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How to get around Rome: An Essential Guide to Public Transport in Rome

Rome Public Transport: Buses at Termini bus stand

So you’ve decided to visit Rome and are wondering what’s the best way to get around the city. Don’t fret, we’re going to give you a detailed overview of public transport in Rome. You will also find information about private transfers, how to get to Rome, and useful tips so you can get the most out of your trip to the city. We’ll simplify the different Rome public transport options, and how to use them so you’ll know how to get around Rome. Let’s get started.

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How to Use Public Transport in Rome

Rome is a sprawling city, and its attractions lie dotted all over the map – so even if you’re intent on walking to get to most of the sights, walking absolutely everywhere would be over-ambitious. It’s thus wise to get familiarized with Rome’s public transportation system as well. 

Although it might seem complicated at first, Rome’s public transportation system is really easy to use. Though often busy and chaotic, Rome’s public transport is inexpensive, reliable, and comprehensive. It consists of a largely efficient blend of buses, trams, metro (subway), and a suburban train network.

Rome’s public transportation is operated by ATAC (Azienda Tramvie e Autobus del Comune di Roma). The ATAC system includes the metro (underground), buses, urban railway trains, and trams. Quite conveniently, holders of tickets and passes are able to travel interchangeably on all forms of public transport.

Journey Planner

Using the ATAC website, or the Rome Public Transport App (Viaggia con ATAC app), you can plan your journey and receive reliable information on live arrivals of buses, trams, and the metro. 

Traffic is heavy, especially in the 07:30-9:00 and 18:00-19:30 time brackets when public transport is overflowing with passengers. If possible, try to avoid traveling during these hours unless you want to be smashed flatter than fettuccine.

Rome Public Transport: Getting around Rome by Metro (Subway)

Rome Public Transport: Vittorio Emanuele Station of the Rome Metro

The Rome Metro (Metropolitana) has three lines: A (orange), B (blue), and C (green). Operating on 60 km (37 miles) of tracks with 73 station stops, the metro is the fastest means of transportation in Rome. Stations are clearly identified by the Metro logo, a white M on a red background.

The two main lines – Lines A and B cross Rome in a rough X-shape, only converging at Termini station, the main train station in Rome. Line A includes stops near the Vatican, the Piazza del Popolo, and the Spanish Steps. Line B includes stops near the Pyramid of Cestius, the Roman Forum, and the Colosseum.

Rome Metro Line C is partially constructed and features driverless trains. Progress on the line has been slow because every time workers start digging, they inevitably run into ancient ruins!

Hours of Operation

The Rome Metro runs daily from 05:30 to 23:30. On Friday and Saturday, the metro runs until 1:30 am.

Rome Public Transport: Getting around Rome by Bus

Rome Public Transport: An ATAC bus at Termini bus station in Rome, Italy

Rome has a comprehensive bus network, allowing you to get almost anywhere in Rome. Visitors will most likely need to use the bus to get to certain parts of the city that the metro doesn’t reach.

The main bus terminus in Rome is on Piazza dei Cinquecento outside Termini Station. Other major hubs are at Piazza del Risorgimento, Largo di Torre Argentina, and Piazza Venezia. 

With around 350 lines serving Rome, it can be quite daunting to newcomers. However, bus stops list the details of routes taken by all buses using that stop. Conveniently, many bus stops now include screens with the number of the bus and when the next is due to arrive.

Pro Tip

When riding Rome’s public transportation network, be vigilant of all your belongings at all times, and keep your wallet and purse away from professional thieves. Never ever leave your bags unattended for even a second, and while making phone calls, make sure that your attention doesn’t wander from any bags you’ve set by your side or on the ground.

Rome’s bus service is on the whole pretty good – cheap, efficient, and as quick as the clogged streets of the city center allow. So, don’t get impatient if the buses are delayed or if you get stuck in traffic jams.

Plus, riding the bus in Rome can be an adventure and will give you an opportunity to see parts of the city if the bus isn’t too crowded.

Useful Bus Routes

Some useful bus routes for tourists in Rome are – 40 (St. Peter’s & Vatican), 60 and 75 (Colosseum), 62 (Spanish Steps), 64 (St. Peter’s & Vatican), 81 (Circus Maximus), and 87 (Piazza Navona, Colosseum, and Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano).

