Travel information: getting around Naples

Navigate Naples by bus, metro, car or bike

By Jeffrey Kennedy & Janice Fuscoe

Public transport

The only public transport most visitors take within Naples is the occasional bus and a funicular or two. Most visitors won’t have any reason to travel on the Metro, which is designed primarily for suburban commuters. For getting away from Naples, there are narrow-gauge trains to the south-east and the west, or ferries and hydrofoils to all points around the bay. Apart from that, count on walking (or taking a taxi); city buses are not known for their efficiency and comfort.

Fares & tickets

A single ticket, allowing up to three trips on all metropolitan transport – including one trip only on the metro and funiculars – costs €1.10 and is valid for 90mins (081 551 3109, www.unicocampania.it). A 24hr ticket for unlimited travel on all metropolitan public transport costs €3.10 Mon-Fri; the 3-day ticket costs €20 (includes Alibus & buses on Capri and Ischia). Tickets must be bought at a newsstand, tabacchi or ticket machine before boarding, then time-stamped in the machine.

Buses

Traffic makes bus travel in Naples a pain: you’re often quicker walking. Still, the dedicated bus lane on Corso Umberto can make bus travel to places between San Carlo opera house and the Stazione Centrale viable. The bus can also be an option when travelling to Mergellina and Posillipo (from Santa Lucia or the Riviera di Chiaia).

Bus services are run by ANM (800 639 525, 081 763 1111, www.anm.it). There is no central bus station: some buses run from Piazza Garibaldi, others from Via Pisanelli, near Piazza Municipio, others from Piazza Vittoria. Electronic signs at Metro stations and bus stops give waiting times. Before taking a bus, buy tickets at a tabacchi or newsstand and stamp them in the machines on board. Enter buses through the front or back door, and exit through the central ones; before your stop, press the red button.

Circular routes

There are seven R routes, four of which intersect in the Via Medina/Piazza del Municipio area; R5 heads north towards Capodichino.

A-to-B routes

C16 Regular service from Mergellina along Corso Vittorio Emanuele to Piazza Mazzini and Via Salvator Rosa.
C18 The only direct bus from Piazza Vittoria along the seafront, through the Fuorigrotta tunnels to the football.
C21 Posh route from Piazza Sannazzaro in Mergellina that runs up the hill to Capo Posillipo along Via Orazio and Via Petrarca.
C27 Important but crowded route from Piazza Amedeo up Via Tasso to Via Manzoni, right along snobs’ alley to Capo Posillipo itself.
C28 Runs into the heart of Vomero from Piazza Vittoria, taking in Via dei Mille, Via Tasso and Via Aniello Falcone along the way.
140 The only bus to run up Via Posillipo from Mergellina. Starts at Santa Lucia, opposite Castel dell’Ovo.
201 In its counter-clockwise run, the 201 hits Stazione Centrale, Via Foria, Piazza Cavour, Piazza Dante and Piazza del Municipio.

Circular shuttle route

E1 Departing from Piazza Gesù Nuovo, it skirts most of the Centro. Storico. Stops are within easy walking distance of each other; the bus is useful mostly for shoppers.

Metro

Naples’ system of underground and overground railways and trams, operated mostly by Metronapoli (800 568 866, 081 559 4111, www.metro.na.it), can be the fastest way to get around parts of Greater Naples.

Red M signs indicate a metro station. Tickets are sold at any tabacchi, and at machines in every station. They cost €1.10 and are valid on any form of transport within the city for 90mins.

The Metro system has been in the throes of expansion for decades, with new lines and stations set to open every year. There will be ten lines in total, most of which will serve suburban commuters. A few lines that are part of the functioning system are of interest to visitors:

Metro Linea 1 runs from Piazza Dante to Piazza Vanvitelli, then into the north-east suburbs (6am-11pm).

Metro Linea 2 runs from Piazza Garibaldi (beneath Stazione Centrale), skirting Centro, to the Mergellina mainline station and the Campi Flegrei (5.30am-10.59pm).

Also now officially part of the system are two older, narrow-gauge overground railways, one heading west and the other snaking in the other direction, round the bay.

Both are fairly ramshackle.

The Circumvesuviana (8000 53939, www.vesuviana.it, tickets not valid on the urban system) leaves from its own terminus in Corso Garibaldi, south of (but accessible from) Stazione Centrale. Trains run south-east to Oplontis, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Sorrento (5.09am-10.42pm).

The Ferrovia Cumana (800 001616, www.sepsa.it) runs services from Piazza Montesanto to the Campi Flegrei (5.20am-10.30pm).

