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Turn your city break into a microadventure

Naples: Summit a volcano


The Circumvesuviana train takes you easily from Naples’ Garibaldi station to Ercolano Scavi. From there a taxi will take you as high up Mount Vesuvius as you fancy - it depends how much hiking you want to do! Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79, smothering the town of Pompeii.

It’s a pretty small hike really, usually about half an hour. Underfoot is ash and pumice so you’ll need a tough camping mat for the night. The days are quite crowded so you’ll need some patience to settle in and wait for everyone to go home and leave the volcano all to you.

Level of Difficulty: Hard (if you're going to bivvy - Easy if you just want a day trip outing).

What to pack: Warm clothes (check the weather forecast!), hiking shoes, woolly hat, headtorch, raingear, sleeping bag, mat and bivvy bag.

Best time to go: spring.

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Naples is loud and brash, but one thing it isn’t is boring. Great food, world famous archaeological sites, and arguably Italy’s most picturesque coastline ensure that there is never a dull moment in this busy town.  Pizza, ice cream, noisy vespas and towering volcanoes spring to mind when you mention Naples. And while this city doesn’t boast the elegance of rival destinations like Venice or Rome, it more than makes up for it in the culture stakes. Rome may have the Colosseum and the Pantheon, but Naples has Pompeii and Herculaneum; two Roman towns preserved forever by a volcanic eruption in 79 AD.

As you’d imagine, Naples’ museums are also fit to burst under the weight of antiquities on offer from these two marvellous archaeological gems. Oh, and the city’s old town is also a World Heritage Site, so be sure to give it a wonder. But with its mix of Arab, Spanish, French and Norman influences, it’s Naples’ cuisine that sets it head and shoulders of the competition. This is the home of pizza after all. 

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Sightseeing


The annual Maggio dei Monumenti (May Of Monuments) cultural extravaganza offers free entry to museums and local events. This year is dedicated to a regal innovator Carlo di Borbone (1734-1759), with concerts and parades evoking the 1700s.


The Museo Archeologico Nazionale is a former palace housing ancient antiquities, and it's slowly undergoing change. As ever, the infamous Gabinetto Segreto (Secret Cabinet) pieces from Pompeii and Herculaneum elicit titters and blushes. A new collection opened last November as part of ongoing restoration initiatives in one of its grand courtyards. Under a contemporary glass pavilion the new 'Beni Culturali invisibili' (Invisible Cultural Heritage) exhibition reveals exquisite Roman statuary from the Bay of Naples, brought to light after years of neglect in dusty corners of the museum.


Dive below the scorching and noisy surface of the Greco-Roman Centro Antico in the summer midday heat and discover the city's ancient tunnels hewn out of the volcanic tufo rock. Strange tales and eerie spaces await. napolisotterranea.org

Key Areas


The life and achievements of Napoli's 18th century Bourbon King Charles is being celebrated this springtime. Among his creations was the Versailles-aping Reggia di Caserta; take the half-hour train journey to this lavish palace and magnificent gardens.


Running up to Christmas, many throng the narrow centro antico lane Via San Gregorio Armeno to view Neapolitan nativity scenes ("presepi"). Shops are filled with traditional figurines of a certain stable scene alongside contemporary celebs set in quirky tableaux. Head to the Pietrasanta church on Via Tribunali to see the most exquisite nativity creations.

Day Trips


An off-season day trip to the Golfo di Napoli's most coveted island of Capri provides the chance to sample chic shopping lanes, hidden bays and limestone cliffs without the crowds. Take the ferry (80 mins) from Calata Porta di Massa or the faster hydrofoil (50 mins) from nearby Molo Beverello.


Escape the Christmas shopping crowds by taking to the sea to visit the nearby island of Procida, with its pastel-hued fishing harbours, volcanic crater bays and market gardens. Take a ferry or hydrofoil from the ports of Naples or Pozzuoli.


Sample the natural beauty and chic streets on a hydrofoil day trip to the nearby island of Capri. Don't miss a single-seat cable-car ride to its highest point, Monte Solaro, for stunning views over the Bays of Naples and Salerno. capritourism.com

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*Prices shown are per person based on two people flying on the same booking. Fees & charges may apply. Min 4 seats available per flight, one way inc. taxes.