Hours of Operation

Most bus routes in Rome run from early morning (between 05:00 and 06:30) until midnight, meaning the last bus leaves from the end of the line at midnight. 

There are also a few night buses (marked with an “N” before the bus number) from midnight until 05:00. The Night Bus routes aren’t identical to the regular bus routes, although they serve the busiest parts of the city.

Rome Public Transport: Getting around Rome by Tram

Rome public tranport: A tram in Rome

There are six tram lines in Rome and they are usually cleaner and more romantic than the buses. However, the tram network is small and doesn’t serve the city center which makes it rather unattractive for visitors.  

The only tram line of tourist interest in Rome is probably number 8, which goes closest to the historic center. It runs from Piazza Venezia to Casaletto, going through the neighborhoods of Trastevere and Monteverde.

Hours of Operation

Similar to buses, all trams in Rome run every day from 05:30 until midnight. They are replaced by night buses when they stop operating.

Rome Public Transport: Getting around Rome by Urban Railway

Rome is also home to a light suburban railway network (Ferrovie Urbane) that may come in handy if you’re headed to some parts of the city which are otherwise impractical to reach via bus or taxi. 

The urban railway network in Rome consists of three lines that are all managed by ATAC. From a touristic point of view, the  Rome-Lido is most useful as it stops at Ostia Antica. 

Keep in mind that these lines are not to be confused with the more extensive regional train network, which is managed by Trenitalia,  the Italian state railroad company. 

You can travel on them the same way as trams, buses, and the subway (provided you travel within the city limits) by using ordinary ATAC tickets and passes.

Hours of Operation

Rome’s urban railway runs daily from approximately 05:30 to 22:30. Trains leave every 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the time of day.

Rome Public Transport: Tickets & Fares

In Rome, the metro, trams, buses, and urban railways are operated by ATAC. This means that the same ticket can be used for different forms of public transport, which is handy. Tickets can also be used on Cotral bus services (within Rome) and Trenitalia regional trains (second class).

Keep in mind that the Rome ATAC tickets are not valid for the following means of Rome public transportation:

  • The Leonardo Express going between Rome Termini and Fiumicino Airport
  • Trains that run between Rome and the port city of Civitavecchia
  • Hop-on /hop-off buses
  • Any bus or trains going to either of Rome’s airports

The various public transportation ticket options in Rome and their costs are:

  • BIT (Integrated Time Ticket) – €1.50 – A single ticket valid for 100 minutes; in that time it can be used on all forms of transport, but only once on the metro)
  • ROMA24 – €7.00 –  Valid for unlimited use for 24 hours on all forms of transport from the moment you validate it
  • ROMA48 – €12.50 – Valid for unlimited use for 48 hours on all forms of transport from the moment you validate it
  • ROMA72 – €18.00 – Valid for unlimited use for 72 hours on all forms of transport from the moment you validate it
  • CIS (Integrated Weekly Ticket) – €24.00 – A pass good for seven days (on all transit methods) from the moment you validate it
  • Roma Pass (tourist pass) – If you’re in Rome and plan to do a bit of sightseeing, you ought to consider getting the Roma Pass. The Roma Pass allows unlimited travel on Rome’s public transportation network and gives you skip-the-line admission and discounted rates to many of the must-see sights in Rome

Children 10 and younger may use Rome’s public transportation for free, provided they are accompanied by an adult.

Ticket inspectors routinely carry out checks on public transport for people riding without tickets. Fare-dodging on public transport in Rome incurs a hefty fine (minimum €54.90).

Where to Buy Public Transport Tickets in Rome?

Rome Public Transport: Automated ticket machines at Colosseum metro station in Rome

Rome public transport tickets are available from bars, tourist booths, convenience stores, tobacconists (called tabacchi), newspaper kiosks that display the ATAC emblem, and vending machines in all metro stations and at major bus stops. You should have a ticket before boarding any form of public transportation.

Keep some cash and coins on you before purchasing a ticket at one of the ATAC vending machines as not all of them accept cards. 

