12 tips for visiting Pompeii (plus how to climb Vesuvius)

Visiting Pompeii, the ancient Roman city in southern Italy that was destroyed by a volcano, is on a lot of people’s travel bucket lists. Before I visited Pompeii I felt quite overwhelmed about the best way to visit, so I did a ton of research. Here’s the advice I found most useful on how to visit Pompeii, along with some tips on how to climb Vesuvius.

Update April 2023: Pompeii is fully open for visitors, and it will be open on May 1 (May Day). You can read more about what to expect when you visit Pompeii below.

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First, some basics about your trip to Pompeii.

Where is Pompeii?

Pompeii is in the Campania region of southern Italy, 15 miles south of Naples and 150 miles south of Rome. It’s 16 miles from the lovely resort town of Sorrento and 22 miles from Positano, on the Amalfi coast.

A map of Pompeii. Pompeii is halfway between Naples and Sorrento, and not far from the Amalfi Coast, making visiting Pompeii an easy day trip destination
Pompeii is halfway between Naples and Sorrento, and not far from the Amalfi Coast, making visiting Pompeii an easy day trip.

Rather confusingly, the archaeological site of Pompeii (you might see it referred to as Parco Archeologico di Pompei or Pompei Scavi on maps) is right next to a modern town called Pompei. The volcano that destroyed the ancient city, Mount Vesuvius, is still active, so the people living in the modern town still live with the risk of another eruption. You can see the volcano towering above the landscape from all over the area.

What happened at Pompeii?

In AD79, Mount Vesuvius erupted. The force of the explosion blew the entire top of the mountain off, sending rocks, ash and dust over 10 miles into the sky. The rocks and ash rained down on Pompeii for nearly a full day. Most residents fled the city but around 2,000 people (around a tenth of the population) stayed behind.

A body cast of one of the victims of the Vesuvius eruption. This cast was in the Forum, near the entrance, but the largest group of body casts is by the Porta Nocera in the Garden of the Fugitives.
A body cast of one of the victims of the Vesuvius eruption. This cast was in the Forum, near the entrance, but the largest group of plaster casts is by the Porta Nocera in the Garden of the Fugitives.

When, finally, a flood of thick volcanic ash, poisonous gases and superheated rock hit Pompeii at nearly 100 miles an hour, the city was buried underneath millions of tonnes of volcanic debris. The victims’ bodies decomposed where they’d died, leaving body-shaped spaces in the hardened ash. Almost 2000 years later, archaeologists were able to pour plaster into these spaces, revealing the last moments of the victims and creating Pompeii’s famous body casts.

Pompeii has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997 as a joint listing with nearby Herculaneum and the Villa Opolontis at Torre Annunziata.

Visiting Pompeii in 2023 – latest travel tips

The information below is correct as of 1 April 2023.

Entry requirements for Italy

Italy got rid of all the remaining pandemic entry requirements on 1 June 2022 for visitors from the EU and other foreign countries, although they have brought back temporary restrictions occasionally for certain countries. If you’re hoping to travel to Pompeii from outside Italy, it’s still best to check your country’s travel regulations and the entry requirements for Italy, just in case anything has changed at short notice.

Safety measures at Pompeii

The Italian super green pass certification is no longer required for visits to Pompeii, but you might find that it’s needed for other places you’re visiting on your trip to Italy. Masks are recommended but no longer compulsory at Pompeii, although they are required at some museums in the area. Public transport in Naples can be very crowded so a mask could be a good idea when you’re out and about.

Pompeii opening times in 2023

From 1 April until 31 October 2023 the site is open 9am to 7pm, with the last entry at 5.30pm. Last summer there was also the opportunity to pay a reduced entry fee if you arrive after 3.30pm, but that probably won’t give you enough time to fully explore the site. Access to some houses is restricted after 6pm.

For summer 2023 there’s a new “House of the Day” programme, where you can visit a house that isn’t normally open to the public. A different house will be open each day. The schedule for House of the Day is:

  • Monday – Casa dell’Ancora
  • Tuesday – Domus of Marco Lucrezio Frontone
  • Wednesday – Terme del Foro
  • Thursday – House of the Ceii
  • Friday – Fullonica
  • Saturday – House of the Tragic Poet
  • Sunday – House of the Ara Maxima

Each House of the Day will open at 9.15am and close at 6.20pm, with the last access at 6.00pm.

Pompeii is closed on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and sometimes on May Day, but in 2023 the authorities have just announced (on 19 April) that the site will be open on May 1, following the normal summer hours.

