Rome is a beautiful city with an unparalleled mix of ancient history combined with modern luxury touches such as its designer shop quarter. Having influenced world history for centuries particularly during the time of ancient Romans, Italy’s capital is an absolute must-see holiday destination for all travellers, whether families, couples or single travellers.
Be prepared for a tremendous amount of activity when you visit Rome. It is one of the top destinations in the world, so it can be very congested during the peak spring and autumn travel seasons. Making the trip during the winter or spring months is one way to avoid the crowds and get better deals, though you won’t get to enjoy the beautiful sunny summer weather.
Getting into Rome is easy thanks to the city's two major airports, Fiumicino and the smaller Ciampino generally used by the low-cost airlines. Getting around, however, could be another matter. Your best bet is to use the underground metro system or your own two feet. There are above-ground transportation options including bus, tram, and taxi, but the city's radial street pattern was designed thousands of years ago and never intended to handle vehicle traffic. Heavy traffic congestion is a way of life in Rome and some taxi drivers can be quite alarming for Brits! Other transport options include hiring a moped, but this is also relatively risky as helmets are not compulsory and car drivers tend to ignore mopeds.
A single day rail ticket gives you access to all above and underground lines until midnight. You can also buy multi-day tickets if you are planning to explore Rome over several days. Trips to the outlying areas are made easy thanks to both bus and above ground rail services.
Where do you start when talking about the important sites to see in Rome? The attractions can roughly be split into Ancient Rome, Catholic Rome, the famous Seven Hills, the Piazze and then the multitude of museums. There are obvious choices such as the Colosseum, The Forum, and the Vatican within these groups which are all easily accessible and fairly close to the major hotels. Other sites include the famous Trevi Fountain, the Circus Maximus, the Pantheon which is in Old Rome and amazingly preserved as well as a number of Roman baths. Rome boasts over 900 churches if its catholic history is of interest, besides the Vatican there are a number of Basilicas worth a peek inside – make sure you’re dressed “appropriately” to go inside any of the religious buildings as you may be denied entry if your knees or shoulders are on display.
Periodically the narrow streets of the historic centre widen out into Piazze or squares, famous ones include the Piazza Navona with its famous central statue, the Piazza della Rotonda outside the Pantheon, Piazza di Spagna at the foot of the Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo which used to be the northern entrance to the city and the Piazza Venezia in front of the Palazzo Venezia and at the foot of the Capitoline Hill. A great way to see a large amount of the city is by walking around on foot, where by yourself or with a guide. Many travellers are unware of the abundance of walking tours so if you have the time and inclination give one a try – if you go in summer make sure you carry plenty of water though.
The sheer size of Rome's tourism industry means there is accommodation of every kind. The most expensive five-star hotels offer 600-thread count linens, designer toiletries, and plenty of luxurious amenities. However, you will also find very affordable economy hotels and even hostels and B&Bs. However, do remember that the economy hotels in Rome do not afford the same kind of space you would find in London or New York so be prepared for something small. Another top tip is to find a hotel close to where you intend to spend most of your time as you will save time getting where you need to go.
If you want a more relaxed holiday, particularly if you want to rent a car and head out of the city to Ostia or further down the coast, there a number of hotels and B&Bs on the outskirts of Rome that are often cheaper as you’re further away from the tourist hotspots. Brush up on which buses or trains you might need to get you into the centre so that you can head in if you want to, staying further out also gives you a chance to learn a little Italian from the local Roman residents as most of the population don’t live directly in the centre of Rome.
The most important thing to remember about Rome is its history and heritage. Italians take this very seriously. Do not, under any circumstances, deface their statues, fountains, and historical sites in any way. When visiting their churches, be respectful of the fact that you are in a house of worship. Lastly, make sure to heed all of the signs relating to mobile phone use and photography.
Rome is a wonderful city to visit any time you plan to be in Europe. We highly recommend a week to 10 days at minimum, and repeat trips as well.