Every traveller wants to feel free to explore their destination, soak up its culture, get to know its corners, its stories... But to do this, you have to plan and do the maths and the Roma Pass tourist card can be a great help. Here's why.
1. 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 getting the most out 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.
In general, the price of a tourist card can be calculated in two ways: by the number of days you use it or by the number of tourist attractions you visit with it. The Roma Pass is the former: its price depends on the number of days you use it for.
2. Types of Roma Pass
Rome Pass 2 days
It is valid for 48 hours after its first use and includes free entry to one of the monuments or museums included in its catalogue and a 20% discount on the rest of the tourist attractions in the same.
Rome Pass 3 days
It is valid for 72 hours after its first use and includes free entry to two monuments or museums included in its catalogue and 20% discount on the rest of the tourist attractions in the same.
3. When is the Roma Pass worth buying?
The big question on your mind is when it pays to buy a Rome tourist card and when it doesn't. I myself, when planning a trip, always sit down to gather information about Rome tourist cards to answer the same question. Myself, when planning a trip, I 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 leisure) it might 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 already have 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 of the Colosseum) you would have to do.
Monuments and museums you want to visit
You'll get your money's worth with the Rome City Pass when you want to visit several attractions that require admission; if you don't 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.
How you will get 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 than in other European cities). If you are staying in the centre of Rome and can get around on foot, or if you are renting a motorbike during your stay and will not be using public transport, this is one advantage of the City Pass that you will 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 for having the card. More than once you'll be pleasantly surprised.
4. What's included in the Roma Pass?
- Free entry to 1 museum if you choose the 48 hour pass and 2 if you choose the 72 hour pass. Admission to the Vatican Museums is not included.
- 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 skip-the-line 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.
5. Attractions included in the Roma Pass
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 about Colosseum Tours and Colosseum Tickets and Tours.
The Vatican Museums are often overlooked by visitors to Rome in favour of the Vatican Museums, which is a big mistake. These museums on 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.
Its interior contains essential works such as the Capitoline She-wolf, the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, Bernini's Medusa, the Colossus of Constantine and the Wounded Galata. In addition to the works contained inside, the majesty of the rooms themselves is worth a visit.
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.
The diversity of its rooms, the views of the city that can be enjoyed from the upper terrace, the museum it houses inside, the corridors of the mausoleum and the labyrinth of rooms that make it up make it a must-see for all those who want to discover Rome beyond the Colosseum and the Vatican. 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. I recommend that you also use the reduced rate here as, depending on the time of year, you can go from paying 15 euros to just 4. If you are thinking of visiting the Borghese Gallery, I recommend this article I wrote about it: Borghese Gardens and Gallery Tours & Tickets.
Other museums or places of interest
On the official Roma Pass website you can check out the other points of interest that you can visit with this card, but I can tell you that other museums and monuments included are:
- Ara Pacis Museum
- Palazzo Barberini
- Baths of Caracalla
- Trajan's Market
- National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia
- Baths of Diocletian
- Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
- Altemps Palace
- Balbi Crypt
- National Gallery of Modern Art of Rome
- Palazzo Venezia
- Spada Gallery
- Museum of Rome
6. How does the Roma Pass work?
If you purchase your Roma Pass online you will receive instructions on where to pick it up 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 with you.
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 because you will lose hours of use) and remember that at many tourist attractions you will not have to queue at the entrance because you own this card.
Ana's Traveller Tip
If you are visiting the Colosseum, there is a queue at the entrance reserved for card holders.
7. 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 that you only have 48 or 72 hours to make the most of it). Before activating your Roma Pass card you should take into account:
Opening times of the attractions
Look at 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 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 to see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum you will need a whole morning. Most museums usually close at 19:30 in Rome.
Check how long it takes to get from one attraction to the next
Most places in Rome are accessible on foot, but there are some, such as Villa Borghese or the Vatican City, which 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 by 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 warned 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. It is best to organise visits to monuments or museums within the same area.
8. What other sightseeing passes are available 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 another card, 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: combining both cards.
However, I recommend you read this other article I did on Omnia Card to clear up any doubts you may still have.
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 book 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 make the most of it.
9. If you are interested in the Rome Pass you will also be interested in
If you've opted for the Roma Pass and you're 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 it in this article on Vatican Museum Tickets.
If you still prefer to buy the tickets separately, for example for the Colosseum, I leave you a link to my article on Colosseum Tickets and Tours here.
There is also the possibility of buying a combined ticket for the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums, which also includes a guided visit to both places. You can find all the information here: How to buy tickets for the Colosseum and the Vatican.
Frequently asked questions
What types of tourist passes are available in Rome?
Considering how much there is to see in Rome, there are at least 5 different tourist passes to choose from, which usually include skip-the-line entry and discounts at some of Rome's tourist attractions. The passes are the Omnia Vatican and Rome Card, Rome Pass, Rome Turbopass, Rome City Pass and Rome Sightseeing Bus.
Which tourist pass should I buy?
The most popular passes are the Rome City Pass, the Rome Pass, the Omnia Vaticano and the Rome Card. If you're not planning to visit the Vatican, the Rome Pass is the 'official' tourist pass and offers unlimited free use of public transport, is perfect for museum and archaeology buffs, and can be purchased to cover 2 or 3 days.
Which City Pass is the best way to visit the Vatican?
The Omnia Vatican and Rome Card includes skip-the-line entry to the main attractions and unlimited Hop-on Hop-off bus transport for 3 days. The card focuses mainly on Vatican City. If you are spending more than 3 days in Rome, the Rome City Pass will give you more freedom to visit Rome and the Vatican at your own pace, as it offers you options between 1 and 7 days and unlimited use of the Hop-on Hop-off.