In 79 AD, a massive volcanic eruption stopped the clock for two Roman cities – Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Mount Vesuvius (also referred to as Pompeii Volcano) spewed thousands of tonnes of molten lava and ash for close to 24 hours to completely bury the two cities.
The fact that both the cities were very close to Mt Vesuvius didn’t help. Herculaneum was only 7 KMs (4.3 Miles) and Pompeii was only 10 KMs (6 Miles) from the volcanic mountain.
Almost 2000 years later, both Pompeii and Herculaneum have turned into tourist attractions.
The Pompeii history might be gruesome but the Pompeii ruins are beautiful. And they create great holiday memories for families, couples and groups of friends.
More than 4 Million of the tourists who visit Italy come over to Pompeii every year. In fact, Pompeii tours from Naples, Rome, Sorrento and Positano are much in demand.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your Pompeii and Herculaneum tour tickets
Pompeii and Herculaneum opening times
Pompeii and Herculaneum have two different schedules during the year.
From 1 April to 31 October
During this period Pompeii ruins open at 9 am and close at 7.20 pm. On Saturdays and Sundays Pompeii ruins open half an hour early – at 8.30 am.
On all days, the last entrance into Pompeii is at 6 pm.
During this period Herculaneum ruins open at 8:30 am and close at 7:30 pm. The last entrance into Herculaneum is at 6 pm.
From 1 November to 31 March
Pompeii ruins open at 9 am and closes at 5 pm. During weekends, the opening time is advanced by half an hour and the visitors start walking in by 8.30 am.
On all days, the last entry for a Pompeii ruins tour is at 3.30 pm.
During these months Herculaneum opens at 8:30 am and closes at 5 pm. And the last entrance into these ruins is at 6 pm.
Herculaneum or Pompeii?
The city of Herculaneum is better preserved than Pompeii. The houses, thermal baths, temples, and statues are not as damaged as they are in Pompeii.
When it came to riches, the Romans living in Herculaneum were much more lavish. That’s why the houses and other attractions in Herculaneum are bigger and better.
In fact, even the Frescos and artwork found in Herculaneum is said to be better than that found in Pompeii.
However, the site is much smaller in size when compared to Pompeii. While Herculaneum housed approximately 5,000 people, Pompeii was known to have 20,000 people living.
As for the question “Herculaneum or Pompeii?” our answer is: “It depends.”
If you don’t mind taking a short public transport to move between Herculaneum and Pompeii, we suggest you explore both the ruins.
Going to both the ruin sites on same day can be a bit tiring. If you don’t mind stretching, we would suggest visiting both.
If you don’t have a lot of time, or if you believe in exploring one site thoroughly we recommend you spend all your time in Pompeii. And save Herculaneum for your next visit (or next day!).
Side Note: If it helps you decide – Julius Caesar’s father-in-law had a luxurious retreat in Herculaneum. Called Villa dei Papiri it was on the far side of the city, overlooking the sea.
Distance between Pompeii and Herculaneum
When Mount Vesuvius erupted, every village, town, city within a 15-kilometer radius of the volcano was destroyed. More such Pompeii facts.
That’s why there are numerous ruins such as Pompeii, Herculaneum (also known as Ercolano), Oplonti, Stabia etc in the region.
However, because of their size and extent of preservation, the tourists’ favorite is a combination tour of Herculaneum and Pompeii.
The fact that the distance between these two ruins site is only 16 KMs (or 10 Miles) makes these Herculaneum and Pompeii tours popular.
Pompeii is 10 KMs (6 Miles) and Herculaneum is 7 KMs (4.2 Miles) from Mt Vesuvius.
Transport between Pompeii and Herculaneum
You have two options – private transport and public.
If you have lots of money to spare, getting a private car with a driver is the best option. However, we don’t like that option because of the following reasons:
1) It is way too costly
2) You will have to go through’ a lot of traffic
3) It will take more time than the public transport
4) It is less adventurous
The second option is public transport, which in this case is the Circumvesuviana train.
In the city of Naples, look for the terminal railway station called Porta Nolana. The Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii and Herculaneum starts from here.
The final destination of this train is Sorrento. On its way, it passes through Ercolano Scavi (station to get down for Herculaneum ruins) and Pompei Scavi – Villa dei Misteri (station to get down for Pompeii ruins). Check Train Schedule
You can decide, which ruins to see first and plan accordingly.
Our recommendation: After boarding the train at Naples, get down at Pompei Scavi station first. The train ride from Naples to Pompei Scavi station is just 30 minutes. Entrance to Pompeii ruins is just 25 meters outside the station.
Once you are done with Pompeii, come back to the station and board Circumvesuviana train towards Naples. After 18 minutes travel time, get down at Ercolano Scavi and just outside it is the entrance to the Herculaneum ruins.
Once you are done visiting the Herculaneum ruins, come back to the station and board the Naples bound Circumvesuviana train. Your trip from Herculaneum to Naples won’t last more than 20 minutes.
Pompeii and Herculaneum tour tickets
The best way to tour both Pompeii and Herculaneum in a single day is by buying Skip the line tickets for Pompeii.
It helps you save yourself at least a total of 90 minutes of waiting in the line at the ticketing counters.
Besides time, buying the combination ticket also helps you save money – 5 Euros per ticket.
This 30 Euros per ticket pricing is for 18+ adults.
If you are an 18 to 24-year-old European Union citizen, your ticket will only cost you 19 Euros.
Kids up to 17 years of age get a massive discount and only pay 4 Euros per head.
*While availing an age-related discount, keep a valid photo ID card with you.