Naples has several distinct neighborhoods that vary in flavor and in how touristy and safe they are, so your choice of where to stay in Naples will affect your experience.
This is why I have put together this guide on where to stay in Naples!
Naples has a buzz all its own. This ancient city overlooks the glorious Bay of Naples, with the volcanic shadow of Mount Vesuvius smouldering in the distance. It has experienced civilisations, wars, invasions, poverty and crime, but its citizens are resilient.
Neapolitans are friendly, the food is delicious – the pizza was invented here – and its rich cultural history and musical traditions continue today. You just need to decide where to stay in Naples.
Where to Stay in Naples: 9 Best Areas
The best areas to stay in Naples are the ones that most suit your interests. Good news, the best ones are all close to each other, and accessible by public transport in the form of buses, metro and local trains, and by taxi.
The city suffers from the same kind of petty crime as in any tourist destination (not necessarily from locals). It’s the only issue you’ll be aware of as a tourist, so give this lively city a try.
There is accommodation to suit every budget – backpackers will find several hostels, or there are campsites in the wider area.
1. Historic Centre, where to stay in Naples for first time
Naples has one of the largest historical centres in the world. The Centro Storico, declared UNESCO World Heritage, is a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets, old medieval houses, pleasant piazzas and baroque churches.
This area will plunge you straight into the city’s history and culture, so head for the cathedral – Il Duomo – first. Started in 1272, it suffered major damage in several earthquakes, but still contains important frescoes and canvases, and the relics of San Gennaro (Januarius), the city’s patron saint.
From the fourth-century Basilica di Santa Restituta, visitors can reach the Battistero di San Giovanni in Fonte, the oldest baptistery in Western Europe, which is decorated with pieces of fourth-century mosaics.
Three times a year people gather at the cathedral to commemorate the liquefaction of the saint’s blood in a phial – on his feast day of 19 September, on 16 December (anniversary of his patronage of Naples), and in early May to mark the date when all missing relics of San Gennaro had been returned to the church.
Other religious festivals take place here, and around the city. On 17 January, the feast day of Sant’Antonio Abate sees bonfires burning in all districts, while dressing up and traditional sweets are in order for Carnevale, prior to Lent.
Holy Week is a big event in Italy, and all the churches in Naples take part, bringing out their Madonnas and parading them through the streets.
Close to the Duomo, Pio Monte della Misericordia is home to Caravaggio’s Le Sette Opere di Misericordia, or the Seven Acts of Mercy.
Hanging over the altar in this seventeenth-century church, it’s a superb illustration of his chiaroscuro technique, and is arguably the city’s finest painting. Church archives hold a payment receipt for the picture.
For something more up to date, try MADRE, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, on what has been nicknamed the street of museums for obvious reasons – it’s near the archaeological museum, the Accademia di Belle Arti and the cathedral, in the heart of the ancient quarter of San Lorenzo.
Collections and temporary exhibitions feature internationally-renowned artists. It’s housed in Palazzo Donnaregina, originally the Santa Maria Donnaregina monastery of the thirteenth to fourteenth century. Only the church remains, overlooking Piazza Donnaregina.
Opposite the Academy of Fine Arts stands the nineteenth-century Teatro Bellini, one of the venues used for the annual Napoli Teatro Festival, which celebrates local and international drama, performance art and dance, in June.
The month before, Wine and the City involves tastings of local wines, food and entertainment around Naples.
Carry on to the baroque Cappella Sansevero for a sculpture with exquisite touches. Giuseppe di Martino’s statue of Cristo Velato has fashioned Christ’s marble shroud so delicately, portraying vividly the still-suffering body beneath the veil, that it was once thought that alchemy was involved.
Still in the Centro Storico but moving towards the Spanish Quarter, the Santa Chiara complex provides a peaceful interlude in a cheerfully-chaotic city. It comprises a monastery, tombs and a church, originally fourteenth century but mostly rebuilt after extensive bombing in World War II.
The cloisters next to the Basilica di Santa Chiara are enhanced by seventeenth-century majolica ceramics in vibrant colours, lavender and citrus plantings, benches, and tiled columns.
The little museum next to the cloisters displays ecclesiastical exhibits, and an excavated first-century spa with sauna (laconicum).
The Maggio dei Monumenti festival in May is a chance for private or normally-closed institutions and buildings to open their doors to the public, like Open House days in other countries.
This is a chance to see something that is usually hidden, while enjoying all the events arranged around it, such as exhibitions and readings.
The Piazza del Mercato has long been a meeting place for locals, and now its multicultural mix has given it fresh vitality. Its Christmas Market is a great place to pick up gifts, and the fish market stays open all night on 23 December, so that people can buy fish for the traditional Christmas Eve meal.
