Rome is a city of history, culture, architecture and amazing food. In other words, it’s my kind of city. Travelling to new places is always exciting, especially those with so much to offer that everyday is guaranteed to be different. But it can be hard to know what to do in a new place, let alone a different country. After my recent trip to Rome I thought about all I had learned and so I decided it was only fair to share my knowledge with you all, so that anyone who does visit Rome in the future can feel comfortable knowing they have an understanding of the city and what to expect before they jet off.
There is actually three different ways to visit the Vatican. First is the Church itself, the Basilica (the dome on top) and the Vatican museums. I seriously had no clue there was more than just one attraction in Vatican City, so it came as a surprise when I found out.
For the Vatican and Basilica entry is free, there may be a queue to get in but that is just for security checks (don’t be intimidated by the line of people, it can be huge but it moves quick). If you wish to go up into the dome then it is 10 euro to get the elevator and around 300 steps after that to reach the top, or for 8 euro you can walk the full 500 steps. Both ways will present you with amazing views of the city along with the interior roof of the cathedral.
The Vatican itself is that extravagant building located in the middle of -guess where? Vatican City. Believe it or not, the inside is even more extravagant than the outside. There is so much to see that your eyes almost don’t know where to look, there are breathtaking pieces of artwork, ceilings, decorated walls and marble floors and columns. It truly took my breath away seeing all the workmanship that went into the interior.
As for the museums, you will definitely need to pre book your tickets as the queues can get big and you are given time slots so you know what time to go. This means that you are guaranteed to get in and can skip the queue.
Quick Tip: Get an audio tour so that you understand the background and history of what it is you are looking at. Also, prepare to spend the majority of your time looking up, as the countless majestic ceilings are definitely the showstopper.
If you go on Sunday then entrance to the Colosseum is free, but be mindful that queues form quick so be sure to get there early. Or you can spend 15 euro on a tour guide who will take you around the Colosseum and inform you of some pretty interesting facts and history. Seeing as standard entry any other day is 14 euro, this is a decent price as you skip the queue and receive an informed introduction to the colosseum rather then wandering around aimlessly. You can book tour guides online before you go, but there are plenty of them outside the Colosseum on the day and are willing to sell you a ticket, which is what happened with us. The first time I went to Rome we just walked around ourselves but this time we got a tour and there’s definitely a difference between the two options.
Buses in Rome are very frequent and can be found on just about any street. They work a little differently then UK buses in the sense that you have to purchase a ticket from a local tobacco shop or kiosk. For 1.50 euro you can get a ticket that lasts 100 minutes and can be used on any bus or train within that time frame once it has been stamped. To stamp your ticket, there are yellow machines on the buses that stamp a time onto your ticket. This is the time from when your 100 minutes start. If you do not stamp your ticket then it is classed as a void ticket, so if an inspector asks for your ticket and it has not been stamped, it is classed as a no ticket and there’s a chance you will be charged. We did not see any of these inspectors when we were there but there’s always the chance they will show up and you don’t want to be the only one on the bus without your ticket stamped!
There are various metro stops around the city so if you find yourself close to one of these lines then it may be a good idea to avoid the busy streets and get on the metro. Kiosks are available at these stops do you can purchase any tickets or passes there.
If you know you will be using public transport frequently during your trip, then it may be a good idea to look into the public transport passes on offer.
We travelled from Ciampino airport which is around 30 minutes from Fiumicino, the other airport in Rome.
If you don’t have a transfer organised when you arrive, you can get the shuttle bus for 4.90 euro which will take you to Termini, the train and bus terminal in the city centre, where you will have to either go to a taxi point or catch another bus to continue your journey. Bear in mind that the taxi line will be long as all the coaches and buses stop at the Termini. It also depends on how much luggage you have with you, as the buses are popular and you may find it a struggle to get on and off with your suitcases in tow.
Click here to read my packing essentials for Rome.
Of course there is also a taxi rink at the airport so you can go straight to your accommodation. Taxi charge a standard fee of 30 euro for pickups to and from the airport. Ours cost 35 euro on arrival and 30 euro on departure. But splitting the cost between 3 of us we found it wasn’t too bad.
TripAdvisor is your friend. We discovered this when looking for places to eat at night. Our accommodation was located a little further out of the centre so we had to search for places to eat. Luckily, Trip Advisor found this hidden Italian gem close to us. It received excellent reviews on TripAdvisor with the late Anthony Bourdain raving about it on his cooking show.
Trattoria Il Timoniere is this authentic Italian restaurant located on a side street that had a homey, warm atmosphere. There were plenty of locals eating there both times we visited so it’s a popular place with locals and tourists alike- if you know about it that is.
Honestly the carbonara pasta is to die for, by far the best pasta I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant.
There you have it, my top tips and places to visit in Rome.
It truly is an amazing city and even after visiting twice, I’d happily go again. I hope this helps anyone going to Rome in the future and I hope you enjoy yourselves as much as I did!
Have you been to Rome? What are your top tips or recommendations?