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.
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.
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?
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
- 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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