If you are planning to arrive in or leave Rome on a cruise, you will actually be traveling from Civitavecchia – a port town that is located 50 miles outside of the city center. The seaside town is the port of call for cruise ships but you will need about an hour to get between the dock and the Eternal City.
There is honestly not that much to do in Civitavecchia itself so you will definitely want to come into Rome if you plan to get off the ship. There are three ways to get between Civitavecchia and Rome: train, bus, and private car. Here is how to use all three options, and the pros and cons of each.
Train to Rome from Civitavecchia
It is fairly straightforward to take the regional train between Civitavecchia and Rome. The train line is the same one which runs between Rome and Santa Marinella (Civitavecchia is just one stop further north).
The train station is about a 15-minute walk from the port, right on the edge of the center of town. Your cruise ship will likely provide a shuttle bus service to drop you closer so that you do not need to walk the entire way.
The train between Civitavecchia and Rome does not require reservations and you cannot book a seat ahead of time. You can purchase tickets at the machine inside the station, but be sure to validate them in the machines before boarding the train. In 2019, the ticket cost €4.60 each way and you can pre-book these online if you are ready to select your train departure time. Virtual tickets do not need to be printed or validated. Here is more information about buying train tickets in Italy.
Coming from Civitavecchia, after traveling down the coast and stopping in small towns, the first Rome train station you will reach is San Pietro about 40 minutes after leaving Civitavecchia. Exit here for the Vatican (and be sure you have your skip-the-line tickets already purchased for your visit). Continue on to Trastevere Station if you want to explore that Rome neighborhood.
Next is Roma Ostiense, where you can exit and switch to the metro (subway). The Colosseum in two metro stops away from here. Or, stay on the train until Roma Termini – the main station where you will find Metro lines A and B as well as trains to continue your journey on to cities like Florence. The journey to Termini from Rome’s port city takes about 1 hour.
The only risk you take will be potential train delays or the occasional transportation strike. Another thing to keep in mind: the elevators at the Civitavecchia train station were both out of service in June 2019 with no indication of when they would be repaired. If you are traveling with a lot of luggage, you will need to carry it down and then up two flights of stairs.
Shuttle Bus to Rome
To reach Rome in about an hour without having to master Italy train travel, you can also take an air-conditioned shuttle bus from Civitavecchia for €10.
For the shuttle bus, you can opt to leave Civitavecchia at 9:00 am or 9:30 am. The first stop is near the Vatican (10 am or 10:30 am depending on which bus you catch). If you plan to start here, be sure you have booked you skip the line Vatican tickets in advance! Otherwise, you can stay on the bus and continue to Termini Station (by 10:15 or 10:45 am). From here, it is a 15-minute walk downhill to the Colosseum (or a 5-minute metro ride). At Termini, you can also find taxis and buses because it is Rome’s main transport hub.
The return bus from Rome to Civitavecchia will pick you up at 3:30 pm or 4 pm, or near the Vatican at 3:45 pm or 4:15 pm, to have you back in Civitavecchia by 4:45 pm or 5:15 pm, depending on which bus you take. As you can see from the times, the bus journey takes about an hour and 15 minutes.
Luggage can be stored under the bus for the duration of the journey if you are traveling into or out of Rome with all of your things.
Taxi and Private Transfer
Taking taxis between two different cities in Italy can become very expensive very quickly. If you prefer to travel to Rome from Civitavecchia by car, I highly recommend booking a transfer service with a reputable company. That way you know exactly how much you will be paying.
I recommend using Welcome Pickups, a service that I have personally used in Rome and Athens. The car transfer from Civitavecchia to Rome (or back) takes around an hour depending on traffic and costs €140. You will be assigned a driver who has all of your pick up and drop off information so that everything is arranged and paid for in advance. You can also book a private transfer with Welcome Pickups between Civitavecchia and Fiumicino Airport for €120 if you are traveling directly between your cruise and the airport.
This option is private, pre-paid and direct to your final destination so no switching to public transportation is required.
A Note on Cruises in Italy
I understand that cruise ships have their appeal and in this case, they absolutely help support the economy of Civitavecchia. However, Venice is another matter and I strongly urge you not to take a cruise that includes Venice as a stop.
Venice is a city that deserves so much more of your time, and the cruise ship industry is really proving to be dangerous in this special Italian city – as proved by the recent cruise ship crash.
These big boats may be fun, but they pose a huge threat to Venice and I urge you to do research before deciding to take a cruise which includes La Serenissima as a stop.
Please note: This post may include affiliate links to services which I personally use and recommend. Should you choose to book using these links, I may receive a small commission but you are under no obligation to do so.