Naples

Naples, a bustling city of a million people, can be a challenge for visitors because of its hilly terrain and its twisty, often congested streets. Although spread out, Naples invites walking; the bus system, funiculars, and subways are also options for dealing with weary legs.

The city stretches along the Bay of Naples from Piazza Garibaldi in the east to Mergellina in the west, with its back to the Vomero Hill. From Stazione Centrale, on Piazza Garibaldi, Corso Umberto I (known as the Rettifilo) heads southwest to the monumental city center—commonly known as Toledo—around the piazzas Bovio, Municipio, and Trieste e Trento; here is the major urban set piece composed of the Palazzo Reale, Teatro San Carlo, and Galleria Umberto Primo.

To the north are the historic districts of old Naples, most notably the Centro Storico, I Vergini, and La Sanità; to the south, the port. Farther west along the bay are the more fashionable neighborhoods of Santa Lucia and Chiaia, and finally the waterfront district of Mergellina and the hill of Posillipo. The residential area of Vomero sits on the steep hills rising above Chiaia and downtown.

At the center of it all is picturesque Spaccanapoli—the heart of the Centro Storico. This partly pedestrianized promenade rather confusingly changes its name as it runs its way through the heart of old Naples—it's labeled as Via Benedetto Croce and Via San Biagio dei Librai, among others. Tying much of this geographic layout together is the "spine" of the city, Via Toledo—Naples's major north–south axis, which begins at Piazza Trieste e Trento and heads up all the way to Capodimonte; it's basically one straight road with four different names (five if you count the official name of Via Roma, which is how the locals refer to it).

Via Toledo links Piazza Trieste e Trento with Piazza Dante. Going farther north you get into Via Pessina for about 100 yards, which takes you up to the megajunction with the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. North of that, you head up to the peak of Capodimonte by traveling along Via Santa Teresa degli Scalzi and then Corso Amedeo di Savoia.

To make things a bit more confusing, parts of Via Toledo are pedestrianized—that means no buses or scooters, thankfully—from just south of Piazza Carità (where Via Toledo/Roma intersects with Via Diaz) all the way to Piazza Trieste e Trento.

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  • 1. Aquarium

    Originally named by the Greeks after the Mermaid Parthenope (who slew herself after being rejected by Odysseus, at least in the poet Virgil’s version), it's...Read More

  • 2. Castel Nuovo

    Toledo

    Known to locals as Maschio Angioino, in reference to its Angevin builders, this imposing castle is now used more for marital than military purposes—a portion...Read More

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  • 3. Certosa e Museo di San Martino

    Vomero

    Atop a rocky promontory with a fabulous view of the entire city and majestic salons that would please any monarch, the Certosa di San Martino...Read More

  • 4. LAPIS Museum

    Centro Storico

    The beautifully restored 17th-century Basilica di Pietrasanta, a Cosimo Fanzago Baroque masterpiece built on the site of the Roman Temple of Diana, hosts regular multimedia...Read More

  • 5. Museo Archeologico Nazionale

    Centro Storico

    Also known as MANN, this legendary museum has experienced something of a rebirth in recent years. Its unrivaled collections include world-renowned archaeological finds that put...Read More

  • 6. Museo di Capodimonte

    Capodimonte

    The grandiose, 18th-century, neoclassical, Bourbon royal palace houses fine and decorative art in 124 rooms. The main galleries on the first floor are devoted to...Read More

  • 7. Palazzo Reale

    Toledo

    A leading Naples showpiece created as an expression of Bourbon power and values, the Palazzo Reale dates from 1600. Renovated and redecorated by successive rulers...Read More

  • 8. Pio Monte della Misericordia

    Centro Storico

    One of the Centro Storico's defining sites, this octagonal church was built around the corner from the Duomo for a charitable institution seven noblemen founded...Read More

  • 9. Reggia di Caserta

    Located 16 miles northeast of the city, the palace known as the Reggia shows how Bourbon royals lived in the mid-18th century. Architect Luigi Vanvitelli...Read More

  • 10. San Lorenzo Maggiore

    Centro Storico

    The church of San Lorenzo features a very unmedieval facade of 18th-century splendor. Due to the effects and threats of earthquakes, the church was reinforced...Read More

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  • 11. Sant'Anna dei Lombardi

    Toledo

    Long favored by the Aragonese kings, this church, simple and rather anonymous from the outside, houses some of the most important ensembles of Renaissance sculpture...Read More

  • 12. Santa Chiara

    Centro Storico

    Offering a stark and telling contrast to the opulence of the nearby Gesù Nuovo, Santa Chiara is the leading Angevin Gothic monument in Naples. The...Read More

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  • 13. Castel dell'Ovo

    Santa Lucia

    The oldest castle in Naples, the 12th-century Castel dell'Ovo dangles over the Porto Santa Lucia on a thin promontory. Built atop the ruins of an...Read More

  • 14. Castel Sant'Elmo

    Vomero

    Perched on the Vomero, this massive castle is almost the size of a small town. Built by the Angevins in the 14th century to dominate...Read More

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  • 15. Complesso Museale Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco

    Centro Storico

    Once a tavern, this building was rebuilt by the Monte di Pietà charity in 1616 as a church, and its two stories are fascinatingly complementary....Read More

  • 16. Duomo

    Centro Storico

    Hemmed in on three sides, this cathedral is a trip through the city's history. Although the cathedral was established in the 1200s, the building you...Read More

  • 17. Galleria Borbonica

    Following a revolution in 1848 Ferdinando II decided to build an escape route from the Palazzo Reale to the sea, under the Pizzofalcone hill, with...Read More

  • 18. Galleria Umberto I

    Toledo

    The galleria was erected during the "cleanup" of Naples following the devastating cholera epidemic of 1884. With facades on Via Toledo—the most animated street in...Read More

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  • 19. Gallerie d'Italia

    Toledo

    Once the headquarters of the Banco di Napoli, this vast 20th-century building houses a small museum that's worth seeking out for its outstanding collection of...Read More

  • 20. Gesù Nuovo

    Centro Storico

    A stunning architectural contrast to the plain Romanesque frontage of other nearby churches, the oddly faceted stone facade of this elaborate Baroque church dates to...Read More

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