Pompeii Travel Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Pompeii Ruins
Why Visit Pompeii
Pompeii is a huge archaeological site located in Italy. It is the ruins of an ancient Roman city that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius (year 79 BC). The curious thing is that it was only discovered in the year 1700 and, until now, it is one of the most important places in the world.
Beyond the inevitable natural catastrophe that this city suffered, researchers have cataloged Pompeii as the splendor of the Roman era of the 1st century. Today its buildings are preserved thanks to the same lava that left them under ashes.
Visiting Pompeii is an incomparable experience for the most adventurous travellers, as it will immediately transport you to the past and fill your eyes with Greco-Latin history and culture.
Where Is Pompeii Located?
Pompeii is located in Italy, specifically in the Campania region, about 28 km from Naples, that is, 30 minutes by car.
Map of Pompeii, Italy
Main Attractions of Pompeii
Taking a trip to Pompeii is usually impressive, mainly because of the number of monuments to see. Here we mention what to see in Pompeii. However, you must bear in mind that in the ruins of the Roman city there are many monuments to discover.
Pompeii Archaeological Park
It is one of the most important sites in Italy and the whole world. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (1997) and in it lie the ruins of the city of Pompeii. In turn, it is the most popular archaeological park for tourists. Some of his statues and frescoes are also in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.
House of the Faun
It is one of the most important Roman residences of the Pompeii sites, which has different works of art inside and is one of the most luxurious domus (a Roman house similar to a mansion) of the Roman Empire. In the center of this family home is an imposing bronze faun statue, called the Dancing Faun, which symbolizes the Roman cult of Dionysus.
A similar attraction to this is the house of the Vettii, also known as the Hall of the Cupids, which is another of the most imposing and luxurious residences in Pompeii. There you can also see frescoes and sculptures very well maintained over time.
Another similar location is Villa Poppaea, called by archaeologists Villa A or Scavi di Oplontis. It is located near Mount Vesuvius and was the residence of Emperor Nero's second wife, Poppaea Sabina. It has different garden areas and even a thermal area.
Finally, another important building of the time that responds to the architecture of the Roman domus is the House of the Tragic Poet, also called the Homeric house or the House of the Iliad. The name of this house responds to the beautiful frescoes that you will find inside, mostly related to Greek mythology. In turn, it is world-renowned for its refined mosaic floors.
If you still want to know more about these luxurious Roman dwellings, we recommend that you visit places of interest in Pompeii such as Villa Regina, the House of Octavius QuartIo, the House of the Menander, and the House of the Cryptoporticus.
Roman amphitheatre in Pompeii
From the Italian, Anfiteatro Romano di Pompei, is the oldest Roman amphitheatre to date discovered and standing. It is said that it dates from the year 70 BC and, as a novelty for the time, it was made of stone.
Lupanar of Pompeii
Also known as Grand Lupanar, this is the most famous brothel in Pompeii. On its interior walls, you can see multiple erotic frescoes. Fun fact: Roman prostitutes wore knee-length outfits (at the time women often wore ankle-length robes) and were notable for dyeing their hair reddish. This can be seen in Lupanar's paintings. In addition, it has two floors, since in the lower part the less wealthy clients attended and in the upper part, the richest.
Sanctuary of Apollo in Pompeii
Pompeii's Temple of Apollo is a sanctuary dedicated to one of the most important Greek gods, described as the god of the arts, balance, and the bow and arrow, among other things. Inside you will find different statues from the period that are very well preserved, many of them are also found today in the Archaeological Museum of Naples.
Other attractions similar to the sanctuary of Apollo are the Temple of Isis, the Temple of Jupiter, and the Temple of Venus. Do not miss them, because in each one you will find unique works of art and architecture!
Villa of the Mysteries of Pompeii
Also known as Villa dei Misteri, it is an ancient Roman villa from the 2nd century BC and is located on the outskirts of Pompeii. If you do not know whether to visit the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii, we anticipate that it is really worth it, because in it you will find architectural remains of Pompeii and, inside, Roman frescoes in a very good state of conservation.
