District of Chiaia, Naples: shopping, nightlife and the famous promenade meet in the trendiest place in town.
If you love shopping and trendy clubs as much as history, art and monuments, the place for you is the district of Chiaia, Naples. Nestled between some of the most iconic places in the city, such as Piazza del Plebiscito and the Posillipo hill, this district has so much to offer, for all tastes, including one of the beauties that have made Naples famous throughout the world: its famous seafront with the Mount Vesuvius in the background.
It's in this area, in fact, that some of the coolest cocktail bars are located, together with the shop windows of the big names in Italian fashion. Walking among the elegant historic buildings or exploring the characteristic alleys that come alive by night, during the movida hours, you will get to know the district of Chiaia, Naples and its history, far from any cliché.
Between the hills and the sea, the district of Chiaia, Naples
Naples, in the verses of one of his most beloved songs, is a city of a thousand colors, which means that it has a thousand faces and many identities, but all of them are authentic and true in their own way. Alongside the streets of folklore, tradition and vitality, there are also romantic sunsets over the sea, silence and elegant buildings.
All these realities coexist in the district of Chiaia, Naples, considered among the most refined and modern in the city. At the same time, though, it's a brazenly Neapolitan district, for example thanks to the staircases, or to the network of alleys that run through it for a good stretch, where you can discover the best local craftsmanship, or enjoy traditional cuisine. From classical and contemporary art museums, to typical or avant-garde restaurants, from hotels for all budget to noble palaces , there is basically everything here, that makes Naples a city that has no equal in the world. Visit Naples with Naples Pass❯
The district of Chiaia, Naples and a long history that started from the sea
Walking through the district of Chiaia, Naples, what mostly catches the eye today is probably the stylish look of the squares and of the buildings, together with the haute couture shops and the most exclusive bars. For this reason it may perhaps be surprising that this neighborhood, which today is one of the best places where to stay in Naples, was originally just a small fishing village.
In fact, it was the Aragonese kings who wanted to build the first houses on the seashore, outside the city walls, in the 15th century. Even the name "Chiaia" is merely a variation of the Spanish term playa, meaning beach.
Only starting from the 19th century did the neighborhood begin to take on the elegant face that we know today, with the construction of the seafront and the two large internal arteries parallel to the coast, which are also among the most beautiful and fancy streets in Naples: Riviera di Chiaia and Via Crispi.
What to see in the district of Chiaia, Naples
Piazza Amedeo can certainly be considered an ideal starting point for visiting Chiaia. Well connected to the rest of the city, this square acts as a hinge to two of its most important streets, Via Crispi and Via Filangieri. Their wonderful buildings are often in Art Nouveau or eclectic style from the early 1900s and in fact as soon as you arrive in the square you just need to look up towards the hill above to admire the facade of Villa Maria, surrounded by a green garden with very tall palm trees.
Along Via Filangieri, instead, there are the Palace of the Arts of Naples, known as PAN, and Mannajuolo Palace, with its famous elliptical staircase. From here you can reach the elegant Piazza dei Martiri, the heart of the neighborhood, or stroll through the alleys that lead down to the sea, discovering quaint restaurants, bars and nightclubs. This maze of characteristic streets leads to the wide and sunny Riviera di Chiaia, where there is also the monumental Villa Pignatelli with its park. Once it was a noble residence in Pompeian style, now it's a museum which houses porcelain, furniture, paintings and even historical carriages.
The Chiaia Riviera borders, almost along its entire length, with the Villa Comunale. This immense garden also houses the Naples Aquarium, built in 1874 as the first dedicated to the study and exhibition of Mediterranean marine life. Yhe sea, in fact, is just a stone's throw away.
Via Caracciolo is the wonderful promenade that runs along the coastline and offers stunning views of the Posillipo hill on one side, and the Castel dell'Ovo on the other. It is among the most beautiful places in Naples, from which, on clear days, you can also see Capri.
Finally, the Bourbon Gallery is a fascinating underground route rich in history, with simple paths suitable for everyone and others that are more adventurous. It's located in via Morelli, of course in the district of Chiaia, Naples.
