If you're planning to take one of our free Rome walking tours, one of the best ways to determine what you want to see is by taking a bus tour!
Here are the hop-on hop-off tours currently available in Rome:
In addition to covering more essential details about these services below, we'll also include helpful tips from locals and travelers who use our Facebook group.
Disclosure: We think you should consider our free tours, but we have also provided other options.
While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.
If you're new to the Eternal City, you may want to consider taking a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
These services will take you to all of the most popular landmarks and sights of Rome, including Termini Station, the Forum, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, and the Vatican.
As you're traveling around the city, tour guides and audio commentary will provide plenty of information about Roman history.
And being hop-on-hop-off services, you can easily sightsee at your own pace.
Most of these bus tours provide free wi-fi and English-speaking drivers to accommodate visitors from around the world.
Tickets range from €16-€43 per person depending on the type of ticket you purchase.
Some operations are also included for free as a part of a tourist attraction discount pass or offer discounts to cardholders, and we mention this when this applies.
Below is our analysis of Rome's 4 top hop-on-hop-off bus companies. The 4 that are listed below are ordered by how well-reviewed they are.
Since most of the companies offer very similar routes, we detail the first company, Big Bus, and use it as a reference for the other companies offerings.
There are actually two more hop-on-hop-off bus companies, Open Tour and Green Line, but their reviews are so poor, we left them off the list completely, so as not to waste you your time or money.
Big Bus Tours Rome
Big Bus is our recommended choice.
Much like some of their competitors, this company also provides bus tours in several cities across the globe, and you may recognize their rather bland-looking buses.
Big Bus sees itself as the premium hop-on-hop-off bus service.
This well-reviewed company offers 3 different ticket options and routes with adult, child and family prices for each.
They provide pre-recorded audio commentary in 9 different languages and offer free wifi on their buses.
They also offer a smartphone app that you could download to see real-time bus locations to help minimize your time waiting for a bus.
Buses are available daily from 8:30 am - 19:00 (7 pm) with varying frequencies depending on the day and route.
Each ticket also comes with 4 free walking tours, which can be taken in several languages.
Click on the map for a larger interactive map.
Tickets and Route Maps
1-Day Discover Ticket:
- Adults: €33 on-street | €26.40 online
- Children (5-15): €16 on-street | €12.80 online
- Family (2 Adults + 2 Children): €82 on-street | €65.60 online
- Free (kids 4 and younger)
2-Day Essential Ticket:
- Adults: €39 on-street | €35.10 online
- Children (5-15): €19 on-street | €17.10 online
- Family (2 Adults + 2 Children): €97 on-street | €87.30 online
- Free (kids 4 and younger)
3-Day Explore Ticket:
- Adults: €46 on-street | €41.40 online
- Children (5-15): €23 on-street | €20.70 online
- €85 for Family (online)
- Family (2 Adults + 2 Children): €115 on-street | €103.50 online
- Free (kids 4 and younger)
Here are a few more details to keep in mind:
- Family tickets are good for 2 adults & 2 children
- All tickets include 4 free walking tours.
- All tickets are valid on Big Bus, City Sightseeing, and ORP Buses.
- Essential and Explore tickets include a free date change, meaning that if you can't take your tour when you originally planned, you can change the date and take it on another day.
- The prices above reflect an additional 10% - 20% discount when you get your tickets directly from their website.
- Purchase tickets for a discount online.
NOTE: Big Bus is only offering the red route, and they do not currently offer the night tour.
Stops on the Red Route
The red route is Big Bus's weekday route and includes 8 stops within reach of over 40 attractions, and most of the competition follows this same route (with minor differences).
- Termini Railway Station (starts)
- Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
- Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus)
- Piazza Venezia
- Treve Fountain/Spanish Steps
- Piazza Barberini/Spanish Steps
Stops on the Purple Route (Catacombs and Caracalla Route)
The Purple route mixes a few of the stops from the Red and Blue routes (mostly the southernmost stops) and adds in a couple new stops.
