The pass is a tourist package, offered by the Comune di Roma (the city of Rome), to help visitors get a little bit of a bargain, encourage visits to cultural sites in Rome, and provide them with some useful tools during their visit to Rome.
Inside: the Pass, the official Rome City Map, a booklet with list of sites included, and a booklet with current events, exhibits and services that may be included.
The Roma Pass - Everything you need to know
This page offers a comprehensive review of all the questions I've answered over the years about the Roma Pass, such as:
Use the Roma Pass to skip the super long lines like this at the Colosseum!
The pass also comes with a great fold-out map of Rome, that encompasses even the outer lying areas and many archeological sites you may wish to visit. The map also includes a metro (subway) map of Rome, a map of the sites along the Appia Antica, and a map of Ostia Antica (one of the sites included in the Roma Pass.)
Finally, you also get a booklet of any current exhibits or events, or even tourist services, which offer a discount to holders of the pass.
Most people use the pass to get free entry to the Coliseum and the Galleria Borghese. If you pay for them separately, entry to the Coliseum is 12 Euros and entry to the Borghese museum is 15 Euros (although at times, the Borghese museum entrance fee may be higher if there is a special exhibit.) This comes to 27 Euros.
Will you visit at least one other museum or monument in Rome on this list, in the 3 days? They are all discounted with the pass, so if you have a very intense schedule of museum/monument visiting, then you might get your money's worth out of the Roma Pass.
The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome
Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.
Most of the other popular sites in Rome do not have the same kind of queue, and even if there is one, it usually moves pretty quickly. But in any case, with the Roma Pass, you simply skip the line. Sometimes in summer, there is a wait to get into Castel Sant'Angelo, for example, and with the pass, you skip the line.
Just remember the pass does not include the Vatican (but the Omnia Pass does, and you get to skip the line at the Vatican with that.)
Also, there are other ways to skip the lines. But the Roma Pass makes it easy.
What museums and archeological sites are included?
Most people tend to use the pass to visit the Colosseum and the Galleria Borghese. Perhaps you have already seen these, or don't want to see them.
There are a lot of museums and sites covered by the Roma Pass, but to give you an idea of the most popular sites, here is a very short list:
Capitoline Museums - an excellent museum, on Capitoline Hill, just above the Roman Forum, and very much worth a visit if you like the ancient stuff.
Castel Sant'Angelo - once Hadrian's mausoleum, later a hiding out place for popes trying to flee when Rome kept getting sacked...a giant fortress with a moat; a prison and execution site, this monument is packed with history, beautiful art, and one of the best views of Rome. Bonus - enjoy a coffee or aperitivo at the rooftop cafe with views of St. Peter's Dome!
The Rome National Museums - which include, among other things, such popular museums as the Palazzo Altemps (wonderful palazzo near piazza Navona filled with ancient Greek and Roman sculptures); and the Palazzo Massimo (near Termini train station, a museum with fabulous examples of ancient mosaics and relics)
The Ara Pacis - a gorgeous building of a museum, not far from the Spanish Steps, housing the Altar to Peace, an ancient Roman relic that deserved its own space. There are other finds in this museum as well, but the two best things are the Altar, and the stunning building itself.
Palazzo Valentini - one of the most popular archeological sites in Rome lately, these excavations led to finds underneath a noble palazzo.
The ruins at Ostia Antica - a 30-minute train ride from Rome, Ostia Antica is a very under-visited, superbly preserved ancient port city. Think Pompeii without the lava or ash.
This is not a complete list, but it does include what I know are among the most visited, most popular sites.
Do you still need a reservation to the Colosseum if you have a Roma Pass?
This is a new rule, as of March 2019. Even holders of the Roma Pass (or any other type of Rome City Pass) have to reserve a date and time at the Colosseum. You can no longer just show up without a timed entry ticket.
This is to manage the crowds and the flow, like at the Vatican Museums.
However, unlike at the Vatican Museums, there is a limit to how many people can be inside the Colosseum at once (3,000 people is maximum capacity), and, there is therefore a limit to how many tickets will be available each day.
So if you do not book your ticket in advance, and just show up at the Colosseum, you risk not being able to get in at the time you want, or possibly not even getting in at all if they run out of tickets.
