Comprehensive practical travel guide to Rome. Rome tips and tricks, must see attractions and insights from a local to help you plan your first trip to Rome.
Planning a first trip to Rome can be a daunting task. Even if you already know what you want to see and not-to-miss attractions, how to actually go about creating an itinerary and how to negotiate a city notoriously big and chaotic can be a bit of a stress.
If you add to this the voices on the web about pickpockets and poor English Italians are known to speak, it will come as no surprise that Rome is often debate in travel groups and tips for planning a trip are requested daily.
And so we come to this post. If you follow this blog, you may know already that Rome is my hometown and that I am passionate about showing off the best of it to anyone visiting.
I give tips on how to visit Rome on social media almost daily and finally I decided to put them all together in this first timers’ guide to Rome
With this guide, I help you plan your Rome trip with information on when to go, what to see, where to get tickets, what not to do in Rome and I add many tidbits of useful practical information that will make your stay easier.
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Ready to plan your trip to Rome? Let’s go!
Planning a trip to Rome: before you go
I have organised this post in several sections, from info you need when you start planning your trip to Rome to some tricks that will be more relevant once you are in the city.
For ease of access, you can bookmark this post or you can use this image to pin it on Pinterest and come back to it any time you like.
Rome tip 1: Choose the best season
Rome can be visited all year round but there is no doubt that some seasons are better than others.
Visiting Rome in spring
The best time to visit Rome for the first time is the spring. At these time, the weather is pleasant, mostly dry and the city sparkles under bright skies, dressed up in blossoms (March to May).
The city is busy at this time, especially if you come during the Easter break, so advance booking of accommodation and attractions is mandatory
This is not a particularly warm time of the year and you will not find yourself wearing shorts of full on summer dresses.
However, you will likely be in short sleeves during the warmest part of the day and you will not need a winter coat: a light mi season jacket is more than enough.
Visiting Rome in the fall
The fall is also a great time of the year to visit Rome, equally pleasant as the spring. At this time the city is bright and dry and experiences what Romans call the ‘Ottobrate Romane’, bright and warm autumnal days perfect for excursions and sightseeing.
At this time, you will need a light jacket and scarf and you may get chilly evenings but are usually still able to enjoy al fresco dining especially at lunchtime.
Visiting Rome in summer
The worst time of all to visit Rome is the summer. July and August are hot and sticky, mosquitoes reign supreme and locals are scarce: at this time, Romans escape to their air conditioned offices or the coast and the city is full of tourists.
This is a truly unpleasant time to visit the city and that responsible of so many bad review of the city from the unlucky ones who go caught in the city’s relentless sun.
If you can, come to Rome at a different time or take precautions against the heat. Pick a hotel with a pool if budget allows and do plan most of your sightseeing for the late afternoon / evening.
Visiting Rome in winter
Winter in Rome is hit and miss. The temperature usually stays above zero so it is not a very cold winter but the city is humid and the feeling is much colder than what the thermometer suggests.
Your biggest enemy in winter in Rome is the short daylight: many attractions close early in winter so make sure you check beforehand if you are planning to cram a lot into each day.
Despite this warnings, winter is not a bad time to visit the city. If you avoid the super busy Christmas weeks (if so,read our guide to Christmas in Rome here) you will find lower crowds at this time and this makes for a more authentic experience of the city.
Make sure you plan some indoor entertainment in winter as you will want to hide inside regularly while sightseeing in Rome in winter.
Rome Tip 2: Have the right documents with you (at all times)
Rules about the documents necessary to enter Italy vary depending on your nationality and mode of arrival and the best way is to get information is to contact your Italian embassy or consulate a few months before departure.
Once you have your documents, make sure you make a copy of all of them so you have a backup should they get lost, stolen or damaged.
This is important on all travels but more so in Italy due to the specific rules about ID (see below)
Additional documents you may need
If you are traveling to Italy alone with a child, make sure that on top of the usual passport and visa requirements you get up to date information on the documents needed to enter and leave the country with a minor.
