A lot of Mediterranean cruises stop near Rome, in the modern port city of Civitavecchia Italy. This port is about 80 km (50 miles) outside of Rome. It takes about 1-1.5 hrs to get between Rome and Civitavecchia, depending on mode of transportation. Whether you are starting or ending your Mediterranean cruise in the Rome port of Civitavecchia, or you are stopping in Rome for the day on your cruise, here are your options for travelling between the two cities.
If your cruise ends in Rome, and you need to get from the port of Civitavecchia to Rome, you can take the train, or hire a private car service.
Thanks to http://www.bueker.net/trainspotting/ for this map. It's not actually that easy to find maps of the train routes! Even Trenitalia does not have maps of their train routes.
If you take the train from Civitavecchia to Rome, note that you first have to get from where your ship docks to the end of the port. Depending on where you disembark, this could be a good 10-15 minute walk. There is also a free shuttle that will take you from the dock to the entry of the port, so use the shuttle to avoid this part of the walk, especially if you are hauling luggage.
From the port, the Civitavecchia train station is about 4 blocks away, or about a 5-10 minutes' walk.
The trains leave pretty regularly, and cost from 5-18 Euros one way, depending on the speed of the train. There are two types of train you can take from Civitavecchia to Rome: a commuter/regional train, or a fast train (Frecciabianca, which is a Eurostar train.)
To see the train schedules, go to the Trenitalia website. You may click on the flag in the top right corner of the page to go to the English version.
On the main page, in the From (Da) field, start typing "Civitavecchia." It will guess this word about halfway through your typing. In the To (A) field, start typing "Roma." Leave it at that to show all Rome stations.
Select the date of travel, and then set an earlier time than you need, just to see all the options. Click the Search button. The next page will show you a list of all the trains you can take, and their schedules.
As you can see from the above screenshot, the trains run quite frequently (although the Frecciabianca or fast trains are not that frequent and don't depart Civitavecchia before 11am.) Here is what the above train types are and what they mean to you:
The reason the rates are "starting from" is because you can buy second or first class tickets on some of the trains (except the regional ones.) A first class ticket on the regional veloce and intercity trains will buy you a little more leg room and perhaps a slightly less crowded car (although don't count on this especially during high cruising seasons.)
If you click the little italic "i" for more information about a given train, you will see all the stops it makes. So the reason the Intercity train is so quick, is a) it hardly makes any stops (literally goes between two cities and that's it) and b) it stops at Ostiense station which is before Termini station. Likewise, the reason the Frecciabianca train is so fast is a) it's a Eurostar (a fast train) and b) it goes non-stop between Civitavecchia and Rome Termini station.
There is no need to purchase your train ticket in advance. For the regional trains, you do not get a seat assignment in any case, and they sell as many tickets as there are people who want them.
Even for the Frecciabianca trains, which are reservation only, you will not have any problem getting this ticket at the Civitavecchia train station.
You can buy your ticket at the train station once you are in Civitavecchia. You can go to a ticket purchase window that has a human, or from a self-service ticket kiosk, which is very easy to use and has menus in English. You can also buy regional tickets (but not Frecciabianca tickets) from the news stand.
With the regionale and regionale veloce trains, you can stop at San Pietro (the Vatican), Ostiense and Trastevere, as well as of course, the main station, Termini.
You will find a very few taxis at the port. However, don't count on any of these to take you to the train station. And, if you want one of them to take you from Civitavecchia to Rome, you may find yourself out of luck. The huge number of passengers disembarking at once overwhelms the supply.
Your best bet to get from Civitavecchia to Rome by taxi is to book in advance with a private car service. Rates usually start at about 130 Euros for up to 3 people with luggage, and go up from there, depending on the number of people and luggage (the larger the vehicle, and the more people and luggage they have to take, the more it will cost.)
As above, you can take either a train or a car to Civitavecchia from Rome.
If you are getting the train from Rome to Civitavecchia, you may reverse the information above. The main additional things to know are:
Unlike the fixed city taxi fares to the Rome airports, there is not a fixed city taxi fare from Rome to Civitavecchia. You will want to hire a private car service for this. Costs start at 130 Euros for up to 3 people, and go higher from there depending on how many people and how much luggage you have (and therefore the car size needed.)
You should make sure to book with a car service that has permits to drive right onto the dock, i.e. under your ship, providing you with real "door-to-door" service. Not all limo companies have this permit so make sure to ask in advance.
If you are flying into or out of Rome's Fiumicino airport, and want to use the train to get to Civitavecchia, you have two options:
If you want a private car service to take you from the airport right to the port, or to pick you up from the port and drive you to the airport, you can and you should book this in advance. Do not plan on "catching a taxi" at the airport or at the port. There are not set rates and you might be charged an exorbitant amount.
The private car service will of course be faster than taking the train, in part because both Civitavecchia and Fiumicino airport are on the coast, and only about 50 minutes' drive apart.
