Almost every Pompeii travel blog out there tells you the same boring information:
The entrance prices, what building the Pompeii bodies are in, and how to pay for a guide.
But that’s not enough.
You want to visit Pompeii armed with the truth. You need more information.
Let me tell you everything you need to know about visiting Pompeii, including the more useful stuff such as Pompeii parking, where to get food, visiting Pompeii with kids and much, much more (that no other guidebook or blog seems to tell you!)
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Let’s assume that you’re planning a trip to Italy and this time, you are determined to visit Pompeii.
The history, mystery, ruins, intrigue. You want it all. Most of all, you are excited to be visiting Pompeii.
You are desperate to know everything about the place; what to expect, what you will need to take, what the weather will be like, the best way to get to Pompeii, where is the parking in Pompeii? – but most of all, you want to know is Pompeii worth visiting.
The short answer is yes.
The long answer is to read the rest of this blog post to find out how and why.
Best Way To Make The Most of Your Time in Pompeii
Take a Walking Tour in Pompeii
You do NOT want to spend your precious time standing in line when you visit Pompeii. No way.
We purchased four walking tour tickets for our family, and we got to enjoy a 2-hour group tour of beautiful Pompeii.
A guide will lead you down ancient roads to experience what an everyday Roman town was like before the big eruption, and best of all is that you get to ‘skip the line’ which gives you more quality time to soak the experience in!
Click here to check out more details of this fabulous Pompeii walking tour.
Staying in Rome? Take a Day Trip From Rome To Pompeii
If you are staying in Rome and would like to take a day trip and see Pompeii, then this is the best way to do so is with this tour company.
This fabulous tour is bound to tick every box when it comes to visiting Pompeii and I only recommend this company because we have used them many times throughout our travels.
Get your Guide offer a full-day trip from Rome to Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius.
The price of this tour includes a guide (who is with you all day) and fast pass tickets (so no standing in line!)
Your day begins at 7. am when you travel on an air-conditioned coach from Rome and are taken to visit Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius. This is a thirteen-hour day trip, so you will certainly pack everything in!
Click here to check out the prices of the day trip from Rome to Pompeii.
Why Visiting Pompeii is a MUST
Like you, I had been longing to see the ruins of Pompeii since I was a child at school. You hear all of the stories and see bits of footage on the news – but seeing it for yourself?
Nothing beats it.
I’ll admit, I secretly feared that the ancient ruins wouldn’t deliver the goods. I thought it may be another overpriced tourist attraction.
Pompeii. One of Italy’s (Many) Gems.
We have spent many months in Italy, both as a family and as a couple. My husband proposed to me under the shade of an olive tree in one of the most hidden spots in Florence, and we have just spent the summer travelling around with our teenagers and learning some inside tips about Italy while we were backpacking and housesitting throughout Europe
In my head, Pompeii was going to be a small little street with some glass frontage to protect the hoards of tourists from touching the precious remains from over 2000 years ago.
The reality couldn’t have been more different.
I know now that Pompeii is one of those underrated destinations that you don’t hear enough about.
The History Of Pompeii (told in simple terms)
79 AD (Or Thereabouts)
Once upon a time, there was a city called Pompeii that resided in the country of Italy.
It was a glorious city with over 2000 inhabitants, shops houses, an amphitheatre an arena for which hoards of gladiators would compete for their lives in front of crowds of cheering onlookers.
The city of Pompeii had gardens, a school, a brothel, water fountains, public swimming pools and was the playground of the rich Roman folk.
A vast city that sat proudly in the south of Italy, looking out to the Mediterranean from the South and nestled underneath the shadow of the enormous Mt Vesuvius to the North.
In 79 AD, there was no such word as volcano. The name was created afterwards. Derived from the word Vulcan – the Roman God of flame and metal forgery.
This meant that the people of Pompeii were completely ignorant of the fact that their city sat beneath a gigantic time bomb that towered above them. A rumbling, churning volcano waiting to explode.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted
And on August 24 in 79 AD, that’s just what the nameless shape did.
Mt Vesuvius erupted, seething lava from every crevice possible for a long 24 hours. It was fateful for the residents of Pompeii that on that day, the wind happened to be blowing in a Northwesterly direction, straight over to their city. Spluttering hot rocks sent plumes and clouds of volcanic cinder and embers over Pompeii. Thick grey ash rained over the city and its people. Chocking and suffocating everyone and all things in its wake.
The unbearable heat from the explosion and the blanket of deathly ash left the city of Pompeii and all of its inhabitants buried.
Fast Forward To 1748 Pompeii
Fast forward almost two thousand years later to the year 1748.
A group of builders were clearing a site to build a palace for King Charles III. Imagine their astonishment when they began to uncover an entire city, stone by stone.
I bet that gave them something to talk about on their tea break.
And so began the ongoing excavation of the city of Pompeii.
As a child, I remember the stories of Pompeii. How people and dogs had been uncovered. The boy with the loaf of bread in his hand, his face contorted as he fled for his life. It stayed in my memory for forty years.
I have homeschooled my kids for the past nine years and the chance to take them both to see ancient Pompeii was one I was determined not to miss. I told them there were dead bodies to be seen and I’ve never seen them jump so quickly into the car.
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Pompeii. Everything You Need To Know
Hiring A Car In Italy To Visit Pompeii
We are travelling the world with our teenagers for a year and so are always looking for ways to save money. To do things as cheaply as possible.
If there are more than four of you on your Italy trip, it will certainly be cheaper to hire a car to get around. The best car hire in Italy (without a doubt) that we found was Europcar. They were (and always have been) fabulous to deal with.
Take a quick look at what car hire in Italy (or anywhere else in Europe) will cost you.
Why do we always use Europcar?
Free Cancellation Up to 48 Hours Before Pickup. We all know how quickly plans can change (especially with the current travel climate). We love that we can cancel at such short notice and pay nothing.
Best Rate Guarantee. Seriously, we are skinflints, and we do our research thoroughly. You won’t find a cheaper deal (the hours that my husband has scrolled through listings proves it!).
Best range of vehicles. For business travel or holiday travel, Europecar cars include economy, intermediate and full-size classes, plus people movers and minivans for those travelling with a group. For a touring holiday or something special, Europcar offers 4WDs, SUVs, and prestige/luxury cars. You get to pick what’s best for you!
Customer care. Of course, my husband will never admit this but driving for the first time in Italy was daunting! No need to worry. As soon as we turned up to collect our rental car, the staff were super helpful. Their English was near perfect, and they were extremely patient and thorough. They gave us lots of tips and reassured us (or at least me!) that driving in Italy was going to be a pleasure. And it was!
Cost. We paid $22 a day for our little car in Italy and drove it all over Europe – it was perfect! For that price, the kids even get to have an Italian gelato!
Another little tip to keep the cost of car hire down…
Whatever car hire company you use just make sure you get excellent Italy insurance. We will only ever use this company for insurance – the excess on the vehicle is already covered, making car hire a more economical option compared to everything else.
Don’t worry about parking at Pompeii. It’s easy. There are lots of car parks with attendants touting for your business.
Some offer free parking if you eat at their restaurant or stay at their campsite.
We parked in the car park attached to Restaurant Vesuvius.
It is a five-minute walk to the ruins and is guarded at the entrance so you can relax knowing that your car window won’t get smashed. They also have clean toilets that you can use (remember there are bathrooms inside the ruins of Pompeii) and if you eat lunch or dinner your parking fee will be waived.
Parking at Pompeii cost 10 Euros for the day. This is the going rate, don’t pay anymore. This is one of those inside Italy tips that you will thank me for later.
Things To Be Aware Of When Parking In Pompeii:
Just be aware that Pompeii is a bit rough around the edges. We were approached a couple of times by a husband and wife team asking for money and food.
We had been warned by a local host while we were couch surfing that there are folks in Naples and Pompei that think nothing of snatching your watch off your wrist or your bag from over our shoulder.
I’m not meaning to put a downer on your trip, just be careful.
Don’t think of parking your car on a side street; it might not be there when you get back – for the sake of ten euros park your car in one of the many car parks.
Getting To Pompeii. Public Transport Options
- Train: Napoli. Get off at Pompeii Santuario. You can see all you need to know about the train from Naples to Pompeii here.
- Bus: From Naples. Run by ANM. Check out the bus schedules here.
- Drive: From Naples Motorway A3. Take the exit to Pompeii ovest. Salerno to Pompeii take the first Pompeii exit.
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Pompeii Entrance Fee
Kids under 18 are free!
Adults cost 15 euros. Credit cards are accepted.
A Little Bonus Tip – How to visit the ruins of Pompeii for free!
Plan your visit to coincide with the first Sunday of any month and you won’t pay a cent to enter the Pompeii ruins. What a bargain!
Entrance Sites to The Ruins of Pompeii.
There are three different entrances to Pompeii ruins.
Porta Marina. Use this entrance if you have arrived by train (the railway station is opposite) If you need an ATM, or if you want to see the Forum first. (It’s the closest entrance)
Piazza Esedra. (next to Porta Marina)
Piazza Anfiteatro. In the town of Pompeii. About 15 minutes walk to the East.
Opening Times to Pompeii Site
Open: Every day apart from 25 December, 1 January and 1 May.
Opening times: (April – Oct) 9.00 – 19.30. Last entry 18.00.
(Nov – March) 9.00 – 17.00. Last entry 15.30.
Guided Tours of Pompeii
Guided tours organised by the Pompeii Archaeological park can be requested at the tourist guide desks of Porta Marina (information Office) and Piazza Esedra from 9 am – 1 pm.
The costs are around 115 Euros. Remember though, if you choose this option you will be with a large group.
If you prefer a more personal guide, Get My Guide is the best there is. They offer various options but this small group two-hour tour gets you a friendly, knowledgeable guide all to yourself and you get to skip the line.
15 FAQ For Those Visiting Pompeii
Q: What will I eat if I’m there for the entire day? I’m going to be starving!
A: The entrance to Porta Marina has stalls selling fresh fruit juice, coffee and snacks. They are very reasonably priced. Alternatively, there are designated picnic areas close to Piazza Anfiteatro and Casina dell’ Aquila but we saw people eating their sandwiches in the cool shadows of the amphitheatre.
Remember though, keep your lunch small enough to fit into a bag no bigger than 30 x 30 x 15 cm otherwise you will be asked to leave your bag at the entrance in a locker (for free).
Q: I only have a few Euros in cash. How will I tip my guide?
A: There is an ATM at the entrance of Porta Marina. Remember, credit cards are accepted for the entrance payment.
Q: I don’t want to carry lots of water bottles of water around with me. Will I die of thirst?
There are small water fountains around the site and the water is deliciously cold and perfectly safe to drink. Save money and take an empty water bottle and fill up as you go.
Q: What should I wear to Pompeii?
A: If I can give you one tip about what to wear in Italy it is wear comfortable shoes! You are going to be walking all day and the cobblestone streets are hard going on your feet. No high heels please ladies.
I recommend packing a stylish rain poncho too. These are lifesavers in Europe and perfect for when you visit Pompeii. They are light to carry and take up hardly any room in a handbag.
Q: Isn’t the place is heaving with tourists? I’m worried that I won’t get the full experience.
A: Even with the many school groups, tourists and guides with their brightly coloured flags held high above their heads, there is still masses of space and plenty of opportunities to get away from the crowds.
Check out this 10-second video to see how uncrowded Pompeii really is!
Q: Can I take the kids to Pompeii?
A: Italy is one of the best countries in Europe to take the kids and Pompeii is a huge bonus. Definitely take the kids! It’s FREE for them and what an amazing history lesson!
Teenagers will love it. They just will. There are bodies and everything.
If you are considering taking babies I’d choose a sling rather than a pushchair due to the uneven cobblestones. It’s not impossible with a pram (we saw people doing it) but it will be a bumpy ride.
Primary age kids will love playing in the amphitheatre and practising with their loud voices. Not too loud mind you. You don’t want to be kicked out.
Q: What is Pompeii like in the summer?
