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Rome Bus Tours - Hop-on Hop-off tour options and more!

If you're visiting for the first time, taking one of the Rome bus tours around the city can be a great way to get a lay of the land and spot some famous landmarks right off the bat.

city sightseeing bus in front of ColosseumOne of the many city sightseeing buses you'll see around Rome

Is this the best way to spend a day in Rome? Your first day in Rome?

Learn about the ins and outs, the pluses and minuses of taking a Rome bus tour, and whether it's right for you.

Rome bus tours - Everything you need to know

Most of the bus tours in Rome are hop-on-hop-off tours.

On this page we'll cover:

Overview of hop on hop off bus tours in Rome

hop on hop off buses in RomeA Rome hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour is a great way to get a feel for Rome and understand where the major sites are across the city!

Taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour can be the perfect way to get an overview of the city, especially those that offer an open air bus tour Rome option.

You can get on and off the bus as often as you like, so you can explore the sights that interest you most at your own pace. All the operators offer bus tours of Rome in English as well as other languages.

This is the most common type of bus tour in Rome and there are many companies offering this tour with pretty much the same itinerary.

So let's talk first about the itinerary of these tours and what you can see from the bus, and what you can see by getting off the bus.

What route do the bus tours follow?

The most common route for Rome Italy hop on hop off bus tours is:

This route takes you to or near most of the major tourist attractions in Rome.

circus maximus in springThe Circus Maximus marks the mid-point of most Rome bus tours itinerary, a perfect spot to get off and have a break!

What tourist attractions can you see on a Rome bus tour?

The buses cannot go near some of Rome's must-see sites but they do have stops nearby.

So on the route above, besides the obvious sites listed there, you can also see:

Santa Maria Maggiore stop

rome city sightseeing bus in front of santa maria maggioreRome's city sightseeing buses, such as Big Bus Rome Roma regularly pass Santa Maria Maggiore, an easy way to see this stunning basilica.

Of course, you can (and should!) visit the stunning basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. If you have time, you could also visit a hidden jewel of a church just around the corner from Santa Maria Maggiore, the basilica of Santa Prassede.

You may also wish to explore the charming Monti neighborhood.

Colosseum and Roman Forum stop

If you actually visit the Colosseum, your ticket includes the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill as well.

You may want to do this as part of your hop-on-hop-off ticket (you can purchase them as a combo), or you can just use the bus tour to get a quick view and then come back later for a complete walking tour of Ancient Rome.

Other sites in the area include the basilica of San Clemente, the Roman Houses at Celio, and the basilica of Saint Peter in Chains where you can see Michelangelo's sculpture of Moses.

roman forum at sunsetVisit the Roman Forum as part of your hop-on hop-off bus tour of Rome

Piazza Venezia Stop

Via dei Fori Imperiali, Via del Corso (shopping), Mamertine Prison, Capitoline Museums, and Capitoline Hill

Vatican City

st peter's basilicaYou will have a quick glimpse of St Peter's Basilica if you stay on the bus - why not hop off and take a closer look?

If you stay on the bus, you will glimpse Saint Peter's Basilica. But of course, there is so much to see in Vatican City.

If you decide to get off the bus at the Vatican stop, you can visit Castel Sant'Angelo, the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, Saint Peter's Square, Saint Peter's Basilica, and Saint Peter's Dome. The bus ticket does not include entrance tickets to any locations, so you will need to purchase these separately, such as those for the Vatican Museums.

Piazza di Spagna/Spanish steps

spanish steps crowdsAs you can see, there's no way a bus can get right by the Spanish Steps, but they do drop off nearby!

The Spanish Steps are a must-see tourist attraction by themselves but there is also a lot to see nearby.

Besides being the main shopping area of Rome, you can also visit Piazza del Popolo, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona.

Piazza Barberini/Via Veneto

From the bus, you can spot Bernini's Triton fountain but if you get off the bus you can easily also visit the famous Capuchin Crypt, the Trevi Fountain, and the Palazzo Barberini museum.

What to expect on a Rome hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour

Most of these buses are open on top but also have a closed lower level.

The tour typically includes an audio guide in a variety of languages.

Some of the companies will also have live guides on the bus who give commentary in multiple languages.

Many of the companies say they offer free wi-fi onboard, but I would not always count on this.

You can board the bus from any of the stops and get on and off as much as you want in the time frame of the ticket you buy. (Often there are options for 24, 48, or 72 hours.)

If you stay on the bus, the entire loop takes around 1 ½ hours.

The ticket will also include a map of the city.

You can generally find discounts online if you book in advance.

Downsides of taking a hop-on-hop-off tour bus in Rome:

Is there a downside? Here are a few issues to be aware of:

  1. Although they say the buses come every 30 minutes, it may not always be the case and you could find yourself waiting a while for your bus. You may not be able to get on another company's bus and will have to wait for your own company's bus to come.
  2. The buses can get very crowded, especially in the summer. You may even find that there is no room available and you'll have to wait for the next bus to arrive.
  3. You may find it difficult to hear the audio guide if you are sitting on top of the bus.
  4. Some online comments have mentioned that it can be difficult to find the bus stop although I usually see them pretty well when I am walking around Rome.
  5. The bus routes do not cover all of the city, so for sights like the Appian Way (including the catacombs), Galleria Borghese, and others further outside of the center, you will need to find an alternative route.
bus stop in RomeOne of the many city sightseeing tour bus stops in Rome

Should you take a Rome bus tour?

