ROME TRAVEL GUIDE

Rome is a city of immense history, culture and cuisine. Alongside spectacular religious buildings lies buzzy Renaissance palazzos with iconic Baroque flourishes. Rome brings together a melting pot of fashionistas, jet-setters and foodies. When you consider all that this charming “Eternal City” has to offer, it’s no wonder that Rome is the third most visited city in Europe.

As an ancient city with a rich history, a visit to Rome transports you back in time. It feels like you’re in one big open-air museum. Around every corner lies a breathtaking monument or significant archaeological site. It’s not just about the history though. There is also a vibrant art scene that draws in art admirers from across the globe. Some of history’s most famous artists have left their marks across the city, from Michelangelo to Bernini.

Despite its historical and cultural significance, Rome also manages to be a modern metropolis with a thriving social scene and fashionable edge. Indulge in renowned Italian cuisine and immerse yourself in the sociable aperitivo scene. Discover welcoming hospitality and lap up the dolce vita lifestyle. All while observing the jet-setters and fashionable visitors who descend on this charismatic Italian city from all over the world.

Rome is suitable for every type of traveller. Couples can discover Rome’s romantic side, and culture vultures will be in their element. Solo travellers will love the energy and irresistible charm of the city. While well-heeled visitors are drawn to Rome for its luxury hotels, fine dining scene, and fashion elite. My number one tip for visiting Rome? Don’t rush. Go slowly, soak it all in, and visit time and time again.

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How to get to Rome

If you want to take the stress out of getting from the airport to the city centre, book your Rome airport transfer here for an English-speaking, professional driver.

Trevi Fountain Jessie Hair
Restaurant Rome
Trevi Fountain Gelato

How to get around Rome

You can get to most key places relatively easily by walking. The main forms of public transport are the metro, bus, tram and train. If you think you’ll be using public transport a lot, then it’s worth getting a 24-hour (€7), 48-hour (€12.50) or 72-hour (€18) ticket, which gives you unlimited use of the metro, bus and train. For an easy way of getting around, book a private sightseeing tour in Rome.

Best time to visit Rome

Rome is a year round destination that brings discerning visitors from all over the world throughout the seasons. It’s best to plan your visit around your personal preference for weather conditions and the number of tourists.

Spring

As with many European cities, spring is a beautiful time to visit Rome. The spring flowers blossom, the city looks utterly charming, and it’s warm enough to dine alfresco. Easter brings a number of memorable events, although it is a busy time to visit since it coincides with the school holidays. Aim for May to make the most of warmer weather.

Summer

Summer is the season of hot weather, big festivals and lively atmospheres. It’s by far the most popular time of the year to visit Rome, which does mean it’s overrun with tourists. So if you prefer quieter crowds then avoid June-August. But if you love the hustle and bustle, and don’t mind the heat, then summer is a great time to visit Rome.

Autumn

Autumn is another wonderful time to visit Rome, as the crowds start to dissipate following the summer months. Note that September is still quite a busy month, so October or November may be a better option to avoid the crowds. As the golden leaves appear, Rome looks gorgeous in the autumn. Plus, there are a number of events and shows throughout these months.

Winter

Winter is the most affordable time to visit Rome, as it’s considered to be the low-season. The temperature is cool and rain is more likely, but you benefit from few crowds – a welcome attraction from the hordes of tourists in the more popular months. Christmas and New Year is of course an exception, as visitors flock to the city for the festivities.

Rome highlights

The Colosseum

The Colosseum is one of the most iconic landmarks in Rome. Attracting over six million visitors every year, the Colosseum has become synonymous with Rome. Its status is so legendary that it is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. With a staggering 2,000 years of history, there is plenty to learn about this famous Roman monument.

The Colosseum has a particularly gruesome history in which convicted criminals were often thrown to the wild animals. On your tour, you can discover intriguing tales of gladiator battles and hungry lions. Despite how widely photographed it is, the Colosseum is still a staggering sight to see in person. It embodies the drama and power of ancient Rome, even to this day.

