Hiking Mount Vesuvius

The volcano that destroyed the ancient city of Pompeii 2000 years ago is still active – and just dares you to climb it!

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has travelled the world full time since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


How to climb Mt Vesuvius

If you’re planning to climb Mount Vesuvius, there are a few ways to do it from Naples (or Rome or the Amalfi Coast). I’ve got all the details below.

JUMP TO: Details on how to hike Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius is probably the most famous volcano in the world. School children across the world have read about it in their history textbooks for generations – the volcano that destroyed Pompeii!

(Some people, like me, even remember reading about it in their Latin textbooks… poor Caecilius.)

The history of Mount Vesuvius

Usually Vesuvius is discussed in the context of the eruption in 79 AD – a story of history and a natural disaster of the Ancient World.

Rarely do we mention that Mount Vesuvius is still active and one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

Since Pompeii was destroyed by Vesuvius, there have been dozens more eruptions. We don’t know the exact number because the historical records of ancient time are incomplete, but the best estimate is about 40 times in the past 2000 years.

In fact, Mount Vesuvius is the only volcano to have erupted in Europe in the past century. In its most dramatic volcanic event of the 20th century, lava flowed over the rim and huge clouds billowed into the air – all of it clearly visible from Naples.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

It makes you stop for a moment and wonder whether hiking Mount Vesuvius really is a good idea?

Is it safe to hike Mount Vesuvius?

At a very simple level, yes, it is safe to hike Mount Vesuvius. Although it’s an active volcano, that doesn’t mean it could suddenly start spewing out lava while you’re halfway up.

Before a volcano like this has any activity, there are warning signs. Technology these days means you’re going to be able to predict an eruption at least two weeks in advance.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

But there’s still a slight thrill in the consciousness of the danger this mountain poses. It makes climbing Vesuvius a bit more exhilarating than an ordinary hike up to a peak.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius

I think about that as I walk up the trail to the crater. The views out from here stretch right across the Bay of Naples and over the city itself.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

It makes me feel slightly insignificant in the vastness of it all, until I’m jolted back to the present moment when I see a sign warning of rock slides. I focus on where I am and where I’m walking.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

Eventually I get to the summit of Vesuvius and I can look down into the crater. All seems quiet and calm now – no lava, no gas. But the cracks along the inside are reminders of the force that has spewed out of here in the past.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

After walking further along the top of the mountain, with the crater of the volcano down to one side, I can look over to the ruins of Pompeii. Thousands of people died down there when this volcano erupted – but today, I have conquered it.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

I stand proudly on top of Vesuvius and I don’t let it scare me. Nature may be much more powerful than I am, but I can still be above it all.

How to climb Mount Vesuvius

The sense of pride at the top of Vesuvius is coupled with a sense of achievement. Getting to the top is not easy – physically or logistically – but I like to think that adds to the reward.

If you are interested in hiking Mount Vesuvius, then there’s some information you’ll need to know.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

Regardless of which form of transport you use to arrive (and I’ll discuss that shortly), you’re going to have to climb up the last bit yourself. The trail is wide and relatively safe – but it is longer and steeper than you might expect.

Winding up the side of the volcano in switchbacks initially, the path then follows uphill around the edge until you reach the edge of the crater.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

It took me almost 30 minutes to walk the whole way – you will need a moderate degree of fitness and it may take you longer if you’re not used to hiking uphill.

The easiest way to get to the starting point for the hike is with a tour or transfer.

If there’s a group of you, this private tour could be a good option and includes Pompeii. But, if you’re happy to join others, then your best tour option is this one.

There are some other options – from Naples and other places like Rome and the Amalfi Coast – and I’ve put them here for you:

You can drive yourself up Vesuvius but you will have to leave your car at the lower parking lot (only buses and other tours can use the higher parking lot) and that will add another 30 minutes of walking along the road to your trip.

If you want to use public transport to get to Mount Vesuvius, the best option is to catch the Vesuvio Express bus from the Ercolano Scavi station of the Circumvesuviana train.

To get to the station, you can catch the Circumvesuviana, which runs between central Naples and Salerno. It’s a pretty awful train (dirty, unsafe, crowded) so the other option is to get the much nicer Trenitalia train to the Portici-Ercolano station about 2.5 kilometres away, on the other side of the Herculaneum archaeological site.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

The Vesuvio Express bus leaves about every 40 minutes. A ticket costs €20 and that includes the €10 entry fee that everybody would have to pay at the top anyway.

Once the driver drops you off, you’ll have about 90 minutes until you need to come back and meet the bus. This is enough time to walk up, explore the edge of the crater a bit (in my case, also have a beer) and then walk back down.

