Rome Travel Guide – Your personal guide in Eternal city
I think I’m Italian. Some of my ancestors probably were Italian and that gene is deep in me. Maybe they were even from Rome? How else would you explain such a love that I have for pizza? 😊Just kidding but Croatians, and especially ones living in the south of the country, are really like Italian. It’s just the way they live and how they don’t take life so serious like the rest of the world. Even drinking coffee is a ritual that some people will never understand. Probably that is the reason why my five days in Rome were a dream and I want to make that trip a dream for you too.
Since this is a 3000-word post and to make this easier for you, below you can find the table of content that will help you find what are you looking for.
What you should know before coming to Rome
Is there anyone here who never heard for Rome? The center of the great Roman empire and from 1870 capital city of Italy is one of the most visited and most popular cities in the world. It’s home for more than 1,4 million people but also home of the 280 fountains and 900 churches. There are some facts that you should know before you come here
- The official language is Italian but most of the people are speaking English.
- Euro is official currency and there are exchange places all over the city (but be careful and do your research so you don’t get scammed).
- In 2018 more than 15,2 million tourists visited Rome. With that being said, you can imagine how crowded it can be.
- In the heart of Rome, you will find the world smallest state – Vatican.
- You don’t have to worry about staying hydrated in Rome. All over the city, you can find small fountains with fresh water for a refill that are dating back from the Roman empire.
When to visit Rome
I visited Rome at the beginning of July and oh boy, it was hot. The temperature was reaching high 35 degrees but, thankfully, we are early birds. We would get up early, explore the city by the time of the lunch and go for a short break from 2 pm-5 pm (also familiar as siesta time😊). I was said that the best time to come is in early spring or early fall when the temperatures are around 20-25 degrees. Be aware although that coming during Easter time, a lot of people are coming to Rome to visit the Vatican so it can be crowded.
How to get to the capital city of Italy
You can reach Rome with almost all transport modes: airplane, train, bus or car.
Getting by airplane
If you’re coming with the airplane, you can land either on Rome Ciampino (CIA) that is 12.5 km far away from the city center (usually all cheap and low budget airlines are landing here – Ryanair for example) or Rome Fiumicino (FCO) that is around 40 km distanced from the city center.
From Ciampino, you can take a shuttle bus that will take you in around 40 min to Termini station while the same station with bus from Fiumicino will be reached in one hour. Both tickets are costing around 6 euros. This is the cheapest option, and, in my case, we arrived on Ciampino and used this option, so I recommend it. It’s easy: you just go outside of the airport and there will be signs for this bus.
The easiest and fastest way to reach Termini station from Fiumicino is Leonardo express train that will in 30 minutes and for 14 euros get you to the city.
Taxi is the most expensive option with a cost of 48 or 30 euros, depending on if you’re leaving from FCO or CIA (fare is fixed). You can also book a private transfer for around the same amount, but it is prepaid on booking and you will have your driver waiting for you.
Getting by bus or train
On this way, you will probably arrive either on Rome Termini station or Rome Tiburtina station. Both are with metro or buses connected to the city so you will not have any problem reaching your end destination from there.
Where to stay in Rome
There is plenty of options for hotels, apartments or rooms in Rome. For your research, I recommend using Booking.com (grab here your 15$ discount) or Airbnb (use this link to get 33 euros from your first booking). My recommendation will go to our Bed and Breakfast host situated 15 minutes walking away from the Vatican. He is one extremely nice and polite guy who is offering breakfast every morning. He even left us cookies every day and a bottle of wine was waiting for us as a welcome gift. I can’t express enough how happy we were with this location and service.
How to get around
Public transport in Rome is quite easy to understand and use. It’s network made of 2, not very extensive, metro lines, 6 tram lines (that don’t go in the city center) and plenty of bus lines (338 of day bus lines and 22-night bus lines) that come in handy because of limitations of metro and tram services.
One ticket cost 1,5 euros and it is valid for one metro ride and unlimited transfers between buses or trams for 100 minutes. A daily ticket costs 6 euros and for you coming for a longer period, a 3- day ticket or one-week ticket can be useful (16.5 or 24 euros).
Consider that Rome is an extremely walkable city and if the weather suits you, you can walk everywhere. This is exactly what we did most of the time, so these passes were no option for us, but it all depends on your type of exploring. Also, traffic there is quite hectic and a lot of times you will wait for your bus longer than you should so walk seems a better option. Depending on your budget, you can also use a taxi or Uber.
What to do in Rome
List of things that you can do in Rome is huge, almost endless. Before you start to think that I’m exaggerating, remember that this town was center of the great empire and there is a lot of things left from this period that connected with modern and urban areas are giving this city a charm that not a lot of places have.
