Wondering Where the Bathrooms in Rome are? How to Use Them? Read This to Find Out!

Are you wondering about the bathrooms in Rome?

Where to find them? How they work? If they cost money?

rome public bathroomFinding a working bathroom in Rome is not that difficult but you need to know where to look!

And...why they don't have toilet seats??

You've come to the right place.

Allow me to enlighten you!

Bathrooms in Rome - Everything you need to know

Yeah I realize this is not as much fun as reading about the Sistine Chapel or the Trevi Fountain, but I also know this is just the kind of stuff visitors to Rome want to know (and sometimes are afraid to ask!)

So here goes.

In a nutshell, these are the questions I hear most about the toilets in Rome:

Bathrooms in Rome - where to find them while touring

No time to read the whole page?

Here's the bottom line about bathrooms in Rome - you will find them inside every major monument, site, and museum you visit.

You'll also always find them in hotels, cafés and restaurants.

If you are just out walking around and need a toilet, you can try to find some of the city "p-stops" (which cost 1€ to use), or you can pop into a bar (café) and order a coffee or water.

Don't expect to be able to use the bathroom in a café for free. Even McDonald's requires you show a receipt for something purchased there to use their facilities.

One of the best places to find clean, free bathrooms around Rome is in a large shopping center like Rinascente, Coin, or the Galleria Alberto Sordi. But these are few and far between, so your best bet is a bar.

If you can't figure out why water is not coming out of the sink, look for the foot pedals below the sink.

I spend much of my time in Rome walking around: meeting friends, shopping, and endless sight-seeing.

So even if I live here, I behave sort of like a tourist and am often out all day.

And I am one of those people who has to "go" all the time.

So believe me when I tell you, I know what it feels like to be inside a monument and all of a sudden stop paying attention to the beauty around me, because I am wondering where the toilets are.

Or enjoying a shopping expedition only to start suddenly thinking desperately about where the closest public bathroom to me is.

This page is about how to find and use bathrooms in Rome, and what to expect and what not to expect when you do use them.

Ostia Antica. Roman ToiletRome bathrooms have come a long way since this ancient toilet seen in a nobleman's home in Ostia Antica
castel sant angeloI suppose when you are head of the church, you can have someone from Raphael's school come paint your toilet (1500's Castel Sant'Angelo)

Bathrooms in Rome - walking around sight-seeing

There are some new service spots around Rome called p-stop (Yes you read that right, like pee-stop. Ahem.)

These spots are meant to provide tourists with some services they might need while walking around Rome, including wi-fi, fresh drinking water, a baby-changing area, and a few more services.

From what I can tell, the services differ throughout the city.

Here is what they look like more or less:

rome city bathroom p-stopYou can find some pretty clean public bathrooms in a few places around Rome. They are called "p-stops" and they are run by the City of Rome.

These p-stops are sprinkled (no pun intended!) throughout the city, including near the church of St John in Lateran, but obviously they are not everywhere.

The cost is 1€ but it's free with the Roma Pass or other Rome City Pass.

For the purposes of providing you with the best and most reliable information, let's pretend there are no public bathrooms in Rome.

Because the above mentioned p-stops are not going to be everywhere you are, and you may find them closed or not operating when you get there.

They are supposed to be open daily 10 am - 6 pm but you never know!

bathroom app

There IS an app you can download that has a map and helps you locate the closest public bathroom in Rome. They also list department stores, shopping galleries and McDonald's (which are actually few and far between.)

It's a free app, so you may want to give it a try. Click the icon to go to the iTunes store to download it.

So what to do if you need to find the closest place to use the bathroom when you are out and about in Rome?

Yes, you could walk into a hotel and try to anonymously use the bathrooms located somewhere in the lobby.

This works pretty well if it's a semi-fancy hotel.

You just walk in as if you are staying there, or meeting someone in the bar/restaurant, and nobody will bat an eye.

However, you may not be in an area with a hotel that fits the bill.

You will, on the other hand, nearly always be within reach of a bar.

By bar I mean a cafe

a bar in romeA typical bar (cafe) in Rome

A bar/cafe in Italy is a place where you can get a coffee, drink, sandwich or snack.

All bars have a counter where you can consume these things standing up, and sometimes you will also see tables outside, for sitting down.

