Civitavecchia to Rome Day Trip – The Best Guide For Cruisers

The picture of me overlooking the Roman Forum

Have you ever thought it would be possible to visit Rome in a day? Well, you indeed need at least a week to properly visit the Eternal City, but for those of you who have only one day to get the most out of Rome – save some time to read this article because I am about to give you very useful information with the complete 1-day Rome itinerary!

I’ve visited Rome three times so far, and the last time it was on a cruise ship. When the cruise ship docked in Civitavecchia cruise port, I decided to join one of the shore excursions going to Rome – The Express Train to Rome, which included a round-trip transport from Civitavecchia port to Rome and 4 hours of free time in the city. In this Rome travel guide, I share with you helpful tips about:

  • How to get from Civitavecchia to Rome and back?
  • What to visit in Rome in a day?
  • The complete 1-day Rome itinerary with maps and explanations.

Visit also our cruise port guides to Civitavecchia, La Spezia (Florence/Pisa), Livorno, Naples, Cagliari (Sardinia)

Civitavecchia cruise port
Civitavecchia cruise port

How to Get from Civitavecchia to Rome?

1. By Train

The train is the fastest way to get to Rome. The main railway station, Stazione di Civitavecchia, is located a 20-30 minute walk from the Civitavecchia cruise terminal. To get to the train station, you can take the Civitavecchia Port Link shuttle bus (6€ one way, price from 2023) and in 10 minutes you’ll be there.

Alternatively, you can take a free shuttle bus provided by Port Authorities to Largo della Pace, the main information point for cruise passengers located at the cruise terminal entrance. From Largo della Pace, take a local bus or walk to the train station (a walk takes 20 minutes).

Trains run approximately every 30 minutes from Civitavecchia train station to Rome. You can purchase the tickets online ( is the official website where you can also check the timetables), at the ticket office, but also at the kiosk or the bar inside the train station.

The train ride from Civitavecchia to Rome can last from 40 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes one way, depending on the train you take and which station in Rome you get off at.

The main train stations in Rome include the following (this is useful to know so you can plan where to get off):

  • San Pietro Station (Saint Peter’s Basilica, Castel Sant’Angelo, Vatican Museums)
  • Trastevere Station (Trastevere district, Campo di Fiori, Piazza Navona, Pantheon)
  • Ostiense Station (The Roman Forum, Colosseum, Pyramid of Cestius)
  • Termini Station (the central station of Rome is a gateway to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Basilica of Saint John in the Lateran).

Additionally, Metro lines A and B, as well as the bus line 64 and tram 8 are a great way to get around the city and visit some of the main city landmarks including the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo de Fiori, Piazza Venezia, and others.

2. Private Transfer/Taxi

Booking a private arrangement/transportation from Civitavecchia to Rome is a more convenient option than the train because you avoid risks such as train delays or strikes. However, it’s more expensive too! Upon booking a transfer, make sure you do it with a reliable transfer company and an English-speaking driver who can guarantee you the return to the ship on time. The distance between Civitavecchia cruise port and Rome is around 120 km/75 miles or a 1-hour 30-minute drive.

Suppose you are coming from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport (aka Leonardo da Vinci International Airport ) to Civitavecchia cruise port. In that case, the best way is to book a shuttle directly to the port (many companies offer shuttle transfers from the airport to the port and you can search them online). Besides the shuttle, you can take a train or local bus to Roma Termini (Rome’s main railway station) and change the train to Civitavecchia. 

As for the Ciampino Airport, the airport is smaller and provides only bus transfers to Roma Termini. Both airports are located within a 1-hour drive from Rome’s city center, and 1h to 1h 30 minutes drive from the port. Transfers by train/local bus take longer.

3. Book a Shore Excursion

Cruise lines and private tour agencies offer a wide range of shore excursions to Rome and Civitavecchia is one of the busiest cruise ports when it comes to booking shore excursions. Although they are quite expensive, you feel more comfortable when you know there’s a tour guide looking after you.

You can book a tour with your cruise line or an independent tour operator. If booking independently from the cruise ship, make sure the tour company is experienced in working with cruise ship guests and with the ship’s departure time.

Watch my YouTube video on Civitavecchia cruise port and getting to Rome + 10 best things to do in Rome!

1-Day Rome Itinerary: Visit Rome in 4 Hours

1. St. Peter’s Basilica

Stazione di Roma San Pietro and Roma Ostiense are the two main stations where the express train stops in Rome. My group got off at Stazione di Roma San Pietro, and from there we started a pleasant 10-minute walk to the imposing St. Peter’s Basilica.

