Rome Travel Guide For 2021

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Rome Travel Guide

Welcome to my complete Rome travel guide.

Whether you’re visiting Rome for your first time in 2021 or you’re a seasoned veteran visiting for your tenth, this complete Rome travel guide with its list of things to do, tips, resources and more should ensure that your visit to Italy’s capital is one that you never forget.¬†

Let’s get into it.

Rome Travel Guide

Introduction to Rome

With its remarkable architecture that pre-dates over 2 millennia and its incredibly delicious Mediterranean cuisine (of which gelato is very much my favourite btw ūüėä), it’s no surprise that Rome so often appears towards the top end of almost every travellers bucket list…

You could spend weeks exploring every nook and cranny of Rome’s tiny streets; and still find something new around the very next corner.

Before I get into all of the nooks and crannies of exploring Rome however, let’s cover off some basics.

Here’s a quick run down of some of the most important things you need to know before travelling to Rome, including how to stay safe, emergency contact numbers and advice on which travel adapter you need to pull out of your loft ahead of your visit.

Is Rome Safe?

Yes. 

Rome is one of the safest major cities in Europe. 

However, as is the case with most tourist hotspots in Europe...where there's a tourist, there's usually a thief.

Petty theft

To ensure that you're not a victim of petty theft, we'd advise that you keep valuables like your mobile phone and wallet in your front pockets at all times - especially advisable around attractions like the Roman Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and other popular tourist hotspots.

If you don't have front pockets, ensure that your handbag, rucksack or whatever you're using to carry your items in, is secure and ideally within eyesight at all times. 

Also, please be aware of scam artists...

Scam artists

If somebody tries to give you something for free, be it water, an umbrella, a flower or a bracelet, avoid taking it at all costs.

This is a classic scam trick and the person giving it to you will soon push you for money and get aggravated if you don't pay up; hence our best advice is for you to just avoid taking the item from them in the first place.

Staying safe in Rome

On the whole if you stick to the main tourist spots in Rome and keep yourself to yourself, you will be completely safe.

What is the currency in Rome?

Rome, Italy uses the ‚ā¨ Euro (EUR).

Here's some typical exchange rates if you're visiting Rome from a country that doesn't use the Euro:

  • Euro to Pound Sterling: ¬£1 will typically exchange for ‚ā¨1.15
  • US Dollar to Euro: $1 will typically exchange for ‚ā¨0.90
  • AU Dollar to Euro: A$1 will typically exchange for ‚ā¨0.60

What timezone is Rome in?

During peak season (March - October) Rome, Italy uses Central European Summer Time (CEST), which is UTC+2.

Here's how far ahead or behind Italy is in peak season compared to: 

  • Canberra: Which is 8 hours ahead
  • London: Which is 1 hour behind
  • New York: Which is 6 hours behind
  • California: Which is 9 hours behind

Note: Italy uses Central European Time (CET) between October-March, meaning you might gain or lose an hour (or two) on the above times if you visit outside of peak season.

What are the emergency contact numbers in Rome?

Dialling 112 will put you through to the emergency services in Rome.

You can also call: 

  • 113: Police
  • 115: Fire Brigade
  • 118: First Aid

What language do they speak in Rome?

Most Roman locals speak modern Italian. 

However, lots of Romans do also speak English; although I'd still recommend learning a word or two in Italian in case you get stuck...

What electrical plug sockets do they use in Rome?

Italy uses three plug Types: C, F & L.Diagram of plug types used across the world.However, you'll be okay if you just purchase a type C travel adapter (which has two prongs) because they fit into both F & L sockets.

If you haven't already got yourself a travel adapter, it might be worthing grabbing a world wide adapter so you can use it in almost every country you travel to.

Castel Sant'Angelo glowing in the night as the sun sets

Best things to do in Rome

Rome has something for everyone Рfact: 

  • Historical architecture (in abundance)
  • 83 museums
  • Theatres & opera houses
  • Incredible food
  • Parks to wander around
  • The Pope (although it’s unlikely you’ll get to see him)

Yet deciding exactly which places to visit can be difficult – especially if you’re limited for time.¬†

So here’s my pick of the top 10 best things you can do during your visit:

1. Visit the Colosseum

View of the Colosseum from the Roman Forum

The Colosseum is without doubt Rome’s most popular tourist attraction, and it should come as no surprise that it’s at the top of my list of best things to do in Rome.¬†

As you stand in the largest amphitheatre in the world, you can cast your mind back to just under 2,000 years ago and imagine the bloodshed from famous gladiator battles and animal fights that entertained huge Roman crowds in the once 87,000 spectator stadium. 

