Buy Tickets and Tips on Visiting Pompeii Excavations near Naples

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by Henk Bekker

in Campania, Italy, N24, Naples

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.

Tour Groups at Popeii

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 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.

Buy Pompeii Excavation Entrance Tickets in 2024

The entrance tickets and passes to visit the excavations of Pompeii changed and in 2024 the following basic ticket options are available:

  • Pompeii Express (€18) — covers most of the excavations of Pompeii but NOT the Villa dei Misteri area. Many visitors may find this sufficient.
  • Pompeii Plus (€22) — includes the Pompeii Express area as well as the Villa dei Misteri, Villa di Diomede, and Villa Regina in Boscoreale with the Antiquarium. A very full day of sightseeing.
  • Grande Pompei (€26) — includes the Pompeii Plus sites as well as Oplontis (Villa di Poppea) and Stabia (Villa San Marco, Villa Arianna, and Libero D’Orsi Museum). It is valid for three days. A similar My Pompeii Card is €35 and valid for a year.

A free shuttle bus is available for ticketholders to connect between Pompei, Boscoreale, Oplontis, and Stabia.

Thus far in 2024, the cheapest online tickets for Pompeii are sold by TicketOne — the site is often a bit confusing though. GetYourGuide is far easier to use.

Buying Tickets for the Pompeii Excavation Site

 
GetYourGuide

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 – Pompeii Express: full adult admission ticket entry fee to most of Pompeii city. (No senior discounts are given.)
  • €22 — Pompei +: adult admission to central Pompeii and the Villa dei Misteri and Boscoreale area. The ticket must be shown when passing from the main Pompeii park through the Porta Ercolana (top left on standard maps) to the necropolis and Villa dei Misteri area.
  • €2 – reduced fee for young adults (18 to 24) from the European Union (ask for Pompeii+ when buying)
  • 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 or early afternoon if visitor numbers are too high. (Skipping lunch to finance 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 Afternoon Arrivals

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. 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.

Fresco in the Villa dei Misteri at the excavations of Pompeii

It is possible to exit Pompeii, but not enter, at the Villa dei Misteri — now only accessible for visitors with a Pompeii Plus ticket. The free shuttle bus to Boscoreale / Villa Regina departs from here but it also an easy walk.

This exit may be closer to car parks but it is otherwise a long, boring walk back to Pompeii Scavi station. 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

Visit Pompeii No Queues

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).

GetYourGuide

The Best Times to Visit Pompeii

Pompeii Backstreets

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.

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 at how many other visitors could gather in front in the critical few minutes).

Mt Vesuvius Seen from the Forum in Pompeii

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.

Pompeii Grand Theatre

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 — eavesdrop for free information from their 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

Pompeii Lupanara Entrance

Changes in the railway schedule made it more difficult to see both Pompeii and Herculaneum on the same day. (Previously, the two archaeological sites were only 20 minutes apart on very frequent trains — many guidebooks still have this outdated information.)

See Transportation to Herculaneum for options. However, if staying in Naples and time 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 attracts 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

Pompeii Wall Paintings

The three-day Campania Arte Ticket is a great savings deal for solo travelers. It 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.

In 2024, the Campania Arte is only available in digital form as a mobile phone app — physical cards are no longer sold. Buy the Campania Arte Card online and download the app in advance in an area with good wifi, or even better, before traveling.

See Save with the Campania Art Ticket on Cultural Sights and Transportation for more details.

For More on Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Naples:

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Henk Bekker in armor

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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