What is the best way to get to Pompeii from Naples?
Pompeii was a resort town inhabited by wealthy Romans who were known for lavish spending on their homes. The fertile, volcanic slopes of Vesevius provided an ideal climate for grapes and olive groves.
Since the mountain had last erupted long before anyone alive at the time had been born, people thought that living near the most recognizable landmark looming over the bay of Naples was completely safe. The town had imposing temples, a beautiful forum, a perfectly built theater and a stadium.
It was lunch time in August 79 AD when Vesuvius began 19 hours of spectacular eruptions. All the people in the 700-year-old town of 20,000 could have escaped. There was time to flee. But no one recognized the inherent danger of the mountain’s warnings.
By the time Vesuvius stopped belching poisonous gas, the bustling city of Pompeii was silent, completely buried by volcanic ash and debris. It remained silent for 1700 years. Herculanum underwent the same destiny, although it was immediately destroyed by hot toxic gasses, and only later covered with layers of lava.
To this day, visitors head to Pompeii or Herculaneum to view the archaeological remains, or “scavi”, of Roman cities destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. With so many day-trip options available, it doesn’t make sense to stay within the city itself, so visitors usually flock to Rome, Sorrento, or Naples as a base point.
But how does one actually get there?
In this post I will explain the best way to get to Pompeii from Naples.
At Napoli Centrale train station, follow the BLUE signs saying CIRCUMVESUVIANA. They will take you to a lower concourse walkway with shops on either side. Follow this walkway to the end where you’ll come to the Circumvesuviana ticket office and buy two tickets (one for your outbound journey and one for inbound). A single ticket to Herculaneum costs 2.20 euro. Pompeii is slightly more as it is further out.
Tickets ‘validate’ as you insert into the barrier and retrieve them on the other side after passing through the barriers. You’ll then go down some stairs to the platform. Trains run ever half hour and can be very crowded. Be sure and guard your valuables. Don’t leave wallets in back pockets and if you’re carrying a backpack, hold it in front of you. This is simple common sense to guard against pickpocketing.
There are NO station announcements on the train itself and very few maps on the walls of the train cars. If the train is crowded it will be very difficult to see these maps so either print an online copy of the timetable before hand and/or count the stops until yours arrives.
For the HERCULANEUM site, in the town of Ercolano, be sure to get off at the “Ercolano Scavi” stop, then walk downhill for about 1 km (½ mile).
For POMPEII, use the “ Pompeii Scavi, Villa dei Misteri” stop, and walk approximately 100 meters to the Porta Marina entrance.
Guided tours can be taken from the Porta Marina ticket office. €10 per person and they wait until groups of at least 10 have assembled. The audio guide is out of date and not recommended.
If needed, both sites offer facilities for the storage of your luggage (baggage) at their main entrances – as marked with yellow suitcase symbols on the official maps:
Alternatively, there’s the option of using a Naples taxi for your excursion, with the city’s Flat Fare system offering 3 choices:
– round trip to Herculaneum – including a 2 hour wait while you visit the site – €70
– ditto, but to Pompeii – €90
– or a visit that covers both sites, with 3hrs waiting time split between the two however you prefer – €130
On the first Sunday of each month, some museums in Italy are free to the public. This includes entrance to Pompei. Avoid visiting Pompeii on these free Sundays unless you want to share the site with thousands and thousands of others. It costs €13 to see, think of that as your donation to take care of antiquity.