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Boy eating ice cream in the ruins of the forum at Pompeii in Italy. Mt. Vesuvius looms in the distant background.

Pompeii with Kids – Plan an Enjoyable and Stress-Free Visit

Are you heading to Pompeii with your kids?  Or contemplating a visit but aren’t 100% sold on bringing your children? 

I’m a mamma of three in Italy and I’ve been to Pompeii on my own, I’ve helped plan visits for other families, and I recently visited with my 6-year-old. 

These are some of my tips and observations that will help you decide:

  • if a Pompeii visit is right for your family
  • when to visit Pompeii with kids
  • what to expect when touring Pompeii with kids
  • how to focus your time in Pompeii (and who can help you do that)
  • if you should visit Pompeii on your own or with a guide or tour
  • how to prepare for your family visit to Pompeii

If planned properly, a visit to Pompeii with kids can be a fun and memorable experience for the entire family.

Let’s take a look at how you can make that happen!

Is a Pompeii Visit a Good Choice for Your Family?

Pompeii is often at the top of mom and dad’s list of things to see in Italy, and it’s pretty cool for kids to visit if they have an idea of what they’re looking at.  And, if you visit outside the summer (when it’s hot!), babies and toddlers can also have a nice time tagging along.

If you’ve got small children and you’ll be visiting in the summer, you may want to pass.  Or, limit your time to an hour and a half and make stops for cool drinks and ice cream bars in the café near the Forum.

Older kids and teens who have studied Roman history, Pompeii, or Mt. Vesuvius will likely be thrilled with a visit to the ruins, especially if you have a guide that they can bounce questions off of.

If you’re on a tight budget and won’t be able to pay for a guide, make sure you’ve done some prep work in advance, so you know what to look for.  Otherwise, you’ll just be wandering around an enormous set of ruins (likely in the summer heat).

When to Visit Pompeii with Kids

Boy walking on cobblestone street in Pompeii ruins in Italy. Brick and stone ruins on either side of street. A few people in the background.
With my son on a springtime visit to Pompeii

You’re likely visiting Italy with kids during a school break, and if it’s the summer, plan on extreme heat.  There’s not a lot of shade in Pompeii, so if your kids don’t do well in the heat, you may want to skip a Pompeii visit.

My preferred times for a visit to Pompeii (with or without kids) are spring, fall, and winter.  If I had to pick a favorite moment, it would be in the spring, when wildflowers blossom in grassy areas of the ruins, and it’s sunny and pleasant, but not yet hot.  Outside of the summer, the crowds are also much lighter, which makes visiting Pompeii with kids much more pleasant.

A visit to Pompeii with kids combines well with Naples for Christmas (lights, presepi, Christmas market).

How Long to Spend in Pompeii with Kids

It really depends on two things – how much your kids are interested in Pompeii, and the weather. 

We spent just under two hours on-site, and that was plenty of time for my 6-year-old.  He was thrilled with what he saw, and we left with a ‘that was amazing!’ attitude vs. ‘is it time to go yet?’

That being said, I’ve had multi-hour tours planned with teens and they couldn’t get enough. 

If you’re (the adult) are really excited about seeing Pompeii and want to spend more than a couple of hours, make sure you break your visit up with stops for snacks (your own or at the snack bar by the forum).

What to Look at with Your Kids in Pompeii

If you’re not with a guide, you may want to seek out these places that kids often enjoy.  Don’t feel like you need to see everything.  You want to leave with them excited – not dragging their feet!

You can pick up a free map of the site (with info) when you enter.  In italics is how it’s labeled on the map.

Helpful Tip:  Mark what you want to see before you go, so you can avoid backtracking – it’s a huge site!

  • amphitheater, where gladiators battled (anfiteatro)
  • ‘beware of dog’ mosaic (casa del poeta tragico)
  • ancient fast-food shop (thermopolium)
  • baths (terme stabiane)
  • crosswalks (large stones in the middle of the street)
  • ruts in the cobblestone streets made by the chariots
  • forum (with Mt. Vesuvius towering in the distance) (foro)
  • market (macellum)
  • Alexander the Great mosaic (casa del fauno)
  • plaster casts of people (depending on your child’s age and sensitivities… my 6-year-old was fascinated by them and the process of getting them by pouring plaster into the empty spaces where the bodies had decomposed)
  • graffiti

Good To Know:  Yes, one of the most visited parts of Pompeii is the brothel.  We walked through it with our guide but my son wasn’t listening and thought it was another home.  If you’re concerned, just skip that area.

Pompeii with Kids – Basics

Strollers – Pompeii is not stroller-friendly – the site is full of large cobblestones and paths.  However, on our recent visit we saw a quite a few families with strollers.  I asked a couple of them how it was going with the stroller and the response was that it was best to stick to the ‘main drags’ and to take it easy over the large cobblestones.  Early walkers can also get out of the stroller on the bumpiest parts. 

