Transport around Rome

Bus 32, Rome, Italy by linssimatoWhen travelling around Rome, it’s a good idea to come prepared with comfortable walking shoes. The city leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to reliable public transport. However it is one of the most beautiful, not to mention relatively safe, cities in which to stroll from one destination to another. The entire area of the historic centre is only about five square miles. While there is no defined city plan in Rome, getting lost is half of the fun.

The good news is that there are a few websites in Rome to help you navigate the confusing public transport system. The sites however do little to accommodate the increased influx of tourists in Rome as they are only in Italian. On you can work out the path to your destination by entering your current location and desired location. The site will then explain the nearest bus or underground metro stop as well as the fastest itinerary. Another site, is a useful tool for a Smartphone. You can tap in the bus stop you’re at and the number of bus you’re waiting for and it will tell you, with relative accuracy, how long you’ll need to wait. The site also helps with route planning and city sponsored bike sharing locations.

The underground subway - the metro

metro stairs by roboppyWhile Fascist dictator Mussolini is famed for having established an efficient transportation option with the underground metro and trains running every five minutes, the metro option does have its flaws. Since the entire area in and around Rome is an active archaeological site, there are only two lines that make up the underground system, so it fails in comparison with cities like New York, Paris and London. It’s often overcrowded and rampant with pick-pockets but if you are attentive, and in a hurry, the metro is the best option.

Linea A (line A) is the most useful metro line for tourists because it stops close to many of the major tourist destinations. These include the Vatican at Ottaviano stop, the Spanish Steps at Spagna stop, Piazza del Popolo, Via del Corso and Borghese Gardens at Flaminio stop and the Trevi Fountain and Via Veneto at the Barberini stop. Line A connects to the city from the north-west to the south-east and is indicated by the colour red.

Both Linea A and Linea B connect at Rome’s main Termini train station.

Linea B (line B), indicated by the colour blue, connects the city from the south end to the north-east. It has 25 stops, among which are the Coliseum, Circus Maximus, and the modern suburb of EUR.

A third metro line, Linea C, has been in the works since 1990. Several major archaeological discoveries have halted the construction of major stops intended to link many popular suburbs to the city centre. According to Wanted in Rome magazine, the project is “the most expensive and slowest public works project in Italy and in the world” costing roughly 5 billion euros.

The public bus and tram

ATAC (Agenzia per la Mobilita’ del Comune di Roma) is the only company that offers bus services in the centre of Rome. Information such as bus maps and (highly unreliable) timetables is available at any of the major metro stops such as Termini station and Coliseum station. The cost for one journey is 1.50€ and once the paper ticket is validated as you step on the bus it remains valid for 75 minutes. You must validate your ticket in the machine on the bus in order to avoid a fine. Weekly and monthly passes are also available for the metro, bus and tram.

Cotral (Compagnia Trasporti Laziali) is another bus service connecting Rome to its outskirts such as Tivoli.

Bike and scooter and rental

Moped by Neil FitzgeraldOne cannot think of Rome without the sound and vision of scooters buzzing in and around town, arriving in front of lines of cars stuck in traffic. Riding a scooter, also known by its popular Italian brand name, Vespa, is the most common form of transport for locals. The city’s traffic laws and streets can be ambiguous so it takes a brave and adept person to do as the Romans when it comes to driving.

The city is also starting to rise to the challenge of offering bicycle opportunities with ‘bike-sharing’ stations and a couple of bike paths along and near the river. Since Roman streets are often narrow, cobble-stone and traffic-filled it takes again a brave and able person to bike the maze of downtown Rome.


Taking a taxi can be an easy way to get around after a long day of walking. Taxis can’t be hailed from the road but must be taken from a taxi stand where you will see lines of cabs waiting for customers. Taxi stands are located near every major tourist attraction such as in front of St. Peter’s Square, in the middle of Piazza Venezia and at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. It’s a good idea to ask for an estimated price before getting in the car because Italian taxi drivers are known for taking detours and fiddling with the meter. By law taxi drivers are obliged to use their meter. Official taxis are recognisable by the SPQR crest and white colour.