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.
You can view AirBnBs in Pompei here or browse hotels in Pompei here.
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.
I did a day trip to Pompeii from Naples early February ’17 and everything was dead empty, I was actually quite happy to return to buzzing Napoli later that day 🙂
Ahhh, I felt the complete opposite. After a buzzing day in Napoli, I was so relieved to return to a quieter place in Pompei, but that being said, big cities are not really my thing. 😉
I’d skip the ruins and just eat those fresh mozzarella balls all day!
Haha, the food at this place was so good! We just kept going back for more. 😋
I went on a day trip to Pompeii when I went on a coach holiday to Rome a few years ago, it was so amazing and I wish I’d had more time to really explore, we were only there for about 2 hours!
We spoke to a couple when we were in Sorrento who said they were staying near Pompeii and I would definitely choose to stay there if/when I go back!
I didn’t make it to Pompeii on my last trip to Italy, but I definitely want to next time. I split my time in big cites and smaller towns and it was really, really nice to get out of the hustle of a big town and I found that in a lot of the smaller towns, they might get busy during the day, but the nights are pretty blissful. It definitely allows for a different look at cities that are mostly just visited for a few hours.
Hello. I was very pleased to find your piece as we are looking at doing a similar thing in a week or so. We are looking at accommodation in Pompei and will be arriving by train or bus. Is everywhere close and walkable or should we look at a particular area best for public transport connections. Where was your AirBNB located? Thanks. Helen
Hi Helen, the city of Pompei is fairly compact so it’s easy to get around on foot. I’d recommend choosing accommodations in the vicinity of Piazza Bartolo Longo or one of its surrounding side streets. That’s the main square in town with lots of restaurant options, plus you can easily walk to the ruins. My AirBnB was located behind the train station, which meant I had to cross an overpass – still walkable in terms of sightseeing, but you’d want to take a taxi if you have luggage.
Hi! Loved your video…would you suggest just walking around by yourself in Pompeii and ruins, or doing a tour. What is the cost difference?
I was in Pompeii and I liked it very much. I didn’t think it would make such a big impression on me.
Joined a group tour of Pompei. Lots of tours at the same time, made for tricky maneuvers while exploring the ruins. The tour guides are very competitive trying to make their group the first ones through. It was rushed, only hitting highlights of Pompei. Wish we could have spent more time there.
Thank you for this! We just booked a trip in March, (COVID willing) and it was my idea to stay in Pompeii. Out hotel looks out over the site and I was actually just beginning to think maybe I made a poor choice. But I will feel better now. I’m not a huge fan of huge cities and I really just want to see the dig sites and such in the area. Do you have any tips for getting from Naples Airport to Pompeii or from the City of Pompeii to Herculaneum? Thank you!
What a great read Audrey! We’re also planning a trip and have decided to base ourselves in Pompeii .. again I’m wondering about transport .. to Vesuvius and from Naples airport to Pompeii?
Did you visit Positano or Amalfi? Is it doable to stay in Pompeii and do day trip to Amalfi area? I too do not like changing hotel, prefer a base to come back to nightly.