Rome is a big city, the best way of getting the essence of this wonderful place is walking. So get your sneakers ready and lets go!
There are a few points to keep in mind when planning your itinerary:
- Location of sites
- Tickets/entrance prices
- Long queues
- Day of the week
- Time of the day
- Rest times
- Meal times
There are certain itineraries already put together by travel guides. I suggest to take a look and decide what really interest you in a personal level.
To visit Rome is a big deal. This is the center of the ancient world, and because of that title, the city is full of ruins and memories of the greatest past.
The city of Rome is a museum at open sky itself.
Ancient Rome: Palatino Hill – Roman Forum – Colosseum
Ticket Price: Euros 12 (all three sites) *Always check for discounts. If you are student or over 65 you can buy the reduced ticket.
Palatino: 8.30 – 19.00
Roman Forum: 8.30 – One hour before sunset
Coliseum: 8.30 – One hour before sunset
Take one day to visit the most famous and ancient ruins in Rome. A walk down to the history of The Great Romans.
I purposely listed the three big sites in the order you should visit them. You can buy your ticket for all 3 (Euros 12 – April 2016) at the Palatino. There you won’t find a long line, if there is any it will be short. This way you can enter directly to the other two sites without waiting too long – Keep in mind that there will always be a line at the Colosseum- but the line for the people that has tickets or the Roman Pass will be much shorter.
From the Palatino you can access the Forum, it is next to it. Take the time to learn all the history behind those huge structures you are admiring at.
From there a short walk will lead you to the Colosseum, there are signs with maps around the area. But it is easy to spot it…
At the Coliseum you will find a massive concentration of tourists-cameras-souvenir sellers- “selfie”sellers-police-etc.. Do not let that overwhelm you, and for God Sake’s do not accept to buy any “private tour”. It is hard to find a good one over there if you didn’t book in advance. If you want a private tour to the lower level of the Colosseum then book it online with an official guide.
*There’s no official website for these sites but this web page has all the info and its accurate.
Baroque Rome: Trevi- Pantheon-Piazza Navona
Ticket: Free Entrance
Hours: 24 hours
I cannot be objective when I speak about my favorite place in Rome, which is my favorite city on earth. Fontana Di Trevi.
To my eyes this is the most magical place I’ve seen. No matter how many tourists invade this area every day at all times, they cannot take away its magic. She stands there, untouched, beautiful, perfect.
The best conserved Roman ruin in the city. Commissioned by Marcus Agrippa in around 27 BC – 14 AD, and later finished by Emperor Hadrian. This is seriously an amazing structure. It reminds the biggest reinforced dome in the world! It was built as the temple of all Roman Gods, then became a Catholic Church.
One of the most vibrant spots in Rome. Full of restaurants and Gelaterias. A very beautiful piazza with wonderful fountains.
I wrote another post about visiting the Vatican you can check out here
Basilica San Pietro
Ticket: The entrance to the Basilica is free of charge. If you want to access the Cupola by stairs it cost Eur 5, if you want to take the elevator for the first part and save over 300 steps you pay Eur 7. FYI: I walked the whole way up. It gets pretty claustrophobic. So be aware.
Hours: The Basilica is open every day from 7.00 to 19.00, April to September and from 7.00 to 18.00, October to March.
The Piazza San Pietro gets very crowded on Wednesdays and Sundays, when the Pope makes his appearances. On Wednesdays on Piazza San Pietro the Pope General Audience takes place. Thousands of people from around the world comes together to hear the words of the head of Catholicism.
Ticket: Eur 10 *Always check for discounts. If you are student or over 65 you can buy the reduced ticket.
Hours: 9.00 – 19.30
The mausoleum of Hadrian, it was later used by the Popes as a castle and fortress. Now it’s a museum. For Dan Brown fans it is a must see.
Ticket: Euros 16 – If you buy the ticket online to skip the queue you have to pay 4 more Euros. *Always check for discounts. If you are student or over 65 you can buy the reduced ticket.
Hours: Open Monday to Saturday 9 – 18.00 *Check on their website for closing days, there are several days in the year they are closed.
Be aware that the museum is extremely crowded every day. I would recommend to go during the week but not on Mondays when many other museums are closed. A good idea is to do the museum Wednesdays mornings when the Pope Audience takes place, since many are in the Piazza at this time and the museum may be less crowded. Many go to the museum after the mass, so go to the museums early in the morning.
Big museum with many master pieces, treasures and secret parts that are restricted access. Inside the museums you will find the Sixtine Chapel. One of Michelangelo’s most famous works. The chapel is located at the end of the Museum.
*Once you pass the “maps area” exit to the right, after short stairs you will find the entrance to the Chapel. If you turn to the left with all the tourist you will take the double time to reach it.
