The ancient trading town of Ostia is a popular destination for Romans to spend a day by the sea. Ancient ruins, sun, sand, dunes and sea, bathing facilities and good fish restaurants, Ostia has a lot to offer.
A visit to Ostia Antica is very interesting. The visit can be combined with a visit to the sea. You can lie down on the beach for a few hours and enjoy a good meal.
A day trip to Ostia
For a visit to Ostia Antica and an excursion to the sea, it is best you spend a whole day. In the morning you will visit the archaeological area of Ostia Antica and then drive to the sea. There you can have lunch and enjoy the afternoon on the beach.
Ostia Antica · The ruins of the ancient trading town
Founded in the 4th century B.C., the trading town on the Tiber River was an important centre for supplying ancient Rome with goods that came to Rome by sea. In its heyday, Ostia Antica had 75,000 inhabitants. There was a large market and a theatre where concerts still take place today.
At that time the city was situated almost directly at the sea and on the north side was the Tiber River. The coastline has shifted over the centuries.
The area is quite extensive and it takes 2 – 3 hours to visit the main areas. Here you can get a good idea of life in ancient times.
Last Sunday in October – 15 February: 16:30
16 February to 15 March: 17:00
16 March until last Saturday in March: 17:30
Last Sunday in March until 31 August: 19:15
1 October to last Saturday in October: 18:30
The entrance closes one hour before.
Ostia Lido · Roman bathing resort by the sea
Ostia Lido is an administrative district of Rome with about 100,000 inhabitants. Ostia Lido with its sandy beaches is a popular excursion destination for the Romans. The coastal strip of Ostia begins in the north at the mouth of the Tiber in a marina and extends several kilometres to the neighbouring municipality of Pomezia in the south.
When the Romans think of Ostia, they think of sandy beaches, sun, sea and fish restaurants.
The centre of Ostia Lido
Ostia has a small centre by the sea with a pedestrian zone, shops, restaurants, bars and ice cream parlours. It is about 800 metres from Lido Centro station to Piazza Anco Marzio, where the pedestrian zone begins. From here, you can get to the “Pontile di Ostia”, a viewing platform that reaches into the sea, in just a few minutes.
Private beaches in Ostia
In Ostia you will find bathing facilities and free beaches. Most bathing facilities offer not only sunbeds and umbrellas, but also restaurants. If you want to lie on the beach, you pay entrance and can rent sunbeds and umbrellas.
Unfortunately, the water in Ostia is not always of consistently high quality. If you want to swim, it is advisable you opt for a bathing facility with a swimming pool.
I would like to introduce you to three bathing establishments that are very well-maintained and where you can eat. All three establishments are located near the terminus of the local railway from Rome to Ostia.
The Dopolavoro ATAC is the bathing establishment for the employees of the Roman transport companies. It is open to the public and has a well-maintained infrastructure.
Gambrinus is a very nice bathing facility directly opposite the terminus of the local train. Gambrinus has a beautiful swimming pool suitable for children and adults.
La Marinella is the southernmost bathing facility of Ostia Lido. Marinella also has a beautiful swimming pool.
The Marinella offers a self-service restaurant. It also has an elegant restaurant with excellent cuisine. If you like, you can start here with oysters and raw fish and then continue with traditional fish dishes or innovative creations. The ribbon noodles with lobster are impressive, the mussel pan and the fish soup are excellent. Here you can finish your meal with lemon sorbet or a pistachio semifreddo.
Free beaches in Ostia
At the free beaches there is no developed infrastructure with toilets and showers and possibly there is also no rescue service. Sometimes there is also the possibility to rent sunbeds and umbrellas on the free beaches.
There are only a few free beaches in Ostia Lido. There is a large area of free beaches in the south of Ostia. These are the so-called “Cancelli”, a dune landscape with extensive sandy beaches. Here you can lie beautifully in the sun or walk along the coast.
Food in Ostia Lido
You can not only eat well in the above-mentioned bathing facilities in Ostia. In Ostia you will find everything from street food to specialty restaurants.
The McDonalds, right opposite the Pontile on the Piazza dei Ravennati, is a quick stop. If you feel like a hamburger or a steak by the sea, you can also go to the Old Wild West just opposite. For sausages or Wienerschnitzel, go to the Wienerhaus in the pedestrian zone.
Pesce fritto e baccalà
If I can’t think of anything better, I like to go to the Pesce fritto e baccalà. Here you get fried fish and there is a daily changing pasta dish. The whole thing is rounded off by a lively sparkling house wine from the barrel.
Da Bari a Roma, che c'e c'e
I have to mention this restaurant. It is one of my favourite restaurants in Ostia. Young gastronomes from Apulia offer their specialities here. Here you don’t get raw fish, as is often the case in Bari, but there are well composed specialities of the Apulian cuisine such as squid on puree. A shell pan, Sautè di Cozze, which I ate here, will forever remain in my memory. If you love good fish and finely tuned flavours, you’ve come to the right place!
Soul kitchen beach restaurant
One might think that the name of the restaurant here is somehow a programme. In fact, I really like the atmosphere here in the evening. The view of the palm trees and the beach is very charming.
A star in the firmament of the fish sky in Ostia is Michelino in Piazza Anco Marzio. To be honest, my rating is not so much for the service, which is often not so lively, but the quality of the food is really extraordinary.
Michelino is a big fishmonger in Ostia, where you can also eat in the shop. However, at the Piazza Anco Marzio, there is no shop, one can only eat here.
How to get to Ostia
Most Romans drive to Ostia by car, either through the motorway to Fiumicino, via del Mare or via Cristoforo Colombo.
If you are travelling by public transport, you can generally take the local train from the Porta San Paolo station to Ostia. The normal city ticket can be used for the journey.
Porta San Paolo railway station is located next to the Piramide metro station on Line B and the Ostiense regional station. Numerous bus lines and tram line 3 stop here.
I have a little tip for you: If you take the Metro B, it is better to change at the Basilica San Paolo station. All you have to do is take the escalator down from the one platform and up again from the other. At the pyramid, the paths are much longer!
The journey from San Paolo to Ostia Antica takes 23 minutes by train. It takes 27 minutes to Lido Centro and 34 minutes to Colombo. The train leaves every 10 – 15 minutes from 5:40 to 23:30, last departure in Ostia at 23:23.