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How not to see Pompeii with kids

How not to see Pompeii with kids

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Pompeii has always been on my travel bucket list. So when we had the opportunity to visit this UNESCO heritage site earlier this summer I couldn’t wait. However, had I known what I do now, I might have held back or at least managed my expectations. To say we did not have the best experience at Pompeii would be fair. In fact, I feel more than qualified to tell you how not to see Pompeii with kids.

Our visit to Pompeii

From the moment we knew our Mediterranean cruise would be stopping in Naples I was itching to book an excursion to see Pompeii. It’s a place that has always intrigued me. Once a thriving Roman town of more than 20,000 inhabitants, it was buried under layers of burning pumice stone when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79.

The site has been under excavation since the 18th Century and now stands as a haunting reminder of the power of nature.

Statue by the entrance of Pompeii - How not to see Pompeii with kids

We visited as a half day excursion from our ship. My first and most important tip for visiting Pompeii with kids is don’t take an excursion. This is not the type of place you want to be herded around, especially when there is so much to see. The excavated villas, preserved amphitheatres and ancient frescoes deserve your time.

Villa garden in Pompeii - How not to see Pompeii with kids

Our guide whizzed around the ruins in less than an hour. We spent much of that time trying to keep up with him with two small children in tow. We still saw Pompeii in all of its tragic beauty. It was the stories that we missed – those insights into the life of those who lived there and the fate of the 2,000 people who were still in their home town when the disaster struck. We also only saw a fraction of the site.

There were so many guided tours going around Pompeii that we lost our guide a couple of times and were left in a bit of a panic with no idea of where we were. In between the confusion I grabbed a few shots with my camera. I wish I could tell you more about these places and artefacts but, for the reasons above, I can’t. Maybe you can tell me?

Fallen statues at Pompeii - How not to see Pompeii with kids

Pompeii's longest road, Via di Castricio - How not to see Pompeii with kids

Three busts at Pompeii - How not to see Pompeii with kids

Our excursion to Pompeii was not ideal. Was our visit ruined? No. Would we get a map and tour Pompeii by ourselves next time? Yes.

It is important to note here that we had a very bad guide and not everyone who booked the excursion from our ship (there were several coaches) had the same experience with their guides. We did complain back onboard and got a 50% refund.

Tips for visiting Pompeii with kids

Mr Tin Box carrying Tin Box Baby and Tot at Pompeii - How not to see Pompeii with kids

  • If you are visiting with young children pop them in a baby carrier as Pompeii’s streets were never designed for pushchairs.
  • Comfy shoes are a must for everyone as the ancient roadways and footpaths are very uneven.
  • Make sure you take plenty of sun protection and water with as you’ll find it can get pretty hot in the shadow of Vesuvius.
  • If you need to use the bathroom during your visit you’ll find it right at the exit. Go before you enter the Pompeii complex. Baby changing is available.

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How not to see Pompeii with kids based on the experience of family travel blogger Tin Box Traveller visited as part of an organised excursion. There's also some tips to help you plan a visit to Pompeii with kids

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Elizabeth @ The Paciport

Tuesday 23rd of May 2017

I love a good what not to do guide! We often times learn so much from our travel "fails". It just gives you an excuse to come back :)

Samantha Taki

Saturday 1st of April 2017

Thank you so much for sharing your trip. I have also been interested in seeing Pompeii. We are working on a trip to Europe next May so maybe we will be able to visit. We will see. Either way, I hope to get to see it one day. Thanks again for the pictures. Sorry it wasn't as great as it could have been. Hope you get to go back one day.

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Monday 3rd of April 2017

I'm glad you found it useful and I hope you get to go too. We definitely want to return one day :)


Wednesday 4th of January 2017

Bless your heart, what a tough lesson to learn! We like to avoid tours in general for those very reasons. I prefer to research before hand and write my own travel guide material for the kids. As a former teacher I'm all about the educational aspect. One of my favorite photos of my kids was when they were in Pompeii and were 5 and 7. They were studying a map because they wanted to see the colosseum in Pompeii since they had seen the one in Rome.

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Wednesday 4th of January 2017

What a fantastic memory! I think Pompeii itself might have been a bit of a tall order for my girls at their age but the guide rally didn't help matters. I love the sound of your visit. Research beforehand is definitely worthwhile!

Wandermust mummy

Thursday 17th of November 2016

Oh no poor you - we went before children and had a fab time.. I think you need to get there for opening and not with a tour to get the most out of it! Winter is also great because there are far fewer people! I hope you get back and have a better time next trip

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Thursday 17th of November 2016

Next time we'll definitely be getting there early and paying for a private tour or self guide ourselves :)

Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

Monday 5th of September 2016

The first time I visited Pompeii was, like you, as a half day port excursion while we were Naples for a cruise. That was before we had kids, and even then, it seemed very rushed. When we took our 3 kids there a few years ago, we planned for a full day and did it as a self-guided tour. Rick Steves has a free audioguide you can download to your smartphone or iPad, and we had his map from his guidebook. The kids seemed to really enjoy it. Afterwards, we spent some time merely wandering around at our leisure. It was a much nicer and more relaxed trip that my first time there.

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