Given the above pluses and minuses, you may be wondering if the hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus is worth it.

One important thing to note is that it's not the same as using the public transport system.

The Rome bus and metro system is considerably cheaper and much more flexible in terms of schedules and routes.

So I would not consider taking the hop-on-hop-off bus as a means to just "get around Rome."

It is meant specifically to be a sightseeing tour with strategic stops that allows the visitor to get between some of the main sites in Rome.

The hop-on-hop-off bus in Rome is for you if...

I recommend a Rome hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour if it's your first time in Rome, whether you have 1 day or a week.

What I would suggest is to stay on the bus for the entire loop so you really get a lay of the land.

This is also a great option if you are jet-lagged, because you don't have to tire yourself out with a walking tour and you can absorb as much as your body and sleepy brain will allow.

Then, the second time around (or the next day), you can get off at any of the stops that interest you and explore more.

Or, if you're done with the bus tour, you can then decide to explore more on your own on foot or take some walking tours.

And, if you have limited time in Rome, this can be a great option to ensure you at least get a glimpse of all of the major sights.

The hop-on-hop-off bus in Rome may not be for you if...

If you love walking and want to make your own way, Rome is fairly compact and easy to walk around.

While Rome is actually hillier than you might think (7 hills of Rome!), it's still pretty easy to cover a lot of ground on foot. (Don't forget to wear super comfortable shoes!)

You may also not want to deal with the crowds on the bus or having to wait for the bus to come at the different stops.

Finally, as I mentioned above, if what you're looking for is the best Rome public transportation option, then this is not the bus for you.

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How much do the Rome hop-on hop-off tours cost?

Most of the Rome hop-on-hop-off bus tour companies offer various ticket options depending on the number of days you want to use the pass, the age of the passenger (adult vs. child), and any add-ons or bundles you may wish to include.

Typically a 1-day adult ticket costs around 27-30€

Typically children aged 5-15 pay around 13-15 Euros.

I say "usually" and "around" because there are often discounts when you book tickets together, and when you book online in advance.

In most cases, you can purchase 1, 2, and 3-day passes. You can also get family passes.

Often you can add on a tour and/or ticket. See below for more details about bundles.

The best way to book a Rome sightseeing tour

Can you buy your hop-on-hop-off sightseeing tour tickets on the bus?

Most bus companies do offer the option to purchase your ticket directly on board or at a kiosk near the stop.

However, keep in mind that during high season the Rome hop-on hop-off tours sell out quickly and you may find there is no room to board.

Booking your hop-on-hop-off tickets online

If you can plan ahead, the best way to purchase your hop-on-hop-off tickets is by booking online in advance.

First of all, you'll often get a discount this way.

Second of all, as I mentioned above, sometimes in high season, you may find there is no room on board if you just show up.

How to book online and which tour to book

city sightseeing buses parked in a rowWhile it appears that there are lots of buses available, if you haven't prebooked your tickets, during high season you may find you cannot board a bus!

Looking for the best hop-on hop-off bus in Rome?

Some of the top companies to book with include:

You can also visit our partner site Get Your Guide, where you can compare the different hop-on hop-off bus tour companies, including viewing visitor ratings, the hop on bus Rome price, and more details.

There are also some hop-on hop-off bus tours that bundle other things like:

Tips for making the most of your bus tour in Rome

The hop-on-hop-off tour of Rome can be fun and interesting if you plan it right.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your tour:

What to wear

Wear comfortable shoes as you may be doing a lot of walking if you get off at any of the stops.

The weather in Rome can be quite hot in the summer, so definitely bring sunscreen and a hat or scarf to cover your head and shoulders.

No matter what season you visit Rome, here are 4 things never to leave at home:

Disclosure: If you make a purchase through a link on this page, I may receive a small commission - at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my site!

Gadgets to bring

I know I don't need to tell you to bring your smartphone and/or camera, but don't forget to also bring a spare battery for your camera, and a charger for your phone.

If you have an e-reader or tablet, consider bringing that as well so you can look up things about the sights you are seeing as you go along.

Hydrate!

A water bottle is also a good idea, especially in the summer.

You can always refill it at one of the bus stops, from one of Rome's many drinking fountains - the ideal way to stay cool and hydrated!

Stay safe

Keep your valuables close to you - pickpockets do target tourists on these buses.

Better yet, travel with a pick-pocket-proof backpack.

Visit my page here about staying safe in Rome for more tips.

Plan ahead

Book in advance to avoid disappointment.

If you decide to combine the bus tour with some city sightseeing on your own, i.e. you plan to actually get off and on the bus, make sure to have plenty of patience and no major time constraints, as the buses don't always run on schedule.

Are the bus tours in Rome accessible?

Yes, but with a caveat.

All the major companies who run the Rome hop-on hop off bus tours state on their websites that 'most' of their buses are accessible.

Most of the buses I see around the city are modern vehicles with wheelchair and step-free access available, but some do appear older.

I would recommend contacting your preferred bus company in advance to check they can accommodate your needs.

Other types of Rome bus tours you can take

If you're looking for a walking tour of Rome, you'll find those on many other pages on this site.

And while this page is mostly about taking the hop-on-hop-off bus in Rome, there are a few other types of bus tours you may find useful/interesting, including trips further afield, like bus tours from Rome to Pompeii:


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