I did this as a daytrip from Naples, but it is also possible to do from Rome. There are other trains available, but this seems to be the best route/timetable at least to me. It will give you 4+ hours full *at* the site/museum.
The #3455 (Rapido) train leaves Naples at 0815 (possibly track/binario #23). It's final destination is Sapri, so on the train schedule board it will be listed as the train for Sapri (Paestum is just 1 of the stops in route-no change of trains required). A 1st class (only difference is 1 less seat across than 2nd) R/T ticket was 27,000L.
After going through a long mountain tunnel you stop at Salerno, after Salerno the 4th stop (sit on right side of train and you'll see the ancient walls that surround Paestum come into view before the station) you arrive at the small Paestum station (w.c. far end of platform).
Exit the station (map & hotel info/phone #s to the left), and directly in front of you (at 50m) is an ancient gate. Walk through it and in 10min at the end of the road is the site. Turn right; walk 150M to the museum (w.c.) on the right, and buy your ticket for the site & museum. However, don't visit the museum now, but head back out the same way you were heading and enter the site 100m on the left. (Hold on to your ticket for the museum later (w.c./water-also you might want to pick-up drinks/snacks along here - also 30m past the entrance is an ATM).
Spend about 2hrs on the site, return to the museum (easier this way, you won't rush through to get to the site and can budget your remaining time in the museum). Just before you leave, grab a bite to eat. There are Italian fast food tourist places (pizza, ice cream, sandwiches, etc).
Catch the 1433 direct train back to Naples (validate ticket again) (also a 1615 train if you need more time).
From Rome it's tight, with an 18min
connection, but very doable. You should have an alternate plan though, in case you miss
the train to Paestum. (Take train to Salerno, then either a connection or bus to Paestum,
or just visit another site/museum in/around Naples). Leave Rome on an IC train at 0610
arrive Naples 0757 take 0815 train to Paestum. Leave Paestum 1433 arrive Naples 1612 and
take the 1650 IC train back to Rome arriving 1850. I would buy all these tickets at
Termini (Rome) so you wouldn't have to waste time in Naples.
Walter is a truck driver with a love for history and museums. He's a unique traveler in the detailed way in which he captures directions so others may enjoy where he has been as well.
You can reach Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org
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