The Purple route is only available on the deluxe ticket, so you could still take the red or blue routes to see the rest of the sights.
This route runs daily and the total circuit takes 60 minutes (if you don't get off) and buses are supposed to run every 20 min starting at Termini Rail Station.
There are 10 total stops within reach of dozens of attractions.
Free Walking Tours
Every Big Bus Ticket includes 4 free walking tours, which are led by Big Bus tour guides.
Click here for more detailed descriptions, starting points, and times of each walking tour.
- Vatican and St. Peter's Square
- Pantheon and Piazza Navona
- Roman Forum and Colosseum
- Barberini Square & Spanish Steps
Reviews of Big Bus Rome
Big Bus Rome has a rating of 4 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (read the reviews).
Compared to walking tour companies, this doesn't look great, but for less personable hop-on-hop-off bus tours, this is a high mark.
Guests report that their audio commentary is actually very good, providing a lot of useful information about all the landmarks on their route.
Reviewers often note that their ticket prices are very affordable and the equipment they use is first-rate.
Although there are some negative reviews, such as some audio jacks didn't work, they don't indicate many common problems.
Grayline Tours (I Love Rome)
Grayline, like Big Bus, is an international brand, but in Rome, they have an affiliate "I Love Rome".
In a city full of bus tours, Gray Line found a way to stand out from the crowd.
The I Love Rome tour takes place on a pink bus, making it easy for their customers to find them.
Like their competition, GrayLine offers 8 stops, pre-recorded audio tours (in 13 languages), free wifi, and several hop-on, hop-off ticket and attraction tour options.
Unlike their competition, this company also offers a single-circuit option as well as a 1-way ticket.
Guests who just want to ride around and enjoy their tour from the bus can choose to pay for these cheaper options, which do not include the option to hop on and off at their discretion.
They offer even cheaper tickets in the afternoon.
Their buses run daily from 8:30 am - 18:40 (6:40 pm) in the summer and until 16:55 (4:55 pm) in the winter, and depart every 10-15 minutes.
Because GrayLine offers several ticket options, it can get confusing.
Essentially, they offer 2 types of tickets - tickets that let you hop on and hop off at your pleasure and tickets that require you to stay on the bus for the duration.
Within their hop-on-hop-off ticket options, they also have an array of time options and prices. We explain below. You can also see descriptions of your options here.
STAY ON THE BUS
1 Complete Circuit (1 lap) 1 hr 45 min
- €17/Adults | €12/Youths | Free for Kids Under 12
- €14/Adults | €10/Youths | Free for Kids - after 13:15 (1:15 pm)
HOP ON AND OFF AT WILL
- €20 for adults | €14 for Children | Free for Kids Under 6
- hop-on and hop-off as much as you want for up to 5 hours
1 Calendar Day
- €22/Adults | €15/Children | Free for Kids Under 6
- €14/Adults | €10/Children | Free for Kids - after 15:00 (3 pm)
- hop-on and hop-off as much as you want from start to finish in one day
- €30/Adults | €16/Children | Free for Kids Under 6
- for example, if you start at 11:00 am on Day 1, you have until 11:00 am on Day 2
- €34 for Adults | €20 for Children | Free for Kids Under 6
- same as the 24-hour ticket, but for the 48 hours
- €39 for Adults | €27 for Children | Free for Kids Under 6
- same as the 24-hour ticket, but for the 72 hours
Adults are 13 and up, children are ages 6-12 and anyone younger is granted free entry. Discounts available on all tickets after 3 pm.
Grayline Rome Reviews
Gray Line (or I Love Rome) gets mixed reviews, receiving an overall rating of 3 ½ out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor and 4 out of 5 stars on GetYourGuide (read the reviews).
Most guests report that this service was exactly what they were expecting, indicating that they don't over-promise or under-deliver with their itinerary.
Although there are a few complaints about the seating on their bus, most customers agree that Gray Line provides decent transportation and audio commentary.
City Sightseeing Tours
If this name sounds familiar, that's because City Sightseeing provides services all over the world.
