There is still one post missing to complete my Rome package. In addition to my Dining Guide and my guide about the best bars and clubs, you will also need a guide for the basic things – things to do and logistics. I hope this posts makes your trip to Italy fabulous!
Things to Do
I do not want to focus on the obvious sights, I am sure that most of you know about the Colosseum or the Forum Romanum. And even if you do not, there are plenty of other bloggers who have covered the major tourist locations extensively. I would like to share my personal highlights here with you. Some are obvious places, and I hope most of them are not so obvious.
Before every trip to Rome, I check online for current exhibitions. There is no need to tell you that the art scene in Rome is amazing. There is pretty much everything – from ancient to contemporary art. If there is no exhibition which sounds interesting for you, the Vatican Museums are always a good idea. Even if you have visited, there are so many exhibits that it is very difficult to see everything in one day. Make sure to pre-book your ticket, lines are very long.
This museum designed by Zaha Hadid is dedicated to art of the 21st century. This museum does not only cover visual arts but also really cool topics such as physics or environmental issues. Last time, there was an exhibition dedicated to the future of urban planning.
The building itself is beautiful, decorated with marble and beautiful frescoes. But the exhibits are even more breathtaking. You have to see Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne sculpture.
After your visit, take a walk in the beautiful park of the Villa Borghese. It is such a beautiful green oasis right in the middle of Rome. Furthermore, you will get one of the best views of the city, looking down to Piazza del Popolo.
Walk in Trastevere
Trastevere means on the other side of the River Tiber. I really like the neighbourhood. You can explore the architecture, try small restaurants and cafés and hang out with the local crowd in one of the many hip bars. On weekends, there is a flea market.
Campo de’ Fiori
It is a very touristy place, but I do love the whole area around Campo de’ Fiori. Especially the small bakeries near the Campo offering “Baci di Dama” – a type of cookie made of hazelnut and “glued” together with chocolate.
Just a stone’s throw away from Campo de’Fiori, there is the site which will make any architecture enthusiast skip a beat: the Villa Farnesina. Built in the 16th century for the Sienese banker Agostino Chigi it is a beautiful architectural example and also has stunning frescoes by Raphael inside.
Fun in the Sun
The beach is not too far – you can take the train to Ostia and the areas near it and enjoy a day at the place where Romans spend their weekend if they do not leave the city in summer.
Well, there is no trip to Italy without shopping. There are the busy streets of Via del Corso (international brands) and Via Condotti (luxury brands) but I usually do not spend much time there. I walk over to Piazza di San Lorenzo in Lucina and then walk towards the Pantheon area and Piazza Navona. From there, I explore the small streets until I reach Campo de’ Fiori. I like the small boutiques where I can find unique pieces I would not find anywhere else.
If you need a break from all the walking and carrying your shopping bags, I highly recommend the spa at the Hotel de Russie. You can book treatments even if you are not a hotel guest. (Via del Babuino 9)
Day Trip Villa d’Este and Villa Adriana
For all the art and history lovers, a day trip to Villa d’Este and Villa Adriana (Roman emperor Hadrian’s home) are a must. You should factor in a day. The sights are accessible by bus.
I absolutely love the BDB Luxury Rooms concept. They have multiple outlets all over the city centre. The rooms are in residential areas in nice houses and really stylish. Usually, they offer rooms with included breakfast. However, this breakfast is usually around the corner in a café. I really liked that concept. Depending on when you book, prices are in the medium range. I have stayed in the two branches near the Piazza di Spagna (Margutta and Spagna).
An alternative which is a bit more expensive is Roma Boutique Hotel in Via Toscana. It is also in a nice area, a bit further than the two BDB rooms I stayed in. The rooms are super stylish.
Best Time to Travel to Rome
I highly recommend the time from September until December. It can still be very warm and sunny even in November. I would at all cost avoid the busy summer months from June until August – it is extremely hot and crowded and definitely not fun. Also, bear in mind that Rome is the capital for Roman Catholics. Hence, it can be very crowded around the major Christian holidays, such as Christmas, Easter or Whit Monday.
How to Get There
Rome has two airports – Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) and Ciampino. The former is used by the major airlines while the latter serves budget carriers.
From the airport, it is the best idea to take the train to the city centre. The airport is quite far from the city and traffic can be nasty. The express train costs EUR 14 (USD 17) and heads directly to Roma Termini station. You can also take the normal train, which is a bit cheaper (EUR 8, USD 10). The latter is the best idea if you are staying somewhere near Campo de’ Fiori or the Pantheon. It takes about 30 minutes to go to the city centre by train. It is very important that you do not forget to validate your tickets just before entering the trains. There is a small box in the platform area.
There is a flat right for taxis from the airport to the city at EUR 48 (USD 60). It takes about 30-40 minutes, depending on the traffic.
Roma Termini is one of the biggest train stations in Europe and has many trains from all across Europe taking you to the Eternal City.
Italy is part of the Eurozone. Therefore, the currency is the Euro.
In the major tourist spots, it will be ok to use English. However, if you venture out into more local areas, I recommend learning a few basic phrases in Italian. At least, how to say Hello, Thank you and order. Italians are very friendly and if they see you are making an effort, they will gladly help you.
You can find all my tips on this handy map: