Last Updated 5/9/19
If all roads lead to Rome, it’s no wonder you got here. Now that you’ve arrived, which parts of the city would you like to roam? How will you get there?
Perhaps you are new and still scratching your head on how to get around the city? Here are our up-to-date transit tips on how you can move like the Romans do:
The basics of public transport
Bus, tram, and metro rides are accessed from the same single use, one-way ticket, cost 1.5 euros and are valid for up to 90 minutes upon validation. They can be used in conjunction with one another if your commute requires more than one transit type. They can be acquired through a “biglietteria” ticket machine, like the one featured in this photo, yet oftentimes these machines are nowhere to be found at bus and tram stops.
In which case, the tickets must be purchased from the nearest bar, newsstand, or “tabacchi” shop. It’s important to note that they cannot be purchased on buses or trams, so it’s an excellent idea to carry spare tickets for evening time commutes, when you’ll find these shops are closed.
After meticulous digging around undiscovered ruins, the metro system has now expanded to 3 lines, which run from 5:30 to 23:30 Sunday through Friday and until 00:30 on Saturdays. You may encounter a 15 minute window after scheduled closing times, but this is unofficial information and not to be relied on. The metro is the most efficient public transport, as trains on the A and B line, with the exception of the Jonio track, average 5 minute waiting times.
Tram and bus lines change to nighttime routes at midnight. It is highly recommended to have a competent navigation application downloaded on your smartphone with a battery reserve, to help you navigate the best route(s) just before and during these shift changes. (In theory, buses should pass every 20 minutes, however it is not uncommon for buses to neglect passing through 23:30 to 00:00.) Either way, you’ll want that navigation application to track your bus stop, if you’re not familiar with it. Most buses don’t notify the names of the next approaching stop.
One-way single tickets are for tourists and for those who don’t frequently use public transport. Monthly and annual public transport passes are much more cost efficient, locking in a set rate for unlimited use of the metro, buses, trams, and regional trains within the perimeter of the city of Rome. They can be purchased and recharged at most tabacchi shops.
Regional trains offer their own unique accessways to select areas of the city and are included in the monthly/annual public transport passes. Single use, one-way tickets can be applied to train rides, however they are slightly cheaper at 1 euro, when purchased at a train station biglietteria. Trains pass every 20-30 minutes from 6:30-00:10.
We’ve compiled the best transportation apps…
To navigate- Everyone is familiar with the user-friendly Google Maps, which works quite efficiently in the city of Rome. For ever so slightly more accurate timing on bus arrivals we recommend Muoversi or Moovit, which include a few extra search options. ATAC is the official site/application for Rome’s public transportation service and we do not recommend it for accuracy and user-friendliness. Waze is growing in popularity and along with Google Maps, offers an additional feature for drivers navigating around the restricted (ZTL) driving areas of the city center, when programmed under its settings.
FREE NOW (formerly My Taxi)- This connects you to Radio Taxi, Rome’s largest taxi service, and will allow electronic payment via credit card or Paypal. Why we recommend it… you can track your route from point A to B using the app to verify the taxi isn’t taking you for an extra spin around the block, another tactic Rome’s taxi drivers will use to hike up the meter when transporting foreigners. Don’t be fooled by its name, it’s not free in price, nor is it accessible at all times of day. (When taking a taxi in general, be aware that taxi rates are mandated by the city of Rome and all taxi drivers are “freelancers” who own their cabs, so be cautious of being scammed for higher fares.) An alternative taxi application could be…
IT Taxi- This app is secondary in popularity, however it sometimes works as a suitable alternative when no taxis are available through FREE NOW. There seems to be no noticeable difference in price.
Uber- Uber is available in Rome, but limited to uberx, uberlux, and ubervan. They can mostly be found in and around the city center. Uber fares are generally not a cheaper alternative to the taxi, but can be slightly less expensive and available after hours. Again, you can track your route using this application.
Scooterino- This is a fun way to travel around Rome when you are riding solo with no baggage. Rome by motorbike is an incredible experience! Keep in mind this is a relatively slower service, so pickup times are lengthier than the taxi option, while the demand for drivers and users increase… Expect cheaper fares!
Car2go- This is an hourly car rental service which allows you to sign up online with a valid Italian or foreign driver’s license and geotracks available cars around the city, accessing them with a door code. You can reserve an available vehicle for up to 15 minutes before retrieving it and leave it anywhere in the city where there’s legal parking. Sheer convenience!
Ecooltra- Here is the scooter sharing version of the Car2go app, allowing its users to temporarily rent scooters. It limits parking them within a geofenced area of the city.
Getting to the airports…
Taxi- For those with heavy luggage desiring a stress free, on -time ride, this is your easiest option, but not your cheapest. It is recommended to pre-order your ride and pre-negotiate your fare, instead of relying on the meter. Be wary of taxi cab drivers and their inclination to overcharge tourists and foreigners alike. If you live within the walls of Rome, you should be paying no more than 50 euros for a ride to the airports, this is actually written on the side of most taxis. Read more about the city mandated taxi fares here.
If there are two or more of you traveling to the airport, our recommendation is to use Rome Cab Transfer as the most cost efficient, most convenient way to transport yourself in groups of up to 8 people.
Airport Shuttle- the second most convenient form of transport to both airports, you must prearrange for your location pickup online .The cost is 25 euros.
Trains- Trains depart every half hour from Termini station to Fiumicino airport, via the Leonardo Express for 14 euros. Direct regional trains to Fiumicino take off every 30 minutes from Ostiense, Trastevere and Tiburtina stations for 8-14 euros. Train schedules are available online.
Buses- The bus service to both airports is available through Terravision, for as little as 6 euros a ride. You can view the schedule and pre-book online. Pre-booking comes highly recommended using this method. They do accept cash in person, however in times of high volume, you may have to wait for the next available bus to arrive. If your time is limited and you have not reserved your space and arrived on time, then you may consider alternative options.
*The fine print is right here in bold…Please keep in mind that this information may be invalidated on the day of a Roman reality we call…
Sciopero– The Italian word for “strike”. Public transportation strikes are a reoccurring conundrum in Rome and we won’t try offer an explanation as to why. They typically occur at minimum, once a month, mostly on Fridays, yet they’re difficult to pattern … You can find more information on their inconsistencies through the official ATAC website or local websites such as Romatoday.it or Comuneroma.it. The operation hours of the metro lines are limited on these days, along with the availability of certain bus/tram/train lines. In the worst case scenario, the strike can follow you all the way to the airport, limiting or cancelling the take-off of flights, though this is a rare recurrence.
Driving in Rome…
If you’re brave enough to step behind the wheel of a car or motorbike, we caution you to consider Rome’s air pollution vehicular restrictions. Here is the official website of the city’s transportation department and a link to our recent blog post.