I regularly travel alone with my kids and since they have a different surname than me I am regularly asked to show the birth certificate that states I am there mother.
While, at present, a notarized letter signed by the other parent authorizing the trip is not needed (it is in other European countries) do keep an eye out for updated rule as this is something that might change in the near future and at short notice.
Make copies of everything
Once you have all your documents, make sure you make a copy of them and bring it with you to Rome.
In Italy, it is compulsory to have ID on you at all times: if you do not want to have your original passport on you while sightseeing, make sure you have at least a readable copy of it.
No special or additional documents are needed to visit the Vatican since there is no border control between Italy and the Holy see.
Rome Tip 3: Book accommodation in a convenient area
Rome is a very popular destination and if you don’t want to get stuck with above average prices or below standard accommodation, I recommend you book a room the moment you know you will be going to the city.
I personally love using booking.com: they have excellent cancellation options which means you can book a room even before the trip is confirmed and, worse case, you can just cancel (read the small print on each room though as the free cancellation is not on all!)
I also recommend you choose accommodation in the city center. While this might mean a higher cost, for your first trip to Rome staying in the center will be invaluable.
I would select accommodation around the following landmarks.
Staying near the Pantheon
The Pantheon is an iconic building right in the center of Rome, in the area famous for cobbled streets and hidden churches.
Staying here is a treat. A hotel in this location will put you in one of the most beautiful areas of Rome, it will guarantee you are close to most of the main Rome must see sights and will give you easy access to a plethora of local restaurants bars and cafes in the area.
The cost of accommodation here can be high but do not assume it is impossible if you don’t have a five star budget.
Check out Le Clarisse al Pantheon as an example of, usually, reasonable cost and quality of accommodation in the area.
Staying near Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful and famous piazzas in the city and one not to be missed.
Grand and scenic it sits in the center of a maze of charming streets: staying here puts you in the center of the action, close to all Rome’s main sites and with easy access to the Vatican too, on the other side of the river.
Staying here is guarantee of a magical stay, especially if you can afford one luxury hotels in the area such as the Hotel Raphael (Relais & Châteaux).
Staying near the Spanish Steps / Trevi fountain
If you are going to Rome looking for glamour and romance, then look no further than the area around the Spanish steps.
Piazza Di Spagna is gorgeous, it is beside famous Via Condotti, known for its designer ateliers, at it is the home of some of Rome’s most elegant hotels such as the
If you are looking for rooftop restaurants and budget is not an issue, this is the area for you. Check out Hotel Hassler (5 stars) for a luxury stay in an incredible location in Piazza di Spagna or Palazzo Scandebrbeg (holiday apartment) for a stay near Trevi
Staying near Colosseum /Monti
Very central and very different form the area above, a lovely place to stay in Rome is the area of Monti.
Located just at the back of the Colosseum, The Monti district is an old neighborhood with hip and dusty charm.
In this location, you are close to everything and can walk to Rome’s main landmarks and you are also within easy reach of the train station.
This is a lovely area for couples especially and has some nice boutique hotels such as the Fifteen keys.
Some of the streets closest to the Colosseum and forum are also home to gorgeous elegant hotels such as Palazzo Manfredi.
This is an area with hotels at several price points and can be handy for many types of travelers.
Staying in Trastevere
Not in the center of Rome as such but just on the other side of the river the area of Trastevere can be a good choice for first time traveler.
If you choose a hotel close enough to the river you are very close to Rome main sights but you are also in the heart of one of Rome’s most vibrant neighborhoods.
This is a great place especially for travelers who enjoy going out in the evening: Trastevere is famous for its many unpretentious restaurants and has some of the best food in the city.
Rome Tip 4: Book attractions
The next thing to book early while planning a trip to Rome is attractions.
You do not need to pre-book everything in Rome but some must see sights do require advance booking and do book out fast.