Funicular

The four funicular railways (Centrale, Chiaia, Mergellina and Montesanto) only take you to the Vomero and back, but kids love them. Long overdue maintenance work on the Montesanto and Chiaia Funiculars continues, but services are still regular.

Rail

For information and bookings, call 89 20 21 (open all week, 24hrs a day) or visit www.trenitalia.it.

There are three mainline Ferrovie dello Stato-Trenitalia (FS) stations in Naples. Most FS trains come and go from Stazione Centrale (see Getting to Naples), from high-speed services to slower local trains. Below the street-level main station are two lower levels: the first has tickets for the Circumvesuviana line (see Metro); the second contains Piazza Garibaldi station.

Advance rail tickets can be bought at stations (some automatic machines accept credit cards) or from travel agents with the FS logo. If you don’t speak Italian, it can be hard to find the right queue: some desks sell intra-Italy (biglietti interno/senza supplemento), Eurostar tickets and high-speed supplements (supplementi rapidi); some also sell advance bookings (prenotazioni); some only do advance bookings. A separate window caters for international trains (internazionali). If you’re confused, ask at the Stazione Centrale’s busy informazione office.

Ticket prices are directly related to distance travelled. Slower trains (diretti, espressi, regionali and interregionali) are much cheaper than in northern Europe, but supplements mean faster trains – InterCity (IC), EuroCity (EC), and Eurostar Italia (ES) – are closer to the European norm.

Booking a seat is obligatory (and included in the ticket price) on ES trains; reservations can be made up to 15mins before departure. Seats on IC and internal EC routes should be booked 24hrs before departure; reservation is compulsory. If your ES, IC or EC train arrives more than 30mins late and you’ve booked a seat, you can claim a partial refund at the rimborsi booth.

You’re liable for a €50 fine if you fail to stamp your ticket – and any supplement – in the yellow machines at the head of each platform before boarding. (If you forget, find the inspector as soon as possible after boarding the train.) This does not apply to Alta Velocità tickets.

Taxis

Taxis can be found at signposted ranks; otherwise, call the numbers below. Authorised white taxis have the city’s emblem on the front doors and rear licence plate, and a meter. Steer well clear of unauthorised ‘taxi’ drivers, who may demand exorbitant sums for short journeys.

As you set off, the meter should read €3. There’s a €4.50 minimum charge per trip. On Sundays or holidays the minimum charge becomes €5.50; €2.10 10pm-7am; 50¢ per piece of luggage in the boot, and an extra €3.10 to or from the airport. Prices are fixed between Capodichino and Stazione Centrale (€12.50) and Stazione Centrale and Molo Beverello (€16). Each driver must display this list of fares: if you don’t see it, ask for the ‘elenco di tariffe predeterminate’.

Cab drivers may try to hike fares, so ensure the meter is on. If you suspect you are being ripped off, make a note of the driver’s name and number from the photo ID in the cab; do it ostentatiously and the fare is likely to drop to its proper level.

Complaints can be lodged with the drivers’ co-operative (the phone number is displayed on the outside of the car) or with the Servizio Programmazione, Promozione e Controllo Servizi di Trasporto Pubblico (081 1997 9674).

When you phone for a cab, you’ll be given a geographic location followed by a number and a time, as in ‘Treviso 14, in tre minuti’ (‘Treviso 14, in three minutes’). The driver should put the meter on as you get in; a call supplement of 80¢ will be added. Most taxis accept cash only; a few take credit cards. Consortaxi (081 552 5252, www.consortaxi.it), Free Taxi (081 551 5151) and Partenope (081 560 6666, www.radiotaxilapartenope.it) are generally reliable. Some taxi firms run fixed-rate trips outside Naples at reasonable prices: return to Pompeii for €90, say, or one-way to Positano for €120. Many drivers speak English, making the trip a kind of guided tour.

Ischia has three-wheeled ‘micro taxis’; many of Capri’s taxis are vintage cars; Sorrento has horse-drawn carriages. Each island has its own fare structure, but be prepared to bargain.

Driving

EU visitors can drive on their home country’s licences; an international licence is advisable for non-EU citizens. When driving, remember:

• The law insists you wear a seat belt and carry a hazard triangle and reflective safety jacket in your car; scooter-riders and motorcyclists must wear helmets.
• Keep your driving licence, insurance documents, vehicle registration and photo ID on you
at all times; when stopped by the police, you may be fined if you
can’t produce them.
• Flashing your lights means that you won’t slow down or give way, and want the person in front of you to switch lanes.
• Neapolitans often ignore red lights, so approach junctions with caution. If traffic lights flash amber, give way to the right.
• Maintain your cool and be prepared for anything; watch out for pedestrians and scooters.
• Italians drive on the right.

