I’ve been to Rome a few times, and in a city with so much to see and do, a question that usually comes up is: Is it worth it to do a Pompeii day trip?
Of course the answer will vary depending on how much time you’re spending in Rome and what your primary interests are (pasta or history?), but if you’re going for at least 5 days, I would recommend a day trip to Pompeii.
Why? Here are my top 3 reasons:
Enjoy the History
I’m not exactly a huge history buff (I will indulge the occasional interesting article or documentary about some historical event or another) but spending a day at a historical site in person is so very cool.
Even the most history averse among you will get a kick out of walking down the ancient streets, seeing the preserved architecture, and getting to know what life was like in Pompeii. Pompeii was destroyed in AD 79, leaving behind a phenomenal snapshot of Roman life that you can actually walk through and experience—where else can you do that?
PS- for those of you who may have seen exhibits of the people preserved in ash, there are a couple of those in the central area, but the site isn’t devoted to them.
Experience Another World
The whole point of travel is to experience new places and cultures, but how often do you not only get to travel through space, but through time?
A Pompeii day trip is an incredible opportunity to move beyond learning about modern Italy (omg, I love pasta too, we have so much in common), and to delve into the culture of the past. You get to experience the space and imagine what it was like to live in a time that wasn’t just long ago, but foundational to so many things we know today (ahem, roads).
My favorite part of a taking day trip to Pompeii is seeing the places in the road where the carts wore down the stones over time. That may sound dumb…it’s just dents in a road (and probably evidence that they should’ve used tougher stones).
To me, though, it’s such a reminder that these people lived whole lives—they drove their carts around long enough to wear down the stones in the road. They lived entire lives experiencing this whole other version of what life looked like and felt like.
When I think of history, I think of snapshots, but being in a place like Pompeii reminds me that, when we talk about history, we’re talking about people.
Escape the Crowds
Okay, you won’t actually escape the crowds when you go to Pompeii—there are plenty of tourists there.
The nice thing about Pompeii, though, is that the excavation site is absolutely massive, (after all, it’s a whole city) meaning there’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out.
Sure, there will still be some popular spots that all the guided tours go to, but then, next thing you know, you’ll be walking down a street with only your friends!
You could literally wander Pompeii for hours, so avoiding tourists is an option if you’re looking for that.
And after a trip to the Colosseum, it’s so refreshing not to be crammed into a tight space with a million other people, all trying to take the same picture.
Ready to Go?
You can do a Pompeii day trip on your own, of course, but since it’s outside of Naples (ie, you can’t just take a train straight to Pompeii) it makes the most sense to book a tour.
Pompeii is worthwhile to do as a small group or private tour, in my opinion, because you’ll get to see so much more of the site than you would if you we’re waiting for 30 people to gather at each location. You guide will also be able to take you into smaller buildings and point out little details, like tile work, that you may miss otherwise.
Of course, do as your budget allows.
If you end up booking a larger group tour, try to book one that allows for alone time to wander the site so that you can get a better feel for it and notice smaller details—just be sure to bring a map, because it’s easy to get lost!
The last time I went, we booked a tour through our friends at ScooterRoma, where we also booked our scooter tour, and a tour of the Colosseum. Our tour of Pompeii was lead by a professor who brings graduate students to study the site—what a gift to have such a knowledgable guide!
I trust Annie at ScooterRoma, as she’s a fellow Minnesotan who moved to Rome! If you’re looking for a fully planned trip to Italy, she’s your girl.
Have you been to Pompeii? Are you dying to go? Tell me in the comments!