A cat on a moped in Rome, Italy

What’s the best way to get around Rome?

Having recently joined a few Facebook groups about Rome travel to fish for blog post ideas, I have noticed that A LOT of people come to Rome and take taxis everywhere.

I discourage taxi-taking in Rome for a few reasons. The first reason is that taxis are expensive, the second is that SOME DRIVERS rip off tourists (I’m not saying all, I’m saying some, and yes, I’ve been ripped off more than once even as someone who lives in Rome and speaks Italian). The third is that driving in Rome often takes a looooong time, because everyone drives, which means there’s a ton of traffic. And the fourth is that there’s currently a shortage of taxi drivers.

The shortage issue is particularly bananas right now during the high season. Even last summer, before I stopped taking taxis regularly, I was waiting anywhere from 20-45 minutes to have a ride accepted on FreeNow, one of Italy’s taxi booking apps. This article (in Italian) from national daily Corriere della Sera, cites some scary data: 1.3 MILLION requests for taxis a month go unmet. ONE POINT FRICKIN’ THREE MILLION CALLS A MONTH, IN A EUROPEAN CAPITAL! Like, what?! 

To (somewhat) alleviate this issue, the national government has approved the issuance of 1,000 new taxi licenses and 2,000 new licenses for NCC drivers in Rome (NCC stands for “noleggio con conducente”, or rental with driver, and is what Ubers qualify as in Rome), and the city administration is working to have them issued by December of 2024. The taxi unions in Rome and Italy at large are extremely powerful, and they’re not happy with the new licenses or with how much they’re going to cost, so we’ll see what comes to pass. I sense a protest or two.

Anyway, I have started with a digression – if you’re new here, you can expect a few more.

You’ve probably sensed that I do NOT think that taxis are the best means of transport in the Eternal City, so…what is the best way to get around Rome?

Let’s take a look at the options. 

A cat on a moped in Rome, Italy
Meet your driver, angry cat. He has a customer service score of 0/10 and he will scratch you.

What’s the best way to get around Rome?

Taxi

For all the reasons listed above, I do not think that that taxis are the best way to get around Rome. That said, I understand what it’s like to be tired after a day of sightseeing, to have bags that you don’t want to haul around on public transportation, or to not want to be caught in a rainstorm or be trapped under the boiling sun. So, sometimes, you need a taxi (and hopefully, you’re lucky enough to get one).

There are a couple of taxi apps in Rome – they are FreeNow and itTaxi. 

If you use one of these apps to book, you’ll be charged a booking fee on top of the fare. They will give you an estimated price point, but keep in mind that it could vary wildly (likely being more than the highest price shown). 

I have read that it is legal for drivers to start the meter as soon as they accept the fare, but there are many drivers who do not do this and arrive with just the base fare on the meter. I can’t clarify what the law is on this officially, I’m afraid, so it’s a crapshoot as to what your driver will do. 

My advice to you is to pay the driver directly; do not put your credit card into either of these apps. All Roman taxi drivers are required to accept electronic payments, but just be aware that many of them will say that their POS is broken. Stay firm and tell them that you don’t have any cash. If you’d prefer, pay cash and make their day. 

The reason I say to not put your card in is that some drivers – this is anecdotal, but it has happened to me twice and to friends of mine – will wait for you to get out of the car and then insert the highest fare that popped up on the estimate when you requested your booking.  

I disputed one of these cases with FreeNow – I was charged an extra €5 – and they were condescending and generally terrible to deal with, but I got my money back, and then I promptly stopped taking taxis. I only take them now if I truly, truly need to (which for me means that I am very tired and the metro is closed). If you do have your card in there, STAY IN THE CAR until the driver has put the fare that’s on the meter into the app. Even if they’re “buona-serata-ing” you, keep your sweet cheeks in that car until they charge you the right amount. 

I hate to paint with a broad brush like this – I have had countless taxi drivers who are not miserable sheisters, but getting ripped off those few times really left a bad taste in my mouth. Coupled with the fact that they’re so hard to get now because of the paltry number of licenses, I just can’t recommend taxis as being your primary means of transport to get around the Eternal City. 

If you happen to find a taxi stand, you may be tempted to jump into one, and by all means, do, if you want to take a taxi, but DO NOT negotiate a fare with the driver beforehand. They are ripping you off if they do this. Make sure that the meter is on. If you have luggage, there may be supplementary fees, but they should all be clearly posted in the taxi. 

Uber

I also have a love-hate relationship with Uber in Rome, but it errs on the side of lurve.

Here’s the thing: riiiight when I stopped taking taxis, I started getting Uber coupons. Like big ones, for 20-30% off rides. Because Ubers in Rome are NCC cars, I quite enjoyed a black Mercedes or a shiny new Tesla pulling up for me and taking me to my destination for a discounted price. 

