There are several ways to get around Rome, the most popular being: Public transport, taking taxis, by car, and on foot.
We are working on this guide, and much more information is still to come. Your comments are welcome (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Rome has an integrated public transport system: The tickets work on all metro, buses, and trams in the urban area. Public transport in Rome is cheap, often reliable (especially the metro) and quite easy to use.
Tickets can be bought from tabacchi shops (indicated by black and white “T” signs), newsstands, and at metro stations. Simply ask for “metrobiglietti”. You will need to stamp your ticket in the yellow machines when getting on the bus or tram, and/or put it through the turnstile when entering the Metro. There are several types of tickets:
- Regular tickets (BIT) cost €1 and are valid for 75 minutes from the moment they are first stamped. Within those 75 minutes you are entitled to use any combination of buses, trams, and one Metro journey.
- A 1-day pass (BIG) costs €4, and lasts from the moment you stamp it until midnight of the same day. A 3-day pass costs €11, and lasts from the moment you stamp it until midnight of the third day.
- A 7-day pass (BTI) costs €16, and lasts from the moment you stamp it until midnight of the seventh day.
- Alternatively the Roma Pass combines museum entrances with a three-day travel pass.
If you are staying in the centre, and are willing and able to walk a bit, my recommendation is to buy a small stack of regular €1 BIT tickets. I myself, but also many guests I have welcomed to Rome over the years, have found that they end up walking quite a lot, and prefer to remain flexible in terms of transport. When you think about it, just to break even with a day pass, you need to use public transport at least four times in a day, each for up to 75 minutes. That is a lot. Also, the BIT tickets can be kept for a long time before they expire: You can save them for your next trip, or give them to a friend.
Rome’s official transport provider, Atac, offer an useful online tool to determine how you can get from A to B: Simply enter address A and address B in their Route Planner, click on “submit”, and the tool will calculate which bus or metro line is the most direct. It will also tell you how frequent this particular bus or metro line passes, and provide you with a map.
I use this service all the time, and am frequently surprised to find that there is either a single line, or a combination of two lines, that takes the exact route I am looking for – sometimes necessitating a short walk. Without this online tool, much of the usefulness of Rome’s buslines would be lost on me.
Because of Rome’s wealth of underground ruins, and its brittle subsoil, the two current Metro lines (A and B) skirt around the historic centre. Works on the third line (C) are underway, but will take some more years to complete. For those interested, the official website about the construction of line C is here: Metro C S.p.A.
For now, useful stops to reach various places in central Rome are:
- Colosseo (Line B) - for Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill
- Spagna (Line A) – for Piazza di Spagna, Villa Borghese, Via del Corso, Pantheon
- Ottaviano (Line A) – for St Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Museums
- Flaminio (line A) - for Piazza del Popolo, Villa Borghese, Via del Corso
- Barberini (line A) – for the Trevi fountain, Via del Corso, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Largo Argentina, Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza Navona
Bus stops have yellow (sometimes white) signs, on which each bus line is represented by a column. Each column will show all the stops for that line, and the current stop is usually marked with a red rectangle. These are the regular routes, however buses are sometimes subject to deviation.
The type of bus will be noted at the top: Express (stops infrequently), Urbano (normal), Notturno (night). Metro stops and train stations will also be noted. At the bottom of each column, you’ll find the hours for that bus line.
Some useful routes:
- 23 - This bus is very useful because it runs up and down the Lungotevere, on either side. It starts far outside the centre, running along the length of Via Ostiense, along Via Marmorata (Testaccio) where it joins the Lungotevere, and continues north along the Tiber past the Jewish District, Campo de’ Fiori (walking distance) up to Castel Sant’ Angelo, and further into Prati. On its way back it comes down the Lungotevere, connecting Piazza Risorgimento/the Vatican with Trastevere.
- 40 Express This bus takes you from Termini straight through the historic centre, all the way to the Vatican
– From Termini to piazza Pia (Castel Sant’Angelo) along via Nazionale, piazza Venezia, largo Argentina (for the Pantheon), corso Vittorio Emmanuele (for piazza Navona), to piazza Pia (for Castel Sant’Angelo, St Peter’s). Careful, this bus (as all “Express” buses) doesn’t stop frequently, and is therefore faster than regular buses.
- 64 – From Termini to Stazione San Pietro, following much the same route as the 40, but with more stops, and terminal at the Stazione San Pietro. For St Peter’s, get off at the stop after the tunnel once you have crossed the river. Once notorious for pickpockets, you should still be careful.
- 116 – A tiny electric bus designed for the narrow streets of the centro storico. It cuts through the historic centre from East to West, and starts on via Porta Pinciana, just off the top of the via Veneto, passing piazza Barberini, piazza di Spagna, piazza del Parliamento, via Zanardelli, corso Rinascimento, Campo de’ Fiori, piazza Farnese, via Giulia, Lungotevere, Santo Spirito, Terminal Gianicolo (for St Peter’s).
- 117 – A tiny electric bus designed for the narrow streets of the centro storico. From San Giovanni in Laterano to Piazza del Popolo, it takes you to the Colosseum, down Fori Imperiali, up Via dei Serpenti (through Monti), to Piazza di Spagna, down Via del Babuino to Piazza del Popolo. On its way back, it takes you down the entire length of Via del Corso, to Piazza Venezia, before rejoining the above route at Via dei Serpenti.
- 175 – From Termini, piazza Barberini, via del Tritone, via del Corso, piazza Venezia, Theatre of Marcellus, Aventine, Piramide, Stazione Ostiense.
- H – This bus line connects Termini, the historic centre, and Trastevere. It runs from Termini, along via Nazionale, piazza Venezia, largo Argentina, Ponte Garibaldi, to viale Trastevere and Stazione Trastevere.
Hop-on, hop-off tour buses
Many companies operate open-air tour buses in town. Two official buses run by the city transport authority are 110Open (covering the centre) and Archeobus (covering the Appia Antica etc). I actually really like these buses, they are a great way for visitors to see the city while keeping the levels of effort and frustration low.
You can get onto the bus almost anywhere in town, and take a tour that lasts around 2 hours (110Open).
Rates and more information on the official 110Open and Archeobus website.
More than 20 night bus lines run from 00:30am to 5:30am. The main terminal stations are Termini (Piazza dei Cinquecento) and Piazza Venezia. From here, buses leave for all directions every 30 minutes. Look for the “N” sign for “notturno”, and/or the symbol of an owl on the bus stop sign. You can purchase tickets on board.
Taxis are not overly expensive, and can be a good way to get across town. I am especially grateful for taxis after a long day.
When you need a taxi, it is important to look for the official metered white or yellow taxis. There are taxi ranks in many locations throughout the center. Hailing one from the street is not usually recommended by travel guides, but I find that it works quite well most of the time (depending on where you are), but is more difficult at night. Make sure your taxi is metered.
While many taxi drivers are friendly, or at least not rude, there is a certain percentage which can get quite nasty – usually when they try to get you to pay more than the metered fare. If you feel that you have happened upon a particularly aggressive taxi driver, the best advice I can give is not to argue, even if you have to pay a bit more. Being pretty stubborn, I don’t usually follow my own advice: I always insist on the metered fare. As a result, I have had a few heated arguments with taxi drivers over the years.
To call for a taxi within Rome, try 06 3570, 06 4994, 06 6645, 06 551, or 06 8822.
Much more information on limousines, car rentals, and discovering Rome on foot, is yet to come. Please share your preferred bus lines, favourite walks through Rome, and other ways of getting around, in the comments, or via Twitter.