You can also buy regional train tickets online on the Trenitalia website. Purchases by credit card can be made at automated ticket machines or online, but when buying a single ticket, cash is required.

How to Validate Public Transport Tickets in Rome?

Remember to validate your ticket when you first use it. By failing to do so, you’ll be risking a hefty fine (minimum €54.90). Feigning ignorance and trying to play the “dumb tourist” spiel by not validating your ticket won’t work, so avoid it!

To gain access to the Rome metro, the ticket is inserted into automated ticket barriers and the flap barrier gates open. You can see how it is done in the video below.

On buses and trams, passengers must validate their tickets by inserting them in the yellow box with the digital readout (magnetic-strip-side down, arrow-side first; be sure to retrieve your ticket after it spits out). Do this as you board, otherwise, it’s considered cheating.

Before getting on a commuter train, you’ll find green validation machines near the platform entrances.

Rome Public Transport Alternatives

Though it is convenient to get around Rome and the majority of must-see attractions in the city by public transport, you should also consider a few alternative transit options.

As is the case with most Italian cities, the best way to get around Rome is to walk – you’ll see a lot more and will certainly appreciate the city. Rome wasn’t really built for motor traffic, and it shows in the congestion, the pollution, and the surly disposition of its drivers.

Pro Tip

If you’re going to explore Rome on foot, we strongly recommend wearing comfortable footwear as a day’s sightseeing can be wearisome. Furthermore, if you’re visiting Rome in July and August, when temperatures are at their highest, make sure to carry a broad-brimmed sun hat and a good sunscreen.

Much of Rome’s inner core is traffic-free, so you’ll need to walk whether you like it or not. Pedestrians can take delight in the architectural details, absorb the street life, and peek into Rome’s warren of winding passageways. 

Pro Tip

Cross the road with confidence, staring down nearby drivers. If you wait timidly at a pedestrian crossing for the traffic to stop, you will end up waiting the entire day there.

It is easy to get lost in the maze of streets and piazzas of Rome’s historic center. A good map is an indispensable resource so either buy one or keep your GPS on. If you get lost, follow the yellow signs marking routes.

If you simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of doing a self-guided Rome walking tour, you can opt to take a guided tour instead. Two ones I recommend are:

Getting around Rome by Taxi

Rome Transport: A taxi stand in Rome

Taking a taxi in Rome can be useful if you are jaded, weary from the sun, and just want to get quickly back to your destination. However, Rome is home to its share of unscrupulous cab drivers and there are a few things to know so you don’t get fleeced.

Official taxis in Rome are white in color, say “Comune di Roma” on the side, and bear a “TAXI” sign on the roof. Avoid unmarked, unauthorized, unmetered taxis (numerous at Rome airports and train stations), whose drivers actively solicit your trade and may demand an astronomical fare.

The easiest way to get a taxi in Rome is to go to one of the city’s numerous taxi stands (fermata dei taxi). Alternatively, you can call for a taxi in Rome. Hailing a taxi off the street in Rome is not very common.

The most common numbers to call for a taxi in Rome are +39 060609 (Rome city council) and +39 063570 (largest radio-taxi operator in Rome). Keep in mind that if you call for a taxi in Rome, you will pay from the time the driver gets the call from the switchboard, so your taxi will arrive with more than the base fare already on the meter.

Taxis in Rome are not particularly cheap. Meters start at €3.00 (€5.00 on Sundays and €7.00 between 22:00 and 07:00); the meter clicks up at the rate of €1.15-1.70 or so every kilometer. While the first piece of luggage is free, additional pieces of luggage are €1.00 each.

If you’re wondering whether to tip taxi drivers in Rome, it’s best to simply round up the fare to the nearest euro as the Italians do.

Getting around Rome by Bicycle and Scooter

Rome Transport: Classic Vespa scooters parked by the curb on a street in Trastevere

Rome is a challenging place for even the most serious of cyclists because of the city’s narrow streets, chaotic traffic, and hilly terrain. However, there are a few areas, such as the banks of the Tiber where bicycle lanes provide an enjoyable way to see the city.

Bike rental spots are dotted throughout Rome and you can rent a wide variety of bikes, E-bikes, and even tandem bikes. Consider joining a bike tour to get the most out of the experience.

