fbpx

Visiting Pompeii: Tips To Make the Most of Your Time

visiting pompei

This article may contain compensated links. See our full disclosure here

Tucked away in the picturesque landscapes of Southern Italy, Pompeii is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating historical sites in the world. Visiting Pompeii, once buried under layers of volcanic ash, provides a unique glimpse into this ancient city’s past.

Suspended in time after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii holds an air of mystery and intrigue that continues to captivate the hearts and minds of those who visit. From its remarkably preserved ruins to its rich historical significance, Pompeii offers a unique glimpse into the daily lives and tragic fate of its former inhabitants.

Whether you are drawn by the allure of ancient history, the fascinating archaeological discoveries, or the beauty of the preserved ruins, Pompeii deserves a spot on your Italy itinerary. This guide will give you all the necessary information and practical tips to ensure you make the most of your time when visiting Pompeii.

Brief History of Pompeii

tips for visiting pompeii

The ancient city of Pompeii in the Campania region of Italy carries a haunting history. Its origins trace back to the 6th century BC, and the city thrived during the Roman Empire. It was a bustling and prosperous center characterized by intricate architecture, bustling streets, and vibrant community.

However, its fate took a tragic turn in AD 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted catastrophically. The eruption unleashed a massive column of ash, rocks, and gases into the sky, which rained down on Pompeii for nearly a day.

While many residents managed to escape, approximately 2,000 individuals, representing a significant portion of the population, remained. Pompeii was ultimately buried under several meters of volcanic debris. This sudden and devastating event led to the preservation of the city’s structures, artifacts, and even the remains of its inhabitants.

The city remained buried and forgotten for centuries until its rediscovery in the 18th century. Excavations began, revealing an astonishingly well-preserved snapshot of life in an ancient Roman city. The ruins of Pompeii provide valuable insights into Roman architecture, art, culture, and daily life.

READ: Our complete guide to buying Pompeii tickets

Why Visit Pompeii, Italy?

city of pompeii

Visiting Pompeii is an immersive and awe-inspiring experience. It allows you to connect with the past, marvel at ancient civilizations, and reflect on the fragile nature of human existence.

Pompeii’s recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a well-deserved honor that highlights the immense historical and cultural significance of this remarkable destination. 

The ancient city provides invaluable educational insights into Roman society, including its art, architecture, social structure, and religious practices.

The allure of Pompeii extends beyond its archaeological treasures, as the surrounding region presents additional attractions that complement the experience.

Adventurous souls can hike up Mount Vesuvius and visit the volcano’s crater. This offers a unique opportunity to witness the raw power of nature and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the beautiful landscape below. 

Pompeii is also an ideal starting point for exploring the beauty of southern Italy. Nearby, the city of Naples provides a vibrant atmosphere, renowned cuisine, and a wealth of archaeological and artistic treasures. 

The Amalfi Coast, with its stunning coastline and picturesque towns, is also within reach, giving you the opportunity to easily explore everything the region has to offer.

Plan Your Pompeii Visit

Embarking on a trip to Pompeii gives you a chance to immerse yourself in the wonders of the ancient world. This comprehensive guide provides all the essential information you need, from the best timing for your visit to practical tips on transportation and planning your itinerary.

Best Time To Visit Pompeii

ruins of pompeii

The ideal time to visit Pompeii depends largely on personal preference and weather conditions. Some factors to consider when planning a Pompeii trip include the following:

Season

Pompeii experiences peak tourist activity during the summer months, from June to August. This period is characterized by hot and sunny weather and can also be crowded. Spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) are shoulder seasons with more moderate temperatures and fewer visitors. 

Time of Day

pompeii visit

To avoid the hottest hours and potential crowds, visiting Pompeii early in the morning or later in the afternoon is best. Pompeii opening hours are from 09:00, and arriving shortly after that can give you a head start and allow for a less crowded exploration of the ruins. In the late afternoon most of the cruise ship visitors have departed for the day so there are fewer crowds and more opportunity to enjoy the sites.