**Don't forget the rule that if you sit down, it will cost more than if you stand at the bar - although that is the topic for other pages.**

Bars in Rome and all over Italy are just a standard of city life.

So as you walk around Rome, just about anywhere, you will see a bar.

Often you will even see several in one block.

You can see signs for bars on every street in RomeIn Rome you will see signs for bars (cafes) on every street, even more than once

Of course bars have bathrooms, and there has been some talk online that "bars are obliged" to let you use their bathroom if you ask.


This particular statement is not true, and if it were true, it would be hard to enforce.

It's very easy for a bar manager to tell you the bathroom is out of order.

And I do often see signs, especially in the historic center and near tourist attractions in Rome, that the bathroom is for customer use only.

I always err on the side of caution and simply buy something when I go into a bar to use the bathroom in Rome.

A coffee standing at the bar is under 1€ and for me, it's worth it to pay 1€ to use a clean, private bathroom. 

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Yes you might get lucky and find they will simply let you use the bathroom without consuming anything.

This will be especially the case when you are not in the touristic center. Also, if you have small children, or tell them it's an emergency, you will likely receive a sympathetic response.

But if you owned a bar, and every tourist passing by came in asking you to use the bathroom what would you do?

So again, I'd assume you should consume something if you want to use the bathroom in a bar in Rome.

The bottom line is, you really can find a bathroom in Rome just about any time you need one.

You just should be prepared to spend around a 1€.

And for those thinking that McDonald's is the best place to use the bathroom in Rome, think again.

At McDonald's, you have to consume something and show your receipt if you want to use the bathroom.

Not to mention that it is a lot harder to find McDonald's in Rome than a bar!

Bathrooms in Rome - at the Vatican

saint peter's square and basilicaYou can find bathrooms to the left of the basilica as you face it (which is also right at the exit of the church)

A visit to the Vatican can take at least 3 hours, if not much more.

There are plenty of toilets in the Vatican Museums, but the bathroom situation in St. Peter's Basilica is a bit more sparse.

There are two toilets around St. Peter's Square, that you can use without going through security and inside the basilica:

  • Along the Charlemagne Wing. This is the left side of Saint Peter's Square as you face the church. There is a huge bathroom and baby-changing area there, as well as a gift shop. If you do go inside the basilica, this is where you exit it at the end, so you will spot it as soon as you come out on your right. 
  • As you face the basilica, on the right-hand side at the end of the Constantine Colonnade, near the Post Office.
Vatican Post OfficeFortunately, in Vatican City, you will always find a public bathroom

There are two toilets inside of Saint Peter's i.e. once you go through security and are making a commitment to go inside the basilica:

  • In the bag check area on the lower right side of the facade of the basilica as you face it. These restrooms are the newest and most modern at St. Peters. And by the way, this is where you can get an audio-guide for the basilica too.
  • If you climb the dome, you will find toilets (and even a baby-changing facility) up there. 

So using a toilet inside St. Peter's Basilica is not actually that easy: there is only one right as you enter, and for the other one, it's up on the roof. 

rooftop of st. peter's basilica - restrooms up here!One place you will find bathrooms in St. Peter's basilica - up on the roof after a pretty extensive climb!

You can check the Vatican website to see the locations of the toilets in the Vatican Museums along with handicapped access and baby-changing facilities.

Here is a complete list of bathrooms in the Vatican Museums:

  • On the far left hand side of the entrance hall, down a flight of stairs. You will see these almost immediately after you go through security and before you go up into the museums.
  • Near the Post Office at the entrance/exit of the Museums. They are at the top of the escalator you use to enter the museums, and before the galleries.
  • Near the downstairs cafeteria. After you take the escalator up into the museums, head right towards the Pinacoteca. Just before the Pinacoteca you will see stairs going down to where the restrooms and cafeteria are.
  • In the area after the Cortile della Pigna. It can be hard to spot these - they are on the left hand side of the staircase you use to go up to the Octagonal Courtyard.
  • In the Raphael Rooms.
  • At the bottom of the stairs that lead to the entrance of the Sistine Chapel. Baby-changing facilities are available in the women's toilet. 

When visiting the Vatican Museums, you may take the short-cut from the Sistine Chapel into Saint Peter's basilica if you are on a guided tour.

