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Pompeii or Herculaneum? Or Both? Vesuvius?

Pompeii or Herculaneum? Or Both? Vesuvius?

Old Dec 9th, 2009, 02:56 PM
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Pompeii or Herculaneum? Or Both? Vesuvius?

Anyone have any opinions on whether we should do Pompeii or Herculaneum, or both?
And how much time to allocate?

Has anyone gone up to the crater at Mt Vesuvius? Worth it?
wrenwood is offline  
Old Dec 9th, 2009, 03:07 PM
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I'm glad I visited both, as they are surprisingly different. If I recall correctly, I spent about 5 hours at Pompeii and just under 2 hours at Herculaneum. I did not go to the crater at Vesuvius because I had visited Mt. Etna less than a week before. Hope that helps!
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Old Dec 9th, 2009, 04:38 PM
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We did only Pompeii, due to time constraints. We were the 5 hours and by now means saw all there was to see - you could easily spend the whole day if you're really interested.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Dec 9th, 2009, 04:50 PM
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Like kja, we did both and agree with those observations. They are very different. Herculaneum is surprisingly intact and conveys more of a feeling of place.

We also went up Vesuvius. It is a good hike up there on an even path and when we got to the top, it was covered in fog and we could not see a thing. There were nice views however on the way up and down. If you go, there is often someone at the base renting walking sticks. Do yourself a favor and rent one, it helps. We thought it was worth it.
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Old Dec 9th, 2009, 04:50 PM
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We have visited both,at different times. Pompeii is amazing, but be prepared for lots of tourists.Herculaneum is much smaller as it has not been fully excavated. It is interesting to see how far below the present day street level it is. There were far less visitors. For some reasonI preferred it to Pompeii.They are both quite poignant.A really good guide was very helpful.the guide brought to life what we were seeing. If you have time,pay a visit to Ostia Antiqua a half hour train trip from Rome-also very interesting.
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Old Dec 9th, 2009, 06:20 PM
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I've visited Pompeii twice for a total of 7 hours and still could go back to see more. Next time, it's Herculaneum for sure. Last night there was an excellent program on our local Edu TV channel on both!

I've seen an erupting volcano (Kiluea), and an inactive one (Haleakala), and an extinct one (Mammoth), so never had an urge to hike up Vesuvius.

How much time do you have in the area? How much interest? Many people are happy with just a 2 hour visit to Pompeii, but that never would have done it for me.
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 04:45 AM
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We drove into the blast zone at Mt St Helens a few years after the explosion, and also saw the blown out crater from the air. But I've never seen anything like Mt Vesuvius, nor walked up to a crater. And we may or may not ever go to Hawaii, so I'm pretty sure Vesuvius is on our "to-do list"

We should have 3 full days to split between Paestum, Herculaneum, Pompeii and hopefully Path of the Gods. And we will have one travel day from our B&B (possibly in Ravello) to our next B&B (possibly in Casperia ~ 4 hrs) on which I was thinking if we got an early start we might do Herculaneum ~ I assume it would take slightly less time than Pompeii?

What time do these sites open? Can you hire a guide there or is that something that needs to be done ahead of time?
wrenwood is offline  
Old Dec 10th, 2009, 04:50 AM
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I love both Pompeii and Herculaneum and would change my mind from day to day as to which is better. Today, I would recommend Herculaneum - stand near the boathouses where the found the remains of the inhabitants, look up at the huge volume of ash and rock that covered the city, then see the people hanging out their washing on the houses built over the ruins - it is fascinating.

I would also complicate matters by saying that if you miss the national archaeological museum in Naples itself, you miss half the experience of visiting the ruins.
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 05:02 AM
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This is the website for Pompeii and Herculaneum. Pompeii is big and spread out while Herculaneum is much more compact. You can buy a combo ticket which saves you a few € (combo ticket was 20€ when I was there last).

Since you plan to be in the area several days, I would consider getting the 3 day Campania Artecard tutte la regione. This gives you free admission to two sites, discounts at others (50% off) and free transportation in the area (local trains/buses/metro, etc.) including in the city of Naples and all the way to Paestum for three days. Price is 27€.

