Rome’s public transportation is both modern and efficient, and though it is best to wander the city on foot, the easy-to-use network of buses, trams, and metro lines can save you time, not to mention saving your feet.
When I first visited Rome, I didn’t want to be bothered with learning the public transportation system. After a few late night walks home, some of which lasted more than an hour, I decided that it might not be such a bad idea. It only took a moment for me to figure out how to use Rome’s public transportation. At any tourist office, pick up the free A Guest In Rome guide, which offers a map with bus lines, metro stops, and trams.
Tickets cost 1 euro and get you 75 minutes of travel time on buses and trams and 1 ride on the metro. To activate your ticket, put it through the turnstile in the metro or stamp it in the validation machines located on buses and trams. If you are staying longer in Rome, you might want to consider the 1-day pass for 4 euro, a 1-week pass for 16 euro, or a 1-month pass for 30 euro. And don’t forget that the Roma Pass package, sold at most tourist offices and major sights, includes a 3-day public transportation pass.
It’s important to know what Rome’s public transportation is actually good for. For example, there is no quicker route between The Forum and the Pantheon than on foot. However, if you want to get to the Vatican from Termini Station, or to get to the Coliseum from Termini Station, public transportation is the solution.
Buses leave Termini Station, Rome’s central train station, every few seconds for important destinations, and Metro line B stops at the Coliseum. Metro line A connects Termini Station with Piazza del Popolo and the magnificent Villa Borghese park. If you want to check out Trastevere, the hip neighborhood jam-packed with bars, restaurants, and specialty shops, take the number 8 tram, which begins a stones-throw away from Campo di Fiori.
Taking public transportation after 11pm can be tricky, but the city does an overall impressive job at providing regular buses. The metro runs until 11:30pm most nights, and runs until 1:30am on Fridays and Saturdays. However, late night metro service is spotty. I suggest taking night buses, which run every half and hour at popular stops. These buses are distinguished by a bright owl-shaped light on their marquees. To see if a night bus will service the stop that you are waiting at, just look at the helpful bus schedules posted at the bus stop. These schedules are accurate. The night bus schedules are distinguished by a large “N” in place of a bus number.
Like all major cities, Rome has its share of pickpockets, especially on buses frequented by tourists, so keep your wallets hidden and your purses close. I have always felt safe however, when taking Rome’s public transportation, even at night. You’re much more likely to find a few zealous university students than a pickpocket.
When planning your trip to Rome, be sure to see our article Where To Stay In Rome.