Visiting Pompeii was one of the best things we did this summer. Apart from having a bit to say about the city, l have lots of pictures as l think a pictorial visit to Pompeii is best for this post. I am not a historian by any means, and for me to pretend l know or remember what these places are would be a disservice to all.
Our visit to Pompeii was in July as part of our almost month-long visit to Italy, with stops in Pizzo in Calabria, Rome, and our last stop in Naples. I seem to be writing out of order but l have found myself pretty devoid of time lately, another reason for taking the easy way out with loads of photos :-).
Visiting Pompeii Italy was Fantastic!
Where is Pompeii?
Pompeii is an ancient Roman city located about 24 kilometers from Naples. In AD79, Mount Vesuvius, a still active volcano, erupted and the ashes spread over ten miles of the surrounding area, including Pompeii where it spewed rocks and ashes, burying the city and its people that had not fled prior.
How to visit Pompeii
We went on a self-guided day trip from Naples, leaving Naples early enough to catch one of the morning trains on the Circumvesuviana line. The journey time from Naples Central Garibaldi station was roughly 35 minutes and cost $4. The trains are pretty old but functional.
We got off at the Pompeii Scavi stop, and l recommend this stop over the other as you are pretty close to the main entrance. The train was fully packed. We, and what seemed like thousands of other people all got off at the same time.
The walk to the Pompeii entrance was less than five minutes, but the line to purchase tickets was long. However, it moved at a brisk pace and we had our tickets in hand about 15 minutes later.
Fede is a fast walker, so he headed to the counter, he was one of the first in line and l caught up with him later :-). You can choose to buy tickets online and skip the line. The entry fee is €16 (will increase to €18 as of 2023) for an adult and reduced fees for E.U. citizens between the ages of 18-25.
Entry is from 9 am, and the last entrance time is 5:30 pm. Variations in entry times and closures can be found on their site.
Armed with one of the maps, we decided to just walk and see what we could. It was a hot, hot, day. We had frozen bottles of water the night before and it helped some in the beginning. They were soon empty of course, but there are freshwater taps in several places so you could refill your bottle or stick your head under them for relief.
Pompeii is ginormous. We walked for miles and we didn’t see everything either. We had also thought we could squeeze in a visit to Herculaneum the same day, but it was an impossible feat. Maybe in cooler weather. I really enjoyed our visit to Pompeii. I had wanted to see it for the longest time, and Fede had not visited since he was a child so it was like a new experience for both of us.
There were so many group tours that we had no choice but to hear tidbits of information from the guides in just about every language under the sun. I heard names like the House of Vetti, the Lupanare (brothel) of Pompeii … ooh, lots of graphic murals in there :-), and the house of the Faun among others.
Touring Pompeii tips
Get a tour guide
I think we would have gotten a lot more out of it had we done so. They would have been able to show us the very best bits. Consider booking through GetYourGuide, a company we have used for prior trips including our amazing wine tour in Porto and our sobering visit to Auschwitz from Krakow.
This is a small group tour, my favorite kind, with an archaeologist to boot. I would be leery of getting a guide at the site as there is no limit to the number of people they shepherd through, cheaper, yes, but you don’t get your money’s worth.
Wear extremely comfortable shoes
You will be walking. A lot. A whole lot, so it’s important that you wear shoes that can handle the sleek stones that are all over. This is not the time for high heels or trying to look cute. I did laugh a few times at the women hanging on for dear life to their friends/others as they navigated the land. Wear extremely comfortable shoes and you will thank yourself later.
Bring a bottle of water
This is very handy. We brought water with us. You can also bring a reusable water bottle. The important thing is for you to have a way to keep hydrated in case you don’t see a tap anywhere close to you.
Cover your head
I guess that goes without saying. A hat will bring you some relief from the heat in the summer. In the cold of winter, you can wear a knit cap to keep away the cold. Just cover-up.
Sunscreen is highly recommended. You want to enjoy the rest of your vacation, not suffer from sunburn.
Accept the fact that you won’t see it all
A tour will show you the best highlights of Pompeii. Let’s face it though, it was a city, so don’t expect that you will see it all. We saw workers in there, still working on new discoveries, so it is constantly expanding. Pompeii visiting is certain to take an excruciatingly long time if one desires to see it all.
Pompeii is also very close to Sorento and the Amalfi Coast, so you could also do excursions to these places if it suits you.
There is a cafe restaurant inside Pompeii near the entrance. There was a very long line of people waiting to purchase. I suggest bringing something to eat while you walk around, but please remember not to litter. There are plenty of places to dispose of wrappers etc. We brought our stuff in a backpack which was very convenient. Outside of the ruins, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants plus stalls selling souvenirs, etc.
When is the best time to visit Pompeii?
March, April, May, September, and October are the best times to visit Pompeii as the weather is very good during those months, with bright and sunny days that are perfect for walking around the ruins.
I really enjoyed visiting Pompeii and would love to visit again, this time with a guide as l want to know more about the history of the place. I also want to visit the smaller Herculaneum that is close to Pompeii.
Pompeii Free Entry is possible:
As with most historical places in Italy, Pompeii has free entry on the first Sunday of every month. It does get very, very crowded though. After every 15,000 Pompeii visitors, the box office shuts down for an hour, so you might be in for a long wait.
It’s amazing to me that Pompeii the old city is encompassed within Pompeii, the new city and that the Mount Vesuvius volcano is still active. I just hope that tragedy never repeats itself, but they do live under that really possible threat.
Can you visit Pompeii by yourself? Absolutely, but it’s best to visit with a real Pompeii tourist guide. More than likely, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so do it with no regrets. I, however, am pretty sure that we have more visits to Pompeii in the near future.
Have you any plans to visit Pompeii in Italy anytime soon? If you have already visited, did you enjoy touring Pompeii?
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