Tourists from all over visit Pompeii for its well-preserved ruins.
Thousands of years ago Pompeii was a summer holiday destination for the rich and famous in the Roman Empire.
However, a deadly volcanic eruption in 79 AD converted Pompeii into a heart-breaking historical showpiece.
In less than 24 hours, Mount Vesuvius volcano reduced Pompeii to ashes but in the process preserved it for eternity.
And like all Shakespearean tragedies, the Pompeii ruins are sad yet beautiful.
In this article, we explain everything you need to know before visiting Pompeii.
1. Free tickets
2. Ticket discount
3. Buy Pompeii tickets
4. Guided tours
5. How to reach
6. Opening hours
7. Best time to visit
4. Tour duration
9. Rome to Pompeii
10. Naples to Pompeii
11. Sorrento to Pompeii
12. Positano to Pompeii
13. Pompeii and Herculaneum
14. What to see in Pompeii?
15. Pompeii map
16. Pompeii FAQs
Free tickets to Pompeii
Did you know that you can enter Pompeii for free?
On the first Sunday of every month, it is free entrance at Pompeii.
However, it gets very crowded and we don’t recommended it especially if you are travelling with kids, elders or in large groups.
If you are a handicapped person from the European Union, you and your companion qualify for free entry tickets to Pompeii all through the year.
Note: If you are differently abled, we suggest you go from the entrance at Piazza Anfiteatro, which has facilitated access for visitors.
Interested in free entry to the Colosseum, Vatican Museums, St Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel etc? Buy Omnia Card
Pompeii ticket discounts
The Pompeii ‘Skip the Line’ ticket price for an adult is 19 Euros.
Some of the visitors qualify for discounts on this ticket cost.
Kids 17 years and below get an 85% discount on their Pompeii tickets. Their discounted ticket costs only 3 Euros.
EU citizens between the ages of 18 to 24 qualify for a Pompeii ticket discount of more than 60%.
The cost of their Pompeii ruins ticket is only 7 Euros per person.
While availing these Pompeii ticket discounts, please keep valid photo ID card ready. Buy Now
There are two ways to book Pompeii entrance tickets.
Buy tickets at Pompeii
Reach the Porta Marina Gate, which is the main entrance of Pompeii ruins and get in the queue at the ticketing window.
Depending on the time of the day (and month), you may even have to wait in line for an hour or more to buy your ticket.
Buy tickets online
The second and smarter option is to book tickets to Pompeii ruins online.
When you buy Pompeii tickets in advance, you save yourself a lot of waiting time – you skip the ticketing line.
This is why these tickets are also known as Pompeii ‘Skip the line’ tickets.
How online Pompeii tickets work
The moment you purchase the Pompeii ruins tickets, they are emailed to you.
On the day of your visit, just show the Pompeii tickets in your email, on your smartphone and walk in. No need to take printouts!
If you buy this ticket, you must enter the ruins from the Porta Marina entrance and walk in through the skip-the-line lane.
Pompeii tickets price
Adult ticket (18+ years): 19 Euros
EU Citizen ticket (18 to 24 years*): 7 Euros
Child ticket (0 to 17 years): 3 Euros
*EU Citizens need to show their ID card
If you love to get into the details, check out this Pompeii entry ticket with audio guide.
Pompeii guided tour
Pompeii ruins are spread over a large area, and there is a lot to see.
But there isn’t a lot of information you can see or read when you are standing in front of the Pompeii attractions.
If you want to make sense of the magnitude of what you witnessing, it makes a lot of sense to book a guided tour of Pompeii.
Hiring an archaeologist guide helps in multiple ways:
– You don’t waste your time trying to find the exhibits
– You don’t miss out on any of the highlights of Pompeii ruins
– Guides share more in-depth knowledge, exciting stories etc. about the ruins
Guided tour price
Adult ticket (18+ years): 54 Euros
Youth ticket (12 to 17 years): 27 Euros
Child ticket (4 to 11 years): 13 Euros
If you have children, check out this guided Pompeii tour customised for kids.
