Exploring the Ruins of Pompeii – The Do-It-Yourself Guide

Exploring the Ruins of Pompeii – The Do-It-Yourself Guide

Pompeii is a great destination for a day trip and it’s proximity to Napoli. So it shouldn’t be too difficult to schedule into your Italy trip.

If you are travelling on a budget, we cannot recommend AreA Domus B&B highly enough. A large double room with private parking, excellent WIFI & breakfast (well it is a B&B) was only 50 euros per night. Even better, the location is a mere 10-15 minute walk from the Pompeii ruins.

The accommodation is very affordable due to the shared bathrooms (we didn’t have to share during our stay) and Google Maps had a slightly difficult time navigating us there at night.

The Good

The cost of entry to the ruins is 13 euros for an adult is very reasonable and the ruins were a great experience. Certainly worth the while to see the ruins we have all heard so much about. The ruins are ‘as they were’ and excavation works are still ongoing throughout the site. The ticket price includes a detailed map and guide, so you can avoid walking around every street when there is little to take in.

For those not using a tour guide and not so good with maps, there are several offline guides that you can take a long to use in conjunction with your map. For smartphone users, the app Pompeii – A Day in the Past is available in both Apple & Google Play stores for a small fee and provides a little more detailed information. You will need to download it in advance though as the app is 115MB.

There is also plenty of information available giving an insight into life at the time of the eruption.

For those not entirely sold on the history & archaeological aspect, there are some additions to the site that provide a little bit of added interest. The bronze statues by various artists certainly made the visit more interesting and there is a musical history of artists who have played in the amphitheatre there, although we hastily skipped this part!

The Bad

The ruins are spread over a huge area, so ensure you wear suitable footwear as you will be covering a significant distance during the day. It is also worth noting that there is very limited shade inside the grounds so pack lightly but sensibly. If you are planning to come to Pompeii only for a day trip then bear in mind that there won’t be a great deal of time for any additional activities. We explored the most interesting 80% of the ruins and we still spent 4.5 hours here.

If the day of your visit is forecast for heavy rain then we would suggest trying to adjust your schedule to do this on a drier day.

The Ugly

Unfortunately, the most interesting parts of the ruins are swarming with tourists. Not ideal for taking idiot free photographs. Expect to see them queue up to get an original photo posing with bronze penises etc.

The line for the brothel (yep, oldest profession in the world) was huge. It took us around half an hour to battle to the front. And we were somewhat disappointed by it, it held very little intrigue and apart from concrete beds and a few damaged, suggestive paintings, there wasn’t a lot to it.

Due to the small size of the building only 10 people are permitted inside at any time and with the large numbers you are more or less forced through in about 30 seconds to keep the flow up, so don’t even bother trying to snap a photo – you just won’t get the opportunity.

We thought that there were much more interesting areas of the ruins.

Fitting with this section, there were also far fewer corpses than we had expected. We found about eight preserved bodies during our visit, we had expected to see more.

Bottom Line

When we do return to this area of Italy, we will be spending a little more time in the area. Not necessarily in Pompeii, but we intend to hike up & do a tour of Mount Vesuvius as a minimum.
The opportunity to hike up Europe’s most active volcano is one thing we wish we had done here having climbed other active volcanoes in the past!


If this is something that appeals to you then please check out the most comprehensive guide available here.

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