The 5 Best Catacombs Tours In Rome [2020 Reviews]

Rome is a fascinating city for anyone interested in ancient history, the history of early Christianity, and grand architecture. However, not all the most amazing sights are found within the city walls. The catacombs scattered along the ancient Roman roads are among the most important attractions in Rome.

Also see our Rome Tour Guide which is helpful for anyone who wishes to see all the main attractions in Italy’s capital. And most catacombs tours in Rome also include other fascinating historic sites, such as the Aqueducts Park or the St. John in Lateran Basilica.

I’ve identified the 5 top-rated catacombs tours in Rome. Read my reviews below to discover which Rome catacombs tour interests you the most.

Best Catacombs Tours In Rome

 Rome: Crypts & Catacombs Tour with Bone Chapel Visit Rome: Catacombs and Crypts Small Group Minibus TourCatacomb of St. Callixtus and Appian Way: Guided Tour
editors choice
Departure PointThe Triton Fountain, Piazza BarberiniThe Triton Fountain, Piazza BarberiniBus stop at Via Cavour 224
Departure Time2:30 PM9:00 AM, 9:45 AM, 1:45 PM, 2:00 PM9:45 AM
Duration3½ hours3¼ hours3 hours
IncludesLicensed guide, small group tours, air-conditioned transportation, entrance fees to the Capuchin Crypt and Museum, admission to the catacombs, and admission to the Basilica San ClementeLicensed guide, air-conditioned transportation, a tour of ancient catacombs, a tour of the Lasagna Church of San Nicola in Carcere, and entrance fees to the Capuchin CryptLicensed guide, air-conditioned transportation, entrance fees to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, the Appian Way, and the Aqueducts Park

Quick Answer: The 5 Best-Rated Catacombs Tours In Rome

  1. Rome: Crypts & Catacombs Tour with Bone Chapel Visit
  2. Rome: Catacombs and Crypts Small Group Minibus Tour
  3. Catacomb of St. Callixtus and Appian Way: Guided Tour
  4. Catacombs & St John in Lateran Combo Tour
  5. Rome: Catacombs, Appian Way & Aqueduct Park Small Group Tour

Catacombs Tours In Rome Reviews

#1. Rome: Crypts & Catacombs Tour with Bone Chapel Visit

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: The Triton Fountain, Piazza Barberini
  • Departure Time: 2:30 PM
  • Duration: 3½ hours
  • Includes: Licensed guide, small group tours, air-conditioned transportation, entrance fees to the Capuchin Crypt and Museum, admission to the catacombs, and admission to the Basilica San Clemente
This is my favorite catacombs tour in Rome. Not only will you see the historic catacombs built by the earliest Christians, but you’ll also visit two other spectacular attractions that provide you with interesting insights into the history of Italy’s capital.

Your tour begins outside the ancient city walls and within the 2nd-century catacombs found alongside Roman roads.

Here, far beneath the ground, the earliest Christians prayed while suffering persecution from the authorities in Ancient Rome.

Your experienced and knowledgeable guide will lead you through the maze of tunnels and tell you all about their history, including their use as both burial ground and place of worship.

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Next, you’ll return inside the city walls to visit the Basilica of San Clemente, near the Colosseum. Although it looks like a normal church from outside, inside be prepared for a treat. The church is a Russian Matryoshka nesting doll of layers.

The visible basilica dates to the 11th century, but beneath is a 4th-century basilica. That basilica was a conversion of an aristocrat’s villa that was once used for secret Christian worship during the persecutions. The basement beneath the villa was used as a Mithraeum in the 2nd century, meaning a pagan temple dedicated to worshipers of Mithras.

A highlight of this tour is a visit to the Capuchin Crypt below Santa Maria Church. The crypt is decorated with the skeletal remains of over 3,700 monks in complex floor-to-ceiling patterns. The Roman Catholic Church states that this is a physical representation of how fleeting and fragile our lives are.

The attached Capuchin Museum also contains religious relics relating to St. Francis and a famous painting by Caravaggio.

