Visit Pompey from Sorrento: Best Tours and Day Trips

The eruption of Vesuvius buried it under a layer of rocks and ashes. Fortunately, work begun in the 18th century brought Pompeii back to light.

Matteo Gramegna

Matteo Gramegna

11 min read

Visit Pompey from Sorrento: Best Tours and Day Trips

Pompeii | ©D Jonez

There are many reasons to stay in Sorrento: it is close to Naples, it is a quiet town and well connected to the main attractions of the area. In the things to see and do in Sorrento, we can add an excursion to the archaeological site of Pompeii.

It is very extensive and is located just a few kilometres from Sorrento. Besides, Pompeii is very visited and it is important to know as many details as possible before booking an excursion.

1. Guided tour of Pompeii with skip-the-line entry

Ruins of Pompeii| ©Hellotickets
Ruins of Pompeii| ©Hellotickets

A ticket that avoids queuing at the entrance is an incentive for any visit and Pompeii is no exception. You'll enjoy the convenience of a shuttle bus that will drop you off just a few metres from the entrance. At every turn, an expert guide will lead you through the excavations.

Before being destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius, Pompeii was an important agricultural and commercial centre. Founded in the 8th century by the Osci, an Italic population, it was first conquered by the Greeks and then by the Etruscans and Samnites. Finally, the Romans took it over around the 3rd century BC.

Attracted by the beauty of the site, Roman aristocrats built summer residences, one of the most famous of which is the House of the Faun. It is huge and the best-preserved mosaics have been transferred to the Naples Archaeological Museum. Keep this in mind if you're looking for things to see and do in Naples.

These routes usually include attractions such as the Macellum (a monumental market where food was sold), the Stabian Baths and the Casa del Menandro, a typical patrician residence. Its frescoes portray scenes from the Iliads and the Odyssey while the lower part of the building housed a private baths.

To make sure you don't miss anything, these excursions often include an audio guide which will be useful to make sure you don't miss any explanations.

  • Duration: about 5 hours
  • Price: from 70 €. For more information I recommend you read the post that explains how much it costs to visit Pompeii.
  • Recommended for those who want to visit Pompeii without the hassle and queues at the entrance.

2. Express tour of Pompeii

Inside the train to Pompeii| ©VV Nincic
Inside the train to Pompeii| ©VV Nincic

If you're staying two or three days in Sorrento and don't want to waste a whole day, this is the option for you. You will travel by train to Pompeii (ticket included) and get off at a short distance from the archaeological park. During the journey you will have a guide who will explain how to get to the entrance.

This is the cheapest version but there is also a more comprehensive version. In the latter case, the guide will accompany you between the houses and temples of Pompeii for 2 hours. In both cases, the tickets are skip the line tickets.

  • Duration: approximately 2 hours
  • Price: 40 € and 70 €.
  • Recommended for those with little time

Book an express tour of Pompeii by train from Sorrento

3. Excursion to Pompeii and Vesuvius

Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius in the background| ©Antonio Campoy
Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius in the background| ©Antonio Campoy

This route allows you to see two landmarks of the region: the ruins of Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the few active volcanoes in Europe. A bus will pick you up from your hotel or a central location in Sorrento and take you to the famous site buried under the ashes of Vesuvius.

The Pompeii excavations are the third most visited museum site in Italy. It is so big that one day is not enough to discover all its secrets; the guide will focus on the most famous monuments, such as the Forum and the Temple of Jupiter.

Outside the archaeological site you will also see the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Rosario, a majestic basilica inaugurated in 1901.

After visiting Pompeii, the bus will take you to the foot of Vesuvius. The volcano is surrounded by a national park with a network of paths. An expert guide will accompany you to a safe point near the crater. From here you will enjoy a breathtaking view over Naples and its gulf.

  • Duration: 8 hours or more
  • Price: around 100 €.
  • Recommended for those who want to discover the essentials of two iconic sites.

4. Pompeii and Vesuvius by boat

Vesuvius by boat| ©Paco Álvarez Bonilla
Vesuvius by boat| ©Paco Álvarez Bonilla

It is very similar to the previous option, but it is done by boat. It is a highly recommended option and not only for the experience and the scenery. Without a doubt, it is an experience that could rank among the best boat trips from Sorrento.

If you are staying in a hotel near Sorrento, you can request the pick-up service also in Massa Lubrense, Sant'Agnello, Piano di Sorrento and Meta. I recommend you to check the details of the excursion.

