. This is one of the most famous museums in Italy and comprises three main sections.
The Pompeii Collection houses artifacts found in nearby Pompeii, and the Farnese Collection displays items excavated in Rome. The Egyptian Collection houses the third most important collection of artifacts from Egypt after those in Cairo and Turin. You’ll also find private and temporary exhibitions, so you’re sure to spot something new with each visit.
Piazza del Plebiscito
Not only is Piazza del Plebescito one of the best areas to stay in Naples, but it’s also packed with excellent sights. This historic square is named after the plebiscite held here on 21 October 1860, which resulted in Naples joining the unified Kingdom of Italy.
The square still hosts many important cultural events today, but the main attraction is the stunning Palazzo Reale. Home to various royalty over the centuries, the palace is a stunning time capsule of architecture and art.
You’ll also find the Basilica di San Francesco di Paola, an attempted replica of the Pantheon in Rome, and two other palaces framing this square. Beyond the piazza, restaurants and quirky cafes, like Gran Caffè Gambrinus, await to satiate your appetite.
Visiting Naples Underground is one of the best things to do in Naples, Italy. Much like the hidden gems in Rome, Naples also has a series of underground tunnels that are key to the city’s history. These tunnels were first dug in the 4th century BC by the Ancient Greeks to transport materials to Neapolis. Later, the Romans transformed the tunnels into aqueducts.
Most significantly, these tunnels served as bomb shelters during the Second World War, sparing the lives of over 200,000 Naples citizens. The network of underground passages below Naples spans 280 miles and is filled with aqueducts, cisterns, caverns, rock chambers, and catacombs.
Perched on the water’s edge, this imposing fortress has been used as everything from a prison to a royal residence. First built in the 1st century BC, it’s the oldest standing fort in Naples.
It was given the name “Egg Castle” due to the legend associated with it. The legend says that the Roman poet Virgil hid a magical egg in the fortress’ foundations. If the egg were ever broken, the city would suffer great catastrophes.
There’s not much to see in the practically empty “Egg Castle,” but you will get some of the most spectacular views of the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. Entry is free too, so it’s a great spot to pop by if you’re near the harbor.
Day 1: Explore the Area Around Piazza del Plebiscito
When in Naples, you’ve simply got to enjoy the coast, and Piazza del Plebescito is the perfect place to start. This piazza is surrounded by great food spots and top attractions while being a short walk away from the oceanfront.
Morning and Afternoon
Start your day with a coffee and sfogliatelle at the historic Gran Caffè Gambrinus. Established in 1860, this luxurious, frescoed cafe was once frequented by the likes of Oscar Wilde, Jean-Paul Sarte, and Ernest Hemmingway. It sits on Piazza Trieste e Trento, just off Piazza del Plebiscito.
For some early shopping, make your way to Galleria Umberto I. Built at the end of the 19th century, this shopping arcade is one of the most beautiful you’ll come across, with sculptures, murals, and a glass dome.
After a lunchtime break, head to Lungomare di Napoli for a scenic seaside walk and some fresh air before making your way to Castel dell’Ovo. You’ll also love a stop at the Naples Aquarium housed in the verdant Villa Comunale di Napoli.
Lunch and Gelato Stop Suggestions near Piazza del Plebiscito
- Pizzeria Napoli In Bocca – Enjoy authentic Neapolitan pizza in a quirkily decorated pizzeria near Galleria Umberto I.
- Antica Pizzeria Brandi – Get a taste of Naples’ history at the birthplace of the pizza Margherita, created here in 1889. The restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere with outside seating.
- Gelato Stop: Cento Gelato Artigianale Italiano – Situated just off Piazza del Plebiscito, this gelateria offers some of the most affordable and tasty gelato in Naples.
If you’re particularly fascinated by Naples’ majestic fortresses, consider visiting the 13th-century Castel Nuovo. Also called Maschio Angioino, this Medieval fortress sits near the Port of Naples and features five round towers.
Inside, you’ll find artworks by Neopolitan artists, an Armoury Hall with a glass floor offering views of Roman ruins, and the Palatine Chapel. This chapel has stunning frescoes done by artists like Giotto.
Slow down after your first day in Naples with a lovely dinner and a nighttime tour or event.
For some seafood goodness, head to Pastamore & Chiatamone. This charming little restaurant near Lungomare di Napoli offers some of the tastiest seafood and pasta dishes. They purchase fresh seafood daily and focus on traditional Neapolitan fare.
If you’re looking to enjoy your meal with an ocean view, you can try Molo17, Naples. This restaurant on Lungomare di Napoli has a vast, varied menu, and dishes are creatively plated. For a flavorful experience, be sure to try their tuna tartare.
Tours and Events
If you’ve still got some energy in you after your exciting first day, why not prepare your own dinner at a pizza-making class? You’ll get hands-on experience preparing authentic Neapolitan pizza so you can prepare your own once you’re back home. How’s that for taking a slice of Napoli home with you?
