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Welcome to our Rome Series! Rome was our home for a collective six years so we wanted to share everything you need to have a perfect time in the Eternal City. Visit Rome and learn how to love la dolce vita!
Here is what you can expect from this series:
Rome’s Transportation System – You’re Here!
*All photos courtesy of Chelsea Graham. Visit her Flickr account to see more.
Rome Transportation | The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
We will be the first to state that Rome doesn’t have the best public transportation in the world. Traffic can be abominable in the city center and there is nothing like being stuck in traffic on a bus overflowing with people for thirty minutes in that blistering hot summer air.
However, if it is your first time visiting Rome there are ways to get around this and make the Rome transportation system work for you!
In this article, we will give all of our hidden tricks and secrets to using the Rome transportation system without the headache! We know that navigating a new city can be a little chaotic but we are here to help you! Our Rome transportation guide will help you navigate Rome like a local!
How to Get to Rome from the Airport
Traveling from the airport to your Airbnb or hotel in Rome is a bit of an adventure. If you don’t know what you are doing it will throw you for a loop and you will end up spending a lot more on your trip into the center then you may want to. So that is where we come in; we have already made the mistakes after a combined six years of living in Rome. Don’t follow our example and instead follow our advice for getting into the city center from the airport!
Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport
Fiumicino is the international airport for the city of Rome. If you are traveling from the U.S. this will most likely be the airport that you will fly into. This is also my favorite airport to fly into when it comes to trying to get into the city as the Rome transportation options are much easier to use and consistent here!
Taking a Taxi from almost anywhere in the world seems like the hassle free way of traveling in from an airport. Unfortunately, the taxi drivers in Rome are not always honest and will rip you off if they get a chance. It happens to everybody, even to us. We joke that it is a right of passage for your first time traveling to Rome, although it may be one you might want to skip. Here is how to keep that from happening.
Head to a Taxi Rank
First off when you get off the plane ignore all the taxi drivers at the door flashing their badges. Walk right past them and head to one of the designated taxi lines. You will see a line of white Roman taxis with a taxi sign at the front of the line. (We will go into more detail about official taxis below)
What Counts as the City Center?
Now here is where it gets a little crazy. There is a flat fare of 40 euros when you travel into the city center. The difficult part is knowing what is considered the city center. The city center is usually defined by being within the ancient Aurelian walls. If you are staying in Trastevere, Monteverde, Prati and parts of Testaccio you might be considered outside the center. (Refer to the below map to double check) If you are staying within the center then your fare should be no more than 40 euros. Make sure your taxi driver sticks to this.
What if You Are Outside the Center?
Now if you are staying outside the center you will be using the taxi meter. Make sure the taxi is not only showing his meter but is using it. The first part of your trip the meter should be on T2 until you hit the ring highway (G.R.A.). The meter may jump to T3 if you go over €11. When you enter the city limits the meter should be switched from T2 to T1 which is a cheaper fair. One last thing if you are staying outside the city center there is a €1 charge for luggage.
Unfortunately, you are at the will of the taxi driver and a lot of them do not know English or act like they don’t know English. There are some honest taxis drivers but a lot of them you will have to stay on top of. That is why I only take taxis if I have to. I honestly hate arguing with them and don’t want to deal with the hassle.
The Leonardo Express is a non-stop train that takes you from Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino airport to Termini, the main train station in Rome, and vice versa. The trip will cost you a flat fare of 14 euros and only 32 mins. The trains run quite often, about every 15 mins with a certain time of the day being every 30 mins. Being Rome, they do not give exact time just that it generally runs every 30 minutes. If it was me I would just assume that they run every 30 min instead of every 15 to be on the safe side. The train from Fiumicino Airport runs from 6.23 a.m. to 11.23 p.m. daily.
To find the train from the airport just follow the signs with the train symbol. It is not too hard to find and you will see a ticket stand there as well.
The train takes you straight to Termini in the heart of Rome, where you will be able to catch a city taxi outside and get a cheaper fare to your AirBnB or hotel. We will talk about those fares below.
