Pompeii is one of the most important archaeological sites and tourist attractions in Italy, and today it has UNESCO World Heritage Site status as a result of the state of their preservation and the “complete and vivid picture of society and daily life at a specific moment in the past that is without parallel anywhere in the world.”
The story of Pompeii and Vesuvius is one that gets told to children around the world: when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, it completely engulfed the towns below it and the people who lived there had no fighting chance of getting out alive. Many of them were even “frozen” in the position they were in when they died. Since the archaeological site was discovered in the mid-18th century, it has slowly been excavated and millions of visitors can now walk through its once-buried roads, homes and buildings.
If you are planning a day trip to Pompeii from Sorrento or Naples, read on for what you need to know including opening times, ticket prices, what to see, how to get to Vesuvius and so on!
Pompeii or Herculaneum (Ercolano)?
First of all, it’s important to clarify that Pompeii is not the only archaeological park that you can visit. It’s also possible to visit Herculaneum (Ercolano), Oplontis, Boscoreale or Stabia. However, Pompeii is probably the most well-known (and as a result, more crowded) as it covers a much larger site and is the town most commonly associated with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
However, most people tend to agree that Herculaneum is better preserved, though it is much smaller than Pompeii and many structures may be closed to visitors. Both of them are accessible via the local Circumvesuviana train from Sorrento or Naples, but if you only have time for one, then you probably want to head straight to Pompeii.
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How to get to Pompeii
Pompeii is located in southwest Italy, approximately 3 hours away (240 kilometres or so) by car from Rome.
From Naples to Pompeii: You can visit Pompeii from Naples via several forms of public transportation. The easiest is to hop on the Campania Express or Circumvesuviana local train. The Campania Express is much nicer with air conditioning and guaranteed seating and runs between Naples – Ercolano – Pompeii – Sorrento. It will take you from Naples to Pompeii in approximately 30 minutes.
However, this express train only runs between March/April to October every year; it is not much more expensive than the local train so I would recommend taking the Campania Express if you are visiting Italy during this season. The 2018 season is now over, and I will update this post once the 2019 schedule becomes available.
If you are a regular reader of Yoga, Wine & Travel then you’ll know that I hate the Circumvesuviana train with a passion and would not voluntarily take it again. The trains are old, extremely crowded and riddled with pickpockets. However, you can find the train timetable here on the EAV website.
From Sorrento to Pompeii: Visiting Pompeii from Sorrento will take you approximately the same amount of time: 30 minutes. Again, you can opt to take the Circumvesuviana or the much nicer Campania Express.
Is it possible to do a day trip to Pompeii from Rome? While it is physically possible, you would be signing up for a grueling day. The high speed train from Rome to Naples takes over an hour, you’d then have to hop on another train for 30 minutes followed by exploring Pompeii and Vesuvius for 5-7 hours (including transportation between the two), and finally traveling another 2 hours or so back to Rome. Instead, I would recommend spending some time in Sorrento or Naples.
Where to stay if you’re visiting Pompeii
It’s not worth staying overnight in Pompeii as the ruins and volcano can be visited within one day. Instead, stay in Sorrento if possible as it is a wonderful place to base yourself if you want to explore the Sorrentine Peninsula and do day trips to the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Procida, Ischia or Naples. The city itself is not big, which means it is easy to get around on foot, yet it is filled with fantastic world-class restaurants and boutique apartments.
For our first trip to Sorrento in 2015, we stayed at Vhome, a lovely B&B located in a residential building down a side street in a relatively low-key area of Sorrento. Click here to book your stay at Vhome!
Another fantastic option is B&B Veru, right on Corso Italia (the main street running through Sorrento – the location can’t be beat). Cristiana is a wonderful host and the boutique rooms are spacious, clean and modern. Although it is on the main street, street noise is non-existent. Click here to book your stay at B&B Veru!
If you are traveling around the Amalfi Coast with family or friends, I recommend booking yourself into one of the SorrentoLife two-bedroom apartments right in the heart of town. The apartments offer a good-sized kitchen and the beds are extremely comfortable. The wifi is lightning fast if you need to stay connected, and you can also do laundry in the property. If you plan on driving, SorrentoLife can arrange parking at a nearby facility for a discounted daily rate of 18 Euros. Click here to book your stay at SorrentoLife!
