Best museums in Naples that are worth your time

Inject some culture into your Italian vacation with the guide to the 15 best museums in Naples, from archaeology to art.

The most famous museums in Naples focus on the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but there's so much more to explore.

Discover the best planetarium in Italy at the wonderful science museum, or check out art so small you need a magnifying glass to see it. Admire artwork from the Italian Renaissance, learn more about Italy's troubled 20th-century history, or admire the ancient monuments from the days of the Roman Empire.

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1. Discover the secrets of Pompeii at the Archeological Museum

History museum

If you're interested in history, you'll be excited about visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum. These two ancient cities were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, but the volcanic flow left them incredibly well preserved. Today, many of their treasures are in the Naples Archeological Museum.

Highlights:

The ancient mosaics, jewelry, and statues recovered from Pompeii will dazzle you. Take a guided tour to ensure you see everything.

Address and opening hours:

Piazza Museo 19, 80135 Naples. Open Wednesday-Monday 9:00 AM-7:30 PM.

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2. Step back in time at the ruins of Pompeii

History museum

After Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, Pompeii was hidden for hundreds of years. It was finally unearthed in 1549, and today the ruins are an open-air museum. This truly fascinating place shows how the Romans lived their daily lives, even down to ancient graffiti.

Highlights:

To make the most of your day in Pompeii, take a VIP tour with an archeologist. With expert guidance, you'll learn all about life in the city and the devastating impact of the volcano.

Address and opening hours:

Pompeii, 80045 Naples. Open Monday-Sunday 9:00 AM-7:00 PM.

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3.Wander the ancient streets of Herculaneum

History museum

The other city destroyed by Vesuvius was the port town of Herculaneum. Rich Romans lived there, but their wealth could not save them from the fatal volcanic eruption. Herculaneum has been preserved as an open-air museum, complete with bathhouse, forum, elaborate villas, and beautiful temples.

Highlights:

With an expert guide to help you on your Herculaneum tour, you'll get a clearer picture of what a normal day was like for the doomed residents of Herculaneum.

Address and opening hours:

Corso Resina 187, 80056 Ercolano. Open Monday-Sunday, 8:30 AM-6:00 PM.

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4. Go underground to the days of WWII at the Lapis Museum

History museum

The Lapis Museum will take you below the surface for a deeper look at the history of Naples. The museum traces the route of the world's longest underground path. You'll see ancient Roman aqueducts, secret medieval passages used by the Knights Templar, and air shelters from WWII.

Highlights:

An archaeologist-led museum tour takes you on a journey through time. The WWII-era section contains fascinating, well-preserved bunkers and shelters.

Address and opening hours:

Piazzetta Pietrasanta, 80138 Naples. Open Monday-Sunday 10:00 AM-8:00 PM.

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5. Live the Renaissance at the National Gallery of Capodimonte

Art museum

The Capodimonte Gallery is home to masterpieces from several centuries. Its impressive Renaissance gallery displays works by some of Italy's greatest masters. The fascinating 20th-century section features Andy Warhol's Pop Art version of Vesuvius erupting.

Highlights:

It's worth taking a gallery tour to learn more about the artists behind the masterpieces on display. You'll see drawings by Michelangelo and Raphael, as well as paintings by masters like Caravaggio.

Address and opening hours:

Via Miano 2, 80131 Naples. Open Thursday-Tuesday 8:30 AM-7:30 PM.

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6. Gasp at the miniature artworks at the Museodivino

Art museum

You'll struggle to find another art museum like the Museodivino anywhere else. This gallery focuses on art in miniature, so small you'll need a magnifying glass to see it. Some of the incredible displays include scenes from Dante's Divine Comedy carved inside walnut shells, with an amazing level of detail.

Highlights:

Include this museum as part of a sculptures walking tour to see some of Naples' larger masterpieces, like the famous Veiled Christ.

Address and opening hours:

Via San Giovanni Maggiore Pignatelli 1B, 80134 Naples. Open Monday-Sudnay 11:00 AM-4:00 PM.

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7. Discover the Treasures of San Gennaro

Art museum

If you like bling, then put on your sunglasses and head for the Treasures of San Gennaro. The highlight of this religious collection is the Mitre of San Gennaro, made in 1713 and featuring 3,326 diamonds, 164 rubies, and 198 emeralds. That's something you don't see every day.

Highlights:

On a San Gennaro guided tour, you'll see more than just the jewels. There's also an incredible array of Baroque art from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Address and opening hours:

Via Duomo 149, 80138 Naples. Open Monday-Sunday 9:30 AM-6:00 PM.

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8. See an old master in a new light at Pio Monte della Misericordia

Art museum

Caravaggio, one of Italy's most famous painters, was based in Naples for many years. Now, an augmented reality exhibit lets you see his works in a new light, making you feel like you've stepped inside one of his renowned paintings.

Highlights:

You'll feel like you're walking down the streets of 17th century Naples with a pair of augmented reality glasses on your immersive experience.

