The Ultimate Rome City Guide full of essential tips
All you need to know on your trip to Rome + Travel tips + Restaurants
By India Donisi
To make your trip to Rome more enjoyable I have created a guide that I wish I had when I first set foot in Rome. So sit back and read, and thank me later!
Rome, the city of love, history, culture and food. Is there a nicer city to just stroll around with your lover or with friends, indulging in the views of mesmerizing architecture and having a food or coffee break every hour? For me Rome is the most beautiful city in the world but that is when you get to know her a little bit better. At first sight Rome can be quiet overwhelming and a bit tiring, and that is an understatement.
Arrival at the airport in Rome
When you arrive at the airport Fiumicino, this is the biggest airport where all international and intercontinental flights arrive, it’s still a bit of a trip to get to the center of Rome. Most people just take a cab outside and I would say that is the easiest way to get in to the center straight away. Taxis cost a fix price of 50 euros so no need to negotiate the price.
However, if travelling on a budget 50 euros to start your trip with could be a bit of a bummer. The cheaper option is to take the train that departs from the airport and brings you to the train station Termini where you can switch to any metro line. The train costs 14 euros.
Many budget airlines arrive at Ciampino airport, I found a very useful website where you can read all about transportation to and from this airport.
Going to Rome alone
I get many questions from girls that would like to travel to Rome by themselves and wonder if it is a safe city for solo traveling. In my opinion it is! Rome is safe and can easily be travelled to alone. Common sense should always be present though, so don’t do things you wouldn’t do in your own city. Avoid going to quiet allies in the middle of the night, you know the drill!
Best time of the year to go to Rome and the weather in Rome
Personally I like Rome best in springtime and right after summer, at the beginning of autumn. Why is that? Because Rome in the summer is inferno! It get’s so super hot that you literally want to faint. Since the city is so intense and there is so much to do and see, you don’t want to be sweating like a pig while walking around and having to cool down every half hour. Temperatures are nice starting march up until June and then again from September on right till November. Of course the city is also magical in winter time if you don’t mind the cold. For detailed information about the weather each month of the year you can check this website!
Wondering where to stay in Rome? Here are the best areas to stay in Rome
Rome is a pretty big city so depending on your plans it is a good idea to pick the area you are staying wisely. Here you’ll find a list of the nicest areas.
Staying in Trastevere
Trastevere is known for the romantic little streets you’ve seen in the movies. The evenings are super cosy, the little squares are full with locals and tourists, it’s a very international neighborhood. If you’re not a fan of crowds, this isn’t the ideal area for you. Here you’ll also find nice little trattorias with the good roman food. If staying here you have to keep in mind that there is no metro nearby so long walks are necessary to get from one place to another. For more info: https://www.neverendingvoyage.com/trastevere-the-perfect-neighbourhood-in-rome/
Testaccio is far from the crowds of the city center. This area is known for the food. All the best Roman restaurants are located in this area so it is definitely a must visit! It’s a neighborhood where you’ll find a lot of locals and at night it’s known for its student nightlife. In Testaccio you live like the romans do.
Monti is one of my favorite areas. It is located right in the middle of the historic center so here you’ll feel like an ancient Roman! Even though it’s in the heart of ancient Rome, historic does not mean boring. Monti is super hip, with a lot of nightlife, vintage stores and hipster bars to have a nice ‘aperitivo’.
Piazza Navona area
If you like to have everything at walking distance you can opt for the area around the Piazza Navona and the Campo dei fiori. All the monuments are around this area so this is the ideal place to stay if you’re visiting Rome for only a couple of days and want to see everything quick. The downside is that it can be very crowded around here and pretty expensive since you’re situated in the heart of the tourist attractions!
The Spanish steps is a wonderful area to stay if you are looking for luxury. This is the high class and fancy neighborhood where you find historical monuments, high-end shopping and luxury bars and restaurants. Of course, hotels around here are not cheap but definitely worth it if you are looking to spoil yourself.
Sightseeing in Rome; the main attractions
In Rome there is a lot to see. The whole city looks like an open-air museum and it can be difficult to decide on what to see if you have little time on your hands. I’ll guide you through the MUST-see tourist attractions but I’ll also tell you some off the beaten path places to see, in case you are staying a bit longer or you’re visiting for the second time.
Must see Tourist attractions in Rome
Need we say more? This is number one when in Rome. Even though you’ve seen it a thousand times on pictures, the first time you see it in real life will absolutely blow you away. It’s an amazing monument with so much history. Do walk around it because every angle has its charm and if you want to get inside, which I do recommend, try going early in the morning so it’s less crowded.
