Unlike the metro, Rome’s urban bus network covers the entire city. As a visitor, you’ll most likely need to use this transportation option to get to certain points of interest or to your accommodation (if it’s not located near a metro station). Therefore, you must know how to use the city buses and what tools are helpful for route planning.
Unfortunately, the use of buses has some drawbacks. One of the most obvious is that, as in any other major metropolis, traffic jams can cause delays on popular routes. However, the lack of information on lines and schedules is an additional factor that makes many visitors in Rome (and even some residents) avoid them as much as possible.
In case you prefer to avoid public busses, you can explore Rome by foot. If walking is not your thing, you also have the option to discover the city using tourist buses. These have specially designed routes for visitors that cover the main sights of the city, including audio guides. Another alternative is to book a guided tour. This is an ideal solution to avoid stress and worries of any kind.
Types of lines
Daily, 343 city bus lines are operating in Rome. Most of them are managed by ATAC, the company in charge of public transportation in the city. The rest are managed by TPL, a private company.
Regardless of who manages the lines, they are all similar in their operation and share the same fare system. Interesting to know is that lines 60, 74, and 90 employ trolleybuses. Moreover, the recently reactivated lines 117 and 119 use small electric buses to travel through areas in the center of Rome that are difficult to access.
All lines have a classification depending on their schedules, the number of stops, and the zones in which they operate. In total there are six classifications, which are explained below.
|Type of line|
|Type of line||Urban “u”||Night “n”||Express “x”||Exact “e”||Maritime “m”||Regional|
|Characteristics||The most common ones. They have many stops and operate until midnight.||They operate between midnight and 5:30 am. Some of them replace the subway and suburban train.||They make few stops and have high frequencies. Useful to cover certain routes in a short time.||These are peripheral lines with very few stops and established schedules. They’re not very popular among visitors.||They operate between May and September and are useful to visit the beaches of Rome.||They’re useful to reach any destination within the Lazio region but they have a different fare system.|
|Details||See details||See details||See details||See details||See details||See details|
Urban lines (u)
These are the most common lines. The buses stop at all stops and they’re certainly the ones you’ll use often during your stay in Rome.
Each line has its schedule but usually, they all start driving between 5:00 am and 6:30 am. In the evening, the last bus leaves the initial stop at midnight, although some urban lines have extended schedules until 2:00 am.
You can identify urban lines by the blue color and the letter “u” on the information displays at any stop.
Night lines (n)
Most of the 31 night lines operate from midnight to approximately 5:30 am.
Some of these lines cover the same routes as the subway and one of the suburban train routes. They usually start operating when these two means of transportation close their stations (with a frequency of 15 minutes).
Buses on these routes make stops at each station on the subway or suburban train line they replace, so they can be useful in case you missed the last train. The lines in question are as follows:
|Replaces||Metro line A||Metro line B||Branch B1 of metro line B||Metro line C||Line Roma-Lido of the suburban train.|
There are a few other lines that cover tram routes but they are generally of little interest to visitors.
On the information displays at the stops, you can identify the night lines by the dark blue color and the prefix “n”.
Express lines (x)
In total, there are 12 express lines characterized by high frequencies and few stops. They’re very efficient in connecting distant areas within Rome in relatively short times. Besides, they can be useful for specific routes such as the one from Termini to Castel Sant’Angelo, covered by line 40.
You can identify express lines by the green color and the letter “x” on the information displays at any stop.
Exact lines (e)
They are the minority. The lines are operated by TPL with quite strict timetables, few stops, and are mostly peripheral. They are of little tourist interest and it’s unlikely that you’ll need to use them during your stay in Rome.
They can be recognized at any stop by the brown color and the letter “e” on the information displays.
Maritime lines (m)
During summer (usually from May to September), ATAC operates three lines that allow better mobility along the coast. These are the maritime lines, which could be useful to explore some of the beaches in the area after visiting Ostia Antica, a place you can easily reach using the Roma-Lido line of the suburban trains.
