The Best Day Trips you can do from Naples
While there is plenty to see and do in Naples itself, there are also a number of great day trips that you can do as well.
The Campania Region of Italy covers a decent amount of ground, as well as some incredible destinations and sites.
In one day alone I was able to visit Herculaneum in the morning, was at Pompeii for the afternoon and had dinner overlooking the bay at Sorrento. All without rushing and at my own pace. I could have fit Mount Vesuvius as well but it was a cloudy day, which meant we wouldn’t be able to see anything from the top.
Whether by bus, train, ferry or car, here are the best places to visit while you stay in Naples…
Pompeii, Herculaneum and Sorrento are all reachable by the same train line – the Circumvesuviana Line from Napoli Piazza Garibaldi Station.
Pompeii suffered a much more prolonged attack from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD, which also allowed many of the residents to escape.
Between pumice rain, lava, fire and ash the city of Pompeii was both destroyed and preserved. Lack of care from many previous excavations has meant the site has sustained some damage. But the size of the city, and that it wasn’t buried under a new city, meant that excavations are significantly more extensive. Pompeii is huge!
You can download the tour guide and listen as you walk through the site at your own pace, or join an organised tour. Either way, it is easy to spend an afternoon walking through this ghost of a city and seeing how people lived long before we did.
It is a truly strange feeling walking along stones paths that were laid down thousands of years before us…
Like Pompeii, Herculaneum (Ercolano) was also buried under the volcanic explosion of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. However, the way they were buried differs, and that is part of why it is worth seeing both sites.
Herculanuem was buried almost instantaneously by mainly pyroclastic material. This carbonised and thus preserved organic material such as wood, paint, food and papyrus. The site was also buried so deeply that looters were not able to rob it until it was officially discovered in 1709. As a result, the entire site is much better preserved then Pompeii.
To get to Herculaneum, get out at Ercolano station and walk straight down towards the water. There is a gate to go through, but the ticket office and official park entrance is at the end of the walkway (keep going straight!).
Most tourists skip Ercolano and go straight to Pompeii, but after spending hours at both sites I found that I preferred Herculaneum. Being more sheltered (the site is in a giant open air pit), you can’t help but feel more surrounded by history. The colours from the paint and tiles are still bright, and the architecture is better preserved. It is impossible to describe the eerie stillness I felt when hiding in one of tunnels after it started raining.
While it will be impossible to completely excavate Herculaneum, as the current town of Ercolano sits right above it, what they have excavated is incredible.
3. Mount Vesuvius
A part of a string of active, dormant and extinct volcanoes around the Campania region, Mount Vesuvius last erupted in 1944.
Which makes it surprising that it is surrounded by urban development and a thriving tourism industry! But no matter how many times local villages and towns have been destroyed in the past by this volcano, people keep coming back and rebuilding.
There is a thriving tourism trade just for the volcano. You can actually hike to the top of it, you won’t find lava but there is some steam. Just keep in mind that it is a steep climb and will take you about 30 minutes to an hour to walk up depending how fast you walk. But if the weather is clear, the views you will find from the top are well worth the hike.
At the end of the Circumvesuviana Line is the small resort town of Sorrento. Filled with beautiful tree lined cobble stoned streets, small shops with local craft shops filled with lemon candies and marquetry, and luxurious hotels, it is the complete opposite of Naples.
Wonder through the town to the cliff edges and you will find yourself with a view that is absolutely stunning. Look down to small ports at the base of the cliffs and out towards the coast of Naples and the island of Capri and Mount Vesuvius.
Make sure to try some of the locally produced Limoncello while you are there.
There are ferries and hydrofoils connecting Sorrento to Naples and the Island of Capri, making it easy to continue your explorations.
5. Amalfi Coast
Similar to Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast is a collection of towns and villages along an absolutely stunning coastline. No matter where you stop along the way, there will be a landscape to take your breath away.
The entire Amalfi Coast is a UNESCO Heritage protected site, and the towns of Positano, Ravello, Maiori, Minori and Vietri sul mare (and more) all have something different to offer along this coastline. Even the centre of Amalfi has a magnificent Cathedral and plenty of small shops to wonder through.
The entire area feels like it is straight from a classic movie scene, with each village clinging to the mountainsides that look straight out to the stunning blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
You can get to Amalfi by a bus from Sorrento, car hire or private tour.
Positano is a destination in its own right, known for its village where the houses seem to lead straight down the steep cliff to the port and beach below. A popular destination for the rich and famous, the wide umbrellas in neat rows on the sandy beach will be instantly recognisable…
Take in the sun, explore the town and enjoy some fresh seafood with local limoncello while you are there.
