Classic Italy: Naples and a trip to Pompeii

If you’re looking for a classic Italian holiday, how about a trip to Naples and then going to see the ruins of Pompeii?

Pompeii actually consists of several major locations, and together they cover an area of around 150 acres. In this article we’ll look at what’s on offer, getting to Pompeii railway station, named Pompei Scavi-Villa dei Misteri, and then getting to the key sites within the archaeological park. 

Pompeii map and guides to plan your trip
At Pompeii you can explore the remains of villages, houses, streets, villas, baths, a forum, and an amphitheatre. There are websites with a good overview of the attractions and a tourist guide. There’s also the Pompeii official website, with suggested walking paths and all manner of information.

How to get to Pompeii by train
There are two public transport options: Trenitalia’s MET/REG, or the #1 (black line) trains from Naples Garibaldi. Both run every hour and have many stops along the way. 

However, the Campania Express runs from Porta Nolana, the start of the railway line and only a short walk from Napoli Garibaldi station. 

It’s probably best to take the Campania Express because it’s fairly direct and only takes around 35 minutes. You’ll also get a seat and air-conditioning, both important for summer travel, although opinions of the service are mixed!

Porta Nolana station is quieter than the main station. Staff will personally escort you to the correct train, and you’ll be assured of getting that all-important seat! 

Booking the train to Pompeii
Speak with the station attendant and tell them you want the Campania Express to Pompeii. They’ll check you mean the train with a seat, then they’ll take you to a small office where you can make the booking. You must book the departure and return times, as this train has a strict passenger ticketing policy: no ticket, no travel.

Buying a ticket for the Pompeii site
When you arrive at Pompeii station, you’ll come in on the northern platform, so exit the station and turn right. Head down the hill and just walk straight past all the hawkers who’ll pressure you to buy a ticket.

Don’t panic if you haven’t bought your ticket yet; it’s easy to buy at the site entrance. There may be queues on the day, but they move quickly. On average, it takes no more than 15 minutes to purchase tickets and enter the site. It’s better to arrive early if you can.

Alternatively, you can buy Pompeii tickets online via the official Pompeii website beforehand. Or you could consider a Campania>Artecard, which includes the wider Naples and Campania region.

At Pompeii
Using the map available at the box-office, or the official online PDF map of Pompeii, head to the major sites first, but be prepared to queue at peak times. The Casa del Fauno, Terme del Foro, and Foro Civile di Pompei, are all located to your left (northwest) as you climb the pathway. Villa dei Meisteri is located at the end of Via Consolare and should not be missed for its ornate walls and authentic domestic architectural beauty.

The Teatro Grande, Tempio di Iside, Foro Triangolare, Quadriporch, and Teatro Piccolo, along with the House of the Physician, are all located on the right (southeast). These sites are sometimes overlooked as they’re not as aesthetically pleasing. However, they are still spectacular displays of Roman architecture and social life.

Final things
There are toilets at the entrance, and the next nearest are located in a café onsite, up a hill. You should hire an audio guide instead of joining a tour group: groups can be loud and large (25 people or more). 

At the end of a spectacular visit, head back to Pompeii station, crossing under the station itself to get to the southern platform. You’ll have certainly had a day to remember!