The main one I recommend to book is the Colosseum and the second one is the Vatican.
In both cases my recommendation is to book directly with the attraction to get the lowest price: they both offer reserved entrance tickets which mean you won’t have to go through the long queue at the ticket counter.
if you want to visit the Borghese gallery, make sure you get your booking in early: while not as busy as the other two, the gallery only operated with pre-booked entrance.
If you want to make sure you get your spot on the day and time most convenient to you, advance booking is mandatory.
If you think you will see many paid attractions in one or two days, you may want to consider a Rome discount pass or card.
They are not often worth it but can be a good purchase for museum heavy itineraries: you can check what they include here.
Rome Travel tip 5: Make a basic itinerary
One of the best things to do in Rome is to allow yourself to get lost in its charming city center.
However, since you need to make bookings to at least some of the attractions, it is worth having even just a basic itinerary to help you make sure you have the time to see what you want at a reasonable pace.
To help you pan, here are some sample Rome itineraries I put together:
Itinerary 1: Rome in one day. Perfect for the time poor visitor who needs to make the most of just one day in Rome but wants to see the main sites.
Itinerary 2: Rome in 3 days. Perfect for the first time visitor who wants to see the main sites at a reasonable pace. This is a useful itinerary also for longer stays since it will show you most of Rome without leaving you exhausted.
Itinerary 3: Rome in 4 days. Full itinerary to cover not just Rome must see sites but also additional areas and museums you cannot reach with shorter stays.
Itinerary 4: 5 days Rome itinerary for families. Full itinerary with step by step schedule for families visiting Rome with kids. This itinerary was first published on my Rome with kids site: if you have kids, follow the link and snoop around there – there are a lot of information about Rome for families!
Rome Packing tips: Rome essentials
When it’s time to pack your bags, there are two main thing to remember about Rome and that apply to all travelers not matter their age or budget or taste.
In Rome you need comfortable walking shoes and church appropriate dresses. Let me explain why and then list a few other must have items
Great walking shoes
In Rome you will find yourself walking extensively. It is standard for travelers to Rome to clock in over 20.000 steps a day and this means a good pair of shoes is paramount!
The best ones to choose are those with a rubber sole that cushions the impact on the hard street surface and those you have already properly broken in. You can find a list of my favorite here.
I am a huge fan of sneakers in Rome. I wear them all the time and highly recommend them to anyone. This may surprise you as you may have heard that Italians don’t really wear sneaker but this is not correct!
Italians do wear sneakers but they do choose certain types over others. While we do not use actual runners as day wear (you know the high sole, bright white or fluorescent type you wear in the gym) we do wear fashion sneakers.
The only exception to this rule is for travelers over 50 or so: it is unusual for women and men over 50 to wear sneakers and in that case shoes such as camper and ecco styles work best.
High heels, especially thin ones, are not common in Rome: lower heels, chunky ones, wedges and ballerinas are your best friend to dress up for an elegant dinner in Rome.
Modest clothing for visiting churches: Rome churches dress code
The other items you must have in your Rome packing lists are sensible and modest tops and bottoms that will make you appropriate for visiting churches.
Churches in Italy, as you may have heard, have a dress code and especially in Rome’s basilicas and bigger churches this is enforced.
In many cases, the dress code is quite vague, stating that you need to be ‘appropriate’ but since appropriate may be dependent on cultural background, some of them such as the Vatican issued a full dress code to abide by.
This includes the following rules:
- Shoulders must be covered at all times (men and women).No string tops are allowed, not even in the height of summer. If hopping into a church on a very hot say, a shawl around your shoulders is sufficient. Usually the are not available to borrow at the entrances: make sure you have one on you.
- No crop tops exposing your belly nor deep cut tops (front and back)
- No shorts (men and women) or mini skirts. All shorts and skirts need to be below the knee. In the Vatican, wrapping a shawl around your hips to cover your legs is not enough, while it is sometimes acceptable for smaller and lesser visited churches.
