Backpacking Naples is a must during your Italy travels. Although Naples is just a couple hours south of Rome, the two cities couldn’t be more different. Rome may have an overwhelming amount of culture and history, but Naples has the best pizza in the world. You must not leave Italy without tasting the deliciousness that is know as the Neapolitan pizza.
In addition, Naples is ideally situated near Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius, the Amalfi Coast, and Sorrento. Choose Naples as your home base while backpacking these areas. If you are visiting Naples for the first time, please use my Naples itinerary as a guide, and if possible, plan for more than a few days in the Naples and Amalfi Coast area.
Naples has a bad wrap as a tourist destination. It’s said that there isn’t much to do in Naples, there is a high amount of crime, and the city is dirty. I personally didn’t see this side of Naples, and that’s just not me turning a blind eye. I traveled to Naples with the mindset of tasting the best pizza in the world and soaking in whatever culture I came across.
As far as getting around, a convenient subway system is available in Naples. The Naples metro costs €1.10 per ride. I used the subway countless times to get to and from the train station, restaurants, and my hostel.
Hostels in Naples Italy
There are plenty of Hostels in Naples, Italy to choose from. I only stay at hostels with 4 or 5 star reviews, and I rarely go for the cheapest option. With this criteria in mind, I stayed at La Controra for 1 night and Hostel of the Sun for 2 nights.
I wanted to stay at Hostel of the Sun for my entire Naples trip, but they were fully booked the day I arrived, so I ended up staying at La Controra Hostel Naples for the first night. The price of a bed in a 10 bed mixed dorm room is €13 per night. There is no age restriction at this hostel, so you may run into some older folks in your dorm. Other than that, I enjoyed my stay at Hostel of the Sun. The breakfast was yummy, and a complimentary dinner was a nice touch.
I stayed at Hostel of the Sun for my other 2 nights in Naples. The price of Hostel of the Sun is €15 per night for a 6 bed dorm room. I also had my laundry done here for €5. Hostel of the Sun has a great common area for meeting fellow backpackers. Breakfast is included. There is also a complimentary computer and printer available which came in hand for printing out my Indian visa.
Best Pizza in Naples Italy
Naples is the birthplace of the original wood-fired Neapolitan pizza. A true Neapolitan pizza must be made with fresh San Marzano tomatoes from the volcanic plains south of Mount Vesuvius and fresh Mozzarella di Bufala Campana from water buffalo. The keyword here is fresh. The pizza must be baked for 60 to 90 seconds in a 905°F stone oven with an oak-wood fire.
I thought I knew what good pizza was until I traveled to Italy. Initially, I enjoyed my new favorite pizza place in Sicily. But then in Naples I tried authentic Neapolitan pizza, and this easily became my all-time favorite pizza.
Located just 350 meters from each other on Via dei Tribunali, Pizzeria Dal Presidente and Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo are two famous pizza places in Naples. I ate at both, and here’s my review of each.
Dal Presidente Pizzeria
After former US President Bill Clinton ate pizza here, the owner renamed his restaurant to Dal Presidente Pizzeria. The owner of the pizzeria prides himself on the number of public figures, actors, and musicians that ate at the restaurant. The walls and menus of the pizzeria are littered with pictures of these celebrities dining at Dal Presidente. Other notable American celebrities that I recognized were Jennifer Lopez and the cast of CSI Miami.
I ordered a mushroom pizza at Dal Presidente. It was fantastic. Neapolitan pizzas are slightly wet in the center from the olive oil. The mushrooms, or funghi as they are called in Italian, didn’t add much taste to the pizza, but it was delicious nonetheless.
Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo
The best pizza in Naples, and the best pizza I ever ate, is Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo. I ate dinner with a group of backpackers here and three of us split three pies. We got one Margherita pizza and two other pizzas with additional toppings.
No matter where you choose to eat pizza in Naples, my suggestion is to get the original Margherita pizza in order to truly appreciate the taste of the tomatoes and cheese. The other pizzas were equally delicious, but there’s something special about a simple Margherita pizza that trumps a pizza with toppings. Best of all, a Margherita pizza at Sorbillo is less than €4 for an entire pie.
Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii Day Trip
Mount Vesuvius, a volcano near the Bay of Naples in Italy, is most famous for its eruption in 79 AD that buried the ancient city of Pompeii in ash. Pompeii was forgotten for thousands of years until the well-preserved city was rediscovered in the mid 1700s.
A Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii day trip is just a 25 kilometer train ride away from Naples. This a a trip that you don’t want to skip. Take a Trenitalia train from Naples to Pompeii for €2.80, and you’ll be there in less than 40 minutes. Get off at the Pompei Scavi train station. A train comes by every 30 minutes on this route, so it’s not necessary to book your ticket in advance.
I suggest that you see Mount Vesuvius before Pompeii since the last bus back from Mount Vesuvius leaves at 4:25 pm. Take the EAV bus from Pompeii to Vesuvio. The price of a bus ticket from Pompeii to Vesuvius is €3.10 each way. Pompeii to Vesuvius will take around 45 minutes.
Including all transportation costs and entrance fees, a day trip to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius will cost you just €37. If you pack your lunch and grab a pizza back in Naples for dinner, your entire day trip could cost you under €50.
Backpacking Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius is located in Vesuvius National Park. Mount Vesuvius is 4,203 at its highest point. The crater of Mount Vesuvius is approximately 1,000 feet deep and 2,000 feet wide.
The Vesuvius entrance fee is €10. The EAV bus will drop you off near the Vesuvius ticket station. Do not proceed up the mountain without getting a ticket first. We made this mistake, got rejected at the entrance, and had to walk the 1/4 mile back down the mountain to get our tickets.
After entering the park, you have a 1,000 meter hike up to the ridge of the crater. You can hike around the entire ridge of the Vesuvius crater. This 2 kilometer hike will take you at least 30 minutes if you don’t stop to peek down into the crater—which you most certainly will—so I’d budget at least an hour for this adventure.
There are a few vendors along the Vesuvius crater ridge trail selling water, food, and souvenirs. If you hit it lucky, you’ll have a beautiful view of the coastline of Naples and Pompeii below. Otherwise, you’ll be walking through the clouds.
After getting up close and personal with the very volcano that destroyed it, take the EAV bus back down to Pompeii. The EAV bus will drop you off across the street from the Pompeii train station. The entrance to Pompeii is less than 100 meters down the road from the Pompeii train station.
The sign in front of the archaeological site of Pompeii reads in large letters Scavi di Pompei which translates to excavations of Pompeii. Large bags are not allowed inside of the archaeological site for good reason. Don’t worry backpackers—you can exchange your backpack for a receipt at no charge.
The price of a Pompeii ticket is €13 for adults and €9 for students, children, and senior citizens. The last entrance into Pompeii is 5 pm in the winter and 6 pm in the summer. Pompeii will remain open for a hour and a half after the last entrance.
I absolutely loved Pompeii and could have stayed much longer than 2 hours 30 minutes. I was taught in school that the city of Pompeii was buried in ash in 79 AD—but to walk through the streets of Pompeii and understand the magnitude of what that means is something else.
Pompeii covers an area of over 125 football fields and was home to somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 people. In a matter of minutes, the entire city was covered in up to 20 feet of volcanic ash, and was literally frozen in time. It was forgotten about and preserved for thousands of years. Totally mind-blowing.
What I found most striking was the intricate detail and color that was visible on some of the walls and tiles inside the homes and businesses. It’s one thing to see a well-preserved artifact in a museum somewhere, but to see it in its original setting is a completely different experience.
In addition to the sprawling city of Pompeii, a museum near the entrance contains artifacts found during the excavation. The museum has everything from coins and skulls to furniture and jewelry. The museum most famously houses the Pompeii bodies frozen in time. I didn’t realize that the plaster bodies contain the original human skeletons.
Backpacking the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is a stretch of 13 seaside towns along 34 miles of coastline located in the Province of Salerno of southern Italy. Given its outstanding Mediterranean landscape, exceptional cultural, and natural scenic values, the Amalfi Coast was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.
The Amalfi Cost is famous for its costal cliffs, seaside lemon groves, and turquoise waters. A few hours to a day in each town is enough time to soak in the Amalfi Coast in all its beauty. By all means, spend more than a day on the Amalfi Coast if time permits. Heck, I loved the Amalfi Coast so much that I have plans to retire there when I’m older.
Since each town on the Amalfi Coast is relatively small, the best way to get around is on foot. Furthermore, the many narrow, undriveable streets are inaccessible by car and parking is extremely limited. Public transportation is the preferred way to travel from one Amalfi town to the next.
There’s the Amalfi Coast which is comprised of over a dozen costal towns, and then there’s the actual town of Amalfi. Amalfi, the largest town on the Amalfi Coast, has a population of just 5,000 people, yet it sees hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.