Their buses are probably the most noticeable and are the classic red, double-decker buses seen throughout the world.
City Sightseeing offers 1, 2 and 3-day hop-on-hop-off tickets as well as tickets that combine their bus with entry to and tours of, for example, the Vatican and the Colosseum.
Their route is essentially the same as Big Bus with the exception that they do not stop at the Baths of Caracalla or the Catacombs (which is a totally different tour for them).
They offer an audio guide in 8 languages and their buses have wifi.
Buses operate from 9:00 am - 19:00 (7 pm) in the summer and till 17:00 (5 pm) in the winter.
They do not offer free guided walking tours, but they do have a self-guided audio walking tour app that you could use off the bus.
This app is also used as a bus locator to help minimize your wait time.
City Sightseeing is not as well-reviewed as Big Bus, but the devil is in the details.
- €29.70 for Adults (16 and up)
- €14.40 for Children (5-15)
- €73.80 for Family (2 adults + 2 children)
- Free for 4 and under
- €35.10 for Adults (16 and up)
- €17.10 for Children (5-15)
- €87.30 for Family (2 adults + 2 children)
- Free for 4 and under
- €41.40 for Adults (16 and up)
- €20.70 for Children (5-15)
- €103.50 for Family (2 adults + 2 children)
- Free for 4 and under
Reviews of City Sightseeing Rome
Unfortunately, although City Sightseeing is very popular in other cities, this service has mixed reviews in Rome, receiving an overall rating of 2 ½ out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor with 40% of their reviews being just 1 star.
However, they do get a score of 4 out of 5 stars on Get Your Guide (see the reviews).
Several guests take issue with the audio tour itself, suggesting that it isn't very useful for travelers, or didn't work.
Other visitors felt that this bus tour does not make enough stops, indicating that they had to walk for a while to reach certain landmarks, or that the buses waited too long at stops.
With that said, they do have people who like their service.
As with most hop-on-hop-off bus services, happy customers see this service as a great way to get the lay of the land and to get around from attraction to attraction.
Vatican & Rome Bus Tours (Roma Cristiana)
This might be the most unique hop-on-hop-off option in Rome.
Vatican & Rome Bus Tours is run by the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP), a branch of the Vicariate of Rome, which is directly overseen by the Cardinal Vicar to the Pope.
They operate double-decker buses with the yellow color of the Vatican. Their bus tours are free with the purchase of the Vatican tourist discount card.
Like City Sightseeing Bus, this outfit has mixed reviews and offers both stay-on-the-bus as well as hop-on-hop-off tickets, with daily, 24, 48, and 72-hour tickets.
With a total of 11 stops around the city and differs slightly from the usual hop-on, hop-off routes by focusing more on religious locations.
The 11 is misleading, as some of the stops are really close to each other, but the biggest difference to Big Bus's route is that they have stops at the Pantheon (which is a church), Piazza Navona, and San Giovanni in Laterano (the seat of the Pope).
They do not stop at either the Spanish Stairs or Trevi Fountain.
Click on the map for a larger map view.
BEFORE YOU BUY: This bus tour is included for free with the purchase of the Omnia Vatican tourist discount card. Read our analysis of this and other tourists discount passes by clicking the link.
- 24-Hour Ticket Prices: €30/Adults | €15/Youth (6-17)
- 48-Hour Ticket Prices: €34/Adults | €17/Youth (6-17)
- 72-Hour Ticket Prices: €38/Adults | €19/Youth (6-17)
Click here for more information or to purchase.
- Availability: Daily from 9 am - 6 pm
- Children under 9 and disabled visitors travel for FREE
- Free wi-fi included
The Vatican & Rome Bus Tour currently has a score of 3 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor with almost 40% of reviewers rating them with either just 1 or 2 stars.
That said, their reviews on Tiqets are a bit better with an overall score of 3 ½ out of 5 stars (read reviews here).
Although ratings like these aren't exactly excellent, most customers agree that this company does a decent job of providing transportation to all of the major sites in Rome.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the audio guide and the ease of finding their bus stops, guests are very torn about this service.
