How To Take The Ferry From Barcelona to Rome

Tired of airports and craving some slow travel, I decided to take the ferry from Barcelona to Rome. In this guide, I’ll explain how to take the ferry including schedules, ticket prices, onboard facilities, and getting from the ports to the cities. I’ve also included a map as well as how the ferry compares to flying, taking the train, bus or driving.

Rome Civitavecchia ferry terminal at sunset

Taking the Ferry with Grimaldi Lines

Grimaldi Lines is the only ferry company that offers a direct ferry service between the Spanish city of Barcelona and Italy’s capital city of Rome. The journey covers approximately 578 nautical miles and takes around 20 hours. It’s an overnight ferry that departs Barcelona and arrives in Civitavecchia, “the port of Rome”, the following evening.

Ferry Schedule

I wish I could tell you that the ferry departs every day at exactly x-o’clock and takes a standard amount of time. But that’s not the case. There is one ferry a day and although they’re all late-evening departures, the exact departure time varies depending on the day you travel. Frustratingly, there is no obvious schedule on the Grimaldi website. You have to select your travel dates and work out timings from there. I checked a lot of dates and the departures and arrivals followed these timings.

Depart BarcelonaArrive Civitavecchia
8:30 PM6:45 PM (+1)
9:30 PM5:00 PM (+1)
10:30 PM6:00 PM (+1)
10:45 PM8:45 PM (+1)
00:30 AM10:45 PM (+1)
Checked on the Grimaldi website for departures in summer.

You’ll notice that there is no typical crossing time. Some routes are simply quicker (though none of them are fast ferries). Since departures are once a day, you only get to choose your departure time if you have flexible travel dates.

Saturday departures: while there is no specific note on the Grimaldi website, I could not find any sailings for Saturday evening throughout the year. I double checked on Direct Ferries (a ferry booking website) and they also had Saturdays blanked out. It therefore seems there are no Saturday sailings on the Barcelona-Rome route.

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How Much Does it Cost?

Like booking flights and trains, the price range depends on the date of travel, time of travel and how far in advance you book. As a guide, the average price of a ferry ticket is between €50 and €80 per person on a one-way ticket as a foot passenger during summer high season. The basic price includes a Pullman seat (comfortable reclining seats) for sleeping. You can upgrade to a cabin. In the table below, I’ve included the extra cost of upgrading to the different types of cabins. Again, these prices can change depending on date of travel.

Cabin TypeGuide Price
3-Bed Inside Cabin (Disabled)€70
4-Bed Inside Cabin€70
4-Bed Outside Cabin (Partial view)€85
4-Bed Outside Cabin€100
4-Bed Junior Suite€130
4-Bed Owners Suite€150
4-Bed Owners Suite (with Lounge)€170

Food and wi-fi upgrades: There are also various food, drink and wi-fi packages available for an additional fee. As a guide, a standard breakfast is €3.90, a burger menu is €13.90, a full lunch or dinner is €15 (self-service) or €30 (table service). These prices only apply if you pre-book. It’s more if you pay on the ship.

Cars and pets: If you’re travelling by car, it’s around €60 extra for a standard car. A motorhome costs around €100 extra. Pets are an additional cost of €25 each.

How to Book your ferry tickets

I booked directly with Grimaldi Lines. You can also book ferry tickets with websites like AFerry and Direct Ferries. These sites are especially useful if you’re comparing different companies on the same ferry routes. However, as there is only one company running Barcelona to Rome, there’s not much to compare. However, the booking experience is a little more slick with these 3rd party companies. For example, AFerry gives you pictures of the cabins and Direct Ferries has check-in times. The prices are the same whether you book on Grimaldi Lines, AFerry or Direct Ferries (I double checked). So, book with the website you find easiest.

If you book with Grimaldi, look out for the local spellings. The route you want is: BARCELLONA – CIVITAVECCHIA. It’s listed under the section SPAGNA (for Spain).

Checking in for the ferry

You need to be at the terminal 1 hour 30 before the ferry departure time if you’re a foot passenger or 2 hours if you’re travelling with a car. Documentation is standard – you’ll need your passport. The rules are the same if you’re travelling in the opposite direction from Rome to Barcelona. If you’re from the UK check your passport is valid after Brexit (I got caught out).

