The Neapolitan Christmas is probably one of the most ancient and traditional festivities in all Italy, and it brings a colorful, lively atmosphere in the streets of the city, with its folklore and artistic sense.
Surely Naples is a top travel destination regardless of the season, but it is a fact that, during Christmas time, its major monuments and squares look even more fascinating thanks to the illumination and twinkly decorations. And let's not forget the delicious seasonal specialties, guaranteed that will make you drool only seeing them.
There are tons of ways to get into the holiday spirit in this beautiful city, but ItalyXP have broken down the essential activities into 5 can’t-miss things to do in Naples at Christmas!
Exploring the historic centers of Naples means crossing twenty centuries of history, as you can admire monuments of different styles and periods. And this experience gets even more exciting in Christmas, when the festive illumination creates a magical atmosphere.
To get you in the right mood for some Neapolitan holiday fun, you can start your walk from Spaccanapoli, the characteristic street that cross the entire historic centre dividing it in two parts. Along your walk you will find several important historical treasures, as well as tons of souvenir shops, handicraft & antique boutiques, wine & food taverns and traditional shops displaying impressive hand-made native scenes cribs.
Also, among the places not to be missed is certainly the Piazza del Plebiscito, the main square in Naples, often used as location for Christmas concerts and events. And from there, you can descend to the harbor district and have a pleasant stroll along the sea till reaching the Castel dell’Ovo, to admire splendid view on the Gulf and the Mount Vesuvius in the background.
Please note that Naples is densely populated and frenetic, and that's why we highly recommend to book a guided tour of the historic center.
One of the streets not to miss during your walking tour in Naples, to breathe the authentic Christmas atmosphere, is certainly Via San Gregorio Armeno: the renowned alley of the Neapolitan nativity scenes, the last exponent of this ancient crib handicraft.
Via San Gregorio Armeno is located between Spaccanapoli and Via dei Tribunali (one of the ancients streets in Naples), near the San Lorenzo Basilica, and you can recognize it because of the many handicraft shops that have been here for generations.
Visiting this picturesque street, surrounded by a myriad of artisanal objects, little statues and native scenes, you will have the opportunity to admire the master artisans at work and to buy some hand-made souvenirs.
The Christmas holidays are a fantastic period to immerse yourself in the rich culture of Naples and discover the immense archaeological and artistic heritage that this city has to offer.
There are several cultural events that you can check, and you can get the opportunity to visit the archaeological sites and the city's major museums for free, thanks to the various initiatives that occur in winter season.
Among the museums you cannot miss is certainly the National Archaeological Museum, which boasts over three thousand artifacts of priceless value, obtained from private collections or from the excavations carried out from Pompeii and the surrounding area.
Also, to fully embrace the Christmas atmosphere, make sure to visit the Museum of St. Martin, located in the homonymous splendid Charterhouse, near the Saint Elmo Castle. The 16th building where the museum is hosted is worth-visiting in itself, due to its architectural design featuring numerous decoration, frescoes, marble paneling, woodcarvings, and floor mosaics. Here is housed the famous collection of Neapolitan nativity scenes, among the finest in the world, including the remarkable Nativity Cuciniello, which consists of 162 people, 80 animals, 28 angels, and about 450 miniature items.
Another feature you will love about Christmas in Naples is the seasonal food, characterized by ancient recipes and genuine ingredients. In the market districts, like the Quartieri Spagnoli or Via Pignasecca, you get immerse yourself in the colors and the scents of the renowned Neapolitan gastronomy.
The many pastry shops and delis display foods of all kind, such as roasted meat, pizzas, fried stuffed-panzerotti, baked cakes, pastries and delicious sfogliatelle, delicious cakes that boast a long history and an important tradition.
The most typical Christmas recipes include: the Capitone, baked eel cooked grilled and flavored with herbs; the baccalà, fried cod-fish filets; the Neapolitan ragù, a tomato sauce with big pieces of juicy beef; and for dessert, you cannot miss a classic babà, an cake shaped like a mushroom, completely immersed in rum.
Christmas is time for shopping, and Naples offers many opportunities to find original gift ideas and souvenirs: for example, the area between Piazza dei Martiri and Via Alabardieri, with its streets filled with shops and boutiques of famous brands, such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Cartier. The quality of the shops and products gets higher going towards Via Chiaia, a real must for those who want to buy unique made-in-Italy items.
To buy clothing, a must is Via Toledo, where prices fall and the products become more affordable for all budgets. You can also visit the Umberto I Gallery, a porticoed street dotted with elegant shops of all kind, ready to meet your requests.
The elegant Vomero neighborhood, with its long pedestrian streets, permeated by a tranquil and clam atmosphere, offers a pleasant opportunity for luxury shopping sessions, escaping the hubbub of the city center.