Situated just off the piazza, the fourteenth-century church of Santa Maria del Carmine is still used by the Carmelite order, who lovingly tend the peaceful garden.
The greenery is surrounded by colourful colonnades, and the church is decorated with mosaics, frescoes and sculptures, while in the basilica, a Byzantine picture of a dark-skinned Mary and the infant Jesus has pride of place.
The summer festival of Madonna del Carmine on 16 July sees the saint’s statue taken around the area, and fireworks let off in the piazza, making it appear as if the bell tower is on fire.
Stay in Naples in its historic centre to be surrounded by its treasures and take part in its events, in a choice of hotels from luxury to budget and backpacker-friendly.
2. Piazza del Plebiscito, where to stay in Naples for families
Piazza del Plebiscito is one of my favourite areas where to stay in Naples. Surrounded by the historic centre, and the Spanish Quarters, and the sea.
It is a good area where to stay in Naples for families because it is very centrally-based and quieter than other touristic areas.
The breathtaking vistas from the colonnades of the spectacular Piazza del Plebiscito will cause you to pause. Look one way to see vines that climb to the baroque monastery of Certosa di San Martino, and the medieval fortress of Castel Sant’Elmo.
In another direction stands the Palazzo Reale, a royal palace that has been home to royal families from several occupying countries over the centuries, while to the west you will see the Basilica di San Francesco di Paola, Pietro Banchini’s neoclassical copy of the Pantheon in Rome.
The piazza is sometimes the setting for concerts, with a backdrop that technology couldn’t improve. You can see in the New Year here, and it’s also one of the many locations used for events to honour La Befana, who brings presents to Italian children on 6 January.
The square leads into Piazza Trieste e Trento, where you can relax at the elegant Caffé Gambrinus, once frequented by Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway and Jean-Paul Sartre, among other cultural icons.
If you stay in Naples around the Piazza del Plebiscito, you will still be centrally-based, with plenty of hotels, guesthouses and holiday homes to choose from.
3. Toledo e Quartieri Spagnoli, where to stay in Naples on a budget
Its name refers both to the sixteenth-century Via Toledo (otherwise known as Via Roma), with its smart shops and smarter clientele, and to the Spanish Quarter on either side of it.
Streets lead off Via Toledo into the Quartieri Spagnoli, created for the city’s Spanish rulers in the past, but now a traditional and very authentic Neapolitan neighbourhood.
Via Toledo doesn’t only provide retail and coffee shops for tourists (although it does so with enthusiasm).
The Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano has acquired an excellent selection of Italian and Neapolitan paintings, covering the period between the seventeenth and early twentieth century.
The best is arguably The Martyrdom of St Ursula, Caravaggio’s last work, made even more moving by the inclusion of the artist anxiously watching the scene, as if death was on his mind.
In the same street, the ornate Teatro San Carlo takes pride in being Italy’s biggest opera house. Guided tours are available, and there is a theatre museum in the Palazzo Reale. Opposite the theatre is the sumptuous shopping mall of the historic Galleria Umberto I.
Still in the Spanish Quarter, the thirteenth-century Castel Nuovo was once a favourite among intellectuals. The castle holds some fresco pieces by Giotto and a good collection of Neapolitan art, with some Roman ruins beneath the glass floor of the Sala dell’Armeria.
Once the home and church of the mystic Maria Francesca delle Cinque Piaghe, who was said to help childless women, the Casa e Chiesa di Santa Maria Francesca delle Cinque Piaghe is above a small chapel containing exquisite eighteenth-century local liturgical art.
Statues with glass eyes include the Divine Shepherdess, a rare rendition of the Virgin resting, and wearing a shepherd’s hat in the style of eighteenth-century Spain. The saint’s bones are stored within another sculpture.
Also in this area, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale boasts one of the best collections of Greek and Roman finds anywhere, together with artefacts looted from Pompeii and Herculaneum. Both are famous for their decimation during the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Pompeii was destroyed by ash, whereas Herculaneum was covered and preserved by mud. Stone engravings display slogans of Pompeian political campaigns, and texts of street poetry, and of course, there are the mosaics. The museum also has an Egyptian section, and other displays.
Festivals that take place at the museum include one for Baroque Music in January, and springtime’s Festival MANN, which puts on plays, concerts, films and art.
Just across the road, the Galleria Principe shopping arcade is the starting point for the three-day Naples Bike Festival in June.
If you want to join in the famous Italian evening pastime of passegiata, when everyone turns out to meet everybody else, Piazza Dante is the best spot. A marble bust of the poet looks over the nightly proceedings on the piazza, while beneath the feet of passers-by, the Dante Metro Station provides a space for art installations.
