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Herculaneum as Daytrip from Rome

We will have 1 week in Rome, and want to do a Daytrip to Herculaneum by train (early December, on a more or less clear -non-rainy day). We chose Herculaneum over Pompeii as it’s generally less crowded and more compact, plus it has more intact buildings, etc. Generally it’s more appealing to us.
We chose not to do a bus tour from Rome as the travel time is actually doubled on a bus, and from the reviews I’ve read, most of these tours end up with free time in Sorrento or Positano - many reviewers said they had wanted more time at the sight instead (as we will).
If you have experienced this day-trip by train, we will appreciate your travel tips, details, and any other helpful information you may care to share. Thank you.

Posted by
3210 posts

I’ve visited Herculaneum and would advise you to visit Ostia Antica instead. I thought that Ostia was more interesting and is a short trip from Rome.

Posted by
77 posts

Wow, we did consider Ostia but thought Herculaneum was more interesting- mainly for the Vesuvius event. Thank you, we’ll take another look at Ostia.

Posted by
5059 posts

We've been to Herculaneum and Ostia Antica. They are different, but very similar at the same time. Herculaneum will be a long, long day trip. Ostia Antica is a very short trip on local transit. With only a week in Rome, we'd opt for Ostia. In fact, on one of our trips we did just that. By getting an early start, you'll have plenty of time to explore the site, have lunch, and still be back in Rome by mid afternoon.

Posted by
4304 posts

I've got no experience making the daytrip from Rome but I think doing it on your own via train is a good idea. Herculaneum and/or Pompeii deserves a full day. I'd recommend and early start and take the high speed train to Naples. From there you find the escalator and go down one level and follow the signs to the Circumvesuviana train that runs about every half hour.

We chose Herculaneum over Pompeii as it’s generally less crowded and
more compact, plus it has more intact buildings, etc. Generally it’s
more appealing to us.

Both are worthy and probably not crowded in December, however we found Herculaneum just as crowded as Pompeii in April. There were fewer people but since it's smaller we found ourselves often having to line up to get into buildings.

If you have time, I'd highly recommend you tie it all together with a trip to the Archeological Museum in Naples. There are some incredibly preserved artifacts on display from Herculaneum/Pompeii such as frying pans that look like they're brabd new on display at a department store.

Posted by
7569 posts

General thoughts:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/herculaneum-and-pompeii-questions

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/pompeii-day-trip-from-rome-2c38f926-9036-480d-95fd-403dd7694e4a

It's worth noting that while Pompeii is right at the Circumvesuviana stop, and has hot food inside, Herculaneum is a steep 15 minute walk downhill from the commuter train, and has no food inside. There are a few restaurants along the main street, but they keep regular Italian meal hours, not "fast-food" hours. You CANNOT RE-ENTER (same day) either excavation after exiting.

We waited an hour for a lunch seat at Pizza Sorbillo in Naples.

Posted by
7721 posts

A day trip is relatively easy. Hop on one of the fast trains to Naples from Rome Termini as early as is practical for you. The trip runs from 1 hour 12 minutes up to 3 hours, depending on the train, (Side note, for those suggesting Ostica Antica, it can take 45 minutes to nearly an hour to get there from Termini) for example, the 7:00 train is a fast one, getting you to Naples Centrale at about a quarter after 8:00. Then catch the Circumvesuvia train to your stop (Ercolano Scavi), the park opens at 8:30, you will get there at 9:00 or shortly after. Spend what time you wish, but by noon you will have seen what most want to see, and head back to Naples.

From there you could get some pizza in Naples, or see the very good Archeological museum (which has most of the finds from Pompeii and Heracleum), do both, or just wander a bit. Leave by 4:00PM and you will be in Rome for dinner.

Posted by
2744 posts

I was in Pompeii in November 2022 (went by train from Rome). It was not crowded at all and the weather was perfect. If you are making your decision based on crowd levels, that might not be relevant for an early December trip.

Posted by
11368 posts

We visited Ostia Antica right before our flight out of FCO. It was easy to get to and visit and then we returned to airport, dropped off rental car and checked into Hilton FCO.

Posted by
300 posts

We have visited Ostia Antica, Herculaneum, and Pompeii (twice). You really can't go wrong with any of them. I am a teacher, and the third-grade curriculum I once taught had a story about Pompeii in it, so I HAD to visit Pompeii! But, actually, I found Ostia Antica really enjoyable because of the variety of buildings you can enter. Yes, Herculaneum has more buildings that are more intact, but I found that didn't really matter to me when I visited. We day-tripped to Pompeii and Herculaneum from Naples. We day-tripped to OA from Rome. If I were in your shoes, and doing a day trip from Rome, I would absolutely choose Ostia Antica.

Posted by
1225 posts

We did a day trip to Herculaneum and it was great. We hopped on the morning train to Naples Centrale, headed downstairs to catch the Circumsuviana train to Ercolano and it is just down the street. The amount of wood still intact, the colors, and the frescoes still to see are why we also decided to do Herculaneum over Pompeii. We also wanted to see the museum in Naples, and did that in the mid-afternoon before catching an evening train back to Rome. I did a scrapbook of Sicily with a week in Rome and submitted it for the 20223 contest if you want to see pictures.

We also did Ostia Antica on a different day, and we loved that as well, especially the market area and all the mosaics, but to me it was actually quite different from Herculaneum. We are so glad we did both.