48 Hours in Naples: Visiting Pompeii & Mount Vesuvius

If you are making your way from Rome to the Amalfi Coast, a definite must-stop is Naples.

Even if you only have a short amount of time, it’s completely feasible to visit the city and tour around Pompeii and if you’re feeling adventurous, Mount Vesuvius too!

Naples should be a stop on your Italian itinerary to experience the history. There are plenty of things to do in Naples, but if you only have a day or two to spare, these historic sites are a must-see!

View from our room!!!!

Visiting Italy for the first time? Check out these Italy travel tips and things to know before going to Italy!

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Where to Stay in Naples

Naples is an absolutely gorgeous city from above: multi-coloured buildings with sweeping views of the bay over to Capri and Mount Vesuvius. Our hotel, which I recommend to anyone, is Hotel San Francesco Al Monte. It was an absolute dream!

We spent two nights here so we could have a full day tour of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. The hotel was once a monastery and now has converted the monks’ cells into luxuriously appointed rooms with a rooftop pool and stunning views overlooking the Bay of Naples.

Coincidentally, we arrived midday in Naples on August 24th – the same day Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. We were hoping for a different fate than that day. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Often the clouds would make it look like Vesuvius was smoking which really grabbed our attention and made for great topics of conversations with friends and family at home!

Dana relaxing in the rooftop pool carved from the rock of the mountain.

We arrived from Rome early afternoon and enjoyed the amenities of this gorgeous hotel, indulging in Aperol Spritz (naturally!) and prosciutto and melon while lounging in the sun on the large rooftop patio, set up with tons of loungers and seating areas, and a refreshing pool.

Is this real life?

If you stay at this hotel, you really don’t even need to leave, making it a great choice for those wanting some rest and relaxation.

The terrace restaurant is a definite must-do, and provides shade from the sweltering August sun from the ancient monks’ vegetable garden and old vines with ripening grape clusters.

Alas, being in a new city, we wanted to explore some local restaurants. Our original plan was to dine just down the street that night for dinner, but once we arrived the restaurant was close (๐Ÿ˜ญ). If you’re anything like me, it was devastating, since I spend a lot of time researching restaurants (read: obsessed ๐Ÿ˜†).

We discovered that most restaurants will close during August as it’s typically when Italians take their holidays. We ventured back to our hotel and had an amazing meal on our rooftop terrace restaurant with an incredible view, and it turned out to be one of the best memories of staying here.

Out on the streets of Naples, making friends with the neighbourhood cats.
You can’t beat this dinner view!
Limoncello tart with coffee gelato. I’m still dreaming about it.

Touring Pompeii

Our full day in Naples was dedicated to Pompeii and hiking Mount Vesuvius – a definite bucket list item for me.

We pre-booked a day trip tour which included transportation which I would recommend doing. The ride through Naples was an adventure of its own, down winding, narrow streets with steep inclines and sharp corners! We also got a great view of the main city and all of the shops and vendors along the way.

Mom and I catching some precious shade.

Just a word of advice if you aren’t doing a complete day package: get the guided tour.

You can access Pompeii on your own, but without a guide you won’t have a clue what you are looking at. We learned a lot about what each building was and caught details we would’ve otherwise overlooked, like the street fountains all having different faces and acting like street signs!

City ruins

Our guide led us around the ruins and explained the different structures and what they once were – thermal baths, brothel, amphitheater, housing, etc. We were grateful for the guide because otherwise we would’ve been wandering around aimlessly, and truthfully without a guide, it really won’t mean much to you.

Case in point: what do you think this would’ve meant?๐Ÿคฃ

The symbol of power and luck.

This symbol is one of power and luck , and very much acted like street signs. This one pointed to the brothel. These symbols were found all over Pompeii – on buildings and roadways.

Have an expert show you around. You’ll be glad you did!

It’s hard to imagine what it must’ve been like to stand here and watch Vesuvius erupt.

We had about 30 minutes of free time to explore after our tour – which we easily could’ve spent all day there.

New artifacts are constantly being uncovered which adds to the collection of items, from earthenware, wagon carts, kitchen utensils and sadly, the perfectly posed bodies of men, women, children and dogs.

Constantly uncovering artifacts. It was sobering to see the bodies of people and animals.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius

Seeing Mount Vesuvius is an incredible experience!