In the winter months (1 November 2022 to 31 March 2023), Pompeii is open Monday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm, with the last entry at 3.30pm. Access to some houses is restricted after 4.15pm.

Pompeii ticket information April 2023

For your visit to Pompeii you can either book your tickets online, via the official ticket supplier Ticketone or go to the ticket offices at Porta Marina, Piazza Anfiteatro and Piazza Esedra. There was a small queue when I visited in mid April so booking online could be a good idea during the hot summer months.

Buy Pompeii tickets online

Click the button to visit the official ticket seller


Visiting Pompeii is free on the first Sunday of every month but it does get very busy! If more than 15,000 visitors have arrived by 12pm, the ticket desks will close for an hour. You can avoid the queues for free tickets by booking them online.

There’s a free iPhone and Android app called My Pompeii which will allow you to scan your ticket and then guide you around the site, although some app reviews, particularly on Android suggest that it doesn’t work that well. It shows a real-time indication of the number of people at each point along the route which is intended to allow visitors to avoid the most crowded areas.

Can you visit Pompeii in 2023?

Yes you can, and once you’re inside the park, visits to Pompeii are almost back to normal.

When Pompeii reopened in June 2020 the Pompeii authorities defined two walking routes around the site, Route 1 and Route 2.

These routes have now been removed and you can move around the site freely. Almost all the houses and sights that were closed during 2020 and the first part of 2021 have reopened – the Lupanare (brothel) is now open again for visitors, as is the Villa of the Mysteries. Some new things to see have opened too, including the thermopolium, which has been described as a Roman fast food joint.

Facilities at Pompeii

Toilets and drinking water are available inside the site. There’s a cafeteria near the Forum but it’s a good idea to take your own snacks, especially since the site is so large and you might be a long way from the cafeteria when you get hungry.

Which entrance to use for Pompeii

There are three entrance gates for Pompeii, all with a range of facilities:

  • At the Porta Marina entrance (closest to the Pompei Scavi – Villa Dei Misteri train station where trains from Sorrento stop) there’s a ticket office, toilets and left luggage lockers.
  • At Piazza Esedra, a little further along from Porta Marina from the station, there is a bookshop and toilets. There’s a small police station just outside the Piazza Esedra entrance.
  • At the Porta Anfiteatro entrance (closest to the modern town of Pompei) there’s an ATM, bookshop, toilets and left luggage facilities.

If you want to take a tour of Pompeii without booking in advance, you may be able to hire an official guide at the Porta Marina or Piazza Esedra entrance between 9am and 2pm. There are no official Pompeii tours from the Porta Anfiteatro entrance.

Tips for your visit to Pompeii

1. How to get to Pompeii

The best way to get to Pompeii from Naples or Sorrento is by the local train, called the Circumvesuviana. The best station for the ruins is Pompei Scavi – Villa Dei Misteri train station. Pompei Scavi – Villa Dei Misteri station is on the railway line from Naples to Sorrento.

The train can be very busy and has a reputation for pickpocketing but there’s no reason to be scared. Keep your bag close and your wits about you and it’s perfectly safe and convenient.

An alternative to the Circumvesuviana train is the Campania Express. These trains run on the same route as the Circumvesuviana but stop only at popular tourist sites like Naples, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Sorrento and take around 30 minutes less to travel between Naples and Sorrento. The Campania Express trains have air conditioning, the opportunity to book a seat and space for luggage. A round trip on the Campania Express from Sorrento to Pompei Scava – Villa Dei Misteri costs €25 per person.

Pompei Scavi train station on the Circumvesuviana railway line between Naples and Sorrento. Taking the train is an easy way to visit Pompeii.
Pompei Scavi train station on the Circumvesuviana railway line between Naples and Sorrento. Taking the train is an easy way to visit Pompeii.

Pompei Scavi station is less than five minutes’ walk from the Porta Marina main entrance to the ruins.

Pompeii from Sorrento

If you’re travelling from Sorrento or one of the other resorts along the coast, the easiest and cheapest way to get to Pompeii is to take the Circumvesuviana local train to the ruins. From Sorrento, the train takes between 25 and 30 minutes, which is almost certainly going to be quicker than driving or taking a taxi.

Pompeii from Naples Central Station (Piazza Garibaldi)

If you’re travelling to Naples by train then you’ll arrive at Napoli Centrale, sometimes called Piazza Garibaldi after the large square outside the station entrance. To get to Pompeii you need to change trains onto the Circumvesuviana local train. To do this you can either go downstairs to the separate Napoli Garibaldi station, but when I went to Naples I chose to leave Centrale and walk down the street to Porta Nolana station.

