10 Things NOT to do in Pompeii with Kids

I wish I’d done more research before heading to Pompeii with the kids. On Trip Advisor, on blogs. Blogs like this! I made so many mistakes. Mistakes you don’t need to. Heed my warning.

Pompeii with kids

Pompeii with kids

Is Pompeii kid friendly?

Like most ancient sites young children can find history a little bit boring, although climbing over rocks and running through dirt can be exciting.

Pompeii with kids

Is there a kid’s tour of this archaeological site?

To make Pompeii with kids come alive I would recommend a 2-hour kids tour like this one.


What age is Pompeii for?

Kids under 18 are free at Pompeii, however, please keep in mind it is not stroller friendly and some good walking shoes are needed. Our kids were 3 and 4 at the time and were not overly excited. I’d recommend 8+.

Are strollers allowed in Pompeii?

They are, but I do not recommend bringing one. Not even my good travel stroller was up for the challenge. See why below.

Pompeii with kids - stroller problems

Stroller woes

How many hours do you need in Pompeii?

We spent a good three hours there, but I think it was because of the kids we left so early. The ruins of Pompeii cover 44 square hectares, and it would take at least two full days to tour the entire park.

Realistically, you can see most of the highlights in 4 hours without kids. Longer visits will have you acting like the little ones, especially on a hot day.

Pompeii with kids - Pompeii

Why is Pompeii famous?

Pompeii was just another ancient Roman city before August 24th, 79 AD.

The ground rumbled, the sky grew dark and a cloud of volcanic ash flowed vertically out of the majestic Mount Vesuvius volcano.

The volcanic eruption then caused hot molten lava to flow over the edge of the volcano and down the slopes to the Roman city below, scorching everything in sight. Houses were engulfed. And any ancient Romans who escaped the heat gradually suffocated from the fine ash.

In just 18 hours almost 3 meters of ash covered the entire city.

Pompeii with kids - Mount VEsuivius

Where is Pompeii?

Pompeii is in Southern Italy, roughly 150 miles (241.6 km) away from Rome and the Vatican. After you’ve visited the other popular Italian sites, it may be next on your list.

How do I get to Pompeii from Rome?

You should leave at least 2 ½ – 3 hours of travel by train both to and from Pompeii. Taking the train from Rome to Pompeii is one of the quickest and most comfortable options for traveling between the two cities.

If you’re thinking about driving from Rome to Pompeii, you might want to consider staying overnight. With 241 kilometers between the two cities, the drive will easily take two and a half hours (three if traffic gets heavy) one way.

Alternatively, you can get a Rome to Pompeii day trips tour.

Pompeii with kids - Mediterranean Coast road trip

Why did we visit Pompeii?

We were in Southern Italy at the beginning of our 18-day Mediterranean Coast road trip. We departed our stunning home in Praiano, on our way to Matera, and planned a special stop for visiting Pompeii.

I had read about this ancient roman city as a young child and it captured my imagination. I found anything related to the Roman Empire fascinating, so you can imagine how excited I was to see ancient history come alive at Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius.

Perhaps I set my expectations too high, but I’m sad to say it turned out to be a disappointing experience.

In hindsight, there are undoubtedly some things I could have done differently, so learn from my mistakes, and when you visit Pompeii with kids hopefully you will have a much better time.


1. Do NOT rely on your GPS

The first tricky part about visiting Pompeii was finding Pompeii. Since we didn’t have a local SIM card in our phones for mobile Internet access we were relying on our Citroen’s in-car GPS to get around.

Unfortunately, it guided us to the modern sprawling town of Pompeii. I expected that it should be fairly easy to see signage to the archaeological site, but I was wrong.

There was some signage in Italian to 2 different sites with very similar names, which added to the confusion. Using my walkie-talkie (and its limited range) I drove around until I finally picked up a signal from my parents who had driven in with their car.

Pompeii with kids

2. Do NOT park outside the entrance

Using a little trial and error I eventually found my way to a parking lot on the main road near ancient Pompeii, several hundred meters from the main park entrance. Parking was 5 Euros for the day.

This is a much better option than the tourist trap immediately opposite the entrance, which was 2 Euros per hour.

Pompeii with kids parking

3. Do NOT buy tickets at the entrance

Walking past numerous stalls at the entrance to the archeological park, we waited in line for over 20 minutes to purchase entrance tickets.

Tickets are €16 per adult and my kid’s tickets were free.

On the Sunday of every month they did give out free tickets, but it can be madness and you need to arrive early as there is a cap on entry numbers.

If you buy Pompeii tickets online you save money and skip the queue.

Pompeii with kids - Entrance

4. Do NOT bring a stroller

Without knowing much about the actual park I opted to take the stroller for the kids. Even though it saved them a lot of walking, it was a big mistake.

Most of the ancient streets are not pram-friendly. The majority of the site, as you expect is dirt tracks, cobble-stone roads, and steps.

Using a baby carrier for my son probably would have been a smarter move.

The previous few days had been very tiring for the kids, so Caius was already worn out by the time we started, resulting in more-than-usual crying and screaming. He did not have a good time and although the stroller saved him, it did not make life easy for me.

Pompeii with kids - kid in stroller

5. Do NOT pass up a professional guide

My parents and I also declined the offers for audio guides and professional Pompeii tour guides available at the entrance.

Having been to many other ruins and ancient sites we figured we could just read the signage and get a good idea of what was what.

