A guide to visit the Crater of the Vesuvius
The nature trail n.5 “Il Gran Cono” starts from Piazzale di Quota 1000, a parking area which is 1,000 metres above sea level in the municipality of Herculaneum, at the end of the Strada Provinciale (provincial road) Ercolano-Vesuvio. In the Piazzale, which is managed by the Vesuvius National Park, parking is not allowed, and public toilets are not available at the moment. Please bear this in mind when planning your hiking trip. For those who are driving, the parking and rest areas along the provincial road are managed by the municipality of Herculaneum.
From the Piazzale you can already enjoy a splendid view of the northern side of Mount Somma with the Cognoli di Sant'Anastasia and Punta Nasone, the top of the ancient volcano which is 1,132 metres high, opposite the Cognoli of Ottaviano and Levante. While looking upwards, you can hold your breath and see from below what will be the ascent to the bottom edge of Sterminator Vesevo.
Opening times to visit the Crater
- Citizens residing in one of the 13 municipalities of the park, provided they have a valid ID certifying their actual residence;
- Young people under the age of 25, provided they have a valid ID certifying their actual age.
- Police officers and security staff;
- The members of the bodies and staff of the Vesuvius National Park;
- The staff of the Vesuvius Observatory – INGV, who deal with monitoring, study and research;
- Researchers and the staff of universities and research institutions, for scientific and cultural reasons, upon presentation of written consent from the Park and a valid ID;
- Journalists, radio and television operators with the right to report, upon presentation of written consent from the Park;
- All those who have written consent from the Park issued for institutional, cultural, representation and public interest reasons;
- All those who work exclusively as tour guides of the Vesuvius National Park;
- Disabled visitors and their carers, provided they have a certificate attesting their condition;
- Children under the age of 6, if accompanied by their parents or legal guardians, with a valid ID certifying their actual age – this exemption does not apply to school visits;
- Residents in the 13 municipalities of the park with a valid ID on the European Day of Parks and in the six following days, or any other event of national importance established by the Park.
- Tickets can only be purchased online on the Viva ticket platform, which is managed by Consorzio Arte’m net. Access to the crater is allowed only by booking;
- All purchased tickets are named. When booking, users need to provide their personal details (first name, last name, tax code, residence), as well as their preference for the date and time of the excursion;
- The purchase by the user can be completed only by accepting the acknowledgement of the Protocol regarding the mandatory rules on health protection, as well as the behaviour to be adopted for environmental protection and for a safe excursion in a mountain environment.
- You can access the Crater by stamping your ticket at the automatic gates you can find at Piazzale di Quota 1000. You need to stamp your ticket when entering and exiting;
- The excursions can have up to 25 visitors, who must be accompanied by an authorised volcanological guide for the entire excursion, with departures every 15 minutes;
- The excursion cannot be longer than 1 hour and 30 minutes. The excursion takes place along a linear round trip. Each group must respect, in ascent and descent, the direction of travel on the right side in the walkway;
- The Park provides hand sanitiser gel at the entrance of the automatic gate.
- Measuring body temperature: Body temperature must be measured at the entrance before going through the automatic gates through manual thermoscans held by the guides. Access and participation in the excursion are not allowed in case of fever higher than 37,5°;
- Using face masks: Face masks must be used during the entire visit. In the more challenging parts of the trail, removing the mask temporarily is allowed. Visitors who are not in possession of a face mask will not be allowed to enter;
- Washing hands: When passing through the automatic gates and the reception facilities, visitors must wash their hands with the hand sanitiser dispensers provided by the Park;
- Practising social distancing: During the excursion, visitors must practise social distancing by keeping at least 1-metre distance from one another. A 2-metre distance will be required in those parts of the trail where more oxygenation is needed and face masks are taken off temporarily;
- Send a refund request email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include “Request for a refund for the tickets on dd/mm/yy at _ _: _ _” in your subject line;
- Attach a copy of your tickets which show the transaction code (VIVATK), date of purchase and name of the buyer;
- Include the transaction code (VIVATK), date of purchase and name of the buyer in the email body;
- The refund request must be made no later than 30 days from the date of the guided tour. The requests that are sent after this deadline will not be taken into account;
- If your request is accepted, the refund will be issued back to the credit card with which you made your purchase;
- The refund is issued only if the Vesuvius Crater is closed due to adverse weather conditions or other force majeure causes. Those who arrive after the time indicated on the ticket at the time of purchase are not entitled to a refund.
How to get to the Crater
Going up the path of the Gran Cono is a unique experience, for the thrill of walking along the crater of an active volcano and for the view of Campania and Lazio you can enjoy.
