Rome does not need an introduction. The history of the Italian capital spans 28 centuries and it is widely regarded as the birthplace of Western civilization. However, it’s significantly more chaotic than the other European capitals, which is not necessarily bad 🙂
Note that Rome is not packed with subway stations! As a result, some points of interest will require lots of walking. And in my experience, the city buses are not punctual at all, so I simply avoid them. Neither is it a compact city: churches, ruins, and the Vatican are sprinkled over long distances. Therefore, you should choose your accommodation location very carefully, to avoid wasting time as you come and go.
ARRIVING in Rome
Like all other European capitals, Rome is well connected, being possible to arrive by flight, international train, bus or car.
Rome is served by two airports: Fiumicino (FCO) and Ciampino (CIA). The latter is mainly for budget airlines and, similar to most other cities, this means it lacks a direct rail connection between the airport and city center. For this reason alone, Fiumicino is the most convenient airport if you are visiting Rome itself since rail schedules tend to be much more reliable. Just follow the signs from Arrivals.
Arriving at Fiumicino, you have two options of rail service to reach the city center: the Leonardo Express or the regional trains.
- Leonardo Express: non-stop to Roma Termini (~Central) Station, departing every 15 or 30 minutes (depending on the time of the day), with a journey of 32 minutes; or
- Regional FL1 trains: connects the airport to metro stations Ostiense/Piramide or Tiburtina (both in line B), from where you can continue the journey into the center. Journey times vary from 31min to 48min, respectively. It’s a reasonable option if a change at Ostiense is practical to continue your journey by metro.
You can buy both tickets on the website of Trenitalia (link to purchase page here) or on machines as you approach the platforms. Just search for an estimated time, but don’t worry too much, you’ll have to validate your ticket before reaching the platform to hop on either of them. You can tell the tickets apart easily.
If FCO is not possible, then…
Arriving at Ciampino is not ideal, because you raise the chances of problems when you don’t have direct routes, but it’s not that inconvenient in Rome’s case. The nearest train station is in the town of Ciampino, around 5km away from the airport.
- Ciampino Airport <> Ciampino FS (Rail Station): bus connection every 30 minutes, with a journey time of approx. 5 minutes.
- Ciampino FS <> Roma Termini (~Central) Station: light rail service with variable frequency (check Trenitalia website for timetable) and an average journey time of 15-17 minutes.
You’ll find direct buses between Ciampino Airport and Rome Termini, Anagnina or Laurentina. Although it’s not a great idea due to long journey times, you can find all info here.
International trains will arrive at Roma Termini, which is the equivalent to a Central Station in Rome. It is part of the Metro lines A and B/B1 (see map at end of this post).
Termini is many times synonym with the city center (the airport express train also stops here) but it is still a good ~1.5-2km walk from the main tourist attractions.
You will likely arrive at Roma Tiburtina, which is connected to a subway station of the same name, on line B. From there, you are 4 stops away from Roma Termini or 6 to the Colosseo.
GETTING AROUND Rome
ATAC operates the transport network in Rome and for the regular tourist, except from/to the airport, you won’t need to worry about zones. The network comprises the metropolitana (subway), trams and buses. You can buy tickets at the ATAC offices, self-service machines, newsstands, tobacco shops. When purchasing online, you can choose delivery to your home or for collection at selected stations. Buy here.
If you want to keep the flexibility of using the subway as you wish, you have these time-based tickets:
- ROMA 24H, 48H or 72H: valid from the first stamping
- CIS: valid for 7 days from the date of the first stamping, or until 24:00 on the seventh day including that of stamping.
TIP: Pay attention to your belongings! The subway can get chaotic, don’t fall prey to pickpockets.Metropolitana di Roma