When we began planning our trip to Italy with the kids, we casually mentioned Pompeii as an option for a daytrip. As we got further into the planning, we realized our shuttle service offered a stop in Pompeii while en route back to the Naples train station from Positano.
It didn’t really take much to convince me, as I am a huge history nerd. I could spend hours at historical sites, rambling along reading every little placard. After booking, I then became a little hesitant. I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to visit with two young toddlers, but we didn’t want to miss this historical goldmine. Here are a few tips I learned along the way, so that you can be prepared to visit Pompeii with kids.
Looking for more info on our trip? Check out this post that gives all the info on how we spent 12 days in Italy with kids!
- Get a private guide. While Pompeii is beautifully preserved, thanks to the mounds of ash that spewed out from Mt Vesuvius, it is not well marked. If you are going to visit you will need a guide, otherwise you will be left ambling around without any context. Also, with a guide, you will be able to skip the long ticket lines. I’m not always one to spend the extra on a guide, but for this, I found it extremely useful and beneficial. Our guide was able to keep our toddler interested in what would be an otherwise boring tour for her. Pompeii is a busy place so book one ahead of time. It would be extremely stressful to walk through the crowds trying to find a guide with antsy toddlers. Our shuttle service recommended a guide and booked it for us, but there are tons (with reviews) listed all over the internet.
- If you have a driver, decide on a meeting point and time for the end of your tour. You don’t want to be aimlessly wandering around with no cell service trying to find your driver. Our guide and driver decided on a meeting point (and exchanged numbers) and time, making it easy for us after the tour was over. On a side note, for a little extra craziness, our guide ended up having what we think was a heart attack only a few minutes into our tour. The whole time we were trying to assist him, he was only worried about finding someone else to do our tour. This guy was dedicated! We got him some medical attention and went on with his friend, praying he was ok.
- Leave the stroller in the car. There are lots of steps, and huge stone streets in Pompeii. It would be very difficult to push a stroller. Our daughter (3) walked and I had little man (11 months) in the carrier.
- Go early. Pompeii is a huge tourist attraction, so the crowds are insane. Try to get an early start.
- Wear hats and sunscreen. This is southern Italy, so the sun here is no joke. Don’t leave looking like a lobster. We went in April, and the temperature was definitely warm by the end of our tour.
- Plan for at least two hours. This is a good amount of time to see a majority of the main points of interest, without the kids being bored out of their minds. If you can spend more time, do it! There is so much to see in Pompeii that you could easily spend a half day here.
- Get the kids excited. We prepped our daughter by telling her about the “old city” we were going to tour. We tried to relate anything we could to her life to make it seem more real for her, as did our guide.
- Decide beforehand how much you want them to see. Everyone asks if we saw the “sex rooms”. We did not due to time contraints, but our kids were young enough that they wouldn’t have even noticed. Teenagers, on the other hand, would be very aware. Obviously, this comes down to your parental choices and how much you want to (or don’t want to) expose them to. When we saw the casings of the preserved bodies, we tried to avoid mentioning anything about them to our daughter. There was enough going on around her that she was pretty much oblivious to the fact that these had been dead bodies. If she’d asked we were prepared to tell her they were statues.
- Plan ahead for food. Ideally, you can eat before you arrive then take snacks to hold you over until you can go somewhere else for a meal. There are a few shops right outside the entrance, but they are mostly overpriced tourist traps. The kids were getting hungry when we left, so we grabbed a bag of chips and a gelato to tide them over. I really wished we’d had a packed lunch or pre-made snacks in the car.
Looking for more inspiration? Read along here about our family’s time in Tuscany.
Pompeii was a great way to spend one of our last days in Italy. Have you been with kids? What other tips worked for you?