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Visiting Mount Vesuvius: trail at crater edge
Mount Vesuvius is famous as the volcano that erupted in Roman times (AD 79) and buried Pompeii.
The volcano is just 6 miles from the modern city of Naples and is a very popular visitor attraction with a lot of visitors coupling a half day at Pompeii with a visit to Mount Vesuvius.
Mount Vesuvius is one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes. The volcano has an eruption cycle of about 20 years, but the last eruption was in 1944.
It's not at all unsafe to visit Mount Vesuvius but before you go you should be prepared. This is not Disneyland, vehicles do not go to the top but will drop you off at an altitude of around 1,000m.
The trail to the top climbs just under another 200m. For most people in reasonable condition it's no problem but if you are not 100% fit or have a medical problem you may want to take advice.
The most common mistake by tourists is simply not to come prepared. Many turn up in T-shirts not realising it is a lot colder at this altitude than on the coast. You may need rain gear, you may need a hat, sun screen and lots of water - just make sure you arrive fully prepared with layers of clothing.
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Transport from Naples
A lot of visitors visit to Mount Vesuvius is by tour buses that go direct to the car park at 1,000m.
For independent minded travellers the trip is going to be two stage. First a trip on Circumvesuviana train from Naples or Sorrento to either Ercolano Scava or Pompeii train station then a bus of one sort or another.
If you are travelling from Rome, the Circumvesuviana trains depart from a station adjacent to the main Naples Centrale station where the inter-city trains arrive.
Vesuvio Express Ercolano
A tourist shuttlebus service called Vesuvio Express that advertises on its website that it runs every 40 minutes from Ercolano Station.
From Pompeii station there is a tourist service up to Mount Vesuvius with ticketing at the station or you can walk 15 minutes into the town of Pompeii where a public bus service runs from in front of the main gates into the Pompeii ruins (not the entrances near the railway station).
Busvia del Vesuvio: Pompeii to Mount Vesuvius bus
Piazza Anfiteatro bus stop:
Busvia del Vesuvio
The purpose-designed vehicles of Busvia del Vesuvio are certainly the most professional and the proposition being offered is also the best described in advance.
Departures run hourly from 9am to 3pm in 23-seat, air-conditioned vehicles.
The trip length is 2.5 hours and you can make reservations in advance on their website.
EavBus/ Sita Public Bus
The local bus company, EavBus/ Sita operate a timetabled bus service between Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. The same buses are used on this route as any other public bus service in and around Pompeii.
The bus service runs crudely every 50 minutes through the day.
The bus stop is on the Piazza Anfiteatro, immediately outside the main entrance to Pompeii ruins. Note, this is not the entrance by the Pompeii Circumvesuviana Station but is within the town centre of Pompeii, a good 15 minute walk from Pompeii Circumvesuviana Station.
You pay the driver as you board just like any public bus service and you buy Mount Vesuvius tickets when you arrive.
The buses might not be in pristine condition and the driver provides no commentary but this option is certainly the cheapest and gives you full flexibility on how much time you spend on Mount Vesuvius.
Since 1995 the volcano has been a National Park.
Gone is the funicular railway and commercial exploitation, in its place nature trails, preservation of fauna and local culture is the focus. Of the nine trails, trail number 5 is the one most tourists take from the car park (for which there is a fee) to the cone of the crater.
The road ends about 250m in height from the edge of the cater, but only tour coaches and public buses are allowed to the road's end. If you arrive by car, the main car park is about another 100m further down, so extra climbing is required up to the entrance.
Gentle climb: Mount Vesuvius trail ascent to crater
At road's end there is an official ticket desk/building and a shanty town of bars, restaurants and tourist tat before you get to the entrance to the track up to the crater. Note, best assume there will be no toilets available during your entire visit!
After paying for your ticket, and going through the ticket barrier it is a 15-20 minute grind up a wide gravel path. The path is not steep, but it's relentless and you'll need a rest or three along the way. Only if you are totally out of shape will it be an issue.
There are a procession of people of all ages and sizes. Fit seniors skip up the hill leaving out of shape teenagers in their wake and small children seem to have little problem.
Once you've got the worst of the climb behind you and almost at the crater edge there is a hut, where if you want, you can wait for a scheduled tour by a volcanology guide. This is free and is part of the admission ticket. It's only a short tour of 10 minutes or so but gives a good overview of what you are seeing. The tour is available in several languages including English.
Unless the volcano is shrouded in cloud, do expect great views however far you venture up. The views across the Bay of Naples are great. Don't expect bubbling lava lakes or anything like that, it's a moon-like landscape and sulphur gases are about as much as you should expect with regards action.
Once the guide has left you, the path continues and circles at the edge of the crater to the other side. The path gradually narrows and there are a few staircases to negotiate before you come to the end.
For those who don't want the hassle of finding your own way and appreciate being informed on what you are witnessing, the stress free option is to simply take a tour that sets out from Naples with pick-ups at the cruise terminal and major hotels in Naples or from Rome.
If you are coming from Rome by train, tours will pick-up from the Starhotels Terminus Hotel, a major hotel immediately outside the main entrance of Naples Centrale Station on your left.
Using a local private car and driver is a very attractive option and for small groups can be very affordable too. For those coming from Rome you can be met at Centrale Station.
Your English speaking driver will meet n greet you at Naples Centrale Station and will ensure your trip encompasses exactly what you want to see at a pace set by you.
All vehicles are non smoking and fully air conditioned.
We offer three sizes of vehicle, for 1-3 people, 4 or 5 people and 6 to 8 people. Price is per vehicle not passenger.
After booking you pay a small deposit and receive a voucher through email. The remainder will be paid directly to the driver.