Tourism in Rome is big business. The city has some of the finest sights in the world and gets up to 10 million visitors a year.
At times, as you explore the streets of the Italian capital, it can feel as though you’re on a constant package holiday, shuffling along with thousands of other tourists.
Sometimes this can be a bit overwhelming. Not just the crowds themselves, but knowing where and when to buy tickets for the different attractions in the city.
Walking down the street, it’s quite common to be approached by hawkers trying to sell ‘special’ tickets or telling you that something is closed this morning or that the queue will be too long. This often just adds to the confusion.
One way to take some of the hassle out of a visit, and hopefully save some money, is with a city card. Rome actually has quite a few different types of sightseeing cards, and you may want to compare what these ones offer:
On my recent trip to Rome, I decided to try the Omnia Rome and Vatican Pass to see how that worked as a way to explore the area.
Full disclosure here – I asked for a complimentary pass so I could review it. My thoughts below are completely independent.
Buying a city pass like this has a few main advantages. For a one off payment, you get free or discounted access to a bunch of sights, as well as other offers. This usually means the two big benefits are that you save money and you save time.
Let’s look at how both of those things work out with the Omnia Rome and Vatican Pass.
I am usually a big supporter of the passes you can buy that give you free entry to a whole bunch of sights within a city.
Obviously it is nice that you can save some money. But one of the other main reason I like these passes is because you can pop into places you might not have been willing to pay for otherwise.
You can have a quick look and realise it’s not interesting to you – or, even better, you find that somewhere you thought would be boring is actually really cool.
Those are the moments that I love!
This is one of the areas where the Omnia Rome and Vatican Pass falls down, I think. It has a limited number of free entries and, once you’ve used them up, you then pay the concession ticket price for the rest.
It means that you are less likely to check out some unknown sites during your time in Rome.
However, having said all of that, you may still save some money if you use it right. Let me show you the way that I would recommend using the card and how the budget works out.
Over the course of three days, these are the places I think you could visit during your stay and how much each of them would cost to do independently.
Without the card
- St Peter’s Basilica: Free (but you can’t skip the line)
- Vatican Museums: €21 for ticket and booking fee
- St John in the Lateran: Free for basilica – but €5.50 for entry to other areas
- The Colosseum: €16 (but you can’t skip the line)
- The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill: Free (included in price of Colosseum)
- Borghese Gallery: €15
- The Capitoline Museums: €11.50
- Castel St Angelo: €12
- National Roman Museum: €14
- Hop-on hop-off bus: €32
- Public transport: €18 (72 hour unlimited pass)
TOTAL COST: €145
Now, if you bought the card and used the free entries for the most expensive places and the concession tickets for the cheaper ones, this is how it would look.
With the card:
- Vatican and Rome Pass: €129
- St Peter’s Basilica: Free
- Vatican Museums: Free
- St John in the Lateran: Free
- The Colosseum: Free
- The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill: Free
- Borghese Gallery: Free
- The Capitoline Museums: €9.50
- Castel St Angelo: €5.60
- National Roman Museum: €9.20
- Hop-on hop-off bus: Free
- Public transport: Free
TOTAL COST: €153.30
As you can see, with this itinerary it’s actually slightly more expensive to do all of these sites with the Omnia Rome and Vatican Pass than without it.
However, if you squeezed a few more sites into the 72 hours, paying just the discounted rate, then you would probably find it works out about even.
So, you might be thinking, ‘why is it worth getting the Omnia Rome and Vatican Pass?’.
Well, unlike some other city passes, this isn’t just about saving money. In fact, I think it’s more about saving time!
The biggest advantage of the Omnia Rome and Vatican Pass is the time it saves.
If you haven’t been to Rome before, I can’t stress enough how long the queues can be for the most popular attractions – particularly St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Colosseum.
You can quite literally wait for hours for each of them if you don’t have some kind of priority entrance.
You can buy the fast-track entrance for each of them separately through different methods (and, at the very least, I highly recommend that) but you get it automatically for the busiest sites with the Omnia Rome and Vatican Pass.
If you add up all the hours you spend waiting in queues at the sites during busy tourist periods, it could be as much as eight hours or more!!
When you’re only visiting Rome for a few days anyway, do you really want to spend that much time standing in line? I certainly don’t. And this is when the card makes the most sense.
Is the Vatican and Rome Pass worth it?
On the face value of how much money the card will save you, it is not an obvious choice.
You would have to do some calculations in advance to work out what you are going to see and how much all of that would cost. (And the system of getting the first two Rome sights free, then the rest being discounted, makes those calculations a bit tricky.)
The reality is that it might work out slightly cheaper to not buy the pass.
Part of the problem is that, unlike a lot of the other Go City passes around the world, not all attractions are free with the Omnia Rome and Vatican Pass and you start paying concession rates after you’ve used up your free entries.
The other issue is that the only option for the duration is 72 hours, so it may not be cost-effective if you’re only visiting for 2 days, for example.
But, having said all of that, I was really impressed with how easy and convenient it was to use the pass. It saved me so much time not having to queue and being able to just go straight into sights like the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums.
Even not having to queue to buy tickets at places like the Capitoline Museums was really good.
It’s certainly worth considering whether one of the sightseeing cards is right for you when you visit Rome and, remember, these are your other options:
Overall, I would recommend getting the Omnia Rome and Vatican Pass if you’re going to have a packed 72 hours of sightseeing and there are going to be a fair amount of other tourists in the city.
You’ll save a bit of money and a lot of time – and your whole experience in Rome will be a lot more enjoyable for it.
THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN ROME
There’s so much to see in Rome, it’s worth finding somewhere comfortable to base yourself for a few nights.
If you’re looking for a hostel, I would suggest the very cool Generator Hostel.
For something affordable but comfortable, Roema Guest House is a good option.
With some incredible designs, the boutique hotel G-Rough is pretty amazing.
And if you want to really splurge for somewhere incredible, have a look at Portrait Roma.
Time Travel Turtle received a complimentary Omnia Rome and Vatican Pass but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.
5 thoughts on “Should you get the Omnia Rome and Vatican Pass?”
Very interesting (and beautiful photos, by the way). I only occasionally used passes and I agree with you that the main value added is not really in terms of price (as you pointed out, they’re barely cheaper, if they are), but because you can have a better experience.
Perhaps because I visited a lot of museums around the world when I was in my 20s and 30s, and although I am an art lover, there’s no way I’m going to queue for hours to see a Museum, a church or an Exhibition.
There is almost nothing that frustrates me more these days than queuing. And if you can skip that, it’s all a much better experience. But I also think that passes like this are quite useful if you like visiting museums because you can pop into a lot of them and not feel bad leaving quickly if you don’t like one, meaning you can spend longer at the ones you do like!
Great idea. The most valuable thing we posses is time, why not pay to keep more of it?
I love the way you put that. It’s so true, isn’t it? Especially when you are overseas on a holiday. You didn’t pay for the airfare and the hotel just so you can spend your time waiting in a line. Pay a little more and make the most of your trip.
Hi Michael, I will be traveling to Rome with 2 other family members next June. And I was wondering if the pass gives:
1) you the option to still get an audio guide?
2) are the audio guides worth it?
3) are there marked entrances at the sites/museums for people who have the pass?
4) do you still have to pay more to go to different parts of a site? Or would that still be extra with this pass?