Visiting Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Mount Vesuvius from Sorrento
Many travellers to southern Italy use Sorrento as a base to visit the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. These two Roman cities were buried in ash during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AC, and are considered among the most important archaeological sites in the world. Both were preserved in a state of "suspended animation", as the cities were suddenly frozen in time by the catastrophic eruption rather than being gradually abandoned over the centures or transformed by subsequent conquests. Pompeii was completely buried in just 12 hours, and houses, temples, baths, brothels, restaurants, and citizens were preserved under the ashes until being unearthed in 1748.
If you are exploring the Italian coastline south of Naples, you should definitely make time to visit these unique and unforgettable spots...after all, when will you next get the opportunity to walk the perfectly preserved streets of a Roman city or stare into the steaming crater of an active volcano?
Skip-the-line tickets for Pompeii: Buy now
1. Receive your tickets via email or text.
2. Show your tickets from your smartphone.
3. Skip the line to enter the archaeological site.
How to Reach Pompeii from Sorrento
Getting to Pompeii from Sorrento, Italy is very simple: just take the Circumvesuviana train which runs from Sorrento to Naples, and in 20 minutes you'll arrive at Pompeii. The entrance to the archaeological site is right across from the Circumvesuviana station.
How to Reach Herculaneum from Sorrento
Getting to Herculaneum from Sorrento is just as simple: take the Circumvesuviana train which runs from Sorrento to Naples and get off at Ercolano (about 40 minutes from Sorrento). Once you exit the station, follow the main road downhill about 500 meters to the entrace to the archaeological site.
Pompeii or Herculaneum?
Pompeii is a much larger site than Herculaneum and more striking, while Herculaneum is better preserved as it was covered in a layer of protective mud and volcanic ash, sealing the remains completely and preserving even materials like wood. The down side of visiting Herculaneum is that many Roman homes and buildings are closed to visitors, so if you have time to visit just one site while in the area, opt for Pompeii. Trying to see both in one day may be overwhelming!
Hours and Tickets
- 1 November to 31 March: 9:00am - 5:00pm
- 1 Aprile to 31 October: 9:00am - 7:30pm
- Open daily; closed 1 January and 25 December
- Pompei: Ticket price EUR 15 for Pompeii, discounts: EUR 7.50 (students between 18 and 24 and teachers). Free for children under 18.
- Herculaneum: Ticket price EUR 11 for Pompeii, discounts: EUR 5.50 (students between 18 and 24 and teachers). Free for children under 18.
- You can purchase a pass for both sites for EUR 20
In summer high season and on the weekends, there is often a long line to enter the archaeological parks.
You can join group guided tours at either site. There is a booth with official guides in different languages near the entrances, which you can recognize by the wooden sign above with the symbol of the Region of Campania (a white shield with a diagonal red line across it).
How to Plan Your Visit to Pompeii
It can be tiring to visit the ruins in Pompeii: the site covers 33 square kilometers, you must walk along the the ancient Roman streets made of large blocks of stone, and there is little or no shaade. There are public restrooms, a café, and a number of picnic areas inside the site that are marked on the map, and you can stop there to rest and even have a small picnic.
- A bottle of water (that you can refill at one of the many water fountains inside the site);
- Sun block;
- A sun hat;
- A map of the site, available free at the entrance.
Tip: choose one of the suggested itineraries to follow so you don't get lost or, better still, visit with an expert guide.
To see the major monuments in Pompeii, you will need at least 8 hours, but it will be a tiring day. Opt instead to plan on about 4 hours, and touch on just the most important sights.
Visiting Pompeii with Children
If you are travelling with young children, request the keys to the Baby Points located inside the site at the entrance. These are small "stations" where you can change and feed infants, and rest for a while. Touring the site with a pushchair or stroller is difficult, so opt for a baby backpack, if possible. You can leave your stroller in the luggage check at the entrance free of charge.
Sorrento to Mount Vesuvius
Combining a stop at the top of Mount Vesuvius with a visit to Pompeii or Herculaneum is a great idea. We suggest visiting Mount Vesuvius in the morning and continuing on to Pompeii and Herculaneum in the afternoon; buses between Vesuvius and the archaeological sites run until 3 in the afternoon.
From Herculaneum to Mount Vesuvius:
- Vesuvio Express Bus: departs from the Circumvesuviana train station at Herculaneum and arrives at the visitor arrival area on Vesuvius at 1,050 meters above sea level. From here, you will hike with a guide to the crater (about a 20 minute walk along an easy trail).
- Departures every 40 minutes beginning at 9:30 am
- Price: EUR 20 (includes bus and entrance fee to the Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio)
From Pompeii to Mount Vesuvius:
- Busvia del Vesuvio: departs from the Circumvesuviana train station at Pompei Villa dei Misteri and arrives at the entrance to the Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio. Here passengers transfer to a small 4x4 eco-bus which continues along the historic "Matrone" road to the visitor arrival area on Vesuvius at 1,050 meters above sea level. From here, passengers hike with a guide to the crater (about a 20 minute walk along an easy trail).
- Departures every hour from 9 am to 3 pm
- Price: EUR 22 (bus + ecobus + entrance fee to the Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio)
Lunch in a Vineyard
For a lunch break between the archaeological sites and Vesuvius' crater, we recommend a stop at the Cantina del Vesuvio winery, which produces local Lacryma Christi wine. They offer winery tours and a tasting lunch each day, featuring their own wines paired with local dishes. The winery can only be reached by car.
La Cantina del Vesuvio
Are you visiting without a car? You can book a private driver with one of the tours listed below, or join a group tour with a stop in Pompeii and at the nearby wineries.