For many people, a visit to Pompeii and Herculaneum is a bucket list item, and Naples (Napoli) Italy is the central hub to reach both archeological sites. Many tourists arrive in Naples and then have to figure out how to get to Pompeii, Herculaneum, or both.
Info About Pompeii
Pompeii is located about 26km (18 miles) south of Naples and is relatively easy to get too. It’s the most famous and the largest of the two archaeological sites. For this reason, in peak season, April to October, it can be jam-packed with tourists.
Consequently, it is better to plan the visit strategically. The hours are:
- April 1st to October 31st: 9:00 am to 7:30 pm from Monday to Friday on Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm.
- November 1st to March 31st: from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every first Sunday admission is free.
Tickets are €15.00, and they can be purchased in advance. (Prices may vary in case of special events or exhibits). The site is quite big and requires a lot of walking on uneven surfaces.
Info About Herculaneum
Herculaneum is located approximately 11km (6.8 miles) south of Naples on the Mediterranean coast. Herculaneum is less popular than Pompeii and not as flooded with tourists. However, in peak season, it still is quite busy. Being smaller than Pompeii, Herculaneum requires less time to visit. Also, you can visit Pompeii and Herculaneum on the same day by taking the train from Naples. To be sure, I would suggest visiting Pompeii first and stopping in Herculaneum on the way back.
Opening hours for Herculaneum are:
- April 1st to October 31st: 8:30 am to 7:30 pm daily.
- November 1st to March 31st: from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every first Sunday admission is free.
Tickets are €13.00, and they can be purchased in advance. (Prices may vary in case of special events or exhibits) The site is quite big and requires a lot of walking on uneven surfaces.
Now let’s explore the options on how to get there.
Option 1: Take A Tour from Naples to Pompeii and/or Herculaneum
A tour is probably the safest and most convenient option. For example, many tour operators organize day trips from Naples to Pompeii and Herculaneum. Further, almost every tour can start from the leading hotels or the cruise terminal. If you’re on a cruise, your cruise line will surely offer an excursion.
Tour operators can arrange private, semi-private, or just regular tours. Private tours can be expensive, but they are also the most flexible, while regular tours are cheaper but not customizable. This option has some pros and cons, let’s have a look together:
- Simpler to organize: one tour operator takes care of everything
- Convenient: you can choose to be picked up at the cruise terminal or your hotel
- Tour guide included: a professional guide will show you the sites and explain the history of what you are seeing.
- You will be on a bus with many other people unless you do a private tour.
- Sometimes they include unwanted stops at factories or souvenirs stores.
- Unless you go with a private tour, they are not very customizable
Option 2: Take The Train
The train option is my favorite option, but it requires a little bit of planning. Both the archeological areas of Pompeii and Herculaneum are very well connected by train to Naples. However, if you aren’t used to traveling by train in Europe, or you don’t speak Italian, it can be quite intimidating.
10 Things You Need to Know About Taking the Train from Naples to/from Pompeii and Herculaneum
- The trains for both Pompeii and Herculaneum are on the same line: the “Napoli-Pompei-Sorrento.” You can catch the train to Pompeii and on the way back stop in Herculaneum or vice-versa.
- The trains depart either from Napoli Centrale or Napoli Nolana station, and both stations are very close to each other. Napoli Centrale is generally the most natural choice.
- Trains depart every 20-25 minutes, starting at 6:00 am, ending at 9:00 pm daily.
- The trains have multiple stops. The stop for Hercolanum is called “Ercolano Scavi.” The stop for Pompeii is: “Pompeii Scavi Villa Dei Misteri.” You will find express trains, marked as “EXP” About four times a day. EXP trains have very few stops in between Naples and the archeological sites.
- Download the most current time table here.
- The price one way for Pompeii is €2.80 (as of 2019), while the price for Hercolaneum one way is €2.20 (as of 2019). Tickets can be bought at the station. I am not aware of online booking at the moment (2019)
- It takes about 20 minutes from Naples to Herculaneum and 35 minutes to Pompeii.
