Rome Tourist Cards
Rome Tourist Cards
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Rome wants to eliminate ticket scalpers and has made several changes to the way you buy tickets for major attractions and museums. It may seem complicated at first, but we promise to enlighten you as to what makes the best city pass for Rome. We'll have a look at the different types of pass available and the differences between them. We'll also have a look at whether you're in need of a Rome city pass, such as the Roma Pass, or any other type of pass. In short, we've done our research with the help of Sandrina Bokhorst, an expert on Rome.

About 5 years ago, on a July day just before my sister was to return home to the US, she decided that since we were living in Rome, her children should at least see the Colosseum. So at about 10 in the morning she took the bus to the centre of the city and walked to the ticket office at the entrance. She bought the tickets, asked the ticket agent how to get in, and voilà, she was back by noon. Although she is a professional photographer, she never takes pictures of such moments, so sorry to say I don't have any photographic evidence of this.

Update April 6, 2024: We have been informed that as of May 1, reservations for the Archeological Park of the Colosseum and Forum will no longer be handled by CoopCulture, but by the park itself. We have no further information at this time. 

Which Pass Is the Best for Visiting Rome?

I think it was also a challenge to visit the Colosseum back then, the year before the pandemic. Skip the line and discount cards were the recommended ways to get into such a place. But as usual, the exception proved the rule, and there I was, made a fool of by my "that'll never work" remark.

Fast forward to 2024, today you need not only a ticket but also a reservation for almost everything you want to see, except the Via Appia Antica. In my opinion, still the best deal in town!

As of this year, tickets to the Colosseum are limited and released gradually to prevent scalpers from buying them all up. I'm ready to guide you through the jungle of Roman discounts and passes. Because let's face it: Rome is not only a city of incomparable historical treasures, but also of tourist traps that you can easily fall into if you're not careful.

The Colosseum: To Buy or not to Buy at the Box Office?

I began my odyssey on the internet, visiting various sites that promised to lead me to the promised land of affordable tickets. I found many, but for those sites not mentioned here, my advice is simple: avoid them.

Shall we start with the Colosseum as an example? It usually costs 16 euros at the box office. Sixteen euros! You can't even buy a glass of wine for that in New York!

Now you might be thinking, "Elisabeth, there's so much available on this subject, why cover it again?" Well, simply because much of the information available is out of date. To be honest, I have never really delved into the maze of Roman passports and discount cards. But after a reader's plea and several distress calls on Reddit, I thought: let's dive into this cryptic world. What I found was a mixture of headaches and frustration, and I completely understand the plight of the lonesome tourist. Couldn't be simpler? But no, Rome has decided not to make it easy for us. Although, if you think about it, there is a certain logic to the chaos.

So here I am, armed with my own knowledge of Italian bureaucracy and that of Rome expert Sandrina Bokhorst, who has written a book about it, ready to guide you through this maze to discover the wonders of Rome worry-free. With a logical approach, as promised. And while not every city agency has responded to all of my questions, we do have enough information to take on the challenge. So buckle up, because here we go!

The Roma Pass

The Roma Pass promises to be the Swiss army knife of tourist passes in Rome. But as with any piece of sophisticated Roman bureaucracy, there are a few snags. For in the world of Roma Passes, it seems you need an agenda, a calculator and the patience of a saint. In 2024, the year in which even spaghetti cooks itself al dente, the Roma Pass comes in two flavours: 48 hours and 72 hours, and a multitude of variations.

Sponsored by Roma Capitale and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in collaboration with ATAC, the Rome public transport operator, the pass is valid for 72 or 48 hours and includes a choice of more than 45 museums, monuments, archaeology sites and experiences, including the Colosseum. Recent additions to the pass include a visit to the Archaeological Circus Maximus and the immersive, multi-sensory Circus Maximus Experience. Remember, you still need to book in advance for the Colosseum and most major attractions, which can cost an extra €2 per person per attraction, because even reservations are not free in Rome. It's like ordering a pizza and the waiter saying, "Yes, you can have the pizza, but the mozzarella will cost you extra".

Roma Pass 48 Hours

For €32 you get a 48-hour pass, perfect for those who want to see Rome quickly. What do you get for your money? Free entry to 1 attraction such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill (which are booked together so count as 1 attraction in this case, €16 + €2 reservation fee), plus you can choose other museums or attractions, some with a discount, some only if you are an EU resident. You also get free public transport for 2 days, worth €12.50, a single trip on public transport in Rome typically costs €1.50 and is valid for 100 minutes. So even I can do the math: 16 + 12.50 = €28.50, so you pay €3.50 more with the pass. (Reservation fees are not included in the pass).

