Last Updated on January 6, 2023 by Maggie McKneely
If you’re visiting Italy’s capital city, be sure to make time for a day trip to Pompeii from Rome. You won’t regret a visit to this fascinating site!
Epic Day Trip to Pompeii from Rome
Of all the famous landmarks in Italy, Pompeii may be the most morbidly fascinating. It’s a city frozen in time; when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, nearby Pompeii was buried under nearly 40ft (12 meters) of ash and lava, preserving it just as it was for centuries to come. It wasn’t until 1748 that the forgotten city was rediscovered and historians were given a clear snapshot into everyday life in a Roman town.
It’s an eerily fascinating place – when wandering down the cobbled streets and into former homes and businesses, you get the impression that when the eruption came, everyone had been going about their usual business. They had no idea that their last acts would provide later generations with a window into ancient life. Pompeii’s paintings, furniture, tools for everyday life had all been protected from the normal decay of time. Excavators even found evidence of fruits and vegetables and full meals left on market stands. And though not the most significant discovery, most people are familiar with Pompeii’s human plaster casts – the ghostly impressions in the ash left by the city residents who had been buried alive.
My family took a day trip to Pompeii from Rome after spending a week in the city. While you can easily spend weeks in Rome without scratching its surface, Pompeii was a highlight of that trip. I highly recommend dedicating a day of your Roman itinerary to exploring Pompeii. Besides, there are plenty of exciting things to do in Rome at night when you get back! And since it’s just a short, scenic train ride from Rome to Pompeii, take the chance to get out of the city and step back in time to 79AD.
What to see on a day trip to Pompeii from Rome
Pompeii was once a prosperous, thriving city, with about 20,000 residents. While archaeologists have only uncovered a small portion, the site is still large and can easily take a full day to explore. To help you maximize your time on your day trip to Pompeii from Rome, here are some of the highlights that you don’t want to miss:
When you enter the city from the main, west gate (Porta Marina), the first large site you’ll come to is The Forum. It was the center of Pompeii and the city’s political, commercial, and cultural core. It was the site of the main marketplace, the courts, baths, and several temples. Although only a few of the outer columns remain, you can still tell how large and impressive it once was.
Temple of Apollo
One of the Forum’s temples is the Temple of Apollo, believed to be the oldest building in Pompeii. Most of the temple’s original bronze statues are now in the National Archeological Museum of Naples, but a copy of Apollo and a bust of the goddess Diana stand in their place.
House of the Faun
This is the largest of the private homes in the excavated part of Pompeii. The House of the Faun takes up an entire city block. It was here that some of Pompeii’s most famous art pieces were discovered, such as the Alexander Mosaic and the bronze statue of a faun for which the house is named. The original Mosaic is housed in the Naples Archaeological Museum, but a replica is in its place to give visitors a feel for the grandness of the home. It’s a can’t miss on any day trip to Pompeii from Rome.
Large Theater (Teatro Grande)
Pompeii has two theaters; the Teatro Grande, the larger of the two can seat 5,000 spectators. Today, it is still used for summer performances. Pro-tip: the top row offers one of the best views of the city and Mount Vesuvius.
At the opposite end of town from Porta Marina, at the end of Via dell’Abbondanza, is the Pompeii Amphitheater. Built in 80 BC, it is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheater in the world (the oldest in Rome wasn’t built until 29 BC). In its heyday, 12,000 spectators would fill its seats for shows and gladiator fights.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted, many people fled the city, but not everyone escaped in time. Those left in the doomed city were buried alive by dozens of feet of ash and lava. In 1870, Giuseppe Fiorelli developed a technique that resulted in Pompeii’s famous plaster casts, a must-see on a day trip to Pompeii from Rome.
Fiorelli filled the empty spaces in the ash layers where the corpses had decomposed with liquid plaster, which produced perfect casts of the victims of the eruption. Once the plaster had hardened, the surrounding soil was removed and the figure was brought to light. This technique was used to produce a number of casts of human bodies, animals, and objects. Many of these casts are located in a building on the west edge of town by the Forum, though there are several scattered throughout the city. It’s a little creepy when you come across one without expecting it!
For more, check out this guide to visiting Pompeii!
How to get to Pompeii from Rome
If you’re spending most of your trip to Italy in Rome, the easiest way to get to Pompeii from Rome is by train. The trip is only about an hour and a half each way, which is why a day trip to Pompeii from Rome is a great addition to your itinerary.
From Rome’s Termini Station, take the high-speed train to Naples’ Napoli Centrale Station. You can see train times as well as purchase tickets in advance here.
From Napoli Centrale, take the Circumvesuviana train on the Napoli-Sorrento Circumvesuviana line. The Circumvesuviana runs trains about every half hour and it takes about 30 minutes to arrive at your Pompeii stop, Pompeii Scavi – Villa dei Misteri.
