Tips for visiting the ruins of Pompeii

A visit to the Pompeii site is a must on your journey to Naples and southern Italy. The famous eruption of Vesuvius volcano took place during the year 79 AD. His vehemence buried the entire city and a great expanse around it under its ashes. The top of the volcano exploded and, at the most active moments of the eruption, the volcano vomited more than 10,000 tons of matter per second. In just hours most of the population died asphyxiated by the gases that Vesuvius gave off.

Detail of a mosaic inside a house in Pompeii

The tragedy did not arrive late and devastated one of the most prosperous cities of the Roman era and in turn, that tragedy became a fortune for archaeologists. The Pompeii site is today the best open-air museum in the world where we can contemplate a first-century city thanks to the good conservation of its rooms, buildings and even bodies dying under the fury of the volcano.

Garden of a rich family house in Pompeii

How to get to Pompeii from Naples

We depart from Naples from the central train station in Piazza Garibaldi. We climbed the Circumvesuviana in the direction of Sorrento. This train line offers regular services approximately every half hour. After about 40 minutes we will arrive at the station Pompei-Scavi-villa dei Misteri where we must get off. The ticket cost us about 2.5 euros per head one way.

Train data from Naples to Pompeii

Departure Station:
Piazza Garibaldi
Name of the train:
Circumvesuviana via Sorrento
Arrival Station:
Pompei-Scavi-villa dei Misteri
Frequency:
Every 30 minutes
Duration of the journey:
40 minutes
Price
EUR 2,5 one way

Entrance to the ruins of Pompeii

The small theatre of Pompeii

When arriving at the station there is a short walk of five minutes that leaves us at the gates of the site. Around you will find plenty of souvenir shops, restaurants and thousands of coaches parked at the gates of Pompeii. The ticket costs 15 euros although if you want to include the other neighbouring sites (Oplontis and Boscoreale in your visit) there is a global ticket for 18 euros with a validity of 3 days.

If you have little time and don’t want to complicate your life with public transport, here you can book a recommended all-inclusive excursion to Pompeii from Naples without queues:

At the entrance they offer audioguide services for 8 euros. We didn’t use them and we threw away the free information booklet they offer at the entrance and we found it very useful and extensive enough in their explanations. In fact, later we discovered that this is the same text on which the audio guides are based so if you want to save those 8 euros just read.

Timetables for the visit to Pompeii

From April to October: 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. November to March: 9 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The following days the venue is closed to the public: 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.

Tips for visiting Pompeii

Mosaic detail in Pompeii

While Pompeii covers some 66 hectares – a third larger than the entire Vatican – only a small area of 12 hectares is open to the public. Anyway, it’s about an area big enough to keep you busy all day discovering the secrets of what life was like in Rome in the first century after Christ.

Due to its size and the multitude of places to visit, it is advisable to devote at least five hours of time to visiting the Pompeii site.

It is a good idea to read a little about the history of Pompeii and the different sites to find out what our preferences are for a visit (which houses, streets or buildings we want to see). It is not plausible to arrive in Pompeii and pretend to see everything. We’re just not gonna be able to cope. If you haven’t done your homework before arriving at the site, then, before you start walking, I advise you to read the information guide about Pompeii and to mark those places that interest you the most in order to trace an itinerary through the extensive site.

pene-suelo-pompeya

A pretty cock carved into the ground marking the direction of the brothel.

With the imposing Vesuvius in the background it will be easy for you to find your way around along with one of the maps offered at the main entrance. Pompeii has a rather grid structure that will help you move with some ease.

Inside you will find a restaurant and a public services area that I highly recommend, not only for its practical use, but also because it is one of the few double storey areas and from above we will get some very interesting panoramic views of Pompeii.

pompeya-desde-banos

Views of Pompeii from the public baths

Recommended visits in Pompeii

Among the many houses, enclosures and buildings we saw in Pompeii, I am left with the following seven main attractions we visited:

The Forum: you will go through it yes or yes. This is an open, rectangular extension. As in any Roman forum, the religious, political, social and economic life of the city took place in this setting. Today a good number of columns still stand and some temples around them worship ancient gods such as Minerva or Jupiter.

The Temple of Apollo: You will find it very close to the forum and it is a beautiful Ionic column with a sundial on it evoking Apollo, god of the Sun.

teatro-grande-pompeya

Views from the Teatro Grande

Teatro Grande and Piccolo: Both theatres are close by and worth a visit. I especially liked the small theatre, it is much better preserved than the Large Theatre and its access seems to be relatively hidden. For this reason, I liked to observe that there were hardly any people in the place and one can sit quietly and evoke some concert or play that was staged in Roman times.

Tips for accommodation in Naples

It is not easy to find nice and cheap accommodation in Naples. Generally the stars seem to be a little swollen with hormones and it is hard to find that ideal quality-price. We finally stayed in the Fresh Glamour Accomodation, little is glamorous, but for about 75 euros the double with balcony and in the historic center of Naples seemed like a good end to our long search.

Orto dei Fuggiaschi: This orchard speaks for itself in recalling the dramatic testimony of the inhabitants of Pompeii. Surprised by the fury of the volcano, 13 people tried to hide in this house and ended up suffocating. The moulds of their corpses are still there showing postures that evoke the agony they had to suffer.

Il Lupanare: Anyone who visits Pompeii before you will tell you about this place. Can you imagine what puti-clubs were like during the first century in Roman times? Well, passing through the sites of Pompeii we can see thanks to the engravings on the doors that were quite promiscuous and open to different sexual options. The client could choose the prostitute according to the specialty sculpted or painted on the same door. Very practical and functional. But stone beds seemed to be the least tempting.

Columns under a grey day visiting Pompeii

Casa del Fauno: This is a huge residence with different rooms beautifully decorated and well preserved. Inside, a fascinating, very small bronze statue of a dancing faun stands out.

Terme Stabiane: These baths are the best preserved in Pompeii. It offers two divided zones for men and women. To enter in it is to realize that the time has not passed too much and it could be perfectly the architectonic model that we can see in most of the Turkish baths that we find in Istanbul.

Other getaways that you can’t miss in the area:

Visit to Naples
How to get to the island of Capri
Excursion to Villa Jovis in Capri
Amalfi Coast Tour
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