Green Line Bus Tours
This is one of the newer hop-on hop-off bus tours in Rome, and they're quickly making a name for themselves as a reliable service.
As with their competitors, you can expect this bus tour to take you past some of the most notable sites in the city.
Green Line offers 24, 48, and 72-hour tickets at competitive prices, and at times they might even be one of the most affordable hop-on hop-off bus tours in Rome.
Like everyone else, they also offer audio commentary via headphones while you're on board.
Their tour is currently available in 13 languages: English, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Japanese, Russian, Korean, Hindi, Chinese, and Arabic.
Green Line offers 2 routes, but they are mostly the same except for a few minor differences. Across both routes, there are a total of 10 stops, the most notable being Eataly and the Testaccio Quarter.
- 24-Hour Ticket Prices: €27/Adults | €16/Youth (13-20)
- 48-Hour Ticket Prices: €34/Adults | €20/Youth (13-20)
- 72-Hour Ticket Prices: €39/Adults | €26/Youth (13-20)
- Availability: Daily from 9 am - 7 pm
- Children under 13 travel for free
- Teens up to the age of 20 are eligible for youth pricing
- This tour is also included with the Rome Turbo Pass.
As of this moment, Green Line has an overall rating of almost 4 out of 5 stars on GetYourGuide (read reviews here).
Most of the complaints were pretty common for hop-on hop-off bus tours, with some guests indicating they didn't have enough buses.
Those who loved the service were particularly happy that the buses dropped them off very close to major monuments, and described this as an easy way to get around the city.
IOBUS (Formerly Roma Open Bus)
This is another somewhat new hop-on hop-off bus tour in Rome with competitively low prices and similar services.
Much like Vatican & Rome, they also offer the standard 24-72 hour ticket options in addition one or two cheaper options for half-day or full-day tickets.
While their 24 hour tickets are valid for 24 hours from the moment you start using them, the daily tickets are only valid until the end of the operating day.
Since they are more limited, they are also a bit more affordable.
As with other hop-on hop-off bus tours, Roma Open Bus also makes stops at the most notable sites throughout the city.
They also offer an audio guide you can listen to with headphones on board the bus.
This tour has only one route with 8 stops.
- Afternoon Ticket (After 2 pm): €19/Adults | €10/Children (5-11)
- Daily Ticket (valid til end of the day): €25/Adults | €13/Children (5-11)
- 24-Hour Ticket Prices: €30/Adults | €15/Children (5-11)
- 48-Hour Ticket Prices: €34/Adults | €17/Children (5-11)
- 72-Hour Ticket Prices: €38/Adults | €19/Children (5-11)
- Availability: Daily from 10 am - 5 pm
- Younger guests receive an album of the monuments of Rome and a free backpack!
At the moment, this company only has 22 reviews on Viator, but they currently enjoy an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars (read reviews here).
Only one reviewer took issue with this hop-on hop-off bus tour, and it appears that it was due to a simple misunderstanding. Most guests suggest that this is a very reliable service.
One of the most common notes left by reviewers is that Roma Open Bus is very family-friendly, indicating the backpack and album given to kids were a great and unexpected addition.
Most of the bus tour companies in Rome provide discounts and combo tickets for their services.
In addition to those options, several tourist attraction discount passes also offer discounted or even free hop-on-hop-off bus tours in addition to skip-the-line tickets at many popular attractions.
These passes work by bundling together popular tours and attractions into one discount price, saving you up to 55% off.
They also can save you valuable time by allowing you to skip the ticket queues at select attractions.
Whether you're interested in getting a city pass or you just want to save some money on your ticket, we recommend taking a look at the following deals before making a purchase.
Omnia Vatican & Rome Card
In addition to offering free access to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, you'll also receive a 3-day ticket for the Vatican & Rome hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
After the tour is over, you can also use public transportation in Rome with the free 72-hour travel card that is also included with this pass.
These are only a few of the benefits included with the Omnia card, but they are definitely worth noting if you are interested in bus tours.
