Rome is a fabulous city to visit. In fact, it’s an all-time favourite of mine. But sometimes, exploring a large metropolis can get a bit too much, and it’s nice to escape the city for a little bit. Here are four really easy to do day trips from Rome by train, ranging from just thirty minutes travelling time to a little over an hour.
1 Ostia Antica.
Ostia Antica is just a thirty-minute train trip from Rome.
Ostia Antica often referred to as ‘the poor man’s Pompeii’, is a really easy to do day trip from Rome by train. It might not be quite as well preserved as Pompeii, but it’s a lot closer to Rome, definitely worth a visit and a lot less crowded than both Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Once the busy port city of Ancient Rome, the site of Ostia Antica is spread over 10,000 acres, so it is not a bad idea to arm yourself with an audioguide or map of the ruins before setting off. You can pick one up at the entrance. Did I do that? Of course not. Did I get lost? Absolutely!
With or without a map, you will eventually find yourself in the Forum, the main square, which still has the remains of the Capitolium temple.
Keep an eye out for the mosaics, the old shops and villas, even the ancient Roman latrines. It’s fun to let your imagination go wild as you picture life 2000 years ago.
The ancient brick theatre of Ostia is still used these days for summer concerts and performances.
Would I Recommend Ostia Antica?
Yes, it was fun. I loved getting lost amongst the ruins. I was there in August, and there was hardly anyone else around. It’s an easy half-day outing from Rome. Afterwards, before heading back to Roma, wander around the nearby town or even head to the nearby Ostia Beach. If you would prefer to have a local guide to show you around the site, check this half-day tour from Rome.
How Much Does It Cost To Visit Ostia Antica
Under 18’s free
By the entrance, you’ll find clean toilets and a vending machine selling water. There’s very little shade in the park, so if you haven’t brought any water with you, it’s a good idea to do so here.
Opening Hours For Ostia Antica
Open every day excepts Mondays,1 January, 1 May, and 25 December
- From 25 October to the end of February 08:30 – 16:30
- March 08:30-17:15
- April to September 08.30-19:00
- October 1-24 08.30-18:30
The last entrance to the park is one hour before closing.
Where To Eat At Ostia Antica
In theory, there is a restaurant at Ostia Antica, but due to Covid restrictions, it was closed when I was there.
I was going to head back to Rome for something to eat, but my stomach had other plans. ‘Eat now!’ it screamed.
I came across the Arianna al Borghetto just a five-minute walk from the main entrance to the park.
I had a delicious Fettuccine Caserecce al Ragu for just €9. When you’re a solo female traveller dining alone in Italy, the waiters can be pretty flirtatious but in a harmless, fun way. When asked why does such a beautiful lady dine alone, I told him that my partner had recently passed away.
‘Mamma mia!’ he declared. Nonna came out, slapped the waiter for ‘upsetting me’ and kept appearing with more food than I could eat, plus wine and dessert. I was even given fruit for the journey back to town. I love Italy!
How To Get To Ostia Antica From Rome
First, ignore what Google Maps tells you. It wants to send you all over the place.
The easiest way to get there is to make your way to the Piramide Metro stop on Metro Line B, just four stops from Roma Termini Station in the direction of Laurentina. Then, follow the signs to the Roma-Lido line. Board the local train and get off at the stop Ostia Antica. Journey time 30 minutes.
On arrival, follow the signs to Ostia Antica or the other tourists.
If you’re not keen on the idea of travelling independently to Ostia Antica and would rather know what you’re seeing, it’s also possible to arrange a tour out of Rome.
2 Castel Gandolfo
Castel Gandolfo is just a forty-five-minute train journey from Rome.
Well, my day at Castel Gandolfo didn’t go quite to plan but was a lovely outing nevertheless. The town is known as the Pope’s City as its home to the Pope’s summer residence. So, I was looking forward to seeing the Papal Palace and its gardens, but it was closed!
I had checked the website beforehand, which confirmed it was open. So I asked a local in my terrible Italian why was it closed, thinking maybe the Pope was in town. ‘Perché è, (because it is)’, he replied. Umm, not very helpful.
I later discovered that it was now only open at weekends when tourists are about. So please don’t believe what you read on their website! I had deliberately chosen to visit on a Friday because I wanted to avoid seeing other tourists.
Anyway, it was lovely just walking around the pretty town. Cute piazzas, charming side streets and fabulous views looking down to the lake.
Piazza della Libertà, the main square, is dotted with cafés and small shops selling souvenirs and local products.
Eventually, I spotted a table at a restaurant overlooking the lake with my name on it. I quickly checked online that the restaurant wasn’t one of those overpriced tourist traps- it wasn’t. Actually, the restaurant’s website said it was closed Friday lunchtime. Obviously, the people of Castel Gandolfo are not very good at keeping their websites up to date.
So a change to my original plan, but I ended up having a lovely relaxing day just pottering about the streets, then enjoying a good old Roman pasta dish Cacio e Pepe, the original Mac and cheese.
