A Guide To Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Naples

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No trip to Naples or the Campania region is complete without a visit to the mighty Mount Vesuvius, that peak that towers over the bay of Naples. That peak is actually a volcano that is famously known for its violent eruption in AD 79 that destroyed several towns nearby including Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Today, Mount Vesuvius is still classified as an active volcano. Despite this classification, the volcano and its immediate surrounding area is also a national park that’s home to an epic hiking trail leading to the summit. Hiking Mount Vesuvius is quite simply a must when in Naples!

If you’re wondering if it is worth hiking Mount Vesuvius, I’m here to tell you that, yes it is definitely worth it and should be one of the top things you do on your visit to the area.

The good news is that Mount Vesuvius is only a short distance away from Naples so it’s an easy day trip. Not only will you have bragging rights for having climbed one of the most famous volcanoes in the world, but you’ll also get to learn about some of the history of the volcano and explore the other attractions in the park.

Curious to find out more? Continue reading, and I will share everything you need to know to set to hike Mount Vesuvius.

Make sure to read my posts The Best Things To Do In Naples and The Best Day Trips From Naples.

hiking Mount Vesuvius

What You Need To Know About Hiking Mount Vesuvius

Is hiking Mount Vesuvius safe?

Now that you know that Mount Vesuvius is an active volcano that is expected to erupt at any time, it’s understandable that you’re likely wondering if it’s safe to hike the trail to its summit.

The answer is yes! It’s very safe to hike this trail because the volcano is constantly being monitored by local geologists at the Vesuvius Observatory. In the event of an impending volcanic eruption, there’ll be enough notice to clear the trail and the nearby communities. It’s not something that’ll happen suddenly.

As for the trail itself, it’s well-marked, well-maintained and there are stairs on the steepest parts and fencing along areas where it’s too dangerous to venture too close to the edge.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius: main trail

The trail to the summit of Mount Vesuvius is about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) and on average, it takes between one and two hours to hike this trail (there and back). However, if you make any stops along the way to rest or take pictures, it could take a little longer.

The trail is fairly easy for most people who are in decent shape although there are some steep inclines.

You’ll start your hike at the parking lot which is at an elevation of 3,200 feet (little over 975 meters) above sea level and climb to an elevation of 3,750 feet (1,143 meters) at the rim of the crater at the top. Along the way, you’ll see incredible views of the entire national park, the Bay of Naples, the city of Naples, Sorrento and other surrounding areas.

At the start of the trail, there’s a small gift shop and coffee shop so you can get some refreshments before you start the hike. You’ll find another little shop at the summit that sells souvenirs, water, coffee and snacks.

Alternative trails

While this trail to the summit of Mount Vesuvius is the only official trail, there are a number of other trails in the national park. The official trail is well-marked and easy to hike while these other trails are a bit more rugged.

Some of them are also quite long, such as the Valle dell’Inferno via Strada Matrone which is nine miles (15 kilometers).

Sentiero del Grande Cono is a six-mile (9.5-kilometer) trail that passes the lava remains of the eruption that took place in 1944. Monte Somma is a moderate eight-mile (12.7-kilometer) trail; Osservatorio Vesuviano is a short and easy trail that passes the Vesuvian Observatory and Sentiero 4 is a scenic five-mile (8.5-kilometer) trail.

hiking Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius National Park opening hours

Mount Vesuvius National Park is open all year round and opens at 9:00 am every day. Closing time depends on the season.

During the months of January, February, November and December, the park closes at 3:00 pm.

During March and December, it closes at 4:00 pm.

During April, May, June and September, it closes at 5:00 pm and during July and August, the park closes at 6:00 pm.

The park and trail remain open during holidays as well but at times, it does close in the event of severe weather.

hiking Mount Vesuvius Naples

Mount Vesuvius National Park tickets

If you plan to visit Mount Vesuvius on a guided tour, tickets will usually be included in the tour costs. But if you are going there independently, you will need to get tickets in advance.

Tickets to enter the park are €10 and there’s no additional fee to hike the trail. Tickets need to be booked in advance because only a certain number of people are allowed in every ten minutes and there is no ticket shop once you get there.

Upon arrival, all you need to do is present your ticket at the automatic gates so it can be stamped or scanned (but keep in mind there is no internet reception so you may be better off printing them).

It’s important that you arrive at the time you chose because if you arrive late, you may be denied entry without a refund.

While it’s possible to hire a guide to take you along this trail, it’s certainly not needed as the trail is pretty easy and what you’re seeing is self-explanatory. Your admission fee does include a short introduction with a local guide when you reach the crater. This only lasts about ten minutes and these short intros take place every few minutes as more people arrive.

To get your tickets to Mount Vesuvius National Park, click here.

views from Mount Vesuvius

How to get to Mount Vesuvius

By public transport

First, you’ll need to get to nearby Herculaneum from either Naples or Sorrento, depending on where you are staying, and take a shuttle from there. There are two trains that travel from Naples or Sorrento to Ercolano-Scavi in Herculaneum.

The first, and cheaper one, is the Circumvesuviana commuter train that leaves Naples twice every hour from early in the morning to late into the evening.

