By train to Herculaneum
We found it very easy to get to Herculaneum from Naples by train, so it’s not necessary to take a sightseeing tour unless you want to. There’s a great little line called the Circumvesuviana that leaves from an off-shoot of the Centrale railway station in the city. You can buy your tickets at a counter there, or in the main ticket office (where you need to go to the specially indicated counters – 7 & 8 when we were there). We tried both and found the former was quicker so I suggest you head straight to that area of the station. Tickets are really good value. We paid €1.70 each way on a weekday (November 2007 prices), and at weekends you can get a €5 pass to cover multiple journeys – great value if you’re planning consecutive days out or want to do as we did and travel on from Herculaneum to Pompeii on the same day.
Trains seemed to be pretty frequent (the longest we waited was about 20 minutes). You reach Ercolano Scavi, which is the stop for the ruins at Herculaneum, about 20 minutes out of Naples. Don’t confuse this with the Ercolano Miglio D'oro stop (the second travelling from Naples, but first if travelling from Pompeii). When you get off the train at Ercolano you’ll have about a 10 minute walk to the ruins downhill though the modern suburban town that surrounds them. This is well signposted, and passes several cafes and restaurants if you’re looking for refreshments either before or after your visit.
The Circumvesuviana railway line runs along the coast from Naples to Sorrento and provides easy and convenient access to all the main ancient sites. Circumvesuviana trains are rather like Metro/subway trains, though the line is mostly overground. They are safe, comfortable enough, cheap and have a frequent service. Expect to stand at busy times of day.
You can find fares in English on the rather good Unico Campania website and times in English on the Circumvesuviana website below.
Herculaneum lies under modern Ercolano, so the Circumvesuviana station is 'Ercolano Scavi'. Exit the station and it's about 10 minutes' walk straight down the hill to the site.
There is a 'shuttle' outside the station offering rides to the site for 3 euro, and usually a taxi or two at the site entrance waiting for those who don't want to walk back up the hill.
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Ercolano from Naples or Sorrento by train
You can get to Ercolano on the local train (Circumvesuviana - 'around vesuvius'). It is 20 minutes from Naples or 50 minutes from Sorrento. See the website, and remember the station names are in Italian (Napoli for Naples).
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