You can view all posts from my trip to Italy here.
Naples was my last stop on my tour of Italy with my friends! I wish we could have ended it on a high note, but our day in Naples was the worst experience we had the entire trip. I thought I would do a post on what not to do in Naples so you don’t have the same terrible experiences we did!
Naples was ROUGH. It was the only place in Italy where I felt unsafe, and it was my least favorite place in Italy. I wasn’t a fan of Verona or Venice because I thought they were overrated, but Naples was on a completely different spectrum. I had heard that a lot of people don’t like Naples, but I wasn’t quite expecting this.
In summary, men yelled at us and stared at us the whole day (even though we were dressed modestly), I was told by locals to carry my backpack in front of me or I would definitely be robbed, Stephanie was swarmed by children who tried to steal her bag, taxis kept trying to run us over when we had the right-of-way, a motorcycle almost fell on top of Stephanie on a pedestrian street, and to top it off, a dead pigeon fell from the sky and almost hit Morgan in the head. Nope, I’m not making any of that up or exaggerating. And I don’t know where the dead bird came from or how it died. Every place we went seemed more rundown and grungy than any other place we visited in Italy, even though we walked pretty far into town trying to find nicer areas. After seeing beautiful, romantic cities like Florence and Bassano del Grappa, Naples was quite the change of pace. Remember the awful experience we had on the Circumvesuviana train at Naples to go to the Amalfi Coast? The places we went to in Naples were like that but on steroids.
Out of the awful day we had dodging dead birds and avoiding men and groups of thieving children, there were only two good experiences we had. I’m sure there are better ways to visit Naples and you should definitely do your research before you go, so I hope you can learn from my terrible experience what not to do in Naples and have a better time there!
Head’s up: I took quite a few pictures (and some of these are Stephanie’s), but I didn’t take pictures of the roughest areas or where there were streets full of men selling cheap purses trying to push their items on every person because I felt uncomfortable having my camera draw attention to me. So know that even these photos don’t do the worst of my experience justice.
Photo by Stephanie
Photo by Stephanie
So the main reason we went to Naples is because it was our stop from our train from the Amalfi Coast and our flight back to Venice, and we had a lot of time to kill so we wanted to visit the famous Christmas Alley on Via San Gregorio Armeno. We walked from the train station to Via San Gregorio Armeno, which is about a 25 minute walk. The walk over there was pretty rough, but Christmas Alley felt pretty safe, other than motorcycles driving down the pedestrian street and one falling on top of Stephanie.
Photo by Stephanie
Photo by Stephanie
Remember how I said we only had two good experiences in Naples? One of them was at the Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore near the Nativity markets. It’s a beautiful church, but the coolest part is underground where they’ve excavated a Roman city. And you actually get to go underground and walk around in the city! The church sits on top of the city, and it was really interesting to see how modern cities have been built over historical ones. It was a pretty awesome experience, and there weren’t many tourists there at all.
Photo by Stephanie
Photo by Stephanie
Photo by Stephanie
Photo by Stephanie
Photo by Stephanie
We didn’t go on a tour, but they had signs saying what some of the areas are, including a market and a laundry room. After walking through the city, we went up to the museum to learn more about the area and the church.
After visiting Basilica di San Lorenzo Maggiore, we walked around some more and set out to find some pizza because you can’t go to Naples without getting some pizza.
We got pizza at Pizzeria Donna Sofia, and we hadn’t done much research to find a pizza place but they’re all over the place in Naples so we just stopped in one that looked good. For just picking a restaurant at random, it was pretty good! It wasn’t the best pizza of my life, but it’s a good place if you’re just looking for a quick bite at an inexpensive place.
The second good experience we had in Naples was at a pastry shop called Cuori Di Sfogliatella, which is conveniently located across the street from the train station. The one thing I wanted to do in Naples was get a sfogliatella because Naples is known for them. They’re called the “lobster tail” pastry and Matt (who is Italian American) introduced me to them a few years ago (if you’re in Philly, you can get them near the Italian market at Isgro, the oldest family owned pastry shop in Philly!). All the sfogliatella we tried were delicious, and my favorite was the chocolate!
To end our horrible day in Naples, we had an awful experience with our airline! We finally made it back to Venice for our flight home in (mostly) one piece, and we spent the night at Venice Resort (one of my favorite places that we stayed!) and had dinner at Ai do Fogheri.
I hope this post on what not to do in Naples helps! I’m not sure if we just went to the wrong areas and didn’t spend enough time in Naples so we didn’t get to really experience the area (like what happened in Verona) or if all of Naples is like what we experienced. So if you do go to Naples, try to avoid all the awful experiences we had. Make sure you do your research on where to go so you don’t feel unsafe, carry a secure bag and keep your valuables hidden, look out for crazy taxis and motorcycles, and keep an eye out for dead pigeons falling from the sky, and hopefully, you’ll have a better time in Naples than I did!
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I’ve often heard Naples is a little rough around the edges, so thank you for sharing a candid review of your visit.
