We found it very easy to get to Pompeii 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.
Trains seemed to be pretty frequent (the longest we waited was about 20 minutes). You reach Pompeii Scavi, the station for the ruins, about 35 minutes out of Naples. 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 to both Herculaneum and Pompeii on the same day.
When you get off the train turn right and you’ll find the main entrance to the ruins just a couple of minutes’ walk along the road. You’ll pass several cafes here if you’re looking for refreshments either before or after your visit – see my Restaurant tip for a recommendation.
FANCY A DAY WALKING THROUGH AN (ALMOST) INTACT ROMAN CITY?
Pompei (or Pompeii) was destroyed almost instantly by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Now, with a little extra time, you can walk its streets and enter the courtyards of Roman Villas. You do need an EARLY START. Buy your tickets the day before at Termini Train Station to go to the PIAZZA GARIBALDI in NAPOLI (Naples). You want the ‘Rapido’ or Eurostar Train that will take about 1 ¾ to 2 ½ hours depending on which train you select. At the station in Naples you come into the lowest of 3 levels. Go up one level to find the ticket counter for theCIRCUMVESUVIANA Train. This operates like an inter-city metro and you have about 30 seconds to get onboard. Get off about 30 minutes later at POMPEI SCAVI. You are 100 meters from the entrance. Someone may say there is another Pompei stop. Ignore them. This is it. You can see the site properly in about 4-6 hours and be back in Rome for dinner!
A FEW HELPFUL WEBSITE LINKS:
Unesco World Heritage information on Pompei
The Cole Family’s helpful page
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You can reach Pompeii by Circumvesuviana, a local commuter train connecting Naples to Sorrento, and stopping at all the important achaeological sites in-between. Tickets are priced depending on the length of your journey, and are valid for a certain number of minutes, including return trips (if they are within the time limit). Buy your ticket directly at the station, and if there is time remaining at the end of your trip you can use it to connect with local city busses. You can see ticket prices at the site below.
Main Stops: Napoli Centrali Train Station (lower level), Pompeii Scavi (archaeological site), Ercolano (archaeological site), Sorrento (via degli Aranci, five minutes by foot to city center).
Many people report having purses or wallets stolen on this train. I personally did not have any problems, nor did my family when they visited. It's always best to keep your hands on your purse at all times, and to keep your valuables where wandering eyes (and hands) can't see them!
To get to Naples, see www.trenitalia.com, and choose "Napoli Centrale" as your destination.
Once you are in Naples, you can take either the "circumvesuviana" train (a private train), or the FS (trenitalia pr national train) to Pompeii.
The circumvesuviana train stops at Pompeii Scavi, which is the front gate to the excavations. If you take the FS train, you will get off at Pompeii on the other side of town from the excavations...not to worry, as the walk through town is only about 15 minutes...but the circumvesuviana is more convenient...
Getting to Pompeii and/or Herculaneum is very easy and inexpensive by train from Sorrento (we did) or Naples. Go to the station and ask for round-trip tickets on the Circumvesuviana. It'll cost about 4 euro RT or so from Sorrento and a little more from Naples, I believe. You'll want the Naples-Sorrento line. Trains run roughly every 30 minutes or so and the trip will take about 40 minutes from either place. If going to Pompeii, you'll want to get off at the POMPEII SCAVI-VILLA DEI MISTERI station (scavi means ruins), which is about 50 yards or so in front of the Porta Marina entrance. The POMPEII stop is for the "modern" city and it's a longer walk, although do-able, to an entrance from there.
The Circumvesuviana is not a comfortable train and it's likely to be very crowded with tourists doing exactly what you're doing plus locals commuting around the region. It's also, I understand, a good place to get pickpocketed so watch your back and don't set backpacks or camera bags at your feet. Regardless, the trip isn't long and it's MUCH less expensive than booking a bus tour.
We purchased our tickets from an office on the ground floor of the Sorrento station (just off Corso Italia on Via Marziale) and all we had to say was "Pompeii": they handle thousands of people doing the Scavi Shuffle. Make SURE your ticket is a return (round trip) unless you are traveling on to another location, and remember to validate it before jumping on the train. Circumvesuviana trains don't have restrooms so you might want to visit facilities at the station before you board.
Do note that this is a regional train and does not accept Eurail passes.
Once you get to Naples on the train, you must still catch another train to the Pompeii Scavi ruins. This train is the circumvesuviana. It is downstairs in the train station and a roundtrip ticket will cost less than 5 euros. The train leaves every 30 minutes so it is never a long wait for the next one. Once you get on the train, pay attention to the stops. There is a list of the stops by all the doors and an announcement is made at each station. For the Pompeii ruins you want to get out at the Pompeii Scavi stop. This will put you almost at the ticket center to pompeii. In less than 5 minutes you can walk from the train station to the ruins. There is also a small restaurant and shop in the station. I would suggest buying a bottle or two of water as the restaurant inside pompeii, when open, is verrrry expensive.
To get back to the Naples station, you must go down a corridor that leads you under the tracks to the platform on the opposite side. This, too, comes every half hour.
Pompeii is inbetween Naples and Sorrento, about 30 minutes from either of them by the hard-to-pronounce Circumvesuviana train This train runs hourly, so even during the high season, there should be room to squeeze on. The station you need to exit is the Pompei Scavi / Villa dei Misteri stop on the Naples to Sorrento line.
*** Be warned that there is a different Circumvesuviana line, which decidedly does not go to Sorrento but has a Pompeii stop. However this train leaves you with quite a walk to the entrance. ***
To get to Pompeii you will need to get on the Circumvesuviana line at Stazione Garibaldi in Naples. But, be careful because there are two trains running in the same direction, one to Sarno and one to Sorrento, get on the one running to Sorrento. If you have made a mistake and you know you have because where the train line splits at Torre Annunziata, if your train goes to the third track you will be going in the direction to Sarno, so at Torre Annunziata make sure your train is on the second track and you shouldn't have any problems. There is also another stop on the line going to Sarno called Pompeii but that is quite a distance from the exit. Make sure your train goes to Pompeii Scavi Villa dei Misteri which is the next station after Torre Annunziata.
The price of the ticket is 6.80 euros pp to go and come back to Naples.
Apart from taking a tour, the easiest way to sget to Pompeii is by train. Its an easy 90 minute trip to Naples from Rome if you take the high speed Eurostar. Then, you take the local commuter train called the Circumvesuviana and get off at Pompeii Scavi. From there, its a short walk to the entrance. The local train is cheap, 4 Euro R/T. For the Eurostar, you must reserve a seat in advance. During busy times, its best to do this in advance as seats do fill up.
From Naples or Sorrento take the commuter train to the Pompeii Scavi stop. This is the stop you want to take to see the ruins. From the stop you take a right on the road that runs in front of the station and walk about 1/4 of mile to the entrance.
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