The ancient ruins of Pompeii are undoubtedly one of the most unique and impressive landmarks found anywhere in the world. After Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, this lively Roman city was buried in ash, which helped preserve the city for centuries. Visiting this ancient metropolis frozen in time is an experience you will never forget.
So how many days should you allocate for this once-in-a-lifetime experience? Is a single day enough for visiting Pompeii, or should you allocate a weekend or even a full week for exploring this location? This guide will give you an overview of how to best spend your time in Pompeii, no matter how many days your itinerary allows you to stay in town for. Touring the ruins with a private guide is highly recommended, especially if you are on a limited time frame or simply want to get a deeper understanding of this one-of-a-kind landmark.
A day trip from Rome is probably the most popular way to see Pompeii. In a few hours, you will be able to explore the archaeological park and see many of the most important landmarks in Pompeii. While planning your visit, it is good to keep in mind that during the summer months (which is when most people visit Pompeii), the weather in Italy gets very hot. Rather than trying to cram all the sights into a single day, we recommend being selective and taking your time visiting only a handful of monuments. Trust us: racing from place to place in the midday heat gets exhausting, fast.
So what are the sights you should include into your day trip to Pompeii? Your visit to the archaeological park will start at the Forum, as this central square is located right by the entrance gates. This was the heart and soul of ancient Pompeii, lined with temples and bath houses. Be sure to visit the Temple of Apollo and the Forum Baths before moving away from this central square.
Located a few blocks from the forum you will find one of Pompeii's most salacious attractions - the lupanar. This is an ancient brothel which is famed for the scandalous paintings adorning the walls. For more provocative art, make sure to visit the Villa of the Mysteries on the outer edge of town. The building is named for its artwork depicting a young girl's initiation into the Dionysian Mysteries cult. To get a real sense of the devastation caused by the volcanic eruption, pay a visit to the Garden of the Fugitives, which displays the preserved forms of 13 victims.
Practically anyone who's ever been to Pompeii will be quick to point out that there is even more to see here than you'd ever expect! The best way to make the most of your limited time at this world-class archaeological site is to tour the premises with a local guide. This way, you will see all the major landmarks, as well as the hidden gems tucked in between - how does visiting Pompeii's bakeries, baths, and most notable homes sound to you?
2 Day (Weekend) Trip
If you are lucky enough to have a full weekend to spend in Pompeii, you can really take your time exploring the ancient city, diving deeper into its history and visiting more of its famous landmarks. Moreover, you will be able to expand your visit beyond the ruins of Pompeii alone. The Archaeological Park of Herculaneum is far less known than Pompeii, but is at least equally as fascinating - and in some ways, even better preserved than its more famous counterpart.
Located about 20 minutes from the Pompeii ruins, the ancient city of Herculaneum was also buried under volcanic ash during the fateful eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. In Herculaneum, the ash not only preserved the stone structures, but also some of the wooden objects, including those made from papyrus, and even some food items. Of the two, Pompeii is more grandiose, whereas a visit to Herculaneum will introduce you to life in ancient Rome on a more intimate scale.
Besides visiting the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, a two-day trip to the area gives you enough time to visit the impressive Naples National Archaeological Museum. Here, you will gain a deeper understanding of the area's history - without having to bake in the midday sun! The museum is notable both for its 16th century architecture and its collection of Roman and Greek artifacts.
When in Naples, don't miss out on the chance to feast on some authentic local pizza! L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele is one of the most popular options in town. This classic pizzeria was made famous by its appearance in the mega best-selling memoir ‘Eat Pray Love’, and it also made an appearance when the book was later turned into a movie starring Julia Roberts.
5 Day (Week-long) Trip
After spending a few days exploring ancient ruins, touring world-class museum exhibitions, and gorging on some delicious pizza, it's time to escape to the seaside. If you have a full week to spend in Pompeii, we definitely recommend adding a trip to the Amalfi Coast to your itinerary.
This beautiful coastal region is located about an hour's drive from the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, or about 90 minutes from the city of Naples. The coastal area has become world-famous for its beautiful scenery, with picturesque Italian villages built on cliffs framing idyllic sandy beaches. The most famous village to visit is Positano whose colorful villas have become an Instagram staple.
While some people visit the Amalfi Coast on a day trip, we would recommend spending at least a night or two in the area. This will allow you to explore the villages as well as their surroundings, whether that means a boat trip, or hiking the cliffs to catch the best possible views. Alternatively, this post-card-ready setting is the perfect place to simply embrace dolce far niente - that's Italian for pleasant idleness.
A day trip to Pompeii has become a staple for many an Italian itinerary. However, the area offers plenty to see and do on a longer stay too. Whether you're planning to visit Pompeii for a week or a weekend, consider booking a private tour of the area. This will take all the stress out of the planning process, while also ensuring you'll get to experience the area to the fullest through the eyes of a local. Chat with our guides or explore our tour pages to get started!
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