You cannot pass through central Italy on a road trip without making the detour to Naples to visit Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii. Both are iconic Italian landmarks and share a remarkable, if devastating history. If you are wondering whether you can visit Pompeii and Vesuvius in one day, then you will be delighted to know it is possible, and even easy if you follow our guidance and tips.
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Vesuvius & Pompeii in a Day
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Pompeii & Vesuvius Facts
- Vesuvius in 2013 was 1281 meters tall. After each eruption, the size of the cone changes.
- The volcano also has a semicircular ridge called Mount Somma that rises to 1132 m. The valley between the cone and Mount Somma is called Valle del Gigante or Giant’s Valley.
- Mount Vesuvius is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of its proximity to the city of Naples and the surrounding towns on the nearby slopes.
- Mount Vesuvius destroyed the city of Pompeii, a city south of Rome, in AD79 in about 25 hours. Because Pompeii was buried so quickly by volcanic ash, the site is a well-preserved snapshot of life in a Roman city.
- It is believed that around 30,000 people died from the eruption of Vesuvius in AD79. There were 2,000 survivors.
How to Get to Vesuvius and Pompeii
Directions to Mount Vesuvius
For parking at the top, the co-ordinates are N40°49’42” / E14°25’36”. The best way to approach is via the A3 Napoli-Salerno motorway and exit at Torre del Greco or Ercolano.
If you are coming from north of Naples using these co-ordinates, your sat nav may try and take you through the city as it’s about 2 seconds quicker…do not do this, it will be stressful and take much, much longer due to the appalling traffic conditions and driving skills of the locals.
The road up is wide enough for two coaches to pass but make sure you use your horn on blind bends and take it slowly; the coach drivers are unlikely to slow for you and will gesticulate if you won’t move over or slow down. Hold your ground and don’t give in!
Directions to Pompeii
For Pompeii, again take the A3 Napoli-Salerno motorway and exit at the Pompei Ovest exit. The Pompeii Archeological Park is clearly signposted from here.
All the roads mentioned here are suitable for cars, campervans and large motorhomes. As always, be mindful of pot holes and abilities of other drivers!
Where to Park
Parking at Mount Vesuvius
If you want to visit Vesuvius early in the morning, it is possible to stay in a motorhome or campervan overnight at various places on the road up. If you’re lucky with the weather you will have amazing views. We stayed here and enjoyed a quiet night; we were not asked to pay.
The following morning, you can continue the drive up the very bendy road to the car park (using the co-ordinates N40°49’42” / E14°25’36”) from where you start the hike up.
If you are in a large motorhome, we would strongly suggest visiting Vesuvius first as you will be able to park without a problem. This means being there at 9am sharp! The parking for motorhomes at Pompeii is larger with many more spaces.
Parking at Pompeii
Park your car or motorhome at Camping Zues, literally a 5 minute walk from the entrance to the archeological park. The cost was €5/€8 per hour for parking a car or motorhome (on a campsite pitch) respectively. The entrance is manned and it felt very secure. It is a 500m walk to the entrance of Pompeii from here.
You can also stay the night at Camping Zeus if you preference is to visit Pompeii first. The cost for an overnight stay in a campervan or motorhome with EHU is around €20 in low season. This also includes a free pass for the ZTL (low emissions) in Pompeii for motorhomes over 7m. You can pitch a tent here too for around €15 a night.
If all of this seems like too much effort, consider a guided tour or day trip from Naples or Sorento.
Visiting Pompeii & Mount Vesuvius
It is entirely possible to see both Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii in a one day trip. The downside to this is that whichever one you visit second will be very busy by the time you get there. You could take a long lunch and visit your second option later in the afternoon but be mindful of closing times and any onward journey arrangements.
When is the best time to visit Mount Vesuvius?
You can visit Vesuvius at any time of the year. Check the weather first as there may be snow or high winds; the summit will be closed to visitors if the guides consider the conditions dangerous.
If you want the spectacular views of the Bay of Naples, April to September will be best and early in the day, as often cloud will form around lunchtime.
Be aware that it will be super busy in July and August.
Vesuvius opening hours are:
- January, February, November, December: 09:00-15:00
- March and October: 09:00-16:00
- April, May, June and September: 09:00-17:00
- July and August: 09:00-18:00
- Mount Vesuvius is closed on 25th December, 1st January, 1st May
What do I need to visit Mount Vesuvius?
- Warm clothing; don’t make the mistake of going in August and thinking it will be hot. You will be at an altitude of 1300m, expect it to be chilly even when it’s hot in Naples.
- Decent footwear – sturdy trainers would be suitable.
- A camera!
- Water; you can buy drinks at the top but the cost is extortionate!
- You don’t need a walking pole or stick; there are people at the entrance who will try and rent you these for a couple of euro, it will be wasted money.
How fit do I need to be to climb Mount Vesuvius?
