Buses are the most widespread network of public transportation in Rome – if you want to explore the city beyond the center or give your feet a rest, chances are you’ll have to familiarise yourself with them.
They cover the whole city from 05.30 to 24.00. From midnight, there are night buses which run less frequently but cover the main areas of the city.
Here’s a full breakdown of using buses in Rome.
Types of Buses
Most of the buses you see in Rome will be local buses. They ferry people around the city from early in the morning until late at night and are normally filled with a mixture of locals and tourists in the city center.
Hop-On Hop-Off Buses
Every major, tourist-friendly city in Europe has these buses. They’re often open-top double-deckers inspired by the famous red buses of London.
They circle around the major tourist sites of the city, allowing passengers to hop on and hop-off at their convenience. You can do a full circle just to see the sights or get off at the stops you want to see a little closer.
There’s no limit to the number of times you can use the buses within operating hours (usually between 8.30 am and 19.00), which makes them useful for getting around the city.
There are several hop-on hop-off bus operators in Rome, and they usually work on a day or multi-day pass basis. You could choose to use the buses for one day only, but they are often more cost-effective over multiple days. Some may even offer the option of simply doing a single circuit of the city without getting off the bus.
Stops for hop-on, hop-off buses in Rome typically include:
- Termini Station
- The Colosseum
- Circus Maximus
- Trevi Fountain
- Piazza Venezia (Pantheon, Capitoline Museums)
- Spanish Steps
When the metro and trams grind to a halt, the night buses provide a way to get around the city on a budget. While the service is limited to a handful of lines, it’s a valuable service for late-night revelers in the center – buses depart from Piazza Venezia every 30 minutes.
Check on a route planner beforehand so you know where you’re going; especially if you’ve been drinking. Unlike the normal day buses, you can purchase tickets onboard these services.
While not a different bus type altogether, you may notice that some of the buses in Rome run a little quieter than others. Plans are in place to slowly remove polluting buses from the city altogether (replaced with hybrid models).
There is a long way to go until they reach that goal, but there are a few lines already running with electric minibusses. Lines 100, 117, and 119 use electric minibusses, making them a greener choice for visitors.
Using the Buses
Getting on a Bus
You’ve decided to travel by bus to Rome, and you’ll need a ticket. You can either buy a ticket before you get on a bus, or you can use the machine at the front of the bus to pay by contactless card/wearable. Drivers don’t sell tickets, and the machines don’t take cash.
If you arrive with your ticket, you’ll need to validate it when you get on. Look for the yellow or blue machine at the back of the back and hold your ticket or pass against the circle at the front until it beeps.
The bus will have the number or letter of the route and the destination on the front. The display on the latest generation of buses alternates between the destination and the number of spaces available inside (based on tickets validated). If there is no number or letter or says deposito, then the bus isn’t currently active.
A bus heading back to the depot has deposito on the front
If you don’t validate your ticket or pass, you could be in trouble with the ticket inspectors. The city is clamping down on ticket evasion, so it’s not unusual to meet groups of ticket inspectors on the buses. They wait at a stop and get on the bus together, blocking all 3 doors and preventing anyone from leaving without showing their ticket.
The inspector will scan your ticket to check that it has been validated. If your ticket is not valid, or you don’t have one, you will receive a fine. Fines can be paid immediately by credit card or within 6 days on the website. If they are not paid in that time, the amount doubles.
Getting off the Bus
When you reach your destination, press the stop button to request the next stop. You should get off at the central door (though, in reality, this rule isn’t much respected).
How to Buy Bus Tickets
All transport in Rome works with the same tickets. You can buy a ticket for each journey (one ticket is valid for 100 minutes), or a multiday ticket to cover all your days in Rome.
There are many places you can buy a single ticket:
- on the bus with a contactless card or wearable tech by holding your card/device up to the symbol until it beeps. You will be charged €2 for a 100-minute ticket.
If you change onto another bus, tram, or metro within that time, you should repeat the process. You won’t be charged the second time, but your journey will be validated in case an inspector checks your card. These machines are located at the front of the bus.