Many sites will have audio guides (handheld, not headsets)for rent. Each area is numbered and you just select the number to hear the info. Don't count on Herculaneum having them as they seem to run out even when not particularly busy.

If you do not buy the artecard, have cash to pay for your tickets as they were not accepting credit cards when I was there.
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 06:54 AM
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I found the audio guides at Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Paestum quite useful. When in Paestum, do consider visiting the archeological museum - it's quite good. I spent about 2 hours at the site and another hour at the museum. If you have time (or can make time!), I would also recommend trying to visit the archeological museum in Naples, which is outstanding and provides a wonderful complement to a visit to Pompeii.

There are a few specific sites at Pompeii that can be seen only with an advance reservation, which were free when I went. For more information, see:

That Web site is in Italian only, but you can use Babel Fish or another on-line translation service to figure out what it says.
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 07:31 AM
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I wanted to do it all but only ended up doing Pompeii.
I don't think I regretted my choice.
Out of the three I think its the biggest MUST-SEE

Please feel free to read my trip report at:
Plus countless photos of Pompeii !
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Old Dec 10th, 2009, 10:24 AM
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Last May while based in a villa in Vietri sul Mare, just north of Salerno, I visited Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Paestum. We also hiked up Mt. Vesuvius (the afternoon of the same day we visited Herculaneum--we had a car so drove to all these sites).

Pompeii was amazing. It was full of visitors, though its size helps absorb them and makes it less crowded than it would otherwise be. Definitely hire a guide--we didn't, and I regret it because it would have added a lot to the experience, I think.

Herculaneum was more manageable, less crowded, and just as interesting in my opinion. A definite must-see.

Paestum was completely different (Greek temples and a wonderful museum that houses the frescoes and other artifacts from the site). Highly recommended--and it's right in the heart of buffalo mozzarella country, so you can get it fresh from the farm.

We loved the Vesuvius climb. Here's an excerpt from my trip report: "Once off the A3 we wound our way up to the parking area at the base of the climb, joining quite a crowd of hikers of all kinds heading up the steadily sloping path to the crater. I wasn’t expecting all those people! But everybody seemed happy, even the woman in high heels who was herding a couple of kids up the mountain. Vesuvius is an icon of southern Italy, and it seemed like much of Italy was on the climb with us. The crater is impressive. There was some haze, but the grand views out onto the Naples and the bay were wonderful--we saw all the way to Ischia and Capri. We tried to find Pompeii below us but couldn’t quite pick it out. We basked in the sunshine, inspected the interesting geological features (my husband is a geologist), and then descended, stopping for lunch down the mountain at the base of Via Vesuvio--La Rotunda Ristorante. Tasty pizzas and a round of beers helped us recover our energy and get ready for the afternoon we planned at nearby Herculaneum."

I did the hike in sneakers (aka tennis shoes) with no issues. The walking stick was useful -- the vendor offers it to you for "free" as you walk by, but you are expected to pay a tip when you return it.

By the way, if you are interested in volcanoes, someday you should go to Vulcano in the Aeolian Islands and climb the Gran Cratere--it's awesome. And Stromboli (on Stromboli)--that's our next volcano, coming up in May, and is likely to be quite a bit harder.
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Old Dec 29th, 2009, 06:56 AM
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Hello all, happy holidays! It's almost 2010, the year of our Italy trip!!!!! YEA!

Question ~ if we don't stay in Ravello to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum, does anyone have a great idea of where we should stay? I do not want to stay in Naples, would prefer a more country area.
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Old Jan 18th, 2011, 10:03 AM
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I like Sorrento to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum, it's an easy train ride to both. Definitely do not miss Oplontis, which is the Torre Annunziata stop on the same train, you'll be glad you did. An easy block or two from the station and interiors that are out of this world. And if you felt adventurous, you could also take the train, a longer ride, but worth it, to Paestum from Sorrento, too.
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Old Jan 18th, 2011, 10:20 AM
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We did Pompeii and Vesuvius. On a nice day the view from Vesuvius is beautiful. If you are in any sort of shape I don't think you will have a problem with the climb. Though my bowling ball SIL gave up after about 10 feet.
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