Harbors and ports are the lifeline of many cities around the world. This wasn’t any different in Roman times. The harbor of Ancient Ostia (Ostia Antica) near Rome was of essential value for the expanding city of Rome. If you’re looking to escape the crowds of Rome and you’re interested in history, then a day trip to ancient Ostia from Rome is a must-do!
Easy, cheap, and packed with amazing things to see, ancient Ostia can rival further away cousin Pompeii for archaeological sights to visit from Rome.
I’ll explain what you can expect when you visit ancient Ostia, what there is to see and do, and practical tips on how to arrange a day trip from Rome. Either on your own, by private guide, or with a tour. Either way is fine, as ancient Ostia cannot be missed if you’d like to learn more about the Roman history of Rome.
I paid for everything in full myself. I was not paid or sponsored. All my opinions and experiences are my own.
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Is Ostia Antica worth visiting from Rome?
I might be a bit biased as I absolutely L*O*V*E ancient ruins, but I found the sight of ancient Ostia very much worth the time. And as the day trip was so easy to take, it takes very little effort and money to see some amazing city ruins, delve into Roman history and see some pretty amazing ruins.
Here are my 5 reasons why I think you should visit ancient Ostia from Rome and why the sight is 100% worth your time.
#1. Ostia Antica is not far from Rome
Italy is packed to the brim with archaeological finds, history, and cultural heritage sights. A visit to Pompeii is a popular day trip from Rome.
But a long one too.
It will take you at least 3 to 4 hours to reach the south of Italy and then you want to explore the massive sight of Pompeii before your same-day return to Rome. Exhausting!
I found Ostia Antica as much interesting as Pompeii. Ok, the story of Ostia is not as sensational as the crumbling Pompeii but if you’re interested in everyday life in Roman times and wish to see an archaeological site in Italy, then ancient Ostia is much more accessible from Rome.
From Rome to ancient Ostia will take you less than an hour and is very straightforward and plain easy to get to.
You don’t have to go all the way to Naples and visit Pompeii to see Roman life. Ancient Ostia got you covered!
#2. It is easy to reach ancient Ostia from Rome
Traveling in Italy can be confusing. Stressful at times.
But not your travel to ancient Ostia! I was absolutely amazed at how simple it really was.
I got on the subway at Termini station, got off the subway at the Pyramid stop and walked 1 minute inside the same station, and got on a train that stopped at Ostia. From there, it was an easy stroll to the archaeological site.
No fuss, no problem!
#3. Train Ticket to visit ancient Ostia from Rome is cheap
Talk about cheap!
How does €1,50 sound?
That is the price for a gelato with 1 scoop. It won’t even buy you a small bottle of water in touristy Rome. But it does allow you to travel from downtown Rome, all the way to the outskirts of Rome to visit ancient Ostia!
Your Rome transport ticket is valid for the whole journey. And going back, again a ticket for €1,50 and you’re good to go!
I found this so ridiculously cheap, I couldn’t believe it was true. But it is!
#4. Escape the crowds of Rome on a day trip to Ostia
Rome is busy at any time of the year. It is hard to find a little piece of Rome, without tourists and selfie sticks.
I figured Ostia would be similar but either I was lucky, or it is still one of those lesser-known things to do in Rome.
I found a few people on the train to ancient Ostia and there were some groups in Ostia, but nothing to worry about.
With the green environment, and the poppies waving in the wind, my day trip to Ostia felt like an escape from the crowds in Rome!
If you’re sick of all the crowds, but still want to explore the Roman ruins of Rome, then a day trip to Ostia would be perfect for you! I know it was for me!
#5. Amazing Roman Ruins
Ostia was the ancient harbor town at the mouth of the river Tiber that was the gateway for all goods and people coming to Rome by ship. It was an important military station and used to import grain to feed the expanding people of Rome.
Most of the city’s remains date from the 3rd century BCE. Due to silting of the River Tiber, the site of Ostia Antica now lies a few miles from the sea. But even in modern times, you can clearly see the layout of an important harbor city.
