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Exploring Pompeii vs Herculaneum: Which Ancient City Is Right for You?

When it comes to ancient Roman ruins, Pompeii and Herculaneum stand out as two of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Italy. These cities were famously buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, preserving them in a remarkable state for centuries until their rediscovery in the 18th century. While both Pompeii and Herculaneum offer a glimpse into the daily life of ancient Romans, each site has its own unique characteristics and stories to tell.

Ground view of people walking among the Pompeii ruins with Vesuvius in the background and white cloud overhead.
Pompeii, Italy with Vesuvius in the background.


Pompeii, the more well-known of the two, was a bustling city with a population of around 11,000 people at the time of the eruption. The ruins of Pompeii cover a vast area, providing visitors with a comprehensive look at Roman urban life. Walking through its streets, you can see well-preserved houses, temples, theaters, and even a brothel, offering a fascinating insight into various aspects of Roman society.

Large panoramic view of the Herculaneum ruins with a scafolding walking on the right and Vesuvius in the background.
Herculaneum, Italy with Vesuvius in the background


On the other hand, Herculaneum, though smaller in size, offers a more intimate and luxurious glimpse into Roman life. The city was a seaside resort for the wealthy elite, and its ruins reveal beautifully preserved villas, colorful frescoes, and even wooden furniture that survived the volcanic eruption. Herculaneum provides a more upscale perspective on Roman society, showcasing the opulent lifestyle of the rich and powerful.

Differences in the way each was buried

While both sites were devastated by the same natural disaster, the preservation of Pompeii and Herculaneum differed due to the way they were buried. Pompeii was covered in layers of ash and pumice, which solidified over time, while Herculaneum was buried under a thick layer of mud that essentially sealed and protected the city from looters and the elements.

Travel Information You Need:

Opening Hours:

Both Pompeii and Herculaneum are typically open to visitors from 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM during the summer months and from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM during the winter months. Both locations have the last entry 90 minutes before closing. I highly recommend you check the official websites (see below) for any updates, changes in opening hours, or special closings before your visit.

Admission Prices:

The admission prices for Pompeii and Herculaneum are usually around €15-€22 for a full-price ticket. Reduced prices are available for EU citizens aged 18-24 and free entry for EU citizens under 18 or over 65. Guides are available for an extra charge.

Locations and How to Get There:


Located near Naples in southern Italy, Pompeii is easily accessible by various means of transportation. If you're coming from Naples, you can take the Circumvesuviana train from Napoli Centrale to the Pompeii Scavi station, which is a short walk from the entrance to the archaeological site. Alternatively, you can also reach Pompeii by bus or car.


Herculaneum is situated closer to the coast than Pompeii, just a short distance from Naples. To get to Herculaneum, you can take the Circumvesuviana train from Napoli Centrale to the Ercolano Scavi station. From there, it's a brief walk to the entrance of the archaeological site. Buses and taxis are also available as transportation options.



For more information and to plan your visit, you can explore the official website of Pompeii at


For more information and to plan your visit, you can explore the official website of Herculaneum at

Whether you're a history enthusiast or simply curious about the past, a visit to Pompeii and Herculaneum promises an unforgettable experience filled with ancient wonders and insights into the daily life of the Romans. Don't miss this opportunity to uncover the mysteries of these fascinating archaeological sites and immerse yourself in the splendor of ancient Rome. I can help book private and/or small group guided tours, transportation to and from both locations, as well as combining a tour with a wine tasting.

Have you been to either Pompeii or Herculaneum, or both? Post in the Comment Section below your thoughts on your experience.


The Way To Italy has been providing fee-based, custom travel planning for travelers to Italy for 23 years. I handcraft once-in-a-lifetime Italy experiences down to the last detail.



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