I’ve been visiting Naples for years, and I can’t stop going back for more; the city has the most incredible hold on me.

From raw streets, like Spaccanapoli, and majestic landmarks, like the Castel Nuovo, to the seriously good pizza that can be devoured on every corner, Naples, Italy is a city that is full of diverse delights.

When you walk through the historic center for the first time, you’ll be overwhelmed with the absolute (wonderful) chaos of it all.

The air is alive with the sound of horns from scooters that come in every color, navigated with flair by those who perch atop them, while vendors eagerly beckon, offering tastes of their freshest limoncello.

Naples has so much going for it; the architecture is unlike anywhere else; the locals are very welcoming, and they don’t treat you like a typical tourist. Plus, it’s very affordable, and most importantly, there are so many free things to do.

It’s not every day you can see incredible artwork within churches, take a picturesque walk along the Lungomare, and get your photo taken at the famous Via San Gregorio Armeno without spending a euro. I ticked off all these attractions for free the last time I was there, and I’m going to teach you how you can do it, too.

In this article, I’m going to show you all the best free things to do in Naples that you can pin on Google Maps for your next visit! You’ll find plenty in here, including the jaw-dropping French-Gothic San Lorenzo Maggiore, the serene Orto Botanico di Napoli, and so much more.

With the right planning ahead of time, you’ll be to see everything on this list across a couple of days in Naples. Who knows, you may even be able to save yourself a couple of euros for a mouthwatering slice of Margherita in Gino e Toto Sorbillo at the end of the day.

My list of free activities in Naples will be your go-to guide for discovering the Campanian capital’s cobblestoned streets, awe-inspiring churches and collections of landmarks without reaching into your pocket.

Let’s get started!

Free Things to Do in NaplesBay of Naples, Italy

1. Orto Botanico di Napoli

Get your dose of fresh air and nature at the Orto Botanico di Napoli, a true urban paradise spanning a 12-acre space under the ownership of the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II.

This gorgeous outdoor space is home to over 1000 plant species from all parts of the world. The alluring collection of light green fern trees will be a feast for your eyes, and the bright red native Australian Corymbia ficifolia will blind you on a warm summer’s day if you happen to visit during the end of June.

As you wander around the grounds, it won’t be long until you come into contact with the desert garden housing the finest succulent plant species. When you continue, you’ll come to the tropical greenhouse, which houses some of the garden’s most prized plant species.

Unfortunately, when I visited, the greenhouse was closed, but hopefully, you might get lucky and have the chance to take a peek inside.

2. Castel NuovoCastel Nuovo in Naples

If you venture down by the seaside around the Port of Naples, you won’t be able to miss the towering Castel Nuovo. This monstrous structure was constructed between 1279 and 1282 and is another typical example of Renaissance-esque architecture in the city.

To go inside the actual castle, you must pay an entry fee, but you can get up close to it without paying anything. In my opinion, it looks better from the outside anyway; seeing the bright white triumphal arch and the pair of watch towers from a distance was a sight to behold.

Please be aware if you’re looking for Castel Nuovo and can’t find it, as some Neapolitans know it better as Maschio Angioino or the Angevin Keep, which may help you better in your search.

3. Spaccanapoli

Split into two streets, Spaccanapoli is where Naples comes alive with loud conversations between merchants, strong smells of buffalo mozzarella and glowing colours from the murals splashed on every second wall.

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Today, Spaccanapoli is a hive of activity, but it does have some historical relevance, too, as it’s part of the ‘decumani’, which was one of the three roads that made up ancient Neapolis.

There’s so much going on around Spaccanapoli. Every time I find myself there, I end up staying for more than a couple of hours gawking at the expansive piazzas, the dazzling Gesù Nuovo Church and tiny stalls selling all kinds of quirky trinkets.

If you spend long enough exploring Spaccanapoli, you’ll stumble across famous buildings, including Palazzo Venezia, Filomarino Palace, Carafa della Spina Palace, and Petrucci Palace. You won’t be able to stop taking pictures!

Additionally, if you’re wondering where to stay in Naples, in and around Spaccanapoli is an excellent choice.

4. Via San Gregorio ArmenoVia San Gregorio Armeno in Naples

Brace yourself for an attack on the senses at Via San Gregorio Armeno; it’s an adorable street with a whacky side to it. From the moment you start walking down there, you’ll be met by dozens of traders trying to sell you mini figurines from the nativity, including clay-made versions of baby Jesus and mini replicas of donkeys.

There’s a reason why these little collectables are so readily available in Via San Gregorio Armeno. In the past, the street had a temple that was built in the name of the Roman goddess Ceres. Due to this, locals began crafting and selling microsized models of her. With the heavy religious sentiment throughout Naples and across Italy, these figures were soon swapped for those from the nativity.

Nativity figures aren’t the only thing on offer at Via San Gregorio Armeno. You’ll find vendors selling basically anything and everything you can think of, from magnets to take home with you to stalls selling traditional Neapolitan snacks.

Walking down Via San Gregorio Armeno is completely free, you don’t have to buy anything. However, some vendors won’t be too pleased if they catch you trying to get some photos of their products.

5. The LungomareLungomare in Naples, Italy

Give yourself a rest from the hustle and bustle of Naples’ historic centre and spend an afternoon ambling along the Lungomare, the city’s scenic waterfront promenade. The term lungomare in Italian refers to the part of a city or town that faces the sea, and Naples is blessed with such an area that happens to be overlooked by the monstrous Mount Vesuvius in the distance.

If you have the time to spare, venture out on the three km-long walk that starts at the sought-after Santa Lucia neighbourhood and continues to Caracciolo.