Before reaching the Saint Peter’s Basilica, the tour guide gave us the leaflets advertising Hop on Hop off Rome bus tours and explained to us the meeting time for the departure. After that, we were free to go, and my first plan was to get inside the Basilica and visit the church’s interior.

St. Peters Basilica in Vatican City, Rome
St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world, located in Vatican City, the Papal enclave within the city of Rome. The imposing church is considered to be the holiest site in the Christian world and is believed to be the burial place of Saint Peter, one of the 12 Jesus Christ’s Apostles, whose tomb is said to be below the main altar.

Although the original church dates from the 4th century, the current Basilica’s construction started in the early 16th century and took 120 years to complete (1506-1626).

The greatest minds of Renaissance and Baroque, such as Bramante, Michelangelo, Maderno, Bernini, and other remarkable artists designed the Basilica and its interior. Inside the church, you can admire countless monumental masterpieces like Michelangelo’s Pietà and the bronze St. Peter’s Baldachin.

Michelangelo’s Pietà
Michelangelo’s Pietà
St. Peter’s Baldachin, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
St. Peter’s Baldachin

It takes at least a couple of days to explore Vatican Museums and the stunning Sistine Chapel, the Vatican’s City Gardens, and the St. Peter’s Square area, but as I’ve been there before and didn’t have much time, I decided to pay only a short visit to the interior of the Basilica that wouldn’t last more than 15-20 minutes.

There was a long line before the entrance, due to the additional security and safety measures, but they were quite fast and in ten minutes I was inside. I spent some time marveling at my favorite works of art, as I am a huge fan of the history of art and art in general.

Inside the St. Peter's Basilica with St. Peter's Baldachin in the background
Inside St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

After this short visit, I decided to take a hop on hop off bus for the first time in my life. I started walking toward Castel Sant’ Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel), a massive tower-like castle erected on the right bank of the Tiber River in the 2nd century AD as the mausoleum for the Roman emperor Hadrian and his family.

Throughout history, it served as the Papal fortress, residence, and prison, and today it is one of the most visited museums in Rome, located a stone’s throw from St. Peter’s Basilica (a 10-minute walk). I love Castel Sant’ Angelo (I am a huge fan of Dan Brown’s novels), so I took my time to admire this breathtaking fortress and take some amazing photos.

Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome
Castel Sant’Angelo

Hop on hop off bus stop is normally located across the Ponte Sant’ Angelo, the majestic ancient bridge built by Emperor Hadrian. I planned to get off at the Colosseum and start walking back to Vatican City, where I was supposed to meet my group on the way back to the ship.

Hop On Hop Off Rome Sightseeing Tour

To save time, I didn’t take the whole sightseeing tour as the duration didn’t match my plans for the day. During my sightseeing tour, I had the opportunity to see several historical city landmarks:

Piazza Cavour – A beautiful, green park featuring the statue of Cavour, the Italian statesman who played a major role in the unification of Italy, and a marvelous Supreme Court building.

The Supreme Court building seen from an Open Top bus
The Supreme Court building

Piazza del Popolo – During your ride, you can take a glimpse of the grandiose Piazza del Popolo, named after the church Santa Maria del Popolo, nestled in the northeast corner of the square. Piazza is home to an Egyptian obelisk of Ramesses II from Heliopolis – Rome’s oldest obelisk, and the site of the city’s northern gate. The square is huge and served as a place for public executions for centuries.

Villa Borghese – The bus passes by this lavish villa and its splendid gardens considered among the largest parks in Rome (covering an area of over 80 hectares). The complex consists of numerous buildings, museums, lakes, and natural attractions.

Galleria Borghese, an art museum, houses a rich Borghese collection of sculptures, paintings, and antiquities begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese – an art collector and the patron of Caravaggio and other notable artists who lived in the 17th century.

From the bus, you can admire the views of the Villa Borghese complex from the exterior, but if you have more time, save one full day to explore the museum and the gardens.

Villa Medici – Located next to the Villa Borghese, the 16th-century Villa Medici is another architectural complex featuring sumptuous gardens, art exhibitions, artist workshops tours, and much more.

Spanish Steps – The Spanish Steps are one of the major attractions in Rome. The monumental set of 135 steps was constructed in the 18th century on the steep slope connecting Trinità del Monti church that stands on its top to the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square) that lies at its base.