- Tourist Pass Prices: €149 for Adults | €69 for Children (ages 6-17)
- Omnia Pass lasts for 3 full days
- Includes Vatican & Rome (Roma Cristiana) Bus Tour
- Includes Rome Metro Pass
- Includes Free Entry to Vatican City Landmarks
- Click here for more information.
Rome City Pass - Turbo Pass
Much like Omnia, the Rome City Pass also provides access to a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
Unfortunately, in the case of this attraction pass, the included bus tour is only available for one day.
That being said, the price of this pass is much more affordable than the services offered by their competitors.
The Rome City Pass also provides a free metro card allowing you to use public transportation throughout the city.
- Tourist Pass Prices (starting from): €88.90/Adults | €47.90/Teens | €37.90/Children
- The Rome City Pass lasts for either 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7 days
- Includes Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour
- Includes Rome Airport Transfer
- Free Entry to Top Attractions, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & More
- Click here for additional information.
Rome Metro Card
If you're interested in taking a hop on hop off bus tour, but you don't plan to enter any of the landmarks or museums you'll see along the way, this is an excellent way to save some money.
The Rome Metro Card includes the following services for either 1 or 3 days:
- Rome Public Transport Pass
- Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
- 1-Day Card: €27/Adults
- 3-Day Card: €39/Adults
- Free for kids 9 and under.
Purchase the Rome Metro Card. (not currently available)
The nice thing about this discount card is that it includes both a hop on hop off bus tour and unlimited access to public transportation in Rome.
While bus tours will take you to most of the notable landmarks in the city, using the metro, trams and public buses will make it easier to reach even more destinations.
If you're primarily focused on getting around the city, but you also want to take a hop on hop off bus tour, this is an excellent way to save 25% - 30% off general admission prices.
Big Bus Tours Combo Deal
This company currently has one combo package which includes a classic ticket and admission to the Colosseum.
You'll also have access to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, two historic locations right next to this historic attraction.
Best of all, Big Bus actually has a stop right next to the Colosseum, so you won't even have to travel out of the way to take advantage of this deal!
- €52 per person
- Not currently available as of December 2023.
City Sightseeing Combo Deals
If you want to do more than just see the sites, City Sightseeing provides a few interesting combo deals that are definitely worth considering.
Each combo package includes their hop-on, hop-off bus tour and admission to notable landmarks in Rome.
Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel + Bus Tour
- 48-Hour Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour
- Skip-the-Line Admission to Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
- Combo Pass Prices: €62 for Adults | €38 for Children/Teens | 6 and under are FREE
- Not Currently Available
Maxi Combo Pass
- 48-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
- Admission to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill
- Skip-the-Line Admission to Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
- Combo Pass Prices: €82 for Adults | €50 for Children/Teens | 6 and under are FREE
- Not Currently Available.
The only problem with hop-on-hop-off bus tours is that they typically don't run after dark.
Rome is the kind of city that changes after the sun goes down, and a great way to experience illuminated Rome is to take a night tour.
Thankfully, a few of the popular bus tour companies in the area offer their own bus tours at night.
Unlike the services they provide during the day, you will not be allowed to hop on and off at your leisure.
That being said, you will enjoy a completely different experience on these excursions which may be worth the additional cost.
In addition to their hop-on, and hop-off bus tours, this company also offers a panoramic bus tour after dark. Unlike their other service, this tour only offers limited stops.
After you visit sites such as the Colosseum, Piazza Venezia, Circus Maximus, and more, you'll make a stop at Eataly, where you can grab a bite to eat if you're hungry.
This tour is approximately 3 hours in length, and it begins at 7:30 pm. Depending on when you visit Rome, chances are you'll catch the sunset and watch as the lights around the city begin to turn on.
- Ticket Prices: €28 for Adults | €17 for Children | FREE for Infants
- Summer Availability: Thursday - Sunday
- Fall Availability: Saturdays
- Duration: 3 hours
- Hours: 7:30 pm
- Not currently available as of December 2023.