If you don’t mind spending extra for an exclusive archaeologist guide, you can book your own ‘Skip the Line’ 2-hour private tour of Pompeii.
Where is Pompeii located?
Pompeii ruins are in Campania, Italy, 14 miles (23 km) southeast of Naples.
Pompeii’s location is at the southeastern base of Mount Vesuvius, which didn’t go in its favour when the volcano erupted.
The ancient Roman city had been strategically built at the mouth of the Sarnus (modern Sarno) River.
Its address is: Porta Marina Superiore (Via Villa dei Misteri) | Piazza Immacolata, Piazza Porta Marina inf., 80045 Pompeii, Italy.
How to reach Pompeii
There are four ways to get to Pompeii – take a train, a bus, or buy a Pompeii tour, which includes transportation.
Distance between Rome and Pompeii
If you question is ‘How far is Pompeii from Rome,’ the answer is 250 Kms (155 Miles) by road.
If you opt to travel by road, this distance can be covered in a little more than two and a half hours.
When you take a train the railway distance is only 212 Kms (132 Miles).
But the trains also end up taking the same time to reach Pompeii (because of the waiting in Naples).
Pompeii by bus
A bus is a recommended option only if you are already in Naples.
SITA local buses leave from Nuova Marina port in Naples to Pompeii every half hour.
The bus ticket, which costs a little less than 3 Euros, can be bought from the SITA office at Nuova Marina port.
The journey time is approximately 35 minutes.
Train from Rome to Pompeii
Rome to Pompeii day trip by train is the best option if you are based out of the Italian Capital.
This trip to Pompeii has two legs –
Rome to Naples by train
Every day there are 16 trains which leave Roma Termini station in Rome for Naples Central station.
If you buy a Rome to Naples ticket on a high-speed train (Frecciarossa or Frecciabianca), you can save travel time.
Your train from Rome will arrive at the main Naples Centrale station which is meant for inter-city trains.
Important: You must book your Rome to Naples train tickets at least a week to ten days in advance. If you book a day or two before your Pompeii visit, the return tickets can cost you 60+ Euros per person.
Naples to Pompeii by train
From Naples, you need to get onto a Circumvesuviana train going towards Pompeii.
From the Naples station for inter-city trains you must get to the adjacent station from where Circumvesuviana trains depart.
The frequency of Circumvesuviana trains is one every half hour.
Need help with the transfer at Naples station? Check out this demo video.
You must get off the Circumvesuviana train at ‘Pompei Scavi’ station, which is located 50 meters from the entrance to Pompeii.
The journey time from Naples central to Pompei Scavi (also known as Pompeii train station) is approximately 45 minutes.
Important: Some tourists don’t want the hassle of finding the Rome to Pompeii train timings, booking tickets etc. So, they opt for either Pompeii day trips from Rome or Pompeii coach tours from Naples
Pompeii opening hours
Pompeii opening times are different during different times of the year.
Some tourists combine nearby archaeological sites such as Herculaneum, Oplontis, Boscoreale, and Stabia when they visit Pompeii ruins.
Along with the Pompeii ruins hours, we have also provided the visiting hours of the other ruins.
From 1 April to 31 October
Pompeii ruins open at 9 am and close at 7.20 pm. On Saturdays and Sundays Pompeii ruins opens half an hour early – at 8.30 am.
On all days, the last entrance into Pompeii ruins is at 6 pm.
During these months, the ruins at Oplontis, Boscoreale, and Stabia also follow the same opening times.
However, Herculaneum’s opening hours start a bit early at 8:30 am go on till 7:30 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 to 8.30 am.
On all days, the last entrance into Pompeii is at 3.30 pm.
During these months, the ruins at Oplontis and Stabia also follow the opening times as mentioned above.
However, during these months Boscoreale ruins have different timings.
They open at 8.30 am and close at 6.30 pm. The last entrance into the Boscoreale ruins is at 5 pm.
When is Pompeii ruins closed?
Pompeii’s archaeological area is closed on three days – 1 January, 1 May, and for Christmas on 25 December.
Best time to visit Pompeii
Fridays and Saturdays are quite crowded at Pompeii.
