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How to Get the Most Out of One Day in Rome

If you had a hundred years to spend in Rome you might very well never run out of things to see and do!  But, alas, you've got one day in la grande bellezza of Roma. 

If you're coming on a cruise ship that docks in Civitavecchia (the cruise port for Rome), your touring day will be comprised of about 10 hours, which means you'll need to plan carefully.  So what's an eager traveler to do?  How does one squeeze The Eternal City into a single day and make it back to the ship without worry?

Shore Excursions to Rome and the Vatican from the port of Civitavecchia

There are lots of ways to see Rome and The Vatican in one day when you arrive on a cruise ship to Civitavecchia.  Here are the most common configurations:

- a bus tour
- a shared small group tour in a minibus or minivan
- a private (exclusive) tour in a sedan or minivan
- DIY, with a round trip transfer from Civitavecchia
- DIY, taking the train from port to Rome and back

Mamma mia, how will you ever choose what’s right for you?  Well, the best choice will depend on what’s important to you, so we’ve classified the options that way.


Of course making back to the ship on time is super important to all cruisers, so the no-brainer choice would seem to be the bus tours offered by the cruise line, right?

Well, there are two important things to keep in mind with regard to being sure you will make it back to the ship on time:

1. The ship can’t wait indefinitely, even for its own buses.
2. Private tour companies also offer a guaranteed on-time return to the ship!

For example, at DriverInRome your on-time return to the ship is guaranteed.  (Note that in 30 years of business none of our customers has ever missed the boat.). In the highly unlikely event that you miss your ship through some fault of ours we will arrange and pay for your accommodations, meals, and transportation to the next port of call.

If you’re the DIY type, a word about taking the train in Italy:  there is not much security with this option.  It is not for the faint of heart.  The trains are famous for not running on time, and in summer strikes are pretty commonplace.  If you are a fearless tourist who knows how to pivot without breaking a sweat, then taking the train from Civitavecchia to Rome could be ok.  Just be aware that there’s lots to navigate.  You would be wise to do some homework and know how the system works before getting here.


If you don’t have too many demands about what you cover in a day in Rome, then a bus tour or shared small-group tour could be fine.  But if you want to have some say over what you do, and some control over the pace you go at, then you’ll want to look at a private excursion exclusively for your group.  (We can help you with that!)

If you fancy adding other services such as a local guide, skip-the-line tickets, and restaurant recommendations/reservations, a private tour of Rome is definitely going to give you the most options and convenience.  (We can help you with those, too.)

Of course the other option for max customization is to tour Rome on foot on your own, which is swell if you have the time and desire to plan it, and the energy and able-bodiedness to do it.  Rome is not the friendliest place if you have mobility challenges.


Who you’ll be touring with is something to think about when it comes to your one precious day in Rome.  A bus tour means being being in a group of 50 or so strangers, and going at the pace of the slowest person in the group.

If you are a speedy tourist who likes to cover a lot of ground, then you’ll want to look at a shared van tour or private shore excursion.

On the flip side of who you’ll be touring with — consider also the reputation of the agency you’ll be touring with.  DriverInRome is a leader in the sector of shore excursions to Rome, with 30 years of happy customers, live chat, native English speaking office staff, a USA phone number, Whatsapp, and 5-star ratings on Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor, and Trustpilot.


Generally speaking, anything you book through the cruise line is going to cost more than booking with a private agency.

Our private shore excursions, for example, cost anywhere from half to one-fifth of the cost of the cruise lines!  The cruise lines contract out the work to agencies like ours anyway, so you might as well book direct and save.

You might be astounded to know that at a certain number of passengers — usually at the 6 person mark — exclusive, private shore excursions become LESS EXPENSIVE per person than a bus tour!  Yes, it’s true!  Contact us for a quote and then compare.


Obviously with a car and driver all to yourself (the sort of private shore excursion we specialize in) you will get the most out of a one-day tour of Rome from Civitavecchia.  Your English-speaking driver will give you tons of information while you are driving around, and then you’ll have time to visit sites up close and personal on your own.

A local guide can really maximize your time in such places as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, or Vatican museums.  The contents are so vast that it really helps to have a guide to focus on the most important things and speed you along.  We can advise you on where a guide is most beneficial and worth the money.

Having a smaller vehicle is very advantageous in Rome.  For example, getting to Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona or the Spanish Steps is quite easy with a minivan but buses can't get anywhere close.


Please contact us if you need help assessing what's right for your group.  We're always happy to chat and share our experience so that you can make an informed decision.

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