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Pompeii in 1 day: our tips and itinerary for seeing the main sites [carte]

Visit Pompei

A visit to Pompeii, one of Italy’s most beautiful archaeological sites, will leave you with unforgettable memories. However, the site is so large (12 hectares) that it’s best to plan your visit carefully if you don’t want to miss anything.

What to see in Pompeii How do you get to the main sights? We’ll answer all your questions.

During our stay in the region, we took advantage of our visit to Naples to visit Pompeii. We spent 3 hours on site, as we were traveling with a young child, so we had to prepare our visit as well as possible to optimize the time we spent there and limit the fatigue of the 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.

Pompeii is an exceptional archaeological site, dating from the Roman era, registered as aUNESCO World Heritage Site, located about 25 kilometers from Naples. As you explore the ruins, it’s easy to understand how a Roman city works.

At the end of the article, you’ll also find our map with our itinerary so you don’t miss a thing, plus our best addresses.

Visit Pompei in Italy

Our tips for visiting Pompeii

Where to park?

You can park for free (unsecured) 15 minutes’ walk from the site. We’ve indicated the parking lot on our map below. Please note that the blue spaces in the city center are reserved for local residents.

How long does it take to visit Pompeii in Italy?

This is always a complicated question to answer. The excavated area is really huge, and we think it would be ideal to stay for a whole day, or even several days. Yes, when you love, you don’t count!

Visit Pompei in Italy

If you only have a few hours to spare, we advise you to plan your itinerary carefully so as to see as many buildings as possible in just a few hours, or to take a guided tour (usually lasting 2 hours). We detail the offers below.

For our part, after 5 hours we had seen enough and we were getting saturated. To help you and optimize your visit, we have detailed our itinerary and our must-sees.

What are the best times to visit the site?

We recommend visit Pompeii as soon as it opens , to enjoy the site without too many visitors. From mid-morning onwards, the buses pour in hordes of tourists. Another tip from Pourquoi Pas Nous: most guided tours finish around 12pm, so it’ll be a little less crowded after that.

Timetables for visiting Pompeii are divided into two periods, since in Italy, from the changeover to winter time, the sun sets at around 4:30 pm and it’s pitch-dark by 5 pm.

  • From April 1 to October 31: 9am – 7pm (last entry 5pm)
  • From November 1st to March 31st: 9am – 5pm (last entry 3:30pm)

Pompeii is open every day except December 25, May 1 and January 1. Find all the updated information on the official website.

How to prepare your visit?

Update your knowledge

It’s a site that’s accessible to everyone, even though we’re by no means experts in history, and we learned a great deal from our visit to Pompeii. If you have time beforehand, we recommend you watch the documentary “C’est pas sorcier Pompei“, as always very complete and easy to understand, thanks Jamie 🙂 As well as this short video explaining the organization of a Roman domus (house). This will allow you to enter the site more quickly and easily.

Prepare your itinerary

If you wish to visit Pompeii on your own, find our recommended and detailed itinerary below.

Where to buy these tickets?

Around 3 million people visit Pompeii every year. As you’ll see once you’re there, it’s busy everywhere, all the time.

In high season

High season is from May to October and during school vacations. We recommend that you buy your queue-cutting + audio guide tickets online in advance, to save time and avoid queuing for long minutes before entering the site.

At the Porta Marina entrance, you’ll find dedicated kiosks for electronic ticket holders .

There will also be plenty of people at the kiosks, but once you’ve got your ticket in hand, the queue will be shorter than at the regular ticket office.

Good plan: book your tickets online and save time!

Low season

From November to April, you can book your ticket directly on the official website and choose your visit time in advance.

Admission to Pompeii is €18 (+1.5€ handling fee), full price. Full details of discounts (for 18-25 year-olds, admission is just €2) are available on the official website in English, or you can purchase a ticket on this site in French.

The ticket is valid for a single entry, i.e. once you leave the site, you can’t return with the same ticket.

Vase in Pompeii

How to book a guided tour and/or an audio guide?

