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Visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum

Visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum

I have learnt that hostels offering breakfast can be hit and miss on just exactly WHAT is included. Luckily for me it seemed here in Naples I had hit the jackpot with toast and cakes along with a choice of juices and hot drinks to ready me for a day of exploring. Considering it was already getting melt your skin hot outside I was going to need as much food and drink as I could get for my planned visit to Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Packing the daypack I set off to first get back to the main Naples train station before finding the Circumvesuviana train line and hopping aboard the train to Sorrento which would take me where I needed to go. As it would turn out getting some cash from the cash machine would turn out to be the hardest task as security staff and a complicated door entry system to the bank made a 2 minute task take 15 minutes.

Eventually on the train I made it to my first stop off point at station Ercolano – Scavi where Herculaneum is located. Exiting the station you could be forgiven for thinking you were at the wrong spot or required a bus to get there given the huge sign that greets you. Well its all much easier than that, simple walk on past the sign and down the hill (5-10minute walk) to reach your destination.

Walking through the entrance gate you can look down and see the entire site of Herculaneum. Which when you discover the entry fee of 11 euro might be enough for some as you pay the same fee to enter Pompeii and it is several times larger. Still I was determined to look around after finding the place and I’m glad I did. The site is much better preserved given it was right on the edge of the volcano’s wrath so many years ago.

Herculaneum Italy

With Herculaneum seen it was time to hop back aboard the train and make my way to the next station of Pompeii Scavi. To find the entrance leave the station and head right walking down past the line of food vendors (note they charge a fortune so bring food with you) and you will find the entrance to Pompeii.

Handing over another 11 euro to enter I was off to explore. Now this place is huge and it’s worth getting a map (I didn’t) as I walked for just under 4 hours and I’m sure I still only covered half of what there was to see. Sure a lot of it all looks the same but inside each building you will find something new to see that survived the destruction the volcano dished out.

Pompeii Italy Building

It really is amazing to think that all of this still exists considering the volcano Vesuvius erupted in 79AD and buried everything. It is like the city was just frozen in time considering the pots and various other items that have been recovered from the site all still intact. Mind you the casts of people that died due to the disaster are a little spine tingling, they too were frozen in their scared, huddled state.

Pompeii Artifacts

Calling it a day I dragged my exhausted self back to the train and onwards to my hostel where I could relax and wash the layer of sweat/sunscreen/dirt off. Eventually resting on the couch and admiring my pictures form the day I learnt that the hostel was providing the meal tonight. Sure it was only spaghetti but hey it was spaghetti in Italy and it was free.

After the free feed a few of us headed out into the streets of Naples with one of the staff members at the hostel for a beer to relax. A day well spent if you ask me.

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45 Responses to Visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum

  1. INKA February 14, 2011 at 2:46 PM #

    Soo glad I found this post. Just what I needed to know as I’m headed for Italy next week on a prolonged tour first going north and then heading down to Naples and beyond. Pompeii is certainly on my agenda.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 16, 2011 at 9:15 AM #

      Enjoy Pompeii Inka it was a great day’s exploring for me. Just be sure to get a map or take a guide for part of the site so you don’t miss anything.

  2. CAM February 14, 2011 at 5:08 PM #

    WOW – looks awesome!
    Glad you got a proper hostel breaky too! Our best was in Prague. Love it when they get it right, hate it when its just a slice of white bread and cheap jam.
    Cheers!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 16, 2011 at 9:24 AM #

      Cam the breakfast was good and when I had spaghetti made for me as well that night I couldn’t have been happier. Free food always tastes good but this was awesome.

  3. PRIYANK February 14, 2011 at 5:40 PM #

    Hi Chris, I can’t go without big breakfasts. The only time I had a satisfying breakfast was last month in Merida – not only cereal, but fruit, drinks, crepes and omelets, it was fabulous and very indulging! These places look remarkably well preserved despite the fact that they were covered by lava. Happy trips!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 16, 2011 at 9:28 AM #

      Priyank I totally agree with you re a good breakfast. often with a hostel that provided me with breakfast I was still grabbing something an hour later when I got hungry again.

      Pompeii had some amazing spots that were really well preserved. I didn’t much like the spots that they had restored with new materials though. Sort of took away from the experience a little.

  4. ANDREW February 14, 2011 at 7:17 PM #

    Pompeii is on my Italy list. I still have not made it that far south. Though your mention of “melting hot” makes me thing spring or fall is a good time, not summer. Actually never heard of Herculaneum.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 16, 2011 at 9:32 AM #

      haha Andrew I took one photo of myself resting in a small section of shade I found and going by the look on my face I think spring or autumn is a good idea.

