5 Top Tips for Visiting Rome

5 Top Tips for Visiting Rome

There is so much to see in Rome. The city literally has ancient wonders on nearly every street, and that’s not even an exaggeration. Unless you’re Flash, it is impossible to see everything in one trip to the Eternal City. But I want you to have a pretty good stab at seeing the essentials. So here are my top tips to make sure you make the most of your time there. 

Full view of Roman Colloseum

Get A Good Map

Rome is made up of a never-ending network of winding alleyways and narrow roads with no or few street signs that even Google Maps struggles to comprehend. Investing in a detailed map of the city is a must before going, as the paper ones given out for free at many of the hotels are often too simplistic or not clear enough to be useful, and when Google fails you don’t want to have to resort to inadequate hand gestures and the little Italian you know to try to get directions from locals.

view of river and street in Rome

Only buy a ROMA pass if you are going outside central Rome 

The ROMA passes are a great way to fit a lot into your trips as they offer free and discounted entrances to different sites, as well as free access to all public transport. They are available for 48 or 72 hours, being active once you start to use them. In the city centre, in which a lot of the attractions are free like the Pantheon, you may only use your ROMA pass to enter the Colosseum. Certain central sites like the Vatican are not included at all in the pass. In central Rome, the free access to public transport is the most useful part of the pass. If you’re planning on only seeing the main sites in Rome or are going to stay within the city centre, I would suggest that you buy a public transport pass as opposed to the ROMA pass, and book or reserve a lot of your tickets to the historical sites online instead, particularly for the Vatican.

close up shot of Roman Colosseum

 See one major sight every day 

The historical sites in Rome get crowded very quickly, particularly the main ones like the Colosseum. The best way to skip the long queues is to plan to see one major site every morning, then spend the rest of the day exploring the smaller sites and the city. Aim to see sites like the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Church and the Vatican Museums on different days and as early in the day as possible. Each of these sites requires at least an hour and a half to fully enjoy them, if not 3 hours. By seeing them in the morning, you avoid wasting your holiday by spending hours in queues, and you also avoid information overload by trying to do too many major sites at once.

Roman Forum ruins

Some sites are better to see later in the day

Certain attractions are better seen in the late afternoon or the evening as opposed to first thing in the morning. The Roman Forum is best seen in the late afternoon when there are quieter queues and fewer people. Similarly, you can still enjoy the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain in the evening when these often chaotic attractions are much more hushed.  Equally, make sure you explore the city in the evenings or at night, as you should try to experience it in every light. 

Go further afield to truly taste Roman food 

When you’ve been exploring ancient history all morning, the idea of walking another 15 minutes to find a more authentic restaurant seems ridiculous, but it is always worth it!  The food served in restaurants near the main attractions is nothing compared to the amazing delicacies you can find in the less visited parts of Rome. The most popular of these foodie neighbourhoods is Trastevere, the best place in my experience to find delicious Italian specialities, particularly the gelato! It is also well worth visiting the food markets that pop up around Rome every month. The most well know of these is the farmers’ market in Campo de Fiori, Rome’s historic market place that has existed for over 400 years. It is a must-see historic site for any traveller, as well as a great spot to pick up authentic Roman foods (try the olive paste!). 

Everyone knows that you have to see the Colosseum when in Rome. But what other must-see historic sites are there? Well, here’s four amazing sites to see in Rome that aren’t the Colosseum.

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4 Comments

  1. Andy Gair
    June 9, 2017 / 6:59 pm

    Thanks for the advice which seems very good guidance. Are there any good websites you’d recommend?

    • June 9, 2017 / 8:59 pm

      The Roma website is always a good resource as the official tourist website of Rome, as is The Rome Toolkit and articles on Lonely Planet for planning which attractions you want to see. I would also recommend looking at hostels on Hostelworld.com as a lot of the small hostels are actually guesthouses that are located centrally for a really good price. I’d recommend getting a hostel around the back of the Colosseum, near Termini station as there are quite a lot in that area with brilliant reviews.

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