- While flip flops are not banned as such, they are frowned upon. Other types of sandals are OK.
- Rules for young kids are more lax but the more you can get them to abide by these rules, the smaller the risk of being asked to leave or refused entrance.
Is the church dress code enforced? Yes. In the Vatican and main basilicas it is regularly enforced while in smaller churches less so. If you are not dressed for the visit, the risk of being turned away is high.
A good crossbody bag
I recommend all travelers to bring a crossbody bag as main purse for Rome. This type of bag is handy for the extra bits you will need to carry (the shawl and copy of documents mentioned above are the perfect example) and is it the best way to deter pickpockets.
Avoid backpacks or any bag without a zip or proper cosign system.
While I do not believe you need a full on anti theft bag for Rome, a good crossbody one you can keep close to your body and clutch on the bus will go a long way to protect your stuff.
I always feel ill at easy recommending travelers to carry cash but in Rome you do need to have some on you. Credit and debit cards are accepted (check which ones before departure) but you cannot make small purchases by card or pay a taxi ride.
I recommend you always have small cash on you such as 5 euro notes, 10 and 20. Anything bigger than that may pose problems in smaller shops and is an amount you do not want to flash.
I recommend getting a small cash purse that you keep handy in your crossbody bag for all daily purchases.
A refillable bottle of water
Water is abundant and free in Rome but so is garbage! To save money and to help reducing the rubbish problem in Rome, always carry with you a refillable water bottle and make the most of Romes’ small fountains to fill it up. They are peculiar to the city and the water is delicious!
Phone charger and spare battery
In Rome, chances are you are going to use your phone a lot, wither to take photos, show booking confirmations or to check google maps.
This last activity in particular is likely to drain your battery (google often gets lost in Rome!) so having a charger with you and a spare battery pack is paramount
This one only applies to the warmer months of the year but do not let yourself get caught unprepared: Rome’s mosquitoes are viscous!
They do not carry illnesses as such but they are a nuisance and they can cause itchy allergic reactions and they bite day and night, making their attack relentless. Get a good repellent that your skin tolerates to be your body armor!
Once in Rome: getting around
After all the preparation you are in Rome so, let’s dig into how to make your way around the city!
How to get from Rome airport to your hotel
Rome has two airports: Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci (FCO) and Ciampino (CIA). If traveling from the US or on an intercontinental flight you are most likely to arrive in Fiumicino while low cost flights such as Ryanair land in Ciampino.
Fumicino is the biggest and better organised of the two while Ciampino is small and exactly what you expect a Ryanair aiport to be.
From Fiumicino, you can reach your hotel in 3 main ways:
- The train, namely the Leonardo express from inside the airport to Rome Termini
- The bus, Terravision (cheapest)
- A taxi, white official ones stop outside the terminal
From Ciampino, you can reach Rome by:
- Bus, Terravision (cheapest)
- Or taxi (same as above: white official ones stop outside the terminal)
Rome on foot
The best way to discover Rome is to embrace walking. The city has a large center but the main attractions are surprisingly close to each other, with few exceptions.
To give you an idea of distances:
- The Colosseum and the forum are beside each other, a 5 minute walk to the Campidoglio hill and a little over 10 minutes on foot to the Trevi fountain.
- The Pantheon, Spanish steps and Trevi fountains are short walking distance from each other.
- Pantheon, Piazza Navona and Campo de’ fiori area walking distance from each other
- The Vatican is the farthest away from the other sites and can be reached in about 25 minuets walk from Piazza Navona (I recommend you get a bus to get there)
Rome by bus, tram and metro
Rome has an extensive network of buses, trams and metros and they can come in handy if you find yourself having to cover larger distances.
However, using public transport in Rome can be stressful and I recommend only doing so if you are not in a terrible rush and you do not find yourself trying to board at the busiest time.
Rome buses can get awfully crowded and if you are not used to them, they are downright unpleasant!
