Preserved for hundreds of years by the very volcanic eruption that destroyed it, the ancient city of Pompeii is one of those places that inspires people to travel. Perhaps, even more rarely, it lives up to the hype. The site is large enough you could fill an entire day exploring its every corner and with careful planning can even avoid being stuck in a large crowd. Visiting Pompeii is easily one of the biggest highlights of my RTW trip. Fuel your own bucket list by clicking through the photos below.

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Tips for visiting Pompeii

Use the Circumvesuviana train, not Trenitalia. The Trenitalia station will take you to the modern city of Pompei (just one i). You want the ancient Pompeii Scavi, or Pompeii excavation.

Don’t fall for the first ticket booth you see. These are tickets for guided tours, not for entry to Pompeii itself. Upon exiting the Circumvesuviana station, walk down the street past all the cafes until you see the official bigliaterria on your left.

Skip the guides. You can get a free map and very comprehensive guidebook in the little shop just to the right of the ticket stand. You don’t need to drop an extra 10 to 20 euro on an audio guide or a group tour to understand the sites.

Head to the outskirts first. The late morning is Pompeii’s busiest time and if you stick to central sites in sections 6 and 7 like the Stabian Baths and the Lupanare, you’ll have to compete with lots of large tour groups. Head for the amphitheater in section 2 or the aristocratic houses of section 1 first. Then once the crowds start to clear after lunch, you can go back and enjoy the central sites.

Budget extra time and money for food. There is one cafe near the Forum. It may be a little overpriced, but you can still grab lunch or a snack for as little as 5 euro. Just plan your route carefully if you want to take a lunch break to make sure you’re in the vicinity. Pompeii is huge and this is your only food option inside the site.

Where else should you go in Italy? Get more ideas for your trip with my itinerary planner.

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