Cost: From ‚ā¨12 for a non-skip the line ticket
Opening times: Mostly 8.30AM until 1 hour before sunset
Time allowance: 3-4 hours
Witty tip: Arrive as early as possible and consider a guided tour so that you can get the full story of everything there is to see.

2. Explore the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

View of the Roman Forum and Palatine hill from the skyline

Wander the ruins of Ancient Rome in the form of the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill and explore the rumoured starting point of the famous Roman Empire.

You’ll be standing in the same place that many Roman greats like Julius Caesar once stood and are now buried.

Cost: Included in colosseum ticket
Opening times: Mostly 8.30AM until 1 hour before sunset.
Time allowance: 2-3 hours
Witty tip: Arrive as early as possible and definitely consider a guided tour as there is very limited signage explaining everything that you’re looking at.¬†

3. Throw a coin into Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain in the daytime with bright blue sky

Third in my Rome travel guide of best things to do is the Trevi Fountain – another classic destination for Rome’s many tourists.

Rumour has it that you should throw 2 coins into the Trevi Fountain. One coin to make a wish, the second to ensure a safe return to Rome – and there’s no doubt that you’ll want to return for a second visit.

Cost: Free
Opening times: 24 hour Access
Time allowance: 30 minutes
Witty tip: Visit later in the evening or late at night and see the fountain glistening in the moonlight.

4. Go inside the Pantheon

Queues of people waiting outside the Pantheon

The Pantheon is Rome’s best preserved monument from Ancient Rome and is definitely a must see during your visit.

Its famously recognised as the burial place of some of Rome’s most important people, including Raphael, an artist from the 1500’s who asked to be buried amongst some of Rome’s most famous figures.¬†

Cost: Free
Opening times: Mon РSat: 8:30AM to 7:30PM or Sun: 9AM to 6PM
Time allowance: 30-45 minutes
Witty tip: Download a free Pantheon audio guide before you enter so you can fully understand everything that you’re looking at inside.

5. Wander around Vatican City

View of the Vatican from Saint Peter's Square

The Vatican City is the smallest country in the world. 

Yet despite that, it has lots of things for you to see and explore.¬†You can visit the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Square, St Peter’s Basilica or just enjoy some food whilst you marvel over the Vatican.¬†

Cost: Vatican City is free to enter (major attractions start from free).
Opening times: N/A
Time allowance: 1 full day
Witty tip:¬†Arrive as early as you possibly can if you’re planning on going into any of the museums without a skip the line ticket.¬†

6. Grab a bite to eat at Piazza Navona

People sat eating at restaurants in Piazza Navona

Home to three very famous fountains, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Nettuno and Fontana del Moro, Piazza Navona is the perfect place to relax with a drink and gelato and take everything in. 

Cost: Free (not including food of course)
Opening times: 24 hour Access
Time allowance: 30 minutes 
Witty tip:¬†Prices can be expensive due to the sheer number of tourists in the area, so you’re best off bringing your own food and drink and sitting on a bench.

7. Walk the Spanish Steps

View of the Spanish Steps from the top at Sunset with

The Spanish Steps are fairly modern when compared to the rest of Rome’s tourist attractions, but it still makes it on my list of the best things to do.

They also sit directly in front of Rome’s famous shopping street, full of designer brands including Versace, Gucci, Prada and more.

Cost: Free
Opening times: 24 hour Access
Time allowance: 30 minutes
Witty tip: Visit at sunset to capture an incredible image of the sun-setting down between the shopping street.

8. Climb Janiculum Hill

View from Janiculum Hill at sunset

Walk up Janiculum Hill and view most of Rome from the skies. You’ll often see Roman’s chilling out playing music whilst they watch the sun set over the capital.¬†

Cost: Free
Opening times: 24 hour Access
Time allowance: 2-3 hours
Witty tip: Visit at sunset and chill out with locals whilst watching the sun setting down on an incredible view.

