Although I usually explore new destinations on foot, a hop-on, hop-off bus tour is another great way to sightsee Rome. During my recent trip to Rome, I joined Big Bus Tours Rome, the flexible bus tour that allows you to explore places of interest in Rome for a day or two. If you’re into photography, the double-decker bus tour offers a unique vantage point and shares interesting facts about Rome’s history. If you’re visiting Rome during the summer months, take it from me, join the Rome tours to avoid the scorching heat – you’ll thank me later!
Since Big Bus Tours Rome provides a general overview of the city, this tour is perfect if you’re short on time. The tour lasts two hours (if you don’t hop off) and along the way, you’ll drive past landmarks like the Colosseum, the Vatican, and Circus Maximus. You’ll also discover lots of hidden gems scattered throughout the city.
Touring With Big Bus Tours Rome
Onboard you’re given free headphones and rain ponchos when it’s raining. Available in nine languages, the pre-recorded commentary provides lots of historical insight. I also enjoyed the Italian-inspired instrumentals that played in between segments.
Wi-Fi is complimentary so feel free to share your favorite memories from the tour with your family and friends via email or social media.
With a focus on flexibility and convenience, Big Bus Tours Rome operates Monday to Sunday and runs every twenty minutes. There are two routes, the Red Route on weekdays and the Blue Route on weekends and holidays.
The Red Route (City Centre Loop) had eight stops many of which were right in front of popular landmarks or within walking distance. We started the Rome bus tour at Termini Railway Station (Stop 1) and we later hopped off near Trevi Fountain (Stop 7).
As a bonus, Big Bus Tours Rome also offers exclusive guided walking tours for customers who want to explore Rome’s narrow cobblestone streets. Although I didn’t get to join any of the free walking tours, here are my favorite highlights from Big Bus Tours Rome as well as some fun facts!
Big Bus Tours Rome Highlights
Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
As one of the oldest and largest churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary, The Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore is a stunning basilica that captivates the eyes and hearts of anyone lucky enough to see it for themselves.
The Baroque-style basilica dates back to the 5th-century with plans formulated as early as 431 A.D. The basilica is known for being one of the most ornate early Christian churches.
Fun Fact: The Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore is home to the manger of Jesus. Underneath the high altar, the manger is concealed in a crystal shrine.
Theatre Marcello in Rome.
The Colosseum, also known as the “Flavian Amphitheatre”, is the world’s largest amphitheater. You might remember the Colosseum from history class (years ago) or, if you weren’t one for paying attention, then think of the movie “Gladiator”.
Emperor Vespasian gifted the people of Rome a new stadium designed to satisfy the city’s passion for entertainment.
Only taking ten years to complete, this mega-arena held up to 80,000 enthused spectators.
Back in the day, the Colosseum was Rome’s premier venue for public spectacles, such as comedies, dramas, and tragedies based on Roman mythology. Enactments of famous battles, animal hunts, and even mock naval battles were also showcased here.
Circus Maximus was the third stop on our bus route. It was the largest stadium in ancient Rome and the main venue for chariot racing. Right next to the Palatine Hill, it held up to 250,000 people (about ¼ of Rome’s population).
Rumored to have been first introduced to Rome by the first king of Rome, it was the fifth king of Rome, Tarquinius Priscus, who ordered a track be built between the Palatine and Aventine hills during the mid-6th century B.C.
Throughout history, the Circus Maximus endured three fires. Although the fires damaged the stadium, each fire led to a new, more refined Circus Maximus. The last of the fires resulted in what you see today, a three-story high stone stadium.
Today the Circus Maximus is a public park and another great place to run in Rome.
Fun Fact: The last chariot race at the Circus Maximus was held in 549 A.D., almost 1,000 years after the stadium was built.
The Fontana di Trevi or Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque-style fountain in Rome. The Fontana di Trevi has experienced centuries of construction dating back to as early as 19 B.C.!
Trevi Fountain was originally one of the main aqueducts in Rome, however by the 6th century A.D, the Ostrogoths destroyed many of the aqueducts.
During the Renaissance, the aqueducts were transformed into something spectacular for the people of Rome to enjoy. The Trevi Fountain was finally completed in 1762.
At night, LED lights illuminate the fountain and capture its incredible beauty. Although packed with tourist, squeeze through to take your obligatory selfie.
Fun Fact: If you want to return to Rome, tradition says stand with your back facing away from the fountain and throw a coin into Trevi with your right hand over your left shoulder. Every day the city collects the coins to help the needy.
I tossed my first coin into Trevi Fountain last summer so I’m looking forward to my return back to Rome soon!
For more highlights in Rome, check out Rudderless’ video about how he spent two fun-filled days in Rome – doesn’t his pasta dish look heavenly?
Bus Tour Pricing:
Classic Big Bus Tours Rome: 27,00 € online or 30,00 € on the street.
Money Tip: Save 10% by booking online.
This is a collaborative post with Big Bus Tours Rome, all onions are my own.
Danielle is a travel finance strategist, author, speaker and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27 and has traveled to 26 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her own terms.