If you do use them, you need to book tickets in advance and then stamp them once you get on board.
Rome by car
I am going to be categorical here: do not drive in Rome! I am saying this not much because of the traffic itself but because of some of the peculiarities of Rome mobility.
First, Rome city center is closed to non-permit holders (this is called a ZTL, an area with limited access) and you will be wither refused entrance or be fined should you find yourself inside it illegally.
This happens regularly and is the reason why many people receive charges on their car rental months after they return home: it is usually a fine!
The other thing is parking Parking in Rome is a nightmare and driving here will most likely mean you will spend endless hours just looking for a spot.
Driving in Rome is simply not worth it!
Top things to see in Rome
Now that we have covered some of the most immediate practical tips for visiting Rome, let’s move on to sight seeing!
The list of things to see in Rome is honestly endless: they say a life is not enough to see Rome and I embrace this idea fully!
However, there is no doubt that some sites are more appealing to others to the first time visitors: these are my top things to see in Rome.
The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
All my Rome itineraries start with a visit to ancient Rome and I believe there is no better way to kick off your Rome stay than with a visit to the Colosseum and surrounding area.
The Colosseum and forum are beside each other and they have a combined tickets allowing entrance to both.
If you can, start your day with a visit inside the Colosseum (check here my recommendation on how to book and what tours to get) and then take a stroll inside the forum.
Finish your morning climbing up the higher part of the complex, to the top of the Palatine hill: the view from here is stunning.
Time needed: about 3 hours.
A few minutes down the road from the Colosseum is the Campidoglio Hill, one of the ancient 7 hills of Rome. Here you have a stunning traffic free piazza by Michelangelo, access to the the famous Capitoline Museums and a stunning view over the forum.
Time needed: about 15 minutes (without the museums).
The Pantheon is one of the most peculiar and iconic buildings in Rome and one I recommend everyone to visit.
My favorite part of it is actually the outside, which is unique and very impressive with immense columns and a peculiar roof, but a visit inside is worth too (it is also free).
The main thing that catches people’s attention here is the big hole in the roof. It is there by design and despite what many people say it does let rain in! This is why you see on the Pantheon floor the holes for draining water away.
Time needed: about 20 minutes
Piazza Navona and Piazza Campo de fiori
Rome is famous for its stunning piazzas and two you cannot miss are Piazza Navona and Piazza Campo de’ Fiori. They sit at the two sides of Corso Vittorio, in Rome city center and they are very different from each other but worth a visit.
Piazza Navona is grand and scenic and has some of the most important sculptures in the city (check our Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi) while Campo del Fiori is busy, dusty and now full of eateries and small cafes.
Time needed: about 30 minutes if you stop at the main fountain and church in Piazza Navona.
St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican
The Vatican is technically a separate state but since it is inside Rome it cannot not make this list! A visit to the Vatican is a must do in Rome and this is true also for those who don’t have a religious connection with the place: is it that beautiful!
The main thing to decide when visiting the Vatican is if you want to see the St Peters’ square only, the square and the basilica or the square, basilica and museums.
If you only visit the square, little or no preparation is requires while the basilica and museum require proper planning. You can read how to get tickets and limit the lines here.
Time needed: 15 minutes to 4 hours depending on sights chosen
Piazza di Spagna and Trevi
The Spanish steps and the Trevi fountain are among the most famous and photogenic stops in the whole of Rome and they are both worth a visit.
They are free attractions and part of their charm is that you just stumble upon them as you stroll around the city.
The main thing to know about these two sites is that they get very very busy during the day, Trevi in particular, if you can, plan a stop here early in the morning or, even better, in the evening when the city lights are on.
Borghese gallery and park
Rome has some stunning museums and one of the most famous is the beautiful Borghese gallery, inside the park by the same name (Villa Borghese).
A visit to this gallery is a must do for art lovers as the collection is truly impressive. After a visit, make sure you take time time to stroll around the park: head to the small Borghese pond for a coffee in elegant surroundings.