Grimaldi Lines ferry in the port of Barcelona.

On board facilities

Honestly, I really enjoyed my experience onboard the ferry (despite the low review scores on TripAdvisor). As someone who’s done the Dover to Calais route many times, going from Barcelona to Rome felt like luxury in comparison. The ship itself was closer aligned to a cruise than a standard passenger ferry (I don’t include Liverpool’s Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey in my comparison!). And there were lots of onboard amenities.

Food and drink

The food was ok. A bit overpriced and nothing special compared to the fine dining you can get in the cities, but you are on a ferry. I think average food for above average prices is standard, right? I do recommend packing some of your own snacks. If you do want to eat onboard, book in advance – you can save up to half price. There’s also a shop where you can buy everything from snacks to gadgets if you get stuck.

Spa services

I was really impressed with the relaxation facilities onboard. There is an open-air pool on the upper deck which is closer to a plunge pool in size and was too cold for me in September. But inside, there is a wellness centre with a jacuzzi and relaxation area. You can upgrade to some of the services including €8 for gym access, 45 minutes private rental for 2 people of the steam and sauna (€40). But the best choice has to be the massages. At €20 for a 25 minute neck and shoulders massage or €30 massage for 50 minutes, I can’t remember the last time I saw prices that good (outside Thailand).

Evening entertainment

The ferry offers a casino and games room, a bar and a (cheesy) disco for evening entertainment. I personally settled into a good travel book. For kids, there’s a play area.

Wi-Fi onboard

There is Wi-Fi on board which is priced between €5 and €15. As someone who has spent a lot of time sailing around the British Isles and across the Mediterranean Sea around the Greek Islands, I can assure you you’ll get no mobile / cell connection unless you pay the ship for it. Even then, don’t expect super fast speeds. But it’s enough for basic messaging and social media.

Want data as you travel? Speaking of connection, check out the Airarlo app. It offers cheap, global e-SIMS. It’s easy to set up and has great prices. I usually get the lowest 1GB package which is enough for checking maps and messages on the go.

Sagrada familia church in Barcelona.
Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona.

How to get to the port in Barcelona

Getting to the port of Barcelona is very simple because its right in the city. It’s located at the end of La Rambla, the famous pedestrian street in Barcelona. Since I was staying nearby and just had carry-on luggage, I decided to walk to the port. It takes around 20 minutes from the end of La Rambla. I walked alone as a solo-female traveller and felt completely safe. If you don’t want to walk, you can either take a taxi (usually cheaper than Uber in Barcelona) or catch the bus (line 88). The stop you want is Moll-Costa which is in front of the terminal.

The address of the terminal is Terminal Grimaldi, Muelle de Costa, s/n 08039 – Barcelona Porto.

How to get from Civitavecchia port to Rome

While the port of Civitavecchia is known as the “Port of Rome”, it’s actually 88 km / 55 miles from the city. But don’t worry, the port is well set up for getting passengers from the terminal to the centre of Rome. You can get there by booking a private transfer or taking the train (the only public transportation option).

The address of the terminal is: Logistica italiana porti e terminals S.p.A., Via Prato del Turco, 1, 00053 – Civitavecchia Porto, Terminal Autostrade del Mare.

First, get to Largo della Pace (the port’s hub)

The first thing to do when you arrive is get from the Grimaldi Terminal to Largo della Pace, the hub and transport centre for the port. It’s very simple to do – catch one of the free shuttle buses that loop the port. Otherwise, it’s a short walk. From Largo della Pace you can catch your onward connection whether it’s to the railway station, or a private transfer directly to Rome. Taxis are regulated at the port so it’s best to book them in advance.

Private transfer to Rome (or the airport)

The fastest and best way from Civitavecchia port to Rome is by private transfer, which takes around 1hr 5 mins late at night. I recommend booking with Welcome PickUps. The price is around €208 from Civitavecchia Port to central Rome. Be aware: taxi prices are expensive in Italy. Even a 10 minute ride can cost around €15. So, this price is competitive.

