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As you plan your next Mediterranean cruise, you'll likely stop at Italy's largest cruise port, Civitavecchia. Located about 50 miles northwest of Rome, this historic port city offers cruise passengers easy access to the Eternal City and beyond. With roots dating back to the ancient Etruscans, Civitavecchia has been a critical seaport for centuries. Today it serves as the gateway to Rome for over 2.5 million cruise ship passengers annually. In this article, you'll learn key facts about Civitavecchia and how to make the most of your time in this bustling cruise port. We'll cover essential logistics, top sights, and excursion options for travelers eager to explore Rome and the surrounding region. Whether you're planning your first or fifth visit to Civitavecchia, you'll find helpful tips to enhance your time in this popular cruise port.

An Introduction to Civitavecchia, Italy's Main Cruise Port

Civitavecchia is a port town located in the central Italian region of Lazio, around 80 kilometers northwest of Rome. As the largest cruise port in Italy and one of the busiest in the Mediterranean, Civitavecchia acts as a gateway to Rome for many cruise passengers.

Location and Transportation

Civitavecchia’s location along the Tyrrhenian coast provides easy access to Rome and attractions like Vatican City and Colosseum. The port is well connected to Rome via bus, train or the Civiravecchia taxi services, with rides taking around 90 minutes. Many cruise lines also offer shore excursions from Civitavecchia to Rome and nearby towns like Tarquinia.


Civitavecchia has a long maritime history dating back to the Roman era. The port town was founded in the 2nd century BC and was known as Centumcellae. Its strategic location led the Roman emperor Trajan to build an artificial harbor and Civitavecchia became an important naval base. Parts of the Trajan's harbor still remain today.


Despite its small size, Civitavecchia has a few attractions worth exploring before or after your cruise. The historic Fort Michelangelo offers panoramic views of the port and coastline. The Archaeological Museum displays artifacts from the Roman and pre-Roman periods found in the area. Just outside the town, the ruins of the Roman baths in Ficoncella are well preserved. For beachgoers, Marina di Civitavecchia has a long stretch of beach with beach clubs and bars along the promenade.

With a wealth of history, culture, natural scenery and transportation connections, Civitavecchia provides an ideal base for cruise passengers wanting to experience the splendid region of central Italy.

The History and Development of the Port of Civitavecchia

An Ancient Port City

Civitavecchia has served as a major port city for centuries. The port's history dates back to the 2nd century BC, when the settlement of Centumcellae was established. The port gained prominence under the Roman Empire and served as a naval base. Civitavecchia continued to be an important port through the Middle Ages, used for trade and commerce.

Modernization in the 19th Century

In the 19th century, the port underwent major modernization and expansion under the direction of Pope Pius VI and Pope Gregory XVI. New wharves and warehouses were constructed. A lighthouse was built to aid navigation. These improvements attracted more maritime traffic and trade to Civitavecchia.

Post-World War II Growth

After World War II, Civitavecchia experienced substantial growth due to increased tourism and the rise of the cruise industry. To accommodate larger cruise ships and higher passenger volumes, the port added new terminals and expanded its infrastructure in the late 20th century.

Today, Civitavecchia is one of the busiest cruise ports in the Mediterranean, serving over 2.5 million cruise passengers annually aboard major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Costa, and MSC Cruises. While cruise tourism continues to drive much of the port's economy, Civitavecchia also remains an important cargo port, handling millions of tons of goods each year. Overall, the port of Civitavecchia has a long and storied history, and it continues to thrive as a hub for both cruise travel and maritime commerce.

Visiting Civitavecchia: Top Attractions and Excursions for Cruise Passengers

Visit the Historic Port

For those interested in Civitavecchia’s maritime history, the historic port area is worth exploring. The Porta Livorno Gate, built in the 15th century, marks the entrance to the old port. Just inside the gate is the Forte Michelangelo, a 16th-century fortress. You can tour the fortress ramparts, which offer panoramic views of the sea and surrounding countryside. The port also has a small maritime museum with historic maps, paintings, and other artifacts related to Civitavecchia’s seafaring past.

Tour Rome Independently

Many cruise passengers use Civitavecchia as a jumping-off point to explore Rome, just 45 minutes away by train. Once in Rome, you can tour major attractions like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Vatican City, and Trevi Fountain at your own pace. Buy a Roma Pass to ride the bus, metro and tram and gain free or discounted admission to two museums of your choice. With advance planning, it is possible to see many of Rome’s highlights in a single day.