You’ll enjoy air-conditioned transportation as you’re whisked from one amazing sight to another on this excellent tour of some of the lesser-known wonders of Rome.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#2. Rome: Catacombs and Crypts Small Group Minibus Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: The Triton Fountain, Piazza Barberini
  • Departure Time: 9:00 AM, 9:45 AM, 1:45 PM, 2:00 PM
  • Duration: 3¼ hours
  • Includes: Licensed guide, air-conditioned transportation, a tour of ancient catacombs, a tour of the Lasagna Church of San Nicola in Carcere, and entrance fees to the Capuchin Crypt
If you’re interested in Roman history, this is a fantastic half-day tour. You’ll see a selection of the less frequently visited attractions in the city and wonder why they are not part of every tour of Rome.

Your tour will take you to the Capuchin Crypt, known as the “Bone Chapel”. Inside the crypt are the skeletal remains of over 3,700 monks.

The bones are used as decorations for several small chapels within the crypt, which is found below the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini Church. This use of the bones is not meant to be disrespectful but rather a physical representation of our mortality.

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The Lasagna Church of San Nicola is a more cheerful stop on your tour. The church was only built in the 10th century, but it incorporates large portions of pre-existing pagan temples that are visible within the more modern stonework.

Admire the marble columns dating to the 4th century and left exposed on the 10th-century church walls. Stepping through this fascinating basilica is like stepping back through time.

The many levels you experience while touring this church are the reason for its nickname.

Another highlight of the tour is a guided tour of one of the 2nd-century, early Christian catacombs found outside the city walls and alongside one of the main roads leading away from Ancient Rome.

Within the catacombs, you can admire examples of the earliest Christian art and learn all about the emergence of Christianity during a time of persecution.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#3. Catacomb of St. Callixtus and Appian Way: Guided Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Bus stop at Via Cavour 224
  • Departure Time: 9:45 AM
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Includes: Licensed guide, air-conditioned transportation, entrance fees to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, the Appian Way, and the Aqueducts Park
This is a great tour in Rome for anyone interested in Ancient Roman history. This is your opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful and historic sites outside of central Rome.

During this tour, you will walk along a section of the ancient Via Appia Antica, one of the most important roads of Ancient Rome.

The historic cobblestones still bear the scars of a million chariot wheels. In Ancient Rome, burials were always held outside of the city walls and usually close to one of the main roads, so several catacombs are located along the path of the Appian Way.

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Your tour will take you into the Catacombs of St. Callixtus. These catacombs are almost 2,000 years old and notable as the Crypt of the Popes. Within these ancient passages, you can see examples of the earliest Christian art.

Another highlight of this tour is a view of the 1st-century Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella, the daughter of a Roman Consul. In later years, the mausoleum was expanded and became an important castle defending the Appian Way.

You’ll also explore the aqueducts park, where you can see the remains of a 1st-century aqueduct and a surviving 16th-century aqueduct.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#4 Catacombs & St John in Lateran Combo Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: OMNIA Vatican & Rome in St. John Basilica
  • Departure Time: 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Includes: Licensed guide, entrance fees to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, entrance fees to St. John in Lateran Basilica, the Holy Stairs, and the Sancta Sanctorum
If you’re a Christian and interested in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, this is an amazing tour in Rome.

The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in the Lateran is the main church of the Diocese of Rome and the official seat of the Pope, who is also the Bishop of Rome.

It is the oldest public church in Rome, founded by Pope St. Sylvester I, who was a companion of Constantine the Great and oversaw the period when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

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A major highlight of this tour is the opportunity to ascend the Scala Sancta (Holy Stairs) located in the basilica.

These marble steps once graced the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, and it is believed that Jesus Christ climbed them during His Passion. Anyone climbing these steps today is literally following in Jesus’ footsteps!

The basilica also contains the Sancta Sanctorum (the original, private Papal chapel), which is found at the top of the Scala Sancta. This is the only surviving part of the original Lateran Palace that was the first official Papal residence in Rome.

The second highlight of this tour is a visit to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus. These 2nd-century catacombs are located near the Appian Way.

You will be guided around the catacombs by a local expert and learn all about the history of the catacombs and their various levels.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#5 Rome: Catacombs, Appian Way & Aqueduct Park Small Group Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli e Martiri
  • Departure Time: 9:00 AM
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Includes: Licensed guide, air-conditioned transportation, entrance fees to the Catacombs of St. Sebastian, the Appian Way, and the Aqueducts Park
This is a wonderful catacombs tour in Rome for anyone fascinated by early Christian history. You will also see the amazing aqueducts in Aqueducts Park and the historic Appian Way.

