What you need to know about visiting Pompeii
The archaeological site of Pompeii, once a prosperous Roman city, was completely buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, taking in 2.5M visitors annually, it is a bit of history every child learns about in school. But there is so much more to it than the short chapter you’re taught, and is one of those places you need to see to really understand.
Before You Go
First, make sure you pre-book your tickets. This will save you standing in long lines when you arrive. Pre-booking will also allow you to skip the queue, but only at specific entrances. Make sure you read the fine print before you park! The site is massive and you don’t want to be wandering around trying to find your entrance.
Parking can be a bit crazy, so keep an eye out once you enter the town. We were flagged down by a nice restaurant owner who let us park at the restaurant and use the bathroom, and we paid him the same per hour as you would in many of the parking lots. Double check the going rate though, because you could easily get ripped off.
And make sure you do your homework! This place is massive, and a lot of it looks the same if you don’t know what you’re looking at. Do a small bit of research before you head in to make sure you enjoy the visit.
On the Day
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: always get the audio guide! I wasn’t in charge of booking this part of the trip, and we unfortunately missed the info about the Pompeii audio guide. We started wandering through the site with little to no info or background, and I got frustrated quickly. But it was my own fault! We did a bit of Googling and were able to get ourselves up to speed, but the individual audio guides I saw many people wandering around with would have been a big help to get us started on the right foot.
Bring snacks and lots of water. They will give you this map of all the routes through the city, the shortest one being 2 hours and the longest 7 hours! It gets busy, and some sites are only open for half the day, so you’ll be walking for a while. There are fountains throughout where you can fill up your water bottle, and a canteen that serves fast food if you get hungry. (Despite being in Naples the pizza here was dismal, only stop if you must!)
What to See
Because we were touring blindly for parts of the day, I don’t have a comprehensive list of sites to share with you. We enjoyed the visit overall, really getting to experience the excitement of being there, and had that curious feeling of being a student trying to figure everything out on a field trip. There are so many well-preserved sites that I’m glad I’ve seen, despite not going in there with a 10-step tour plan.
One great resource that we used throughout the day was the 10 Most Fascinating Pompeii Ruins. We had already covered most of the things on the list, but it was reassuring to know we hadn’t missed anything!
Have you been to Pompeii? Were you more organised?
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