How I did it: First, hop on a plane, train, or jump in a car (or some combination thereof) and head to Naples, Italy. Once there, you'll find Mt.Vesuvius is hard to miss; it's the only mountain around.
To reach the top of this volcano, you drive to a car park on the side of Mt. Vesuvius and then hike the remaining distance. It is a tourist attraction, so you will pay a few euros for parking and a few more for the privilege of hiking the rest of the trail. It's not a long hike, but it is a bit steep at times and the volcanic ash does not make for the best grip. Your shoes sink into the ash with each step, so it feels like walking uphill in the soft sand. But the trail is wide, clearly marked, and has a wooden railing on one side to prevent wayward hikers from falling down the mountain. You can also "rent" a walking stick to help you with the journey. I didn't bother, but several of my companions did, and they found it helpful.
The view from the summit is incredible. Vesuvius is an active volcano, so on some days you will see a tiny puff of smoke inside the crater. If you're not interested in the volcano itself, there's a fantastic view of the Bay of Naples for you to enjoy.
As a geology-buff with an interest in volcanoes and a history-buff with an interest in all things Italian, this hike was one of the most incredible things I've ever done. Pair it was a trip to Pompeii, Herculaneum, or the Naples Archaeological Museum (or all three!) and you'll really gain an understanding of the importance of this volcano in Italian history. Read how I did it… 3 years ago