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Best Day of the Week to Visit Naples in Rome Itinerary

Hi All,

My wife and I (early 30's) will be making a day trip from Rome to Naples sometime during our time in Rome (10/18-10/24). We've already booked early entry to Vatican on the Friday so that leaves Wed/Thu or Sat/Sun for a full day trip.

This will be our first time in Italy together so we're trying to hit the big sites of Rome but we don't have our Rome itinerary nailed down yet. We're still deciding on Pompeii but leaning towards skipping in favor of more time in Naples. In Naples, we definitely want to do the Archaeological Museum (as maybe a substitute for Pompeii) and Rick's walk, maybe the port and definitely some churches. We would would also like to attend a church service on Sunday whether Naples or Rome.

Would it be better to get weekend vibes in Naples and avoid the crowds of Rome? i.e. prioritize some of the museums in Rome during the weekday? Maybe it's a better vibe with less people in Naples during the work week or the museum is a madhouse on weekends?

Thank you!

Posted by
6687 posts

I hope you will be able to make time for at least Ostia Antica, because the Archaeological Museum is no substitute for Pompeii. We didn't get to Pompeii until our fourth trip to Italy. I might say that (in summer) we had to wait an hour for seating at a pizzeria in Naples, weekday.

Edit: It's risky giving long-distance advice to someone you don't know. But I'm puzzled that you're going to Naples, when you could be going to Ostia, Villa d'Este, or Hadrian's Villa, among other closer (if not, "easier") daytrips. Naples is rich in culture and historic, but a bunch of dusty bronze figurines in a 1950's museum environment is not enough for me. I'm spoiled because there are lots of Pompeii frescoes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Many Naples visitors overlook the Farnese Marbles in the same museum, very important classical sculptures. BTW, have you bought hard-to-get Galleria Borghese tickets in Rome yet?

(It's really challenging to visit Pompeii as a daytrip from Rome, and I'm not flogging that idea. It's even harder when Pompeii closes at dusk-look up the day length for your visit date.)

Posted by
10305 posts

I would do that day trip the day before flying home.

It will be long day and having a 'nothing to do day' the next day would be my choice.

Posted by
2265 posts

Have you considered visiting Herculaneum, just a few miles south of Naples? It would be a good companion visit to the Naples archeology museum.

Posted by
2 posts

Maybe it would be worth prioritizing Pompeii (or Herculaneum or Ostia Antica)? We haven't been to any of them. It was definitely high on the list for us and we love history just didn't want to feel like we were packing too much in. I was definitely guilty of doing that a bit on our last trip, so I'm trying to be a bit more restrained on the itinerary this time. Alternatively, we could always go for it, i.e. it's worth it to cut some time in Naples and add a visit to an actual ruin. I realize that's what Rick mentions in his book... so maybe we should plan on doing an all in one day?

Posted by
158 posts

It is pretty much a full day to go to Pompeii but it's a once in a lifetime thing. I considered Herculaneum but Pompeii is a whole city. It's amazing.
You can book one of the Mondo tours- associated with Rick Steves - they do a guided tour everyday for 15 euro.
I did this in April - got a early Fast train from Rome to Naples and connected to the cicrumvesuviana
Tour was 11:00 to 1:00 and I was back in Naples by about 2:30. You can still have some pizza in Naples and then take the train back to Rome.

Posted by
15445 posts

I think going to Naples is a fine idea. The Archaelogy museum is a wow. The RS guidebook has a walking tour that starts across the street from the museum. I thought it was quite interesting. There are several sights you could pop into along the way - but certainly not all of them in one day. I would go mid-week to Naples. Note that you are likely to get school groups at the museum on weekdays. If you spend the day in Naples, you may want to get there early and start at the museum, or save it for the last hours of the day, though not as convenient for the walking tour. You need the metro to get from the train to the museum. My last visit to the museum was on a weekday in February. I avoided the school groups by going to another room every time I came upon a group. It took a little bit more time but it was not a problem.

Going to Pompeii means another 1 - 1.5 hours of travel time each way. If you spend the time there to see it properly, you may not have 2 hours left to visit the museum in Naples (allow at least 2 hours). You'd go to Pompeii first to avoid the mid- to late afternoon sun/heat. You might consider Herculaneum instead of Pompeii. It's still a schlep on the local train to get there, but it's smaller and better preserved. A 3-4 hour visit is enough. On your next trip visit Pompeii. I don't know that the day of the week makes a difference for either site.

OTOH I do like the idea of spending a day in Naples and going to Ostia Antica for a 1/2 day from Rome. It's not as spectacular or colorful as the sites around Naples Bay, but it's still very interesting.

Posted by
6687 posts

Dario, I have great respect for Italy's place in the history of art. But I've been to at least a hundred art museums, all over the world. You don't have to like someone else's opinion, but I have the right to express it.

I stand by my statement that the Naples Archaeology Museum is hot, dusty, poorly lit, and laid out in the 1950's way that many New York City museums were, in my childhood. For example, there are flat table display cases that keep you from getting too close to the art hung vertically on the walls behind them, or on narrow shelves behind them. There are too many sculptures behind glass.

