Whenever I read that people should use a town like Sorrento as their home base and include Naples only as a day-trip, I get a little uppity. Yes, Sorrento is pretty and arguably more clean and tourist-friendly than Naples, but Naples is so much more real – at least to me. The truth is that for some people a day-trip into Naples from Sorrento will be all they can handle – and that’s fine. For anyone looking to get to know Naples a little better, however, making Naples your home base and taking day trips to nearby towns and attractions is a wonderful alternative.
Having professed my love of Naples, however, I do think that getting out of the city for a day (or a couple, depending on how long you’re staying) is a good idea. One of Italy’s most visited attractions is a good day trip from Naples, and you don’t have to go very far to end up in a town that feels completely different from Naples – which is a good way to add variety to your trip. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the day trips from Naples, but it’s a list of the most popular ones. If there’s a day trip destination that you think should be on this list but isn’t, please leave a comment below!
Did you know you can book discounted shore excursions in Naples without going through the cruise line? And that they’ll guarantee to have you back at the ship in time for depature? Find out more: Discount Shore Excursions from Naples
Day Trips from Naples
- Pompeii – A good percentage of the people who make Naples a home base do so because it’s such a good jumping-off point for a visit to Pompeii. It’s one of Italy’s most popular tourist sites, and you can see it as part of an organized tour (many depart from Naples) or you can do a DIY tour.
- Herculaneum – Pompeii wasn’t the only city wiped out by Mount Vesuvius, but it’s much more famous than nearby Herculaneum. Still, some people prefer Herculaneum as it’s smaller, less crowded, and has a bit more of what’s been excavated still on site (as opposed to in a museum somewhere else). You can combine this with a Pompeii visit, if you plan well and are ready for a long day.
- Amalfi Coast – The Amalfi Coast is one of the parts of Italy that repeatedly shows up in stunning photographs; the towns of Positano, Ravello, and Amalfi itself are incredibly picturesque – and tend to be expensive. Touring a few of the towns on the Amalfi Coast as a day trip from Naples could save you quite a bit on hotel costs. (If you can’t tear yourself away, consider these hotels in Positano and hostels in Positano.)
- Sorrento – Sorrento isn’t technically part of the Amalfi Coast, but it’s sort of the mid-point between Naples and the Amalfi and makes a really easy day trip from Naples. It’s fairly small, so it makes for a leisurely long day or can be combined with a stop at an island or two if you like. (Here’s some information on how to get from Naples to Sorrento, some cheap hotels in Sorrento, and some hostels in Sorrento if you decide to spend the night.)
- Islands in the Bay of Naples – There are three major islands just off the coast that are popular day trips from Naples – Capri, Ischia, and Procida. Capri (pronounced KAH|pree) is fairly close to Sorrento, Ischia (EES|kee|yah) is the largest, and Procida (PRO|chee|dah) is the least visited.
- Mount Vesuvius – For an up-close-and-personal look at the volcano that caused all that legendary destruction back in 79 AD, look no further than a day trip to Mount Vesuvius. The mountain looms over the city of Naples, and you can go on an organized day hike up the mountain or take a bus most of the way up and then climb the remaining distance on the trail to the crater.
- Greek Ruins – Had enough of Roman ruins in Italy? Then take a day trip or two to explore the Greek ruins near Naples. Paestum has some amazingly well-preserved Greek temples dating from the 6th century BCE, and the site is still being excavated. Another former Greek city that’s still being excavated is Cumae, and those ruins date back to the 8th century BCE.
- Phlegraean Fields – The Phlegraean Fields, or Campi Flegrei in Italian, is what’s left after the collapse of ancient volcano. Although the former crater is mostly underwater, some of the visible parts are other-worldly (pock-marked craters in the earth, hissing sulfur vents, and steaming mud pits) and fairly easy to visit. You can walk to the Phlegraean Fields from the bus station at Pozzuoli.
- Caserta – The Royal Palace at Caserta is the main draw here, although the estate the palace sits on provides some lovely views as well. The palace dates from the 18th century and is sometimes considered to be the Italian Versailles (partly because of the gardens).
- Pozzuoli – Pozzuoli is often a stop either going to or returning from a visit to the Phlegraean Fields, but if you’re looking for something to linger over while you’re there there’s a Roman amphitheatre to peek at near the train station. And soak up some of that diva energy, since this is the town that gave birth to Sophia Loren.
- Rome – The high-speed trains in Italy have made the trip from Naples to Rome a speedy one hour and 15 minute trip, which means Rome is a do-able day trip from Naples. The trouble is that there’s no way to “do” Rome in a day. But I’ll leave the impossible task of narrowing all the things to do in Rome down into the space of one day to you. Good luck.
Procida photo by Porfirio