Expect lots and lots of people, but when you get through the crowds and get a glimpse of the fountain you’ll be surprised. The Trevi fountain is like a dream! Go as early as you can to get the right picture without a million people and don’t forget to throw your coin!
This amazing piazza is one of my favorites. The baroque architecture of the amazing fountains and the square is absolutely stunning. Early in the morning it’s not that crowded so that is a good moment to admire the beauty of the square. Personally, I love this piazza at night when all the lights are on and it’s full of people. Be aware of pick pockets and if you’re on a budget you might want to be careful when ordering a drink at the terraces on the square because prices can be insanely high. A better place for a drink are the surrounding little streets that are on itself worth a visit.
The piazza di Spagna is a magnificent square with 174 steps that bring you up de Pincian Hill. From up the steps you have an amazing view over the piazza del Popolo and around the square are the fanciest stores you’ll find in Rome, like Versace, Chanel and Furla.
Rome is all about churches. There are 4 main papal basilicas to be found in Rome, all four are definitely worth visiting. Those are the Saint Peter, the Santa Maria Maggiore, the San Paolo and the San Giovanni in laterano. These four churches have been granted special status by the pope and all have a holy door. Of course, besides those four churches, Rome has many more that can’t be missed. Just walking around in the city you’ll stumble upon so many churches that it’s unnecessary to sum them all up for you!
You can’t visit Rome and not go to see the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel. Even though it can be an exhausting experience, because of the crowds and the grandeur of the museum, I’m sure you won’t regret it.
The museums are very big and it can take up to half a day to see it all, so be prepared. I recommend you to go early to avoid crowds, or try lunch time, around 1 pm. Bring good shoes and enjoy! Don’t forget to look up because the ceilings inside the museums are marvelous.
Right in front of the Colosseum the Forum Romanum is located. These glorious ruins used to be the center of ancient Rome. You need a ticket to get in so you can walk through the ruins and see everything but to be honest you can get a pretty good view of everything from a far too, this is a great option if you don’t have that much time.
The pantheon is one of those places that can’t be missed when in Rome. We all know the amazing ceiling with the hole in it. This particular design was made to protect the ancient temple against earthquakes. The square itself is also worth a visit. Around the pantheon you’ll find some nice gelaterias that I still dream about!
Piazza del popolo
This giant square used to be the first view travelers would have when they reached Rome back in the days. It still has this majestic feel to it with a massive Egyptian obelisk and the fountains. A must is to get up the Pincian hill to get an amazing view over Rome and the square.
Last of the tourist attractions is the Circo Maximo. This ancient stadium used to be the largest of its time. The area nowadays is used as a park and hosts famous concerts. Just the sight of it is worth stopping by.
Rome’s hidden gems
If you have a bit more days to spend in Rome, or it’s your second or third time then there is a lot more to do than just visiting the main tourist attractions. I’ll name a few!
Rome is THE place to be for vintage shopping. There are so many nice vintage stores that I wrote a whole post about it. You can check it out here: link to post.
Italy is known for its amazing aperitvo. Between 6 and 8 PM it’s time to sit down in a nice bar or bistro and order a drink. Many places serve a drink for a fixed price and serve you food that is included in the price. In fact, some aperitivi are so good, you might have to skip dinner! In Rome almost every bar has an aperitivo so definitely try it out!
The catacombs are subterranean passages that back in the days were used as burial places. There are over 60 catacombs but only five of them are open to the public. There are nice tours you can book that offer guides that lead you through the catacombs.
This museum is one of my favorites. It is housed inside a former power plant in Rome and shows art, sculptures and mosaics. The area is filled with giant machines that used to provide power for the entire city so walking around the rooms feels a bit surreal.
The Appian way is as famous as Rome itself. This is the street where emperors used to walk. There is a really nice self guided walk you can do if you have a bit of time that covers the best places to see and the catacombs.
The Barberini palace is a 17thcentury building which houses the Galleria Nazionale d’arte Antica. Lots of famous Italian paintings are collected here. It is absolutely worth a visit.
When you think of Rome, you think of food. Testaccio market houses many food stalls that make you super hungry. It is one of the oldest markets of Rome and the products are very fresh and selected with care. Here you can eat for a couple of euro’s and indulge in all the good Italy has to offer.