With so much history (and looming threat!) it was awesome to be able to see Vesuvius in person, after all the stories we’ve read about it. It surprised us 3 million people live in the “Red Zonedirectly on the volcano, and even though Naples has evacuation plans in place in the event of an eruption, the people of Naples have accepted their fate.

Visiting Vesuvius was part of our Pompeii tour, so it included bus transportation to and from the Pompeii ruins.

We saw people of all ages, shapes and sizes hike up – so don’t let this turn you off. It’s a long walk to the peak but there are many level areas to rest.

There was a time limit for when we had to be back, and my husband and I booted it as fast as we could to the very end of the path – with just enough time to spare. I wish we had more time to really soak in the stunning views of Sorrento from the peak.

Last stop: end of the world
Café at the very end of the Mount Vesuvius hike!

Tips

  • Wear good running shoes. Walking in flip flops or sandals won’t be a very good idea. Trust me, we saw it and it didn’t look comfortably. It’s a relatively steep incline with a rocky path. You’ll want something with grip.
  • Bring some cash for water. You’ll be thirsty and hot and will likely need a drink.
  • Wear a hat. There is no shade! This is one of my favourites (and great for ponytails!).
  • Wear sunscreen. Again, with no shade you are fully exposed to the sun. Don’t forget about the backs of your knees like I usually do! I like using this one and it’s the perfect travel size!
  • Bring a selfie stick! Ones that fold down are easy to pack, and you’ll at least be able to get some photos from the top to prove you were there!
Nothing like staring into the eye of an active volcano to make you feel alive.

Final Thoughts

We enjoyed our final evening once again at San Francesco Al Monte, soaking in the evening views. We left the next morning, after rooftop lunch under the ancient vines, via driver for a scenic drive to Positano.

There is an option to take a ferry, but there is no direct ferry from Naples to Positano (why, right???) and it would’ve meant we would have to hike up the winding streets of Positano – not ideal, especially for an older crowd, so just something to keep in mind!

If you’re looking for a relaxing, luxurious place to stay in Naples, I would recommend Hotel San Francesco Al Monte without hesitation. The service, rooms and food were amazing and provided exactly what we needed after all of our walking in Rome!

Of course, no visit to Naples would be complete without going to Pompeii. This tour wasn’t very busy when we went in August, but there are tours to the less crowded Herculaneum. This would be a place we visit on our return.

I feel as though you can’t go to Pompeii without visiting Vesuvius. It’s the root of all the history and there’s something about staring directly into the crater than gives you goosebumps. It’s hard to imagine it going off and it’s an experience I would recommend to everyone.

Enjoying a quiet lunch at our hotel before heading to Positano – pure relaxation!

Heading to Positano after? See the best places to eat and what to do during your stay. Or maybe you’re heading towards Rome? Only have a short amount of time? See my four day Rome itinerary which will get you to all of the major sites!

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80 Comments

  1. Valerie
    May 9, 2020 / 6:56 am

    Lovely to re-live our trip via your account! You certainly captured the wonderful experience of being in Naples, and exploring these famous Italian sites!

    • Sarah
      May 9, 2020 / 8:47 am

      Thank you! I still remember this like it was yesterday. That hike up Vesuvius was unreal. I really miss that hotel!

  2. June 14, 2020 / 7:05 am

    We went to Naples 2 years ago but we didn’t have enough time to hike the mount Vesuvius … it will be for our next trip ;). We also loved Pompei – such a nice day to explore it !

    • Sarah
      Author
      June 14, 2020 / 9:21 am

      Yes and HOT! My goodness!!! It’s absolutely amazing to hike Vesuvius, and quite thrilling. I’d love to do it again and spend more time at the top!

  3. July 24, 2020 / 8:41 pm

    I have been to Italy a few times and missed going each time. But I won’t next time. I think the Limoncello tart with coffee gelato has swayed me!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 24, 2020 / 8:43 pm

      Oh my goodness, I’m still raving about it years later! Haha!!

  4. Susan M Costanza
    July 24, 2020 / 8:41 pm

    The view from the rooftop restaurant is amazing! I loved Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius! I agree a guided tour of Pompeii is necessary. A friend of mine went and didn’t do a guided tour and she didn’t like it, she didn’t think anything about it was interesting, obviously you wouldn’t without hearing the history of what you are looking at, that’s what really brings the interest.

