Circumvesuviana trains linking Naples, Pompeii and Sorrento
Plus the alternative Metropolitan Railway Naples to Salerno via Pompeii
To Sorrento: Porta Nolana Station Naples, terminus for Circumvesuviana trains
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The Circumvesuviana train is a regional network of lines running out of Naples to the east of the city around Mount Vesuvius. It is not part of the Italian national rail network so you cannot buy tickets from Trenitalia online or from rail stations nationally.
For visitors the line that is used extensively is the Naples to Sorrento via Pompeii and Herculaneum line, a journey that takes just over an hour with countless stops along the way. Frequencies are very good, around every 30 minutes all day.
The stations that are most of interest to tourists between Sorrento and Naples are Castellammare di Stabia (cable car to Monte Faito), Pompeii (archaeological area and bus connection to Vesuvius), Torre Annunziata (for Oplontis) and Ercolano Scavi (for Herculaneum archaeological area).
However, for those independent travellers from Naples (or Rome) there is an alternative line between Naples and Salerno that stops at Pompeii called the Metropolitan Railway, an extension of the Naples Metro and with advance ticketing available online.
What to expect on the Circumvesuviana train
The Circumvesuviana trains are basically commuter trains offering cheap transport to the masses. The frequency of stations and the interior of the trains are more like a city metro experience than a standard full size train.
Trains are very crowded at nearly all times, if you don't get on at either terminus you should be prepared that there is a good chance you will be standing for much of the journey.
Naples hotels close to
Getting around Naples & sights
Tours + independent sightseeing
Transport from Naples
The trains are fine with luggage. There are large standing areas by the doors and you should find a spot and perhaps sit on your luggage.
There is the occasional small luggage area in some carriages but not really realistic to use. You are hardly going to leave your luggage in a crowded carriage unattended and find a seat elsewhere.
With luggage the biggest pain is access to the platforms. Even the larger stations like Naples Garibaldi/Central Station do not have escalators so be prepared to lug your belongings up and down flights of stairs. If you are frail or disabled bear this in mind.
There are fast trains and slow trains, the difference being the smaller obscure stations that some trains do not stop at.
Stations for visitors using the Naples-Sorrento trains
Porta Nolana Station Naples
Porta Nolana Station is the terminus in Naples for Circumvesuviana trains. No other trains come here, the main station is Naples Garibaldi/Central Station where the national railways trains arrive.
Porta Nolana Station (pictured above) is in a scruffy area and although quite impressive from the exterior is less so inside.
Porta Nolana Station is not in the centre of Naples anywhere near where visitors want to go and is a short distance on the train to the next stop, the main station for Naples Central Station.
There are frequent city buses from outside Porta Nolana Station to the city centre and the port area.
Full details of using the local Naples buses and public transport in the city of Naples are on our Naples public transport page.
Garibaldi / Central Station Naples
Central Station (Stazione Centrale) is the main Naples train station just to the east of the city centre. The Circumvesuviana trains stop at a physically separate set of platforms to the main train station with their own separate ticket barriers.
Circumvesuviana train at Pompeii Station
Although you never leave the Central Station building the Circumvesuviana platforms are called Garibaldi Station which can be confusing to strangers.
Once you get off your train at Central Station you just turn left at the end of the platform and keep going following the signs above.
Ercolano Scavi (for Herculaneum and Mount Vesuvius)
There is more than one Ercolano Station so be sure to get off at Ercolano Scavi.
The station is in the middle of town. Be prepared to be greeted by touts as you leave the station. If you are heading for Herculaneum, the site is a 5-10 minute walk down the main street that is periodically signposted. The touts may try and persuade you otherwise and tempt you on to their shuttle bus.
This is a traditional point to hire a taxi to Mount Vesuvius. The sticking point is the return journey, an awkward decision whether to pay waiting time or ask the taxi to return, but at what time? and pre-payment?
If this makes you nervous there are more organised excursion vehicles that run to a timetable from Pompeii.
