A high-energy place that steals the soul with its magnificent art and glorious panoramas, Naples was founded by ancient Greeks in 600 BC. It was conquered by the Romans in the 4th century BC and today visitors will find an unexpected elegance that some call the country’s most unlikely masterpiece. There are many museums, palaces, castles, and Caravaggio masterpieces. Thanks to the bountiful sea, rich volcanic soil, and a centuries-long history of culinary tradition, Naples is one of the best when it comes to cuisine, from pizza that was birthed here to pasta and espresso. To make the most of your time in this city, you’ll want to learn more about the neighborhoods to determine the best place to stay. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly stay, to be near the seafront, or in the heart of it all with everything just steps from your door, these are the places to consider.
Naples boasts one of the world’s largest historic centers. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a stay here you’ll be immersed in a maze of cobblestone streets, medieval homes, picturesque squares and baroque churches. It’s the best place to stay for anyone visiting the city for the first time or who is primarily interested in sightseeing, with many attractions right out your door. It’s almost like being in an open-air museum. Just some of the highlights include Battistero di San Giovanni, the oldest baptistery in Western Europe and Naples’ cathedral, Il Duomo which dates back to the 13th century and features a number of important frescos. Nearby, Pio Monte della Misericordia is home to Caravaggio’s Seven Acts of Mercy. There is a wide range of accommodation options with something for nearly every budget, including everything from family-run B&Bs to chic boutique properties and luxurious hotels known for their traditional opulence.
Chiaia is a trendy, upscale neighborhood oozing glamour and style. It’s the best place to be for those who want to do a lot of shopping. Set along the seafront, it’s filled with high-end shops and boutiques For those interested in designer brands, you’ll find many. Sophisticated Neapolitans can be seen heading to places like Armani and Parda before enjoying lunch with a sea view. More authentic shopping can also be enjoyed here, including antique stores, bookshops, and lots of independent retailers. The pedestrianized Via Chiaia is a fabulous place to stroll with affluence seen throughout, including the 16th-century Palazzo Cellamare where everyone from Bourbon royalty to Goethe and Casanova have been among the illustrious list of guests. Hotels in this area are often housed in centuries-old buildings with generously sized rooms that come with awe-inspiring sea views. Some even have lovely gardens and rooftop terraces with vistas that stretch across the city.
Piazza del Plebiscito is ideal for families as it’s quieter than many other areas while also being centrally based for exploring, surrounded by the sea, Spanish Quarter, and the historic center. It’s a safe, family-friendly area within walking distance from many top attractions while also offering breathtaking views. Gaze out at everything from the piazza’s colonnades to medieval Castel Sant’Elmo and the vines draped across the baroque monastery of Certosa di San Martino. The piazza occasionally hosts concerts in this spectacular setting, and it’s frequently used for events honoring La Befana who on January 6 each year, brings gifts to Italian children. Just off the piazza close to Palazzo della Prefettura is Piazza Trieste e Trento, home to the renowned historic Gran Caffe Gambrinus which was once frequented by the likes of Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway. There are a number of good mid-range and budget accommodation options here, including B&Bs, guesthouses and hotels.
Toledo e Quartieri Spagnoli is one of the most budget-friendly neighborhoods close to popular attractions, with hotels in every category along with B&Bs and apartment rentals. Its name refers to both the Spanish Quarter on either side and the 16th-century Via Toledo (also called Via Roma), with its chic shops. Streets leading off Via Toledo into the Spanish Quarter were created for Naples’ Spanish rules and today it’s a very authentic, traditional area. You’ll find many coffee shops and key attractions like Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano with its outstanding collection of Neapolitan and Italian paintings from the 17th to early 20th century, including Caravaggio’s last work, The Martyrdom of St. Ursula. The largest opera house in Italy, the ornate Teatro San Carlo is here as well as the Galleria Umberto I shopping mall and Museo Archeologico Nazionale, home to one of the best collections of Roman and Greek finds, along with artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Vomero is nestled in Naples’ hillier area providing a perfect vantage point for incredible views over the historic center, the Gulf of Naples, and imposing Mount Vesuvius beyond. The hilltop district is accessed by funicular railway, and while it provides an escape from the busy city center, you’ll have plenty to do during the day while being able to take advantage of some of the best nightlife in the city. In the Rione Antignano area, there’s a historic market that’s especially impressive around Christmas, while the roads that lead from Piazza Vanvitelli offer a great mix of local shops, big-name brands, international franchises, and enticing street foods. Piazza Fuga is the perfect start for fun after dark with several trendy lounge bars, while Via Aniello Falcone is a long road lined with countless bars, some of which stay open all night. You’ll find good quality accommodation here for reasonable prices as well.
An exclusive residential neighborhood in the southern part of the city, Posillipo has long been popular among the city’s wealthier residents, dating back to Roman times. It’s a great place to see how the ultra-elite lived, with a number of historic villas that cling to the coast from the 17th-century Villa Donn’Anna to the Italian president’s Villa Rosebery, a monumental complex and one of the city’s main landmarks of neoclassicism. The crown jewel, however, may be the archaeological park which includes the over 2,000-year-old Imperial Villa. The terraces of picturesque Parco Virgiliano offer idyllic views of the coast, sea, and tranquil bays, while the Posillipo Market stalls are set up every Thursday around the park’s entrance. In the summer, the ancient clifftop theater hosts concerts and plays with a backdrop of a glorious sunset. As one would expect, hotels are more expensive here but the views from the balconies are worth the higher price.
The most authentic neighborhood in Naples is Quartieri Spagnoli, along with Toledo e Quartieri Spagnoli which it surrounds. It’s sandwiched between San Martino hill to the west and Via Toledo to the east, the “real” part of the city where you can experience local daily life. The kids play among the street stalls where you’ll find everything from votive candles to fish for sale, while laundry billows in the breeze, hanging throughout the narrow, grid-like streets. Residents often talk to each other from their balconies and you’ll see guys lowering baskets from windows and hauling up cigarettes. There are some beautiful churches in the area too, including the 16th-century Santa Maria della Mercede a Montecalvario and the Rococo-style Sant’Anna di Palazzo. Just south, toward the bay, is Piazza del Plebiscito. Staying here is affordable with basic B&Bs and 3-star hotels. Crime is higher, but by practicing common sense safety measures you’re unlikely to be affected.
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