The open bus ride is very impressive and you avoid the hustle and bustle of public buses. The most important lines run at regular intervals and you glide comfortably through the city, while others run off their shoe soles.
Routes and lines
There are five providers for the open hop on hop off Rome buses, which can basically be differentiated according to the color of the buses: red, yellow, green, pink and brown. The yellow line of the Roman pilgrimage works a slightly different route than the other lines and is particularly practical with numerous stops in the center.
Roma Cristiana Route · the yellow bus
It starts at Castel Sant’Angelo (Vatican) and offers stops on one of the main axes in the center, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, Piazza Navona / Campo de’ Fiori and Torre Argentina (Pantheon). For the Trevi Fountain you have to get off at SS. Apostoli. The Spanish Steps are further away from the yellow line stops. The line passes the President’s Palace, the Quirinal. The Quirinal was the seat of the popes in the area of the Vatican State. The next stops are Piazza della Repubblica, Termini and Santa Maria Maggiore. The yellow line is the only line to the Basilica St. John. The route continue to the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus, Piazza Venezia, Torre Argentina and back to Castel Sant’Angelo.
Big bus route and city sightseeing route
The other four providers travel to the same 8 stops within the city walls. The intervals are 15-30 minutes. The differences between these providers are small. The red Bus City Sightseeing and the brown Big Bus offer connections to the catacombs on the Appia Antica in high season.
- Departure: Termini central station
- Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore – Monti district
- Colosseum – Imperial Forums, Palatine Hill, Oppius Hill and Caelius Hill
- Circus Maximus – Aventine, Bocca della verità
- Piazza Venezia – Capitol, ghetto, city center
- Castel Sant’Angelo (Vatican) – Piazza Navona
- Ludovisi – Villa Borghese, Spanish Steps, Via Veneto
- Piazza Barberini – Trevi Fountain, bottom of the Spanish Steps, city center
Main differences between the lines:
With the yellow line you do not drive through the park of Villa Borghese and not to the stops Ludovisi and Barberini at the Spanish Steps. However, it offers stops in the center at Piazza Navona and at the Basilica of St. Johann. You also drive past the Quirinal Palace on the yellow line. Since the yellow line has more stops, the journey takes around 90 minutes. The yellow buses have free wifi on board.
With Big Bus you can book the option catacombs during the high season. Hop on hop off Rome night tours are run by Big Bus.
All stops of the different routes can be found on our hop on hop off Rome map.
Yellow: Roma Cristiana route
Green: Big bus route and Hop on hop off Rome night route (Big Bus), City Sightseeing route
Purple: Big Bus Catacombs route
The 5 best tickets
These are our favorites:
1. Travel card “Vatican & Rome” of the Roman pilgrimage for 24 or 72 hours, with which you can use the yellow Hop on hop off Rome buses and public transport. Tickets
2. The Omnia Card is the complete package for culture lovers. In addition to the Travel Card, it offers 72-hour priority entry to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, free priority entry to two Roman museums and some other services Tickets
3. The yellow line day ticket because this line has the most stops in the center. Tickets
4. The Big Bus Premium Ticket, because you can also use it to drive to the catacombs on the Appia Antica for two days. Tickets
5. The ticket of the red City Sightseeing Line. Tickets
The yellow line of the Roman pilgrimage
You can buy day tickets for the yellow line. Very interesting are also the combo tickets:
Travel Card Vatican & Rome – Metro Card: The Travel Card Vatican & Rome offers you maximum flexibility because you can use the yellow buses and public transport for 24 or 72 hours. For example, you can use public transport to get to your accommodation, the St. Paul Basilica and the catacombs, and in the center you can use the yellow hop on hop off buses.
Omnia Card: The complete package includes the Omnia Card: 72 hours hop on hop off + public transport, Vatican Museums, preferred entry to St. Peter’s Basilica and two Roman museums. That’s Full Immersion!
Children up to the age of 9 and persons with disabilities travel free on the yellow buses.
The Roma Cristiana hop on hop off bus ticket is valid immediately and does not need to be exchanged. The bus drivers accept the ticket on the mobile phone.
You can collect the Omnia Card and the Travel Card from the ORP office in front of St. Peter’s Square on the left (Piazza Pio XII No. 9). It is open on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A second office is located at Via dei Cestari 21, between Torre Argentina and Pantheon. It is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can take the yellow Roma Cristiana bus to the office for free if you show the driver the online booking confirmation.
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 stops: Termini – Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore – Colosseum – Circus Maximus – Piazza Venezia – Sant’Angelo Bridge – via Ludovisi above the Spanish Steps – Barberini. The buses leave every 20 minutes from 9am to 6pm.
The purple line – This line has a total of 10 stations: Termini – Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore – Colosseum, then it goes to the Appian park: Porta San Sebastiano – Basilica and Catacombs of St. Sebastian – Caffarella – Park Office Quo Vadis and back to the city: Baths of Caracalla – Circus Maximus – Piazza Venezia and back to Termini. The buses leave every hour from 9am to 5pm. After 44 minutes they are at the catacombs. So the last return is at 17:44.
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
All three tickets include free walking tours. The guided tours are in English:
- From Castel Sant’Angelo to St. Peter’s Square
- From Castel Sant’Angelo to Piazza Navona and the Pantheon
- From Piazza Barberini to the Spanish Steps
- From Piazza Venezia past the Roman Forum to the Colosseum
In addition, there is a special ticket for the catacombs. It is valid for 24 hours, but only for the purple line, and includes the tour in one of the catacombs and the bike rental for one hour at the park office.
The red bus City Sightseeing
City Sightseeing’s red hop on hop off Rome buses run daily 9 – 19. Children up to 5 years are free, children between 5 and 15 years pay about half.
Is Hop on Hop off Rome worthwhile?
With the Hop on Hop off Rome buses you get a quick overview of the city and where the sights are located.
The Hop on Hop off buses are the most convenient and fastest way to travel from the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus to the Vatican.
The yellow line also stops between Piazza Navona and Campo de ‘Fiori and not far from the Trevi Fountain.
With Big Bus you get a free guided tour of the center with your ticket.
In contrast to public transport, the Hop on hop off Rome buses run regularly. The public transport is often overcrowded and many buses are dilapidated. Taking pictures from public transport is practically impossible because the windows are covered with advertising or sprayed with graffiti. Many buses do not operate, although they have been announced at the stops. They are the so-called phantom buses.
The roman phantom buses
The first time I was in Rome at the age of 18, there was no public transport timetable and no internet. I ran out of shoe soles and had blisters on my feet.
There is internet today, but there is still no public transport timetable.
The public transport company ATAC has signed an agreement with Moovit because Moovit’s data are more reliable than its own. With more than 50% of the buses in Rome the GPS does not work, and every day only a part of the ailing fleet of ATAC takes to the streets. The result are so-called “phantom buses”. The Moovit and ATAC systems will give you a wait until the next bus and you can watch as the bus gets closer and closer. In the end, no bus comes and the system gives you the waiting time for the next bus. This happens when Moovit does not have enough real-time data, so no one with an active app is in the bus, and Moovit therefore includes information from the past in the calculation.
The other day I waited for phantom buses more than half an hour at the Basilica of St. John, while two yellow buses of the Roma Cristiana passed by.
We would like to recommend the hop on hop off buses for people with disabilities. You can ride free on the yellow Roma Cristiana buses.