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A day trip to Pompeii ruins: How to plan your visit to the ancient Roman city

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  • Travel tips
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Probably you've been planning a visit to Pompeii Ruins for years but you haven’t yet made it!. So, I guess it's time to book your ticket and discover this impressive and unique place in the world.

Recently there has been a boom in the number of people travelling to Pompeii, making it the second most visited archaeological site in Italy, after the Colosseum: an open-air museum that attracts crowds of Italian and foreign visitors.

Here are some useful tips to help you organize your visit and to best prepare a day out at the Ruins of Pompeii.

What to see in Pompeii:  the ruins and Archeological site

First of all: visiting Pompeii does not mean wandering around among ancient stones and ruins with no specific purpose. It’s the most important point of interest in Pompeii and one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world!

Walking through the streets of the ancient city and entering the Domus - almost intact - is simply priceless. You must absolutely visit the forum, the great theater, the Domus of Sirico, the House of the Faun, the markets and Terme; but according to many visitors the Villa of Mysteries with its colorful frescoes is certainly the highlight, not to be missed.

  • "Villa dei Misteri” is a little further away from the centre of Pompeii Antica, but it's worth walking there from the ruins. Entering the archaeological site from the station side ("Pompei Scavi" stop), the villa is on the left of the entrance.
  • The houses of Pompeii Ruins are not all always open, with alternating hours during morning and afternoon. To be informed about, go to one of the INFO POINTS you’ll find inside the site.

To immerse yourself in  Pompeii’s atmosphere, I highly recommend you reading "The three days of Pompeii" by Alberto Angela before you leave, a very comprehensive and exciting book, which will best prepare you to the visit.


First tip for a smart visit of Pompeii Ruins: Do not wander aimlessly!

It's unnecessary to convince you how beautiful Pompeii Ruins are, it's so obvious! So let’s go on with the best tips for the visit.

Here is the first ESSENTIAL tip, the top advice that can be read in almost 100% of travel reviews: don’t go run around aimlessly through the ruins, but rely on a tourist guide or follow one of the routes suggested on the Pompeii maps (get one at the entrance).

Pompeii Ruins: Tickets, Entrance fee and guided tours

Scavi di pompei 03 vivicityEven if you don't normally like guided walking tours, they are highly recommended for a smart visit of he Ruins of Pompeii: the site is very large and there are so many things to see.

Trust me, you'd risk going around for a whole day and then leave the place with little understanding of what you’ve experienced!

Guides are friendly and tours are  well-explained, full of details but not boring: their descriptions will give a completely sense to the entire visit. You have two options:

You will find different types of tours that can be booked online: choose one according to your preferences and needs (for example according to what you want to see and how many hours you want to spend on the site).

  • Tour between the main attractions and houses, which lasts about 5 hours.
  • 2 hours guided tour, with skip the line entry, perfect if you are in Pompeii for just a few hours.
  • For a very special experience, consider the Pompeii 3D Tour, with virtual reality glasses.
  • If it’s not your first time in Pompeii, then you can opt for a different and multisensory itinerary with tastings of ancient Roman wines.

RUINS OF POMPEII: BEST TOURS AND ACTIVITIES

Maps, Apps & Audioguides

If you’ve decided to book a tour upon your arrival in Pompeii, you might face a little inconvenience: sometimes it happens that, due to not enough people interested in a tour, the guide can not form the group.

So the alternative is to start a self guided tour: as said above, DO NOT walk in circles but follow one of the paths suggested on the site maps - get one at the entrance - or download the app of the ruins on your smartphone. They are both very clear and contain enough accurate information for an independent visit. 

  • In addition to the tickets, you can also rent the audio guide for 7/8€,  that gives you a comprehensive explanation of the various buildings you are going to visit.

How long does a visit to the Excavations last?

The itineraries time range is from 2 to 7 hours. The duration depends on how much time you want to invest in the visit but, according to visitors reviews, it takes at least 4 full hours to see the most important things and places of Pompeii ruins.

