One of the most fascinating destinations we have ever visited was part of a group trip we took to Naples, Italy. We were so lucky to explore the Amalfi coast, the island of Capri and go back in history by taking a day trip to Pompeii from Naples.
Our incredible Pompeii day was one of the most memorable travel experiences we’ve ever had. The day trip to Pompeii included a private transfer from our villa to the ancient Roman town. We had a guided tour of the archaeological site and explored the ruins. It included a perfect lunch experience and a hiking around Vesuvius Volcano.
Our day trip to Pompeii from Naples was a truly unforgettable experience. In this post we’ll explain the highlights of visiting Pompeii, one of Italy’s best day trips.
This will cover:
- Planning Our Day Trip to Pompeii from Naples
- Our One Day Pompeii Itinerary
- What to Expect on a Pompeii Tour
- How to Book Your Own Pompeii Day Trip
We’ll also include travel tips, photos to inspire your visit and all the information you need to have before you book your own Pompeii day trip.
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Planning Our Day Trip to Pompeii From Naples
Over months of planning and coordinating our entire trip, the group we traveled with decided on a few excursions. One destination we all decided had to be in our Naples itinerary was a day trip to Pompeii. There were 13 of us traveling together, and while it’s hard to get a large group on the same page – our day trip decisions were easy and unanimous.
Since we numbered so many people, we were able to fill an entire small group tour. We considered other options of trying to plot our own course, but decided that the convenience of having transportation provided for us made up for the small savings we could have achieved by driving ourselves and recreating the itinerary by piece-meal purchases.
Another reason why booking our trip online was more convenient is the language and cultural barriers of booking travel in southern Italy. Finding an online booking service gave us instant booking and confirmation, free cancellation up to 24 hours before the tour and a fixed price.
In many places in southern Italy, and even in other areas of this trip, we had to haggle and negotiate for prices. This was the case in restaurants, cabs and even some tour companies. This made it convenient to find a proper tour online and book without the hassle of negotiating a price with a language barrier.
The Itinerary For Our Day Trip to Pompeii From Naples
After arriving in Naples and settling into our accommodation, we enjoyed a night of swimming, drinks on the terrace and a big group dinner. The next morning it was time for us to travel to Pompeii. Our early morning pick up time was’t fun, but dealt with the sleepiness and clung to the excitement of visiting the Pompeii ruins.
The tour that we took, and recommend later, offers hotel pickup if you provide that information to the tour company. This was a huge advantage and selling point for us because we were a large group and it so convenient.
Visiting Naples on a cruise? They also arrange pickups from the port of Naples so this day trip is ideal for anyone booking an excursion from their ship.
Stop One: Ruins of the Ancient City of Pompeii
We jumped right into the thick of things and headed straight to Pompeii. Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site felt like unlocking a life goal. It was definitely a bucket list item for years and we were thrilled to see it in person. We had no idea what to expect, but we were blown away.
Once off the bus we were met by our guide, Elena, and made our way to the entrance. It was great to learn more about the site and even better that we were ushered through the gates and got to skip the line. Elena told us how the city of Pompeii was first settled in the 8th century BCE and flourished into a major trading city of the Roman empire.
As most people know, Pompeii was covered in meters of volcanic ash and rock after the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius. At that time the city was largely abandoned until the 18th century when Charles III of Bourbon was king of Naples and began excavating the site. Early excavations were conducted with a lack of scientific care and were started and stopped through the years.
In 1924 an organized and massive excavation effort was launched with a scientific focus. It lasted about forty years and today the site is popular with global travelers from New Zealand to New York.
The Quadriportico dei Teatri, Teatro Piccolo and Great Theatre of Pompeii
The tourist entrance to Pompeii places you in a large open forum called the Quadriportico dei Teatri. My first impression was awe at how well-preserved the grounds were. The stone pillars, columns and buildings are largely intact and you can visualize the grounds as they were in 79 AD.
The Quadriportico is an open-air courtyard around which gladiator lodging was built. As you follow the path around the courtyard, you can see the entrances they once walked through. It’s adjacent to two theatres, the smaller Teatro Piccolo or Odeon (small theatre) and the larger, Great Theatre of Pompeii. The courtyard acted as a plaza where crowds gathered before and after events in the theatres.
Both structures were stunning, I was impressed by the size and preservation of the small theatre, which we entered first. It’s adjacent to a temple and has original seating, statues and it’s hard to believe that the entire structure was buried by rubble for centuries.
