Naples vs Rome – An Honest Comparison in 2024

Last Updated: April 12th, 2024

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Struggling to choose your ideal Italian destination? In the battle of Naples vs. Rome, both cities are strong contenders. They are both meccas of history and food, but there are still a few differences between them.

Naples is a port city on the coast of Campania, on Italy’s western side. Campania is a southern Italian region, and is generally considered to be more agricultural and less technologically advanced than its northern counterparts, but therein lies the charm of this historic city.

It’s less popular than the capital and thus its authentic culture has been able to thrive. A relatively under-the-radar location, Naples is more affordable than Rome overall, less inflated with tourists, and is also widely regarded as the home of the best pizza in the world.

Meanwhile, Rome isn’t just one of the most iconic cities of Italy, but of the entire world. Called the Eternal City, the central metropolis is home to so many landmarks that it’s difficult to keep up with them all, from the Colosseum and the Roman Forum to the self-governing Vatican City.

A must-visit destination for history fans and Roman Catholics, Rome was once the center of an empire that spanned three continents and influenced much of human history as we know it.

The vast amount of ruins and museums reflect that incomparable heritage, while the cobblestone streets and gelaterias lend themselves to nights of pure romance.

A Quick Overview & Comparison: Naples vs Rome

Naples

  • Under the radar
  • World’s best pizza
  • Affordable
  • Authentic culture

The popularity of Naples is fairly new, which means it’s still an under-the-radar location. While Rome can feel overrun with tourists, to the point where the true Roman culture is sometimes compromised, Naples is refreshingly not touristy.

Southern Italy in general has held on to its age-old traditions and customs more than the regions of the north, so Naples is a great place to experience authentic Italian culture. You might find that many shops and businesses will close around midday for a riposo, or rest, and open again from 3 p.m.

A-Person-Holding-A-Pizza
Neapolitan pizza is famous the world over.

An advantage that goes hand in hand with being a less touristy destination is lower prices. Although both Naples and Rome are Italian cities, the businesses in Rome are known to inflate their prices to make money off tourists, while Naples is not typically overpriced.

Both Naples and Rome offer a killer culinary scene, each with their unique delicacies. But for pizza fans, it doesn’t get better than Naples, which is the original home of the thin wood-fired Neapolitan pizza that has influenced pizza trends around the globe. There are endless pizzerias to discover in Naples.

Rome

  • Iconic landmarks
  • Central
  • Roman history
  • Romantic

If you’re the type of traveler who is ticking off a bucket list of landmarks, you can’t do better than Rome. The Eternal City is where you’ll find some of the most famous sights of the ancient and modern worlds, including the Colosseum and the Sistine Chapel. These iconic locations bring together history and architecture to leave visitors in awe.

You’ll be able to experience Roman history firsthand by walking amongst the ruins still standing from the days of the empire. There’s also endless history (and art!) to be discovered in the museums of the city, which house world-class collections of archeological artifacts and relics.

The National Roman Museum is a must for history buffs and is so extensive that its catalog is spread out across the Baths of Diocletian, the Palazzo Altemps, the Crypto Balbi, and the Palazzo Massimo.

St-Peter'S-Cathedral-In-Rome
There’s nothing quite like Rome by night.

Situated in the region of Lazio, Rome is basically as central as it gets in Italy, so it’s a great destination to add to a fuller Italian itinerary. Whether you’re traveling north or south, or sticking with the central area, Rome is always convenient.

If you’re traveling to Italy for your honeymoon, or perhaps to pop the question, Rome always wins. Couples can sip wine under the stars, share gelati, stroll through the historic streets, and make a wish together at the Trevi Fountain. Literally, you can’t have romance without Roman!

Naples or Rome: A Quick Guide to Choosing

Castel-Dell'Ovo-In-Naples
Castel dell’Ovo overlooking the sparkling coast.

Naples Mini Guide

  • Location Size – 117.3 square kilometers
  • Population – 2,179,000
  • Rainy Months – October and November
  • High Season – July and August
  • Top Sights – Naples National Archaeological Museum, Sansevero Chapel Museum, Catacombs of San Gennaro, Ovo Castle, Royal Palace of Naples, Piazza del Plebiscito
  • Major Airports – Naples-Capodichino International Airport

Not only is Naples an underrated destination, but it’s also home to some stunning beaches, including the Spiaggia Della Gaiola. Additionally, it’s a short distance from some of Italy’s most famous beach locations, including the Amalfi Coast.

If you’re not visiting during summer, there are plenty of other great day trips you can take nearby. Pompeii is just 20 minutes from the Naples city center, while Herculaneum is only 15 minutes away.

The-Trevi-Fountain-Rome
The Trevi Fountain is one of Rome’s most famous tourist destinations.

