Naples itinerary 3 days including Sorrento and Pompeii on a budget (from €42 EUR per day excluding accommodation).
Italy is made up of twenty distinct regions, all waiting to be explored. As this was my third visit to Italy, I wanted to visit parts of the country I had never been before. The region of Campania (translating to “countryside” in Italian) is considered one of the most beautiful in Italy, with such famous destinations as the Almafi Coast and Mount Vesuvius.
In particular, I was interested in visiting Pompeii but had also heard great things about Naples. So I scheduled in 3 days to spend in Campania, which of course was nowhere near enough. Without even visiting the Amalfi Coast, you could easily spend 3 nights in Naples, 3 nights in Ercolano (visiting Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii, and Herculaneum), and 3 nights in Sorrento (especially if you love the sea!).
For those who don’t have a week, here are my recommendations for how to visit Naples and Pompeii in one day and get a taste of the Amalfi Coast, Italy with my budget breakdown.
Naples itinerary 3 days
Arrival in Ercolano
Ercolano is a small city about halfway between Naples and Pompeii, which made it the perfect base for our planned itinerary. My Mum and I arrived by train from Rome to Naples, then took the local train to Ercolano.
As we were staying at Eco Hostel Floreale, the better option would have been to take the metro to Ercolano station which is only 20 minutes by foot, rather than 30. Eco Hostel Floreale is conveniently located within walking distance to both the train and metro lines, Torre Del Greco and Ercolano stations.
If you want to travel from Naples to Pompeii, Naples to Sorrento, or Sorrento to Pompeii, this can all be done using the local train or metro system.
Eco Hostel Floreale is a colorful and eco-friendly hostel with multi-lingual staff, industrial kitchen, full-service bar, free bicycles, and kayaks for use. Yoga and capoeira classes are offered by the hostel, and the atmosphere is generally very welcoming and friendly. Every nook and corner of Eco Hostel Floreale has been lovingly decorated, so you will enjoy walking around the hostel admiring the little touches and quirky signs.
My Mum and I arrived on a hot afternoon and were welcomed by one of the owners, Chantal, who showed us to our double room. Despite the heat, the covered garden area on the ground floor, called the “Happy Colours space”, provided a tranquil environment to cool down. Eco Hostel Floreale also has two other terraces with places to sit, relax, and socialize.
Day 1: Sorrento
Most of us have heard of Sorrento. Even if you couldn’t point to it on a map of Italy, the name probably brings up an association with a beautiful place by the sea. And Sorrento definitely is that. A coastal town referred to the “gateway to the Amalfi Coast”, Sorrento draws in big crowds from around the world.
Sorrento is stunningly beautiful with deep blue water, perched houses on jutting cliffs over the ocean, and magnificent views of Mount Vesuvius. The level of tourism doesn’t detract from Sorrento’s beauty but it is evident on every street. This is a town that caters to tourists.
To be fair, Cristiano, one of the owners of Eco Hostel Floreale did warn me about Sorrento and even offered an alternative, however, I felt like I had a duty to see it for myself and make my own decision. Now, I would have to agree with Cristiano and if I were to visit Campania again, I would definitely visit some of the lesser-known beaches.
If crowds of tourists don’t bother you and you love the ocean then you are going to have a great time. Sorrento has no real beach because the town is built on a cliff face, but, there are pontoons and sectioned off swimming areas where you can rent a sunbed, umbrella, and have a bite to eat. The prices are about double what you will pay in Ercolano but it is to be expected when you are eating pizza on a sunbed and gazing down at crystal clear water.
Day 2: Naples
My Italian friend, Paolo, told me a saying they have for Napoli (Naples) which translates to “when you come to Naples, you cry twice: once when you arrive and once when you leave it”. I guess the idea is that when you arrive, you cry because you are overwhelmed by the chaoticness of the city but then it wins you over with its charm and you find yourself sad to leave.
Naples is a huge, rambunctious city of noise and movement. I knew this before going and it was one of the reasons that I wanted to visit. After all, I am someone who spent a year living in New York City and loved every minute of it. Giant, crazy cities are my thing but Naples and I did not click.
I have to start by saying that I did not spend enough time in Naples to make a fair assessment, and in fact, our one day there could be considered to be a total disaster. The plan was to travel to Naples central station from Eco Hostel Floreale in Ercolano by train and then visit a highly-rated local pizzeria and cafe which I had marked on my Google map.
My first mistake was that it was Sunday, so both were closed. In the end. my Mum and I choose a random restaurant and cafe, both of which were substandard. Even worse, the waiter at the restaurant we ate at literally demanded that I tip him. Then it started raining, so we took shelter and waited it out – refusing to buy an umbrella.
