Pompeii from Rome is a must-do
You must visit the ruins of Pompeii when you are in Rome (unless you are visiting Naples too). The city went under metres of ash after the Vesuvius erupted 2000 years ago. But the preserved excavations of the streets and houses, are jaw-dropping to look at, even today.
Pompeii is quite a long way south of Rome, close to Naples, at the base of the Vesuvius volcano. But fortunately, if you plan your day well you can actually visit Pompeii and its surrounding areas even as a day trip from Rome.
Planning a trip to Pompeii from Rome
Take the fast train from Rome to Naples
Start early from Rome, and take the Freccia Rossa fast train from Rome Termini to Naples. The ride costs between 20 to 45 euros depending on how far in advance you can make the booking. And you will reach Naples in just over an hour. There are also slower trains like Eurostar that cost 10 euros lesser than a fast train but will take at least 30 minutes longer to reach Naples.
From Termini or Tiburtina?
Roma Termini is the more convenient choice for you to board a train to Pompeii. It has a more robust train schedule and a choice of trains and fares for your journey. Tiburtina has trains too but it is not convenient for most visitors. So you are better off taking the train from Termini.
Local train from Naples to Pompeii Scavi
Your best option is to take the Circumvesuviana local train to Pompeii Scavi, from Naples. Allow approximately 15 minutes for you to change over from the main platform to the local station platform. You do not need to make a reservation for the local train. Alight at Villa Dei Misteri station in Pompeii Scavi. The journey should take 30 minutes. From Naples, you have the option of taking a bus tour of Pompeii that takes you to the excavations, shows you around, and brings you back to Naples.
Do not consider driving down
It can be a gruelling 3-hour drive each way, from Rome to Pompeii. So I do not recommend driving down if you are looking to visit Pompeii from Rome for only a day trip. Driving down to Pompeii could start to make sense only if you are planning to stop by on your way further south to Amalfi Coast.
Should you take the bus tour?
There are in fact quite a few bus tours from Rome that leave for Pompeii and bring you back by the end of the day. You should carefully evaluate if this bus tour option works for you. Buses can be convenient but can cost up to €100 per person. And they don’t often give you the flexibility that a self-organized trip will be able to provide you.
Plan for a long day
You should gear up for a long day, if you decide to go on a day excursion to Pompeii, from Rome. The train journey from Rome to Naples is not that long but you still need to get into the station and then getting off and making the change over to the local train to Pompeii Scavi. Walking around Pompeii is also not very easy; there’s a lot to see and in the summer it can get quite hot.
Finally, when you’re done with the day and depending on whether you decide to go to Vesuvius or not, it will be quite late by the time you get to Rome. My advice would be to carry a snack and certainly stay hydrated never mind what time of the year it is.
Arriving in Pompeii
From the Villa dei Misteri station, the excavations of Pompeii are just about 3 minutes walk away. The site opens every morning at 8:30 AM so plan your travel accordingly. Entrance tickets are €11 euros per person. Visitors under 18 enter for free in respective of where you are from.
Guide or no guide?
It may be a good idea to hire an official personal guide to view the ruins of the city. However, there are many apps that you can download for free online that you can plug into and walk around at own pace. In any case, official guides don’t cost too much just about €10 per person, for a small group.
What to see and do in Pompeii on a day trip
The Villa of the Mysteries
The House of the Faun
The Temple of Apollo
This is one of the most popular sites in Pompeii. You will have seen many pictures of Mount Vesuvius in the background of the ruins of Pompeii. This is where that picture is taken. The Temple of Apollo was made in a style that combined Greek and Italian architecture.
The House of the Vetti
It is said that the wealthy people of the city lived in the house off the Vetti. You can see the amazing rich frescoes on the walls of this residence. They have been preserved as if nothing ever happened in the space.
If you have more time in Pompeii
Many visitors forget that Pompeii was actually a pretty large town before it was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius. So there is a lot to see here and some of the other famous attractions are the Temple of Jupiter, the House of the Tragic Poet, Casa Del Menandro, and the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre in the world!
Where to eat in Pompeii
Many visitors want to know where they can get something to eat in Pompeii because after all it is a long way away from Rome and Pompeii is not a big thriving city anymore. There are a couple of places in Pompeii where you can eat. The food is pretty decent and you will not go hungry. Another option is to pack a picnic or a snack and eat along the way. Make sure to carry a bottle of water with you at all times, in any case.
