When you’re visiting the Italian capital, then you’re perfectly located to make one of the best day trips in Italy, the trip from Rome to Pompeii. Despite being just over 200 kilometers away from each other, it’s relatively simple to make the journey from Rome to Pompeii, and back again within a day.
Using Rome as your base, you can explore the historic streets of the capital, before heading south to visit one of the most fascinating ruined Roman cities in Italy. You can see the imposing shape of Mount Vesuvius, and learn how this dramatic, volcanic peak erupted and buried the city below it.
Stand in awe at the power of nature, and in awe too at the impressive Roman remains that have been excavated here. Rome to Pompeii is one of the most intriguing day trips you can make, and here are the best ways to do it!
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A Brief History of Pompeii
Found by the modern city of Naples, in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii was buried in 79 AD when the volcano erupted violently and unexpectedly. Pompeii was one of the most important, and richest cities in Rome and it was a favorite location for wealthy Romans to build villas.
When the volcanic eruption buried Pompeii, much of this wealth was preserved beneath a layer of ash, making this one of the most intriguing ruins in the Roman world. After the eruption, the city was abandoned, with few of the survivors returning to the scene of the natural disaster.
Hundreds of years of Roman history were lost in the turmoil, and many thousands of people were entombed here forever. Modern excavations though have allowed archaeologists and historians to unearth much of Pompeii, giving an incredible insight into daily Roman life as it was at the time of the eruption.
Few other sources have proven as valuable as the ruins for allowing us to glimpse into the long lost lives of Roman citizens. Today, Pompeii is one of the largest archaeological sites in the world, and the ruins of the Roman city have become somewhat of a legendary tourists attraction in Italy.
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Where is Pompeii
Pompeii is located close to Naples, which itself lies around 200 kilometers south of Rome, in the Campania region. While you can stay overnight in Naples or in the surrounding region, many travelers prefer to make a day trip from Rome itself.
Given the fast transport links, then if you are tight on time, it makes sense to base yourself in one city, with the capital usually taking first places in visitors’ selections.
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How to Travel From Rome to Pompeii
There are several different ways to travel from Rome to Pompeii, and back again, all in the same day. Your choice will depend on several factors though, from your budget to your personal preference of travel style, be it group travel or independent travel.
Here are the best ways to travel from Rome to Pompeii to enjoy the best day trip in Italy.
Organized Tours to Pompeii
There are quite literally hundreds of travel and tour agencies selling tours to Pompeii because this is one of the most important tourist attractions in the country.
Booking onto an organized tour can be the easiest way to experience the ruins, particularly if this is your first time in Italy, or if you simply want to make the trip a whole lot easier.
Organized tours can be booked online before you even arrive in Rome, or when you are on the ground in the city. Being a popular trip though, if there is a particular Rome to Pompeii tour that you want to be on then you’ll want to book in advance.
Tours will range in size and style dramatically, but there’s always something for everyone. If you don’t mind large groups, then you can join the big coach groups that head out daily from Rome to Pompeii.
If you prefer smaller, more personable trips, then it may be worth paying more to join a minibus tour with fewer other guests.
If your budget isn’t limited, then you can consider organizing a private tour with a guide and driver to explore on your own terms but to have the convenience of private transport and knowledgeable locals.
If you join an organized tour, then you can expect a long day, with most departing early in the morning from Rome to Pompeii. As well as being guided through the ruins, these tours are great if you also want to experience more of the surrounding area on the same day.
Lots of tours offer you the chance to spend the morning exploring Pompeii, before then spending the afternoon exploring the historic center of Naples, an often overlooked gem in the south.
Other tours will take you along the coastline, to the beaches or into the countryside too, allowing you to pack in as much as you can in a day.
Before booking your organized tour, you’ll want to double check all the inclusions, including entrance costs, and whether breakfast, lunch or dinner are included in the price too.
Our top recommended tours of Pompeii:
- Skip-the-line Small-Group Pompeii Tour with Local Guide
- The Best of Pompeii Small-group Tour – Unveiling The Buried City
- Private Tour: Pompeii Day Trip from Rome
- Pompeii Full-day Tour Including all Highlights and Newly Opened Houses
Self Drive Tour
Renting a car can be a great way to travel from Rome to Pompeii, with a journey time of roughly two and a half hours each way. This gives you much more independence, and you can get some great rental deal in Italy if you book in advance.