The nearby Toledo Station also features work as one of the Art Stations of the Naples Metro.
If you stay in Naples itself, bustling Toledo e Quartieri Spagnoli would be a good area to choose if you are looking for well priced accommodation, with hotels in all categories, apartments and B&B. However, if you’re on your own, you might feel more at ease if you avoid the side streets at night.
4. Port of Naples, close to everything
Known as Mollo Beverello, this is one of Italy’s busiest ports, and one of the biggest in the Mediterranean. On the city’s south side and just three minutes’ walk from town, this cruise ship hub is served by the city’s transport system, and is on the sightseeing tour bus route.
Buses and MetroNapoli link it to the main railway station and to the airport. Ferries and hydrofoils transport passengers to Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, Ischia and Capri, with tickets available online or before boarding.
All the local ports take part in the Open Port festival in May, giving visitors the opportunity to look round closed areas and to take ferry trips.
Hotels along the seafront tend to be more expensive, partly due to their proximity to the port, but also because of their beautiful setting on or near the promenade.
If you can afford it, or can get a good deal, this would be a convenient place to stay in Naples, but if not, cheaper accommodation is easy to find in town, which is a very short walk away.
5. Lungomare Caracciolo, good place to stay in Naples for everyone
The lungomare (seafront) extends along the coastline of Naples, and is easily reached on foot, or by bus and metro. Eateries and cafés crowd its three kilometres, so a pleasant stroll can turn into a day out.
Starting at the much-loved church of Santa Lucia a Mare (mare meaning sea), head for Castel dell’Ovo (Egg Castle in English) on its connected island, for atmospheric views of Vesuvius. Fireworks explode from here on New Year’s Eve, and an outdoor disco celebrates on the lungomare.
The pretty marina of Santa Lucia offers good-quality restaurants and bars, while the local port of Mergellina, also a departure point for the islands near Naples, provides picture-postcard scenes of Mount Vesuvius, Capri and Ischia.
Fishermen stop to sell their freshly-caught fish, and if it’s Sunday, there may be an antiques fair, too.
Upmarket hotels predominate anywhere along the Lungomare Caracciolo, so treat yourself if you can. Otherwise, you might prefer to stay in Naples itself with a more economical option.
6. Chiaia, upscale, trendy and the best shopping
Not far from Mergellina, Chiaia is the place to see and be seen, particularly during the passegiata. Chiaia is an upscale and trendy neighbourhood with the city’s best shopping, designer boutiques and fashion stores stand next to smart restaurants and bars.
Pedestrianised Via Chiaia continues the affluent vibe with the sixteenth-century Palazzo Cellamare, which can count Casanova, Goethe, and Bourbon royalty among past guests.
The Villa Comunale, a large palm-lined park with stunning fountains and that essential playground, is suited to family fun, and children will also insist on visiting the Aquarium Dohrn, one of Europe’s oldest aquariums.
Within its grounds stands the Casina Pompeiana, erected in 1870, and now used for exhibitions and events. The park itself was created in 1780 by Ferdinand IV.
The nearby Villa Pignatelli dates from 1826, and boasts a fine display of period furniture and porcelain, together with some rather dashing nineteenth and twentieth-century carriages (in the Museo delle Carrozze next door), and also puts on temporary photographic shows.
Some hotels here stick at the higher end of the price scale, but there are also some surprisingly reasonable tariffs, so if you crave a seafront location and beaches when you stay in Naples, check out Chiaia.
7. Vomero, where to stay in Naples for nightlife
Located in a hilly part of the city, Vomero is an upper middle class neighborhood. From there, you will get amazing views over the Historic Centre, the Gulf of Naples and the Vesuvius.
Get away from the busy city to this hilltop district, reached by funicular railway. Relax in a café and admire the views, or try one of the famous Neapolitan ice creams at a gelateria – gelato (ice cream) is a must-know word!
Shop at the stores of Piazza Vanvitelli, or head to the medieval fortress of Castel Sant’Elmo for more incredible vistas.
Sports fans will be keen to catch a game of football or rugby at the Stadio Arturo Collana, home ground to Internapoli. If they can’t get tickets, they can drop in at one of the sports bars which display scarves in the colours of various teams, and serve a selection of beers.
Call in at the former monastery that now houses the Certosa e Museo di San Martino, with its paintings, sculptures and frescoes. Its church boasts some beautiful artworks, and exquisite inlaid marble by Cosimo Fanzago, who also worked on the two cloisters.
The Sezione Navale covers Bourbon naval history, complemented by some royal barges, just a section of the treasures in this fascinating complex.
The oldest part of Vomero is Antignano, which goes back to Roman times. Its architectural styles are mixed, and it’s a pleasant district to wander around.
