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Episode #172: Touchdown in Rome: Navigating the Airport and Beyond

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Arriving into Rome’s Fiumicino Airport is many traveler’s first experience of Italy and the process of getting through the airport and then onto your accommodation can feel can feel overwhelming and arduous after a long flight, especially if it’s your first time in Italy. To help get your trip off to a great start, we explain what to expect when you arrive in Rome, the best ways to get to your accommodation, and other tips for a stress-free arrival. 

Show notes
Having a smooth experience on arrival can make or break your trip, especially if it’s a short one, so Untold Italy founder Katy shares information on tips so you can be prepared for your arrival in Rome.

What you’ll learn in this episode

Why Rome?

  • Rome is where most visitors from outside of Europe arrive in Italy and Rome Fiumicino Airport is the busiest international airport in the country
  • It is usually the best place to arrive if you’re looking for flight deals simply because of supply and demand. It is also best for avoiding complicated transit arrangements from other European cities – which is when missed connections and lost luggage happen most frequently
  • Katy has learned the hard way that planning trips around arriving and departing from Rome is usually the most efficient plan
  • Rome airport is modern and efficient. The last 2 times Katy has arrived there, she’s been on the way to the city center within around 40 minutes of landing. On both occasions, she was traveling on Emirates flights from Dubai with upwards of 400 passengers and in the middle of the day – to give some context

What happens when you arrive?

You disembark the plane and head to the immigration checkpoint. Here most passengers from the US, Australia, Canada, UK, NZ etc will be channeled into a separate line to those travelers from the EU

The next step is scanning your passport in a machine that checks the details – it’s all self-service though there is staff on hand in case of any issues. You then head over to an official who generally gives it a quick glance and stamps the passport

Currently, in May 2023, passport holders from many countries including US, Australia and NZ, Canada and the UK do not need a visa to enter Italy and the wider Schengen area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Citizens of some countries including India, South Africa and China need to apply for a Schengen visa – please refer to the Italian embassy in your country for the latest information/check the visa requirements for your country on this Italian government website.

The EU is bringing in a visa waiver system that will apply to all visitors. This is similar to the ESTA system the US has. This is due in 2024 but it has been delayed many times, so we await confirmation and will announce in our free Italy Travel Planning Facebook group when we have a definite date/information from official sources

You then go to collect your bags (if you have checked any in). Once you’ve collected them you’ll either exit the arrivals hall or make a customs declaration if you need to,  which is unlikely unless you’re traveling with a lot of alcohol, cigarettes or cash.

Getting from the airport to your accommodation

From this point, things get more complicated because any intercontinental trip is long and tiring and it can be a bit overwhelming to try and figure everything out when there’s a different language, currency and you’re possibly both excited and anxious about the trip ahead. The more information you have so you can be prepared and organized prior to your arrival, the better. 

Katy travels 24 hours from Australia to get to Italy so knows how tiring it is. She finds it’s much more relaxing and convenient to book a transfer to get you to your hotel or Airbnb. But, there are a few options you can choose from:

Option 1 – Book a transfer

The pros:

  • you can book and pay in advance so don’t need to have any cash ready or to worry about the cost
  • the driver knows when you’re arriving and where you’re going so they are ready to pick you up and get you to your destination efficiently

Katy uses Welcome Pickups and Suntransfers. You just book online a week or so before departure and you’re met at the airport and taken in a nice car or van to your hotel. You can also choose the vehicle size which is good because if you have more than 4 people you’re going to need a bigger car and how large your luggage comes into it as well.

You can expect to pay around €70 for a regular-sized car and the journey takes about 45 minutes to get into central Rome – depending on the time of day and traffic.

Option 2 – Grab a taxi

Make sure you get one at the taxi rank. If you look like you are in need of transport, you’ll be approached and offered a tempting ride but as with most places in the world, this is the fast track to being ripped off so always use the official rank. 

There’s currently a flat rate of €48 to get you into central Rome from Fiumicino airport – so you know what you should be paying. When you get into the taxi though you should confirm the fare and whether they will take cards. By law, they have to take cards but sometimes they prefer not to so say their machine isn’t working. Listen to our recent episode about Popular tourist scams for more on this trick. If you’re paying with cash it’s advisable to have the correct amount,  as again there can be a scam with you not being given the correct change. 

With a taxi, it’s a lucky dip as to whether you’re going to get a comfortable car environment or one that smells like smoke, so you might decide, like Katy to pay the extra €12 for a pre-booked transfer that you can be assured will be comfortable.

Option 3 – Take the train

There is a very efficient train service that takes travelers from Fiumicino airport to Roma Termini train station, the main station in Rome. It’s called the Leonardo Express and the train station is directly opposite arrivals.

Trains leave around every 15 minutes between 6.40 am and 11.40 pm and it takes about 30 minutes to get into central Rome. Tickets cost price €14 per person and you can buy them at the airport or online with Omio (our favorite service and app for buying train tickets in Italy).

The train is a great option if you’re heading straight out of Rome by train as you’ll simply need to change platforms. It’s also great if you’re staying within walking distance of the station.

For most people, especially those with lots of luggage, this isn’t the best option because you’re then going to need to get from the station to your accommodation which would mean getting a taxi from the train station – adding to both the time and cost. You can also get a local bus or metro but the buses are slow and neither are really set up for tourists with luggage.

Option 4 – Airport bus

There is an airport bus that goes into Roma Termini and takes about an hour. This is a good option if you’re on a super tight budget as the cost is just €7 but you’ll have to make sure you make the connection time on a slightly odd and random schedule

Again, you would need to plan to get to your final destination from Roma Termini station. Click here for more information and bus schedules.

The only situation where the train or bus is a good idea is if you are staying right by the station (which we would only recommend for 1 night at most as it’s not the most charming area) or you have an onward connection by train on the day of your arrival.

Arriving before check-in time

If you will be arrive before your hotel or Airbnb is able to give you access to your room, it’s always worth contacting them in advance to ask for options for storing luggage. If they don’t have any facilities then try a service like LuggageHero  (use code – UNTOLD – for 2 free hours of storage) or Radical Storage that have luggage drop spots all over the city. You just drop your bags off, get a receipt and can go off and explore the city or get a bite to eat and collect your bags later. 

TOP TIP: want to grab a shower and freshen up before continuing your journey? The airport has a facility called Hello Sky where you can do that for around €25.

Summary

It really is a good idea to start your vacation off smoothly, so preparing for your arrival by knowing what to expect and what to do when you get there is well worth it. 

READ: our full guide to Rome airport transfers

Resources

Resources from Untold Italy

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Transcript

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