The other option you might consider is hiking all the way from the bottom of Mount Vesuvius to the top. Let me give you one bit of advice about that – don’t do it!

Although there is technically a path marked within the Vesuvius National Park, it usually has locked gates blocking the way. The only guaranteed trail is the road that all the cars and buses go up and that’s really long and pretty dangerous.

Hiking Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

I have climbed other volcanoes in my travels – Villarrica in Chile, Mt Bromo in Indonesia and Taal in the Philippines.

Each was exciting in their own way… but none was as symbolic as Mount Vesuvius. The physical exertion is not the hardest of them all but it means so much more to conquer this piece of history.

It’s a shame that it can be so tricky to get there by yourself, because that can waste a fair amount of time. Thankfully it’s convenient and affordable to do do a tour like this one, which arranges that all for you.

You can do the tour in the morning or the afternoon and they will drive you to the start of the walking track. You can hike with the guide to get lots more information or wander off on your own.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for some good accommodation options for your time in Naples, I’ve got some tips here:


It’s easy to find your own bit of heritage in the beautiful accommodation options in historic Naples.


If you’re looking for a budget option, I would suggest the really fun Hostel of the Sun.


There are a few good cheap hotels – I would suggest Hotel Europeo Napoli in the historic centre.


For something with a bit more style, I would recommend the modern Palazzo d’Auria ApartHotel.


And when it comes to luxury, have a look at the incredible Palazzao Alabardieri.

19 thoughts on “Hiking Mount Vesuvius”

  1. Cool guide Michael! Yes I DO recall reading about Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius as a kid LOL. Not in Latin but I missed it by only a little bit methinks 😉 Really neat story and quite horrifying too, knowing that this town was wiped out by the volcano. Thanks for sharing 🙂


  2. Did the Mt Vesuvius climb. Directions / instructions when there, nonexistent. Parking not as advised, is actually on the side of the road some distance down hill from ticket office and due too the complete lack of toilets you open the car door to the remnants of those who have had to go on the side of the road (filth). You will recognise the ticket office by the piles of rotting rubbish stacked against the building as you enter and the attendants who greet you with the warmth of a growling dog. When finally go through the gate you can watch other paying customers find any half hidden location to use as a toilet as none are available. What a shame as it could be a great experience if some effort was made.

  3. Currently Vesuvius does not look as scary as we imagine it, but it is worth seeing it up close, because who knows when it will explode again 🙂

  4. I’m sorry, but your comments about predicting a volcanic eruption two weeks out are completely false (source: I am a volcanologist who’s job is to monitor volcanic activity). We cannot predict volcanic eruptions, but we can forecast an increased or decreased likelihood of an eruption based on seismic, geodetic, gas emissions and physical characteristics. Not all eruptions have obvious warning signals prior to eruptions (called a blue sky eruption), some may only be obvious in hindsight, or they may have confusing/anomalous signals. Signals can also build up, and die off without an eruption.

  5. Great information. I’m 60 and wouldn’t say I was exactly fit but managed the walk perfectly ok. With stops. 30 minutes from the lower gate to the crater is pushing it, took about 45 mins. My wife, who is just 50 and does walk a fair bit, also found the need for frequent stops. But take your time and it’s doable, and a decent workout. Not a climb, but it is an uphill walk. And we took water. Probably should have taken food as the choices en route are limited and my wife is coeliac. Several places to buy water on the way, but as a commentator said, no toilets except at the bottom. And bushes. As one of the most iconic and beautiful volcanoes, it’s absolutely worth the effort and a well earned beer at the end does not harm. Parked in a side road 3 km from the top and took a minibus $1 each way. Pretty scruffy and could be improved but hey, it’s Italy, it does things it’s own way.

  6. Can you give me the address for the parking lot at Mt. Vesuvius? I will be spending a week in Massa Lubrense. We are touring Naples & Pompeii another day, but i am the only one interested in climbing the volcano, so i am coming back another day. I would appreciate the address so i can drive their myself and hike. I looked at the recommended tours, but none fit my plans. Thanks

    • Hi Dave. The parking lot is hard to miss because there’s really just one road going up to the top of Mount Vesuvius. You can see it on a map with this address: RCH8+24 Ercolano, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy.

  7. Do you need to buy the Vesuvio Express bus ticket in advance? I’ve heard there is limited entry to Mount Vesuvius since covid (not sure if this has been resolved). Thanks!

  8. Accoring to certain online sites, it is required to purchase an entry ticket online, in advance, and separately from the ticket for the shuttle between Herculaneum and Vesuvius. I this true, or is it possible to purchase shuttle and entry tickets combined, on the spot, and not in advance?


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