Get around Rome pronto

As with most major European cities, getting from the main airport (Fiumicino) to downtown Roma can prove an expensive challenge. Along with the cost varying, it can be a relatively quick (20 minutes) journey or a tediously slow one (two hours)! Read on for my experience of the three ways to get to Rome CBD from Fiumicino (FCO) – the best option may surprise you.


Expect to pay the mandated charge of 48 euro one way – if there are two or more of you this becomes more affordable, but as a solo, it is quite expensive. It’s also not for the faint-hearted. The two different drivers I had were both Formula One wannabees – the wheels barely touched the bitumen as we flew towards the Eternal City. On one level amusing, but the second driver was so oblivious to our personal safety I reported him to our hotel manager. Sadly, he shrugged his shoulders in that international gesture – What can you do? – so I guess he’s still terrorising unwitting tourists.
Expensive, but fast and direct. 

Hotel Shuttle Bus

The Viator hotel shuttle bus can be booked ahead of time online. Viator is part of the TripAdvisor group and so offers similar shuttle bus collections in most major cities around the world. In theory, the 15-euro price tag, for a door-to-door service, offers the best bang for your buck compared to a taxi or train. But in practice, it didn’t work for me at all, proving time-consuming and frustrating. My plane arrived punctually at 7.35am (thanks Cathay). After a 25-hour flight from wintry Melbourne, arriving in Rome in 30 degrees made my desire for a shower even stronger. I cleared customs and baggage within 30 minutes. But as the Viator shuttle service offers lifts to all to many hotels, we had to wait for a passenger whose plane had arrived at the same time as mine, but at 9am was still a no-show. Finally, at 9.10am the Viator staff agreed he really was lost in space, somewhere else and we finally boarded the mini bus and started toward the city. After a long haul flight, hanging around the airport waiting for another random traveller for more than an hour meant the Viator option is not one I would recommend.
Highly recommended online, but it didn’t work for me

Leonardo Express train

Saving the best till last, I can highly recommend the Leonardo Express train. Travelling direct from Rome’s central Termini station to FCO is the fastest and cheapest way to go. I booked online early that morning and used my smart phone to show my ticket at the station and onboard. As there is free wifi at the station this worked well, but I needed to switch on mobile data to show the barcode on board (I suggest you save to ‘passport’ on an iPhone). As with most trains in Europe, the Leonardo Express is crowded, but there were enough seats for the many travellers and generous room to stow suitcases and backpacks. The journey takes precisely 32 minutes. We left on time and arrived on time at Terminal One, and it was a relatively short walk to Terminal Three where most intercontinental flights depart. At 14 euro the journey is quick and inexpensive. And even when you factor in a five or eight Euro cab fare to the Termini station, it is still by far the most efficient and affordable way to get to and from Fiumicino airport. The only exception is for those whose planes depart super early or arrive very late – the last train departs Termini at 10.35pm and the airport at 11.23pm.
By far the most efficient way to get from the heart of Rome to the main airport and back.

Note: Kaye didn’t use Uber in Rome, but at the time of writing, a one-way trip from Fiumicino to the Spanish Steps was quoted as 64 euro (with UberBLACK). 

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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