We’re on our last leg of our first ever Italian adventure and after a delightful few days spent on the island of Procida we made our way back to the mainland for the last few days of our holiday which would take us to Pompei and Herculaneum and allow us to explore a little of Naples.
Where did we stay?
Once back in Naples we booked the Hostel of the Sun for the next few nights. This was a great location, near the port and the metro station so we could get about quite easily. The hostel did bunk rooms as well as double rooms and that’s what we opted for. You can read more about the hostel in our – Best beds we’ve slept in when visiting Naples blog post by clicking on the link..
So we’re back in Naples, now what?
The main reason for heading back to Naples was we were flying home from there in a few days to the UK but there were a couple of things we wanted to do first. Visit Pompeii and Herculaneum and take the Underground Naples tour.
Pompeii and Herculaneum would see us take the train out of town but the underground tour was right in the heart of the city.
Pompeii & Herculaneum
How did we get there?
The main and most popular way to get from Naples to Pompeii & Herculaneum is by using the Circumvesuviana Train. It takes approx 35 mins to Pompeii and only 15 mins to Herculaneum and is only a 1 min walk away from the main entrance to the ruins of Pompeii and approx 5 mins from the entrance to Herculaneum.
This train is incredibly popular however it does tend to be crowded at most times of the day. These trains are usually quite old, don’t have air conditioning and can be a bit grubby but I think that all adds to the experience in my book. It lets you off practically on the doorstep to the ruins of Pompeii & Herculaneum so that’s a good thing, right?
Circumvesuviana – what you need to know!
Porta Nolana is the terminus but Piazza Garibaldi is the more popular station for tourists to get on, so if you want to be sure of a seat then head to Porta Nolana. Its not a pretty station inside by any means and you’ll need cash for your tickets but you most certainly will avoid the crowds and as the train pulls into Piazza Garibalidi station you can people watch as the tourists squeeze themselves onto the train.
If you do opt for Piazza Garibaldi then it is located at the lower level of Napoli Centrale (the main train station of Naples). When you get to the Centrale station, follow signs for Piazza Garibaldi or Circumvesuviana, both are signposted really well.
Tickets cost approx €2.60 per person each way. You must buy the tickets at the station. There is no way to get it ahead of time online or on the train.
Trains depart every 30 minutes from either station.
The Circumvesuviana drops you off at Pompei Scavi station, which is located really close to the main entrance to Pompeii. When you get out of the station, turn right and walk for approx 1 minute, and you will see the entrance on your lefthand side or if you’re heading to Herculaneum then you get off at Ercolano Scavi station and walk along Via Novembre 4 for approx 5 mins to the entrance to the ruins. All are really well signposted.
The Circumvesuviana is operated by EAV. You can check the official timetable on its website: https://www.eavsrl.it
So you’ve arrived at Pompeii or Herculaneum – what’s there?
Both sites are incredible with each offering something different. Here’s a little guide to help you choose when to visit and if you don’t have much time, which site to visit.
Pompeii is a perfectly preserved Roman city with temples, theatres, homes, restaurants and other buildings of interest. Most of the area which has been excavated is open to the public with more sites opening up all the time. The frescos and wall paintings in some of the buildings are fresh and vivid and really gives you an idea of how a town operated in Roman times. With Vesuvius as a backdrop its breathtaking.
This town was smaller than Pompeii and was very much a resort destination right on the coast. Because of its size it doesn’t take as much time to get round, perhaps a morning or 2 – 3 hrs. When we went it was much quieter so if you’re pushed for time then choose Herculaneum. Here you can see fascinating houses, some of them multi story, wooden furnishings and decorations, perfectly preserved mosaics and sculptures. It really is a beautiful site and so tragic as the disaster I think is much more visible here. Like Pompeii some of the buildings are not open to the public but don’t worry, there is enough to see to really give you the feel of the place and the events that took place.
How much does it cost?
Pompeii ruins daily ticket: Full price EUR 16; discounted EUR 2
Herculaneum ruins daily ticket: Full price EUR 13; discounted EUR 2
Major credit cards – MasterCard and Visa – are accepted
You can get a discount if you are an EU citizen under 24 but under 18’s and an EU citizen and you get in for free.
Some tips and hints to think about when you visit?
- Ideally you’ll need a full day for Pompeii as there’s a lot to see.
- If its particularly hot then bring an umbrella for shade as there’s not much around\
- Some good sturdy walking shoes/boots/sandals are a must!
- If you don’t have much time or the whole day to spare then choose Herculaneum as its smaller and easier to get round.
- Some buildings are not open to the public but there’s plenty on both sites to see, you won’t be disappointed
- There are little cafes and restaurants available for food but queues can be long and they can be expensive.
- Take snacks and plenty of water.
- Try and aim to get there as early in the morning as you can to beat most of the rush.
- There are adequate toilet facilities but again at busy times there can be queues and they’re not always stocked with toilet paper so keep a handy pack of tissues in your pocket.
- Always buy tickets from either the entrance or online. Don’t buy from the ticket sellers at the trains station as some are fakes and scammers.
- Beware of pickpockets at all times, on the train or in any crowded area. Keep your hands on your pockets and beware of people trying to distract you.
Underground tour of Naples / Napoli Sotteranea
There are a few tours of underground Naples but we chose Napoli Sotterranea as they got the best reviews and it didn’t disappoint. There are tours in various languages so you get a full experience.
You arrive at the entrance at the allotted time and tour guide takes you through a myriad of tunnels and chambers which signifies approx 2400 years of usage. The tour is extremely well thought out and surprises and delights with the discoveries that they’ve made, sometimes even in the basements of peoples houses.
At one point you’re given a little candle on a ceramic holder to guide you through some narrow passages that are unlit and that is really atmospheric.
I’ve also mentioned it as part of my Things not to miss in Naples Blog Post which you can also read and gives a little bit more information.
It really is a fantastic tour with very knowledgeable guides and a fascinating insight into Naples through the ages from the Roman amphitheatre to the more modern day war shelter and rubbish dump. It really is a superb way to spend an afternoon in Naples.
So what next?
Well its time to go home, our first epic tour of Italy has ended. We’ve had a wonderful time in Rome, Palermo, Aeolian Islands, Procida, Ischia, Capri, Naples, Pompeii, Herculaneum and now its time to head to the airport and back to reality. For more details on airport transfers see our – Now you’ve arrived in Naples, what now? It has some info on the Alibus which you’ll need to get back to the airport.
Until the next time Italy – you were fabulous!
For all blog posts on our First Italian Adventure – see here