Our detailed review of the day trip from Rome to Pompeii and Vesuvius with kids offered by Pinocchio Tours: what to expect, why we loved it for families, how to book.
Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius are exciting places for children and among the most sought-after destinations for a family day trip from Rome.
However, the ancient city of Pompeii and the mighty volcano that destroyed it are also among the hardest to reach from the capital.
Over 200 km south of Rome, a trip from Rome to Pompeii currently requires a long drive or ride on two trains; access to Vesuvius also needs either the use of a car or relying on the local bus system and while this journey is doable, tackling this trip with kids can be tiring.
So, I went on a quest to see if there was a different option to make the experience enjoyable, educational and not exhausting.
I am happy to report that I found it!
For our latest visit to Pompeii, we trusted a company called Pinocchio Tours and got them to take care of everything for us: car transport to and from Rome, Pompeii tickets and a child-friendly guide, lunch arrangement and Vesuvius access.
We had a wonderful time!
Our day trip was long, exciting, fun, educational and comfortable. We got back home happy and tired and thinking we couldn’t have found a better way to tackle such a big day trip.
This is the review of our experience, why we recommend it, how you can book it too and how to make the most of your day.
Pompeii and Vesuvius tour with kids from Rome at a glance
Our family-friendly Pompeii and Vesuvius tour by Pinocchio Tours included:
- Transport to and from our Rome accommodation
- Entrance tickets to Pompeii archaeological site
- Kid-friendly Pompeii guide
- Lift to lunch location of choice (they can recommend places or you can pick your own)
- Drive up Mount Vesuvius
- Vesuvius ticket access to walking up to the crater. Option to join a local guide for a quick intro to the Vocalno included in the ticket
- Transfer back to Rome
Duration: about 12 hours, from 7.30 am
Type of tour: private. Guided in Pompeii, self-guided on Vesuvius.
Suitable for: all ages. However, due to the long duration of the excursion and the nature of the terrain/ attraction, I find it most suitable for kids aged 6 and up who can engage with the history of the place and will be able to take the long drive and walks.
How to book:
Directly with the company by asking a quote by email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tell them you found them on MamaLovesItaly, they know us!
Good to know! This tour is also available from Naples and the Amalfi Coast + it is one of the best day trips from Sorrento for families!
Our tour in detail
Morning Pick up
One of my big reasons to book the Pinocchio Tour of Pompeii from Rome was the option of pick up from our accommodation; indeed, it was the best decision!
We agreed to meet early morning at our address and our driver was perfectly on time: we found him straight away and settled in his beautiful vehicle.
The car was a large 8-seater black van, beautiful and spotless, with free wifi and water for us.
Our driver was Stefano and he was a gentleman.
He drove us quickly and safely to Pompeii and gave us a couple of pointers on sites on the way, such as Oplontis and Herculaneum, which we didn’t have time to visit this time but saw indicated on the way.
The drive from Rome to Pompeii
The drive from Rome to Pompeii takes about 2 hours and it is almost entirely on the motorway.
The early start on a Saturday meant we were able to avoid much traffic and the motorways is fast and relatively straight, so there are no worries here for motion sickness (not quite the same for Vesuvius, see below!).
Along the way, Stefano offered to stop at Autogrill (gas station / bar) for a pit stop and I said no, thinking we were ok to just keep going.
In hindsight, I should have followed his lead and agreed to a stop: in Pompeii, there are cafes and restrooms but it is so busy and we were so keen to get in, we didn’t stop for coffee and this mama suffered the lack of caffeine!
My fault: if you go, do accept the extra stop if you like your morning coffee fix!
Pompeii Tour for kids
As we got to Pompeii’s archaeological site entrance, we met our guide Loretta, who was wonderful.
Straight away, I was happy to have her with us.
While the entrance to Pompeii is easy to find, there were tons of people around and it was fantastic to have a guide who could navigate the crowds.
