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TooMuchItaly Travel off the beaten path

Practical Guide to Climb Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvio from Castellamare

I’m totally in love with Mount Vesuvius: its singular profile makes the skyline of Naples and its gulf just the perfect postcard from southern Italy. But climbing the Vesuvius is not as easy as you think, and here is why.

Mount Vesuvius is a volcano

I climbed on top of Mount Vesuvius two times and both times I noticed hundreds of visitors, totally unprepared to be there – I saw women with heels, men with slippers and so on. So I think it’s important to say that Mount Vesuvius is an active volcano and has an elevation of 1.281 meters above the sea level.

The Vesuvio, as we call it in Italian, and as we see it today, is the result of thousands of years of activity; it has a large crater of about 500 meters as diameter and a depth of 230 meters. It’s part of the National Vesuvius Park and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list with Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Oplontis.

Last but not least it is a mountain, i.e. you need to be equipped.

View from Mount Vesuvio
Naples – View from Mount Vesuvio
Processed with VSCO Vesuvio
Processed with VSCO Vesuvio

Practical information to visit Mount Vesuvius

As just written above, Mount Vesuvius is part of the Parco Nazionale Vesuvio: you can climb to the top of the crater, but you pay a 10€ ticket per person – payment in cash (very often credit card are not accepted).

The ticket office is located about 300 meters before the entrance gate, that is open from 9 am to 6 pm in July and August – till 3 pm from December to  February, till 4 pm in March and October, till 5 pm in April, May, June, and September.

From the main entrance there is a large, but steep white trail that goes up to the top and runs next to the crater till Capannuccia at the elevation of 1.170 meters. It is Sentiero n. 5. Even though the route is quite comfortable, you’re still on top of a mountain and you need the correct equipment or at least the right shoes.

The path on top of Mount Vesuvio
The path on top of Mount Vesuvio
The crater of Mount Vesuvio
The crater of Mount Veusvio

If you want to reach the farthest point calculate at least 3 hours for the round trip (Ticket office – Capannuccia – Ticket office). The path next to the crater is extremely fascinating: on one side you have the Gulf of Naples at your feet, on the other, you have the giant crater, where you see the typical volcano’s fumaroles and smell the sulfur. Along the path, there are a couple of small mountain cabins selling coffee, drinks, postcards, and artifacts made with lava (yes, only in Italy you have a coffee bar on a volcano!). 

How to reach the Vesuvius?

You can drive, take a taxi, take a tour and/or take a bus to visit the Vesuvio. I suggest driving in this part of Italy only for brave and calm drivers – I never drive in this area because traffic and unruly drivers are toomuch for my nerves. If you drive to Vesuvio, please be aware that you don’t reach the top, but the parking located at an altitude of 1.000 meters. The parking ticket costs 5€ and it’s about 1 kilometer far from the entrance, so pretty far from the top of the volcano; in addition consider that the road is steep and the entire climb can be very tiring.

There is a shuttle-bus service running every now and then that costs 2€ per person per round-trip; it departs from the parking entrance to the volcano’s entrance gate. You can take the same shuttle-bus when you arrive by bus from Pompei. There is a public bus from Pompei to VesuviusLinea EAV Pompei-Vesusio timetables here – that runs few times per day, departs from Piazza dell’Anfiteatro in front of main entrance of the Archeological site and arrives at the parking.

More details to arrive to Mount Vesuvio here.

Mount Vesuvio from Pompei
Mount Vesuvio from Pompei

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