The Grand Theatre was even more impressive and was built to maximize the acoustics. We demonstrated this by having a member of the group stand where the stage would have been clapping. We then witnessed the incredible sound quality around the theatre which was a feature of the design. Truly impressive for ancient builders to master.
Garden of the Fugitives
When we reached the Garden of the Fugitives, our curiosity was met with some despair. Until this point of walking around the ancient city, it was easy to forget that thousands of citizens died in the disaster. The Garden of the Fugitives is where the human tragedy of Pompeii smacks you in the face.
The residential area was originally occupied by dwellings but they were cleared in the years prior to the eruption of Vesuvius. A vineyard was built in the area of the garden and during the moments before the catastrophe it was busy. At least 13 bodies of adults and children were trapped in various points of the enclosure, victims of the Vesuvius eruption.
Today, the casts of those victim’s bodies are enclosed in a glass case near the rear wall of the garden. It’s a grim reminder of the victims of the disaster.
The House and Thermopolium of Vetutius Placidus
This stop on our tour of Pompeii was one of my favorite glimpses into life in the ancient city. It was interesting to realize just how advanced Roman civilization was once Elena explained where we were.
The building was a sort of pub with hot foods. It was a place for gathering and meeting for a hot meal – street food if you will – and a mingling hall. Archaeologists believe that it was an ancient public house or tavern for merchants and upwardly mobile craftsmen. It was likely profitable as they discovered a jar of coins behind the ornately decorated counter. The owner had an attached residence and patio area with decorative frescos.
The Amphitheatre of Pompeii
The Amphitheatre in Pompeii is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre, in part because it was buried under pumice for almost two thousand years. It was the scene of gladiator contests and other large gatherings in ancient Pompeii.
Since it was unearthed, the structure has hosted performances by Pink Flloyd and Frank Sinatra, although modern use has been sporadic. Its design is still considered optimal for stadiums and even the bathroom design has been studied and held influence on modern arenas.
From binge watching the History Channel, I knew that there were several brothels in Pompeii and it was exciting to visit the largest and most famous. The Lupanar Brothel is incredibly well-preserved as are the signs of phallic symbols on stones leading to the remains of the building.
The markers served to guide visitors and inside they could look at the erotic frescos on the walls as a menu of sexual services. Each one depicted sex acts that would be paid over doors that would lead patrons to private cabins. There, the men of Rome would pay for sex work from male and female prostitutes.
The two-story brothel building was unearthed in 1862 and was reopened to visitors in the early 2000s.
The Ancient Roman Baths in Pompeii
The remains of the three largest ancient Roman baths are open to visitors in Pompeii. They are the Central, Forum and Stabian baths and they’re incredibly well-preserved. Each one has gorgeous frescos, bathing pools of various sizes and often an open area that was used for gym purposes and an outdoor garden.
When visiting these sites, you get a feeling for the lives of the citizens in Pompeii. They built a society that included leisure time, relaxing and spas. Elena showed us each section and explained what spa-goers would do in each area. Rooms for pumping in cold air, heated air and being cleansed with oil were all contained in the buildings.
The interiors of these buildings are remarkably similar to thermal baths around the world today. Touring them was another reminder of how advanced the Romans were and how long it took for Europe to climb out of the Dark Ages after the fall of Rome.
The Bakery of Popidio Prisco
There are a few public bakeries within the city of Pompeii and Elena did a great job of explaining the process by which ancient Romans baked bread. One of the most interesting facts is that the milling was done on site. This meant that one small space used to bake bread was also where the grains were ground. Grain was poured into cone/hourglass shaped devices and turned by animal or physical labor. It was then baked and sold from the counters, so every stage of the operation was conducted from one building.
The Grand Forum of Pompeii
Pompeii’s Foro, or Forum is possibly of the single most striking spot within the ruins of the ancient city. As we walked the stone streets, they suddenly opened up to a big, open square with triumphal arches, grand public buildings, the market, and temples dedicated to Apollo and Jupiter. You can still see the head of the Jupiter statue which dates back to 80 BCE. Also look for the centaur statue in the forum area and the granary, where pots and remains were discovered..
This area of the city was the scene of Pompeii’s main civic, religious, and commercial activities. The Forum area was only used by pedestrians and you will notice there are no grooves in the streets for carts and wheeled vehicles, which you will see elsewhere in the streets of Pompeii.