Since Porta Nolana station is the start of the Circumvesuviana line (Napoli Garibaldi is the first stop), you’ve got a better chance of getting a seat on what can be very busy trains. Whether you board the train at Porta Nolana or Napoli Garibaldi, get on a train that’s headed for Sorrento.

Pompeii from Naples cruise port (Stazione Marittima)

If you’re arriving in Naples on a cruise ship, you’re likely to dock at Stazione Marittima. From there, you could walk the 1.2 miles to Porta Nolana station on the Circumvesuviana line. If you’d rather take a bus, the airport bus leaves from outside Stazione Marittima and stops outside Naples Centrale station. A ticket costs 5 euro per person (as of October 2019).

Once at Naples Centrale, you can either go downstairs to the Circumvesuviana station (Napoli Garibaldi) or walk 10 minutes down the street to Porta Nolana station. This isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds – Porta Nolana is the start of all the Circumvesuviana lines so you’re much more likely to get a seat, and if you or someone you’re travelling with finds stairs difficult, Porta Nolana is more accessible. Board a train headed to Sorrento and get off at Pompei Scavi – Villa Dei Misteri.

The Porta Marina entrance to the city of Pompeii
The Porta Marina entrance to the city of Pompeii.

If you’re planning to visit Pompeii with a car, it’s worth knowing that there are no official Pompeii car parks, but there are lots of places to park around Porta Marina and between the Porta Marina and Piazza Esedra entrances. One of the most recommended is Pompei Parking Zeus near Porta Marina which is safe, has toilets and has some spots in the shade. Parking here costs 3 euro per hour – the ticket machines don’t take cards so make sure you have enough cash.

2. Don’t take a big bag into the ruins

The level of strictness at Pompeii varies a lot but it’s best to assume that the staff won’t allow you to take large bags or luggage into the ruins. Anything above 30cm wide, 30cm tall and 15cm wide isn’t allowed – as a rough guide that’s a little bit smaller than the size you’d be allowed as a free bag on a budget airline.

As well as being for security, it’s also to reduce damage to the ruins themselves from people rubbing against the walls with their bags. There were a small number of luggage lockers at the entrance when I visited but it’s best to leave bulky bags at your accommodation.

A shop counter in Pompeii. Our tour guide explained to us how people in Pompeii often bought their food from these ancient takeaways.
A shop counter in Pompeii. Our tour guide explained to us how people in Pompeii often bought their food from these ancient takeaways.

Even if you are allowed to take your bag inside, the massive size of the site means that trying to explore while carrying heavy luggage isn’t a great idea, and it’ll restrict you from getting inside some of the most famous buildings. The Lupanar (brothel) house with its famous wall paintings is a particularly tight squeeze.

3. Do take a water bottle

There are drinking water taps all the way along the main thoroughfare where you can refill your bottle with safe drinking water for free. You’ll be doing a lot of walking and it can be very hot. As a bonus, many of the taps are set above Roman troughs so you’ll get to feel a little bit like a real Roman.

The Casa del Menandro (House of Menander) was one of the grandest villas in Pompeii. It was excavated and restored in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
The Casa del Menandro (House of Menander) was one of the grandest villas in Pompeii. It was excavated and restored in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

4. Don’t worry about food and drink (but do bring snacks)

There are cafes, ice cream/drinks stands and souvenir shops outside all three entrances to the site, but there’s also a reasonably priced cafeteria with a good variety of sandwiches, pizza slices, salads and snacks inside the ruins, just behind the Forum. There are toilets upstairs.

You can also take your own food and drink into Pompeii, and the sheer scale of the place might mean you’re nowhere near the cafeteria when you get hungry. Even if you don’t bring a packed lunch, it’s a good idea to take a snack or two, especially if you’re planning on spending the whole day in the ruins.

The cafe inside the Pompeii ruins (on the extreme left in this picture) serves drinks, coffee, sandwiches, pizza slices, salads and other snacks. It's located behind the Forum.
The cafe inside the Pompeii ruins (on the extreme left in this picture) serves drinks, coffee, sandwiches, pizza slices, salads and other snacks. It’s located behind the Forum.

