Top tips for visiting the Pompeii excavations archaeological site near Naples: buy skip-the-line tickets online, visit early morning or late afternoon, take a good map, or book guided tours in advance.
The excavations of Pompeii near Naples are justifiably among the most popular sights and day-trip destinations in Italy. The Roman ruins at this vast archaeological site are an absolute must-see, three-star sight. Individuals may visit Pompeii for relatively cheap by buying tickets on-site and using the local train. A visit to Pompeii is infinitely more enjoyable without crowds so visit early or late in the day and use the correct entrances. The Campania Arte Card is a great savings deal for individual travelers seeing several cultural sights in the Naples area. Skip-the-line tickets are available online at a surcharge but time-slot reservations are not currently in use. In the high season, guided tours are a good option for priority entrance at a specific time without waiting in queues.
Buying Tickets for the Pompeii Excavation Site
Everybody visiting the excavations of Pompeii needs a paper ticket irrespective of how or where a ticket voucher was purchased. Online tickets and mobile phone tickets must still be exchanged for a paper ticket. Depending on where the ticket was bought, it must be exchanged at the specific entrance mentioned on the ticket, where a special fast lane is available for such voucher holders.
The basic ticket prices for Pompeii bought on-site are as follows – use these numbers to calculate any discount saving offers or convenience surcharges:
- €18 – full adult admission ticket entry fee. (No senior discounts are given.)
- €2 – reduced fee for young adults (18 to 24) from the European Union
- Free – all children under 18 years old
- Free – everybody on the first Sunday of the month, although the number allowed in at the same time may be restricted to prevent overcrowding. Gates may be closed for up to an hour late morning, early afternoon if visitor numbers are too high. (Skipping lunch to buy a ticket on a normal day may be a better savings option.)
The three-day Campania Arte Card Ticket is valid — see below for this fantastic savings deal.
TIP: Pick up the free map and guide booklet at the information office next to the ticket window – these are not available once inside the park, where directions and information are patchy at best. The maps and very comprehensive brochures may also be downloaded from the Pompeii website, where there is also a list of the buildings currently open (with opening times where relevant — many close already an hour or more before closing time).
Official audio guides are only available at the Porte Marina (Superiore) main entrance before entering the ticket area. It is €8 for the first adult and then €6.50 for each additional adult and €5 for children.
Pompeii is the Latin spelling usually used in English for the archaeological site. Pompei is used in modern Italian for both the archaeological excavation site (scavi) and the modern town. German uses Pompeji, French Pompéi, Dutch Pompeï, and Spanish Pompeya.
Pompeii Entrances and Ticket Windows
Pompeii has three entrances for individual visitors:
- the main entrance Porta Marina (Superiore) directly across the road from the Pompeii Scavi train station (and near the Zeus camping terrain with safe parking),
- a few minutes walk downhill is the Piazza Esedra or Porta Marina Inferiore entrance, and
- the Piazza Anfiteatro (nearer the modern Pompei town and Pompei FS train station).
It is essential to use the specific entrance specified on the online ticket. Otherwise, most visitors use the Porta Marina entrance and many of the vouchers (and audio guides) are only available here. If the queues here are very long, walk downhill to the Porta Marina Inferiore entrance where ticket queues are usually shorter — this entrance is also a good choice for visitors with mobility issues and to enter via the Antiquarium museum exhibition area. The site is commonly exited here rather than at the Superiore entrance.
It is possible to exit Pompeii, but not enter, at the Villa dei Misteri. Only use this exit if transportation is waiting here, otherwise, it is a long, boring walk back to Pompeii Scavi station but the road is relatively even – around 800 m / half a mile.
Some tour groups, and especially cruise ship excursions, may use alternative entrances.
Currently, re-entry passes are not issued. (It was previously often only available at the Piazza Anfiteatro entrance.)
Currently, the compulsory one-way systems of 2020 and 2021 are not enforced, although some houses may only be entered from a specific entrance. Should the routes be reintroduced, it is worth noting that it is allowed to do all routes, or combinations, as long as the one-way system is respected.