When booking a car service in advance, double check that they have a permit to take you drive right up to the ship for pickup or drop off (not all of them do.)
Do you need a hotel? Civitavecchia has some options although it’s nicer to spend the night in Rome if you can. If you prefer to stay in a hotel in Civitavecchia, try this web site: Venere.com
Probably the most popular thing to do when people have a one-day stop in Rome is to hire a private car and driver. The driver picks you up from the ship, takes you from Civitavecchia to Rome, gives you a driving tour of the city, and then drives you back to the ship.
This may be the most cost-effective in terms of seeing the most you can in a short amount of time. The drivers do this all the time, and they know how to give you a great "shore excursion" so you can see the highlights of Rome without having to plan an itinerary ahead of time.
But, you have other options as well:
It is absolutely doable to go on your own from Civitavecchia to Rome, and give yourself a wonderful walking tour of Rome.
Take one of the regionale or regionale veloce trains from Civitavecchia to Rome, and get off the train at one of the first Rome stops, San Pietro.
From here, it will take you about 15 minutes to walk to Saint Peter's Square.
For a step-by-step walking itinerary, use the map below as a guide. It shows how to see the top "must-see" attractions in Rome, in a 4-hour walk, starting at the San Pietro train station, and finishing at the Colosseum.
The first stop is Saint Peter's Square. You may decide to go inside Saint Peter's Basilica, which is free, but there is always a line for security. The wait time just to get through security can be at least half an hour but more likely an hour.
Once you are inside the basilica, plan on at least half an hour to walk around.
Read more about Visiting the Vatican.
When you leave Saint Peter's, walk towards the Castel Sant'Angelo, and then cross the angel bridge.
Take either via dei Coronari or via del Governo Vecchio (both cute shopping streets) to Piazza Navona.
Read more about Piazza Navona.
From Piazza Navona, it's a 3-5 minute walk to the pantheon, one of the oldest and most impressive monuments in Rome.
Read more about the Rome Pantheon.
Follow the map above to make your way to the Spanish Steps area.
As you walk between the Pantheon and the bottom of the Spanish Steps, you will be passing through two of Rome's most popular shopping zones, the area around the pantheon, and especially around the Spanish Steps.
Read more about the Spanish Steps.
Follow the map above to make your way from the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain. It's not far, maybe 10 minutes' walk.
Read more about the Trevi Fountain.
Leaving the Trevi Fountain behind you, walk towards Piazza Venezia, and the big white wedding cake (Complesso Vittoriano, or Altare della Patria). Walk around this giant building to the right, and take the ramp up to the Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill.)
From the back, on the right hand side, you will have a spectacular panoramic view of the Roman Forum, with a hint of the Coliseum in the background.
From the Campidoglio, Walk down the winding trett on the left side, and you will end up on the via dei Fori Imperiali. From there you can walk to the Colosseum.
Find out more about the Coliseum, including how to visit it without waiting in long lines.
From the Colosseum, you can take the Metro Blue line B to Termini train station, and get your train back to the dock to re-board your ship.
When you dock at Civitavecchia, you may see places to purchase tickets for the hop-on/hop-off bus. This can be a good way to get around Rome and get an overview. If you have decided to use the hop-on/hop-off bus to see Rome, you can get this bus in front of Saint Peters Square, on via della Conciliazione.
You can either stay on the bus and let it loop you completely around (1.5 -2 hrs), or take it part way, get off, visit some sites, and hop back on again.
The Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain are not visible from the bus, so you will need to get off to see them.
Also you may wish to stop for lunch somewhere.
Get off the hop-on/hop-off bus at either Termini station or back at Saint Peters again, to catch the train back to the ship.
If you've been to Rome before, or, if you want to skip the Rome crowds, or, if you are really into the ancient stuff, consider spending your shore time visiting the ancient port of Ostia Antica.
Although Ostia Antica is also on the coast, you still have to take the train from Civitavecchia to Rome (partway) and then change to take another train to Ostia Antica.
Take the regionale or regionale veloce train from Civitavecchia to Rome, and get off at Ostiense station. This is the same as the local Piramide Metro stop and is also where the urban trains run from Rome to Ostia Antica. You will need a separate Rome metro ticket to get to Ostia Antica (1.50€).
These trains run frequently and take about 30 minutes to get to the ruins. Get off at Ostia Antica (Scavi). The ruins are right there by the train stop.
Do the reverse to get back to Ostiense station to catch the train back to the port, making sure to give yourself plenty of time to arrive back at your ship.
This can be a wonderful and fascinating shore excursion, but you will need a car and/or driver to visit some of these places.
There are a lot of towns near Civitavecchia you can visit, such as Cerverteri and Tarquinia.
With a car and driver, you can often see both in one shore excursion. I am happy to arrange this for you, with an English-speaking guide. Contact me for rates and availability.
You will also find some excellent advice and suggestions for Civitavecchia to Rome excursions, and hotels in Civitavecchia in the cruise forums on Cruise Critic.
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