Walking on a volcano is an experience to try at least once in a lifetime. And walking right on that Volcano that erupted in 79 AD suffocating and crystallizing forever the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum is something absolutely thrilling. Now the Vesuvius looks like a quiet and sleepy mountain, nothing compare to the spectacular Hawaiian volcanoes and their lava rivers, but is therefore an excursion suitable if you are visiting the area of Naples.
Climbing Vesuvius is an experience for everyone: the walk to the crater is not too difficult and not too long, and can be faced by everyone, taking it easy and stopping a while to observe the amazing view.
Visit the Vesuvius
The whole Vesuvius area is located inside the Vesuvius National Park and, in theory, should include 9 trekking routes, for a total of about 50 km of trails, but actually I have not found any trace or indication about them once arrived on site. The only walkable path I found is the one that leads to the crater but after all it’s definitely the reason why you decide to climb the Vesuvius, no?
The walk to the Vesuvius crater starts from a fairly high point, accessible by car, bus or taxi. From that parking you have to pay the entrance ticket to the National Park.
Here begins the true climb to the Vesuvius’crater, through a wide path that is tied along the side of Mount Somma. The lack of trees where shelter from the sun and the particular soft and gray soil, remind you that you are not following a classic mountain path, but you are walking on a volcano, on a land made up of the materials of the previous eruptions.
Meanwhile, in front of you, a splendid view of the Gulf of Naples.
After about 25 minutes of walking, you’ll arrive at a small souvenir bar / shop from where guided tours to the crater depart.
Guided tours in english start about every 30 minutes and generally the guides are also volcanologists able to tell you not only the history of Vesuvius, but also provide you valuable information on the volcanic and seismic activities of the area, explaining how the area of Campi Flegrei is currently a source of concern more than Vesuvius itself.
Don’t be shy and ask them questions, they will be very happy to answer to your historical and naturalistic curiosities.
While the guide narrate the story of Vesuvius, from the eruption that destroyed Pompeii changing the shape of the volcano itself, through other less-famous eruptions and the Vesuvius Funicular, take your time to observe the large circular crater below you, in which sometimes you can see clouds of water vapor evaporating from the ground.
The guide greets you after about 15 minutes, just over the half of the path of the crater, and you can still continue by yourself, until the end of the path. You can stop at the view-point and take a selfie before coming back on your steps.
The thrill of being there, on the edge of a volcano, almost perceiving the immense energy enclosed under your feet is an emotion that must be felt at least once in a lifetime.
Feeling so close to nature, feel the power that loads, ready to explode at any moment… a bicycle runs down the back, that feeling of fear mixed with respect and admiration. Feeling so small at the presence of something uncontrollable…
How to get there
If you have a car, you can park it for € 5 at the parking lot in Via Osservatorio and from there continue on foot (about 2km) or take the shuttle for € 2 per person.
If you are using public transport, the Circumvesuviana-stop is the station of Ercolano. From there, local buses brings you up to Vesuvius to the entrance of the path. Unfortunately, I’ve visited the Vesuvius on the 15th August (National Holiday) so the bus traffic was suspended throughout the morning for the classic procession and I can’t understand the time and cost of this solution.
I therefore take the Vesuvio Express buses, just outside the station, which for € 10 lead to the entrance of the route. Personally I didn’t like so much their service, especially because the return must be made strictly with the bus leaving from Vesuvius 90 minutes later getting there. 90 minutes available means having to do everything in a hurry and not enjoy the landscape, the visit and the route, and if you are not a minimum trained in 90 minutes you will barely manage to START the guided tour around the crater that you will already have to leave group and start the descent again.
• The cost of the ticket to access the path that leads to the Vesuvius crater is 10 € and the path is opened every day (except for special closures for bad weather or security) from 09.00 until 15.00 / 18.00 depending on the month.
• Have water before starting the excursion on Vesuvius: both at the parking lot and at the starting point of the guided tours, you will find them only at a much higher price.
• Wear comfortable shoes. No trekking boots are required, but neither wear flip-flops … Sneakers are perfect.
• Don’t forget sunscreen, hat and sunglasses: the whole stretch of walking is under the sun. Bring a jacket even in the summer months: often near the crater the wind is quite annoying.