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Naples day trips from Rome

Here's everything you need to know to travel to the pizza capital from Rome and not miss out on anything.

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

11 min read

Naples day trips from Rome

The rooftops of Naples on a sunny day | ©Mathias Bach

It's easy to fall in love with Naples for its pizza, for its incessant chaos, for its beautiful views of Vesuvius (if you know how to find them), and for many other things that I'll tell you about if you read on. Fancy a trip to Naples from Rome? The following lines are for you.

1. The best day trip to Naples from Rome (also takes you to Pompeii)

Pompeii| ©Unsplash.com
Pompeii| ©Unsplash.com

If you decide to leave Rome for a day, that excursion has to be well worth it. And visiting Naples and the incredible Pompeii are a great reason to forget the majestic Eternal City for a day. I don't know if it's the same for you, but when I'm travelling I like to let myself go, enjoy myself and not have to worry too much about the logistics of transport, especially if I'm on a tight schedule - as in this case, if we only have one day to do this excursion.

With this all-inclusive day trip to Naples and Pompeii in English, you'll leave early from Rome in a private bus and be accompanied at all times by a professional guide who will put everything you see into context (something I found essential, especially in Pompeii).

The stop in Naples will allow you to get to know the historic centre of the city and its most important points without having to spend too much time moving from one place to another. Plus, you'll have time to eat and taste one of the famous Neapolitan pizzas. What more could you ask for?

About the visit to Pompeii

You'll be touring the ruins of Pompeii for about two hours. Although at first glance it may not seem long, I assure you that it is a reasonable time to see the essential sites of the ruins and understand how life was lived in this impressive city that was petrified by the eruption of Vesuvius.

Be prepared to see well-preserved remains of what was once the city, utensils of its citizens, petrified bodies (don't worry, it's not as impressive as it sounds) and even the city's latest find (discovered at the end of 2020): what is supposed to have been a "fast food" restaurant.

If you'd prefer a longer visit to Pompeii, you can spend up to a whole day there, or even combine the trip with a climb of Vesuvius. If you want to know all the possibilities, I invite you to read this article on how to visit Pompeii from Rome in one day.

Explore the best day trips from Rome

2. Other options for getting to Naples from Rome

Panoramic view of Naples| ©Aliya Izumi
Panoramic view of Naples| ©Aliya Izumi

By train

The train is a very convenient option for a day trip to Naples from Rome. You won't have to worry about parking, unnecessary detours or stops. The downside compared to other methods of transport can be the price: the fast train ticket, which will get you to Naples in 1 hour 15 minutes, costs between €44 and €60 each way.

A slower train, which takes between 2 and 3 hours to get to Naples, costs between €20 and €27 each way depending on class. This can be a good option if you're travelling on a tighter budget, and if you catch the train early in the morning you'll have plenty of time to explore the city in a day. Check all timetables and prices on Trenitalia's official website.

Getting to Naples from Rome by bus

Most buses to Naples from the Italian capital are operated by Flixbus, Baltour and BusCenter, and a return ticket usually costs around €20. Buses go direct to Naples, departing from Rome's Autostazione Tiburtina and arriving at Naples' Piazza Garibaldi bus station in about 2.5 hours.

My recommendation is to buy your bus tickets a week in advance, to make sure you have seats available for the day you want to do the tour, and to take the hassle out of getting a return ticket as well.

In any case, to be honest with you, you can't see the whole of Naples in one day (especially if you add in the waiting times for public transport). The aim of your excursion from Rome is to enjoy the city and spend a day different from what you would find in the Italian capital. Here's the itinerary I did on my visit:

Explore the best excursions from Rome

3. Start with the best breakfast in Naples

Typical espresso coffee to start the day off right in Naples| ©Louis Hansel
Typical espresso coffee to start the day off right in Naples| ©Louis Hansel

I'm not a big fan of coffee, but you have to admit that Neapolitan coffee is something worthy of the most exquisite palates. The first thing I did when I got off the train in Naples was to head for the Gran Caffè Gambrinus, a stylish Viennese-style café with marble walls, sculptures on the shelves and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.

It's probably familiar, as it's become quite a touristy place, but I'm a romantic and I wasn't going to miss the chance to have an espresso and sfogliatelle for breakfast in one of Oscar Wilde's favourite places in Naples.