To be transparent, this seafront stroll wasn’t even on my agenda during my first visit to Naples, but the ever-so-hectic centre led me to seek refuge in this quieter pocket of the city. It was the perfect escape after an hour in Via San Gregorio Armeno.

What I loved most about this promenade was how it was such a contrast to pretty much every other corner of Naples I’ve explored, though it somehow still fits right in with the rugged undertone of this southern city.

While you’re on the trail, you’ll get to see the incredible Castel dell’Ovo, which is Naples’ oldest fortification and one of the walkways’ main highlights. However, at the time of writing this article, Castel dell’Ovo is temporarily closed, so you won’t be able to go inside, but the outside alone is enough to take your breath away.

To truly soak up the vistas of the historical buildings and the glistening Gulf of Naples that encircle the Lungomare, you should try to pencil in a visit midweek when there tends to be less footfall. If you go in the morning, you might be lucky enough to have the whole trail to yourself; if the Neapolitans haven’t got there before you.

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6. Duomo di NapoliDuomo di Napoli in Naples

The Duomo di Napoli may not get as much of the limelight as its Florentine and Milanese counterparts, but this magnificent cathedral deserves a spot in any Italian itinerary and is among the top free things to do in Naples.

Also known as Santa Restituta, this Catholic church has been standing tall in the city’s historic centre since the 14th century, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the blend of Gothic, Baroque, and Neo-Gothic architecture that inspired the cathedral’s facade, and the mosaic-filled interior was just as impressive.

It was only after my visit, that I learned of the fascinating legend that shrouds this iconic landmark. Duomo di Napoli houses a vial of the blood of Saint Januarius, which is liquified three times each year. According to local lore, if the blood doesn’t liquify, Naples will succumb to a disaster.

So far, fingers crossed, Naples has not been at the mercy of such a catastrophe, and the cathedral remains intact, becoming one of the city’s most treasured attractions.

7. Explore the Spanish QuarterSpanish Quarter in Naples, Italy

Formerly a haven for Spanish soldiers in the 16th century, the streets of the Spanish Quarter hum with the energy of daily Neapolitan life, a stark contrast to its notorious history (the soldiers got up to all sorts and the area was rife with crime and prostitution back in the day).

Among its maze of lively lanes, the Maradona mural on Via Portacarrese stands out as one of my favourite spots, beneath which a colorful shrine of sorts pays homage to Naples’ beloved football legend.
The positively buzzing Pignasecca market, still taking place today as it has done for many, many years, offers a feast for all of your senses; simply follow the crowds and watch as the frenetic buying, selling and perusing takes place under the open air.

Not to be missed either are the architectural beauties like the Church of Santa Maria della Mercede and the Church of Sant’Anna di Palazzo, which boast rich baroque decorations and art history treasures.

For me, the Spanish Quarter encapsulates what Naples is all about – rough around the edges, full of history, and with lots of local life taking place with great fervor. And you can take it all in for free!

8. Villa Floridiana

Much like the Lungomare, Villa Floridiana serves as an ideal place to retreat when the bustling center of Naples becomes a little too much for you. Located in the upmarket hilltop neighborhood of Vomero, Villa Floridiana is the former home of the Duchess of Floridia, though the gardens have been transformed into a tranquil city park.

While admiring the remarkable mansion around which the park itself is an activity in itself, I fell in love with the vivid greenery and spent several of my evenings recuperating here after an action-packed day of sightseeing.

Somewhat of a hidden oasis, Villa Floridiana is surrounded by manicured green spaces and lush fauna. As you make your way around the park, you’ll notice the trees opening up to showcase awe-inspiring views over Naples and the vibrant blue hues of the Gulf of Naples.
If you happen to stop by on a clear day, as I did on one occasion, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the alluring island of Capri, which I highly recommend you visit if you’ve got time.

Villa Floridiana is a unique addition to this list, as it also houses the National Ceramic Museum. However, it’ll cost you a small fee to go inside and admire the exhibits, which is more than worthwhile if you fancy yourself to be quite the art connoisseur.

9. Fontanelle Cemetery

Perhaps the most unorthodox feature on this list is Fontanelle Cemetery, a former ossuary tucked away in the Materdei district that’s a must for those of you keen to get a little off the beaten path.

This charnel house stood as the final resting place for the poorest members of Neapolitan society, and the site came to light towards the end of the 17th century when floods washed a significant portion of the remains out onto the streets. The cemetery was used to bury the city’s impoverished citizens until the mid-19th century.

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I learned of this haunting spot shortly after landing in Naples for the first time, and I was captivated by the network of corridors that retell the stories and traditions of Naples’s past. To give full disclosure, the Fontanelle Cemetery probably won’t be for everyone as it’s undoubtedly an eerie spectacle, but curious minds will be beguiled by the mystery that fills the halls.

Another peculiar piece of Neapolitan history I learned while here relates to the cult following that this cemetery gained during the 19th and 20th centuries. Locals became so engrossed in caring for the skeletal remains that the Cardinal of Naples had to close the site in the 1970s!

A Final Note on the Best Free Things to Do in Naples

Criminally underrated, abundant in culture, and steeped in history, it’s safe to say that I’m certainly one to gush about the enchantment of Naples.

Although Naples already has quite a lot going for it, the outstanding array of things to see and do that are completely free of charge earns the City of the Sun some extra brownie points in my book.

Hopefully, you can immerse yourself in the boldness and brilliance of Naples after reading through this list of activities, all without having to dig too deep into your pocket!

Guest Author: This guest post was written by Isabelle Hoyne, founder of Cultured Voyages, a travel blog for culturally curious travelers, showing readers how to independently craft enriching travel experiences for themselves, through detailed travel guides and itineraries.

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