READ: Our complete guide to buying your tickets for Pompeii

Weekdays vs. Weekends

Weekends, especially during the high season, tend to be busier in Pompeii. For a more peaceful experience and to avoid larger crowds, consider planning your visit on a weekday if possible.

How Long to Stay

pompeii italy

To see the main highlights of the ancient city, a minimum of two to three hours is a good estimate of how much time you will need. However, keep in mind that Pompeii is a vast archaeological site covering about 163 acres (66 hectares). So, if you’re interested in delving deeper into its history and exploring more areas, you may want to allocate more time.

How To Visit Pompeii From Naples, Sorrento, or Rome

transport for visiting pompeii

Traveling to the Pompeii Archaeological Park from Naples, Sorrento, or Rome is relatively straightforward, and there are multiple transportation options available. Here’s a quick overview of how to travel to Pompeii from each of these cities:

How to Get to Pompeii from Naples

Located less than 20 miles apart, Pompeii makes for an easy day trip from Naples. The most common and convenient way to reach Pompeii from Naples is by taking the Circumvesuviana train.

You can catch the train from either the Naples Central Station (Napoli Centrale) or the Garibaldi Station (Napoli Garibaldi). The train journey to Pompeii Scavi Villa dei Misteri train station takes approximately 30 minutes. Trains are frequent, and tickets can be purchased at the station for around €3.

DISCOVER: Where to stay in Naples for the best areas and hotels

How to Get to Pompeii from Sorrento

The Circumvesuviana train also operates from Sorrento to Pompeii. Board the train at the Sorrento train station, and the journey to Pompeii Scavi Villa dei Misteri station takes about 25 to 30 minutes. Trains run regularly throughout the day, and a ticket will cost you between €3-5.

How to Get to Pompeii from Rome

transport tips for visiting pompeii

When traveling from Rome, the recommended option is to take a high-speed train (Frecciarossa or Italo) from Rome’s Termini Station to Naples Central Station. The train trip takes just over an hour and costs around €8. Once in Naples, follow the instructions for traveling from Naples to Pompeii mentioned above using the Circumvesuviana train.

From August 2023 a new, limited service direct from Rome Termini to Pompeii is available. Running only on Sundays with one return trip available, it leaves Rome in the morning and returns 9 hours later. We recommend including a side trip to Naples or Sorrento as 9 hours is a bit much for even the most enthusiastic Pompeii visitor.

Rome is also a great base to take a Pompeii day trip or join a guided tour that includes transportation to Pompeii. Consider taking a day trip from Rome to Pompeii, which typically includes transportation by bus or van and a guided tour of the Pompeii ruins. If you’re fascinated by the volcano Vesuvius and its impact on the local landscape, you might also like to join a Pompeii tour with lunch at a local winery. This option provides a more organized and informative experience, but it may have a higher cost compared to independent travel.

READ: Our guide to all the options for a Pompeii day trip from Rome

Other Practical Considerations

In addition to thinking about the timing of your visit and the logistics of getting there, there are several other practical aspects to consider when planning your trip to Pompeii. Here are some additional factors to keep in mind for a well-prepared visit:

Tour or Train

city of pompeii tour

Both options have their advantages. A guided tour allows you to sit back and relax while an experienced guide takes care of transportation and provides insightful commentary. If you prefer more flexibility, you can opt for the train. Many tours include a combination of train travel and guided tours, offering you the opportunity to experience the best of both.

Parking

If you’re renting a car and driving to Pompeii, paid private parking is available near the archaeological site. Be sure to check the parking facilities in advance and consider reserving a parking spot if possible, especially during peak tourist seasons. Depending on the time of year, paid parking costs between €5 and €10 per day.

Entrance Fees and Tickets

Pompeii tickets cost around €19 per person. It’s best to purchase tickets online in advance to avoid long queues at the site. Tickets are also available at ticket booths located near the entrance gates.

Guided Tours vs. Self-Guided Tours

Deciding between a guided Pompeii tour and a self-guided tour depends on your preferences. Guided tours offer the advantage of expert commentary and a structured itinerary. Knowledgeable guides can provide an in-depth understanding of the site’s history and significance. 

