Every traveler seeks freedom when exploring a destination: freedom to fully immerse in its culture, discover its hidden corners, learn their stories... But first, you have to plan and create an itinerary and, for this, the Roma Pass tourist card can be of great help. Here's why.
1. What is the Roma Pass and how much does it cost?
When visiting Rome, you can get the Roma Pass, which allows travelers to save time and money during their visit; two very precious commodities when it comes to making the most of a trip. Here's a guide on when and how to use it, as well as a couple tips that will help you decide if it's the best option for you depending on what you want to discover about the city.
The price of the tourist cards, in general, depends on the type of the pass: by the number of days you use it or by the number of tourist attractions you visit with it. The Roma Pass is a pass by days, which means that its price depends on the number of days you use it for.
2. Types of Roma Pass
Roma Pass - 2 days
It is valid for 48 hours after its first use and includes free admission to one monument or museum of those included in its catalog and a 20% discount on the rest of the tourist attractions of the same.
Roma Pass - 3 days
It is valid for 72 hours after its first use and includes free admission to two monuments or museums of those included in its catalog and a 20% discount on the rest of the tourist attractions of the same.
3. When is it worth buying the Roma Pass?
The big question here is when it is worth buying the Rome sightseeing card and when it is not. 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 skip this step, I'm going to give you all the information you need to decide whether or not to purchase the Roma Pass. Here's what you need to consider:
Number of days you will stay in Rome
The Roma Pass can be purchased with a maximum duration of three days, so if you are planning to see the city in a shortened time it will be very useful, but if you are going to be, for example, 10 days in Rome (unless you dedicate the first few days to do all the sightseeing and then walk around the city at your leisure) it may not be worth it because you can only use it during part of your visit.
Discounts to which you are entitled 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 that 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
The beneficiaries of a Roma Pass card will be able to use separate access to the Castel Sant Angelo, the Capitoline Museums, and the Colosseum. That means saving a more than considerable waiting time compared to visiting these landmarks without the tourist card (unless you can get your tickets online, as is the case of the Colosseum).
Monuments and museums you want to visit
You will make the most of the Rome City Pass by visiting several attractions that require an entrance ticket; if this is not your case and your plan is to mostly walk the streets of the city, you may not need the pass. If you are interested in visiting any attraction(s), calculate the price of their tickets separately and compare it with the price of the Rome Pass.
How are you going to move around Rome?
The Roma Pass includes free transportation on the metro and city buses (which, by the way, are not free, although sometimes it can give this impression, as they have a different ticket validation system than in other European cities). If you are staying in the center of Rome and can get around on foot or if you are renting a motorcycle during your stay and will not be using public transport, this will be 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 will be pleasantly surprised.
4. What is included in the Roma Pass?
- Free admission to 1 museum if you choose the 48 hours card and to 2 if you choose the 72 hours card. Admission to the Vatican Museums is not included.
- Reduced rate (minimum of 20% discount) on 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.
- Skip-the-line access to the Colosseum and other points of interest.
- Free access for the duration of the Roma Pass to all Rome public transport (metro and buses). Airport transfer and regional trains are not included.
- A map and guide of the main points of interest in Rome.
5. Attractions included in the Roma Pass
Colosseum, Forum of Rome and Palatine Hill
These are the three must-sees of the city for those interested in Ancient Rome (the Colosseum is the most visited monument in Rome together with the Vatican Museums). Admission to all three is combined in a single ticket, usually bought at the Colosseum, and if you want to know more about how to visit them independently, without the need to have the tourist card, you can read these other articles on Colosseum Tours and Colosseum Tickets and Tours.
They are often overlooked by visitors to Rome in pursuit of the Vatican Museums, which is a big mistake. These museums located 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.
Inside, there are essential works such as the Capitoline She-wolf, the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, Bernini's Medusa, the Colossus of Constantine, and the Dying Gaul. In addition to the works contained inside, the majesty of the rooms in itself is completely worth the visit.
Castel Sant Angelo
They call it "The Guardian of Rome" because it was the fortress that the Romans used to repel the constant sieges of the city. Although it was originally conceived as the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian, it has also served (in addition to being 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 that houses inside, the corridors of the mausoleum, and the maze of rooms that compose it make Castel Sant Angelo a must-visit for all those who want to discover Rome beyond the Colosseum and the Vatican. It is one of the points of interest in which the reduced rate is the most rewarding, as it can mean a discount of more than 70% over the usual price.
One of the most hidden treasures of Rome and probably one of the most enjoyable during your visit due to the low number of visitors compared to other tourist sites. The Borghese Gallery is one of the essential galleries of Rome and includes in its interior sculptures of exquisite beauty.
