When most people think Roman ruins, they automatically think of Pompeii. And while Pompeii is incredible and you should most definitely go, I’m here to tell you about Ostia Antica. Ostia Antica is an amazing day trip from Rome, since it’s only only 20 to 40 minutes from the city center by train!
I absolutely adored every second I spent in Ostia Antica and definitely encourage anyone taking a day trip from Rome to consider going to Ostia Antica! Keep reading to see why!
Learn about a unique piece of Roman history.
Ostia may have been the very first Roman colony, with Roman military buildings dating back to the third century BC. Ostia was further developed by Tiberius in the first century AD, and was a huge trade hub in its hay day of the second and third centuries AD, due to it’s position at the mouth of the Tiber River. Ostia’s fall began with the fall of the Roman Empire and was finally abandoned in the ninth century AD due to repeated attacks by Arab pirates.
Ostia Antica is now known for how well preserved the ruins and archaeological sites there are. I was in awe at the mosaics that were still almost entirely intact and held almost the same splendor they must have had when they were first crafted.
You can purchase an audio guide at the entrance of the archaeological park as well, in order to learn as much as possible and gain a greater appreciation as you tour the incredible ruins of the once great port city.
Escape the throngs of tourists in Rome.
Perhaps my favorite thing about Ostia Antica, was the lack of tourists. Pompeii was absolute mayhem, and it was near impossible to get a picture without someone else in it. But almost the entire time I was at Ostia Antica, I was alone as I walked through the park. It was an amazing escape from the hustle and bustle of Rome. The entire park was incredibly serene and peaceful, and I was able to truly appreciate every part of the park and every piece of history I learned from the audio tour.
Get back in touch with nature on your day trip to Ostia Antica.
While I expected an escape from crowds while in Ostia Antica, I didn’t realize how green it would be! I was blown away by the back drop of trees and green grasses. The archaeological park felt so natural and almost untouched (much more so than Pompeii). This definitely contributed to the overall feeling of tranquility and serenity as I spent the day strolling through Ostia Antica.
See ruins that rival Pompeii, with just a quarter of the commute!
For many people, a trip to Rome is, a once in a lifetime opportunity. And for most people, they likely only have a short time in Rome. While a day trip to Pompeii from Rome is doable, it’s a long train ride, whereas Ostia Antica is a quick, 20 minute ride!
While I was able to make a brief stop at Pompeii on my way back to Rome from the Amalfi Coast, not everyone will have the opportunity to do so during their time in Rome. If this is the situation you find yourself in, Ostia Antica is the perfect substitute! Or if you do have plenty of time, do what I did and visit both!
There's a restaurant, museum, and even a book store in Ostia Antica.
That’s right, on your day trip to Ostia Antica you can grab lunch, buy a souvenir, and tour the archaeological museum, all without even leaving the park!
The museum has everything from Roman portraits, to incredible statues. These statues range from Minerva to Perseus holding Medusa’s head. I unfortunately didn’t even realize there was a museum at Ostia Antica until after I left, so learn from my mistakes!
You can visit the beach in Ostia.
When you do finally tear yourself away from the awe-inspiring ruins in Ostia Antica, you can visit the beach in the modern town of Ostia! Be careful of swimming though, I went in late May/early June and the water was absolutely FREEZING! Fair warning, you’ll likely have to pay for beach access, but it’s really only a few euros, and you can rent chairs and towels, among other things.
Be wary of people trying to con or hustle tourists. For example, don’t pay that Thai lady on the beach for a massage…sure it’s only a few euros but, it’s so bad it doesn’t even deserve to be called a massage, plus you’ll look like a complete idiot, AND you’ll be covered in cheap massage oil after and have to rinse off in the freezing cold Mediterranean (totally NOT speaking from experience here).
So there you have it! If you’re in Rome and have the time, Ostia Antica makes the perfect day trip, and is a must see in my opinion! You can get more information about the park’s hours and prices at their website, here.
Have you been to Ostia Antica? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!
If you’re looking for more things to do while in Rome, check out my list of off the beaten path things to do in Rome!
And if you do plan on going to Pompeii, you should definitely read my list of things I wish I’d known before I visited Pompeii.