The Basilica dates back to the second century BCE and is simply incredible. While there, you can’t help but to imagine what it looked like in all of its ancient grandeur. It was not a religious building, but more of a courtroom with a civic function. Imagine that contracts and licenses were drawn up there, like in a modern day city hall.
Stop Two: Cantine del Vesuvio Vineyard
After an exhilarating day touring the ruins of Pompeii, we were ready for a bite to eat and a glass of wine. The two plus hours of walking around the uneven streets and soaking up the southern Italian sun left us ready for a little relaxation. As much as we loved experiencing Pompeii, getting back onto our coach bus and heading for the vineyard was perfect.
Vineyard Tour on the Slopes of Mount Vesuvius
The first thing we did on arrival was take a long stretch and take in the surroundings. As soon as we stepped off the coach bus we noticed how beautiful our surroundings were – the sun glistened off of the Bay of Naples in one direction and Mount Vesuvius loomed over us in the other direction. In front of us stood rows of ripening wine grapes preparing for harvest.
We were met by a guide from the family-owned vineyard and learned the story of the Russo family. They have run the vineyard on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius for generations. The tour was brief, maybe 20 minutes in total, and we discussed the various grapes, wines produced and how it’s all stored in the cellars of Cantine del Vesuvio.
Traditional Neapolitan Lunch and Wine Pairings
After exploring the grounds of the vineyard, we were brought into their eaterie. We chose to sit on the semi-enclosed veranda, even though we had to be split into two tables. From our tables we had a great view of the bay and islands downhill.
The Neapolitan meal was simple, but tasty. We had salad, bruschetta, pasta and cake accompanied by different wine pairings from the vineyard’s collection. We even used our charms to get a second glass of the merlot served with the pasta.
Before long we were ready to board the coach bus again and climb the mountain to Vesuvius.
Stop Three: Mount Vesuvius National Park
Our final stop was the parking lot at the peak of Mount Vesuvius National Park. There we climbed out of the vehicle with full stomachs and a slight wine buzz. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have consumed that second glass of merlot because the hike to the crater of the volcano takes about 20 minutes at a good pace.
We soldiered on though and it was worth the hike to the crater. Along the way we stopped for photos and enjoyed the sweeping views of the bay beneath us. This third stop was a great way to wrap up the day. We started the day at the archaeological site of Pompeii – destroyed by the very volcano we were now peering into. In between we enjoyed the wines grown in the volcanic soil and had a meal inspired by the foods of the ancient Pompeiian citizen. It was a surreal ending to a perfect day trip from Naples.
What to Expect on a Day Trip to Pompeii From Naples
Duration: 8 hours
Price: $100 as described with additional entry fee for Pompeii (15€) and gratuities
What to Bring: sturdy footwear, sunglasses, a sun hat, sunscreen, cash, a refillable water bottle
Overall Review: This day trip was incredible and we highly recommend it. Even if you aren’t a history nerd, wine lover or hiker – you’ll still find this trip to be one of a kind. It’s a perfect blending of three of the region’s best attractions: Pompeii, Vesuvius and wine.
How to Book Your Own Day Trip to Pompeii From Naples
There are a myriad of options for booking a day trip to Pompeii from Naples, but this is the exact one that we did, as described:
I personally think that $100 for the full day experience is a fantastic value considering all that you get. There are other options to review, but I really think you NEED a guided tour of Pompeii. You can often book a guide at the gates to Pompeii, but it’s hard to put a price tag on that and in Southern Italy you’ll likely have to haggle.
That’s why we always book with GetYourGuide (like the link above) because you get one set price, immediate confirmation and tickets available on your phone or mobile device (you can also have them emailed to you).
There are other variations that don’t include the wine tasting or do not include a guide at Pompeii (for lower pricing of course) and you can browse those options and other Naples, Pompeii and Southern Italy tours below.
Now You're Ready for a Day Trip to Pompeii From Naples
There you have it – the full itinerary, trip expectations and how to book it. This epic day trip is truly incredible and I cannot write enough about how much you will love the experience. Words just don’t do it justice and the pictures cannot capture what you’ll see with your own eyes. Simply put – it was an incredible day.
Please reach out to us in the comments or socials if you have any questions on this awesome trip. I still feel like it was one of the best travel days that I’ve ever experienced and I think you will feel the same way.
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