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No other place in the world offers a more immersive experience of life in an ancient Roman metropolis than Pompeii. Buried during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius almost 2,000 years ago, the once thriving city’s villas, shops, temples, and baths remain frozen in time. The UNESCO-listed archaeological site is a popular day trip from Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, often paired with a tour of nearby Herculaneum, an excursion to the top of Mt. Vesuvius, or a winery visit and tasting on the mountain slopes.
Pompeii is open year-round but faces massive tourist crowds in the Italian high travel season—roughly July to mid-September—when it's also expensive and swelteringly hot. Visit in late spring or early fall for convenient transportation connections and more pleasant weather. Other considerations: Pompeii occasionally hosts summer concerts and theater festivals, and can be nearly empty in fall and winter—it's a treat to walk the ancient streets with few tourists in sight.
From Naples, Pompeii can be reached on Trenitalia trains and the Circumvesuviana commuter rail from the Napoli Centrale train station. These trains run frequently throughout the day and make the trip in about 30 minutes—the Pompeii Archeological Park is within walking distance from the Pompeii train station. The Campania Express train makes fewer stops while serving tourist destinations like Pompeii and Herculaneum. To reach Pompeii from Rome, driving or guided day trips are best.
Pompeii is among the most known—and visited—archeological sites on the planet, but visitors should keep in mind that there are other worthwhile ancient ruins nearby. Herculaneum Archeological Park, which is smaller and usually less crowded than Pompeii, faced the same volcanic fate as Pompeii but lies farther north along the coast toward Naples. The ancient ruins of Paestum are older than Pompeii's and have some of the best preserved Greek temples anywhere.
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Italy-based writer Rebecca has taken countless visiting friends and family to walk the streets of Pompeii over the decades, and the ancient city offers up new marvels on each visit.
get yourself a guide. Printed, audio, or live…you’ll need something to shed light on what you are seeing as there is very little information posted once you’re inside.
begins as soon as the archeological site opens in the morning so you can enjoy the ruins before the heat and crowds become unbearable. By lunchtime, you’ll have earned a hearty meal at one of the nearby restaurants.
testing the acoustics at the Great Theater, which never fails to delight. Position yourself at center stage and hear how your voice is projected perfectly to the very back rows, just like performers 2,000 years ago.
watch archaeologists at work. Only about two-thirds of the ancient city has been unearthed, and new discoveries are continuously coming to light at this active archaeological dig.
stand at the far end of the forum and gaze down the length of what is left of the colonnade to admire Mt. Vesuvius on the horizon, a reminder that another devastating eruption could bury this area again.
is thinking that you have to be a history buff to appreciate Pompeii. With its street food stands, political graffiti, and other vibrant signs of life, this ancient city captures the imagination of all visitors (especially with a good guide).
Tourists visit Pompeii to explore the ruins of an ancient Roman city preserved under volcanic debris for centuries after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Visitors can walk freely among the ruins, which include a forum, one of the oldest-surviving Roman amphitheaters, and upscale villas with well-preserved frescoes....More
Yes, guided tours of Pompeii are worthwhile. Tours cover a lot of ground in a few hours and guides are often archeologists or historians who are able to give layered perspectives on the archeological site, Mount Vesuvius, and the history of the region....More
At minimum, you need four hours. The fastest tours speed through the main sights in about two hours, and one-way transportation from Naples or the Amalfi Coast requires at least one hour. Pompeii is among the largest archeological sites in the world, and seeing everything requires more than one day....More
Don’t miss the Garden of the Fugitives, holding plaster castes of Pompeiian citizens frozen in time during the volcanic eruption of AD 79. Other top sights include the forum, aka the heart of the ancient town; the amphitheater, which once hosted gladiator games; and the Villa of the Mysteries with its ancient frescoes....More
The frescoes in the Villa of the Mysteries, showing a bride’s initiation into a cult, are among the most well-preserved ancient Roman paintings in the world. Also of interest: the floor mosaics in the House of the Faun and erotic art in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples....More
By most accounts, about one-third of Pompeii is buried in volcanic debris today. Archeologists continually unearth discoveries, from buildings to historical artifacts and human remains. Volcanic ash and pumice stone completely covered the city through the mid-18th century, acting as a preservative and keeping it intact for nearly 2,000 years....More