10 Unique & Unusual Things to do in Naples Italy

Interested in unique, unusual and even slightly weird things to do in Naples, Italy? There are plenty of unusual things to do in Naples, from secret underground tunnels to freaky museums and weird traditions that have been around for hundreds of years.

I have travelled extensively throughout this region, with my most recent visit being in September 2022. See my main Naples Travel Guide for all things Naples Italy. I also have a list of less unusual and more mainstream things to do in Naples too.

A narrow street between many old buildings in a European alley. Window boxes and graffiti.
Napoli Streets.

10 unique and unusual things to do in Naples Italy.

Read on for ten unique and unusual things to do in Naples Italy. There is a map at the bottom of this post, showing where each place is on the list. You will also find hotel recommendations, Naples FAQs and general travel advice for your trip to Naples.

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This list is not presented in any order. It is simply a list of ten unique and unusual things to do in Naples Italy.

1. Explore the Pharmacy of the Incurables.

I’ll start my list of unique and unusual things to do in Naples Italy with the Pharmacy of the Incurables. This is a museum dedicated to the history of medicine. It was founded by Pompeo Coppola in 1743 and contains many ancient relics which have been preserved in their original condition.

Ancient ampoules in farmacia incurabili, Sanita' Napoli
Ancient ampoules in Farmacia Incurabili

The building itself is beautiful, with intricate tilework and frescoes on the walls depicting scenes from Greek mythology.

The pharmacy was created to make treatments available for people who were thought to have incurable illnesses or conditions. It was one of only two pharmacists’ shops in Naples at that time – the other being run by Francesco di Geronimo Sessa – and specialised in selling remedies such as arsenic, as well as exotic ingredients like rhino horn powder.

2. Admire the art at Toledo Art Station.

Definitely the prettiest of all the unusual things to do in Naples Italy, Toledo Metro Station is a former railway station. It was designed by Italian architect Adalberto Libera and opened in 1911.

a train track going through a tunnel with a skylight
Toledo Metro Station

The station was designed to feature an array of colours that each represent a unique theme reflective of Naples’ culture. Upon entering, you will be greeted by the atrium’s walls and floors covered in black hues reminiscent of modern civilization. Meanwhile, remnants from Aragonese fortification are integrated within its design along with mosaic patterns inspired by the city’s storied past.

The conical “Crater de Luz” arcs across the multiple levels of the station, allowing sunlight to pour from its opening above a magnificent escalator that leads down towards the docks. Just outside of this building lies three hexagonal pyramids and a corrugated steel statue called ‘The Knight of Toledo’ that stands guard at one entrance. A glass elevator dangles near this escalator with an impressive orange-tinted stroll lined by large circular seats made out of volcanic rock following it shortly after.

3. Visit the Bourbon Tunnel.

The Bourbon Tunnel was ordered by King Ferdinand II of Bourbon in 1853, to connect his Royal Palace to nearby military barracks. This secret passageway was meant as an escape route for royalty should the people revolt.

The tunnel, carved into volcanic rock beneath Naples, was extended from the early-17th century Carmignano aqueduct system. However the king passed away before it could be completed, and the abandoned project would remain forgotten until World War II.

Military Vehicles In the Basements Of Naples Italy
Bourbon Tunnel

During the war, Neapolitans used the subterranean corridors and nearby cisterns as air raid shelters to protect up to 10,000 people. Nowadays you can explore these tunnels on a historic tour and discover remnants of those who had sheltered here – children’s toys, gas masks or personal items such as hair brushes.

The Bourbon Tunnel became an unofficial debris repository for wartime rubble (including impounded vehicles) after World War II until the 1970s, when the tunnel was once again forgotten.

The tunnel was restored in the early 2000s, forming what is now known as the Bourbon Gallery (Galleria Borbonica).

You can buy entrance tickets for Bourbon tunnels here or a Bourbon guided tour here.

4. Take a tour of the Doll Hospital.

One of the most unusual things to do in Naples involves taking a tour of the Doll Hospital. Located near Marigliano Palace, this unique museum also acts as a hospital for toys waiting to be repaired. There, you’ll see a vast collection of vintage dolls, teddy bears and much more.

a pile of small plastic dolls hands

The Doll Hospital building itself dates back to 1564 and has been renovated several times since then. It’s now home to over 200 dolls from around the world (and pieces of dolls).

