POMPEII, ITALY: THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING

view down one of the streets in the ruins of Pompeii Italy

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Why Visit Pompeii Italy?

If you’re near Naples, Sorrento or Positano during your time in Italy definitely carve out a day to spend visiting Pompeii, Italy. Pompeii is an amazing natural phenomenon that you really have to see to fully appreciate. It is famous due to the fact that it was destroyed in 79 CE when the volcano, Mt. Vesuvius erupted. This abrupt burial in molten ash and volcanic debris preserved the Ancient city of Pompeii. The Ancient Roman city of Pompeii was located at the base of Mt. Vesuvius and from a technology perspective was way ahead of its time. Visiting Pompeii is truly like stepping into a time capsule to understand how this ancient city operated and how the people of this time lived. The level of preservation was jaw dropping. If you’re interested in history at all, Pompeii Italy is a must visit!

colorful frescoes in the Pompeii Italy Ruins

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Another reason to visit Pompeii is the fact that it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. There are UNESCO Heritage sites located worldwide as well as many located in Italy you can visit. A UNESCO heritage site is designated for having a scientific, cultural & historical significance. UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations [World Heritage Committee.] According to UNESCO, “What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application.” The World Heritage sites belong to all of the people of the world regardless where they are located.

Visiting Pompeii Italy

There are definitely some logistics and things you need to know before visiting Pompeii, Italy. First thing to consider is where you will be coming from and what’s the easiest way to navigate there from a transportation perspective. More on that below in the “Getting to Pompeii” section. The second thing to consider is if you’re going to take a group or private tour for the Pompeii ruins. Lastly, the third thing to consider is if you’re planning on also visiting Mt. Vesuvius. Lets dive into more of the details on all of these items so you’re better prepared to plan a day there.

view down one of the streets in the ruins of Pompeii Italy

Getting to Pompeii

Depending on where you’re staying and your mode of transportation will dictate how you get to the Pompeii ruins. More than likely you will be traveling via train either from Naples, Sorrento, Positano or other Amalfi coast towns. You will want to exit the train at the Pompeii Scavi train stop when visiting the ruins. The entrance to the ruins and area where you will meet with a tour group isn’t far from the train station exit. If you book a tour, you should have specific directions on your ticket (printed or e ticket) where to meet your group for entrance to the ruins.

blue and white sign reading Pompei Scavi train station outside of the ruins in Italy while visiting Pompeii

Visiting Pompeii from Sorrento vs. Positano, Italy

It’s a lot easier to get to Pompeii from Sorrento versus Positano, Italy. Visiting from Positano there are a lot more hurdles and transit plans to consider. For example, the train only goes to Sorrento then you have to take a bus or private transfer via car/taxi to Positano. Whereas if you’re just staying in Sorrento just getting on the circumvesuviana train to the Pompei Scavi train stop is much easier. Keep that in mind when planning your overall time in Italy and deciding where to stay/base yourself out of for day trips.

Top Tips for Visiting Pompeii, Italy

Wear Comfortable clothes & shoes

The shoes you wear will get quite dusty so keep that in mind! Don’t wear your brand new white sneakers if you can help it. But, you want to ensure you’re wearing comfortable shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking. That and dress comfortably in well breathable clothing. The sun really beats down and I visited in the middle of September when it was still very hot! Which brings us to the next tip in terms of what to wear for your day trip.

Hat & Sunscreen

Be sure to wear a hat to cover your face and apply plenty of sunscreen. Definitely bring some additional sunscreen with you as you will likely need to reapply. I applied cream sunscreen in the morning and then had a smaller size spray and reapplied several times while I was there.

Women standing on crosswalk stones above the street in the Ancient city of Pompeii Italy
Elevated crosswalk in ancient ruins of Pompeii, Italy

Bring a refillable water bottle

Be sure to bring a refillable water bottle with you. There are several spots within Pompeii when you’re visiting that you can refill your water bottle with cool fresh water. You will need it!

Book Tours & Tickets in Advance

Visiting Pompeii independently is definitely doable. But, keep in mind that there is very little signage located within the ruins. The amount of context and navigational help during the visit with a tour guide was well worth it. While the tour only lasted two hours, she also pointed out how to navigate to other areas of interest. So, after the formal tour we wandered around for several hours looking at the specific places and buildings our tour guide had mentioned. I’m really glad we booked a tour otherwise I don’t know if I would have been as impressed with what I was seeing not knowing the backstory, history & context. The tour guide did a great job of making you feel like you were living in the Ancient city when it was thriving.

Using the Restroom

There are bathrooms within the ruins, however, they can be somewhat hard to find and navigate to. There is an easily found restroom at the entrance of the ruins. I was lucky enough that the ticket admittance employee let me go out, use the restroom & then re-enter. I’m not sure if that’s standard practice as my tour guide helped me to do this. Definitely use the restroom prior to entering so you won’t be in a similar situation!

Beautiful frescoes in the bath house while visiting Pompeii Italy

Visiting Pompeii & Mt. Vesuvius

There are many tours and guides that include both Pompeii and a visit to Mt. Vesuvius. Exploring not only the ruins of the Ancient city of Pompeii, but the famous volcano that erupted to freeze Pompeii in time forever.

If you’re planning on visiting Mt. Vesuvius the biggest mistake made when we went was that we didn’t purchase our tickets for Mt. Vesuvius National Park in advance. You can purchase tickets directly from the National Park at Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio.

On the link above, you will find comprehensive information about opening hours and what to expect during your visit. There is also information about an app that you can download to use while there.

frescoes and details in the pompeii runs while visiting in Italy

Herculaneum

If you really enjoyed your time visiting Pompeii, Italy consider an add on trip to Herculaneum. While I didn’t visit Herculaneum. It is rumored that Herculaneum is much more well preserved. I was in awe with how well Pompeii was preserved so Herculaneum if you have time would be a great addition to your travels. Another thing to keep in mind is that Herculaneum is a lot smaller than Pompeii so it’s possible to see almost everything in just a few hours.

Naples, Italy: National Archaeological Museum

If you enjoyed visiting Pompeii, there is more information and artifacts in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, Italy. Depending on where you’re staying and your travel route this is an easy day to half day trip if it’s something you’re interested in. I really enjoyed seeing additional artifacts and the details around the different types of gladiators and how they trained.

More Italy Travel Beyond Visiting Pompeii:

In addition to visiting Pompeii, Italy here are some more resources and information on visiting the amazing country of Italy.

Italian Craft Beer Guide

What you Need to Know Before Traveling to Italy

15 Day Italy Itinerary (coming soon)

Published by WanderLust in Real Life

I'm a 30 something living in the Midwest of the United States that loves every aspect of travel. Researching, planning, & of course actually going on adventures whether near or far.

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