Trastevere is the area of Rome across the river Tiber (Tevere in Italian) from the historic center and is a place of great charm. For the longest time it was considered the ‘real Rome’ in terms of character but tourism has discovered it a long time ago so it is not exactly a hidden gem!
However, this does not mean it is not worth a visit. Trastevere is a lovely area of Rome and one I would recommend to spend a full afternoon and evening exploring.
Check out Santa Maria in Trastevere for amazing mosaics and then enjoy Rome food in one of the restaurants here: Trastever is known to have some of the best pizza in Rome!
Castel Sant’Angelo doesn’t always feature on visitors’ itineraries but it is a wonderful place to visit if you have the time to add it to your day.
What is special here is the history of the place and the spectacular view you get from the top!
It is just beside the Vatican (it is connected to it by the so called passetto) and you can easily add it to your day there, especial if you opted to skip the museums in favor of exploring the area.
San Luigi dei Francesi
Rome has many stunning churches and this list could go on and on until I reach probably a grand total of over 100 of them worth visiting if not more!
Instead of doing that, I will end my list of top 10 things to do in Rome with one church in particular which has something special inside: a Caravaggio!
Rome has many churches with impressive art but this one is very easy to reach from piazza Navona and therefore a good one to start with.
Others are San Pietro in Vincoli with a Moses by Michelangelo and Santa Maria della Vittoria which hosts Bernini’s ‘Estasi di Santa Teresa’
Other experiences to have in Rome
All the Rome attractions above will give you a good sense of what monumental Rome is all about but to really experience the city there are many more things to seek out.
Experiences you should have in Rome are:
Take a food tour
Rome has amazing food that goes well beyond pizza and traditional Italian staples such as lasagna. I have a list of things to try farther down in this article but if you can, do take a food tour to experience them all!
Many of the tours happen in local areas you are unlikely to see otherwise and they give you an insight in the very peculiar culinary history of Rome, such as the important role of the Rome Jewish community.
Watch the sunset
Rome is built on 7 hills and some of them are now wonderful vantage points to watch the sun go down on Rome’s rooftops and domes. Among my favorite, there are the Giardino degli Aranci, on the Aventine hill, and Terrazza Caffarelli which is on the Capitolium.
A wonderful viewpoint is also the mid terrace of the Vittoriano which offers wonderful views over the forum and the Colosseum.
Have good coffee
Rome has great coffee and some its coffee establishments come with a peculiar history worth seeking out!
One of them is the coffee shop in Sant’Eustachio which is deemed to be the best in Rome.
You can find information on where to find it and learn the history behind Sant’Eustachio here.
If you love shopping, Rome can be a bit of a treat! While not as famous for fashion as let’s say Milan, Rome has many shops to suit most budgets.
If you are into designer clothes and labels, the place to go in Rome is elegant Via dei Condotti. This is the street connecting Via del Corso with Piazza di Spagna and has most of the designer ateliers in the city. This is a great place for high end shopping and window shop!
Shoppers with a high street budget are also well catered for in Rome:via del Corso is one popular high street shops location and you find many more independent and international labels in the area of Prati, not far from the Vatican (Via Cola di Rienzo, for instance).
If you love vintage, a place that has grown in appeal in the last few years is the area of Monti: here you have several vintage and independent shops and you also have Mercato Monti (Vintage market) at the weekend.
A very easy pleasure to partake of in Rome is to get aperitivo al fresco. Apertitivo is smaller here than in Milan, where you get pretty much a full meal with it, but is a great tradition for the pre-dinner hours.
You can choose between alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks and you can go as glam or as relaxed as you want. For high end experiences head to a rooftop terrace (they usually belong to hotels) or simply grab a seat in a local cafe and people watch.
Visit the protestant cemetery
Cemetery visits are not for everyone but, if you can, I highly recommend a visit to the so called protestant cemetery of Rome, or the ‘Non-catholic cemetery’ as it is officially called.