Alas, Uber seems to have stopped my discounts, so I am taking them way less frequently now, but here’s the other thing: with Uber, you’re always going to ONLY pay the price that you’re quoted at the start. And that, in a city where taxi drivers sometimes rip people off, is a beautiful thing.

Are you paying more for an Uber? In many cases, yes. But are you also avoiding the crappy feeling of getting played as a foreigner or a tourist? Also yes. Is the car going to be nice? Thrice yes (and not guaranteed with a taxi). 

You can also book taxis directly through the Uber app, and because you have to have your card in Uber, you can’t guarantee that a taxi booked through Uber won’t charge you more than the estimated fare. Like I said above, keep your tuchus right where it is until the correct charge has come through.  

A sidestreet in Trastevere in Rome, Italy
If you walk, you’ll stumble upon sights like this…

Rental car

If you would like to catapult your blood pressure into the stratosphere and enjoy spending hours looking for parking, then by all means, rent a car to drive around Rome. 

Parking in this city is unruly – I recently had to walk down an entire street in the Ponte Milvio area, like, in the actual street, because there were cars parked bumper-to-bumper on the sidewalk. It seems that there are more cars than Romans. 

Getting from A to B by car and finding parking at either end would probably slurp up hours of your trip – hours that you could spend drinking wine in a piazza or seeing something magically beautiful. Do either of those two things or pretty much anything else instead, ti prego. 

You also have to find out the rules about driving in the ZTL, or zona a traffico limitato (limited traffic zone), paying for parking in the strisce blu (blue lines), etc. Not worth it in my opinion. 

Scooter

If you truly want to do as the Romans do, you can rent a scooter (moped, motorbike, whatever you want to call it). Easier to park and to zip around on than a car, if you’re hell-bent on driving in Rome, this might be the way to do it.

Check out this company, Cooltra, for more.

A purple motorbike on Via Margutta in Rome, Italy
Via Margutta

Car sharing

According to the rules of car sharing in Rome, you can utilize the service with a foreign license if you can upload either a sworn translation of your license or if you have an international driving permit. 

This isn’t a bad option if you want to drive in the Eternal City – maybe you or someone you’re traveling with has mobility issues, or maybe you’re traveling with a little baby and want to be in charge of the vehicle they’re in.

Note that there is some designated parking for these vehicles, but it’s not everywhere and it’s not guaranteed, so you might lose some time looking for parking. 

If you want to explore this option, check out ShareNow or Enjoy.

Public transportation

I have a whopping guide to public transportation in Rome, but I’ll give you some quick tips in case you don’t have time to read my tome. 

Tickets

Public transportation in Rome is affordable. A single ticket that lasts 100 minutes (but only one metro ride) costs €1.50; however, I should note that that price will soon increase to €2. 

There are multiple options for buying tickets.

You can buy paper tickets from cigarette shops and some newsstands. These tickets need to be validated when you get on a bus, tram, or metro.

You can also buy passes that last a certain number of hours – those are detailed in my post on public transportation. 

You can tap on with a credit card, too, but these machines aren’t always easy to access on crowded buses. If you’re sticking to the metro, they’re great, because everyone has to pass through a turnstile, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to get to the machine. 

My recommendation for visitors to Rome is getting an app – either TicketAppy or MooneyGo – so that you can purchase the tickets or passes that you want and validate them directly in the app.

You should always possess a valid ticket to avoid the possibility of getting it checked and incurring a hefty fine if you’re riding illegally. Also, just like, don’t be a jerk and not pay for public transportation, dude. 

I talk about pickpockets in my public transport guide, but know this: pickpockets target certain routes that tourists typically ride – the bus 64, which runs between St. Peter’s and Termini comes to mind, as do the metro stops between major monuments. Be aware of your things and surroundings, hold bags and backpacks in front of you, and don’t keep anything in your pockets.

Bus

Rome’s bus system is extensive and can get you pretty much anywhere. There are also buses that run overnight – notturni. I can’t promise you’ll encounter the most savory crowds on the night bus, so be careful of your person and belongings. 

Roman bus drivers have pretty quirky view of time, timetables and sticking to them, so you can’t always trust the schedule that comes up on Google. Some stops have panels displaying arrival times, and some don’t. The system generally runs fine, but you might experience some delays, so be prepared. 

Tram

Rome, as a city that is essentially built on top of layers of itself and its many eras, should have way, way more trams, because digging is a nightmare, as evidenced by the decades long efforts to build a third metro line. Luckily, there are plans to build a few more routes, and I believe the work is expected to start soon. 

