There's so much to do in Naples, Italy. But once you've seen Naples' major points of interest, you'll find that the city is also a great base for exploring archaeological and historical sites in the surrounding Campania region, as well the beautiful islands of the Bay of Naples and the famous Amalfi Coast. Read on for our top 10 day trips from Naples, Italy.
The 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius left Pompeii—then a wealthy, bustling Roman resort town—buried for centuries under layers of ash and volcanic pumice. Excavations in the 18th and 19th centuries brought the ruins to light, and they've been drawing tourists ever since. A trip to Pompeii is a must-do for anyone with the remotest interest in ancient Roman history, and it's one of the most enigmatic archaeological sites in the Western world. Expect to spend at least four to five hours here.
Getting There: Pompeii is only a 20-minute drive from downtown Naples, but travel time can be exacerbated by heavy traffic. If you're just going to Pompeii and back in a day, skip the rental car and take the Circumvesuviana, the local train that connects Naples to Sorrento. You will need to get off at the Pompeii Scavi stop.
Travel Tip: Be sure to wear good walking shoes to traverse the uneven stone streets and sidewalks of Pompeii. If you're visiting in the summer, bring a hat, sunscreen, and bottled water.
Herculaneum, the other city destroyed by the same eruption that wiped out Pompeii, is the smaller and less-famous of the two—yet visitors who visit both often find Herculaneum more rewarding. Its more manageable scale, less-dense crowds, and remarkably well-preserved buildings and interiors offer a more intimate look at daily life in a 1st-century AD Roman city. Interestingly, while Pompeii was covered in volcanic ash, Herculaneum was blasted by a pyroclastic surge of super-hot gas and debris, which essentially petrified wooden structures and left mosaics and frescoes remarkably intact.
Getting There: Herculaneum is less than a 20-minute drive from Naples, not allowing for traffic, which can be slow and intense. Buses connect regularly from Napoli Centrale station, or you can take the Circumvesuviana (see above) to the Ercolano Scavi stop.
Travel Tip: While it's possible to see Pompeii and Herculaneum in a single day, we don't recommend it. Each site merits at least a half-day visit, and squeezing both of them into one day is overwhelming and exhausting.
If you've visited Pompeii or Herculaneum, a trip up to Mount Vesuvius will give you a different perspective on the devastation the volcano has wrought on the Bay of Naples over the centuries. And the sulfurous steam belching from vents in the crater will remind you that Vesuvius is still an active volcano.
The Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio is the starting point for any exploration of the summit. The only way to get to the summit is on foot, via a challenging uphill hike that takes between 60 to 90 minutes. Bring sturdy, closed shoes; a hat; sunscreen; water; and a jacket to protect you from the wind.
Getting There: The drive to the national park from downtown Naples should take about 20 minutes, but traffic may not be on your side. By public transportation, you first go to Ercolano (Herculaneum), then catch a bus to the park entrance.
Travel Tip: A trip to Vesuvius works well in combination with Herculaneum. In hot weather, it makes sense to visit Vesuvius first, then stop at Herculaneum on your way back to Naples.
Sorrento is a popular seaside resort town on the northern edge of the Amalfi peninsula and is considered the gateway to the Amalfi Coast. With a pretty historic center; many restaurants, cafés, and shops; and surrounding lemon and olive groves, Sorrento is a pleasant place to spend the day away from the city. Piazza Tasso is the grand public plaza that forms the center of the town, and is a fine place to stop for an espresso (or aperitivo) and people-watching.
Getting There: Sorrento is the end of the line for the Circumvesuviana train, and the trip from Naples takes just over an hour. There are also bus connections. Driving should take less than an hour, but traffic might prolong the journey. You can also catch a 45-minute ferry from Porto di Napoli.
Travel Tip: If you want to include a dip in the Tyrrhenian Sea as part of your day in Sorrento, the beaches at Marina Grande and Marina Piccola are both good options, though they're likely to be crowded in July and August.
The Amalfi Coast is flat-out one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in Italy, or anywhere in the Mediterranean. Its string of charming and colorful towns are known for their luxury hotels, stunning beaches and coves, open-air restaurants, and carefree vibe. The waters off the Amalfi Coast are clean and clear, making them great for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking.
While a day trip to the Amalfi Coast from Naples doesn't give you nearly enough time here, it can give you a taste—one that will surely whet your appetite for more. This is one day trip where we definitely encourage a guided tour, either with a driver or by boat. if you do choose to go it alone, plan on having time to see just one or two towns, eat lunch, and take a swim before heading back to Naples.