5. Don’t take one of the guided tours touted outside the ruins

– although they’re cheaper than the official guides they’re much larger groups (30+ people compared to around 15). There’s also a little office just outside the train station with an official-looking sign offering tickets – ignore it, the actual official ticket office is inside the gate. Tickets for the ruins cost 16 euro for adults.

If you’re visiting Pompeii at a busy time it may be a good idea to buy your tickets in advance. While the queue at the ticket office was relatively short when we visited in April, it can get very busy. Visitor numbers are already capped at 15,000 on the monthly free entry Sundays and there’s talk of restricting the number of people who can go inside the archaeological site on normal days too in order to protect the delicate site for the future. Buying your ticket for Pompeii online means you’re guaranteed to get in. You can buy a maximum of 5 tickets in each transaction.

6. Do take an official guided tour of Pompeii

Official guides tout as you’re queuing for tickets *inside* the gate at Porta Marina and Piazza Esedra, between 9am and 2pm. They wear a big official pass around their necks and offer tours in several languages. When we got in we were glad we’d gone on a tour as the ruins are huge and confusing with little signage – we wouldn’t have fully appreciated them even with an audio guide and definitely not with just the map and the guidebook.

If you want to be certain of getting on a tour in your language and at the right time, or if you want a private guide for your group you can book a tour in advance.

Our (official) tour guide at Pompeii was excellent value at 15 euro for a 2 hour small group tour. Taking a tour is a must when visiting Pompeii.
Our (official) tour guide at Pompeii was excellent value at 15 euro for a 2 hour small group tour.

We had a great guide who’d been a little boy when Vesuvius last erupted in 1944 and he really helped bring the city to life for us. You’ll move quickly and see a lot in two hours, but…

7. …don’t expect to see even the highlights of Pompeii in a couple of hours

With a 2 hour tour and 2-3 hours on your own you can get a taste for the city but Pompeii is easily worth a full day. We arrived at around 10.30am and didn’t leave until closing time. The main sights are quite far from each other, particularly the larger amphitheatre and the Garden of the Fugitives where the main group of bodies are.

The large amphitheatre at Pompeii is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre in the world. It's located at the far end of the site, a mile from the main gate and the Forum.
The large amphitheatre at Pompeii is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre in the world. It’s located at the far end of the site, a mile from the main gate and the Forum.

8. Do get a map of the Pompeii site

While you’re at the entrance, do pick up one of the free maps of the Pompeii site. There’s nothing else really to orientate you when you’re in the ruins and the grid system means it’s easy to get lost.

You'll do a lot of walking on roads like this when you visit Pompeii. Wear good shoes!
You’ll do a lot of walking on roads like this when you visit Pompeii. Wear good shoes!

9. Do wear good shoes

The roads are dusty and uneven underfoot and some of the stones are slippy so you’ll want something comfortable with decent grip. Pompeii is definitely not the place for heels. If you wear sandals, expect your feet to be absolutely filthy when you leave!

10. Do protect yourself from the sun

On sunny days, take a hat, sunscreen and some kind of cover-up. There’s very little shade at Pompeii (as most of the buildings don’t have a roof!). I didn’t see anywhere to buy sunscreen inside the site.

11. Do take the time to get some background before you visit Pompeii

The more you can read up about Pompeii, the more you’ll get out of your visit. I watched a BBC documentary on YouTube and read Robert Harris’s novel Pompeii before we left – not academic at all but it really helped me make sense of what had happened here when Vesuvius erupted. If you want a more in-depth discussion of the myths around Pompeii and how people may have actually lived, Mary Beard’s book Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town is excellent and easy to read.

The official, free Pompeii guide book and map that you get at the site (sometimes known as the red book) has recently been put online as a PDF. Even if you plan to take a guided tour (and you should), it’d be useful to read the guide book in advance so you can make your own hit list of places you want to visit in Pompeii after the end of the tour.

The House of Venus in the Shell has many beautiful wall paintings, including the one that the house is named after.
The House of Venus in the Shell has many beautiful wall paintings, including the one that the house is named after.

12. Do get a different perspective

by visiting Herculaneum, a few stops along the Circumvesuviana train line from Pompeii and another easy trip from Naples or Sorrento. Herculaneum was also destroyed when Vesuvius erupted, but it’s much quieter than Pompeii. Herculaneum is also much better preserved and many of the buildings still have their upper storey intact.

The tragedy wrought by the eruption feels even more immediate at Herculaneum  – by the Roman shoreline are boat houses full of the skeletons of the people who tried to shelter there.

The upper floors of many buildings survived in Herculaneum
The upper floors of many buildings survived in Herculaneum.

