Pompeii, the ancient trading city sunk in the lava of Vesuvius, allows a unique insight into life 2,000 years ago thanks to its conservation. Here you will find tips for your day tour from Rome to Pompeii and how you can include an ascent to Vesuvius.
Volcanoes in Campania
The Campania region is still a volcanically active area today and the danger gives it a special charm. Next to Vesuvius there is the area of the Phlegraean Fields, where the Greeks assumed the entrance to the underworld. A whole family sank here a few years ago. A naughty child ignored the barrier and sank in the hot sand. The mother jumped after to save him and so did the father. Only the older son survived. What a tragedy!
The thermal baths of Ischia testify to the volcanic activity and places like Sorrento, the Amalfi coast and the island of Capri invite us to dream.
How Pompeii went down
Pompeii was a rich seaport at the mouth of the Sarno River with around 15,000 inhabitants. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
Vesuvius was not considered a danger as it had not been active for centuries, and people settled on the slopes too. An earthquake in AD 62 was not associated with the volcano. In AD 79, it erupted on the afternoon of August 24th. In the first phase, which was accompanied by many earthquakes and lasted until the next morning, a 15 kilometer high cloud of ash, gas and water vapor formed. During the night the activity decreased and many residents returned. In the morning came the lava that led to the downfall of the city. The hot ash that rained down on the city and the lava buried everything up to 6 meters high. People and animals died in seconds and left their mark on the cooling ashes. The sea is now 1.5 km away.
Visit the excavations
In Pompeii, you can stroll the streets among the ruins and inspect various buildings. You will find well-preserved mosaics. Frescoes give you a good idea of what it was like back then.
See the ancient streets with their carriageways, sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, and water pipes. In the lanes you can see the ruts of the carts. Traces from almost 2,000 years ago!
Human bodies have left their mark on the hot ashes. They have been unplugged and you can see their final moments, even the grimaces of horror.
Is a guided tour worth it?
The excavations cover an area of 44 hectares, 22 hectares of which can be visited. The area is divided into 9 “Regio” to enable better orientation. The Soprintendenza Pompei will provide you with a 148-page information booklet. Nevertheless, it is not easy to distinguish the really important and interesting things from the less interesting.
It’s hard to see such a large area in one day. If you only have a few hours available, we definitely recommend a guided tour.
Day tours from Rome
These are our favorites:
Day tour to Pompeii and Naples with hotel pickup and lunch
Day trip to ancient Pompeii and Sorrento, guided tour with an archaeologist and drive to the picturesque coastal city of Sorrento
If you organize the journey to Pompeii yourself:
Our tip: Pompeii and Vesuvius from Naples. This trip gives you the unique opportunity to see Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, which buried the city when it erupted, in one day. Drive up the volcano to the parking lot under the crater and then climb a wide footpath to the crater.
The tour starts at 09:30, opposite the Central Station in Naples. From Rome Termini, take the 08:00 high-speed train that arrives in Naples at 09:13. Train times and bookings are best on Trainline.
The most important excavations of ancient Pompeii
At the moment there are some restrictions in order to be able to comply with the distance rules that apply in Italy. Therefore, not all excavations can be visited.
The Sovrintendenza Pompei has defined a safe route that allows you to see most of the excavations. The entrances are at the Piazza Anfiteatro and at the Porta Marina.
These are the excavations that you can visit:
- Anfiteatro (Regio II)
- Palestra Grande (Regio II) (for the VENUSTAS exhibition) (opening 9:15 am – closing 4:20 pm, last access at 4:00 pm)
- Praedia di Giulia Felice (Regio II) (entrance from the garden and corridor) (opening 9:15 am – closing 4:20 pm, last access at 4:00 pm)
- Necropoli di Porta Nocera (Region II)
- Orto dei Fuggiaschi (Region I)
- Casa della Nave Europa (Regio I) (opening 9:15 am – closing 4:20 pm, last access at 4:00 pm)
- Casa di Octavius Quartio (Regio II) (ingresso dal giardino) (opening 9:15 am – closing 4:20 pm, last access at 4:00 pm)
- Casa del Menandro (Regio I) (opening 9:15 am – closing 4:20 pm, last access at 4:00 pm)
- Casa degli Amanti (Regio I) (opening 9:15 am – closing 4:20 pm, last access at 4:00 pm)
- Casa del Criptoportico (Regio I) (opening 9:15 am – closing 4:20 pm, last access at 4:00 pm)
- Terme Stabiane (Regio VII) (only the outside area)
- Casa dei Cornelii (Region VIII)
- Casa dell’Orso Ferito (Regio VII) (only outside)
- Granai del Foro (Regio VII) (outside only)
- Tempio di Apollo (Region VII)
- Basilica (Regio VIII)
- Edificio di Eumachia (Regio VII)
- Tempio del Genius Augusti (Regio VII)
- Santuario dei Lari Pubblici (Regio VII) (only from the outside)
- Macellum (Regio VII) (only from the outside)
- Foro Centrale (Region VII)
- Tempio di Giove (Region VII)
- Archi Onorari (Region VII)
- Santuario di Venere (Region VIII)
- Casa di Championnet (Regio VIII) (opening 9:15 am – closing 4:20 pm, last access at 4:00 pm)
- Casa dei Mosaici Geometrici (Regio VIII) (opening 9:15 a.m. – closing 4:20 p.m., last access at 4:00 p.m.)
- Orto botanico (Region VIII)
- Foro Triangolare (Region VIII)
- Tempio Dorico (Regio VIII)
- Teatro Grande (Regio VIII) (only outside)
- Teatro Piccolo – Odeion (Regio VIII) (outside only)
- Antiquarium (Regio VIII) (access to the ground floor – opening 9:15 am – closing 4:20 pm, last access at 4:00 pm)
- Quadriportico dei Teatri (Region VIII)
It is currently not possible to visit the Porta Ercolano. From here the path led to Herculaneum, which was also destroyed by the volcanic eruption. Herculaneum has also been excavated and can be visited.
In front of the Porta Ercolano are the Villa of Diomedes and the Villa dei Misteri, which unfortunately cannot be visited at the moment. In the Villa dei Misteri, one of the best preserved wall paintings from antiquity extends over three walls. It shows Dionysus with his bride Arianne. A place only for the followers of the mysterious cult.