Rome is the capital city of Italy and is one of the most renowned cities in the whole world. Located in the Lazio Region, Rome is nicknamed “The Eternal City” because of its long and colorful history and the fact that it continued to evolve into the buzzing metropolis we all know today. Known as a major hub of art, religion and culture, it’s no surprise that Rome is a top tourist spot. In fact, it is Italy’s most popular destination, with over 10 million visitors coming in every year.
If you’re one of the millions of tourists planning to visit the Italian capital, there’s a good chance that you’re already trying to figure out the best way to get around Rome. With so much to see and do in the Eternal City, you’ll want to make the most out of your stay and try to visit as many places as you can. Rome's public transportation system is not always easy to figure out and might be confusing for a tourist, especially for a first-timer.
We've put together this comprehensive guide on how to get around Rome to help you prepare for your visit to the city. We've included everything you need to know about the modes of transportation that will take you to the top attractions. If you have bags and belongings you'd like to stow while exploring the city, use a luggage locker in Rome and see the sights hands-free!.
How to get around Rome by metro
Rome is notorious for its horrible traffic situation above ground, which is why the subterranean metro (also known locally as Metropolitana) is the fastest mode of public transportation to move around the city. Founded in 1955, it is operated by the ATAC and has covers 37.3 miles spread across 73 stations (marked by a big red “M” sign).
At present, it is the smallest metro system in all of Europe, with only three lines in operation. However, despite its size, the Rome metro system is sufficient for exploring as it can reach the majority of the city’s top landmarks and attractions. As tourists, you will probably be using just two out of these three lines – line A (orange), which stops at famous sites such as the Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Spagna, Pantheon, and the Vatican Museums, and line B (blue), which has stops near the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.
Metropolitana's main hub is at Termini Station, and the metro runs from 5:30 AM to 11:30 PM every day, except on Fridays and Saturdays, when trains run up to 1:30 AM. Tickets to the metro can be bought in all stations as well as convenience stores found around Rome. Roma Pass and multiple-day cardholders can use the metro for free up until the validity of their passes.
How to get around Rome by commuter train
The urban railway train in Rome, known locally as Ferrovie Urbane, is the main mode of public transportation for travelers coming from the Fiumicino Airport. Similar to the Metropolitana, the commuter train has three lines that complement the metro lines, namely the Roma-Lido, Roma-Giardinetti and Roma-Viterbo.
Apart from getting to the city from the airport, tourists in Rome will probably not use the city’s urban railway system unless they have plans to head outside of the city limits. The only line that tourists might end up using is the Roma-Lido line, which has a stop at the Ostia Antica archaeological site.
Because the commuter train is operated by the same company as the Metro, they have the same ticket prices and can be bought in both the urban rail and metro stations as well as in convenience stores. Additionally, if you have a travel card or a Roma Pass, you get unlimited access to the train system so long as your card is valid.
The urban trains run daily from 5:30 AM to 10:30 PM, except for the Roma-Lido line, which operates until 11:30 PM. The interval between trains ranges from between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the time of the day.
How to get around Rome by bus
If you don’t mind going on a slow pace, then the Rome buses might be an attractive option for you. Just like the city’s metro and train system, the public buses in Rome are operated by ATAC. The main bus station is located across the Termini Station on Piazza Venezia.
The public buses in Rome are slow-moving because they make numerous stops along the way. Furthermore, these buses are usually crowded as it is commonly used by locals as well. The advantage, however, of using the buses is that they pass by the city’s main thoroughfares and reach areas that the Metro does not. To figure out which bus to take, you can check out the signs on bus stops that display the bus numbers that stop there. Look for digital signs that enumerate the bus stops along its route to help you plan your trip.
Public buses operate every day from 6:00 AM to midnight while a limited number of night buses run from midnight to 6:00 AM. The interval between buses can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, although this could be much slower depending on the time of the day. You can download the Roma Bus app to get an idea about the routes and intervals of the city buses.
Tickets can be bought in bus terminals and tobacco shops and are valid for 100 minutes; this single ticket can also be used in the metro and trams within the 100-minute validity. Note that you need to buy a ticket before riding the bus because there are no vending machines or tickets being sold onboard.
How to get around Rome by tram
Rome’s tram system is limited, composed of only six lines, and is not really of much help to tourists because they do not stop at any of the city’s major attractions. However, some prefer to use trams because they are cleaner than buses and have a certain romantic feel to them. The only line worth noting if you’re a tourist is Line 8, which links Piazza Venezia to Trastevere.
