The Best Ancient Ruins In Italy

Thanks to the ingenuity of the Etruscans, Greeks, and later the Romans themselves, there are plenty of Ancient Ruins to explore in Italy. The best–in my not so humble opinion– is the town of Ostia Antica. 

Just a 40 minute train ride outside of Rome, the Ancient city of Ostia Antica is a history nerds playground. In Pompeii, there are barriers that keep the public from exploring the ruins–getting too close.

It's the opposite in Ostia Antica. Everything is open for exploration. No sectioned off areas (not unless they are too dangerous to traverse). No plastic barriers between you and the stone. Heck, you could even climb up onto the tombs in the Necropolis if you wanted, though I would advice against this. Preservation is key to keeping cities like this open to the public, and destroying history just because you want a cute instagram photo is a major no-go.

The biggest selling point about Ostia Antica is how intact sections of the city are; specifically the apartment block (The House of Diana), the public latrines, the massive theatre, and the numerous warehouses that sit along the bank of where the Ancient Tiber river ran. The mosaics of the fish market are one of my favorite parts of the city too–though it is always the temples and shrines to the Gods and Goddesses that capture my attention. 

In Ostia there are also numerous explorable Roman baths where you can see the underground levels of the old spa-houses where slaves were worked to death to keep the temperature perfect for the Roman citizens.

You can still climb up the steps of the Capitolium. The view of the forum spread out beneath you: the Curia and Thermopilium. Who wouldn't want to run up the steps of an Ancient Temple to catch a view like the one below?

There are also a number of statues in Ostia. My favorite was of the winged Goddess Victory. In the museums, the most popular statue is of Psyche and Cupid embracing in mid air.

The city's history is also rife with intrigue. Multiple sackings (by pirates and later architects) makes the cluster of art at the site one-of-a kind, and as priceless as one would imagine the old port of Rome to be.

Another selling point for Ostia Antica is that the site is nowhere near as crowded as Pompeii, especially during peak seasons. When people think of Ancient Ruins in Italy they immediately picture Pompeii, but Ostia Antica is just as good, if not better, because of its location and ease of exploration.

While some of the fields are a bit overgrown, the abundance of vegetation just adds another layer to the city. I believe it added a touch of beauty to the Market Square where the Temple to Ceres stands (Greek Demeter).

Through the Ancient Roman history class I took whilst I was studying abroad in Rome we took two trips to Ostia Antica, and honestly it wasn't enough. The next time I make it to Rome I'll be visiting again, to roam through the columns, statues, and markets that make Ostia Antica so remarkable and unique.

Now of course this post was based off of my own opinion, but I'm curious as to what any of you think– been to both Ostia Antica and Pompeii? Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments down below:)

I'm off to the tropics tomorrow so if want to see more of my shenanigans follow me on Instagram and twitter.

Thanks For Reading!

34 Comments on “The Best Ancient Ruins In Italy

    • Thank you! Ostia is definitely my favorite place I’ve ever been in Italy, and though Pompeii is amazing, I’d go back to Ostia every day just because of how less crowded it is.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What gorgeous images! This is a wonderful post; I completely agree that destroying history by clambering over monuments is just ridiculous – all of the news about venice and tourists are so infuriating xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember not being that excited when I visited Pompeii last year…until I got there and was absolutely capivated!!! I wish I knew about Ostica Antica when I was there!! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ! Ostia is definitely my favorite place I’ve ever been in Italy, and though Pompeii is amazing, I’d go back to Ostia every day just because of how less crowded it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to have another Ostia fan!! The lack of crowds really is amazing, though I’ll never understand it. But I guess with Pompeii having such pomp and circumstance behind it it’s hard to beat.


    • Oh thank you so much. I don’t aim to be much of a photographer, but it does help that cell phones are getting so good these days.


    • Oh how fun! Very jealous. Enjoy your time in Italy πŸ™‚ Ostia is definitely an easy day or half day, or less honestly, little trip from Rome so I hope you do get to visit.


  4. I’ve never heard of Ostia Antica but I’ve been to Pompeii and Herculaneum and I definitely preferred Herculaneum! There was less to see but what was there just felt more involved! Will definitely have to give this place a visit, thank you! Do you happen to know how this town survived?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes if you liked the Herculaneum you’ll love Ostia! As to how it survived, like most of the ruins in Rome it was buried by vegetation and such, and its location was pretty well known since it was so close to Rome and so important at one time. Tsunamis and earthquakes kind of covered the city, but excavations really started in the late 19th century to unearth and restore the city.


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