Pompeii Mount Vesuvius Volcano Ancient Roman Town Forum With Columns

Naples to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast by Train (and How to Avoid the Circumvesuviana)

Finding stunning places to visit in the Bay of Naples and Amalfi Coast is not a problem – the real trick is finding convenient transportation. Ferries may be one of the region’s great pleasures, but at some point most visitors will need to take the train. Rail networks provide access to inland destinations like Pompeii and Herculaneum as well as the Amalfi Coast; however, in Campania, not all trains are created equal. Knowing which to take and which to avoid can save significant amounts of time and discomfort. In this post we cover the different train lines and options for getting to specific locations.

Orientation

The famously huge and complicated city of Naples sits on the upper end of a storied bay. Below the urban sprawl, the coastline skirts past the hulk of Mount Vesuvius, then veers out into the Tyrrhenian Sea. This lower stretch is called the Amalfi Peninsula. On its tip lies the resort town of Sorrento, with a central location but fewer transportation options than Naples or Salerno.


The Amalfi Coast stretches along the southern side of the Amalfi Peninsula, facing away from the Gulf of Naples. Its steep slopes make railway tracks impractical so only a few train stations cluster at the eastern end, two in Salerno and one in Vietri Sul Mare. 

Train Networks

Two very different networks serve the region. National rail service TrenItalia runs down to Salerno and the Amalfi Coast while a local (and much maligned) Circumvesuviana line winds around the Gulf of Naples to Sorrento. Some places, like Pompeii and Herculaneum, have a station for each network albeit in different parts of town. Both routes are shown on our Google map.

TrenItalia

National rail network TrenItalia offers frequent, reliable service and modern, comfortable trains. We especially like the app, which makes it easy to look up schedules and purchase tickets with a mobile phone. The only downside is that it doesn’t serve some destinations, most notably Sorrento.

Circumvesuviana

Circumvesuviana is a local network with its own set of stations, and it runs on a different type of track than Trenitalia. Most travelers use Line 1, which runs between Naples and Sorrento with stops in Herculaneum and Pompeii. The Circumvesuviana system is old and prone to delays, without air conditioning in train cars or stations. Crowding is common, as are pickpockets. That said, plenty of passengers ride without problems. 

Ancient Roman Mosaic Herculaneum Neptune and Amphitrite Surrounded By Red and Orange Paint Preserved By Volcanic Eruption

Timetables are posted online. (Note that the “EXP” listings denote Campania Express trains, see below.) Parent company EAV has introduced the an app for purchasing tickets, but we’ve heard it’s not worth the bother. Based on our experience, we suggest confirming that trains are running on time at the station before buying tickets. We waited over an hour on a hot, overcrowded subterranean platform in Naples with no explanation for the absence of trains. 

Campania Express

As an alternative to the Circumvesuviana, the Campania Express line runs along the same track between Naples and Sorrento but is geared specifically to tourists. Modern trains with air conditioning and guaranteed seating run stop only at monuments and resorts. The amenities come at a cost: ticket prices are about five times higher, and there are only four departures per day. For timetables and online purchasing, see the website.

Naples Train Stations: Centrale and Garibaldi

Naples Italy Sunrise Cityscape Dome And Vomero Hill

Napoli Centrale is the city’s primary rail station, with connections to Rome and all over Italy. Although the structure is large, transfer from major routes to local trains is straightforward enough.  A bus depot and taxis wait out front.

The metro and Circumvesuviana-Campania Express use the Garibaldi station, which lies below and adjacent to Napoli Centrale. Normally it takes about five minutes to walk between the stations, but Garibaldi can be an adventure. On our first morning in Naples, we found the line for metro tickets snaking around the entire Piazza Garibaldi – apparently all machines were broken, and tickets were only available at the Left Luggage counter.

Naples to Pompeii by Train

Both Circumvesuviana and Trenitalia trains take about 40 minutes to reach Pompei from Naples, with two or three departures per hour. The Circumvesuviana-Campania Express line directly serves Pompeii’s archaeological site. The Pompeii Scavi station lies 150 meters from the ruins’ main entrance, the Porte Marina. Trenitalia’s regional route stops at Pompeii Centrale, with an easy 15-minute walk through town to the Amphiteater entrance. Unlike the Porte Marina, the Anfiteatro gate had no lines when we visited in September. Both entrances have luggage storage, audio guides, and buses to Mount Vesuvius.  

Naples to Herculaneum by Train

Herculaneum Ancient Roman Ruins And Modern Town With Mount Vesuvius

The closest station to the archaeological site at Herculaneum is Ercolano Scavi, on the Circumvesuviana-Campania Express line. The ride from Naples takes approximately 16 minutes, with over 30 Circumvesuviana departures per day plus four on the Campania Express.  Alternatively, TrenItalia regional trains stop at the Portici-Ercolano station, about a mile from the archaeological site. From Naples Centrale there are frequent departures with an average travel time of 15 minutes. 

Naples to the Amalfi Coast by Train

Salerno

Frequent service runs from Naples Centrale/Garibaldi to Salerno Centrale as well as the Duomo-Via Vernieri station, although the latter may be on routes with more stops. Express trains can take as little as 22 minutes, but some rides will last over an hour.

Salerno Southern Italy Sea View At Sunset Historic Center Tiled Rooftops And Hills Mediterranean Coast

Salerno Centrale is just a few minutes walk from the coast, near the Piazza della Concordia ferry terminal. The train station and bus depot sit on a pleasant piazza with a medieval church on the end. A second train station, the Duomo-Via Vernieri, serves regional lines and can be handy for travelers staying in Salerno’s hills.

Vietri Sul Mare

Vietri Sul Mare Amalfi Coast View Of Town Harbor Sea Mountains

The only town on the Amalfi Coast with a train station is Vietri sul Mare, with a quiet beach and a tradition of ceramics. Trains from Salerno Centrale or the Duomo-Via Vernieri station take four to five minutes, and the public elevator makes getting to and from the station a snap. 

Naples to Sorrento by Train

The only rail system operating out of Sorrento is the Circumvesuviana-Campania Express. Both variations take about 75 minutes, with over 30 Circumvesuviana departures per day and four departures on the Campania Express.

Further Reading

For more on the area, see our other posts:

A Guide to Ferries From Naples to the Amalfi Coast

Salerno: An Ideal Base for Visiting Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast

Vietri sul Mare: Ceramics and Beaches on the Amalfi Coast

Atrani: A Quiet alternative on the Amalfi Coast

The Architecture of Naples’ Historic Center