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What to do in Paestum Italy’s must-see archaeological site, a little-known nugget

visit the archaeological site of Paestum in Italy

Visit Paestum, one of Italy’s most beautiful ancient sites, and the icing on the cake is that it’s much less crowded than its neighbors Pompeii and Herculaneum.

What is there to see in Paestum? What temples can’t you miss? We had the same questions as you when preparing our visit, and we’ll answer all your questions.

During our stay in the region, we took advantage of our visit to Naples to visit the archaeological site of Paestum. We spent 1h30 on site, as travelling with a young child meant we had to prepare our visit as well as possible to optimize our time spent there and limit the fatigue of this visit.

We’ve put together all the information you need to organize your visit to the site. You can use our table of contents to navigate through the article and find the information you’re looking for.

Why visit the archaeological site of Paestum: our opinion

The archaeological site of Paestum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, representing the largest group of preserved Greek temples outside Greece.

What makes Paestum even more remarkable is its state of preservation, which is particularly impressive. And the advantage of Paestum is that, unlike more famous archaeological sites such as Pompeii or Herculaneum, it’s located a little further from Naples and therefore attracts fewer visitors.

It’s a site that deserves to be better known, we were so close to missing it that we went there, because we exchanged with travelers used to visiting Naples and its region, who told us it was their favorite site in the area. This lesser affluence makes Paestum a hidden gem, offering a quieter, more intimate experience.

What temples are worth seeing in Paestum?

When we entered the Paestum archaeological site, we were instantly transported to another era. Founded by the Greeks in the 7th century BC, this ancient city, formerly known as Poseidonia, was a flourishing cultural and commercial center.

Paestum’s main attraction is its three imposing Greek temples, all remarkably well-preserved.

Temple of Hera

  • The Temple of Hera, to the south of the site, is the oldest of the 3 temples, majestic and imposing, standing like a guardian of the past. It is also known as the “Basilica”. This temple was dedicated to Hera, Zeus’ wife.

Temple of Poseidon

  • The Temple of Poseidon, the most recent of the 3 temples, is considered one of the best-preserved examples of Greek architecture in the West. This is the largest of the 3 temples, with 14 columns on each side and 6 columns on the front and back.

Temple of Athena

  • The Temple of Athena or Temple of Ceres, located to the north of the site, dedicated to the goddess Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom.

In addition to the temples, you can stroll through theancient Greek city and see the remains of the Roman period (amphitheatre, forum…). We explored the site for 1h30.

Paestum Museum

We were surprised by the size of the archaeological site, and our daughter had no energy left to visit the museum adjoining the site.

The site also boasts a well-stocked museum, with an impressive collection of artifacts discovered on site. Frescoes, sculptures and pottery tell stories of daily life, religion and art from this remote era. It’s a unique opportunity to get up close to the refinement and complexity of the civilization that flourished here.

We’ll keep it for our next visit to Paestum!

Practical tips for your visit: tickets…

  1. How to get there from Naples or Salerno? Paestum can be reached by car or train from Naples (1.5 hours) or Salerno (45 minutes). Private car transfers are also available from Naples.
  2. Price of combined site + museum ticket: March to November, full price €15, concessions €2; December to February, full price €10, concessions €2.

    As with other archaeological sites in the region, the lack of explanatory panels on the site makes it difficult to fully understand the site. We advise you to prepare your visit well in advance, or opt for a 2-hour guided tour in French that you can book online, which is more than enough time to explore the site.

3. Where to sleep?

You can sleep around the site or in Salerno, the nearest town. You can find the best hosting options below:

  • Best times to visit: Paestum is most peaceful in the early morning or late afternoon. Not only will you avoid the crowds, but you’ll also benefit from light that’s ideal for photography.

Map of Paestum near Naples

What to do around Paestum

The Paestum area offers a myriad of activities and sites to explore. From archaeological sites to idyllic beaches and picturesque villages, there’s so much to see and do.

And don’t forget to sample the local cuisine. Campania is famous for its tasty, authentic cuisine. Crispy pizzas with fresh seafood and mozzarella di Buffala. We stopped to fill up on mozarellas at the Tenuta Vannulo farm just outside Paestum.

Paestum is one of the most surprising places we’ve ever visited. We loved writing this article, which allowed us to immerse ourselves in this extraordinary day. We hope we’ve helped you organize your visit to this exceptional archaeological site.

Feel free to leave us a quick note or 5 stars below, to tell us if you’re planning this trip, to ask any questions you may have, here or on Instagram, we’ll get back to you with great pleasure.

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My name is Floriane, and I've been an adventurer and travel enthusiast since I was very young. More than anything, I love sharing our travel stories and tips with you. We love short getaways as well as long trips. This blog was born after our backpacking trip around the world. We also went on a family tour of Europe.
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