Pompeii is an exceptional archaeological site, dating from the Roman era, registered as UNESCO World Heritage Site, located about 25 kilometers from Naples.
In our opinion, this is a must-see on your trip to Naples. As you explore the ruins, you will understand how a Roman city works.
The site is huge, 12 ha are open to the public. We advise you to prepare your visit well, we help you below, if you do not have time, do not hesitate to survey the site with the help of a guide like most other visitors.
You will also find at the end of the article our map with our itinerary to see the best and our good addresses, as always our goal is to help the future travelers to easily organize their trip.
- How to get to Pompeii?
- Tips to visit Pompeii
- Where to buy tickets?
- A little history
- Visit Pompeii: ideal itinerary to see the best (on map) :
- 1. Anfiteatro (amphitheater)
- 2. Palestra grande (big palestra – gymnasium)
- 3. Orto dei fuggiaschi (Fugitive’s garden)
- 4. The thermopolium (taverns)
- 5. Casa del Casti Amanti (House of Chaste Lovers)
- 6. House of Menander
- 7. Casa degli amanti (house of lovers)
- 8. Teatro piccolo (Small theater)
- 9. Teatro grande (large theater)
- 10. Lupanare
- 11. Foro
- Where to sleep to be the first on the site?
- Where to eat ?
- What to do around Pompeii?
- Is Pompeii worth visiting?
How to get to Pompeii?
The city of Pompeii is located about 25 km southeast of Naples. There are several options to reach the site from Naples.
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.
From Naples by train
It is a very option, especially in high season. The two cities are extremely well served as there are 3 train lines connecting them.
The fastest way is to take the train Circumvesuviana, at the station “Napoli Centrale and then stop after 45 minutes at the “Pompei Scavi dei Misteri” stop, 500 meters from the entrance, for only 2,80€ per trip.
From the station, you can reach the entrance located at the “Porta Marinain just a few minutes.
From Naples by car and where to park
We reached the site by car because we were there out of tourist season. As mentioned in our article on Herculaneum, be careful, driving in Naples is particular, there is a lot of traffic and the rules of the road seem to be specific to each driver… It will become more pleasant when you will leave the city of Naples.
Then you can park park for free (not secured) 15 minutes walk from the site, we have indicated the parking on our map below. Please note that the spaces marked in blue in the city center are reserved for locals.
Again, you must take the “Circumvesuviana“At the station, get off at the “Pompeii Scavi-Villa dei Misteri” stop. The journey takes 30 minutes, with frequent departures from 6am to 10pm. The trip costs only a few euros.
Once again, you must take the “Circumvesuviana“From the station, take the bus towards Sorrento and get off at the “Pompeii Scavi-Villa dei Misteri” stop. The journey takes only 10 minutes. The trip costs only a few euros.
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 will have to take the train at the main station “Roma-Termini”. make a change of train in Naples.
By car, count 2h30 of somewhat tiring journey, then you can park near the site in a paying or free parking (see our map below).
Tips to visit Pompeii
How long does it take to visit Pompeii?
This is always a complicated question to answer. The excavated part is really huge, the ideal according to us would be to stay there a whole day, or even several days.
If you only have a few hours, we advise you to prepare your itinerary well in order to see a maximum of buildings in a few hours or to take a guided tour (generally the duration is 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.
How to prepare your visit?
Update your knowledge
If you have time beforehand, we advise you to watch this video of a few minutes that explains the organization of a Roman domus (house). This will allow you to understand 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.
When should you visit Pompeii?
We advise you to arrive as soon as it opens in order to enjoy the site without too many visitors. From mid-morning onwards, the buses pour out hordes of tourists. Another tip, Why not us, most of the guided tours end around 12:00, there will be a little less people after that time.
The visiting hours are divided into two periods, since in Italy, after the change to winter time, the sun sets around 4:30 pm and it is dark at 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)
The site is open every day except December 25, May 1 and January 1. Find all the updated information on the official website.
Where to buy tickets?
3 million visitors come to Pompeii every year. As you will see once you are there, it is very crowded.
In high season, from May to October and during school vacations
We recommend that you buy your tickets online in advance, with a skip the line ticket, to save time and avoid waiting in line for long minutes before entering the site.
Once at the entrance, located Porta Marina, you will find dedicated kiosks for electronic ticket holders .
There will also be many people at the ticket booths, but once you have your tickets in hand, the line will be shorter than at the regular ticket booth.
In low season, from November to April
You can book your ticket directly on the official website and choose your visit time in advance.
