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  • Writer's pictureJay Hicks

The Elusive Roma Pass. Is it worth it?

Updated: May 29, 2022

A great many websites tout the virtues of purchasing the Roma Pass. To be sure, it is a very useful tool, but it may not be right for you.

The Roma Pass comes in 48 and 72 hour increments and covers transportation on buses, trains and metro during that period. It also covers entrance cost of one or two major sites or museums, depending on the duration. Sites such as the Colosseum, Roman and Imperial Forums, Capitoline Museums, Ara Pacis, Trajan's Market, the National Roman Museums, the Caracalla Baths, Borghese Gallery, Circo Massimo, Forum Pass Super, and Castel Sant'Angelo are included. It also enables you to use certain restrooms in Rome, called P-Stops, which I never saw.

The price is fairly steep . The 48 hour pass cost €32. By comparison, if you wanted a metro pass for the same period of time the cost would only be €12.50. Entrance to the Colosseum is about €12. In this case, you would save a little money buying the Colosseum and metro pass separately. However, if you desired to visit a more expensive attraction such as the Borghese Gallery, you would actually save a dollar buying the Roma Pass. I also must add, you get a nice map and simple method for moving around and seeing the city sites with the Roma Pass and discounts for all the sites.

Be aware, there are multiple challenges with the Roma Pass. First there is no indication on the Roma Pass that you must pay and make online reservations to enter the Colosseum. The cost of the reservation is an additional € 2 per person. I saw more than one foreigner frustrated because they had purchased passes online and could not enter the Colosseum because they had not made and paid for an online reservation, and/or they had not picked up their hardcopy of the Roma Pass.

The second problem is finding a location that sells the Roma Pass. Even though they sell them online, but you have to pick up the physical pass at a specified location that you must locate and travel to. The online receipt does not get you into the sites. I must emphasize, you are required to pick up your Roma Pass at the correct location.

On the Hunt for the Roma Pass

This brings me to my next concern about the Roma Pass. The website clearly indicates that the Roma Pass is available for purchase at certain specified metro stations. We bought a €1.5 one-way metro trip so that we could pick up our Roma Pass. Upon arrival at the specified Spagna metro station we began our lengthy search for a unspecified ticket office location to purchase the Roma Pass.

Logically, we started our search with the metro ticket sales office, as the Roma Pass provides metro transportation. We were promptly told to go upstairs and purchase the Roma Pass above ground. After checking with several different locations upstairs, we were finally told to check the news stand down the block. We checked two news stands and no luck.

Dropping into a hotel nearby and asking the receptionist about the pass, we learned that the best way to purchase the pass was at the main train station in Rome - AKA - the Termini Station. So we bought another metro ticket to the Termini. After checking with the train ticket sales, we were told to go to a news stand to buy the Roma Pass. At the news stand, a young man stated that he sold the Roma Pass and asked how many I would like? When I said I wanted four - 48 hour passes, he proceeded to tell me he would be back in five minutes with the passes as he left the news stand.

Termini Station Hudson News has the Roma Pass

Due to frustration and perhaps rude, we walked away. I then found a Hudson News which had the passes. We purchased the passes and felt fortunate, as we thought we were finally heading out to see the sites of Rome. Looking at my watch, I noticed we had spent approximately two hours trying to find the elusive Roma Pass.

We ran downstairs to get on the Metro line “MB“ for a short three stop rid to the Colosseum and found the line to be closed for the day. As we made our way back upstairs we decided to take a cab as we had already lost so much time looking for the Roma Pass.

Upon arrival at the Colosseum, we were told Roma Pass holders must have a reservation to get in. So we jumped online and purchased reservations at a cost of € 2 per person, not included with the Roma Pass. There are so many different organizations offering entrance to the Colosseum with different pricing schemes, it is difficult to determine the best (and least expensive) way to enter. However, with our reservations now only 4 1/2 hours away, we had a lovely lunch, a badly needed wine and visited the Forum adjacent to the Colosseum.

Lunch, wine and entertainment with the Colosseum

The point is this, If you plan on doing a lot of traveling in Rome – which most will - the metro transport pass, readily available at each station, may be a better method than searching for the Roma Pass.

A couple of other points. Vatican tours are not included with the Roma Pass and must be purchased separately. Another lesser known fact, if you happen to be in Rome on the first Sunday of the month, access to most museums in Rome is free of charge.

Have fun and study the best solution for you, based on your time, desires and transportation requirements. There are plenty of tickets for sale, and I think most are completely legit. However, there is significant variation in cost. All will tell there ticket is the best.

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