On the other hand, a self-guided tour allows you to explore at your own pace and delve into areas that interest you the most. Audio guides and maps are available for rent at the entrance to assist you during a self-guided visit.

READ: Our complete guide to buying Pompeii tickets

Exploring Pompeii

There are a variety of must-see sites in Pompeii to include in your itinerary. As you wander through the ancient streets, you’ll encounter numerous houses, shops, theaters, and public buildings that give a dramatic portrayal of a Roman city frozen in time.

Must-See Sites in Pompeii

Each of these noteworthy destinations offers a unique window into the past, allowing you to immerse yourself in the captivating history of ancient Roman life. Below are just a few of the many remarkable sites you can explore in Pompeii.

The Forum

ruins of pompeii forum

The Forum in Pompeii was the central square and the heart of the ancient city. It served as the main public square and was the focal point for social, political, and economic activities.

Visiting the Forum today allows you to explore the ruins of temples, markets, basilicas, and other significant structures that offer insights into ancient Pompeii’s daily life, governance, and religious practices. 

The Garden of the Fugitives

pompeii visit garden of the fugitives

The Garden of the Fugitives is a striking site in Pompeii where you can witness the plaster casts of victims who lost their lives during the Mount Vesuvius eruption. Once a peaceful orchard, this serene spot now stands as a powerful reminder of the devastating event that unfolded.

Among all the areas in Pompeii, this garden revealed the highest number of recovered victims. Thirteen bodies of Pompeii residents, unable to escape the deadly volcanic ash and debris, are forever preserved in their final moments.

Amphitheater of Pompeii

amphitheater pompeii italy

Built around 70 BC, the Amphitheater of Pompeii hosted gladiatorial contests, animal fights, and other spectacles. It is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheater and provides insight into the entertainment culture of the time.

The Amphitheater of Pompeii is also the oldest stone-built stadium still in existence, even predating the Colosseum in Rome. With a seating capacity of approximately 20,000 spectators, it provided a venue for thrilling and dramatic performances.

Villa dei Misteri

visiting pompeii villa dei misteri pompeii

The 2000-year-old Villa dei Misteri, also known as the Villa of the Mysteries, is an intriguing and well-preserved ancient Roman villa on the outskirts of Pompeii. Consisting of a series of rooms surrounding a central courtyard, the villa provides a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of its wealthy inhabitants.

What sets the Villa dei Misteri apart are its well-preserved and captivating frescoes. These frescoes depict a narrative sequence of rituals and ceremonies, with figures engaged in activities such as dancing, playing musical instruments, and participating in mysterious initiation rites.

The exact meaning and purpose of these scenes remain a subject of debate and speculation among archaeologists and scholars.

The Public Baths

tips for visiting pompeii public baths

The public baths of Pompeii were an essential part of daily life in ancient Roman society. Beyond being a facility for personal hygiene, they served as bustling hubs of social interaction, relaxation, and rejuvenation.

These communal spaces fostered a sense of community, allowing people from various walks of life to come together and engage in conversation. When exploring Pompeii, three of the most significant public baths worth visiting are the Stabian Baths, the Forum Baths, and the Central Baths.

The House of the Faun

city of pompeii house of the faun

The House of the Faun, or Casa del Fauno, is one of the largest and most extravagant houses in Pompeii. The villa is renowned for its impressive architecture, well-preserved artifacts, and opulent decorations.

One of the most renowned features of the House of the Faun is the Alexander Mosaic. This exquisite mosaic depicts the epic Battle of Issus between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. 

Although the mosaic itself is now housed in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, visiting the House of the Faun offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of its former inhabitants.

Tips for Visiting Pompeii

When visiting Pompeii, there are things you can do to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. The following tips will help make your visit as easy and hassle-free as possible.

Navigating the Vast Ruins

Navigating the vast ruins of Pompeii can be overwhelming, so consider hiring a knowledgeable guide. They can provide fascinating insights into the city’s history, architecture, and daily life, enhancing your understanding and appreciation of the site.

Don’t Expect To See Many Artifacts Within the Ruins

archeological artefacts pompeii

While Pompeii is renowned for its preserved ruins, it’s important to note that many artifacts have been relocated to the Archaeological Museum in Naples for better preservation. Don’t expect to see many artifacts within the ruins themselves, but rather focus on the architectural remains and the insights they provide about ancient Roman life.

