So, there you are: You’ve arrived in Rome, ready to explore the Eternal City. Ready to embark on the vacation of a lifetime. But you’re not in Rome. You’re some 20 miles from the city. Twenty cursed miles from the Colosseum, Vatican City and all the cacio e pepe you can eat. What now? How does one get from the airport into Rome?
If you’re flying into Rome from North America, then chances are you’ll land at the super-busy Fiumicino International Airport (FCO). As mentioned, FCO is roughly 20 miles from the heart of Rome and offers guests three main ways to get into the city: trains, buses and taxis. Well, technically you could rent a car and drive into Rome. But do you really want to deal with feisty Italian drivers on foreign roads…potentially during rush hour? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Before choosing how you’re going to get into Rome’s center, however, it’s important to stop by one of FCO’s ATMs to pick up some euros if you haven’t any. No matter how you choose to get into Rome proper, you will be needing those euros to do it. Also, keep in mind that you can pre-purchase train or bus tickets online, though neither is really necessary.
Is Express Less Stress? FCO Airport into Rome by Train
Let’s start with Sheldon Cooper’s preferred mode of transport: trains! The main advantage with taking one of FCO’s two trains is that you avoid the risk of waiting in traffic. This is especially beneficial if you’re arriving in Rome during rush hour. On the flip-side, train travel isn’t necessarily the cheapest option and it could be a hassle if you’re burdened with a ton of luggage.
The two trains at FCO you could choose from are the Leonardo Express or the slower FL1 train. Tickets for both of these trains can be purchased at either an automated “biglietteria” ticket machine (with an English option) or a newsstand near the train station beside Terminal 1. Even though the machines make you pick a time, rest assured your ticket is valid for all departure times, provided its validated.
The Leonardo Express line will zip you straight to Rome’s central Termini Station in about 30 minutes. And in style: All seats are first-class. Unfortunately for your wallet, these tickets are a tad pricey at €14 per person. At least kids 12 and under ride free. If you want to catch an express train, look for the “Stazione/Railway Station” signs with obvious train icons. Express trains typically depart 2-4 times an hour. Remember to get your tickets stamped for validation from the smaller, gray-and-green machines before boarding the train.
If you don’t need to stop in Termini or don’t consider hopping on the FL1 (formerly FR1). This train makes stops at the following peripheral stations popular with travelers: Trastevere, Ostiense and Tiburtina. So, if your hotel is near any of these areas, the FL1 line is a better choice than the express. Plus, the FL1 is doggone cheap. One-way tickets for this train will cost you about €8. Plus, FL1 trains depart every 15 minutes, except on Sundays or holidays where they run every 30 minutes.
From the Airport into Rome the Cheap Way
At the time of publication, four bus companies offer transportation from FCO to Termini. But one of the most respected is Terravision. All of these buses have plenty of luggage storage underneath seats as well as refreshing A/C. The best feature of using a bus is that it’s super affordable: Only €6 per person. Just be prepared to wait a bit longer to get into Rome, especially if you get caught in traffic. Usually a bus ride to Termini will take between 45 to 65 minutes. But like taxis and rental cars, buses remain subject to the crazed Roman traffic. Sometimes the bus will take closer to two hours. Yikes.
The Price of Convenience: FCO Taxis
Of all three methods of transportation, taxis are both the most convenient and the most expensive. These taxis are convenient because they’ll bring you straight to your hotel. But that fixed rate of €48 (plus an additional €1 for each piece of luggage) will put a big dent in your travel expenses.
Official Roman taxis are white with the “Roma Capitale” logo on the side. You should also see the car’s license number and the fixed rates from FCO and Ciampino clearly listed on the side doors. All of the taxis at FCO are located outside the Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 arrivals areas. Please don’t get in a cab that’s located outside of these areas because they’re most likely unlicensed.
If a driver is giving you a hard time about the €48 price, then you know you’re being conned. Either call Rome’s official taxi department at +39 06 3570, complain to the taxi-stand attendant or wait for a more honest cab driver in an officially marked taxi.