You will travel from Piano di Sorrento to Castellammare di Stabia by boat and then take a bus to the archaeological park. After the visit there is a surprise: lunch at a local wine cellar. Volcanic eruptions have left an ideal land for growing grapes, and bottles of Falanghina, Aglianico and other exquisite varieties are produced here.

After lunch (which is included) it is time to climb the volcano. Once you have descended you will return to Castellammare di Stabia and take the boat to Sorrento.

  • Duration: about 10 hours
  • Price: about 160 €.
  • Recommended for those who want an express but complete tour.

Book a boat trip from Sorrento

5. Day tour to Pompeii and Positano

Positano, Amalfi Coast| ©pululante
Positano, Amalfi Coast| ©pululante

Thanks to its privileged position, Sorrento is the perfect starting point for several excursions. A van will pick you up from your hotel or accommodation and in just under an hour you will be at the gateway to Pompeii.

The tour of the archaeological site normally takes 2 hours or a little more. It is not very comprehensive, but it will give you the chance to discover the history of this ancient city. When it was conquered by the Romans it quickly became a commercial centre of great importance.

Wine and olive oil fuelled **Pompeii'**s growth. Goods harvested at the foot of Vesuvius regularly reached southern France, Spain and also the Middle East. Unfortunately, prosperity came to an abrupt end in 79 AD when the volcano buried it under a thick layer of ash.

After a route between houses and public spaces embellished with statues and paintings, the minibus will take you to the historic town of Positano. You will have time to stroll through the streets of the old town and along the promenade that connects the beaches of Spiaggia Grande and Fornillo.

It is a very suggestive walk that passes by the Saracen towers, watchtowers built to defend against pirate attacks. Not surprisingly, Positano is part of many excursions to the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento.

For traditional cuisine without spending too much, try La Tagliata (Via Tagliata 32B), Da Vincenzo (Viale Pasitea 172) or Da Costantino (Via Corvo 95).

In case you want to go home with a souvenir, you have plenty of options to choose from. Positano is known for its handmade sandals and the reference shop is Safari (Via della Tartana 2). To return home with a bottle of limoncello or an assortment of local delicatessen, I recommend you reach Valenti (Via Guglielmo Marconi 142).

In the afternoon, the minibus will escort you back to Sorrento. Keep in mind that this is a long excursion and it is best to wear comfortable shoes. If you are travelling in summer, don't forget your hat either. There is also a skip the line ticket version.

  • Duration: about 9 hours
  • Price: between 90 € and 100 €.
  • Recommended for those who are interested in a tour that combines history with a visit to a typical Mediterranean village.

Book a tour to the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento

6. Tour to Pompeii and Herculaneum

Visit Herculaneum| ©Pablo Cabezos
Visit Herculaneum| ©Pablo Cabezos

Pompeii and Herculaneum are about 15 kilometres apart. Both lie at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, yet they could not be more different. If Pompeii was an economically important town inland, Herculaneum was a tiny village overlooking the sea.

When the eruption shook the area around the volcano, Pompeii was buried by about 8 metres of rock and ash while Herculaneum fared worse. Avalanches of mud and lava hid it some 25 metres below the surface. The excavations are therefore smaller: 4 hectares instead of 45.

At Herculaneum, the most striking feature is the perfectly preserved urban fabric. From the entrance there is a very suggestive panoramic view. However, Pompeii's residences and public buildings are more elegant. The House of the Faun, the Temple of Apollo and the Stabian baths have no counterparts in Herculaneum.

These tours leave Sorrento in the morning - usually around 9:00 - and include an expert guide, skip-the-line ticket and a light lunch.

You will return to Sorrento around 17:30 and if you still have energy left, you can have a drink at the panoramic bar La Villa (Piazza Francesco Saverio Gargiulo).

  • Duration: about 8 hours
  • Price: about 150 €.
  • Recommended for those who want to see both cities destroyed by the fury of the volcano.

What can't I miss in Pompeii?

