Visit Vesuvius, Naples’ famous volcano

Visiter le Vésuve à Naples

Spending your vacation in Campania? Discover Vesuvius, the impressive volcano whose name is inextricably linked with that of Pompeii. Let us be your guide!

A veritable jewel of Italy, towering 1281 metres above the Gulf of Naples, Vesuvius is an integral part of the Neapolitan landscape, and a must-see climb if you’re staying in the region. Located just ten kilometers from Naples, it’s also very close to Pompeii and Herculaneum, the 2 cities that were completely engulfed by the volcano’s ashes following its catastrophic eruption in 79 A.D., so you can fit everything into one day!

Visit Vesuvius: the story of a murderous giant

Formed some 400,000 years ago, Vesuvius is one of the best-known and most studied volcanoes in the world. At 1280 metres high, it is one of Europe’s only active volcanoes, alongside Etna and Stromboli. Still active but currently dormant, it was the only volcano to erupt during the last century (1944). Climbing to the summit of Vesuvius is an experience you must have at least once in your life!

Founded in June 1995, the Vesuvius National Park is a concentrate of natural riches, declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1997. The park offers 9 hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty, sure to delight nature lovers and hikers alike.

Vesuvius: the catastrophic eruption of 79 A.D.

On the night of October 24-25, 79, Vesuvius erupted and buried five towns in the Naples area: Herculaneum, Oplontis, Boscoreale, Stabies and Pompeii. The most famous of these, however, remains Pompeii, with all its astonishingly well-preserved remains, where life was brought to a screeching halt and frozen forever by the volcano’s ash.

Since then, the volcano has erupted some thirty times, but never causing as much damage as it did in 79. Inactive since 1944, it is closely monitored by the Naples Observatory.

What to see and do on your visit to Vesuvius

Pourquoi visiter le Vésuve ?

Photo credit: Pixabay – Enzo Abramo

Excursions, mainly from Naples, take you up the slopes of Vesuvius to its crater. What can you see on your ascent of Vesuvius?

As you climb to the summit of Vesuvius, you’ll feel the ground beneath your feet, made up of small pieces of lava (pozzolana), and admire the singular rocks that make up the volcano and the lava flows that have now solidified. Below, you can see the dense vegetation, dotted with vineyards.

Once at the top of the volcano, observe and stroll along the crater. With a diameter of 600 metres and a depth of 200 metres, beware of vertigo!

The view from the summit of Vesuvius is nothing short of spectacular (weather permitting)! You can admire the Bay of Naples, the coastline and all the surrounding islands. Here’s a tip: bring binoculars and try to find some of Naples’ landmarks.

How to visit Vesuvius

You should allow about 1h30 for the visit. Don’t forget to bring good shoes for the climb up Vesuvius to the crater, and plenty of water too… Don’t forget that you’re standing on top of a volcano that’s still active, as the heat from the crater testifies! Beware, however, of being disappointed by the weather. In fact, some days the sky can be very cloudy, so visibility is reduced over the Bay of Naples.

How do I get to Vesuvius from Naples?

Whichever means of transport you choose, once you arrive at the volcano ticket office, you’ll have to continue on foot. It takes 15-30 minutes to reach the summit, at an altitude of 1180 metres. There are several ways to climb to the crater:

  • By car: take the A3 Naples-Salerno freeway, exit at Torre del Greco and follow the signs for Vesuvius for around 13 kilometers.
  • By train: take the « Circumvesuviana » train from Napoli Centrale (main station). Napoli-Sorrento. Stop at Ercolano Scavi (stop for the ancient site of Herculaneum). The train journey takes about 20 minutes. Then take a bus to the volcano.
  • By bus: several bus companies offer routes from Naples to Vesuvius.
  • On foot: hiking enthusiasts will be delighted by the paths laid out by the national park. Just make sure you have good walking shoes, a cap, sunscreen and water! The stifling heat can quickly become your enemy if you’re ill-equipped.

Organized tours: Even more practical if you don’t feel like organizing your own visit to Vesuvius, there are complete excursions departing from Naples or Sorrento that include a visit to Vesuvius and Pompeii on the same day. Prices vary according to the length of the tour and the services included. Here are a few links to help you book this type of excursion to Vesuvius:

– From Naples: Tour of Vesuvius by 4×4 (4h)

– From Naples: Tour of Pompeii and Vesuvius

– From Naples: 8-hour excursion to Pompeii and Vesuvius

– From Sorrento : A day trip to Pompeii and Vesuvius

Visiting Vesuvius: times and prices

If you decide to visit Vesuvius, you’ll need to buy a ticket for the crater tour (including guide service) at the entrance to the site. Full price: €10; reduced price: €8. Admission is free for children under 1m20 in height, accompanied by their parents. You can also buy your ticket for Vesuvius online, so you don’t have to queue at the on-site ticket office.

Vesuvius opening dates and times

The crater is open all year round, except on days when the weather is very bad, making it dangerous to visit Vesuvius.

  • January, February, November and December: open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • March and October: open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • April, May, June and September: open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • July and August: open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.