A Tap&Go machine on a bus for buying a single ticket
- at a tobacconist (shops with a big white T outside)
- at a newsagent
- from the red machines inside metro stations
- many hotels sell bus tickets at the reception desk
- with an app like MooneyGo, TicketAppy or DropTicket
If you are staying for a few days, I suggest getting a multi day ticket. They are available for 1, 2, 3 and 7 days and will allow you to take as many buses, trams and metros as you wish. More importantly, it takes all the stress out of buying tickets for each ride.
You can buy these passes from:
- the red machines metro stations
- ticket offices at Spagna, Lepanto, Ottaviano (line A), Piramide (line B), Termini
You just need to remember to validate your ticket for each ride.
The machine for validating tickets is yellow and located near the back door of the bus. Hold your card in front of the circle until you hear the machine beep.
A sign explains the difference between the 2 different machines you’ll find on the buses
|Type of Ticket
|1 day (24 hours)
|2 day (48 hours)
|3 days (72 hours)
|1 calendar month
Children under 10 years of age can travel for free when accompanied by a paying adult.
There are no student or senior discounted rates on tickets valid for less than 1 month.
How to Read the Bus Signs
A bus stop sign at Termini Station
At the top of the sign, you’ll see a letter:
- U = urbana (daytime routes)
- N = notturna (night buses)
- X = express (don’t stop at every stop)
Sometimes next to the U is the word feriale (weekdays) or festivi (holidays). This means that the bus only runs on certain days.
Under the stops, you’ll see the days and times the bus runs.
Here’s how to understand the days on bus stop signs:
- lun: Monday
- mar: Tuesday
- mer: Wednesday
- gio: Thursday
- ven: Friday
- sat: Saturday
- dom: Sunday
Many bus stops in the city center now have electronic signs as well. These tell you how long you’ll have to wait for the bus and the order in which they will arrive at the stop.
Useful Bus Stops
Many buses start in the square outside the central train station, which is also known as Piazza dei Cinquecento. Leaving the station, you’ll see lots of buses lined up with the signs on the right hand side.
Sign for the bus terminal at Termini
Buses which pass through Piazza dei Cinquecento but don’t start here, including the metro replacement buses, stop on the left between the road and the metro entrance.
The view from the stop for buses passing through Termini
Larger than it first appears, this central square has bus stops at various different points. Here are a few important things to know when trying to find the bus you want:
- Buses that go to the Colosseum, stop in front of Palazzo Venezia.
- Buses for the Vatican stop on the other side of the Palazzo, on Via del Plebiscito.
- Buses for Termini stop just outside the square on Via Cesare Battisti (opposite the Tiger store)
Bus lines around Piazza Venezia
There are 2 major bus stops here. At the one outside Feltrinelli bookstore you’ll find buses going towards the Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo, while for buses for Termini, Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum, you should wait on the opposite corner of the square, facing the temples.
It’s easy to step off the metro here and straight on to a bus if you want to go to Piazza Venezia, Via del Corso or the Vatican. On the other side of the street, you’ll find buses for San Giovanni and Trastevere. But, not on Sundays. On Sundays, the whole of Via dei Fori Imperiali is closed to traffic and the buses take a different route.
The Train Stations
Termini (also called Piazza Cinquecento), Trastevere, Ostiense (Piazza Partigiani), Tiburtina and Tuscolana.
The train stations are capolinea – the beginning or the end of the line – for many buses. You can often find buses waiting outside to leave, so you can grab a seat and not worry about when the next one will pass.