How to visit Mount Vesuvius

Visiting Pompeii is unmissable, but it’s an awe-inspiring experience to go to the top of Mount Vesuvius and see (and smell) the smoke that still rises up from the crater.

From Pompeii to Vesuvius by bus

You can take a public bus from the Pompei Scavi Circumvesuviana station to Mount Vesuvius but a really easy route is from the station at Ercolano. On leaving the station in the direction of the ruins you’ll come out in a little square. Head to the left and you’ll see the Vesuvio Express office for the bus trip up the mountain. Try to get to the office as quickly as you can – if you’re at the back of the queue and the bus fills up you might need to wait for the next one.

The return trip from Ercolano to Mount Vesuvius with Vesuvio Express costs 25 euro each including entrance to the crater. It’s not a guided tour, it’s literally just to get you to the start of the hike to the summit but we found it reasonably priced and efficient.

Vesuvio Express block-book tickets for the crater so you don’t need to book your tickets for the crater (or Great Cono) separately – although there’s a couple of euros markup on the Vesuvius ticket price.

You can book tickets for Vesuvio Express online but these don’t include the ticket for the crater, you’ll need to buy that separately. For me the combined ticket was worth it as crater tickets sell out at least a day in advance and getting a bus up at the right time to make our ticket slot felt really risky.

The bus takes around half an hour to wind its way up the lower part of the mountain. You’ll be let out at the upper car park at 1000 metres up the mountain (this isn’t actually a car park – read on for how to drive to Vesuvius) and will have around an hour and a half to get up the mountain, look around and get down again to catch your return bus. If you miss it you’ll have to pay again or make your own way back.

If you take the public bus from Pompeii to Vesuvius, you’ll need to also book tickets to visit the crater.

There are a few tour providers who provide trips to Vesuvius from Naples and from Sorrento, often combined with wine-tasting and lunch at a vineyard on the slopes of the mountain. Wines from Vesuvius received the coveted DOC status in 1983 and can be produced in red, white, rosé and sparkling varieties.

Vesuvio Express's leaflet for their bus tours from Ercolano to the top of Mount Vesuvius. Not all their buses are this fancy!
Vesuvio Express’s leaflet for their bus tours from Ercolano to the top of Mount Vesuvius. Not all their buses are this fancy!

Visiting Vesuvius by car

There are two official car parks for visiting Vesuvius, both run by the local Ercolano council. The closest one, parking area B, is at 800 metres up the mountain, while the entrance to the trail to the crater is at the upper car park at 1000 metres. The upper car park is reserved for shuttle buses – you can’t actually park there.

A photo of Mount Vesuvius taken with a drone
Mount Vesuvius. You can see the walking trail up to the crater on the side of the mountain. Many thanks to _M_V_ for the use of their photo.

Spaces are limited at the parking places so it’s best to book your space online, especially if you’re travelling in a large car or camper van. The mobile connection is patchy on the mountain so book both the parking and your entrance to the crater before you leave and make sure you’ve downloaded your booking confirmations before you get there.

Booking parking gets you a space for 4 hours. To get from parking area B to the entrance to the trail up to the crater you can either walk along the road, which takes around 40 minutes, or for 1 euro per person each way you can take a shuttle bus, which takes about 4 minutes.

Walking from the upper car park to Vesuvius’s crater

From the upper car park it’s about a mile to Vesuvius’s crater, all uphill. It’s a fairly shallow gradient but it’s fine, dusty gravel underfoot so can be tough going. If it would help, you can take a walking stick from one of the guys at the entrance in return for a tip.

Wear shoes not sandals but don’t do what I did and wear your new white trainers – they’ll be covered in red Vesuvius dust and pretty much ruined by the time you get back!

Our shoes covered in red dust after climbing up to the crater on Mount Vesuvius
Our shoes covered in red dust after climbing up to the crater on Mount Vesuvius.

There are a couple of souvenir shops which sell drinks and basic snacks, and another at the crater. When I visited Vesuvius there weren’t any public toilets anywhere on the volcano, and after overdoing it on hydration for the climb I ended up begging the shop at the car park to be allowed to use their (non-flushing!) toilet. Recent visitors say if you buy something at the shop, they’ll let you use their toilet, but that you might still have to hold your nose.

At the top, walk around the crater at least until you get to a jaggedy part with some steps as the crater looks different from different viewpoints. Try to spot Capri and Ischia on the horizon and Pompeii below and look out for puffs of sulphury-smelling smoke to remind you that it’s still an active volcano!

