Things to do in Naples

Visiting the ruins of Herculaneum in Italy

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An ancient Roman fishing town located in the ambit of Mount Vesuvius, Herculaneum ruins offers a rare experience to travellers. This tiny city, buried by the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, has been conserved well to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It harbours rare archaeological treasures giving a glimpse of its original splendour. About halfway between touristy towns Pompeii and Naples, Herculaneum is a hidden gem far richer in its conserved heritage and far less crowded than its popular neighbouring towns. The pyroclastic surge as a result of the eruption led to the preservation of much of organic based wooden objects, roofs, mosaics, frescoes, skeletons etc. giving us a unique peek into how the ancient Romans lived. Not visiting Herculaneum while in such close vicinity would be a huge regret!

Know Before You Go

Herculaneum Ruins
Herculaneum Ruins
Herculaneum Ruins

Handy Information

Best time to visit - Early mornings or late evenings
Suggested duration - 3 Hours
Closest train station - Ercolano Scavi

Opening Hours

Jan 1 - Mar 15: Daily from 8:30am – 5pm
Mar 16 – Oct 14: Daily from 9:30am – 7:30pm
Oct 15 - Dec 31: Daily from 8:30am - 5pm

Highlights Of The Ruins

Baths (Thermae)
House of Neptune and Amphitrite
Villa of the Papyri
Samnite House


Corso Resina, 187, 80056 Ercolano NA, Italy
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Why Should You Visit The Herculaneum Ruins?

Herculaneum Ruins

There are very few ghost cities that have been preserved as pristine as Herculaneum. The ruins of the ancient Greek city date back to AD79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed both Herculaneum and Pompeii. But unlike Pompeii, this city was buried much differently.

The excavations for Herculaneum only started in the early 20th century and hence it is better preserved than Pompeii. While Pompeii was instantly buried by hot ash, the fragments of rock from the volcano created a hot avalanche headed towards Herculaneum. This kept the opulent and richly decorated three-storeyed buildings from two millennia ago still intact. The frescoes and mosaics created by the ancient Greeks give away the rich culture the people of this tiny fishing village lived in. While Pompeii is the more popular ruin, Herculaneum can quickly take you back in time where you can sense the spirit and hues of the lost vibrant city.

Herculaneum History

Herculaneum Ruins

Herculaneum before eruption

Herculaneum was a 2000-year-old, ancient Roman city about 5 miles to the southeast of Naples, in Campania, Italy. With just about 4,000–5,000 inhabitants, this splendid town lay in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Although it was a small seaside fishing town, Herculaneum was a wealthy town that possessed a great number of lavishly done up houses with coloured marble cladding, buildings with frescoed roofs and mosaics, classic Roman furniture, wine racks, household shrines and much more.

Herculaneum Excavation

In A.D. 79, this prosperous city along with the bigger neighbouring towns bore the warth of the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It was engulfed and buried by superheated pyroclastic flows of molten rock that encased it into a solid mass of pumice and ash. A horrific disaster albeit, it converted the living, breathing city of Herculaneum into a thoroughly protected time capsule. As archaeologists dug into the ruins in the recent years of mid 18th century, they discovered well preserved wooden and other rare organic artefacts such as roofs, racks, beds, baby cots, doors, food and even some 300 skeletons along the seashore. Since then it has been a fascinating destination for many travellers.

Herculaneum Tour - What To See?

Here is a small list of archaeological sites in the ruins that you must not miss!

Baths (Thermae)

These are well-preserved thermal baths, separate for men and women. The water fed by a deep well was heated by a large furnace and distributed around the baths by a network of pipes. The men’s bath has a floor mosaic of dolphins while the women's floor has a well preserved geometric pattern and intact wooden shelves.

House of Neptune and Amphitrite

Named after Neptune and Amphitrite, a sea goddess and wife of Poseidon, this place has one of the most beautiful mosaic glass walls. The adjoining wall is also covered with a glass mosaic, with marble masks above it. It has a garden room that replaces the peristyle giving it a unique touch.

Villa of the Papyri

Home to the famous Herculaneum scrolls, named after the unique library of papyri (scrolls) this is a large and luxurious villa along the coastline. Spread over four terraces, it has exquisite architecture and has been home to rare works of art like frescoes, bronze and marble sculptures etc.

House of the Deer

Another luxurious waterfront two-storeyed villa with a central courtyard. The floor with marble chips and mosaic patterns is quite an awesome sight. The frescoed walls are not to be missed. It had a huge garden adorned with marble tables and deer statues, well preserved now in the onsite museum.

House of the Relief of Telephus

This elegant three-storey mansion is right across from the House of the Deer. It has a spacious atrium with ionic columns and a marble basin that leads down to a park. Famed for an excellent marble relief, it has cast replicas of many of its original marble masks.

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia

Samnite House

This is one of the oldest aristocratic mansions discovered so far in this town. The house has rich stucco and fresco decorations and an elegant atrium with a gallery and small rooms around it. The typical columns and pillars of that era mark the structure.