Alternatively, you can wind down with a show at the opulent 18th-century San Carlo Theatre. Be sure to book your tickets ahead of time if you plan to include this in your Naples itinerary.
Expert Tips for Your First Day in Naples
- Take your time – You can always add any missed attractions to your second or third day in Naples. So don’t burn yourself out on the first day, and plan enough time to enjoy each attraction properly.
- Take a city highlights tour – Navigating an unfamiliar city for the first time can be tricky. Opt for a guided tour to some of Naples’ top highlights to learn more about the city.
- Dress appropriately – Keep in mind that most churches in Italy require that shoulders and knees be covered before entry. You’ll also want to wear your most comfortable shoes as your day may involve a lot of walking.
Day 2: Head to the Historic City Center
Now that you’ve taken in the ocean breeze, it’s time to head further inland to the historic center — also known as Centro Storico. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to 470 BC when the Ancient Greeks established Neapolis (New City). It is one of the largest historical centers in Europe and is filled to the brim with spectacular sights.
Morning and Afternoon
Grab an espresso and cornetto at Il Pasticcio before heading to Naples Cathedral, a few steps down the road. Once you’ve admired its stunningly intricate interiors, you can visit the Museum of San Gennaro and its collection of precious items and art.
For even more art, make your way to Museo Cappella Sansevero. This chapel houses some of the world’s most memorable and breathtaking marble sculptures — most notably, the Veiled Christ. Besides the many stunning sculptures, the frescoes on the ceilings and walls further add to the opulence and beauty of this spot.
For a look at Naples’ more contemporary art, head to the Madre Museum.
If you’re feeling peckish, why not seek out some street food around the historic center? Or join a street food tour with a local guide for some insider tips on the best treats in Naples.
Once your stomach is full, it’s time to explore the Napoli Sotterranea. Take a tour of the city’s historic tunnels to see a whole new side of Napoli. Or, head to the Naples National Archaeological Museum to explore on your own or opt for a private guided tour.
Lunch and Gelato Stop Suggestions in Naples Old Town
- Antica Trattoria Da Carmine – If you’re not in the mood for street food, grab a seat at this trattoria for authentic Neapolitan food — their meat-based dishes are especially great. They’re close to Napoli Sotterranea and two of the most bustling streets; via dei Tribunali and via S. Gregorio Armeno.
- O’ cuzzetiello e Sofí – This spot on via Duomo offers generous portions of the classic Neapolitan cuzzetiello — a rustic bread loaf traditionally filled with ragu. It may be a bit messy to eat, but it’s soul food that’ll linger in your memory.
- Gelato stop: Gay-Odin Fabbrica di Cioccolato – For an extra sweet treat, visit the Gay-Odin chocolate factory on via Benedetto Croce. Here, you can purchase treats like chocolate liqueur and chocolate-covered panettone. They also offer tasty and unique gelato options like salted pistachio and pear ricotta cheese.
Take a break from the central city bustle with a stop at The Cloisters of Santa Chiara Monastery. The garden is a treat for the eyes, with benches and columns covered in vibrant Majorca tiles depicting mythological and maritime scenes. The porticoes around the central courtyard are equally mesmerizing, with old frescoes adorning the ceilings and walls.
Round off day two in Naples with a lovely dinner or nighttime experience.
Dig into a pizza fritta (“fried pizza”) and a negroni at the famous Gino e Toto Sorbillo. Opened in 1935, this establishment is said to be one of the first pizzerias on via dei Tribunali. This place is quite popular and can fill up fast. If there are no available tables, you can grab your food to-go and find a quiet spot outside.
Alternatively, enjoy a relaxing evening with some authentic pasta dishes at Cala la Pasta, a short walk from the Naples Duomo.
Get some local insights into the best food spots in Naples on a guided nighttime food tour. You’ll get to stop by various excellent places; sampling treats like sfogliatelle, pizza fritta, and many more classics.
Or, if you have dinner sorted, book a ticket to a traditional Neapolitan music concert instead to hear some of the most iconic songs of Naples.
Expert Tips for Day 2 in Naples
- Take advantage of guided tours – You may be comfortable exploring the top attractions by yourself. But, a guided tour allows you to learn so much more about the history and lesser-known facts of each site.
- Book your tickets ahead – This is especially important if you’re visiting during the peak tourist season. Try to book entrance and tour tickets well in advance to skip long ticket lines and avoid missing out on your favorite attractions.
- Be aware of your belongings – As with most tourist hubs around the world, busy areas are more prone to pickpocketing. Keep your belongings close and secure, especially in small, crowded alleyways.
Day 3: Take a Day Trip from Naples
Once you’ve explored the seaside and historic center, why not venture beyond with a day trip from Naples? You can stay as close or go as far as you’d like. Below are some excellent options.