The maritime lines are 07, 062, and 068. They can be identified by the green aqua color and the letter “m” on the information displays at the stops.
In addition to city buses, Rome is also covered by regional buses (blue colored) operated by COTRAL. The regional network of this company is very dense and connects all the towns of the Lazio region.
Stops and interesting lines
The metro is certainly the best way to visit popular sights such as the Vatican, Colosseum, Roman Forum, or Piazza di Spagna. However, the route of its lines doesn’t cover every part of the center, while many sites of interest are located in that area.
To visit certain attractions, it’s necessary to walk or take a bus. Some of the lines that might be useful in these cases are the following:
|Details||The Express line is very useful for tourists. It stops at Termini, Piazza Venezia, Torre Argentina, and Piazza Pia (very close to the Vatican, next to Castel Sant’Angelo).||An urban line with a similar route to line 40, except with more stops along the way.||An urban line connecting the Vatican area with Tiburtina.||An urban line connecting the Vatican with the southeast of Rome, passing along sites of great tourist interest such as the Circus Maximus, the Roman Forum, and the Colosseum.||An urban line that uses small electric buses. It’s useful to reach the Gianicolense Park from the Castel Sant’Angelo area.||Another urban line that uses electric buses but connects Piazza Venezia with Piazza del Popolo, passing through Piazza di Spagna.||An urban line that supports the Roma-Lido line of suburban trains. It’s useful to reach the coast, but not to visit Ostia Antica.|
When traveling on any of these lines, it’s important to keep an eye on your belongings. The buses on these routes tend to be overcrowded at certain times and during specific seasons, which is an ideal scenario for pickpockets.
How to use the buses in Rome
The buses are easier to use than they might seem at first glance. Once you know which line to use and which stop to get off at, you don’t have much to worry about.
To find out which line and which stops are convenient for you to reach your destination, we recommend using the tools listed later in this article. Otherwise, you’ll have to use complex maps or ask other people for directions.
You’ll notice that, as in many other cities, most buses in Rome have three doors. You can get on and off using any of them. Also take into account that, especially during rush hour, many buses are overcrowded.
If you have a previously validated ticket or pass, you don’t need to do anything else but carry it around in case there is an inspection. Otherwise, you’ll need to validate your ticket by inserting it into one of the yellow machines located in the back and front of the vehicle.
In case the machines don’t work, follow this rule: write the date and time of the start of your journey on the ticket. If this isn’t possible due to the lack of a pen, don’t worry too much. You’ll only be checked if a ticket inspector gets on the bus.
Tickets and passes
The tickets sold by ATAC can be used to travel by city buses, trams, suburban trains, and the subway in Rome. A one-way ticket (BIT) costs €1.50 and allows you to make unlimited transfers to other methods of transportation in the city. The ticket is valid for 100 minutes after validation.
On the other hand, if you plan to make multiple trips during your stay, some of the passes may be convenient for you. You can check the details of all the available passes in our guide.
Please, note that it’s not possible to buy tickets or passes on board of public buses. You need to purchase them in advance at tobacco shops, kiosks, or ticket machines at metro stations. There’s also the possibility of buying tickets online with your phone, using one of the B+ apps from ATAC.
All ATAC tickets and passes can also be used for urban routes of regional COTRAL buses. For trips beyond the urban areas, it’s necessary to purchase a BIRG ticket or COTRAL ticket.
For detailed information on how to purchase your tickets, e.g. via B+ apps or using the Tap&Go system, check out our guide:
Traveling without a ticket
The driver won’t check if you have a valid ticket when you board. However, ticket inspectors get on the buses from time to time to inspect everyone’s tickets.
If you don’t have a valid ticket, you’ll get a fine of €100, plus the ticket price of €1.50 and administration costs of €3.40. If you pay the fine immediately, it’s halved.
Most city bus lines start operating at 5:30 a.m., although some start driving an hour later, at 6:30 a.m. In the evening, the last buses usually leave the initial stops of each line at midnight.
