We visited Pompeii and Vesuvius in April 2016 during our first wedding anniversary trip to the Amalfi Coast. Visiting Pompeii has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl so I was ecstatic when our Pompeii day finally arrived. Here’s everything you need to know about planning your perfect trip to Pompeii!
How Do You Get to Pompeii?
Train: The most common way to get to Pompeii is via the Circumvesuviana train. The train stops directly in front of the gates (the Pompeii Villa dei Misteri station) and runs regularly. If you are traveling from Naples or the Amalfi coast, the train is the best (and cheapest) way to travel to Pompeii. Yes, the trains are crowded and yes, they are used by locals and can be a little rough around the edges, but they are nothing to worry about. Part of traveling through Italy (especially the Naples area) is being okay with these facts. Just be sensible and you won’t have any problems. You can check the train times from here.
Bus: If you are coming from the Amalfi Coast, the SITA bus company does run to Pompeii. It will take you longer than the train and be a little more expensive, but it will get you there. The SITA bus schedule can be reached from here.
Car. If you’re brave enough to drive the Italian roads, you can reach Pompeii by car. As we didn’t drive I can’t offer a ton of help on this method. What I can say is that the parking lot looked a little small so it’s probably best to arrive early. Pompeii is located along Highway A3.
Getting Around Pompeii:
When planning your trip to Pompeii, it’s important to keep in mind that the site is an entire city. Getting between some of the “must see areas” can take some walking.
It’s also important to understand there are not street names, maps, or signs anywhere. You will definitely need someone or something to help you navigate the city and lead you to the places you’ll want to see and then explain to you what you’re looking at.
In my opinion, you have two good options for this:
- Download a Pompeii app. If you have a smartphone, this is a great option. There are a few different app options. I opted to download the free app and it worked great. I’ve also heard good things about the Kreisa app, which is not free. The free app allows you to pick the length of tour you want, then it creates a map for you hitting all of the most popular sites reasonable for that length of trip. At each stop it highlights interesting information. This app also works without wifi (a great feature in Italy where internet can be spotty)!
- Hire an official guide. You can book guides ahead of time with the official tourist information point. You can also book a guide the day of at this point (it’s located right by the train station). Notice that I keep emphasizing official guide. Many “guides” will be roaming around outside the gates and in the tourist village offering their services to you. I’m sure some are just fine, but not all. Just don’t be duped into thinking that these guides are actually official. The official ones won’t be approaching you, they’ll wait for you to book them. Using a guide is more expensive than using an app, but many of the official guides seem entertaining and passionate about the site.
The other options for getting around Pompeii are to print out a map ahead of time from the Pompeii site here or to ask for a map when you buy your tickets and hope that they still have some/are willing to give them to you (not always a guarantee in Italy).
Food and Drink at Pompeii:
If you plan to buy food at Pompeii you have two options:
- Purchase food in the Pompeii shopping village just outside of the ruins. This will consist of food truck grab and go style food. There are a few places that offer outdoor seating.
- Purchase food at the cafeteria inside the ruins (behind the Forum). The cafeteria offers basic meals (pizza, pasta, sandwiches, gelato, etc.) and is easy to find once inside Pompeii.
We had lunch at a winery on the slopes of Vesuvius rather than eating at Pompeii (more on that below).
Water is available for purchase or for free at Italian style “water fountains” located around the site. I was slightly worried about drinking from these, but the water was cool, clean, and turned out to be perfectly fine!
Getting from Pompeii to Mt. Vesuvius:
Using public transport you have two main options, both located just outside the train station:
- Busvia del Vesuvio– This is the option we took and I would highly recommend it. The busvia bus from Pompeii takes you inside the Vesuvius park, then you switch to a monster bus which takes you on the bumpy road up Vesuvius. The monster bus stops just a short 20 minute hike from the crater and picks you back up an hour later. Though the ticket is more with Busvia than Tramvia, this company does cover your entrance fee to the Vesuvius park. Using this company there is also an option to get transportation to the Cantina del Vesuvio Winery! More on that below. Click here for the link to BusVia del Vesuvio’s site.
- Tramvia del Vesuvia– Since we did not take this option, I can just share what I’ve read. The tram also picks up outside the train station at Pompeii and takes you on a 2 hour round trip with the option to get off to hike the 30 minutes up to the Vesuvius crater. I do believe that with this option you will have to pay a separate Vesuvius park entrance fee. Click here for the link to the Tramvia site.
Cantina del Vesuvio Winery:
This was one of our favorite experiences in Italy! Cantina del Vesuvio is a family run winery on the slopes of Mt Vesuvius. Their wines are incredibly unique and the wine tasting includes a 3 course Italian meal that’s been paired with the wines. The only way to get to the winery without your own car or a taxi is using the Busvia company (see above). It is totally worth the stop.
How Did Our Schedule for the Day Look?
Sometimes, when planning, it’s helpful to hear how other people have planned their schedules so I thought I’d share what we did. We were coming from Positano and used only public transportation. (Don’t think I’m too crazy for all the details, we like to travel with a plan!)
7:10-8:00 Take bus from Positano (Ch Nuova stop) to Sorrento
8:17 Take the train from Sorrento to the Pompeii Villa dei Misteri station (Entrance opposite station)
8:45 Arrive at Pompeii
9:00 Bus up to Mt Vesuvius for a hike (Busvia del Vesuvio)
12:00 Visit Cantina del Vesuvio winery for lunch and wine tasting
2:00 Visit Pompeii (opens at 9:00, closes at 7:30- last entrance 6:00)-there’s an app for that.
6:06-6:33 Train from Pompeii to Sorrento
7:00-8:00 Last bus back to Positano
8:00 Dinner in Positano
I hope that this guide helps you plan your perfect trip to Pompeii! If you’ve been to Pompeii, I’d love to hear about your trip and travel tips in the comments!
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