Address and opening hours:

Via dei Tribunali 253, 80139 Naples. Open 9:00 AM-6:00 PM Monday-Saturday, 9:00 AM-2:30 PM Sunday.

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9. See the stars at the Città della Scienza

Science museum

There's fun for all the family at the Città della Scienza. Naples' science museum is one of the finest science museums in Italy. There's a great show about robots, a brilliant section on the human body, and a stunning planetarium.

Highlights:

This is one of Naples' best museums for kids, thanks to its superb interactive displays. You can even show off your dancing skills in a contest with an animated skeleton.

Address and opening hours:

Via Coroglio 57/104, 80124 Naples. Open Tuesday-Sunday 9:00 AM-5:00 PM.

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10. See marvels of engineering at the Pietrarsa Railway Museum

Science museum

The railway helped modernize and unify Italy, and you can learn all about it at the Pietrarsa Railway Museum. This museum features displays of original locomotives, and its setting in an old train workshop adds charm.

Highlights:

A guided tour and city transfer is the best way to see the museum. You'll also have the chance to explore the charming seaside suburb of Pietrarsa.

Address and opening hours:

Via Pietrarsa, 80146 Naples. Open 9:30 AM-7:30 PM Friday-Sunday, 2:00 PM-8:00 PM Thursday.

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11. Take a deep dive into the human body at MUSA

Science museum

MUSA, the University Museum of Science and Arts, has a huge and varied collection of exhibits. However, the highlight has to be the anatomical area, with formaldehyde jars filled with specimens that may thrill or terrify you, as well as the skulls of people who died in Pompeii.

Highlights:

This unusual museum provokes strong reactions. Book your visit in advance, as visitor numbers are limited to 22 people at a time.

Address and opening hours:

Via Luciano Armanni 5, 80138 Naples. Open Monday-Friday 10:00 AM-2:00 PM.

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12. Learn about the history of disease at the Pharmacy of the Incurables

Science museum

The Pharmacy of the Incurables houses the Museum of Health, which traces the history of medical science in Venice. Old surgical instruments, plague doctors' masks, and bizarre medical treatments are just some of the items on display. Expect a curious blend of science and history.

Highlights:

The surgical instruments are particularly interesting, although they might make you wince. Small model tableaux show amputations and unusual historical cures.

Address and opening hours:

Via Maria Longo 50, 80138 Naples. Open Monday, Thursday, and Saturday 9:00 AM-4:00 PM.

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13. Learn about a unique women's movement at the Historical Libraries

Cultural museum

Walking through Naples' Vittorio Emanuele III National Library, you'll be immersed in a beautiful, calm environment. Yet there's a remarkable story behind this museum. Neapolitan women hid precious books during WWII, protecting them from destruction and preserving the collection you see today.

Highlights:

To learn more about this chapter of history, take a historic libraries walking tour. You'll also be able to see the nearby Museodivino.

Address and opening hours:

Piazza del Plebiscito 1, 80132 Naples. Open Monday-Friday 8:30 AM-7:00 PM.

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14. See an eclectic collection on the water at the Casina Vanvitelliana

Alternative museum

The Casina Vanvitelliana is one of the most unusual museums in the Naples area. This Baroque building on Lake Fusaro is packed with royal history and often hosts re-enactment events. It also has a range of touring modern exhibits and has been used as a set in numerous films and TV series.

Highlights:

Explore the museum with an entry ticket, and enjoy seeing colorful pop art in a historic Baroque setting.

Address and opening hours:

Piazza Gioacchino Rossini 1, 80070 Bacoli. Open Friday-Sunday 6:00 PM-11:00 PM.

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15. Squirm in fear at the Torture Museum

Alternative museum

This attraction is definitely not for the faint-hearted. The Torture Museum is home to a gruesome collection of medieval torture devices used by the Spanish and Roman Inquisitions. If you have a good imagination, this museum is sure to make you squirm.

Highlights:

It's not all doom and gloom at the Torture Museum. You'll also encounter the fascinating story of how Naples rebelled against the Spanish Inquisition and won.

Address and opening hours:

Vico Santa Luciella 18/B, 80138 Naples. Open Monday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-7:00 PM.

FAQs

What are the must-visit museums in Naples?

The Archeological Museum is an absolute must, along with the open-air museums of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Even if you're not a history buff, you'll find them mesmerizing.

Are there any free museums in Naples?

Yes. All state museums in Naples are free on the first Sunday of each month. These include the Archeological Museum, the Capodimonte Gallery, and the Catacombs of San Gennaro.

Are there any museums in Naples that are suitable for children and families?

Yes. Kids will enjoy Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the Archeological Museum. The Città della Scienza is also designed to delight kids with its fun interactive exhibits. It may be best to avoid the Torture Museum with younger children.

For which museums in Naples are guided tours recommended?

A guided tour of Pompeii or Herculaneum is an excellent idea. An expert archeologist will explain all about the history of these tragic cities.

Are there any museum passes or discount cards available for visiting multiple museums in Naples?

Yes. You can get the Naples Pass to visit most of the city's museums and archeological sites. 1-, 3-, 5-, or 7-day passes are available.