Where To Eat In Castel Gandolfo
There are several restaurants in the main square and side streets, but as I couldn’t see the Pope’s place as planned, I thought, well, let’s aim for a decent lunch then with a view.
And that’s how I found Ristorante Bucci. Gorgeous lakeside vistas and very reasonable prices considering the location. Think 14€ for a pasta dish with a fabulous view!
How To Get To Castel Gandolfo
Trains go from Roma Termini to Castel Gandolfo and take around 40 -45 minutes. Do allow enough time at Roma Termini station to buy tickets as those ticket machines can be temperamental. I bought a return ticket as was told you couldn’t buy train tickets at the Castel Gandolfo Station, but you can, but if you know you’re returning to Rome, you might as well get it in advance. The cost each way is 2,10 € (as of August 2021)
And don’t forget to validate your ticket before you board. Using the ticket to get through the platform barrier does not validate your ticket; who knew, eh? When in doubt, act dumb; that’s my secret go-to, as it comes naturally. Or use a train app like OMIO.
If you don’t fancy visiting Castel Gandolfo independently and risk not seeing the sites, there are plenty of tours on offer from Rome.
3 Villa d’Este, Tivoli
Tivoli is a forty minute to an hour train trip from Rome. It all depends on the time of day and train.
Villa d’Este, Tivoli
The 16th century Villa d’Este is famous for its terraced Italian Renaissance style garden. The villa and gardens are a UNESCO world heritage site.
Within the villa itself, most of the rooms have been restored. The detail and decoration of the artwork on the walls and ceilings within these rooms are impressive.
Each room is filled with beautiful frescos. Notable rooms inside the villa include The Hall of Glory and The Hall of the Hunt.
I was a little disappointed as I hoped to see the villa more as it was in the 16th century. The mansion is very much an art gallery. Yes, the art has been restored and was stunning, but it was hard to get a feel for what it was like to live there. Maybe that’s just me.
However, most people come to the Villa d’Este to see the gardens.
Villa d’Este Gardens
The Villa d’Este Gardens are possibly the most well-known in Italy.
The gardens are rather large, so you can easily spend a few hours exploring the various segmented areas.
And there are a lot of fountains – 51 fountains. Some very flamboyant, others a mere trickle. Now, here’s the nerdy bit for those that like facts and figures – as well as 51 fountains, there are 64 waterfalls, 220 basins, 364 water jets, 398 spouts. All these are fed by 875 metres of canals and channels that work by the force of gravity and not pumps. Impressive, huh?
What Else Is There To See In Tivoli
How Much Does It Cost To Visit Villa d’Este
Opening Hours For Villa d’Este
Open daily except Monday mornings, 1 January and 25 December.
Hours vary depending on the month. For up to date times, please check their website.
Where To Eat In Tivoli
Close to Villa d’Este, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. Most come with good reviews. I went for a €15 menu of the day that included an antipasto, first and second course, dessert, water and wine at the Trattoria da Gabriella. The house wine was awful, and the food was average at best- not really selling it, am I? The food not on the set menu looked pretty good, and the waitress was really lovely, but would I go back? Nah!
How To Get To Tivoli
Trains leave Roma Termini and Roma Tiburtina and take around 40 minutes to one hour. Be sure to get off at Tivoli Station and not Bagni di Tivoli otherwise; you’ll have a very long walk (and before you ask, no, I didn’t.) And don’t forget to validate your ticket before boarding. Or, for convenience, use an app like OMIO.
From the train station, it’s a 15-minute walk to Villa d’Este. Follow the signs and other tourists.
If you prefer a tour to Tivoli from Rome rather than travel independently, check these out.
It takes just over an hour to reach Orvieto from Rome by train.
The gorgeous Umbrian hill town of Orvieto was my favourite of all my day trips from Rome. Perched on top of a steep tufa hill, it’s a charming place to visit. I would have loved to have stayed a little longer here, but the reason I was choosing quick and easy day trips from Rome by train was because I was housesitting for two lovely cats.
Fortunately, Orvieto is small enough that’s it’s easy to fit in all the main highlights in a day- such as the impressive Duomo, St Patrick’s Well, the fabulous countryside views, stroll the ancient streets, and sample the delicious local cuisine.
There’s a more detailed post right here for more information on what to see and do in this lovely town.
Where To Eat In Orvieto
There are quite a few restaurants on the piazza by the Duomo. All nice for a drink and people watching, but for delicious food, you need to head into the back streets.
I had a fantastic homemade pasta with truffles and a chocolate and caramel mousse at the Trattoria La Grotta. Just a very short walk from the Duomo, but down a side street.
How To Get To Orvieto
Trains depart from Rome Termini and take around an hour and a quarter to Orvieto Station. Immediately opposite the station is the funicular that takes you up to the old town. If you are not comfortable with travelling independently to Orvieto, it’s also possible to organise a tour from Rome.
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