The city’s current trams are a great way to get around – since they have dedicated tracks they’re often exempt from traffic jams, and most of them, with the exception of a few lines that run into the city’s east, are relatively nice and new. I like the trams. If you can take them, go for it.

The turtle fountain Rome, Italy

Metro

Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for readers: The metro is the best way to get around Rome.

Being Rome, this comes with a caveat, which is that, at rush hour, the metro is hell on earth because it is so crowded and because everyone is so angry at it being so crowded. Trust me, I take it twice a day, and both of these times are at rush hour. This year alone, I have seen three fights that involved physical blows, and one woman get spat on (although that was by a pickpocket – more on those below). 

If you can possibly avoid taking the metro at rush hour, please do for the sake of those of us who live here. You will get a gold star from me for being a good tourist. 

The metro is also, most unfortunately, full of pickpockets these days. Every single morning at my stop, I see a pack of them, smoking and getting ready to ruin people’s days and possibly entire trips to Rome. Like I said above, don’t keep anything in your pockets, hold your bags in front of you, and be aware of your surroundings.

Ok, sooooo I’ve basically told you to take the metro and then made it sound like Gotham (which it kind of is). So why am I recommending it as the best to see the Eternal City? For a few reasons.

The first is that, despite occasional strikes, it’s generally reliable. It can also be a much faster way to travel than cab/bus, depending on the time of day. 

The other reason is that so many of Rome’s major monuments are on the metro lines or walkable from certain stops, including the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Circus Maximus and Baths of Caracalla, as well as the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums and Castel Sant’Angelo, as well as San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo Fuori le Mura (three of the city’s most important churches, along with St. Peter’s). What’s not to love about that?

The other perk of the metro is that if you stay on a metro line, you can find cheaper accommodation that’s a bit further out of the city center, where Rome is still Rome. Hop on the metro and boom, you’re at the Spanish Steps. 

Train

There is a, urban train system that stops in a few key areas of the city: Trastevere, Ostiense, Tuscolana, Tiburtina, Nomentana, San Pietro, Valle Aurelia and Quattro Venti (Monteverde). 

You can buy tickets on the Trenitalia app or from ticket machines at the stations. 

A yellow Fiat 500 in Rome, Italy
Via Margutta, again

E-bike or scooter

Paring down the original seven micromobility companies that were allowed to operate in Rome, the city is now serviced by three: Lime, Dott and Bird. 

I’m not going to lie: these are fun and fast, but they’re not exactly the safest option for getting around the Eternal City. That said, major efforts have been made to expand the Rome’s bike paths over the past few years, making it safer and more convenient to whiz around on e-bikes and scooters.

One major thing to note is that these rentals don’t come with a helmet – please protect your precious melon and bring your own if you plan on using them!

E-scooter sharing

Go-sharing runs a program similar to the car sharing I mentioned above, but with electric scooters (mopeds, motorbikes, whatever you call them). If you want to get from one place to another quickly, are adept at driving in chaotic cities, and don’t want to rent something for multiple days, check out this option. 

Walking

Second to the metro for me for getting around Rome is walking, especially if you’re going from place to place in the city center.

Rome is truly best enjoyed on foot, in my opinion. There are so many things to slow down and see, shops to pop into, and streets to wander down, and walking lets you do all of those things.

Get some good shoes so that you’re not in pain at the end of every day, bring your water bottle (so that you can refill it at the city’s free fountains!) and just wander, wander, wander.

An e-bike in Rome, Italy
Aaaand it’s another vehicle on Via Margutta

Getting around Rome with a baby

I would imagine that navigating Rome with a stroller is quite tricky, given the potholes, crumbling sidewalks and cobblestones, so if you’re bringing one, make sure it has shock absorbers. 

For (serious) advice, I will defer to a mamma who loves Rome.

Mobility in Rome

Rome is not particularly conducive to people with mobility issues, unfortunately. This is not something that I know much about or have much experience with, so I will share this thorough post from Romewise that’s full of advice on getting around Rome with mobility issues to help you plan your trip.

So there you have my very subjective opinions on what the best ways to get around Rome are. Thoughts? Questions? Share them in the comments!

What's the best way to get around Rome- Pin
If you found this post useful, Pin it!

Want more Rome tips and guides?

Street food in Rome

How to get the best of Rome on a budget

The best pasta in Rome

The best restaurants in Rome

How to avoid tourist traps

How to get tickets to the Vatican Museums

This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you click on one and make a purchase or booking, I’ll receive a small commission. Thanks for supporting Luggage and Life! I research and write all of the content on this site without the help of other humans or AI, and your financial support is a meaningful way to contribute to the continuation of my work. Grazie mille!

Not here to spend? No problem! I’m always grateful for likes, shares and follows, and if any of my posts have helped you out, it would be extremely kind of you to leave a review on my Facebook page.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.