Getting from Milan to Rome (and Vice Versa)

by Jessica on May 10, 2010

by | May 10th, 2010  

romemilan1Rome and Milan might seem like they’re very different, but they have a lot in common. They’re Italy’s biggest cities, the homes of the country’s primary international airports, and where you’ll find the headquarters for the vast majority of companies doing business in Italy. The number of Italians who regularly zip back and forth from Milan to Rome and Rome to Milan, then, is high. And thanks to the new high-speed rail line connecting the two cities, the trip is even faster than it used to be. But it’s not just commuters who need to get from Milan to Rome (or vice versa) – tourists often need to make that trek, too.

You have several options for getting from Milan to Rome, and the ideal transportation solution for you will be determined by a combination of things – your travel budget, the amount of time you have to spend on vacation, and the kind of travel you prefer. Personally, I always lean toward taking the train (especially the new high-speed variety), but I know not everyone travels like I do. In the interest of covering my bases, then, here are your options for how to get from Milan to Rome.

(Oh, and if you’re looking for how to get from Rome to Milan, the basics will be identical – station names, ticket prices, drive times, etc.)

Taking the Train from Milan to Rome


Whereas the trip from Milan to Rome by train in Italy used to take upwards of 5-6 hours, the introduction of the new Frecciarossa (red arrow) train has cut that trip time almost in half. You can now get to Rome from Milan in 3.5 hours, making it almost reasonable for a day trip. I said almost.

Still, even if it’s not quite in hop/skip/jump territory, the new high-speed train does make getting from Milan to Rome (or Rome to Milan) so much faster that it’s not bad news if the lowest prices you can find on airfare are cheap flights to Milan instead of your intended target of Rome. You can book the best deal and take the train down to Rome (provided the cost of a train ticket doesn’t outweigh the savings on your airfare!).

The fastest trains leave Milan’s Centrale station once per hour throughout most of the day, arriving at Rome’s main station, Termini. There are a couple of stops en route (Bologna and Florence) but you don’t have to get out or change trains or do anything until you reach Rome. First class tickets on the Frecciarossa from Milan to Rome cost about €115, and second class tickets cost about €90.

Slower trains from Milan to Rome still exist, and can take 6 hours or more to get from one city to the other. Tickets on these slower trains aren’t super cheap, either – first class tickets can cost €60 and second class tickets can cost €45 – so you’ll want to consider whether the money you’re saving is worth the extra time in transit.

In any case, some of the trains from Milan to Rome will require reservations in addition to your ticket – the Frecciarossa always requires reservations, for example – so it’s important to ask about that when you’re buying your ticket at the counter. And if you already have an Italy rail pass, that acts as your ticket and you’ll just need to buy a reservation for a particular train.

>> Learn more about taking the train from Milan to Rome

Flying from Milan to Rome

romemilan3As mentioned, Milan and Rome are home to Italy’s two biggest international airports – Malpensa Airport in Milan and Fiumicino Airport in Rome. Which means that if you happen to find a great deal on airfare to Milan but you’d really rather be in Rome (or vice versa), one solution is to not leave the airport at all and just hop on a short flight from one airport to the other as soon as you arrive. Flying from city to city in Italy isn’t always the best idea in my opinion, but in this case it can be.

The flight from Milan to Rome usually takes between 1-1.5 hours depending on which airports you’re using and which carrier you’re flying. There’s an easyJet flight from Malpensa in Milan to Fiumicino in Rome that takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, and tickets can cost as little as €25-30 one way. Alitalia’s flight from Malpensa to Fiumicino can be a little as €50-60 one way.

Quick search for cheap flights to Rome:

Ryanair flies from Orio al Serio airport – which is technically in Bergamo, not Milan – into Rome’s smaller Ciampino airport, and sometimes offers flights for €20-25 one way. Air One flies from Milan’s smaller Linate Airport (which is closer to central Milan) into Fiumicino in Rome, although the routing seems to include an inexplicable trip to Palermo before heading north to Rome, and tickets aren’t as cheap (€100+ one way). In other words, if you’re flying into Linate and looking for the best way to get to Rome, my advice is to take the train – or make your way to Malpensa if you want to fly.

>> More information on budget airlines that fly to Milan, and budget airlines that fly to Rome

Driving from Milan to Rome

romemilan4I’m a big believer in taking public transportation whenever possible in Italy, partly because I’d rather not match wits with Italian drivers and also because I’ve seen the road rage caused by trying to find a parking spot in big Italian cities. But if I can’t talk you out of renting a car to drive from Milan to Rome (or from Rome to Milan), then here’s what you need to know about the drive.

I always use the Via Michelin site when I’m looking for driving information in Europe, and just plugging in general directions from Milan to Rome the “Michelin recommended” route is one that’ll take almost 6 hours of drive time (assuming, of course, that you don’t run into traffic) and cover more than 580km. The Michelin site estimates that you’ll spend more than €85 on the trip – more than €30 in road tolls alone – and suggests a route which takes you southeast to Bologna before cutting south to Florence and then down to Rome (which is more or less the same route the high-speed train takes).