As with most archaeological sites in the region, there are no explanatory panels present at the site.

We told you about it in our article about Herculaneum, we were very surprised. A site that welcomes 3 million tourists every year should have the means to add some explanatory panels in our opinion

Even if we had had time to prepare our visit beforehand, because we had visited Herculaneum the day before, we would have liked to have more explanations once we were there.

As you can see in Herculaneum and Pompeii, most visitors walk around the site accompanied by a guide.

We therefore advise you to either purchase a audioguide (8€ at the entrance of the Marina door or beforehand on the internet) or to book a guided tour in French (with a guide or an archaeologist) before you come.

The story, and especially the anecdotes of a professional will bring you a better reading of the site.

For the record, we managed to glean some information by discreetly “grafting” ourselves to groups from time to time, notably at Lunapar and the Forum. On our next visit, we’ll take a guide to learn more about life in Roman times.

The best guided tours to explore Pompeii

Our tip for visiting Pompeii for free?

Before Covid, admission was free on the first Sunday of every month. This offer is suspended for the moment, perhaps to limit the number of visitors to the site.

We still advise you to visit the official website before coming to take advantage of this special offer when it becomes available again.

Pompeii column and statue

A little history!

A powerful Roman city

The city of Pompeii was founded in the sixth century BC, located on the banks of the river Sarno. At the time of the drama, Pompeii was under the control of the Romans. In this flourishing city, provided with theaters, temples, forums, lived about 20 000 inhabitants.

Even if you’re not a history buff, a visit to Pompeii is highly instructive, as you’ll have access to homes as well as public and religious buildings. This will give you a real insight into how Roman cities functioned.

On what date was Pompeii destroyed?

In October 79, the city was completely buried under a thick layer of ash and pumice, following the sudden and violent eruption of Vesuvius that affected the entire Bay of Naples.

However, there were a few warning signs, notably the terrible earthquake of February 5, 62. At the time of the eruption, many buildings were still being rebuilt.

Vases found at Pompeii

When was the archaeological site discovered?

The site remained buried under material for almost 17 centuries, which is why the city is still in excellent condition, while its neighbor Herculaneum has been even better preserved.

The excavations, still in progress, began in 1748. The discovery of this site has allowed a better reading of life in antiquity.

Today, even if the visit is charged with emotion, it is a real chance to explore this city, in very good condition, several millennia old.

Our essentials for visiting Pompeii on the big day

You will realize it once on the spot, the site is immense, you will make several kilometers in order to go to the various points of interest.

Here are our simple tips to make your visit as pleasant as possible.

We advise you to plan :

  • Good shoes, a comfortable pair of sneakers suitable for steep terrain
  • Enough water and food, as there’s only one snack bar on site. The fountains on the site do not always work. For the record, our guide indicated that many fountains were present on the site, we ran out of water in the middle of our visit…
  • A small backpack, as it is forbidden to enter the site with a bulky bag.
  • In midsummer, you’ll need a hat and sun cream to help you withstand the heat of southern Italy!

That’s it, you’re ready to enjoy.

Visiting Pompeii: the ideal itinerary to make sure you don’t miss a thing [carte]

There are 3 entrances: Porta Marina is the main entrance, where you can pick up your audio guide, Piazza Esedra and Piazza Anfiteatro, the one we took and recommend.

The latter is less traveled than its neighbors, so if you go early you can explore theThe Anfiteatro (amphitheater), the paestra grande (huge gymnasium) and some of the streets and houses around, almost alone. Next, you’ll reach the part near the ForumWith the temples and public buildings, as you will see much more frequented.

We give you our itinerary and our must-sees so you don’t miss anything once you’re there.

We start from the door located at the Anfiteatro. If you are arriving from Porta Marina, to pick up your audio guide for example, you just need to do our itinerary in the opposite direction!

1. Anfiteatro (amphitheatre) ❤️❤️

It is one of the oldest Roman amphitheaters visible to this day almost intact. Its size is impressive, 20,000 spectators could attend the gladiatorial shows.