The exact schedules for each line can be found on the information displays at each stop. However, no line (except for the “ exact” ones) has pre-established schedules throughout the day, so you’ll simply have to wait for the next bus to arrive at the stop.
Consult waiting times
Some stops have electronic boards that show the estimated waiting times for busses. These estimations are calculated by a satellite control system, installed on most buses, and are usually quite accurate.
You can also check the waiting times on your smartphone, using the Roma Mobilità app or the Muoversi a Roma tool. Neither is available in English, but both have intuitive and easy-to-understand interfaces.
To look up details about the arrival of the next bus, you’ll need the identification code of your stop. It’s five digits long and can be found on the lower left side of the information display.
With these tools, it’s also possible to enter the line number to see where the buses are currently on the route.
Unfortunately, public bus stops don’t have maps of the lines they’re part of. The information displays only show the other stops on the lines and include the departure times of the first and last bus from the terminal stops.
If you wish to consult the route of a particular line, it’s best to use the Muoversi a Roma tool.
On the other hand, if you want to see the coverage of the urban bus network, you can check out the official ATAC map. It helps to get a general overview of the network but it’s not very useful for route planning. If you want to look up the best traveling option to a destination, it’s best to use one of the available route planning tools.
Download the map of Rome’s bus network (PDF - 3.80 MB)
There are various helpful tools for planning journeys and paying for trips by public transportation in Rome. To use them during your stay, you’ll need a smartphone with an internet connection or, in some cases, a laptop.
|Tool||Moovit||Google Maps||Roma Mobilità||Muoversi a Roma|
|Purpose||Route planning for city buses and all other methods of public transportation in Rome.||Detailed maps and route planning for public transportation in many cities worldwide.||Mobile app to plan routes and check waiting times at bus and tram stops.||Route planning, line information, and waiting time information for buses and trams.|
|Details||See details||See details||See details||See details|
Moovit (mobile and web)
The purpose of this app is to provide information about public transportation routes in Rome and other cities around the world. Besides, it’s the only one recommended by the local transportation authority (ATAC).
When it comes to buses and trams, the app can provide real-time information (based on GPS data) on vehicle arrivals at any stop. For the subway, it provides estimated arrival times of the next trains.
Moovit is ideal for planning trips using any type of public transportation, including regional lines operated by Trenitalia. You can use the app directly in your web browser without having to download it. However, it’s recommended that you install it anyway for a significantly better user experience.
Google Maps (mobile and web)
This popular tool provides detailed information on route planning and sights. Google Maps is very user-friendly and provides real-time updates on all public transportation methods (including Trenitalia’s regional trains).
Just like Moovit, Google Maps suggests several routes to reach your destination. Also, it provides information about the arrival time of vehicles through the “Schedule Explorer” option.
Google Maps is installed by default on most devices running on Android. If you don’t have the app yet, you can download it for free or use the web version.
Roma Mobilità (mobile)
This tool is specifically designed to plan routes and view waiting times at bus and tram stops in Rome. However, it doesn’t contain information about the metro and is only available in Italian. Fortunately, the interface is very intuitive, so you can still use it without any problems.
In some countries, the Roma Mobilità app is not available for smartphones. If you can’t install the app, it’s best to opt for Moovit or the web version of Muoversi a Roma (which has similar features and doesn’t require installation).
Muoversi a Roma (web)
This app works similarly to the Roma Mobilità app but is designed for use on laptops and desktops (it doesn’t work on smartphones). The application is useful for acquiring information about tram and bus lines, and for checking waiting times at stops.
The web app Muoversi a Roma allows you to view the route of each line on a map and see the current location of buses and trams. It also offers the possibility to calculate routes but that function often works poorly. For this, you are better off using Moovit or Google Maps.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t include information about the subway and is only available in Italian.
There are other convenient tools for planning trips by public transportation in Rome and for buying tickets and passes online. You can see the details of all available options in this article: