Tips on Buying Tickets and Visiting Herculaneum near Pompeii and Naples

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by Henk Bekker

in Campania, Italy, N24, NAdX, Naples

Buy tickets online, or use the Campania Arte card, and visit early morning or late afternoon for the best Herculaneum experience.

The best time to visit the Herculaneum excavations is early morning to buy the cheapest tickets onsite and to enjoy a pleasant quiet visit to the archaeological site in Ercolano near Pompeii and Naples. Online tickets and group tours also allow for skip-the-line entry.

Buy tickets to visit the excavations of Herculaneum either online or cheaper at the site early morning.

The excavations of Herculaneum are usually less crowded than Pompeii but it is still sensible to arrive early in the morning, or late afternoon, when ticket queues are shorter and the site quieter. The cheapest tickets for the Herculaneum are sold onsite but the Campania Arte Card offers great savings too and allows for some skip-the-line benefits at busy times. Online tickets always have a slight surcharge but are sensible to assure priority entry on busy days. Specific timeslot reservations are currently in use. Guided tours and day trips are easy to book and often allow for seeing the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii on the same day. Admission is free for children under 18 and EU nationals over 65. Getting to Ercolano Scavi Vesuvio is easy as train transportation to Herculaneum is cheap and frequent from Naples.

2024: the train line to Herculaneum changed — many guidebooks still have outdated information.

Cheapest Tickets to Visit the Herculaneum Ruins

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The cheapest tickets for the excavations of Herculaneum (Scavi di Ercolano) are sold at the ticket windows directly at the archaeological site. Arrive early at opening time, or buy online in advance — on busy days often worth the inevitable surcharge. Time-slot reservations are currently used at Herculaneum making it sensible to book in advance and also reserve a free time-slot if using a pass such as the Campania Arte card.

Basic admission tickets for the Herculaneum in 2024 are:

  • €13 for adults
  • €2 for young EU nations aged 18 to 24
  • Free for all children under 18
  • Free for EU nationals over 65
  • Free for all on the first Sunday of the month (could be unpleasantly busy)

Most visitors to Herculaneum need to pick up a ticket at the ticket window, including exchanging online vouchers or mobile tickets at the priority access queue. However, an increasing number of QR codes may be scanned directly too. (A paper printout is sensible, especially if booking an audioguide.)

TIP: Pick up the map and information booklet at the information stand near the ticket window – the maps are not available once past the ticket checkpoint and re-entries are not allowed. These maps often run out — download a map or get a good guidebook before visiting if not planning on using an audio guide. (The official map and guide are available at the official Herculaneum website — search for “la miniguida degli Scavi di Ercolano”, or use Google translate and scroll down to the downloadable pdf files on the “Informazione per la visita” page. These maps and guides are available in several languages and far more comprehensive than the “mini” in the name might suggest!)

Herculaneum often does not operate a clear fast-lane skip-the-queue ticket window but visitors with online tickets or the Campania Arte Card (in 2024 only available as a mobile phone app) may go to the front of the queue – although booking a free time slot is even more sensible.

Priority entrance tickets to Herculaneum come at a price premium and may be worth it at busy times but are usually not required when arriving early morning, late afternoon, or outside the high season.

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Excavations of Herculaneum Opening Hours

The Excavations of Herculaneum (Scavi di Ercolano) are open daily:

  • mid-March to mid-October: 8:30 to 19:30
  • mid-October to mid-March: 8:30 to 17:00

Last admissions are 90 minutes before closing but note that some sights are already closed long before the official closing time of the park. The archaeological area must be vacated around half an hour before the stated closing time.

The Excavations of Herculaneum are closed only on 1 January, 1 May, and 25 December.

The Herculaneum was closed on Wednesdays in recent years but is currently open every day of the week with 25 December and 1 January the only closed days.

Best Times to Visit the Excavations of Herculaneum

The best times to visit the excavations of the Herculaneum are early morning or late afternoon. Directly at opening time ticket queues are short and the site generally remains peaceful for at least the first hour.

Similarly, arriving around two hours before closing time will see the ruins either quiet or getting progressively more peaceful. The park is usually busiest between 11:00 and 14:00.

