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A Day Trip to Pompeii and Herculaneum, Italy

Written by Gia Kristel Algie

Do you ever watch TV series set in ancient Rome and wonder if they’re actually based on real history? I’ve been watching the second season of Spartacus recently and it’s interesting how Mount Vesuvius has been mentioned in the story a few times. Having visited Pompeii before, it’s bizarre how close these sets are to what we had seen.

I read an article where a historian noted accuracies and inaccuracies in the comedy TV series, Plebs. It’s hard to say how accurate they portray history in these TV shows but it’s fascinating how close we can capture life in those ancient times. One of the greatest keys to unraveling what life was like in ancient Rome was the discovery of the ancient Roman City of Pompeii.

If you’re planning a trip to Italy, a day trip to Pompeii and Herculaneum is one you shouldn’t miss. We visited these two historic sites from Naples but you can easily visit them straight from Rome too.

READ MORE: 10 Days in Italy Itinerary: Venice, Rome and the Amalfi Coast

Pompeii

Located in the Campania region, near Naples, Pompeii is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Italy today. It’s claim to fame is its near destruction after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and its incredibly preserved state after this city buried under meters of ash was discovered in 1748. It’s impressive how much modern society has learnt from studying this well preserved ancient Roman city of Pompeii. From the layout of the cities to how they may have cooked in their kitchens and even how they may have spent their leisure time. The buildings, artifacts and skeletons left behind in the buried city have taught us a great deal about everyday life in the ancient Roman times.

As we slowly walked along the cobblestone streets of Pompeii, we were taken back to the Roman times. Despite sharing the site with thousands of other historical enthusiasts, Pompeii is a fascinating place to get a glimpse of what daily life was like back then.  We wandered along narrow alleys and explored once luxurious residences, temples and thermal baths. We discovered a variety of artifacts which gave us indications of whether the person who lived in a residence was of a certain class. We walked along once famous brothels and busy workshops. We stood upon the old amphitheater and wondered what it would have been like to be one of the spectators during one of those gladiator fights. We went up one of the view points to get a better view of the city from above. With Mount Vesuvius clearly seen from the backdrop, it’s incredible to see how much of the city had survived. A visit to Pompeii was like a trip to a movie set, but in this case, everything was real.

Herculaneum

While it’s smaller in scale in comparison to Pompeii, Herculaneum boasts amazing frescoes and mosaics that are sure to impress. The buildings may be smaller in Herculaneum but a lot of it has been kept intact with roofs still in place! Due to its size, it’s also an easier place to explore and wander around without a guide.

If you’re to visit both Pompeii and Herculanuem on a day trip, make sure to visit Pompeii first and then head to Herculaneum in the afternoon.

Travel Tips for Your Visit to Pompeii and Herculeneum

Tickets for Pompeii and Herculaneum

Pompeii and Herculaneum can be visited using a combined pass worth €20. Alternatively, you can get the Campania Artecard for €32, like we did. The Artecard gives you entry to 2 attractions (we chose Pompeii and Herculaneum but there are countless others to see in the Campania region). The Artecard also includes discounts for the other historical attractions and unlimited public transport for 3 days. If you’re staying in Naples and looking to go on some day trips to the archaeological sites and the Amalfi Coast, the Artecard becomes really good value. You can get it at the train station or online. There are also other varieties of the Artecard depending on the number of days you plan to visit.

How to Get to Pompeii and Herculaneum from Naples

Pompeii and Herculaneum is an easy day trip from Naples, or from anywhere else in the Campania region. From Naples Central Station, take the Circumvesuviana (45 minutes to Pompeii, 25 minutes to Herculaneum), a train that runs from Naples to Sorrento, the gateway to the Amalfi Coast. Pompeii and Herculaneum (Ercolano) have their own stations, and the sites are only a few minutes walk from the train station.

Do you have plans to visit Pompeii and Herculeneum? Are you currently planning a trip to Italy? Let us know.

About the author

Gia Kristel Algie

Currently based in New Zealand, Gia grew up in Manila, lived in Singapore for three years and travelled the world for nearly two years. From watching sunsets to hiking mountains, she loves the outdoors. She enjoys living in big cities but takes pleasure staying in quaint, small towns. An aspiring photographer and budding writer, she is the voice behind Mismatched Passports, a travel blog dedicated to the journey around the world with her husband, Jon.

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