The brief history of Pompeii
The history of Pompeii goes back to about 700 years before our era. Several tribes and nations rose and fell, until the Romans finally captured it. The city is located southeast of the volcano Vesuvius, which erupted in the year 79. Ashes covered the city and some 16,000 people died. Through an eyewitness account of Pliny the Younger, much information is known about the eruption and its consequences. In the 16th century people began digging up remains, which now leads to many people visiting Pompeii during their holidays.
It’s possible to visit Pompeii and in a few different ways. First of all, you can organize your own transport. The second option is to use public transportation such as the train or bus. The third and most popular option is a day trip to Pompeii from Rome with guides and transportation. Depending on the season, you’ll be guided past the most beautiful places in and around Pompei. These are not only buildings and streets, but also works of art, tools of the Romans, some horrible remainders of the lava eruption and the surrounding landscape.
From Rome it takes about 3 to 3.5 hours by bus to get to Pompeii. Once there, it’s time to stretch your legs. Stroll along the thermal baths, theaters and temples via well-marked paths. In good weather you can climb the Vesuvius volcano. If you choose to visit the archaeological site with a guide, you’ll hear all the important information. If you don’t take a guide, try to read a lot about Pompeii in advance. Personally, I would advice you to take a guide, since your visit will be a lot more interesting and appealing with some background information.
Things to do in Pompeii
One of the main points of interest of Pompeii is the forum. This square was used for trade and administration. You’ll find the courthouse, election building but also temples for the gods Jupiter and Minerva. At this central forum you can also find a small storage room with all kinds of interesting objects.
In these chambers, you see a gigantic collection of pitchers, amphoras, sculptures, pillars and… The famous curled up bodies from Pompeii, which show the horrible aftermath of this volcanic eruption.
These are of course not the real bodies, but casts made from plasters.
You’ll find the bodies of some adults, the corpse of a child and a dog that was undoubtedly on the run from the hot lava… I think these casts were one of the most impressive things to see in Pompei!
Another building that appeals to the imagination is the famous amphitheater, which lies against the city wall in the southeast and has room for some 5,000 visitors. That’s in fact still a lot less than the Colosseum (50,000), but this theater is -according to me- in much better conditions than the Coliseum.
The Romans are of course also known for their luxurious bathhouses, and you can see them here in abundance. You’ll see decorations, dressing rooms and architectural delights amid the place where people used to come to relax.
In section VII of the ruins you’ll find one of the most interesting points of interest in Pompeii: the brothel (audioguide number 18 on your map).
In this small space you can find some small rooms in which some pretty ladies took good care of their customers.
The beds don’t look very comfortable (stone!), But the frescoes hanging on top of the walls leave nothing to the imagination…
Villa dei misteri
In the north of the archaeological park you can find the ‘Villa dei misteri’. A beautiful house that has been very well preserved. You’ll find two casts of bodies, beautiful frescoes, beautiful gardens and luxuriously decorated living spaces.
The shops and houses
Because the buildings have been so well preserved by the volcanic eruption long ago, you don’t need a lot of imagination to see what the city used to look like. The craft shops where bread, herbs or fish were sold are easily recognized and give you the feeling that you have stepped into a time machine. Even millstones and counters are still present. The infrastructure of that time also had its own character and formed the basis for many things that we still use today.
The different viewpoints
Scattered around the city there are some beautiful panoramic platforms from where you get a nice view of the city and the volcano. They sometimes are very well hidden in the maze of streets, but they are well worth the search. Only from up heigh can you really see how big this city is.
Roman tools and inventions
There are many things that indicate that this was a Roman city. An aqueduct for the water supply and a pre-designed street pattern to guide all traffic in the right direction. Transportation mainly was done by carts and horses, so cart tracks were built in advance to make it easier for transportation. These kinds of small things make clear that the Romans were already far ahead of their time and already had a way of life similar to ours. An impressive sight to say at the least.
National Archeological Museum of Naples
The 17th century building where the National Archaeological Museum of Naples is located leaves little to the imagination. This old building is the repository of one of the most important collections of excavations in the surrounding area. The first two floors are home to objects from Pompeii and the Herculaneum. Stroll along the refined mosaics and view sculptures, helmets and other weaponry excavated from the volcanic city. Also take the time to read the stories next to the objects. Some are even more interesting than the other.
There are several tickets available when you visit Pompeii. These are available at the counters or online. The admission prices differ per age category. The normal rate to enter this archaeological site costs 13 euros for adults. People from 18 to 24 years pay 7.50 euros and it’s completely free for people under 18.