The main route runs along the western side of the crater rim, while an alternative route, under construction, will allow you to travel along the entire circle of the crater with a guided tour.
The trail starts from the parking area at 1,000 metres above sea level in Herculaneum. You will need to have a ticket before joining trail n.5.
Tickets can only be purchased online.
You can access the Crater by stamping your ticket at the automatic gates you can find at Piazzale di Quota 1000. You need to stamp your ticket when entering and exiting.
Entry through the automatic gate is allowed from half an hour before to half an hour after the selected time slot. LATE ARRIVALS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED IN AND THE TICKET VALUE WILL NOT BE REFUNDED.
In order to follow the path, you need to be accompanied by the Alpine and Volcanological Guides of the Campania Region. The climb continues gently for about 800 metres and is rewarded by a series of panoramic views, which become more and more evocative along the various bends.
You will get to see Valle del Gigante, which in spring turns yellow with the presence of brooms. The valley separates the Gran Cono from the ancient caldera of Mount Somma, traced by the imposing Cognoli di Sant'Anastasia (1,086 metres), Punta del Nasone (1,132 metres), up to the Cognoli di Ottaviano (1,112 metres).
Please be extremely careful on the trails, always check weather conditions and wear appropriate shoes.
The Park Authority has no competence for safety and so it is not responsible for any damage to people and things that may occur during the use of the Park territory.
The route is marked on the volcanic products of more recent production consisting of ashes and lapilli and some small flows produced in the effusive phases of the eruption of 1944. Arriving at the top of the volcano, you can see the Gulf of Naples and the whole city, and on particularly clear days you can enjoy the view of the entire plain of Campania and further north the plain of Garigliano up to the promontory of Circeo. On the right side of the view, the mountains of Partenio, Taburno and Matese are the background of the cognoli.
Several views along the way allow you to admire inside the crater, which after the countless changes made by the various eruptions, currently has an elliptical shape with a maximum diameter of 580 meters. Along the inner walls, some fumaroles give us the feeling of a still active volcano, despite being in a quiescent stage.
The crater and its particular substratum allow the nesting of different species of birds belonging to rocky environments of altitude and great conservation value, such as the common rock thrush, the black redstart, widespread in winter but rare as a breeder, the northern wheatear and the black-eared wheatear. Continuing along the path, you can see the southern coast of the gulf up to Sorrento and the island of Capri. After the structure of the Capannuccia, which is the close destination, the path becomes rougher; it descends along the cone, whereby the view of the crater gradually disappears, while the vegetation gradually becomes more luxuriant. Here you can meet another species that is typical of rock environments, the common raven, whose metallic croak accompanies the visitor to the terminal part of the path.
When you arrive in the square, you can stop and take in a breath-taking view dominated by the cognoli of Ottaviano, at the intermediate destination.
The itinerary continues on the right downhill for a stretch overlapping with path n.6. After about 600 metres, the path goes on the left to skirt Valle dell'Inferno and is in common with the homonymous path (n.1). Having reached an access gate, you continue to the left for a short stretch of asphalt, until you get to the destination route, the square of altitude 1000 of Erodano, which coincides with the beginning of the path.
The vegetation is characterized by the broom (mainly that of Etna), which is accompanied by other herbaceous species that are pioneer of the lava, such as the red valerian and the docks and sorrels. The amazing scent of the broom announces the arrival of the hot season and reaches the visitor even before starting the climb.
After passing the entrance, the ascent to the Gran Cono begins along a very wide path that is characterized by a series of extremely scenic hairpin turns.
The climb allows you to admire from above the view of Mount Somma even better and to expand your vision towards the valley that separates the two volcanoes, Valle del Gigante, which in its western side takes the name of Atrio del Cavallo. The lava dates back to the last eruption of 1944 covered by the grey-silver lichen Stereocaulon vesuvianum.
Still climbing along the hairpin turns, the view widens more and more on the Gulf of Naples, on the pinewood of the Tirone Alto-Vesuvio nature reserve and on the Umberto Hill.
You reach a height of 1,118 metres, where you find the ticket office and from which the guided tour begins. Once the toll is paid, you continue on a fairly wide path, along which there are a series of views over the crater of Vesuvius and on the upper edge, which can only be reached by scholars.
The arrival at Capannuccia at 1,170 metres of altitude is the close destination of the trail.
At the moment, it is not possible to cover the entire ring (intermediate destination and itinerary destination) as some interventions are being carried out to make the route safe with naturalistic engineering techniques.