It's easy to spend a day exploring Pompeii or Herculaneum from Capri, where you can journey into ancient Rome via their spectacular archaeological remains. While on the mainland, you can even take a jaunt up to the magnificent crater atop Mt. Vesuvius, the volcano that buried these two Roman cities in mud and ash during an eruption in 79 AD, which preserved them almost intact for posterity.
First, we suggest you choose one of these two ancient cities to visit. Both are fascinating sites with a wealth of ruins, but trying to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum in the same day can be a tiring endeavor, especially if you are setting off from Capri.
Which site should you choose to visit? Keep in mind that Pompeii is larger and more famous, but is also generally more crowded, though the vast area of the site makes it easy for the crowds to spread out. A section of the ruins in Pompeii is accessible to those with limited mobility; wheelchair users can enter through the Piazza Anfiteatro gate to take the dedicated route. If you prefer to explore a smaller and less crowded - though equally compelling - site, Herculaneum is your best bet!
How Long Does it Take to Visit Pompeii and Herculaneum?
Many tours stop for 2 hours at Pompeii, but we suggest dedicating at least 3 to 4 hours to take in the top sights inside the ruins. To visit Herculaneum, on the other hand, a couple of hours is more than enough.
As long as you are headed to the mainland to tour Pompeii or Herculaneum from Capri, consider stopping at Mt. Vesuvius to hike up to the crater's edge. This scenic hike isn't too strenuous and you can choose to take on a portion of the trail on your own or hire a volcanologist guide to hike the entire trail around the crater. Either way, you'll be treated to breathtaking views across the crater created by the same volcano that destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum 2,000 years ago and a sweeping panorama across the city of Naples to the bay and island of Capri.
Information for Visiting Mt. Vesuvius
It takes about 3 hours to visit the crater, including the hike up and down the trail. We do not recommend this trail for those who have limited mobility. In the summer months, the trail can be very hot and there is no shade; try to avoid the midday hours and be sure to bring water, a hat, and sunblock.
January, February, November December: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
March and October: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
April, May, June, September: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
July and August: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The trail to the crater's edge is open daily all year round, but may occasionally close for adverse weather conditions or unsafe conditions.
Adults: EUR 10
Children and students: EUR 8
Free entrance for children below 120 centimeters and the disabled with one assistant
If you are planning on a day trip from Capri to Pompeii or Herculaneum and Mt. Vesuvius, we suggest dedicating the morning to exploring the archaeological site you've chosen and then heading to Mt. Vesuvius in the afternoon, perhaps after a lunch break and wine tasting at one of the wineries on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius.
Visiting Mount Vesuvius: info and tips
Once you've decided to set out from Capri to visit Pompeii (or Herculaneum) and Mt. Vesuvius, it's time to figure out the logistics. Getting from Capri to Pompeii or Herculaneum and then the crater of Mt. Vesuvius can be time-consuming and you'll need to take a number of different means of transportation.
The easiest way to arrange a day trip from Capri to Pompeii/Herculaneum and Mount Vesuvius is by taking the ferry or a private boat transfer to Sorrento and then hiring a car service with a private driver. This allows you to skip the hassle and delays of public transportation and have more freedom to schedule your day at Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius from Capri at your own pace.
Group Day Trips
If you are traveling with a group of family or friends, a car service with a private driver is probably the most hassle-free and inexpensive way to reach Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Mt. Vesuvius from Capri without the stress and delays of public transportation.
We also suggest booking skip-the-line tickets for Pompeii or Herculaneum so you won't be caught in a long line at the entrance and can enjoy more time inside the sites!
If you don't want to hire a private driver, you can always take public transportation to get from Capri to Pompeii/Herculaneum and Mt. Vesuvius, but keep in mind that you will spend more time traveling, have to change a number of times, and have a longer and more tiring day.
First you'll need to reach the mainland from Capri! The easiest way to do that is hop on the hydrofoil between Capri and Sorrento, which runs frequently and gets you to Sorrento in just about 20 minutes. There is another route that stops first in Naples, but it is more expensive and takes longer to reach Sorrento.
Once you've disembarked in Sorrento, you'll need to reach the town's Circumvesuviana station where trains to Naples that stop near Pompeii and Herculaneum depart every 30 minutes. To get from the port in Sorrento to the train station in the town center, you can either walk (it's an uphill walk with about 100 steps halfway in) or take a bus or taxi.
After you've visited Pompeii or Herculaneum, you'll want to head to Mt. Vesuvius to take in the volcanic crater.
There are both buses and shuttles that climb the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius to the park entrance departing from the Circumvesuviana stations in Pompeii and Herculaneum.
We suggest scheduling your day trip to Pompeii/Herculaneum and Mt. Vesuvius at the end of your stay on Capri as a stop on your way back home or your next destination. One of the most convenient ways to visit is by booking a private transfer that stops at one of the archaeological sites and/or Mt. Vesuvius on the way to the Naples airport, train station, or hotel.
Pompei or Herculaneum?