Reasons not to drive

• Only vehicles with catalytic converters are allowed in the city between 8.30am and 6.30pm Mon, Wed and Fri. There’s an Area Azzurra (Blue Zone) in the centre where only residents can circulate between 7.30am and 6.30pm Mon-Fri. Theoretically no vehicles are permited to circulate around Spaccanapoli from 10am-10pm Mon-Thur and 10am-midnight Fri-Sun (this law is rarely kept). On many Sunday mornings all vehicles are banned. For more details (in Italian only, unfortunately), refer to www.comune.napoli.it.
• In summer, traffic around Sorrento and on the Amalfi Coast is horrific, as tour buses wind their way along narrow coastal roads. Local day-trippers make things even worse at weekends: if you must drive, stick to weekdays. Otherwise, take a boat.
• On the islands, roads are packed in the summer. You can’t take cars to Capri; use public transport or walk on Procida. Car rental on Ischia is relatively cheap, but you can’t take the car off the island.

Breakdown services

National motoring groups (Britain’s AA or RAC and the AAA in the US) have reciprocal arrangements with the Automobile Club d’Italia or ACI, which offers a 24hr emergency service (803 116, 081 725 3811, www.napoli.aci.it) and breakdown assistance. For extensive repairs, go to a manufacturer’s official dealer. Dealers are listed in the Yellow Pages under Auto; specialists are listed under gommista (tyre repairs), carrozzerie (bodywork/windscreen repairs) and marmitte (exhaust repairs). The English Yellow Pages (www.englishyellowpages.it) lists garages where English is spoken.

Car hire

The minimum age for renting an economy car is 21; you must be 25 to rent a larger-cylinder car.

Avis Airport (081 780 5790, www.avisautonoleggio.it). Open 7.30am-11.30pm daily. Credit AmEx, MC, V.
Other locations Via Piedigrotta 44 (081 761 8354); Via Partenope 13, Chiaia (081 240 0307).
Europcar Airport (toll free 199 307 030/081 780 5643, www.europcar.it). Open 7.30am-11.30pm daily. Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.
Other locations Via Santa Lucia 54, Royal Naples (081 764 9838).
Hertz Airport (081 780 2971, www.hertz.it). Open 8am-11.30pm daily. Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.
Other locations Stazione Centrale (081 206 228).
Maggiore Airport (081 780 3011, www.maggiore.it). Open 7.30am-11.30pm daily. Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.
Other locations Stazione Centrale (081 287858).
Thrifty Airport (081 780 5702, www.thrifty.it). Open 8am-11pm daily. Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.

Parking

Blue lines on the road mean residents park free and visitors pay (€1-€2/hr) at the pay-and-display machines. Elsewhere, spaces are up for grabs – though look out for signs saying passo carrabile (access at all times), sosta vietata (no parking) and disabled parking (marked off with yellow lines). ‘Zona rimozione’ (tow-away area) means ‘no parking’, and is valid for the length of the street or until the next tow-away sign with a red line through it. If a street or square has no cars parked in it, assume it’s a no-parking zone.

Illegal ‘parking attendants’ operate in many areas, offering to look after your car for €1 or so. The safest solution is to use pay parking; the Yellow Pages has a full list under autorimesse e parcheggi.

Via Brin Parking
Via Brin & Via Volta, Port & University (081 763 2855). Bus 3S, 194, 195, C81, C82, C89, CS. Open 24hrs daily. Rates €1.30 4hrs, 30¢ successive hr; €21 80hrs; €35.50 150hrs. Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.
An 800-car facility between Stazione Centrale and the port (Porto exit from the ring road or motorway). Buses for Molo Beverello leave every 15mins.

Cycling

Cycling in Naples proper is not to be recommended, except in certain parks, due to the fast and furious traffic; bike theft is also rife.

Walking

It’s perfectly possible to explore Naples on foot – or the areas of visitor interest, at least. For the hillier parts of town, there are the funiculars and a couple of elevators, though walking is never out of the question. For the densest part of the Centro Storico, it’s really the only way to get around.

Tours

CitySightseeing Napoli (081 551 7279, www.napoli.city-sightseeing.it) offers multilingual city tours in open-top double-decker buses. The ‘Art Tour’ and ‘Bay of Naples’ tour depart every 45mins from Piazza Municipio. Tickets (valid 24hrs) cost €22 for adults, €11 for under-15s and €66 for families of five.

At weekends, there’s a ‘San Martino’ tour from Piazza Municipio every 2 hours. Hop on and off as you like.

More travel information

Getting to Naples
When to go to Naples
Fast facts A-Z

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