Vesuvius's crater. It's still an active volcano!
Vesuvius’s crater. It’s still an active volcano!

Our visit to Vesuvius took around 4 hours from leaving Ercolano station to returning back to Ercolano.

Can I visit Pompeii, Vesuvius and Herculaneum in one day?

You could, just about, but it’d be a long day and very rushed. I don’t think it’s possible on a typical cruise ship schedule. We did it in two days – one full day for Pompeii and another where we visited Vesuvius in the morning and Herculaneum in the afternoon (travelling from Sorrento), and that felt about right to us.

The two archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum are both very moving (not least because of the body casts at Pompeii and the skeletons at Herculaneum) and for me it was worth taking some extra time so it wasn’t too overwhelming.

A small shrine in one of Pompeii's grand villas
A small shrine in one of Pompeii’s grand villas.

Can I visit Pompeii from Rome on a day trip?

It’s possible to visit Pompeii on a self-guided day trip from Rome thanks to Italy’s amazing high-speed trains. If you choose the fastest train from Rome Termini to Naples Centrale you’ll be there in 1 hour 13 minutes. Tickets are very reasonably priced if you book in advance. From Naples, take the local Circumvesuviana train to Pompei Scavi – Villa Dei Misteri.

A guided tour from Rome, a direct coach transfer or even a private tour is another option for visiting Pompeii from Rome on a day tour.

When to visit Pompeii

Visiting Pompeii in spring

March, April and May can be the best time to visit Pompeii and all the other attractions in the area. March can be a little chilly with a few days of rain, but cooler temperatures are good for exploring the ruins.

Pompeii is open as normal on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, which in 2023 falls in early April (Easter Sunday is April 9 2023). Trains and buses to Pompeii will also be running but to a holiday schedule with reduced frequency.

I visited Pompeii, Vesuvius and Herculaneum in mid April and thought it was the perfect time to take a trip to this part of Italy. The weather was warm and sunny but not too hot, and at Herculaneum in particular the spring flowers were beautiful. Summer opening hours start on April 1, giving you an extra two hours to explore (I needed it!).

Visiting Pompeii in summer

If you visit Pompeii in June, July or August, you’ll need to prepare for high temperatures, but there are some interesting extra events during the summer that could make summer the best time for you to visit the ruins of Pompeii.

During June and July, there are often theatrical and music performances in the Roman Teatro Grande or occasionally in the Amphitheatre.

Long, warm summer evenings allow for other events too. In 2022, Fridays in July and August saw visitors able to take an evening walk in Pompeii, accompanied by sound installations and video projections. The route was quite short, from Porta Marina to the Forum (so you probably wouldn’t want it to be your only Pompeii visit), but it does look fun. Space was limited so if you like the sound of it for your visit in 2023, you’ll need to book in advance.

The Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius authorities have used the summer months to trial new tours and attractions. In 2022, the Herculaneum authorities opened up the underground theatre, previously off-limits for an experimental series of public tours. Again, tickets for these were very limited so it’s worth checking out what’s available in advance. I update this page every month so you can find out what’s on.

If you’re visiting Pompeii in early May, be aware that May 1 is officially one of the few days that Pompeii is closed, but that’s by no means set in stone. In 2022 the authorities decided to open on May 1 after all, with little more than a week’s notice, and since it was the first Sunday of the month, everyone got in free!

Visiting Pompeii in autumn

The autumn or early winter months of September, October and November can still be good months to visit Pompeii. September and October are both still warm and sunny, and the summer opening hours at Pompeii last until the end of October.

In November you can expect more rain in the bay of Naples and cooler, but still comfortable temperatures.

Visiting Pompeii in winter

December, January and February are the low season for tourism in the bay of Naples, and if you visit during this time you should find the archaeological sites quieter than normal. If you’re staying anywhere other than Naples you may find that shops and restaurants that cater mainly for tourists are closed for the winter, but prices are cheaper in the ones that stay open.

If you’re hoping to climb Mount Vesuvius during your trip to Pompeii then it may be better to come during the slightly warmer months as bad weather or even occasional snow can make the hike up to the top hazardous.

Where should I stay for visiting Pompeii?

If you’re planning to visit Pompeii, a big decision is where to stay. Most people choose to either stay in Naples or Sorrento when visiting Pompeii – both places have lots to do and are roughly the same distance from the ruins but they offer really different vacation experiences.

