With Mount Vesuvius looming in the distance, Mediterranean waves slapping on the harbour walls, ancient castles, trips of Pompeii and labyrinthine lanes, Naples is perfect for an intriguing weekend away.
The capital of the Campania region in southern Italy is famous for its manic edginess — as well as the invention of pizza — and can be an affordable choice for a short break … if you know where to look.
Scroll down for our handy tips on the best places to eat and stay…
WHERE TO STAY
Minimalist: Hotel Palazzo Caracciolo (above) where doubles start from £100
Hotel Palazzo Caracciolo
Just north of Spaccanapoli, the main east-west street splitting Naples, this is a 15th-century palace converted into a vibrant hotel with minimalist yet comfy rooms. A courtyard with olive trees and a bar makes a great spot to unwind.
B&B doubles from £100 (palazzocaracciolo.com)
In the heart of the old town, this bijou eight-room hotel/B&B is hidden at the top of an apartment block; you take a lift to the fifth floor reception. Rooms have comfortable beds, modern art and balconies (in some) facing Vesuvius. Organic breakfast is served in a bright dining room or on a suntrap terrace.
B&B doubles from £61; add £17.50 for Vesuvius views (atticopartenopeo.it)
On a hill in the peaceful residential district of Vomero, but right by a funicular ride into the centre, Cimarosa is an arty hotel with 16 modern rooms. This is a great hideaway for those seeking to escape the old town’s bustle.
B&B doubles from £69 (hotelcimarosa.it)
OK, so this is a business hotel, but it’s right next to Garibaldi Station, perfect for trains to Pompeii and Sorrento, and a ten-minute walk to the centre. Rooms are in a smart burgundy colour scheme and have bathrooms with tubs. Breakfasts come with a huge variety of cakes.
B&B doubles from £81 (wyndhamhotels.com)
WHERE TO EAT
Pizzeria Di Matteo
Yum: Neapolitan pizza is a must try in Naples – the world’s pizza capital
You must try a pizza in the world’s pizza capital. This tiny restaurant on Via dei Tribunali, loved by locals, serves little takeaway slices, folded in paper, for £1.30: simply delicious (as Bill Clinton once found). (Pizzeriadimatteo.com)
Pizzeria Dal Presidente
Clinton seems to have been a pizza fan … he also tried Pizzeria Dal Presidente, farther down Via Tribunali. Sit in the hidden-away backroom and share a diavola pizza with a carafe of wine for £9 for two. Outside, check out the Banksy depicting ‘Madonna with a pistol’. (Dalpresidentepizzeria.it)
Gran Caffe Imperius
Sfogliatella is a sugary pastry with a sweet almond filling invented in Campania. Gran Caffe Imperius on Spaccanapoli does them splendidly (85p). Enjoy one at the bar accompanied by a 70p espresso or a £1.30 glass of Ramazzotti liqueur. (Grancaffeimperius.it)
On Via Santa Maria di Costantinopoli, this brilliant restaurant is favoured by locals. Take a plate and choose from a buffet including pastas with tuna, wild mushrooms, beetroot, roast chicken and lasagne. It’s about £11 for a large helping.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Take a train
Guided bus tours to Pompeii, the Roman city entombed when Vesuvius erupted in AD79, from the city are £56. It’s more fun to do it yourself. Take a Circumvesuviana train from Garibaldi Station for £4.80. The Naples metro/funicular system is also a good way to get around: rides are £1.
Vibrant: A traditional street scene in the Spanish quarter of the city of Naples
Free entry to Pompeii
The usual adult entry price is £13, but the first Sunday of the month is free. Arrive early to avoid the crowds and, afterwards, don’t go to the expensive cafes by the exit. The station cafe, used by locals, has espressos for 90p and lovely fresh orange juice for £1.70.
See the hilltop castle
It takes half an hour to ascend the winding steps to Castel Sant’Elmo, a glorious 16th-century fortification. Entry is only £4.30. There’s also a superb gallery of Campania art, to which your ticket allows entry. The foot of the hill has bakeries and delis for hilltop picnics.
Watch the sunset
Castel dell’Ovo (Castle of the Egg) is on the little island of Megaride, connected to the mainland by a causeway — perfect for a target of a waterfront walk along the promenade south of Piazza Plebiscito, Naples’ main square. It’s free to go to the top of the castle, one of the best places for sunsets.
Visit ‘Christmas Street’
Real name Via San Gregorio Armeno, this is where the city’s nativity scene shops are found. Watch craftsmen at work and enjoy their creations including Putin and Trump figurines along the alley. visitnaples.eu
British Airways has return flights from London Gatwick to Naples from £48 (ba.com). Airport buses drop you at either Garibaldi Station or the city centre; tickets are £4.30 each way and the journey takes about 20 minutes.