Day Trips from Rome: Ostia Antica is the new Pompeii
One of Rome’s most compelling and accessible historic sites is also one of its most underrated. Ostia Antica, Rome’s ancient port city, is full of ruins and monuments, some in even better condition than the famous Pompeii. What most people don’t realize is that even if you don’t have time during your trip to go all the way down to Pompeii and Naples to see the famous volcanic ruins, Ostia Antica is a metro ride away from Rome’s historic center and completely doable as a day trip or even an afternoon outside of the city.
Getting to Ostia Antica
Visiting Ostia Antica was something I’d had on my list of things to do for years (which somehow manages to get even longer as more time passes) but I finally made it happen over the summer. While I don’t recommend going when the temperatures get really hot, we made a day out of it with the morning spent at the park and the afternoon at the beach (you can check out my best beaches to get to from Rome here). To get there, we hopped on the metro (take any train from the B line towards Laurentina) and got off at San Paolo, where there’s a regional train that leaves from the station heading out to Ostia. One €1.50 metro ticket covers your entire trip out there, where you get off at the Ostia Antica stop and take a short walk to the site’s entrance. This takes about an hour from the center of Rome, depending on where you get the metro from.
Having been to Pompeii and many other ancient Roman archeological sites, I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by Ostia Antica but boy was I surprised. The whole park is huge and you could spend days inside exploring the ruins and reading each plaque for the marked sites.
Without a tour it’s definitely overwhelming, which is one thing I’d recommend if you’re interested in getting a deeper understanding of its historic significance. I found its background fascinating and imagining the thriving port city as it was back in ancient times was enough to keep me wanting more. One thing that sets it apart from other monuments and ruins is how accessible everything is. You can climb up ancient apartments and see how people lived, enter the communal baths and take a seat in the theater which still today hosts concerts.
There are many ways to see this ancient city, but I would definitely start with a long walk listening to your guide or audioguide and if your visit falls during the warmer months, seeing a show is a great way to experience a mix of Roman cultures.
Entrance to Ostia Antica costs €8 for an adult or €4 if you’re a European citizen. You can also buy a map or private tour for more, but I ended up using Rick Steve’s podcast episode of Ostia Antica and following along closely for a free tour. The park is closed on Mondays and opens in the morning at 8:30, with different closing times depending on the season (official website for more info).
If you have any questions about Ostia Antica, or want to share your impressions, leave them in the comments below!