The baths were built under the reign of Marcus Aurelius, between 212 and 216 AD. They were the most spectacular thermal baths of their kind, where citizens could go to wash, relax, socialise, and exercise. The Baths of Caracalla, or Thermae di Caracalla, were also home to a library, gardens, and temple. You’ll need to use your imagination when you visit the ancient spot today, since all that’s left are the ground floor walls and collapsed vaults. Nevertheless, it’s a great spot to see while you’re in the Italian capital.
Getting to the Baths of Caracalla by train
The Baths of Caracalla are located near the Appian Way, one of the earliest and most important roads in Rome. It’s a little south of the historical centre, which means you’ll need to take transport to get there if you’re based in the hustle and bustle.
Taking the train to Rome
You can easily reach Rome by train from any major Italian city thanks to the frequent high-speed rail connections operated by Trenitalia and Italo. The most popular routes are from Venice to Rome (3h 15m), Milan to Rome (3h 10m), Florence to Rome (1h 18m) and Naples to Rome (1h 08m). For more information about travelling to Rome by train, check out our dedicated page to trains to Rome.
Which station is nearest to the Baths of Caracalla?
There are a few ways you might like to get to the Baths of Caracalla. The public transport system in Rome is excellent, with plenty of buses, trams, and Metros running throughout the city.
If you’re taking the train, get off at Roma Termini station, hop on the 714 bus service and get off at Terme Caracalla, which is only 2 minutes away from the Baths.
If you’re already visiting the city, you can take the Metro – the blue B line – and get off at Circo Massimo, just 14 minutes away from the Baths of Caracalla.
Exploring the Baths of Caracalla
Visiting the Baths of Caracalla couldn’t be easier. Once you’re inside, you can roam about at leisure and enjoy the ancient ruins. There’s no need for a guide since there are lots of signs throughout to explain where you are and what you’re seeing. Still, having a knowledgeable guide show you around can make your experience even more exciting.
As you walk around, you’ll see lots of the structure of the Baths of Caracalla. Look out for the extensive swimming pool area, the gym, changing rooms, and other notable spots. In the swimming area, you can see an ancient poolside game carved into the stone. Just imagine the competitions that might have taken place here centuries ago! There are also some large fragments of mosaic, which would have been displayed on the second floor. Unfortunately, only the ground floor ruins remain, but these mosaic sea animals and Roman gods help give visitors an idea of what the baths used to look like.
Visiting the underground
You can also visit the underground parts of the Baths of Caracalla. This is thanks to a long excavation process and is a must to get the most out of your trip. See the behind-the-scenes parts of the baths, where slaves stoked the fires in around 50 brick ovens. These fires were used to heat the pools and floors and needed to be kept alight throughout the day and night. Tough work!
The underground parts of the Baths of Caracalla are also home to an extensive network of pipes and pumps. During the bath’s glory days, lead pipes carried water from a nearby aqueduct at about 20 gallons per second and moved water around the building. These clever features help illustrate just how advanced Ancient Rome was.
The underground space is easy to visit. The tunnels are large and the ceilings high, so visitors don’t usually feel claustrophobic. You’ll be below the surface for around 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how long you take admiring the exhibits.
Visiting the Baths of Caracalla at night
From August through to early October, you can visit the impressive Baths of Caracalla at night. The baths are lit atmospherically, making this experience utterly memorable and quite different from the usual daytime tour.
Your nighttime visit will include all the usual spots, the underground, and an exclusive tour of the Mithraeum. The Mithraeum is an ancient temple where worshipers once met to perform ceremonies. Never heard of Mithraism? The early Roman religion, centred on the god Mithras, existed before Christianity. The two were practised alongside each other for some time, although Mithraism was seen as an alternative and even a rival to Christianity. Mithraism stopped existing by the end of the 4th century.
Baths of Caracalla History and Facts
The Baths of Caracalla were commissioned by Emperor Septimius Severus in the year 206 AD, and completed by his son, the synonymous Caracalla, in 216. The baths were designed to accommodate 1,600 visitors and were wildly popular among Roman citizens until they closed at the end of the 6th century. Today, the ruined baths are the largest of their kind, spanning an area of 230 by 115 metres.
Building the baths
Building the largest and most beautiful baths in Ancient Rome is no easy feat. Around 13,000 prisoners of war, from the Septimius Severus’ Scottish campaign, were used to level out the site for the Baths of Caracalla.
For the construction, around 6,000 tradesmen worked every day building the gigantic structure. This required about 21 million bricks! And that’s not the end. Next, 600 marble workers carved statues and decorations from 6,300 cubic metres of marble.
How would the Baths of Caracalla have looked in their day?
Good question! And the answer is, quite impressive. The original thermae featured three main bathing chambers, as well as some open-air swimming pools. The three chambers include the cold room, or frigidarium, the hot room, or caldarium, and the warm room, or tepidarium. A great hall sat between the cold and warm rooms, with a high vaulted ceiling and high windows. Sounds impressive, right?