The price of the entrance ticket to Herculaneum is 16 € (+1,5€ for administration fees), full price. All the information about the discounts (for 18-25 years old, the entrance is only 2€) on the official website.
If you want to visit several sites, there is another option, Acquire the Campania Artecard. This is a range of cultural cards, which allows you to visit many museums in the region, several packages are offered, with or without transport included.
If you want to visit several sites, it can be quite profitable. We let you look at the details on the official website and do your own calculations! Be careful, the Vesuvius is not included, we were tricked, finally our card was not profitable … We did not find the offer very readable. We still point you to the official website, because we like to support this kind of initiatives.
The ticket is valid for one entry only, which means that once you leave the site, it is not possible to return with the same ticket.
Should you book a guided tour and/or an audio guide?
Yes, as all archaeological sites in the region, there is minimal signage at the site so alone you will learn few information.
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 English (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 will take a guide to learn more about life in Roman times.
The best tours to explore Pompeii
Our tip for visiting Pompeii for free?
Before Covid, admission was free every first Sunday of the month. This offer is suspended for the moment, perhaps to limit the number of visitors to the site.
We advise you to check the official website before coming to take advantage of this interesting offer when it will be available again.
What can you bring to visit Pompeii ?
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 is 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 the middle of summer, your hat and sun cream, to support more easily the strong heat of the south of Italy!
That’s it, you’re ready, all you have to do is enjoy.
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.
The visit to Pompeii is really instructive, even if you are not a history buff, because during your visit you will have access to houses as well as public and religious buildings. Thus you will have a real insight into the functioning of Roman cities.
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.
It should be noted that there were some warning signs, including the terrible earthquake of February 5, 1962. At the time of the eruption many buildings were still being rebuilt.
When was the archaeological site discovered?
The site remained buried under the materials for almost 17 centuries, for this reason the city is still in excellent condition, 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.
Visit Pompeii: ideal itinerary to see the best (on map) :
There are 3 entrances, the porta Marina which is the main entrance, where you can pick up your audio guidethe piazza Esedra and the piazza Anfiteatrothe one we took and that we 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. Then you will join 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 (amphitheater)
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 organized in its heart, there is even a permanent exhibition which recalls the artists having 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. The thermopolium (taverns)
You will be able to observe a lot of them during your visit. These small taverns are generally well preservedthe earthenware jars (which held the hot dishes) are still in place integrated in the counter.
5. Casa del Casti Amanti (House of Chaste Lovers)
It was closed at the time of our visit. It’s a shame because few houses are accessible and most are closed for renovation.
This house is known because a fresco where two lovers kiss with modesty has been found.
6. House of Menander
It is one of the most beautiful and big house of the site, at the bottom on the right, you will be able to see there the rests of a magnificent bathroom.
7. Casa degli amanti (house of lovers)
This house is a must-see because it is also the only two-story 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, on this site several two-storey houses have been found almost intact.
8. Teatro piccolo (Small theater)
We begin to cross many groups of tourists whereas we were few to stroll in the streets, almost empty, of Pompeii until there. Again, we advise you to get there as soon as possible.
It is a small theater, which can accommodate up to 1000 spectators, extremely well preserved, where musical and mime shows were held
9. Teatro grande (large 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!
One of the brothels of Pompeii, necessarily hidden in a small alley. On the walls are represented numerous frescoes with sexual character.
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.
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…
Where to sleep to be the first on the site?
As mentioned above, we advise you to arrive as soon as the site opens in order to avoid the crowd of touristss. 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.
we stayed at Il Vecchio Fauno, great location, located 5 minutes walk from the town centre, the Pompei archaeological site and the train station. Our room was spacious, clean and equipped with air conditioning. The breakfast is very good, homemade cake, blinis, eggs, ham, fruit etc…
Staff is very very helpful. If you come by car the parking is free, which allows you to save about ten euros and stress less! It’s a good value for money !
Where to eat ?
A Todiscolocated near the ruins, for once, we followed the advice of the guidebook, because the reviews on Google were also very good, we were not 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!
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.
You will certainly have understood it during your reading, Herculaneum is a must-see according to us, the ruins are even better preserved than in Pompeii. Yes it is possible.
Obviously it is also a must, we advise you to prepare your visit well and we explain the mistakes to avoid.
The Amalfi Coast
For our part we have not yet explored it, that’s why we will inevitably 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.
Is Pompeii worth visiting?
Pompeii is one of the most surprising places we had the opportunity to visit. 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!