Ostia is in Lazio, Italy, close to Rome’s major airport of Fiumicino. This article covers both the archaeological site Ostia Antica at the south-western end of Rome’s district with the same name, and the nearby beach area Lido di Ostia (or simply Ostia).

Ostia’s ancient theatre

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Not far from the center of Rome is Ostia Antica, an archaeological site that contains many Roman ruins, dating back to the days when it served as Rome’s port (a function now taken over by Civitavecchia). In antiquity is was situated at the mouth of the river Tiber, however the shoreline moved seawards, due to silting, from the Middle Ages until the 19th century. Ostia Antica is today still lying next to the Tiber, but at a distance of some three kilometers from the beach. It is one of Lazio’s major attractions, less crowded and, for some, more enjoyable than the ruins of Pompeii. So if you can’t make it down to Pompeii don’t worry. Just head out to Ostia Antica.

Nearby Lido di Ostia is a residential area, the capital’s beach, and a well-known “Tourist Port” with moorings for boats from 8 to 60 metres in length. Italy might be a Catholic country, but you won’t detect any religious conservatism in the skimpy bikinis on display here. There’s a carnival atmosphere, with dance halls, cinemas, and pizzerias. The Lido is set off best at Castelfusano, against a backdrop of pinewoods, which provide the summer residence of the President of Italy. This stretch of shoreline is referred to as the Roman Riviera.

If you’re flying out of Fiumicino, this town is a good stopover for the night before. You can return your rental car if need be, catch a cab for a few-minute, few-kilometer ride to the airport, and forget about the trains and the traffic from Rome.

Map of Ostia

If you want to see both ancient and modern Rome, grab your swimsuit, towel, and sunblock, and take the Roma-Lido urban railway (operated by ATAC) from the Roma Porta San Paolo station (see Rome/Aventino-Testaccio). It is directly next to the line B (blue line) metro station Piramide, and within walking distance (500m) of the Roma Ostiense train station. All ATAC tickets and passes for Rome are valid on this urban railway. Departures are about every 15 minutes, or during Sunday and public holidays every 30 minutes; the whole trip takes about 40 minutes. The train lets you off at the Ostia Antica station across one of the highways that connects Rome with the coast. It’s just a short walk to the Ostia Antica excavations. Later, board the train again to visit Lido di Ostia and the beach.

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