Spanish Square is one of the most famous squares and a popular tourist spot, featuring Fontana Della Barcaccia – the fountain of the half-sunken ship, one of the iconic Bernini’s baroque sculptures that he completed in 1629 with the help of his father.

Although the hop on hop off bus stopped near the Spanish Steps, I didn’t plan to visit it this time, so I remained on the bus until we reached the Colosseum.

Termini Station – Passing by Piazza Della Republica and the National Archaeological Museum, the bus stopped at Roma Termini – the main railway station in Rome and the second largest railway station in Europe. This is also the main metro stop and the place where you can find a lot of reasonably priced hotels in case you are staying in Rome for a few days.

Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore – Founded in the 5th century, Santa Maria Maggiore is a Papal major basilica and one of the most outstanding churches in Rome. Great photo opportunities, so get your camera ready!

2. Colosseum

The portion of Hop on hop off bus ride from Castel Sant’Angelo to the Colosseum took around an hour. The itinerary included several other stops, but I planned to get off at the Colosseum and walk back to St. Peter’s Basilica where I was supposed to meet my group for the train ride back to the cruise ship.

The portion of the Hop on hop off Rome sightseeing tour that I did
The portion of the Hop on hop off Rome sightseeing tour that I did. Source:

Like other large cities, the best way to visit Rome’s most iconic attractions is on foot. I had a list of the landmarks that I wanted to visit, so I needed to plan my time accordingly.

The distance between the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica is around 4 km/2.5 miles, and I had two and a half hours at my disposal, which meant that I needed to be fast and efficient.


Colosseum, the largest ancient amphitheater in the world dating from 70-80 AD, was built under the Roman Emperors Vespasian, and his heir, Titus. The gigantic amphitheater dominates the vast square and public park from where you can observe the Colosseum from different angles. The surrounding area is packed with tourists, and don’t even try to get inside the Colosseum if you don’t have the ticket booked in advance.

This massive amphitheater built of limestone, tuff, and concrete was built for multiple purposes such as gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, executions, animal hunts, and theatre plays. It could hold an average of 70.000 spectators.

An engineering miracle of jaw-dropping dimensions, the Colosseum will take you back to the era of gladiators, Roman Emperors, and ancient Rome.

The picture of me in front of Colosseum and Arco di Constantino
Colosseum and the Constantine’s Arch (Arco di Constantino)

If you have more time, 700 meters, or a 10-minute walk from the Colosseum is the Circus Maximus, a spacious green area containing the remains of a stone and marble arena that could seat up to 250.000 Romans for chariot races. It is one of the great Rome attractions that you should visit in case you are staying in Rome for a few days.

If you plan to visit the Colosseum, save at least a couple of hours and book the skip-the-line tickets in advance to avoid waiting in line for hours.

I didn’t have time for that, so I spent 15 minutes wandering around the Colosseum before I continued toward the Roman Forum (lat. Forum Romanum), located within a 5-minute walk from the amphitheater.

3. Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is an ancient forum featuring the ruins of antique Temples (Temple of Saturn, Temple of Vespasian and Titus, Temple of Caesar, Temple of Vesta, Temple of Castor and Pollux…), basilicas, squares, Curia Julia (an ancient Senat House), Rostra (the elevated platform where public speakers used to stand), Arch of Septimius Severus, and others.

Roman Forum, the view from the Capitoline Hill
Roman Forum, the view from the Capitoline Hill

Roman Forum was the center of everyday life and the administrative and commercial hub of Ancient Rome. Tucked in a small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, it was the site of triumphal processions and elections, a marketplace, the venue for public speeches, and all public happenings.

Roman Forum, the view from the street
Roman Forum, the view from the street

Roman Forum is a fascinating site to explore that takes at least a half-day to visit, and there are many tours you can book if you want to enjoy the full guided experience.

However, being limited with time, I passed by the Forum and admired the ruins from the street Via dei Fori Imperiali.

The Forum is open-air and there is a walking path stretching parallel to the Forum, and you can actually see the ruins without paying for the entrance to the complex. The path is around 1 km/0.6 miles long and connects the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Campidoglio, my next stop.

The map of the Forum Romanum
The distance between the Colosseum and the Campidoglio square is 1.2 km, and the path goes parallel to the Roman Forum.

4. Campidoglio

Campidoglio Square is another architectural gem designed by Michelangelo in the 16th century, located on Capitoline Hill. It is a hilltop square facing the Roman Forum from the opposite side of the Colosseum, and the first modern square in Rome.

