If you’re heading to the south of Italy- Pompeii is a must see! Best known for the spine chilling casts of people who were fossilised by metres of volcanic ash and pumice by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 – Tourists (me…guilty) travel from all over the globe for the opportunity to freely roam around the ancient ruins of a once thriving and sophisticated Roman city. Plus, it’s probably one of the most talked about historical sight there is!
There are lots of tours available to see Pompeii; including air-conditioned coach trips, private bus tours and independent audio tapes.
We did a bit of window shopping before buying and we found that the coach trips and private tour buses were considerably more expensive in comparison to the audio tapes. But, we also heard the audio tapes were a waste of money as it’s difficult to figure out which area of the ruins they are referring to. We also found that the coach/private tours only offered you a couple of hours in each place as they often squeeze in multiple locations into a one day excursion, so we decided we’d like to avoid both if we could!
After shopping around a few different companies, we found one in the centre of Sorrento which offered a full day tour including transport to the ruins which didn’t break the bank, perfect! The catch – the transport was actually the local train service in which we would meet our guide at the train station, catch the train and meet at the other side.
At first, we were wary of getting public transport as we had heard a few sketchy stories that they are a hunting ground for pick pockets! But the guide reassured us that we would be fine. So off we went like a true Italian to the stazione ferroviaria!
Total saving: €60! Woo!
The price of the tour was €35 each which we thought was a steal! The journey itself wasn’t too sketchy, we kept an eye on our bags and stayed close to each other. There were lots of other tourists who were also on the train doing the same as us so we felt comfortable knowing we weren’t alone. The way back was a bit different as the train was super packed so we had to separate (pretty similar to our rush hour commute in London) but it was bearable.
Tip: When we got to Sorrento train station, we actually found that the train station sell the exact same tour including return train tickets and an english speaking tour guide for €5 cheaper each!!! You can get these on the day.
Our guide told us the back carriage of the train was the safest.
2. Wear comfortable shoes!
The tour gives you an overview of the main attractions once you’re in the ruins which lasts around 2-3 hours. The floors are very rocky and unsteady at times so I would definitely recommend wearing trainers or something which you feel comfortable doing lots of walking in.
We were the youngest people on the tour, so we ended up helping some of the elderly members of our group to climb up the steep pavements and walkways. A lovely way to bond with different generations no doubt!
3. Beware of the Hornets!
Seriously, beware…there are hundreds of them! I’m talking like big, bad-boy, size-of-a-50p-coin Hornets. I never actually saw anyone get stung by them so don’t panic too much, but just try to avoid hanging around in areas where you can see a few – as they seemed to come out of nowhere! The guide was quite helpful in the fact that whenever she saw a cloud of them she would take us down an alternative route and move us away from any areas which she knew were hornet hot spots (an expert from being a tour guide there for over 5 years).
4. Bring lots of food and water
If you’re planning a whole day to fully explore Pompeii, I would really recommend stocking up on water and some snacks to keep you going as the tour involves a lot of walking. Although there is a cafè, the prices are more than the local shops and there isn’t much choice so I would stock up to save money and yourself from dehydration!
5. Last but not least, bring your imagination!
There is so much history and culture in Pompeii.
From the moment you walk into the ruins you’re transported to an ancient traditional high street; what looks like a hole in the wall is actually an ancient pizza oven, the now cute stepping stones were their way of avoiding the lack of sewage systems and what are now just empty brick rooms were once the local bakery! Exploring Pompeii and falling in love with the history of a once booming society was the perfect way to finish our trip to Italy!
Keep you eyes peeled for the amazingly intricate artwork and mosaics of the people of Pompeii!
My Final Tip: I would definitely recommend getting a tour guide, ours was very knowledgable and answered all of our questions. Even the awkward ones about the famous Pompeii brothel (which btw, is definitely seeing for the lol’s)
Happy exploring everyone!