A: It’s hot and exposed. Consider taking an umbrella for shade, and certainly wear a hat, sunscreen and don’t forget your sunglasses.
Q: Where are the bodies of Pompeii?
A: If you have teenagers like me, they are going to want to see the bodies before anything else. You can’t blame them really. Let’s face it, it’s probably the only reason they agreed to come.
But remember, the bodies aren’t the real bodies. The real ones decomposed long ago. What you are seeing is a cast of the original shapes of those poor souls. After the organs, skin and clothes decomposed, plaster of Paris was poured into the shell of the hardened volcanic material that surrounded it.
This article goes into further detail should you wish to argue your point with the kids.
You will find the bodies in building number 16 close to the entrance Piazza Anfiteatro and building number 17 which is closest to the Porta Marina entrance. Get a free map from any of the three entrances.
The symbol of the body laying down signifies where you can find the bodies.
Q: Are there lots of rules and restrictions around visiting Pompeii?
A: Compared to other historic sites in Europe, Pompeii is wonderfully relaxed.
You are free to wander around the streets and into the buildings of this ancient wonder. Make sure that when entering the houses with murals on the walls you don’t touch or use flash photography. As I say to the kids, look with your eyes, not your hands.
Q: Can I smoke while I enjoy the ruins of Pompeii?
A: No. You will have to leave the site if you are desperate for a cigarette. Get a pass from Piazzo Inferno. It will allow you to come back in again.
Q: How about photos and videos of Pompeii? Any restrictions?
A: Take as many photos as you like. Just don’t use your flash when you are inside the houses with murals.
If in doubt, ask one of the security people who are there to help. They appear to be a bit unfriendly at first. They stand at the doorways of the houses with murals shouting at people who haven’t read this travel blog, ‘Don’t tach!’ (in an annoyingly sexy Italian accent).
They are actually very nice when you talk to them, ask them anything you need to know.
Q: Is it possible to escape the crowds?
A: Yes. Absolutely. Don’t miss the little places off the beaten track within the site of Pompeii. All the tourists head for the amphitheatre and the stadium – and yes, these are a must-see, but there are some wonderful little places waiting to be explored such as the local bakery or the horse’s stables.
After you are done with your guide go and seek these spots out.
You will probably have the place to yourself. Sit and relax. Send the family back off to the bodies if need be. You need to be alone in order to appreciate the feel of this special place.
Q: But I can’t afford a guide! How will I know what I’m looking at?
A: If you can’t afford a guide hang around the big groups and you’ll easily hear all the information for free. There are so many tours taking place it;’s impossible NOT to overhear.
And remember, your tickets include a map and a small pocket guide – this is numbered and is easy to use.
Q: How long does it take to visit Pompeii?
A: You can spend as little or as long as you like, but for the full experience, I would allow at least five hours. Some people spend a whole week exploring the ruins, others spend three hours.
Slow down and take it all in. Better to see four or five ruins slowly, than to race around a hundred buildings so you can say that you have ‘done’ them.
Notice how the wheels of the carts have worn away the large cobblestone roads. Take time to place your hand in the very spot that thousands of others, years ago, placed theirs on the side of the fountain while bending over to take a drink. Feel how smooth the stone is as a result of it.
Q: So, is Pompeii worth visiting? Is it worth the money?
A: You are going to love Pompeii. It’s impossible not to. Yes, it is worth visiting. Absolutely.
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There are not many places in the world where you can meander quite freely through such wonderful history. If you have had it on your bucket list for years like me I promise, it will not disappoint you.
One last tip about Visiting Pompeii
Take your time, stand in the middle of the arena.
Take your sunglasses off and feel the heat.
Imagine the noise of the crowd as the gladiators entered the stadium. Look up at the huge bulk that is Mount Vesuvius looming behind you and picture what happened. Yes. Visiting Pompeii is worth it.
I hope this travel blog has answered some of your questions about visiting Pompeii. If you are in Italy and you have 15 Euros, go! Take the kids, they go FREE. You will never forget it.
For me, it was worth the forty years of wait. Let me know what you thought of Pompeii, or if you have already been if you loved it as much as I did.
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