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 24, 2020 / 8:45 pm

      Completely agree! Without being told WHAT it is, it looks like a bunch of stones cobbled together๐Ÿ˜‚. A shame she didn’t enjoy it – it’s such a historic place!

  5. Keena
    July 25, 2020 / 7:18 am

    Love the info ๐Ÿ’™ The brothel sign is hilarious ๐Ÿ˜‚ Iโ€™m also the same way with restaurants , I love researching and looking at the menus but sometimes if itโ€™s far I just settle for whatโ€™s around ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿพโ€โ™€๏ธ

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 25, 2020 / 7:34 am

      Thank you Keena!! I know – I can be a little crazy when it comes to food!!

  6. Rhonda Albom
    July 25, 2020 / 7:24 am

    We went to Naples and Pompeii a few years ago. Our guide was more crude in his description of what you are calling signs of power and luck. Hiking Vesuvius would be pretty cool. Perhaps next time for me.

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 25, 2020 / 7:37 am

      Hahah!! We had a woman as a guide – she had a bit more finesse ๐Ÿ˜‚ If you can, I highly recommend hiking!

  7. July 25, 2020 / 7:26 am

    I really want to do this trip, I was originally hoping to this year, so this will be great for when I finally do!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 25, 2020 / 7:42 am

      It’s fabulous! You will enjoy it ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. July 25, 2020 / 7:32 am

    Loved my visit to Naples and Pompeii when I went, and you really captured just how special the destination is. That view from the room was incredible – I’m still drooling.

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 25, 2020 / 7:42 am

      We really lucked out with our hotel. The views are unbeatable!!

  9. July 25, 2020 / 7:40 am

    LOL The symbol of power and luck.

    I went to Pompeii a few years back and loved it! Great article.

  10. July 25, 2020 / 7:52 am

    I love this post! Italy is one of my favorite countries and I loved reading about your experience in detail. Now I am really craving an Aperol Spritz after reading about them ;). Sigh, I’d love to go back to Italy some day soon! Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 25, 2020 / 7:56 am

      Thank you so much Jess!! Italy has a piece of my heart for sure!

  11. July 25, 2020 / 8:53 am

    That hike looks amazing! I couldn’t imagine living in the red zone that close to a volcano with my anxiety haha

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 25, 2020 / 9:02 am

      I know right?! They don’t even have enough trains or boats to evacuate everyone…but the people of Naples have accepted their chances! I could NOT imagine haha.

  12. July 25, 2020 / 8:54 am

    Living vicariously through this post! I was in Naples for such a short time last year on my way to the Amalfi coast, but I definitely want to do these two things when I go back!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 25, 2020 / 9:01 am

      Thank you! You must – it’s amazing to see in person!!

  13. July 25, 2020 / 8:55 am

    I usually don’t like to take tours, but there are times they really are the best option. Thanks for the tip! Lovely information about this historic and beautiful spot in Italy.

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 25, 2020 / 9:00 am

      Thank you Cris! Sometimes it pays off ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. July 25, 2020 / 9:26 am

    I wish we had gone to Naples when we visited last year, aren’t they where pizza was invented? So gorgeous, I would love to make that hike!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 6:47 am

      Yes!!! The pizza capital! The views from the top of Mount Vesuvius were breathtaking!

  15. July 25, 2020 / 9:36 am

    Wow the hike to Mount Vesuvius looks incredible! That is something I would definitely add to my to-do list when visiting Naples. Great post!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 6:48 am

      Thank you Olivia!! I think everyone should get a chance to hike this amazing volcano!

  16. July 25, 2020 / 10:01 am

    ok so I had the exact same thought as your photo caption…. “Is this real life?” looking at those first few photos of your hotel. I’m pinning & saving this post for later so I can stay at that exact hotel.

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 7:54 am

      hahaha!!!! Thank you! It was absolutely GORGEOUS! Still dreaming about it!

  17. July 25, 2020 / 10:11 am

    Ooh love this! I’ve been to Naples before, but didn’t spend very much time in the city. That hotel looks amazing!!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 6:49 am

      It’s fabulous!!! The views alone were worth the trip! When we return I’d love to see more of the city, including the archaeological museum!