Another added value of this enclave is that it is located in a stunningly beautiful green area of Rome: the Villa Borghese Gardens. I recommend that you also use the reduced rate here because, depending on the time of year, you can go from paying 15 Euros to only 4. If you are thinking of visiting the Borghese Gallery, I recommend you to check out this article I wrote about it: Borghese Gardens and Gallery Tours & Tickets.
Other museums or places of interest
On the official website of the Roma Pass, you can check the rest of the points of interest that you can visit with this card, but here's a little spoiler of some of the other museums and monuments included:
- Ara Pacis Museum
- Palazzo Barberini
- Baths of Caracalla
- Trajan 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
- Venice Palace
- Spada Gallery
- Museum of Rome
How does the Roma Pass card work?
If you purchase your Roma Pass online you will receive instructions about the points where you can 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:
- Museums and places included in the card
- APT tourist information points (also available at airports)
- Several subway stations
Once you pick up the card, you must fill it in with your personal information and the first day of use or when you plan to activate it. In the tourist points you will be asked to present the card together with your ID, in the subway stations there is a screen that will read the code of this card and on the bus, you just have 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 in many tourist attractions you will not have to queue at the entrance just by owning the card.
Ana's Traveller Tip
If you are visiting the Colosseum, at the entrance there is a queue reserved for the Roma Pass cardholders.
7. Get organized for your trip with the Roma Pass card
The Roma Pass card 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).
This is what you should keep in mind before activating your Roma Pass card:
Opening hours of attractions
Check the opening hours 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 do not activate the 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 can see most of the sites that require entrance tickets during the time you enjoy the Roma Pass, so you must decide the order in which you are going to see the museums according to their opening hours. Keep in mind that to see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum you will need a whole morning. Most museums usually close at 7:30 p.m. in Rome.
Check how long it takes you to get from one attraction to another
In Rome, most places are accessible on foot, but there are some like Villa Borghese or the Vatican City that are farther away from the city center and can take longer to reach.
If you are traveling with children
If you are traveling with children you will not want 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 you not to buy it for yourself in this case either, as if you want to make the most of it the kids might not be able to keep up with the pace.
About public transportation in Rome
The Roma Pass includes public transportation for free, but let me tell you that in Rome the waiting times for the bus can be long, so if you can walk from one place to another I recommend it. Therefore, it is best to organize visits to monuments or museums that are within the same area.
8. 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 must have noticed 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 an audio guide to St. Peter's Basilica, and discounts in different Museums and areas of the Vatican.
Now you may ask yourself: "Which one do I have to 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 visiting 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.
Anyway, I recommend you to read this other article I made about Omnia Card to solve any other questions that 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 throughout your whole stay in the city and 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 bit of extra money, you can visit the Vatican Museums and hire the airport transfer.
The main upside is the convenience it brings and how complete it is, the downside is obviously the higher price compared to the Roma Pass and Omnia Card. If you can afford it, it is a very useful option, but make sure you are going to spend enough time in the city to make the most of it.
9. If you are interested in the Roma Pass you will 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 monuments and museums included and then buy tickets for the Vatican on your own. Learn how to do it in this article: Vatican Museum Tickets.
If you still prefer to buy the tickets separately, for example, for the Colosseum, here's my article about Colosseum Tickets and Tours.
There is also the possibility to buy a combined ticket for the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums, which also includes a guided tour of both sites. Find here all the information: How to buy tickets for the Colosseum and the Vatican.
Frequently asked questions
What kinds of city passes are available in Rome?
Considering how much there is to see in Rome, there are at least 5 different city passes to choose from, all of which tend to include "Skip the line" tickets and make visiting some of Rome's sites cheaper. The passes are Omnia Vatican and Rome Card, Roma Pass, Rome Turbopass, Rome City Pass and Bus Tours of Rome.
Which city pass should I get?
The most popular passes are the Rome City Pass, Roma Pass and the Omnia Vatican and Rome Card. If you aren't planning to visit the Vatican then the Roma Pass, as the "official" sightseeing pass, offers free unlimited use of public transport and is perfect for museum and archeology buffs, and can be bought to cover 2 or 3 days.
Which City Pass is best for visiting the Vatican?
The Omnia Vatican and Rome Card, includes Skip the Line entry and unlimited Hop-on Hop-off transport for 3 days, with the card focusing primarily on the Vatican City. If you are going to spend more than 3 days in Rome, the Rome City Pass gives you more freedom to visit Rome and the Vatican at your own pace, offering options between 1-7 days and you'll also have unlimited use of Hop-on Hop-off transport.