Naples was never too high on the list of Italian cities that I dreamt of visiting. A lot of people when they think of Italy have images of the Cinque Terre and the Vatican floating around their brain. These places are truly incredible and worth a visit also, but somewhere that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is the city of Napoli.
A recent trip here, after a lot of anxiety and stress about going in the first place, totally diminished the bad reputation, for me, that Naples seems to hold. A place where you’re advised not to hire a car unless you know the roads, and told that the zebra crossings and street lights are more for decoration. Where the locals help you order the best food and the tours of the city will leave you in awe. Here are 5 great reasons that you should visit Naples.
1. The food
It seems like a given that the city famed to be the birthplace of pizza would have impeccable pizza. But it doesn’t just stop there. Not only is the pizza from certain pizzerias in Naples the best pizza I’ve ever eaten, most of the other dishes live up to the same quality. Make sure you get to Naples hungry because you won’t stop eating the spaghetti al pesto, the gelato, the tiramisu, or of course, the pizza.
2. A lot of people seem to avoid it
This one seems like a negative, but because of the somewhat bad reputation Naples has attracted to itself over the years, a lot of tourists seem to skip a trip to Naples. This means that, especially in the low season, there a lot fewer people looming around certain attractions and restaurants. You’ll get a spot on the train out to Pompeii, and won’t have to wait too long to be seated for dinner.Because of the lower tourist numbers than somewhere like Barcelona, the locals don’t seem to be annoyed with us yet, giving you a more ~authentic~ Italian experience. There are still plenty of people to weave through in the streets, and a couple of English speaking accents here and there, but nothing like the tourist numbers I’ve experienced in other cities.
If you’d like to find out about more places in Europe to visit, that usually have lower tourist numbers, check out this piece.
3. The city is rich in culture and history
Founded by the ancient Greeks in about the 7th century BC, Naples has a long and detailed history of the rise and fall of kings from other nations, wars, and takeovers. Being once the capital city of the Sicilian region before the unity of Italy in 1861, Naples is home to an abundance of culture and ancient archaeological sites. Hosting catacombs, castles, and dungeons from early centuries before and after death, the people of Naples just keep finding more buried history. From ancient sea-side villas to human remains.
Near the Castle Nuovo, the city of Naples has been trying to dig a metro line for 25 years. Not because of slow work days, but because they just keep coming across new archaeological findings. As recently as 2014, three wooden boats used by the Romans ranging from 8 to 16 meters were found preserved in the ground.There is just so much history to be explored in Naples, and it would seem, so much yet to be found.
4. The price
The prices in Naples are incredibly backpacker friendly. The best pizza I’ve ever eaten, the size to feed a few people, cost me only 4.50euro. The best gelato I’ve ever had, right in the heart of the historical center, and arguably the most tourist populated area, cost me 2euro. For one of the most historically significant cities in Italy and a great European destination, your wallet won’t be too bruised after your visit.
5. Access to other fantastic locations
Naples is surrounded by some of the most beautiful sites in Italy. From Naples, you can explore many different options and tackle plenty of different modes of transport. Catch a ferry down to Palermo and other parts of Sicily, or take a 40-minute train out to the ruins of Pompeii. Visit other coastlines and paradise destinations such as Sorrento, Amalfi coast and the Isle of Capri. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, trek up to the crater of Mount Vesuvius and check out some of the best views of the region.
View of Mt Vesuvius from Pompeii
If nothing else, you should take a trip to Naples just to form your own opinion of the city, and remove some of the bad reputation it has gained from it’s past. Yes, Naples is a city where rubbish floats in the streets, the mornings and nights sometimes smell like urine, and tourists might be better off not wandering around certain areas at night. But that is just like a lot of other major cities in Europe, and the world for that matter.
I was overly anxious to go to Naples after booking a cheap flight and then looking up the reputation online. But if I was to let the opinion of others determine how I travel, I would have never experienced the city of Napoli, and that would have been a huge mistake.
Naples has some of the most incredible Italian vibes radiating through its streets, and the locals seem to enjoy chatting with you and helping you out as best they can. The entire time, I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. The people of Naples are incredibly proud of their city and culture, and so they should be. Of course, as in any city when you travel, remain logical in your choices, listen to all safety advice, and avoid wandering around empty areas at night. But don’t let the safety tips scare you away.
Take a trip to Naples, for the reasons I’ve mentioned and more. You’ll dine on cheap amazing food, dive head first into one of the most historically rich cities in Italy, and have an experience like no other.