Morning and Afternoon
Kick off your day with some caffeine at Don Café, where they prepare coffee with the traditional Neapolitan cuccumella coffee pot. After that, you have a wide choice of tour options. Take the short train ride to Pompeii and join an incredibly enriching small group tour of Pompeii or if you have more time, combine a trip to Pompeii and Herculaneum in a small group tour from Naples with an archaeologist.
Alternatively, take an extended day trip to the Amalfi Coast and its beautiful towns like Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello. Or, opt for a day tour to Capri island and explore sights like Anacapri, the Gardens of Augustus, and the Azzura Cave.
Lunch and Gelato Suggestions
For a food-focused day trip, consider a wine-tasting tour on Mount Vesuvius, where you’ll learn about one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world.
If you’re not too keen on leaving the city, you can also try your hand at preparing authentic Neapolitan and Italian cuisines. Join a pasta and tiramisu-making class for a relaxed and fun immersion in Neapolitan culture. Or join a sociable pizza-making class to learn the tricks of the trade and earn a pizza chef diploma as a fun memento after the workshop.
Instead of taking a tour beyond the city, you can opt for a trip to the area of Posillipo in Naples. This calm and elegant residential neighborhood is home to the Parco Archeologico del Pausilypon, an ancient Roman seaside villa dating back to the 1st century BC.
There are various underground tunnels connecting other villas to this ancient site, which features baths and an amphitheater.
You can also head to the Gaiola beach and underwater park, which is somewhat of a hidden gem. The small beach faces two small islands with submerged Roman ruins connected by a small bridge.
End your final night in Naples with a relaxing dinner.
Savor Neapolitan cuisine at its finest at La Lazzara Trattoria e Pizzeria near the port of Naples and Castel Nuovo. This restaurant offers a typical Neapolitan menu, and dishes are prepared from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Try the spaghetti alla carbonara or the ziti alla Genovese for a hearty end to your day.
Expert Tips for Your 3 Days in Naples
- Use day 3 to catch up – If you’re not too eager for a day trip, spend your last day popping by any attractions you may have missed due to time constraints.
- Wear comfortable shoes – Whether you’re walking around Pompeii or standing for a few hours while preparing pizza, you’re going to want comfy shoes.
- Switch things around – This itinerary is merely a guide filled with possible stops that may pique your interest. You can switch around and tweak each day of your 3 days in Naples to suit your plans better.
Arriving in Naples
The easiest way to get to Naples is by taking a high-speed train from Roma Termini station or Rome Fiumicino Airport to Napoli Centrale. This train takes less than two hours and can take as little as an hour on the high-speed Frecciarossa and Italo trains.
From Napoli Centrale, the easiest option is to take a taxi directly to your accommodation.
If you plan on flying to Naples, the airport is a mere 3 miles (5 km) from the city center. So a taxi ride to the city should take less than 15 minutes.
Where to Stay in Naples for Three Days
If you’re wondering where to stay in Naples, you can’t go wrong with accommodation near Centro Storico or Piazza del Plebiscito. Both areas are filled with a range of mid-range hotels near some of the top attractions in Naples.
Consider this 4-star Albergo Palazzo Decumani for a central location near Napoli Sotterranea. Or, you can opt for a 2-bedroom apartment so that you can prepare some Neapolitan dishes during your stay.
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly stay, consider booking a room or suite at Plebiscitum 2.0. This modern bed and breakfast sits just around the corner from Piazza del Plebiscito and Galleria Umberto I.
Recommended Tours for 3 Days in Naples
It’s completely possible to explore Naples without any tours. But guided tours and workshops can really enrich your experience and knowledge of Naples. Below are a few of the companies we recommend taking a look at.
- Liv Tours – This family-run company is based in Rome but offers small group tours across Italy. As an added bonus, you can get 5% off your booking with Liv Tours when you use our code ‘Untolditaly’ > browse tours
- Withlocals – Get to know Naples through a set or customized private itinerary with a local guide. Their “10 Tastings of Naples” tour is excellent for discovering some of the city’s best food > browse tours
- Eating Europe – A curated food tour is the ideal way to get a sense of the culture and cuisine on offer in Napoli. Eating Europe offers excellent food-centered tours across Europe > browse tours
Ready for Your 3-Day Vacation in Naples, Italy?
There you have it! Hopefully, this 3-day itinerary has shown you that it’s possible to have a memorable vacation, no matter how many days in Naples you spend.
Not only is there plenty to see, taste, and do in this ancient Roman city, but there’s also so much to explore nearby. Whether exploring the Amalfi Coast or visiting the only active volcano on Europe’s mainland, you’re guaranteed an excellent time.
This Naples itinerary is packed with plenty of ideas to inspire you. But you can definitely rearrange things to suit your interests better and curate the perfect three days in this incredible city.
To complement your trip to Italy, why not consider this 3 day itinerary for Rome?