If you're arriving to Rome by air, you're most likely touching down in Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO), Italy's biggest airport by the number of passengers and one of the busiest in Europe (although some airlines—especially budget airlines—fly into nearby Ciampino Airport). The airport is located outside of Rome in the town of Fiumicino, and you can choose from various options for getting to the city center. Rome stretches out over several neighborhoods, so the best method of transportation is whichever one gets you closest to your final destination.
Rome's metro doesn't make it out to the airport, but local trains do. The train is comfortable and affordable, not to mention the fastest way to travel into the city. If you want the least expensive option, the bus only takes about an hour but is less than half the price of the train. Taxis, on the other hand, are the most expensive, but they use a flat-rate fee from the airport so you can ride without worrying about the meter.
How to Get from Fiumicino Airport to Central Rome
- Train: 32 minutes, from $16 (quickest option)
- Bus: 1 hour, from $6 (cheapest option)
- Taxi: 35 minutes, from $54
The fastest way to get from Fiumicino Airport to Rome's city center is by the train, with two options depending on your final destination.
- Leonardo Express: This direct train is the fastest way to reach the center of Rome, and takes 32 minutes from the airport to the Roma Termini station. Termini is Rome's main transportation hub and from here, you can connect to both metro lines to the rest of the city as well as long-distance trains to other parts of the country. The cost is 14 euros for each direction, or about $16.
- Regional Train: The regional train isn't as fast as the Leonardo Express and doesn't go to Termini station, but the ticket is almost half the price. Plus, if you're staying outside of the historic city center, you may find the arrival options even more convenient than Termini. The regional train makes stops at Trastevere, Ostiense, and Tiburtina stations, all of which are easily connected to the rest of the city. Try to confirm with your accommodations which station is most accessible before arriving, because traveling downtown Rome can be a hassle, especially with luggage.
Both the Leonardo Express and regional trains run from about 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. and depart every 15 minutes. You can purchase tickets in advance through Trenitalia or buy them at the station in the airport upon arrival. Make sure you validate your ticket in one of the machines on the platform before getting on the train, otherwise it isn't valid and you may get fined.
The most budget-friendly option for getting from Fiumicino Airport into Rome is by taking the bus, and there are several private bus companies to choose from. Some of the most popular options include Terravision, SIT, and TAM, but all of them end at Roma Termini station and cost more or less the same. However, they do take different routes to Termini, in case you want to be dropped off in a different part of the city.
All bus companies charge bout $6–7 for a one-way trip or about $10–11 for a roundtrip ticket. Most of them offer a small discount if you purchase tickets in advance, also guaranteeing you a seat in case it's a full bus.
Depending on the company, route, and traffic, buses take about an hour to arrive at Termini station, or nearly twice as long as the train. But if you want to hold onto your euros for gelato instead of train rides, the bus is an easy solution and much more affordable.
Roman taxis, unfortunately, don't have the greatest reputation. Cab drivers are known to run up the meter so unaware visitors end up paying more, and even with an honest taxi driver, the meter will probably be run up regardless because of Rome's perpetual traffic. Romans love to drive, and the city's layout makes it especially susceptible to binding gridlock.
The good news is that a taxi ride from Fiumicino Airport to anywhere in the city center costs 48 euros, or about $54, for up to four passengers with luggage. You don't need to worry about the meter or getting stuck in traffic, and if a driver tries to charge you more, you should refuse to pay it. To avoid any problems later, confirm the price with the driver before getting in the car.
What to See in Rome
It's easy to feel overwhelmed when arriving in Rome. Between the open-air markets, ancient ruins, Renaissance monuments, and infinite churches, it's hard to know where to begin. A walking tour may be the best place to start, so you can complement your sightseeing with pieces of Rome's millennia of history. It's one thing to see the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, or the Pantheon, but it's entirely another to hear stories and learn about their consequential—and often gory—pasts. Jump forward about 1,500 years with visits to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, both of which are nearby the charming Monti neighborhood with its cobblestone streets and ivy-covered buildings. Religious or not, the Vatican and St. Peter's Square are worth a visit for the architecture, history, and art (make sure to pre-purchase tickets to visit the Sistine Chapel and see Michaelangelo's most famous fresco, "The Last Judgment"). You will definitely work up an appetite with all of the walking, so replenish your energy often with lots of pizza, pasta, and gelato to keep you going.