The site is dominated by an outstanding bronze replica of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor in the 2nd AD and a Stoic philosopher. The original statue is kept in Palazzo dei Conservatori, a beautiful Michelangelo-designed palace facing the square that houses the Capitoline Museums, home to an exquisite collection of Classical Roman, Greek and Egyptian sculptures and Renaissance art.

Another stunning Renaissance jewel is the Senatorial Palace – the Town Hall overlooking the Campidoglio square, famous for its bell tower and monumental marble Fontana della Dea Roma. The Town Hall offers unique views of the Roman Forum and is a beautiful spot not to be missed.

The sculpture is part of Fontana della Dea Roma, Campidoglio square
One of the sculptures of Fontana della Dea Roma, Campidoglio square

To get to Campidoglio Square, all you have to do is to walk uphill the Capitoline Hill, toward the Town Hall building, and you’ll reach the square in less than 5 minutes. This area is very busy so you won’t have trouble finding the square.

Campidoglio square - the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius and the Senatorial Palace
Campidoglio square – the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius and the Senatorial Palace overlooking the Roman Forum on the other side.

5. Piazza Venezia

Once you come to Campidoglio Square, you’ll see the colossal concrete staircase taking you down to Piazza Venezia. “Hidden” behind Campidoglio, at the foot of Capitoline Hill, Piazza Venezia is one of the busiest squares in Rome.

The square features a large number of intersections and dense traffic, so make sure you take extra precautions upon crossing the streets.

The Piazza was named after Palazzo Venezia, the palace facing the square, built by the Venetian Cardinal, Pietro Barbo (later Pope Paul II) alongside San Marco Basilica, dedicated to Saint-Marc, the patron saint of Venice.

The palace is one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture and was constructed in the 15th century. It served as an embassy of the Republic of Venice in Rome and currently houses the National Museum of the Palazzo Venezia, featuring collections of medieval and renaissance art, sculpture, and weaponry.

However, the most dominating building on the square is Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), the gigantic marble memorial temple erected in honor of Italy’s first king and World War I soldiers. The central part of this national monument boasts a massive equestrian statue of Italy’s first king – Victor Emmanuel II, and the Tomb of the Italian Unknown Soldier (Tomba del Milite Ignoto), dedicated to the soldiers fallen during World War I.

Altare della Patria
Altare della Patria

The Altar of the Fatherland is the site where the national ceremonies and events usually take place. It is one of the most impressive monuments I’ve ever seen, and I consider it a must-see Rome attraction.

The view of the Altar of the Fatherland from the Roman Forum
The Altar of the Fatherland is so massive, that it can easily be spotted from the Roman Forum.

6. Fontana Di Trevi

Fontana di Trevi was my next stop. I simply took the staircase down from Campidoglio Square, crossed Piazza Venezia, and entered Via del Corso.

The map depicting how to get from Campidoglio to Piazza Venezia and Fontana idi Trevi
From Campidoglio square to Fontana di Trevi itinerary.

The distance between Piazza Venezia and Fontana Di Trevi is only 750 meters (less than a 10-minute walk) and the best way to get there is via Via del Corso, one of the main shopping streets in Rome.

Designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Panini and several others in 1762, Fontana Di Trevi is the most stunning example of Baroque with Rococo elements. With its impressive dimensions (26.3 meters high and around 49.15 meters wide), Fontana Di Trevi is the largest fountain in Rome and one of the most beautiful fountains in the world.

Fontana di Trevi
Fontana di Trevi

The dominant figure featured on the fountain is Neptun, the god of freshwater and the sea in the Roman religion. Neptun controls the chariot in which two sea horses are mounted, while the surrounding sculptures symbolize abundance and health. The Trevi fountain was built at the endpoint of the aqueduct, on the site where three roads intersect. The fountain was named after these three roads – in Latin “tri viae”, or the Three Roads Fountain.

According to the legend, whoever throws a coin into the Trevi fountain will ensure your return to Rome. Not many people know, though, that the money is regularly collected from the fountain and given to charity.

The site is packed with tourists and the whole Trevi district is flanked by narrow cobbled streets, side alleys, gelaterias, restaurants, cafes, street vendors, and shops.

The picture of me in front of the Trevi fountain
Throwing the coin into the Trevi fountain means that you will return to Rome one day.

I took my time here to enjoy the view of the fountain with a mouth-watering Italian “gelato” (ice cream) in my hands. I felt tired as I had already been walking for a few kilometers (not to mention my photo obsession with this city), so I wanted to take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. My next stop was Pantheon, “the Temple of all the gods”.

