Unusual things to do in Naples, an alternative city guide

updated 10/12/2021
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Looking for unusual things to do in Naples? You’ll find museums of curiosities. There's a serene coast. Ancient aqueducts lie beneath streets. And there's more to eat than pizza. Take a look at our alternative guide to Naples. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Italy your essential guide for visiting Italy.

1. Explore the Pharmacy of the Incurables

The Pharmacy of the Incurables is one of the world's oldest. It's set in the grounds of a working hospital. And dates back to 1700.

It's part of Santa Chiara degli Incurabili convent. And was established by Maria Lorenzo Longo. A Catalan noble woman dedicated to helping Naples' needy.

The pharmacy is divided in two. The laboratory traces Naples’ art and alchemy. And Museo delle Arti Sanitare documents medical discoveries. It's home to some fearsome surgical instruments.

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2. A Dolls Hospital tour is one of the odd things to do in Naples

Visit the Dolls Hospital in Spaccanapoli. Ospedale delle Bambole has been here for over 100 years.

It opened in 1895. Founded by set designer, Luigi Grassi. And it's now run by his great-granddaughter.

Patients come from all over the world. They have beds, nurses and prescriptions. And they're treated in the laboratory.

You'll either like the nostalgia. Or find it a little creepy. There’s only one way to find out.

Stay in atmospheric Spaccanapoli. Book Casa Hostenso at the heart of the old town.

Tinziana checking on her patients at the doll hospital © Siobhan Lawless

3. Take a water bike tour of the Bay of Naples

Burn off the city's famous lunches. Go on Luigi’s Water Bike Tour?

Cycle into the Bay of Naples. Explore hidden grottos. Find secret beaches. Discover the most exclusive coast.

Luigi's fun and knowledgeable. And the tour's history packed.

Worked up an appetite? Book a street food tour of Naples with local guides.

A water bike tour is one of the best things to do in Naples © Siobhan Lawless

4. Have a drink at an off-the-radar bar

Dip into Libreria Berisio. Drink in Dante and Giovanni Boccaccio. And try the cocktails. First opened 1956. It's in Naples' old town. And the crowd's lively.

Or swing by Otto Jazz Club. Sample the 200 strong cocktail menu. Soak up jazz, blues and Neapolitan folk. Only open Saturday nights.

Bourbon Street brings New Orleans to Naples. Go for live jazz Thursday to Sunday. Friendly staff. Extensive drinks menu.

Stay at the historic centre of Naples. Book BB Casamatta in centro storico.

Libreria Beriiso attracts smart locals and savvy visitors © Siobhan Lawless

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5. Taste traditional Ragu in Naples

Had enough pizza? Head to Tandem in centro storico. And try authentic ragu.

Neapolitan Ragu's slow cooked for 6 to 8 hours. So it's melt in the mouth. And Tandem serves Naples' finest. Book ahead it's always busy.

Not tired of pizza. Learn to make real Neapolitan pizza in the heart of Naples.

Trying Tandem Ragu is one of the things to do in Naples © Siobhan Lawless

6. Have dinner at a traditional Neapolitan Trattoria

Find Trattoria Da Nennella in the Spanish Quarter. Expect long queues outside. And fast service inside.

Local performers drop in to entertain diners. And pasta e patate con la provola is the signature dish.

Wake up to sea views. Book Don Raffaele Resort in the Port of Naples.

7. Take a walk under Naples

Exploring Napoli Sotterranea is one of the unique things to do in Naples.

Underground Naples is 40m below street level. Take a two-hour tour. Travel back in time.

Explore labyrinthine Greek aqueducts. See pagan burial chambers. View remnants of Nero’s lost theatre. And check out WWII air raid shelters.

Part of the tour's by candlelight. And passages are narrow. Bear that in mind before booking.

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Avoid queues. Book Underground Naples entrance tickets in advance.

Military vehicles in the basements of Naples Italy © FPWing/Shutterstock

8. Join the hunt for Naples' best pizza

Sorbillo and Da Michele make Naples' 'best pizza'. But are they alone?

Locals say not. Avoid two hour queues. Stroll down Via dei Tribunali to Pomod’oro Pizzeria instead.

The pizza's authentic. And the atmosphere's like a family home.

Pomod’ore Pizzeria's cosy family kitchen © Siobhan Lawless

Ready to travel to Italy? Find out about the best time to go and the best places to see and things to do in Italy. For inspiration use the Italy itineraries from The Rough Guide to Italy and our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there. And don't forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this does not influence our editorial standards - we only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

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updated 10/12/2021
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