NAPLES - NEIGHBORHOODS
Santa Lucia and Lungomare Caracciolo
Probably Naples' most famous neighborhood and a favorite with visitors for its waterside location and splendid views, the old fishermen's quarter of Santa Lucia retains some of its original character. The neighborhood is separated from the historical center by steep Monte Echia, which is the remains of the rim of a volcanic crater and the site of ancient Paleopolis. Via Partenope, the promenade created in the 19th century, overlooks the Bay and Castel dell`Ovo and is lined with elegant hotels and restaurants. Behind the major hotels, you'll find a more authentic neighborhood with grocery shops and cafes frequented by locals.
The city's 2 mile long Seafront Promenade, Lungomare, wraps around the bay from Mergellina on the west to the end of Via Partenope on the east. With the sea on one side and Naples Villa Comunale Park on the other, Lungomare is a green and blue oasis in the center of the city with some of the most panoramic views in the world. To the east, Castel dell`Ovo juts out along the tiny island of Megaride, an area of seafront restaurants and cafés known as Borgo Marinari. Along the sea you'll find boat rentals, a few small free beaches, and plenty of Naples' famed white rocks to laze out on and take the sun. Strategically placed kiosk's offer parched sunbathers cold drinks, lemon granita or a quick snack.
Historic Center - Decumani
Once the nucleus of ancient Neapolis, founded by the Greeks and carried forward by the Romans. Now locally known as the Decumani, this is Naples' heart, extending from the Castel Nuovo and the Stazione Marittima by the sea to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale to the north, the Quartieri Spagnoli to the west, and Castel Capuano to the east. Many of the city's political and administrative offices as well as the University of Naples are here, along with the cascade of small restaurants, bars, and clubs fostered by such institutions. Many of Naples' major historical and religious attractions are located here, making it a perfect location for visitors. Most of the hotels here are small and housed in historical buildings, but larger and more modern hotels line Via Medina and the parallel Via Agostino Depretis, at the southern edge of this area. If you visit Il Centro Storico, you will see all of the developments from the Medieval and Renaissance periods, including inspiration from the Spanish viceroys and the Neapolitan Bourbons.
Quartieri Spagnoli - Piazza Plebicito
The Quartieri Spagnoli's closely knit narrow streets line on the north of the Piazza Plebiscito, on the western side of Via Toledo (called 'Via Roma' by Neapolitans). The Spanish Quarter is a historical area that was originally built to house the workers of the king of Naples. It was built during the same time as the original Royal Palace was built in the 1600's for King Philip III of Spain. Prior to the 1990's, this area was considered quite dangerous, but the blocks around Via Toledo have experienced an urban renewal, with small hotels and quite a few nice restaurants sprouting up. This budget-friendly area is a perfect base for cost conscious visitors as it is walking distance from most of Naples' major attractions. The streets farther out, however, still show the original grunginess and are not the best place for your romantic evening stroll.
Piazza Plebicito is a noble semicircular piazza (19th Century), enclosed on one side by the royal palace, on the other by the neoclassical façade of the church of San Francesco di Paola, built on the model of the Pantheon in Rome and prolonged by a curving colonnade. It is a wonderful place to people watch and take in some beautiful architecture.
Central Station - Piazza Garibaldi
Across from Naples' main rail station, the Stazione Centrale, this huge square and its surrounding streets are definitely less than glamorous (some of the area, behind the station and away from the main avenues, is positively grungy, with decaying buildings and cheap street vendors lining the narrow lanes, and the nondescript streets by the harbor are dire). It also is unsafe at night. A number of top-notch hotels catering to businesspeople have opened here, though. The neighborhood is very well connected through public transportation to all major tourist destinations both within and outside the city (train station, Metro station, Circumvesuviana rail station - the one to Pompeii and Sorrento - are only steps away). The eastern reaches of the historical center that lie beyond Castel Capuano are within walking distance, past a somewhat unsavory belt around the train station (take a taxi after dark). You'll also be near a full range of convenience shopping, from groceries to clothing stores, and a number of good restaurants are in the area. That said, we nevertheless find it too remote.
Stretched out along the shoreline, against a backdrop of pastel palazzi ascending the hills of Vomero, this is a charming and elegant neighborhood with elegant villas and a couple of hotels and restaurants, all of which enjoy dramatic views over the Bay. The shore area along Riviera di Chiaia is famous for its upscale shopping with high-end shops such as Ferragamo, Frette, and Armani. The historical center and its monuments are a short ride away on public transportation, but it is also possible to walk. Take a walk down the bayfront promenade and Villa Comunale park, especially at dusk. This is the time when locals will come out and walk with their families and friends, and perhaps enjoy a gelato on a warm day. In the evening, the fashionable set flocks to its restaurants and bars.
Staying in the outskirts of Naples is also a great option and may be a better way to get the most out of a limited budget, provided your plans are a bit more flexible. Depending on the location of your hotel, you may have to take a bus or taxi to reach the conveniences of the city center. We recommend to double check the location of the hotel; some are just a short walk away from the city center and will be near a bus stop. You will want to account for travel time.