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Will the Roma Pass help you save money in Rome? In this Roma Pass review, we’ll explore how the pass works, what it includes, and how to see the sites in Vatican City, as well. Enjoy!
Rome is my favorite city in the world. It’s steeped in ancient history, full of awe-inspiring beauty, and brimming with an energy like no place I’ve ever been. Quite simply, visiting Rome is nothing short of incredible.
Of course, traveling isn’t cheap… and when you travel as often as we do, you’ve got to find ways to save.
But, it’s not just about saving money. While staying on budget is a must, saving time can be just as important. That’s why we always check if the destinations we visit offer a sightseeing pass. These passes typically include discounted admission to the city’s top attractions, plus you almost always get “fast track entry” to a destination’s busiest attractions.
Since Rome is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, it made sense to check out the Eternal City’s pass offerings before making our first trip there.
The first pass we found was the Roma Pass. It looked like a great pass on its own, but there was one major problem. Like any first time traveler to Rome, we really wanted to visit Vatican City! Since the Roma Pass didn’t offer any special discounts to Vatican properties, we continued our search for a pass that did.
Enter the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card.
Is the Roma Pass Worth It?
If you’re searching for a sightseeing pass that offers everything you need in Rome, the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card is it.
The OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card is actually 2 passes in one: The Roma Pass and the OMNIA Card.
With this combo pass, you have the full Roma Pass at your disposal. Like with all 72-hour Roma Passes, “free” entry is included to 2 of Rome’s best tourist attractions. Additionally, you gain “Fast Track Entry” to the busiest sites, which could literally save you hours of standing in line.
What sets the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card apart is the addition of the OMNIA Vatican Card. Along with everything you get on the Roma Pass, you also receive free admission and Fast Track Entry to the top Vatican attractions – including the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums, and St. Peter’s Basilica!
So, if you’re looking for the best sightseeing pass in Rome, I’d go with the Rome & Vatican Pass instead.
How Does the Roma Pass Work?
Since the Rome & Vatican Pass combines two separate cards (the Roma Pass and the OMNIA Vatican Card), you’ll use each individual card at specific locations.
The Roma Pass portion will get you admission to important sites throughout Rome, many of which include Fast Track Entry. This card also acts as your public transportation pass for bus fares and subway rides. Simply swipe your card on the way in, and you’re good to go.
Top Attractions Included on the Roma Pass
Admission to 2 of the following 7 locations is included with the Roma Pass portion of your travel card.
- The Colosseum
- Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
- Borghese Gallery
- Capitoline Museums
- National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo
- Museum of Rome
- Carcer Tullianum
You’ll also receive a discounted admission rate at those you don’t choose, plus discounts on admission at about 30 other sites (current as of May 2019). Additionally, you get unlimited three-day access to Rome’s public transportation system.
How Does the OMNIA Vatican Card Work?
As we mentioned, the OMNIA Vatican Card includes entry to Vatican attractions – none of which are offered by the Roma Pass alone. Like the Roma Pass portion, the OMNIA Card is also good for 3 days once activated. With the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card, you get free admission and Fast Track Entry to all of the following (current as of May 2019):
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- Sistine Chapel
- Vatican Museums
- St. John in the Lateran and Cloister (Located in Rome)
- St. Paul’s Basilica Outside the Walls
- Rome & Vatican City Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
Roma Pass Pricing (Including Vatican Card)
No Roma Pass review would be complete without pricing details! So, how much does this bad boy cost? Here you go! (Current as of May 2019):
- 3 Day Vatican and Rome Pass (Adult): €113.00
- 3 Day Vatican and Rome Pass (Child): €80.00
Let’s compare that to regular entry at some popular locations:
- The Colosseum: €12.00
- Roman Forum & Palatine Hill (one-day): €12.00
- Sistine Chapel/Vatican Museums: €30.00
- St. Peter’s Basilica: Free (Audio Guide €15.00)
- St. John in the Lateran: €10.00
- St. Paul’s Basilica Outside the Walls: €5.00
- Capitoline Museums: €15.00
- HOHO Bus Tour: €32.00
Entry fees to these attractions alone would cost you between €104.00-€116.00. (The Colosseum and the Forum/Palatine Hill are one entry if you visit both on the same day, separate tickets if you enter on separate days.) Add the audio guide at St. Peter’s and you’re now at €119.00-€131.00. That doesn’t even include your transportation throughout the city.
**Editor’s Note: Due to visitor caps, advance bookings are now required for the Colosseum. Learn more here.
With the Vatican and Rome Pass, you’ve already saved money on entry to these attractions alone. You’ll also get free access to Rome’s public transportation system and reduced admission to about 30 other sites. While it doesn’t provide as big of savings as some cards (like the London Pass), it is still a pretty good value.
