If you are staying near Naples, Italy, a visit to Pompeii is a must see and makes for a great day trip. The site is an incredible memorial to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius which took place on 24 August, AD 79.
The city was once a major Roman port town complete with taverns, brothels, sailors hotels and public baths. Its Antiteatro is the oldest known Roman amphitheater in existence. It’s now mostly covered in grass, but at one time, it could hold 20,000 spectators. As these images of Pompeii show, it is a must visit place in Italy.
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Just off the main piazza, where you will also find the Basilica and the Temple of Jupiter, is one of Pompeii’s saddest sites, the Forum Granary, once the city’s main grain store. At first glance, it looks like it’s just full of old vases and pottery and other artifacts, but when you get close, there are some casts of human remains, and the famous Pompeii dog is here as well.
The Best Way to See Pompeii
Away from the main square, it’s fun to just lose yourself and wander the streets. We couldn’t believe how well preserved the city was; it was so easy to picture in your mind what Roman life was like as you strolled along the cobbled streets, passing by homes of both rich and poor, the many tavernas, shop fronts and public baths. Much of the Pompeii art is well preserved, and you be amazed at the detail in the murals.
The site is huge, (44 acres) and they are still excavating and finding more. It’s impossible to see everything in one day. It does get crowded, we were surprised how many there were on a rainy day in January, but it’s large enough to escape the crowds.
How To Get To Pompeii From Naples
Take the Circumvesuviana train from Naples central station – Napoli Garibaldi. The Circumvesuviana station is located on the lower level of the Naples Central train station, beneath the high-speed train platforms.
Tickets for the train have to be bought at the station, as they aren’t available to book online at the moment.
The journey from Naples to Pompeii is around 25 minutes. For Pompeii, exit the train at Pompei Scavi, which is just a minute walk from the main entrance to the ruins.
The trains do get very busy, so recommend walking down to the far end of the train for a better chance of getting a seat or board the train one stop before the central station at Napoli Porta Nolana.
The train station is located right outside one of the main Pompeii entrances.
Driving to Pompeii
Note: Driving in Naples is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Feeling brave and planning to rent a car? Check here for car rentals in Italy.
There are plenty of car parks nearby. We parked close to the main entrance, probably there were cheaper places to park, but it worked out at €3 an hour. Be careful when driving the last 100 meters to the site, it’s very easy to end up back on the motorway again – we know from experience!
Pompeii Opening Hours
- April – October – Daily 9:00 am until 7:30 pm, last entry 6 pm
- November – March Daily 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, last entry 3:30 pm
Top Tips For Visiting Pompeii
- Avoid queues and pre-book tickets online. (It’s also possible to buy tickets outside and jump the queue, these work out at two euros more per person. Probably a good idea at peak times.)
- Allow at least 3 hours, preferably more.
- You can easily spend a day in Pompeii, so wear comfy shoes.
- Pick up a free map and information guide at the information desk located next to the ticket booth.
- The site is open to the elements, and there is very little undercover. So avoid the middle of the day in summer, wear sunscreen, carry water. In winter months, wear warm clothes and be prepared to be rained on.
- There is a cafe at Pompeii, but it’s nothing special, offering overpriced sad-looking sandwiches, but the coffee is good and reasonably priced. So if you are planning to be there all day, bring your own food. Outside the main gates, there are many eateries.
- Note that bags or backpacks larger than 30x30x15 cm cannot be brought into Pompeii. However, to the ticket office at the entrance, there is a free baggage check.
Tickets For Pompeii
During the summer and at the weekends there are often long queues to enter the site. For this reason I recommend buying tickets in advance online to avoid the line.
Buy your tickets here in advance and skip the queues at the entrance.
Want to include an audio guide with your entrance ticket, then book here.
How about exploring Pompeii in a small group with an archaeologist?
Or take a tour from Naples that also includes a visit to Mount Vesuvius?
Or if time is limited, visit as a day trip from Rome but it will be a long day!
Can You Visit Pompeii For Free?
Visiting Pompeii is free on the first Sunday of every month but it will be extremely busy!
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