This is a small, beautiful, monumental cemetery with immense romantic charm and is at the back of one of Rome’s most peculiar building: Rome’s pyramid!
Seek out street art
Rome is famous for traditional art but this doesn’t mean that you do not find different types or artistic expression if you look for them!
Street art in particular exists in Rome and there are a few areas worth visiting just for it: Ostiense and Tor Marancia both come to mind as a must-see place for street art lovers.
Go off the beaten path
My last bit of advice gives away what I believe is something you should do in Rome: getting off the beaten path!
Rome is vast and many locations outside of the city center are worth a visit. For this overview, I will highlight two: the Coppede’ District, which has peculiar art deco architecture and Ostia Antica which is a wonderful archaeological park just outside the city.
Rome museums to visit
I know better than embarking into a long list of all museums in Rome (there are just too many) but I do think it is useful to give an overview of some I believe you may truly enjoy.
Aside from the Borghese Gallery and the Vatican museums mentioned above, you may want to consider:
Located in the center of Rome, on top of the Campidoglio, these museums are among the most famous in Rome and host a huge collections of sculptures and painting. If planning a visit, factor in a full morning.
Palazzo Massimo is one of my favorite museums in the whole of Rome and I highly recommend it if you are interested in ancient Roman times. Here you have beautiful sculptures and something truly special: Roman frescoes!
A very peculiar museum in Rome in Centrale Montemartini, which hosts an impressive art collection into what used to be an electric plant!
The museum is worth visiting for the collection itself (the statues and mosaics are stunning) but also for the peculiar visual impact of having the art in what used to be an industrial space.
If you are after a peculiar museum experience (and you are not afraid of heights!) you may enjoy a visit to the Roman houses under Palazzo Valentini.
The exhibition here bring you one floor below street level and allows you to visit ancient Roman Patrician houses.
The peculiarity of teh experience is that you walk above the houses on transparent Plexiglas (you are effectively a couple of meters above the floor, pretty scary!) and that a system of lights and virtual reality reconstructs how the houses used to look like.
A peculiar and interesting experience.
Useful Rome apps
Rome is not a particularly app friendly city (seriously, you don’t need much to enjoy it) however a few apps on your phone can come in handy.
- Google map: basic but a life saver, you will use it very often as you find your way through Rome!
- Atac: this is the public transport network app. It doesn’t always work but, when it does, it is good to get waiting times for the buses and find the nearest bus stop
- MyTaxi: taxis in Rome are few and far between and hailing one on the road hardly even works. Mytaxi allows to book them (and works much better than uber as the fares are metered)
What to eat in Rome
Rome has amazing food and so varied you can be as adventurous and as safe as you wish to be! I have a full Rome food guide here (with recommended addresses too) but let me recommend a couple of items here anyway:
Pizza: pizza is amazing in Rome, the city having a tradition for it almost as strong as Naples. Pizza in Rome tends to be thin and crispy: get the traditional round one for dinner and get the take away version of it called ‘pizza al taglio’ as quick take away lunch.
Suppli: fried rice balls with melting mozzarella in the center… need I say more? Usually ordered with pizza as a starter
Carbonara: famous worldwide but originally from here, Carbonara in Rome needs to be tasted to be believed. It has little to do with what you may have had abroad! taste the real thing and you will soon see why we Romans are pretty much evangelical about it.
Saltimbocca alla Romana: thin cuts of meat pan fried with sage and Parma ham: a specialty!
Gelato: ok, not a Rome specialty but something you cannot miss in Rome! Go to tried and tested gelato addresses for the best experience.
Fun fact! Did you know that Fettuccine Alfredo is a dish said to be born in Rome? Find the story and more fun facts about Italian food here.
Rome budget tips
Rome is not known for being a cheap city but there are several way to keep expenses low. Here some tips.
