Things to do in Rome: Ostia Antica

A reader contacted me recently to ask about things to do in and around Rome that are not inundated with tourists. Rome is a very popular city not only with tourists but also pilgrims and other devotees of the Catholic faith. Because of this, the city is often very crowded, especially at Easter and many other Catholic holidays. Throw the great summer weather into the mix, and you have yourself long lines at many of the city’s tourist attractions.

Having said that, I would like to talk about one of my favorite places to visit outside Rome: gli scavi di Ostia Antica or the ruins of Ostia Antica. Ostia Antica used to be Rome’s port. Over the centuries, the sediment has built up and has pushed the city of Rome farther away from the sea. Ostia Antica served as Rome’s port, and a bustling city built up around it, making it not only a transit for trade but also the crossroads of various cultures and religions.

The ancient site is extremely well preserved, and there are digs and excavations taking place still at the site. It is just the right size to visit in a day, and it is almost never crowded. I find it relaxing to stroll through the old streets of the ancient city.

Ostia Antica is located about 20 minutes from Rome by train. You can get there easily by taking the Roma-Lido train from Piramide. This is not the metro B but adjacent to it. It tends to be pretty crowded, and, unfortunately, it breaks down a lot so if you plan to go, I advise going after the morning rush hour and before the evening rush hour when the trains can get extremely crowded. Ideally, your best bet is to take the train after 9:00 AM and before 3:30 PM. You can use the same metro ticket that covers all of the city’s metro and bus services. If you are buying single tickets, be sure to purchase a return ticket as well.

Once you arrive at Ostia Antica (don’t forget to get off the train at the Ostia Antica stop), just follow the signs to get to site. You’ll have to climb some stairs and take the foot bridge go get to the site. It is pretty well marked. There are some nice restaurants and a bar in the center of town should you wish to grab something to eat after or before or to get some water and provisions should you need them.

From April 1st to the end of August, the park opens at 8:30 AM and closes at 7:15 PM. Like most attractions and museums in Rome, the ticket office closes an hour before the venue closes (so no entry after 6:15 PM). Ostia Antica is also closed on Mondays as are many museums and sites in Italy and in Rome. The cost of entry is 8 euro (if there are special events going on or special exhibitions, the ticket price is 11 euro). You can also use the Roma Pass at Ostia Antica. There is a nice museum on the site as well that you should visit should you get the chance. The site also offers guided tours, which I recommend!

Ostia Antica

For more information on the site, reservations and other practical matters, visit Ostia Antica’s website.