Planning when to go to Pompeii archaeological site, where to buy tickets, and how to visit make a self-guided day trip to the excavations site easy, cheap, and more enjoyable.
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.
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 – this is usually only possible at the Porta Marina entrance 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:
- €15 – full adult admission ticket entry fee. (No senior discounts are given.)
- €9 – 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 (skipping lunch to buy a ticket on a normal day may be a better savings option).
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.
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 two entrances: the main entrance Porta Marina directly across the road from the Pompeii Scavi train station (and near the Zeus camping terrain with safe parking) and the Piazza Anfiteatro (nearer the modern Pompei town and Pompei FS train station).
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 but visitors will have to trek back uphill again after buying tickets.
It is possible to exit Pompeii, but not enter, at the Villa dei Misteri – it is a long, boring walk back to Pompeii Scavi station but the road is relatively flat – around 800 m / half a mile.
Some tour groups, and especially cruise ship excursions, may use alternative entrances. Currently, re-entry passes are only available at the Piazza Anfiteatro entrance.
Pompeii Scavi Visiting Opening Hours
Pompeii Scavi is open from 9:00 on weekdays (weekends from 8:30) and closes at 17:00 from November to March and 19:30 from April to October. The last admission is 90 minutes before closing.
The Pompeii archaeological site is only closed on January 1, May 1, and December 25.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 at Pompeii with the Campania Arte Ticket
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.
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
- Tips on Visiting the Pompeii Excavations near Naples in 2020 — previous Tips and Shortcuts are not useful while social-distancing rules are in place.
- Pompeii: Buying Tickets and Visiting the Excavations on Tours
- Cheap Transportation to Pompeii
- Tips on Buying Tickets to Visit Herculaneum near Pompeii and Naples in 2020 — the previous system is unlikely to return before the end of 2021.
- Transportation to the Herculaneum Archaeological Site
- 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.