If you going back to the airport from Termini you can buy tickets at the Termini newsstands or the counters. There are automatic ticket machines as well. The train always leaves from track 23 or 24 from the station which makes it super easy to find. The train from Rome Termini starts at 5.35 a.m. with the last train departing at 10.35 p.m
*Note: Once you have your tickets, take them to the yellow stamp machines. This is the machine that verifies your ticket. You must verify your ticket before you get on the train.
There are local city trains that can get you into the city. We are only going to talk about one however because it is the easiest to navigate and you don’t have to deal with the metro. If you are staying in the neighborhood of Trastevere this is the train for you!
From the train station in the Fiumicino airport, you can take the FR1 city train for 8 euros to Stazione Trastevere or the Trastevere train station. It takes about 30 mins and from the station, you can take a taxi or walk to your place if it is close enough. This train will also take you to Ostiense where you can catch the Metro B to Termini or where ever else you need to go in the city.
You can buy your ticket at the ticket stand in Fiumicino train station. Then just read the electronic schedule board to tell you what track and when the train leaves the station.
Again, do not forget to validate your ticket before you board the train!
Ciampino is the little brother to Fiumicino. It’s a much smaller airport and most likely you will land here if you are coming from another European country. There are only two ways to get from Ciampino to Rome.
There are three different shuttle companies that run from Ciampino airport to Termini station: SIT bus, Terravision, and ATRAL. They are not difficult to find either, just head outside of the airport and you will see an area where the tickets are being sold. See which bus is leaving the soonest and buy your ticket. The tickets cost anywhere from 4 euros to 10 euros depending on whether you are buying round trip and which company you choose.
Depending on the time you arrive depends on how frequent the bus comes. You can check online for the schedule that they offer but just be warned that it is a very rough prediction on when they depart. That being said, we don’t pre-book tickets online because more times or not it becomes a bigger hassle than it needs to be. Just by them once you get there.
The Bus will take about 30 – 45 minutes to get you to Termini station where you can pick up Metro A or B but I recommend taking a city taxi the rest of the way.
The taxis from Ciampino run into the same issue as the ones from Fiumicino do. It is supposed to be a flat fare of 30 euros into the city center. There should be a sticker on the taxi that tells you that it is a flat fare. It is illegal for a taxi to not give you this fare. Just make sure you tell the taxi that you know it is supposed to be 30 euros and do not budge on it. If one is not going to do it then head to the next taxi.
If you are staying outside of the center well then you will have to deal with the meter. Just make sure that the meter does not stay on number two the whole way. Once they enter the city it is supposed to drop down to 1. As always though take a taxi at your own risk. They are the most convenient but could end up costing you if you get a dishonest driver.
Transportation in Rome
We have a love/hate relationship with taxis in Rome as you can probably tell. While they are great for zipping around the city if you don’t know better you will most likely be conned into paying way more. So to help you out here are the things you need to know about taxis:
Always Take an Official Taxi
Official taxis can be recognized by their ID number and the Roman seal on the car door. They are also always white cars. The easiest way to make sure you are picking up an official taxi is to grab one from an official taxi rank. Most taxis will not pick you up from the side of the road regardless so always head to a taxi rank or stand.
Always Make Sure the Meter is On
Taxis in Rome cannot barter for the fares. You should always make sure that the meter is on and on the right settings. This is definitely where taxis try to get tourists. If you are in the City Center of Rome (aka within the Aurelian Walls) here is what the meter should be set on:
€3 – Weekdays 6am-10pm
€4.50 – Weekends 6am-10pm
€6.50 – Nights 10pm-6am
If you are in the heart of Rome your fare should be set to T1. If it is set to anything else don’t be shy about saying something. T2 and T3 are advanced rates that only kick in at certain amounts when you go over 20km per hour.
T1: €1.10 per km, up to €11
T2: €1.30 per km for speeds higher than 20km per hour, from €11 to €13
T3: €1.60 per km for speeds higher than 20km per hour, from €13 and up
Occasionally you will be offered a reduced fare if you are a woman traveling alone at night. You can ask for a 10% discount.
