When planning our long weekend trip to Rome in late February, we discovered that many sights and attractions in the city (and in Vatican City) were closed on Sundays. Rather than miss out on a full day of sightseeing in Rome, we decided to investigate if it would be possible to make a day trip to Pompeii from Rome to see the ancient ruins. At first, we looked into guided/all-inclusive tours that departed directly from Rome. While we learned that there are several companies that do offer this type of full day trip, none of them were operating the tour on that particular Sunday. In fact, most tour companies didn’t even offer this type of tour until the spring and summer season (the much busier tourist season).
When looking over these types of guided tour itineraries, we saw that some travelled to Pompeii by private shuttle/coach, while others travelled by train. We then decided to look into travelling to Pompeii from Rome on our own via train. Luckily, the trip is very manageable, so we decided to plan our own day trip.
In this post, I’ve outlined my experience planning a day trip to Pompeii from Rome including tips to help make your own planning easier. I’ve decided to focus more on the logistics of this trip rather than providing a review of the site (which is amazing but I don’t know if I could do it justice!)
Where is Pompeii and why is it worth visiting?
Pompeii was an ancient Roman town located to the south of modern Naples. It was mostly buried and destroyed when nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., covering the city in metres of ash and pumice. Today it is a vast archaeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most visited tourist spots in Italy, attracting more than 2.5 million visitors every year.
How can I travel to Pompeii from Rome?
You can travel to Pompeii from Rome by train. A stop in Naples on the way to and from Pompeii is required. Naples is located to the south of Rome on the Bay of Naples and can be reached in just over an hour on the fast trains (more information below).
Tip: You can plan a quick stop in Naples on the way back to Rome, but be aware that the city is pretty hectic and doesn’t give the best first impression, especially when you aren’t staying long enough to explore properly.
How can I plan my train trip to Pompeii?
For detailed instructions on how to travel from Rome to Pompeii via Naples, I highly recommend visiting this helpful website by The Man in Seat 61. I relied on it heavily when planning our journey.
To summarize, there are two main train lines you can use to travel from Rome to Pompeii – Italo (privately-run) or Trenitalia (state-run). Fares can be low as 19 Euros one way per person if you book your ticket far enough in advance. Compare prices and departure times from both train lines to see which timetable best suits your travel plans. (We travelled with Italo in their Comfort class and it was excellent).
Tip: If you’re trying to estimate how long you’ll need at Pompeii when booking your train tickets, plan longer than you think you’ll need as the area is huge and can take 3-4 hours to see thoroughly. If you’re ready to leave earlier than you thought, you can stop in Naples before heading back to Rome for a late lunch, as we did.
Once you arrive at the Naples Central Train Station, head to the lowest level of the station and take the Circumvesuviana train (a commuter train that runs in a loop around Mount Vesuvius) to Pompeii Scavi, roughly 30 minutes away. Make sure you go to Pompeii Scavi (Villa di Misteri), not Pompei (another station/town along the Circumvesuviana route). You can’t buy your tickets for the Circumvesuviana in advance; just stand in line at the Circumvesuviana ticket office and buy your return tickets. A ticket costs 3,20 Euros each way per person.
The Circumvesuviana station departing from Naples Central Train Station (Napoli Centrale in Italian) is called Napoli Garibaldi. This commuter train is just like a subway, so no need to reserve seats or anything – just hop on. The journey to Pompeii Scavi (Villa di Misteri) takes 36 minutes.
Can I take a guided tour when I arrive?
You have a few options regarding tours in Pompeii. You can purchase an audio guide when you arrive (though reviews are mixed), take your own self-guided tour, or take a guided tour with an accredited guide.
After weighing all the options, we decided to go for a guided tour. We looked into booking a tour in advance but most companies were quoting at least 66 Euros per person for a 2-3 hour private tour. We were unable to find a group tour to join in advance online; however, travel guru Rick Steves suggests trying the company Mondo Guide if you’re looking to join a coordinated group tour. We decided to take our chances after doing some research and try to find an English-speaking guide for hire at the entrance. Luckily, we found an accredited tour guide and he was able to find a group of another 6 people to join us. The cost per person was 15 Euros, significantly cheaper than any other tour option we researched.
Our guide was wonderful, pointing out details we never would have noticed, taking us to off-the-beaten-track locations, and focusing on the highlights at the overwhelmingly enormous site.
Tip: Be aware that guide quality can vary, so chat with the guide before signing up to make sure you’re on the same page. Also note that if the guide cannot get a group of at least 8-10 tourists to sign up, the tour won’t run, so there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to take a tour this way.
What are the facilities like in Pompeii?
Once you arrive at the Pompeii Scavi (Villa di Misteri) train stop, there is a tourist building with blue and white signs advertising tours, toilets, snacks, maps, and the regular tourist fare. Avoid this building! Walk 2 minutes toward the entrance of the actual Pompeii site and purchase your ticket there to enter. Washrooms and maps at the Pompeii site are free (unlike at the tourist building right next to the train station).
Once inside the site, there is one small restaurant/snack and beverage spot in the middle of the city which is the only place to buy food on the grounds. Washrooms in this restaurant are also free.
What should I bring/wear to Pompeii?
Wear comfortable walking shoes as Pompeii has a lot of cobblestones and uneven surfaces. Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat – there is minimal shade throughout Pompeii and the heat can be intense. Bring lots of water!
What are the opening hours of Pompeii?
The opening hours are as follow:
Closed January 1, May 1, and December 25
Please visit the Pompeii website to check up to date opening hours.
What are the entrance prices at Pompeii?
An adult ticket costs 11 Euros and a reduced ticket (for students, seniors, etc.) is 5,50 Euros. Please visit the Pompeii website to check up to date prices.
Hopefully you find this information helpful when planning your trip to Pompeii from Rome. I also recommend checking out these sites for more trip planning info:
Have you ever visited Pompeii? Do you have any tips about how to make the most out of the visit?