Roma Pass 72 Hours

Then there is the 72-hour pass for €52, for those who want to experience their Roman adventure at a more leisurely pace. The difference is that with this pass you get 'free' access to two attractions, such as the Colosseum etc, and perhaps Villa Borghese. The calculation is then 16 (1st attraction Colosseum) + 12 (2nd attraction Villa Borghese) + 18 (public transport card for 72 hours) = €46.00, so you end up spending exactly €6 more with the pass. But you do get discounts at other museums or sites, see below.

Interestingly, the passes mentioned above are sometimes sold out, yes, it happens. So, if you're going to Rome and you've missed out on the 48-hour Roma Pass, you'll be stuck with the 72-hour variant, or vice versa.

What Exactly is Included in the Roma Pass?

  • Free access to the first one or two chosen museums or archaeological sites, including exhibitions on the list, here and here.
  • Discounts on museums, services, or sites, see this link for services.
  • Unlimited use of public transport within Rome for 48 or 72 hours from the first activation. See this link for details.

The Roma Pass can be bought online on the official websites, but also at museums, Tourist Infopoints and ATAC metro stations, and is valid for 48 or 72 hours from the first use. Some so-called affiliations are also allowed to sell the pass, which will be explained later in this article.

Important Points to Read Before Purchasing a City Pass

  • The pass is not valid for St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museums, Leonardo Express, and the airport shuttle bus.
  • It makes no sense to buy the pass if you cannot get a reservation for the attractions or archeological sites you want to see, which applies to all passes, so first check if the attraction has availability, for example, via the CoopCulture website (more about this later in the article).
  • Pay attention to where the Roma Pass needs to be picked up.
  • Upon purchase, you receive a map of Rome with participating attractions and where to pick up the public transport metro card, ATAC counters at various locations in the city.
  • According to Sabrina, you should also make sure that the name on your reservation matches the name on your ID or passport. Otherwise, you won't be allowed into the attractions you've booked, Roma Pass or no Roma Pass.
  • Personally, Sabrina doesn't think the Roma Pass is worth it, as an average tourist might only use public transport twice a day, and for that, a card costing at least €12 per person is overkill. You can check the official admission prices for each museum or attraction on the Ministry of Culture's website, which has made a very clear overview. 

If you still want to buy a Roma Pass, this is the official link.

Buy Roma Pass

Skip the Line No Longer Exists

According to Sabrina Bokhorst, who has been a tour guide in Rome for over 20 years, the concept of "skip the line" no longer exists now that attractions have to be booked in advance. So if anyone online tries to sell you Skip The Line tickets at a high price, Sabrina advises against it.

The reason there's still a long queue at the Colosseum is that security takes a long time to check everyone; you can't avoid it, even with a reservation. I have a lot of sympathy for those queuing to get in during the hot summer months, but they've solved that problem as well. There are now vents along the line that blow a light cooling mist

Most Passes are Based on the Roma Pass +

Ah, the maze of alternative Roman city passes - a veritable labyrinth that can confuse even the most experienced tourist. For starters, there's the Best of Rome Pass and the Visit Rome Pass (sometimes called the Rome Pass).

What Do All the Passes Have in Common?

Exactly, the Roma Pass. It's as if all these passes want to go to the same party, but the Roma Pass is the only one that's truly on the guest list!

These city passes are sometimes sold directly, but mainly through sites such as Tiqets, GetYourGuide, and Viator. Another similarity is the discounting: perhaps some extra convenience and the promise of "skip the line" - a concept that does not exist in Rome anymore.

What the commercial cards almost always have in common is that they offer the regular municipal Roma Pass, but with all sorts of bells and whistles that you pay extra for.

VisitRome Pass

Let's take the VisitRome Pass as an example. This pass aims to capture the essence of Rome in a plastic (digital) card, but how does it work in practice?

Explanation of the VisitRome Pass (Rome City Pass, RomePass)

This city pass, in my opinion, has had more names than an undercover agent in a spy novel. 'What’s in a name', and how confusing can you make it by differentiating your product by one letter from Rome's 'official' city pass. For this reason, this year, the pass was renamed the ‘VisitRome Pass’ instead of Rome Pass. The biggest difference from the Roma Pass is that this card is also available for 7 days and provides access to the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel. The people who bring this pass to the market are trustworthy.

The owner of this new product is Visit Italy srl. The official website is www.visititaly.eu, and they have two offices, one in Naples, the headquarters in Galleria Umberto I, and a second one in Milan with an office at via Filippo Argelati 10. “Visit Italy srl also owns the Naples Pass and the Venice Pass, so it seemed logical at the time to them to give the product a similar name,” says Giuseppe Renzuto, Head of Citypass Product.

Why Would you Choose the VisitRome Pass Over the Roma Pass?

