A Roman vacation is not complete without a day trip from Rome to visit the historic sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The cities were destroyed in the 79 A.D. eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Now you can freely explore the excavated sites for a window onto life during the Ancient Roman Empire. About 2 hours from Rome by train, the sites are convenient for a day trip. Of course there are plenty of chauffeured car options available. But if you’re up for the adventure – and would like to save some money – taking the train is an easy option. The trip from Rome consists of two legs – the train to Naples and the train from Naples to Herculaneum and Pompeii.
First Leg: Roma Termini to Napoli Centrale
Trains to Naples (Napoli Centrale) leave several times an hour from Rome’s Termini Station. Regional and intercity trains take 2 – 2.5 hours, Frecciabianca trains take about 1 hour and 45 minutes, and the fast Frecciarossa trains an hour and 10 minutes. The Frecciarossa train costs about 35 euros one way in economy class. You may be able to find supereconomy tickets for 25 euros one way. The regional and intercity trains, though much slower, cost about 11-14 euros one way. You can purchase tickets from machines at Termini Station or online at www.trenitalia.com.
Second Leg: Napoli Centrale to Herculaneum and Pompeii
Once you arrive at Napoli Centrale, follow the signs for the Circumvesuviana or Garibaldi Station. Garibaldi is the metro station connected to Napoli Centrale. The metro is called the Circumvesuviana. Buy a ticket at the office or machine next to the entrance to the Circumvesuviana. Take the line that goes to Sorrento. If you are going to Herculaneum, get off at Ercolano Scavi. For Pompeii, get off at Pompei Scavi. Tickets cost less than 4 euros one way and trains leave about twice an hour. The train might be very packed, so don’t count on getting a seat.
It takes about 20 minutes to get from Garibaldi station to the Herculaneum site. When you arrive, you will see shuttle services to the site being advertised. However, it is only a ten minute walk to the site. Just walk down the road to a small roundabout, cross and walk down the main street opposite you.
Herculaneum is smaller than Pompeii but was coated in a thick layer of pyroclastic material during the eruption which preserved the ancient city much better. In addition to preserved buildings, skeletons and interior decorations, wooden objects like beds, doors, and roofs have were protected from decay. Herculaneum was a wealthier city than Pompeii, so the glimpse into ancient life is even more luxurious and impressive.
Pompeii is about 45 minutes from Garibaldi station on the Circumvesuviana. Once you arrive at the Pompeii Scavi station, turn right and walk about 5 minutes to the entrance of the site.
The site itself is huge, with countless buildings to explore. A guided tour might be useful, but if you want to explore on your own we suggest you download an app with information about the different buildings. Pompeii: A Day in the Past costs $3 on the app store and provides lots of useful information that will help you imagine the city as it was.
Make sure you allocate enough time to fully explore the site. You’ll want at least 2 hours, but there is plenty to explore for even up to 6 or 7. It is difficult to do both Pompeii and Herculaneum in a day, and it is probably better to fully explore only one.
Looking for a Vacation Rental near Termini Station?
Get an early start to your day trip to Pompeii by staying close to the train station! ROMAC manages over 40 vacation rentals in the center of Rome and has over 10 years of experience hosting guests.
If you’re looking for something with some real class, check out the Jazz Apartment rental near Piazza Vittorio by ROMAC. Designed around a jazz scene concept, the 1 bedroom, 1 bath apartment is perfect for a small group of friends or a couple visiting the city for a few days.
Bringing the whole family to Rome? The Principe Amadeo vacation rental near Termini Station offers accommodations for up to 12 guests, with 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths.
Have you taken a day trip from Rome to Pompeii or Herculaneum? Tell us about your experience in the comments!