Visiting Pompeii, Italy

What to expect, tickets, tours and advice on getting to Pompeii

Pompeii guide

Tours at Pompeii: you can hire a guide outside


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Official website - Pompeii

The world famous Pompeii is 150 miles south of Rome, fairly close to Naples. It is a long day from Rome or an easy excursion from Naples or the very popular holiday area around Sorrento. Many people combine their trip to Pompeii in one full day with Mount Vesuvius, the famous volcano.

Pompeii, the archaeological site, is part of Pompeii, a sizable town to the south of Naples, midway between Naples and Sorrento. The regular Circumvesuviana trains run about twice an hour between the Naples and Sorrento stopping at Pompeii. Trains are cheap and crowded, in many ways the journey experience is more like a Metro train than a “proper” train.

There is also a national railways local train that connects Naples with Salerno and stops at a different station in the town of Pompeii itself, about 700m from the main entrance to Pompeii.

Pompeii - one of five sites

The partially buried Roman town-city of Pompeii is part of a set of five archaeological sites in the area. Pompeii attracts by far the most tourists and is a vast site. However there are five linked sites in the area. You can buy combination tickets covering all the sites or just buy tickets for an individual site.

The most popular 'other' site is Ercolana (Herculaneum), just a few train stops down the railway line towards Naples. For many people this is more enjoyable than Pompeii. It is again a buried city, but the site is more compact and more comprehensively excavated and the crowds are a lot less.

It's cheaper to buy the complete 5 site ticket, than individual tickets to both Pompeii and Ercolana.

The five sites do not include Mount Vesuvius, itself a world famous attraction. There are regular tours you can buy on the day taking you up Mount Vesuvius from the railway stations at both Pompeii and Ercolano.

Visiting Pompeii - what to expect on arrival

Typical visitor scene at Pompeii

For tour groups and individuals: entrance to Pompeii

The Pompeii site is vast. If you come on a tour you don't have much control of your itinerary. At about 10am the queues for tickets can be long, but by 1pm are often non-existent.

Note: at the time of writing they do not accept credit cards at Pompeii.

You could spend an entire day at the Pompeii site it is that vast, but for the average visitor and tour about a 2-3 hour stay is probably enough.

Immediately outside the Pompeii gates and the railway station there is a whole tourist village of the tourist tat variety.

This contrasts starkly with once inside the Pompeii ruins where facilities are minimal and totally un-commercial. There is just one small restaurant/cafe and rest room facilities in the middle of the site and rest rooms at the entrance, and it is a very large site.

The whole site is also very exposed with minimal shade, so it is imperative you bring lots of sunscreen, a hat and water. If you forget, make sure you get supplies from the tourist village outside before you enter.

The cobbled and rough nature of the surface means that wheelchairs and prams are impractical. Most small children will get bored very quickly.


Pompeii / Herculaneum Audio Guide

Audio guides: Pompeii/ Herculaneum

Do I need a tour guide/ audio guide at Pompeii?

When you buy your ticket there should be available a map of the site. Normally it's more a matter of you asking for a map than them giving you one, but make sure you leave the entrance area with one.

There is also a small complementary booklet called “A brief guide to Pompeii”. Again you may have to go looking for it. Inside the booklet are notes against all the locations on the audio tour. It is worth the effort seeking this out.


Once you are inside the site there is little in the way of information available to make sense of what you are viewing.

If you come on a tour a guide of some kind will be offered. The quality of the guides vary significantly so it's pot luck if they add any value to your visit.


You can hire guides that hang around the ticket desks. Quality is variable (as are visitors requirements) so do spend some time talking to the guide before you commit, at least be comfortable you can understand what they are saying.

For most independent visitors who want information about what they are seeing (recommended) the audio tours seem to be the most popular guide. You hire them at a separate kiosk by the admissions desk.

Typical visitor scene at Pompeii

Walk down ancient roads: Pompeii

A rather annoying facet is that you need id, passport or credit card which they keep until you return the audio device.

Like most such devices worldwide, they are a bit dry and do tend to drone on a bit but there are enough nuggets of great information to make them worthwhile and are not expensive.


Pompeii tickets & opening times

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

Pompeii Entrance Tickets

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.

Unico Artcard Naples

Getting to Pompeii

Circumvesuviana train at Pompeii Station

Circumvesuviana train
at Pompeii Station

If you are not visiting on a tour or have accommodation in Pompeii then the most popular way to visit is probably the Circumvesuviana trains. This is a network of several lines in the Naples region, with Naples as the hub. The line to Pompeii goes from Naples to Sorrento.

Circumvesuviana trains Naples to Sorrento via Pompeii.

Trains go twice an hour between about 6am and 9.30pm. Trains are crowded, be prepared to have to stand for much of the journey.

Journey times are about 45 minutes to Naples and 30 minutes to Sorrento.

There are two train stations in Naples. The Naples Airport bus and the trains to Rome (and other cities in Italy) are from the Central (Garibaldi) Station. The trains take 20 minutes to travel between Ercolano and Pompeii.

Circumvesuviana trains - full details

Metropolitan Railway Naples to Salerno via 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 main 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 signed.

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!

Tours to Pompeii from Naples, Rome & Sorrento

We have dedicated pages for a wide choice of guided day tours visiting Pompeii that originate from Naples, Rome and Sorrento.

Pompeii Day Tours from Naples - full details

Pompeii Day Tours from Rome - full details

Pompeii Day Tours from Sorrento - full details


Pompeii Admission & rail tickets package from Naples & Rome

If you are independently minded and want to see Pompeii at your own pace from Naples or Rome it's 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.

Pompeii Entrance Tickets & Rail Ticket Package
Pompeii Entrance Tickets & Rail Ticket Package

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