- Once you arrive at the “Pompeii Scavi Villa Dei Misteri” station, the archeological site entrance is just across the street.
- In Herculaneum, you will have to walk about 500 m (550 yards) from the train station “Ercolano Scavi to the entrance of the site.
- As this is a commuter train, it can be hectic, especially during peak hours.
Once you follow those few tips, the journey is quite simple.
Let’s explore the pros and cons:
- It is very cheap: for less than €10.00 you can return to the site
- It is convenient: there are trains every 20 minutes, and the stations are very close to the sites
- By train, you avoid the traffic that can be quite heavy in the area
- It is 100% customizable. You are in charge, and you can decide what to do and when to do it!
- It requires a bit of planning and research, and you won’t get a guide
- You’ll need to buy the ticket for the site on your own. If you take a tour, usually the ticket is included
- Trian might get delayed
- If there is a strike, the train service might be affected. (Check this website for strikes updates)
Napoli Centrale is a bustling train station. Also, the station is known for pickpockets and scammers. To be clear, be aware and use common sense.
Bonus tips for Cruise Passengers Visiting Naples for Pompeii and/or Herculaneum
- First, you will need to get to Napoli Centrale from the cruise ship terminal. It’s just a 5-minute taxi ride to Napoli Centrale. I recommend taking the taxi to the train station because it’s a 2.5km walk from the cruise ship terminal. And then, you will have lots of walking at the archeological sites of Pompeii and/or Herculaneum.
- Be sure to check the all aboard time for your cruise, and plan your train journey accordingly. Make sure you leave enough time for possible train delays.
Option 3: Taxi from Naples to Pompeii and/or Herculaneum
Taking a taxi from Naples to Pompeii and/or Herculaneum can be very convenient, but it can also be a bit pricey too. Still, if you’re a group of 4 or 6, you can split the cost making it very affordable. Usually, you hire the driver for a few hours or the day. Then, he or she will take you to the sites, wait for you, and bring you back to your hotel or ship. Taking a taxi is a great option, but there are some little things to consider. Here they are:
- If you have a friend that has visited Pompeii or Herculaneum before, from Naples, and he or she can refer a driver, you should contact this person first.
- In case you don’t have a referral, you should only ask taxi drivers that are operating a legitimate business with a Taxi license. Do not use random people that are offering you the service by your hotel or at the port.
- Make sure to agree on the price before stepping in the car. If you arrive by cruise ship, there will be many taxis just outside the port. Shop around.
- Ask how many people will fit in the car in advance. Agreeing to the price in advance is particularly important if you are a large group.
- Once you are on the excursion, the driver will try to upsell you to other sites — for example, Mount Vesuvius, the Amalfi coast, a great local restaurant, etc. If you decide to do that, ask for the extra cost in advance.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of this option:
- The ride from Naples to Pompeii and/or Herculaneum is very comfortable. For example, you get air conditioning!
- It’s customizable: tell the driver how long you want to spend in each place
- You get dropped off just outside the sites
- It is more expensive than the train, especially if you are alone or in two people
- You will have to buy your ticket for both Pompeii and/or Herculaneum
- Traffic can be quite heavy, especially getting in and out of Naples. You might get stuck in it.
Option 4: Driving
This option is only for the very brave. Even Italians do not feel comfortable driving in and around Naples, let alone to Pompeii or Herculaneum. If you decide to rent a car, I would highly recommend purchasing every possible insurance the car rental company offers. Then, be extremely careful. Also, know that parking by the Pompeii and/or Herculaneum can be a real challenge.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you as I would strongly suggest you pick another option.
I hope you found these few tips informative.
In a future article, I will talk on how to get to the Amalfi Coast from Naples.
If you have any comments, please leave them below.
Andrea was born and raised in Northern Italy. At the age of 30 he moved to Vancouver Canada. Over the years he traveled extensively in North America, Europe, Central America and Asia. He is passionate about traveling, cruising and travel photography. He likes to write about his traveling and shows his travel photos.