Ostia Antica: An Amazing Day Trip From Rome

The harbour city of ancient Rome, Ostia Antica is possibly one of the most overlooked archaeological sites in Italy. Well, that’s great news for history buffs visiting Rome, and for anyone wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Ostia Antica is a treasure chest of well-preserved Roman structures and buildings, which include temples, markets, bath houses, a large theatre and intricate mosaics. Oh, and beautifully intact public latrines, too. In fact, you can easily spend a whole day exploring the ruins of Ostia Antica and the old town.

Here’s a guide to visiting Ostia Antica from Rome.

Visiting Ostia Antica from Rome
The ruins at Ostia Antica. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

How to get to Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica is just a 30-minute train ride from Rome. There’s a train station just next to Ostia Antica, and getting there is pretty simple.

First, get on metro line B and stop at Piramide. Walk out of the station and head to Porta San Paolo station, which is next door. From there, get on the Lido train to Ostia, using the same ticket, and stop at Ostia Antica.

Don’t stop at Ostia Lido Nord or Ostia Lido Centro unless you want to get to the beach.  

Once you get off at the Ostia Antica stop, you’ll need to cross to the other side of the station. Walk over the bridge (you’ll see a sign pointing to the ruins) and you’re there!  

Tip: Ignore a brown sign which says ‘Passaggio al mare’ (or something similar) as you come out of the train station. It leads to a walking trail along a park and through a forest, and ends at the sea front. It’s a very long walk to the beach, so if you’re planning to head there for lunch after visiting Ostia Antica you’re better off getting the train.  

Ostia Antica mosaics
The mosaics. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

Things to see in Ostia Antica

The great thing about Ostia Antica is that you can explore it at your own pace, without a guide or map. However, the area is huge and you might not get to see everything if you’re only there for a half day.  

Here are some not-to-miss attractions in Ostia Antica:

1. The Mosaics  

Ostia Antica is famous for its impressive black and white mosaics, especially those found in the bath of Neptune. Don’t worry if some of the mosaics are undergoing restoration; keep walking and you’re bound to come across more of this beautiful work of art.

Visiting Ostia Antica from Rome
The theatre. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

2. The Theatre  

You can’t miss the theatre. Besides being on the main path from the entrance, it also towers majestically over the rest of the ruins. Erected at the end of the 1st century BC, the theatre was originally built to accommodate 2,500 people but was later extended for an audience of 4,000. The theatre is still used for cultural performances.

Visiting Ostia Antica from Rome
Horrea Epagathiana. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

3. Horrea Epagathiana  

This well-preserved Roman warehouse is a remnant of everyday life during the Roman Empire, when Ostia Antica used to be a hub of commerce and trade. Niches that once held statues of deities decorate the courtyard. The black and white mosaic in the courtyard is particularly notable for its depiction of a tiger at the east end of the building and a panther on the opposite side.

Theatrical masks. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

4. Theatrical Masks  

These detailed marble masks found on the stage of the theatre were once part of the building’s architectural decoration.

Cisiting Ostia Antica from Rome
The Capitolium. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

5. Capitolium  

Another imposing building, the Capitolium is a temple dedicated to the main Roman deities, known as the Capitoline triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva). You can still see the large niches on the side walls where the statues would have been placed.

The Castle of Julius
The Castle of Julius. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

6. The Castle of Julius  

Situated across the road from Ostia Antica, the Castle of Julius II, named after the Pope who commissioned the construction of the fortress, is another site worth a visit.

You can also go for a wee wander around this old part of town. The houses here are gorgeous, and you can stop for a coffee in one of the cafes nestled in the cobbled alleys.

The old town of Ostia Antica. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

Where to eat

There is canteen and cafe at Ostia Antica, and while it is a bit on the pricey side, the food is quite decent.  

Alternatively, you can eat at one of the restaurants and cafes in town – there are some nice ones in the medieval part of Ostia, next to the castle.

Tip: Want to visit Ostia Antica with a guide? Check out this half day tour of Ostia Antica from Rome (by train).

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Daniela Frendo

Daniela Frendo

Hi! I'm a Maltese blogger based in Scotland. I created Grumpy Camel to help travellers connect with places through culture, history and cuisine.

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