Rome public transport is notoriously unreliable, and after some ten years of living in Rome, I can’t deny that. While if you are on holiday you might notice less than if you were waiting for a train to go to a business meeting, or at least give it less importance, the constant delays, the missing connections and the long waiting at the bus stops make Rome even bigger than it actually is.
But if you are on a trip to Rome’s main landmarks and are staying in the city center or near the Vatican, you can totally rely on the local public transport. While if you are going to take some day trips or exploring other regions, you would likely need to rent a car in Rome.
Rome public transport, how to get around the Eternal City
What to know before: where to buy and how much is Rome metro pass and bus tickets
The single Rome metro tickets cost €1.50 and are valid for one metro ride, one train ride and unlimited bus rides with 100 minutes after the first validation.
There are also other solutions: ROMA 24H, ROMA 48H, and ROMA 72H tickets cost € 7, € 12.50 and € 18 respectively, and are valid for 24/48/72 hours respectively from the first validation and on unlimited rides within the urban territory.
You can also purchase a weekly or monthly subscription for Rome. With € 24 you buy a 7-day subscription valid until midnight of the 7th day, including the day of your first validation. Also with this ticket, you can travel for an unlimited number of rides all around the territory of the city of Rome.
There are two types of monthly tickets, single-user (€ 35) that can be used by only one person who needs to write his/her name on it, and multiple-user (€ 53) that can be used by different people alternatively. Both will have their expiration date on the receipt and passengers need to show both the ticket and the receipt to the inspector.
If you are actually moving to Rome for a certain amount of time, you might think about buying the annual subscription: it’s € 250 and is valid for 365 days from the date of the receipt. Also here, you need to show both ticket, which is a magnetic card, and the receipt.
You can buy Rome metro tickets from each of the metro station machines, from most newsagents and “Sali e Tabacchi” shops. If you are purchasing the monthly ticket, you can buy the magnetic card at the stations and then renew them online if you stay longer.
If you are in Rome for a sightseeing holiday, a pretty convenient solution is the Roma Pass that gives you free use of public transport, skip-the-line access to one or two attractions, and discounts on several services and activities. The Roma Pass comes with a 48-hour or a 72-hour validity depending on the length of your stay or your preferences.
Click here for more details and to buy your Roma Pass
If you are traveling to Rome for a holiday and stay mainly in and around the city center, Rome metro is your best friend. If there is no strike of public transport, that is. Strikes are usually on Friday, so watch out for the local news.
Rome has three metro lines, A, B, and C. Rome metro line A goes from Battistini all the way to Anagnina, and among its most popular stops in the city center close to tourist areas are Cipro for the Vatican Museums, Ottaviano for St. Peter’s Basilica, Flaminio for Villa Borghese, Piazza del Popolo and Via del Corso, Piazza di Spagna for the Spanish Steps, Via dei Condotti shopping street, and Villa Borghese, Barberini for the Trevi Fountain, Vittorio Emanuele for Santa Maria Maggiore, and San Giovanni for San Giovanni in Laterano Basilica.
Rome metro line B goes from Laurentina to Rebibbia, and among the popular stops for tourist areas are Colosseo for the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Baths of Caracalla, Circo Massimo for the Circus Maximus, Piramide for the Non-Catholic Cemetery and the lovely Ostiense neighborhood, Basilica S. Paolo for the San Paolo Fuori le Mura Basilica.
Line B comes also with a variation, B1, and goes from Laurentina to Jonio. It stays the same from Laurentina to Bologna, and then the B1 diverts to S. Agnese – Annibaliano, Libia, Conca D’Oro and Jonio.
Lines A and B cross at the Termini station, which is a big transport hub where you will find Rome’s biggest train station and several bus stops in front of the main entrance in Piazza dei Cinquecento and on the side streets such as Via Marsala and Via Giolitti.
Rome metro’s third line, the C, is pretty recent. Works have been going on for decades and from now and then were stopped by momentous discoveries while digging. They are still building and extending the line, but several stations are already open. It runs from Monte Compatri/Pantano to Lodi.
You can see Rome metro map as well as railway lines and bus routes on Atac official website. The metro is definitely one of the fastest ways to use Rome public transport.
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Rome buses and trams
If you are in the city centre, I suggest you use the metro and then walk, but some places are not covered with metro stations. In this case, you get to choose a bus or tram. Trams are better than buses as they have their lane so don’t get stuck in traffic, but also trams don’t cover the whole city.
If there is no other choice but the bus, do carry a book with you as you will need something to do while waiting at the bus stop or during the ride.
Among the most popular buses around the city center are the 64, connecting Termini with San Pietro train station and running close important landmarks such as Trevi Fountain, Piazza Venezia, Largo Argentina, and the Vatican, the 81, connecting Piazza Venezia with Prati neighborhood, Via Cola di Rienzo shopping street and Piazza Risorgimento near St. Peter’s Basilica, and 492, stopping in places such as Piazza Fiume, Barberini, Corso Rinascimento near Piazza Navona and Pantheon, to Cipro metro station on line A, and the 70 connecting Termini station to Piazzale Clodio in Prati area.
In the city centre, busy hubs of Rome public transport are Termini station, Largo di Torre Argentina (buses 30, 40, 46, 62, 64, 70, 81, 87, 492, 628, 916, and some night buses), while going towards Boccea and Battistini, you will find many buses near the metro Cornelia (line A). Among the buses in Cornelia are the 907 to Torrevecchia, Monte Mario, Via Cassia, 46, 49, 993, 983, 980.
Very popular in Rome are the Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Buses showing you around the city centre from the comfort of a double-decker open bus. You can hop off at the major sights such as the Vatican and the Colosseum depending on your preferences, and you can choose a 24, 48 or 72-hour ticket depending on how long you are staying.
Click here to book your Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus
Rome has also a widespread railway network, and this is one of my favorite means of Rome public transport for two main reasons: I live close to a train station and trains don’t get stuck in traffic (even though they do get delayed!).
The urban trains often connect also the towns surrounding Rome with the city center, becoming a great way for both getting around Rome and going on a day trip.
Some of the main train stations in Rome are obviously Termini, but also Roma Ostiense, close to Piramide metro station and Porta San Paolo for the Roma-Ostia Lido train line if you want to visit Ostia Antica), Roma Trastevere, close to the tram line to reach Trastevere neighborhood or visit Porta Portese Sunday market, Roma Tiburtina, Roma Tuscolana, Roma San Pietro for the Vatican, Roma Valle Aurelia to connect to the metro line A.
The railway line from Roma Ostiense (some trains depart from Tiburtina but not all) to Viterbo, is pretty handy as it starts from a train station where there is also metro line B (Piramide) and then it stops at Trastevere, San Pietro, Valle Aurelia, Balduina, and other lesser central stops but equally important especially if you have your hotel around or if you are in Rome for longer than a holiday, such as Gemelli (close to the Gemelli hospital), Monte Mario, San Filippo Neri (also a hospital), and La Giustiniana close to Via Cassia. This same train continues to Anguillara and Bracciano, two stops for the Bracciano Lake, all the way to Viterbo.
Rome public transport for a day out
As I mentioned earlier, most of the trains you take to get around in Rome can also take you to the towns surrounding the city.
For example, from Piramide metro on line B, which is close to Roma Ostiense train station, you can take the train of the line Ostia Lido to Ostia Antica every 15 minutes and is valid the same ticket you use in Rome. Or you can go to Viterbo with the train you take from Ostiense, Trastevere, San Pietro, Valle Aurelia. It’s the same train to Monte Mario and Gemelli, but it goes to Bracciano and many of them during the day all the way to Viterbo.