Or make for the greenery of Villa Floridiana, which was a wedding gift to the Duchess of Florida from her husband King Ferdinand. The gardens are a treat, and the building itself is now a ceramics museum.
Chocoholics will love Chocoland, the artisan chocolate fair that usually takes place at the end of October. Admission is free, and every year has a different theme.
During day time you will have a lot to do. At night you will not get bored. Vomero offers a hectic nightlife.
If you decide to stay in Naples in the elegant district of Vomero, you can be sure of affordable hotel and apartment prices in good quality accommodation.
8. Posillipo, for an upper class experience
Posillipo, located in a southern area of Naples, is a wealthy neighborhood. It has some beautiful rocky beaches, some good restaurants and some upper class nightlife.
Perched on a hillside rich with greenery, Posillipo was once called Pausilypon, which means respite from worry in ancient Greek, and that sums up its two-thousand-plus years of existence.
The Romans settled here in the first century AD, erecting affluent villas that faced the Bay of Naples and the island of Capri, a life-style that continues today.
The terraces of the popular public park of Parco Virgiliano give perfect views of the sparkling sea, stunning coastline, and little bays. Its grounds offer play and sports facilities, an amphitheatre and a fountain.
Around the park’s entrance, shaded by a line of pine trees, the Posillipo Market sets out its stalls on Thursdays, selling everything from designer clothing to household fabrics.
See what life was like for earlier residents of Posillipo with a look at what’s left of a Roman villa, baths and an amphitheatre at Pausilypon Archaeological Park, or view submerged buildings through the glass bottom of a boat at Gaiola Underwater Park.
The artist J M W Turner sketched the beachside “Villas at Posillipo, Naples, including the Palazzo Donn’Anna and Palazzo della Rocella” in 1819. Close to the Palazzo Donn’Anna, Villa Emma was owned by Sir William Hamilton, British ambassador to the King of Naples.
The small casino was named after his wife Emma Hamilton, muse of portrait painter George Romney, mistress of Admiral Lord Nelson, and a formidable woman in her own right.
In summer, Posillipo’s ancient theatre on the cliffs hosts wonderfully-atmospheric concerts and plays against the setting sun. If you visit at the opposite end of the year, you can browse the Christmas Market, one of several events raising money for local charities.
If you’d prefer a more residential environment, opt for Posillipo. Hotels are more expensive, but you may consider a view of Vesuvius from your balcony to be worth paying for. If you’re on a budget, look for something cheaper elsewhere, but do take the bus to visit this peaceful place during your stay in Naples.
9. Naples Central Station, where to stay in Naples if you are travelling by train
Located next to the Centro Storico, Napoli Centrale is a great area where to stay in Naples if you are planning to travel by train.
The Central Station is one of the stops for local trains, and the main one for Trenitalia national lines. Catch the privately-run Circumvesuviana (the name is a giveaway) for Pompeii (alight at Pompeii Scavi), Herculaneum (Ercolano) and Sorrento.
Visits to Pompeii and Herculaneum, and Sorrento on the achingly-beautiful Amalfi Coast, are a must during any stay in Naples, with the chance to travel on from Sorrento to other gems such as Amalfi and Positano by bus, car or taxi.
In the summer, music fans can travel on by local transport to any of the regional music events, such as September’s Ethnos showcasing world music. In the same month, film buffs can catch the Napoli Film Festival, which is centred on the Institut Français, not far from the station.
The nearest sight of interest is the Porta Capuana, which is within easy reach on foot. One of the gateways of the old city walls, you’ll find it in Piazza San Francesco a Capuana. Close to it in Piazza Garibaldi, the sixteenth-century church of Santa Caterina a Formiello contains some fine paintings and some relics.
Being a transport hub, it’s very convenient for a one-night stay in Naples before travelling on. Airport shuttles buses stop here, but to get around locally, there are buses, trams and the Metro.
Although this involves various companies, they are overseen and regulated by Unico Campania, which operates throughout Campania.
As the main arrival and departure point for locals and tourists, the square outside the station, Piazza Garibaldi, is always crowded and noisy, with a jumble of little shops and snack bars. In this environment, it’s especially important to watch your belongings.
In addition, some would consider it more run-down here, as areas around stations often are, but it’s a good spot for small hotels and guest houses. Backpackers will be pleased to know that there is at least one hostel in the vicinity.
If you want to stay in Naples for longer, you might prefer a more peaceful location.
There are some useful schemes to make your money go further. The Campania Artecard covers museum access and transport for varying lengths of time, while the Tutta la Regione card works over a wider area, and the Naples Pass allows you entry to more than a hundred attractions.
Make the most of your stay in Naples and the region with one of these, or simply embrace the Neapolitan lifestyle!