In the end, we were able to visit three historic sites: Castel Nuovo (new castle), Castel dell’Ovo (Castle of the egg), and Piazza del Plebiscito (plebiscite square). The rain clouds meant that I didn’t get any good photos but that really isn’t Naples’s fault. All in all, it was a bit of bad luck and weather and I would be willing to give Naples another go, for a longer period of time.
Naples in one day is possible but spend more time if you can.
Day 3: Pompeii
For our tour of Pompeii, I decided to go with Walks of Italy on “The Best of Pompeii Tour: Unveiling the Buried City“. It is possible to visit Pompeii without a tour guide, however, after reading other blog posts that overwhelmingly recommended taking a tour, I was convinced. Pompeii was the primary reason for my visit to Campania, so I wanted to make sure that I had the best experience possible.
The archaeological site of Pompeii covers the entire ancient city of approximately 63.5 hectares (157 acres), two-thirds of which have been excavated. That’s a lot of ground to cover and I can’t imagine fumbling around here without a guide and having absolutely no idea what I am looking at.
The Best of Pompeii Tour: Unveiling the Buried City is 3 hours and includes the most interesting parts of Pompeii such as the main street, Roman Baths, Roman Forum, brothel (with a few eyebrow-raising murals), and plaster casts Pompeii victim’s remains. Don’t worry if you missed the Colosseum in Rome because, on this tour, you will get to see Pompeii’s amphitheater which is the oldest surviving amphitheater with the seats still intact.
Our Take Walks tour guide, Ilaria, was formerly an architect who worked in the Pompeii ruins for many years. Her education and experience were evident in the thorough explanations she provided about the history of Pompeii and its people. The stories she shared with us were also humorous. Even if you are not really into history, it would be hard not to enjoy this tour.
Take Walks offer tours in Italy for Rome, Vatican, Venice, Milan, Sicily, Capri, Sorrento, and Naples as well as tours in the region of Tuscany. Outside of Italy, they have tours in Paris including the Louvre, Catacombs, and Notre Dame.
My experience with Take Walks was very positive from my initial emails with Roberta, who provided me plenty of information to make the best tour selection for my Mum and I. Roberta was always very quick to respond and great to deal with. I would be happy to take a tour with Walks of Italy again.
Where to stay in Naples: Eco Hostel Floreale
Location: Via Gabriele d’Annunzio 28, Ercolano
Eco Hostel Floreale was an elementary school that has been converted into a two-story hostel. There are twin-bed rooms, 6-bed, and 4-bed dorms. As well as a double room on the first floor that can also be used for people with disabilities. This is the room that my Mum and I stayed in and we loved that it looked out onto the “Happy Colours space”.
On our last night, we stayed in a 6-bed dorm and I was really proud of my Mum for embracing the shared sleeping situation. It was her first time staying in a hostel and moving into the dorm room was a totally different experience for her. I think that it couldn’t have happened in a better place, with Eco Hostel Floreale being an extremely welcoming place.
The owners, Cristiano and Chantal, are passionate about preserving the environment by practicing eco-friendly activities in the hostel, such as recycling. You will find signs around the hostel, and especially in the kitchen talking about how to responsibly handle waste. Tap water is fine to drink in Italy, so you don’t have to worry about buying bottled water.
I loved the open vibe of Eco Hostel Floreale which made it easy for friendships and connections to form. After a brief exchange with a Russian girl, she had invited my Mum and me to go to Sorrento with her. On my last night, a big group of guests gathered on the rooftop terrace sitting in a large circle and chatting happily in a mixture of different languages. A lovely memory and a nice way to end our time in Campania.
My travel budget for Naples in 3 days (2020 update)
Naples Travel Costs
All costs are quoted for one person and in the local currency (EUR). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.
Accommodation: My Mum and I stayed at Eco Hostel Floreale for 4 nights (3 nights in a double room and 1 night in a 6-bedroom dorm. See current prices for accommodation or look at the other best places to stay in Naples, Italy.
Food: Lunch in Sorrento (€11), lunch in Naples (€10), gelato (€2.50), lunch in Pompeii (€11). We purchased groceries of bread, ham, mortadella, and cheese for breakfasts and dinners (€14.49). Eco Hostel Floreale provides free coffee and tea for their guests.
Activities: Sunbed and umbrella rental at Leonelli’s in Sorrento (€13). The Best of Pompeii Tour: Unveiling The Buried City with Walks of Italy. See current tour prices on the Take Walks website.
Transport: Trains from Ercolano to Sorrento, Naples, and Pompeii (€5.20).
Average daily spend: €22.39 EUR* ($26.45 USD and $33.78 AUD as of 30 September 2017) does not include The Best of Pompeii Tour and accommodation at Eco Hostel Floreale.
*This daily amount could be reduced by making your own lunches.
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