If you plan your trip to Pompeii on a weekday, you are sure to encounter fewer tourists.
Best time of the day to visit Pompeii
Whatever be the day, the best time to be at Pompeii is before 10 am.
Coaches start bringing in large tour groups by 10.30 am and end up crowding the ticketing counters, the lines to enter the ruins, and its famous attractions.
However, if you are staying in Rome or Naples, it is almost impossible to reach Pompeii by 10 am.
This is why it is strongly advisable to book Pompeii tickets in advance, so that you can enter the ruins the moment you reach the spot.
The next best time to visit Pompeii is 1 pm.
By lunchtime, the massive crowd has started to leave or has already left.
However, be aware that exploring Pompeii at 1 pm, can’t be easy.
During summer months, the peak temperatures range around 27 degree Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) to 32 degree Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit).
How to avoid the crowd at Pompeii
There are two places where you may want to avoid the crowd:
At the ticketing lines
The only way to avoid the long lines at the ticketing counters of Pompeii is by buying Pompeii tickets online and in advance.
This is especially important if you are visiting during the peak months of April to October, because the ticket counter queues get long and waiting times extend beyond an hour.
Inside the ruins
There is a trick to avoid the crowd inside the ruins.
Since the ruins are crowded from 10.30 to 12.30 noon – it is best to avoid the star attractions during this period.
Use the Pompeii map, and avoid the crowd-pullers.
Tourists visiting as part of group tours get back to their coaches by 12.30 pm to 1 pm.
Once they all leave, you can get back to exploring the must-sees in Pompeii.
Low season: November to March
High season: April to October
Busiest months: May and August
How long does Pompeii take?
If you aren’t travelling with kids and seniors, and if you only want to check out the highlights of Pompeii you need three hours.
With kids or seniors, a similar highlights-only tour will last four hours.
However, if you are love history, art or architecture you are likely to spend more than five hours exploring the Pompeii ruins.
Note: Many tourists want to know if it is possible to combine the Pompeii visit with Herculaneum ruins. Yes, it is possible.
Rome to Pompeii day trips
Pompeii tours from Rome are quite popular.
After the tourists in Rome are done with the Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums etc., they usually plan day trips to Pompeii.
This is why there are many bus tours from Rome to Pompeii.
We present three of the best Rome to Pompeii tours –
From Rome: Pompeii + Mt Vesuvius
This highly rated and most popular tour includes the following:
- Transport to Pompeii and back
- An archeologist guide
- ‘Skip The Line’ entry to Pompeii
- A half-mile hike to see Mt. Vesuvius’ crater*
- Authentic Italian pizza lunch
*In winter months (late Nov to Mar end) the Mt Vesuvius hike is replaced by a visit to Naples.
The trip begins at 7.30 am from Rome and by 7.30 pm your air conditioned coach will be back in Rome.
Adult ticket (15+ years): 139 Euros
Child ticket (2 to 14 years): 129 Euros
Here are three more Rome to Pompeii coach tours –
If you want to visit Italy’s two of the most interesting tourist attractions in a single day, check out the Pompeii + Amalfi Coast tour.
Pompeii tours from Naples
Many tourists decide to visit Pompeii while they are staying in Naples.
Since there are many convenient ways to get to Pompeii from Naples, Pompeii tours from here are quite popular.
Naples to Pompeii is a half hour journey – around 24 Kms (15 Miles).
From Naples: Half day visit to Pompeii
This tour starts at 10 am in the morning and lasts four hours.
This popular Pompeii tour includes:
- Transport from Naples to Pompeii and back
- An archeologist guide
- ‘Skip The Line’ entry to Pompeii
Regular ticket (4+ years): 64 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 3 years): Free entry
If you want to make it a whole day affair, there are two other Naples of Pompeii tours you can opt for:
If you fancy a half-a-mile trek to see the Volcano which killed everyone in Pompeii, opt for the Pompeii entry + Mt Vesuvius tour.
If you want a day long tour, look no further than the Pompeii and Amalfi Coast day-long tour from Naples.
Sorrento to Pompeii tours
If you are in Sorrento and want to visit Pompeii, you have two options – you can either take the train or the bus.