Pompeii from Rome as day trip is tiring
While visiting Pompeii is unforgettable, personally I would allow for more time than just a day to visit Pompeii from Rome. But there are enough brave hearts who do manage to take the train from Rome to Pompeii, and back, returning not too tired within 1 day. It is even possible to include a quick trip to the infamous Vesuvius volcano on the way back from Pompeii to Naples.
Rome to Pompeii needs a 14 hour day
If you plan this trip right, you will spend 4 hours of travel time (2 hours each way) during the day trip from Rome to Pompeii. This includes your changeover at Naples. If you are an energetic sort of traveller, go ahead and add that side trip from Pompeii to Vesuvius, on your way back to Naples. Travel time to the Vesuvius base itself is very short, but there is a bit of climbing involved. So assume that your visit to Vesuvius will add another 3 hours to the day.
Take the fast train from Rome to Naples
The best way is to book a round trip on train from Rome to Pompeii, on Trenitalia. Start your journey at Rome Termini station. Take the fast train to Naples, then transfer to the local commuter train from Naples to Pompeii station. Retrace your route back from Pompeii to Rome in the evening. You can book the entire Rome - Pompeii - Rome journey as one trip.
For cheaper tickets, book in advance
Budget to spend approximately 90 euros per person, just on travel for the day, to visit Pompeii from Rome. The Frecciarossa fast train from Rome to Naples is expensive at about 80 euros for the round trip but it covers the 170 mile journey in just over an hour. From Naples to Pompeii the tickets are about 6 euros for the round trip and the ride is approximately 40 minutes each way.
You can do this entire Rome to Pompeii day trip booking on Trenitalia. Sometimes you may not get the best options if you try and book the entire trip as one ticket. In such cases, break it up into 2 bookings: Rome-Naples-Rome, and Naples-Pompeii-Naples. Make sure you keep a few extra minutes at Naples stations to transfer between your arrival at Naples, and connecting departure for Pompeii.
Rome to Vesuvius?
Vesuvius is not very far from Pompeii as you can imagine, considering that the lava flowed pretty fast! It is possible to make a side trip to Vesuvius from Pompeii. So you can do it all in a day.
I recommend a Vesuvius tour bus from Pompeii; it is the most reliable way to do this trip on a day when you are trying to pack a lot in.
Of course if you are happy with a packed Rome to Pompeii day trip, that is great.
An option for you to consider is to spend 2 days in the area so you can visit
- Ercolano (Herculaneum)
Naples itself is a nice, compact city with great food (pizza!). There are also other archeological sites in the area. Oplontis, Stabiae, and Boscoreale are worth visiting. Ercolano and Pompeii are both very beautiful small cities that can be explored in a day. Naples is a perfect home base from which to explore the cities. You could also spend that second day at Amalfi Coast.
Personally, for me a day trip must not involve a journey of more than 3 hours. This post lists practical day trips from Rome. Instead of Pompeii, my suggestio would be to look at Ostia Antica excavations. You can explore ancient ruins and excavations at Ostia Antica, just 30 minutes by train from Rome's Piramide station.
One option for taking a day trip to Pompeii is to book a shuttle service. These services offer a comfortable, air-conditioned ride out to Pompeii, with Wi-Fi and an English speaking host on board. You can either use the shuttle service alone, or upgrade your tickets to include guided tours of the archaeological site.
Advantages - convenience and guides
Some of the biggest benefits of taking a shuttle service is that you do not need to navigate the public transport systems out to Pompeii, you get a guide with you the whole day, they will take you to lunch, and with some companies you get to go to some of the other points of interest.
For example, with companies like CityXplorer you will get to see some of the other interesting things in Naples before heading back to the city. They will also pick you up and drop you off at Rome's central station which is easy to get to.
Disadvantages - expensive and specific schedule
Reasons why you might not want to use the shuttle services are the prices (which can range from around €60-€150), but if the price is not an issue then this would be a comfortable and stress-free way of doing a day trip to Pompeii.
Another reason the shuttle services might not be a good option is that they do not run every day of the week. It is also faster to reach Pompeii and Naples by public transport, but again, the shuttle service would be a lot less stressful.