The Colosseum is open every day between 08:30 – 19:00 but it’s best to visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds. The closest metro stop is the Colosseo on Line B. Try to avoid eating at any of the cafés or restaurants in the very near vicinity, as they tend to be overrun with tourists and excruciatingly overpriced.

If you plan to visit, it is strongly advised that you pre-book a ticket. The queues can be horrifying and take hours to negotiate in peak visiting times. Book either ‘skip the line’ tickets or a guided tour. Many of the guided tours include the Colosseum along with the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Or consider buying the Roma pass, which offers free entry to the Colosseum without having to queue.

Be sure to allow plenty of time to find the start point of your tour, or to find the right entry line. It can get a bit chaotic and it took us nearly half an hour to find the correct meeting point!

Alternatively, skip the crowds and book a private sightseeing tour of Rome.

Trastevere

Charming Trastevere is the most popular and lively neighbourhood in Rome. With its medieval houses and winding cobbled streets, it is wonderfully picturesque. You’ll want to bring your camera! Spend an afternoon navigating the narrow streets and seeking out the best spots for lunch or dinner. Trastevere is the best place to soak up the Italian dolce vita atmosphere. It’s the beating heart of Rome’s social scene, where people shop, chat and pause for a coffee – or something stronger.

Visit the Piazza di Santa Maria right in the centre of Trastevere. Take a seat on the steps of the fountain with a gelato in hand, and do a spot of people-watching. Explore the beautiful Basilica Santa Maria, the oldest Marian church in Rome. If you have the energy, it’s worth hiking up Colle del Gianicolo, the eighth hill of Rome. It takes about 20 minutes and you’re rewarded with breathtaking views of the city, plus it’s relatively free of crowds.

Trastevere draws a lot of its visitors after dark when the neighbourhood comes alive with restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Start with an aperitivo (drink and a small snack) before indulging in a wood-fired pizza. It’s a place that’s bursting with trendy restaurants, cafés and bars, all underpinned by a chilled out boho vibe.

Vatican City

The Vatican City is an independent city state ruled by the Pope with a prestigious history. At only 110 acres and with a population of around 800 people, it is the smallest state in Europe. It is a significant religious site and the centre of authority over the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican City is home to some of the world’s most infamous artistic masterpieces, especially from the Renaissance and Baroque eras.

There are a number of attractions to visit in the Vatican City. St Peter’s Square is a breathtaking and expansive square, comprising 284 columns, 88 pilasters, and 140 statues of saints. It has previously held more than 300,000 people, which is testament to its sheer size and scale.

St Peter’s Basilica is the world’s largest Catholic church and the result of a collaboration between Bramante, Bernini, Maderno, Michelangelo, and Raphael. It is considered to be one of the holiest temples for Christendom and can accommodate a staggering 20,000 people. Visitors can climb to the top of the dome for an unforgettable view of St Peter’s Square. Note that it is quite a tough climb, with the top section comprising a very narrow and steep spiral staircase. Best skipped if you’re claustrophobic, injured, or hungover!

The Sistine Chapel is an unmissable attraction in the Vatican City. It is perhaps best known for the frescoes painted onto the ceiling by Michelangelo. Note that photography is not permitted in the Sistine Chapel. Although photography without flash is permitted in the other Vatican Museums. As with many other popular attractions in Rome, it’s best to pre-book a guided tour. These tours usually combine the Basilica, Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

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Frequently asked questions

How old is Rome?

Rome is just over 2,770 years old, meaning that the history of this ancient city spans an impressive 28 centuries.

Where is the best place to stay in Rome?

Those visiting Rome for the first time may like to be right in the heart of the key Rome attractions. Look for hotels around the Piazza Navona or Campo de’ Fiori. Trastevere is another popular place to stay, as it’s where a lot of the restaurants are – this does make it a lively area.

