I was so happy to see that so many of you guys want to learn more about the Eternal City. As promised, here you can find a complete travel guide so you will have the best city break in the capital of Italy and understand why they say that „Italians do it better”!
I must start by saying I completely, madly, deeply adore Italy and I have seen many parts of it (hoping to see it all soon). The most exciting part of visiting this country is that you can find beauty in every corner: from a small village in Tuscany to the most cosmopolitan city, Milan.
That being said, I will try to sum up the best things you can do in Rome based on my experience so far. I cannot promise I will be able to show you photos from every touristy place given the fact that I was in Rome for the first time many years ago and when I go now I tend to experience „la dolce vita” without repeating the same attractions.
I do have to admit that in 2011, if I recall correctly, I was in Rome with my girls and it was epic. It was my first girls-only city break so we did enjoyed it to the fullest. My feet hurt like crazy even one week after coming home because we did not miss a single attraction. So five full days wandering the cobbled streets of Rome checking out museums, iconic places and squares, trattorias and gelato shops (Mmm, yes, gelato shops!). We totally fell for Rome! ❤
- HOW TO ARRIVE
Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, in the Lazio Region. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city.
Of course, the easiest and comfortable way to reach this capital city is by plane, but if you are coming from Europe, you might also find some good train connections.
Rome has two main airports: the intercontinental Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, situated in the south-west of Rome in Fiumicino and Rome Ciampino Airport situated in the south-east of the city. The first one is used by major lines and offers connections with the majority of big cities in the world and the second one is used by low costs companies such as Ryan Air, Easy Jet or Wizz Air.
Leonardo da Vinci International Airport is situated 32 km from Rome, while Rome Ciampino Airport is situated closer to the city center, around 20 km.
The difference is that from Fiumicino you can also find a direct train (Leonardo Express) to Stazione Termini – the central station of the city, while from Ciampino you only have the bus option. A one way train ticket costs 11 Eur and the bus tickets from both Fiumicino and Ciampino to Termini are around 5-6 Eur per way.
!Tip 1: If you choose the train option, do not forget to stamp your ticket at the validating machines before boarding.
!Tip 2: If you choose the bus option (as I did most times), you just get out of the airport, search for the bus area, purchase the ticket before getting in and you are good to go! 40 minutes later you are at Termini Station. Cheap and simple.
!Tip 3: If you want to travel more comfortable, you can choose a taxi. It will cost you around 50 Eur from Fiumicino to the city center. Just make sure you take an official marked taxi from the rank, there were multiple situations when unauthorized taxis ripped off tourists.
- WHERE TO STAY
As you would imagine, Rome has a very long list of hotels, guest houses and apartments to choose from and the best news is that you can find prices for any budget. If you are interested in wandering the city, of course, I recommend choosing a place close to the center.
My first time in Rome was a disaster from this point of view. We did not know how to choose a good area for accommodation, so we had to struggle every morning to get to the center. We had to walk to the bus station, than take a public bus, than the metro and we even had to change the lines. We lost more than 2 hours per day just to get in the central area. Not to mention the fact that we were depending on public transportation so we always had to run in the evening to make sure we catch the last bus. This is the reason why I suggest booking a hotel closer to the city center even if you pay a little extra because you have the chance to wander around without any concerns regarding the late hour.
If you are searching for a cheaper accommodation, try Termini Station. I know the area is not that clean, but I had no problems with safety and the fact that both the train and bus from the airport leave you here, it is definitely a plus. You do not have to carry your luggage with you through the city in order to get to the hotel.
I also recommend giving http://www.airbnb.com a try when booking accommodation for Rome. One time I found a gorgeous guest house right in the back of the Colosseum, around 5 minutes away, for a very good price. As a plus, the owner was extremely helpful and friendly.
!Tip: Be sure to book in advance for the best prices because Rome is always full of tourists and you do not want to end up paying a fortune for accommodation.
- HOW LONG SHOULD YOU STAY
When we are talking about Rome, there is never enough time to wander around the eternal city. You can visit Rome for one week and still go home with unseen attractions, but you can also enjoy la dolce vita for two full days and be very happy about it. There is no secret formula, it just depends on how much time do you have at your disposal.
As I’ve already said, I chose to spend five full days the first time I visited and I got back wanting for more! Last time, I only had two days, but I made sure I would enjoy them to the fullest.
If time is not an issue, I recommend staying more days, blend with the locals, try learning Italian or take a cooking class. After all, you can never go wrong with pasta, right?
- WHERE AND WHAT TO EAT
And we finally got to my favorite part: Italian food! Oh my God, Italian food is simply divine. I must tell you a secret: sometimes, I make up all kind of reasons why should we visit Italy again only to taste the magical lasagna or a perfect portion of truffle pasta. Should I continue with the most delicious ice cream ever? Or with the yummy pizza? Oh, the list could go on and on and on…like forever 🙂
The food is simply amazing everywhere you go in Italy and Rome will not let you down. Of course, I must start by recommending you to skip the touristy places in order to get a proper Italian meal. There you can find the so called tourist traps meaning restaurants that only care about making money with you once, not making sure you will be back. The truth is that we all want to eat in places with beautiful views when we travel abroad. But this is sometimes the worst thing to do. I suggest having a drink in the places you like most for their views and try a hidden traditional restaurant for your dinner.
