Your Ultimate Guide Of Roma Termini

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Do you know in Italy, there is only Roma Termini is named with this “Termini” word? Somehow, I guess it’s related to Italian’s emotion to the antique Roman Empire and the famous phase “All Roads Lead To Rome“! However, even with a good sense of direction, I was confused in Roma Termini once or twice (maybe more). I’ve run crazily in the train station. I’ve killed my time when my train got delayed or I missed one. I’ve discovered shortcuts and their accessibility after my recent home-moving. Today’s goal is to share as more as I know about Roma Termini  and my suggestions for who’s going to or leaving from Rome by trains. It might be not complete enough, but at least, it is much better than Google Map!

your ultimate guide of roma termini and taking a train to rome

"Roma Termini is a giant who's always busy, therefore confusing for everyone." First I have some basics before starting with more personal tips for the goal of no hassle, no time-wasting, no risk of missing a train!

The platform with the smallest number starts from left side (near Via Marsala)

The train platforms are named with numbers. The platform with the smallest number starts from the left side (near Via Marsala), if you are standing on the square and facing to Roma Termini’s main entrance. The big square is where all the buses are and where you will see Terme di Diocleziano at your back.

If you are really in a rush, make sure your ticket is in your hands

Not like other train stations in Rome, the security level is pretty high in Roma Termini. Whatever gate you will pass to reach your train, a quick “human scan” of your train ticket is common. If you buy the ticket online, bring a printed paper or show from your phone. If you get the ticket in the station, quickly show it to the station staff (with the dark navy color or sometimes a bright red uniform).
If you are really in a rush, make sure your ticket is in your hands!

Look at the correct information board, otherwise you will never find your train number while becoming nervous

There are many checking points to find your train information. The biggest ones are in the center once you entered from the front and near the biggest side-gates. Don’t get too excited once you see a huge board flipping frequently. One is for arrival, one is for departure. Look at the correct information board, otherwise you will never find your train information while becoming nervous without a proper reason. Believe me, a lot of people really do that!
 
Many small boards are all around the station, almost 2 per each platform on the ground level and in the tunnels. If you really don’t like those digital stuff, you can go search for the most traditional paper version. They are hanged on the walls and you can find all train information there.

How NOT To Miss Your Train

Check & Buy Your Ticket Online

I buy my train ticket from Trenitalia and Italo. They are the two Italian railway companies and, frankly speaking, it is pretty easy to use their website. Trenitalia offers fast train and regional train options (even the slowest ones), while Italo only covers fast trains and big cities. For example, if you are going from Rome to Milan, check both sites to compare the best option, however, if you are going to Viterbo from Rome, probably only Trenitalia is suitable.
 
Or RailEurope and ItaliaRail are good when you need to plan something more complicated. Even Google Map can tell some basic train information nowadays.

There are 2 absolute advantages of checking and buying your tickets online.

  1. You avoid getting a ticket of a wrong train in rush or confusion. In Italy, there are inter-city, regional, fast trains but also the most rare local slow trains. For example, from Fiumicino Airport to Rome Termini, there is Leonardo Express with a price of €14 and it is non-stop and only takes you 20mins. There is another regional train to Termini too. But it will cover all small local stations and you have to change the train in Roma Tiburtina. It will take 1 hour and 15 mins for you to reach Termini. The only good thing is it costs only €8.
  2. Sometimes, you can get a small discount comparing to buying the ticket at the last minute in the station (if it is a fast train ticket). Considering a fast train from Rome to Milan, I even managed to get an offer of the 1st class with a price under 30 euro. For the budget travelers, it is always great if you can compare the offers in advance, right? Also, online booking can secure a seat if you travel in the peak season. Disadvantage is, if your travel plan is changed or you missed the train, you have to take some effort to change your ticket in the ticket office which I will mention later.

Buy Your Ticket Quickly & Easily On Site

I always buy the tickets from the vending machines. 90% of them work well and it’s much more faster than buying a ticket from a counter with a queue. The machines offer multi-language options and accept credit cards.

3 Extra Tips About Those Machines

  1. Not all the machines accept all methods of payment. For example, some accept notes, coins and cards, some like only cards, and others prefer coins and cards but not notes! Check the machine instruction and signs on the machines, if it doesn’t have an insert slot for cash and note, it’s clear that is a card-only machine.
  2. If you’ve got a contactless one, great! If you don’t, watch out the little instruction how you swap your card, make sure the card chip side is towards the correct direction (there is a small instruction printed right next to the slot), otherwise the machine cannot get your money, and you don’t get the ticket!
  3. The clicking is a bit mis-matching to your finger touch-point. Don’t be panic, if it doesn’t answer you. Just try to move your finger a bit and click again. If it still doesn’t work, don’t waste time there, switch to another machine.