For luxury hotels and a more high-end experience, stay near the Piazza di Spagna. For a more budget-friendly area, consider staying in the Esquilino neighbourhood, which is where the Roma Termini station is.

Do I need to pre-book attractions in Rome?

Yes, I highly recommend pre-booking attractions in Rome. You can still visit without a booking, but you will likely have to wait in excruciatingly long queues. This is particularly the case if you’re travelling during the peak summer months. It’s best to book either a guided tour or a ‘skip the line’ ticket.

Are there any beaches near Rome?

Yes there are lots of beautiful beaches close to Rome. Have a read of my post on the best beaches near Rome for the ones worth visiting.

Is Rome a good destination for solo travellers?

Rome is an excellent destination for solo travellers. So much so that I included it as the number one spot in my guide to the best European cities for solo travel. The locals and the hospitality staff are all wonderfully friendly and chatty, plus the vibrant energy of the city will ensure you never feel alone. As with any European city, just be wary of pickpockets and scammers, as they tend to target tourists.

Is Rome expensive?

Rome is one of the more expensive cities to visit in Europe, primarily due to its popularity. Hotels can come with a premium, as can the more popular tourist attractions. As with any trip, it’s possible to tailor your itinerary to your own budget. But there are some things you won’t want to miss out on, including the iconic landmarks and mouth-watering Italian cuisine.

How many Michelin star restaurants in Rome?

At the time of writing, there are 16 Michelin star restaurants in Rome. These include one with two Michelin stars and one with three Michelin stars.

Are there Christmas Markets in Rome?

Yes, there are a number of Christmas markets in Rome, making it a magical place to visit during the festive season. The most famous is the Roman Christmas market at Piazza Navona.

How far is Venice from Rome?

Venice is over 500km away from Rome, so it’s not particularly close by! It takes nearly six hours to drive from Rome to Venice, or around 4 hours and 20 minutes by train. By far the quickest option is to fly, which takes just over an hour.

Luxury accommodation picks

Due to its popularity with tourists, Rome has an impressive selection of world-class hotels on offer. From grand palatial establishments with a rich history to designer boutique properties, here are the best luxury hotels in Rome.

Villa Spalletti Trivelli

VILLA SPALLETTI

A historical villa hotel with aristocratic origins.

Hassler Hotel

HASSLER ROMA

An iconic hotel at the top of the Spanish Steps.

Rome Cavalieri

ROME CAVALIERI

A luxury hotel set within Mediterranean gardens.

Palazzo Manfredi

PALAZZO MANFREDI

A palatial 5-star hotel close to the Colosseum.

Rome restaurant picks

The city of Rome is famed for its unforgettable Italian cuisine. From carpaccio to carbonara, pizza to pasta, here are some of the best restaurants in Rome.

La Pergola

LA PERGOLA

The only three Michelin star restaurant in Rome.

Caramella Rome Italy

CARAMELLA

A hidden gem with a lively ambience and friendly service.

Pianostrada

PIANOSTRADA

A popular restaurant with tasty gourmet dishes.

La Terrazza

LA TERRAZZA

Michelin star fine dining with a breathtaking view.

Rome landmarks

Every European city offers a selection of striking landmarks, but Rome goes above and beyond. The city is home to a seriously impressive number of world-famous attractions, all packed with history. Here are the best Rome landmarks to add to your bucket list.

Trevi Rome Italy

TREVI FOUNTAIN

An impressive baroque fountain that draws astronomical crowds.

Spanish Steps Rome Italy

SPANISH STEPS

The iconic steps from the 18th century are a must-see landmark.

Colosseum

COLOSSEUM

Marvel at the scale and history of this world-famous amphitheatre.

St Peters Square Rome

VATICAN CITY

Explore St Peter’s Square, the Basilica, Sistine Chapel, and more.

Rome travel inspiration

Planning a trip to Rome? Have a read of these Rome travel articles to help you plan your visit.

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