You need to be mobile and not suffer from any respiratory problems. The hike up is around 30 minutes of fairly steep ascent along a well defined fine gravel path. You can take it as quickly or slowly as you like and stop often, although there is no-where to sit down.
Anything else I need to know about Mount Vesuvius?
- There are no toilets at the top and no-where private to go, make sure you have a wee before setting off.
- The ticket costs €10. You must stop at the ticket office to buy your ticket, this is about 100m before the parking and entrance. You can pay by credit card or cash, although they will tell you initially you can’t pay by card as the machine does not work. When you respond that you don’t have any cash, they will ask you to wait a few minutes and then, lo and behold, the card machine will be working again! Of course, it’s entirely up to you how you pay but I was concerned that the much needed revenue for the national park would not actually end up in their coffers.
- The cost of entry includes access to a guide. When you get to the top of the climb, you will enter through a small wooden hut and here is where the guides hang out.
Experience Mount Vesuvius
As mentioned before, this is a steady uphill hike for around 30 minutes before you plateau out onto the rim. The rim is very clearly defined with a path about 75% of the way round. Much of the route is lined with wooden barriers to stop you trying to climb in!
Consider a visit to the crater with a volcanologist guide who can share the history of this still live volcano and take you off the beaten track on the other side of the rim!
Do not expect to see fire and brimstone spewing out of the crater; you will see steam and can feel the heat coming off the crater in waves. The rock is quite grey and uniform, so not great for pictures unless you have some photography skills, which I don’t!
However, turn around and marvel at the view over the Bay of Naples; here you will get amazing images. You may be just above any clouds which will add additional interest to your pictures.
We entered at 9am and spent around 45 minutes wandering along the rim, hardly seeing another soul. As we were on the way down, the crowds coming up were quite large and at one point we were unable to get past them on the path.
It was very busy driving down the road, until about the half way point. It appeared that a coach was trying to reverse on the road (who knows?) and this caused major grid-lock. Further up the road, coach drivers were stopping in the road to let their passengers out, adding to the mayhem. Take care when driving to and away from Vesuvius and accept it may take a bit of time.
This was our favourite visit of the day, probably because we prefer wide open spaces and a sense of adventure. Hiking up Vesuvius is not particularly adventurous but had always been on our wish list and it is a live volcano!
We were so glad we went early and avoided the crowds. We were able to get some great pictures and loved having the slumbering volcano to ourselves.
When is the best time to visit Pompeii?
Visiting Pompeii is possible all year round. Pompeii opening hours are;
- April to October: 0900-1930pm (last entry at 1800)
- November to March: 0900-1700 (last entry at 1530)
- Pompeii is closed on 25th December, 1st January, 1st May
Anything else I need to know about visiting Pompeii?
- You will be approached by people selling tickets on the road outside the entrance to Pompeii; don’t buy form these people, they will charge you extra for services they often do not provide and because they generally will only accept cash you have no comeback. The money they make does not go into supporting the ongoing work at Pompeii in any way.
- Entrance is free on the first Sunday of every month although expect it to be super busy!
- EU citizens under 25 only pay €2.
- Get your Fast Track Pompeii tickets here.
Pompeii is a huge site and you could easily spend a whole day, or longer, wandering and looking at every house, villa, statue and artefact.
If you want a taste of how the Romans lived and are interested in the bigger picture, a couple of hours is enough.
If you want to understand more than this, then we suggest a private tour with an archeologist who can explain much more than you will ever see yourself!
Pompeii is remarkably well-preserved and I felt like I was visiting a modern day town, with the streets laid out on a grid system, central squares and temples and houses of differing sizes and grandeur. You can still see plasterwork and painted walls in some of the buildings, the bath house being a particularly good example.
There was a fascinating sort of gated but open to view warehouse area which was full of Roman artefacts; urns, vases, tableware and the like. There were also mummified remains on display, which some visitors found disturbing.
It was very, very busy and at times felt like trying to walk along Oxford Street on Christmas Eve! After about an hour, we agreed we had the flavour we wanted and had learned something about the Roman way of life and the tragedy that happened at Pompeii.
This was a fascinating and instructive visit which answered a lot of questions about the tragedy that befell this Roman city.
I think I would have loved it had there been fewer people; it is naive to visit such attractions and expect them to be empty. We are all tourists wanting to achieve the same thing and no one of us is more worthy than the next. However for me, I am unable to get a sense of a place when there are so many people.
Having said that, you should visit and you will be just as fascinated as we were – who knows, you might get lucky and pick a quiet day!
Don’t forget about Herculaneum! Much smaller than Pompeii (about a tenth) Herculaneum is the lesser-known, but no less fascinating neighbour and was actually rediscovered ten years before Pompeii. Just a 30 minutes drive north on the E45 (and actually closer to Pompeii) you should visit if you can. Get your Herculaneum tickets here.
We hope you have found this post about how to visit Vesuvius and Pompeii in one day. Find out more about our road trips and destinations in Italy here.
If you loved Vesuvius, then you should see Mount Etna! Read about hiking Mount Etna here.