One of the best neighborhoods in Rome. Medieval streets. Infinite number of restaurants, cafes and night life. One of my favorite areas. The piazza Di Santa Maria in Trastevere is full of bars, cafes, and performers.
This hipster environment set in a medieval part of Rome. Very vivid and exciting. The best place to go for aperitivo.
Some of the best food you can find in Rome is in Trastevere.
Spanish steps- Piazza del Popolo- Villa Borghese
Ticket: Free Entrance
Hours: 24 hours
A little walk from Rome city center and Trevi area, you will find this famous area. Which is also full of designer stores. When I visited they were under renovation and I couldn’t see them in all their splendor. There is a gorgeous church at the top of the steps that you should not miss. The view of Rome, of course, is fantastic from there.
Piazza del Popolo
It’s one of my favorite piazzas. You can access Villa Borghese from here and the views are gorgeous, San Pietro is the start of this panoramic scene from here.
One big green spot in a chaotic city like Rome… It is beautiful and relaxing to just lay on the grass and chill in the middle of Rome.
At some areas it does have a lot going on too. Park for kids, lots of bicycles riders and performers.
Bocca della Verità – Circus Maximus – Roseto di Roma – Giardino degli Aranci – Malta keyhole
Ticket: Free Entrance
Bocca della Verità: 9.30-17.30
Giardino degli Aranci: 7 – 21.00
Roseto di Roma: 8.30 -19.30
Knights of Malta Keyhole: 24 hours
Bocca della Verità
These are pretty close together and it can be done in one visit. I recommend to arrive to La Bocca della Verità early since there is usually a long queue. Remember it’s at the entrance of a church so if you go in Summer you must cover your legs and shoulders.
Around the corner from La Bocca della Verità you will find Circus Maximus. The area where the Romans used to hold horse races and games. Its this massive area next to the Roman Palatino and surrounded by very busy streets. A great point to rest.
Roseto di Roma e Giardino Degli Aranci
The perfect spot to take a break from the hoards of tourists. You can recharge at these beautiful parks, with an amazing view of Rome while you enjoy your pic-nic.
Knights of Malta Keyhole
The Embassy of Malta has a special detail. If you look through the keyhole at their door you can have a mind blowing view. From here you see San Pietro’s Cupola. To make it more special, the experience takes place “at three states at the same time”. You are standing at the door of Malta’s embassy, so its Malta territory, you are in Rome, Italy, and you are seeing San Pietro which is in Vatican City, an independent state.
To arrive just keep walking from Giardino Degli Aranci down Via di Santa Sabina and you will find the Knights of Malta Door (and Keyhole) on your right.
Terme di Caracalla – Antica Via Appia
Terme di Caracalla
Ticket: Euros 6 * Always check for discounts. If you are student or over 65 you can buy the reduced ticket.
Hours: 9 – 16.30 *check their website for seasonal opening hours.
The Terme are one of the best things I’ve seen in Rome. They are so huge and detailed that it made me feel we, modern men, have no idea of how to enjoy and live life. The Romans possessed such a high level of architecture and luxury that still amazed me.
Antica Via Appia
Ticket: Free Entrance
Hours: 24 hours
This area is a little off the main area of Rome. It was one of the main roads the ancient Romans used and connected Rome with Brindisi. I suggest to rent a bike to get there and be careful driving it!
Rome has as many churches as pizza stands. I visited as many as I could, and to see all of them is pretty difficult. There are so many!
There are many small churches in Rome, and also four big ones. These are: Basilica of St. John Lutheran, St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Paul Outside the Walls, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.
San Pietro in Vincoli (Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli, 4/a, 00184 Roma, Italy): This church contains one of the most interesting and enigmatic Michelangelo’s piece of art. The Moses.
Here is a picture of it:
Other churches worth visiting:
Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola (Via del Caravita, 8a, 00186 Roma, Italy)
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Basilica (Piazza della Minerva, 42, 00186 Roma, Italy)
San Luigi dei Francesi (Piazza di S. Luigi de’ Francesi, 00186 Roma, Italy)
Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria (Via 20 Settembre, 17, 00187 Roma, Italy)
Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Piazza della Repubblica, 00185 Roma, Italy)
San Biagio degli Armeni (Via Giulia, 63, 00186 Roma, Italy)
Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere (Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, 00153 Roma, Italy)
Best Restaurants in Rome
There are an infinite number of restaurants in Rome, as you can imagine. The challenge is to find the good ones… It is a big touristic city. With hoards of tourists every day year-round. Most of them get trapped in the city center by the major touristic attractions and pay a lot for food that is not so good, or not as good as in certain traditional places.
As you may know, the best places are usually away from touristic attractions, they are small, usually with no outside seating, menus in Italian of course, and local customers.
My favorite foods in Rome are: pasta with Calcio e pepe, Carbonara, Pizza Margherita, Gelato, Amazing baked goods.
