My sister and I spent a week in Rome and managed to use a lot of modes of transportation during our visit. Here is my takes on the options as well as some tips for Getting Around Rome!
By the end of our trip, we had using the subway down! This was by far the cheapest and most convenient way to travel around Rome. I should note though that the subway line is not that expansive, so if you want to use the subway be sure to book a hotel that is near a metro station.
If you have ever used the Washington DC metro, Rome’s is very similar but smaller. There are two lines in Rome, the red and blue line which meet at Roma Termini. If you need to switch lines, Roma Termini is where you do that. In terms of navigating the stations, just determine which direction you are headed and head to that platform. The stations have plenty of signs making navigation pretty simple.
The downfall to the subway is it is underground, so you do not have the benefit of seeing the city as you travel. Also, be prepared for many of the stations to be unmanned so there will not be people to ask questions. Thankfully the signs in station include tips like the tourist attractions served by the stop. Without the assistance, we managed to use the self-service kiosks which only sell tickets in increments of 24 hours so it was easy enough. The machines also take cash only, so be prepared for that.
While you may feel like a baller rolling up to the Colosseum in a black Mercedes, Uber is PRICEY. A trip that would take a few Euros via the bus or the subway could cost 30-40 Euros via Uber especially with surge pricing. There were times we had to use Uber because the area we were going was not covered by the subway or it was raining. The benefit of Uber though is it allows you to see the city while the subway has you underground. Another thing to keep in mind is uber requires you have an international phone plan while abroad!
In Paris, we traveled almost exclusively via taxis. There were taxis everywhere and conveniently located taxi stands as well. Rome was not set up this way. I saw maybe two taxi stands during my trip and really only saw taxis in touristy areas like near the Colosseum. So catching a taxi on the fly is complicated. On NYE, we opted for taxis when the subway stopped running. Similar to Uber, riding around the city allows you to see even more.
In addition to the subway there are also above ground trains and trolleys. I counted at least two train lines during our trip, but I think there may be more. We only rode the TrenItalia which is described as a regional train on the website. This was the train we took to Frascati which looked just like an East Coast commuter train. Trenitalia can also take you to further out cities like Naples. Just know that when you book you have to use the Italian names ex: Naples is Napoli.
The bus routes seemed to cover the area of Rome not covered by the subway. We managed to get around without using the buses, but this seemed like a popular method for locals and tourists alike. They also ran longer than the subways so another reason to use them.
Your Two Feet
We averaged between 5-6 miles a day in Rome, with my sister clocking 11 miles on one day alone. So while we did use the subways, we found walking to be another preferred method. The best part about walking? You get to see SO much as you walk and interact as you walk through the city. It also allowed us to justify all the food we ate.
Google Maps was a lifesaver in Rome! It actually has the metro and bus routes in the system and will provide you detailed instructions on how to navigate them. For example, there were times a route required use of the metro and then walk a few blocks to hop on a bus for the trip. The issue here is though you will need an international plan on your phone to do this. Wifi will not suffice if you need maps to be your guide.
The last thing I would do is rent a little Fiat and try to navigate the city of Rome on my own. All of those little cars buzz around the city so quickly that I imagine it would be incredibly overwhelming for an outsider! I also saw very few street lights which for Americans is weird. Drivers just kind of did what they wanted to do when it came to following street signs and parking.
Picking your modes of transportation will depend on your budget and the location of where you are staying. The good thing is there are PLENTY of safe ways to get around Rome for tourists. If you have been to Rome, how did you get around the city? Let me know about your experiences in the comments below!
For the rest of the Black Girls Who Brunch Guide to Rome start here.