Loretta works extensively in Pompeii and knows lots of quiet corners.
Thanks to her, we were able to find calm spots and listen to her with ease, immediately getting a great and easy-to-understand overview of Pompeii, its location and its history.
Pompeii is huge and Loretta made sure to agree with us about what parts would be most interesting and exciting for the children.
I know many parents are worried about the ‘red light’ part of Pompeii and Loretta was upfront saying she doesn’t include it in tours for children.
Instead, she recommended seeing Casa dei Vettii, a wonderful private home with stunning frescoes.
This house does have some depictions that may be considered inappropriate for kids. However, they are easy to bypass and ignore.
My kids were old enough to have a giggle and I agreed with Loretta I was ok with her bringing us there. It was one of the highlights of our tour!
However, it would have been totally ok for her to replace it with a different sight.
She is very easy to talk to and knows Pompeii well, so you can entirely agree with her what parts of the city are most interesting and suitable for your family.
As well as casa dei Vetti, Loretta showed us other wonderful things such as:
- Ancient Roman houses and shops – she even though us how to recognize one from the other based on the shape of their door frame!
- Ancient Roman ‘take out’ restaurant
- The ancient and stunning Pompeii Forum and its temples
- The House of Julia Felix (Praedia of Julia Felix) with its baths
- Pompeii’s theater (not the amphitheater: this would have been in the opposite side of town and we reckoned it would be too much for the kids and the time we had)
Why Loretta is great: fun fact! Pompeii’s theater has great acoustic and we saw may guides clapping their hands to demonstrate how the sound travels there. Loretta had a different approach: she shushed everyone around us and sang for us! She has an incredible voice and the whole theater erupted in applause. It was really cool to see and she truly is super talented!
- Streets and fountains of the ancient city
- Pompeii’s casts and museum. One of the most peculiar sights in Pompeii are the casts of the people who lost their life in the eruption.
As the city got covered by pyroclastic material, the bodies of the people who hadn’t escaped got covered up and encased by volcanic material.
Over time, the bodies decayed leaving hollow spaces in the material, which maintained the original shape of the body in the exact position the had at the moment of their death.
Modern technology has allowed recreating the shape of the bodies by filling these hollow spaces with material.
The casts are now visible in parts of Pompeii and in the incredible museum close to the entrance gate.
Need to know: the casts are fascinating yet disturbing for kids and adults alike. While kids tend to love the more gory details, I would be very cautious about bringing young kids if they are sensitive. The story of the city is a lot more frightening and disturbing, seen up close than by cinematic reconstructions. I believe some preparation before the visit and parental judgment is necessary here.
You can see and learn about how the casts came to be >>> here <<<
- The already mentioned and stunning Vetti’s House, which has wonderful frescoes
Our tour lasted about 2.5 hours and the kids (and I) really enjoyed it.
Loretta is energetic and entertaining, she has a scavenger hunt for them and small prizes for them during it.
In the end, she also had a fun quiz for us which gave the kids a special prize!
She was brilliant and she managed to keep engaged even my daughter who, as you can probably see from the photos, was in quite a mood that day. Not an easy task at all!
We felt that 2.5 hours were a good length for the children.
The city of Pompeii would require a long longer to be seen in full however, there is a lot of walking to be done and a lot to be seen, so we felt her approach and duration was excellent.
Lunch on Mount Vesuvius
After our Pompeii tour with Loretta, we were ready for lunch and we were offered three options (price of lunch was not inlcuded).
We could choose between:
- Pizza in Pompeii or anyway a quick bite, to get up Mount Vesuvius straight away
- A longer stop at a wine farm
- Lunch on Mount Vesuvius or wherever we wished in the area
This time, I selected the lunch as a midway option and had a lovely meal.
Since I didn’t know where to go, I trusted our driver’s advice and went to a place on the way to the crater called Kona.
We had a lovely lunch in a relaxed atmosphere and the kids loved to see the resident cats lounging in and about the parking lot!
