Look at those LAVA-ly views ...
One of the most famous sights of the Napoli region is none other than Mt Vesuvius. The infamous volcano is known for burying the ancient city of Pompeii, one of the top tourist sites in Italy.
It's a simple day trip from Naples that you can do with various tour companies. But if you're more of an independent traveller like myself, and want to have more freedom with your visit, it's also easily accessible via public transport.
Getting to Pompeii
The circumvesuviana train departs from Napoli Garibaldi/central station every 30 minutes. The line that connects to Pompei Scavi-Villa dei Misteri runs between Naples and Sorrento. There is another line that goes through a station called Pompei but ensure that you are on the Sorrento line for Pompei Scavi-Villa dei Misteri. I took the 9:11am service which arrived to Pompeii at 9:50am.
Where to from Pompeii?
Once arriving in Pompeii there are three options to get to Mt Vesuvius:
1. Public bus (EavBus/Sita)
A scheduled bus service runs between Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius. The bus departs from Piazza Anfiteatro, which is located by a 15-minute walk from the circumvesuviana train station. This option is the cheapest of the three and offers the most freedom for your visit. Tickets are purchased from the driver and cost €2.70 each way. The journey takes roughly 55 minutes. Check the latest timetable here.
The most expensive option of the lot. Although it may seem like the simplest option, it can prove to be a little complicated. Getting a taxi to Mt Vesuvius is not a problem, but it gets a little more complex for the return journey. You will most likely have to pay your driver to wait for you to explore the volcano because taxis will not be readily available. Having not taken this option I wouldn’t be able to tell you the price but I imagine it wouldn’t be cheap.
3. Shuttle bus run by Busvia de Vesuvio
The intermediate option and the most structured. I only had three quarters of a day at hand so I opted for this choice.
Departing every 30 minutes shuttle buses transport you from the circumvesuviana train station to Mt Vesuvius. Tickets can be purchased at the train station for €8. Your ticket is for an allocated time with the tour taking approximately 2.5-3 hours in total. It's important to note that this isn't a tour of the volcano, it is purely a direct shuttle bus.
Upon arrival to Mt Vesuvius you will need to also purchase your entry ticket into the national park. Tickets cost €10 and the office accepts cash only.
Tip: There is an ATM at the main entrance to the ruins of Pompeii, a 3-minute walk from the train station.
We were given 80 minutes to visit the crater which was quite a decent amount of time. The walk to the summit is quite steep, so be prepared for a bit of a work out. There are three small huts along the route where you can purchase basic snacks, drinks and souvenirs. You can do a guided tour within the national park, but being on a strict time frame I opted to explore without a guide. The crater trail covers almost half of the crater offering views into the volcano itself as well as panoramic views over the bay of Naples. There is quite a chill factor at the summit, so it's not a bad idea to bring a jacket with you, even if it's a hot day.
The shuttle bus returned us back to the train station. Unfortunately, my return journey to Naples was quite stressful to say the least. I'd been told previously about the unreliable train service in Italy, but I had never experienced any trouble before. But of course, on this occasion, when I was heavily relying on the train to run to schedule, it didn't. With the train meant to run every 20 minutes (due at 1:07, 1:37 and 1:56), I was left waiting at the station for 40 minutes before any sign of a train showed and even then, the empty train paused at the station but then continued without permitting anyone to board. After 50 minutes passing, a train arrived and was servicing the connection to Naples. With the train, pretty much already at maximum capacity, we all squished ourselves onto the train, not knowing when or if another train would even show up. The train didn't seem up to code either, with the doors not completely closing, but I was pretty desperate at this point so I just tried to ignore it. From speaking to other travellers whilst waiting for the train, it turned out that none of the five scheduled trains over the past hour and a half had arrived. So, I wouldn't recommend that you do this trip when you've got to make a connection to the airport, like myself, unless you want to be running like a mad woman through Naples train station and metro.
Instead of catching the airport shuttle bus to the airport I was left with a taxi as my only option if I was going to make my flight. Much to my displeasure, €25 later I made it to the airport, and still ended up running through the airport. That was the closest I've ever been to missing a flight, but I luckily, I still made it.
So definitely have a Plan B if you're going to do this trip on your travel day, otherwise for a stress free option, make a whole day trip out of it and explore the ruins of Pompeii too (I'd done this on a previous trip and would 100% recommend a visit).