Getting There: Driving the famously narrow and curvy Amalfi Coast road is not for the faint of heart—we recommend leaving the driving to a professional. Positano, the first of the coastal towns, is just over an hour from Naples if there's no traffic. You can also take the train to Sorrento, then catch a bus or ferry from there to several of the towns along the coast.
Travel Tip: If you're visiting in high season, most of the hours of your Amalfi Coast day trip will be eaten up getting to and from the coastal zone. So for July and August, stick with a day trip to Sorrento.
Covered in gardens and lemon groves, Capri Island, or simply Capri, has been the island resort of choice for the rich and famous since the Roman empire. You can see the marks its sovereign rulers left on Capri, as well as those of 19th-century intelligentsia, who built elegant villas across the rocky island. Today, the island's two towns, Capri Town and smaller Anacapri, are the haunts of celebrities, the Instagram crowd, and those for whom luxury shopping is a vacation priority. While we find Capri's celebrity cache and high price tags a little off-putting, there's no denying its beauty. The most famous attraction on the island, the Blue Grotto, is reachable by boat. Everything else is a walk, a funicular or bus ride away.
Getting There: Regular year-round ferries head to Capri from both Molo Beverello and the Calata Porta di Massa in Naples. You can make the trip in either 50 minutes (for the fast ferry) or 80.
Travel Tip: If you're visiting in the summer months, you'll find Capri Town very, very crowded. Consider heading to smaller Anacapri for a more relaxed vibe and fewer tourists.
Though just 20 miles separate Ischia and Capri, the two islands couldn't seem further apart. Ischia is the low-key answer to Capri, a volcanic island known for its thermal springs and beaches where hot water bubbles up from the sand. A day here can involve sightseeing in Ischia town (and exploring its waterfront medieval castle), or relaxing at one of the island's many thermal spas, which offer myriad pools for soaking and swimming.
Getting There: Ferries from Naples to Ischia leave year-round from three points along the Naples waterfront. The trip takes either 60 or 90 minutes, depending on whether you choose the fast (and more expensive) ferry or the slower one.
Travel Tip: Like Capri and the Amalfi Coast, Ischia pretty much closes up from November to March. Don't plan a visit during those months.
The Reggia di Caserta (the Royal Palace of Caserta) is an immense palace and estate that was once home to the Bourbon kings of Naples, when Spain ruled over southern Italy in the 1700s. Amazingly, the palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the biggest royal residence in the world—even larger than France's Versailles.
While the palace looks somewhat austere from the outside, once visitors step inside the front door, a Baroque riot of marble, gilt, and frescoes seems to burst forth. Behind the palace, the formal gardens stretch for 1.9 miles. Plan to spend an entire day here.
Getting There: Caserta is 19 miles from central Naples. While there's plenty of parking at the palace, going by train or bus is still the easiest way to get there; the Caserta train station is right at the palace entrance.
Travel Tip: The palace and gardens are closed on Tuesday, so plan accordingly.
Procida: Postcard-Sized Paradise
Fans of "The Talented Mister Ripley" and especially the bittersweet 1994 film "Il Postino" will recognize Procida, the tiny island tucked between Naples and Ischia. Procida packs a lot into its 1.5 square miles. The densely populated island is loved for its colorful port (Marina Corricella), the fortified Terra Murata (the highest point on the island), and its narrow streets and petite churches.
If you come for the day, do bring your swimsuit, as Procida has several sandy beaches. Also don't miss out on an al fresco seafood lunch at one of the island's many quality restaurants.
Getting There: From the Beverello port in Naples, ferries and faster hydrofoils head to and from Procida several times a day.
Travel Tip: Once you're on Procida, municipal buses can carry you all over the island. A single ride is about 1.50 euros, while a day pass is about 4 euros.
While so much of Italy's archaeology is all about the Romans, in Paestum, the Greek still hold court. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to three of the best-preserved Doric temples in Italy. In addition to these mighty temples, there's an archaeological museum; a wider archaeological area; and several painted tombs, including the whimsical Tomb of the Diver.
Getting There: There are direct trains from Napoli Centrale station to Paestum Station, which is located right at the entrance to the archaeological park. The trip takes about an hour on the Intercity train and 2.5 hours on the cheaper Regionale. Driving to Paestum from Naples is a 2-hour trip, depending on traffic.
Travel Tip: Paestum is a long day trip from Naples, but worth it in our book. If you want to visit the beautiful beaches of the nearby Cilento, consider a weekend getaway to allow for one day at the ruins and one day at the beach.