Things to see at Ancient Ostia (Ostia Antica)
To give you a glimpse of what you can expect if you visit ancient Ostia, here are the main highlights and top things to see at ancient Ostia:
Baths of Neptune
One of the biggest excavations in Ostia Antica that you’ll see once you pass the main gate, are the baths of Neptune. Built between 117 and 161 CE, the baths have several rooms and the Palestra (the exercise area).
Climb to the higher level to have a top view of the amazing mosaics, inspired by sea creatures and the god Neptune. The main black and white mosaic of Neptune is gigantic and exciting to see it in-situ. You can see the layout of the baths and the scale of the complex.
Theater of Ostia
The Theater of Ostia is hard to miss. The ruins of the theater dominate a huge part of Ostia Antica and climbing to the top row gives a bird’s eye view of the ancient city and surrounding.
The Theater of Ostia was built in the first century BCE by Agrippa, but later expanded between 176 and 211 CE by Commodus and Septimius Severus. At I’s hay day, it could hold up to 4,000 spectators, divided over several levels.
Most of the seating area still remains today, although the back wall of the theater is gone. You can see the marble floor of the orchestra and enjoy the view of the theater.
Square of the Guilds
Right behind the Theater of Ostia, you’ll find a park-like area which is called the Square of the Guilds. Here you can stroll underneath the trees and look at several mosaics, depicting the trades and guilds of that time.
Of course, the nautical theme is very present in the harbor town.
Forum and Capitolium
In Roman times, the forum was the principal area to govern the town or city. In Ostia, the structures partly remain and you can feel the importance of the Forum in Ostia.
You can see the Capitolium, the temple for the main 3 Roman gods (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva) and her surrounding pillars. Opposite you can find a smaller temple, erected for Rome and Augustus.
Unfortunately, the Curia, where the city council would meet and the Basilica are damaged, and only a few remain.
Warehouses in Ostia
In ancient Ostia, you can find numerous warehouses, shops, other baths, and houses that you can see or even enter. As Ostia was a city, where people lived and traded, some are more important than others.
Ostia is a huge site and you can easily spend several hours exploring all the sights and structures. For me, this isn’t so interesting. In the end, they all start to look alike and you get lost in the maze of streets.
To get a feel of the city of ancient Ostia, stroll around a few streets. Pick a few on the map you’d wish to see and walk through the city.
Walk around ancient Ostia on Decumanus Maximus
The Decumanus Maximus is the name of the main route that runs from the entrance, all the way through Ostia. The most interesting buildings and those of significant importance in Roman times are situated along the Decumanus Maximus.
I liked the street as it was easy to follow and offered plenty of great views of the city. Covered by tall cypress trees, it offered a welcome shade to explore the town.
Tips for your ancient Ostia day trip from Rome
I hope I could convince you to visit ancient Ostia on a day trip from Rome. It is easy to get to, costs considerably little, and has many interesting Roman sights. To make life even easier for you, here are some practical tips for your Ostia day trip from Rome:
- Take the early train from Rome. It takes an hour to reach Ostia and you’ll have all day to explore
- As with all Roman excavation sights in Italy, it can get hot! Wear a hat, and sunglasses, apply generous amounts of sunscreen, and hydrate yourself
- Bring a big bottle of water with you. The train ride is about an hour to Ostia. There is a small shop outside Ostia but they don’t sell much.
- If you travel on a budget, bring a packed lunch. Ancient Ostia does have a restaurant on-site, but it is crazy expensive.
- Get an audio guide at the entrance of ancient Ostia. Or you can pick up a good guidebook if you like the read.
Rome to Ostia day trip
As you can see, a visit to Ostia is a fun day trip from Rome which is really easy to do independently. If you do wish to get a tour with transport from Rome and a guide to Ostia, feel free to search the options of these (half) day tours to Ostia from Rome.
Have you ever been to ancient Ostia from Rome? Do you like Roman ruins just as much as I do? Feel free to drop me a comment in the comment section below.