Unusual things to do in Naples, an alternative city guide

Siobhan Lawless

written by
Siobhan Lawless

updated 29.03.2024

Looking for unusual things to do in Naples? You’ll find museums of curiosities, a serene coast, ancient aqueducts that lie beneath the streets, and much to eat (not just pizza). Here's our alternative guide to Naples, with tips from our local travel experts.




1. Explore the Pharmacy of the Incurables

The Pharmacy of the Incurables is one of the world's oldest pharmacies. It's set in the grounds of a working hospital and dates back to 1700. It is part of Santa Chiara Degli Incurabili Convent, originally established by Maria Lorenzo Longo —a Catalan noble woman dedicated to helping Naples' needy.

The pharmacy's divided in two. The laboratory traces the history of Naples’ art and alchemy and Museo delle Arti Sanitare documents the city's medical discoveries. Be prepared for the latter, it's home to some fearsome looking surgical instruments.

2. Take a doll hospital tour

Visit Ospedale delle Bambole in Spaccanapoli, where the historic dolls' hospital has been at home for more than 100 years.

The hospital opened in 1895 and was founded by set designer, Luigi Grassi. Today it's run by his great-granddaughter and 'patients' now come from all over the world.

Infirm toys are given beds. They also have nurses and prescriptions, and treatments are carried out in the laboratory. You'll either like the nostalgia or find it a little creepy — but there’s only one way to find out...

Doll hospital

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

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

Burn off Naples' famous lunches with a water bike tour. Depart from the harbor, hop on a water bike, and pedal along the coastline, enjoying views of the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. 

Pass by landmarks like Castel dell'Ovo and Posillipo Hill while feeling the sea breeze. This is a great way to find secret beaches and discover the city's most exclusive coast.

Ready to see Naples? With our tailor-made trip service, you don't have to spend hours researching to take your dream trip. Let us take care of the planning and booking. Our trips are crafted by local travel experts and are completely customisable to your wants and needs.

Water bike tour Naples

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 for a drink in the exalted company of literary greats like Dante and Giovanni Boccaccio. First opened in 1956 in Naples' old town, and still there to this day, the bar mixes excellent cocktails and attracts a lively crowd.

Swing by Otto Jazz Club on a Saturday night. Sample the 200 strong cocktail menu and soak up jazz, blues and Neapolitan folk music. Or try Bourbon Street where Naples meets New Orleans from Thursday to Sunday. Go for the live jazz, friendly staff and extensive drinks menu.

libreria Beriso

Libreria Beriiso attracts smart locals and savvy visitors © Siobhan Lawless

5. Taste traditional bolognese in Naples

Had enough pizza? Head to Tandem in centro storico and try authentic ragu. While ragù originated in Bologna, Naples has adopted this hearty meat sauce as its own, infusing it with the region's distinctive flavors and culinary techniques.  

Neapolitan bolognese is a hearty meat sauce that's been simmered for hours, soaking up all the flavors of garlic, onions, tomatoes, and herbs. The meat is tender and falls apart with each forkful. Local restaurant Tandem serves Naples' finest — but remember to book ahead, because it's always busy.

Rough Guides tip: read all about the best time to visit Italy throughout the year.

Tandem Ragu

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

6. Take a walk under Naples

Exploring Napoli Sotterranea is one of the entirely unique things to do in Naples. Descending 40 meters below street level, this underground passage offers two hour tours that aren't to be missed.

In that time you will travel through labyrinthine Greek aqueducts and pagan burial chambers. You'll see remnants of Nero’s lost theatre and peer into WWII air raid shelters. Just remember, part of the tour's by candlelight and passages are narrow, so it's not for the claustrophobic.

Understandably, this is a very popular experience. So to avoid queues, think about booking your tickets in advance. 


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

7. Join the hunt for Naples' best pizza

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

Locals say not, and advise visitors to avoid two hour queues and stroll down Via dei Tribunali to Pomod’oro Pizzeria instead. The pizza's very authentic, and the atmosphere's like a family home. 

Pomodoro pizza inside

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

Ready for your trip to Naples?

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  • Italian Cities of the Renaissance (8 days): Enjoy a week in Italy, discovering the historical landmarks that the country's top cities have to offer; from the ancient sites of Rome, to the waterways of Venice and the cobbled streets of Florence.
  • Piedmont Discovery (10 days): Piedmont is a culinary heaven, with world-class wines and truffles waiting to be discovered. The capital city Turin is a cultural center with a picture perfect skyline. Afterwards, continue to the countryside around Alba, with wine tastings, cooking classes and enjoying the mountains and nature.
  • Or discover more Italy itineraries.

The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Italy your essential guide for visiting Italy


Siobhan Lawless

written by
Siobhan Lawless

updated 29.03.2024

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