You already have a list of things to see and do in Rome, but now you're planning your trip and don't quite know where to start. Don't worry. In this short guide I'm going to give you some basic tips to help you easily organise your trip to the Eternal City, know the best time to visit the capital and survive the rogues and tricks designed to outsmart tourists!
1. When to travel to Rome?
It may sound like a cliché, but any time of year is a great time to visit Rome, as temperatures are very mild and every season has its own charm. Can you imagine seeing the Colosseum covered in snow? Well, although it's not common, it has been dyed white on occasion.
In spring there are more daylight hours and the temperatures are very mild, which invites you to take a walk outdoors and stroll through the gardens of Rome's parks full of flowers. Take note of 10 things to do in the capital during spring, including experiencing an authentic Roman Easter.
During the summer in Rome, the heat can play a trick on you. Temperatures are very high and sometimes very stifling. However, you can take the opportunity to enjoy the Tiber Island and its open-air cinema, the turquoise water beaches in the surrounding area or take a dip in the Colli Albani lake, where you will have as a neighbour in his summer residence none other than... Pope Francis!
If you're not afraid of the cold and rain, visiting Rome in winter is a good idea because Christmas is magical and you'll be able to enjoy the fairytale Christmas markets. On the other hand, January in Rome and February in Rome is low season and there is little tourism, so you will have the tourist attractions all to yourself. Like a king!
One of the most beautiful and colourful seasons is the Roman autumn, when the gardens are filled with red, orange and ochre tones and the temperatures are perfect for long walks. Moreover, during this season prices are relatively low and there is hardly any overcrowding.
2. Compare flights in one search engine
There's a book for every traveller. And every traveller has their own tricks to save money on their getaway. My advice is that when you go to buy a flight to visit Rome, compare prices in a search engine where you can select the cheapest month, check which is the cheapest return and choose the best non-stop flight.
Secrets to finding cheap flights
If you have flexibility of dates, try to organise your flight departure on weekdays, as prices soar at weekends. Avoid Easter, as it is one of the most famous religious celebrations in the world, and you will pay a lot.
Finally, try to search for your trip from the incognito window of your computer or mobile phone, otherwise the website will detect your trace and will increase the price in the next searches.
What are the best days of the week to search for flights? Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at midday, when there are fewer people doing this task. In the evenings and weekends you will notice an increase in the price. Now that you know all my secrets, get to work!
3. How much time do I need in the Eternal City?
We already know that to see "Roma, non basta una vita". So the more days you spend in the Italian capital, the better, I promise you won't get bored. But as holidays and money are not infinite (I wish!), I suggest you visit Rome for at least 4 days. In my opinion, the ideal is 7 days to visit Rome at your leisure and not leave the essentials behind.
However, if you are passing through the metropolis or you have little time, here is a brief guide to discover the essentials of Rome in one day, which will serve as a first contact with the Italian capital.
Take the opportunity to get to know Florence
If you're lucky enough to spend several days in Rome and you feel like getting out of the big city to discover other corners of Italy, I recommend you visit Florence from Rome, the cradle of the Renaissance and one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Here's how to get from Rome to Florence for a full day.
4. How to get from the airport to the centre of Rome?
Once you land in the Eternal City you have several possibilities to get to the centre from its two airports: Ciampino and Fiumicino. Rome is a very touristic capital that is quite well communicated. Its public transport network includes bus, train and metro, making it easy to get from one place to another. The problem is the frequency of travel from the airport to the city centre. Another much more expensive option is the taxi, which has a fixed fare of around 30 euros plus the night supplement if you arrive at night.
Compare the different options
In this article I will summarise everything you need to know to get to the centre of Rome from the airport, but I can already tell you that the best option, in my experience, is the shared transfer where you will travel on board a fully equipped vehicle with all the comforts, which will save you time, money and hassle. Plus, it's a lot cheaper than a taxi!
