Rome Travel Guide
Rome is the capital city of Italy, and has been a hub of culture and civilisation for thousands of years. It's hard to imagine the western world without the impact of ancient Rome. But, as they say, what have the Romans ever done for us? You mean apart from better sanitation, medicine, education, irrigation, public health, roads, a freshwater system, baths and public order...
What you will find in this guide:
Getting to Rome
Getting around Rome
Top things to do in Rome
Make the most out of your money in Rome
Where to eat in Rome
The Eternal City is a mesmerising mix of modern Italy and ancient history. No matter what you're looking for, there's plenty to do in Rome. The city attracts millions of visitors every year and if you step away from the tourist hotspots you'll find some of the best nightlife, food and drink in Italy.
Before you head off on your Roman holiday we think it helps to get the lowdown on some of the city's hidden gems, where to get the best food and how to beat the queues.
So grab your camera and phrasebook, and come with us on a tour of history, food, amazing architecture and Roman charm!
Type C, F & L
Avg 2.5 hrs
Rome WeatherWeather in Rome
Top tips to travel hassle-free in Rome
Here are some other quick tips to help you travel better and enjoy all the things to do in Rome.When should I visit Rome?
April, May, late September and October are definitely the best time of year to visit Rome. You'll avoid the crowds of Summer and find that most of the things to do in Rome are still open. At the very least, avoid August if you can.
We also found that Mondays were the busiest days for tourists, as most of Rome's attractions are shut on Sunday. Bear this in mind when planning what to do during your stay.
How many days do you need in Rome?
With a solid itinerary in place, we'd say 3 days in Rome is just enough time to experience the highlights. However, if you want to enjoy your stay at a slower pace, soak up more culture, and discover off-the-beaten-track gems we recommend a 4 to 7 day trip.
What is the best way to travel in Rome?
The best ways to get around the city are by foot, Metro, Metrebus, and Roma Pass. For more information about each, check out our dedicated Best ways to travel around Rome section.
Is Rome safe to travel to?
Yes, overall Rome is a safe destination to visit, however petty crime - particularly pickpocketing and bag-snatching - in the crowded tourist sites and public transport is a problem and something to be aware of. Protect yourself and your belongings by staying alert and perhaps consider buying special anti-theft travel bags with built in safety features.
How to beat the queues in Rome?
Queues for Rome's most popular attractions can get big, and if you're not prepared you could be waiting for an hour if not longer. Try to arrive before 9.30am to really beat the queues, or at least 30 minutes before opening. There's lots to see and do in Rome, so an early start is the best way to squeeze it all in.
What should I wear when visiting churches in Rome?
It's a good idea to cover your shoulders, knees and wear shoes. You might be a bit warm in the sun, but if you don't adhere to the dress code you won't be let in, even if you've been queueing for hours.
The same dress code applies to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel.
Getting to Rome
We think the best way to get to Rome from the UK is to fly. Rome has two airports - the larger Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) airport to the west and Ciampino to the south east. Flights from London to Rome take roughly two and half hours and transfers from either airport are pretty easy.
If you do fly, why not book yourself an airport lounge and you can squeeze in a last-minute flick through your Italian phrasebook, while indulging in the peace and quiet with a complimentary glass of bubbly in hand. Magnifico!
How to get to Rome from Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) Airport
There are plenty of options to suit all budgets and needs. Here are some of them:
From Fiumicino, catch the Leonardo Express train to Rome Termini, which will get you straight into the city. Or there's the regional FL1 train to other stations across Rome, which is convenient if your hotel isn't in Rome's city centre. Make sure you remember to get your ticket validated before you get on the train, otherwise you could be fined.
We'd suggest avoiding the bus if possible as it can take longer than either train, especially if you get stuck in Rome's notoriously bad traffic. Take the train, avoid the road rage and spend more time in Rome.
Look out for taxis registered within the airport region, as they'll take you anywhere within the city wall for a fixed fee. They'll have a crest on the doors.
How to get to Rome from Ciampino Airport
Here are some of the ways to get to Rome from Ciampino Airport:
We recommend using the bus service from Ciampino Airport. There is a train station nearby, but we don't think it's worth the hassle as there are a lot of connections to remember.
Taxis from Ciampino Airport should offer a flat fare of €30 to get anywhere within Rome's city walls, but make sure you check this with the driver before you get in.Top
The best ways to travel around Rome
Once you've arrived it's time to start exploring all the awe-inspiring things to see in Rome. Here are our picks for the best ways to get around the city:
Most of the main tourist sites in Rome are clustered into a two and a half mile area in the city centre and we think that walking is the best way to get around. As an example, a walk from the Pantheon to the Colosseum should take about half an hour. Comfy shoes are a must, given that most roads in Rome are cobbled and uneven.
Public transport in Rome isn't as prevalent as in other European capitals, so don't expect to be able to hop on and off anywhere like with the London Underground. However, the Metro can get you into the city centre quickly from the outskirts so it's worth getting to grips with how it works.
It has just three lines, A and B intersect at the Rome Termini station, and C is the newest line that runs from the centre to the east of the city. We recommend downloading Google Maps and Citymapper to help you find the quickest routes to wherever you need to go.
As for tickets, there are two main types to look out for when using Rome's public transport network. There's the Metrebus ticket or the Roma Pass.
Metrebus tickets can be used on all public trains, buses and trams, and can be purchased at bars, tobacconists, train stations, some bus stops and even hotels. Tickets aren't validated until you travel, so you can easily stock up on all the tickets you'll need for your time in Rome.
- The BIT is a single ticket for one complete Metro journey, one commuter train ride, or 100 minutes on the bus. It costs €1.50 and you can swap between Metro lines at Rome Termini on the same ticket. Make sure to validate every time you use one.
- The Roma 24H is valid for 24 hours after the first use and costs €7 (£6).
- The 48H is €12.50 (£11) and the 72H is €18 (£16).
- The CIS is a 7-day ticket and will set you back €24 (£21.30).
The Roma Pass comes in 48-hour (€32) and 72-hour (€52) variations and gives unlimited travel on public transport and also includes discounts on some tourist attractions.
To validate the Roma Pass, tap it on the yellow card readers, whether you're on a bus, tram or train (a green light will let you know it's worked). You only need to validate the Roma Pass the first time you use it but it must be validated within 24 hours of being purchased.
Both the Roma Pass and the Metrepass don't work on Rome's sightseeing buses - for those you'll need to buy tickets separately.Top
Rome Airport Transfers
Make the trip from airport to hotel pain free! Pre-book an airport transfer, with prices starting from just £13 with FREE cancellations*
Rome Car Hire
Pre-book your Rome car hire, with prices starting from just £8.47 per day with FREE cancellations*
Top things to do in Rome
It's hard to think of Rome without thinking of this iconic oval amphitheatre - built in 80AD this is not only the largest amphitheatre ever built it's also the largest still standing today.
Historically it was used to host the famous gladiatorial contests - and it could hold up to 80,000 spectators. To put that into context that's more people than could fill a sold out Old Trafford.
It can get incredibly busy so we recommend booking priority tickets in advance.
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world - and it's name is derived from the latin word Trivium which means 'the intersection of three streets', those streets being De 'Crocicchia Street, Poli Street and Delle Muratte Street.
It is believed that throwing a coin over your shoulder into the fountain means you will return to Rome one day - and it's estimated that around 3000 euro are tossed into the fountain each day. In fact the proceeds from the fountain were used to help feed the poorest members of Rome society.
The Sistine Chapel is a famous Roman Catholic chapel located within the Vatican City in Rome that is known for its breath-taking art and its role as a meeting place of the papal conclave where the Pope is selected. The chapel has the same dimensions as the Temple of Solomon, on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, as described in the Old Testament of the Bible
Approximately 25,000 visitors come to visit the Church daily to take tours and admire the gorgeous art while learning about its important religious and historic significance. Again, we recommend booking skip the line tickets.
Not far from the Colosseum is The Roman Forum, once the thriving hub of Rome. Exploring these sprawling ruins will give you an idea of what life may have been like in the Roman heyday - from elections to gladiator matches.