The restaurant was able to cater for gluten-free when asked, which was important for a coeliac member of of our party.
The drive up Mount Vesuvius
After lunch, Stefano drove us up Mount Vesuvius
I was so happy to have a professional negotiating that road!
The road is paved and scenic but it is also narrow and winding.
It meanders up the mountains with tight bends and since there are buses going up and down, it often required you to stop, reverse and negotiate your way up.
This is a road that can cause issues to people who are not used to driving on mountain roads and it can give motion sickness: if you suffer from it, I would recommend bringing remedies with you, just in case.
For us, it was fabulous to have a professional driver dealing with it!
The drive is about half an hour and we quickly gained the top parking lot, from where the hike to the crater begins.
Hiking up Vesuvius’ crater with kids
Access to the Vesuvius’ Crater is ticketed and tickets sell out fast, another reason why we were happy to have a tour that included them.
The hike up to the crater is about 25 minutes and while steep, it is doable with children.
To walk it safely, you want walking shoes (sneakers are ok) and you do not want to have to push a stroller here.
While the path is technically large enough, the terrain and steepness of it make it very hard even with an all-terrain stroller.
Also, several parts around the crater are not accessible at all.
So, even if managing to bring the stroller to one of the stations on the way, you’ll be unable to push it around crater, which is the most scenic part.
If you have a stroller with you, you can leave it in the car.
We all loved our time up Vesuvius.
Seeing the crater up close is very exciting, especially after hearing about it and seeing it towering over Pompeii and it is thrilling to know you are up an active volcano, seeing the vapor rise from it!
At the top, we joined the park guide, who gave us a quick talk about the history of the volcano and its more recent eruption.
While not amazing, it was included in the ticket and since it was short, it was nice to have.
Need to know: this part of the Pinocchio Tour is not guided by their staff, but by a Vesuvius’ Park guide. We knew in advance and were ok with it. You don’t need a guide on Mount Vesuvius, this is just a quick additional talk to help you understand how the current crater came to be.
At the top of the crater hike, there are a cafe and souvenir shops, so we took a short break, took some photos and tackled the way back.
Drive from Vesuvius back to Rome
Tired, dusty, but very happy we regained Stefano and his car and swiftly got back to Rome.
This time, we did agree to a pit stop on the way, used the restroom and got a drink and were ready to go home.
My daughter slept the whole way and we regained home for a well-deserved dinner and a long night’s sleep.
We had an excellent day and highly recommend this tour.
A trip to Pompeii and Vesuvius from Rome is a big undertaking in terms of time needed and having a driver and guide made all the difference, transforming something potentially exceptionally tiring into a long yet enjoyable and exciting day.
Day trip from Rome to Pompeii and Vesuvius with kids: our tips
To make the most of this day trip, I recommend you:
Wear comfortable shoes – sneakers/runners or hiking sandals work well. Due to the nature of the terrain, you want shoes with good support and some bounce. Avoid flip-flops and backless shoes
Bring layers as it is definitely chillier at the top of Mount Vesuvius!
Bring sunglasses and sun protection if going outside of winter
Avoid going in the height of summer – there is no shade in Pompeii and the whole site gets beaten by a relentless sun. If going in summer, opt for early morning or late afternoon.
Good to know! You can also book this trou from Sorrento, Naples or the Amalfi Coast, which would allow for an earlier start.
Bring a carrier if you have a baby or a toddler, especially for the Vesuvius hike
Evaluate energy levels carefully: this is a long day so I recommend planning a relaxing one just before and after to avoid exhaustion.
Based on our experience of this excursion, this is a worthy tour and a fantastic memory to have as a family.
I hope our experience and tips will help you plan the same day as us and that you have as much fun!
You can get a quote and make arrangements directly with the company by emailing them at email@example.com
A huge shout of to all the Pinocchio Tours staff for their excellent tour and organization!
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