5. Go on a water bike tour around the Bay of Naples.

The Bay of Naples is a beautiful place to explore, and there are many ways to do so. One fun way to see it is via a water bike tour. You can book your tour online or at the dock where you’ll be picked up by boat.

a row of yellow boats sitting on top of a sandy beach - these are water bikes which are one of the unusual things to do in Naples Italy.
Waterbikes in Naples

The tour lasts about 3 hours and you will see some incredible sights, such as Mount Vesuvius and the famous Blue Grotto cave. You will also get an excellent workout while cycling through the water!

Water bike tickets can be purchased here.

6. Take the Underground Naples tour.

If you’re looking for something different, the Underground Naples Tour is a great option. The tour takes you through miles of tunnels that are hundreds of years old, and it gives you the opportunity to see the original Roman sewers and water pipes.

The underground route includes ancient Roman ruins, aqueducts and caverns dating back to World War II.

Underground tunnles in a catacomb
Naples Underground

Napoli Sotteranea also contains several scientific experiments located underground including lush gardens and seismic instruments to track potential eruptions from Mt. Vesuvius.

The atmosphere is difficult to describe – it is sort of eerie, yet strangely serene at the same time.

Underground Naples also features on the 2 day itinerary for Naples.

You can book tickets to Naples Underground here.

7. Visit the MUSA anatomy museum.

MUSA is the museum of anatomy, founded in 1822. It’s located in the former monastery of San Gregorio Armeno, which has been home to an anatomical theatre since 1592.

The museum contains an extensive collection of wax models and skulls arranged by organ system. It also offers guided tours that use augmented reality technology to explain each part of your body as you move through the exhibits.

Human organs In Jars With Formalin In Anatomical Museum
Naples Anatomy Museum

MUSA is one of the oldest anatomical museums in the world. It was originally established by doctor Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771), who was known as “the father” because he used cadavers instead of live patients for his studies on human anatomy. This was a revolutionary concept at the time!

Further reading: Naples Travel Guide: Tips for Visiting Napoli, Italy.

8. Go on a boat tour of Gaiola Island.

Gaiola Island is a small island in the Bay of Naples. This uninhabited and rocky island is home to an abandoned castle that was once owned by the Princes of Santo Buono.

The island has become popular with tourists because it offers stunning views of Naples and its surrounding areas, as well as being known for its history

a large body of water with a bridge in the middle of it
Gaiola protected area

The name Gaiola means ‘jail’ or ‘prison’, which comes from when prisoners were held there during World War II. It’s also been known as the Island of Misfortune due to its tumultuous past; many people have died at sea trying to reach Gaiola over time.

The curse of Gaiola

During the 1920s, the island was owned by Swiss businessman Hans Braun whose body was mysteriously found wrapped in a rug, whilst his wife drowned in the sea.

The island then passed to German Otto Grunback who died suddenly from a heart attack while holidaying at the island’s villa. Later on, Maurice-Yves Sandoz – a pharmaceutics mogul – took ownership of this property but ended up committing suicide inside a psychiatric clinic in Switzerland.

Next, it was German steel tycoon Baron Karl Paul Langheim who succumbed to financial ruin due to his extravagant lifestyle. Following him was Gianni Agnelli of Turin, the owner of Fiat Automobiles, who suffered the death of several close relatives.

The next owner was Amerinan journalist J. Paul Getty, who excruciatingly suffered from afar as his eldest son committed suicide, youngest son passed away and grandson was kidnapped, before his own death by heart failure.

Gianpasquale Grappone was the last individual to own the island, until his wife died in a car accident and he was jailed (it is not clear whether these two occurrences were related).

In 2009, newspapers circulated discussions about an infamous “Gaiola Malediction” after Franco Ambrosio and Giovanna Sacco’s deaths; who were proprietors of a villa directly across from Gaiola Island.

The government of Campania has now assumed ownership of the island and declared it a protected area. This includes the enchanting Parco Sommerso di Gaiola, an Underwater Park situated in the mesmerising Gulf of Naples.

