Visit World Heritage sites Pompeii and Herculaneum or the famous resorts of Capri and Sorrento
See below for information on Naples to Pompeii, Naples to Herculaneum, Naples to Capri and Naples to Sorrento.
On cruises to Naples, ships dock right in Naples itself with views of the busy and bustling harbour and city below. If you enjoy watching the world go by then this is a great port for you.
There are usually several cruise ships docked here at any one time. Ferries and hydrofoils arrive and depart at regular intervals, so there is always lots going on.
Whatever you choose to do in Naples, if you leave the boat independently you are likely to have to run the gamut of taxi drivers waiting for cruise passengers to secure their services for the day.
If that is for you then, as always, do your research beforehand, know how much a journey should be costing and agree on a fixed price at the start.
There are many options for Naples excursions but all are possible to do independently.
On our last visit to Naples we decided to visit the Archaeological Museum. This is about a 30 mins walk from the port, partly uphill, through the busy city streets. In 2014 entrance was 8 euros, plus 5 euros for an optional, but not very comprehensive, audio guide.
There is a scale model of Pompeii on the first floor, which would be very useful if planning a visit, along with paintings found at the site.
The mezzanine has mosaics, with statues found on the ground floor.
There are visitor toilets but no cafe, only vending machines.
If electing to venture further afield we suggest you get off the ship as early as possible to allow plenty of time at the end of the day to get back on board.
It is possible to visit Pompeii, Herculaneum and Sorrento by train at a fraction of the price it would cost on an excursion.
You will first need to get to the train station. It really is too far to walk and would be a waste of precious sightseeing time.
When you get off the ship, we have found it better to ignore the taxi drivers as our experience is that they will not want to take you just to the station.
They may well be persistent in trying to persuade you to let them take you to your final destination. Have a firm idea of how much you want to pay and agree a price in advance if that is good for you.
To get to the station you will need to get a No. 1 Tram.
You can buy an inclusive tram and train ticket from the kiosk opposite the port gates (see picture). You must buy a ticket before boarding the tram and will need to validate it on board. Watch out for the traffic when crossing the road!
The tram stop is in the centre of the road (photo) and will get you to the station Piazza Garibaldi in about 10 mins. This is the same train station as Naples Centrale but is the entrance you will need for the Circumvesuviana line to Sorrento.
The trams are new, air conditioned and very pleasant, especially on your return at the end of a hot and dusty day.
The Circumvesuviana train runs regularly and takes about 30 mins to Pompeii, less to Herculaneum. You can check train times and routes.
The trains are generally old and slow, but the views are wonderful…..Vesuvius on one side and the bay of Naples on the other.
Print a map or list of the stations en route before you leave home so that you a) know you are on the right train and b) know when you are nearing your destination.
For a visit to Pompeii from Naples, you will need to take the Circumvesuviana train which takes about 30 mins to Pompeii Scavi station. Inclusive bus/tram/train tickets to Pompeii cost around 10 euros per person. The last stop before Pompeii Scavi is Torre A. Olponti.
At Pompeii Scavi, turn right, the Pompeii ticket office is a 2 min walk.
Entrance was 13 euros per person with a reduced rate of 7.50 euros for students (ID needed).
You can check current ticket prices at the official website for Pompeii.
You will need at least 2 hours to do justice to Pompeii, depends on how hot it is and how far you want to walk.
You can buy a map for 2 euros and do your own thing. The basic map highlights the main sights but doesn’t give much information, so it’s a good idea to read up before you go and have an idea of the main sights that you would like to see.
Otherwise you can buy a guidebook, an audio guide ( about 5 euros, plus deposit, ID required) or you can join a guided tour for 10-15 euros.
It is a hot and dusty place, but there is some shade especially if you get there early.
There are cafes and souvenir shops outside the gates, with guidebooks and maps on sale at the ticket office. Toilets are available at the entrance and inside (although not marked on the map).
There is also a relatively new, air conditioned fast food restaurant near the forum which sells reasonably priced pizza, paninis, ice cream and cold drinks. We feel sure that the Romans would approve. There are toilets on the first floor.
To return to Naples you will need to turn left inside the station to go down under the tracks to the opposite platform. At Naples, again take the no. 1 tram back to the port.
On our last trip to Pompeii we left our ship at 8.30am and were comfortably back on board for 3pm in time for afternoon tea at a cost of less than 20 euros per person compared to the excursion price of £39.00.
For a visit to Herculaneum from Naples, you will need to take the Circumvesuviana train which takes about 20 mins to Ercolano Scavi station. The stop before this is Portici via Liberta.
The site is 10 min walk downhill from the station towards the sea.
It’s a much smaller site than Pompeii, and likely to be less crowded, but with more limited facilities. However, there are cafes on the route back to the station.
Herculaneum is just as fascinating as Pompeii but is closer to Naples, is a more manageable size for a short visit and has plenty of shade in the morning due to the number of two storey buildings still intact.
If you are wary about doing a DIY trip by train from Naples, this would be the ‘safest’ way to try out your independent traveller skills.
It is possible to travel from Naples to Capri by hydrofoil direct from the port.
In 2012 these were 34 euros return.
The journey takes about 40 minutes.
Once there, depending on how your sea legs are, you can take a boat trip around the island or ride the funicular to the top of the cliff to stroll around Capri town.
It is a beautiful island, but everywhere is expensive.
Ensure that you have checked the timetable so that you can make an appropriately timed return journey.
This is a longer trip and so you must take extra care with planning to be back at the ship in time for sailaway. As always, be sure to have sufficient funds with you to return by taxi if needs be.
You can get from Naples to Sorrento either by train or hydrofoil. The journey from Naples to Sorrento by train will take about 70 minutes, but you must add on the time it will take you to get to the station (see above).
The train timetable from Naples to Sorrento can be checked here. Naples to Sorrento by hydrofoil is also possible direct from the port, this runs less frequently than the trip to Capri and will take about 40 minutes.
Excursion or Independent Travel?
Using local transport can be a much more rewarding way of experiencing local life and can save you a lot of money. However journeys on the Circumvesuviana can be ‘colourful’. Be prepared for begging and for pickpocket gangs, for example groups of children, communicating with each other by whistling, who may try to create a diversion whilst others relieve unsuspecting tourists of their belongings. Do not be one of these. Keep valuables out of sight in bags (e.g. don’t hold cameras), keep bags away from the aisles and ignore any diversions (e.g. hands trapped in doors). Be focused! We have had such an experience and whilst unpleasant it was not unduly threatening.