5. Is it a safe city?
Rome is one of the safest cities in Europe. In terms of danger, it is always behind Paris, Athens and Naples, among others. However, you should be careful, especially at night, especially in isolated streets and in metro and train stations. The most dangerous areas of the capital are in the east and on the outskirts of the city.
Caution in tourist areas!
As in all big cities like London, Madrid or New York, there are pickpockets. To make sure you don't get caught out, pay special attention to your bag and your belongings in these hot spots (I usually put my backpack in front of my bag to keep it under control):
- The Colosseum
- The area around the Vatican
- The Trevi Fountain
- The Spanish Steps
- The Roman Forum
- The Pantheon
6. Check your mobile phone and internet tariffs and upload your selfies
Every corner of Rome deserves to be photographed and during your trip you will probably want to share your snapshots with your friends and family through your social networks. My advice is to carefully read the conditions of your mobile phone tariff and analyse the cost of calls and internet connection abroad.
It isbest to check with your mobile phone company beforehand to avoid surprises and ask if you need to activate your roaming service or if it is activated by default in Europe. Roaming is the service that allows you to use your mobile phone in another country. Normally, if you travel to a state that is part of the European Union, you will pay the same rate you have in Spain. But check, don't gamble!
7. And once there... How do I get around?
If the idea of renting a Vespa and riding around with your hair blowing in the wind seems like a very romantic but impractical idea, Rome offers several alternative means of transport to get around the city like a Roman. Here are the best ones:
- Metro: although it only has three lines (it is one of the smallest in Europe), it reaches the main points of interest. In this article I'll give you a guide to get around Rome's metro like a fish in water. You can't miss it!
- Tram: although it is a very comfortable means of transport, as it does not run along the main arteries of the city, it is not very useful.
- Bus: there are more than 350 bus lines. If you want to use public transport, it is best to combine it with the metro.
Nuria's Traveller Tip
If you are going to be in Rome for more than 7 days, I advise you to buy a metro ticket valid for one week. Don't forget to validate your ticket, otherwise you could be fined 50€.
8. What do you eat in Rome? Are you a pasta or pizza person?
It's not just pasta and pizzas in Rome that Italian people live for (but almost). In the Eternal City you will find restaurants for all budgets, from the most sophisticated, where celebrities go, to family trattorias where you can eat as if you were at your grandmother's house.
Get your boots on in Trastevere!
If you like the idea of going to a trattoria, check out my guide to the 10 best places to eat in Trastevere, Rome's most authentic and picturesque neighbourhood, so you don't fall into any tourist traps. Oh, and don't forget to try Rome's artisan gelato and tiramisu for dessert. Delicious!
9. Save money and time on your trip
The million dollar question we've all asked ourselves on a trip: is it better to go it alone or buy a special pass? In my opinion, if you want to be carefree and save money, the best thing to do is to buy the Roma Pass. In this post I will help you choose the right Rome Tourist Card for you. Check it out!
What's included in the Roma Pass?
- Free entry to 1 museum if you choose the 48-hour card and 2 if you choose the 72-hour card.
- Reduced rate (minimum 20% discount) at all other museums.
- Discounts on shows and temporary exhibitions.
- Discounts in archaeological areas not managed by the Municipality of Rome.
- Queue-free access to the Colosseum and other points of interest.
- Free access to all public transport in Rome (metro and buses) for the duration of your card.
- A map and guide to the main points of interest in Rome.
10. Buy your tickets in advance
The Colosseum has been the most visited monument in the world for years, can you imagine the queues that can form? So the best advice I can give you is to buy your Colosseum tickets online and in advance.
This way, you won't have to spend the whole morning queuing and you will have the option to experience the Rome of the gladiators and emperors with an expert guide, which will elevate your experience. You also have a combined ticket to the Colosseum and the Vatican.
Did you know that this amphitheatre was used for bloody entertainment such as fights between wild animals? There could be fights between hippopotamuses, bears, lions, elephants... which ended with their cruel death. This is one of the stories you will learn about on your guided tour, which usually lasts about three hours. Are you going to miss it?