Rome

Basilicas, famous squares, museums, fountains, and ancient ruins.  Rome is often a starting city for first time European vacations – and for good reason.  The sights, the culture, the wine and the food offer a unique travel experience.  The variety of things to do in Rome ensure the city has something for every traveler in your group.

The Basics
Top Things to do in Rome
How to get Around in Rome
Insider Tips
Clear Travel Summary

The Basics

  • Recommended Time: 3-4 Days
  • Language: Italian, but English can get you by
  • Currency: Euro
  • Airports: Fiumicino (FCO) and Ciampino (CIA)
  • Train Stations: Roma Termini (Main Station), Roma Tiburtina, and Roma Ostiense.

Top Things to do in Rome

Vatican (St. Peter’s Basilica/ St. Peters Square/ Sistine Chapel)

  • Incredible history and incredible art.  A chance to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece – the Sistine Chapel – in person. Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • From Roma Termini: Rome Metro red line – stops Cipro or Ottaviano.  Then, a 5 min walk to the Vatican.
    • From Central Rome: Bus line 492, then a 5 min walk.
  • Ticket Information: 17 EUR for a basic adult entry ticket.
  • Insider Tips:
    • Pre-book your tickets.  Walk right past the line at your scheduled time to the front entrance.  Smile that you just saved 3 hours of waiting in line in the hot sun because you did 10 minutes of research.
    • You can easily spend two days alone at the Vatican if you are in to art and take your time.  If you are really only interested in seeing the Sistine Chapel and moving on to other sights, you can skip a large section of the winding art museum by following the signs to the shortened Sistine Chapel route. You could see all that you really need to see in 2-3 hours.
Colosseum

  • An absolute “must see” in Rome. An incredible piece of Ancient Imperial Roman history and architecture, opened in 80 AD… also, because you’ve probably seen the movie Gladiator. Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • From Roma Termini: Metro blue line, Colosseo stop
    • From Central Rome: Bus 85 or Bus 87.
  • Ticket Information: 14 EUR to get a pre-booked time, with an English tour guide.  Take your printed voucher, walk right past the lines to the entrance, and go through security.
  • Insider Tip: Pre-book your tickets directly on the official site.  Walk right past the line at your scheduled time to the front entrance.  Smile that you just saved 3 hours of waiting in line in the hot sun because you did 10 minutes of research.

 

Roman Forum
  • Ruins of the ancient government buildings of the Roman Empire.  Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • From the City Center: Bus 85 or 87.
    • From Roma Termini: Metro blue line, then walk 5 min.
    • From the Colosseum: You’re already there; Walk!
  • Ticket Information: Your Colosseum ticket is good for two days, you can go to the Forum the day after your Colosseum visit at no additional charge.
  • Insider Tip: Download an audio guide for the ruins, so you know the context of what you are looking at.  Most of the Forum is just the foundations of old buildings, and guide will help you visualize Ancient Rome.

 

Trevi Fountain
  • Stone fountain completed in 1762 – the world’s most famous fountain.  Be sure to bring some coins, and toss them backwards over your shoulder in hopes of good luck!  Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • From the Vatican: Bus 492 to the Tritone/Fontana Trevi stop
    • From Central Rome: You’re already there; Walk!
    • From Roma Termini: Bus 492 from the Volturno/Cernaia stop to the Fontana Trevi stop.
  • Ticket Information: None needed
  • Insider Tip: The fountain is crowded – watch your wallet and belongings.

 

Piazza Novana

  • Historic public square with the impressive Fontana del Moro. Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • From the Vatican: Bus 492, Rinascimento stop
    • From Central Rome: You’re already there; Walk!
    • From Roma Termini: Bus 492 from the Volturno/Cernaia stop to the Rinascimento stop.
  • Ticket Information: None needed
Pantheon

  • Roman Temple from 126 AD – now a church.  The best preserved ancient Roman building. Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • From the Vatican: Bus 492, Rinascimento stop
    • From Central Rome: You’re already there; Walk!
    • From Roma Termini: Bus 492 from the Volturno/Cernaia stop to the Rinascimento stop.
  • Ticket Information: None needed
  • Insider Tip: You can wait in line to get a look of the inside or just get some gelato and enjoy the square.
Spanish Steps
  • Famous stone staircase in the Piazza di Spagna. Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • From the Vatican: Bus 492, Barberini stop, then a 5 min walk
    • From Central Rome: Bus 492, Barberini stop, then a 5 min walk
    • From Roma Termini: Metro red line to Spagna stop.
  • Ticket Information: None needed
  • Insider Tip: The Spanish Steps are arguably the most “overrated” sight in Rome.  However, if you are on your way to the Vatican from the Roma Termini, they are easy to get to (just get off on the metro)  Don’t feel too guilty if you do a “Chevy Chase at the Grand Canyon” moment from National Lampoon’s Vacation…
Other Notable Sights in Rome

Piazza Venezia – Famous square

Circus Maximus – Green space and ruins of an old chariot race museum

Campo de’ Fiori –  Market in public square in central Rome.