Most importantly, the combination of the Roma Pass and the OMNIA Vatican Card gives you Fast Track Entry where you need it most, saving you hours and hours of standing in line. If you want to explore the city on your own, the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card is the best way to save time and money on sightseeing in Rome.
Top Benefit: Fast Track Entry
Although the Rome and Vatican Pass saves you money, that isn’t the biggest draw.
Your time in Rome is precious. The last thing you want is to waste it standing in line. In my eyes, having the Roma Pass and the Vatican Card is imperative because you get Fast Track Entry to the busiest sites.
Seriously, I can’t stress this enough: Get the card if only for the Fast Track Entry!
At this point, we’ve visited Rome multiple times throughout the year (spring, summer, and fall). Even in November, lines to the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill and Vatican Museums were hours long. I’m talking at least a 2-hour wait (or more) just to get in, and that is considered off-peak season. Under the hot June sun, the wait times looked to be even longer.
The Roma Pass affords you Fast Track Entry to the Colosseum (advanced booking now required) and the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill. With the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card, you’ll also gain Fast Track Entry to the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and St. John in the Lateran and Cloisters church.
Just so you know I’m not kidding, here are two photos I snapped of the ticket line at the Roman Forum:
It’s a little tough to see, but that line extends about another block and a half toward the Colosseum…and this isn’t even the main entrance where the lines were much longer!
With the Roma pass, you can march directly to the turnstyle and practically walk right in. In fact, I watched people do it which inspired me to take the photos!
Trust me on this: It’s well worth the money for fast track entry alone. Be a savvy traveler and skip those excruciatingly long ticket lines. Get your Rome and Vatican Pass here.
Other Benefits of the Vatican and Rome Pass
You already know that the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card offers free entry to some of Rome and Vatican City’s most popular destinations. You also know about how important it is that this pass offers Fast Track Entry to the busiest sites. But, that’s not all that the card has to offer. Here are a few other awesome perks:
Free Travelcard – Similar to the Paris Pass, the Roma Pass also provides free unlimited access to Rome’s public transportation system. Hop on a bus or train to quickly get where you want to go. Just swipe your card, and you’re on. Remember, if you use your card first on transportation, the clock starts ticking on your 3 consecutive days limit.
Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour – Make your way around Rome and Vatican City using the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour. You get free access to the tour for 3 days. Pick up a bus on the way to your next destination, or ride the loop to see all 12 sites at once. The tour also includes a free audio guide. Just look for the white and yellow buses at 12 different locations!
Free Guidebook and Map – When you purchase the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card, you’ll also receive a complimentary guidebook and map. Use the guidebook to help plan your Roman holiday. Check the map for getting around Rome and Vatican City, plus use it to find the hop-on-hop-off bus stops.
Free Audio Guide – Use your OMNIA Card to get a free audio guide at St. Peter’s Basilica. Audio guides are a great way to add more depth to what you’re seeing.
Discounted Admission – Yes, the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card offers free entry to many of the top destinations in Rome and Vatican City. However, once you use all of those, you still get discounted pricing at about 30 different sites. Just be sure to use your card within the 3-day activation period!
Where The Rome & Vatican Pass Falls Short
Overall, the Rome and Vatican Pass is a pretty good deal – especially when you consider that it includes fast track entry to the top spots AND access to public transportation. However, there are a few flaws.
First, it saves money…but not a ton. While some of our favorite cards (like the New York Pass) can potentially save travelers hundreds of dollars in entry fees, the savings with this card are far more modest. However, you do get fast track entry at the busiest spots, and that feature is practically worth it alone.
The fact that you have to schedule entry times to the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s, and now the Colosseum is also confusing and a bit of a pain. This has been alleviated a bit as you can now pre-book your reservations by following the instructions on your confirmation email.
If you haven’t reserved your time at St. Peter’s or the Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel, don’t plan on visiting the Vatican sites on your first day in town. Don’t wait to book your spot either. Instead, head up to Vatican City to make your appointments ASAP. That way, you’ll have more slots to choose from.
Finally, Rome is full of exceptional history and stories, and I think some of those are best told through an actual tour guide. While some sightseeing passes include guided tours, this one does not.
On the flip side, I don’t particularly like guided tours of art museums. I’ve been on two guided tours of the Vatican Musuems/Sistine Chapel and have used the OMNIA Vatican Card to visit once. I much prefer the experience with the Vatican Card because A) I got to see far more of the museum than what the tours allow, and B) I was able to enjoy the museum at my own pace.
So, unless you need to know every last minute detail about the Sistine Chapel (or you enjoy being herded through the Gallery of Maps like cattle), I would definitely recommend the Vatican Card instead.
