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How to Navigate Public Transportation in Rome

If you plan on traveling to Rome this summer you may be interested in utilizing public transportation and saving some euros for that extra gelato. The informed traveler can visit just about every notable landmark in this historic center of the Eternal City just by using Rome’s ATAC public transport system. 

As much as Rome lends itself to public transportation, the system is not very intuitive. This is where America Domani can come in to offer insider tips ensuring you have a smooth experience. 

The Roman ATAC transportation system is made up of three methods of transit: trains, metros, and trams. Fortunately, each of these accepts the same type of ticket. The ticket type that you should purchase is largely dependent on how frequently you will be traveling while you are in Rome. Depending on the duration of your stay, you have a few options to consider:

Single-use tickets are valid for 100 minutes for €1.50

24-hour ticket for €7.00 (unlimited rides within 24 hours of activation)

48-hour ticket for €12.50 (unlimited rides within 48 hours of activation)

72-hour ticket for €18.00 (unlimited rides within 72 hours of activation)

Weekly card for €24.00 (unlimited rides within a week of activation)

You can purchase tickets at ATAC metro stations, tabaccherie (tobacco/convenience stores), and even some grocery stores. 

Ticket validation varies depending on what form of transport you are using. For buses and trams, there are yellow ticket readers that you must insert your ticket into that will print a label on when they expire. Pro tip: don’t try getting away without validating your ticket or else you will receive a fine. For using the metro, you must insert a ticket into a reader inside the subway; upon validation, the gate will open and allow you to proceed to the metro terminal. 

Relative to ATAC metros and trams, ATAC buses are the most difficult to utilize, especially for people that are familiar with public transportation in the United States. While Google and Apple Maps are great for locating bus stops and planning routes, be prepared for the buses to arrive much later than the GPS apps’ estimated time of arrival.

While you are waiting at the bus stop, we recommend that you keep an eye out for the bus’ arrival. This is the point where many tourists go wrong: once you see the bus pulling up to the designated pickup stop, make eye contact with the driver and wave at them (yes, like a crazy person) to signal a stop while stepping towards the bus. If you do not flag down the driver as such, they will not pull over at your pickup stop. You will be left high and dry and no one wants to be stranded on vacation. 

Extra tips for using ATAC public transportation:

  • Always validate your ticket upon entry
  • Fines for fare avoidance and invalid tickets can reach exceed €100.00
  • If you need to pay a fine, save your receipt and take a photo of it
  • Always carry at least one spare single-use ticket, even if you think your multi-use pass is still valid.
  • ATAC ticket inspectors ramp up surveillance at the beginning of every month
  • Do not dispose of your validated voucher until it expires

Eric Gotsch

Eric Gotsch is a writing intern that is a rising senior at Loyola University Chicago where he has a double major in Italian Studies and Political Science. Eric studied abroad in Rome for his Fall 2023 semester while also interning at Il Centro Studi Americani, an Italian-American international relations think-tank. For fun, Eric likes to exercise, practice Italian, and bake focaccia.