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The ancient city of Pompeii: Once a thriving metropolis, hidden for years by rubble and ashes, now an archaeological dream. The ruins of Pompeii sit only a few hours from Rome, waiting for you to step back in time to 79 AD. Pompeii tours from Rome are a great way to see more of the ancient Roman Empire than the city center.
Why Dark Rome?
The company Dark Rome was started to give tourists a glimpse into the lesser-known stories of Rome. They wanted to make the experience as pleasant as possible so they struck up partnerships with most of the main tourist attractions. Seventeen years later, Dark Rome offers skip-the-line tours, small groups, and expert English speaking guides to all the top sites in Rome.
Discover more Roman adventures with our article Top 10 Things to do in Rome with Kids.
Dark Rome Pompeii Tours Options from Rome
Dark Rome offers four options of Pompeii Tours from Rome, varying in time from 6.5 hours to 12 hours. All tours include skip-the-line access. Small group sizes, expert guides, and headsets ensure an enjoyable experience.
Option #1: Pompeii Express Tour from Rome via High Speed Train–Best for those limited on time. All transportation from the train station in Rome to your end destination of Pompeii is arranged. Once at Pompeii an expert guide leads your group of no more than 25 people around the ancient city.
Option #2: Pompeii Ticket with Round-Trip Bus Service from Rome–Best for DIY travelers, or people returning to Pompeii for another visit. Just basics here, including bus ride and entry into Pompeii. The major benefit of using Dark Rome is the skip-the-line access.
Option #3: Full Day VIP Pompeii and Sorrento Small Group Tour from Rome–Best for shoppers. Small groups of no more than 15 people journey by high-speed train to Pompeii, then spend time exploring the charming town of Sorrento. Plenty of free-time is provided to shop and sample fare.
Option #4 Full Day Pompeii Tour from Rome with Mt. Vesuvius Volcano–Best for average traveler. Tour includes round-trip bus ride, tour of Pompeii, lunch, and hike up Mt. Vesuvius. This is the tour I took, so keep reading to get all the details.
Trekaroo Tip: If the idea of six hours round-trip on the bus makes you want to pull your hair out, the Pompeii Express Tour is for you. A high-speed train from Rome takes you to Naples in just under 1.5 hours. An English-speaking guide then greets you at Napoli Centrale Station before continuing your short journey to Pompeii.
Dark Rome Full Day Pompeii Tour from Rome with Mt. Vesuvius Volcano
This 12 hour tour from Rome includes transportation to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius, a local lunch as well as knowledgeable and entertaining guides. The guided tour of Pompeii lasts about 2-3 hours, about an hour for lunch, and another hour to 1.5 hours at Mount Vesuvius.
After meeting the Dark Rome tour guide in Rome’s beautiful Piazza del Popolo, guests board an air-conditioned coach bus. The drive to Pompeii takes just under three hours with a short break to grab a snack or go to the bathroom. This will be your last chance to grab food before lunch so I suggest you take advantage of it.
During the drive, the guide gives an outline for the day, along with some history. She weaves her stories of the past with myths and legends. The drive becomes not only a journey to a new location, but to another time.
Upon arrival to the ruins of Pompeii, the time travel continues. Almost 2000 years ago an eruption from Mt. Vesuvius buried the city in volcanic ash, perfectly preserving it beneath the rubble. With the vastness of the city and limited time, our tour guide was a godsend.
My Dark Rome guide knew the city of Pompeii better than I know my hometown. He showed us ancient graffiti on the walls and explained its meaning. Then he led us into homes, describing the rituals of daily life. He also called Mt. Vesuvius his best friend-that is how much he loved and respected this ancient Roman city.
The Roman baths (of course very well preserved) testify of a technologically advanced people. Pompeii citizens used lead pipes to bring the water to the baths. They insulated walls and beveled ceilings. It was hard to believe this was all created so far in the past.
One of the most moving aspects of Pompeii are the victims of the volcano. Their bodies rotted away but the hardened ash remained in place, making a perfect picture of their final position. To capture these forms, plaster was inserted into the hollow spaces. The results are heartbreaking.
Although most of the casts reside inside museums to protect them from the elements, we did see one. Her hand is over her face, to protect it from the ash. You can see the outline of her clothes, even her hairstyle. These were real people frozen in time.
In the main square of the ruined city stand pillars from government building and temples. And looming above them all is the infamous Mt. Vesuvius.
Exploring Pompeii in its entirety would take more than a day. This tour just glimpse the surface of the secrets this city holds. Think of it as a sneak-peek, before coming back to explore the Amalfi coast on another trip to Italy.
With the roots of pizza coming from Naples, it is only appropriate to have a Neapolitan pizza lunch. The choices are limited to Margherita, Marinara, and ham. Do not ask for pineapple. Our guide made it very clear that real Italian pizza does not have pineapple.
Lunch includes one drink, but additional drinks are available for purchase. I suggest trying the lemon soda, which was quite refreshing after a morning walking around outside. Save your water purchases for the bus, where Dark Rome offers water bottles at a lower cost than the restaurant.
Trekaroo Tip: The drive to the trailhead of Mt. Vesuvius is up a steep, windy mountain. If you are prone to motion sickness, take some Dramamine or try to sleep on the way up. If sleeping, you may miss some stories, but it’s better than puking.
The trail up the volcano starts off a little steep. Once you reach the edge of the crater, it levels off for the flat hike around the top. The whole hike is only about one mile. The terrain is smooth and the trail is wide, so it’s not too tough.
Plenty of resting points sit at the corners of the switchbacks, though. So if you do need a rest, you will have a place to do it. And the views on the way up are worth stopping for anyway.
Once at the top, the massive volcanic crater spans the left side of the trail. Steam rises from the caldera of the most deadly volcano in Europe. Looking down into the crater you wonder, what I’m I doing at the top of an active volcano? But then you turn around.
On a clear day amazing views of Sorrento and Capri against the Amalfi Coast spread beneath the mountainside. Two million people live in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, knowing that any day they could go the way of Pompeii. But the beauty and history is worth it to them.
Souvenir shops line the pathway up to the trailhead. More shops can be found on the top of trail. If you want a souvenir from this Pompeii tour, this is when you will have the most time to buy one. Of course, the volcanic rock may not actually be authentic Vesuvius rock, but it’s still fun to snag a cheap lava rock necklace.
Back to Rome
The drive from Pompeii to Rome inevitably takes longer because of evening traffic. The bus stops at the same rest stop halfway, with time for browsing the adjoining shop and grabbing a snack. Souvenir prices are higher here than back in Rome, so I suggest waiting to make purchases.
After the last stop, the Dark Rome guide takes time with each guest. She gave off-the-beaten-path recommendations, provided directions, and took suggestions. It was a nice personal touch to make the Dark Rome Pompeii tour from Rome especially unique.
Disclosure: I took the Pompeii/Mount Vesuvius tour with Dark Rome as part of a press trip. Opinions expressed are always my own.
Lead image by Flickr/ Antonio Campoy