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Herculaneum and Pompeii questions

We fly into Naples 8 Oct (Tuesday) around 11 AM and are staying in Sorrento that night. Our thought is to take a taxi to Herculaneum or/and Pompeii and catch a late Campania Express or Curreri bus, or taxi to Naples ferry, to Sorrento. Do taxis queue at Herculaneum? Are guides available for hire at Herculaneum, similar to Pompeii?........keeping in mind this is a Tuesday. Thanks

Posted by
7057 posts

Note that October is low[er] season (but not exactly deserted !) so you need to download a current set of ferry and or schedules. It can be hard to read them for months in advance, alas. Both Herc and Pomp have excellent, safe, free luggage check at the entrances. But Herculaneum is a long, downhill walk from the train station, while Pompeii is right across the street. Except for art history interests and so on, you don't need to go to both. (Opinion. I've been to both, plus Oplontis.) Pompeii has plenty of food inside, Herculaneum does not, and you cannot re-enter either site if you leave to eat.

Your budget for transportation is a factor. You have not revealed if you are unwilling to suffer the "gritty" Circumvesuviana (as opposed to the Campagnia Express) with (or without) luggage. It's really convenient and cheap. We went to Pompeii after setting up in our Sorrento hotel, as a most-of-a-day trip. Your preferences may be different. It is extremely common for posters on this site to visit one of the two, with luggage, on the way to either Sorrento or Naples.

I would not expect to find queuing taxis at either ancient site. The one-way distances are substantial, and if you book a car service, you have to (in effect) compensate them for an empty trip the other way. At least you won't have to pay waiting time. The question is whether you can know in advance when you are going to leave, and book a car (say, with your hotel's Concierge ... ) for that time?

I can't read your mind, but do re-read your post. I wonder if you described your objectives, instead of questions about specific services, you might get a better answer than I've given.

Edit: Typos

I don't understand why people say Herculaneum is better for people with limited time. That is like saying that Knott's Berry Farm is better than Disneyland (or that the Worcester Art Museum is better than the Boston Museum of Fine Arts) because you can do everything in one day. In fact, both Pompeii and Herculaneum are each PART of a MUCH larger city that remains buried under a modern city with the same name. In our lifetimes, the rest of these ancient cities will remain unseen by anyone. Perhaps you will feel some psychic satisfaction by "completing" Herculaneum, but you could spend the same amount of time and see the same number of villas in Pompeii. On a hot day, the walk to Herculaneum from the rail station is a big factor, time and comfort.

There are some differences in the way each city was destroyed, and some visitors feel that the scraps of wooden remains in Herculaneum make the city look more complete. There are some particularly famous spots in each city that are considered high points (like the Villa de Misteri in Pompeii) but you can't know in advance if they are closed or open to the public.

Posted by
15526 posts

My question would be: are you thinking of doing this right off an overnight, international flight?

Posted by
10858 posts

Hmm,...... While the general wisdom is to 'walk around' on arrival day, I suspect making that stroll be Pompeii is not what most really had in mind.

That is really ambitious after an overnight flight.

If truly dedicated to doing so, you might be able to do one, but not both on arrival day.

Posted by
3111 posts

I agree that this sounds awfully ambitious coming right off a transatlantic flight. Having been to both (and Oplontis AND Paestum) I'll advise that Herculaneum is much smaller and easier to see in a short time. Pompeii is an entire city and to do it justice you really need at least a half day on the ground inside the scavi.

So, I would advise including just Herculaneum on that first day, given that you need to end up in Sorrento. If you're really interested in visiting Pompeii, find a way to do it on another day when you have more time. If you're not going to have a car, there are guided tours of Pompeii that run out of Sorrento.

Posted by
10828 posts

Where is your flight to Naples originating? Are you coming off an international flight? There is no way I would/ could visit Pompeii on a jet lagged arrival day in Italy.

Posted by
15542 posts

How much luggage will you have? There is very little storage available in Herculaneum, more in Pompeii. Pompeii is twice as far from Naples as Herculaneum.

It makes more sense to continue on the Circumvesuviana to Sorrento than to backtrack to Naples.

Posted by
66 posts

We are indeed coming overnight from USA. Although not optimal, we have decided to visit Pompeii on the way to Sorrento and ruled out Herculaneum. This will in effect give us an extra day to explore the Sorrento/Amalfi area. With any luck we can be there 1-2PM, spend a few hours and continue. Seeing the warning on the Sorrento Insider website about the train service, and confirming it with the company (including Campania Express), and reading reviews here, we are going to avoid it if at all possible, although the company says it should improve after summer. The Curreri bus is a very viable alternative. We have also checked the ferries and will check again closer to our trip. Will we have any problem hiring a guide at Pompeii that time of day and year? Thanks for the feedback.

Posted by
1005 posts

I agree with the others that you need to reconsider your plan. I would travel directly to Sorrento on your arrival day. Use the "extra day" you talk about in your last post to visit Pompeii rather than spending more time in Sorrento/Amalfi. The site is extraordinary and worth visiting when you aren't suffering from jet-lag.

Posted by
15526 posts

Throwing my vote in with T. Having been to Pompeii twice, it's difficult for first-timers to get their head around just how vast and complex the excavation is. It's an attraction you REALLY need to be wide awake for, and more interesting than a lot of other things you'll see in the A.C./Sorrentine region. Along with the Vatican Museums in Rome, this is one Top 10 I'd never try and do right off a transatlantic flight.

I'm personally more concerned about you trying to do this right off the plane than the trains (which we've taken to/from Sorrento/Pompeii).

Posted by
15542 posts

I'll add some more downside - it's more likely to be sunny than not and you'll be there at the hottest part of the day (2-4 pm). There's almost no shade. Some of the most interesting streets are very difficult to walk in.

Posted by
245 posts

Some of the most interesting streets are very difficult to walk in.

Do you mean difficult physically (because of the terrain), or difficult in the full sun of a hot day?
I'm following this thread because I will be going to Italy in October and will be including Pompeii (+/= Herculaneum) in my travels. (I will visit from Naples - probably by Circumvesuviana train from Naples, but possibly from Sorrento.)

Posted by
15542 posts

Physically. The streets were paved with very large stones that are somewhat rounded. Originally, the gaps were filled in with earth and pebbles, but all that has been washed away, so you have to walk on the uneven, rounded surfaces of the original stones, with sometimes large gaps between them, and sometimes wheel ruts. There are sidewalks, but a some of them are too narrow for walking - maybe they were just a place where pedestrians could stand to allow vehicles to pass. And some of the sidewalks are pretty uneven too. It's not impossible, it's just not always easy. Some time ago I uploaded these photos to give folks an idea.