Have you ever felt like you are standing on top of the world, with no worries and concerns, a light wind whipping through your hair, the sun burning your eyes slightly and everything stretched out below you? Looking directly at the space where the blue sea meets the blue sky, and thinking “how lucky am I to be here, right now in this moment?”.

I have, just once. And it was when I was standing at the top of Mount Vesuvius.

I’ve had an odd fascination with volcanos since school, and a few years previously I visited Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica, which at the time was the 10th most active volcano in the world. But exploring Mount Vesuvius has been high up on my bucket list for a very long time – simply because of its relation to the total devastation of the ancient city of Pompeii.

Exploring Mount Vesuvius Exploring Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius looms large over the bay of Naples, visible from both Naples itself and of course from within the ruins of Pompeii. It’s beautiful, of course but I’ve always found the idea of having a volcano in your backyard a little disconcerting, even if the last time it erupted was 1944. But, Italy has three active volcanoes – Mount Etna, on Sicily, Stromboli on one of the Aeolian Islands and Mount Vesuvius near Naples.

But as Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano in mainland Europe, its no wonder most aren’t used to the concept of living next door to one.

Exploring Mount Vesuvius
Exploring Mount Vesuvius
Exploring Mount Vesuvius

So visiting then – Mount Vesuvius is a volcano you can climb! Which depending on your viewpoint is either crazy or brilliant, but I had long decided that it was probably a bit brilliant to be able to peer in to its dormant crater and look out over Sorrento and the Bay of Naples from above.

There are a couple of different ways to visit Moutn Vesuvius – either by tour, or independently using public transport. If going it alone, you’ll need to catch the Circumvesuviana train from Naples or Sorrento to either Ercolano Scava or Pompeii train station and then take a bus up to the entrance to the Mount Vesuvius National Park.

I ended up going by tour bus from Pompeii, as part of my day trip to the Pompeii ruins with Project Napoli, booked through Viator. We didn’t have a tour guide whilst in the national park, but the ease of travel made the whole thing much more straightforward. No matter what you decide, you are either dropped 250m from the summit (the entrance to the national park) or 100m further down in the car park (if by public bus) so you have a walk either way!

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Exploring Mount Vesuvius Exploring Mount Vesuvius Exploring Mount Vesuvius

The climb is beautiful, but relentless. It is not steep, but it is a winding on going gravel park to the top. You probably need a rest or two on the way and even though I was very unfit I did huff and puff my way to the top. I definitely wouldn’t want to do this in the height of summer, but in March it was very manageable.

Part way through your climb, you’ll get to a small hut and here you can wait for a scheduled tour by a volcanology guide. It’s free (well part of your entrance fee to the national park) and available in English, and whilst it only lasts 10 minutes you’ll learnt a fair bit about what you are looking at and the history of Mount Vesuvius.

Beyond that you can climb some wooden steps and walk part way round the crater (and peer in, which is slightly disconcerting) and get to the highest peak for an excellent view.

Exploring Mount Vesuvius Exploring Mount Vesuvius

And despite being hot, clammy and a little tired I’d do it again and again for the view. We were extremely lucky to visit on a clear day so the top was not shrouded with clouds or mist, and the views across the Bay of Naples are spectacular. Honestly, I just stood up there and stared across sea for what felt like a very long time.

When you turn to face the crater, you don’t see bubbling lava flowing, but it does feel a little bit like you’ve landed on the moon – with grey craters and gases rising it’s really unusual. I haven’t seen much like that before.

So many people miss out on a trip to Mount Vesuvius and I’m not sure why. Perhaps they haven’t considered the lonely beauty of standing up there staring out in to the sun, or perhaps people think it’ll be too much effort. In fact many people I’ve spoken to on my return didn’t even know you could visit there. But it’s perfect to combine with a trip to Pompeii, and really straightforward to organise a trip!

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Climbing Mount Vesuvius | Naples City Break | Visiting Italy | Italy Holiday Ideas | European Travel

Climbing Mount Vesuvius | Naples City Break | Visiting Italy | Italy Holiday Ideas | European Travel
Climbing Mount Vesuvius | Naples City Break | Visiting Italy | Italy Holiday Ideas | European Travel

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  • Kel

    I have this pencilled in for next spring, and I absolutely can’t wait – hope I get a day as clear and beautiful as the one you got! x

  • Jeremy Barnes

    very cool

  • I live not far away from the Vesuvius and I still feel the same as you whenever I climb it. Yet to be honest we do get used to living next to an active volcano. It’s our land and we have a deep love for it. Of course we do know it’s very dangerous and that one day Mother Nature might decide otherwise, but we don’t constantly think about it. Napoli wouldn’t be Napoli without the Vesuvius, after all!

  • Mr S

    I agree, volcanoes are indeed quite fascinating. I had no idea that Vesuvius was not a popular tourist attraction in the area. People can be strange. I did visit Pompeii but combined this with a visit to Positano on the Amalfi Coast. Next time I am in the area I will make sure I will also include Vesuvius. It looks like the kind of experience I would enjoy too 🙂

  • We only had a day in Naples and chose to visit Pompeii, but the whole time we were there I could feel the presence of the volcano. The final moments of Pompeii must have been terrifying. I didn’t realise you could drive so close to the summit of the volcano.

  • Blair Villanueva

    Its a breathtaking place, and its gorgeous! I wish to visit this very soon. You recommend an awesome places.

  • Kirstie Marie Saldo

    Wow, I never knew this much about Mr. Vesuvius before. Congratulations for conquering it!

  • Dario Dionisi

    I just love Italy, still havent visited the South part of it but one day I will! It’s really inspiring watching you climb Vesuvis and even more inspiring is all the pictures you made! Pomepei is my dream destination and I think is a must stop to visit for everyone. Thank you for the information and photos!

  • Wow I love hiking and this place is perfect for me to visit hopefully one day, such a beautiful place to explore.

  • It is truly spectacular. I am sure I would want to hike to the top one day. Mount Vesuvius always makes me think of Pompeii. It is definitely scary to think that It is still considered an active volcano and the most recent eruption was in 1944. Hope it does not erupt again.

  • megan_claire

    I would love to climb Mount Vesuvius! We visited Pompeii, and viewed the volcano from a distance, but didn’t organize a day climb. Wishing I had now, it sounds like an epic experience. My viewpoint is that it’s brilliant lol but there’s a fine line between crazy and genius am I right 😀

    Beautiful views – interesting that it’s not steep. What a unique opportunity to visit the crater of one of the most famous volcanoes of all time – even if it wasn’t bubbling with lava so to speak!

  • How great is this, climbing Vesuvius. I’ve wanted to get up there since I was a little kid learning about Pompeii. Good to know you can do both, perhaps even on the same day!

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