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Visiting Mt. Vesuvius

The crater of Mt. Vesuvius on a cloudy day

Mt. Vesuvius is a not-to-be missed stop on the grand tour of Pompeii. You want to make certain, therefore, that you plan your trip to crater carefully. Since Vesuvius can be shrouded by clouds, allow yourself some flexibility in arranging your visit. I have climbed Vesuvius on a very cloudy day (the last day of my trip); I have also climbed it on a hot, sunny day when the vistas were breathtaking. When you wake up one morning and realize that the day will be beautiful, decide then to make the climb.

You can reach Vesuvius by car, taxi, or bus:

Arriving by car. Take the expressway (A3--Napoli to Salerno) to the Ercolano exit. You will see signs for the Vesuvius National Park. Follow the route markers to the parking lot. The road twists and turns, but it is not particularly dangerous. Still, be aware of the tour buses (especially those coming down the road around hairpin turns). 

Arriving by taxi. If you take to the Circumvesuviana to the Ercolano station, you can hire a taxi from a lot directly outside the station. For a fare of around €15-20 (don't be afraid to bargain, especially if there are many taxis and business seems slow), the driver will take you to the parking lot below the crater.

Arriving by bus. You can also catch a tour bus (Trasporti Vesuviani) from the Ercolano train station or from Pompeii (near Pompeii Scavi station and the cameo factory); the price is much more reasonable. Since the buses run all day, you can return whenever it is convenient. Beware that the Ercolano bus stop is much less frequently used (and therefore can be skipped without notice) especially in the off season. If you don't want to miss seeing Vesuvius and have decided to take the bus, I recommend taking it from Pompeii to be certain. 

No matter how you arrive at the parking lot, you still have a climb ahead of you. The path leading to the top is wide and steep, but it is not a difficult climb (except, perhaps, on a very hot day.

 The start of the path, just beyond the parking lot

You should take water and wear sturdy shoes. I have seen some women hike to the top wearing high heels, however. In case of emergency, the path is wide enough for a small vehicle to reach the top of the crater.

after the first hairpin turn

Occasional benches are provided for weary hikers. 

A hazy summer's day limits the sharpness of the panorama 

When you arrive near the summit, you must pay an admission fee to continue your climb to the top (about €6.50 for adults). At the top, you can walk along the rim (though not too close) to an area that overlooks the ruins of Pompeii. Although Vesuvius is an active volcano, it does not emit any smoke. However, it is constantly monitored so that the millions of residents who live nearby could be warned in the event of an eruption.


Books about Mt. Vesuvius

For Adults and Teenagers
For Children