You can take a boat to Gaiola island from Naples’ Posillipo quarter.

9. Book a visit to Il Giardino di Babuk.

Located in the Rione Sanita neighbourhood of Naples, Il Giardino di Babuk is a secret garden cared for by Gennaro Oliveiro. Only accessible if you have an appointment, this 10,000 square-foot oasis hides a wealth of mystery.

It’s home to over 20 cats and has a stage for outdoor theatre and music performances too, so if you’re looking for hidden and unusual things to do in Naples Italy, this is certainly a contender.

A sign on a wall , depicting a cat and the words Il Giardino di Babuk.
Il Giardino di Babuk

To book an appointment, call Gennaro on +39-338-625-5810. This is the only way to book. The address is Via Giuseppe Piazzi, 55, 80137 and I think you can only view on a Saturday or a Sunday (but I might be wrong about that part).

10. Fontanelle cemetery.

Certainly one of the weirdest unusual things to do in Naples Italy, the extraordinary Fontanelle Cemetery (Cimitero delle Fontanelle) gives you an exclusive look into the city’s culture. This ossuary has been utilised for burials since as far back as the 16th century.

a bunch of skulls that are sitting on a table, from a list of unusual things to do in Naples Italy.
Fontanelle Cemetery, Naples Italy

During the late 19th century a cult grew up around it where people adopted one of many skulls laid to rest there and offered prayers on its behalf. It is said that they believed the skulls were of plague victims and it was their way of honouring them.

There is an interesting mix of Christian customs, superstition, and folklore that you can witness at Fontanelle Cemetery. This tour pays a visit to the cemetery (and also gives you Napoli food – what’s not to love).

Map of unusual things to do in Naples Italy.

The map below shows all the things to do in Naples (in southern Italy) as listed in this post. To use the map, click the blue icons to see more information about each place. Click the star to add to your own Google Maps.

More unusual things to do in Naples Italy.

Naples is full of history and culture, and as it transpires, a lot of hidden gems too. Some similar places to those listed above are the Catacombs of San Gennaro and the remains of one arm of Saint Thomas Aquinas! You can see this ‘arm’ in the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore.

Read more in my post 15 Great Things to do in Naples Italy, or my 2 day planned itinerary in Naples.

Where to stay in Naples Italy.

First, check my Naples travel guide to the best neigbourhoods in Naples before deciding where to stay.

Here are my overall top picks for Naples hotels on Booking.com:

  • Best luxury hotel: Romeo Hotel is a 5 star hotel with rooftop and spa, opposite the ferry port.
  • Best mid-range hotel: Toledo Boutique Rooms in the Spaccanapoli district, central location.
  • Best budget hotel: Hotel Alloggio Del Conte in the historic centre and close to the train station.
  • Best Sustainable hotel: Duomo 152 Naples in the historic centre. This property has met the Travel Sustainable Level 2 criteria from Booking.com, read more here.

Here is a map showing hotels in Naples by location:


If you prefer, you can check the current best Naples stays on Booking.com here. I recommend reserving your room immediately to get the best price. It’s usually free to reserve, and you can always cancel later on.

An aerial view of a European city with orange and brown rooftops and decorative domes. Wooden barriers at the top of a balcony with a plate of pizza and a cup of coffee in the foreground on a table with a white tablecloth. Red flowers can be seen jut below the balcony.
Pizza place terrace with Naples view, Italy

FAQs about unusual things to do in Naples Italy.

Q: Is 2 days in Naples enough?

A: It might be a struggle, but 2 days is enough to see several cultural sites in Naples, eat Neapolitan pizza and perhaps take a half-day trip to one of the islands too. I have planned everything out for you in my 2 day Naples itinerary. Also check out Naples food tours if you have time.

Q: What is the posh part of Naples?

A: Chiaia is probably the most upscale district in Naples. It is full of trendy bars and designer shopping boutiques. Read more in my post on the 8 best neighbourhoods in Naples, or reserve a room at the best hotel in Chiaia here.

Further reading: Where to stay in Naples: 8 neighbourhoods reviewed.

Q: What is Naples known for?