9. Venture into the Catacombs of Rome

Dark stairway down into Roman Catacombs

Not one for the faint-hearted, but underneath Rome lies thousands of crypts full of human bones and skulls from ancient times. The Catacombs can only be explored on tours to stop you from getting lost amongst the many miles of tight tunnels.

Cost:¬†From ‚ā¨8 for a single catacomb
Opening times: Opening times vary per catacomb
Time allowance: 1-4 hours (depending on how many catacombs you visit)
Witty tip: There are over 60 catacombs in Rome, so if you can only visit one, try and visit Appia Antica.

10. Honour the King at the Altar of the Fatherland

Italian flags waving in front of the Altar of the Fatherland

The Altar of the Fatherland, more commonly known as the Victor Emmanuel II Monument, is a monument built in honour of Italy’s first king.¬†

Climb the steps of the altar and you’ll be able to go in and explore.¬†

And if you like heights, you’ll also be able to go to the roof and get a picture right from the top and see most of Rome!¬†

Cost: Free
Opening times: Mostly 9.30AM to 7.30PM
Time allowance: 1-2 hours
Witty tip: There is a lift that will take you straight to the roof, but it costs. So if you want to skip the many steps, make sure you bring your wallet!

How to get around Rome

Getting around Rome is relatively simple.

Lots of the major tourist sites are within walking distance of each other and there are streams of public transport running every couple of minutes (some even running well into the night).

With that said, here’s some advice for getting around Rome:¬†

Walking Rome

If you like walking and you’re prepared to do lots of it, then do it.¬†

Walking is without doubt the best way to experience everything that Rome has to offer. 

You can cover off most of the major sites like the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps etc. within a day of walking and it also offers the best chance of spotting that iconic quirky side street cafe that Rome is famous for. 

It’s only the tourist sites that are further away like the Vatican where it might be worth considering using public transport.¬†

Narrow street in Rome with buildings either side

Rome’s Public transport ticket prices

All public transport tickets are usable on the metro, buses, trams and urban trains. 

The prices are as follows: 

  • ‚ā¨1.50 for a one-way ticket, which is valid for 75 minutes after initial use and can be used for unlimited transfers between the metro, bus, tram and urban trains
  • ‚ā¨6 for a day ticket
  • ‚ā¨16.50 for a 3-day ticket¬†
  • ‚ā¨24 for a week ticket

You can purchase tickets at vending machines at the metro or in local convenience stores (see the travel tips below for full guidance).

Getting around Rome with the metro

If you’re not much of a walker, then Rome’s metro system might be the next best alternative.¬†The metro runs to most major tourist attractions and is a great way to quickly get from one site to the next.¬†

Hopping on a bus

The bus is a lot slower than the metro, but it will help you get to the places that the metro doesn’t cover. Buses will also go to almost all tourist sites.¬†

The buses can be confusing though, so consider checking Google maps before you leave to make sure you get on the right bus.

Roman buses waiting outside of the Vatican

Riding the tram

The tram network doesn’t go into the city centre and lots of the lines are quite small, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to use the tram during your trip to Rome. 

Catching the train in and out of Rome 

It’s also unlikely that you’ll need to use the train if you’re staying inside Rome, but it can be useful for getting from one side of Rome to the other and of course if you’re planning day trips out of Rome.

Calling a Roman taxi

With it being a capital, Rome’s taxis can be very expensive, so only use them as a last resort. You can use Uber which is usually a lot cheaper than the local taxi, and Free Now, which 95% of the time is cheaper than Uber. 

Roman taxi sat in a rank taxi rank

Where to stay in Rome

With 22 districts to choose from and many neighbourhoods within, deciding where to stay in Rome can be a tricky choice. 

Some of the things you might want to consider are:

  • Your budget
  • Which tourist attractions you want to stay nearest to
  • Access to Rome’s public transport system¬†

Deciding can be hard, so included in my Rome travel guide is my pick of the best places to stay for all types of travellers:

  • Budget
  • Classic
  • Luxury

Best hostel in Rome

If you're traveling to Rome on a budget, then stopping in a hostel is going to be your best bet. There are many great hostels in Rome, but one of the best is Generator Rome...
 