Sorrento to Pompeii by train
The cheapest way to do this is to book your Pompeii ticket in advance, and on the day of the visit take the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii.
Circumvesuviana trains run between Sorrento and Naples and in 20 minutes can drop you at Pompeii. Train schedule
Entry to the Pompeii ruins is very close to the Circumvesuviana station.
The train times between Sorrento to Pompeii are very convenient – one every 30 minutes all day long.
If you don’t want the hassle of buying the train tickets, you can book this guided tour of Pompeii which includes Circumvesuviana tickets.
Sorrento to Pompeii by bus
If you don’t want to take the train from Sorrento, you can opt for the below given coach tour.
Since Sorrento is a small town, you will be picked up from your hotel at 10 am.
Distance from Sorrento to Pompeii is 26 Kms (16 Miles), and travel by road takes approximately 45 minutes.
At Pompeii, your guide will be waiting for you.
After a two hour guided tour of the ruins of Pompeii, you will get back to your vehicle and get back to your hotel.
Regular ticket (4+ years): 74 Euros
Infant ticket (0 to 3 years): Free entry
If you are starting from Sorrento and would prefer a 8-hour day tour, check out this Pompeii ruins + Mt Vesuvius trek.
From Positano to Pompeii
The distance from Positano to Pompeii is about 35 Kms (22 Miles).
You have three options –
You can use public transport to reach Pompeii ruins.
After the 40-minutes bus journey and 20-minutes on the train, you will be right at the entrance of the Pompeii ruins.
For approximately 200 Euros you can get a private driver to pick you up from your hotel in Positano and drop you at Pompeii.
They then wait for you while you enjoy the ruins and then drive you back.
Whatever be your mode of transport from Positano to Pompeii, you will still need a ticket to enter the ruins.
Book a coach tour
The best and most convenient way is to book a coach tour from Positano to Pompeii.
This tour which starts at 8 am, includes:
- Transportation both ways
- Entry tickets to Pompeii
- Entrance fee to Mt Vesuvius
- English speaking guide
Adult ticket (13+ years): 109 Euros
Child ticket (2 to 12 years): 87 Euros
If you want something more adventurous, check out this Pompeii and Vesuvius boat tour.
Pompeii and Herculaneum
When Mount Vesuvius erupted, every village, town, city within a 15-kilometre 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, Pompeii and Herculaneum get the maximum visitors.
Herculaneum or Pompeii?
Some tourists do have this dilmena.
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.
Since these two ruins are only 16 KMs (or 10 Miles) apart, tourist with extra time, money and energy prefer Herculaneum and Pompeii combo tours.
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 the next day!).
Transport between Pompeii and Herculaneum
If you have decided to visit both the sites, you have two travel options – private transport and public.
If you have lots of money to spare, getting a private car with a driver is the best option.
The second option is to take 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).
You can decide, which ruins to see first and plan accordingly.
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 will last less than 20 minutes.
Pompeii and Herculaneum tour tickets
Many visitors don’t want to manage their own travel, which is understandable because sometimes it can get confusing.
For such tourists we recommend the below-given 8-hour tour of Pompeii and Herculaneum, starting from Naples.
The inclusions of the tour package are:
- Hotel pick-up
- Entry tickets to Pompeii
- Local guide to help explore Pompeii ruins
- Transportation from Pompeii to Herculaneum
- Entrance fee to Herculaneum
- Drop back to hotel
Tour price: All 3+ tourists pay 125 Euros / person
If you prefer your own private transport and private guide for exploring both the ruins on the same day, check out this amazing private tour.
What to see in Pompeii?
Visiting Pompeii is like being in a Shakespearean tragedy. It is sad, yet beautiful.
There is a lot to see during your Pompeii tour.
Besides Pompeii ruins is 60+ hectares (170 acres) big. That’s a lot to cover during a single day.
Therefore, most tourists ask the question “What are the must-sees in Pompeii?”
Here is our list of the Pompeii highlights –
1. Villa of the Mysteries
Also known as Villa dei Misteri, this is a Roman villa from the 2nd century BCE. It is richly decorated with frescoes, whose meaning archaeologists are still trying to figure out.
