If you’re planning 24 hours in Naples this summer, you’ve come to the right place. Visiting Naples is always a good idea, but when it’s hot in the city you might want to seek out Napoli’s cooler spots. Here’s a summer itinerary for visiting a city which is magical in its own right, as well as being the gateway to the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento.

Naples offers a perfect blend of cultural wonders, delicious cuisine, and stunning coastal landscapes. With a rich history dating back to ancient times, Napoli is a treasure trove for art enthusiasts and history buffs. In this summer itinerary, we’ll explore some of the top museums and churches in Naples, allowing you to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant past and present while keeping your cool. After, leave some space to visit one of its nearby beaches and taste one of Naples’ best pizzas.

Breezy hilltops and cool views in Naples

Begin your 24 hours in Naples by catching a cool breeze on one of the hilltops surrounding Napoli. The Certosa di San Martino is a former monastery complex perched on a hill overlooking the city, which today houses religious art and artifacts, while offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city.

Afterward, head to Castel Sant’Elmo, an imposing fortress with a fascinating history. Explore its ramparts and terraces for sweeping views of the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius.

Upmarket residential neighbourhood Posillipo is perched on a hill surrounded by picturesque beaches. Head up its winding streets for an iced coffee with a view. Grand Caffe Cimmino is loved by locals, while Miranapoli is ideal for breakfast with a view.

24 hours in Naples: guide to spending a day and a night in Napoli, visiting museums, churches, beaches - and enjoying Naples best pizza

Pizza in Naples: Bro Pizzeria

While visitors to Naples are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating pizza – the city can lay claim to having invented this quintessential Neapolitan treat – it’s still a good idea to do your homework before planning dinner.

On my most recent visit to Napoli, I went to try Bro Pizzeria, an exciting project from two brothers aged under 30 who come from five generations of pizza makers. While you will find Ciro Tutino in the kitchen creating pizzas, Antonio manages the dining room with charm. Bro Pizzeria was recently voted one of the top pizzerias in Italy, making its debut in the renowned Top100 ranking at no. 88.

It’s worth visiting Bro Pizzeria before it joins the ranks of Naples most famous pizzerias and queues snake out of the door. While booking is advisable as there are only 60 seats in the restaurant, it is still just about possible to order online or visit on a weekday without calling ahead. Enjoy all the classics here – from Margherita to pizza fritta – and don’t miss the incredible sensational seasonal ingredients, such as mozzarella from Vico Equense and San Marzano DOP tomatoes.

Gourmet varieties include l’assoluto di zucca which uses pumpkin in its entirety, including the flesh and seeds, in a remarkable example of waste-free cuisine. I also tried an incredible four cheese pizza featuring seasonal apricots. Desserts are entrusted to the Seccia pastry shop, an institution in the Quartieri Spagnoli, which creates delicacies such as babà, cheesecake with fresh fruit, and a tangy lemon delight.

24 hours in Naples: museums and churches

Still have time left in your 24 hours in Naples? The National Archaeological Museum of Naples houses a unique collection of artefacts from Pompeii, Herculaneum, and other nearby archaeological sites. Admire the Farnese collection and marvel at the intricate mosaics and sculptures that provide insights into ancient Roman life.

Alternatively, explore the Museo di Capodimonte, located in a beautiful park overlooking the city. This museum displays an extensive collection of Neapolitan and Italian art, including works by Caravaggio, Titian, and Raphael.

Another cool option on a hot day is visiting the Naples Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di San Gennaro. Admire its stunning architecture, frescoes, and relics, including the vials of blood of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples.

The nearby alley of San Gregorio Armeno is famous for its artisan workshops that specialise in crafting traditional Neapolitan nativity scenes, called presepe in Italian, and is a great spot for picking up souvenirs.

For another serene wander, visit the Santa Chiara complex, an enchanting site featuring a church, monastery, and a serene cloister adorned with colourful ceramic tiles.

Descend into the depths of Napoli Sotterranea, an underground labyrinth that offers insight into Naples’ complex history. Explore ancient Roman aqueducts, catacombs, and World War II bunkers.

Discover the opulent Royal Palace of Naples, which served as the residence for Bourbon kings. The palace is filled with grand halls, frescoes, and a beautiful Royal Chapel.

End your 24 hours in Naples at the elegant Galleria Umberto I, an iconic 19th-century shopping gallery. Marvel at its stunning architecture and indulge in some shopping or a traditional Italian gelato.

24 hours in Naples: visit Procida

Ferries run regularly from Naples to its closest island, Procida, a worthwhile destination for a day trip during the summer months. While Capri and even Ischia are often overrun by tourists throughout the summer season, Procida has remained under the radar, despite being the closest island to Naples. This small island, no more than 4 km long, has four distinct coastlines which all offer something different to the traveller. However, the size of the island means that travellers to Procida can see multiple sites in a day, and even divide an evening between more than one locations. Check out my full Procida itinerary here.

If you’re looking for a more upmarket solution for enjoying 24 hours in Naples, Elitier Concierge charts private boat trips to Procida and Capri. The smallest craft can take 13 guests by day, or 8 sleeping if you are planning an overnight jaunt. Enjoy a light lunch including champagne, oysters and artisan mozzarella on board for a special treat.

How to get to Sorrento from Naples

From Napoli Centrale, the main train station in Naples, the simplest solution to reach Sorrento from Naples is to take the Circumvesuviana train on to Sorrento from Napoli Centrale. This takes 1’ or 1’ 15” (depending on if it’s the direct train or the one that stops more frequently) and departs about twice an hour (check the timetable here). I recommend buying tickets for this at the newsagent on the platform as soon as you arrive, rather than from the Circumvesuviana ticket office further down the hall, where there is always a queue. An adult ticket costs €4.10 in 2020 and must be validated before use. Sorrento railway station is centrally located and suitable for reaching many city centre hotels on foot.

How to get to Sorrento from Naples by sea

If you’re staying in Naples, you don’t need to put up with the heat and chaos of the Circumvesuviana train to get to Sorrento from Napoli. There are a couple of fast ferries leaving from the port area of Beverello, which motor to Sorrento in about 30 minutes, leaving around 10 times a day. These dock at the port of Sorrento, otherwise known as the Marina Piccola, which is a centrally located bay at the foot of the Sorrentine cliffs. Two lifts, costing a couple of Euros per ride, then bring you up to the town level. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for Sorrento hotels, don’t miss my up-to-date guide here.

24 hours in Naples: the Circumvesuviana train

You’ll read a lot of scathing reviews of the Circumvesuviana train, the main train from Naples to Sorrento, as well as the best way for reaching Pompeii or Herculaneum from Naples. It’s a rickety old train, always full to bursting, renowned for pick-pockets and encounters with over-friendly locals. It also offers an incredible slice of life and local colour – a quick taste of Napoli before arriving at the coast.

One of the best things about the Naples to Sorrento train in fact is the fact that you pass through some stunning locations on this little train – including the historical sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and pretty resorts like Vico Equense and Piano di Sorrento. As far as I’m concerned, this journey really puts me in the mood for a holiday in Sorrento and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Read next: Best hotels in Sorrento: where to stay, for all budgets