Who Is the Rome & Vatican Pass Good For?
- Visitors who want to visit Rome & Vatican sites – Travelers who want to visit sites in both Rome and Vatican City should definitely consider this pass. By combining the Roma Pass and the OMNIA Vatican Card, you’ll have access to the best sites both have to offer.
- First-time visitors – If you’ve never been to Rome before, the Roma Pass and Vatican Card offer discounted entry to most of the sites you’ll want to visit anyway. Public transportation (subways & buses) are also included in the pass, so you’ll save money and steps there too.
- Those who enjoy exploring at their own pace – The Rome and Vatican Pass is good for three consecutive days once you activate it. Take that time to explore the sites at your own pace.
Who Should Avoid the Rome & Vatican Pass?
- Visitors with no interest in Vatican sites – If you don’t plan to visit the Vatican sites, you’ll be able to save more by skipping the combo card and getting the Roma Pass on its own.
- Travelers who prefer tour guides – Although most sites offer audio guides, if you’re somebody who would rather pay extra for a live tour guide, skip the pass and book tours instead. You can find the best Rome tours here.
Tips for Using the Rome & Vatican Pass
Schedule Your Vatican Visits – Unlike the attractions in Rome, entry to the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica is timed. You can either pre-book your reservations in advance (recommended) or do it in person. If you select the later, visit the office in St. Peter’s Square to schedule a time on your first day in town. Time slots are available on a first come/first serve basis, so keep this in mind before planning your time in Vatican City. (Entry to St. John in the Lateran does not require reservations.)
Activate Your Pass in the Morning – The Roma Pass is a three-day consecutive pass, so it expires three days after your first use. Don’t activate it late in the day, even on public transportation. That will count as a full day, which could mess up your sightseeing plans.
Start Early – To pack the most value into your card, be sure to begin sightseeing early every day. The more sites you can see, the more value you’ll get from the card. Also, keep in mind that the Colosseum only allows about 3,000 people in the building at once. Because of this, you’ll need to book your entry time in advance. I’d recommend booking early in the morning to avoid the heat, reduce the chances of waiting for others to clear out, and be able to visit the Roman Forum afterwards.
Visit Colosseum & Forum on Same Day – Admission to The Colosseum and the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill is counted as one entry if you visit them both on the same day. I highly recommend you do so. (FYI, the Forum is my favorite place to visit in all of Europe.) Make sure to give yourself plenty of time at these locations because you’re only allowed one entry per site with the pass.
How to Get the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card
Ordering your OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card is easy. Get your pass here.
If you’re like me, you’ll want to order your sightseeing passes before you leave. To save even more, you can skip the shipping charges and retrieve your passes when you arrive. Just head to one of these Vatican City or Rome locations:
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- Largo Argentina/Pantheon
- Fiumicino Airport, T3 Arrivals Terminal
- St. John in the Lateran
Again, if you haven’t made reservations for St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel, I’d suggest picking your passes up at the office inside St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. That way, you can kill two birds with one stone.
Here’s a map to help you find the office:
To get there, you literally walk into the area known as St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro). If you’re coming from the east, walk into the square and look at the building immediately located to your left. (If you walk into the circle, you’ve gone too far.)
From the south, follow the outside of the circle until you’ve come to the center on the east side. Look to your right, and you’ll see the office. Head in and pick up your passes at the desk. Then, if you haven’t done so already, make your appointment to see the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Other Resources to Save in Rome
If you’re looking for other ways to help you save in Rome, consider applying for a travel credit card. The best travel credit cards all come with no foreign transaction fees and help you earn points you can use to save on flights and hotel rooms. And when you save on the big costs, you have more money to spend while in Rome.
My favorite travel card for beginners is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. It currently offers a 60,000 point bonus when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. You can redeem your points for $750 in travel through the Chase portal or transfer them to 13 different loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio. (Some programs include United Airlines, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, and more.) The card does have an annual fee of $95, but the bonus points far more than cover it the first year.
This is the first card we recommend to almost every traveler. Since the points are super flexible and very valuable, it’s a great first rewards card for anybody’s wallet.
Roma Pass Review: The Verdict
If you only want to see the sites in Rome, the Roma Pass is great. But, if you want to visit Vatican City while you’re there, I’d definitely go with the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card instead.
The OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card gives you access to everything on the Roma Pass plus some. In fact, the Roma Pass is part of the package!
You also get the OMNIA Card, which allows you to enter the Vatican attractions not included on the Roma Pass. Better yet, you get Fast Pass Entry to all the most popular (and busiest) places. So, why get just the Roma Pass when you can have it all with the Vatican and Rome Card?
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Roma Pass review! Have a wonderful trip to Rome, and please let us know if you have any questions. Happy traveling!