Near Fontana di Trevi
Sora Lucia (via della Panetteria, 12, Roma)
Near Fontana di Trevi, a small, very Roman trattoria. Some of the best pasta around. This is a local place, not a touristy one. That is a lot to say for the area. Make you you make it on time, it is usually full of Romans. They open at 12.30 for lunch!
Hosteria Romana (Via del Boccaccio, 1, Roma)
Few blocks from Sora Lucia, you will find an authentic Roman and affordable Hosteria. Uncomparable plates of Carbonara and Cacio e pepe!
Antica Trattoria Tritone (Via dei Maroniti, 1, 00187 Roma)
I found this trattoria like we find everything else, looking for something else. And it was a true gem. I found friends and real homemade food. I came back here almost every day and tried many items… all of them fabulous. Every time I got complimentary limoncello 😉
Surprisingly it is not far from Fontana di Trevi, but out of the touristic path.
Trattoria Vecchia Roma (Via Ferruccio, 12, Roma)
Have you ever dreamed with homemade, hot pasta swirling around a huge whole Formaggio and directly to your plate? I have… and my dreams came true at Trattoria Vecchia Roma. Not far from Termini, near Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. Take the chance to look around for some cheap garment shop around the piazza 😉
Center of Rome
Osteria dell’ingegno (Piazza di Pietra, 45, Roma)
When you walk from Pantheon to Fontana di Trevi, or viceversa you will pass through a piazza called “Piazza di Pietra” and you will be amazed by the glorious view of the Temple of Adriano. Near there you will also find some amazing food in Osteria dell’ingegno.
Ristorante Tre Archi (Via dei Coronari, 233, 00186 Roma)
Near Piazza Navona. This is one of the most traditional and local restaurants Ive eaten at in Rome. Good prices and great location.
Trattoria Da Fortunata (Via del Pellegrino, 19, Roma)
Do you have an Italian grandma? I do! (and I know how lucky I am for that!). If you don’t, do not worry… Fortunata can be your grandma for a day and prepare you handmade pasta that you will never forget. A short walk from Piazza Navona and you will find this gem.
Carlo Menta (Via della Lungaretta, 101, 00153 Roma)
This incredible place is located in Trastevere area. It is one of the most inexpensive restaurants in Rome and it is very good.
Ai Marmi Pizzeria (Viale di Trastevere, 53, 00153 Roma)
Also in Trastevere. Best pizza and supplì I tried in Rome. Napolitana style.
Forno (Piazza del Drago, Roma)
A bakery that is just too good to be true. Located in Trastevere and near Carlo Menta. Fresh baked brioche with a cappuccino for 1.50 for breakfast (price June 2016).
Romulo e Remo (Via Pannonia, 22-26, 00183 Roma)
San Giovanni neighborhood area, close to Terme di Caracalla. Good homemade food, with locals and very good size dishes.
Gelateria La Romana since 1947 (Via Venti Settembre, 60, 00187 Roma) ❤
Seriously THE BEST gelato I’ve tried in my life. And I’ve tried many throughout this trip. My favorite flavors: Biscotto della nonna, cioccolate fondente, mascarpone e expresso… I am in heaven.
Pompi Tiramisu (Via Albalonga, 7, Roma)
Probably The most famous spot for Tiramisu. They have several different flavors: Traditional, strawberry, frutti di bosco… But they also offer desserts and Gelato ❤ just a short walk away from Piazza di Spagna.
Transportation in Rome
Rome is a chaotic city. Its been this way since the antique Romans times, and it will always be this way. There are as many cars and motorcycle on the streets as people, and many of them are tourists. To move around Rome you have many options, Rome has an extended web of bus lines, trams and metro. These cover all central Rome, there are also many train lines to get to the farthest parts.
There are two Metro lines (A & B, C is being currently built and it will be great). Buses are pretty pack during the pick hours and I prefer trams, which are faster and less crowded most of the times but these don’t reach all parts of the city.
There are 6 lines of trams.These are:
2 Piazzale Flaminio – Piazza Mancini
3 Piazza Thorvaldsen (in the Villa Borghese) – Trastevere Station
5 Roma Termini – Piazza dei Gerani.
8 Piazza Venezia – Via del Casaletto. This one goes to Trastevere
14 Stazione Termini – Viale Palmiro Togliatti
- 19 Piazza Risorgimento – Piazza dei Gerani.
In Rome you can get a single ride ticket (Euros 1.50), a day pass (Euros 7), 48 hours (Euros 12.50), a ticket valid for 72 hours (Euros 18) and a weekly 7 (Euros 24). You can get these at the metro self service machines, outside Termini at the bus stop. You can also buy your single ride at the Tabacchi places all around Rome, like in any other city in Italy.