To avoid waiting times you can also order tickets for Pompeii online. Priority tickets cost €17 and can be purchased here.
Do you want to make sure that you have a guide during your visit? You can book them in advance as well for €12.
To Pompeii and Vesuvius by public transport
The cheapest option to visit Pompeii and the Vesuvius is by arranging everything yourself.
This is not very difficult, but unfortunately there is not a lot of information on the internet and that scares many people to undertake the journey by themselves.
I arranged everything myself, and it’s really quite easy if you’re staying in neighbouring cities such as Sorrento or Naples. Don’t forget that you will lose a lot of time waiting in line and on the train/bus. But if you have plenty of time, this is definitely the way to go.
Naples to Pompeii with train
From the central station of Naples (Napoli Centrale or Napoli Garibaldi), take the ‘Circumvesuviana’ train towards Sorrento, and get off at the stop: ‘Pompei Scavi / Villa dei misteri’. This is the train stop closest to the Pompeii Archeological Park.
These Circumvesuviana trains are a lot smaller than ordinary trains in Italy. You can in fact compare them with metro’s. They make a lot of stops on the way and it takes half an hour to forty-five minutes before you arrive in Pompeii Scavi.
A single ticket for this trip costs € 2.80 per person.
From Naples Garibaldi there are dozens of trains a day that leave for Pompei, but I recommend leaving at the latest around 9:00 AM. After all, there is a lot to see in Pompeii (and the Vesuvius)!
Normally these trains leave from platform 3.
You can’t really miss them, because the platform is always crowded with tourists who arrange their day trip to Pompeii themselves.
Once you are on the train, there is a good chance that you have to stand the entire trip. This isn’t very comfortable, but you save ten to fifteen euros on tours and excursions per person.
The ‘Pompei Scavi – Villa dei misteri’ train station is just in front of the archaeological park entrance.
Once you get off, you’ll be bothered by tour organizations that want to sell you tickets at any cost.
Just keep on going. A ticket for Pompeii is cheaper if you buy it at the entrance anyway. However… I would consider booking a guided tour (without the entrance fee) with one of these guys. They charge the standard rate (also available online) of €12 for a guided group tour. These tours are not offered at the entrance.
Sorrento to Pompeii with train
If you leave from Sorrento, it’s actually the same way of traveling as when you’re coming from Naples.
Take the Circumvesuviana train towards Naples and get off at the stop: ‘Pompei Scavi – Villa dei misteri’.
This stop is right in front of the main entrance of the archaeological park.
Rome to Pompeii
I know it’s possible to go to Pompeii with a train from Rome, but it will take several hours and a lot of frustration. You should also already plan your trip to Pompeii well in advance, because the closer you get to your departure, the more expensive train tickets become.
Therefore, I would advice to check out guided tours starting from Rome. In these prices, your transportation, entrance tickets and guides are included. In total these tours costs about the same (or a little bit more) than when you would organize it yourself. But a lot more important: these excursions will save you a lot of stress and give you way more comfort.
From Pompeii to Mount Vesuvius
A day trip to Pompeii is not complete without also climbing Mount Vesuvius.
This volcano erupted in the year 79 and covered Pompeii and Herculaneum, and nearly all their inhabitants, with lava and dust.
From the train station ‘Pompei Scavi – Villa dei misteri’ it’s very easy to visit the Vesuvius.
At regular times you can take a comfortable tour bus, which will take you to the volcano in about 40 minutes.
A single ticket costs €3.10 and is bought on the bus itself.
The bus company is called ‘EAV’ and can easily be recognized by their bright blue colors. They are parked right in front of the ‘Pompei Scavi’ train station.
Have you already visited Pompeii and do you want to climb Mount Vesuvius?
The same buses also depart from the entrance / exit ‘Pompei Anfiteatro’.
On the way you make a stop at the entrance of the national park. There you can buy a ticket for €10 to climb the Vesuvius. For €1 extra you also get a folder with the different walking routes and some more information about the volcano and its famous eruption.
When everyone has their ticket, the bus drives a bit higher until you get to the parking lot where all the tours and buses are parked.
From there it takes between 30 and 60 minutes to climb to the top of the Vesuvius.
Climbing the Vesuvius
You can walk around the entire crater and on the way you get beautiful views of both Naples and Sorrento.
In the crater itself you see a lot of volcanic ash, and if you are lucky you also see some white steam rising from the volcano.
Sometimes you can walk even further, but that depends on the park rangers, weather and safety.