The Basilica of St. Sebastian Outside the Walls is found alongside the Via Appia Antica (Appian Way). Typically, the early Christian catacombs in Rome were built outside the city walls and alongside the major roads, like the Appian Way.

The Catacombs of St. Sebastian are the first along the long road.

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The catacombs beneath St. Sebastian are said to have held the bodies of St. Peter and St. Paul during the Christian persecutions. The church holds a sculpture and the tomb of St. Sebastian.

You will have the opportunity to explore these famous catacombs as they descend through 5 levels.

A little further along the Appian Way, you’ll find the Tomb of Cecilia Metella. The tomb was built in the 1st-century to hold the daughter of a Roman Consul but later became an important castle held by the Caetani family.

They used its position alongside the important Appian Way to extort a toll from travelers.

In the Aqueducts Park, you can view the impressive ruins of a 1st-century aqueduct begun by Emperor Caligula and a 16th-century aqueduct built by Pope Sixtus V.

The park also features part of the Via Latina and the ruins of a large 2nd-century villa.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



Rome Travel Guide

best rome catacombs tours

Some visitors to Rome plan their visit specifically around the Vatican and related locations, such as the Sistine Chapel. However, you’ll still want to be aware of accommodations, the expected weather, and even other attractions you may want to visit while visiting Rome.

As you learn more about vacationing in Rome, you may want to plan for a few extra days to truly get the most out of your time in this ancient city.

What attractions are you looking forward to the most when you visit Rome? Where do you plan on staying? We’d love to hear about your plans! If you’ve already visited Rome, let us know what you enjoyed the most.

Airports & Entry

When headed to Rome, you’ll most likely land at the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport. This airport is the largest in Italy. Most foreign tourists, no matter their final destination in Italy, land in Rome. This means the airport is usually very crowded. However, this airport is also fairly easy to navigate.

To visit Italy, you must have a valid passport that has at least six months remaining before expiration. You can stay up to 90 days in the country for business or tourist reasons without a visa so long as your passport is valid.

Planning Tips

Before you start packing your bags, you’ll want to know how to make your trip easier and how to get the most out of your time in Rome. These top 5 planning tips can help you do just that.

Tip #1: Dress Appropriately for your Visit to the Vatican

Because the Vatican Museums, as well as the Sistine Chapel, are religious places, you’ll need to dress appropriately. Your shoulders, knees, and abdomen should be completely covered.

Your clothes should not have inappropriate graphics or sayings. If security personnel believe you are dressed inappropriately, you won’t be allowed in. This is true even if you are on a private tour.

Tip #2: Plan Everything in Advance

There are millions of visitors to Rome and the Vatican every year. This means that some of the attractions you are looking forward to may be sold out or closed by the time you arrive.

The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are a great example of this. If you are traveling to Rome around the time of religious holidays, these attractions may be closed to the public as well as to guided tours.

While many guided tours have backup plans in the event a scheduled location is closed unexpectedly, you should research your trip to make sure the places you wish to visit should be open.

Tip #3: Choose a Tour of the Vatican

If you plan on visiting the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and other popular places within Vatican City, purchasing a guided tour is a good idea.

The lines for general admission to many of these places can stretch for blocks and getting in may not be guaranteed. With a guided tour, like the ones we’ve reviewed above, you are guaranteed access so long as it isn’t closed for religious reasons. Plus, you will be able to skip the long lines.

Tip #4: Only Carry What You Need

While this is true wherever you are visiting within the city of Rome, it is especially true when visiting the Vatican. Large bags, umbrellas, camera tripods, and other cumbersome items aren’t allowed within the Vatican Museums and related locations.

You can store them in the cloakroom provided for free, but you may end up having to leave your tour early to retrieve them before closing time. It’s best to carry only what you need when touring the Vatican.

Tip #5: Visit on a Wednesday

If you’re looking forward to seeing the Pope and to the papal audience, you’ll want to plan your visit for a Wednesday.

While there are occasional deviations from the Wednesday schedule, you’ll most likely be able to see the weekly message on that day.

In fact, the Papal Audience and Vatican Museums tour we reviewed above guarantees you will see the Pope as part of the papal audience as long as he delivers his message on schedule.

Restaurants & Eating Out

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Right? There is no better time to follow this rule then when it comes to dining. Eating out in Rome is probably much more affordable than you would’ve thought.

