How to visit Ostia Antica (and why you should add it to your Rome itinerary)

by marta

Discover how to visit Ostia Antica from Rome with this practical travel guide packed with information and tips on how to get to Ostia Antica, what to see and why you should add this wonderful day trip to any Rome itinerary.

Houses in the medieval borgo with ancient walls
Ostia antica: entrance to the borgo

One of my favorite places in the whole of Italy and one that is easy to reach from Rome for an afternoon off the beaten path, is gorgeous Ostia Antica.

Located in the greater Rome metropolitan area and only 30 minutes form the city center, Ostia Antica is the old port of Rome and is a place of great beauty and historical significance.

here you have a large archaeological park dating back to Roman times and a small medieval ‘borgo’ with a lovely castle and a main square of immense charm.

This is my full travel guide to Ostia Antica from Rome. Safe travels!

What is Ostia Antica?

Ostia Antica is a beautiful archaeological site immediately outside of Rome. It dates back to ancient Roman times and lies just at the mouth of the Tiber, where the rives merges with the Thyrrenian sea.

This location is the key to understanding the history of this place: Ostia Antica is the ancient port of Rome and for centuries was an important trade center in the area.

Is it worth visiting?

If you have been sightseeing around Rome you might be wondering if a trek to one more site with Roman ruins is worth it and my response in this case unequivocal: Ostia Antica is so worth you you may enjoy it even more than Rome itself!

the big thing about Ostia is that is mixes incredibly well historical relevance and natural beauty. The park is a vast open air area and has stunning ruins dotted with tall pine trees standing tall against the blue Italian sky.

Ostia Antica archaeological parks has ruins of private and public buildings and statues

The crowds haven’t discovered Ostia Antica yet and while you do get tourism here, you are likely to find yourself walking almost alone along the ancient streets of this beautiful town.

Less grand than Pompei, Ostia gets often compared to its bigger sister town and in some way it is easy to see why. Both are well preserved Roman town and both give great insight on how life must have developed in ancient times.

However, Ostia has a much slower pace than Pompei and a day here is a mix between a sightseeing opportunity and a day outdoors, something you are likely to crave after the busy streets of Rome city center.

What there is to see?

There are two main sites to see in Ostia Antica: the archaeological park and the ‘borgo’. The two lie beside each other and you can walk between the two in less than five minutes.

They are both served by the same train station so the travel information below apply to both.

It is possible to visit both Ostia Antica park and borgo in one afternoon.

Ostia antica road with brick walls and kids running
The park mixes history with lovely outdoor spaces

How to get to Ostia Antica from Rome

Ostia Antica is connected to Rome city center by a frequent commuter train. The train leaves Roma Ostiense station at regular intervals (up to 12 time per hour) or so and the ride takes approximately 30 minutes.

This train is part of the Rome public transport network (you can read our full guide to getting around Rome here) and you need the same ticket that yo would use on the metro of bus. The cost of one ride is 1.50 euro.

Like on buses and metro kids under 10 go free.

The train brings you to the small train station called ‘Ostia Antica’ and from there reaching the park is easy. As you exit the station the park is right in front of you, on the other side of the road.

To facilitate crossing of this big Roman artery there is a bridge which you get to climb buy a set of stairs.

The bridge is the quickest way to reach the entrance to the archaeological park but it is sadly impossible to access if you have any mobility issues.

If that is the case, you need to head to your right and take the longer route via the borgo (it takes a few minutes to walk that way) which is flat.

How to visit Ostia Antica archaeological park

The entrance to the archaeological park is served by a small ticket office and bookshop. Here you can buy your tickets for the day (advance purchase is not necessary) and you can also pick up the audio guide.

The park is open every day except Mondays, New year and Christmas day. The opening times depends on the season: you can check official schedule here (in Italian)

Taking the audio guide is worth it as in Ostia you do not have info panels explaining what the ruins you are looking at used to be.

While some such as the theater and the thermpilum do have brief info at their entrance, the vast majority of sites are unmarked, making the place beautiful yet hard to grasp without a guide of some sort.

The best way to visit Ostia Antica is to come equipped with a good pair of walking shoes and get hold of the audio guide and the (free) map available at the ticket office.

For the best experience, I recommend you devote a few hours to the park and take a break at the park cafe and restaurant before venturing to the farthest part of the park.

The cafe is pleasant and well serviced and it is a good place for a rest. Here you have snacks, light meals, toilet facilities and agood bookshops for loal guides and souvenirs.

What to see in Ostia Antica and park layout

Once you are in, the parks opens up in front of your eyes. Coming from the train station you find yourself on the ‘Decumanus maximum’, Ostia Antica’s ancient main street and you find archaeological ruins on both sides of you.

Along the decumanus you will see the impressive Ostia Antica theater, some religious buildings and the ruins of the many shops and warehouses that were at the heart of this commercial city.

This is probably the most impressive part of the whole of Ostia: the theater can be easily accessed and you can see it both from the spectators seats and from the main stage. The view from both is spectacular!

Behind the theater you find access to the excellent local museum and the park’s cafeteria and bookshop

The impressive theater

Farther along the decumanus you will then reach the forum, which used to be the center of administrative affairs.

This is a really interesting area to visit and it is worth taking the time to wander in the smaller streets to the side of the decumanus: here you can see, among other things, the thermopilum, an ancient Roman cafe / restaurant that will make you realize how, when ti comes to enjoying food and socializing. ancient Romans were as close to us as it can get!

Ancient Roman ‘cafe’

Farther again the area of ‘Via della Foce’ preserved some beautiful mosaics and thermal baths and finally, at the very end of the park the area of Porta Marina is where we can still see the richest Roman Domus and thermal baths infrastructures.

This last part of the park is beautiful and historically significant due to the various construction techniques used in its buildings. I personally love this part of the town as I find the mosaics truly breathtaking! This is one of the not many place where it is possible to admire ancient mosaics in Rome.

Floor mosaics in ostia antica building

A brief history of Ostia Antica

Archaeological remains suggest Ostia Antica dates back to IV century BC and was born as a castrum (military fortification) to control the mouth of the river Tiber and therefore access to Rome via water.

Over the course of the centuries Ostia developed into a large and important city: its original perimeter of walls was replaced by a bigger one in the first century and 3 entrances to the city remain: Porta Romana, Porta Marina and Porta Laurentina.

Ostia grew in importance for a centuries and reached its peak in the I and II century AD.After this time, the city went through a slow decline and it looks like it was abandoned between the IX and X century: at this time, the population left the ancient city and moved farther East in the medieval ‘borgo’ of Gregoriopoli.

The medieval Borgo of Ostia Antica

Outside Ostia Antica’s archaeological park,only 5 minutes down the road from the park and train station, lies the second gem of this area: Ostia’s ancient borgo.

The ancient borgo

The borgo is nothing more than a small square developing around the impressive Ostia castle and it is one of the most charming places you will encounter in Rome and not only.

The small square is traffic free and enclosed by the castle, a church and a series of small buildings with cascading flowers and colorful walls.

the borgo can be visited in a matter of minutes but it is worth planning a bt of time here and especially sty for dinner.

Just off the square, you will find a few tables on the street, dressed with red and white table cloths: they belong to a small family restaurant and if you can have a meal here, it is likely to stay as one of the most relaxing and pleasant of your whole stay in Rome!

I hope you enjoyed this post and it helped you answer the question: how to visit Ostia Antica from Rome?

You may also like