Good To Know: There is a special itinerary that you can follow that’s stroller-friendly.  It’s called ‘Pompeii for All’ and you can find more about it on the website or by asking someone when you enter. 

Read more about Strollers in Italy

Toilets – There are a few toilets on-site.  If you need to change a diaper, there are a few changing tables in the toilets but I recommend bringing a portable changing pad and finding a quiet spot to change your baby.  True, the ruins are full of visitors, but it’s really easy to find empty places (perfect for naps, quiet time, or just having a moment away from crowds).

Learn all about Bathrooms in Italy

Dining and Snacks – There is a restaurant and café (high-chairs available) at the Forum and there are other restaurants around the outside of the ruins.  My son was happy to get an ice-cream bar from the café.  You can bring your own snacks (get them at a grocery store before arriving at the ruins) but you need to eat them in the designated areas (area picnic on the official Pompeii map). 

Dirt – Pompeii is dusty and has plenty of gravel and dirt paths.  This isn’t the day to dress your kids in white clothing or white fabric sneakers.

Slipping – Heads up that the cobblestones are smooth and slippery, the gravel area in the forum can be slick, and if it’s rained, you’ll find these areas extra slick.

Water – There are water fountains in the ruins, and you can buy water at the café. I recommend bringing plenty in with you.

Buying Tickets for Pompeii

You can buy your tickets ahead of time on the official Pompeii website through TicketOne (it’s an Italian version of Ticketmaster).  The main Pompeii site can be seen with the cheapest ticket – Pompeii Express.  Kids are free!

You can also purchase your tickets on-site, but know that lines can get long!

If you decide to visit on a group tour, your tickets will be purchased for you.

If you are coming with a tour guide, you may or may not need to buy your own tickets. Confirm with your guide.

Pompeii with Kids – Guided or Not?

If you really want your kids to appreciate Pompeii (and they’re elementary age and up), getting a guide is an excellent idea. 

Context Tours has a (pricey) private family day tour to Pompeii and GetYourGuide offers guided visits. 

If you’re visiting with an older child or teen who’s really keen on ancient Rome and Pompeii, let me know, and I’ll connect you with an incredible archaeologist guide for Pompeii (and Herculaneum and Naples).

How to Get to Pompeii with Kids

Someone Else Drives – The easiest way to get to Pompeii with kids is by having someone else do the driving!  A private driver or tour (group or private) will get you there easily, without the hassles of navigating and parking.

You can read about our Guided Day Tour to Pompeii & Mt. Vesuvius from Rome.

You Drive – If you decide to drive your rental car to Pompeii, you can park in one of the paid lots on the streets around the ruins.  Don’t leave anything valuable in your car.

You Take the Train – Take the train to Pompei Station, and then catch the Pompei Link Bus to the Pompei Scavi (the ruins). 

If you’re planning on driving in Italy, check out:
Renting a Car in Italy

Renting a Car in Italy as an American
Italian Gas Stations and Getting Gas in Italy
Important Italian Road Signs
Driving in Italy

International Driving Permit for Italy
Renting a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License
Italian Toll Roads – Driving on the Autostrada
Paying Tolls in Italy
Parking in Italy + Parking Sign Translations
ZTLs in Italy

Prepare for Your Family Visit to Pompeii

The best things you can do to get ready for your visit are:

  • read about Pompeii
  • watch videos about Pompeii
  • visit MANN (National Archaeological Museum of Naples) to see artifacts from the Pompeii ruins

Here are our recommended Pompeii books for kids:

Check out these videos about Pompeii for kids:

Important: Watch them before you show them to your kids so you can make sure they’re ok for them, some scenes may be disturbing.  I preferred to read about Pompeii with my 6-year-old (vs watching videos).

Let me know if you have any recommendations to add to this list!

Things to Do Near Pompeii with Kids

Boy looking into large crater of Mt. Vesuvius.
My son at Mt. Vesuvius

Naples – MANN for artifacts from Pompeii, eat pizza!

Rome – see our list of Things to Do in Rome with Kids, get gelato!

Herculaneum – an archaeological site similar to Pompeii but smaller, and well-preserved

Amalfi Coast – with older kids, explore the chic towns of Positano and Amalfi, take a boat to the island of Capri, hike the Footpath of the Gods

Sorrento – close to the Amalfi Coast, so you’ll get the vibe of the area without having to make the journey, lively town, easier to visit with smaller kids

Mt. Vesuvius – hike up to the top of Mt. Vesuvius (yes, even with kids!)

Need help deciding where to go in Italy with your family? Read
Best Places to Visit in Italy with Kids
Best Things to Do in Italy with Kids
Realistic 10 Day Itineraries for Italy with Kids
Spring Break in Italy with Kids

I hope you have an amazing time in Pompeii with your kids!