For more Sorrento accommodation options, click here for current prices and availability. Accommodation close to “Corso Italia” is your best bet, as that is the main street that runs through the city.
If you are visiting Pompeii for a day trip from Naples, I would highly recommend staying at Parthenope Suite in the Historic Centre of Naples. The beautiful boutique B&B is located in the heart of the city and the rooms are newly renovated. Click here to book your stay at Parthenope Suite!
Tickets for Pompeii
The Pompeii entry fee is currently 15 Euros and this does not grant access to Vesuvius. You can buy your ticket online ahead of time to skip the ticket queue. There are many ticket agents selling Pompeii tickets outside the Circumvesuviana station but you should walk straight to the official Pompeii ticket office to purchase your tickets.
Entry is free every first Sunday of the month according to the official website.
Pompeii opening hours
From April 1st to October 31st, the Pompeii archaeological site is open from 9 AM to 7 PM with the last entry at 6 PM. It opens slightly earlier at 8:30 AM during the weekend.
From November 1st to March 31st, the ruins are open from 9 AM to 5 PM with the last entry at 3:30 PM.
The sites close on January 1st, May 1st and December 25th. Double check the official Pompeii website if you’re unsure.
What to see in Pompeii
Wondering what to do in Pompeii? You can easily spend 8 hours wandering through the dozens and dozens of sites across the 44 excavated hectares of the archaeological site of Pompeii (though only 22 hectares are open to visitors). The full guide and map to Pompeii can be downloaded here, but can be extremely overwhelming.
Your best bet is to visit a couple of the key sites in 2-3 hours and call it a day, as the heat and lack of shaded areas can be stifling. Don’t miss the main Roman Forum, Amphitheatre, House of the Vetti and small on-site museum. We had no concrete plan and list of places to visit in Pompeii and did just fine – our strategy was to go where the other tourists weren’t! My advice would be to take in the experience of exploring the ancient ruins without a rigid checklist.
If you are short on time and want more insight into the history of Pompeii then you can also opt to hire a licensed guide from the entrance to take you to the key highlights.
Pompeii and Vesuvius in 1 day
Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius are actually about 10 kilometres apart, but the good news is that it is relatively easy to get to Mount Vesuvius from Pompeii. Hop on the EAV Bus that departs from outside the Pompei Scavi Circumvesuviana station – the journey takes approximately 50 minutes and costs 2.70 Euros each way, tickets can be bought directly from the bus driver. Buses run every hour from about 8 AM to 3 PM.
The bus drops you halfway up the mountain at the ticket office, and then you have to walk another 20-30 minutes uphill to the crater in the heat. Tickets to enter Mount Vesuvius cost 10 Euros which includes a guided tour of the crater, but when we visited nobody actually guided us to the crater or led us around. Once you’ve checked out the massive crater, hop back on the bus and head back to Pompeii.
Access to the crater opens at approximately 9 AM and closes between 3 PM and 6 PM depending on the time of here. Check the Mount Vesuvius opening hours here.
Hotel recommendations: Vhome, a cozy and comfortable B&B located ten minutes away from the historic center of the city. Click here to check current rates at Vhome!
B&B Veru is right on Corso Italia (the main street running through Sorrento) with spacious, clean and modern rooms. Click here to check current rates at B&B Veru!
For more Sorrento accommodation options, click here to check current prices and availability.
Planning a day trip to Capri from Naples? Stay at Parthenope Suite in the Historic Centre of Naples. The beautiful boutique B&B is located in the heart of the city and the rooms are newly renovated. Click here to book your stay at Parthenope Suite!
What to bring to Pompeii and Vesuvius
A day trip to Pompeii and Vesuvius can be physically taxing as there is minimal shade. Bring a hat, sunscreen, water, and wear a good pair of walking shoes. Also make sure you bring some cash for a light lunch (there are a number of semi-decent tourist restaurants around Pompeii) and your entry/bus tickets.
It’s not uncommon to have to pay a small amount of money to use a public bathroom in Italy so make sure you have some change on you! Head here to read 14 things you should know before you visit Italy.
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