Pompeii (and tour vehicles to Mount Vesuvius)
Interior of an unusually empty Circumvesuviana train
Pompeii Station is a pleasant little station. There is a tourist office and the tours to Mount Vesuvius are parked outside the station.
The entrance to the Pompeii archaeological area is just a few yards down the street.
If your accommodation is to the east of Sorrento in the hotel district around Sant'Agnello, then this station the last stop but one on the line is in the centre of town.
Note, the platforms are well above street level and you have to negotiate two flights of stairs.
The Sorrento terminus is the main public transport hub for Sorrento where local buses also terminate to towns in the region from the station forecourt. There are additional town buses a short walk away.
Many of the hotels run shuttle buses on a schedule but they are not allowed to park at the station. There are a couple of points in town where the shuttle buses pick-up which require a short walk from the station. Taxis are good but expensive.
Fares, timetables & ticketing
The Circumvesuviana trains are completely separate from a ticketing perspective to the national trains. You cannot buy a single ticket for example between Rome and Pompeii changing at Naples.
In order to ride you need a ticket in order to pass through the ticket barriers at each station to gain entrance to the platform.
On average the trains run twice hourly and run until late.
You can buy tickets at the station but note you have to pay cash, no credit cards, unlike the national railways.
The tickets and fares themselves are regulated by a regional organisation called Unico Campania.
Nearly all public transport operators in the region (of which there are many) come under Unico Campania. As a result the good news is that you can buy passes and multi-day tickets valid across other transport in the region not just Circumvesuviana rrains.
The bad news is what information there is trying to explain the complex fare options is sparse and mostly in Italian.
You can buy also tickets at tobacconists and newsagents and some bars. Many of the newsstands around the stations which tourists use offer a much better service than the station ticket offices.
At Sorrento Station in particular the station newsagent has all the ticket types explained in English and do their best to in several languages to give travel advice with a smile in stark contrast to the station ticket office.
Metropolitan Railway (Line 2) alternative between Naples and Pompeii
The Metropolitan Railway is a branch (line 2) of the Naples Metro system.
The station at Pompeii is in the town, further from the entrances of Pompeii than the Circumvesuviana line whose station is less than 100 yards from an entrance.
The plus side is that the trains may well be less crowded than the Circumvesuviana trains and you can purchase tickets online through Trenitalia.
Naples Centrale Station / Naples Garibaldi Station Confusion
In Naples the transport hub to get to Pompeii is at the main train station, Naples Centrale where all the national railways service terminate or pass through.
Both Circumvesuviana trains and Metropolitan Railway trains run from a station called Naples Garibaldi.
Although Naples Garibaldi has its own separate platforms and entrances it is physically part of Naples Centrale Station.
Naples Centrale Station is the main station on ground level. From ground level escalators go down one level to an underground shopping centre and go further down to the Naples Metro.
Naples Garibaldi Station is on the same level as the shopping centre and is well signposted.
If you are travelling to Pompeii from Naples Garibaldi Station once you have gone through the ticket barriers make sure you descend down the the platform for the train service to Pompeii you have purchased a ticket for!
Pompeii advance ticketing
Pompeii is open every day except 25th December, 1st January and 1st May.
From 1st April to 31st October the site is open 8.30 - 7.30pm (with last entrance 6pm).
At other times the site is open 8.30 - 5:30 pm (with last entrance 3.30pm).
Note: at the time of writing they do not accept credit cards at Pompeii
Unico Artecard - 3 day tourist pass for Naples, Pompeii etc, including public transport
Aimed squarely at the visitor to Naples this pass combines public transport in Naples for 3 days, (including the Naples airport bus) plus entry to two attractions from a long list that includes the National Archaeological Museum in Naples and Pompeii and Herculaneum.
From the third attraction onwards you enjoy up to a 50% discount on standard tickets.
Pompeii Admission & Rail Tickets Package From Naples & Rome
If you are independently minded and want to see Pompei at your own pace from Naples or Rome its very hard to sort out the ticketing in advance.
If you are a little nervous and stressed by this a convenient package of rail tickets from either Naples or Rome to Pompeii combined with standard admission to Pompeii is available.