  18. Shay
    July 25, 2020 / 10:47 am

    Would love to stay at that hotel! That patio is so beautiful. I can’t wait to visit Italy. Naples, Pompeii, it’s all on my to-do list!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 6:56 am

      Yes!!! It’s fabulous! You will love Italy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. July 25, 2020 / 11:38 am

    This is a great list of where to go and what to do! Saving this for later when we can travel again! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 6:57 am

      Thanks Kelsey!! I could easily spend months travelling around Italy.

  20. July 25, 2020 / 11:59 am

    That hotel room view is A++!! And OMG strong #vacayvibes from the rooftop pool, I might never have left the hotel if I were you ๐Ÿ˜‚

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 6:57 am

      I almost cried when we left ๐Ÿ˜‚ It was heaven!!!!

  21. July 25, 2020 / 12:20 pm

    I would love to hike Mount Vesuvius. Thanks for all the tips for the hike. Italy is such a beautiful country. Would love to visit Naples next trip. Great post!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 6:58 am

      Thank you Chrissy!! It’s an amazing thing to do, I hope you get there! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. July 25, 2020 / 12:41 pm

    Wow, that dinner view alone is worth visiting! Can’t imagine living directly on a volcano, OMG! Those people play with faith! Thank you for sharing, very interesting read.

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 6:59 am

      Thank you Juliet! I couldn’t imagine living like they do! And the dinner views – omg – I could never get tired of those!!!

  23. July 25, 2020 / 2:20 pm

    I have always been interested in visiting Pompeii! Naples looks like a great destination as well. I love hotels that have a rooftop bar with a restaurants. Makes it so easy if you’re tired from a day-out!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 7:02 am

      Oh, it’s perfect!! Such a relaxing spot to stay – everything is there! Naples is a fascinating place to explore. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. July 25, 2020 / 2:48 pm

    Wow! Pompeii is on my bucket list! Thank you for the great tips

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 7:03 am

      Thanks Shany! Pompeii is a definite must-see!

  25. July 25, 2020 / 4:13 pm

    I’ve only been to Naples for half a day but would love to go back and do the Mount Vesuvius hike! Thanks for sharing your experiences! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 7:03 am

      Thank you Kriszti!! It was incredible – I recommend it to anyone!

  26. July 25, 2020 / 4:37 pm

    Great post! I am also a fan of researching restaurants so that wouldโ€™ve totally threw me off as well! But what a BEAUTIFUL dinner view wow !!! Iโ€™d love to visit Pompeii, I never really thought of basing in Naples but this post has changed my mind! Awesome tips!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 7:04 am

      Thank you Lana!! There is tonssssss to see in Naples but we really didn’t have enough time to explore the actual city itself – but we are planning our return!!

  27. July 25, 2020 / 5:36 pm

    This is all helpful info for when I plan my Italy trip!! Makes me wish I was there now!! Your hotel sounds amazing and the hike sounds incredible!!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 7:34 am

      Thank you! It was definitely memorable!!!

  28. July 25, 2020 / 8:43 pm

    That terrace at your hotel is literally so dreamy! Those vines and views have given me goosebumps! I skipped Naples when I visited Italy and now I’m really regretting it! Ha!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 7:38 am

      If you are able to go back I highly recommend it! Naples is so rich with history and culture – we are planning our return trip and it will definitely include staying at this hotel again!!!

  29. July 25, 2020 / 11:33 pm

    Can I just say, I feel a kindred spirit when it comes to your food research! There is Nothing worse than bad food on vacation! ๐Ÿ™‚ Naples sometimes gets a bad rap for being a little more run down than other cities in Italy so its nice to see some stunning views and a post that really highlights how we can spend a few days there if we are on our way to the Italian Riviera. Pompeii looks unreal. Fingers crossed we can safely get there and explore it for ourselves soon!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 7:40 am

      Haha! Thank you Sophia! Glad it’s not just me who is OBSESSED with food research! I completely agree about Naples getting a poor reputation, but there is so much beauty and culture to see and experience. Hope you are able to get there too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. July 26, 2020 / 12:31 am

