Over the course of your life, you have come across many heroes. However, the most remembered heroes are usually tragic. Think Hamlet, Severus Snape or Sweeney Todd. Pompeii is that that tragic hero on the face of our planet. Unceremoniously erased from existence in 79 CE, this city has now reemerged and is open to your imagination and scrutiny. If you find yourself with a spare day in either Naples or Rome, visiting the Pompeii Ruins must make it to your agenda.
Before you set off on your Pompeii visit, here are a few things you must know - Pompeii history, highlights of the ruins, how to get from Rome & Naples to Pompeii, a curation of the best Pompeii Tickets and other handy tips to make your visit memorable.
A Walk Down Pompeii History
The vicinity of Mount Vesuvius struck as a nice place for retreats to the Greeks around 8th Century BCE. The picturesque and sunny locale soon became a sanctuary for distinguished citizens seeking a recess. Luxury villas were the first to come. The slaves were brought, which in turn saw more and more residential areas, taverns, small factories, brothels, and bathhouses.
An earthquake, which in hindsight was a warning, forced a significant section of the populace out of the city in 63 CE. Pompeii, however, continued with its polished lifestyle. On a fateful day in 79 CE, Mount Vesuvius erupted after a long time. As it spewed lava, the volcanic ash it had sent up in the air began clobbering down on Pompeii. A vast majority of the population fled the catastrophe. However, around 2000 people went down with the city, choking on the ash-laden air and the superheated poison gas. Pompeii and a few nearby towns were lost.
In 1748, a group of explorers stumbled upon the ruins of Pompeii. It was discovered that the volcanic ash had preserved the entire town. Skeletons were found where the people had fallen. Objects of daily use, as well as food items, were unearthed. Almost three centuries later, a large section of the city has been excavated and is now a thriving tourist destination.
Pompeii Ruins - Highlights
Since it was first discovered, interest among the general public regarding Pompeii ruins has only increased. Untiring efforts have led to the excavation of a significant part of erstwhile Pompeii. Here are the most striking spots within Pompeii ruins that should make it into your itinerary.
House of Vettii
This villa represents the typical Roman architecture of its time. After the earthquake, the villa was renovated and installed with water spouting statues. The most notable feature of the villa is the planning that was put into it to facilitate entertainment and luxury of the wealthy merchants who used to stay here. House of Vettii can be found in the western sector of Pompeii ruins.
Villa dei Misteri
This is yet another architectural and artistic marvel at the heart of Pompeii ruins. Complete with its own garden and a large terrace, Villa dei Misteri features splendid artworks in the interior quarters. The name alludes to the secret initiation ritual that is painted on the walls. Astonishing details are still visible of a woman being initiated to the cult of Dionysus in the painting.
Temple of Apollo
Thought to be the oldest structure within Pompeii ruins, Temple of Apollo is the surviving testimony to the city’s long history. The temple features Etruscan architecture that was later modified by the Greeks, and then further amended by the Romans. The statue of Apollo and the bust of Diana seen in the temple today are the copies of the original artifacts excavated at the site.
The House of the Tragic Poet
This relatively small house at the far-west section of the Pompeii ruins is adorned with gorgeous decoration and elegant frescoes. The floor features a curious mosaic depicting people gathering backstage. This led researchers to believe that the house belonged to a notable poet. At the entrance, one can still see a sign in Latin warning visitors about a dog.
Among the several brothels within Pompeii ruins, Lupanar is by far the largest. The rooms have stone platforms that were topped with mattresses and used for beds. Watch out for the graffiti on the walls of Lupanar. It is said that they were drawn by both the prostitutes and their clients. Some graffiti form conversations and offer you a unique viewpoint of Pompeii ruins.
House of the Faun
This private villa is so large that it takes up an entire block of Pompeii ruins. Named after the statue of a faun that was found here, the villa accounts for a significant number of contemporary artworks. The most distinguished among them is the Alexander Mosaic, that illustrates Alexander the Great facing off against Darius III of Persia. Currently, the complex geometric floor pattern garners the most attention from visitors.
Forum of Pompeii
The forum was the center of all cultural and political activities of Pompeii. The large rectangular open space was also thought to be the home of the marketplace and the bathhouses. The cross-shaped design of the courthouse was later adopted by churches across Europe. Albeit most of the buildings lie in ruins, the nobility and splendor of the erstwhile Pompeii can still be approximated.
