Guide to travel to Rome

by Ale Werner
Roman Coliseum from the top

In this post, you will find our complete guide to travel to Rome. We have put it together based on our experience and the comments of our followers. What to see in Rome, what to do in Rome, where to sleep in Rome, how to get around the city and much more.

A little bit about Rome …

Welcome to Rome! Also known as “the eternal city”, the capital of Italy is the geographical heart of the Catholic religion. Also, this is the only city in the world in whose interior you will find a foreign state, the “Vatican City” under the power of the pope.

You can access the map here.

What to see in Rome.

Rome is one of the richest cities in historical heritage of the world. You could go to Rome and spend days, weeks and even months visiting each of its corners, squares, monuments, ruins, museums and many other places it has to offer. We know that most tourists only spend here between 3 and 4 days, so we have summarized (and believe us it was not easy) the most important areas that you should know. So you’ll know what to see in Rome.

We have left aside the museums since the city for us is lived better outside the buildings.

We could show you a thousand other things, but we hope this guide will help you to understand the city and its history. These places can be visited in 4 or 5 days in the city of Rome.[/vc_column_text]

1. Colosseum, Palatine, Roman Forum and Imperial Forums.

Mapa Coliseo y Foro - Roma - Italia
Mapa Foro Romano - Roma - Italia

Roman Coliseum

The Coliseum is the most famous monument in the city and the largest amphitheater in the world. Formerly it could fit 50,000 spectators who came here to watch fights of gladiators, public spectacles with animals, etc. In its underground (today in sight) is an intricate system of cages and elevators from where wrestlers and animals appeared. This makes it also an architectural work of enormous importance for the world.

Get ready before your trip to Rome and buy the tickets to go in the Coliseum, the forum and to the Palatine online (We recommend this page that we use to buy the tickets without any problem and we got them in the same Coliseum, skipping the row). If you want to know more about the Colosseum during your trip to Rome, it is worth taking a guided tour through the underground. For only 9 euros you can learn more about the history and see the place without so many tourists around. If you like photography you can get so much better photos.

Upon leaving the Colosseum, you will see the Arch of Constantine of important historical value. It is located right between the Colosseum and the entrance to the Roman Forum, outside the limits of the ticket areas. This is also a very good area for you to take photos with the Coliseum in its splendor!

Palatine, Roman Forum, and Imperial Forums

Entering the area of the Roman and Palatine Forum, we recommend you immediately go to your left towards the Palatine (the highest mountain in Rome). In there you can visit the ruins of what is the oldest part of the city; inhabited since 1000 BC. It rises about 40 meters above the Roman Forum and the Circus Maximus (a plain where centuries before there was a horse-cars racing stadium). From here you can enjoy spectacular views of these important historical points.

Then go down to the Roman Forum where you can see how advanced the social, political and religious life of this society was. Walk its various buildings, and look carefully at the Arch of Titus and the Basilica of Maxentius, one of the most important buildings of ancient Rome.

Finally, leaving the Roman Forum, you will find the Imperial Forums, 4 forums of different emperors made during the end of the Republican era.

Walk down Via dei Fori Imperiali and you will reach the Trajan’s Market, ruins of what was the first covered shopping center in history, near 100 AD. Also, you can visit the Column of Trajan (admire its spiral bas-reliefs, they are a real work of art).

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2. Altar of the Fatherland, Campidoglio S, uare and surroundings.

Across the street is the Plaza Venecia, from where you can admire the National Monument to Victor Manuel II or Altar of the fatherland (Altare della Patria). It is truly huge and built of white marble; impossible not to see it.

Finally, surround the Altar of the Fatherland and you will find two stairs.

  • The Aracoeli Staircase leads to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Formerly it was called Santa María in Capitolio because it was on the highest peak of the Capitoline Hill.
  • The other stairs are called Cordonata Capitolina. They were made by Michelangelo in the sixteenth century and are of easy access and transit. They were initially designed for men on horseback who went to the Campidoglio Square (Capitol in English). This was the first modern square in the city, with its statue of Marco Aurelio in the center and its Palazzo Senatorio and Palazzo Nuovo. Among this Palazzos you can find a copy of the sculpture of the Capitoline Wolf, part of the legend of Romulus and Remus. Only if you have a lot of time you can visit the Capitoline Museums, but we honestly believe there are many other places of interest in Rome.

Towards the back of the square, on your left, you will find one of the best views of the Roman Forum. Here is also the Mamertina Prison, which according to tradition were Saint Peter and Saint Paul (there is no real proof of this). You can not miss this area when traveling to Rome.

Foro Romano - Roma - Italia
Roma – Italia

Trastevere

Walk to the Fabricio Bridge that will take you to the other side of the Tiber River; passing through the Tiberina Island to Trastevere. Nearby is the Mouth of the Truth (Bocca della Verita) that you can visit for free; but you can find yourself in a long line and waiting for maybe an hour. The legend says that you must confess something and put your hand in the mouth; if you are lying it will bite you.

Boca de la Verdad (Bocca della Verita) - Roma - Italia
Roma – Italia

Trastevere is a good place to have lunch or dinner when traveling to Rome. Ask a local that recommends and enjoys walking through its streets and alleys. Do not forget to visit the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.

We also recommend this area at night, there is a lot of life after 20:00.

4. The streets, fountains, squares, and buildings of Rome

Right next to the River Tiber you will find the Castle of Sant ‘Angelo, in which you can visit the prison cells occupied by some historical figures, some papal residences with frescoes of the time and other interesting rooms, but we do not believe that this visit is essential when traveling to Rome. We do recommend you to see the sunset in this area, it is quite beautiful.

Crossing the Sant ‘Angelo Bridge (our favorite with its statues of apostles and patriarchs in it), walk along the main street of the area: “Corso Vittorio Emanuele II” and visit the following places:

Castillo y puente de Sant’ Angelo - Roma - Italia
Roma – Italia

Campo de ‘Fiori Square

In the Campo de ‘Fiori Square you will find a very lively market, but nowadays more for tourists than for locals. The square is actually covered with stalls that sell everything from cheeses to souvenirs. When traveling to Rome you will get to see here a little more of the true life of locals and Romans.

Piazza Navona

The Piazza Navona has 3 famous fountains; the central one is the popular Fountain of the 4 Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi) of Bernini, just in front of the church of Saint Agnes in Agony (chiesa di Sant’Agnese in Agone) by Borromini. These two artists were rivals, so it is said that the first carved figures looking at the church are making fun of their enemy (ugly faces laughing).

The pantheon of Agrippa (Pantheon)

With its huge columns, this circular temple allows free entry to the public because nowadays is still a place of prayer. In here are buried multiple kings of Italy and there are several works of art. In addition, here is the tomb of the famous artist Rafael.

Fontana di Trevi

The most popular and largest of Rome’s fountains, always full of tourists throwing coins with the desire to one day return to the city. Take a deep breath and try to focus on the fountain, it’s wonderful, but the shoves of people can be a bit distracting. The nearby restaurants are the most expensive in Rome, we do not recommend them. Still, you can stay for a while taking an ice cream and contemplating this wonder during your trip to Rome.

Fontana di Trevi - Roma - Italia
Roma – Italia

Piazza del Popolo

It used to be the entrance to the city in the times of the Roman Empire. Today is the meeting point of several of the main streets of the city. Its main attractions are an Egyptian obelisk of 24 meters in its center and its twin churches that if you look well hide some differences, Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto.

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Santa María dei Miracoli y Santa María in Montesanto - Piazza del Popolo - Roma - Italia
Roma – Italia

Spain Square (Piazza di Spagna)

In it, you will find the popular Barcaza Fountain (by Piero Bernini) but its main attraction is the Spanish Steps or Staircase of Trinità dei Monti, built to connect the Spanish embassy with the Church of the same name as the stairs. If you dream of sitting down te steps to enjoy a romantic moment with your partner it will not be like in the movies, they are always full of people sitting in them making it difficult to walk them through (in our visit they were in maintenance).

Spanish Steps o Escalinata de Trinità dei Monti - Plaza de España - Roma - Italia
Roma – Italia

Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cuppuccini

More than the church itself (which is very modest compared to others in the city) the attraction is in its crypt of the Cappuccino brothers, decorated with the bones of approx. 4000 friars and the mummies of some others. A gloomy place that you can’t miss.

Colonna Square

Dominated by the Column of Marco Aurelio that tells the story of one of his victories in its reliefs, since 193.

Al fondo la Plaza Colonna y la Columna de Marco Aurelio - Roma - Italia
Roma – Italia

5. The Vatican City

For more information about Vatican City, visit our post about travel to the Vatican here.

Important information to plan a trip to Rome

The best time to travel to Rome

Between February and June is the best time to travel to Rome. Temperatures rise in May and June, but it is still bearable to walk calmly through the city.

Why not go the other months? Of course, you can do it! But keep in mind that between July and September the temperatures are very high, in October and November can rain a lot, and during December and January the temperatures are the lowest of the year.

How to get to Rome

Arrive in Rome by plane.

Rome is the capital of Italy and one of the most visited cities in Europe. For this reason, flights to get to Rome are usually very cheap from other cities on the old continent. Rome has two airports:

Fiumicino Airport in Rome:

Also known as “Leonardo da Vinci” it is the main airport in Italy. To get to the city we recommend these options:

  • Taxi for 49 euros (fixed rate in 2016) for 4 people.
  • Leonardo Express train: Connects with the Termini station for 14 euros per person. Travel time: 30 minutes.
  • Terravision bus: 6 euros per person. They communicate Terminal 3 with the Termini station in 55 minutes. By buying the ticket in advance through their website you can get discounts.
Ciampino Airport in Rome:

Located in the town of the same name, it is the favorite of the Low-Cost airlines.

  • Taxi for 30 euros (fixed rate) for 4 people.
  • Regional Train: We do not recommend it, you have to take a bus to the town of Ciampino and it becomes more trouble.
  • Terravision bus: 6 euros per person, to Termini station in 40 minutes. By buying the ticket in advance through their website you can get discounts.

Arrive in Rome by train.

Most of the trains in Rome arrive at Termini Station. From this station it is easy to move around the rest of the city; here they cross the two metro lines of Rome. There are Eurostar high-speed trains that connect Rome with multiple cities in Italy and Europe, for more information we recommend you visit the Trenitalia website.

Arriving in Rome by Bus

The buses are also an option to get to Rome, but the truth is that we do not recommend it because the prices are similar to the trains and the travel times are so much longer.

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What to do in Rome

We believe that we can describe Rome as a mainly cultural city. In it you will find history in every corner and, although you stay and live here for at least a season, we believe it impossible to visit all the historical places that are in here.

Plaza de San Pedro - Vaticano - Roma - Italia
Vaticano – Roma – Italia

Indispensable elements when visiting Rome.

Lots of water and comfortable shoes. Get ready to walk a lot! In several places in the city, there are drinking fountains where you can fill your bottle for free and take care of the world while being a Responsible Tourist.

How to get around Rome

What is the best way to get around Rome?

The historic center is large, but since there are so many attractions in the city you can walk from one place to another and you will enjoy your visit much more. The streets of Rome are one of their most beautiful and genuine attractions, you never know what you can find!

The city also has two Metro lines. Although these are not very extensive, they have stations close to the areas of interest. Within the historic center, there are buses that are very comfortable for longer distances.

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Tickets for public transport can be purchased at subway stations or kiosks. There are different types: 1-time subscriptions (1.5 euros), daily (6 euros), tourist 3 days (16.5 euros) and weekly (24 euros). Remember to validate your ticket every time you use any transport, otherwise, the fines can be very high.

Where to sleep in Rome

Rome is one of the most expensive places in Europe for accommodation; but still, there are areas with hostels and shared rooms much more accessible. I will divide this item into 3:

  1. If you have no budget problems, look for hotels near the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona. It is a very central and quiet area.
  2. For intermediate budget accommodation, near the Plaza de España and the Vía del Corso, there is a lot of offer. In the vicinity of the Vatican, there is also a lot of offer at reasonable prices too, and with walking distances to the historic center. We stayed here and took a bus to the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II street to get to the main touristic area of Rome.
  3. If you’re looking to save on this item there are several hostels with shared rooms at a low price in the surroundings of Termini Station and in Trastevere.

Something that has become very common to sleep in Rome is with families that open their homes to tourists. You can stay in their rooms for very affordable prices; many offering also kitchen (what in terms of saving money can be pretty awesome if you cook for yourself and do not always eat outside). You will find many places like this on Airbnb.

Where to eat in Rome

Gastronomy in Rome

The cuisine of Italy is one of its greatest attractions. In addition to pasta and pizzas, we recommend you try other typical dishes: carpaccio (thin slices of meat), prosciutto (raw ham), risotto (rice), cheese platters, cold cuts and tiramisu (a dessert made of coffee and cocoa).

You can not stop trying the different ice cream in a lot of gelaterias in the city. One of the best known is Giolitti, near the Pantheon.

Try different dishes to eat in Rome as many times as you can, you will never be disappointed.

Schedules

Regarding the timetables to eat in Rome, lunch is usually served between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Dinner hours starts at 20:00 and almost everything close at 23:00. From that time it is more difficult to find food offer; You would have to go to some night bars or supermarkets like 7eleven.

Where to find restaurants in Rome

Finally, we can not stop recommending the best areas where you will find a variety of restaurants. The best known is Trastevere, but be careful because there are many overvalued venues charging very high prices for food not so good in areas of high flow of tourists.

We recommend you go to the streets around the squares of the historic center; such as Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori, and the Pantheon. Here there is no surcharge for the location and we never get disappointed with the food. If you are near the Vatican, in Borgo Vittorio and Borgo Pio you will also find many places.

Shopping in Rome

What are the best places to shop in Rome?

It’s not Milan, but in Rome, you can find all kinds of clothing and home design offerings. The most chic (and therefore expensive) street in the city is Via Condotti, where you will find all the high fashion stores. If it is not your thing and you are looking for something simpler, we recommend you to go through Via del Corso.

Scams and dangers in Rome

Traveling to Rome is quite safe, however, we want to highlight two issues with which you should be careful.

Pickpockets:

As in any other city, thefts of wallets and purses are not something strange. Always keep your things near to your body. If you go to areas with a lot of people, put your wallet or backpack in front of your body. Behave as you would in any other unknown place or crowded place.

Gifts of Roses / Flowers / Stuffed Animals / Souvenirs / etc …

The most typical scam in Rome are the “gifts”. Someone gives you an object with the intention of not asking for anything in return, but the moment you take it there will be no way to deliver it back. You will have to pay what they ask for it. In general, these persons are accompanied by some very big and frightening friends. Better to avoid taking anything you do not intend to buy, especially in public areas.

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