Renting mopeds or scooters – like the classic Piaggio Vespa, meaning “wasp” – can be a fun & efficient way of zipping around Rome’s clogged streets. You must have a valid driver’s license (no special license is required for up to 125cc) when renting a moped or scooter. Wearing a helmet is required by law.

If you’re hesitant about steering the Vespa yourself, take a worthwhile tour of Rome by Vespa with an expert driver.

Getting around Rome by Hop-on Hop-off Bus

If you want a hassle-free way of sightseeing in Rome, you should consider taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour. 

The open-top, double-decker buses provide fantastic views and a great atmosphere to enjoy Rome’s irresistible charm. You can also hear about Rome’s rich history and culture via engaging audio commentary in nine languages.

Getting around Rome by Segway

A segway can be a fun way to get around Rome and will make exploring the “Eternal City” a breeze. It is a great way to glide and cover all the Rome highlights in a short amount of time. Not only that… but you won’t break a sweat.

Getting around Rome by Car

All roads might lead to Rome but trust me, you don’t really want to drive once you get here. Driving in Rome can be an extremely intimidating experience for visitors. The pugnaciousness of Italian drivers and pedestrians stepping out into the roads without warning adds to the predicament.

In addition, a car is of little use within Rome. Parking is notoriously difficult to find, one-way systems are complex, and much of the city center is closed. Non-resident drivers are not allowed inside the city center’s ZTL (Limited Traffic Zone) during the day and on some weekend nights.

How to get to Rome

There are several options for getting to Rome. If flying, you should know that Rome has two international airports. 

Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, popularly known as “Fiumicino” (FCO) – is the largest one and handles most scheduled flights. It is located about 30 km (18 miles) southwest of Rome.

The other international airport that serves Rome is Giovanni Battista

Pastine Airport, known as “Ciampino” (CIO). It is located approximately 20 km (12.5 miles) southeast of the city and is used by the majority of charter flights and low-cost airlines.

Rome is well served by rail connections to the majority of major European cities. It is also possible to reach Venice by train from  Italian cities such as Bologna, Naples, Genoa, Milan, Verona, or Florence. Check Trenitalia to book tickets in advance to get the best fares.

Arriving in Rome by bus can leave you in any one of a number of places around the city. The main station for buses from outside the Rome region is Tiburtina, which is the city’s main bus station.

Coming into Rome by car can be quite confusing and isn’t really advisable unless you’re used to driving in Italy and know where you are going to park.

How to get from Fiumicino Airport to Rome City Center?

The four best options for getting to Rome from Fiumicino Airport are: the train, taxi, bus, or private/shared car transfer.

By Train

Rome Airport Train: The Leonardo Express which runs non-stop from Rome Airport to Termini Station

The easiest and quickest way to get to the main train station in Rome, Termini Station, is by taking the Leonardo Express. This direct shuttle train runs non-stop to Termini every 15 minutes (06:23–23:23) and the journey lasts 32 minutes. From Termini to Fiumicino Airport, the Leonardo Express runs every 15 minutes from 05:35–22:35.

Tickets cost €18 for adults; children under 12 can travel for free with a paying adult. You can get tickets at one of the vending machines outside the baggage claim area. 

Alternatively, you can also book your Leonardo Express ticket online in advance.

By Bus

A swift and budget-friendly way to get to the center of Rome is by private bus. Public buses don’t run from Fiumicino Airport to the city center of Rome as the airport is not within the city limits.

There are a couple of private bus companies that offer the service aboard comfortable air-conditioned buses. The journey from Fiumicino Airport to Termini Station lasts about 45-60 minutes depending on traffic. There are about 15 transfers per day and tickets cost €7.

By Transfer

If you have a lot of luggage, are traveling in a small group, and want to reach your final destination in Rome without any hassle, you may want to opt for a transfer. Prices start at €18 for a shared transfer, which is actually much cheaper than a taxi; and up to €30 per person (minimum 2 persons) for a private transfer.

By Taxi

Taxis from Fiumicino Airport to the city center of Rome cost a flat-rate (tariffa fissa) of €51 for up to four people, which you can pay by credit card or cash. The journey time to the city center varies depending on the time of the day but will take you approximately 45 minutes.