Since it’s such a big part of what to know before visiting Pompeii, I’ve put together another post with the best places to stay to visit Pompeii along with advice on areas, how to get to Pompeii from each place and what to expect.

Related posts

If you found this guide to visiting Pompeii in 2023 useful, you might like my other posts on visiting the Bay of Naples:


I hope you’ve found this advice for visiting Pompeii useful. If you have any tips for visiting Pompeii, please let me know in the comments.

12 tips for visiting Pompeii and climbing Mount Vesuvius

46 thoughts on “12 tips for visiting Pompeii (plus how to climb Vesuvius)”

  1. My daughter and I are traveling to Pompeii in August! I can’t wait. We were planning 2 Days here and then maybe catching a ferry to Capri.

    • Oh wow, you’ll have an amazing time. Definitely make sure you take a water bottle to refill though! Hope you and your daughter enjoy your trip.

  2. I stayed in Pompei June 2017, visiting Pompeii, Herculaneum, climbing Mount Vesuvius and visited Sorrento, Capri, Ravello, and more. I just loved this area and I plan to go back in future during the spring. Although I loved Pompeii I enjoyed Herculaneum much more, there were less crowds and easier to get around. I also loved the fact they left what appears to be the original remains ( I may be wrong)of the citizens of Herculaneum in their final resting place in shops located in Bay Area. Also at Herculaneum there was a beautiful cat that really took a shine to me, and I named him Titus . I was told by the staff that this was the first time they had seen him be friendly with anyone including them. Titus even followed me around during my tour. Ahh memories. #memories #missingpompeii #missingherculaneum #titusthecat 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting! I think they are the original remains, I understood they removed some for testing but the others are original. So tragic, it really brings it home to you doesn’t it. Titus sounds awesome, I love to make friends with a cat on holiday 🙂

  3. Hi Helen, very helpulf your info, I have a question, Im going next september, do you think that I can do Pompeii and Herculaneum on the same day?

    Thank you

    • I think it really depends on your stamina levels, what kind of traveller you are and honestly how interested you are in the places themselves. If you get to Pompeii at opening time, do a tour and then hit the major sights that aren’t covered on the tour and go straight on to Herculaneum, it’s definitely do-able. I glad we had a bit more time at both places as I really enjoyed just wandering through the streets, taking it in, imagining what it was like to live there.
      Don’t underestimate how big Pompeii is though, the amphitheatre and the place where you’ll see most of the body casts are both at the far side of the site – visiting Pompeii is honestly like going on a mini city break. Hope this helps and you have an amazing trip!

  4. Hello, is it best to see Pompeii first and the Mount Vesuvius or does it not matter on the order? We will be coming from Sorrento. Is there a train back from Mount Vesuvius if we do that second? Thank you!

    • Hi, if at all possible then I’d recommend doing them on separate days as Pompeii is enormous and it worked better for us to team Vesuvius with a visit to Herculaneum. Herculaneum is amazing – if you’ve got the time I really recommend it. If you have to do Vesuvius and Pompeii on one day then I’d do Vesuvius in the morning and Pompeii in the afternoon. Go from Sorrento on the train to (modern) Herculaneum and take the bus trip to Vesuvius which leaves from just outside the station.
      When you get back to the station at Herculaneum, get the train from there to Pompei Scavi-Villa dei Misteri station which is just outside the Pompeii ruins. Then a train back to Sorrento.
      Sorrento, Pompei Scavi and Herculaneum are all on the same train line so it’s an easy trip – we also stayed in Sorrento. Hope you have an amazing time!

  5. This looks like such an amazing and unique experience! I’ve only ever heard of Pompeii from old roman and greek stories. I absolutely love visiting historic sites like this one. Thanks for the new travel destination inspiration!

    Sending my love xx

  6. Hi Helen
    I read your post letter by letter, your writing is precise and captivating.
    Me and my daughter (9) plan to visit Pompeii this May. My question is regarding food: can you bring a packed sandwich and eat during the visit? I mean like sit down on a rock, have a sandwich, a drink and keep going…Or fruits? Traveling with my daughter has taught me to always have something to nibble….

    Thank you.

    • Hi, yes there are lots of places where you can sit down and eat a packed lunch – one of the amphitheatres would be a great spot! I always take snacks with me too 🙂 Hope you enjoy your visit!

  7. Thank you very much for this tips! Last time we visited Pompei there wasn’t a cafeteria inside and we had to carry around everything for a picknick. There was no water inside, too… pretty hard on a hot summer’s day!