Visit one of the most famous sights in the whole world-Colosseum
Known as the largest amphitheater in the world build, Colosseum is the most famous symbol of ancient Rome. Sports events and games (including animal hunts!) were organized to entertain more than 50000 people. In 2018 (according to TripAdvisor), Colosseum was the most visited sight in the world with around 7.4 million visitors. You can imagine that it’s pretty crowded and especially on every first Sunday from October to March when the entrance is for free. On every other day, you will pay 12 euro to enter this site or only 2 euro if you are EU citizen 18-25 years old. The ticket includes also the entrance to Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, two less famous but not less impressive remaining sites from the Roman Empire.
*Bonus tip: you can buy the skip the line ticket online (it will cost you 2 euros more) but be aware that you still need to pass through security where can also be the line. My tip is to come early, but even if you’re not able to come there in the morning you have another option: buy your ticket at Roman Forum entrance (just on the opposite side of the Colosseum) where the line is always significantly smaller. This ticket will enable you to pass through the whole line in front of Colosseum and just wait for a short time at the security. We used this and it’s excellent.
Visit the smallest country in the world -Vatican
Indeed, there is a country inside a city: it has its own “president” – pope, it has its own post office and every other thing that every state has. Although the smallest country in the world, the Vatican is extremely popular among tourists. And not only catholic ones that are coming to see the pop or pray in St. Peter Basilica. I can’t even express how huge the line can be for the entrance to Vatican Museums. Our tour guide told us that approximately 25000 people visit these museums every day. On Easter Monday 2019, there were 34000 visitors! Indeed, it is one of the most visited sights in Rome.
But… I wasn’t that impressed. Before you judge me, you need to know that there is some magnificent artwork that you can see during your visit. But you will be sharing space with so many people and I, personally, wasn’t enjoying my time spent in there. It’s hard to concentrate when you are just trying to find some fresh air and walk among 45856459 people. I did enjoy our tour through Vatican Gardens and I’m glad we paid a little bit more for this experience. It gives you a different perspective on this state and very nice views on Basilica. The whole Vatican indeed is a very nice place that has a great history and while in Rome, it’s a must.
BONUS TIP: I must say, we were visiting in July, so obviously it was the high season but if you’re indeed art lover, play a little bit more for Vatican museums and go to some late-night tour or similar so you can enjoy.
Visit the vibrant area of Trastevere
Now I want you to imagine a bunch of small shops, restaurant or coffee places in a row, with a bunch of green trees and small cute colorful buildings. Now imagine again: it is evening and you’re sitting outside of small trattoria. You’re drinking wine and eating cheese and prosciutto. I don’t know for you, but this is a dream for me. It’s my favorite area of all popular and touristy area in Rome.
HINT: you will probably find one of the best pizzas in Rome here (and well priced too) – continue reading for more.
Throw a coin in the Fountain di Trevi
Well, we all know for Fountain di Trevi. Original legend says that you will for sure return to Rome if you throw a coin with your back to the fountain, throwing with your right hand over your left shoulder. Guess what: I forgot to do that 😊
With the number of visitors, I’m sure this place beats all of the other sights in Rome. With 26.3 meters in high and 49.15 meters in wide, it’s the biggest Baroque fountain in the world. Just check on the picture below how smaill is the guy in opposite to the fountain. People throw approximately 3000 euro every day into the fountain and it’s forbidden to take money from it. Just FYI for all of you thinking about that 😊.
BONUS TIP: There is a lot of people around the Fountain always but it’s possible to take a good picture there. For example, we took this picture in the middle of the day with a bunch of people around. All you need is to find a good angle and have patient boyfriend-photographer. Of course, if you come early (we are talking 6-7 am early) your chances are higher.
Watch the sunset in Giardini di Aranci
Ok, in this case, I think that picture says more than 1000 words. Just take a look at all of these colors and if only there is a sound, you could hear a guy that was playing the violin. Sunset over Rome with nice music in the background: indeed an unforgettable experience.
It’s reachable by the bus and although requires some traveling and a little bit of walking, the trip there will offer some of the amazing views. Giardini di Aranci is a place to watch the sunset over Rome.
Enter into the most preserved ancient Roman monument
The exact age of Pantheon is still under question. But the biggest mystery is how this building survived barbarian attacks while other Romanian monuments weren’t that lucky. The architecture of Pantheon is quite impressive with dome bigger than of St. Peter basilica. Not only that, a dome that is the only source of light. Old Romans were celebrating their Emperor while he was standing in front of Pantheon covered in midday sunlight coming from inside. Google lighting effect in Pantheon, it’s quite impressive. Today this place is a church and it’s open for visitors for free. But bear in mind that this is a religious place, so be respectful.
Stroll down through Borghese Gardens
If you come to the top of Spanish steps and turn left, you will be on your way to the Pincian Hill where these gardens are located. Originally a vineyard and now a Rome version of Central Park, this 80 hectares of green paradise are a great escape from the city hustle. There is also an artificial lake where you can rent a boat (all romantics will enjoy this). But for me, the best way to explore these gardens is by bike or walking. All main paths are leading to Villa Borghese, today a museum that hosts some of the Cardinal Borghese artwork. Me, as not that much an art person, would recommend this park as a great picnic place.