Travel from Naples to Amalfi
An Amalfi Coast day trip is just a 75 kilometer bus ride from Naples. Take the SITA bus from Naples to Amalfi, and you’ll be there in 1 hour 30 minutes. Purchase your bus ticket to Amalfi at the Varco Immacolatella bus station for €5.20.
Getting off the Beaten Path in Amalfi, Italy
I spent most of my time in the town of Amalfi away from the boutique shops and cafes along the main streets. Instead, I explored the maze of narrow alleys and steep staircases lined with residential houses. This gave me the opportunity to interact with a few locals and experience a side of Amalfi that most tourists never see.
Like most other towns in Italy, Amalfi has a few magnificent catholic churches that are open to the public. A few minutes in the Duomo di Amalfi Sant’Andrea Apostolo cathedral allowed me to reflect on my backpacking trip and be grateful for the opportunity to travel.
After exploring the town of Amalfi, a couple of us bought some snacks for the bus to Positano and enjoyed a cold Peroni Chill Lemon beer as we sat on the pier waiting for the rest of the group to return.
Positano is a majestic cliffside town on the Amalfi Coast. When you see a picture of the Amalfi Coast, chances are the picture was probably taken in Positano. Positano attracts the rich and famous which makes it an expensive place of luxury. But don’t let that stop you from visiting Positano. It ended up being my favorite stop along the Amalfi Coast.
Travel from Amalfi to Positano
Take the SITA bus from Amalfi to Sorrento with a stop in Positano for €2. You can buy your bus ticket from any convenience store. We bought ours from a tabacchi shop (tobacco store) on Amalfi Drive just across the street from the Amalfi bus station. The 15 kilometer bus ride will take close to 40 minutes.
The bus will drop you off at the Positano (Sponda) bus stop. Less than 50 meters down Via Cristoforo Colombo is the famous Positano viewpoint that overlooks the town of Positano. Even if you don’t take a bus to Positano, you I urge you to walk or drive to this absolutely stunning viewpoint. It’s one of the best views in Positano.
The Amalfi Coast is known for its production of limoncello thanks to its abundance of cliffside lemon orchards. There are many limoncello recipes, but common limoncello ingredients are lemon, vodka, sugar, and water.
I tasted homemade limoncello with a fellow backpacker in Positano. The bartender served the limoncello chilled in two tall frosted shot glasses. The price of a serving of limoncello was €3.80.
We really wanted to enjoy the experience, but we both struggled to sip the Italian alcoholic drink. Limoncello is sweet, but not sweet enough to override the burn of the vodka. The taste of limoncello is surely an acquired one.
Sorrento is not part of the Amalfi Coast, but it’s worth checking out on your way back to Naples. Sorrento offers a wonderful view of Mount Vesuvius across the Bay of Naples.
What I found most interesting about Sorrento was the fact that the town was still decorated with Christmas decorations in late January. Being from the northeast US, I found it ironic to Christmas lights strung on orange and lemon trees.
Travel from Sorrento to Naples
Other than getting some gelato and admiring the views in the Bay of Naples, I didn’t spend too much time in Sorrento. The train station in Sorrento acts as a point of access to the Amalfi Coast since no trains travel through the Amalfi Coast.
A train ticket from Sorrento to Naples costs €5.20. You can book your train ticket directly at the Sorrento train station. The 50 kilometer trip will take around 1 hour 30 minutes.
Is Naples Worth Visiting?
Yes. If you think your local pizza shop back home has the best pizza, you’re wrong. Naples pizza is world famous for a reason. I recommend that you indulge in this culinary masterpiece that is only available in Naples.
In addition to the pizza, Naples is close to historic Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. Furthermore, the luxurious Amalfi Coast is just a bit further down the coast. Both Pompeii and the Amalfi coast make great day trips from Naples. If you have a few days to spare in Italy, I recommend backpacking Naples, the Amalfi coast, and Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius.
Next Stop, Sicily?
Sicily should be on everyone’s Italy itinerary. It has some of the nicest year-round weather in all of Italy thanks to how far south this island is located.
While I chose to rent a car in Sicily, a much cheaper option is to take public transportation like trains and busses. Either way, you’ll see the active volcano on Mount Etna, the capital Palermo, and a great deal of ancient ruins in the Valley of the Temples.
In any case, let me know below if you have any questions about traveling to Italy.