      I’d not heard of Herculaneum either until I started looking up about Pompeii. It’s a nice smaller version and is really well preserved. The reason for the smaller site is because so many houses etc that surround the site are build on the rest of the city and therefore cannot be excavated.

  5. REBECCA February 14, 2011 at 7:46 PM #

    So which hostel are you staying at again? so Herculaneum or Pompeii? if you had to choose..

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 16, 2011 at 1:25 PM #

      From memory Rebecca it was called the Welcome Inn but I’d have to look it up to be sure. As for which site… if you are short on time see Herculaneum as its closer and much smaller. Otherwise I’d see Pompeii for sure, the site just has so much to look at.

  6. SOPHIE February 14, 2011 at 8:59 PM #

    Been in Italy heaps, but never in Pompeii or Herculaneum. My 9-year-old is convinced Vesuv will erupt anew, so I must wait until I convince her otherwise 🙂

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 16, 2011 at 1:26 PM #

      Sophie lets hope you can convince that 9 year old of yours its safe to return as you have to spend some time there next time your in Italy.

  7. JOHNNY VAGABOND February 15, 2011 at 1:37 AM #

    I loved Pompeii and really enjoyed your write-up, mate. Not sure if it’s still there, but there used to be a campsite in an orange grove right by the ruins. We stayed there for several nights and saved a bundle.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 16, 2011 at 1:28 PM #

      Hey Wes cheers for the kind words. I didn’t go looking for a campsite but I do vaguely remember seeing fruit trees all over the place so maybe.

  8. MICHAEL HODSON February 15, 2011 at 1:58 AM #

    never have been… yet. Obviously need to go. Thanks.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 16, 2011 at 1:29 PM #

      Damn right you need to go Michael. Perhaps a detour to get some extra miles on the train challenge this year?

  9. CANDICE February 15, 2011 at 4:21 AM #

    This post KILLS me…I need to go here before Pompeii is shutdown forever!!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 16, 2011 at 1:31 PM #

      Maybe not shutdown Candice but definitely before the place has had too many refurbishments done to it. I think they were looking to excavate more of it when I was there as well.

  10. CATIA February 15, 2011 at 10:59 AM #

    Visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum was probably my favourite part of my time in Italy. Did you get the time to climb up Vesuvius while you were there? Beautiful view from the top!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 16, 2011 at 1:34 PM #

      Hi Catia, no I never made it up to Vesuvius as I just ran out of time for the day. I want to try and make it there this year as I’m jealous of the view you must of had.

  11. TRAVEL EDITS February 15, 2011 at 11:37 AM #

    Wow sounds like you were sorted there with all the freebies!:) Great photos, always amazed at how these sites have stood the test of time…

  12. AYNGELINA February 16, 2011 at 12:11 AM #

    Breakfast is always hit and miss, I remember that my hostel in Florence had a buffet of amazing food – in fact that is all I remember about it.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 16, 2011 at 1:57 PM #

      Why does it not surprise me Ayngelina that all you remembered was the food 🙂

  13. ABBEY HESSER February 16, 2011 at 4:49 AM #

    I found it amazing that this place was in such good condition after touring the Roman Forum and the ruins there. To think, we can barely keep the Coliseum together, but we have no problem maintaining the state of porn paintings on the walls of an ancient whorehouse in some rando city. Quite amazing, if you ask me, and 100% worth a stop for anyone who’s got the time.

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 16, 2011 at 2:01 PM #

      Abbey I’ve heard that about Rome and can’t believe it either. I’d like to say its because of all the tourists but Pompeii is busy too and your free to roam about and do as you please. You see a security guard now and then but otherwise I am sure you have much greater freedom than the Coliseum.

      One section I wandered into and sat down for 15 minutes or so and could have done as I pleased.

      • CHASING TRADE WINDS March 31, 2011 at 5:50 PM #

        Great post, we really loved wandering around Pompeii earlier this year. Quick tip: we got a good, detailed map for free from the visitor’s center. Wonder if they’re still handing those out? Course, the books or detailed maps for sale offer a good deal more info.

        Also, I think the Coliseum was a working building that was essentially looted by various leaders, and particularly the Catholic church, over the past thousand years. Pompeii, though, was covered in volcanic ash and was excavated as a scientific site. Hence the difference in conservation states! Could be wrong though …

  14. TRAVEL February 17, 2011 at 1:21 PM #

    On a previous tv documentary on Discovery, i was negatively surprised to see that now days, Pompeii has a major risk to be covered again by the vulcano eruption. I mean, that even now , all the experts from the area are seying high activity on the vulcano. More then that, the city now counts up to 2 million people and it would be very hard to evacuate all the people in a short time, before the erruption would happen.

