The Best of Naples
A few months ago I (with the fam — husband and three kids) took a late summer holiday to the Italian city of Naples. City breaks can be tricky with young kids which is why we’ve tried to avoid them in the past! (Except for when we went to Paris)
I chose Naples because
- I wanted to go to Italy!
- There are beaches (for the kids), city stuff (for adults) and an active volcano
- Eating only halal meat wouldn’t be an issue because pizza and pasta is everywhere so plenty of veg and fish options. Also good coffee and desserts (gelato) are widely available
- Guaranteed good weather
The ancient ruins of Pompeii are a real site to see. Thought to have been destroyed around 79BC by Mount Vesuvius erupting, the city of Pompeii is pretty phenomenal. Although in 35 degrees Celsius there is only so much children will be willing to put up with.
Top tip – take plenty of iced water and snacks. Sun hats are a must. The whole area can take 3-4 hours if not more. We only managed about 2 before needing to get out of the sun.
The Amalfi Coast
The drive of a lifetime was had when we drove the Amalfi coastline. All the guidebooks advise not to drive — for a reason! The route was treacherous (not even joking). Italian driving is out of this world, and driving on the edges of cliffs is not for the faint hearted. My husband drove but it was insane. Hairpin bends on roads that are only wide enough for 1 and a half cars! You have to see it to believe it. Also Italians indicate less and like overtaking more than the British.
Top Tip: Don’t drive. Because of where we stayed, using public transport to visit Amalfi was a difficult option and parking is worse than in London. We had hired a car anyway so it seemed like the best option at the time. An easier way is to get a ferry to Amalfi from the Bay of Naples or from the nearest port to your accommodation.
I’ve spent ages talking about the journey but not the destination! The Amalfi Coast consists of lots of little towns and ports along the coastline. We stopped in Amalfi, where there are lots of shops, restaurants and a stunning cathedral. The beach was overcrowded but beautiful, and the kids had loads of fun. Other towns we wanted to visit were Positano, Minori and further to the west, Sorrento. I’m considering visiting Sorrento only next time, as it’s supposed to be stunning.
Nothing excites kids more than volcanoes! This was the number one thing my son wanted to do. It involves another crazy drive and then an uphill one mile walk to the top. Now it doesn’t sound like much but when the temperature is in the mid 30’s the walk is a killer. But not to worry as there are lots of drink/ice cream sellers along the way. Free English-speaking guides are also available. The views on the way are worth it.
Top Tip: Don’t take a buggy or a baby! My 5 year-old just about managed the whole experience but she struggled mainly because of the heat.
Naples city centre
Like many European cities, churches and beautiful architecture can be seen throughout Naples. There is a lot of hustle and bustle, with pollution and street sellers but the city has its own charm. Luckily we didn’t see any Mafia types and despite hearing negative things we had a great time. We didn’t spend a huge amount of time in the city centre but enough to get a feel of the city. We stayed at the Palazzo San Michelle which was a B&B with really friendly staff. The rooms were super clean and airy, I only wished we’d booked more nights here. We had a quadruple room which had a kitchenette too.
Wherever you go in Naples, be prepared to eat a lot of pizza. Pizzerias are in abundance, hardly surprising considering Napoli is where pizza originated from. Halal food is hard to find, except for the usual kebab shops in Naples city centre which had halal signs. We avoided these, instead opting for seafood or veggie pasta dishes. Quattro Fromaggio and Margheritas were eaten in abundance as you can imagine! As we went to mainly family style restaurants finding dishes other than pizza and pasta was virtually impossible.
Also a lot of restaurants away from the city centre and main touristy towns are closed from 2-6pm which was often the time we needed to have lunch! Gelato is available everywhere so if all else fails, get some ice-cream.
Where to stay
For a more relaxing holiday fly to Naples airport and transfer to Sorrento or anywhere on the Amalfi coast, this is a fantastic option especially with kids. Vesuvius and Pompeii are about an hour away from here.
For the majority of our stay we rented a villa in San Valentino Torro. This was in the middle of nowhere but on the plus side we had our own pool! It was about 30 mins from Pompeii, Vesuvius, Naples Airport and an hour from Amalfi. Although the villa was great, I wouldn’t advise staying here as it is a bit dead and far from anything!
If you want to see Naples city centre then I advise staying near the Grand Central Station or on the Bay of Naples. This is if you want a proper Italian city break, otherwise staying on the coast would be amazing!
What is your favourite place in Italy?