Hall of the Augustales (Sacello degli Augustali)

This meeting hall for the priests (usually ex-slaves) of Emperor Augustus is a very large square shrine lit by an opening in the roof. It has excellent frescoes depicting historical gospels like Hercules in Olympus with Juno and Minerva and Hercules fighting an Etruscan god etc.

Image Courtesy: Google Sites

House of the Black Room/Salon (Casa del Salone Nero)

This opulent house has a little courtyard garden and beautiful mosaic flooring. It also has remains of the art appreciated by Herculaneum's natives in the form of very fine wall paintings on a rather unusual black background.

House of the Black Room/Salon (Casa del Salone Nero)

This opulent house has a little courtyard garden and beautiful mosaic flooring. It also has remains of the art appreciated by Herculaneum's natives in the form of very fine wall paintings on a rather unusual black background.

Palaestra and Shops

There are a series of shops including weavers loom, a dye shop and a bakery with ovens and mills. Behind these is Palaestra, a grassy area, also known as the outdoor gym. It is bordered by the remnants of pillars and was a public field for games and other events.


From 1980 to 1982, archaeologists found 140 Herculaneum skeletons at the Boathouses. This provided a surprising turn since it was thought that all the inhabitants of the fishing village had fled. These skeletons were strangely covered in black and red mineral residues. It was later hypothesized that deposits of iron from human blood exposed to extreme heat caused it.

Herculaneum Tickets

Here are the different Herculaneum tickets and how you can score them.


You can purchase the tickets at the gates. However, be prepared to stand in long lines for quite some time.

Priority Entrance Ticket

As the name suggests, the Herculaneum Priority Entrance Ticket help you skip the long ticket lines and save time. If you are one to explore places on your own, this is the best pick.

Herculaneum Guided Tour

Nothing beats a Herculaneum Archeologist Guided Tour to learn about the ghost city and its remains from an expert archaeologist! Learn all about the chronology of the excavations, the remains and what they signify with this tour.

Pompeii and Herculaneum

Go all Indiana Jones with this golden Pompeii and Herculaneum Full Day Archaeological Excursion From Naples. Your trip would be sorted with just one ticket by visiting Italy’s top attractions, Pompeii and Herculaneum, from Naples. Not only would you need not have to spend time itinerating your trip, but you will also save few euros.

Herculaneum Or Pompeii?

People are often confused about whether they should visit Herculaneum or Pompeii. Herculaneum and Pompeii, though preys of the same calamity are very different towns. Let us look at the differences more objectively to make a conscious decision.

herculaneum ticketsherculaneum tickets
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Duration of visit

Smaller town hence can be visited in 3 hours

Comparitively bigger and requires minimum 6-7 hours

Ease of Navigation

Easy to navigate as it is small and ample sign boards are present.

Being vast it is more challenging and time consuming to navigate, and lack of signboards in Pompeii makes it harder

Getting to the site

Congested streets around excavation make the access for tour buses difficult, hence less touristy

Fairly approachable with paid parking facilities but hordes of tourist buses make it hard to get here


Far better experience as the ruins have been well preserved due to the pyroclastic nature of destruction. More trees , hence better shade making the walking less tiresome

A lot of artefacts and details were completely destroyed due to direct impact of volcanic eruption. Not a single tree, hence less place to rest and take shade.


Smaller but wealthier town, hence has more art and archeological preserves. Much of the site is still being excavated.

Larger town but not as rich in art as Herculaneum. However, due to its size there is more to see and more impressive structures like the amphitheatre are present here.

Preservation of Artefacts

Pyroclastic flow capsuled the town hence protecting the ruins

More plaster bodies here which helps understand Fiorelli’s method of preservation

Kid friendliness

Being a smaller site, it is easier to explore with kids. Also this has more interesting preserves for kids to understand

Covering the whole of Pompeii in a day with kids can be tiring.

Proximity to Mt Vesuvius

Located 7.1 kms from Mt Vesuvius

Located 10.3 km from Mt Vesuvius

Visiting Herculaneum - How To Get There?

Rome to Herculaneum

Herculaneum is about 150 miles south of Rome, close to Naples. The best way to get to Herculaneum from Rome is by train. This is the fastest and most comfortable option. It takes about 2 to 3 hours depending on whether you take the high speed or slow speed train. The journey involves transfer from Naples to another line. You can catch any train to Naples that leaves from Termini railway station. From Naples the Circumvesuviana line goes to Herculaneum (Ercolano Scavi station). A round trip can cost anywhere from 30€ to 100€ depending on the train.

There are round trip coaches from Rome to Pompeii and Herculaneum with a guided tour. You can enjoy the countryside vistas from the comfort of your coach. They are a good second choice. Renting a car can be another option for families and groups especially if you are planning to cover nearby places too.

Naples to Herculaneum

Herculaneum is very close to Naples, just about 8 miles. You can take the train along Circumvesuviana line from Napoli Stazione Centrale / Garibaldi to Sorrento and get off at ERCOLANO station. The archaeological site is hardly 700m from the station.