The one to Ostia Lido is managed by Atac, the bus company, while the train to Viterbo departing from Ostiense is by Trenitalia. Even though most trains are run by Trenitalia, within the city you can use the Atac tickets, while to go out to Bracciano or Viterbo, you will need to purchase a ticket from Trenitalia ticket office or vending machines available in all stations. Do not forget to validate your ticket even if it has a date!
Now a little trick. Say you want to go to Ostiense to Termini, or to Gemelli from Trastevere, or to Tiburtina from Ottavia. The best and fastest way to do so is by train. Even though they are Trenitalia-run, you can use your single Atac ticket of € 1.50 with 100-minute validity. However, if the train ride is the only journey you need and after that, you are not going to use any metro, bus or tram, instead of the € 1.50 Atac ticket, you can use a 1-€ Trenitalia ticket that you can buy at the vending machines, ticket booths, or some newsagents and stationery shops. If you download Trenitalia App, you can buy all Trenitalia tickets from there using either your credit card or PayPal, and show them from your phone to the inspector (you will need an internet connection).
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Public transport for Rome airports
To reach Fiumicino airport, you can take the Leonardo Express train from Termini station (14 €), or a regional train from Ostiense or Trastevere (8 €). There are also bus options, a little cheaper, departing usually from behind Stazione Termini in Via Marsala. The price is around 6 € so from Termini definitely cheaper than the train.
Click here to book your shuttle bus to and from Fiumicino airport
You can also opt for a shared shuttle bus that comes to pick you up at your hotel, provided it is within the Aurelian Walls, so mainly city centre.
Click here to book a shared shuttle to Fiumicino
If you are travelling with your family and have a few pieces of luggage, you might prefer the space and comfort of a private transfer to and from Fiumicino airport with an air-conditioned or heated car, an English-speaking driver who will take you to your hotel in central Rome.
Click here to book your private transfer to and from Fiumicino airport
To reach Ciampino airport, you can either take the metro to Anagnina and then from Anagnina you can take one of the Cotral buses (long option!), or the bus from Termini station. There are many companies running the Termini-Ciampino route and prices are roughly the same, some 5 to 6 € per ride.
Click here to book your shuttle bus from Termini to Ciampino
Pickpockets in Rome, tips to stay safe
It’s really no news that public transport in Rome is infested with pickpockets. You will also hear sometimes the drivers of the metro warning the passengers every time they see the well-known pickpockets getting on the train. Many buses, too, have this problem, so here are a couple of tips to stay safe.
1. Wear safety and anti-pickpocketing clothes
Hidden pockets on t-shirts, bags, and trousers. Wearing some anti-pickpocketing clothes when on Rome buses and metro is always a good idea. With winter clothes hiding wallets and cell phones is an easier task, but in summer not so much. I find the collection of Clever Travel Companion very useful in this as they have a wide range of t-shirts, leggings, shorts, scarves, underpants, and long trousers.
Click here for details and current prices for pickpocket proof travel clothes and gear
2. Try to take not too crowded metro and buses
While this is not always possible, if you are on a holiday you can try to take the metro, trams, trains, and buses in Rome when it’s not peak hour. Meaning after 9/10 am and after 5/6 pm. This is because most people are going to work around those times and it’s pickpockets’ feast. Besides, in the rush hour, it will also take much longer to get to your destination, especially if you are using the bus.
3. Don’t make your wallet easily reachable
Often men place their wallet in the back pockets of their trousers: not really a good idea in a Rome bus! Just hide your wallet, either on an inside pocket of your jacket, on a hidden pocket of your pickpocket-proof travel clothes or gear, or inside your bag.
4. Close your bag
Be it your purse or backpack, make sure that when you are using Rome public transport the zip is always close and try to place the opening of the zip close to you and not on your back. It takes a second for pickpockets to open the zip and stick their hand in your bag. In case of a backpack, if it’s small, you can place it in front of you, if it’s a big size, you can take it off and place between your feet.
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