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Naples in less than 24 hours

Naples

In June we visited Procida, an island near Naples, for four nights. Due to the time of our flight back home, we needed to stay a night in Naples. We’ve flown into Naples countless times over the years en-route to the Amalfi Coast, Capri or Ischia and the most we’d seen of it was from the airport to the ferry terminal. This time we had a whole afternoon and evening to explore!

Naples is a Marmite city – you either love it or you hate it.

I know lots of people who’ve visited Naples and they fall distinctly into two camps – lovers or haters. For those who hate it, it’s usually things like – ‘it’s quite gritty’, ‘it felt a bit crazy and scary’, ‘it wasn’t what I was expecting’. And for those who love it, it’s for those reasons too – they love the realness of Naples and the fact that they have a ‘devil may care’ attitude to life’. My husband once told me that it comes from living right by Mount Vesuvius – an active volcano – that could erupt at any time, hence why life is lived as if every day is your last. Is that true, who knows? But it sure did feel like it!

After arriving by ferry, we headed to our hotel, Santa Chiara, to check in and drop off our luggage. The hotel is located in the historic centre so was the perfect base to explore, especially when limited for time. The room was really spacious and beautifully decorated. I’d definitely recommend it.

Santa Chiara hotel in Naples

En-route to our first destination, we had to stop and try some fritto Napoletano from Passione di Sofi. In Naples, they love their fried food – even pizza can be fried here! We opted for a ‘mix’ so that we could try a bit of everything. It was delicious – but then I’m sucker for fried food anyway.

Trying fried food in Naples

Of course my husband wanted to go to the grittiest part of Naples – the Spanish Quarter or Quartieri Spagnoli . If you really want to see Naples in all its rawness, head here. We went during the day and at first I was a bit nervous about going there but it was, of course, totally fine. It’s apparently the most densely populated area of Naples and it’s filled with narrow streets – often with washing hanging outside windows.

Quartieri Spagnoli in Naples

For lunch we wanted to experience an authentic Neapolitan pizza. I had asked a friend who is from Naples for recommendations, which she kindly gave, only for me to put the wrong name into Apple Maps and ending up outside the wrong place! As it was already late, we settled on… Rossopomodoro (I know, I know. We went all the way to Naples to have a pizza we can get in London!) Although, they do very good pizza!

To be honest, we had absolutely zero plans for Naples so we basically just walked around! But if you want to plan your trip, here’s a list of things to do in just one day in Naples. We walked all along the promenade on the waterfront and watched the locals swimming and the tourists riding those bikes for four people.

Beach along Naples waterfront

I’m regretting that we didn’t go to visit Ovo Castle, which you can see in the distance in the photo below. It’s the oldest castle in Naples (they have seven apparently), which is on an islet. It’s now a museum and hosts events and exhibitions too.

Naples waterfront and Ovo Castle

After walking around we headed back to the hotel for a bit of a rest before heading out for dinner.

In Naples, don’t be surprised by people – and teenagers – riding fairly fast down the narrow streets on scooters (as in motorbikes) without helmets on. My top tip is be vigilant and look around you.

Aperitivo is one of my favourite times of the day. It’s when you have a drink or two, and some snacks, before dinner and it’s a big part of Italian culture. There’s nothing better than an Aperol Spritz and some nibbles before dinner! We found a bustling piazza right near our restaurant so enjoyed an aperitivo and people watching.

Aperitivo in Naples

Sadly dinner was a bit of a disappointment. We’d chosen La Stanza del Gusto as we’d heard good things but it was very average – I wouldn’t recommend it. Thankfully a delicious gelato on the way back to the hotel made up for it somewhat.

We loved our time in Naples and definitely want to return to see more of it. If you do visit, be prepared for the craziness. Embrace it! After all, isn’t travel all about experiencing different cultures?

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Exploring Naples in Italy
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Kirsty Marrins

Reader, writer, occasional runner, travel lover.

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