Every traveller wants to feel free to explore their destination, soak up its culture, get to know its corners, its stories... But to do so, you have to plan and do the maths. Buying the Roma Pass tourist card can be a great help. I'll tell you why.
What is the Roma Pass and how much does it cost?
Rome has the Roma Pass, which allows travellers to save time and money during their visit; two very precious commodities when it comes to making the most of a trip. I'm going to tell you when and how to use it, as well as help you decide if it's the best option for you depending on what you want to discover about the city.
The price of tourist cards, in general, can be counted in two ways: by the number of days you use it or by the number of tourist attractions you visit with it. In case you decide to buy the Roma Pass it is the former: its price depends on the number of days you use it for.
Types of Roma Pass
You can book two types of Roma Pass:
Roma Pass 2 days
Valid for 48 hours after first use and includes free entry to one of the listed monuments or museums and a 20% discount on all other attractions in the catalogue.
Roma Pass 3 days
Valid for 72 hours after first use and includes free entry to two monuments or museums listed in the catalogue and 20% discount on all other attractions in the catalogue.
What does the Roma Pass include?
- Free entry to 1 museum if you choose the 48 hour card and 2 if you choose the 72 hour card. Entry to the Vatican Museums is not included. If you want to have access to the Vatican monuments you have to get this card which also includes the Omnia Card.
- Reduced rate (minimum 20% discount) for the remaining museums and monuments for which you do not use the free admission.
- Discounts on shows, additional tourist services (bicycle rental, tours, tourist bus...) and temporary exhibitions (many of them with queue-free access).
- Discounts in archaeological areas that are not directly managed by the Municipality of Rome. This is the case, for example, of Villa Medici or the Circus Maximus.
- Queue-free access to the Colosseum and other points of interest.
- Free access for the duration of the Roma Pass to all public transport in Rome (metro and buses). Airport transfer and regional trains are not included.
- A map and guide to the main sights of Rome.
Attractions included in the Roma Pass
If you buy the Roma Pass you will get included:
Colosseum, Forum of Rome and Palatine Hill
These are the three main must-see sites for those interested in Ancient Rome (the Colosseum is the most visited monument in Rome next to the Vatican Museums). Admission to all three sites is combined and if you want to know more about how to visit them independently, without the need to have the card, you can read these other articles on Rome Colosseum Tours y Rome Colosseum Tickets: how to buy, prices and schedules.
Often overlooked by visitors to Rome in pursuit of the Vatican Museums, which is a big mistake. These museums located on the Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio) are considered the oldest in the world and house a collection of works of art that includes paintings by Titian, Caravaggio and Rubens, among others.
Castel Sant Angelo
They call it "The Guardian of Rome" as it was the fortress that the Romans used to face the constant sieges of the city. Although it was originally conceived as the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian, it has also served (as well as a fortress) as a Papal palace and a prison. It is one of the points of interest where the reduced rate is most worthwhile, as it can mean a difference of more than 70% off the usual price.
One of Rome's most hidden treasures and probably one of the ones you will enjoy the most during your visit due to the low number of visitors compared to other tourist attractions. The Borghese Gallery is one of Rome's essential art galleries and includes sculptures of exquisite beauty. Another added value of this enclave is that it is located in the lungs of Rome: the Villa Borghese gardens.
Other museums or places of interest
On the official Roma Pass website you can check the rest of the points of interest you can visit with this card, but here are a few more museums and monuments included:
- Palazzo Barberini
- Trajan's Market
- Etruscan National Museum of Villa Giulia
- Baths of Diocletian
- Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
- Balbi Crypt
- National Gallery of Modern Art of Rome
- Palazzo Venezia
- Spada Gallery
- Museum of Rome
When is the Roma Pass worth buying?
The big question on your mind is whether it is worth buying a Rome Sightseeing Pass. I myself, when planning a trip, always sit down to gather information about the city's tourist cards to answer the same question. To help you avoid this step, I'm going to give you all the information you need to decide whether or not to buy the Roma Pass. Here's what you need to consider:
Number of days you will be in Rome
The Roma Pass is subscribed to a period of two or three days, so if your intention is to see the city in a short period of time it will be very useful, but if you are going to be in Rome for, say, 10 days (unless you are going to spend the first few days doing all the sightseeing and then wander around the city at your own pace) it may not be worth it because you will only be able to use it for part of your visit.
Discounts you are entitled to based on age and profession
The main advantage of the Roma Pass is the 20% discount on admission to museums and monuments, but perhaps because of your age or profession you are already entitled to this discount without the Roma Pass. For example, EU citizens between 18 and 24 years old already have a discount for the Colosseum, so the Roma Pass would not be of any use to them, as the discounts are NOT cumulative.
Waiting time at tourist attractions
Roma Pass holders will be able to access the Castel Sant Angelo, the Capitoline Museums and the Colosseum through a special window. That means saving a considerable amount of waiting time that without the tourist card (unless the tourist attraction in question allows online booking in advance to avoid queues, as is the case with the Colosseum) you would have to do.
Monuments and museums you want to visit
You'll get the most out of your Rome City Pass when you want to visit several attractions that require entrance fees; if this is not your case and your plan is to just wander the streets of the city, you may not need the pass. If you are interested in visiting any attraction(s), calculate their price separately and compare it to the price of the Rome Pass.
