When we were planning our most recent trip to Italy focused along the Bay of Naples, the big question on our minds was: where should we stay?
The destinations we wanted to visit included Naples, Herculaneum, Mount Vesuvius, Pompei and Sorrento, but because switching accommodations every few days is one of our biggest travel pet peeves, we only wanted to have one destination as our base and take day trips from there. Switching hotels means packing and unpacking, hauling your luggage on and off trains, and navigating new cities with bags in tow, so we wanted to keep that to a minimum and focus on exploring instead.
In the end, we choose to stay in Pompei for several reasons – initially, we thought we would only come here on a day trip – but I’m so glad we decided to spend a full week here instead.
Here’s what made us choose Pompei and what we feel were some of the advantages of this location:
Centrally located and shorter commutes
First things first, let’s talk about Pompei’s location. Out of all the places we wanted to visit, this was the most centrally located destination on the itinerary with Herculaneum, Vesuvius and Naples to the north, and Sorrento to the south. Being the half-way point meant we had much shorter distances to travel.
Here’s a quick breakdown of travel times from Pompei to:
- Sorrento – 30 minutes
- Herculaneum (Ercolano Scavi) – 17 minutes
- Naples – 35 minutes
Cheaper than other destinations
When we were initially researching accommodations, we were looking at both Sorrento and Naples, but we weren’t really sold on either of them.
Sorrento marks the start of the Amalfi Coast, so we found the prices there to be significantly higher for an entire apartment in a central location.
As for Naples, the prices were a bit more reasonable, but we weren’t sure about booking a solid week in such a chaotic and densely populated city.
This is why we ended up looking at properties in Pompei, and once we saw that they offered more bang for our buck, we were sold!
In the end, we rented a house on AirBnB for only $43 a night (during low season) and it was:
- a 5-minute walk to the main train station,
- a 10-minute walk to the centre of Pompei,
- and a 15-minute walk to the ruins of Pompeii.
Small town feel with plenty of restaurants
Once we arrived in Pompei, we were very pleased to discover that it was a small yet charming city. We found it very walkable, there was a beautiful central square flanked by a cathedral and lots of palm trees, and there was no shortage of restaurants.
Since we’re the kind of travellers who enjoy walking and eating all day long, this suited us pretty well.
We may have even found the best pizza outside of Naples at a place called Pizzeria Alleria, which we proceeded to revisit over and over again for the duration of our visit.
Lots of stations to get you places
Another thing we loved about Pompei is that it was very well connected by train. We made use of 3 different train stations during our stay:
- Pompei Central – operated by TrenItalia and offering connections across Italy
- Pompei Scavi – Villa dei Misteri – located close to the ruins of Pompeii
- Pompei Circumvesuviana – located directly behind the cathedral
Whenever we hopped on the Circumvesuviana line, we only had to pay 2,00 – 2,80 Euros depending on where we were going.
Just one piece of advice, be aware that on some maps these stations only appear listed as “Pompei”, so make sure you know which station your train departs from. Otherwise, you could end up at the wrong place like we did!
Many day-trippers but few overnighters
One thing we noticed during our week-long stay in Pompei is that the city gets a lot of day visitors, but very few people stay overnight.
The crowds in Pompei swelled during the day – mostly around the ruins of Pompeii since not many people seemed to wander into the modern city – but the numbers dropped drastically by late afternoon. If you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, this can be a great thing!
Easy access to the ruins of Pompeii
Last but not least, one of the great benefits of staying in modern Pompei is easy access to the ruins of Pompeii!
That means you don’t have to feel rushed visiting on a day trip or half-day trip, plus you can arrive outside of peak hours to experience the archaeological site with smaller crowds.
We arrived at the park shortly after it opened and there were areas where we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves, however, things got busier as the day progressed. So keep that in mind – early morning or late afternoon visits.
Did we make the right choice?
Having visited all of the different towns and cities on our itinerary, we were very happy with our choice. We really enjoyed getting to see Naples, Sorrento, Herculaneum and Mount Vesuvius, but it felt good to come back to Pompei at the end of the day.
Overall, this destination offered great value, excellent connections to some of the major tourist attractions along the Bay of Naples, and the city’s laidback vibe suited our travel style perfectly.