The archaeological site of Herculaneum is busier on weekends and during school holidays and best avoided on the first Sunday of each month when admission is gratis. (The number of visitors allowed in is more limited than at Pompeii.)

Also, try not to visit on Tuesday — smaller sights at Pompeii and some museums are currently closed on Tuesday and many disappointed travelers head to Herculaneum instead.

Tips on Visiting the Herculaneum Excavations

Herculaneum Mosaic Detail

The excavations of Herculaneum are much smaller than Pompeii – visitors enjoy an overview of the complete site while walking from the main entrance gate to the ticket window. Around 40 houses are described – not all will be open. Information in the archaeological area is rather limited — take a good guide.

Guided tours to Herculaneum rarely exceed two hours and much less walking is required than at Pompeii.

Also in contrast to Pompeii, many buildings at Herculaneum have roofs making afternoon shade more common. Food and drinking options at Herculaneum are truly dismal and once off the modern paved area, no water or toilets are available in the excavated ruins area.

Day-Trips and Guided Tours to Herculaneum

Herculaneum Fresco Detail 1263

It is easy to reach and explore Herculaneum alone but guided tours are available and a good guide certainly could add value by pointing out elements otherwise easily missed.

For families and small groups, a private tour may be sensible as it may even work out cheaper and has the benefit of not having to wait for others to take selfies, etc. Kids-friendly family tours are also available.

Pre-booked guides could sort out tickets in advance while available guides may advertise at the ticket windows for spontaneous bookings. As at other major Italian archaeological sites, all guides at Herculaneum are state-certified and thus knowledgeable and not making up the story as they go along.

Seeing Pompeii and Herculaneum on the Same Day

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2024: the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum are no longer on the same train line making it more complicated and time-consuming to see these two popular sights on the same day when using public transportation (but a good option on guided tours). Many guidebooks have outdated information and still list Ercolano-Scavi as a stop on all trains heading for Pompei Scavi (and Sorrento).

Trains from Naples to Pompeii or Herculaneum are frequent but the Ercolano-Scavi-Vesuvio and Pompei-Scavi-Villa-dei-Misteri stations are now on different lines. Travelers from Pompeii (or Sorrento) to the Herculaneum usually must change trains.

The following train options are available for travel between the Herculaneum and Pompeii archaeological sites:

  • For travel between Ercolano-Scavi-Vesuvio and Pompei-Scavi-Villa-dei-Misteri (or Sorrento) stations, the expensive Campania Express trains remain an option but are realistically only available twice a day for sightseeing purposes. The more realistic option is the Circumvesuviana commuter train but except for early morning and evenings, a train change is now required. It is sometimes possible to change at Torre Annunziata-Oplonti station but often it is best to backtrack via Naples Garibaldi.
  • A further option from Pompeii to Ercolano-Scavi station is to use the L4 Napoli-Poggiomarino Circumvesuviana commuter train from Pompei-Santuario station, which is a 5 to 10-minute walk from the Amphitheatre exit of the Pompeii archaeological site. This station is on the opposite side of the park from the Pompei-Scavi-Villa-Misteri station. Check maps and timetables in advance, as this is not the main tourist route.

Visiting both Pompeii and Herculaneum on the same day is tough on feet and legs but this largely depends on physical condition, the weather, and how extensively Pompeii is explored. It may be sensible to see Pompeii first -– Herculaneum requires far less walking and distances are shorter once inside the archaeological site.

However, given the ease of transportation, travelers staying in Naples may prefer to visit on separate days — Ercolano is only 20 minutes by train from Garibaldi station.

Many day trips from Naples and Sorrento combine Pompeii and Herculaneum on a single-day tour but be careful of too cheap tours that do not include admission or offer no guide at the archaeological sites. For small groups and families, it may be sensible – and often even cheaper – to book a private tour. Using public transportation and meeting the guide at Pompeii rather than in Napels also saves money.

Transportation to Herculaneum

Herculaneum is easily reached from the Ercolano station on the Circumvesuviana commuter train from Naples, Pompeii, or Sorrento. Traveling time is only 20 minutes from Napoli Garibaldi on at least twice-hourly trains but more complicated than previously if traveling from Pompei or Sorrento. See Transportation to Herculaneum for more details.

For More on Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Naples:

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About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to European-Traveler.com, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.

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