Since we purchased a Eurail pass, we decided to make the most of our travel day from Rome to Pompeii by stopping in Naples – the capital of Campania – for a few hours. We actually don't recommend getting a Eurail pass in Italy–click here to read our tips on how to save money in Italy.
Naples, Italy is probably best known as the birthplace of pizza, but the area is also full of Greek and Roman history. Napoli Sotterranea – the underground tour of Naples – is a great way to learn more about the city roots by touring the underground tunnels and ancient Roman waterways. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the Naples Underground tour – where to meet, what to expect, and what to bring.
Italy is one of the most traveled to countries in the world, and it’s no wonder with all the movies it shows up in! From A Good Woman (Amalfi Coast), Only You (Amalfi Coast), Under the Tuscan Sun (Positano and Tuscany), The Italian Job (Northwestern Italy), The Godfather (Northeast Sicily), The Talented Mr Ripley, A Room With A View, Tea With Mussolini, Much Ado About Nothing, the 1950’s hit Roman Holiday, Letters to Juliet, the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, and of course the first stop in Eat, Pray, Love.
You can even grab a travel guide for Italy, such as Fodor's The Amalfi Coast, Capri & Naples, Rick Steves Snapshot Naples & the Amalfi Coast: Including Pompeii, or Lonely Planet Naples, Pompeii & the Amalfi Coast (Travel Guide). Learning more about the culture of Italy using the Italy - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture book is also recommended!
The Naples Underground Tour is offered in English every two hours starting at 10AM. The last tour is at 6PM. We went for the 2PM tour and didn't purchase tickets in advance. We actually showed up about 20 minutes early so they told us to come back and get in line about 5 minutes before.
There are a few other signs and stands stating "Naples Underground" or "Sotterranea tour" so make sure you look for the blue and white “Napoli Sotterranea” flags and the stone face above the entrance.
It cost 10€ each for tickets (as of May 2018), cash only, and paid just as you entered. Be aware that you will need to go up and down stairs and some passageways are very narrow. We enjoyed the history and information about Napoli given on the tour by our guide. He also made sure everyone was comfortable going through the hallways and gave fair warning before we headed into areas that were so narrow we had to turn sideways. Those areas were optional, but if you're not claustrophobic they are worth going to as the rooms they led to were beautiful.
In previous years they used to use hand out real candles to light the way through the narrow tunnels. For safety reasons they have switched to battery-powered candle-shaped lamps so you don’t need to worry about wax dripping or open flames.
After the tour of underground Naples, we went above to current day street level. Our guide led us to a family house where they discovered part of a Roman theatre in the wine cellar. Not much of the theatre is visible, but it was interesting to see how it has become part of the foundation of the modern-day buildings. Basically the newer buildings are now helping to hold up the ancient underground structures meaning that they have to co-exist and can't be separated.
It took about an hour and fifteen minutes for the whole tour. If you're going to be in Naples even if just for a few hours, this is a great tour to take.
Things of note:
Tips for the guides are at your discretion. Not everyone gave a tip, but some did.
Toilets are available before the entrance (for free!).
It can feel a bit chilly underground and it is very humid. You may want to bring a jacket.
There is a popular pizza shop very close to the entrance of Napoli Sotterranea, but the line is long. Allow for extra time if you plan to go there.
Interested in Exploring Naples by way of Pizza?
Check out the “Naples Pizza Adventure” and experience many different pizza adventures along your Italian trip through Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples, Sorrento, and Capri or the Amalfi Coast with one of the best Adventure groups in the market, G-Adventures! You’ll have plenty of time to explore the Underground of Naples as well!
Where to Stay in Naples, Italy
Best Luxury Hotel, Experience & Location: Grand Hotel Excelsior Terme, Ischia (price varies)
Best Value Hotel & Location: Il Tesoro Smart Suite & Spa (from $83 USD per night)
Best Value Hostel & Location: Naples Experience Backpackers Hostel (as low as $46 USD per night)
Cheapest Decent B&B & Location: B&B Carbonara Napoli (as low as $36 USD per night)
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Jenny & Bradley of EatWanderExplore