Public baths were a differential trait of the Roman empire, and that fact is reinstated in the Pompeii ruins. The entire sector had three thermal baths, one of which was still under construction. The chambers were heated by running hot water through the walls of the rooms. The public baths excavated in Pompeii ruins have unified sections for men and women.
Built around 70 BCE, this amphitheater is so old that the word “amphitheater” wasn’t even in use during its time. This is also the first Roman amphitheater built of stone, outdating the Colosseum by a century. With a capacity equal to the entire population of Pompeii, this amphitheater used to be the center of all sporting events in the city. You can see an almost entirely preserved Spectacula in Pompeii ruins now.
The Temple of Isis
Located behind Teatro Grande, the Temple of Isis is a Roman temple dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis. This compact temple was one of the first things that surfaced during when the Pompeii excavations started. Principal devotees of the Temple of Isis are believed to be women, freedmen, and slaves. The cult of Isis is said to have spread in the Hellenistic age due o the religious contacts of the Greeks with the East and Egypt.
If you're planning a visit to Pompeii, make sure you grab your tickets in advance as the queues outside can take upto an hour during peak season. Skip the line tickets with guided tours are highly recommended and so are the combo tickets that take you around Naples/ Rome/ Amalfi etc. Browse through our catalog of the best Pompeii Tickets and headout with us on an archeological journey.
Skip The Line Entry Pompeii Tickets
- Get priority access to the Pompeii ruins without wasting time in queues.
- Discover the almost perfectly preserved buildings and artwork.
- Know about the superior science that was utilized in the city’s architecture.
Skip the Line Access to Pompeii with Transfers
- Coach Transfers to and from Naples
- Enjoy audio commentary during your journey in the special tour bus.
- Get complimentary priority access to Pompeii ruins.
Pompeii Guided Tour with Transfers From Naples
- Experience a guided tour to know all bits and pieces of history lodged in Pompeii ruins.
- Avail pickup and drop off from Naples.
- Listen to English tour commentary on the coach during your trip.
Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius Full Day Tour from Naples
- Put your adrenaline to work as you hike to the top of Mount Vesuvius.
- Gather expert knowledge from the experienced volcanologist on tour.
- Explore Pompeii ruins at your own pace.
Pompeii and Herculaneum Full Day Archaeological Excursion
- Visit Herculaneum, a town that also suffered in the aftermath of Vesuvius eruption of 79 CE.
- Enjoy your day out in the Pompeii ruins, discovering the prominent archaeological sites.
- Enjoy transfers from and to Naples.
Amalfi Coast and Pompeii Full Day Tour from Naples
- Enjoy a 50-mile road trip along the unadulterated Amalfi coast.
- Feast on an authentic Italian meal at a local restaurant.
- Delve into the tragic past of Pompeii ruins with a professional English speaking guide.
Pompeii Excavations and Naples Full Day Tour
- Enjoy on a walking tour of the Pompeii ruins.
- Discover famous spots across Naples on a walking & bus tour.
- Get complimentary transfers from and to Naples in luxury coaches.
Capri & Pompeii Full Day Tour from Naples
- Take a 30-minute Hydrofoil journey to Capri from Naples over the stunning blue water of the Gulf of Naples followed by a funicular to the top of the island; two-ways.
- Follow your tour leader to Pompeii ruins for a guided tour.
Choosing a Pompeii Tour
In the 21st Century, we are spoilt for choices in every aspect of our lives. Pompeii tours are no different. Below are multiple options available for you when it comes to choosing a guide for a Pompeii tour.
Tour GuideAccompanying a pre-booked tour guide gives your Pompeii tour a uniquely human touch. You may get your questions answered as you are led through Pompeii ruins. There are no signboards and not too many descriptors in Pompeii, hence making sense of what you're seeing will be hard. Having a guide along with you in enriching as the local guides are so knowledgable that they have lores and facts that surface nowhere on the internet.
Audio GuideNear the Porta Marina entrance you will find hawkers selling a small white remote and a map of Pompeii called the Little Red Book. These audio guide devices work cheaper than the guided tour too and allow you to explore the place at your own pace. Picking an audio guide will also enable you to drown out the noise in the vicinity and concentrate on the pre-recorded commentary.
App TourWith the flooding of smartphones, almost everything is now at your fingertips. An app tour will bring an interactive feel to the tour, and you never have to worry about falling behind the group. This is the most cost effective way to visit Pompeii. All you have to do in download the free Pompeii App on your phone and use the map they give at the entrance to tour the ruins. If you're technologically adept and can read maps well, this is proven a great way.
