Neapolitan Riviera – Discover the Beauty of Italy
The Neapolitan Riviera is an extremely popular destination amongst tourists looking for a vacation rich in sunshine, culture and style.
There truly is something for everything along the Neapolitan Riviera, history and culture in the ancient towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, gastronomy with all of the Italian cuisine on offer in Naples and beautiful natural surroundings such as the volcano, Vesuvius, and the island of Capri.
What the Neapolitan Riviera has to offer
I was completely blown away by Pompeii. I remember learning about the town at school and being told that you could still visit it today, but in my imagination all that remained was essentially a dusty blueprint of a city, with nothing much going for it. This is not the case at all. The extent to which some of the buildings have been preserved by the volcanic ash is incredible.
Some of the houses still have their ceilings and roofs and even still have paint on the walls!
There are a few examples of the petrified bodies that they found in the city and it is truly harrowing to have walked in their footsteps and imagine how terrifying it must have been to see Vesuvius erupt. You will need at least half a day to explore Pompeii properly, and it is well worth making a trip to the National Archaeological Museum in Naples to see all of the artefacts which were retrieved from the ashes.
Pompeii is easily accessible by train from Naples. Ask your concierge or the information desk in the main train station if you need help on where to buy tickets or get train times.
Herculaneum is another city which was preserved after the eruption of Vesuvius nearly 2000 years ago. Pompeii is the more famous city, and although Herculaneum is a smaller site, it is well worth your time and money.
It is even better preserved than Pompeii and in the summer you will be able to see much more as there are far fewer crowds. It is well worth paying the extra few euros to hire a live guide as their knowledge is exceptional and makes the whole experience so much better.
Now, I’m normally pretty good when it comes to bus rides and taking sharp corners (just take the bus ride to the Big Buddha in Hong Kong and you’ll know what I mean). But this one was pushing it. Our bus driver didn’t seem to think that braking at corners was at all necessary but he must know the road like the back of his hand by now as we made it to the top in one piece.
The hike up the volcano is quite a gentle one along a well-established path. The red dust from the walk did change the white converse to a rather fetching shade of salmon, so be wary of wearing light colors. It is really worth hiking all the way to the top to see the crater; it’s quite a special view.
And a real WOW moment!
I have two tips for any of you planning to make the hike.
Firstly, they close the volcano to tourists if it is raining, so pick a nice clear day to make the visit. Secondly, if you want to buy any souvenirs, the prices drop to a fraction of the original prices the further up the volcano you get. Ask for prices at every stall and make any purchases on the way back down to get the best deal, otherwise you risk being ripped off completely.
Where to stay
There are two very contrasting choices when it comes to picking a place to stay in the Neapolitan Riviera.
If you like being in a city, with culture, history and shopping opportunities on your doorstep, then you would probably be most at home staying inside the city of Naples. If you are more interested in an exciting beach resort holiday then Sorrento is probably more up your street.
What is certainly true is that wherever you decide to stay, you should definitely take a visit to the other place for the full Neapolitan Riviera experience.
The resort of Sorrento will deliver anything and everything you could possibly want from a beach-side holiday and the city of Naples is just around the corner offering the excitement of urban life. Sorrento is a lovely place to stay whether you are on a romantic getaway or a family vacation. There is loads to see and do and there is easy access to all of the major sights of the Neapolitan Riviera.
There are boat cruises, diving trips, fishing opportunities, watersports, hiking trails, azure-blue waters and sandy beaches. It is a very popular spot amongst tourists and attracts a huge number of people to stay there every single year. This means that it can be quite a busy place but you will find everything you could possibly want or need on your vacation.
Naples is the largest city in the south of Italy. It is sometimes referred to as an ‘open-air museum’ because there are so many different historic sites, statues and monuments.
It is home to the museums which house the artefacts recovered from the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but I would definitely recommend visiting these museums after having been to the towns themselves. Naples also gives its name to a whole host of different classic Italian foods.
Naples is just two hours south of Italy’s capital, Rome. A day trip to Rome is more than feasible from the Neapolitan Riviera and is definitely worth doing if it is your first time in Italy.
Capri is an island in the southern part of the bay of Naples. It is a beautiful haven in the middle of the sea with panoramic views across the whole of the bay and the island itself.
You can take a tour of the island by boat and visit the many grottoes which mark its coastline. The landscape is stunning; it is a truly picturesque spot which is definitely worth taking the boat trip across the bay to pay it a visit.
The historic center of the town of Capri is historically very interesting and is also full of fantastic seafood restaurants and cute little bed and breakfasts should you want to stay for longer than a day. Ferries, catamarans and jetfoils leave several times a day from both Naples and Sorrento to take you across to the island.
So, whatever you are looking for from your vacation to Italy, the Neapolitan Riviera will have something to delight you. It has sunshine, sandy beaches, watersports, ancient history, modern history, cultural and gastronomical wonders and luxury hotel resorts.