Help with day trip from Rome to Pompeii

Just over a month until we leave for Europe... its our first trip overseas and we are nervous & excited. This forum has helped so much so I have one last plea... ;o)

We are a family of 5, my husband and I with our three sons age 17, 14 & 12.
We will be in Rome for the final 4 nights of our vacation and want to do a day trip to Pompeii. Ideally we would like to do Pompeii, Herculaneum & Mt. Vesuvius. We would like to piece it together and know with help we can do this. The tours are convenient but very expensive for a family of 5 & not flexible. My questions are:

  1. Train vs bus... looks like train is a lot faster & seems fairly easy. We think we would travel from Roma Termini to Central Station in Naples & then take a smaller train (Circumvesuviana) to the Pompeii station named Scavi?? Should we book the Rome to Naples return trip ahead of time? I think we are okay to purchase the rest when we are there.
  2. Can you hire a guide right at Pompeii?? Approximate cost for that? How long do you normally spend there? We are all healthy & the boys are interested in seeing it. We did hear about the Mondo group & have signed up for their Rick Steves tour but it is dependent on others also signing up so we want a back up plan.
  3. What order do you suggest we travel to see the three sights? Is there transportation between each? I am not sure how to get to Mt. Vesuvius or Herculaneum.

If any of you experienced travellers have tips we would be so grateful. Thank you in advance.


Prince George, BC Canada

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
1816 posts
  1. Yes, you are correct regarding your methods of transport from Rome going down to Naples/Pompeii/Vesuvius. No need to book that ahead of time. Just leave very early in the morning and plan on a late night with everything you are trying to pack into that one day. I think that all three sights might be a bit much - you can easily see Mt. V from the places you are visiting. Maybe skip actually going up the mountain unless this is a top priority for you?
  2. Yes, you can hire a guide right there at the entrance to Pompeii. Do some research ahead of time to determine specifically what you want to see, tell the guide and, depending on your time, ask them what else might be of interest besides what you've planned. We spent an entire day at Pompeii and still didn't see even half of it - it's a lot larger than we thought! Go with a plan and you'll get a good overview.
  3. I'll let others comment on this as I have never attempted all of these in one day. Again, I think you should pare it down if you can.
Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
6723 posts

All three might be a little too much. Pompeii is indeed rather huge. Also the last fast train back to Rome from a Naples departs at 1930 hours. Considering that Pompeii and Ercolano are similar (both ruins) you might want to choose only one. You should also consider a quick tour of Naples (piazza Plebiscito etc)

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
9942 posts

Herculaneum (Ercolano Scavi) is on the same Circumvesuviana route; you could make that stop either en-route to Pompei Scavi, or on the return. You can get a good view of the mountain without going to it. Different bus companies run from either Pompei Scavi or Ercolano Scavi station up the hill to Vesuvius, about 3 hours roundtrip and there's also a steep, 30-minute hike uphill from the bus stop; see p. 1061 if you have Rick's Italy book. His star system rates the sites in this order: Pompei (3), Naples Arch Museum (3, to see the art removed from the historic sites), Herculaneum (2, less grand, but much less crowded), and Vesuvius (0 but worth knowing about).

If you reserve ahead for your morning train departure, are you confident of your ability to herd all those boys onto the train by 8:45? 9:20? 10:00? If you'd rather leave it open, I would not be terribly worried about the trains selling out, although you might not all get seats together.

Posted by Kim
Prince George, BC, Canada
15 posts

Thank you very much. We do have Rick Steve's Italy book and have figured much of that out. It isn't so much 'seeing' Mt. Vesuvius as getting some good exercise which motivates us to want to climb up! :o) Herding 3 boys... HA!