How about taking some fresh air away from the capital’s hustle and bustle? Located some thirty kilometers from the center of Rome, the archaeological site of Ostia Antica (Parco Archeologico di Ostia Antica) was once one of the most prosperous cities in ancient Rome.
Follow the guide!
💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
🧐 Want to know more about the history of Rome? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the city (in English). It’s up to you to choose how much you wish to tip the tour guide!
💤 Are you looking for a hotel in Rome? Be sure to check out the Captain’s article: Where to stay in Rome? Advice & recommendations
🏛 Are you planning your stay in Rome? Check out Captain Ulysses’ detailed article on the best things to do in the city: A Guide to Rome
👶 Planning a family adventure to Rome? Discover all of the Captain’s top tips in the article: Exploring Rome with the Kids: Family-Friendly Activities.
Brief history of the archaeological site of Ostia Antica
The origins of Ostia Antica
If some sources evaluate that Ostia Antica was created around 620 BC, the oldest traces found by archaeologists are dated to 335 BC.
One thing is certain: the city’s name is derived from its geographical location at the mouth of the Tiber, Ostia meaning “mouth of a river” in Latin.
The city’s inhabitants originally earned a living exploiting local salt marshes, before being conquered by Rome. Ostia Antica then became a naval base as well as a commercial port whose importance grew continuously as Rome extended its influence over the Mediterranean basin.
The rise of Ostia Antica
If the city grew considerably under the Roman Republic (509 BC – 27 BC), it truly culminated under the Empire, especially in the 2nd and 3nd centuries AD. The emperors Trajan and Hadrian launched major construction and development programs to meet the spectacular growth of the population, which reached between 27,000 and 60,000 inhabitants.
The decline of Ostia Antica
But prosperity did not last. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, Ostia Antica entered a long period of decline. The reasons for the fall of the city are multiple: coastline retreat due to the silting of the Tiber – today, Ostia Antica is located 4 kilometers from the coast –, an economic and commercial slowdown, and even according to certain sources, natural disasters and diseases such as malaria.
In any case, the city was gradually abandoned. Over the following centuries, Ostia Antica was sitled up and therefore remains incredibly well preserved to this day.
Archaeological excavations began in the 18th century and continue today.
Visiting the archaeological site of Ostia Antica
The archaeological site of Ostia Antica extends over approximately one hundred hectares / 250 acres. Most of the ruins and monuments (shops, taverns, temples, thermal baths, etc.) are scattered along the main avenue, the “Decumanus Maximus”.
🏛️ A cosmopolitan and multicultural city 🏛️
Archaeologists have discovered in Ostia Antica a multitude of temples and sanctuaries of all kinds, testifying to the religious and cultural diversity of the ancient city: worship of Mithras, Judaism, Christianity…
Among the most emblematic monuments of the archaeological site, be sure to have a look at:
👉 The theatre: built in the 1st century AD and later rebuilt in the 2nd century AD, the theater could accommodate up to 4000 spectators… Impressive, but much less than the Colosseum (50,000 spectators) or the Circus Maximus (100,000 spectators)!
👉 The thermal baths of Neptune: dated from the 2nd century AD. J.-C., the thermal baths of Neptune were built under the reigns of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. They remain famous today for their stunning black and white mosaics, the most emblematic of which represent the Roman god Neptune.
👉 The thermal baths of the Forum: these are best known for their extremely well preserved latrines (= toilets)! Visitors can discover some twenty marble seats on which the inhabitants of Ostia could sit comfortably!
🏖️ Ostia Lido, near Ostia Antica 🏖️
Fancy a cool and relaxing break after exploring Ostia Antica? 4 kilometers from the archaeological site, Ostia Lido (also called Lido di Roma or Lido di Ostia) is the closest seaside resort to the Italian capital.
It is easily accessible by train (the same that’ll take you from Rome to Ostia Antica) or by bus, and tickets are quite affordable.
Getting to Ostia Antica
Good news: getting to Ostia Antica from the center of Rome is quite easy. Take metro line B to Piramide station before taking the train towards Ostia Lido. Get off at the Ostia Antica station. The archaeological site is located a ten-minute walk from the train station (follow the signs).
The train ticket is the same price as a metro ticket, ie €1.50.
If’d rather avoid public transport, you can also opt for an organized half-day tour to Ostia Antica.
Unlimited access to public transport is included in the Roma Pass and Omnia Card.
👉 More info: Roma Pass / Omnia Card
Opening hours of Ostia Antica
The Archaeological Park of Ostia Antica is open from Tuesday to Sunday:
- from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from October 25 to the last day of February
- from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. from March 1st to March 31
- from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. from April 1st to September 30
- from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from October 1st to October 24
The ticket office closes one hour before the site closes.
The entrance ticket is priced at 12 € full rate, 2 € reduced rate (European citizens from 18 to 25 years old). Admission is free for children under 18.
Don’t want to miss out on Ostia Antica’s rich history? So why not opt for a guided tour?
Captain Ulysses recommends two day-trips in particular:
- Guided tour (does not include the return train ticket from Rome to Ostia Antica): the most affordable option
- Guided tour including transport from Rome: ideal if you’d rather avoid public transport. You will be picked up directly from your accommodation in Rome.
👉 Skip the lines: book your tickets and visits in Rome!
👉 Looking for a hotel in Rome?
👉 Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all the Captain’s suggestions!
🎟️ Activities: as for booking visits and tourist activities, Captain Ulysses recommends three websites: GetYourGuide , Tiqets and Civitatis. Guided tours, cruises, skip-the-line tickets, tourist activities… there’s plenty to choose from!
🎫 Citypass: if you are staying in Rome for several days, it may be worth investing in the Roma Pass or the Omnia Card . As well as entry to some of the capital’s most iconic sites, these passes include access to public transport.
🚐 Transfers: if you want to arrive in Rome serenely, you can book your transfer from the airport to the city centre in advance. A car will be waiting to take you to your accommodation in the city. For more information: transfers in Rome.
🚌 Local transport: Rome has a comprehensive public transport system: metro, bus and tram. Access to public transport is included in the Roma Pass and the Omnia Card. If you wish, you can also opt for a hop-on hop-off bus tour which stops at all the top tourist attractions in Rome (audio guide included).
✈️ Flights and trains: to book your flights to Rome, Captain Ulysses warmly recommends Skyscanner. You’ll be able to compare countless offers to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.
For flights as well as trains and buses, the Captain recommends Omio.