After a long flight, and fighting crowds, and waiting for luggage, wouldn't it be nicer to just get to your hotel and settle in? I'd recommend either pre-purchasing the pass online, or buying it in town once you are ready to get started sight-seeing.
As for Ciampino, most people tend to take a taxi, or one of the inexpensive buses, SIT or Terravision, to get into Rome center, and the pass does not include these as free transportation (it does sometimes offer small discounts on these buses.)
There are two ways to look at this: the first is convenience and ease of use. The second is purely economical:
The biggest convenience of the pass is the "VIP Skip the Line" aspect. It's nice to know you can just show up and go right to the front of the line. This is most important at the Colosseum, where lines can be long, particularly in high season.
Other advantages include the comprehensive map that's included, and the little booklet with some savings on current exhibits and events. And there is also the peace of mind of knowing you can jump on the bus or metro any time. I live in and walk around Rome alot, but even in the center, I sometimes just feel like hopping on the bus if I'm tired and/or hot.
Money-wise, unless you are planning a pretty intense, whirlwind visit to Rome's museums and monuments in a 2-3 day period, it is probably not a big savings. Economically speaking...
The pass is worth getting if:
You will visit more than 2 of the museums or monuments on the list in a 3-day period.
You will use the bus/metro system more than 7 times in 3 days.
It might not be worth getting if:
You do not plan to visit more than 2 of the museums or monuments on the list in a 3-day period.
You are staying in the center and/or otherwise do not plan or need to use public transportation much during your stay.
If you have more than 3 days in Rome, and/or otherwise can manage to see more than 2 of the things on their list, in the 3 days, then it's definitely worth getting a the pass, as it will not only encourage you to see more, but also save you some money.
The Roma 48 Hours pass is like the Roma Pass but costs 28 Euros, and includes only one site or museum for free. Unlimited use of the city's bus and metro system is also included, as with the standard pass.
It might be useful if you only have two days, and/or if you won't include the Borghese Museum.
With the Omnia Pass, you skip to the front of this insanely long line at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican!
Is it worth getting the Omnia Pass?
Here's the big reason why the Omnia Pass can be worth it - you get to skip the lines for everything including the Vatican Museums and Saint Peter's Basilica.
There are other ways to skip those lines but having this freedom is a pretty nice thing. It means you can decide to visit St. Peter's Basilica before you visit the museums (because otherwise the lines for the basilica are really long and the easiest way to bypass them is via the Vatican Museums.)
Cost-wise it may not add up as a great savings. At 113€, it's 74.50€ Euros more than the Roma Pass. Tickets to the Vatican museums cost 20 Euros (if you pre-purchase online.) This means you need to get at least another 54.50€ of services to break even. Some audio guides are included in this package, but in my opinion, they are not the best type of guide for the Vatican Museums.
Will you have time to ride the Roma Cristiana bus in your 3-day visit? If so, that may be another benefit.
Money-wise, I am not sure these passes are that much of a bargain. They don't save you a lot of money unless you make a plan to really get the most out of them and take advantage of discounts to more than just the first free sites.
But the big kicker is the fact that they DO give you a kind of "VIP access", skipping the lines just about everywhere, but especially where you need it most: The Colosseum, Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica.
Important things to know if you buy the Roma or Omnia Pass
A few final caveats:
Borghese Gallery reservations - The passes give free entry to the Borghese museums, but do not provide you with a reservation, an absolute must, especially during high season. To make a reservation at the Gallery Borghese, you can go online or call them. (There is a NO fee to reserve when booking with the Roma Pass.)
Lines at the Colosseum and Vatican - expect some waiting, even with the pass. No passes that guarantee you skip the line (at the Vatican Museums or the Colosseum) mean there is absolutely no waiting at all. There is always one ticket line for people waiting to buy tickets, and another line for people who already have them (pre-paid/booked, or with these passes). There is also security to get through, for everyone. You may find that during peak season, there is still a line of ticket holders. It will be shorter than the other line but it might be there.
Many museums are closed Mondays, and also December 25, January 1 and May 1. So if your visit includes one of these days, consider this a limiting factor as well. (If you are getting the Omnia Pass, note that the Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays, December 25, January 1, May 1 and other Catholic holidays. See the Vatican Museums website for further details about closing days.)
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