Rome is the Capital City of beautiful Italy and has also quickly become one of Europe’s top destinations to visit. With its stunning architecture, art and history dating back 3,000 years, there is no better place to embrace yourself into a new culture. Rome will be by far, one of the most historic cities you will explore. Rome can easily be split into two halves.
The first half being the Vatican City and St. Peters Square and the second half being the Trevi fountain, the Pantheon, the Basilica, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. This is always something to consider when deciding where to stay and how to plan your days. Stay tuned because I’m going to give you all the best recommendations and how you can make the most out of your Italian experience!
FUN FACT: Modern Rome has 280 fountains and more than 900 churches.
Who to fly with?
Several airlines will fly directly into Rome, prices ranging from the airline as well as the time of year you are thinking of visiting Italy. Delta and Alitalia are two of the largest airlines flying directly to Rome and are in partnership with Air France and KLM. There are two main airports to fly to in Rome, Fiumicino and Ciampino, both international airports in Italy. If you are coming from the US or Canada, then you will fly into Fiumicino. However, those coming from Europe or elsewhere will have the option between the two airports in Rome. When choosing between the two, Ciampino is the smaller airport and can sometimes be quicker to get through security; however, the con is that this is not an airport for duty-free designer stores!
Where to stay?
Deciding on where to stay in Rome can come down to many factors. It is important to look at your preferences and what you are coming to Rome to do as well as your budget when it comes to accommodation. Staying in the heart of Rome’s historical Center is extremely popular amongst Italy’s first-timers because of its convenience. Here, you will be able to travel on foot to many of Rome’s historic sites without needing to take Italy’s public transportation. The only downside is it also tends to be the most expensive of places to stay! Popular areas in Rome’s historic centre include;
- Pantheon; Hotels, churches, and restaurants lie here. No metro stops but plenty of taxi stands.
- Piazza Navona; Hotels, churches, restaurants, and squares. There are also no metro stops here but taxi stands. I highly recommend coming here for dinner in the evenings, and it’s a spot where all the locals hang out and absolutely beautiful with the uplighters.
- The Spanish Steps; A high-end area with lots of shopping and top hotels. Typically on the upper range budget.
- Via Veneto; A lovely area with hotels, cafes and a modern feel compared to other areas of Rome. Here you’ll find a bus route as well as a metro stop close by.
- Termini; One of the cheaper areas to stay. There is also the convenience of the train station and several metro stops.
FUN FACT: You may see many wild cats can be climbing the walls of the Colosseum, and sleeping among the ruins of the Forum.
When is the best time to visit Rome?
Typically, Spring is the best time to visit Rome for sightseeing and if possible, visiting Italy outside of the Easter weekend is even better! Mid-March to April is the perfect time to see Italy at its best as you’ll be blessed with warm temperatures that are bearable to walk around in and the crowds won’t be at their peak yet! Another great time would be September to November as the summer heat would be out of the way, cooling back down to bearable temperatures. Typically, I would advise not to travel to Rome during August as this is when the tourist population in Italy would be at its highest. If you really want to get that authentic Italian feel, then August may not be the best time to travel to Rome.
How to get around Rome
You’ll be surprised to know that public transport in Rome is cheap and user-friendly! Once you are in Rome, you can take the Metro, Bus, Tram, urban Railway, and Taxi’s to a number of different locations.
- The metro system; It only has 3 lines and is one of the smallest in Europe, but it still reaches some top landmarks!
- Bus; This is by far the most convenient way for tourists to make their way around Rome. There are over 350 bus lines. 338 buses run throughout the day and 22 buses are running throughout the night.
- Tram; The tramlines are an excellent way to get around and run to several different areas of Rome, the only downfall being that they don’t go into the centre of Rome! None of the lines takes you to any specific tourist attraction so if you’re looking to get lost with the locals, then, by all means, take a tram and see where you end up! Some of the best adventures are the unplanned ones!
- Urban Railway; Made up of three lines. From a tourists perspective, the most useful line would be the Lido as it takes you to Ostia Antica. Ostia Antica was once the harbour city of ancient Rome and is now an archaeological site.
Check out Rome Transportation for ticket prices and schedules.
FUN FACT: The Ostia Antica was an abandoned town, buried for over ten centuries until it was discovered.
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Must see Landmarks
Get your walking boots on and strap them up tight because you’ll definitely be getting your steps in while in Italy. The places below are unmissable landmarks and only a fraction of what Italy has to offer, some of the most beautiful buildings in the world residing in Rome.
- Pantheon; A former Roman temple, now a church with historic tombs
- Colosseum; An oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome and the largest ever built.
- Trevi Fountain; An 18th Century sculpted fountain designed by Nicola Salvi. Grab a penny and make a wish!
