The Circumvesuviana Railway (www.eavsrl.it/web/home [website in Italian only]; tel. 800/211-388 toll-free in Italy) runs between Naples and Sorrento every half-hour from Piazza Garibaldi. For Herculaneum, get off at Ercolano/Scavi (scavi means “archaeological excavation”). Herculaneum is about 20 minutes from Naples and 50 minutes from Sorrento; the entrance is about 10 blocks from the station. Pompeii is about 40 minutes from Naples and 30 minutes from Sorrento; exit the train at Pompeii/Scavi and the entrance is about 45m (150 ft.) from the station at the Villa dei Mister.
To reach either Pompeii or Herculaneum by car from Naples, follow the autostrada toward Salerno. If you’re coming from Sorrento, head east on SS. 145, where you can connect with A3 (marked napoli). Then take the signposted turnoffs for Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The best option is to take the Trenitalia “Frecciarossa” high-speed train from Termini to Naples (1 hr. 10 min.; from 36 euros one-way), though InterCity trains are cheaper (around 28 euros and take just over 2 hours—still doable if you start early. The first Frecciarossa departs at 7am. Once at Napoli Centrale (Naples Central Station), follow the signs to Napoli Piazza Garibaldi station downstairs, where you transfer to the Circumvesuviana Railway (www.eavsrl.it/web/home [website in Italian only]; tel. 800/211-388 toll-free in Italy). Note that this railway is separate from Trenitalia, so you won’t be able to buy a through ticket to Pompeii from Rome; just get a return to Naples, and buy the Pompeii portion on arrival in Naples. Trains depart to Pompeii every half-hour from Piazza Garibaldi, but make sure you get on the train headed toward Sorrento and get off at Pompeii/Scavi (scavi means “archaeological dig”). If you get on the “Pompei” train (toward Poggiomarino), you’ll end up in the town of Pompei—which is in a totally different place—and will have to double back to get to the ruins. A ticket costs about 4 euros one-way; trip time is 35 minutes.
To reach Pompeii by car from Rome, take the A1 autostrada toward Naples, then the A3 all the way to the signposted turnoff for the ruins just after the tollbooth—a straightforward and usually hassle-free drive.
Tours: Consider letting someone else take care of the driving an logistics of a Pompeii trip. Plenty of tour operators run guided tours or transport to Pompeii from Rome. Enjoy Rome (www.enjoyrome.com; tel. 06-4451843) runs a Pompeii shuttle bus on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (from Mar–Nov) at 7:30am from its office near the Cavour Metro station, arriving at the ruins at around 11am. You can wander around independently (a guide costs extra) before leaving at 3:30pm (back around 7pm). The shuttle costs 87 euros (though you may find online specials) and does not include entrance fees. Most of the tour operators listed offer day trips to Pompeii, as does Dark Rome (www.darkrome.com), and some include brief stops in Naples or along the Amalfi Coast. Tours start at 125 euros.
Visitor Information: Official infopoints (www.pompeiisites.org; tel. 081-8575347) can be found at the Porta Marina, Piazza Esedra, and Piazza Anfiteatro entrances. The ruins are open April to October 9am to 7:30pm (from 8:30am on Sat and Sun) and November to March 9am to 5pm. Last admission is 90 minutes before closing. Admission is 15 euros. Every first Sunday of the month, admission is free. Both sites can be crowded in the mornings, especially when tours arrive in force in July and August. Crowds thin out by early afternoon.
Parking: There is a parking lot at Pompeii, though it is quite small. If you plan on driving, get there early. The charge is 3 euros per hour. Tip: Do not leave valuables in your rental car and if you have luggage aboard, keep it out of sight.
The ticket offices at both provide a free map and booklet that will guide you through the site. Inside the entrance at Pompeii, you’ll find a bookstore, where you can purchase additional guidebooks to the ruins (available in English, complete with detailed photos). Pompeii also has a cafeteria inside the archaeological zone, which is handy for sandwiches and beverages.
If you’re visiting the sites on a sunny day, wear sunscreen and bring along a bottle of water. At both sites you can leave bags in checkrooms near the entrances for free.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.