7. Pantheon

The distance between Fontana di Trevi and the Pantheon is only 650-700 meters, and it took me less than a 10-minute walk to get there.

A former Roman temple, and nowadays the Catholic Basilica with an imposing dome and massive entry columns, the colossal Pantheon peacefully sits on the tiny Piazza della Rotonda, a modest square of smaller proportions, dominated in the middle by Fontana del Pantheon, the 16th-century marble fountain.

There are steps around the fountain where you can sit, take a break, and capture great shots of Pantheon.


The iconic temple, completed by Emperor Hadrian in 125 AD, has a cylindrical shape and features the world’s largest unreinforced dome made entirely of concrete. The central part of the dome has an immense opening that provides natural light to the temple.

Pantheon houses the tombs of renowned artists and members of the Italian Royal family, such as Raphael, Vittorio Emmanuelle II, and his son, King Umberto I. There are audio guides you can take upon entering (the entrance is free).

The Tomb of Raphael in the Pantheon
The Tomb of Raphael

The temple is a truly unique place to see, and the dimensions are out of reality (can you imagine that the ancient Romans built it in 2 AD?). I stayed there for about 10 minutes and soon continued toward Piazza Navona, my last stop, located only 400 meters from the Pantheon.

Fontana di Trevi-Pantheon-Piazza Navona map itinerary
Fontana di Trevi-Pantheon-Piazza Navona map itinerary.

8. Piazza Navona

Originally built as the Stadium of Domitian, in the 1st century AD, Piazza Navona is today one of the most beautiful squares in Rome and an exquisite legacy of Baroque architecture.

The square is adorned with three sumptuous fountains and shadowed by the immense Sant’Agnese in Agone church, the 17th-century Baroque basilica that contains the skull of St. Agnes in a shrine.

Designed by Borromini and Rainaldi, the church has huge proportions, and the interior is lavishly decorated, featuring numerous chapels and altars, each dedicated to a Saint. You can freely access the church if you have time.

It is also beautiful at sunset, the best time to observe it from one of the cafes and restaurants surrounding the square.

Sant’Agnese in Agone church, Piazza Navona
Sant’Agnese in Agone church

Sant’Agnese in Agone church faces the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (the Fountain of the Four Rivers), placed in the central part of the square. The fountain was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1651 and is an homage to the four rivers: the Danube, the Ganges, the Nile, and the Rio de la Plata, while the center of the fountain is decorated with a Roman Obelisk brought in pieces from the Circus of Maxentius.

The two ends of the square are decorated with two other fountains: Fontana del Moro (Fountain of the Moor), and the Fontana di Nettuno (Fountain of Neptun), created by Giacomo della Porta in 1574 and 1575. They both depict mythological scenes and are made of the finest marble.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Piazza Navona
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Piazza Navona

The square is an impressive and beautiful place to spend some time, especially if you have more time to delight in Italian food and wine in one of the cafes lined with the Piazza. I took a few pictures and rushed back to St. Peter’s Basilica where I was supposed to meet my group for the return to the cruise ship.

From Rome To Civitavecchia Port

The distance between Piazza Navona and St. Peter’s Basilica is around 1.5 km/0.9 miles, and it took me 15 minutes of a quick walk to get back to the meeting point.

I was traveling with a group, so I already had my round-trip train ticket, and once the group gathered, we headed over to the Stazione di Roma San Pietro, which was less than 1 km/0.6 miles away from St. Peter’s Basilica.

After a 10-minute walk, we entered the express train from Rome to Civitavecchia, and after 30 minutes we arrived at Stazione di Civitavecchia where the bus waited for the group to take us back to the cruise ship.

A Glimpse of Eternal City

To sum up, my day in Rome was honestly crazy and super quick but I managed to see all the places that I planned to visit due to the good organization and time management.

From experience, I can tell you that it’s possible to take a glimpse of these Rome highlights in only 4 hours, but only if you are ready to walk on foot for several kilometers and manage your time well. The map below shows the walking portion of my Rome itinerary:

Rome walking tour itinerary
The walking portion of my 1-day Rome itinerary.

I hope you enjoyed my article and thanks for reading it! You can read a detailed Civitavecchia port guide in my article Civitavecchia Cruise Port (Rome) Guide, Things to Do, Shore Excursions

You may also like our cruise port guides to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Western Europe, Baltic & Scandinavia, USA & Canada, Australia & New Zealand

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