We recommend visiting this on the same day you visit the Colosseum - the priority tickets include the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill with an optional guided tour.
The Pantheon we see today was built in around 120AD and it's official name is the Basilica of Santa Maria ad Martyres. It was initially built to honour the many Roman Gods but was later converted to be a Christian Basilica as it took over as the dominant religion.
Entry is free but we recommend booking this audio guided tour - for only £7 per adult. You can learn more about the history and architecture of the building.
Make the most of your money in Rome
We've established how to get to Rome, as well as the wealth of things to do and places to eat during your Italian holiday, but to enjoy all of these things it helps to know how many euros to bring.
Here are our tips for making your money go further:
Credit cards and ATMs
Most places in Rome accept card payments, and there are plenty of ATMs so you won't have any trouble accessing cash when you need it. Make sure to check with your provider before using your card abroad, as some will lock your card if you don't let them know that you're going away.
If you're still unsure about carrying cash on you through the busy streets, you could pick up a currency card, like the Caxton FX Card before you leave. You can load it up with your travel money before you set off so it's ready when you need it.
The exchange rate on the card is set there and then at the best rate for you. So you can travel with peace of mind, knowing you're protected from the volatility of the currency market.
Is Rome expensive?
We found Rome was slightly cheaper than London, and in line with many European capitals. To save some money, look for restaurants away from the major tourist attractions. You'll find the prices are significantly lower, and that the quality of food is often much higher. Buon appetito!
Two thirds of Italians don't tip when they dine out, so don't feel pressured to tip when eating in Rome. Sometimes the service is included in your bill but if not, and you've enjoyed your experience, round up the bill a bit.
How much did we spend in Rome?
Here's a breakdown of some of the costs* of our Rome trip:
- Return flights - £70-£180 depending on when you book
- 3 Bed apartment - £102 per night
- Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine - €12 (£10.60) (free for under 18s)
- Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel - €16 (£14.20) (€8 for 6-18 year old)
- Pantheon - Free
*Rate of exchange correct on 15/2/2018 when we visitedTop
Where to eat in Rome
Trying some of the delicious local cuisine is a must and we think you can't do much better than sampling what's on offer in the city's Testaccio region, to the south of the city. A little off the beaten tourist track, Testaccio was once the trade and slaughterhouse area of Rome, and this heritage of traditional food is still alive today.
When we visited we met up with local restaurant owner Flavio to find out all about the area and to try some Roman cuisine at his restaurant, Flavio al Velavevodetto. The restaurant is set into a mound that's been built over a large deposit of ancient vases and crockery, making it one of the most unique places to eat in Rome.
We recommend trying the zucchini flowers, which were delicately fragrant and delicious. But a trip to Flavio al Velavevodetto wouldn't be complete without trying the award-winning carbonara - Flavio is known as the King of Carbonara and his signature dish is the best we've tried in Italy.
Testaccio is quickly becoming gentrified as more tourists catch on to its amazing restaurants, so we recommend you head down ASAP before it changes forever. It's a place not to be missed!Top
Do you need to speak Italian to enjoy Rome?
Most restaurants and tourist attractions in Rome speak English, so you don't need to become fluent in Italian overnight. But we do think it's a good idea to learn a few key phrases and words to help immerse yourself in the culture and authentically enjoy all the things to do in Rome. It also never hurts to show off your linguistic skills to friends and family!
To pick up some key phrases, we met up with Alessandro from venividivisit.org, a service offering free guides to some of Rome's lesser known sites. To book a tour head to their website and make sure to donate generously - it's definitely worth it.
Some useful phrases
- Hello - Ciao (informal) or Buongiorno (formal - meaning 'Good Morning')
- Goodbye - Ciao (informal) or Arrivederci (formal)
- Yes - Sì
- No - No
- Please - Per favore (formal) Per piacere (informal)
- My name is... - Mi chiamo...
- Thank you - Grazie
- I don't understand - Non ho capito
- Do you speak English? - Parla inglese?
- Where is the nearest metro station? - Dove è la stazione della metropolitana più vicina?