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Sorrento Station forecourt
If you are staying in the Sorrento area then it's very easy to visit Pompeii independently using the local train service. You can also use the train service to visit Herculaneum, Naples, even Mount Vesuvius.
All of these attractions are on offer in Sorrento as traditional coach tours. The advantage of going by train is of course a lower cost and the flexibility to make a last-minute decision on the date and time you go and the pace at which you cover these attractions.
The Circumvesuviana train service 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.
The Naples to Sorrento line of Circumvesuviana takes about 75 minutes with countless stations along the way. The experience is very similar to a city metro line, but with views. 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).
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Getting around Sorrento
Independent sightseeing & tours
You can order Pompeii tickets and tours to suit your needs in advance. No queueing and waiting, no foreign exchange issues.
Admission is free during regular hours on the first Sunday of the month for all visitors
The Circumvesuviana is basically a commuter train service 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, there is a good chance you will be standing for some section of the journey.
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.
Sorrento Station is the terminus of the line and is situated in the heart of Sorrento just east of the old town and main shopping area.
The station forecourt is also used as the main bus terminus for the region although the local town buses do not come into the station itself. The Circumvesuviana trains to Naples are the only trains that use the station.
Circumvesuviana train at Pompeii Station
There is an official information point within an old railway carriage at the entrance of the station with restricted opening hours. The newsagents shop at the entrance is open all hours, much more helpful and informative regards transport and will also sell you train tickets more efficiently and friendly than the official station ticket office.
If your accommodation is to the east of Sorrento in the hotel district around Sant'Agnello then this station, the first stop from Sorrento, will save you a long walk. Note, the platforms are well above street level and you have to negotiate two flights of stairs.
Pompeii Station is a very 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.
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 onto their shuttle bus.
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.
Interior of an unusually empty Circumvesuviana train
Although you never leave the Central Station building the Circumvesuviana platforms are called Garibaldi Station which can be confusing to strangers.
If you are on a day trip to Naples you can buy a combined ticket that covers the Circumvesuviana train and a day pass on all Naples public transport. There is quite a good visitor centre at Central Station where you can pick-up a good street map among other things.
Porta Nolana Station is the terminus in Naples for Circumvesuviana Trains in a scruffy area of the city. No other trains come here, the main station is Naples Garibaldi/Central Station where the national railways trains arrive. For most day visitors the only good reason to come here is on the return journey where by boarding the train here at the terminus there is a much better chance you'll end up with a seat, rather than having to stand.
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 Sorrento 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.
You can buy tickets at the stations 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 including buses.
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 they do their best in several languages to give travel advice with a smile, in stark contrast to the station ticket office. They also layout clearly in English the various multi-day passes on a board plus the fares to the most popular places tourists want to go.
On the Circumvesuviana trains the price you pay is based on what travel zones you travel through. There are single tickets, day tickets, multi-day tickets and weekend day tickets. Below is a link to the official Unico Campania website fares page.
The fare is driven by the transport zones you need to travel through.
Ercolano or Pompeii is an E3 zone ticket and Naples a E5 zone ticket. For Naples there is another ticket zone/grade, U5 that includes access to Naples city public transport on a day ticket.
Click through on the fares link below for current fares and passes. Either select your ticket grade from those listed above or enter your required journey and all the prices of all the ticket types available will be displayed.