Things to do

Naples, thou Heart of men, which ever pantest
Naked, beneath the lidless eye of heaven!
Elysian City, which to calm enchantest
The mutinous air and sea! they round thee, even
As sleep round Love, are driven,—
Metropolis of a ruined Paradise
Long lost, late won, and yet but half regained!

— Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to Naples

Naples and the surrounding area have been inhabited since 800 b.C., that’s why you can find sites of interest ranging from Greek ages to present days.
You can mix past and present following the route of Linea 1, the subway known as “Metro dell’arte” for its amazing stations.
First of all, go get an ANM daily ticket. Ask for biglietto giornaliero ANM to any news stand or tobacconist. It costs 3.50€ and is valid until midnight for buses, subway Linea 1 and Funicolari. If you plan to use also Linea 2, Circumflegrea or Cumana, then you should buy another daily ticket called TIC or biglietto integrato. It costs 4.50€ and gives you access to all the urban transportation.
Starting from Napoli Piazza Garibaldi (Naples central station), designed by Dominique Perrault, all the Linea 1 stations have been designed from famous architects and furnished by international artists. Take a look around in Università and Toledo stations (which was eliged as the most beautiful of Europe by the Daily Telegraph and CNN), realized by Karim Rashid and Oscar Tousquets Blanca, but take your first stop at Museo.

Just outside the station you can find the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, the largest museum of the city. It includes the second largest Egyptian section in Italy, Roman sculptures (don’t miss Ercole Farnese and Toro Farenese) and paintings, and a large collection of mosaics (in particular the spectacular Alexander Mosaic from Casa del Fauno in Pompeii) and furnishing coming from Pompeii and from Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum. Find out more here (unfortunately, the official website is in Italian only).

Tickets: adult 8€/reduced (also under 26yrs) 4€.
Opening:
9am-7:30pm Wednesday to Monday.

 

Floridiana
Now go back to Linea 1 Museo station, and take your next stop in Vanvitelli, the central square of Vomero, the residential district of Naples. Go down via Scarlatti and enjoy the fashionable shops, along with many lounge bar and café, then turn left in via Merliani and enter the Villa Floridiana (free entrance), a huge green park in the center of Vomero, with a 19th century residence in the middle hosting the Museo Duca di Martina, which consists in a collection of ceramics of various manufactures, from XII to XIX century. More info here.

Tickets: Adults 2€/reduced 1€.
Opening: 8.30am-2pm from Wednesday to Monday.

Currently, Floridiana is under maintenance, so its real pride, the panorama from the Belvedere, is not accessible, but don’t worry, you can take a picture of the iconic view of the Vesuvio dominating the gulf and the whole city from Castel Sant’Elmo, located at the top of the Vomero hill. Just exit from Floridiana and go back towards piazza Vanvitelli, then just keep on walking! Castel Sant'Elmo's viewCastel Sant’Elmo is a star-shaped castle built in XIV century, partially carved in the volcanic tufa of the hill. It serves now as exhibition hall and hosts Museo del Novecento. More info here  (official website in Italian only).

Tickets: adults 5€/reduced (also under 26yrs old) 2.50€/Tuesday 2.50€.
Opening: 8.30am-7.30pm every day.
Access to Museo del Novecento: each and every hour from 9am to 6pm Wednesday to Monday.

Side by side with Castel Sant’Elmo there is Certosa di San Martino and its remarkable cloister and gardens, along with the museum exposing ships, cabs and some precious presepi. More info here.

PetraioPertainNow it’s time to move to the city center, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Come back to piazza Vanvitelli, and then turn left to Piazza Fuga, where two funicolari are waiting. Naples has four funicolari, i.e. cable railways, each of them connects Vomero to various parts of the city. You should take funicolare centrale, which leaves you at walking distance from Piazza del Plebiscito. Before taking the funicolare, follow the smell and enter Friggitoria Vomero for a tasty and cheap snack of fried food (small potato croquettes called panzarotti, small rice balls called arancini, fried pizza, fried eggplants, fried courgette flowers…).

Once you take the funicolare, stop at Petraio and take a look outside. Then get back to funicolare and stop at Augusteo. Now turn left and walk for a while on via Toledo and stop at Pintauro for a sfogliatella, a typical Neapolitan pastry filled with ricotta cheese and candied fruit. You can choose between riccia and frolla. The first has a triangular shape and an outside of puff pastry, the second is rounded and its outside is made of shortcrust dough.
Piazza del PlebiscitoIf you are not eager to try sfogliatella, then turn right when you exit the funicolare station, and in a minute you will be in the breathtaking piazza del Plebiscito. The colonnades of the church of San Francesco di Paola face the Royal Palace, one of the residences used by the Bourbon Kings between 1734 and 1860. Piazza del Plebiscito was named after the plebiscite that brought Naples into the unified Kingdom of Italy under the Savoy family. More info here.
Tickets for the Royal apartment: Adults 4€/ reduced (also under 25yrs old) 3€. Opening: 9am-8pm from Thursday to Tuesday. Courtyards: free entrance from 9am to 7pm. Royal gardens: currently under maintenance.