Enjoy the views on/from Castel San’t Angelo
Rome is a museum for itself. On every step, you can find something new that will take your breath away. Although everyone is speaking about Castel San’t Angelo I was more impressed by the beauty of the bridge that you need to cross to get there. The views you can get from there and the architecture are just amazing. This pedestrian bridge will bring you back to the renaissance in no time. And be ready for some scenic panorama views. Do not miss it for anything.
Drink cappuccino and eat tons of carbs
There is no list of “what to do in Rome” without this. Italy is a country of food (Eataly is my favorite expression) and not enjoy in everything Italian cuisine is offering is a sin. I’m interested in how Italians are staying so thin and fit because carbs are the main thing there. But do not think about diet while there. Engage your senses in all the delicious treats that this city is offering. You will not regret.
Where to eat in Rome
If you still haven’t been to Italy, you don’t even know what culinary experience you’re missing. The country who has given to the world so much when it comes to food deserves a special place on your bucket list. Do I need to say pasta or pizza? Now, when I sit and write this, I’m craving for that slice of delicious prosciutto pizza with rucola on top. Or some carbonara? Hmm, it’s hard to decide but be prepared for a wonderful culinary journey once in Italy.
When it comes to food, Italian certainly know what they do. Romans didn’t disappoint at all: even if Rome was the ugliest city in the world I would still come again for some pizza, pasta or gelato.
You wonder probably what to chose from all these places and restaurants. I prepared for you my favorites below, together with their locations and some pictures (if that will not make you go immediately there, I don’t know what will 😊)
Giacomelli, Via Emilio Faa di Bruno, 25,00195 -Vatican
Our host recommended this restaurant since it was a couple of minutes from our accommodation. Upon our arrival, we were so hungry. All we wanted is to eat something good (preferably pizza 😊) and we accepted his recommendation immediately. I mean, we only heard pizza and we were bought. It’s not enough to say that the place didn’t disappoint at all. Not only that pizza was excellent but the pasta that I ordered as extra was the best one I tried ever. They also give you an appetizer for free: some delicious bread with excellent cheese. I’m telling you – Rome was love at first bite. 😊 It’s only 15 minutes’ walk from Vatican Museums, it’s cheap (8-10 euro per meal) and delicious.
Ristorante Arlu, Borgo Pio, 135, 00193 – Vatican
After exhausting hours spent in super-crowded Vatican museums, all I could think was food. It had to be tasty and most important it had to be nearby. With little googling, this place appeared with good reviews and only 5 minutes away. It was stated there that often is full and that reservation is usually necessary. We had luck since we got the table without reservation. Even when it was busy, the staff was polite and glad to assist us in the fastest manner. I was already bought but when the food arrived, we were sure that we are in love. Carbonara was creamy and tasty and the portion was big enough for one very hungry traveler. The price, when you take in mind the prime location, was ok: around 12 euros. I would suggest this place for a lunch.
Nannarella, Piazza di S. Calisto,5 00153 – Trastevere
For this place, I got several recommendations from my friends that visited Rome before. Situated in vibrant Trastevere neighborhood, this restaurant is best known for its Cacio e Pepe. Although I didn’t try this dish, pasta that we ordered was really good and prepared fast. It has my vote.
Dar Poeta, Vicolo del Bologna, 45, 00153 – Trastevere
I have divided opinion when this place comes in mind. The first time when we went there, pizza was excellent. With prosciutto and rucola on top and super crispy dough, this pizza was probably one of the best that I ever tried. And it was only 8 euros. Of course, we had to return here on the next day: and we were a little bit disappointed. The pizza was just different with too many sauce on it. We were a bit disappointed. But I want to believe that this was just one bad day since their reviews online are pretty good. The service is fast and polite and I’m pretty sure that you will be happy.
Latteria Trastevere, Vicolo Della Scala, 1, 00153 – Trastevere
Just a perfect place to sit and enjoy your glass of vine. It’s a restaurant with very nice outside seating in Trastevere. I just loved the vibe I got there. A bunch of small colorful lights, green trees and nice music in the background give this place a nice magical feeling. It is indeed a nice place to sit, order some aperitivo and enjoy your evening.
Momart, Viale Ventuno Aprile 19, 00162, Roma
For all of you that are not familiar with this expression, aperitivo is a meal between lunch and dinner. It is usually served around 7 pm (Italian dinner is a bit late for my standards, around 10 pm). We were lucky because we got a recommendation for this place. For 12 euros per person, you get a buffet full of different meals including pizza and a lot of pasta. Offer includes one drink also, and I guarantee you will not be hungry after this. I couldn’t eat any dinner after this 😊
I ate plenty of gelato in Rome, but unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention to the names of the places. But I can tell one thing for sure: neither one has disappointed me. But this place had the best gelato that I tried in Rome. They have several locations (including one near my accommodation) and my friend, who lived in Rome, recommended it to me.
And that’s it, my dear fellows. I hope this travel guide will be helpful but, more importantly, will make you want to go to Rome. If you have any question or comments, there is a comment section below that can’t wait to be filled:).
Till some other travel story,