Seek out free attractions
Rome has a surprising amount of free attractions, some of which are also among the most famous sites in the city. Find here our list of the best free things to see in Rome for an overview
Plan your visit to include the first Sunday of the month
Many Rome museums are free the first Sunday of the month and this includes main attractions some as the Roman forum!
This is a wonderful opportunity to visit Rome on a budget although it also means some museums are very busy at this time: go at opening time to avoid the crowds.
Embrace bus journeys
I know I said above that bus travel in Rome is stressful but if you are on a budget, the bus is your best friend.
A standard ticket costs 1.50 euro at present and gives you unlimited bus and tram travel for 75 minutes. Much better than a taxi for budget conscious pockets!
You can find my guide to using public transport in Rome here.
Order ‘vino della casa’
In Rome, you don’t have to say no to wine just because you have little money. In many establishments you can order ‘vino della casa’ (house wine) which is usually of very decent quality and costs a fraction than a bottle.
Have your coffee at the bar
When you stop for coffee, you may notice that most cafes have tables but that they are empty, all the Italians crowded at the main bar.
There is a reason for this: in Rome, sit down coffee costs a lot more than one sipped at the bar!
The difference in price can be staggering and can quickly eat into your daily budget: be careful!
Rome with kids
If you are planning a visit to Rome with kids you may wonder how a city famous for at and cobbled streets fare when it comes to family friendliness.
indeed, Rome with kids can be a bit overwhelming but with the right tips it can also be a wonderful experience. You can find my full guide to visiting Rome with kids here and some of my best tips just below.
Mix sightseeing with kids friendly attractions
You do not need to give up sightseeing because of the kids but to limit tantrums you may want to mix standard attractions with some that are just for them.
Rome has a decent selection of them going from the zoo to children art classes and even a children museum:you can find a list of 50 things to do in Rome with kids here.
Stay in a family friendly area
A good hotel in a good area goes a long way to make a family stay easier. You can find a selection of my favorite Rome areas for a family stay here
Bring a stroller and a carrier
Do check our guide to visiting Rome with a toddler for other useful tips on visiting Rome as a young family.
Rome safety precautions
I am going to close this long article with some thoughts about Rome safety. I believe Rome is a lot safer than what many first time visitors expect but depending what you are used to some precautions are useful.
Don’t wander around alone at night
Maybe an obvious one but one that needs to be said: solitary streets at night in Rome should be avoided, especially if you are a woman.
While I often stroll in the city center with my husband even late at night, I am not at ease doing it alone or anywhere outside of the most popular streets and I advise against it.
Don’t leave your bag unattended
Again maybe an obvious one but something I see visitors do an awful lot: never ever leave your bag unattended.
Do not leave it on the chair beside you in a restaurants, do not drop it to hold a seat for your friend as you wait for them, do not dangle it from the back of your chair in restaurants overlooking a road.
Rome is not the jungle but unattended stuff gets snatched fast!
Careful who approaches you
A bit of a sweeping statement but in general, clutch your bag tight if you have someone suddenly bumping against you without apparent reason.
This is often a 2 people scam: the first one bumps against you and while you check they are ok another one snatches your purse.
Again, it is not the jungle but this is known to happen: a crossbody bag with a closed zip is usually enough to deter this trick
Don’t have your purse in your back pocket
Easy to understand, especially on buses or once you are familiar with the trick above. The easiest and safest type of bag for Rome, in my experience, is a crossbody bag. You can find a selection of my favorite crossbody bags for travel here.
Don’t flash gold or cash
Again, a rule that works in most travel situations but is exceptionally important in Rome. Dress up as you please but avoid gold bracelets and watches in crowded places.
Final notes on planning a trip to Rome
We are 7000 words into this guide and could go on for 7000 more! However, I believe at this point I have covered most of the first timers’ doubts about visiting Rome and have answered many Rome questions.
I do hope you have found this list guide to Rome and Rome tips and tricks useful. Safe travels!