That was our next mistake. There was almost non-existent signage around the grounds. There was more signage around the recycling bins than explaining what each building was.

This was incredibly frustrating as it seemed to be a money-grab, forcing visitors to hire an audio guide (€8 each) or a paid guided tour guide.

For discounted Pompeii tickets and tours click here.

Pompeii with kids - peeking behind ruins

6. Do NOT forget a map from the stalls

We didn’t receive a paper guide/map when we entered, which is usually a standard form of direction given at most any site in the world.

So not only did we have no idea what we were seeing but we also had no idea where we were going. Not ideal in a place this size.

I did find out later that there were maps for sale before the entrance at the stalls we saw. Not at the entrance! So pick up a map there.

Alternatively, print out a free map from Google Maps (which is surprisingly detailed) in advance.

Pompeii with kids - kid with map

7. Do NOT forget to bring water

We brought a couple of bottles of water in the pram as always, but Italy is hot and we drank through those fairly quickly.

Unfortunately, there was no water to be bought within the park.

Randomly scattered around the park were a couple of open taps flowing with smelly water that I wasn’t game to try. But it’s supposed to be potable. Maybe with a good travel water bottle filter.

But my tip is to stock up with lots of water before you head in. Don’t ruin ancient Rome with this easy afterthought.

Pompeii with kids - ampitheatre

8. Do NOT forget to bring food

Likewise, there were no food/drink stalls anywhere in the park (that we could find). And if traveling with kids is one thing it’s not fun without snacks.

Bring some substance to avoid exiting the park, because even the restaurants around the park are tourist-made. That is high prices, low quality food since you aren’t likely to keep returning.

Without any food on site, we opted for a restaurant opposite the main exit, across the road. 2 adults and 2 kids set us back €50. The food was fairly average.

Pompeii with kids - kid on floor

What is Pompeii really like?

Let’s take a break from my long list of complaints and highlight the entertaining bits.

The buildings and ruins themselves were quite fascinating, having been carefully unearthed in the last few decades after almost 2000 years of being underground.

This, of course, provides valuable insight into how people lived 2 millennia ago. It also makes this ancient city one of the best-preserved cities in the world.

Pompeii with kids

We managed to overhear several history stories from private tour guides as we walked around and began to pick up bits and pieces of information.

As we walked around we bumped into a lovely couple we had met several days before on the Amalfi Coast. They were kind enough to share some tips they picked up from their private guide and also gave us one of their maps so we could work out where to go. This was a lifesaver otherwise we may have been trapped in there all day.

Pompeii with kids - friends

8. Do NOT mistake the mummies for real

The couple kindly pointed us in the direction of the iconic “mummified” bodies that resulted from the eruption.

These images have been seen all over the world, printed in National Geographic, beamed on countless TV documentaries about ancient Pompeii, and essentially represent the entire city of Pompeii.

My parents kindly kept an eye on my little ones while I raced over to the small hall containing these 2 bodies surrounded by clear Perspex. My first thought was ‘wow.’

Pompeii with kids - mummy

Then as I stood studying the mummies I overheard a tour guide say something that completely shocked me. They weren’t mummies!

It turns out these 2 bodies are plaster cast. These molds were made based on skeletons that were found during archeological digs.

That means they were pretty much faked, or imagined, depending on how you look at it. It was just another disappointment along the trail of broken dreams on the streets of Pompeii.


9. Do NOT underestimate the crowds

Some 2.5 million tourists visit Pompeii each year, making it one of Italy’s most popular attractions, and also a rather disheveled site. Do NOT underestimate the number of people walking through the ancient ruins, just like you. Be patient. Be kind. Leave when your patience wears thin.

Pompeii with kids - crowds

10. Do NOT miss the amphitheater

Once we had a map in our hands we could see that the whole city was much larger than we anticipated.

Being long past lunchtime without a food stall in sight, we started heading towards the exit. But not before we saw a massive, partially-restored amphitheater. Now that kind of history lights my fire.

Unfortunately, my son also thought it was the perfect opportunity for a toilet break and spontaneously dropped his pants – a lighthearted way to finish our visit.

Pompeii with kids - ampitheatre

Explore With Erin Wrap Up

Our day in Pompeii was over and we were a little wiser for the experience. We made the mistake of not doing enough (or any) research in advance about what to expect. This could have easily been avoided if we had just read an article like this first.

Perhaps a visit to Mount Vesuvius would have been more exciting. You can do that too, click here to see the cost.

Thankfully the next destination on our road trip was also a mystery to us. I had never been and never really heard about it, and it also left a lasting impression. Fortunately this time it was a pleasant one.



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  • Juergen Klein

    We were so fortunate to visit Pompeii in March 2021, in a small window of maybe 3-4 weeks when the site was opened in the middle of Covid lockdowns.
    Instead of crowds we found a deserted attraction. There might have been around 30 other visitors at that time.
    The only disadvantage was that they also weren’t fully staffed and thus several usually opened compounds were locked up.
    But where there was staff these often were friendly enough to patiently answer questions or have a chat – because they didn’t had anything to do…
    Overall we are so grateful for having had this opportunity to see one of the most famous sights of Italy in peace and quiet.

    • Erin Holmes

      Now that would be an experience writing about. Wow. Travelling during the pandemic was great for so many people and terrible for others. I was unfortunately trapped in Australia. But I’d have loved to visit Pompeii this way. Thanks for sharing.

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