Chiaia, Naples: where to eat and where to sleep
In Naples, good hospitality is part of the local culture and this traits gets even more evident in the Chiaia distric. Here the relaxed atmospheres and non-hectic pace are an invitation to enjoy the best that the city has to offer.
What's better than local street food to accompany a walk through the shop windows of Via dei Mille or along the Chiaia Riviera? Perhaps you may treat yourself to the typical montanara, the delicious fried pizza which is among the greatest hits of Neapolitan cuisine, or you can choose the even more famous sfogliatella a pastry which you can find in the historic bars that here have been delighting patrons for decades.
Furthermore, some of the best pizzerias in town have found a home in the district of Chiaia, but Naples, as we know, is not just pizza. Between Via Filangieri and the sea you will find delicious restaurants that offer the best traditional Neapolitan dishes and excellent choice of raw materials. But in the most chic neighborhood of the city, there is also a lot of fusion, international, and gourmet cuisine.
We'll give you two tips: for a typical Italian dinner try the fine Italian restaurant Mosaico (you can also find it in our list of Top 10 best restaurants in Naples). For a delicious Japanese dinner instead, try Otoro81. Both are located in the heart of Chiaia and are part of Magnolia, an incredible multifunctional structure, where, in addition to restaurants, you find a lounge bar and a super chic (with spa) Relais.
What to do in the district of Chiaia in Naples
Chiaia is a neighborhood where you won't get bored, either by day or by night. To start the day well, for example, you could enjoy a breakfast with a sea view in the chalets of the Villa Comunale, in whose avenues the more sporty can also try their hand at jogging or rollerblading.
A walk along the seafront is a must, but after admiring the natural beauty you may also want to indulge in a bit of shopping. Between Via dei Mille, Piazza dei Martiri and Via Chiaia you will find the fashion and design of the biggest Italian brands, but not only that. The Neapolitan tailoring tradition is among the most prestigious in Italy and it is precisely in this district that some of the city's historic ateliers are located.
Did you know that Naples is also famous for its stairs? Going up and down is an unusual and fun way not only to get around the city, but also to get to discover its most typical and lesser-known corners. In the Chiaia district there are three of the most famous. Rampe Brancaccio from Via dei Mille climb up to Corso Vittorio Emanuele; the so-called Gradoni di Chiaia start in via Chiaia and cross the Spanish Neighborhood, also to reach Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Finally, in the small Piazza Beneventano there is a very short staircase, which is perhaps the one the Naplolitans hold closer to their heart, because it is named after one of his most beloved sons, the actor Massimo Troisi, who filmed there a scene from one of his famous movies.
Still in via Chiaia there is a truly delightful corner, Vicoletto Sant'Arpino. It's a blind street made up of a steep staircase which, in addition to being one of the most Instagrammable corners of the neighborhood, also holds a secret: an underground tunnel leading to Piazza del Plebiscito is indeed supposed to be beneath it.
When night finally falls, the Chiaia neighborhood in Naples is the place to be. Via San Pasquale and Via Bausan, in particular, lit up with a thousand lights and come alive thanks to the nightlife that here never seems to stop, especially on weekends. You can always choose between the most intimate restaurants for a romantic date, and the famous baretti, bars of every style and size for the trendiest nights.
How to reach the Chiaia district
The Chiaia district, thanks to its central location, is well connected to the rest of the city.
From Piazza Amedeo it's easy to reach the historic center and the central station thanks to the metro. Buses and funiculars also provide constant and frequent connections with Vomero district. Also, the funicular, which is located in the immediate vicinity of Piazza Amedeo, prides itself on having been the first built in Naples, at the end of the 19th century.
The historic center can be reached very easily from the opposite side of the district as well, thanks to a pleasant walk among the shops and bars, of Via Chiaia, which links Piazza dei Martiri with Piazza del Plebiscito.
The port is also well connected, via the panoramic Via Partenope, already considered part of the Lungomare or, for those traveling by car, via the Vittoria tunnel which leads to the square of the same name. Piazza della Vittoria is in turn an excellent starting point for visiting the district of Chiaia, Naples and its beauties. The main entrance of the Villa Comunale is located right here, as is that of the unmissable Bourbon Tunnel.