    We’ll visit Pompei this april and if there is any news I’ll let you know!

    • Oh goodness that must’ve been a tough one, we were constantly filling up our water bottles! Please do let me know if anything has changed when you visit in April, I hope you have a wonderful time.

  8. It is a great article!
    we are planning to visit in June first week and it will be most helpful.
    I do have a query though, we will be coming from Sorrento and will most probably hire a private car as we need to go to Naples later. Would you recommend getting the tickets beforehand or should we buy at the spot? We have two sons aged 12 and 10 and they are usually short of patience while standing in queues.

    • Thanks Harshita. If your sons are short on patience it’s probably a good idea to book the tickets online beforehand. Hope you and your sons have an amazing visit to Pompeii!

  9. Thank you Helen for taking the time to do this. Really helpful – precise and comprehensive. Pictures helped too and resources to learn about Pompeii before visiting. Great to know that Pompeii really does take a day to visit properly. Would you advise booking entry tickets ahead? We are going for the first time in mid June this year.

    • Hi Tamaris, thanks for your comment. The queue to get in wasn’t too bad when I visited in April a couple of years ago, but I don’t think it’d do any harm to book tickets online in advance, especially if you’re planning to visit at a slightly busier time of year. Hope you have an amazing time!

  10. Currently Vesuvius does not look as scary as we imagine it, but it is worth seeing it up close, because who knows when it will explode again 🙂

  11. Thank you so much for such great information . I particularly liked your advice on footwear, and how long to expect to spend at each of the sites. We’re going to Sorrento next week for 4 nights, so we’re gonna be pretty busy!

  12. Hi Helen, superb article, very useful thank you. I and my three grown-up kids (teens and 20’s) are looking forward to a 3 day break in Septmeber. From your description I should have gone for a long week instead of a long weekend. Is there a way that you could set up an “if you enjoyed this article, click here to donate a £1”. I for one would make a contribution. Having purchased Eyewitness & Rough Guide books on the area, your precise info has been the best source so far. Very well done Helen. And thank you. Wishing you continued good travelling. Mark

  13. Great article, thank you. We did Pompeii and Herculaneum in one day, and loved the contrast between the two sites. And, just to let anyone else reading this know, there are now toilets in the upper car park at Vesuvius!

  14. Hi Helen, I agree your article is superb, very clear and informative. I’ve been busy writing little notes down. I’m looking forward to my visit in July with family.

  15. Hi, thank you for this information. We booked to go to Naples today, we arrive on Friday. I’m very much looking forward to visiting both sites & of course Mount Vesuvius. I’ve noted down your advice, thanks again 😁

  16. Thanks for your detailed information. We were supposed to travel last Month but due to Covid-19 this has been moved to next August. A little warmer than we had planned !! So the tips on water and light luggage will be useful. We were so disappointed to cancel but now have a whole year to find interesting info like yours to help us make the most of our trip. Thanks!

  17. Thanks so much for updating this for covid info. My friend and I are travelling for one week to Sorento in October and we were uncertain how/when/what etc to visit Pompeii etc. You’ve just told us perfectly how to do it 😂.
    Hugs all round x

  18. Thank you for all the info! We stayed in Pompeii and followed your advise, we took our time to visit the Pompeii ruins in one day (… and even though a few places/sites were closed, it was definitely a great experience – we took our time to walk around, it was not crowded and we were able to see a lot in one full day), day 2 we spent in Vesuvius and Herculaneum! Fantastic

    Thank you for the helpful tips! Great Blog

  19. Hello Helen, your blog is very useful. We visited Pompeii on 6th September so wanted to update you. They are no longer insisting that you follow one of the two routes. The arrows are still there, but within the designated areas you can wander about freely. I don’t think any more of the site is open though, for example the brothel is still closed. We made a mistake and bought online tickets from Tiqets rather than the official site, and they said we couldn’t enter until after 11.30,but on changing the QR code to an official ticket at Porte Marina we got in immediately. It also looked as though people were buying tickets at the office rather than online, although the website had not been updated to reflect that. We found it all pretty confusing to start with! The cafe at the Forum is doing takeaway only (which means everyone sits outside closer than they would be at tables in order to be in the shade..) and the toilets there are open.

  20. This is so useful – thank you!

    Is there anywhere you’d recommend to stay close to Pompei or Vesuvius? If visiting both sites is a two day event, I’m thinking it’d make more sense to stay nearer and avoid the two hour round trip from Sorrento or Naples.


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