Are you spending your holidays in Campania? Visit Mount Vesuvius, the impressive volcano whose name is forever associated with that of Pompeii. Here’s all you need to know before you head off to discover one of Europe’s most dangerous volcanoes!
Overlooking the Gulf of Naples from the top of its 4,202 feet, the imposing Mount Vesuvius forms an integral part of the Neapolitan landscape and history. If you’re staying in the area, the ascent of the volcano is definitely on your must-do list. Located around 6 miles from Naples, the volcano sits very close to Pompeii and Herculaneum, the two Roman cities which were forever buried under the ashes following the catastrophic eruption of 79 AD. A good reason to combine all your tours in one day!
Also read : The 14 best things to do in Naples
History of Mt. Vesuvius
Formed about 400,000 years ago, Mount Vesuvius is one of the world’s most famous and studied volcanoes. Rising at 4,202 feet, it is one of the only volcanoes in Europe still in activity, along with Etna and Stromboli . Though currently dormant, Mount Vesuvius is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years (the last eruption happened in 1944). Climbing to the top of Vesuvius is an experience to live at least once in your life!
Founded in June 1995, and declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1997, Vesuvius National Park is a treasure trove of biodiversity, blessed with rich flora and fauna. The park offers nine hiking trails – of varying levels of difficulty – which are bound to delight nature and hiking aficionados.
On the night of 24-25 October in the year 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted in one of the most catastrophic and famous eruptions of all time. Five cities around Naples – namely Herculaneum, Oplontis, Boscoreale, Stabiae, and Pompeii – were destroyed by the pyroclastic surges and forever buried beneath ashes and pumice. Pompeii is nowadays the most famous of these five cities due to its astonishing state of conservation: preserved under the ashes to a large extent, the excavated city offers a unique snapshot of Roman life, frozen in time.
Since then, the volcano has erupted up about thirty times, but without ever causing as much damage as in 79 AD. Though no eruptions have occurred since 1944, the volcano is closely monitored by the Vesuvius Observatory in Naples.
What to do and see on Mount Vesuvius
Several excursions depart from Naples to climb the slopes of Vesuvius up to its crater. A great way to see the volcano from up-close, while enjoying sweeping views of the urban and natural surroundings below.
While hiking towards the summit of the volcano, you will walk over small pieces of lava (pozzolans) and see the peculiar rocks that form the volcano and the lava flows that are now solidified. The volcano offers splendid views of the dense vegetation of the surroundings, dotted with vineyards. Indeed, the unique combination of pozzolan stone and warm Mediterranean climate make for ideal agricultural conditions, you should try out the amazing local produce and you can also >visit the vineyards.
Once at the top of the volcano, you can observe and walk along the wide open crater which currently has a diameter of 1500 feet and a depth of 1000 feet. Visitors that are not immune to vertigo should be cautious!
Weather permitting, the view from the top of Mt. Vesuvius is just spectacular! Admire the Bay of Naples, the coast, and all the surrounding islands. A word of advice: bring a pair of binoculars if you can, you’ll be able to spot some of Naples’ most famous monuments.
The tour lasts for about 1h30. To climb up to the summit, bring a good pair of hiking shoes as well as water (a lot of water!). Don’t forget that you will be reaching the top of a dormant (but not inactive) volcano: heat is still emanating from the crater! Also, be aware that bad weather can cause disappointment: when the sky is very cloudy, you won’t have a clear view of the Bay of Naples below.
How to get to Mt. Vesuvius?
Regardless of the means of transport you choose, once you arrive at the volcano ticket office, you will have to continue on foot. It takes 15 to 30 minutes to reach the 4,202 feet high summit. There are different ways of climbing the crater :
- By car
- By train
- By bus
- By foot
take the A3 Naples-Salerno highway, take the Torre del Greco exit and follow the signs for Mt. Vesuvius for about 8 miles.
take the “Circumvesuviana” Napoli-Sorrento train from Naples Central Station. Stop at Ercolano Scavi (this is the stop for the ancient site of Herculaneum). The journey via train takes about 20 minutes. Then take a bus to the volcano.
several bus companies offer trips from Naples to Vesuvius.
hiking enthusiasts will be delighted to follow the paths laid out by the national park. For this, bring good hiking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and water! Don’t let the blazing heat become your worst enemy: being well-equipped is paramount.
The organized tour option: This is a practical and convenient solution if you don’t feel like organizing your visit to Mount Vesuvius. There are several available excursions from Naples or Sorrento that combine the tour of Mt. Vesuvius and the visit of Pompeii on the same day. Prices differ according to the duration of the excursion and the services included. Here are some links to book this type of excursion to Mt. Vesuvius:
– From Naples: Visit Mount Vesuvius in a 4×4 (4-hour trip)
– From Naples: The tour of Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius
– From Naples: An 8-hour excursion to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius
– From Sorrento: A full day in Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius https://doyoogo.com/225067_t
Visit Mount Vesuvius : opening hours and rates
If you decide to visit Mount Vesuvius, you will first need to purchase a ticket for the visit of the crater (the service of a guide is included) at the entrance of the site. The prices are :
Full price: €10
Reduced price: €8.
Access is free for children under 1m20 high who are accompanied by their parents.
Entrance is free to all EU citizens under 18.
You can also get a skip-the-line ticket online: this will save you the hassle of queuing at the ticket office on site.
The crater is open all year round, except on days when the weather conditions are bad and make visiting Mount Vesuvius dangerous.
January, February, November, and December: open from 9 am to 3 pm
March and October: open from 9 am to 4 pm
April, May, June, and September: open from 9 am to 5 pm
July and August: open from 9 am to 6 pm
Before you visit Mount Vesuvius, we recommend reading the main information about this exceptional site. Here’s a selection of the essential aspects you need to remember as well as a few useful tips:
– Be advised that there are no public restrooms available, nor any water fountains around the crater.
– Part of the hike up is on loose gravel, so bring closed shoes
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