To get to the Villa of the Mysteries you must go to the Herculaneum Gate (also called Ercolano), northwest of Pompeii, and then pass through the Pompeii Necropolis area.
There is a very interesting Pompeian fresco in the rooms on the west side of this villa, which represents the Dionysian initiation rite. Hence, the name of the place is due to the mysteries of Dionysus, the Olympian god of fertility and wine.
Frescoes in Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii, Italy
Large Palaestra in Pompeii
Also known as the Great Hall of Pompeii or simply the arena, it is an ancient wrestling school of the Roman Empire. Wrestling and boxing events were practiced and held there, or it functioned as a public gym. This building attracts different tourists for its impressive corridors surrounded by columns in a great state of conservation and a huge outdoor space.
Like any other Roman forum, it is an ancient public area where most of the shops and public institutions were located. In its center, multiple celebrations, contracts, and debates were held. What is characteristic of the Pompeii forum is its state of conservation and detail.
Pompeii Forum Baths
It is a set of public rooms for cold, warm, and hot baths, located inside the temple of Jupiter. Visiting the baths of the Pompeii forum is an amazing experience. Inside you can see beautiful frescoes that allude to Greek mythology and Roman aristocracy, as well as being part of the unique architecture of this building. They are said to date back to 80 BC and are the largest baths in the city of Pompeii.
View of Sarno
If you are in the city of Pompeii, you cannot miss observing the Sarno River and taking photos there. This river is usually used to navigate or fish, although the latter is not so recommended for human consumption since it is quite polluted waters.
Hiking in Pompeii
It is located near the site of Pompeii. The top of this mountain is 1,100 meters high. If you are a lover of exploring nature, taking the hiking route through Mount Faito is for you. You can go on a tour after visiting Pompeii. Another option similar to this is to climb Mount Vesuvius, which costs about €10 per person.
Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii
In contrast to the Greco-Latin monuments, in Pompeii, you can find the Pontifical Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii, also called Pompeii Cathedral, the largest Marian sanctuary in Campania, Italy. It was founded in 1901, although its beginnings date back to the 19th century when Catholic peasants built a small chapel on the site in honor of the Virgin of the Rosary.
View of the Pompeii Cathedral, Italy
Travel to Pompeii
If you are wondering how to get to Pompeii, we recommend taking a day trip from the main destination near the ruins, Naples. As we mentioned, the distance from Naples to Pompeii is 28 km, which will take you around 20-30 minutes by car, bus, or private transport.
The best thing in these cases is to hire an excursion to Pompeii so you don't miss out on the most important attractions and don't worry about time or entrance fees to the archaeological sites.
In case you go on your own, you should choose to visit Pompeii in the morning, very early, to see all the possible buildings and not suffer from the midday-afternoon heat.
Do not forget that it is a city located in the Gulf of Naples, in the Tyrrhenian Sea, so it is possible to go to Pompeii by ferry. Many excursions include a trip from Capri to Pompeii.
Visiting hours for Pompeii is from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Nearby you will find cafeteria stalls, and restaurants, among other shops. In any case, the idea is that you always carry a bottle of water and a snack for your walk.
Entrance to Pompeii
Entrance tickets to the Pompeii excavations are €16 per adult from the general public. In case you are between 18-25 years old and a European citizen, you can opt for a €2 ticket. Minors have a free and free pass. All tickets have a duration of one day from their purchase.
If you are interested in learning more about this, you can visit the official Pompeii website.
Unmissable in Pompeii
You will notice that it is not possible to cover all of Pompeii in one day. If you are wondering what you should not miss in Pompeii, we recommend that you visit the amphitheater, the House of the Faun, the Villa of the Mysteries, the temple of Apollo, and the city's cathedral.
View of Roman amphitheatre in Pompeii