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Tour guide needed in Pompeii?

We are going to visit Pompeii and are wondering if we need a private guide to benefit from the site or can we do it on our own with an audio guide? Is it worthwhile to buy our tickets ahead of time?

Posted by
12 posts

We used a private tour guide for Pompeii several years ago and if we had to do it over again, we would get the audio guides and go on our own. I would have preferred to linger in certain areas longer and to have stopped at more of the sights. We feel like we missed a lot of Pompeii with a tour guide and will one day go back to visit again and go at our own pace. I cannot comment on how good the audio guide is since we did not do that and tickets were already purchased ahead of time with the private guide. We have found that if we take the Rick Steve's books along with us, that there is enough information in them on each sight to make a private guide not necessary. Just our preference.

Posted by
2328 posts

Shirley, my experience was the opposite from Janean's. I went through the Pompeii ruins, which are huge by the way, literally a whole city, by myself with the RS walking tour and map. I constantly found myself lost, as the street signs did not match my map, and I often went down lanes or sought sites that I found blocked for repairs. There are knowledgeable human guides hanging around the entry, for very reasonable prices, generally for a 2-hour walking tour. You can talk to a few in order to find one you like and can easily understand. Not only do they know the site thoroughly and can answer your questions, they also know which paths or sites are blocked on a given day, that no map or written guide will indicate. Then you can spend additional time to seek out specific other areas or re-visit some for more time. Depending on the time of year, realize that in summer it can get very hot at the ruins, and of course in winter it will get dark earlier. I don't think you need to buy tickets in advance, I know I did not and had no wait.

Posted by
2932 posts

Pompeii is in Italy. Shouldn't you be asking your questions in the Italy forum?

Posted by
21709 posts

I am with Larry a hundred percent. We almost always use a live tour guide because you can ask questions and gain insight that you just cannot get from a printed page. Prefer the private guide if possible but will take a group tour. A private can provide a lot of flexibility.

Posted by
208 posts

Ha! I'm with Larry on this... we've been to Pompeii TWICE, both times using Rick Steves audio tour, and ended up lost BOTH times. I would either rent the audio guide they provide, or have a private tour guide.

I love and use the RS audio tours in general, but I didn't have a lot of luck with this one.

Posted by
2 posts

I will also throw in Herculaneum. Really try to get to this city if you can. We found just as, if not more so, interesting as Pompeii. Herculaneum is smaller and you can absolutely do it yourself!

Posted by
98 posts

Thank you all very much. And sorry I posted this in the Greece forum!