This is a relatively new service that began in the summer of 2022, but so far it has received pretty good reviews with an overall rating of 4 out of 5 on Get Your Guide (read reviews here).
Currently, this is the only night bus tour in Rome. It's also much more affordable than any of the comparable services offered by their competitors.
Although it doesn't include any of the frills you might get from other night bus tours, this is definitely the base line night bus tour you can expect to find in Rome.
Rome by Night - (Gray Line Tours)
Known for its big pink buses, Gray Line also provides a night tour with a professional guide on board to provide valuable information.
As you travel around the city, you'll have the opportunity to see famous landmarks such as the Colosseum and St. Peter's Basilica after dark.
Additionally, you will also enjoy free walking tours of the Trevi Fountain and Trastevere.
- Ticket Prices: €47 for Adults | €37.60 for Children | FREE for Infants
- Availability: Daily at 8:45 pm (Apr-Oct) and 8 pm (Nov-Mar)
- Duration: 2 hours
- Includes walking tours of Trevi Fountain & Trastevere
- Not Currently Available.
Reviews for this night bus tour are very mixed. While some visitors are very pleased with the service, others feel that it's not worth the price of admission.
Some customers described the trip as disorganized and chaotic, but others were very happy with their experience.
Most of the complaints about this outing focus on the amount of foot travel that is required for both walking tours.
With that said, some of you may actually jump at the chance for a little more activity, and this is one excursion that will give it to you.
Couples were far more impressed with this trip than any other audience.
Romantic Rome - (City Sightseeing)
In addition to offering a full-length bus tour after dark, City Sightseeing also gives guests the opportunity to enjoy a nice meal.
Why worry about missing dinner when it's included in the tour?
Guests will enjoy a welcome drink and appetizers at the restaurant Eataly along with a full buffet dinner at Zodiac.
Although you won't be able to hop on and off whenever you wish, this night tour will give you the opportunity to see all of the major landmarks after the sun sets.
- Ticket Prices: €62/adult | €49/child
- Availability: Daily at 8 pm
- Duration: 2 ½ hours
- Includes appetizers at Eataly and a buffet at Zodiac
- Not Currently Available.
Sadly, reviews for this service weren't much better than the overall ratings for City Sightseeing.
Although there were some negative comments, others were very impressed with the night bus tour offered by this company.
Visitors were especially pleased with the opportunity to see major sites in Rome with all of the lights on, creating a lot of wonderful shadows and giving them a completely different look at the historic city.
Tips From Locals and Travelers
If you're still not sure about whether or not to take a hop-on hop-off bus tour in Rome, you're not alone.
A lot of travelers are curious about this service, and especially in this ancient city, there are reasons to consider alternatives.
Some travelers find this service quite useful, noting that in the summer, the air conditioning included on these buses is well worth the price of a ticket.
They also found the commentary included to be a great overview, and that really is how these services should be used.
As other members of the group note, this is a useful tour for those who want to get an idea of what you can see and do in Rome.
It's not necessarily the most detailed tour of each site you'll see, but once you're done with the loop, chances are you'll have a better idea of where everything is located and what you want to see a bit closer.
Another nice thing is that the three main companies (Big Bus, City Sightseeing, and ORP) each allow you to use any of their buses while sightseeing.
This ensures that even if Big Bus is running late at a particular stop, you can just find either a City Sightseeing or ORP bus and use them instead.
That all said, it's important to point out that there are a lot of travelers and locals who feel the hop-on hop-off tours in Rome are not worth the cost.
The main reason is because they aren't actually allowed to make stops very close to the main landmarks in the city centre.
This is an absolutely reasonable point to make, because the closest stops to sites such as the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain are actually several blocks away.
The reality is that no matter what you do, you'll probably have to walk a lot while visiting Rome, because it's just not a city that is built for heavy vehicle traffic.
Even so, some travelers who don't recommend these tours note that they at least found it useful for one day, so you might just want to consider getting a 1-day ticket if you're not entirely sure about this outing.
For more advice, make sure to check either our Rome Travel Tips group or the Rome & Italy Travel group on Facebook.