Last Updated on 12th June 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
Lying sleepily by the sea, Sorrento has long been used as a base by visitors from which to explore the wider Southern Italian region, including to visit the nearby Roman ruins that can be found all across the Mediterranean the landscape. Here’s your guide on how to take an easy day trip from Sorrento to Pompeii and Herculaneum, including how to take a guided tour, the easiest train routes, and tips for visiting.
A brief history of Pompeii and Herculaneum
Once upon a time, Pompeii was a thriving Roman city with shops, houses, taverns, businesses, baths, and more. The people lived their lives and even created graffiti all over the city! All this was until a fateful day in 79 CE when Mount Vesuvius (the last active volcano in Europe) erupted. The blast and ensuing volcanic eruption covered Herculaneum and Pompeii in tonnes of ash and sulfuric acid, tragically killing thousands of people in the process.
There the remains of the towns lay for over a thousand years before being uncovered from the mountains of ash. In the past few centuries alone, archaeologists have been excavating the remains of these communities and learning about how these peopled lived, loved, and ultimately died. Today, it’s possible to visit both towns and learn about what life might have been like in what is now Southern Italy almost two millennia ago.
Should you visit Pompeii or Herculaneum?
If you have a limited time, then you might only consider seeing one of the archaeological sites. In this case, then you’ll have to make your decision based on which visit would suit you most. Whereas Pompeii was discovered first and has been turned into an open-air museum of sorts, much of Herculaneum remains closed to visitors due to ongoing excavation works. Though Herculaneum sees fewer tourists as a result, I would personally opt for a visit to Pompeii as there is much more to see.
How to get from Sorrento to Pompeii by public transport
If you’re looking to do a self-guided visit of the ancient Roman city, then it’s perfectly possible to reach Pompeii via public transportation. This is also the best option if you’re looking to save a little bit of money. Just know before you go that you’ll need to bring along a bottle of water (the archaeological site is largely outdoors and Southern Italy is pretty hot), a hat, and plenty of sunscreen.
The Circumvesuviana train is a regional train line which runs out of Naples and makes visiting Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum that much easier. From the train between Sorrento and Naples, there are stops at both Pompeii and Herculaneum. The train station you need to disembark at is Pompei S. Misteri Villa. Sorrento’s train station is a little outside the historic town centre, and so you’ll also need to factor in a little walking time should you choose to create a self-guided itinerary.
Even if you’re going to be making your own way between Sorrento and Pompeii, you’ll likely still want to book your entrance ticket in advance so as to save time on the actual day of your visit. For example, this Fast Track Entrance Ticket includes a skip-the-line function and allows you to explore the ruins of Pompeii at your own pace. Otherwise, this 2-Hour Small-Group Tour with an Archeologist is perfect for those who are seeking for a guided experience.
How to get from Sorrento to Herculaneum on public transport
Much like reaching Pompeii from Sorrento, you can catch the Circumvesuviana train in order to reach Herculaneum. The train station you need to disembark at is Ercolano Scavi. Again, Sorrento’s main train station is a little outside the historic town centre and port, and so you’ll also need to factor in a little walking time should you choose to create a self-guided itinerary.
Sorrento to Herculaneum takes around forty minutes on the train. So as to save time during your Herculaneum visit, you’ll want to book your tickets well in advance. This priority entrance ticket for Herculaneum is well-reviewed and includes a skip-the-line function.
The best guided tours between Sorrento and Pompeii
Full-Day Ruins & Vesuvius Group Tour from Sorrento
If you’re looking to avoid the stress of transfers and want to simply sit back and enjoy the views, then you might consider booking a guided tour from Sorrento. For example, this full-day tour from Sorrento includes a visit to the ruins of Pompeii with an official guide, as well as a trip up Mount Vesuvius. The guided excursion includes free time to enjoy the view of the entire Gulf of Naples. Check prices and availability here.
Half-Day Excursion from Naples or Sorrento
Running short on time but still want to take part of a guided tour? This four-hour excursion includes a guided tour ticket to Pompeii, as well as round-trip transportation from either Naples or Sorrento. Check prices and availability here.
Sorrento Escape Express: 2 Days & 1 Night
For those who are looking to see a little more of Italy with a group, then this two days and one night itinerary include plenty of Southern Italian highlights. Including top must-see destinations such as Pompeii, as well as Naples and Sorrento, the trip also includes a visit to the magical island of Capri via boat. This trip starts in Rome and has an overnight stay in a hotel in Sorrento. Check prices and availability here.