Take an Organized Excursion

For a more structured experience, consider booking an organized shore excursion through your cruise line or a private tour operator. Popular options include tours of Rome’s ancient monuments and Vatican City, wine tasting in the countryside, and beach excursions along the Mediterranean coast. An organized tour takes care of logistics like transportation, entrance fees, and knowledgeable guides, allowing you to simply enjoy the experiences. Some tours cater to specific interests like food, art, or outdoor activities.

With its charming historic port and proximity to Rome, Civitavecchia offers cruise passengers ample opportunities for adventure on shore. Whether you explore independently or join an organized excursion, a stop in Civitavecchia allows you to discover the cultural and historic treasures of central Italy. Spending a day on shore will give you a taste of what this region has to offer and leave you eager to return for a longer visit.


You now have a broad overview of Civitavecchia and why it has become Italy's busiest cruise port. With its proximity to Rome, excellent transportation links, and wealth of shore excursions, it's easy to see the appeal for cruise passengers. Yet there is much more to discover in this historic port town. Wander through its medieval corners, try the fresh seafood, and embrace la dolce vita along its charming streets. Whether you are docking for a day or looking for a new Mediterranean home base, Civitavecchia captures the essence of Italy. Let it cast its spell over you.


The modern port town of Civitavecchia in Italy might not be the first place people think of as a hub of international travel, but for cruise ship travelers it’s known as a global destination connecting the tourist hotspot of Rome with the rest of the world.

The city, located in the central Italian region of Lazio, is home to a massive port that services cruise ships year-round. It provides a convenient base with several options for making the journey of roughly 80 kilometers (50 miles) to Rome, 65 kilometers (40 miles) to Rome Airport Fiumicino and 80 kilometers to Ciampino Airport (49 miles). Whether you’re driving your own car, hiring a taxi, or taking the train you have plenty to choose from based on cost and time. And Civitavecchia even has some of its own attractions for those who want to stay local and not visit to Rome instead. While the city doesn’t have sights to rival Rome like the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, or the Trevi Fountain, it still has some local delights for intrepid explorers.

Consider touring the National Archeological Museum of Civitavecchia with its magnificent collection of statues, trinkets and other items from Ancient times to the Middle Ages. Or simply stroll along the beautiful promenade and relax at a local café with some food and drink. However, most people who dock at Civitavecchia on a cruise ship plan on making a trip to Rome to see as much as possible. While it’s difficult to cover a lot of Rome in a day, the information below will at least guide you on the best options to get there and back.

Civitavecchia Port is the second busiest cruise port in Europe with nearly 2.5 million passengers.

Civitavecchia it is located about 60 kilometres (37 miles) west north of the center of Rome..

Civitavecchia port services several major cruise lines including Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and the NCL Norwegian Cruise Line. As the biggest cruise port near Rome, it naturally serves a vital connection between cruises and the Italian city. The huge boats dock at Civitavecchia and passengers disembark for day trips to Rome, back in time for the ship to set sail. There are several cafes and restaurants located in the immediate vicinity of the part, as well as an information center. If you’re not venturing on to Rome, one option is to pick up a map or other leaflets about attractions in Civitavecchia and explore by foot.

For those with plans to visit Rome for the day, once you leave the boat you’ll get to your preferred transport, which could by cruise ship shuttle (usually the most expensive option), private car or taxi, tours, or by train (perhaps the cheapest option).

Port Terminals

Civitavecchia Port has Three passenger terminals:

– Largo della Pace  (Cruise shuttle bus)

– ADM (Ferry Terminal)

– RCT (Rome Cruise Terminal)

The Motorways of the Sea

Civitavecchia port is part of a European/Mediterranean port group known as Motorways of the Sea. This links several ports together and helps to facilitate faster transfer between ports, docking, and overall a better experience for ships and their passengers.


From Civitavecchia Port passengers can use the following transportation options to get to Rome. See the information as follows:

Train: From Civitavecchia Port there are several Train options to Rome.

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Taxi: Get to Rome in one hour by taxi.

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Car Rental: Renting a car in Civitavecchia is a good idea to move around or Rome.

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Information Kiosk

Should you arrive at Civitavecchia Port and are unsure of something or need more information you can visit the information kiosk. This small kiosk is located just outside of the terminal at Largo della Pace. When the port has a large number of boats docking at the same time this kiosk can get busy. Around the information kiosk you can also find tour operators and taxis should you need them.


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