Amphitheatre of Pompeii| ©Nigel Swales
Amphitheatre of Pompeii| ©Nigel Swales

The archaeological site is very large and it is important to be aware of the most important monuments. The list below lists the most famous ones:

  • House of the Faun, a huge residence that belonged to a prominent figure. It is one of the best preserved residences and owes its name to a statue of a dancing faun.
  • Orto dei fuggiaschi, a series of plaster casts faithfully representing victims of the eruption. Before the fury of the volcano, this was the site of a vineyard.
  • Amphitheatre, the oldest performance building ever found. More than 10 gladiatorial schools are believed to have existed in Pompeii.
  • Temple of Apollo, dedicated to the most worshipped deity of ancient Pompeii. A bronze statue depicts him as an archer. It housed a large number of statues that have been transferred to the Archaeological Museum of Naples.
  • Lupanare, the old brothel of the city. On the walls you can see the writings left by the prostitutes and their clients.
  • Temple of Jupiter, a place of worship in the Forum, the main square. It was the most important in the city

To deepen your knowledge, I recommend you to read the article explaining what to see and do in Pompeii.

What do I need to bring?

Comfortable Shoes| ©Bran Sodre
Comfortable Shoes| ©Bran Sodre

The archaeological site of Pompeii covers 66 hectares. There is a lot of walking and it is best to wear comfortable shoes.

If travelling in summer, be sure to bring a hat, water (I recommend a thermal water bottle) and sun cream. There are trees and even a vineyard but many surfaces receive direct sunlight for long hours of the day.

If you plan to visit in autumn or winter, it's best to pack an umbrella or, even better, a mackintosh.

January is usually the coldest month, but the minimum temperature rarely drops below 6 degrees Celsius. To avoid the unexpected, it's best to bring a hat and a scarf.

Is it worth taking a trip to Pompeii with children?

Pompeii Street| ©a rancid amoeba
Pompeii Street| ©a rancid amoeba

Yes, if you are old enough you are likely to appreciate an ancient city with such a unique history. Attractions such as the Orto dei Fuggiaschi, the amphitheatre with the gladiator's gymnasium or the Thermopolium - a kind of fast food restaurant of the time - will surely arouse their attention. For more information, I recommend you to read the post that explains how to visit Pompeii with children.

Is it worth eating at the restaurant in Pompeii?

Admire the well-preserved ruins of Pompeii| ©Pedro
Admire the well-preserved ruins of Pompeii| ©Pedro

There is only one bar/restaurant in the archaeological area. It is located near the Temple of Jupiter and is run by Autogrill, a company specialising in catering for travellers. Its outlets are located on motorways, railway stations and airports throughout the country.

As you can imagine, it's a chain restaurant and if you're not too fussy, you can eat without spending too much. However, as the only option available, there are often queues, especially if you visit the archaeological site in spring or summer.

For more ideas, I recommend reading the post on where to eat during a trip to Pompeii.

What is the best time to go to Pompeii?

Sunset in Pompeii| ©canmandawe
Sunset in Pompeii| ©canmandawe

Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Pompeii. You will avoid the crowds and high temperatures of summer. Winter is usually not very crowded and can be ideal for a leisurely visit to the archaeological site.

For more information, I recommend you to read the post that explains in detail what is the best time to visit Pompeii.

Can I travel from Sorrento to Pompeii on my own?

Enjoy Pompeii with less tourists| ©Nick Hubbard
Enjoy Pompeii with less tourists| ©Nick Hubbard

Yes, just take the Circumvesuviana railway line. The station is in Piazza Giovanni Battista de Curtis, in the heart of Sorrento. Get off at the Pompei - Villa dei Misteri stop. The main entrance is in Piazza Esedra, about five minutes' walk away.

It is cheaper, but less convenient and depends on public transport timetables. Note that this line is usually very busy as it connects Sorrento to Naples. In the morning and after 18:00, trains are crowded.

What are the must-see villages near Pompeii?

Castellammare Di Stabia| ©PurePalmeto
Castellammare Di Stabia| ©PurePalmeto

The most famous towns and villages have already been mentioned in the article. However, there are other "minor" destinations worth discovering:

  • Castellammare di Stabia. With so many beautiful neighbours, it is often overlooked. The town has a beautiful seafront promenade and an old town reminiscent of the centre of Naples. On the heights, a medieval castle dominates Castellammare. It is practically next to Pompeii.
  • Gragnano, the city of pasta. Spaghetti, fusilli, maccheroni and the other varieties of the homonymous brand are produced here. If you feel like it, you can visit the museum free of charge. Just send an email in advance to reserve your place. You can find the address on the official website
  • Vico Equense, the gateway to the Sorrento peninsula. Its icon is the gothic/baroque church of Santa Maria Annunziata built on a spur overlooking the sea.
  • Corbara, a village on the heights known for the corbarino, a tomato shaped like a small lamp.