For any traveler eager to explore Southern Italy, Naples makes an excellent base. As the largest and most populated city in the south of the country, it is a well-connected transport hub offering links – by bus, train, and boat – to a whole host of other dream Italian destinations. If you’re planning a few trips while you’re down south, check out our guide to find out what’s within reach of Naples and how best to get there.
If you rent a car in Naples, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to side trips with pretty much every mainland attraction in the region within easy driving distance. The ultimate Southern Italian road trip, however, has got to be the Amalfi Coast route, a famously scenic and notoriously tricky-to-navigate stretch of highway that weaves along the cliff-bordered coast, the precipitous edge dropping sharply into the sea below. It’s both gorgeous and nerve-racking, with the road becoming narrower, the switchbacks more severe and the scenery even more distractingly dramatic with every mile gained. If you’re a confident and comfortable driver, it’s an incredibly rewarding route
Southern Italy’s extensive train network means visitors to Naples can access a wide range of regional destinations without ever having to familiarize themselves with Italy’s idiosyncratic road etiquette. You can make the short trip out to the neighboring town of Pozzuoli, to see Italy’s third-largest Roman amphitheater and to sample a selection of superb seafood restaurants, or take the Circumvesuviana Napoli-Sorrento line to the postcard-perfect seaside town of Sorrento for a day of limoncello tasting, shopping, and stroll.
You can experience the ancient Roman culture in Pompeii (take the Circumvesuviana Napoli-Sorrento line to Pompeii Scavi) and Herculaneum (take the Circumvesuviana Napoli-Sorrento to Ercolano Scavi), both former thriving Roman settlements that were wiped out by the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Be aware that the Circumvesuviana trains can be pretty busy, and pickpocketing is quite common, so be extra careful with your belongings while on board.
After roaming the Roman ruins, mix things up with a trip to see the remnants of the old Greek temples of Paestum, accessible from Naples via regional REG trains; alight at Stazione di Paestum. Caserta, home to a UNESCO-listed 18th-century palace and gardens, can be reached by Rome-bound trains from Naples. And speaking of Rome, it’s also possible to get to the Italian capital by high-speed Frecciarossa trains, which will zip you up to the Eternal City in around 70 minutes.
If for you, the journey matters just as much as the destination, then you may want to travel around the region by boat, a mode of transport that affords some of the finest views of the stunning Southern Italian bays. Charter a vessel for a leisurely tour around the Amalfi Coast, stopping for swims in secluded coves and docking to explore coastal villages. There are also several idyllic islands located in the waters of this part of the world. Closest to Naples is Ischia, with ferries and slightly faster hydrofoils departing from city ports, and taking between 60 and 90 minutes. Further out in the Bay of Naples is Capri, a stunningly scenic rocky island that has traditionally been a magnet for the wealthy, the powerful and the well-known. Ferries of the slow, regular and high-speed variety depart from Naples’ Molo Beverello and Calata Porta di Massa.
If you want to explore Southern Italy, but don’t want to worry about the logistics, take a look at our Naples tours, which offer pre-arranged transfers to top destinations both by land and sea.