According to the operator, the product is more comprehensive than the Roma Pass, for the simple reason that it includes the most visited attractions and archeological sites in Italy (The Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill) plus the Vatican Museums (including the Sistine Chapel) and St. Peter's Basilica on one pass. What else is included in this pass? You get access to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum with the 3-day and 7-day pass versions. Finally, they are the only ones to offer a 7-day pass for Rome, which includes both transport (public transport from ATAC) and all major city attractions (Vatican, Colosseum, Castel Sant'Angelo, to name a few).

Part Physical, Part Digital

It wasn't entirely clear to me how this would work, so I asked for more clarification. Where do you pick up your pass if you've bought it, or can it only be done online?

The 2-day, 3-day, and 7-day versions consist of the VisitRome pass app and a physical component, the Roma pass, which the customer always needs to pick up at info points in Rome. Their app contains, besides the possibility to directly book the Vatican with the Sistine Chapel and Leonardo Museum, various information about the city that is useful for the customer for orientation and other general information (such as the phone numbers of embassies in Rome). A few options that require an additional fee include a bus transfer from Fiumicino to Rome city plus the hop-on hop-off bus.

You can purchase the VisitRome pass here through the official link.

Please note: You still need to make reservations for the days when you plan to visit attractions, so ensure that your desired dates are available, for example, through the CoopCulture website.

VisitRome Pass

Omnia Card

Seeing Rome with the Omnia Card is like seeing Rome through the prism of the Vatican, even the Colosseum plays a part in the Bible. Sandrina is not really a fan, she claims, "everything becomes such standard history, whereas the history of Rome is much more fascinating and diverse, with many characters and legends".

Depending on the time available, there are two solutions of the Omnia Card, valid for 24 or 72 hours, which include a different number of services. This pass might be handy if you want to visit the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, but in my opinion they are less interesting than the Catacombs of San Callisto (entry €8 per person). The €69/24 hr pass includes entrance to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, hop-on hop-off bus, entrance to the Carcer Tullianum, entrance to and visit to the Monastery and Basilica of Saint John with a multilingual audio guide, guided visit to the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, Vox City Guide. How much would this cost separately? We don't think it's worth it, because 24 hours is just enough to see the Vatican, have lunch and then the day is over. The 72-hour version (€149) is a little more interesting, as it includes the Roma Pass, but it does compete with the Visit Rome Pass at €99 per person.

Please note: You still need to make reservations for the days when you plan to visit attractions, so ensure that your desired dates are available, for example, through the CoopCulture website.

OMNIA CARD

Our opinion

If your visit is short and you only need a few tickets, we recommend that you buy them separately. For public transport, you should buy a ticket for each journey you make or a day pass if you need one. If you a week or longer and want to visit the Vatican museums, I recommend the VisitRome Pass. 

(Remember that many ticket machines in metro stations no longer accept cash, so buy your tickets at a tabacchi shop).

FAI Members

This is interesting for tourists who visit Italy frequently, as you're supporting a good cause and an organization that, with its fund, supports more than 70 important heritage sites. As a FAI member, you are entitled to free access to all FAI monuments every year, plus 4 free admission tickets for family or friends. Additionally, and particularly relevant in this context, you get discounts at over 1000 monuments and museums throughout Italy. The specific Roman museums and attractions offering discounts to FAI members can vary and change over time. You also get a €2 discount on the Roma Pass. For FAI members, there's a 27% discount on tickets for the Jewish Museum of Rome and a 33% discount on entrance tickets for the MAXXI Museum.

Become a FAI member

What is COOPCulture?

I've mentioned it before in the chapter 'Important Points to Read Before Purchasing a City Pass'. You'll definitely come across this site in your quest to order entrance tickets or make reservations for Rome's major attractions, as well as for many other attractions in Italy, like the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento or the museums in Florence. It's a collaboration that was established in 2017. The major players in Italy's cultural landscape utilize the 'Ticketing Services from CoopCulture,' as a company representative informed us. It is an Italian cooperative, which means they operate on a not-for-profit basis. The key component of CoopCulture is its digital platform, which comprises a reservation system for entrance tickets.

CoopCulture website

Book and buy everything separately?

Sabrina rightly advises, in my opinion, that a trip to Rome requires some planning. Determine in advance what you want to see and check if it's best to schedule the attractions in advance with reservations where necessary and online tickets that you order directly. For some destinations, like the new Forma Urbus museum and the Via Appia Antica, reservations are not necessary at all. Once you've calculated all the entrance fees and the necessary public transport, you may find that you're better off without a Roma Pass or any other pass. Consider taking a taxi if your group is more than 2 people.

Parco Colosseum App

The Parco Colosseo app is quite handy, as it features numerous audio guides for your visit. However, if you attempt to purchase a ticket through their app, you will be directed to the booking system of CoopCulture. Some popular ticket options include:

  • Standard ticket €16 + €2 reservation fee. Full Experience Arena tickets €22 + €2 reservation fee.
  • The Full Experience Undergrounds and Arena €22 + €2 reservation fee.