The tram network in Rome is also operated by ATAC; you can find the route maps on the company’s website. Trams operate every day from 5:30 AM to midnight and tickets can be bought in the same spots where you buy your metro, train and bus tickets. Remember that trams do not pass by the city center and are quite infamous for being chronically behind schedule, so take this into consideration before you set out to ride one.
How to get around Rome by taxi
Oftentimes, riding a taxi is one of the most convenient and hassle-free ways to get to any destination. However, the taxi drivers in Rome have a notorious reputation for overcharging not just the tourists but even locals. Also, because is the city is a popular destination, the taxi rates are significantly higher compared to other European cities, which is why riding a taxi isn’t really recommended when in Rome.
If you must ride a taxi, there are some things to remember in order to not get ripped off. Firstly, always look for licensed taxis, which are white in color and have a big “taxi” sign on their roofs and their license numbers on the taxi doors.
Also, never agree to a “fixed price” when you hail a cab. Instead, always go with a metered fare, which should start at 3euros and an additional euro for every kilometer traveled. The only exception to this rule is a ride to and from the airport, which has a flat rate of 48 euros (Fiumicino Airport) or 30 euros (Ciampino Airport).
Taxis can be hailed from the street or wait at a taxi stand. There are also several cab-hailing apps that you can use during your time in the city. In addition, you can directly call a cab company or ask your hotel to call for you to ensure that you won’t get swindled. Just remember that once you order a cab, the meter starts as soon as they leave, which means that you have to pay for the entire journey, starting from where the taxi driver is coming from up until your destination.
How to get around Rome by car
With the horrible traffic in Rome, there’s no reason why you should rent a car during your stay. Apart from the congested traffic, parking can also be challenging and can end up costing you way more than you planned for. This is because the city’s historic center is closed to drivers during certain times of the day, added to the fact that Romans are notorious for being a bit reckless and impatient when it comes to driving.
The only logical reason for renting a car is if you plan to take a day trip for an activity like a hike or visit nearby destinations outside of Rome. If you must, it’s best to book a rental car before you arrive in the city as it is generally cheaper compared to renting one upon your arrival. If you decide to rent a car last minute, you can find most major companies located inside the Termini Station.
Another thing to take note of is that the rental cars in Rome are quite compact in size. Plan ahead to make sure that the number of passengers as well as the size and weight of your luggage will fit your rental car. Lastly, while it is not always required, it is advisable to get an International Driver’s Permit just in case the rental company asks for a copy.
How to get around Rome by bike
European cities are typically biker-friendly but in Rome, it’s not really a popular option for tourists. The city center itself isn’t an ideal place to cycle in because of its steep hills, busy traffic and cobbled roads. However, if you are planning to check out the different parks in the city, riding a bike is actually an excellent choice.
There are numerous reputable companies around Rome where you can rent bicycles of all kinds – from trekking bikes and mountain bikes to electric bikes and even tandem bikes. What’s more, commuters are allowed to bring bicycles onboard public transport during specific routes and hours of the day. To make the most out of your cycling experience in Rome, you might want to consider joining one of the many bike tours being offered around the city.
Can I get around Rome by foot?
The answer is a resounding yes! In fact, walking is by far the best way to explore the city of Rome, getting to know the city through its food and quaint neighborhoods. The historic center of the Italian capital, which is where most of the top attractions are located, can easily be explored on foot. The sites are close enough to each other and will save you a lot of money that you will otherwise use to pay for public transport tickets.
Furthermore, Rome’s most famous attractions are all grouped together within traffic-free areas, which is why walking makes for the best option to get around Rome. All you have to do is pack some comfortable walking shoes, download a navigation app on your phone and set out to explore the different attractions in the city center.
When in Rome
Rome is a sprawling city that has a historic charm like no other. In order to enjoy your time in the Italian city, there are some tips that you have to remember during your stay. For one, take advantage of navigation mobile apps such as Mouversi and Google Maps to take you to the city’s key destinations.
Additionally, although Rome is a relatively safe city, you should still be wary of some pickpockets that often victimize tourists in crowded buses and trains. Also, don’t ever accept a ride from any driver that does not have a white, licensed taxi in order to avoid being scammed.