    I always used to kind of shy away from getting a tour guide because I thought it was too touristy but it’s actually so good to have someone show you around and give you the full history of a place, isn’t it! Glad you learnt a lot in Pompeii… I’m DYING to go. Love the little lucky penis signs haha!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 7:41 am

      Haha the signs cracked me up!!!! A guide was so worth it here – and actually I find that with a lot of historical places – some of this info I’ve never even read about before so we were glad to have someone show us around! Hope you get there! ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. July 26, 2020 / 1:07 am

    We tried to get the bus up to the top of Vesuvius but when we arrived we were told it was too stormy at the top so it was cancelled – so disappointed!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 7:48 am

      Oh no!! That is sooo disappointing! They had also told us that as well but fortunately it was a clear day. Hope you’re able to return!

  32. July 26, 2020 / 5:16 am

    Pompeii is on my bucket list! It looks like such a fascinating place! And the views from Vesuvius look spectacular! And that, Limoncello tart with coffee gelato? I’m sold! Thanks for the wonderful guide!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 7:52 am

      Thank you Hannah! It’s spectacular, I hope you get there! ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. July 26, 2020 / 8:52 am

    Pompei looks so inrerresting, I would love to visit one day! Also, what a hotel you stayed at, it looks amazing.

  34. July 26, 2020 / 10:11 am

    This looks like such a great trip! I still have never been to Naples or Pompeii but everything I haven’t seen yet is still on the list haha. Thanks for sharing & I will definitely be pinning for later!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 12:13 pm

      Thank you so much! I do hope you are able to go one day!

  35. July 26, 2020 / 1:01 pm

    Great post! Pinned! I canโ€™t wait to go to Naples. I love the hotel you stayed in. I clicked its gallery picks. The view from the rooftop restaurant looks AMAZING! In Naples I would love to go the the art museums to see the many Artismissia Gentilleschi paintings! Most numerous there. The Mt Vesuvius hike looks great. I would love to combine that with Herculaneum, as I have already been to Pompeii. Thanks for all the tips!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 1:24 pm

      Thank you so much! We would also love to return to explore more of the city, and the museums! We are definitely going to Herculaneum on our return as well! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for your comments!

  36. July 26, 2020 / 6:42 pm

    I loved Napoli and would love going there again since we couldn’t hike Vesuvius because of the weather! I’d rather bring my own water bottle tho, much more ecofriendly ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 26, 2020 / 7:50 pm

      Yes – that’s a great tip! I need to look into getting a folding one. The steel canisters aren’t ideal when only having a backpack to jam everything into!

  37. Jasmine
    July 26, 2020 / 10:17 pm

    Such a great guide, I’d love to visit Naples one day!

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 27, 2020 / 8:07 am

      Thank you!! I hope you do get there! ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. July 27, 2020 / 3:59 pm

    Wow this looks amazing. Pompeii is gorgeous and sort of creepy, but I had no idea there was no ferry to Positano directly.

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 27, 2020 / 6:17 pm

      I know – it just doesn’t make sense! It’s kind of a pain but you can still take a ferry if you’re willing to take some connections!

  39. July 27, 2020 / 6:09 pm

    Such a great read. I’m REALLY hoping to get to Naples next summer for my 30th birthday. I’ve never been, and I have family from there, so I’m dying to see it. This really made me excited and hopeful that I’ll get to go.

    • Sarah
      Author
      July 27, 2020 / 6:23 pm

      Thank you!! I hope you get there – it’s a place you need to see in person!!

  40. August 10, 2020 / 8:14 am

    Naples is definitely on my bucket list. We couldn’t visit Naples last year since we did not have enough time. This is great information, great content. Have Pinned it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sarah
      Author
      August 10, 2020 / 11:18 am

      Thank you Demi! I can’t wait to come back and explore this city some more!

  41. August 13, 2020 / 3:57 pm

    Italy, Aperol Spritz, beautiful views, and tons of history… I couldn’t ask for more! I have only spent time in Tuscany before so would love to go back to Italy and explore all of these other areas. Pompeii has always been so high on my list!

    • Sarah
      Author
      August 13, 2020 / 8:14 pm

      Oh I’d love to visit Tuscany!! Well really anywhere in Italy is just perfect – hoping we can both get back soon!!!