Rome Mini Guide

  • Location Size – 1285 square kilometers
  • Population – 4,316,000
  • Rainy Months – October and November
  • High Season – June through August
  • Top Sights – Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, Castel Sant’Angelo, Monument to Victor Emmanuel II
  • Major Airports – Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport

As far as major European cities go, Rome is one of the safest. It sits at number 30 on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safest Cities Index (via World Population Review). Comparatively, despite becoming safer in recent years, Naples has historically been associated with organized crime. However, as a tourist, you’ll likely only have to worry about petty crime. In both cities, it’s important to remain aware of your surroundings and trust your gut instincts.

The 2 Key Differences Between Naples and Rome

How Does The Cuisine Compare?

Pantheon-At-Night-In-Rome
Many restaurants in Rome feature outdoor seating.

Naples

Neapolitan cuisine is reflective of southern Italian cuisine, which is categorized by staples like fresh vegetables, bread, pasta, polenta, and olive oil. In Naples, you’ll find that many of the dishes are more simplistic without lacking in flavor. The food is less showy and more homely.

Additionally, as a port city, Naples has out-of-this-world seafood. Indulge in specialties like spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) and alici marinate (marinated anchovies) fresh from the ocean.

Rome

When it comes to pasta dishes, there are two that you need to try in Rome: cacio e pepe, which is pasta with pecorino cheese and black pepper, and carbonara. While carbonara pasta elsewhere in the world might contain cream, true Roman carbonara is made with egg, parmesan, guanciale (similar to bacon), and pepper. Whether or not it originated in Rome is debated, but you’ll get some of the best carbonara in the Eternal City.

For sweet tooths in Rome, be sure to try maritozzi, which are cream-stuffed buns flavored with pine nuts, candied orange, and raisins.

Which Is Easier To Get Around?

An-Aerial-View-Of-Naples-Beach

Naples

Given that it’s smaller than Rome with less to see, Naples tends to be easier to get around. Depending on what’s on your bucket list, you might simply be able to walk to most sites. Naples also has an effective metro system which offers a cost-effective way to get to destinations that are too far to walk to.

Keep in mind that much of the petty crime in Naples does occur around the metro station or on public transport, so avoid traveling on the metro at night if possible, and always keep your wits about you.

Rome

Rome isn’t as walkable as Naples due to its larger size, but if you stay in a central location, you’ll likely be able to walk to several destinations. The Roman metro system is also great and cost-effective to use.

While Rome is less associated with petty crime than Naples, pickpocketing does sometimes occur on public transport, so it’s important to always secure your belongings.

3 Questions to Help You Decide to Travel to Naples or Rome

St-Peter'S-Square-Italy
It doesn’t get more iconic than Rome.

How long are you visiting for?

If you are staying longer than seven days, it may be a good choice to opt for Rome over Naples, simply because you’ll never run out of things to see and do in this bustling city.

On the flip side, if you only have a few days to spare, Naples may be the better choice because only having a few days in Rome is likely to leave you overwhelmed.

What’s your budget like?

When you take into account the price of accommodation, food, transportation, and entertainment, Rome is less affordable. Of course, there is budget accommodation and budget eats available in Rome, but if you’re traveling on a budget, Naples might be the better option overall.

Do you prefer faster or slower-paced travel?

Naples is a reflection of the South, where authentic Italian culture reigns supreme and a slower pace of life is the standard. It has a sleepier feel than Rome. On the other hand, Rome is an action-packed capital city. The masses of tourists may have jeopardized some of those real Italian traditions, but it’s an overall more exciting and stimulating destination.

Naples vs Rome: Which Is The Better Choice?

The-Old-City-Naples
Naples is the ultimate authentic Italian destination.

An ancient port city with some of the best food in the world and a thriving culture that hasn’t been dampened by hordes of tourists, Naples is well worth seeing. But as one of the world’s most iconic cities, Rome wins overall. From the landmarks to the history, Rome should be on your bucket list, no matter who you are.

That said, if you prefer a quieter, slower-paced destination, Naples may be the better choice for you. If you’re a pizza-lover, Naples will definitely leave you more satisfied!

About The Author

Vanessa is an Australian-based freelance writer and editor with a BA in Creative Writing. She’s passionate about creating travel content that inspires her readers to take a leap of faith and power through their bucket lists. When she’s not writing (with her border collie asleep at her feet), she’s devouring books, exploring the world, or planning her next trip.

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Picture of Vanessa Elle

Vanessa Elle

Vanessa is an Australian-based freelance writer and editor with a BA in Creative Writing. She’s passionate about creating travel content that inspires her readers to take a leap of faith and power through their bucket lists.

When she’s not writing (with her border collie asleep at her feet), she’s devouring books, exploring the world, or planning her next trip.

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