A guided tour is also included in your ten euro admission ticket. The guides are available in English, German, French and Italian. You can find them at the second wooden hut, just before you can view the crater.
Feel free to ask when the next tour starts, because there doesn’t seem to be a fixed time schedule for these guides.
Bus from Pompeii to Vesuvius: times
The bus from Pompei to the Vesuvius volcano leaves at regular intervals throughout the day.
The bus leaves from Pompei Anfiteatro, makes a short stop at Pompei Scavi (the train station) and then continues towards Vesuvius.
Pompeii to Vesuvius
The bus leaves from Pompeii to Vesuvius at these times:
08:00 AM – 08:50 AM – 09:40 AM – 10:30 AM – 11:20 AM – 12:10 AM – 1:00 PM – 1:50 PM – 2:40 PM – 3:30 PM
Vesuvius to Pompeii
The bus departs from Vesuvius to Pompei at these times:
09:00 AM – 09:50 AM – 10:40 AM – 11:30 AM – 12:20 PM – 1:10 PM – 2:00 PM – 2:50 PM – 4:40 PM – 5:40 PM
Often the buses have a slight delay. So don’t be afraid if the bus is not on time.
Vesuvius and Pompeii tickets prices
The price of a day trip to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius depends on how you arrange the excursion.
Self-arranging is the cheapest, an excursion is more comfortable and may give you less stress.
When you arrange it yourself:
- Train tickets (Circumvesuviana): round-trip € 2.80 x 2 = € 5.60
- Entrance Pompeii: €13
- Audioguide: €9 for one person, €6.50 per person if more than one person.
- Guide for groups: €12
- Private guide: € 90 to € 120
- 3D virtual reality tour: € 37.50
- Bus ticket Vesuvius: round-trip € 3.10 x 2 = € 6.20
- Access Vesuvius: €10
For a self-organized trip to Pompeii (with guide) you pay €30.60. A self-planned excursion to the Vesuvius costs €21.80 and if you visit both places you would pay €52.40. You don’t mind paying a bit more for an organised excursion? For €12 extra you can book a fully arranged tour.
Day tours to Pompeii:
- Transport to Pompeii and Vesuvius from Naples + entrance tickets + guided tour: From €70.
- Transport to Pompei from Naples + entrance tickets + guided tour: From €50.
- Transport to Pompeii and Vesuvius from Sorrento + entrance tickets + guided tour: From €70.
- Transport to Pompei from Sorrento + entrance tickets + guided tour: From €50.
- Only transport to and from Pompeii + Vesuvius (from Naples or Sorrento) (no admission tickets and guides): From €30
- Transport to Pompeii and Vesuvius from Rome + entrance tickets + lunch + guided tour: from €125.
- Transport to Pompei from Rome + entrance tickets + lunch + guided tour: From €120.
Always compare prices carefully. Some tours to Pompeii don’t include entrance tickets or guides.
Extra tips to make your visit to Pompeii more pleasant
- Arrange a guide in advance. In the morning you can book numerous guides (€12) on the spot, but after 1 PM it’s almost impossible to find a tour guide that guides groups. So go to Pompeii early, or book your guide online in advance.
- Don’t take the audio guide. The audio guides offered (these can only be picked up at the main entrance, right in front of the train station) are incredibly boring. The narrator is monotonous, tells everything incredibly slowly and after three stories you might’ve already put the audioguide away in your back pocket without ever wanting to look at it again.
- First go to Vesuvius and then to Pompeii. In the morning it’s much more pleasant to climb the Vesuvius. It’s less warm and there are far fewer people visiting this legendary volcano.
In the afternoon and in the evening most people have already left from Pompeii and you almost get this beautiful archaeological park for you alone.
Don’t forget to arrange a guide in the afternoon, because without a guide Pompeii will become a lot less interesting …
- Are you 24 years or younger? Show your EU identity card. European youth will receive a substantial discount on presentation of their identity card!
- Take your time. You need at least half a day in Pompeii. The archaeological park is very big, and very interesting. I never expected to spend so much time here, but a visit of more than a few hours is certainly necessary.
- Lockers are available. Are you uncertain of how to dress? Or do you have too many items with you? No problem. At the entrance closest to the train station you can use free lockers.
The ruins of Pompeii is open all year round with opening times that change from season to season. From April to October, you can enter the park from 8:30 am or 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and at 7:30 pm the gates close. From November to March you can visit Pompeii from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm and the doors close at 5:30 pm. Keep in mind that the park is closed a few days a year, for example on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.