You will find taxis right outside the arrivals terminal. Official taxis in Italy are white and bear a “TAXI” sign on the roof.

How to get to from Ciampino Airport to Rome City Center?

The three best options for getting to Rome from Ciampino Airport are: taxi, bus, or private/shared car transfer.

By Bus

Since there are still no direct rail connections between Ciampino Airport and the city center, the best option is to take one of the dedicated bus services. 

There are a couple of private bus companies that offer the service aboard comfortable air-conditioned buses. The journey from Ciampino Airport to Termini Station lasts about 40 minutes depending on traffic. There are about 10 transfers per day and tickets cost €6.

By Private Transfer

If you have a lot of luggage, are traveling with family or friends, and want to reach your final destination in Rome without any stress, you may want to opt for a private transfer. A private transfer, which offers the most direct route between the airport and the city, costs about €50 for up to four passengers.

By Taxi

Taxis from Ciampino Airport to the city center of Rome cost a flat-rate (tariffa fissa) of €31 for up to four people, which you can pay by credit card or cash. The journey time to the city center varies depending on the time of the day but will take you approximately 30-40 minutes.

You will find taxis right outside the arrivals terminal. Avoid getting into an unauthorized taxi and only take the official white-colored taxis that have a “TAXI” sign on the roof.

Where to Stay in Rome

Being one of the major tourist centers in the world, Rome can offer a full range of accommodations. These range from basic budget accommodations with shared bathrooms to luxury accommodations that feature palatial settings, cloud-nine comfort, stunningly beautiful rooms, panoramic rooftop terraces, and award-winning restaurants.

Deciding a neighborhood to stay in in Rome is key before your trip. If a picturesque location is your main concern, stay in one of the small hotels around Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, or Campo de’ Fiori. Many boutique hotels can be found here, as well as a number of mid-range options.

If luxury is what you crave, head to Tridente and the area east of Via del Corso, towards Via Veneto and around the Spanish Steps, or beyond the city center, where price-to-quality ratios are high. 

The area around Termini Station, Rome’s main train station, is not the most attractive area, but it is well connected with the rest of the city by public transport and provides easy access to many of Rome’s top sights. Despite a few pricey choices, the area is most notable for its concentration of budget hotels and hostels.

Hostel: The RomeHello, funky and elegant, this snazzy hostel is one of the most popular hostels in town. Located just seven minutes on foot from the main train station (Termini), it is located within a 15-minute walk from the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps.

Budget: Hotel Mariano, a rather plain hotel with no-frills rooms and services within 5 minutes of Termini Station and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The rooms are modest but clean. Perfect for frugal-minded travelers who just want a good bed for the night.

Budget Plus: Hotel Nord Nuova Roma, an unpretentious choice within 5 minutes of Termini Station and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Midsize bedrooms are well maintained and conservatively decorated with comfortable yet simple furniture.

Mid-range: Argentina Residenza Style Hotel, situated in the heart of Rome, this chic boutique hotel is within an easy walk of many historical monuments of Rome, including Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum. Rooms are tastefully decorated and feature coffered ceilings.

Splurge: Baglioni Hotel Regina Rome, a sumptuous top-choice pick on the ritzy Via Veneto. The wonderfully decorated Art Deco rooms feature plush antique Italian furniture, Murano glass chandeliers, and silk tapestries.

Further Reading for Your Rome Visit

That summarizes our definitive guide to Rome public transport and how else to get around the city. We reckon you’ll also find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Rome!

More Information About Italy

Venice: Check out our comprehensive guide to using public transport in Venice!

Venice: Find out the 30 best things to do in Venice!

Trieste: Discover the 18 best things to do in Trieste!

Naples: Uncover how to spend the perfect 24 hours in Naples!

Pompeii & Herculaneum: Find out everything you need to know about visiting Pompeii & Herculaneum on your own!

About Mihir

Hi there, I'm Mihir! I was born in India, raised there and in Australia before spending nearly a decade in Finland. I suffer from chronic fernweh and am always looking forward to a new adventure. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, craft beer, classic movies, history, cricket, and Australian Rules Football. Oh, there's also my partner in crime Jacky who's not too bad either 😉

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