Through years of travel, we have gathered some travel memories that come up repeatedly. One that makes me smile the most is a quote from a woman in her 40’s who lived a quiet life in a tiny town on a cliff next to Positano, on the Amalfi coast.
It seemed to me that she lived in the Garden of Eden on a cliff over the Mediterranean amongst lemon trees. However, she just wanted city life! When she found out we were headed to Rome next, she exclaimed, “Roma, take me to Roma!”
Rome is a city of epic proportions and history. Every time they try to dig underground to extend the subway, they find more archaeological treasures from its ancient history! So while the subway may not be as extensive as other cities, there is plenty of public transportation for getting around Rome.
A word to the wise about Rome public transport, especially if you need to get somewhere at a certain time, like the train or a plane— give yourself way more time than you expect you will need or that Google maps suggest.
Bus times are mostly suggestions or rough estimates, while trains usually run on time. I have definitely missed those timely trains due to the untimely buses!
There are tons of ways to get around Rome, Italy and we will start with where your plane will land! Most likely, if you fly into Rome, you will be landing at Fiumicino Airport (FCO) which is on the coast about 30-45 minutes out of the center of Rome.
How to Get to Your Hotel or Vacation Rental from the Rome Airport
You have a few options here:
- Leonardo Train Express
- Airport Transfer
- Shuttle Bus
Leonardo Express Train
From FCO airport, the most convenient and fastest option is to take the Leonardo Express Train, which is run by TrenItalia and takes 32 minutes to get to Termini station in the center of Rome.
It runs regularly all day long until 11:30pm and is €14 a ticket. They also have group fares for €40 for 4 tickets. Children under 12 are free with an adult and children under 4 are free.
You can buy your ticket (biglietti) online, but be aware that even on the English version of the website, you must use the Italian spellings. For example: Roma Termini for Rome Termini Train station, or Fiumicino Aeroporto for Rome FCO airport.
You can also buy tickets from a TrenItalia kiosk machine at the airport, at a ticket window or from a newspaper, magazine and tobacco stand called a tabacchi shop. For the last option, have cash.
Expert Tip: When you ride buses, trams or trains in Rome, you will need to validate your ticket by inserting it into a validation machine for a timestamp to avoid high fines. For the Leonardo Express, there are yellow or green machines on the platform to board.
Once you arrive at Termini Station (Roma Termini) you can take public transport or a taxi to your accommodations.
If you have more luggage than you can manage or your accommodations are far from Termini Station, you could book an airport transfer with a private car. It will cost significantly more, but will drop you off at the door of your accommodations.
Taxi or UBER
There will be a Taxi stand at the airport and you can easily take a taxi into Rome. There should be a fixed fare of 48 Euros. The fixed fare for an UBER is around 60 Euros.
How to get around Rome without a Car
It’s easy to get around Rome without a car. In fact, I highly recommend NOT having a car in Rome, simply due to the fact that there are so many rules about where you can and cannot drive and where you can and cannot park, that your chances of getting a ticket are very high. And with all these options, you really won’t need one.
Take a Taxi
If you aren’t familiar with taxi stands, don’t want to have to worry about language barriers, and just like using apps- this one is your best bet to get a taxi with a reliable price estimate in Rome.
Take an UBER
Rome has plenty of UBERs and they are also a good option if you’re traveling in a large group. They’re comparable in price to Taxis in Rome.
Take the Tram
If you are wondering how to get around Rome cheap, public transit is your best bet. Using trams is convenient, especially if you are in the Trastevere area and want to get closer to the center of Rome. Trastevere is a lovely neighborhood to eat and stay.
Line 8 runs from Trastevere to Largo di Torre Argentina. (Which is home to cool ruins, where Julius Caesar was assassinated and is home to a cat colony!?)
You can catch Line 19 near the Vatican and travel to the beautiful Villa Borghese.
Line 3 runs from Trastevere to the Colosseum and beyond.
The tram runs more reliably than buses, but doesn’t go as many places. You can use your same bus ticket and transfer between the trams & buses in 100 minutes time or between trains on the metro in 100 minutes time. I found myself choosing to take the tram as far as I could and then walking the rest of the way, frequently.