Must-visit restaurants in Rome – Where to eat in Rome
When in Rome finding good food shouldn’t be too hard since on every street corner there are nice authentic restaurants that serve traditional dishes. The best tip I can give you is to stay away from the big tourist attractions when looking for places to eat. Moving just a little can be enough to prevent yourself from a disaster. That said I will share some of my all time favorite restaurants in Rome.
Just outside the Mercato dei fiori you’ll find a place called Roscioli. I tasted the carbonara and I am still dreaming about it! As a starter we tried their selection of fresh charcuterie, since they are a salumeria (a shop specialized in (cured) meats) I had high expectations. The products were all very fresh and the bread and olive oil homemade and extremely tasty. I recommend this place with all my heart. Do book in advance because it gets really full!
Felice a Testaccio
Testaccio is an area that is known for the better trattoria’s and traditional Roman food. At felice they are specialized in the cacio e pepe pasta, one of Rome’s most typical pastas. The waiter serves the food and mixes the cacio cheese with the pasta while standing at the table. It is really spectacular!
Trattoria Vecchia Roma
This typical Roman trattoria is famous for many reasons. The dishes are traditional and very tasty. They are known for their amatriciana flambe which is very very good. I do have to say that this is not a place to go when you want to have a quiet dinner. The place is packed and extremely chaotic. Even when you book a table chances are you have to wait for a while and dishes are not always served in the right order (we got antipasto and pasta and our meat dish all together). But if you are up for an adventure this is your place to go!
This place is very famous all over the world. It is a tiny pizza shop where you can get pizza al taglio (sliced pizza) with very good ingredients. You have to stand in line and there are no places to sit so you eat the pizza out of your hand but I tell you, it’s worth it! It’s inside the Vatican City so you can combine it easily when visiting the Saint Peter.
Flavio al ve l’ avevo detto
This place surprised me in so many ways. It’s a small trattoria with nice white linen and excellent service. Pasta’s super tasty and an elaborate wine list. When going for dinner you couldn’t really ask for more. The place is very affordable and the funniest thing is they explicitly state that they do not serve cappuccino’s! The real Italian style.
Some more restaurants I haven’t tried but were recommended to me by roman friends are Alle carrette, L’ isola della pizza and Al grottino. Mó Mó, for nice pizza’s in a beautiful villa.
Let’s not forget ice cream! The best ice-cream in Rome
Some of my favorite places are La romana, Gelateria del teatro, Otaleg, Neve di latte, but this is just a selection. Rome has got so many good gelaterias it makes it incredibly hard to choose so I recommend you to just try lots and lots yourself!
Bars to visit in Rome
Rome has a lot of super nice bars, for breakfast, aperitivo or after dinner drinks. I’ll tell you some of my favorites.
Go here for cocktails in Trastevere!
The most famous cocktailbar of the city, it can be crowded but it’s worth a try!
A super nice roofterrace near the via del corso.
Go here for nice aperitivo in San Lorenzo.
Bir & Fud
Good craft beer in Trastevere.
Bar del Fico
A famous bar near the piazza Navona. Especially nice in summer time.
Places for shopping in Rome
Last but not least, we’ll have to talk about shopping. Rome has got a lot in store for you if you like to update your wardrobe. I already mentioned my post about vintage shopping might you be interested in that: link to post.
But of course, there is not only vintages stores that are worth visiting when in Rome. I’ll guide you through the main shopping streets and areas.
Via del corso
This street is the place where you will find the popular brands like ZARA and H&M. The good thing is it is an amazingly pretty street nearby all the historical highlights so walking around here is a treat itself!
Via Cola di Rienzo
Here you’ll find chains of a higher segment. It’s a super comfortable street for shopping because of its amplitude.
Via Condotti and Via Babuino
Near the Spanish steps you’ll find these two streets packed with luxury stores. Chanel, Bulgari and Furla, you’ll find them all here! The street deserves a visit, even just for some window shopping!
Monti is a very hip area where you’ll find lots of nice boutiques. The via del boschetto is the place to be to find out or the ordinary shops and clothes. Not only for outfits this is a nice area, also for coffee, drinks and food you’ll love Monti. The best thing is from here you can walk your way to the colosseum and many other tourist attractions!
Via del governo Vecchio
For vintage shopping!
I hope you enjoyed this guide through the ancient city of Rome! Ofcourse I have a lot more tips so if you are looking for something more specific, please feel free to ask! I answer all emails.
Just one more article I personally enjoy about Rome. Click here!