Ancient Ostia (Ostia Antica), one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Italy, was once a thriving port city of roughly 100,000 inhabitants conquered by Rome. As the Roman empire expanded, its capital city needed a larger port, and Ostia was eventually abandoned and buried under silt as the course of the Tiber River changed. This layer of mud protected the ancient Roman town from the ravages of time. It is considered by some to be the “better Pompeii."
There are a number of important sights in the Ostia Antica archaeological park, including the necropolis, the Baths of Neptune, the amphitheater, the Forum, the Collegiate Temple, and Via Casa di Diana, a main street lined with original apartment buildings and taverns. Given the historical importance of the port city and the collection in its archaeological museum, visiting on a private tour with in-depth explanation adds another layer to any experience. If visiting with kids, consider booking a family-friendly, small-group guided tour. The site is most often visited on half-day tours from Rome.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bring a hat and sunblock as the archaeological park is outdoors and the area gets hot in summer.
- Ancient Ostia is quite close to Rome, making a half-day tour an easy side trip.
- It takes about 2.5 hours to visit the archaeological park with a guide on foot, so wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
How to Get There
If not taking an Ostia tour that includes transportation from Rome, the best way to reach Ostia Antica is by train. Take Rome's metro to the Piramide stop, which is also the Roma Porta San Paolo train station. Follow the signs to Lido, and take a train to Ostia Antica.
When to Get There
Ancient Ostia can get hot midday in summer. From June to October, visit in the early morning or late afternoon to beat the heat. No matter when you go, keep in mind that the site is outside—dress accordingly.
Visiting Ostia Beach
Modern Ostia, near the Ostia Antica site, is a popular resort town that’s perfect for a beach break. Visit the archaeological ruins in the cool morning hours, then relax on one of the town's beaches in the afternoon.