Known for its rich history, incredible architecture and mouth-watering Neapolitan cuisine, Naples city centre is bustling with vibrant energy, creating a unique holiday experience.
In December, the city becomes a festive hub at the Naples Christmas Market, where visitors can explore wooden stalls filled with artisanal crafts and traditional Italian holiday foods.
In this guide, I’ll cover essential details such as confirmed 2023 dates, opening times, locations, and what local specialties to look out for.
Christmas in Naples is distinguished by its rich tradition of crafting intricate presepi, or nativity scenes, that many families and local shops display.
These elaborate tableaux go beyond the typical manger scene to include detailed miniatures of everyday life, showcasing the city’s deep-rooted connection to this holiday custom.
Naples Christmas Market 2023
The National Railway Museum of Pietrarsa provides an unparalleled setting for the Naples Christmas Market, drawing over 100,000 visitors last year.
This sprawling venue encompasses approximately 36,000 square metres and seven 19th-century pavilions overlooking the Gulf of Naples.
Its unique collection includes 55 historic railway vehicles, setting a distinctive backdrop to the Christmas chalets, live performances, and food vendors featuring local Campanian fare.
This venue even allocates a special program for children, including activities such as writing Santa wish letters on the “Postal Littorina” and exploring Santa’s house.
Not far from here, in the Centro Storico, the narrow streets of San Gregorio Armeno attract global attention for their artisanal nativity scenes and the 2023 Naples Christmas Fair.
Known as “the Via dei Presepi,” this area features handmade statuettes ranging from traditional nativity figures to contemporary personalities, drawing tourists and locals alike until well after the Epiphany.
With artisans passing down their skills from generation to generation, these creations have gained international fame.
This location hosts a life-size nativity scene in the Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore, making it an indispensable part of Naples at Christmas.
Dates and Location
Naples Christmas Market dates: 2nd December 2023 to 7th January 2024.
Location: National Railway Museum of Pietrarsa. The nativity scenes and Christmas Fair are at Via San Gregorio Armeno in the Centro Storico.
Opening times: 10am to 10pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Ticket prices start at €5 for children and €10 euros for adults. Prices are higher on the weekends. The Via San Gregorio Armeno event is free.
Christmas lights: No lights this year.
Santa: Yes, at Santa’s House in the museum.
Ice skating: No.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Public transport: Choose from the historic train or a regular train. The historic Pietrarsa Express will take you directly to Pietrarsa. Alternatively, take the Naples‐Salerno to the Pietrarsa – San Giorgio a Cremano stop.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Intricate nativity crafts; Neapolitan traditions; authentic culinary delights; distinct from typical European markets.
Recommended tour: Historic city centre tour with Veiled Christ entry.
Specialities: Struffoli; roccocò biscuits; baba au rum; pastiera; sfogliatella; zeppole; panettone; torrone.
Where to stay: Santa Chiara Boutique Hotel is a popular hotel, very centrally located in Naples.
Hotels near Naples Christmas Market
Centro Storico is the city’s historic centre and the ideal area to stay in Naples near the nativity scenes and the train to the Christmas market in Pietrarsa.
This central location ensures easy access to the festive activities and the broader historic attractions of the city.
I’d recommend the Santa Chiara Boutique Hotel for its great location in the Centro Storico.
Location of Naples Christmas Market
Recommended Walking and Food Tours
A city tour of Naples provides a straightforward way to appreciate the city’s compelling history and distinct culture.
I suggest taking this historic city centre tour, especially if it’s your first time visiting. Along the lanes of Spaccanapoli, admire a mix of ancient churches and architecture.
With a local guide, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit Cappella San Severo, home to the Veiled Christ, and discover places often overlooked by tourists.
Alternatively, if you’re keen on the culinary side of Naples, this street food tour is an excellent choice.
Walk through the historic centre while tasting authentic local dishes. From a limoncello factory to sampling gelato, this tour introduces you to Neapolitan cuisine in a local context.
After exploring what Naples has to offer, you might also be interested in broadening your Christmas market experience in the country; in that case, I recommend reading my Italy Christmas Markets 2023 guide to discover other noteworthy markets throughout Italy.
Christmas in Naples
Christmas Specialties in Naples
Struffoli: Small, deep-fried balls of dough that are crunchy on the outside and soft inside. Traditionally, they’re sweetened with honey and adorned with coloured sprinkles or candied fruits. They’re a staple at Neapolitan Christmas markets and are often gifted in decorative tins or boxes.
Roccocò biscuits: Almond-based biscuits that have a slightly hard texture. They’re spiced with cinnamon and cloves, giving them a distinctive festive flavour typical of the Neapolitan Christmas season.
Baba au rum: A soft sponge cake soaked in rum syrup. While they originated from Eastern Europe, they’ve found a home in Naples, often served in individual mushroom-shaped portions at Christmas markets.
