How to Do an Ostia Antica Day Trip from Rome by Train

An Ostia Antica day trip from Rome offers a remarkable window into the everyday lives of Ancient Romans. Founded as a castrum (military fortification) to guard the mouth of the Tiber, it developed into the prosperous port of Rome.

Mud and silt from the sea did a sterling job at preserving the houses, temples, bars, public baths, workshops, stores and latrines from its heyday in the 3rd Century BC. Its mosaics alone are worth the price of your train ticket.

Read on to discover how to get to Ostia Antica by train, what to see and tips for visiting these Roman ruins (scavi).

roman stone sculpture of two small figures embracing

How to Get to Ostia Antica from Rome by Train

From central Rome, take Metro line B to the Piramide stop (direction Laurentina). From Piramide, it’s a one-minute walk to the Roma Porta San Paolo train station (follow signs to Lido).

Alternatively, you can change trains at EUR Magliana.

Transfer to the Metromare (Rome-Lido) line towards Cristoforo Colombo. Get off at the stop for Ostia Antica.

A standard metro ticket will cover you for the entire journey which should take just over an hour.

On leaving the station take the footbridge that crosses the motorway running between the station and the archaeological site.

stone heads on top of columns at the ancient roman site of ostia antica

Ostia Antica Opening Hours & Ticket Prices

Ostia Antica is open from Tuesday to Sunday. You can check the seasonal opening hours here.

In 2024, an adult ticket costs €18. If you are an EU citizen between 18 and 25 years old you will get in for €2. Check the website for other concessions.

Although you can buy your ticket online, in my experience this is not necessary

ancient stone wall with latin sign and poppies
looking through ancient stone arch to courtyard and trees at ostia antica

Highlights of Ostia Antica

When you enter the site, you will find yourself on the Decumanus Maximus, which is flanked by some of the town’s most important buildings. It is an excellent navigational point.

The Decumanus Maximus was the main street in Ancient Roman cities and ran from east to west. It was intersected by the Cardo Maximus (Cardo), the north-south street.

Baths of Neptune

The Baths of Neptune are one of the first buildings that you’ll come across walking along the Decumanus Maximus. They were built between 117 and 161 AD and are one of the biggest excavations in Ostia Antica.

They have several rooms and a palestra (the exercise area). Climb the steps for a good view of the remarkable black and white mosaic of the god Neptune riding four horses through the sea.

roman mosiac floor with god neptune and mythical creatures
Detail of Neptune’s triumph mosaic

The Theatre

set of corinithian columns in front of roman amphitheatre

The Theatre of Ostia was built in the 1st Century BC by Agrippa and later expanded by Commodus and Septimius Severus. It could accommodate up to 4,000 spectators.

Similar to modern-day theatres, the best seats were close to the stage. Most of the original seating area and the orchestra’s marble floor are intact

Forum and Capitolium

set of steps leading to wall of ancient roman building at ostia antica near rome
Capitolium, Ostia Antica

The Forum is at the crossroads of the Decumanus and Cardo and was Ostia’s administrative centre.

As with other cities in Ancient Rome, important buildings were clustered around the Forum. At its heart stands the Capitolium, a temple dedicated to the three main Roman gods – Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.

Public Latrines

well preserved ancient marble latrines at ostia antica

The Baths of the Forum, one of the largest baths in Ostia, date from the 2nd Century. It’s here that you’ll find the town’s forica, public latrine, with its 20 perfectly preserved marble seats.

Shops of the Fishmongers

mosaic floor and marble counter and table in remains of fishmongers shop at ostia antica

The central market for fish, meat and vegetables was on the Decumanus Maximus. The Fishmongers’ shops have a marble table, a fish basin and a black-and-white mosaic with marine motifs.

Porta Romana Necropolis

The Romans buried their dead outside the city limits and this necropolis would have been just outside the gate of Ostia Antica. As both burials and cremations were common practice, there are open tombs and sarcophagi.

Horrea

The horrea were large warehouses built to store grain. They comprised 60  small rooms, some arranged around a collonaded courtyard.

Tips for Visiting Ostia Antica

lichen covered stone with latin inscription at ostia antica
  • Allow at least half a day to visit Ostia Antica.
  • If you are there in summer, make an early start to allow you to start sightseeing at a cooler time of day
  • There is little shade at Ostia Antica. Wear a hat and sunglasses, slather on sunscreen and bring a big bottle of water with you.
  • As it is uneven underfoot, wear a comfortable pair of shoes.
  • Bring a packed lunch (you can picnic outside the archaeological area). When I visited, there was a restaurant on site, but it was not cheap.
  • Rent an audio guide at the site’s entrance or bring a good guidebook. Except for the site’s major buildings, many of the structures at Ostia Antica are unmarked.
  • As there is no luggage storage facility at Ostia Antica, bring only what you can carry.
headless roman statue with drapery at ostia antica roman ruins near rome
a headless nude roman statue at ostia antica

Ostia Antica or Pompeii?

Ostia Antica and Pompeii were very different towns.

Pompeii was a cosmopolitan resort town frequented by wealthy Romans who splashed the cash on their homes. Compared with Ostia Antica, there are more houses to see and thanks to that volcanic ash, Pompeii is better preserved.

Ostia Antica was a working port city, populated by a spectrum of social classes. It is mostly its public buildings that remain.

Having visited both sites on several occasions, I prefer Ostia Antica.

Its ruins offer an unsurpassed insight into both the domestic and commercial life of the Roman Empire. And unlike Pompeii, you have more freedom to explore the site (I love poking around in the remains of ancient buildings).

Finally, there’s much to be said for walking in the steps of Ancient Romans in near solitude.

Pompeii is a victim of its success and you quickly tire of swerving around selfie-wielding tour groups. The lack of crowds at Ostia Antica is a compelling reason to add it to your Rome bucket list.