Your best bet is to use the Via Michelin site to type in specific addresses from which you’re departing and where you’ll be arriving so you get the most accurate directions possible – and I’d also highly recommend that you have a good driving map of Italy as well as someone to navigate (or a GPS unit in the car).

>> More information on renting a car in Italy, and tips for driving in Italy

Taking the Bus from Milan to Rome

romemilan5It’s natural to assume that taking the bus from one city to another in Italy would be the cheapest transport option, and therefore it would be most appealing to travelers on a seriously tight budget. And where there are bus routes connecting cities on your itinerary, they often are really cheap. The problem is that Italy’s buses aren’t tied together in a national network, making journeys between regions often quite difficult. There is one bus company I know of, however, that connects Milan and Rome.

The SENA bus company has three stops in Rome and four in Milan, so you’ll want to plug addresses into a map to see which ones are closest to where you are in Milan and where you’re going in Rome. It’s worth noting that the Tiburtina bus stop in Rome is connected to Roma Termini via the Rome Metro. The journey from Milan to Rome is an 8+ hour trip, but ticket prices start at just €16 so it’s a great deal for budget travelers.

Also keep in mind there’s the Eurolines network of coach services that connects big cities throughout Europe if you’re traveling from one country to another.

And now that you’re in Rome…

romemilan6Welcome to the Italian capital! To get you pointed in the right direction in The Eternal City, here are some links to get you started with trip planning:

photos, top to bottom, by: Dan Kamminga, bibendum84, Nika, markhillary, euthman

{ 6 comments }

TL May 13, 2010 at 2:26 pm
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I agree that driving between Milan and Rome may not be the best option for those who aren’t used to the drivers or the area. However, as much of a money-saver as it’s believed to be I don’t recommend the train or bus for all situations either. Just as you stated in your article, commuters who live and work in Milan and Rome will be trying to get to and from work, meetings, events and their homes in addition to tourists. This can make both the train and buses extremely crowded. Depending on a tourist’s situation (how many are in their travel party, the ages of their companions, how much luggage they have etc. if they’re staying in either city for an extended amount of time), the crowds can cause a big problem. There is the likelihood of not getting seats and having to stand for extended periods, getting separated from one’s party, not being allowed because of the amount of luggage (or losing luggage) etc. If the tourist has been to Italy often and is familiar with the public transportation these things may not be an issue. But for first-timers or business types who need to get from Milan to Rome quickly and efficiently, these issues must be considered.

Some people choose to hire a private car for their party, which makes sense for a few reasons. For one, the private car will pick up and drop off directly at each destination rather than a a roundabout location that requires additional transportation or walking. It is also an easier way to keep up with all members of one’s party or all of one’s luggage. For those doing business between Milan and Rome, hiring a private car can allow them to put their best foot forward without having to be concerned with too many logistical details (it also looks more professional and one won’t be frazzled from the large crowds and rushing about).

It really depends on the traveler’s needs and circumstances. The train and bus can be great for loners or couples who want to experience more of the local life and who don’t have much luggage or strict deadlines. Flight can be a little expensive in my opinion, but to each their own.

Great article! I’m sure the insight will be helpful to those who have Milan and Rome on their itineraries.

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Jessica May 13, 2010 at 3:13 pm
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Thanks for the comment. I agree that sometimes getting around by car in Italy is preferable, but I definitely don’t agree that first-timers will have fewer hassles and confusion with a car than without one. (With trains there’s no need to navigate or park!) And I also think that public transport is great for more than just “loners or couples.” :)

There are certainly times when having a car is a great idea, however, and each traveler should take his/her specific needs into consideration when choosing transportation.

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Michelle B May 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm
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Thanks for posting this! I’m considering taking a bus from Milan to Rome I just don’t know how to start. I could really use the help. I’m so confused. I tried handling the eurolines website but it’s difficult once I want to choose a time. I’m not sure if it’s military time or not.

Also, I plan on spending most of my day getting to know Milan only July 16 and hoping to take an overnight bus to arrive in Rome the following morning. Where can I take the bus in Milan? Is there any way I can purchase the bus ticket in Italy and not from U.S.?

How far is the last bus stop in Rome from the TREVI FOUNTAIN?

If you could respond ASAP I’d really appreciate it.

Thanks in advance.

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Jessica May 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm
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I’d recommend taking the train, not the bus. Even if you’re on a budget, you can take a slower train for less than €50 one-way (and sometimes cheaper if you book in advance). It’s much faster, and less of a hassle.

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Michelle B May 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm
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Well I decided to go for the slower train. I dont think ill be able to book in advance.I am airline employee so I don’t have an exact day for when I choose to fly. I was wondering where would I purchase the ticket to go from Milan to Rome? And would the €45 euros be round trip Rome back to Milan also?

Can I take the slower train like at midnight? And then the following night take the train back home?

Please get back to me !!

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cheap train fares October 26, 2012 at 4:40 am
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Can someone tell me how to discover more details about how to purchase train deals on the internet ?

my grammy want to take a journey in this fast train, she is old
i want to take her to this track journey,
i don’t know how much she have to live , and i want to treasure a miracle time with her and see her satisfied.

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