On-spot Tour GuideA handy option if you are planning a whirlwind tour. Booking a tour guide on the spot gives you an edge with quality, as you are more likely to find a local expert to lead you on. However, be warned, they may charge a premium and getting a guide who speaks your native language maybe hard. Moreover, if you're not fluent in Italian, bargaining with them and understanding what their saying during the tour maybe hard.
All About The Pompeii Entrances
There are 3 entrances in Pompeii one must know of. Make sure to map the closest entrance to you so as to save time and energy.
Porta Marina (Marine Gate)Also known as the main entrance given the facilities available. You can hire audio guides, access the information kiosk, collect souvenirs, as well as gain express entrance from this gate.
Piazza AnfiteatroThis is a 15 minutes walk to the east in the town of Pompeii and possibly the best sightseeing entrance since you are led directly to the amphitheater, the forum, and other important spots of Pompeii ruins. You can hire audio guides from this entrance as well. You also have a free luggage storage service here, where you can leave your bags, umbrellas etc. If you're taking the he public bus to Mount Vesuvius, know that it terminates here.
Piazza EsedraNot very far away from the Porta Marina entrance, this is possibly the least serviceable entrance to Pompeii ruins. Consequently, the entrance is less crowded and thus suitable for a no-fuss tour.
Below is a map of Pompeii ruins that will help you navigate around this colossal site. Download the map and keep it handy, or make sure to pick up a free copy of the Pompeii Map from the entrance.
Getting to Pompeii
Rome to Pompeii
- By Bus: Take a Flixbus from Rome to Pompeii
- By Train: Take a train to Naples Central station and then the Circumvesuviana to Pompei Scavi.
- By Car: E45 via Strada Statale.
Taking the train from Rome would save time as well as money for a tour to Pompeii ruins.
Naples to Pompeii
- By Bus: SITA from Naples to Pompeii (Piazza Esedra entrance)
- By Train: Circumvesuviana network train. Use the Pompei Scavi stop.
- By Car: Motorway A3, exit at Pompeii Est or Pompeii Ovest.
Taking the train would be the most convenient and economical way to reach Pompeii ruins from Naples.
Insider Tips for Visiting Pompeii
- If you are planning a tour of Naples as well, get an ArteCard. Among the many complimentary offers, your entry to Pompeii ruins is free depending on which variation of the card you buy.
- Carry low heel slippers since the only way to actually explore Pompeii ruins is to walk on worn out ancient roads. Also, try not to wrap yourself tightly in clothes.
- Pompeii is mostly sunny. Keep a water bottle handy to replenish it at the water fountains.
- Give yourself at least 4 to 5 hours to explore Pompeii ruins in its entirety.
- By order, you will be barred from entering 2 hours before closing time.
- There is a cafeteria in Pompeii, but it would still be a smart choice to bring your own food. Eat it before you enter Pompeii ruins since food won’t be allowed inside the premises.
- If you are a shutterbug, enter via Piazza Anfiteatro and walk past the amphitheater keeping it on your right until you hit a wooden gate. You will see a wooden fence from here to your right, that is shorter than the rest of the fence. You can get a brilliant shot of Mount Vesuvius from that spot. That possibly was also the spot that gave Pompeii’s residents a view of their doom.
- Store your luggage at the either Piazza Anfiteatro or Porta Marina for a nominal fee.
- Avoid taking a guide outside Pompeii ruins premises even if they are cheaper. These tour guides generally take tour groups of more than 30 people, eventually drowning all the crucial information out.
- Purchase tickets online and save yourself time and energy. The queues outside can take upto an hour and a half during peak season and it kills your motivation to walk. Tickets online are priced at the same rates as the counter, so buy the Skip the Line access tickets and waltz in.
- Carry a medium sized bag because the security levels vary and sometimes they do not allow rucksacks in for security purpose as well as to curb damage on the ruins.
- The first Sunday of every month allows free entry. Be warned, this also happens to be the busiest day of the month in Pompeii!
- Make the most of your day by combining your Pompeii visit with a quick tour of the sister town - Herculaneum. Read more about Herculaneum, all that there's to do and how to get from Pompeii to Herculaneum on our detailed blog.
- If you wish to visit Mount Vesuvius from Pompeii, take a bus from the Pompei Scavi Circumvesuviana station to Mount Vesuvius. The Vesuvio Express is the most popular one and fills up quickly. This bus will take you to the foot of the summit from where you can hike up. The hike is for around 1.6km from the bus drop, but it is a steep hike on dusty gravel. Make sure you’re wearing shoes and carry ample bottles of water.