4. Stroll around the Piazza del Plebiscito

Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples| ©Alex N.
Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples| ©Alex N.

The Piazza del Plebiscito is a huge square, the nucleus of Naples' public life and one of its main points of interest. It is named after the plebiscite held during the Italian Unification, thanks to which Naples became part of the Kingdom of Italy and the House of Savoy.

As if its historical importance were not enough, the square has that Italian essence of grandeur and spectacle, presided over by the immense colonnade of the church of San Francesco di Paola. It is a neoclassical marvel that impresses by day and captivates by night when it is illuminated.

5. Discover the Palazzo Reale

The Palazzo Reale at sunset| ©Michelangelo Ambrosini
The Palazzo Reale at sunset| ©Michelangelo Ambrosini

The Royal Palace of Naples is one of the places that best testifies to the importance of the city during the 18th and 19th centuries. The size and splendour of this palace is due to the fact that it served as the residence of the Bourbon dynasty for a century, and later passed into the hands of the Savoy family.

It evolved as it passed from hand to hand, but its halls still retain the extravagance of 18th-century Neapolitan style. Its façade is crowned by eight marble statues of the kings who ruled Naples from the 12th century until Italian Unification.

However, the impressive part of the Palazzo Reale is inside: you will find a monumental pink and white marble staircase leading up to the Royal Apartments, the Court Theatre, the Throne Room, and the Royal Chapel, all of which are decorated with spectacular paintings and tapestries.

The Palazzo Reale is open every day except Wednesdays, from 09:00 to 20:00, and the entrance fee is €6.

6. Enter the San Carlo Theatre

The interior of the San Carlo Theatre| ©Wikimedia
The interior of the San Carlo Theatre| ©Wikimedia

This is a visit they don't prepare you for: the majesty of the interior of the Teatro di San Carlo, when you look up and admire the sense of infinity of its six floors and the frescoed dome, is something that caught me completely off guard.

For this reason, the Teatro San Carlo is considered one of the most beautiful opera buildings in the world, and it is easy to imagine the hall filled with the aristocrats of the time, debating whether to glance at the stage, the royal box, or a furtive lover on the other side of the tier.

The only way to visit the interior of the Teatro di San Carlo is to attend a performance or join one of the guided tours offered by the building's own organisers. The tour lasts about an hour, and I recommend doing it even if you have a little less free time at the end of the itinerary.

7. Enjoy the authentic Neapolitan pizza

Typical Neapolitan pizza to recharge your batteries between tours| ©Blake Wisz
Typical Neapolitan pizza to recharge your batteries between tours| ©Blake Wisz

I'm pretty sure that if you go to take the train back to Rome and tell the conductor that you haven't eaten a pizza during your visit, he'll tear up your ticket and send you to one of his relatives' restaurants.

No, seriously, I don't think you need any convincing that Neapolitan pizza is the most authentic example of this world revered food. One of the most recommended restaurants is Gino Sorbillo's pizzeria, but the queues are often enormous. Gorizia 1916 is another of the city's better-named eateries, slightly more expensive but also more elegant, being in Naples' posh area. Finally, the option that many locals will recommend: L'antica Pizzeria da Michele Forcella.

8. Visit the Umberto I Gallery

Galleria Umberto I's roof window| ©Tom Podmore
Galleria Umberto I's roof window| ©Tom Podmore

The Galleria Umberto I is a typical Italian shopping arcade, where you will find cafés and shops to take a break from sightseeing. For me, the coolness inside and the zodiacal decoration of the floor tiles alone, combined with the sense of space that opens up under the building's ceilings, make the gallery worth a stop.

If you have been to Milan, the Galleria Umberto I will remind you a lot of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, as it was a direct inspiration in the construction of this Neapolitan building.

In case you opted for another breakfast to start your day, you can find some delicious sfogliatella and other sweets in the gallery. By then, you will have realised that pastries and sweets are one of Naples' passions.

9. Cross Via Toledo

Via Toledo is one of the few straight streets you will find in Naples. When you reach it, you'll realise that you've been wandering along snake-shaped lanes all day. As such, Via Toledo is the city's shopping street, with buildings in many different styles and shops of all kinds.

Alex's Traveller Tip

The Toledo Metro station is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful I've ever seen - I'd better not give you a description and let you discover it on your own!