How To Avoid Crowds

Pompeii tends to be less crowded during winter (November to February) and early spring (March to April). During these times, tourist numbers are lower, and you’ll have a better chance of exploring the site without large crowds.

Try to arrive at the Pompeii archaeological site as early as possible, preferably at the opening time. Most tour groups and day-trippers arrive later in the morning or early afternoon, so by arriving early, you can beat the rush and have a more peaceful experience.

Tips on Being a Responsible Visitor

visit ruins of pompeii

When exploring Pompeii, it is important to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations that are in place to protect and preserve this extraordinary historic site. The most important rules and regulations include:

  • Stay on designated paths: Stick to the marked paths and avoid stepping on the fragile ruins.
  • Do not touch or remove artifacts: Touching can cause damage, and removing artifacts is not only illegal but also deprives others of experiencing the historical significance of Pompeii.
  • Do not climb on the ruins: While it may be tempting to climb or sit on the ancient structures for a photo opportunity, it is important to remember that these ruins are delicate and can be easily damaged.

To be a responsible visitor, make sure you dispose of trash properly. Respect the personal space and experience of other visitors. Avoid blocking pathways or overcrowding specific areas, allowing everyone to explore and enjoy Pompeii comfortably.

Pompeii is an irreplaceable cultural heritage site that represents a significant chapter in human history. Its preservation ensures that future generations can also have the opportunity to experience its value and immerse themselves in ancient Roman times.

What To Pack for Your Visit to Pompeii

pack for pompeii visit

When visiting Pompeii, it’s essential to come prepared with the right items to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here’s a comprehensive list of what to bring:

  • Comfortable shoes: Pompeii is a large archaeological site with uneven terrain, cobblestone streets, and extensive walking involved. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes or sneakers to navigate the ruins comfortably and avoid discomfort or fatigue.
  • Sun protection: The sun exposure can be intense in Pompeii, especially during summer. Protect yourself from sunburn and heat by wearing sunglasses, a hat or cap, and sunscreen with a high SPF. Consider carrying a lightweight umbrella or seeking shade during breaks to avoid overexposure to the sun.
  • Water and snacks: Exploring Pompeii can be physically demanding, especially on hot days. Stay hydrated by carrying a refillable water bottle and drink plenty of water throughout your visit. Bring some snacks to keep yourself fueled during the day.
  • Camera or smartphone: Pompeii is a visually stunning site with countless photo opportunities. Capture the beauty and historical significance of the ruins by bringing a camera or smartphone with ample storage space.

Ready To Visit Pompeii?

visiting pompeii italy

The allure of Pompeii is undeniable, with its rich cultural and historical significance captivating the hearts of travelers worldwide. The chance to explore this ancient city and delve into its intriguing past is an experience like no other.

As you plan your trip to Italy, don’t miss the opportunity to include a visit to Pompeii in your itinerary. Explore the streets where ancient Romans once walked, witness the remarkably preserved architecture, and immerse yourself in the captivating stories of this lost city.

Whether you are a history enthusiast, an avid traveler, or simply seeking a unique and enriching experience, Pompeii promises to leave an unforgettable mark on anyone that visits.

Planning a trip to Italy?

We love travel in Italy and sharing our knowledge. Read our popular Italy trip planning guide or join our FREE Italy Travel Planning Community. Our 140,000+ members are happy to answer questions about your itinerary, how to get from place to place, the best places to stay and fun things to do.

Sign up for our news and podcast updates where we share mini guides, tips, exclusive deals and more and we'll send you our Italy Trip Planning Checklist to say grazie! >> click here to subscribe

Italy City Guides

rome city guide
venice city guide
florence city guide
milan city guide

Latest Italy Travel Podcasts and Articles

Disclosure: Untold Italy assists our readers with carefully chosen product and services recommendations that help make travel easier and more fun. If you click through and make a purchase on many of these items we may earn a commission. All opinions are our own – please visit our disclosure page for more information.
 

Please share if you found this article useful