  15. JUNO February 18, 2011 at 8:57 AM #

    Wow, would you look at that! So beautiful. After all that many things happened, it looks amazingly original.
    Thanks for the post Chris!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 18, 2011 at 9:37 AM #

      Juno it really is amazing to walk around and picture the fact its all survived over 2000 years now.

  16. CLARE APPLEYARD February 22, 2011 at 1:20 PM #

    Great post Chris! We were in Pompeii in February last year and would have loved to have been able to spend more time in Pompeii – unfortunately guided tours often fall down on substance, as we found.

    We didn’t get to Herculaneum, but next time, definitely!

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 23, 2011 at 8:30 PM #

      Thanks Clare, and your comment about guided tours doesn’t make me feel so bad about skipping getting one now. I enjoyed just walking about on my own doing my own thing.

  17. KATRINA February 22, 2011 at 10:08 PM #

    Oh, I wish I’d known you were going. I LOVE Pompeii! Such a great place to spend an afternoon. The Archeological Museum downtown has many of the original items from the excavation, including Il Fauno (my favorite!).

    Glad you got to see Herculaneum, too. The frescos there are really nice, since everything was covered in mud instead of ash. First time I went I saw a human skull that had recently been excavated from the boat houses. Amazing that they are still unearthing these amazing finds — even Pompeii is not finished!

    Good stuff, thanks for sharing!

    (If anyone reading the comments is interested, here is a video of a tour guide giving a talk at one of the bodies in plaster: http://su.pr/2drGWi )

    • THE AUSSIE NOMAD February 23, 2011 at 8:32 PM #

      Katrina, I was there a fair while ago now so don’t worry. I didn’t make it to the Archeological Museum but had intended to get there so its on the to do list still.

      I remember reading about when they first discovered Herculaneum and can’t believe it was so long ago and they are still finding amazing things. Also when I was at Pompeii I noticed they had started more excavation work as well.

  18. CHRISTY @ ORDINARY TRAVELER February 23, 2011 at 11:07 PM #

    I’m bummed that I skipped out on Pompeii when I was in Naples. It looks like a great place to take photos.

  19. KRISTY February 28, 2011 at 1:48 AM #

    Looks amazing! We want to get the kids to Europe, it is just tough when there is so much left for us to see in Asia. A whole big world you know~ Thanks for sharing this.

  20. NILANI April 14, 2011 at 12:50 AM #

    Thank you so much for your wealth of infomation. I am sorting out our Italian trip and Herculaneum/Pompeii is must see plcaes on my list. You have given a lot of information I wanted.
    Thanks
    Nilani

    • KATRINA April 14, 2011 at 8:02 AM #

      Nilani, I lived in Naples for 2.5 years. I might be able to answer some of your questions. Feel free to drop me a line.

      Cheers! 🙂

  21. MARIA May 7, 2012 at 5:27 PM #

    How much did it cost to rebuild Pompeii?????

  22. MARGARET BOURNE February 13, 2013 at 2:52 PM #

    It’s been many years since I last visited Pompeii as part of a tour (me and a bus-full of senior citizen ladies and gents). I do remember the same feeling that you had, looking at the casts. It’s a reminder that people lived here, walked these same streets, and had to die a painful death.

  23. MARYSIA @ MY TRAVEL AFFAIRS December 22, 2013 at 1:07 PM #

    Never stops to impress!

  24. STEVE April 8, 2014 at 5:18 PM #

    it’s hard and at the same time not so hard to believe once you’ve been there that pompeii was buried alive under an eruption… but since i haven’t been yet i’m sticking with the former 🙂

  25. KARENINCALABRIA March 11, 2015 at 3:44 PM #

    I’ve visited Pompeii a few times and so agree that you can be overcome by sheer exhaustion due to the site’s size and unrelenting sun, as let’s face it, you go to the Archeological Museum in Naples on the rainy day. I can’t recommend enough getting there early in the day, particularly in the warmer months. I also highly recommend the audio guide (with a map, as mentioned) – very informative and you can listen to as much or as little as you want.
    I also really enjoyed Herculaneum because as you say, it was better preserved and thus gives you a better sense of life in the period, albeit on a smaller scale.

  26. BRYANAMBITION March 30, 2015 at 4:46 PM #

    Thank you SO SO SO much for including all the technical details on how to get around–there’s so much missing from the “official” sites! Great blog–I’m kind of addicted now 😉

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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