Capitoline Museums – Roman and Renaissance art

Ponte Sant’Angelo – Bridge across the River Tiber, built in 134 AD.

How to Get Around in Rome

To/From the Airport to Central Rome:
  • By Train: Trenitalia Leonardo Express.
    • Follow the signs from baggage claim to the airport train station.
    • Journey time: ~32 min.  Trains leave every 15 minutes.
    • Cost: 17 EUR
    • Trenitalia Leonardo Express
  • By Bus: Terravision or Sita Bus.
    • Follow the signs from baggage claim to ground transportation.
    • Journey time: 55-70 min, depending on traffic.
    • Cost: 5-8 EUR
    • Links:
  • By Car: Taxi and car services are available.
    • Journey time: 55-70 min, depending on traffic.
    • Cost: 48 EUR Fixed Fare.

Insider Tip: Beware of “helpers” at the airport exit that will find you a cab, bus, or train ticket (at an up charge.)  If you are taking the Leonardo Express, keep walking past the “helpers” and right to the official Trenitalia ticket office or automated kiosk.

 

In the City Center:

Rome is not like London or Paris where the subway lines connect all of the major sites in the city.  You will need to use a combination of the Metro, Buses, and walking to see all of the sights efficiently.

  • By Metro:
    • The Rome Metro connects the main train station (Roma Termini) with a few sights in Rome.  The Vatican and Spanish Steps are easily accessed via the red line from Roma Termini.  The blue line connects the Roma Termini with the Colosseum.  There are no Metro lines that service the ancient city center – you will have to rely on bus lines and walking.
    • Rome Metro Map
  • By Bus:
    • There are literally hundreds of city bus lines in Rome, but only a few you really need to know to get between the main sites.
    • Route 492: Links the Vatican, Piazza Novana, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and gets you a couple of blocks away from the train station.
    • Route 87: Links the Colosseum and Roman Forum to Piazza Novana and the Pantheon.
    • Route 40: Links Roma Termini with Piazza Venezia, Piazza Novana, Pantheon, and gets you within a 10 minute walk of the Vatican.
    • ATAC Bus Route Maps
  • Tickets:
    • Rome sells 1,2, and 3 day Metro and Bus combination tickets (for 7, 12.50, and 18 EUR, respectively.)  You can purchase from the automated ticket machines in Metro stations, at the Metro ticket office, or at one of the many tobacco shops (Tabaccheria) around Rome.  Getting the multi-day ticket greatly simplifies transportation in Rome.  Simply validate when you are ready to start, and hold on to your ticket for the duration of your trip.

Insider Tip: The buses in central Rome frequently fall behind, and are packed during rush hour.  Don’t be afraid to call an audible and take the first bus number that gets you near your final destination, or at least moves you toward your destination.  Or, look for the Metro ‘M’ on the stop list at the bus stop, and change over at the stop to the more reliable, but likely just as busy, Metro line.

Insider Tips for Rome

  • Pre-book, Pre-book, Pre-book.  Rome is a popular destination, and is busy with tourists any time of the year.  If you are planning on going to the Vatican or Colosseum, you absolutely must pre-book your tickets to avoid waiting hours in lines.  The links to the official sites are above, use them!  When you walk right to the entrance of the Vatican at your scheduled time instead of waiting in the line around the block, or right past the hoards of people in line at the Colosseum, you will laugh and be happy you did.
  • If you are staying in central Rome, a combination ticket for the Metro and Bus is an easy, cheap, and reasonably convenient way to travel around.  Rush hour is a good time to walk and enjoy Rome – the buses and Metro can get incredibly packed at that time.
  • Restaurants, pubs, gelaterias, and coffee shops immediately surrounding popular tourist attractions can be expensive.  Be willing to walk just one or two blocks away to find great neighborhood spots and the best prices.  Even better – walk three blocks and find the restaurants with chalk menus in Italian (not English)  There you are likely to find the best value.
  • Limit time with luggage. Stay close to the train station (plenty of hotel options but also has more beggars) or close to another bus/metro stop in the city.  We generally choose a hotel in close proximity to the train station or metro stop to limit time wheeling around heavy luggage on busy stone streets.
  • Rome has more than it’s fair share of hustlers selling items or offering to “help” you in some way outside of tourist attractions – probably more than any other major European city.  Before your trip, practice a good “no, grazi” (i.e. no, thank you) Besides, you already pre-booked your tickets, right?

Clear Travel Summary

The top sights in Rome can be seen in 3-4 days.  Staying at a hotel/Airbnb within a short walking distance from the train station can provide a convenient ‘home base’ for your trip to Rome.  This will give you quick access to transportation from the airport, both Metro lines, and plenty of bus lines.  Pre-booking your tickets for the Vatican and Colosseum will save you valuable time waiting in line so you can enjoy more of what Rome has to offer.

 

 

 

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