Useful info: Timetables, clothing and food courts

If you can get to the ticket office by the opening time (8:30 / 9:00 a.m.) you won't probably queue so you'll have more time to spend through the site with fewer people inside. At lunchtime, the archaeological park is generally very crowded despite its very large size!

So, if you don’t want to wake up very early or queue up for hours, the best advice is to book a skip the line ticket online in advance, before you leave.

  • Admission to the Ruins of Pompeii is free every first Sunday of the month.
  • There is only one bar/restaurant inside the site, where you can buy food and drinks. The queue is long and, according to visitors, consider that prices are touristy so we recommend to bring a packed lunch and a bottle of water with you. You’ll be able to refill the bottle every time you want in the many fountains located along the route.

You’re going to stay in Pompeii for some days? You could try some restaurants but consider that most of the eatery choices in close proximity to the ruins are very touristy, so it would probably be better ordering something in a cafe or relying on some street food.

About clothing. If you have chosen the complete 7-hour route, take it easy and sometimes cool off drinking at the fountains. There's a lot of walking to do and you'll get tired at the end of the day but it’s worth the effort. Wear light clothes and comfortable shoes. In summer months also hat, wet wipes and sunscreen are recommended; don’t forget an umbrella in the autumn/winter months.

Some other useful tips:

  • Carry your most relevant items in a small backpack or handbag. Inside the site it is forbidden to bring bags, backpacks, luggage and cases larger than 30x30x15 cm.
  • Smoking is forbidden inside the Archaeological Park. Smoking areas are only located  near the bathrooms and next to Casina dell'Aquila.

For those traveling with the family, admission to the ruins of Pompeii is free of charge for children under 18 years. Are you travelling with a stroller? In this case put up with a difficult and uncomfortable visit: it’s better to opt for a mountain backpack or baby carriers.

When traveling with children the risk is that in such a long and tiring day they can get bored. Our advice is to rely on a guided tour suitable for all the family (or small groups). On the internet you will find many tours available that use maps and interactive puzzles during the route to involve children and their parents.

Where to stay in Pompeii?

The Sanctuary area - that’s to say Via Roma, Via Piave, Piazza Bartolo Longo - is considered the best place to look for a hotel in Pompeii: it's very central, a short distance from the ruins and it also offers other activities to do such as shopping and nightlife.

But there are so many other solutions and hotels near Pompeii, a few kilometers from the centre.

Pompeii and surroundings: Herculaneum, Vesuvius and the Amalfi Coast

RavelloYou can combine your visit to Pompeii ruins with other beautiful experiences in the nearby areas of Naples.

Among the most beautiful, we suggest you the "Night Walks of the Vesuvian Sites", which include not only Pompeii but also Oplonti and Boscoreale, or the ascent to the top of the Italian volcano “Vesuvius”, overlooking the crater of the volcano.

International Airports near Pompeii 

The closest airport to Pompeii is Napoli-Capodichino International Airport. From Capodichino you can reach Pompeii with the direct bus service SORRENTO – NAPLES AIRPORT. The cost is 10 euro. From Napoli Capodichino you can also take the bus Alibus from the airport to Napoli Piazza Garibaldi and continue on the Circumvesuviana train.

How to get to Pompeii from Naples

Naples to Pompeii by train

The Pompeii Ruins are about 28 km far from Naples. The best way to travel from Naples to Pompeii is the train connection, which makes it simple to get to the ruins.The train line connects Napoli Garibaldi station with Pompeii and it’s called Circumvesuviana train. Departures for Pompei 2-3 times per hour.

Naples to Pompeii by bus

You can easily go to Pompeii from Naples by bus too. The SITA bus offers trips and tours from Naples to Pompeii, Sorrento and the Amalfi coast. 


On a beautiful sunny day you could also combine a visit to the ruins of Pompeii with a tour of the Amalfi Coast and a pleasant trip in Amalfi and Positano.

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