By purchasing one of these tickets for Parco Colosseo, you gain access to all parts of the Park plus one of the other SUPER sites. These SUPER sites are additional components of the Archaeological network of Parco Colosseo such as:

  • Palatine Museum
  • The House of Augustus
  • Aula Isiaca / Loggia Mattei
  • Santa Maria Antiqua
  • Oratory of the Forty Martyrs
  • The Curia Julia
  • Domus Tiberiana
  • The Domus Transitoria (House of Livia) is currently closed.

Through the CoopCulture app, you can also purchase tickets for the seperate SUPER sites at €4 per person.

The ticket office for the Colosseum is now located at Largo della Salara Vecchia and a second one at Palazzo Colosseo, where you can pick up your tickets.

Other attractions that require reservations through the COOPCulture app or website include:

  • Terme di Caracalla (Baths of Caracalla)
  • Case Romane del Celio (Roman Houses of Celio)
  • Crypta Balbi
  • Galleria Corsini
  • Palazzo Barberini
  • Palazzo Altemps
  • Palazzo Massimo
  • Palazzo Merulana
  • Parco Archeologico dell’Appia Antica (Appian Way Archaeological Park)
  • Terme di Diocleziano (Baths of Diocletian)
  • Museo Nazionale Romano (National Roman Museum)

In addition, they offer various guided visits to off-the-beaten-path monuments such as the Tempio di Minerva Medica, Basilica Sotterranea di Porta Maggiore, Piramide Cestia, and Foro Boario.

For tickets click here

Municipal Museums of Rome

If you are looking for a ticket to any of the following attractions and museums, you need to use a completely different reservation system.

The municipal museums of Rome include:

  • Mausoleum of Augustus
  • Musei Capitolini
  • Centrale Montemartini
  • Mercati di Traiano
  • Museo dell'Ara Pacis
  • Museo di Roma (e.g., Museo della Civiltà di Rome in EUR)
  • Museo di Roma in Trastevere
  • Gallery of Modern Art
  • Musei di Villa Torlonia
  • Civic Museum of Zoology
  • Planetarium

These tickets are sold through the Vivaticket reservation system.

Municipal Museums of Rome

Reservations for Visiting Galleria Borghese, Castel Sant'Angelo, Galleria Spada in Rome

The NON-municipal museums, for example, Villa Giulia (Etruscan Museum) https://www.museoetru.it/, Galleria Borghese, MAXXI, and Galleria Doria Pamphilj, among many others, need to be booked through different channels. This is a guide to the official channels and websites of the most popular attractions in Rome.

Tickets for the following popular attractions and museums in Rome, such as:

  • Museo Nazionale Galleria Borghese,
  • Museo Nazionale of Castel Sant'Angelo
  • Galleria Spada
  • Museo Nazionale of Musical Instruments

For these attractions, it's essential to check their specific websites or official ticketing partners to book your visit. Each site often has its own booking system, and it's recommended to make reservations well in advance, especially for highly visited locations like Galleria Borghese, which is known for its strict entry time slots and high demand.

These can be booked via Gebart: https://www.gebart.it/musei/

The Pantheon, A Story of Its Own

Since the pandemic, the Pantheon requires an entrance fee and a reservation! However, Sandrina mentions that there's a good chance that tickets will still be sold at the box office. There are three entrances to the Pantheon: one that you can use with a QR scan if you already have a ticket, allowing you to bypass the queue. There are also two other gates: one for those who need to pay for their ticket with a bank card (this line is the longest) and another for those who want to pay in cash. Contrary to what I thought and what the website might say, you do not have to collect your ticket at the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Lucina, although you can pick up an audio guide for the visit. It's 600 metres or 10 minutes on foot from the Pantheon.

Reserve a ticket for the Pantheon visit through the following official link.

Buy Entrance Ticket

MAXXI Museum

The MAXXI in Rome is a national museum of contemporary art and architecture, renowned for its innovative design and groundbreaking exhibitions.

Book your tickets for the MAXXI Museum in Rome through this official channel:

Buy Entrance Ticket

Doria Pamphilj

The Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is a stunning baroque palace in Rome, home to a rich art collection and still partially inhabited by the noble Doria Pamphilj family.

Reserve your admission tickets for the Doria Pamphilj using the official link below:

Buy Entrance Ticket


Sandrina BokhorstWithout the knowledge of Rome expert Sandrina Bokhorst, this article would not have been possible, and I would like to thank her very much for her contribution. Sabrina is a guide and writer with over 20 years experience. She gives personal guided tours for tourists in Rome. For more information, please visit her website at https://www.persoonlijkrome.nl/.

 

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