If There is a Problem….
If you have an issue with your driver be sure to get a receipt and write down the taxi ID number. You can then submit a claim to:
Dipartimento Mobilità e Trasporti, Commissione di Garanzia,
Via Capitan Bavastro 94, 00154, Roma
Oh, the Roman bus…. While I would like to never take you again unfortunately sometimes you are my only Rome transportation option. I’ll level with you guys, the bus system isn’t great in Rome. Yes, technically there is a schedule. But don’t be surprised if they don’t show up for ages and then three of the same bus show up at once. It looks like things are somewhat getting better with new signs showing when the buses are arriving but this isn’t everywhere and it is still not super reliable.
Regardless how we feel about the bus, they are still useful in Rome. So here are our best tips for navigating the Roman bus system:
Buy Your Tickets Ahead of Time
Yes, sometimes you can buy your ticket onboard and yes, they don’t really ever check them but the last thing you want on vacation is to get a fine for not buying a bus ticket. If you need to buy a ticket just head to the nearest Tabacchi and pick one up. These tobacco shops are all over Rome and all of them sell bus tickets. You can also head to a metro station and pick up a ticket or a tram stop as the one ticket works for all three.
The simplest biglietto or ticket is the 100-minute ticket which works on buses, the metro (only one line change and one entrance), and the tram. You can also purchase different day and week passes which we will get into later.
You Must Validate Your Ticket
When you get on the bus you must validate your ticket in order to start your 100 minutes. The easiest way to do this is to enter through the front door of the bus and then place it in the little yellow and blue box. The machine will stamp it and you are good to go. You only need to validate the ticket once so don’t worry about it if you hop on a different bus or tram within your 100 minutes.
There are usually different validation machines throughout the bus but if it is jammed packed (which they frequently are) good luck getting through the masses. People will generally not move so you can validate your ticket. Just a friendly FYI (I never moved either…).
Plan Your Route
So you can get a ticket but how do you know where to go? The best thing to do is to use ATAC to plan your route. Once you plan your route and find the bus stop, look at the bus signs. They will usually list stops below the name of the bus stop. Your stop should be listed below otherwise your bus is going in the opposite direction. If you can’t find your stop listed most likely your bus is going to be on the opposite side of the street.
Know Your Stop
The Roman buses will occasionally announce or have the stops show above but not all. The best advice is to use the ATAC website to plan your route and know how many stops you have and keep count. Also always ring for your stop because sometimes they just don’t stop. If you can, download google maps or apple maps before you leave wifi and follow your route via the GPS.
The tram is probably the highlight of the Rome transportation system. It is super easy to use, efficient, runs on time, basically everything you want out of public transportation. The downside is it is only in small chunks of the city. However, if you are staying in Monteverde, Trastevere, Prati or near Termini you will probably find yourself using the tram. My bus advice can be used also for the tram with the added benefit that everything just works smoother on the tram!
The best lines to use as a visitor to Rome will be Tram 8, 3 and 19. Tram 8 runs from the top of the Gianicolo in Monteverde down to Largo Argentina and is responsible for connecting Monteverde and Trastevere to the city center. If you are staying in Trastevere you most likely will take this tram the most.
Tram 3 starts from Trastevere Train Station and then heads past Testaccio, the Coliseum, San Giovanni and then through the east of the city past La Sapienza University to just behind Villa Borghese. This is a perfect tram to take if you find yourself in Trastevere and want to get to the Coliseum or to San Giovanni or catch the Metro B Line at Piramide.
Tram 19 is great if you are staying by the Vatican in Prati. The line begins at Risorgimento which is just steps away from The Vatican Museum entrance. The line then crosses the Tiber with a stop just north of Piazza del Popolo and continues behind the Villa Borghese and follows the same path as Tram 3 until Porta Maggiore. Porta Maggiore is just south of Termini Train Station and here you can either keep heading south or take Tram 5 to Termini.