The more expensive options of renting a car or a cab are always there and though it is comparatively more expensive than the public modes of transport, it won't burn a hole in your pocket.

Pompeii to Herculaneum

Herculaneum is hardly 10 miles away from Pompeii. You can take the train going to Naples on Circumvesuviana line from the Pompei Scavi/Villa dei Misteri stop to Ercolano Scavi stop. When you exit the station and go down the stairs, it is a downhill walk of just 10 minutes to the Herculaneum entrance.

If you're not on a budget, you can easily rent a car or a cab from either of the sites to the other!

Herculaneum Opening Times

  • From 1 November to 31 March | Every day from 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM (with last entrance 3.30 PM)
  • From 1 April to 31 October | Every day 9:00 AM – 7:30 PM (with last entrance at 6:00 PM)
  • Herculaneum remains shut on 25th December, 1st January and 1st May.

Ruins of Herculaneum Map

Use this Herculaneum map to navigate through the ruins.

Herculaneum Hotels

Where To Stay

The seaside town of Ercolano is a very pretty sight. The sea to one side and ancient ruins to the other, this town makes for the perfect place if you're visiting the nearby towns of Pompeii and Naples. Here is a list of the prettiest hotels (with sea views!) that you should consider.

Hotel Herculaneum
Hotel Herculaneum

Hidden between the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and the Gulf of Naples, is Hotel Herculaneum, a chic hotel with views of its lush gardens and the sea. The rooms are decorated with blue and white decor. They also provide authentic Italian breakfast in their spacious dining room.
Distance from Herculaneum: 900 meters

Hotel Villa Signorini
Hotel Villa Signorini

If you want to truly experience what living in an Italian palace feels like, head to Hotel Villa Signorini. They are decorated with Victorian furniture, and painted with Renaissance art. It is located near the Royal Palace of Portici, the 'Villa of the Papyri arcane and the sea.
Distance from Herculaneum: 2 km

La Dimora le Fumarole
La Dimora le Fumarole

If you want to treat yourself to amazing sea views and breakfast, look no further than La Dimora le Fumarole. The staff are hospitable and the hotel offers all modern amenities for a perfect stay.
Distance from Herculaneum: 5.2 km

Hotel Puntaquattroventi
Hotel Puntaquattroventi

If modern luxury is your thing, Hotel Puntaquattroventi makes a wonderful stay. Their chefs are the best in town, they have a wonderful pool facing the sea, modest rooms and excellent service.
Distance from Herculaneum: 1.9 km

Herculaneum Restaurants

Where To Eat

Here are some amazing places to feast in after your long and memorable tour of Herculaneum ruins.

Casa KBirr

If you are craving elegant Italian delicacies paired with a few drinks, Casa KBirr is the place to go. They serve everything from Neapolitan, Campania, Southern-Italian to vegetarian friendly, gluten free options.
Must try: Grandma's meatballs and cod

Masseria Guida

If you are in the mood for gourmet and a splendid terrace view of the sea town, head over to Masseria Guida, a Michelin star restaurant. They specialize in Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean, and European cuisine with everything gourmet. The service is reasonably quick and the food tastes delicious.
Must try: Iberico pork, Apricot ice cream, Amaro at finocchietto

Pizzeria Luna Caprese Sas Di Luna Michelina

Taste some classic wood fired pizzas at Pizzeria Luna Caprese. They serve everything Italian with vegetarian and vegan options. If you are on a tight budget, this is a great place to find appetizing food at reasonable prices.
Must try: Diavolo pizza, Lasagne, and Spaghetti

Pizzeria O' Sbarazzino

Another great pizzeria in the region is Pizzeria O' Sbarazzino, serving the local favourites with a garden view. They serve delicious pizzas at a fraction of what you would normally spend elsewhere. The service is quick, the staff are friendly as well.
Must try: Wine, Pizza

Insider Tips for Visiting Herculaneum

  • As you walk down the steps from the station, you are pestered by quite a few eager taxi drivers for a drive to Herculaneum. Do not give in to the temptation as it is just an easy 10 minutes downhill walk from there to the site.
  • Kids have to be either prepared to walk through the site or have to be carried around in a sling/ backpack as strollers are difficult to move in the cobblestoned hilly terrain.
  • It can get quite hot during summers. Carry a water bottle which you can keep refilling at many water fountains of Herculaneum.
  • Carry some snacks or pack a picnic. Food options around the site are few and expensive.
  • To know the Herculaneum facts, a guided walking tour of this kind of historical site is highly recommended. You can rent an audio guide or purchase a guidebook and Herculaneum map at the information desk near the ticket window.
  • If you're a teacher or student, consider buying a Campania Artecard, which offers free or reduced admission to many museums and archaeological sites in and around Naples and Campania. The three-day card includes free public transport as well.

Hot Herculaneum Deals!

Herculaneum Priority Entrance Ticket
Pompeii and Herculaneum Full Day Archaeologica...
Herculaneum Half Day Tour From Naples

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Herculaneum Ruins Guide