I think it could still be worth visiting, you just need to be extra careful with planning!
I’m so sorry you had this experience! Naples is one of my favourite places ever, I’ve spent so much time there over the years. I think there are certainly rougher parts of the city, but also some really beautiful areas like the historic quarter or the Spanish quarter. It’s also a great base to explore the Campania region – I’d recommend day trips to Pompeii and Herculaneum or up Vesuvius!
Hope the rest of your trip was good though!
Yeah I think we just ended up walking through some of the rougher places and it was very uncomfortable! I would definitely plan my next visit out better next time to see the nicer areas.
Funny Julia but I have heard this about Naples. I am sure the place is enjoyable too yet have learned that some cities tend to carry a charged energy leading to uncomfortable experiences.
Yes very true!
Being to naples three times what a amazing city. Never had an ounce of trouble there. Great location for almalfi Coast, pompeii herculaneum. The city it self is full of things to do one day dose not do it any justice, you need time to explore this fascinating city and as I have always found a very safe city. So if you get the opportunity to go again do, your missing out on a great experience. Dave
There is a lot to do in Naples so I would like to see more of the city! However, most of my audience are female and as a woman, there were many times that men made my friends and me uncomfortable and yelled things at us, so I wanted to warn other women about how it may not be the safest or most comfortable travel destination for women.
Such amazing pics! Thanks for sharing this post 🙂
What a pity you had a bad experience in Napoli. I hope you have an opportunity to return because our time in the city was totally different. Naples isn’t a “pretty” city by Italian standards but it is historic and has some great places to visit. I’ll agree, that like many European cities, the area near the main railway station is sleazy but venture further afield and it gets better. Via Toledo is the main shopping street. it’s mostly pedestrian only and has armed security scattered throughout it’s length. Near the top of the hill is the National Archaeological Museum that is well worth a visit as is a funicular ride up to Castel Sant’Elmo. Piazza Plebicito, the Palazzo Reale and the national library are also all worth a visit.
For us, the best part about Naples was the people. My wife was unlucky enough to have an accident at one of the metro stations and ended up in hospital. The local people – our Airbnb host, other patients visitors and most of the hospital staff – were really friendly and helpful. They say that if you make a friend in Naples you become one of their family and we can attest to this.
I really hope that people reading this blog don’t get put off by all the negative comments. Many of the problems mentioned are not unique to Naples but can occur in any large city. You just need to take normal precautions.
PS: totally agree with your comment about the sfogliatella – yum.
I’m glad to hear you had a nice time in Naples! I wish I had done more research before going so we could have had a better time there.
I really didn’t like Naples either. So much of it felt dirty, grungy and unsafe. I was constantly leered at and propositioned (even dressed modestly and travelling with a male), it was impossible to cross the street without nearly being run down, and a creepy guy tried to steal my friend’s wallet. No dead pigeons, though!
Perhaps it didn’t help that we happened to be there over the Easter weekend so much of the city was closed. It seemed like a lot of the locals were away and the only people left besides tourists were scalpers and dodgy scammers.
I know people who LOVED Naples so maybe we were just unlucky or picked a bad part of town to stay in.
I’ve been hearing from so many people that they had a similar experience in Naples! Hopefully there are nicer areas there!
Actually I’d never go to Naples! They say it’s a beautiful city but I prefer going to the countryside and mountain areas with small towns and villages where everything is safer and nicer.
Yes I love visiting smaller towns, too! The small villages in Tuscany were some of my favorites.
Each and every photo featured on your blog just blows my mind!???? They’re gorgeous.
I’ve heard a lot about Naples, and this post was brilliantly written, as per usual…!
http://www.beautynbrushes.co.uk ???? ????
I felt the same way about Naples! It is where my Great-Grandma is from so I made a special stop there en route to Rome. Agree with your point that the pizza is really good, but it is just as good in Rome and Venice. I was disappointed that it felt so much like New York City, but still glad I went to see where my Great-Grandma was from. She was a tough lady, so seeing Naples explained a lot 😉
That’s great that you got to see where your family came from! Yes I can see why she was so tough!
Oh, no! I’m so sorry you had such a rough go of it in Naples! We also flew into Naples on our way to the Amalfi Coast, but didn’t see more of the city than what we could see out of our taxi window from the airport to the train station. I’m about to go read your experience on the Circumvesuviana train as soon as I finish this comment. We had no issues at all with the train and used it many times while we were in Italy, but that was back in 2015, so I’m curious if it’s changed!
Despite the terrible experience, you and your friend actually did come away with some rather lovely pictures! I’m glad at least the food was good and a couple of the sites you visited weren’t a total disappointment. I have heard similar tales from other travelers about Naples. One of my friends even had her rental car stolen while she was there. So scary!
Yes I’ve been hearing more and more horror stories from people about Naples since I posted this! It’s probably a good idea that you didn’t visit!
It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t overly enamored by Naples.
Yes I’ve been hearing from so many people that they had similar experiences!
I appreciate your honesty and openness of everything that happened and I cannot even imagine how stressful that was. I’ve never been to Naples before!
