By Bryan Pirolli—
Even Paris-based writers need a chance to escape the City of Light every now and then to experience something different. This year, this Cheapo flitted off to Naples to check out the pizza and coastlines that make this Italian port city famous. I return to you tanned, relaxed, and full of tips for stretching your euros on a trip to Naples.
Where to stay
Naples is full of affordable hotels if you know where to look. I spent one week in the Hotel San Giorgio, a three-star hotel by the train station that charged about €30 a night.
I was skeptical, too. Many reviewers online said the train station neighborhood, by Piazza Garibaldi, was too seedy and far from the action. The neighborhood, however, while not the most charming, is adjacent to the historical center and I never felt unsafe. Within 10 minutes I was at my favorite pizza restaurant and could indulge in a bottle of wine with dinner. It was clean, convenient, and comfortably close – and did I mention cheap?
Tip: Do a quick search on EuroCheapo for cheap hotels in Naples. Rates and availability fluctuate with the season, so check your dates and make sure that you’re not planning to come during high season.
How to roam
Naples is a great base to visit the surrounding area, which has enough destinations to occupy you for at least a week. The Circumvesuviana train, a regional line, will get you out to the Roman ruins at Pompeii or Herculaneum for around €6 round trip. To take the train all the way to Sorrento, the home of Limoncello, you’ll pay only €8 round trip.
Ferries out to the islands, like Capri and Ischia, can be trickier. The Naples Office of Tourism provides you with a schedule with no prices (ranging between €10 and €20 a ride), but be aware that there are two ports, one for expensive hydrofoil ferries (Beverello) and one for less expensive boats (Porta di Massa).
Even among the cheaper boats there are two different prices. There is no science to it, so get to the port at least 30 minutes in advance to figure out which boat you want, and know that the cheaper one does not take significantly longer to get anywhere and is a great way to enjoy the coastlines from the deck of the ship.
Eating in Naples
I can’t imagine coming to Naples and eating anything other than pizza. The native Margherita pizza, with tomatoes and mozzarella, sets you back between €3 and €5. No typo there. Just look for pizzerias that display “Verra Pizza Napoletana” to be sure you’re getting a real, traditional pizza – there are rules and the Italians aren’t kidding around.
Similarly, gelato and pastries are extremely inexpensive and you can eat copiously without heading repeatedly to the ATM.
Like Paris, coffee is always cheaper at the bar, where many Italians gather for a quick espresso and biscotti. If powerful tiny shots are your thing, you’ll fit in at the Napoli café counter and you probably won’t pay more than a euro for your coffee.
In Naples itself, there aren’t many must-see attractions. There is no tower, cathedral, or museum that I was itching to enter. Instead, wandering around the city, you quickly realize that most monuments and buildings are free to enter. The Castel dell’Ovo offers great views of the city from up above, and it’s free to wander.
Atop the city, the Castel St. Elmo offers some of the most breathtaking views of the city, the ports, and Mount Vesuvius lurking in the distance. A man sitting at the entrance will direct you to a ticket booth, but the ticket is unnecessary. You can simply take the elevator on your left up to the top of the Castel and stroll the ramparts without entering the tiny museum that requires the ticket.
Museums and excavation sites at Pompeii and Herculaneum do cost money and unfortunately very few discounts are available, but with a €3 pizza for dinner, the entrance fees don’t seem so daunting.
Your budget tips for Naples?
Do you have any tips for visiting Naples on the cheap? Share with us in our comments section.