This is a great way to save time, but if you will need a bathroom in the basilica, there are fewer options (one downstairs more or less below the shortcut, and one other facility on the roof, which you can only access if you decide to climb St. Peter's dome, which you could do once your tour ends.)

As I mentioned above, there are also toilets just to the right of the exit of Saint Peter's basilica, so you will be able to use them as soon as you come out. 


For anyone with small children, or with issues such as an ostomy, or who needs to have access to a bathroom as often as possible:

When visiting the Vatican Museums, if you plan to take the shortcut to the basilica (by taking a tour), make sure you use the last bathroom available in the Vatican Museums (near the Sistine Chapel) before entering Saint Peter's basilica.

Bathrooms in Rome - at the Colosseum/Roman Forum/Palatine Hill

colosseum in romeThere are bathrooms inside every monument (that you pay to enter) in Rome

There are bathrooms inside of the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill:

  • As soon as you enter the Colosseum, to the left of the ticket booths, you will see the toilets. They are actually pretty clean. They are the only toilets in the Colosseum, and there is usually a line, but since there are quite a few stalls, the line moves fairly quickly.
  • Inside the Roman Forum, you will find toilets in several areas. Look for the "WC" signs.
  • At the Palatine Hill, which is pretty vast, you have them right when you enter on via di San Gregorio, on the left, and again at several places on the top: one near the Palatine Museum, another near the Farnese Rose Gardens, and another next to Domitian's Hippodrome.

Every monument and tourist site (which you pay to enter) DOES have at least one bathroom inside.

This includes the Caracalla Baths, Ostia Antica, Castel Sant'Angelo, etc.

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In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Castel Sant'Angelo, and much more.

And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.

Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers.

Bathrooms in Rome - at the Trevi Fountain

trevi fountain in romeThere is no obvious bathroom near the Trevi Fountain, but you can find one in any of the bars nearby

It's funny but it seems to me any time I am with people at the Trevi Fountain, someone needs to use the toilet.

Could it be all that rushing water?

Well, the Trevi Fountain may be one of the most difficult places to spot a bathroom in Rome.

But on just about each of the little streets leading in every direction from the fountain, you can find a bar.

And all you have to do is go in, and ask where the bathroom is. As I've said before, be prepared to purchase something!

Bathrooms in Rome - Do you have to pay to use them?

The answer is yes.

Sort of.

I'd plan for this to be the case most of the time when you are sightseeing in Rome (as opposed to patronizing a restaurant, large department store or hotel):

  • If you use a bathroom in a bar in Rome, you will likely have to consume something.
  • If you use the toilets at Rome Termini train station, you have to pay (and they are clean!)
  • If you find any of the public toilets around Rome, there will be an attendant, who expects a tip.
  • The same is true at some museums - there are clean, accessible bathrooms, and to keep them clean, there are attendants. And they expect a tip.

I find most museums have unattended bathrooms, so you don't need to pay extra, but of course you pay to get into the museum.

And certainly if you are in a restaurant dining, you can use the facilities but again, you do pay for that meal/drink.

The only really easy-to-find free public bathrooms in Rome are in large shopping centers, and we don't have too many of those in the historic center.

For example, Galleria Alberto Sordi is one such center, right on the via del Corso.

And guess what?

There are two stalls in the women's bathroom.



So I leave to your imagination the waiting time.

You are better off going to a bar!

Bathrooms in Rome - What to expect

Bathrooms in Rome are different than what many people find back home.

First of all, they are usually called "Toilette" or "W.C." (pronounced in Italian voo chee.)

You may also see the words "Bagno" or "Servizi."

The W.C. stands for "Water Closet" which was once the way bathrooms were euphemistically called in English.

bathrooms in rome can be in tight spacesSome of our bathrooms in Rome are pretty narrow!
italian sign bathroom is occupiedHow to tell if a toilet is occupied in Italian: "occupato."

Bathrooms in Rome tend to be in small spaces.

Also they fully close, i.e. we don't have doors that are open at the bottom for seeing feet.

Instead, to know if a bathroom stall is occupied, you will either just see the door closed, or you might see a little red sign, with the word occupato (occupied.)

You will often find that bathrooms in Rome don't have any toilet paper.

