I’ll be honest, getting from Naples to Pompeii was one of the most frustrating travel experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve navigated airports, train stations, subway systems, and bus stations on six different continents and I’ve never had quite as much trouble as I did in the Naples Central Train Station. Google Maps, which is usually my go-to for flawless navigation failed me, and I couldn’t even find signage in Italian pointing me anywhere useful. But the good news is that you can learn from my mistakes and not have to waste your time running through a train station mall (three times) looking for your Naples to Pompeii train or wasting your money on a ticket for a train that leaves from a track that I still can’t confirm exists. Read on to find out how to get to Pompeii from Naples without the stress. I’ve also included sections on how to get to Pompeii from Rome and how to get to Pompeii from Sorrento. If you’re visiting from anywhere else, you’ll likely want to get yourself to one of those cities on your own and then follow directions from there. Unless you’re driving yourself, those will be your main options for train transportation.
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How to get to Pompeii from Rome
If you’re planning to do a day trip from Rome to Pompeii, you’ll want to get an early start. You should book an early morning train from Rome to Napoli Centrale. You can leave Rome from different train stations, so choose the departure location that’s most convenient for you, but you’ll want to make sure that you end up at Naples Central. Book using TrenItalia or Italo. These departures are fairly frequent, but you’ll want to book in advance. The cheapest fares will often sell out, so if you’re looking for budget travel you’ll want to book as soon as possible, especially if you’re traveling during high tourist season.
The direct train from Rome to Naples should last around an hour and fifteen minutes. There are also slower options that make stops along the way. You’ll have a car and seat assigned so you won’t need to worry about getting stuck standing.
Once you arrive at Napoli Centrale, you can head to the Circumvesuviana ticket office to purchase your ticket for the shorter train to Pompeii. Instructions for the rest of your journey are just below in the “How to get to Pompeii from Naples” section.
For your return trip from Pompeii to Rome, you’ll take the Circumvesuviana train back to Naples Central. Remember: Napoli Centrale isn’t the last stop on the line, so be sure you’re paying attention. Once you’re there, you’ll board your TrenItalia or Italo train back to Rome. If you’ve pre-booked your train back to Rome, be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get back from Pompeii before your departure time. Remember that the Pompeii ruins are large and it may take you longer to reach the exit than you realize, you may need to wait for a while for a Circumvesuviana train to arrive, and if it’s really crowded, you may need to wait for a second one.
If you’d rather take a tour for your day trip from Rome to Pompeii, here are a few options:
How to get to Pompeii from Naples
Whether you’re staying in Naples, on a cruise port day there, or doing a day trip from Rome to Pompeii, you’re going to have to pass through the Napoli Centrale train station (unless you’ve arranged a special tour). The Naples to Pompeii train you want is called the Circumvesuviana line. It operates regularly, so there’s no need to book a specific time slot for your tickets. Napoli Centrale serves trains that run throughout Italy and connects to an underground station servicing the local metro and Circumvesuviana trains. Don’t bother looking for a map of it. The official train station’s site only shows the shopping options available and the Circumvesuviana website’s links all take you to Wayback Machine pages that redirect and don’t load. But you basically need to head downstairs and pass the Galleria (the large mall I got to run through a bunch of times). Don’t make the mistake I did and buy a ticket for a TrenItalia route, because had I ever actually found the track I was looking for, I would’ve ended up in teh
It gets louder and louder as you approach the Circumvesuviana ticket area because even on the off-season day I visited Pompeii, the crowd trying to buy tickets from Naples to Pompeii was large. And there were no ticket kiosks, so everyone had to wait in line to get up to one of the windows. And when I say “line,” I really mean a crowd of people cutting in front of each other, so if you ever want to reach the front, you pretty much have to stick your nose two inches from the person in front of you and stand your ground. It’s not the most fun experience for someone with American personal space sensibilities, but you’ll eventually get your ticket. Be sure to buy one for the Naples-Sorrento line. I’m told that you can get them from tobacco stands in the station, but when I inquired at one hoping to skip the line, I was met with confusion.
Trains depart approximately every half hour, so as soon as you get your ticket, you’ll want to head through the turnstiles and down to the tracks. I was lucky and didn’t have to wait very long for a train. Which was good because there was nowhere to sit to wait and I’m not sure I would’ve wanted to use a bench if there was. I try not to be too judgey when I travel, but this part of the train station was filthy. Having ridden trains in other European cities like Berlin, Paris, and Rome, my expectations were a little higher, but the Circumvesuviana station and its trains made New York City’s subway seem clean in comparison. Be prepared for that.
That being said, the service ran on time and despite feeling a little rickety, delivered me from Naples to Pompeii and then back again from Pompeii to Naples. The trains running this route are super crowded – I considered myself lucky to be standing next to the window both ways so I could at least lean one direction without touching anyone. We were packed in body-to-body even in slow season, so peak tourist season will likely be crazy.
One tip I found (that I didn’t test) was to walk to the Piazza Navona station where the routes officially start and end if you want to guarantee yourself a seat. It’s supposed to take about 8 minutes for the walk, so it may be worth it if you have time. The ride to the Pompeii train station (called Pompeii Scavi) takes around 40 minutes, with several stops in between. It’s not easy to keep track of while you’re on the train, but missing the station would be difficult because 90% of the passengers exited at Pompeii. If you see a mass exodus happening, you’re probably at the right stop. From the train station, you’ll file out with the crowd and you’re only a short walk away from the entrance to the Pompeii ruins.
For your return trip from Pompeii to Naples, just head back to the Pompeii train station and buy a ticket back to Napoli Centrale. There is only one set of tracks running through here, so as long as you make sure you’re on the side of the station heading toward Naples (once again, look for the crowds), it’ll be hard to miss. We were packed in again for the return trip to Naples, so be prepared to stand unless you get lucky.
If you’d rather travel from Naples to Pompeii as part of a tour, here are some options:
How to get to Pompeii from Sorrento
If you’re visiting Pompeii from Sorrento, you’ll be taking the Circumvesuviana train toward Naples/Napoli. There are regular departures from the Sorrento train station. There is no need to pre-book these tickets. The train will make several stops along the way, and you’ll exit at the Pompeii Scavi train station. The trip should take you around half an hour. From the Pompeii train station, you’re just a short walk from the entrance to the archaeological site.
To return to Sorrento from Pompeii, you’ll just return to the Pompeii Scavi train station and purchase a return ticket. There is only one set of tracks there, so as long as you’re on the side to return to Sorrento, it’ll be hard to miss the train. The side for returning to Naples will likely be more crowded as tourists heading to Naples and Rome will be there, so you may even get lucky enough to snag a seat.
If you’d rather book a tour, here are some options:
Check out these other posts about Italy:
- 10 Awesome Things to Do in Pompeii (Plus All the Tips You Need to Plan a Visit)
- Itinerary for Two Days in Rome, Italy
- Visiting Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome
- Touring the Top Level of the Colosseum
- What to See at the Musei Capitolini in Rome
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