I used them for the first time a few months ago (recommended by another traveller) and I was an instant convert. They’re a global service and you can book securely online. Type in your pick up point and final destination and you get an instant fixed price for your journey. You pay online in advance which removes any cash, currency and haggling issues. Your transfer is then in a private minivan or car.

Taking a private transfer a nice option since you’ll arrive early to late evening and by the time you get to Rome it will probably be dark. Termini station is in a pretty grotty area so you will want to be on alert for pick-pockets if you do take the train. I’m not scaremongering. I travelled to the station alone and was fine but I wanted to make you aware.

Getting from the port to the train station

If you’re taking the train into Rome, Civitavecchia train station is around 2 km / 1.2 miles from the Grimaldi port terminal. From Largo della Pace, you need to catch the Argo bus. They run every 15 to 20 minutes and take around 6 minutes. As in many places in Italy, you need to buy your €2 ticket in advance. Ask at the ticket desk in Largo della Pace. I walked to the station which felt like less hassle and only took 20-30 minutes.

Taking the train to Rome

Trains run approximately every 15 minutes and are direct from Civitavecchia to Rome Termini station. The journey time varies as does the cost. Fast trains take around 45 minutes and cost around €11 one-way. Slow trains take 1hr 30 and cost around €4.60 one-way. Most trains take 1hr 20 and cost €4.60.

Late night trains: Given the time you arrive at night, it’s best hopping on the first train that arrives rather than waiting for a faster train (the faster service runs about every hour).

The last train: Keep an eye on the last train which leaves at 10:52 p.m. If you catch the 00:30 a.m. ferry from Barcelona, you won’t make this connection. Either stay in a hotel in Civitavecchia Port for the night or book a private transfer with Welcome Pickups.

Tip: Trainline is my go-to train ticket site and app for booking trains in Europe. It also gives you real-time information on departures.

Bad options: Portlink buses and tourist buses to Rome centre

PortLink Buses – don’t get confused by the PortLink buses. These are for cruise passengers and are lined up with the cruise schedules. Remember, Grimaldi, is a ferry that docks at the Terminal Autostrade Mare known as ADM. Although it’s close by, don’t confuse this with the Rome Cruise Terminal (RCT) used by cruise ships.

Shared Bus Transfer to Rome: there is no good bus option into Rome if you’ve caught the ferry from Barcelona. While you might see lots of services online, these are aimed at cruise passengers and pick up only in the morning. Since the Grimaldi ferry arrives at night, this option won’t work for you.

Colosseum in Rome
Colosseum in Rome.

The Ferry versus flights, trains, buses and driving

Of course, ferry isn’t the only way to get from Barcelona to Rome. Here are your alternatives.

Flights

Flying between Barcelona and Rome is going to be the fastest and probably cheapest way to travel. Barcelona El-Prat Airport (BCN) is around 15 km / 9 miles from the city centre. Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO) is around 30 km / 19 miles from the city centre. Last time I checked (on Skyscanner), prices were as low as €35 one-way, direct, rising to around €80. Of course, this is with a budget airline so the price will increase if you want to take more than just a small bag of luggage. The flight time is 1 hr 45 mins.

Getting there by bus

Marvellously, there is a bus that will take you from Barcelona to Rome, with one change in Genova. The journey takes around 20 to 24 hours depending on the time of day you travel. The bus company is Flixbus and the price is around €60 to €100. Personally, I’d rather sit on a ferry and watch the sea. But if you like the idea of the bus, Trainline is also good for checking bus routes, times and prices.

Taking the train

There is no direct train from Barcelona to Rome. Of course, within Europe you can travel across the continent by land very easily, connecting train services in different countries. However, you need to have a lot of time. As a rough idea, you’d need to take a route along these lines: Barcelona – Montpellier – Marseilles – Nice – Genoa – Rome. Even if you travelled non-stop, it’s about 2 days of travel, adding more time for connecting trains. It can certainly be a fun option. But it would cost around €200 to €300 and is not for those looking to get from A to B quite quickly.