Marble was used throughout the original Caracalla Baths. At the same time, mosaics, sculptures, frescoes, and other kinds of ancient decoration embellished the interiors. The magnificent baths were a place for Romans to come and relax – a kind of luxury health spa, in today’s terms.
Inspiring modern architecture
Lots of more contemporary architects have used the Baths of Caracalla as inspiration for their work. Renaissance designers took the influence of their lofty structure. Similarly, 20th-century firm McKim, Mead & White replicated elements of the baths in New York’s 1910 to 1964 Pennsylvania Station.
Restaurants, bars, and shops near the Baths of Caracalla
A little to the south of Rome, the Baths of Caracalla benefit from proximity to lots of excellent eateries slightly off the beaten track. You can find plenty of great shopping in the area too! Let’s dive in and explore some of the best.
The best restaurants near the Baths of Caracalla
- Vi&Mi Aventino – for traditional Italian food and a great atmosphere
- Ristorante la Renardiere – a classic French bistro
- Ristorante Da Orazio a Caracalla – for traditional Roman food and a garden setting
- Elleniko – for a quick and tasty Greek bite
- Apuleius – an intimate spot with classical décor and fantastic food
- La Fata Ignorante – for excellent Italian food and a sleek yet cosy atmosphere
- Romolo e Remo – for an authentic Roman experience
- Paraponzipo Er Pagnottellaro – for delicious fresh sandwiches
- La Villetta dal 1940 – a laidback spot for traditional Roman food
- Gran Caffe Rossi Martini – for perfect Italian food in a memorable setting
If you feel like wandering around the area and finding a spot to eat, go for it! There are lots of great restaurants around, so chances are you’ll stumble upon something tasty.
The best bars near the Baths of Caracalla
After visiting the Baths of Caracalla, particularly if you head there at night, you might be in the mood for a drink or two. There are lots of great bars in the area, so you can stop for refreshment without travelling back to the city centre. If you do want to get back, simply hop on a bus or Metro and be among the hustle and bustle in no time.
- Bar Brunori Caffè e Vinile – an intimate bar and vinyl shop, perfec for music-lovers
- So Good! – an easygoing spot for a quick drink and a sandwich
- Yellow Bar Aventino – a relaxing spot with a great drink selection
- L’Oasi della Birra – translates to ‘the beer oasis’ with a terrace or cellar for drinkers
- La Civetta sul Comò – a friendly spot with lots of games to enjoy
- Merulana Café – an atmospheric bar perfect for anytime
Shopping near the Baths of Caracalla
While there aren’t any significant shopping areas close to the Baths of Caracalla, you might find an independent spot to pick up a treasure. If you’re in the mood for a little retail therapy after your visit, consider heading to Via Appia Nuova. You’ll be around half an hour’s walk away, while you can hop on a bus and get there in 15.
Via Appia Nuova is a bustling Roman street packed with commercial shops. This is a very residential area, not really touched by the city’s tourism, so you can find some real gems here. From discount to high end, there’s something for everyone. This is where real Romans hang out, so you’re sure to find a great spot. When you’re ready to head back to your base, whether it’s in the historical centre or elsewhere, you can find lots of convenient buses and Metro stops in the area. Try Furio Camillo or Ponte Lungo.
Opening Times and Ticket Prices
The Baths of Caracalla are open from 09:00 every day until around an hour before sunset. This varies throughout the months, with the attraction staying open later in the summer and closing a little earlier in winter. The Caracalla Baths are open year-round except for Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and the 1st of May, which is a traditional Italian holiday. This means you can plan your visit anytime!
Visiting the Baths of Caracalla at night
Nighttime visits run from August to early October, with the first slot available at 08:00. Each tour will last around 75 minutes. If you want to visit the Baths of Caracalla at night, we recommend booking ahead. While you can just show up on your chosen night and will often get a ticket, your entry won’t be guaranteed. If you want to be sure, and also select the time of your visit to suit your plans, head online and reserve your spot.
A night visit will cost €20, which is more than a daytime alternative. However, this ticket includes a guide and tour of the Mithraeum.
How much does it cost to visit the Baths of Caracalla?
These are the most recent ticket prices for a visit to the Baths of Caracalla. Remember, prices can vary depending on what you choose. For example, you might like to join in a guided tour or pick up an audio guide, which will cost a little more.
EU Citizens (age 18-25)
Children (under 18)
Whatever your reasons for heading to Rome, whether you’re visiting on business or for a leisurely break, there’s plenty to see and do. Visiting the Baths of Caracalla is just one of the exciting historical experiences you can enjoy. From the iconic Colosseum and Pantheon to lots of beautiful squares and piazzas, there are plenty of spots to add to your itinerary.