I recently had the pleasure of seeing a small loan exhibition from Naples, in the NYU Institute for the Study of Ancient Art (NYC), with brightly lit Pompeii fresco fragments hung so that I could stand nine inches away from the works. It was a delight, in fact superior to any of the (much larger) fresco presentations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art just down the street.

I also am (generally; outdoors at an ancient dig is an exception) opposed to exhibition of replicas. So while I'm sympathetic to the widely expressed thought here that the Naples museum is an essential complement to visiting Pompeii Scavi, for the OP's purposes (remember those?) I think the real art is a poor substitute for the experience of walking around Pompeii for at least 4 hours.

Posted by
44 posts

I don’t think it really matters which day you go to Naples. It is always busy and vibrant. I probably wouldn’t go on Sunday because many of the shops will probably be closed. The churches will also be having masses so they difficult to visit. If you had to go on Sunday, go to the museum first. You could also go to mass in the morning, then lunch. In the afternoon more places may be open.

I would do a day trip to Naples over Pompeii any day, so don’t second guess yourselves if that’s your plan. It would be easy from Rome. The museum is also one of my favorites, not just a “dusty 1950s” building. Try to see the the underground Roman ruins, Sansevero Chapel to see the Veiled Christ, Santa Chiara cloister, and browse through the shops selling presepi (nativity) figurines on Via San Georgio Armeno. Most of all, just walk around and enjoy the city!

Posted by
475 posts

The archeological museum is closed Tuesdays. Also, I was there last week and many of the best-known items in the collection are on tour in other parts of the world such as the US and Japan into 2023. It was a bit disappointing. Still a fabulous museum.

Posted by
3803 posts

You don't have to like someone else's opinion

I know I don't have, but even if I like your opinion it's indisputable that Cesar's "wedding" gift to Cleopatra, one of the works I linked, is a little more than "dusty bronzes".

The 2 Bronzes, incidentally, have no counterparts for state of preservation, subject and posture. How many original bronze sculptures of the Hellenistic period of that size are left in the world? 20? And now you can even stay only 30 cm away from both!

Anyway you can decline the Championship's Belt and being right. Relax.

Posted by
44 posts

Poor Josh, he just wanted to know which day to visit Naples. I think if it were me, I would go on Thursday.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
15445 posts

Is there more than one archaeology museum in Naples? The one I went to twice is nothing like what other posters have described. I was up close and personal to frescoes and mosaics as well as statues in light, airy galleries. The only glass cases with bronzes I remember are all in 2-3 small rooms known as the Secret Cabinet, an extensive collection of erotic and sexual pieces which would be behind glass anywhere like all small objects are. In other rooms, some delicate pieces like vases and glassware are in free-standing glass cases.

Posted by
458 posts

Thanks for this post. We went to Pompeii on our last visit & wanted to possibly do a day trip to Naples to see the museum but hearing many of the pieces are on loan I may rethink it.

On that trip we also went to Ostia Antica as part of a RS tour. Since you only have a week and have not been to Rome before I would go to Ostia Antica instead. Closer and will not take up a whole day. It is also amazing and not crowded.

There are so many things in Rome to see and on a first trip I personally wouldn’t make the long trip to Naples and Pompeii

Posted by
15081 posts

Hi Josh -
....sometime during our time in Rome (10/18-10/24).

So does that mean you arrive on 10/18 and depart on 10/24? Just trying to get a handle on how much time you actually have as far as FULL days in Italy.

Aside from that, as you are both in your early 30's, you have years in front of you for return visits. I'd personally love to see you hold off on Naples/Pompeii/Herculanum for a future adventure when you can include the Amalfi/Sorrentine Coasts and generally give the region the time it deserves. Naples may also be a bit easier to handle on a return trip when you've a bit of an idea of how Italy works...not to say it "works" the same in all parts of the county!! Let's just say that a fair amount of travelers find it much more chaotic than Rome, Florence, Milan, etc. and a little overwhelming for the first timer.

Visiting the archeological museum along with Pompeii and/or Herculaneum would also provide some context to its treasures that you wouldn't otherwise get if viewing them in a vacuum, sort of speak?

As well, there is much more to Rome than just the most visited "big sites", and day trips that wouldn't require leaving so much out that otherwise adds to a bigger picture. Yes, Ostia Antica would be easier/less time-consuming. or even exploring the Appia Antica; a personal favorite amongst Rome's nearby antiquities. Just some things to consider?

Posted by
6687 posts

Chani, thank you very much for your post. There are still older Americans who believe that the Naples rail station is a scary relic of the Mussolini-era. In fact it's quite new.

Could you please give the year of your visit? We were there in May, 2014. Did that museum also have the Farnese Marbles? Renovation could certainly explain the many international loans made.

Posted by
15445 posts

I was last there in February 2017. I saw the Farnese marbles on my first visit in 2012. I don't remember if they were there on my 2nd time, if they were I probably skipped them to spend more time with the mosaics and frescoes.