You can purchase tickets at the ticket window at the station or from the Unico Campania app and one-way tickets cost €2.20. You can expect to arrive in Herculaneum in about 20 minutes on this train.

The other train that travels from Naples to Herculaneum is the Campania Express. This train only departs Naples a few times a day and is more expensive at €15 one way but it only takes ten minutes to get there.

Once you arrive at the station in Herculaneum, you’ll need to take the Vesuvio Express Bus to Mount Vesuvius. This bus departs every 40 minutes starting at 9:30 am and costs €10. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the gates of Mount Vesuvius National Park.

You can get your Vesuvio Express tickets here.

By car

If you choose to drive to Mount Vesuvius in your rental car, the best way to take is via the A3 Napoli-Salerno Highway. Drive along this highway until you reach either the Torre del Greco exit or the Herculaneum exit and simply follow the signs that will lead you right to Mount Vesuvius.

Keep in mind you won’t be able to park at the very top, near the gates to the national park, as that is only a pick up and drop off area for guided tours. There is parking available near the trailhead, about 2 km down the road.

You must book your parking space in advance on this website and it costs €5. In order to make reservations via the app, you will need to create an account and you will be asked to input the license plate of your car, which is easier said than done if you are renting one and are trying to do this while at home. Just plan to do this the minute you pick up your car rental! You may find that once you get to your reserved spot, it’s actually taken – but you can use any other available spots in the area as long as you have a reservation.

Once you are done parking your car, you can walk all the way to the entrance of the National Park, or get a shuttle bus to the top. It only costs a few euros there and back.

Don’t forget to read my post A Guide To Renting A Car In Naples.

By guided tour

Another great way to experience Mount Vesuvius and the surrounding national park is with a guided tour from Naples.

There are several that depart every day from the city. Some of them are full-day tours with other attractions included such as Pompeii and Herculaneum and others are shorter and only include the hike and lunch.

The best thing about doing one of these tours is everything is included, everything is done for you and all you have to do is relax and enjoy the sights!

For a guided tour of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius from Naples, click here or here.

If you are departing from Sorrento, click here.

hiking Mount Vesuvius

How to get to Mount Vesuvius from Pompeii

If you plan to visit Pompeii first and would like to travel from there to Mount Vesuvius, there are three ways to get there.

The first way is to take the bus that departs from the Pompei Scavi Circumvesuviana Station or the bus stop on the Piazza Anfiteatro just outside the Pompeii ruins. The trip to Mount Vesuvius takes about 50 minutes and it runs once every hour. A one-way ticket costs €2.70 and advance tickets are not needed as you simply pay when you get on the bus.

The other way to get there is on the Vesuvio Express via Herculaneum.

Finally, you can also opt for a guided tour.

For a guided tour of Mount Vesuvius from Pompeii, click here.

Check out my posts How To Get Tickets To Pompeii and How To Get From Naples To Pompeii.

How long does it take to visit Mount Vesuvius?

Once you go through the gate of the National Park, it will take you between one and 1.5 hours to visit, and that includes going up the crater, around it, taking photos and walking all the way back.

If you are visiting as part of a guided tour, you are usually restricted to just one hour and Mount Vesuvius will usually be the last stop on a longer tour that typically includes also Pompeii or Herculaneum, but that is enough to get a good idea of the volcano and the views from up there.

If you are traveling independently, you can decide to stay longer at the crater, and should factor in between 3 and 5 hours for the entire visit from Naples, including travel time.

hiking Mount Vesuvius

What to wear and carry when hiking Mount Vesuvius

The most important thing to take into consideration before hiking Mount Vesuvius is what you’ll be wearing. In particular, it’s important to be very choosy about what you’re wearing on your feet because you’ll be hiking uphill on terrain that can be uneven at times.

Make sure to wear very comfortable sneakers or hiking boots.

When it comes to your clothing, be aware that it can be very cold during the winter months and in early spring and there might even be snow – I hiked Mount Vesuvius in March and there was snow along the trail, and it was very cold! In the summer, it tends to be very hot and humid.

You simply have to dress for the season. Bundle up in the colder months but wear layers in the warmer months because the temperatures can change at various elevations. It might be hot in the parking lot but cooler and windier at the summit of the volcano.

It’s important to apply good sun protection all year round but it’s especially important in the summer. Be sure to pack a hat, some sunglasses and sunscreen.

Also make sure to take a small pack to carry other items such as water, snacks, identification, tickets, cash and anything else you feel you’ll need during your hike. You will be able to buy drinks and snacks before entering the National Park and once you get to the summit.

Facilities at Mount Vesuvius

There isn’t much in terms of facilities at Mount Vesuvius. You will find a café, souvenir shop and toilets before the gates to the National Park – in the same area where most guided tours drop off passengers.

Once you are inside, you will only find a small souvenir shop and café with picnic tables once you get to the crater, but no toilets.

Further Readings

If you are traveling to the Naples area, make sure to read these posts:

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Read how to prepare for Mount Vesuvius hike - via @clautavani

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