Today, concerts are held there, and there’s even a permanent exhibition on the artists who have trodden its soil, such as Pink Floyd.

2. Palestra grande (big palestra – gymnasium) ❤️

This is the old gymnasium, where gladiators used to train. Again, the building is huge. It is from this point on that we begin to understand the magnitude of the city.

Some showcases in which are exposed objects, food (several breads found in the ovens…) or plants(chestnuts, figs…) found during the excavations allow to better understand, at which season took place the eruption (at the beginning of the autumn).

3. Orto dei fuggiaschi (Fugitive’s garden)

We did not linger on this showcase, presenting several bodies molded in plaster, trying to escape the catastrophe. It is a very moving reminder of the drama that took place here in the year 79.

4. Thermopoliums (Pompeii’s taverns) ❤️❤️

You will be able to observe a lot of them during your visit. These little taverns are generally well-preserved, with the earthenware jars (which held the hot dishes) still integrated into the counter.

5. Casa del Casti Amanti (House of Chaste Lovers)

It was closed at the time of our visit. It’s a shame, as few houses are accessible and most are closed for renovation.

This house is famous for a fresco of two lovers kissing with modesty.

6. Casa del menandro (Menander’s house) ❤️❤️❤️

This is one of the largest and most beautiful houses on the site, and at the far right you can see the remains of a magnificent bathroom.

7. Casa degli amanti (Pompeii’s house of lovers) ❤️❤️❤️

This house is a must-see, as it’s also the only two-storey house on the site. If it is not open to the public at the time of your visit.

Don’t hesitate to add Herculaneum to your itinerary, as a number of two-storey houses on this site have been found almost intact.

8. Teatro piccolo (Little theater) ❤️

We’re starting to see a lot of tourist groups, whereas up until now we’d been few and far between in the almost empty streets of Pompeii. Again, we advise you to get there as soon as possible.

It’s a small, extremely well-preserved theater for up to 1,000 spectators, where musical and mime performances were held.

9. Teatro grande (Pompeii’s great theater) ❤️❤️❤️

As its name suggests, it was the city’s large theater. What is interesting is that the seat numbers are still marked on some of the bleachers. Almost 2000 years later, it’s crazy!

10. Lupanare (Pompeii’s famous brothel) ❤️❤️

One of the brothels of Pompeii, necessarily hidden in a small alley. The walls feature numerous frescoes of a sexual nature.

We learned it by listening to a guide present on the spot with his group, at the time many merchants crossed Pompeii to convey or sell their goods. Since there was no common language, the paintings helped the customers to understand each other. Note also that the street seems to have been used a lot, considering the wheel marks in the road…

We managed to glean some information by “quietly” joininggroups from time to time. On our next visit, we will take a guide to learn more about life in Roman times.

11. Foro ❤️❤️

This long rectangular square of 142 m x 38 m was the political and religious heart of the city. You will find there the most famous temples like the one of Jupiter and Apollo as well as the great economic and political institutions.

You will quickly understand that the forum was the gathering place of the city. It also offers a beautiful view of Vesuvius.

Its ground was covered with marble, we learned, always thanks to our fine ear, that the plunderers rushed to recover the precious materials (like the marble) at the time of the first excavations…

View of Vesuvius from Pompeii's main square

Where to stay in Pompeii to be the first on site?

As mentioned above, we advise you to arrive as soon as the site opens, to avoid the crowds of tourists. The ideal is therefore, in our opinion, to sleep near the site. The hotels are cheap and most of them are located near the archaeological site.

➡️Nous We stayed at Il Vecchio Fauno, a 5-minute walk from the ruins, the town center and the train station. Our room was spacious, clean and well decorated, with the added bonus of paintings on display in the hotel’s common areas. The breakfast is very good, homemade cake, blinis, eggs, ham, fruit etc…

The hosts are lovely and will gladly answer all your questions, which is always great! If you’re coming by car, parking is free, which saves you ten euros or so and a lot of stress! In short, excellent value for money!

Looking for a place to stay in Naples? To make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for, we’ve put together an article detailing the most interesting areas to stay in Naples and those to avoid, as well as our best hotel addresses.

