Mount Vesuvius is perhaps best known for its eruption in Roman times (24 August 79 AD), described  by Pliny the younger, when Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed. The eruption left a large crater that can still be visited today. It is a currently dormant volcano that occasionally emits streams of lava (last minor eruption in the 1950's; although its dormant state could be an indication of a build-up of pressure and a coming explosive eruption). At the top of the volcano is a crater rim that affords a view into the crater that still fumes slightly. Besides that you will have (only on clear days, but the mountain is notoriously covered in fog or clouds) a stunning panorama overseeing the Bay of Naples, Naples, Capri, Ischia, the edge of the Amalfi Coast and more.
Be warned: Going there will make you sweat a lot and set you back about 15€ (including private taxi up the hill).
By Public Transport
Take the Circumvesuviana railway or bus to Ercolano Scavi station in Herculaneum or the Pompei Scavi station. From there you have two choices:
You can either wait for the local bus that costs around €8.70 return (from Pompeii, cheaper from Herculaneum). The bus goes only around twice a day from Herculaneum - at 8:45 AM and 12:45 PM. It goes more often from Pompeii.twsebhnt
Or you can use a private taxi company. They are easily found by going to the tourist center on the left as you come out from the Ercolano station. Note: They offer a lift up and down the mountain for about 10€ each person. For €16.50, they will offer a ticket with entry to the crater. Note: They are able to get special entry tickets for €4.50, so when you purchase the package, they keep €12, instead of €10. They will typically wait until a car is full and leave then. They will agree with all people in the car to wait for all of you at the upper car park for an hour. That however is quite tough, because you will need to hike up the last bit before you can actually see anything exciting. That leaves you with only about 15 minutes to photograph the crater, memorize it for the rest of your life etc. When you come back to the car (probably already 15 minutes late), you will be the first, the driver waits usually for all to return, and you regret not to have stayed a bit longer up there. If you have missed the public bus, this will be your only option to get up to the mountain.
You can also do a 6km hike to the summit along the winding roads. To do this you will need to take the local bus service ANM 5 or 176 from Ercolano to San Vitto. From there you will be able to walk to the summit. You can take in the views of the national park and enjoy the local wildlife. You will still need to pay the entrance fee when you arrive at the crater, but for the energetic ones it is a must!
You can get to the upper parking area, but be prepared to part with an arm and a leg for the parking fee.
- By Foot: Afraid, no choice. Everyone has to walk up the last 500m steeply uphill. That includes busloads of German pensioners which on busy days will congest the path and give up half the way. Closed-in strong shoes are essential, as the path is dust and loose rock. You probably want to get hold of one or two walking sticks provided. And there is a small entrance fee of €6.50(adults)/€4.50 (students).
- The crater with its rising fumes.
- The different lava stones, changing colour as you walk uphill and around the crater.
- The view of the Bay of Naples and Pompeii in good weather.
- The scarred landscape where the 1950's lava streams went downhill.
- The remains of the funicular railway built in 1870, and which operated until the volcano's last major eruption in 1944. The song Funiculì, Funiculà was written by composer Peppino Turco, to commemorate the opening of the railway.
- All the other tourists.
- Dynamic Earth Adventures, (info@DynamicEarthAdventures.com), . An organization that arranges personalised tours to Vesuvius and Pompeii led by experienced tour guides and academics in the field.
- Make a photograph that looks like you are going to parachute down the mountain.
- Enjoy the natural beauty of this worldly wonder.
- Geological collection sets with rare original Vesuvius stones. These are spray painted fakes.
- Postcards with a helicopter view of the volcano (since you won't get into one to snap the shots yourself).
- Property on the lower slopes of Vesuvius is very attractively priced.
- Lacryma Christi wine is produced from grapes grown on the lower slopes of the volcano.
Eat & Drink
- While there are no pubs or restaurants, there are several small shops up the last 500m or so to the crater and you can pick up snacks and a cool drink here but don't expect any meals, come well prepared!
Vesuvius is an active volcano and may erupt any time in the near future. Over the last few centuries, Vesuvius has erupted at intervals ranging from 18 months to 7½ years, making the current lull the longest in 500 years. Its lack of eruption may merely indicate a build-up of pressure, which may result in a more explosive next eruption, posing a lethal hazard to over 500,000 residents living in the same place that got destroyed in 79 A.D. (obviously, they have not learned).
Listen to local authorities if there is any news about the state of Vesuvius, and do not wander any further than the trails go.
- Combine the trip to Vesuvius with visiting Herculaneum or Pompeii afterwards to make more of the day.
This page was last edited at 17:11, on 24 March 2009 by Wikitravel user Texugo. Based on work by Vivek Mittal, Stacy Hall and Ann, Wikitravel user(s) Spircle, Dheerav2, Huttite and InterLangBot, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.