A: Naples is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, vibrant street life, and delicious cuisine. It’s also famous for being the birthplace of pizza. It’s a busy city which is not for everyone, but well worth seeing for yourself either way.

Further reading: Food from Naples: all the best foods, and where to eat them.

Q: How can I get to Naples?

A: Naples can be reached by air through Naples International Airport, by train from various cities in Italy, or by road. The city is well-connected to the Italian transportation network. See my Naples Travel Guide for full instructions.

Q: What are some must-visit attractions in Naples?

A: Some must-visit attractions in Naples include the historic city centre, the Royal Palace of Naples, Castel dell’Ovo, Naples National Archaeological Museum, and the bustling Spaccanapoli street.

Further reading: 15 Wonderful Things to do in Naples Italy.

Q: Is Naples safe for tourists?

A: Naples has both safe and less-safe areas, like any major city. It’s recommended to stay in well-travelled areas, be cautious with belongings, and follow local advice for a safe visit. You can read more in my main Naples Guide, but in the meantime here are some of my travel safety recommendations from Amazon:

Q: What is the best time to visit Naples?

A: The best time to visit Naples is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) when the weather is pleasant, and there are fewer tourists. Summers can be hot and crowded.

Q: Can I visit nearby attractions from Naples?

A: Yes, Naples is a great base for day trips. You can try exploring the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius, and the islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida. These attractions are easily accessible by train, ferry, or tour.

Further reading: Ultimate Guide to the Best 10 Day trips from Naples, Italy.

Q: How can I experience authentic Neapolitan pizza?

A: To experience authentic Neapolitan pizza, head to one of Naples’ traditional pizzerias where you’ll find thin, wood-fired pizzas with high-quality local ingredients. Look for pizzerias with the “Vera Pizza Napoletana” certification.

Q: What local dishes should I try in Naples?

A: In Naples, you must try dishes like pasta with ragù (a slow-cooked meat sauce), sfogliatella (a traditional pastry), seafood dishes, and, of course, the famous Neapolitan pizza.

Further reading: Food from Naples: all the best foods, and where to eat them.

Q: What is the nightlife like in Naples?

A: Naples has a lively nightlife with a mix of bars, clubs, and traditional music venues. The Spanish Quarter and Chiaia neighbourhood are known for their vibrant night scenes.

Further reading: Where to stay in Naples: 8 neighbourhoods reviewed.

Q: Can I use public transportation to get around the city?

A: Yes, Naples has an extensive public transportation system including buses, trams, and a metro. Public transport is a convenient way to explore the city and its outskirts.

Q: What are some shopping areas in Naples?

A: For shopping, head to Via Toledo for both high-end and affordable brands. Spaccanapoli and San Gregorio Armeno are known for traditional crafts, while Galleria Umberto I is an elegant shopping arcade.

An aerial view of a city located within a bay on a sunny day with a blue sky and white clouds. Blue sea to the east and a large vocano towering over the city in the distance.

Travel advice for your trip to Naples.

I have published a complete travel guide to Naples which contains information on transport, weather, food and drink, where to stay, trips and tours, festivals in Naples and more.

Further reading: Naples Travel Guide: Tips for Visiting Napoli, Italy.

Naples has a temperate Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers, mild and wet winters, and abundant sunshine throughout most of the year. Summers tend to be very warm and humid with temperatures averaging in the mid-to-high 80s Fahrenheit (30°C).

I would personally try to avoid renting a car in Naples, because the traffic is crazy and the parking is very expensive (and scarce). However if you do need to rent a car, I recommend the car comparison site Discover Cars for car rentals in Italy.

The currency in Naples is the Euro.

Below are some helpful links for your trip:

  • Booking.com is the best site for booking hotels with free reservation and cancellations.
  • Viator is the best site for original tours and activities.
  • Read my Top 20 Travel Essentials I Can’t Travel Without before going anywhere!
  • Click here for a list of 20 excellent travel books to read on your holidays.
  • World Nomads travel insurance policies offer coverage for more than 150 activities. Get a quote, make a claim, or buy or extend your policy while on the road.
  • If you need to rent a car, Discover Cars is a brilliant car comparison site.

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