Where to eat good home-made food?

At Todisco, a stone’s throw from the ruins, we followed the advice of the Routard guidebook for once, as the Google reviews were also very good, and we weren’t disappointed.

We ate delicious gnocchi and excellent vegetarian lasagna for a small price and enjoyed the pleasant terrace. We even got takeout for our evening meal. We really recommend it!

How do I get to Pompeii from Naples?

The archaeological site of Pompeii is located about 25 km southeast of Naples. There are several options for getting to Pompeii from Naples.

First, to reach Naples from France, you can find flights from €30. We advise you to compare the prices of the different flights on the Skyscanner website.

We then drove to the site in our rental car. As mentioned in our article on Herculaneum, beware: driving in Naples is peculiar, there’s a lot of traffic and traffic rules seem to be specific to each driver… It will become more pleasant when you leave the city center.

You can also visit Pompeii from Naples by public transport: the two cities are extremely well served, with 3 train lines connecting them.

The quickest way is to take the Circumvesuviana train from the “Napoli Centrale” station and, after a 45-minute journey, stop at “Pompei Scavi dei Misteri”, 500 metres from the entrance, for just €2.80 per journey.

Leaving the station, you can reach the entrance atPorta Marina in just a few minutes.

  • By shuttle bus: you can reserve a seat on a bus in advance, and your driver will pick you up in the center of Naples to take you to Pompeii, then return you to Naples after your visit to the site.
  • With an excursion: you can also opt for an all-inclusive day tour of Pompeii and Vesuvius departing from Naples. This means you don’t have to worry about organizing transport or buying tickets.

How do I get to Pompeii from Sorrento?

Once again, take the “Circumvesuviana” to the station, then get off at the “Pompei Scavi-Villa dei Misteri” stop. The journey takes 30 minutes, with frequent departures from 6am to 10pm. The trip costs only a few euros.

Getting to Pompeii from Herculaneum

  • By public transport: once again, take the “Circumvesuviana” towards Sorrento, at the station, then get off at the “Pompei Scavi-Villa dei Misteri” stop. The journey takes only 10 minutes. The trip costs only a few euros.

It’s possible to visit Pompeii from Rome

It is the second most visited site in Italy after the Colosseum in Rome. So some travelers, wish to visit this incredible site during their passage in Rome.

However, there is no direct connection between Rome and Pompeii. You’ll need to take the train from the main “Roma-Termini” station and change trains in Naples.

By car, allow 2h30 for a somewhat tiring journey, then you can park close to the site in a paid or free parking lot (see our map below).

What to do around Pompeii?

The area around Naples is full of sites to explore. You will certainly have to come back several times to have time to enjoy each site.

Naples and its islands

Of course, we recommend a 1-day walking tour of Naples, a city with a typically Mediterranean atmosphere that’s sure to give you a change of scene. Its islands, including Capri, just 30 minutes away by boat, guarantee a wonderful interlude during your stay.


As I’m sure you’ll have gathered by now, we loved our visit to Herculaneum. In our opinion, it’s as much a must-see as Pompeii, and the ruins are even better preserved than Pompeii Yes, it’s possible.


Of course, it’s also a must-see, so we advise you to prepare well for your visit to Vesuvius, and explain the mistakes you should avoid.

The Amalfi Coast

For our part, we haven’t explored it yet, which is why we’re bound to return to Naples one day. In order to reach the famous Amalfi Coast, you must take the “Circumvesuviana” train to Sorrento (30 minutes) and then take a SITA bus to one of the towns along the coast.

visit pompei,italy,visit pompei

Pompeii is one of the most surprising places we’ve ever visited. Even though we were exhausted from the day, we are grateful to have been able to walk the grounds of this city and to have learned so much about ancient history.

We thank you for reading all the way through, we hope we have answered all your questions. Do not hesitate to leave us a note below to tell us if you are planning this trip, or to ask any questions you may have, we will answer you with great pleasure! If you liked this article, feel free to drop 5 stars below.

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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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