- Roman Forum; A vast area of Roman Temples, squares and government buildings dating back to over 2,000 years ago. You can spend hours walking around the Roman Forum so make sure you wear comfortable shoes and take lots of water!
- Peters Basilica; A church which can hold up to 20,00 worshippers, built by architects including Michelangelo.
- Sistine Chapel; The official residence of the pope, in Vatican City. Best known for its painted ceiling. An absolute must see!
- Palatine Hill; Is one of the most ancient parts of the city with Roman ruins for all those history lovers.
- Spanish Steps; A set of steps built in the 18th Century, with a cute design and beautiful architecture. Warning; they can get VERY busy! Get there early in the day to avoid the crowds.
Walking around the city
You can prebook tickets for Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, which are all within a 5-minute walk of each other. The Roma Pass is popular amongst tourists as it gives you access to all three for two days! Queues often take around 15 minutes to get through. I would recommend doing these three sites in the morning, having lunch, and then walking from there to the next destination to spend the afternoon walking the streets and seeing Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Basilica.
Walking around Rome instead of taking a taxi to each of the sites is something I can’t stress enough! When you turn a corner you honestly never know what ancient building you are going to stumble across without even meaning to! Something you would never have seen in a taxi.
Rome is stunning both day and night. The city has spotlights and lamps scattered around which allows the statues and monuments to be lit up at night. One thing I want to mention is when visiting the tourist attractions, they can get swamped and prone to pickpockets. So keep your bags close to you and no valuable items hanging out your back pockets!
FUN FACT: Every night at the Trevi Fountain about 3,000 Euros are swept up from the bottom of the basin. The money is donated to Caritas, a Catholic charity, who uses the money to provide services for needy families in Rome.
Eating in Rome
Does anybody go to Italy and not try their pizza or pasta?
- Head to PizzaRe or Pizza al Tagio for the best pizza you will ever try!
- Imago is a fine dining restaurant in a prestigious hotel called Hassler. With delicious Italian food and a fabulous wine list, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
If you are by the Pantheon then check out Armando Al Pantheon, an authentic family run restaurant. They sell plenty of fish dishes and vegetarian meals!
For more lunch type foods check out Roscioli which is described as the ‘ultimate Roman deli-restaurant’ in Campo de’ Fiori. A food shop with tables. You can customise your deli to your tastebuds by choosing your fillings at the counter.
But the best area for having dinner in Rome is Trastevere. Here you’ll find many different small Italian restaurants, Trastevere has a typical relaxing vibe. It doesn’t even feel like you’re in one of the busiest cities in the world.
It’s even possible to book a wine tasting tour throughout the Trastevere area.
Dining and relaxation in Trastevere, it feels more like you’re having dinner in a small Italian village.
No trip to Italy is complete without Gelato. My biggest tip is to find somewhere that makes REAL gelato with REAL ingredients. That’s the stuff you’re after! Some amazing homemade gelato stops, with incredible flavours, are; Neve di Latte, Otaleg, Ciuccula, Venchi, Cambiovita, and the Giolitti.
Where do the locals go?
Now we all want to see the touristy stuff when we visit a new City, but then sometimes we forget about the authentic stuff! If you have some spare time on your trip to Rome or this is your second trip to Italy, so you’re looking for something different to do, check out these non-touristy activities.
- Became a real Italian and hop on the back of a Vespa to explore Rome’s street art. You can book a tour or drive around by yourself!
- Learn to make your own Italian pasta in Rome! Near Trevi Fountain, you can take your own Pasta Making course
- If you are after an authentic taste of local produce, then head to Rome’s food market at Testaccio, which is common amongst locals!
- Hire a bike and ride through the Roman countryside. The Ancient Appian Way is absolutely stunning to ride along.
- The Coppede district is the definition of a fairytale. Grab your camera because you’ll for sure want to snap some great photos of the buildings, piazzas, and fountains that reside here.
Getting the best out of your Italian experience
Don’t miss out on…
Saying Hi to the POPE!
The audience with the pope is on Wednesday’s, which is an incredible experience in Rome but very BUSY! The pope will say hello from his window at noon on Sunday, which will usually have a lot fewer people attending if you want to avoid those crowds.
There is a stunning hotel called Residenza Paolo VI which has a rooftop bar overlooking St. Peters Square. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, it is a gorgeous place to pop in for a drink to relax and take in the magnificent views!
FUN FACT: Women in ancient Rome dyed their hair with goat fat and beech wood ashes. Red and blonde were the most popular colors.
If you are heading to Italy, then I wish you the most AMAZING time, and I hope that you found this guide helpful for all the best recommendations. If you have any other suggestions or questions, then please comment below because I would love to hear from you about your own experience and thoughts on Rome!