The history, culture and the food that this city offers is unbelievable and honestly each time you visit, you get to experience something new! This post will give you our tips and tricks to cover the main touristy attractions and a few off-beat things to do to make the the most of your 3-4 day Rome trip!
Rome is set out in zones (similar to London) or 'Municipios'. Generally speaking, all the main tourist attractions are in the centre and for ease of convenience we'd recommend staying in the heart of the city. Having said that, Rome transport is extremely easy to navigate and depending on your budget you can venture further out.
We stayed in Municipio II, about a 30 minute walk north of the Colosseum, fairly close to the Vatican City. We were very lucky in finding our AirBnB, which was nothing short of a palace! Shared by 7 people, it came to approx $50 AUD (£28) per person per night.
The mighty Colosseum will be the focal point of your Rome trip - naturally. However, it is also the most touristy part of Rome (perhaps on par with the Vatican City) and if you don't plan ahead, you'll be stuck in long queues in the hot sun wasting away your entire day.
We recommend going to the Colosseum early and starting your 'sightseeing day' here. We also recommend taking a tour to 'skip the line' and the 2+ hour wait. We went with a local tour company and there are dozens of them just outside the Colosseum Metro Station. For €35 per person (negotiate the price down!!), the tour included direct entry to the Colosseum as well as a hilarious recounting of the history behind this great monument. Our tour guides were entertaining and knowledgeable, making the tour relatable without making it sound like a boring history lesson. It also included a tour of the nearby attractions like Palatine Hill (birthplace of Rome as we know today) & the Roman Forum (definitely a must-visit!). The tour was 2.5 hours long, however we explored around the area prior and after the tour, so give yourself at least half or more than half a day. Ps: Wear good shoes and carry water! :)
Arch of Constantine, Palatine Hill & The Roman Forum
These attractions are close to the Colosseum and are usually included in the Colosseum tour. If you aren't doing this with a tour guide, we would recommend reading about the history of the Palatine Hill & The Roman Forum prior to visiting so you know exactly what you are seeing! Especially the story of Antoninus & his beloved wife Faustina - greatest lovers in Roman History :)
Trevi Fountain (Fontana Di Trevi)
Legend holds that a coin thrown into the Trevi Fountain will ensure a return to Rome. This tradition dates back to the ancient Romans who often threw coins in the water to make the Gods of Water favour their journey back home safely! (Throw in a second coin if you're seeking love - even a third for wedding bells ;) !! )
We both had seen the Trevi Fountain during the day in our earlier trip to Rome, so we decided to come here at night. If it is your first visit to Rome, we'd recommend doing both! :D The Fountain is just as dramatic and all-powering during the day however, at night with the lights and the slight crisp air, it does have its own charm. :)
Spanish Steps (Spagna)
With its irregular butterfly design, the beautiful “Scalina Spagna”, or Spanish Steps are a great place to just sit down, relax and people-watch! Situated in the up-market area of Rome, you'll find expensive shopping, boutiques and over-priced restaurants surrounding the Steps, however you can grab a gelato and take an afternoon break just chilling around the area.
Funny story though - On the day we were visiting the Spanish steps, I had a few things to do for work. I decided to join later and meet our friends and Shankar at the Spanish Steps. Having mapped it out from our AirBnb to the steps, I was confident I was going the right way until it was too late - and I was lost! I had ended up at the Colosseum and had to take the Metro back. With no phone data and no way to contact anyone, I made everyone panic for a good one hour as no one knew where I was and couldn't contact me! I did manage to get to the Spanish Steps a good hour and a half later, frantically looking around for familiar faces in the crowd. I heard my friends screaming my name from the top of the Steps! With hugs all around, I was glad I was back with everyone but that just meant we couldn't really relax or enjoy the area as much - as most of our time was spent looking for each other, but we will never forget such an experience :D
The most fascinating part of the Pantheon is its giant dome inside, with its famous hole in the top (the eye of the Pantheon, or oculus). If you stand inside in the middle of the Church, you'll look up to a perfect circle!
We waited approximately 30 minutes in line to get inside and didn't take a 'skip the line' tour this time as it wasn't a long queue and there was plenty of buzz outside with live musicians, horse carriages and street artists.
Piazza Navona is one of the largest and most beautiful piazza squares in Rome, certainly impressive and worth visiting. There's a plethora of restaurants and cafes along the sides if you want a quick bite, or you can simply spend time hanging about in the buzzing square.
100 autumns tips & tricks:
1. Skip the line passes are totally worth it - especially in summer, peak touristy season! You might also want to combine it with a guided walking tour to really sink your teeth in the history behind the monuments.
2.Vatican: If you get to the Vatican at 7:00am to queue up - you’re late! Read our separate blog post on the Vatican City!
3. Food: If the restaurant is close to the touristy attractions, run away. If the restaurant has more than 30 tables, run away. If the restaurant serves a “tourist-menu”, run away. To find the best food in Rome, you need to get lost! Find a restaurant that does traditional wood-oven pizzas and the best ones usually have an old Italian grand-pa sitting outside the joint.
4. Wander around, get lost and explore the city, once you are done with the main check-list of to-do attractions. Check out our off-beat Rome blog post here.
5. If you are in Rome for more than 2 days, get a metro pass. You get a 24 / 48 and a 72 hour pass valid on all trains and buses. Totally worth it!
... And that's it! Let us know if you enjoyed reading that and if you have any suggestions. We are still getting used to writing and haven't yet figured out our style. Let us know if you'd like us to go more in detail or just send us a message and we can help out if you are visiting Rome soon.