Use this Rome Tram Map to help you get around Rome.
Take the Metro
As I mentioned, due to the wonders of archaeology, the metro doesn’t go everywhere you need to go in Rome, but it does go most places, and runs far more regularly than buses do. The best way to get around in Rome by public transport is via the metro.
The Rome Metro is similar to any other major city, but much smaller. Lines A & B are the main ones that you will be interested in as a visitor focusing on central Rome.
Take the Bus
I’m only giving you this option to use if you must. This app can help you navigate the bus system in Rome. One of the hottest places I have been in my life is a crowded bus in Rome in the summer, AND it was running late.
If you can avoid the bus, do it. Sometimes getting around Rome on foot is faster (and far more interesting). Better yet, combine your walking with a tram or the metro, and you can get to most any place you want to go as a visitor to Rome.
Reminder: Don’t forget to validate your ticket by inserting it into a validation machine on board when you take the bus or tram.
Take a Vespa style scooter!
The best way to get around Rome in style is on a Vespa. One of my favorite tours I have taken involved riding cute Vespa scooters all around the city. You can mix your need to get around Rome with the fun of a scooter ride by checking out this ride sharing app specifically for scooters. Be sure to get your International Driving Permit before going to Italy. You’ll need one to drive.
Keep it Simple with Rome Transportation Cards
If you are someone who doesn’t want to be bothered with buying your transportation tickets all the time and worrying about 100-minute time limits, getting a transportation card may be your best bet, especially if you plan to see a lot of big attractions in a short amount of time.
You can buy the Roma 24H, 48H, 72H or CIS 7 day ticket from €7 up to €24. These all require only 1 validation for the entire period of time on your first ride.
Like all transportation tickets, you should buy these not on the transportation itself (don’t take money onto a bus and expect to pay the driver) but at tabacchi shops (marked with white T), newspaper stands or at the Metro station via machine or ticket window.
Rome Transport Map
My favorite way to see the Eternal City is actually just to walk! For a big city, it’s fairly manageable on foot, although keep in mind that it is built on hills and the streets are mostly cobbled.
If you’re traveling with a stroller, I’d highly recommend using something with large wheels if you plan to walk a lot. If you don’t, then ditch the stroller if possible.
Getting from Rome to Other Major Cities
Getting from Rome to other major cities in Italy is easy with the country’s excellent train system. Some easy direct trains from Rome are Florence, Milan, and Venice. Getting to the Amalfi Coast from Rome can be a little trickier, but here is a good guide.
Major Train Companies in Italy
There are two main train companies in Italy. I will break down the benefits of each.
Italo– Very fast, usually newer trains, more direct, visits only main cities like Florence, Venice, etc.
TrenItalia – Has fast (Frecciarossa), medium (Frecciargento) and slow (Frecciabianca) options. Some are more direct, but this is the main company in Italy that can get you to more far-flung or smaller city destinations. If you are wanting the fastest option with the fewest stops, choose FrecciaRossa.
Depending on who is in your group and what time of day you want to travel, either TrenItalia or Italo can be the cheapest. Trains in Italy tend to have great fares for children with TrenItalia’s Bimbi Gratis and the Italo’s Family fare option that should save you quite a bit on tickets for children 13/14 and younger.
Expert Tip: When choosing your seats on Italian trains, be aware that if you select 4 seats facing each other and your party is smaller than 4, you will likely find yourself staring at and sharing foot space with a stranger. Consequently, I prefer to pick seating pairs that look at the backs of other seats, similar to an airplane.
Reminder: Use the Italian spellings of the cities to search on Italian train websites.
When getting around Rome Italy, you are spoiled for choice, but may want to stick to one type of transportation and get to know it well, especially if you won’t be in the city long. It’s always a relief to get familiar with a certain type of transportation in a new place. There are plenty of opportunities to feel like you don’t know what you are doing when you travel. Here’s hoping this guide makes you feel a little bit more like a local!