Generator Rome

Generator Rome is a great budget hostel for almost any kind of traveller, be it a solo traveller, couple travellers or group travellers. You can book private rooms or sleep in the shared dorms and it's fairly close to a lot of tourist attractions.

Cost: Click here for availability and rates.
Location: Monti Neighbourhood
Distance: 15 minute walk away from the colosseum and a 30 minute walk away from most other tourist sites.

Best hotel for the average tourist in Rome

If you're looking for nice accommodation at a respectable price, then consider Hotel Artemide...

Hotel Artemide

Hotel Artemide is outside of the centre of Rome. But what it loses in location, it certainly makes up for in glamour. The hotel has its own spa and rooftop terrace restaurant where you can enjoy dinner whilst looking over Rome.

Cost: Click here for availability and rates.
Location: 
Monti Neighbourhood

Distance: Near to Roma Termini Station (Rome's main railway station), it's a 30 minute walk away from the major tourist sites, including the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and others.

Best luxury hotel in Rome

If you're planning on staying in Rome in complete luxury, then you're probably going to be spoilt for choice. However, one of the best luxury hotels in Rome is definitely Hotel Palazzo Manfredi.

Hotel Palazzo Manfredi

Palazzo Manfredi sits just outside of the Colosseum, meaning you'll be able to enjoy your breakfast whilst marvelling at one of the wonders of the world. You can also rent a Lamborghini from reception and see Rome in true Italian style. Be warned however that driving in Rome can be crazy, especially in a supercar...

Cost: Click here for availability and rates.
Location: Monti Neighbourhood
Distance: 30 second walk away from the Colosseum and a 10-15 minute walk away from other sites like Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon.

Where to eat in Rome

Millions of tourists travel to Italy every year just for the food. 

And it’s really no surprise.¬†

If you like Mediterranean style food like pizza, lasagna, risotto and as many tomato-based dishes that you can think of, then you’ll be extremely happy in Rome.

Here’s my top 5 places to eat in Rome:

People sat down in a restaurant in Trastevere

1. Pasta e Vino Osteria

You can’t get much more Italian than¬†Pasta e Vino Osteria.¬†

The restaurant specialises in Mediterranean food and should be first on your list of places to eat if you’re looking to get a taste of the Italian cuisine.¬†

It’s modern, friendly and much-loved by tourists looking for a bite to eat at a respectable price.

2. Seu Pizza Illuminati

You can’t visit Rome without having a pizza.¬†

And there are few places that make a pizza better in Rome than a restaurant with the word ‘pizza’ in it; Seu Pizza Illuminati.

Seu Pizza Illuminati serves all kinds of pizza for almost any taste bud – just don’t ask for pineapple on your pizza; the Italians don’t like it!

3. Ambrosia Rooftop Restaurant & Bar

Sitting above Hotel Artemide which I mentioned earlier, the Ambrosia Rooftop restaurant gives you a fantastic view of Rome whilst you tuck into their delicious food.

They also have a huge list of cocktails for you to choose from too, if that’s you’re thing?

4. Ego Bistrot

I’ve already mentioned that Trastevere is well-known for its fine range of restaurants, and there’s few that are finer than Ego Bistrot.

If you’re into fine dining with a view (and sea food – they specialise in it), I’d 100% recommend visiting here.

People sat at restaurants in Rome at night time

5. Street food

Whilst this isn’t technically a restaurant, I can’t not mention street food on my list of best places to eat.¬†

Rome has hundreds of street food vendors situated in and around its streets; selling almost any type of food you can think of. 

There’s too many for me to list here, but go onto your Google maps, search for street food and take your pick – I guarantee there’s one within a couple of 100 metres of where you are!¬†

Rome travel tips

It’s all too easy to get lost and confused in a country or city that you haven’t been to before.

So here’s my top ten travel tips for your next visit to Rome, including how to save money and how to avoid a very hefty fine from Rome’s transport police…

Whilst the larger, more popular shops and restaurants in Rome will accept card payments, lots of the smaller chains will only accept cash.