At this point you’ll probably be hungry: if you want to dine in a fine restaurant by seaside, then keep walking and reach the Lungomare. On your left you will see Castel dell’Ovo, the oldest castle of the city dating back to the 1st century b. C., which is built on the small island of Megaride, where Neapolis, the very first nucleus of the city was founded. Legends say that Partenope was the name of the siren buried on that small island, who died after Ulysses refused her, and that the castle was built by the poet Virgil (who was believed to be a wizard) around a secret room that contains an egg (hence the name). As long as the egg stays intact, the castle stays still, and the city won’t be harmed. The entrance to the castle is free, from 9am to 2 pm from Monday to Friday and from 9am to 7.30pm on Sunday and you can enjoy a beautiful view of Capri island from the top of the castle. The island of Megaride is full of fine restaurants, that offer fish-based menus. Many other restaurants and pizzerias can be found walking along the seaside. Prices start from 25-30€.

Port'AlbaSan Pietro a MaiellaIf you have something cheaper in mind then Tribunali is what you are looking for. From piazza del Plebiscito walk back to via Toledo until Toledo metro station. Then take the train and stop in piazza Dante. Behind piazza Dante, walking through Port’Alba, there’s the lively piazza Bellini, where you can enjoy an aperitif or a beer. If you keep walking in Vico S. Pietro a Majella (where there is the Conservatorio S. Pietro a Majella, a prestigious music school), you’ll arrive in via dei Tribunali, where are located the most famous pizzerias of the whole city. Choose between Sorbillo, Di Matteo and Decumani.
Beware: once you try Di Matteo’s frittatina, you’ll fall in love for ever, and you’ll never be able to forget her, should you live a hundred years. Prices start from 5-10€, usually there is a long line (40-50 minutes wait around rush hours) in order to have a seat, in the meantime or in alternative you can order pizza or fried food and eat along the way.

Napoli SotterraneaIn via dei Tribunali there is also Napoli Sotterranea, a path following the ancient Greek-Roman aqueduct about 40 meters below ground, and San Gregorio Armeno, the undisputed world capital of the nativity and home to the Neapolitan presepe. Here you can buy all year long figurines of the nativity and other typical objects supposed to keep away the bad luck (remember that they work only for the ones who receive them as presents, if you buy one for yourself it won’t work!). More info here. Tickets for Napoli sotterranea: adults 10€/reduced (also students with valid student card) 8€. English tour: 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm. Reservation needed for large groups.
Port'AlbaIf you are willing to walk a little more after your pizza, then it’s time for you to wander a bit in the alleys of the historical center. Go back to piazza Bellini and walk down via san Sebastiano; once at the crossroad, Piazza del Gesù discloses on your right, with Monastero di Santa Chiara and its precious cloister, Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo with its unique bugnato façade style and the obelisk at the center of the square. More info here. Free entrance in both churches.
Tickets for Santa Chiara’s monumental complex: adult 6€/reduced (including students under 30yrs old) 4.50€.
Opening: 9.30am-5.30pm week days, 10am-2:30pm Sunday and holidays

Cristo VeiledKeep walking will bring you to Largo Banchi Nuovi, which is one of the hot spots of the night life, together with Largo San Giovanni Maggiore. If you turn left instead, you will find palazzo Venezia and its little hanging gardens, Piazza San Domenico Maggiore and Piazzetta Nilo, where an ancient Roman marble statue representing the Nile God shows off. Near piazza San Domenico Maggiore is located the Cappella Sansevero, a former church now museum hosting the Veiled Christ from Giuseppe Sanmartino. It is said that the Veiled Crist as we know it is due to an agreement between Sanmartino and Raimondo di Sangro, prince of Sansevero, scientist, alchemist, inventor and freemason of the XVII century who supervised the chapel reconstruction. Sanmartino was supposed to carve the Christ, while the prince of Sansevero provided the veil: it was a fabric veil soaked in a mysterious substance invented by him, which turned the veil in marble. More info here and here.
Free entrance for palazzo Venezia(9.30am-1.30pm/3.30pm-7pm) and Basilica di San Domenico Maggiore (10am-7pm).
Tickets for Cappella Sansevero: adult 7€/reduced (including under 26yrs old) 5€.
Opening: 9.30am-6.30pm Wednesday to Monday.

Many legends grew up around prince Raimondo, for his complex and faceted personality. Similarly, many legends surround Naples and its ancient roots, the only way to unveil them is to get lost through its streets and alleys, as this is the only way to get in touch with the beating heart of the city.

 

I won’t say another word about the beauties of the city and its situation, which have been described and praised often. As they say here, “Vedi Napoli e poi muori! — See Naples and die!” One can’t blame the Neapolitan for never wanting to leave his city, nor its poets singing its praises in lofty hyperboles: it would be wonderful even if a few more Vesuviuses were to rise in the neighbourhood.

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italian Journey

Picture of Toledo Station is from Repubblica.it.
Picture of Veiled Christ is from Cappella San Severo Official Website.
Picture of Napoli Sotterranea is from the Official Website.
All the other pictures, if we don’t own them, are from Wikimedia Commons.