In the south of Italy lies a fruitful region with picturesque countryside, idyllic cliffside villages, and an abundance of natural beauty and cultural treasures. The list of things to do in Campania seems never-ending as you are in a tug-of-war between eating, resting, adventuring, and marvelling at the sheer beauty of the region.
The Campania province consists of 5 regions, each unique in design and traditions. The most famous, Naples sits at the heart of it, forming the Gulf of Naples from the Tyrrhenian Sea. From north to south around Naples are Caserta, Benevento, Avellino, and Salerno, the largest of the 5.
The tables in Campania are heaving under the weight of regional dishes. The largest city, Naples, heavily influences the food from Campania province but moving inland the focus changes from the sea to the earth.
Naturally, Neapolitan Pizza is on everyone’s mind but expect plenty of dashing seafood dishes when traversing around the coastal cities. Risotto Alla Pescatore is an unmissable seafood risotto that is creamy and bursting with flavour and Spaghetti Con le Vongole is a fresh seafood spaghetti dish with clams that is best eaten on the dazzling Amalfi Coast.
Campania province is well known for its irresistible mozzarella cheese that features in many dishes, the most prominent of which is Parmigiana Melanzane. But don’t throw away simple dishes like a Caprese salad from the tiny idyllic island of Capri. Sun-ripened tomatoes, buffalo milk mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves with a drizzle of earthy olive oil make for the perfect summertime snack where all the ingredients have time to shine.
A food that is so widely celebrated in this region that it needs its own special mention is the Sorrento Lemon. They are only cultivated on the Sorrento Peninsula and are particularly sour and fill the air with a distinct fresh fragrance. Look forward to splashes of Sorrento lemon juice added to many dishes as the not so secret ingredient that elevates the taste experience.
Michelin Stars are in abundance in the Campania province with 8-two star restaurants and more than 40 1-star restaurants. But the heart of Campania lies with the slew of trattorias serving family recipes that have been perfected over generations.
The Sorrento Lemon that is famous in this region not only adds depth to dishes but has also cultivated a unique alcoholic offering, Limoncello. Lemon peel infuses alcohol with a tart and sour body with a sweet and refreshing aftertaste, making this the ultimate summertime aperitif.
The wines of southern Italy are crisp yet bold, striking the perfect balance between herbaceous and fruity notes. Fiano is one of the most popular wines in the Campania province and is a special treat as it is a low-yielding varietal with plenty of personalities. Falanghina is another popular white wine characterized by its straw colour and floral and fruity notes.
Moving inland, you can enjoy full-bodied red wines that thrive in the volcanic soil of the Campania province. Aglianico is a highly popular red wine with high acidity, earthiness, and savoury notes of leather and cured meat. Pair it with hearty meals from the countryside like wild board or aged cheeses for a winning combination. Sipping your way through all the flavours of southern Italy is one of the unmissable things to do in Campania so make sure to add as many vineyards and wine bars to your itinerary as possible.
Strega is another unique offering from the south of Italy. The liqueur is distilled with 70 herbs, botanicals, and spices like Ceylon cinnamon, mint, cloves, and Florentine iris. Try it on the rocks to experience the burst of flavour but also try it in mixed cocktails to see how it interacts with a variety of flavour profiles.
Mount Vesuvius is the dominating natural feature in these parts and one of the most popular things to do in Campania. Whether you choose to admire it from afar or hike up its ferocious slopes, its magnificence is undeniable. Pompeii is another major attraction but Herculaneum is an equally fascinating mummified town, buried under the ash of the spewing volcano.
There are ancient Greek ruins to discover in Paestum with the Temple of Hera marking an exceptional time for human development under the Doric order around 460–450 BC. Archaeology lovers can explore Campi Flegrei Regional Park has a wealth of thermal pools, craters, and lakes sitting right next to the sea.
This region has a cornucopia of accommodation depending on which things to do in Campania become your priority. Are you looking to relax in the pastel streets of Amalfi or live the high life on Capri? Be in the heart of the action of Naples or go inland to Benevento for an authentic countryside experience.
Sorrento offers the best of all worlds, with stunning architecture, proximity to fantastic beaches, and quick access to Pompeii, one of the most popular things to do in Campania.
Art Hotel Villa Fiorella is a luxurious hideaway on the cliffside of Sorrento with an exquisite infinity pool merging with the ocean horizon. Rooms strike a balance between modern design, sumptuous comfort, and traditional Italian style. Villa Manning Relais is another winning option in Sorrento, housed in a historic building surrounded by cobbled streets and fragrant lemon trees.
Nothing spells “chill, the Campanian way” quite like a well-deserved soak in a thermal spa. The small island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples has an abundance of naturally warm, thermal water that is prized for its healing properties. Top it off with a volcanic mud treatment for the ultimate restorative experience.
If you are looking for a relaxing day, the best things to do in Campania all lead you to the beach. The enclaves dotted along the cliffs of Campania Province make the perfect hideaways for a relaxing day. Dip into Bagni Di Regina Giovanna in Sorrento or stroll along the long white stretch that is Capo Palinuro.
For a dash of the celebrity treatment, hop on a boat to the island of Capri and shop in the romantic streets of this iconic island. Enjoy a dense concentration of designer shops and artisanal boutiques on Via Camerelle along the Marina Grande.
Seemingly worlds apart from the glitzy high street of Capri is Caramanico Market in Naples. The weekend market is a hive of activity bursting with character and any manner of clothing and curios for sale. Market at the Agnano Hippodrome is a haven for antique lovers with stunning goods to remind you of your time in Italy in the most authentic way.
Foodies should add Porta Nolana Market to their itinerary to see an authentic 15th-century market still thriving. Fishmongers display their daily catch right next to the sea in Naples, offering the freshest seafood around. The market at Pignasecca is a fresh food market where you can taste and smell the freshest produce in Naples.
The Amalfi Coast villages are as close to postcard-perfect as it gets but exploring the hiking trails around Ravello, Positano, and Amalfi is the ultimate reward for adventurous travellers. Traverse along dramatic cliffs plunging into the Mediterranean and enjoy marvellous views of the pastel-hued villages on the Path of the Gods, Valle Delle Ferriere, Punta Campanella, Santa Marina del Castello, and Sentiero dei Limoni hiking trails.
The crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean make for the perfect playground for adventure lovers. Take a boat out to the Blue Grotto of Capri and just overboard into the other-worldly cavern with gleaming blue waters.
Exploring the jagged coastline of Sorrento is one of the most rewarding things to do in Campania. Start your hike in the village of Nerano and make your way through the enveloping Mediterranean shrubbery down to the secretive Bay of Ieranto.