Pastiera: A wheat and ricotta pie that’s a true Neapolitan classic. Infused with orange blossom water and candied fruits, it’s a harmonious blend of textures and flavours commonly found during festive seasons.
Sfogliatella: Layered pastry filled with a sweet ricotta mixture. It can either be “riccia” (curly) or “frolla” (smooth) and is best enjoyed warm, straight from the oven, at the market stalls.
Zeppole: Similar to doughnuts, these deep-fried pastries are often filled with custard, jelly, or a honey and butter mixture. They’re a delightful sweet treat that’s enjoyed year-round but particularly indulged in during the festive season.
Panettone: Although originally from Milan, this tall, dome-shaped bread filled with candied fruits and raisins has become popular throughout Italy during Christmas.
Torrone: A nougat-like confection made from honey, egg whites, and toasted nuts. The Neapolitan version often incorporates local nuts and citrus flavours.
Mulled wine: Found in Christmas markets globally, this spiced and simmered wine warms you from the inside out. Perfect for sipping while you wander the festive stalls.
Christmas Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Handcrafted nativity figures: Naples is renowned for its intricate nativity scenes. Via San Gregorio Armeno, artisans handcrafted these detailed figures, ranging from traditional biblical characters to contemporary personalities. These are not just souvenirs but pieces of Neapolitan artistry, each bearing the distinct touch of its creator.
Limoncello: A lemon liqueur mainly produced in the region around the Gulf of Naples. It is typically served as an after-dinner digestive and bottled in decorative containers, making it an excellent gift for those wanting a taste of Naples at home. This would make a great gift from the Campania Christmas markets.
Ceramics: The region around Naples is known for its ceramic production. You can find beautiful hand-painted plates, vases, and decorative tiles showcasing traditional Neapolitan designs and patterns, perfect for adding a touch of Italy to one’s home.
Musical boxes: Unique to the region, these are often designed to resemble Neapolitan buildings or landmarks. They play traditional tunes when wounded, serving both as decorative pieces and delightful mementos of a trip to Naples.
Lace and linens: Neapolitan artisans often display intricately designed tablecloths, handkerchiefs, and shawls. Made from high-quality materials, they reflect the region’s rich textile traditions.
Olive oil: Sourced from the region’s olive groves, Neapolitan olive oil is rich in flavour. Bottled in decorative containers, it’s a classic gift for food enthusiasts and those keen to bring Italian flavours into their kitchens.
Traditional games: Classics like ‘Scopa’ or ‘Morra’, traditional Italian card and hand games, can be found in beautifully crafted sets.
Things to Do in Winter
For a comprehensive list of winter activities and up-to-date events in Naples, I recommend checking out Visit Naples, the city’s official website for tourism. It’s a reliable resource to help your Naples experience. This list of the top things to do will give you an idea of what to expect when you’re there.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are a few suggestions to make your Christmas visit to Naples more sustainable:
Eco-friendly accommodation: Naples is home to several hotels committed to green initiatives. Opt for accommodations that focus on energy conservation and use renewable energy sources. This ensures your stay leaves a smaller carbon footprint while supporting businesses dedicated to protecting the environment.
Conscious dining at markets: When indulging in the delicious treats at the Christmas market in Naples, try to reduce food waste. Order portions you’re sure to finish, and if you’re dining with friends, consider sharing dishes. This way, you get to taste various delights without contributing to waste.
Ethical shopping: Naples offers a plethora of local crafts and souvenirs, especially during the festive season. It’s tempting to buy numerous items, but consider purchasing only what you truly need or will use. Support artisans by buying authentic Neapolitan crafts rather than mass-produced items, ensuring your money benefits local businesses.
Sustainable diets: The Mediterranean diet, inherent to Naples, is delicious and one of the most sustainable. It’s based on seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Prioritise dishes with plant-based ingredients or sustainable seafood options to minimise environmental impact.
Public transport and walking: Naples has an extensive public transport network, including buses and the metro. To reduce your carbon footprint, take advantage of these services. Additionally, many of Naples’ historic sites, especially in the Centro Storico, are best explored on foot, allowing you to soak in the city’s charm while also being eco-friendly.
Naples Christmas Market 2023 dates are from the 2nd December 2023 to 7th January 2024.
Naples Christmas Market is located at the National Railway Museum of Pietrarsa, 40 minutes on the train from central Naples. The city’s famous nativity scenes and the 2023 Christmas Fair are located in Via San Gregorio Armeno, in the historic city centre (Centro Storico).
Naples Christmas Market in Pietrarsa is open from 10am to 10pm. Markets in the city centre have similar hours.
Yes, due to its southern location, Naples generally enjoys milder winter temperatures compared to many other European cities, although it’s always a good idea to check the forecast and dress accordingly.
No, Naples Christmas Market requires the purchase of a ticket with prices starting at €5 for children and €10 euros for adults. Prices are higher on the weekends.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Naples, Italy. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.