I hope this post helps if you ever go!
Okay that dead pigeon falling from the sky thing is just bloody awful, and so unlucky! I’m scared of birds so I’d literally run for the hills if that happened to me. So sorry to hear you really didn’t enjoy your Naples experience either! I’ve been to Naples twice and both times we were warned about how unsafe it was etc etc, but both times we found it to be absolutely fine! I don’t know if it’s because I’m from an Italian background or if it was pot luck, but personally I felt way safer in Naples than I have just walking around some of the Melbournian suburbs :p
Julia // The Sunday Mode
I’m glad you enjoyed it! I think we didn’t do enough research and didn’t go to the nicer parts of town, so I’ll have to plan out my trip better next time!
Naples is a dreadful place and best avoided totally. We like you had to change trains for the Amalfi Coast and we were appalled – children begging and even fighting over a cigarette end that their father gave them !??! We will never go again and did not feel safe at all – ironically we were scammed in Rome (where we did feel safe!)
Wow, that sounds like a crazy experience!! I’m glad you got out safely!
That totally sucks that you had a bad time. I mean, Naples looks absolutely beautiful, but if you didn’t feel comfortable and it left a bad taste in your mouth, then that puts a damper on things.
Yes parts of it were beautiful! But I’m not dying to go back anytime soon.
I’m sorry to hear you didn’t have the best time. I haven’t been to Naples, but was hoping to go to southern Italy this summer. I guess I might need to look at my options.
If you go, the Amalfi Coast is a great place to visit!
What a shame! Italy is one of my favourite countries, though I haven’t been to Naples. I’m terrified of birds so a dead pigeon would end me ???? thous pastries look delicious though!
Yes the pastries did make the day better!!
We had a similar unnerving experience in Naples, but Your photos are so very beautiful that I don’t think it’ll put me off- I like how you made it into a positive, I will go back to Naples and try again!
Refreshing to read an honest appraisal of a location. I prefer smaller towns in Italy myself. At least you were not planning a multi-day visit in Naples.
Yes I’m glad I didn’t plan to spend much time there!
Sorry about your experience. We did a Mediterranean cruise and made a stop at Naples. We didn’t have to roam the streets on our own. That would’ve been scary.
I’m glad you got to see at least a glimpse of the city!
Wow it sounds like you guys had quite the misadventure in Naples! I think I felt the same time about our stay in Rome (mostly the hotel). We might have stayed in a different part of Naples (close to Castel Dell’Ovo) so thankfully we didn’t experience any of the horrors you guys did! What was your favorite part of your trip to Italy? Mine was probably the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre.
I’m glad you had a better time there! I loved the Amalfi Coast, too! And I really enjoyed going to Bassano del Grappa to visit a smaller town.
I also heard not so good things about Neaples, that it is quite dirty and unsafe as you get away from the central squares. But would still be curious about it, I’m sure there are also many interesting places to check, it has after all a rich history as you also highlighted.
Yes I did love the historical parts!
holy cow! sounds like quite the trip. definitely a good title to catch my attention (and i’m sure anybody else’s for that matter haha) though naples wasn’t the best, you and Stephanie did seem to catch the beauty of the city! the photos are absolutely stunning. i’m glad you kept your camera out of sight most of the time so little kids didn’t steal it and you were able to share these images. xx – c
My family is actually from Naples. I have heard so many of the statements you have made so I appreciate you sharing this experience because it has happened to others so better to be honest about your experience 🙂
That’s cool that your family is from there! If you ever get to visit, I hope this post helps!
Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry to hear about your crazy experience in Naples! It’s definitely good to have this heads up before planning a trip over there!
I hope this post helps if you ever go there!
I went to Naples in 2001 and I loved it, even though it was the grittiest city I visited in Italy. At least it gave you some dramatic stories to share!!
Gritty is a good word for it! I’m glad you liked it!
Thanks for the honest post! Funnily enough, I’m going to Naples with two friends in March – and even after reading this, I’m still really looking forward to it!
What’s interesting to see in all the things that happened to you is, maybe, the difference from a Western European person versus yours as an American. Thus I’m really not surprised about the taxis and motorcycles or the catcalling, I am more so about the children who harassed your friend, however no surprise about children thieves in themselves – even in Paris, I see so many of them. It’s a lot more frequent that we’d think.
Naples is a rough city, it’s a poor city, and clearly not the prettiest! But I’m hoping to avoid unsafe areas as you said, and have time to see all the wonderful cultural side of Naples – especially Pompeii, I can’t wait to go back there it’s a beautiful place!
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I hope you have a great time there! I think I would have enjoyed it more if we had done more research, and didn’t have to dodge dead pigeons haha! I also wish we had time to go to Pompeii because I’ve heard it’s incredible to see. I have been to more “rough” parts of cities before, but Naples has been the worse so far so I hope you stay safe and have a good time there!
Wow. Thanks for the heads up. I’d not heard anything like this about Naples so it’s always good to have the most information you can while traveling.
I hope my advice helps!