Personally, I have another 2 things

  1. Don’t try to buy a ticket for a train is leaving in 5 minutes, because it just won’t show up when you search the ticket in the selling-system! Which means, you need to arrive in the train station at least 10 mins earlier, given that your train platform is right in front of you.
  2. Don’t try to get the “help” from the non-staff people in the station. Roma Termini is a public place. Everyone can go, stay, and try to make money there. On the many mornings, I see tourists buying tickets from the machines while half-accepting the help of a guy or a girl (obviously not a station staff). They click on the screen and take the ticket for them. When it’s done, they also take away the changes before they can recognize what is happening! Image if you put a 50 euro bank note? I appreciate others’ help, but only if I ask for it or I accept it with my consciousness and willingness.
  3. Of course, you can always go to counter to buy a ticket. It’s easy to find the ticket offices in the station. In the peak season (normally in summer), you will also find a stand-along red box with a staff inside. Even, before you enter the station from the main entrance, there is a red van and that is a ticket office too!
the huge information board for realtime train information inside the roma termini

Check Timetable In Advance

The most traditional way is to check the printed timetable. I know it sounds very grandma, but I find it really practical! The timetable is almost everywhere if you pay attention to the walls in the station. You can find all the stops of your train, each stop with precise time (if your train is on schedule that day), and even the platform number (if there is no big chaos that day)! Lovely right?!

Well, we are in 2019, so let’s be digital. Luigi loves Train Timetable APP which tells you the platform number as well. You can download it from Apple store or Android.

Arrive At Least 20 Mins Earlier

You must ask me, “you said to arrive at least 10 mins earlier before, why now increase to 20?!” Yes, I did, and I really strongly suggest to arrive 20 mins earlier, and at least 20!
 
Why, because the station is big! 33 platforms and 150 million passengers per year, is the data of this station. It is the second biggest in Europe according to Wikipedia. Imagine that you are going to take a Leonardo express to Fiumicino Airport, which normally departs from platform 23 or 24. Unfortunately, you enter the station from the gate on Via Marsala where Platform 1 and 1EST are. Nice “road trip” of Roma Termini – on foot.
 
Smallest number starts from the left (Via Marsala). Be careful, there are quite a few hidden platforms which many people cannot find. Pay attention especially if you are planning a trip to little countryside near Rome.

Those hidden little platforms

1EST and 2EST are about 50 meters at the back of platform 1.
 
Near platform 24, where runs Leonardo Express, if you go further, you will find a few more platforms (as I just mentioned there are 33 platforms).
 
If getting to a normal platform from the gate takes 5 mins (if you are not lost), then those hidden ones will take you 10 mins, depending on how fast you walk also.
busy and crowded is the normal situation in roma termini

Enter The Station By The Correct Gate

The fastest way to get to your platform given that you know which platform, is to enter the station by the right gate!

We talk about main entrances, but there are two small side gates. One is on Via Marsala, the other is on Via Giovanni Giolitti. Both gates are connected with the underground tunnel, from where you can reach the platform directly. Important thing is you know which platform you shall go because each board only shows the matching platform’s current train information.

Recently I find a “back door” on Via Giovanni Giolitti crossing Via Mamianin (almost at the end of the station). That gate leads you to the platforms 25-33 directly.

Main entrance gates open 24/7, while two small side ones close around 10pm, and the “back door” may be 1 hour later (around 11pm).

There Are Underground Tunnels

If you are going to change a train, knowing the tunnels will be absolutely helpful and time-saving!

The basic one is the one connects the two small side gates. In that long tunnel, you always find a small digital panel to mark each platform and the real-time train information. However, unless the train is very much nearby or already on the platform, the panel won’t show anything. So, again, knowing the platform for your train is important!

There is another hidden tunnel which less people use. It connects those hidden platforms. So, for example, you get off from platform 1EST and walk towards platform 1. Then you will see a tunnel entrance right at the end of platform 1 (in front of the staff lifts). From there, you travel all the way to where Leonardo Express is, and from there you can reach the last few hidden platforms within 2 mins.

Read The Information Board With Calm

The big board is refreshing all train information in real time, but if your train is leaving in more than 20 mins, you will not see it there.
 
On the contrast, if your train is leaving in 5 mins, but you cannot find it on the board? It is probably a delayed case. For the delayed trains, even Termini “doesn’t know” which platform the train should go, so you don’t need to be panic! Pay attention to the in-station broadcast, and try to stay close with the board for any instant update.
quick bistro for healthy and cheap food options inside roma termini

How NOT To Be Offline

WIFI is everywhere available in the station, however, as I tested, it doesn’t work well in the crowded area. If you want to use public WIFI, it’s better to go upstairs. My favorite place is Termini Terrace. Entrance is in the middle of the station, opposite to Mcdonald. From there, WIFI works well and it’s a heaven of foodies (I will explain later).
 