Getting around Rome
The Roma Pass includes free travel on the metro and city buses (which, by the way, are not free, although you may sometimes think they are, as they have a different ticket validation system to other European cities). If you're staying in the centre of Rome and can get around on foot, or if you're renting a motorbike during your stay and not using public transport, this is one advantage of the City Pass that you'll miss out on.
Ana's Traveller Tip
Before visiting any place in Rome always check if they have discounts with the Roma Pass and if you have preferential access because you have the card. More than once you will be pleasantly surprised.
How does the Roma Pass work?
If you purchase your Roma Pass online you will receive instructions on where you can collect your Roma Pass once you are in Rome with the voucher that will be sent to you after your purchase. Some of these points are:
- The museums and sites included in the card.
- APT tourist information points (also available at airports).
- Several metro stations.
Once you pick up the card, you must fill it in with your personal details and the date of use on which you will activate it. At tourist attractions you will be asked to present the card along with your ID, at metro stations there is a screen that will read the code on the card, and on the bus you just need to carry it on your person.
The Roma Pass will be activated the first time you use it (if you arrive in Rome in the afternoon and want to pick it up at the airport, it is not worth using it only for the metro as you will lose hours of use) and remember that at many tourist attractions you will not have to queue at the entrance because you are a Roma Pass holder.
Ana's Traveller Tip
If you are visiting the Colosseum, there is a queue at the entrance reserved for Roma Pass holders.
Organise your trip with the Roma Pass
The Roma Pass will make things much easier for you during your visit to Rome, but apart from that I am going to give you some tips to make the most of it (remember you only have 48 or 72 hours to make the most of it). Before activating your Roma Pass you should consider the following:
Opening times of the attractions
Check the opening times and days of all the tourist attractions you want to visit. The Colosseum is open all year round, but on Mondays in Rome most museums are closed and some may also be closed on public holidays. Make sure you don't activate your card on a Monday morning if you want to use it to access the Capitoline Museums or visit Castel Sant'Angelo because you will find them closed and you will have wasted valuable time on your card.
Plan your visits in advance
The aim is that you will be able to see most of the sites that require entrance tickets during the time you have the Roma Pass, so it is important that you decide the order in which you are going to see the museums according to their opening hours. Bear in mind that visiting the Colosseum and the Roman Forum will require a full morning. Most museums close at 19:30 in Rome.
Check how long it takes to get from one attraction to another
Most places in Rome are accessible on foot, but some, such as Villa Borghese or the Vatican City, are more remote and can take longer to reach.
If you are travelling with children
If you are travelling with children it is not advisable to get the Roma Pass for them as they will get free entry to most of the tourist sites in the city. In fact, I would recommend that you don't get it for yourself in this case either as if you want to make the most of it going from place to place the kids might not be able to keep up with the pace.
About public transport in Rome
The Roma Pass includes public transport free of charge, but be aware that waiting times for the bus in Rome can be long, so if you can walk from one place to another I would recommend it. Therefore, it is best to organise visits to monuments or museums within the same area.
What other tourist passes are there to visit Rome?
So far I have told you about the advantages of the Roma Pass, as it is one of the main passes in the city. However, you will have seen that there are areas of the Vatican such as the Vatican Museums that are not included: for them there is the Omnia Card. This card guarantees free and fast access to the Vatican Museums, preferential entrance with audio guide to St. Peter's Basilica and discounts in different Museums and areas of the Vatican.
Now you're wondering: "Which one should I choose? That's the best part: you don't have to choose because the Omnia Card includes the Roma Pass so you can spend two (or three) days in Rome and one day in the Vatican City area. Unless you have already visited the Vatican on a previous trip, this is definitely the option I recommend: combine both cards.
Anyway, I recommend you to read this other article I did on Rome Omnia Card to clear all your doubts if you still have them.
Rome City Pass
In addition to these two cards, there is another pass to visit Rome that can be considered the VIP option: the Rome City Pass. Unlike the previous ones, this tourist card will be valid during your entire stay in the city and it is a 100% digital card. It includes free admission to the Colosseum or the Borghese Gallery, the tourist bus, discounts on excursions and other points of interest, and for a supplement you can visit the Vatican Museums and hire an airport transfer.
The main advantage is the convenience and completeness of the conditions, the disadvantage is obviously the higher price compared to the Roma Pass and Omnia Card. If you can afford it, it's a useful option, but make sure you spend enough time in the city to get the most out of it.
If you're interested in the Roma Pass you'll also be interested in
If you have opted for the Roma Pass and you are going to visit the Colosseum, the Capitoline Museums, the Borghese Gallery and Castel Sant Angelo, you probably don't want to miss one of the main options not included in this city pass: the Vatican Museums. If using the Omnia Card together with the Roma Pass doesn't work for you, you can use your Roma Pass for all the included monuments and museums and then buy tickets for the Vatican on your own. I tell you how to do this in this article on Vatican Museum Tickets: how to buy, prices and discounts.
If you still prefer to buy the tickets separately, for example for the Colosseum, I leave you here a link to my article about the Colosseum and the Vatican. Rome Colosseum Tickets: how to buy, prices and schedules.
There is also the possibility of buying a combined ticket for the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums, which also includes a guided tour of both sites. You can find all the information here: How to Buy Tickets for the Colosseum and the Vatican.