The best thing you can do is ensure that you carry at least a bit of cash around with you at all times.

If you plan on using the bus to get around Rome, I’d recommend purchasing your tickets ahead of time. Lots of bus stations / stops don’t have a ticket machine to purchase them and you can’t purchase them on the bus.¬†

The best place to purchase bus tickets is at a local tabaccheria (little convenient shops), which are marked by the letter T on the entrance to the store.

Being caught with a non-validated travel ticket by an inspector in Rome is the same as not having a ticket at all, so make sure you validate all of your transport tickets and avoid being hit with a very hefty fine.

Tickets on the metro will be automatically validated when you pass through the barriers. On buses, trams and trains it’s up to you to validate your ticket at the machines.¬†

Keep an eye out for small yellow or green machines, usually situated onboard or near the platform.

In case you’re not already aware, Roman authorities charges a city tax on all accommodations per person, per night, up to a maximum of 10 nights, which you must pay at the end of your visit.

The charges are as follows:

  • 1-2* hotels: ‚ā¨3
  • 3* hotels: ‚ā¨4
  • 4* hotels: ‚ā¨6
  • 5* hotels: ‚ā¨7
  • Other (hostels, Airbnb etc.): ‚ā¨3.50¬†

Most hotels and other accommodations will only accept the payment in cash, so be sure to calculate how much cash you need to save before you go wild on your first 2 days in Rome!

Rome offers tourist cards like the Roma Pass and the Roma Archeologia Card which grant you free entry to select sites and museums (and free travel on transport depending on which one you choose).

However, they can end up being more expensive than just buying your activities outright. 

I’d only really recommend purchasing one if you’re not interested in guided tours, you’re going to use public transport a LOT and you’ve planned your trip well enough to get the most expensive sites out of the way first.¬†

If you’re under the age of 25, you will be eligible for a couple of discounts across Rome, including access to some of its most famous sites.

However, if you’re not a queuing person, it might be worth buying your tickets ahead of time because queues can be excessive (especially during peak season where you can expect to wait at least a couple of hours to get into some of the major sites).

Dotted around Rome are 2500 Nasoni, (water fountains) that provide fresh running water.

They’re completely safe to drink from so save money on water bottles and drink from these instead.¬†

You can find your nearest Nasone by downloading the I Nasoni di Roma app from the App Store (Available on iOS and Android)

There’s a couple of tips rolled into one here:¬†

  • Eat at the restaurants that don’t invite you in. These are the restaurants that locals eat in and they tend to serve the best food at the best price (although not always the case of course)
  • If the waiter offers you bread or puts it on your table, decline it because you will be charged for it
  • Specifically ask for tap water if you want water

Oh and as a general tip, be prepared to wait a little while for the bill – Romans tend to be slow at grabbing it. They’re not doing it on purpose, it’s just their culture!

Aside from the usual stuff like clothes and toiletries, I’d also recommend packing:¬†

  • Very comfortable walking shoes for Rome’s uneven paths
  • A cap or sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • A light jacket or scarf as you will need to cover up to enter some of Rome’s museums and religious places
  • A backpack
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Worldwide travel adapter

Or download the PackPoint app, which I’ve put down as one of my best and favourite travel apps.

Tipping in restaurants and tour guides in Rome is not expected, but definitely appreciated. 

If you plan on tipping your waiter or tour guide, then tip between 10-15% of how much you paid for the meal / tour.

If it’s a free walking tour then you went on, then tip however much you feel the guide deserves!¬†

When to visit Rome

Peak season in Rome is between June and September.

This is where hotels are at their most expensive, temperatures are at their highest (often around the 30¬įC/86¬įF mark), the chance of rainfall is at its lowest and queue’s are at their longest.¬†

If you’re looking for the perfect blend of respectable accommodation prices, great weather and shorter queue times, the best time of year to visit Rome is in the off-season between late March & May (ensuring that you avoid Easter Weekend) or in late September through to November.¬†

Keep an eye out for deals all year round however so you can get the best price!

The Witty Nomad

The Witty Nomad is a travel blog written by me, Danny, a 20-something 9-5er who travels around Europe part-time.

My aim is to show you how you too can make travel possible.

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