Driving

As with the bus and train, to get from Barcelona to Rome by car you need to drive north into France then south in Italy. The distance is approximaretely 1,355 km / 842 miles. Impressively, you can do it in just over 14 hours (non-stop). So, it’s not an impossible route (and shorter than the Baja California road trip I once took). As with any cross-border trip, if you’re in a rental car, check that you’re allowed to take it outside your rental country. And enquire about one-way rates if you’re not taking a return trip – drop off elsewhere can be steep! Here’s the driving route if you’re interested.

Map of the route

I’ve created a Barcelona to Rome map of the main points you need to know for this route. On the map I’ve included the location of Grimaldi Lines at each port, the train station in Civitavecchia and Rome Termini. I’ve also included some landmarks like La Rambla and the Colosseum and the airports.

Keep an eye out: you’ll pass into the Tyrrhenian Sea (part of the Mediterranean Sea). And in doing so, you’ll sail past Sardinia (Sardega), one of Italy’s Islands. If you haven’t visited already, put it on your bucket list – Sardinian food is sublime and they have some of the best restaurants I’ve eaten at in Italy.

Exploring Italy

Rome is a large city with lots to occupy you. I’ve written a couple of guides to help:

If you plan to explore Italy further, here are some suggestions:

Tuscany is an easy day trip from Rome, only 1 hour 30 away by train.

Head south of Rome and in 1 hr 30 by train you can reach Naples (home to the original pizza). Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast are all nearby.

Northern Italy is a little further from Rome, at around 3hrs 45 by train. But if you’re on a longer trip, you can explore the sights of Venice and Verona. Or, my favourite – go wine tasting in Italy’s Prosecco region, which is just an hour from Venice.

My experience onboard the Grimaldi ferry

Here’s what I wrote of my experience on the Grimaldi ship.

Boat and ferry travel is one of my favourite ways to see the world. So, last night I boarded the Grimaldi Barcelona to Rome ferry. I was impressed by how easy it was – the port in Barcelona couldn’t be more conveniently located, right at the end of La Rambla.

Getting onboard was very smooth. And although Grimaldi Lines is technically a ferry, it felt more like stepping onto a mini cruise, which was pretty amazing for the price.

Sat in the lounge on deck 10 listening to relaxing Spanish ballads as the expanse of the Mediterranean sea twinkled as far as the eye could see, it felt like a decadent way to travel. It certainly beats the hassle of airports, and I was able to bring my bag on for free (can’t do that much at the airport anymore).

That said, like all trips, it wasn’t perfect. Firstly, whilst the ships is huge, the number of people onboard was small, which felt odd. But not nearly as alarming as the tannoy announcement that came mid-morning: ‘abandon ship, abandon ship’. It was announced first in Spanish, then Italian, then English. Yet nobody moved. Not one to for wanting to stand out (even if a ship is sinking, apparently), I also remained seated. It wasn’t until I asked someone, panic rising, that I found out it was a drill. This last bit of info had only been announced in Spanish and Italian. Since most of the passengers were Spanish and Italian, they understood. Maybe I’d missed it in muffled English?

The food wasn’t a winner for me, either. The bar area offered a choice of sandwiches, ciabatta, wraps or classic pizza for lunch but it was the post-lunch coffee that confused me. I made the newbie mistake that surely everyone makes the first time they order coffee in Italy – I asked for a latte. In Italian this is actually a glass of warm milk. At 2pm, warm milk consumed, I was ready for bed. And it was sleep I needed, with the whole of Rome to explore the next day.

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Port of Rome at sunset Civitavecchia.
Author - Jo Fitzsimons

Hi, I'm Jo, the writer behind Indiana Jo. In 2010 I quit my job as a lawyer and booked an around the world ticket. As a solo female traveller, I hopped from South America to Central America, across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It was supposed to be a one-year trip but over a decade later, it's yet to end. I've lived in a cave, climbed down a volcano barefoot, spent years as a digital nomad, worked as a freelance travel writer, and eaten deadly Fugu. Now I'm home, back in the UK, but still travelling far and wide. You can find out more About Me.