Pompeii is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. It is the site of an ancient Roman city preserved by the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The entire site is enormous, covering an area of over than 50,000 square meters. With so much to explore, it begs the question: how long does it take to explore Pompeii?
The answer depends on the type of exploration in mind. Visitors can opt for a self-guided tour, touring at their own pace around the ruins. Alternatively, those wanting to dive deeper into the history and culture at Pompeii can take a guided tour with a qualified Pompeii guide.
The Self-Guided Tour
A self-guided tour of Pompeii can take anywhere from an hour to four hours, depending on how much time you want to spend exploring the site. It is best to start your tour at the entrance of the site, and take your time to explore different areas of the city, such as the Forum and the Baths.
Keep an eye out for the small archaeological details that make Pompeii so special. Spend time in the basilica, and explore the temple of Apollo. Take in the incredible frescoes that remain from the once-vibrant city, and imagine what life must have been like in ancient times. Independent travellers may also benefit from downloading an audio guide onto their phones, giving them a deeper understanding of the city.
The Guided Tour
A guided tour of Pompeii is a great way for tourists to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the city. Most guided tours take approximately two to three hours in duration.
An expert Pompeii guide will explain the history of the city in great detail, highlighting key monuments and sites. The guide will paint a picture of the city before its destruction in 79 AD, pointing out features such as the ancient market, the House of the Faun and the House of the Vettii. Along the way, the guideswho are experts in the subject– will likely explain interesting facts and anecdotes about the city and its ruins.
Visitors should also keep in mind that navigating Pompeii can be a challenge; the city has a confusing network of winding streets, and it is easy to get lost. It is recommended that visitors wear comfortable shoes, and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated in the hot Italian sunshine.
Travel insurance is also recommended, especially if the visitor plans on taking part in any activities such as bicycle tours or amphitheatre performances. It is important to remember that Pompeii is an ancient city and some portions may not be suitable for those with physical disabilities or young children.
Tips and Tricks
If visitors want to maximise their experience at Pompeii, there are a few tips and tricks to consider. Arriving early in the morning is a great way to beat the crowds, and gives visitors the opportunity to explore the site in peace. Visitors can also consider visiting in the late afternoon, when the sun is starting to set, to get some amazing photos of the ruins.
For the most wallet-friendly experience, visitors can benefit from purchasing a joint ticket for Pompeii and the nearby archeological sites of Herculaneum, Oplontis and Boscoreale. Thanks to this arrangement, travellers can save some money and explore multiple sites in the same day.
Staying Overnight in Pompeii
Some tourists opt for a longer experience, staying overnight in Pompeii to take their time exploring the city. For those wanting to take their time, there are a handful of accommodation options in the city itself. These range from stylish boutique hotels, to atmospheric B&Bs tucked away in the ruins.
Staying overnight in the city gives visitors the unique opportunity to explore the streets after the day-trippers have all gone home. As the sun sets, visitors can traipse around the ruins, taking in the incredible atmosphere of the ancient city.
Visit to Vesuvius
No visit to Pompeii would be complete without a visit to the impressive Mount Vesuvius. This famous volcano destroyed the city in 79 AD, and provides a spectacular backdrop for any photos taken in the city. Visitors can take the bus from Pompeii to the crater, which takes around one hour from the city.
The hike around the crater usually takes around two hours to complete; those wanting to get spectacular views of the Bay of Naples should aim to arrive as early as possible, to beat the crowds and get some stunning shots as the sun starts to rise.
Pompeii bills itself as a ‘city that charges admission, not rent’ – an apt description of its status as a world-famous archaeological site. Admission prices vary, depending on the age of the visitor. Most adults pay €15, while concessions pay €7.50. Children under 18 are admitted for free.
It is recommended to book entry tickets in advance, as this avoids waiting in line on the day. It is also important to bring appropriate documentation when entering Pompeii; EU citizens must bring a passport or identity card, while non-EU citizens must bring a valid passport.
Traveling to Pompeii
Visitors to Pompeii typically fly into Naples International airport, before transferring to the railway station known as ‘Napoli Centrale’. These trains usually run every hour and take around 40 minutes to reach their destination. Alternatively, visitors can take a bus from Naples to Pompeii, which typically takes around an hour to reach the site.
From Pompeii’s Scavi station, visitors can either take a taxi to the ruins, or transfer to one of the frequent shuttle services. These shuttles will take visitors directly to the entrance of the site.
For those wanting to experience the best of Pompeii, a full-day tour is the way to go. Private day-long tours typically take visitors around the most iconic sites and monuments in the city, including the amphitheatre, the basilica and the forum.
These tours typically include a delicious lunch in the city’s oldest trattoria, and provide an in-depth insight into the fateful events of 79 AD. The price of admission includes transport, guide and a meal, and lunch is normally served in one of Pompeii’s oldest restaurants.
In conclusion, it is clear that no two visits to Pompeii are the same. How long it takes to explore the city depends on the type of visit, the length of stay and the individual interests of each visitor. Some prefer the freedom of a self-guided tour, while others opt for the expertise of a guided tour.
Whatever the choice, Pompeii is a must-see destination for any visitor to the Campania region. The city’s remarkable preservation, coupled with its captivating atmosphere, has made it a sought-after destination. It is an experience like no other – one that will stay in the memories of its visitors for many years to come.