Arriving on a cruise ship to the port of Naples and wondering how in the world you’re gonna decide what to do? We totally get your dilemma!
There are lots of wonderful places to visit but there are also lots of things you must take into consideration when planning a shore excursion from Naples, and they’re more critical here than in most places in Italy. If you can’t manage stairs or walk for long distances, if you use a wheelchair or scooter, if you get car sick on winding roads, if you absolutely hate being stuck in traffic, if you have young children, you will want to read on.
SHORE EXCURSIONS FROM NAPLES: What NOT To Do!
Deciding on a shore excursion from the port of Naples is a bit torturous, right? There are too many gorgeous coastal towns and too many enthralling ruins and too many divine wineries and too many delectable islands. And, to top it all off, there is even an active volcano, mamma mia!
If you’re having a hard time choosing between Pompeii, Herculaneum, Mt. Vesuvius, the island of Capri, Naples itself, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast towns of Positano, Ravello and Amalfi, the best way to figure out what to do might be figuring out what NOT to do!
So we’re going to give you our two cents about which places are a good idea and which are not, depending on various parameters. Yup, we’re just gonna come right out and say what the challenges are, va bene? Not that we want to rain on anyone’s parade, but we figure there’s no sense in talking up places and having you get all excited about visiting them, only to discover later that it’s really not suitable.
Once you’ve scanned down all our “IF” parameters below you should be left with a much clearer picture of what’s right for you. So you see the secret to deciding is just a process of elimination!
As always, if it’s easier to chat about things please don’t hesitate to contact us.
IF YOU HAVE MOBILITY ISSUES
If you can’t manage stairs or inclines
Positano and the cathedral in Amalfi will not be manageable, nor will Mt. Vesuvius. Stick to Sorrento. Ravello is another option, the main piazza area is flat (note that some parts of Ravello have steep inclines).
If you can’t walk for long distances
Pompeii will be challenging, there is really no place to sit. Herculaneum might be a better choice, as it is smaller and less taxing.
If you use a wheelchair
Pompeii has become much more accessible thanks to the “Pompeii for All” project that is responsible for the 3 km of smooth sidewalks now traversing the site. Despite this improvement, not all of the site is accessible. Herculaneum might be a better choice, as it is more compact and the main paths are mostly smooth. This article from “The Globe on Wheels” might be helpful.
IF YOU GET CARSICK, ARE AFRAID OF SHEER DROPOFFS, OR HATE GRIDLOCK
If you can’t handle winding roads, the sight of the land dropping precipitously away from the guard rail, or being stuck in traffic, then the Amalfi Coast (Positano, Amalfi, Ravello) might not be your best choice. The road is super sinuous, and you can’t just take the next left and get off it if you feel you’re gonna barf or if traffic is at a standstill. Once you’re on it, you’re on it.
Sorrento might be a better choice if you are prone to carsickness but can manage a short stretch of curvy roads. If gridlock means sheer holiday misery to you then Sorrento is also a better idea than going down the Amalfi Coast, where traffic is so frequently at a standstill in high season. You’ll still get to travel around the Bay of Naples, which is not too shabby, and you’ll be on a promontory when you get to Sorrento.
IF YOU CAN’T STOMACH CROWDS OR THE RISK OF MISSING YOUR SHIP
If wall-to-wall people is not your idea of a fun time, don’t go to Capri. We hate to say it, but it’s really become unbearable in high season.
Besides that, getting to the island and back is dicey because you have to take the public ferry, which can also be ridiculously overcrowded and tends to not run on time, which is not so good when you have a boat to catch.
IF YOU HAVE SMALL CHILDREN OR ARE PLANNING ON USING A STROLLER
A stroller can be a hassle in a lot of places along the Amalfi Coast, particularly in Positano, the town of Amalfi, and in parts of Ravello.
- In Positano there are lots of stairs to get down to the boardwalk and beach, and the walkways are very narrow. (The seaside in Positano is a great family-friendly destination, however.)
- In Amalfi there are lots of stairs leading up to the cathedral (that is so worth a visit).
- In Ravello certain parts of the town are on a steep incline and the sidewalks are very narrow.
STROLLER TIPS for the above places
A baby carrier might be more useful if you have wee ones. For small children an umbrella stroller will be way easier to manage than a full-size one. There’s just not room for a full-size stroller on a lot of walkways, especially in high season.
- In Sorrento you’ll find mostly flat terrain, but there’s not much for children to do, unless they like to shop or are content sitting on a terrace with a beverage or gelato (ice cream).
- At Pompeii you’ll find a decently stroller-friendly situation now, although not all of the ruins are accessible from the new pathways. The thing to keep in mind about Pompeii with regard to kids (and sensitive adults) is the HEAT, which can be staggering in summer. There is no shade and no place to sit. Figure you’ll be in the blazing sun for 2 hours when you visit Pompeii.
IF YOU ARE VERY SENSITIVE TO THE HEAT
If you’re considering Pompeii, read the notes directly above in the “At Pompeii” paragraph.
The Amalfi Coast is sweltering, even in mid spring and mid fall. Ravello would be a better alternative to Positano or Amalfi, as it is high up on the cliffs and has lots of trees.
IF YOU HAVE BUSY KIDS OR WANT AN ACTIVE EXCURSION
Positano is great if you want to spend the day by the sea. You can rent gear and boats, and there are lots of restaurants with covered terraces along the boardwalk. A nice family-friendly day trip is Positano & Pompeii. See our Amalfi Coast “What You Wish” excursion, which is a customizable tour, for more info.
Mt. Vesuvius is a great kid-friendly tour idea, perfect for active families. Be warned, you will get an awesome glute workout! The trek up the volcano is at about a 14% grade and takes 15-20 minutes. There are rangers at the top who will explain things if you like. Even without any explanation Vesuvius is fascinating and the view of the Sorrentine peninsula is stunning. Check out our Herculaneum, Vesuvius & Sorrento tour.
IF YOU WANT TO SEE A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING
If you are a speedy tourist and don’t need time to linger, consider Pompeii, Sorrento & Positano. This is our most popular shore excursion from the port of Naples.
IF YOU’D LIKE A PERSONALIZED TOUR
Our Amalfi Coast “What You Wish” is a customizable day trip from Naples (choose from Amalfi, Pompeii, Positano, Ravello, and Sorrento — we’ll help you).