Naples makes a great base for exploring the Bay of Naples and other interesting parts of the Campania region. There are several good public transportation options from Naples so getting places is fairly easy. You can explore the Bay of Naples and other destinations in Campania easily by car, but you probably won't want to drive in Naples.
Traveling from Naples on the Circumvesuviana Train
The Circumvesuviana train (Ferrovia Circumvesuviana) is a privately operated train line that runs from Naples to Sorrento. The train frequently runs (but not late at night) and is inexpensive. To catch the Circumvesuviana go to Naples Central Station and go downstairs or you can catch it the station at Corso Garibaldi. Here are day trips you can take using the Circumvesuviana, Naples to Sorrento line.
- Herculaneum (Ercolano) is a town that was destroyed, along with Pompeii, in the 79AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The site is much smaller than Pompeii. Get off the train at Ercolano Scavi (Scavi means excavations). Follow the street in front of the station to the excavations, a ten-minute walk.
- Mount Vesuvius or Vesuvio, the volcano near Naples, is an interesting place to explore. To reach Vesuvio, get off the train at Ercolano station where you can catch a Compagnia Trasporti Vesuviani bus outside the station.
- Pompeii was a thriving, wealthy city that was buried by an eruption of Vesuvio in 79AD. Excavations of the site have been ongoing for a few hundred years, so there is a lot to see, and you'll be doing a lot of walking. To reach the excavations, get off the train at Pompeii Scavi. You can also take a SITA bus from Piazza Esedra in Naples.
- Castellammare di Stabia is a seaside town on the Bay of Naples with a castle and good seafood restaurants. It makes a good place to stay if you're visiting other places on the Circumvesuviana train line, but you don't want to stay in Naples.
- Sorrento is a popular seaside resort on the Amalfi peninsula and the end of the train line. Sorrento is well connected to Amalfi Coast towns and the archaeological sites of Campania and can also be reached by bus or ferry from Naples.
Traveling From Naples on the Cumana and Circumflegrea trains
The Ferrovia Cumana and Circumflegrea train (Ferrovia Circumflegrea) are part of a privately operated train line serving the western part of the Bay of Naples. The trains leave Naples at the Piazza Montesanto station and both end at Torregaveta. Here's where you can go on the Cumana and Circumflegrea train lines:
- Pozzuoli, the birthplace of Sophia Loren, was once the main port of Italy. The amphitheater, not far from the train station, was the third largest in the Roman world. There are also foundations of an ancient marketplace at Piazza Serapide, near the harbor. Unfortunately, much of the old city has been destroyed by a series of earthquakes.
- Solfatara is the town closest to the Phlegrean Fields (Campi Flegrei), an interesting landscape dotted with sulfur gas vents and bubbling mud pits, made by the crater of a collapsed volcano. You can reach the Phlegrean Fields by a 25-minute uphill walk from the Pozzuoli station or take bus 152 from Naples.
- Baia was the pleasure playground of the bay during ancient times. Lots of rich Romans had villas in Baia with a view of the sea. The remains of the imperial villa can be visited at the Parco Archeologico daily except Tuesdays. The ruins include Roman baths for the wealthy that were probably the largest in the ancient world. Baia also has a castle with fantastic views and an archaeological museum. Most of Baia is now underwater and can be viewed on a glass-bottom boat excursion on summer weekends.
- Cumae was a Greek city and is now an archaeological site near the city of Cuma. It was one of the first Greek settlements in Italy. Six trains a day on the Circumflegrea line stop at the Cumae site. All that remains are some temple foundations on the hill, worth visiting for the fantastic views. Also at Cumae is the Cave of the Cumaean Sibyl, just below the summit.
Traveling From Naples on Italy's national train line
Trains leave from Naples Central Station for these destinations in Campania:
- Paestum has beautiful remains of three Greek temples, the best preserved Doric temples in Italy. Paestum is on the Naples to Sapri train line, and the temples are a 15-minute walk from the station.
- Caserta is visited for its 18th Century Bourbon Royal Palace and gardens that some say are on par with Versailles. Caserta is also famous for silk mills. The Royal Palace is in front of the train station.
- Capua, an important town in ancient Campania was linked to Rome via the via Appia. Capua is an Etruscan settlement and features the second-largest arena in Italy, home of the gladiators' school where Sparticus escaped to start the Roman revolution.
Buses From Naples
For most of the above destinations, it's also possible to take a bus from Naples. Most buses leave Naples from Piazza Garibaldi in front of the central train station.
The city of Naples makes a good base for exploring islands in the Bay of Naples and the scenic Amalfi Coast. Frequent ferries and hydrofoils leave Beverello, and Mergellina harbors in Naples for the islands of Capri and Ischia and for Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast (less frequent from late fall through early spring).
Traveling From Naples on Ferries and Hydrofoils
Ferries and hydrofoils leave from Molo Beverello harbor near Piazza Municipio in Naples. Ferries to Ischia also leave from Molo Mergellina. Websites for ferries and hydrofoils are listed at the bottom of the Naples Port Authority page.
- Capri Island Capri has been a popular travel destination since Roman times and is one of the Mediterranean's must-see places. The island's most famous attraction is the Blue Grotto, Grotta Azzurra, but there are beaches all around the island, unusual rock formations, gardens, and two picturesque towns to visit. The island is awash with lemon trees, flowers, and birds. Tourists arrive by boat at Marina Grande, the island's main harbor.
- Ischia Island is closer to Naples and larger than Capri but less crowded with tourists. It's a volcanic island known for its thermal springs. Ischia is visited for thermal spas and beaches, but there's a castle, gardens, a villa to visit. Near Ischia, the smaller Procida and Vivara Islands can be visited too.
- Sorrento is the easiest town on the Amalfi Peninsula to reach from Naples although there are a few ferries to Positano during high season. Sorrento, surrounded by lemon and olive groves, is a pleasant place to spend the day away from the city. It has a pretty historic center and many restaurants, cafes, and shops. From Sorrento, you can take a ferry or bus to places along the Amalfi Coast.