Buses outside Trastevere Station
Useful Bus Lines (And Where They Take You)
|Passing right through the center, this express bus goes from Termini to the Vatican and will get you close to many of the major attractions, including Piazza Venezia, Largo Argentina, Campo dè Fiori, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s.
|This bus connects the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain. It starts from San Giovanni where you can get on metro lines A and C.
|This bus takes the same route as the 40, but takes longer as it stops at every stop along the way.
|Connecting Termini and Lepanto (metro A), this bus will take you to Piazza Venezia, Largo Argentina, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and Piazza Cavour (close to the Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo).
|This line follows part of Metro Line B, starting from Termini and stopping at the Colosseum, Circus Maximus and Piramide before heading to Testaccio and Trastevere. These areas are popular, especially in the evening, for their many bars and restaurants.
|Like Line 51, you can use this bus to switch from Metro A/C to Metro B, while avoiding Termini. It starts at San Giovanni, goes to the Colosseum, the Circus Maximus, Piazza Venezia, Largo Argentina, Piazza Navona, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican.
|You can use this line to get from the Colosseum to the Vatican.
|Pick up this line at the Colosseum or Circus Maximus metro stops to go to Appia Antica where you’ll find the Catacombs of San Callisto and Catacombs of San Sebastiano.
|If you are going to Appia Antica from Metro Line A, this bus will take you there from San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John Lateran)
|Starting from Tiburtina train station (metro B), this route can get you to the San Lorenzo neighborhood where the main campus of La Sapienza is located. The area has a relaxed atmosphere and lots of places to eat and drink, especially in the evening. The bus also passes Galleria Barberini, the Trevi Fountain, Largo Argentina, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the Vatican.
|The H bus is a popular line from Termini to Trastevere Station. It’s frequently crowded so if you want to go to Trastevere or the station, it can be more comfortable to change to the 8 tram at Largo Argentina.
The no.40 bus stops just outside Piazza Venezia
These 3 lines are small electric buses that are really handy to know about when you want to move around the center. They follow short loops, zipping around the narrow streets of the city center to places regular buses can’t reach.
|This line starts at Porta Pinciana/Villa Borghese and crosses the river to Piazza Cavour. It also passes Piazza Barberini, the Trevi Fountain, Via del Corso, Piazza Venezia and Largo Argentina.
|You’ll find this bus waiting at the corner of Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, it passes the Colosseum, the Monti neighborhood and the Trevi Fountain.
|Starting and ending at Piazza Venezia, this bus will take you down Via del Corso, close to the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo. On its way back it takes a slightly different route, passed the Mausoleum of Augustus before returning to Via del Corso.
bus 100 passing in front of the Capitoline Museums on the side of Piazza Venezia
There are audio and visual announcements for the next stop before you arrive. The messages on the buses are only in Italian and begin with ‘la prossima fermata’, meaning the next stop.
Wheelchairs should enter through the double doors at the center of the bus where there is a boarding platform. Opposite this entrance is a space for wheelchairs with a dedicated stop button so the driver understands when you want to get off.
Tips for Tourists
The unspoken rules for bus etiquette are much the same in Rome as they are elsewhere.
Wait for everyone to get off the bus (if you’re at the same door) before you get on, give up your seat to elderly, disabled, or heavily pregnant passengers and keep your voice down. Just be respectful of others.
A few other tips:
- Leave earlier than planned as the buses are notoriously unreliable – you don’t want to be catching the bus that gets you there just in time. Give yourself a bit of a time cushion to be safe.
- Know your route and how many stops before you get on, so you don’t have to stress if you lose connection to the internet.
- As we mentioned earlier, make sure valuables are stored safely, and never forget to validate your ticket.
All the big tourist sights are easily reachable by bus, including:
- The Colosseum
- Trevi Fountain
- Vatican City
- Spanish Steps
- The Pantheon
For a single journey, 100-minute ticket, you will only need to spend €2.
Buses in Rome are not free. You can purchase passes that allow unlimited travel on buses within a set time period, but you will otherwise need to validate a ticket each time you catch a bus.
Yes, you can pay on the bus with a contactless card or wearable tech by holding your card/device up to the symbol until it beeps. You will be charged €2 for a 100-minute ticket.
Buses are easy to use if you take advantage of the many journey planners available online. Once you know where your bus stop is and when the bus is (roughly) due to arrive, you’ll find the rest a breeze.