Top Tips for Visiting Pompeii

Before taking the plunge through time to an ancient city haunted by Mount Vesuvius, the volcano which sealed its destruction, scroll through our top tips to best prepare yourself for your trip.

Situated in the Bay of Naples, Pompeii is a city in southern Italy’s Campania region, home to the ancient ruins of Pompeii, a city buried in 6m of volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Not to be confused with modern Pompei, which was founded in 1891. The ancient city, which is just small enough for a full day trip, is one of the world’s most famous disasters. A whole city preserved by volcanic ash, which fell too quickly for any of its inhabitants to escape. Their bodies were found in exactly the place where they died, frozen forever in time, tantalising the rest of the world with their final moments. Whether you are a historian, an architect, or neither, it’s safe to say that exploring the city of Pompeii is a fascinating way to spend your day. Try to discover the answer to the question which plagues many historians today. We know how the people of Pompeii died but how did they live? The city offers a rare and unmissable window through time, to the ways and traditions of another civilisation.

Tempted? Great!

Before you go, take a look at our top tips for visiting Pompeii, which includes advice on how to get there, what to bring, what to expect when you get there, and how you can make the most of your time.

  • 1. Don’t Hold Back

    Thanks to the site’s “Pompeii for All” itinerary, the park can now be accessed by everybody. From mobility-impaired people, to parents with buggies, the park’s ramps and wide crossings mean accessing the site has never been easier. With three baby-changing facilities in three different locations across the site, parents can care for their baby’s in comfort and privacy. Just collect the keys from the entrance and return them at the end of your visit. Pompeii for all also aims to be inclusive of the deaf, blind and visually impaired. Deaf individuals can enjoy a guided tour by one of the site’s specialised LIS workers who have been specially trained by Archaeological Park staff. Developments are also underway to cater for the blind and visually impaired by trialling an electronic CON-ME bracelet which sends signals to staff guaranteeing the safety of visitors on site or alerting them to any issues.

  • 2. Give yourself plenty of time

    Pompeii attracts almost 2.5 million tourists each year, all wanting a glimpse at the city left powerless by Vesuvius. Although a small city, Pompeii has much to behold, so allow yourself the liberty of a full day wandering its streets, from the western houses to the oldest surviving amphitheatre. To get ahead of the game, and again allow yourself more time to explore, book your tickets in advance!

  • 3. Take the train

    The cheapest way to get to Pompeii. If you’re coming from Naples trains leave every half an hour, with tickets costing only €2.80 each way, so there’s no need to book your tickets in advance. Ride the train for 45 minutes and get off at the Pompei Scavi/Villa dei Misteri stop to get as close as you can to the heritage site. Not to be confused with Pompeii Station which is the stop just before it. Pompeii Scavi is the one you want, and less than a 5-minute walk to the entrance. Warning though, the trains can be very busy and have a reputation for pickpocketing, so stay alert and keep your bag close. If you’re travelling from Rome, the train is still the quickest option with the journey lasting about 2 hours. You could also go via coach, although this will add an extra hour onto your journey.

  • 4. Bring a day bag

    Large backpacks are not allowed in the site for security reasons, so bring a small day bag or purse. This should be big enough for everything you need, as you’ll only really want your camera, a light snack and lots of water. Although there’s a cafeteria inside the ruins behind the forum, you could be nowhere near it when hunger strikes, so snacks are a must. During the summer months it gets incredibly hot with temperatures reaching 31°, so bring sunscreen and apply it regularly, and most importantly, stay hydrated! The heat is another reason against bringing a large bag, you won’t want to tire yourself out. If this isn’t possible and you need to bring your luggage with you, there is a small number of lockers at the entrance.

  • 5. Have a wander

    When you make it the ancient city try starting towards the back and then make your way forward. This way you can avoid the crowds allowing you to get the most out of each temple or ruin. As most people tend to stay within the centre of Pompeii, you can explore its outskirts and come back to the centre in the afternoon once the crowds have gone. Though this may seem eerie as first, you’ll appreciate the power and magnitude of the site so much more with a bit of solitary time to yourself.

  • 6. Book a guided tour

    If you’re not a typical historian or architect, you probably only know the basics of Pompeii and how it came to be. Whilst the ruined city has quite the impact by itself, we can assure you that a quick history lesson would make your trip an unforgettable experience. With minimal signage around the site you have little to rely on once you’re there. However, a guided tour by one of our licenced guides will give you a much deeper and more insightful visit to this historic event. As your eyes take in the shockingly well-preserved sights before you, your ears are free to indulge a wealth of information as you’re taken on a journey of Pompeii. Feel free to ask questions as you go, or simply sit back and let the ruins do the talking. If you have particular interests, let us accommodate you and book onto our customisable Private Pompeii Guided Tour where you have a say in your itinerary. Or, let us take the reins by booking onto our Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius Tour, which includes a coach ride up to the volcano responsible for so much devastation and fascination.

  • 7. Beware of Closures

    Due to restoration efforts some of the city’s attractions may be closed on the day you visit, so be sure to do your research before you go to manage your expectations. Another reason to consider booking a tour, as the guides will know what is and isn’t closed, saving you both time and disappointment. Also note that the whole site is closed on the 1st January, 1st May and 25th December.

  • 8. Opening hours

    Opening hours vary throughout the year and on weekends. From the 1st of April to the 31st of October the site is open from 9:00 until 18:00, Monday to Friday, and from 8:30 until 18:00 Saturday and Sunday. As you enter the winter months the opening times are confined to 9:00 until 15:30, Monday to Friday and 8:30 until 15:30 Saturday and Sunday, commencing on the 1st November until the 31st March. We suggest getting there early to avoid the crowds and ensure you make it round all the main attractions.

Finally, have fun. Whilst the site can be a sorrowful experience, it’s important to appreciate where you are and how fortunate it is that you get to be here, whilst also being respectful of the site before you. When else do you get the chance to travel through time?

Related article: 5 Unusual Facts you might not know about Pompeii

Language »