Rome Hop on hop off, meaning that you can get off at stops near the sights and continue on a later bus. All buses have a multilingual audio system with information about the sights and stops. The buses are two-storey and in good weather without hood.
With the Hop on Hop Off buses, you can swing comfortable through the city and visit the sights without stress.
Routes and lines
There are five providers of open buses in Rome, which in principle can be distinguished by the color of the buses: red, yellow, green, pink and brown.
The route of the yellow line
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.
The route of the other providers
Four companies approach the same 8 stops within the city walls. The intervals are 15 – 30 minutes. The differences between these providers are low. The red city sightseeing bus 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
Due to the introduction of a pedestrian area, since 2018 the Trevi stop in Via del Tritone is no more used.
Major differences between the routes:
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, they have stops in the center near Piazza Navona and at the Basilica St. John. You will also pass the Quirinal Palace. As the yellow line has more stops, the journey time is longer.
At Big Bus you can book the catacombs during the high season.
All stops of the routes can be found in the map of Hop on hop off buses in Rome.
The best tickets
The yellow line of the Roman pilgrimage
You can buy single tickets for the yellow line. Very interesting are also the combo tickets:
Vatican & Rome: Of particular interest are the combo tickets, which also allow you to use public transport. The Travel Card Vatican & Rome as combination of public transport and hop on hop off bus offers maximum flexibility. For example, you can use public transport to go to your accommodation, St. Paul’s Basilica and the Catacombs, and in the center 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 Omnia Card and the Travel Card entitles you to use the yellow buses and you can pick them up in the office of the ORP, in front of St. Peter’s Square on the left (Piazza Pio XII No. 9). It is open weekdays 8:30am-5pm and Sundays 9-5. A second office is located in Via dei Cestari 21, between Torre Argentina and Pantheon. It is open daily from 10am to 5pm. You can drive to the office for free with the Roma Cristiana’s yellow bus when you show the driver your online booking confirmation.
The red bus City Sightseeing
The Open Bus of Big Bus 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 Night Tour – This line travels the route of the red line through the city, with no intermediate stops. Departure at 20:30 and at 21:30 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
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.
Is Hop on Hop off in Rome worth it?
The center of Rome is not very big compared to other cities and many sights are close to each other. Some attractions, such as the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain, can only be reached on foot or by taxi, because the Hop on Hop off buses stop at some distance.
However, there are also larger distances. The Colosseum to the Vatican is more than an hour’s walk away, 30 to 60 minutes by public transport depending on the time of day, and 20 minutes by Hop on Hop off buses.
The hop on hop off buses are much more comfortable than public transport. The public transport is often overcrowded and most buses are ailing. Photographing from the public transport is practically impossible because the windows are covered with advertising or sprayed with graffiti.
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.
Persons with disabilities I really want to recommend the Hop on hop off buses. With the yellow buses you can ride for free and, compared to the ailing buses of ATAC, they are more accessible.