Hiking The Most Famous Volcano On Earth, Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius, 80044 Ottaviano, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy
Vesuvius crater

Mount Vesuvius, located in Campania, southern Italy, is the only active volcano on Europe's mainland and one of the world's most dangerous. The volcano's intriguing features include its proximity to Naples, Italy's third-most populous metropolitan city, and nearby towns on the nearby slopes, as well as the thousands of tourists who visit its summit each year.

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Standing on a mountain peak and looking out over the world is an indescribable experience. Walking near the crater rim of a volcano is doubly enjoyable. Therefore, my vacation in Naples also included visiting the beautiful Vesuvius National Park and admiring the intoxicating height from the top of the volcanic cone.

Vesuvius has captivated visitors to Naples since ancient times. In 1880, a pendulum funicular powered by a steam engine began operation, allowing visitors to reach the summit of Vesuvius. Over time, it had almost become a regional icon. The 1944 eruption destroyed the funicular. The volcano summit is currently only accessible via a well-maintained hiking trail. A road connects the volcano's base to the hiking trail, ending with a parking lot at 1000 meters (3280 feet).

Mount Vesuvius in Photos

Mount Vesuvius
Pompeii, with Mount Vesuvius in the background

Hiking Vesuvius
The hiking trail leading up to the summit

Hiking Vesuvius
Taking a look back on the hiking trail

Volcano crater
The crater

Volcano crater
The crater's wall

View of Naples from the summit

Vesuvius trail
Taking the southeastern hiking trail downhill

Vesuvius hike
The southeastern hiking trail downhill

Mount Vesuvius has been active for 200,000 years. In the last 17,000 years, it has had several violent eruptions. It emitted a cloud of stones, ash, and fumes into the atmosphere 33 kilometers (20.5 miles) in 79; in nineteen hours, the two wealthy Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum vanished from history until the 18th century.

In 1631, another violent eruption devastated many settlements on the volcano's slopes, killing 3,000 people. It signaled the beginning of a new era of the volcano's persistent activity, marked by other eruptions, for example, in 1848, 1872, and 1906. Vesuvius last erupted in 1944, causing minor damage and killing over thirty people.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the volcano's height in 2013 was 1,281 meters (4,203 feet). This summit has a massive crater of 305 meters (1,000 feet) deep and 610 meters (2,000 feet) wide from the 1944 eruption.

Experts say that if the volcano erupted today, flaming ash could be thrown up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, threatening people's lives. Given this destructive potential, the eruption could endanger more than 3 million people and destroy the city of Naples.

Mount Somma, located to the north and northeast of Vesuvius, is also worth mentioning because it represents the remnant of an older volcanic cone. It is a semicircular ridge measuring 1,132 meters (3,714 feet).

Hiking Vesuvius

On a spectacular hike to the top of the volcano and around its crater, you can discover incredible natural landscapes and breathtaking views of the Gulf of Naples.

The hiking trail is about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) up and down, well-maintained, and relatively safe. On the way, you can see a procession of people of all ages and sizes. It takes nearly 30 minutes to walk the entire hike from the ticket gates. Of course, you'll need to be fit, and it may take longer if you're not used to hiking uphill.

When you reach the summit of Mount Vesuvius, you can walk around the crater, admiring the multicolored rocks and debris and watching the volcanic fumes.

How to Get to Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius is only 9 kilometers (5 miles) east of Naples. To get to Vesuvius National Park, take the blue Sorrento train line from Naples Central train station and get off at the Ercolano Scavi stop. The journey takes 15 minutes. From there, Vesuvio Express shuttles run to the park ticket office, 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) above sea level. The hiking trail starts here.

If you're driving, take the A3 Napoli-Salerno highway to the Torre del Greco or Herculaneum exit, then follow the signs for Vesuvius. An unstaffed paid parking lot is located 800 meters above sea level. Parking is 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) away from the ticket office; therefore, you can walk or take the shuttle.

Where to Stay in Naples

Unsure of where to stay in Naples? For my trips, I use Booking.com, a well-designed website that helps me find everything from small B&Bs to large hotel chains, vacation rentals, and homestays.

Best Vesuvius Tours

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Have any questions about hiking Mount Vesuvius? Planning a trip to Naples? What about other suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment below.


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