Another jewel along the Amalfi coast, Ravello is a little harder to get to as it is in the hills above Amalfi. Known for its gorgeous gardens, vineyards and stunning vistas, you can pay to access the gardens of Villa Rufolo (the historic centre of Ravello, and one of the oldest and expensive villas in the Amalfi) and gaze across the Tyrrhenian Sea while standing amongst flowers.
Try a something different and take a private tour of the Amalfi coast on a vintage Vespa. Your guide will take from all the way from Positano to Ravello, Amalfi and Atrani, with plenty of breaks for local food, photo ops and exploring.
8. Capri Island
A short boat ride from Naples is the isle of Capri. A location that began life as a resort back in Roman times, it has been on the bucket list of tourists for centuries.
The stunning beaches, underwater cave known as the Blue Grotto and the Arco Naturale make this an exceptional destination. Take the funicular up into the town and walk through a park that was once an Emperor’s garden.
While not the cheapest of destinations, it is well worth spending a day here relaxing and hiding from the world.
9. Ischia Island
Capri’s bigger sister might not have the reputation that Capri does, but it is well worth a visit for its hot thermal springs, beautiful hiking trails and plentiful swimming spots.
Thanks to the volcanic soil (don’t worry it is extinct!) Ischia is known for its vineyards, and it is worth sampling some of the local wines while you are here. And don’t forget to visit the grand Aragonese castle at the top.
Ischia is the polar opposite of Capri, so feel free to relax and enjoy everything as is.
10. Procida Island
The oldest and smallest of the Phlegraen Islands in the Bay of Naples, Procida Island is charming and everything you picture when you imagine an authentic Italian village.
From the small fishing port, bright multicoloured houses, small churches and unaffected by the hordes of tourists that flock to the bigger islands. Take the time to explore this town on foot and remember to wear comfortable shoes. This is not the place to flash about but to slow down and appreciate the Italian lifestyle.
11. Pontine Island
A little out of the way but still doable in a day is the Isola Pontine, or the Pontine Islands. Accessible only by ferry and perfect for that off the beaten track experience (due to the lack of international tourists).
Sometimes described as the Italian Hamptons, due to the tendency of well-off locals escaping to this town on weekends and holidays, it has a long and interesting history with artefacts found from as far back as the Neolithic age.
It has plenty of ancient archaeological sites, caves hidden at bases of cliffs and plenty of swimming spots.
Paestum, an ancient Greek trading port once call Poseidonia after the Greek God of the Sea, which dates back to the 6th Century BC. If you love your history then this is a must see destination which in Naples.
Paestum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is easily accessible by car and train from Naples, Pompeii and Salerno. There are 3 temples on the site, dedicated to Hera, Athena and Neptune, which sit on the remains of an ancient Greek agora. Surrounding the agora are massive stone walls with 24 watchtowers in a pentagonal shaped perimeter. What is incredible is how much is still standing!
Along with the temples, you will find remains from the ancient Romans as well. A forum, Greek theatre, amphitheatre (used for Gladiators), gymnasium and more are all part of this open air museum. There is also the only remaining example of ancient Greek paining, a fresco which dates back to 480BC.
When you are done exploring just head down towards the sandy beaches, and relax at the local town.
13. The Royal Palace of Caserta (Reggia di Caserta)
Considered the Italian Versailles, Reggia di Caserta is the largest royal residence in the world. This palace is huge (47,000 square miles), so wear your comfortable shoes!
The construction of the palace alone took 95 years to complete, ordered by Charles of Bourbon who envisioned it as the new centre of the Kingdom of Naples. Inspired by Baroque style of the time, this Palace was designed not just as a residence but also as the focus of the area – the aqueducts served not just the palace but the surrounding areas as well.
From the Palatine Chapel, Hall of the Throne (make sure to look at the ceiling frescoes), Quadreria with its 11 rooms of paintings and art works from classic and modern artists, to the park with its large collection of fountains and gardens. There are two large gardens (Italian and English) – the English Garden is considered to be one of the finest in all of Europe.
14. The Phlegraean Fields (Campi Flegrei)
For those that prefer getting out in nature, the Phlegraean Fields west of Naples, is a large super volcano which first erupted some 39,000 years ago. Declared a regional park in 2003, the area includes 24 craters, fumeroles, mud pools and volcanic edifices.
The area was once known as Baiae, and was a very fashionable resort town frequented by Julius Caesar, Nero and Hadrian. Unfortunately most of Baiae is now underwater due to volcanic activity which sunk the ground.
Here you will find the Solfatara Volcano, which was once believed to the entrance to the Underworld. Along with the Fangia, the Bocca Grande (main fumerole), and old “Stufe” (natural sauna) and the Pozzo of mineral water.
While here, make sure to visit the Archaeological Museum of the Campi Felegrei, which is located in the Aragonese Castle in Baia, which houses some of the findings from the area including gypsum casts which were used to make marble statues.
This is by no means a definitive list, so please let me know if I have missed anywhere!