That being said, here are my RECOMMENDATIONS:
- That’s Amore! – In my opinion, this is one of the best restaurants in Rome, a few steps from Fontana di Trevi. It is a small family owned restaurant with dishes to die for. You should not leave the city without tasting their truffle pasta – Fettuccine Porcini mushrooms and Black Truffle. If you are a meat lover, go for Fabio’s saltimbocca alla romana, thin veal slices topped with dry beef and sage, sautéed in a white wine sauce and served with roasted rosemary potatoes. You can thank me later 🙂
- Caminetto Ristorante – Being well known among locals, the restaurant on Viale Parioli brings Italian cuisine to another level since 1959 when Italo Santucci and his wife Anna Maria Ciampini decided to make their dream come true. Be sure to taste some traditional pasta, but only after enjoying some delicious appetizers.
- Il Baccanale Ristorante – Although situated right in the corner of the touristy piazza of Campo dei Fiori, this restaurant sure gives you a taste of the delicious Italian food. If you are a pasta lover, this is the right choice. Also the place is perfect for people watching while enjoying a glass of your favorite wine.
To be honest, I always choose a hotel situated close to the center and enjoy the city step by step. I think the best way to actually see Rome is by foot due to the beautiful buildings and architecture all around. This city is like a museum and you do not want to miss any exhibition.
But if you are not a huge fan of walking, you do have a pretty good option with public transportation. An individual ticket for bus, metro, tram and trains inside the municipality of Rome is 1.50 Eur and is valid for 100 minutes.
Do not forget to validate your ticket before boarding or you risk getting a fine. Oh, yes, I do have a story even for that – I do not want to remember how five girls, myself included, cried on the streets of Rome for not knowing you need to validate the ticket. Try explaining that in English to an Italian ticket inspector! Nope, not a good idea!
If you will be in Rome for an extended period of time, one can buy a seven day Metro and bus pass (called CIS) for 24 €. You also have options for 24, 48, 72 hours depending on the length of your stay.
If you want more comfort or you want to stay late in the city, try Uber. It is very popular among locals and tourists.
In order to blend with the locals, try renting a Vespa and wander the cobbled streets! You can’t get more Italian than that. Do not forget to put on your fancy outfit for most authentic experience.
- WHEN TO GO
Well, the answer to this is pretty simple. There is not bad time to visit Rome! I have seen it in all four seasons and it charmed me every time. If I were to choose, I would probably visit it in spring or autumn when the weather is lovely and sunny, but you can wander around all day without fainting from the heat. My first trip to Rome was around mid April and I think it was perfect.
I must admit I did not see Rome dressed for Christmas holidays and I should definitely give it a try since Milan really impressed me last year with the perfect dreamy Christmas tree at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. I bet Rome also has a lot to offer and I will soon make sure to check it out.
- MONEY AND ATMs
As you probably know already, EURO is the official coin in Italy since the country is part of the UE. You can pay cash or by credit card almost everywhere you want. It is good to have some change on you for souvenirs and little expenses. You can find ATMs in almost every corner so you should not worry about this.
- HOW MUCH MONEY DO I NEED
Well, this depends on the kind of traveler you are, what you want to do and how much do you intend to stay. Regarding flights, you can now find cheap options from everywhere in Europe. I will take Bucharest as an example since this is where my journeys start. You can find tickets as low as 10 EUR/way if you pay attention at Ryan Air, Wizz Air or Blue Air promotions. Regarding accommodation, as I’ve already said, you can find options for any pocket, but you should book in advance. I suggest reading the reviews before choosing a cheap hotel because I am sure you do not want to stay in a dirty or unsafe place. If you allocate around 60 Eur/night, I consider you can find pretty good options close to the city center. Regarding food, you do not need to worry, you can find cheap and delicious restaurants and you also have the take away option for slices of pizza, tasty Panini and pastries.
To sum up, in my opinion, Rome can be one of the cheapest options for city breaks in Europe.
- WHAT TO SEE & DO
We finally got to this part. Rome has so many beautiful things to offer to the ones that are ready to explore it. A quick advice: Prepare your feet, I do hope you have practice.
PS: You cannot leave Rome without crossing this off your list!
I could talk about Rome for days and I would still have something to say. Do not hesitate and visit the Eternal City as soon as possible, it is impossible not to love it.
Also do not forget to check 10 mandatory things to do in Rome
See you soon!
And remember: life is short and the world is wide…
*** All pictures without the Blonde around the World watermark from this travel blog are from Google. All the credit goes to the rightful owners.