Related: Check out some of the amazing restaurants nearby in Naples
What to Bring on a day trip to Pompeii
Despite being one of the most visited sites in Italy, Pompeii does not have many visitor facilities. There is only one restaurant of mediocre quality. Be sure to bring your own snacks, as you’ll be doing a lot of walking. And as there’s very little shade in the entire city, bring whatever sun protection you need- hats, sunscreen, etc. A water bottle is a necessity as well, but don’t worry about bringing enough for the entire day – there are several water fountains throughout the site that you can use to refill your bottle.
Pompeii Ticket information
From November 1st to March 31st, the site is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. From April to October, it’s open every day from 9 AM to 7:30 PM.
The tickets are €16. If you want to purchase them in advance or see more information on reduced ticket prices, go here.
Related: Pompeii is the subject of one of these great books set in Italy!
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Headed to Florence instead of Rome? Be sure to check out my 7-day Tuscany itinerary!
We did this, too…we traveled to Pompeii from Rome and then we traveled back! Pompeii is such an exceptional place and part of history.
I have to go back to Italy. I’ve only been to Rome and we didn’t have enough time for day trips unfortunately. I didn’t know there was Forum in Pompeii too! And the amphitheater sort of reminds me of a mini Colosseum! I do remember the fabulous water all over Rome though so good to know it’s in Pompeii too!
Fascinating post. That mosaic floor is incredible and the plaster cast of that person sitting with their head in their hands is really very evocative. I didn’t realize that Pompeii is that close to Rome. I definitely need to see this.
It is a shame that Pompeii get’s left out from tourist map even though it is so close to Rome. I haven’t been to Italy, yet but I would certainly make it a point to include Pompeii in the itinerary – the architecture is amazing. Lovely post!
I visited Pompeii on a cruise port day and absolutely loved it. I enjoyed reminiscing after reading your post. The day we were there, it was around 100 degrees and miserably hot. My kids were frightened of the plaster cast mummified bodies that were on display.
I have never been but it is on the list now! (We are getting a pretty big list 🙂 Those plastered bodies would freak me out! How horrifying. But at the same time, it is very intriguing.
I totally agree with you, Pompeii is a must-experience place in Europe! We stopped on a tour for only a few hours and I always wanted to go back on our own. It is so somber but so interesting. Thanks for sharing all your tips, I’ll definitely be using them at some point.
This is great information! I’ve been to Rome but have not yet made it to Pompeii: I honestly thought it was a small, run-down archaeological site with a small museum, but your post describes it as so much more; I’ll have to check it out!
Pompeii is indeed such a revelation. We missed visiting the place when we were visiting Rome and realize what we missed. Must be an incredible experience in the city that was virtually shut down instantaneously by the volcanic eruption. The plastic casts do paint a poignant picture of the natural calamity and the human tragedy.
This is a must visit place for people who love history. It’s place where history has its testimonials preserved until our day.
Very fascinating! I never knew of those plaster casts and it’s eerie to see people frozen in their final moments *shudder*. I love these cultural experiences wherever I travel.
Great post, thanks for the insight. Always wanted to go to Pompeii, but so far I haven’t managed. And am now quite cross with myself for not realising that I could have easily done it as a day Trip when staying in Rome. Didn’t even cross my mind at the time. But for sure will remember if and when I go back.
Oooh, we’ve been living in Italy for more than two years now and we STILL haven’t made it to Pompeii. Definitely on our list for before we leave here! A couple years ago I would have thought it was a bit morbid for my sensitive son, but then he surprised me by being SUPER INTO IT when we took a shot and went to the Catacombs in Paris. So I have to imagine he’d be fine now, haha.
Never made it to Pompeii–went to Herculaneum instead because it is better preserved, though smaller and less popular. Need to go back and see Pompeii. The cast photo is a bit creepy.
Great post! I really liked Pompeii, such a fascinating and impressive place
YESSS I’m such a history buff, so I’ll be spending a month in Italy this year! Thank you for such a detailed post on Pompeii! I’m excited to see so much can be done in only a day!
Pompeii should definitely not be missed out on any itinerary! Thanks
for the detailed writeups.
I loved Pompeii. And I did it, too, as a day trip from Rome. It’s somewhere I was fascinated by and loved being there every second. I think I spent 6 hours there and it just wanted enough time to see it all. Though it was a very long day, I would love to go back and do it again!
I didn’t visit Pompeii when I was in Rome, but of course I wish I had. I guess that gives me a reason to go back to Italy.
This is a great guide for a trip to Pompeii from Rome. We visited Pompeii recently from Naples and found it so easy to reach by the Circumvesuviana train. Touring Pompeii was a huge surprise for us – I was amazed by the size of the site itself. The mosaics were stunning as were the sculptures. Your beautiful photographs brought back so many memories – thanks for sharing this detailed guide.