In general, when sight-seeing in Rome, I'd suggest always carrying pocket kleenex packets, some cleansing wipes, and hand-sanitizer.

All of these items are easy to buy here at a pharmacy or grocery store.

Step back in time and bring the grandeur of Ancient Rome to your modern bathroom.

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Bathrooms in Rome - how to ask for them

Your first attempt should always be simple and in English - just say clearly "Where is the toilet?"

I say to use the word toilet, because it's much more universally understood than "bathroom."

If the person does not understand, you can use the Italian phrase "Dov'è il bagno?".

But you can also leave out the "Dov'è" part and just say in a questioning tone, one of the Italian words for bathroom:

  • toilet? (pronounced twa-lette)
  • bagno? (pronounced bah-nio)
  • servizi? (pronounced ser-vee-tsee)

Bathrooms in Rome - Why there are (usually) no toilet seats

Public toilet without seat coverBars and restaurants must have a guest bathroom. It is common to find toilet without seat cover

For a long time after moving here, it baffled me to find so many toilets in Rome without toilet seats.

I finally figured it out:

One of the biggest reasons for the lack of toilet seats is the difficulty in replacing the original. 

Italians love nice designs and bathrooms are no exception.

When we ran our B&B in Rome, every time we created or redesigned a bathroom, we went to a specialty store that sells "bathrooms", including tiles, ceramics, and all accessories.

And every time, we purchased a "backup" toilet seat because there are endless designs and no two toilets or toilet seats are alike.

So there is not a "standard" toilet seat such as you'd find at say, Home Depot.

Yes, you can buy generic toilet seats in Rome, but often they don't fit well on the designer toilet you have.

If it's your home, you figure it out, but if you are the bar manager, you might just leave the whole thing alone.

Another reason for the lack of toilet seats in Rome, I think, is that they break easily because people stand on them (yep!), or worse.

So either the bar manager does not put the seat on in the first place, or, if/when it breaks, s/he does not replace it.

And, back to reason one, it's just another expense and headache easily avoided so perhaps they just don't do it at all.

Bathrooms in Rome - How to flush them

Another thing you may find that is different from what you know is the flushing mechanism.

There are several ways to flush toilets in Italy:

  • Look for a panel in the wall literally above the back of the toilet, with two large buttons to push. The larger one is for a heavier water flow, and the smaller one is for a lighter water flow. This is called a "Geberit."
  • Look for a small round button in the wall somewhere above the toilet. This is called a "Catis" and you have to push it hard several times to get water flowing.
  • Sometimes there will be a large white button just to the side of where you sit. This is particularly the case in handicap bathrooms. It is meant as an easy way to flush, especially from a sitting position.
  • Look for a chain above you - never on the wall. If there is a chain above you, it should be attached to a tank. You pull that and it will flush. On the other hand, a chain hanging down the side of the wall is usually for emergencies and you should not pull it if it is not attached to a tank. Someone will come running to see if you are ok. (Frankly I am seeing these less often than I used to, making me think perhaps the law requiring them is no longer in effect. Also, I am pretty sure many of these chains were never actually attached to anything and would have been useless in an actual emergency.)
  • A few models have a little tank behind where you sit, as we have in the US. The flusher is built into this tank, on the top. You will either pull it up, and hold it long enough for the flush, or, you push it down, sometimes having to lightly pump it a little. It will be self-evident which is which.
Catis or an old flush water systemDespite becoming increasingly obsolete, you may still have to use this type of "button" placed into the wall to flush the toilet
Geberit flush toiletGeberit. When design meets function. Over the past 15 years, a lot of bars, shops, and restaurants have chosen this new system
Rome Public RestroomsTraditional rimless flushing technology

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Bathrooms in Rome - How to wash your hands

Finally, washing your hands can be a little alarming . . . you put soap on your hands and look for where to turn on the faucet . . . and find nothing.

Do you have to leave the bathroom with soap all over your hands?


Look on the floor. 

Wash basin in public restroomWash basin in a public restroom
Hands free sink pedalFoot pedal valve system

Most sinks in bathrooms in Rome have a floor pedal.

This actually makes a lot of sense to me, as I find it a lot more sanitary than everyone touching the faucet handle!

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Bathrooms in Rome - Everything you need to know!Rome public restrooms

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