Hop on hop off city tours offer a quick overview of Rome’s center. Glide through Rome in an open double decker.
The open-top bus ride is like a convertible ride through Rome. It is a great way for Rome newbies to see some of Rome’s countless sights and get their bearings in the city. But also experienced Rome – visitors like to post videos of their trips.
In 2023, there’s an important new feature: three of the six providers have joined forces and recognize each other’s tickets, allowing you to get off and back on at any stop. This offers a previously unknown flexibility and quality of service. The distances between buses are significantly shortened, even and especially outside the peak season.
All lines offer explanations in different languages and apps about the sights at the stops.
The three providers that mutually recognize tickets for multiple boarding and alighting are City Sightseeing, Big Bus and Vatican & Rome.
City Sightseeing (red) serves the 8 standard stops.
The Vatican & Rome pilgrimage line (yellow) serves the 8 standard stops and 3 additional stops.
Big Bus (brown), the tickets Standard, Premium and Deluxe differ by the validity period 24/48/72 hours
The other three providers are Greenline, which also goes to Eataly, and Gray Line and Itabus.
Green Line offers buses also with a stop at the gastronomic temple Eataly at Ostiense station and a night tour to Eataly. At Eataly you can buy food from all over Italy and there are restaurants and stalls to eat at.
Gray Line (pink), offers different options from single ride without disembarkation to multi-day tickets
IOBUS, offers 24h, 48h and 72h tickets
All operators serve the same 8 stops within the city walls. The yellow line Vatican & Rome goes to 3 more stops, Green Line also goes to Eataly.
The 8 stops are:
1. Termini Central Station
The station is the central hub for public transportation. Metro lines A and B cross here and there is a large bus station. The hop on hop off buses have different departure points:
- City Sightseeing: Terminal A at Via Marsala, 7 on the left side from the train station and Terminal B at Largo di Villa Peretti, 1, on the right side of the train station behind Piazza dei Cinquecento.
- Vatican & Rome: Terminal Piazza dei Cinquecento, to the right of the train station
- Big Bus: Terminal Piazza dei Cinquecento
- Green Line: Standard line from Piazza dei Cinquecento terminal, Eataly line from Viale Enrico de Nicola, opposite the train station
- Gray Line: Terminal B at Largo di Villa Peretti, 1
- IOBUS: Terminal A at Via Marsala, 7
Sights in the area include the Baths of Diocletian and Palazzo Massimo. Both are part of the Roman National Museums. The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, which is open to the public, is built into the former frigidarium of the Baths, and the semicircle of the former esedra can be seen on the buildings of the elegant Piazza della Repubblica.
2. Santa Maria Maggiore
The 4th century basilica is one of the most important basilicas in Rome. It is one of the four papal basilicas. The picturesque Monti district also begins here.
The stop is located in the valley between Palatine Hill and Caelius Hill. Right next to the stop there is an entrance to the archaeological park and the Colosseum is not far.
4. Circus Maximus
Not much is left of the Circus Maximus. Today, large concerts and other events are held here. To the left rises the Aventine with the Rose Garden and the Orange Garden, a romantic viewpoint. A little further down towards the Tiber is the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin with the famous Bocca della Verità.
5. Piazza Venezia
The stop is in Via del Teatro di Marcello in front of the wide staircase that leads to the Capitol. A steeper staircase leads to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli and behind it is the Vittoriano. On the left side of the stop is the Ghetto.
6. Castel Sant’Angelo
The stop at the Bridge Sant’Angelo is a central point. Cross the bridge to Castel Sant’Angelo and continue to St. Peter’s Basilica. Through Via dei Coronari you get to Piazza Navona and further to the center.
7. Via Ludovisi
The stop is located above the Spanish Steps. Near the stop is the fashionable Via Veneto, meeting place of great artists in the times of the dolce vita.
8. Piazza Barberini
The square is located at the upper end of the Campus Martius. From here the whole Campus Martius is in front of you. To the right is the Spanish Square with the Spanish Steps and on to Piazza del Popolo, straight ahead is the Trevi Fountain, Via del Corso and the Pantheon. The area is full of monuments and museums.
Additional stops of the yellow line
The yellow line continues after the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to the Basilica of San Giovanni and from there to the Colosseum. Between Piazza Venezia and Castel Sant’Angelo there are two additional stops. One is at Largo Argentina in the middle of Campus Martius between Pantheon, Ghetto, Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona. The other is at Chiesa Nuova in the picturesque neighborhood behind Piazza Navona.
Additional stops of the Green Line
Some of the Green Line buses go to the Eataly delicatessen temple. It is located at the back of Ostiense station. On the way there, the bus stops at the Pyramid on the edge of the Testaccio gourmet district.
Very interesting is the offer of City Sightseeing, Vatican & Rome and Big Bus to use all buses. In the season, the buses of the different providers leave with an interval of between 10 and 25 minutes, off-season in intervals of 25 to 50 minutes. So, with this offer, in season there is a bus every 5-10 minutes and in off-season in 10-15 minutes.
For a better overview we have compiled this map with the position of all current stops:
Big bus with catacombs and Rome at night
The Big Bus open buses are brown. Children under 5 years are free, between 5 and 15 years they pay about one third less.
Big Bus offers three lines:
The red line – This line goes to the usual 8 stations: Termini – Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore – Colosseum – Circus Maximus – Piazza Venezia – Sant’Angelo Bridge – via Ludovisi above the Spanish Steps – Barberini. The buses run Friday – Sunday every 25 minutes from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Not currently active: The purple line – this line has a total of 10 stations: Termini – Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore – Colosseum, then it goes to the Park of the Appia: Porta San Sebastiano – Basilica and Catacombs of St. Sebastian – Caffarella – Quo Vadis park office and back to the city: Baths of Caracalla – Circus Maximus – Piazza Venezia and back to Termini. The buses run every hour from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. After 44 minutes you are at the catacombs. The last return trip is at 5:44 p.m.
Not currently active: Rome Hop on hop off at night – This line travels through the city on the route of the red line, without stopping. Departure at 8.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. from Termini Central Station
The most important tickets from Big Bus are:
Classic Ticket: Only for the red line 1 day
Premium Ticket: For the red and the violet line 2 days – with this combination you can also reach the baths of Caracalla and the catacombs in the park of the Appia Antica
Deluxe Ticket: For the red and the purple line 3 days + night tour
Free walking tours are included with all three tickets. You get digitized tours in 7 languages:
- Imperial Rome
- Secret Rome
- Squares and fountains
- La Dolce Vita
Is Hop on Hop off Rome worthwhile?
Opinions differ widely on the usefulness of the hop on hop off buses in Rome.
Some complain that the buses are quite long at the stops and the entire round takes 90 minutes. In addition, you can not get directly into the center to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. For quick transportation, public transportation is faster.
Others are quite enthusiastic about the hop on hop off buses because in 90 minutes you get a first overview of the city center and pass many sights that you wouldn’t have time to visit anyway. Besides, it is an indescribable feeling to ride in an open bus and to be able to take pictures without disturbing windows.
True, the buses are no longer allowed to drive through the Corso, but the drive through Villa Borghese is also very picturesque. And while you have to explore the center on foot anyway, you get the big picture with the hop on hop off buses.
Our recommendation is to do a first round of hop on hop off to get to know the city center. Hop on hop off can also be useful to break up long walks without having to rely on the often crowded and unsafe public transportation. For example, you can get off at Piazza Venezia, walk through the ghetto and on to Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Navona, and hop back on at Chiesa Nuova or Castel Sant’Angelo. For information on popular routes on foot, see our article on Rome city center.