Good news travelers: Getting around the Eternal City ain’t hard at all. With this handy Rome public transportation guide, you’ll jump from Metro to bus to Ancient Roman ruins with nary a hassle. Let’s go!
First, let’s review the basics. The Rome public transportation network includes two Metro lines (with a partially operational third under construction through 2022), a tangle of bus routes and six trams. ATAC manages all of it. Therefore, you can use the same tickets on any mode of transportation. Speaking of tickets, you must purchase them before riding. Check tobacco shops, newsstands or the ubiquitous gray ticket machines at bus stops and Metro stations.
There are four major ticket options available for use on Rome’s ATAC public transportation system (which includes Metro, buses, and trams). Please do yourself a favor and visit ATAC’s website at least once before traveling to Rome so you have a good sense of where all these services go.
The best value for tourists is probably the BIT ticket, which allows you 75 minutes’ access on Rome’s public transport for only €1.50. Your 75-minute adventure begins after you validate your BIT ticket for the first time, so you could stack up on these bad boys well in advance. One annoying caveat with the BIT ticket is that it allows only one ride on the Metro.
The Rome public transportation authority also sells the BIG day pass, the BTI 3-day pass and the CIS week pass. These are each priced at €6, €16.50, €24, respectively. Note: Each pass begins immediately upon validation and ends at midnight on the final day specified. This means if you validate your BIG pass at 5PM, then it will end at 12AM that day instead of 5PM the next day.
You can pick up any of these tickets on touchscreen machines at most Metro stations or at convenience shops.
Roma Pass: Is it Worth it for Rome Public Transportation?
If you’re looking into tourist passes, then consider investing in a Roma Pass. There are two Roma Passes on offer: a 48-hour pass for €28 and a 72-hour pass for €38.50. With either of these passes, you’ll enjoy free access to all ATAC public transport for either 48 or 72 hours.
The Purse-Snatching… Er, “Popular” Bus Lines
Rome’s mighty bus fleet has 338 lines that dump travelers at over 8,200 stops. All the urban buses are open from 5AM till 6:30AM and a few night buses run from midnight till about 5AM.
As a visitor, focus your attention on the 40 and 64 lines. Both lines travel out of Termini Station towards the Vatican, but the 40 route only makes 9 stops while the 64 makes 18 stops. No matter what line you take, you’ll be able to get off near all the major draws, including the Colosseum, central Rome, and good old St. Peter’s Basilica.
Warning: These touristy bus lines are notorious for petty theft. Locals don’t call these lines the “Pickpocket Express” for nothing!
It Ain’t Tokyo: How to Navigate Rome’s Mini-Metro
Compared with Paris and London, Rome’s Metro is humble. There are only two major lines on this Metro system, the creatively named Line A (traveling northwest to southeast) and Line B (traveling northeast to south). The partially open Line C comes online in 2022.
Although the Rome Metro isn’t huge, we have to give it some props for tourist convenience. For example, on Line A you could get close to the Vatican at Cipro, right by Villa Borghese at Flaminio, and a short distance from the Trevi Fountain at Barberini. The most important tourist stop on Line B is the Colosseum which stops at the Colosseum (duh). Both Metro stations also make stops in Rome’s main transportation hub Termini Station. The Metro is open between 5:30AM and 11:30PM every day except Fridays and Saturdays when it is open till 1:30AM.
And What’s the Deal with Rome’s Trams?
You can see most of Rome’s sites just using the Metro and buses, but there is also a tram service should you need it. While mostly locals use these six tram lines to get around town, they could be useful if you want to see a slice of authentic Roman life. Tram line 8 has become increasingly popular because of the growing prominence of trendy Trastevere. Trams run from 5:30AM till midnight.