In Rome, history is everywhere, from well-known monuments like the Colosseum to lesser-known treasures hidden beneath your feet. However, there is more to Rome than ancient history. Here are some essential tips for visiting Rome and getting the most out of ‘the eternal city’.
Where to stay in Rome
When you’re booking Rome accommodation, look at options located in areas near the places you will be exploring or close to public transport which can take you there. Have a look at shortcuts too, like the one we took below. If you venture into the outskirts of Rome to save money, be mindful to pick a safe neighbourhood. Looking at Google street view can give you an idea of what an area is really like.
Rome apartments with a view
If you don’t like climbing stairs, think twice before you book an apartment with views as these are usually at the top of old buildings with no lift. This is great for a workout but won’t suit every traveller, especially those who don’t pack light. Lugging heavy suitcases up five flights of stairs isn’t much fun when you’ve just come off a long international flight.
Use Google Earth
Being able to take a ‘virtual’ walk from the train station to the accommodation you’ve booked on Google Earth before you arrive will make it much less stressful to find on the day. This is especially true if you’re staying at an apartment or Airbnb as these can be even trickier to locate than a hotel.
Book some Rome tours
When you are setting out to discover any city, it’s always good to do a little research. Of course, you should allow time in any itinerary for some go-as-you-please days, but planning is essential if you want to tick off Rome’s major sights. If you are visiting spots like the Colosseum or the Vatican for the first time, book a tour or you’ll probably waste your day waiting in a queue before wandering around a ‘must see’ attraction that you don’t really understand the significance of.
Prebook entry tickets
Some tour tickets must be organised way in advance such as the popular (and excellent) Underground and Belvedere Tour of the Colosseum which can be booked via the official government website. We had our heart set on doing this tour and had to adjust the dates of our stay because it was already booked out on our preferred day three months before we were due to arrive. Don’t leave it too late or you could miss out!
Get into what is on in Rome
Have a look at websites like Romeing or Rome Eventful. These are great for finding one off sporting and cultural events, be it a Pink or Sting concert, the final of a big football match or the closing stage of the Giro d’Italia. It can also be worth asking your apartment or Airbnb host about their recommended activities or any upcoming events.
Find a quirky tour in Rome
Consider doing something out of the ordinary in Rome like a pizza making class or a Fiat 500 tour that will have you driving around the streets in a classic Fiat 500 car. If you are not into history, why not try something really different like a Rome graffiti art tour? There are plenty of offbeat tours that will have you enjoying the city from a new perspective.
Use Rome public transport
Familiarise yourself with the Rome metro map and fare structure and use Google to find out how to use the ticket machines at Rome’s stations. These are easy to use and have a variety of language options to choose from, including English. Downloading a ridesharing taxi app like MyTaxi is also a great idea. All of the taxi drivers we had were friendly and spoke excellent English, plus they had lots of hints and tips about what to see and do in Rome.
Stop somewhere touristy
Sit down at a café in a popular square or near one of the city’s most famous sights and just watch. You’re sure to see some amazing and amusing things as locals and tourists put on a show that is yours for the cost of an espresso, gelato or glass of wine. This is one of our favourite things to do in Rome. It only costs a few euro and will keep you entertained for an hour or more.
Watch out for Rome scams
With a city like Rome there is always someone ready to be ‘friendly’ and assist in taking your money. This could be a scammer, thief or pickpocket waiting for an easy target. Be wary of overly friendly people around big tourist sites offering to help you out. Also, keep an especially close eye on your belongings at places with big crowds such as stations and major attractions. Have a bag with a sturdy zip and loop it over your shoulder or across your body. Wallets and phones should be kept in your front pocket.
Disclosure: The writer loves Rome and always eats too much gelato whenever she visits.
If you are heading to Rome and looking for some other Rome things to do, we really enjoyed touring the Colosseum and also our food tours around Campo di Fiore and Trasevere. If you have been to Rome before and want something a little different, check out these Rome hidden secrets.