2. House of the Faun
Also known as Casa del Fauno, this is the ruin of a luxury Roman 2nd-century dwelling. It has a replica bronze faun statue welcoming the tourists, and hence the name.
This was the most extensive and most expensive residence in ancient Pompeii.
3. Amphitheatre of Pompeii
This is an ancient Roman arena for gladiator fights. It has a seating capacity of 20,000. This is the oldest stadium built with stone, still in existence – much older than the Colosseum in Rome.
Lupanar is Latin for ‘brothel.’ Needless to say, this was the grandest of all brothels in Pompeii, and the city was known to have more than 50 of them.
This brothel interests the tourists more because of the erotic paintings on its walls.
5. Pompeii Thermal Baths
Pompeii ruins have five public thermal baths. Each of the thermal bath building is divided into two sections – for women and for men.
Tourists love to see the ingenious way these baths rooms were heated; by running heated water through the cavities in the wall.
6. Garden of the Fugitives
The largest number of victims of Vesuvius’ eruption were found at this site.
This spot was once an ancient orchard. Now 13 bodies of Pompeii residents who couldn’t flee the deadly volcanic dust and rocks remain there as a stark reminder of nature’s fury.
Garden of the Fugitives is a frozen glimpse of Pompeii’s appalling last hours.
7. House of Vetti
The House of the Vettii is one of the many Domus in Pompeii. A Domus is a massive house occupied by the Roman upper classes.
During your Pompeii tour, you must definitely visit this attraction for its richly coloured frescos.
8. House of the Tragic Poet
The House of Tragic Poet is a Pompeiian home dating back to the 2nd century BC. It features sufficient ornamental detail, depicting scenes from Greek mythology.
The interior decoration in this house is of the best quality in the whole of Pompeii.
9. House of the surgeon
This house in the Pompeii ruins belonged to a surgeon. It has ancient surgical instruments displayed inside and is quite popular with tourists on Pompeii visit.
10. Temple of Apollo
Temple of Apollo is 6th century BC temple dedicated to the Greek and Roman God Apollo.
11. Temple of Jupiter
Temple of Jupiter was built around 2nd century BC. This ancient stone temple has columns in ruins and a statue of Jupiter God for all to see.
12. House of Sallust
The House of Sallust is the second Domus you must visit. The oldest parts of this house have been dated to the 4th century BC.
This house gets its name from the election notice which was also excavated with the house. The election notice recommended a gentleman called Gaius Sallustius for office.
If you have booked a guided tour of Pompeii, you don’t need a map of Pompeii.
However, if you don’t have a guide to take you around the huge archaeological area of Pompeii, you must get a map.
A Pompeii map will help you save time, and will also ensure you don’t miss the important exhibits.
A map will also help you find tourist facilities such as washrooms, rest areas, picnic spots, smoking areas, souvenir shops etc.
To download the PDF version of the best Pompeii map, click here.
We also recommend this Pompeii Guide (booklet).
Pompeii ruins FAQs
If you are visiting Pompeii ruins, we are sure you have a lot of questions.
Mount Vesuvius erupted in the summer of 79 AD destroying Pompeii.
Mount Vesuvius spewed thousands of tonnes of molten lava and ash for close to 24 hours to completely bury the city.
Since Pompeii was only 10 KMs (6 Miles) from the volcanic mountain, it suffered the most.
Ironically, in the process of covering the city with molten lava, the volcanic eruption ended up preserving the town for eternity.
In 1748, more than 1500 years after the volcanic eruption, Pompeii was discovered, and excavations started.
Along with Pompeii a lot of other ruins such as Herculaneum, Oplontis, Boscoreale, and Stabia were also found.
Ever since the discovery, only two-thirds of the buried city has been unearthed.
Pompeii Volcano is the nickname given to Mount Vesuvius, for its role in the destruction of Pompeii.
It is believed that on that fateful day, Pompeii volcano had ejected molten rock, pulverised pumice and hot ash to a height of 33 Kms (21 Miles).