You’ll be able to stop off along the way and you’ll have a level of flexibility that’s lost when you take an organized tour or travel by public transport.
To enjoy the trip from Rome to Pompeii though, you’ll have to be confident driving on Italian roads, and for first-time travelers to the country, this isn’t always the best idea, particularly if road rules are different and the style of driving is different from your home country.
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Independent Travel from Rome to Pompeii
One of the most cost-effective ways to travel from Rome to Pompeii is by public transport, and with great rail connections, it’s surprisingly easy, even for first-time travelers to Italy. You can book train tickets in advance online too, to save even more money.
The high-speed train connects Rome and Pompeii in 70 minutes, with departures approximately every half hour. Trains depart from Rome Termini, arriving into Naples Centrale.
Once you are in Naples, you then change trains to the Pompeii Scavi route, which leaves every half hour for the ruins – the train station is quite literally on the other side of the road to the entrance. Tickets for this local train can be bought on the day.
Overall travel time from Rome to Pompeii using the great train system will take you around 2 hours. The advantage of independent travel to Pompeii is the fact that you can go at your own pace, you can depart when you want, and you can spend as much time at the ruins as you desire.
Organized tours tend to rush through, and you’ll spend most of the day on the coach, while you also can’t decide where and when you want to eat. The downside is that you can’t necessarily fit as much in during the day as you would on an organized tour.
However, even if you are traveling by train then you can easily explore Naples on the same trip from Rome to Pompeii.
What to Expect on a Trip from Rome to Pompeii
Rome to Pompeii is one of the best day trips to make in Italy, but it’s also one of the most popular. The ruins of Pompeii have long drawn the imagination of the world, as they offer such a unique insight into an ancient civilization. For that reason, and given the ease of access to Pompeii, you can expect it to be busy.
Millions of tourists visit each year, so be prepared to deal with entrance queues and crowds throughout the day. You can minimize this by traveling on your own, independently, to travel on your own terms.
You can easily spend the entire day exploring the ruins if you want to. This is a huge archaeological site, and there is much to take in. Highlights include the Forum of Pompeii, which acted as the city center, a marketplace and the center of religion and life before the eruption.
There are grand villas and temples to explore, but perhaps the most impressive thing about Pompeii is the quantity of preserved frescoes and artwork around the city, much of which was buried under ash and kept in its original state for hundreds of years.
There is a lot more to see in Pompeii too, from the vast amphitheater to individual houses and villas belonging to both the rich and the poor. You can expect to be enthralled by Pompeii, as history has rarely been so tragically well preserved through the ages.
A day trip from Rome to Pompeii will be a long day trip, but it’s one of the best places you can visit in Italy.
My Personal Experience at Pompeii
Most of our day was easily consumed as we wandered the endless ruins of Pompeii. It was unbelievably striking in a way I hadn’t anticipated and every step we took was met by an enormous rush of history and thoughts.
I hadn’t expected to see the structures that we saw. Livable housing complexes with old paintings, tile floors and stone were everywhere. The intricate detail of the mosaics, art and architecture that remained with little wear was so eerie.
You get the creeps, in a way, as you walk though the abandoned streets and read the handouts that explains the events that took place here and the society that existed prior to the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
As I wandered through the streets, I tried to imagine what it would have been like to live here when the structures stood at their grandest and what it would be like to meet the people that lived in them, it takes on an intimate feeling.
It is hard to express the thoughts and feelings of that, but it becomes personal in a way. Trying to grasp the understanding of the events that took place in Pompeii will certainly consume you on your visit. It certainly did me, and I wandered many a street contemplating all that took place in this city.
In the quietest chambers of my mind I imagined the house cleaned up, furnished and full with life. I thought of the high society that lived in these sections, how they provided for themselves and how their influence shaped society then and now.
I wondered what that must have been like; to experience the wrath of Mt. Vesuvius. Wondered if there had been signs, had they been warned? Did they have any indication of what would happen if they stayed?
Were they ignorant to the potential danger or were they arrogant and under the assumption that it wouldn’t happen to them?
We may never know the answers to these questions, but we can marvel at what was an amazing accomplishment of society and architecture, while remaining forever humble at the aspects of the city that have been frozen in time by the events of that day and the ash that preserves them.
All the while, Mt. Vesuvius looms in the distance as a grim warning that we should never underestimate the power of nature or the unknown.
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