The trams are most helpful for getting to the more outlying areas of Rome but depending on where you are staying they can be helpful arteries into the center!
The Roman Metro is a source of mystery. If you look at the layers of history in Rome, they really shouldn’t be able to build a metro at all. But there is indeed a metro part of the Rome transportation system. There are currently three lines with Line C being the most recent. It is currently partially opened and it feels like they have been working on it forever (in fact, they were working on it when I studied abroad in 2008!).
The two major lines are Line A (the orange line) and Line B (the blue line). These two lines only cross at Termini and create an X through the city. These two lines are incredibly useful if you are staying by a Metro entrance especially for visitors to the city as they stop at San Giovanni, Piazza Barberini (aka the Trevi Fountain), Piazza di Spagna, and the Vatican for Line A and Piramide, the Colosseum, and Via Cavour for Line B.
The Metro Line C, in all its newly opened glory, is going to be most helpful to locals as it really doesn’t stretch to the city center yet. It has been said that the San Giovanni station will be open this August but you never know!
The metro is fairly easy to navigate since there are really only two lines and the ticket you can buy for the bus works for the metro. You are allowed to change lines in the 100 minutes but you are only allowed one ride per ticket.
The City Trains are fantastic if you need to cross the city and don’t want to cross through the center. If you are staying near Trastevere, St. Peter’s, Testaccio or Termini you can navigate the city with ease through these intercity trains. I would quite often take the train between Trastevere and St. Peter’s and it was a much easier process than taking the tram to a Metro or the tram to a bus to another bus.
If you plan on taking the trains just know what the termination stop is as the train line will be announced by its final stop. It is fairly easy to find the track number as well since these trains run regularly and there is often staff on hand if you have any questions. The other upside of the trains is that you can use the basic Rome transportation ticket on them to a certain extent. The Rome transportation ticket does not extend to the airport of Civitavecchia but it does include Ostia Antica!
Rome Transportation Card
If you are going to be in Rome for a few days and foresee yourself using the public Rome transportation quite often you may want to invest in a card. There are a few different options you can take:
100 Minute – € 1.50
24 Hour – € 7.00
48 Hour – € 12.50
72 Hour – € 18.00
7 Days – € 24.00
These tickets are able to be used for unlimited* travel on Rome’s metro, buses, trams, and trains within Rome for the time stated, starting when the card is validated.
*Except for the 100-minute ticket
All of these tickets do not work for tickets on the Leonardo Express, any airport specific bus, hop on hop off buses, and trains to Civitavecchia.
Beware the Transportation Strikes
Rome transportation strikes are a pain and quite frequent. They can range from just a couple of hours – sometimes the bus drivers just want the afternoon off – to just one type of transportation to a complete shutdown of transportation across the city. If you are visiting Rome and plan on taking public transportation you will want to be aware of all of this. The best way to keep apprised of any Rome transportation strikes is to either join expat Rome groups on Facebook or follow Wanted in Rome. Wanted in Rome is usually always updated so be sure to check before you head to Rome. You do not want to be stranded at the airport!
There you have it our guide on how to navigate the Eternal City. We know that it can look very intimidating but we believe that you can master it. It will make your life a little easier and you won’t be spending all your money purely on taxis. Also by mastering the public transportation system the city of Rome really opens up to you and you will be able to explore even more of this wonderful and chaotic city.
We hope that you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions feel free to ask us in the comments below. We know it can be confusing. Believe us it is not just you, just writing this article was exhausting. Also if you have any fun stories about Roman public transportation please let us know in the comments below so we can bask in the glory that is Roman transportation.
Read On to Read the Rest of the Series!
Rome’s Transportation System– You’re Here!
Heading to Rome soon? Don’t forget to buy travel insurance! Sure you may not use it but its always good to have. We recommend World Nomads which we have been using for years and have always made us feel secure as we travel around the world!
All photography is provided courtesy of Chelsea Graham. Follow her Flickr account here!
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