10. Immerse yourself in the Historic Centre of Naples

Typical picture of the narrow streets of the centre of Naples| ©Samuel C.
Typical picture of the narrow streets of the centre of Naples| ©Samuel C.

The heart of the city of Naples is made for getting lost in. Walking through its streets you will find a church on practically every corner, and you can enjoy watching life go by: street musicians, artists' studios, old men watching football on TV in a bar, and shops of all kinds that are hard to describe.

The streets are narrow and offer little privacy to the inhabitants. You only have to glance up to see typical Italian family scenes happening in front of you, through the windows of their homes. If you want to soak up the essence of Naples, this is the area where you will be able to breathe the most genuine atmosphere of the city.

Something that will interest you if you like the ancient world is that you can see part of the roadway of the Greco-Roman city of Neapolis. Spaccanapoli, which could be translated as "Short Naples", is a succession of streets that literally splits the city in two: Via Della Anticaglia (Upper Decumanus), Via Dei Tribunali (Decumanus Major) and the street that begins as Via Benedetto Croce and becomes Via San Biagio Dei Librai (Lower Decumanus).

11. Contemplate the Cathedral of Naples

Naples Cathedral| ©Wikimedia
Naples Cathedral| ©Wikimedia

Of the five hundred or so churches in Naples, none can match the city's Cathedral: the Duomo di San Gennaro or Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta, as it is known to the locals.

Although not as impressive as the Cathedral of Florence or Milan, Naples' Cathedral is a mishmash of Gothic and Baroque styles with an impressive interior decorated with frescoes evoking the image of Paradise.

12. The best sunset, from Castel Sant'Elmo

Naples at sunset| ©Alex N.
Naples at sunset| ©Alex N.

The perfect plan to end the day is to take the funicular to Castel Sant'Elmo, a 13th-century fortress in the shape of a star, atop the hill of Vomero. There you'll meet locals and tourists alike who have learned their lesson: it's not for nothing that from this top you can enjoy the best 360º views of the city, Vesuvius and the Gulf of Naples.

A perfect way to end your trip to Naples before heading back to Rome.

13. Getting around Naples in comfort

Typical picture of the narrow streets of Naples city centre| ©Vincenzo La Montagna
Typical picture of the narrow streets of Naples city centre| ©Vincenzo La Montagna

The best way to get to know Naples is on foot: this is the only way to find the most authentic streets and breathe the essence of the city. However, on a day trip you're usually on a tight schedule, so to get around Naples I recommend taking the metro.

The Naples Metro has two lines, 1 and 6 (it's a mystery what happened to the others) and covers almost the entire metropolitan area of the city.

If you've opted to drive to Naples, be careful as there are several areas of historical importance where parking will be expensive, with fines of up to €90. These areas are called ZTL (Limited Traffic Zone) and are best avoided by parking on the outskirts of the city or checking a map of these areas before you park your car.

14. Tips and tricks for your trip to Naples from Rome

Typical streets of Naples| ©Paul Postema
Typical streets of Naples| ©Paul Postema

Beware of pickpockets

Naples is a city with a somewhat tarnished reputation for being less than tourist-friendly. Don't worry too much, as long as you watch out for pickpockets and avoid leaving the more central areas you should be fine.

Wear comfortable shoes

Since you're going to be walking all day on this tour, remember to be well prepared: you'll want to pack trainers, a backpack with water, a power bank to charge your mobile phone and something warm for the evening if you're travelling in summer. In winter, the best idea is to wear layers so that you'll be more or less warm as the day wears on.

Be prepared with cash

Some shops and restaurants only accept cash, so carry some loose change just in case (my recommendation: take just enough).

If you don't speak Italian, don't worry

If you don't speak Italian, you won't have any problems in Rome as they can more or less understand you in Spanish or even English. But if you're travelling to Naples, I recommend that you have a translation app installed on your mobile phone as it can make your life easier on some occasions.

15. Other excursions you may be interested in

If you already know Naples or you are not too interested in visiting this city, maybe Florence is a better option for you. Before going from Rome, I recommend you read more about how to prepare for this experience here: Florence Day Trips from Rome. One of the (so many) good things about Rome is its location on the map: besides being in the centre of the Italian peninsula, it has a lot of emblematic places to visit in its surroundings. If you feel like discovering them, here's a list of what I think are the best places to visit near Rome.