Of course, you’ll want to savor a true Italian pizza. The best place for this is La Gatta Mangiona. This casual restaurant is well known for its thin crust pizzas and may very well have been the start of the pizza craze in Rome.

If you’re looking for lighter fare, stop by Il Forno Campo de’ Fiori. The restaurant serves up delicious soups, sandwiches, salads, and light snacks. The bakery next door produces delicious biscuits, pastries, and more. Both the restaurant and the bakery offer take out so you can avoid the long lines.

While there are many places to get your fill of gelato in Rome, the Gelateria del Teatro is one of the most popular. You’ll find all the traditional flavors and occasionally come across an experiment or two. Have you ever tried raspberry and sage gelato?

NOTE: When it comes to leaving a tip at a restaurant, it’s important not to be too generous. Tipping more than 10% is often frowned upon. Also, you’ll rarely have an opportunity to leave a tip when using a debit or credit card. You’ll want to have a few euros on hand for tips as well as small purchases.

Nightlife & Entertainment

The nightlife in Rome is just as mixed as the combination of both ancient and modern seen all over the city. The Antica Enoteca has one of the most extensive wine lists in Rome and offers a rustic and casual atmosphere. If you’re looking for a traditional bar, you’ll want to stop by the American Bar at the Hotel Forum.

When it comes to cocktails, Rome offers ingenuity and imagination. Take the Carbonara Sour at Co.So Cocktail & Social, for example. This delicious cocktail might be a little different, containing black pepper and egg whites along with other ingredients, but is one of their most popular drinks.

If cocktails aren’t your thing and you’d rather sit down with a craft beer, stop by Brasserie 4:20. This small pub is warm and welcoming, and so is their list of craft beers on tap, plus a selection of whiskeys, bourbons, and other fine drinks.

Getting Around

While there is a great public transportation system in place, it’s often easier to get around in Rome by walking. You can get nearly everywhere you need to go by lacing up your tennis shoes and going for a stroll.

If you’re going a longer distance, you might want to take a bus. A 100-minute bus ticket is quite affordable, as is the day pass.

Renting a car in Rome isn’t a good idea. Those unfamiliar with the city can have a difficult time maneuvering. If car travel is best, you’ll want to take a taxi. You can only grab a taxi in designated areas.

Hailing for a cab outside of these areas is frowned upon. Taxis can be on the expensive side but if you’re going a fair distance and you’d rather not take a bus, a taxi can be quite effective.

Accommodations

When it comes to accommodations in Rome, you’ll see inexpensive hotels and luxury resorts. The cheaper places to stay are often farther away, very small, or offer very few amenities.

Most of these hotels aren’t recommended for tourists. There is no shortage of luxury hotels in Rome, however. The G-Rough is located inside a 16th-century palazzo and epitomizes the history and art that Rome is famous for.

While staying at a luxury resort is ideal, it may not always be feasible. A great mid-range hotel that offers many of the benefits of a luxury resort without the price tag, is the Nerva Boutique Hotel.

With just 19 rooms, guests can enjoy modern design, great food, as well as a great location.

Weather

July and August are the hottest months in Rome. The average temperature is somewhere around 78°F. For many, the 48°F average temperature in Rome in January is very mild.

However, if you want to enjoy Rome with better chances of great weather, you’ll want to visit in the spring or the fall.

Attractions

Rome is full of attractions you can visit around your tour of the Vatican. The National Roman Museum is family-friendly and houses many interesting artifacts.

The Basilica of San Clemente is not just a church, but also an archaeological site. The newer building at the entry level dates back to the 12th-century while you can head downstairs to the original basilica built in the 4th-century AD.

If you’d like to see some of the more ancient attractions around Rome, you have several options. The Roman Forum is the location where Romulus made the founding of the city of Rome official.

It was once the epicenter of Roman life. Ostia Antica is just 25-minutes away by train. This location was once a thriving center of commerce. Today, you can explore over 100 acres of ancient shops, baths, temples, and even apartment buildings and houses.

The Vatican’s Treasures: Both Seen & Felt

A tour of the Vatican is a must if you’re planning a vacation to Rome. The arts, architecture, and history contained within Vatican City simply can’t be experienced anywhere else.

Whether you choose a short, 3-hour tour to see the basics or you opt for the VIP Vatican Experience, it’s guaranteed this is a trip you’ll never forget.

Notice:

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