Pompeii Scavi Visiting Opening Hours
Pompeii Scavi is open daily from 9:00 and closes at 17:00 from November to March and 19:00 from April to October. The last admission is 90 minutes before closing but many indoor sites may close an hour or even more before the park closing time.
The Pompeii archaeological site is only closed on January 1, May 1, and December 25 but the Antiquarium and many of the minor sights are closed on Tuesdays.
The maximum number of visitors allowed inside the Pompeii archaeological park at any time (and per hour) is restricted. If on a tight time schedule, either arrive at opening time or book a guided tour in advance — it will cost more but ensure admission.
The maps and very comprehensive brochures may be downloaded from the Pompeii website, where there is also a list of the buildings currently open (with opening times where relevant — many close already at 16:00, or are open only on specific days).
The Best Times to Visit Pompeii
The best times to visit Pompeii are generally the same as for most major tourist sights: arrive early at opening time or visit later in the afternoon.
Avoid school holidays, weekends, especially long weekends, and particularly the first Sunday of the month when admission is free. July and August are not only crowded but often brutally hot.
Try to avoid Wednesday when the Herculaneum is closed and not helping to balance visitor numbers out.
Early morning is a good time to visit Pompeii for individual travelers using public transportation. The Circumvesuviana train from Naples will drop travelers outside the Porta Marina gate with ten minutes to spare – wait directly in front of the gate (or go for a coffee and be amazed how many other visitors could gather in front in the critical few minutes).
TIP for early birds: once inside the archaeological site, walk right past the Forum area to see some of the smaller indoor sights first. See the Forum on the way out – it was designed to cope with crowds already back in Roman times.
Visiting later in the afternoon is a good option too – arrive at least three hours before closing time (and more may not be a bad idea). Late afternoon visits have the added advantage that the site will get progressively quieter rather than busier.
Visit on a rainy day – it may spoil the photos but almost anyone with a choice will postpone a visit to the following day.
Most buildings at Pompeii are roofless making shade a rarity around noon.
Drinking fountains are scattered throughout the archaeological site but food options are very limited (and fairly dismal). Picnicking is allowed in certain areas.
The archaeological site of Pompeii is very big. It requires a lot of walking but also allows crowds to spread out a bit. Groups do crowd smaller buildings at times but do eavesdrop for free information from the guide and enjoy the site when the group has moved on.
Pompeii calculates that most visitors spend around three hours inside the archaeological park. Tour groups commonly “do” it in two hours while solo travelers often stay here considerably longer.
Visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum on the Same Day
It is easy transport-wise to see the excavations of both Pompeii and Herculaneum on the same say – the two archaeological sites are only 20 minutes apart. However, if staying in Naples and times allows, rather return to Naples for the afternoon and see the second sight on a different day – Ercolano is only 20 minutes from Garibaldi station. Combination tickets for Pompeii and Herculaneum may give small discounts, although there is no official combination ticket.
Herculaneum is far smaller than Pompeii and generally sees fewer visitors and crowds making it sensible to see Pompeii at an optimal time and visit Herculaneum later in the day. Herculaneum is physically far less demanding. Many guided tours include visits to both sites on the same day-trip tour.
Save with the Campania Arte Ticket when Visiting Pompeii
The three-day Campania Arte Ticket is a great savings deal for solo travelers. It currently costs €32 and includes unlimited public transportation in Naples and the Campania region, free admission to two sights, and up to 50% discount at a further 80 sites.
It pays for itself on a visit to Pompeii and say the Archaeological Museum in Naples when using public transportation with any further sights and train or metro rides adding to the savings. It also permits the use of skip-the-line counters and cuts out the need to queue for train tickets. Conveniently, it is now also available as a mobile app with no need to find a seller or physical card.
See Save with the Campania Art Ticket on Cultural Sights and Transportation 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.