Rome is a beautiful city with an amazing amount of history that you can actually see right in the city centre. Unlike a lot of historical attractions, Rome was built around, and in a lot of places, on top of many of its ancient sites making the city a stunning mix of old and new that is easily accessible to tourists. There are so many incredible things to see and do in Rome and if you have the time you could easily spend a good week or two in the city without ever getting bored.
The problem me and Jack had is that Rome was one of the many stops on our three week Interrail blast through Europe and we had only 4 days in the city. In such a huge city with so many incredible things to do a short time frame can really put the pressure on. Luckily, with a bit of forward planning, we were able to see and do everything we wanted to and even managed to squeeze in time for a trip to the waterpark!
I know how stressful it can be to try and get your bearings in any new city especially with the added pressure of trying to fit everything in. It can really take its toll. So whether you’re planning a little city break or Rome is one of your many stops on a much longer adventure, I’ve put together this list of a few of the things that we did to help us get around the entire city in our four short days!
Location, location, location!
It’s a bit of a given that if you want to see as much of Rome as possible in a really short time frame staying as close to the centre as possible is pretty crucial. Not only does this save a lot of time when it comes to travelling in and out of the city but it also means that a lot of the sites will already be within walking distance, getting you off to a pretty great start on your Rome ‘things to see’ checklist. Of course the big issue with this is the closer to the centre you are the pricier it becomes to stay here and like any popular city this can be quite a pretty penny. By booking 7 months in advance and shopping around quite a bit, we managed to stay within a 10 minute walk of the Coliseum for £200 in the height of summer. In fact the place was quite a steal and came with Wi-Fi, a small kitchen, washing machine and large double bed.
If you absolutely cannot afford to stay in the centre of Rome then try looking for places further out but close to a subway stop. Rome has a well-established underground network that can take you anywhere you might need to go in the city. There are stops within walking distance of all the popular tourist attraction and the system is very easy to figure out, even for those whose Italian is as shocking as mine. It’s a quick way to get in, out and around the city but as you have to pay for a full day pass, you can’t pay per journey; it can be quite expensive for single trips.
Buy a multiple day bus tour pass
The bus tours are a great investment for so many reasons. One they drive you to all the main historical sites and give you a lot of information about them as you go. Two, they are all hop on hop off meaning you can get off at as many sites as you like and get back on when you’re ready to go to the next one. This allows you to cover a lot of the city pretty quickly easily fitting in three or four stops a day and still having plenty of time to really appreciate the history and beauty that Rome has to offer. Three, they’re really handy for just getting around the city in general. Rome is huge! Hour long strolls across the city are great if you’ve got the time but if you’re there to see the sights and you want to see all of them then you probably won’t have the time. The bus tour stops are placed throughout the city close to the main attractions but, like I said earlier, Rome is built around its history, literally. That means that anywhere the tour busses stop will be a mix of old and new, including any shops restaurants and parks you might also want to visit.
Buy your Vatican Museum tickets in advance
This is something me and Jack did on a whim and it was an absolute lifesaver. When we turned up not only were they queuing out the door, they were queuing for about a mile down the street too. This is using up your precious hours, and I really do mean hours, and if you’re going in summer you’ll be stood out in the sun with little, if any, shade depending on the time of day you get there. We skipped this massive line in favour of a short 10 minute queue on the inside of the air-conditioned museum entrance where we picked up our pre-booked tickets. I tried not to let my smug face show as we walked in, knowing it was a complete fluke decision that had saved me from joining the back of the line.
Book yourself on Coliseum and Pantheon tour
Unlike the Vatican museum, you won’t need to do this one in advance unless you want to. There’s no shortage of people trying to sell you things whilst you’re in Rome and although I would recommend staying well clear of the street venders selling ‘bottled water’ make sure you take advantage of those selling tours outside the Coliseum. It’s at these two spots that you really get a sense of what Rome once looked like but unless you know you’re history it can be hard to tell one large column from another. The tour guide we had was really friendly and informative and taught us so much about what it would have been like back then but also what has happened to these monuments since. You can easily find a tour of both the Coliseum and the Pantheon for a great price right outside the entrance. Like the Vatican, the queues for the coliseum can get pretty big especially with the new addition of security checks on entrance slowing the whole process down so the added benefit that tours get priority entrance really gives you no reason not to.
Or really any super comfortable footwear. As much as the buses will help cover a lot of ground you really can’t see Rome unless you’re willing to hit the ground running, so to speak. Rome requires a lot of walking and if you want to cover everything you’ll be doing it without taking many breaks. By the time we left my feet were throbbing, every step felt like a workout and that was in a pair of comfortable plimsolls. Imagine that in a pair of sandals that rub or dare it say it… heels! If you’re hobbling down the street you won’t get to see very much and anything you do get to will just be shrouded in the misery of painful shoes. If you take only one thing from this post please let it be appropriate footwear.
Have you ever been to Rome? Let me know some of your tips for doing Rome in a flash.
Thanks, Megan x