11 Tips for Visiting Pomeii with Kids
Updated: Jan 11
What you must know before touring Pompeii with Kids.
Covered by the ashes of the volcano Vesuvius in 79AD, the down of Pompeii was buried and preserved under ash until it was discovered and excavated in the 18th century. Located just South East of Naples, Italy; kids can feel what it was like to walk the ancient streets of the Roman Empire about 2000 years ago. On your tour, you can climb the steps of the ancient theater, drink from the original fountains, view the homes where people used to live and enter the spaces where restaurants and bars used to operate. Pompeii is a large expansive site with a lot to see; you will not be able to see it all in one day. So, to get the most out of it first read these eleven tips before planning your visit with kids.
Wear Comfortable Shoes (No Flip Flops)
The ruins of Pompeii consist of uneven cobblestone, dusty and sometimes slippery streets. Many of the main sites far from each other so you will be doing a lot of walking.
Hire a Guide
First off, hiring a guide will allow you to skip the line. The site is huge, with very little signage to explain where you are or what you are viewing. A good guide will be able to make the town come alive with stories of how the ancient Romans of Pompeii used to spend their days. They should point out little details of interest that you may not have noticed otherwise and answer any questions you may have.
There will be guides for hire outside the site but to guarantee a quality English speaking guide, I would recommend booking in advance. See my three guided tour recommendations designed especially for families with children below.
Beware of the Brothels
One of the fascinating sites that tell the story of what it may have been like to live in Pompeii 2000 years ago are the brothels with erotic paintings on the walls. Some parents may view this as just a part of history no different than the nude statue of David, and some may not want to answer the questions that may arise from the kids. Whichever camp you fall into now you know, and you can decide if you want to ask your tour guide to skip the brothels.
Avoid Hot Days & Bring Sun Protection
Lather up the sunscreen and wear a hat. There is very little shade there; most buildings do not have a roof. We visited in the winter and did not have to worry about the heat, but I realize most travel with kids occurs over the summer months. If possible, check the weather just before your trip and plan Pompeii for the coolest day.
Take a Small Bag
Bags, backpacks, luggage, and cases with dimensions exceeding 30x30x15cm are not allowed on the sites of Pompeii. Umbrellas or other large bulky items are not allowed either and must be left at the cloakroom at the entrance.
Bring a Water Bottle
Especially when visiting during the summer, it gets hot, and you will want to keep everyone in the family hydrated. There are water fountains throughout the site to fill up the bottles.
It can be a long day with a lot of walking, keep everyone’s energy up by packing a couple of snacks. There is a café on-site, but it’s not recommended, and you could be a long way from it when hunger strikes . However, do be respectful of the site and only eat in the designated areas marked on the map. It is forbidden to eat outside these areas.
Recommended for Age 5 and Up
There is a lot of walking on unstable ground, and the tours require paying attention.
Don’t Bring a Stroller
Another reason for bringing children at least five years old that have stamina is the large cobblestones are very difficult to push a stroller on. If you do decide to go with a stroller or need wheelchair access, fortunately, the “Pompeii for All” project has added paths and ramps along a specific route to view the main streets and most significant buildings. Still though, in certain areas of the site wheelchair users may encounter difficulties moving independently, due to the nature of the site.
During the summer months (peak season) arriving at opening time is best to avoid crowds and the mid-day heat. (Check website for opening hours.) If visiting from Rome arriving when the site opens probably won’t be possible. If visiting in the summer, try to aim for later in the afternoon.
*Side note* If Pompeii is on a high on your list of something you want to see I would recommend staying in Naples or the Almafi Coast for some time during your trip. Rome to Pompeii averages about a 2.5-hour drive while only about a half-hour drive from Naples on the toll road. From Naples, you could also take the local Circumvesuviana train linking Naples, Pompeii, and Sorrento. If your plans will not include a stay in Naples or the Almafi Coast consider visiting Ostia Antica, about 15 miles from the center of Rome. Ostia Antica is a lesser-known archaeological site preserved just as well as Pompeii that also has ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes, and impressive mosaics.
Learn About Pompeii Before Visiting
You and your children’s visit to Pompeii will be so much more meaningful if you have some background knowledge of it first. Here is a list of recommended books by age:
Preschool to Third Grade
Fourth to Sixth Grade
Teens & Adults
Pompeii (A novel by Robert Harris)
If staying in Naples, complete your visit to Pompeii by visiting the Naples Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale). Here they have stunning frescoes, statues, mosaics and artifacts from Pompeii.
To calculate the cost to travel to Italy including food, accommodations, etc check out this useful "Travel Budget calculator: Italy" from Town&Tourist.
If you have more questions about visiting Pompeii with kids head on over to my Facebook Group Travel Page and ask me a question!
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You may also be interested in Children's Books Inspired by Naples & Pompeii.
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