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.
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 not currently possible. 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 is easy as train transportation to Herculaneum is cheap and frequent from Naples or Pompeii.
Cheapest Tickets to Visit the Herculaneum Ruins
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.
Basic admission tickets for the Herculaneum in 2023 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.
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.
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”. It is 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 (now conveniently available as an app too) may go to the front of the queue – less embarrassing when enquiring at the information counter first on where to go.
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.
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.
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 Monday — smaller sights at Pompeii and some museums are currently closed on Monday and many disappointed travelers head to Herculaneum instead.
Tips on Visiting the Herculaneum Excavations
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
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 generally making up the story as they go along.
Seeing Pompeii and Herculaneum on the Same Day
Time and transportation wise it is easy to combine Pompeii and Herculaneum in a single day trip. 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.
Seeing both Pompeii and Herculaneum on the same day may be 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. Also, Pompeii currently opens earlier than Herculaneum.
Getting from Herculaneum to Pompeii is easiest on public transportation. The simplest way is the Circumvesuviana train that connects Pompei Scavi – Villa del Misteri station and Ercolano station in 20 minutes (15 minutes on the DD express trains) at least twice per hour.
From Pompei Scavi take any train in the direction of Napoli, while from Ercolano take any train with Sorrento as the final destination. Buy tickets from the ticket window at the 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 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 or Pompei Scavi stations on at least twice-hourly trains. See Transportation to Herculaneum for more details.
For More on Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Naples:
- Save with the Campania Arte Card on Sightseeing Ticket and Transportation – now also available as an app — buy the Campania Arte Card online.
- Pompeii Excavations Archaeological Site: Top Tips on Visiting and Shortcuts, Buying Tickets and Booking Tours & Cheap Transportation to Pompeii
- Herculaneum Archaeological Site (Ercolano): Tips on Buying Tickets and When to Visit & Cheap Transportation to Herculaneum
- Visit the National Museum of Archaeology in Naples – home to the Farnese sculptures and the best artworks, mosaics, and frescoes from the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
- Book Tours to Pompeii, Herculaneum, or both at Get Your Guide.
- Buy Italian train tickets in English at Trainline — however, not possible for the commuter train to Ercolano or Pompeii — easy to buy at the station or use the Campania Arte Card.