WIFI connection is available for 3 hours. If you don’t live in Termini, it could be generous enough.
 
Of course, to stay online, you need to make sure battery is ok! I’ve found free plugs at the bistro “La Piadineria. Guys, this is so amazing and their food is not bad either!

How NOT To Feel Boring (If Your Train Is In 1 Hour)

a big bookshop inside roma termini is a heaven for many people to kill the time

Bookstore

Borribooks is my absolutely NO.1 option when my train is in 1 hour or more. They’ve got two floors up and one floor underground. All English books are on the 1st floor (above the ground floor), where you can find a lot of Rome guides, historic stories, and the fancy novels. The most interesting part is underground, where the Italian books are categorized very well. All the cooking book, photography, sports, business & marketing are there. Most importantly, a small collection of Art books are there too! You will find books about Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raffael, Caravaggio and more.

Eating & People Watching

Not gelato shop, nor a standing-bar.
 
What I mean is really, getting a table, eating, relaxing and people-watching. Two places I will recommend.
termini terrace is a bright place for relaxing and eating with many food options

Termini Terrace

It’s an amazing place with natural light and a little view over all the platforms. There are many bistros for Sicilian food, fresh pasta, sushi, burger and more. Most importantly, there is also a big digital board for the train information!
napoli style pizza in mercato centrale inside roma termini is a famous place

Mercato Centrale

It is an upgraded food court. I highly recommend the Neapolitan pizza, American-style Burger, and the Sicilian specials. I will grab a coffee when I need to run fast or a draught beer if I’ve a bit time.
part of the ancient roman wall is under the roma termini which we can even see now

Culture & History Discovery

If you paid attention when entering Termini from the main entrance, or reached by taxi, a part of ancient Roman Walls must be somehow in your memory. That is Servian Wall, which was built in 4th century BC as the defence of Rome Republic. The wall’s name was after the 6th Roman King, Servius Tullius. The part above the ground is so far the most well-preserved, and interestingly, you can even check it out closely when you find the Mcdonald on the undergrand floor inside Roma Termini. Enjoy a burger from 1940’s while watching a 400BC wall!
skincare shops inside roma termini

Shopping

Italians love shopping! If you have time, go around and explore, you might find you have to run to your train at the end.

Skin care & Make up: Sephora, L’erbolario, LUSH, MAC…

Clothing & Shoes: Victoria secret, Calvin Klein, Mango, NIKE, Foot Locker…

Lifestyle: Dmall , Flying Tiger…

Food & Beverage: Mcdonald, Venchi, GROM…

Supermarket: Incoop

Last but not least is the ultimate department store COIN

funny home design shops in roma termini
Dmall

How NOT To Get Lost (For Really Urgent & Important Issues)

Service Offices & Ticket Offices

The biggest office is right in front of the main entrance, on the ground floor. The Italians do have their Italian-English accent, but as long as you can explain your request clearly, it’s no problem. Again, I strongly suggest not to take any “help” from the free-runners-but-non-staff in the station

There are other smaller offices on the underground floor of Termini. Also a special office for buying yearly train tickets is near the connection tunnel to the metro.

Roma Termini Staff & Volunteers

The station staff normally is in dark blue/navy uniform and some staff and the official volunteers will be in red. You can also find a security staff for help or instruction.

I hope this guide is helpful for your Rome trip. If you’ve got more questions, leave comments to me. I’ll be happy to help.

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    megan
    megan
    November 20, 2019 1:31 pm

    Great tips! Public transportation always makes me nervous. We are planning a train trip to Italy in the Spring.

    Julia Bocchese
    Julia Bocchese
    November 20, 2019 1:46 pm

    I always get overwhelmed and confused in big stations, so this is really helpful! I will definitely need this for when I go to Rome!

    Francesca
    Francesca
    November 20, 2019 11:43 pm

    Rome Termini is such a huge train station! I always get lost in it. I feel like this is a great guide with good advice. I love that there are Roman ruins in the middle of it.

    Tania Muthusamy
    Tania Muthusamy
    November 21, 2019 2:18 am

    I have used Roma Termini and it sure is a huge station, almost like an airport! It was overwhelming and your guide would have been very useful for me then. Will keep for next time I go to Rome.

    Céline
    Céline
    November 21, 2019 4:06 am

    It’s so cool that part of the Roman Walls was preserved! I’ve never been to Roma Termini but I’m sure this guide will be very useful when I do.

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