Are you planning a trip to Rome? It is definitely, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. If you plan your first trip to Rome, but aren’t sure what to expect and how to prepare, here are my top tips on things you have to know before you go.
In short, about the author: Ciao! My name is Kate, and I have been living in Rome for the last eight years. During this period, I managed to explore most of the country, but, as it turns out, Italy is endless to study. Only Rome is one of the historically richest cities in the world. I am happy to share my experience with you since many exciting things to show and tell about. Let’s discover the Eternal City together! It is difficult not to fall in love with Rome at first sight.
From November to March, when there is a higher possibility of rains in Rome, there are fewer tourists, which means you will feel more comfortable. The heat in July-August can reach up to 40 degrees, but during these months, we walk at dawn from 5 to 11 am, then we sleep at home and go to the night promenade at the Tiber from 9 pm.
- Read about the weather in Rome.
What to See
Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with the most significant number of monuments, squares, churches, attractions, and artworks.
- Here’s the perfect itinerary for tourists who have only three days in Rome
- Please read about the top 30 attractions to see in Rome and look at my video tips.
The currency used in Rome is the euro. It is almost impossible to exchange dollars, or exchange rate losses will amount to 40%. Therefore, it is best to exchange cash for euros in your country and get a multi-currency card. If you are a citizen of one of the EU countries, we recommend applying for a Revolut card, which allows you to save significant amounts on currency conversions.
Italy is one of the Schengen countries. Therefore, American citizens have not required a visa to enter Italy to stay under 90 days. However, your passport must be valid for at least six months after your planned departure date. Citizens from countries outside the European Union, like the United States, must present a passport valid for at least three months beyond the intended stay in Italy. If you are a citizen of any European Union state, you need only present a national identity card to enter Italy.
Number of Tourists
Be prepared that there are always a lot of tourists in Rome. Thus, if you want to visit the Colosseum, Borghese Gallery, or the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, you must buy tickets in advance (at least 2-3 weeks before your trip).
And yes, you can skip long lines to the Colosseum or any famous museum. How? Just buy tickets in advance.
Learn Basic Italian Phrases
- Ciao = Hello/Goodbye
- Buon giorno = Good morning/Good afternoon
- Buona sera = Good evening
- Arrivederci = Goodbye
- Grazie = Thank you
- Prego = You’re welcome
- Per favore = Please
- Sì = yes
- No = No
- Mi scusi = Excuse me/Pardon me
- Parla Inglese? = Do you speak English
The Roma Pass is a unique tourist card that allows discovering Rome by spending less money. Thereby, it includes access to favorite sites as the Colosseum, Capitoline Museums, Roman Forum & the Palatine Hill, the Borghese Gallery, Castle Sant’Angelo, the ruins at via Appia Antica and Ostia Antica, and many more attractions, contemporary art galleries, and museums. The price is 28 or 38 euros.
Traditionally, Romans drink coffee standing up near the bar counter (you have to pay for table service otherwise). This is the way to spend at least twice the lower price and feel like the natural local. If you decide to use table service, the “coperto” and “servizio” prices will be listed in tiny print at the top, bottom, or back of the menu.
Moreover, it is essential to know that Italians drink cappuccino only before 11 am for breakfast. Same works with a coffee latte: locals usually drink it in the first half of the day because many believe that your health should consume milk only before lunchtime. When you order a coffee latte, don’t say just “latte” because it translates from Italian as “milk,” so the bartender will bring you a glass of milk. In addition, locals usually do not drink coffee Americano.
When to Visit
The best time to visit Rome is in spring and fall. Winters here are mild but wet, leaving April/May and September/October the best times to visit. Moreover, on the 21st of April is the birthday of Rome, which is a period of extraordinary events.
If you will visit Rome during the summertime, be prepared for the heat. Undoubtedly, there are many beautiful beaches near the Eternal city, but if you want to explore Rome, do it at dawn or in the evening!
Learn the Water Fountain Trick
There are many water fountains around the city, with water flowing freely all day and night. It is free, clean, delicious, and saves a lot of money.
Tip: there is a spout with a hole in the top on the drinking fountains. Block the end of the spout with your palm and the water will shoot out of the hole, making it easy for you to drink
Eat in Trastevere
If you want to try authentic Italian dishes without overpaying for your Roman experience, you should visit restaurants in the Trastevere district. Of course, there are good restaurants in the historic center of Rome, but no one promises you high-quality food, excellent service, and low prices. Therefore, if you decide to eat in the city center, carefully choose a restaurant.
Tipping is not mandatory in Europe as it is in the US. However, if you liked the food and service, you are more than welcome to leave couple of euro to waiter
Visiting Buffet Bars in Rome for an Italian Aperitivo is an excellent idea because you can eat typical Roman food for a lower price and meet with your friends to discuss the latest news. Mainly, aperitivo (aperitif) is an Italian version of happy hour.
The typical aperitif includes a drink and a buffet that you could pass up during the entire dinner or a particular set of dishes that come along with your drink.
Also, the apericena time starts from 6.30 pm more or less, while between 9 pm and 10 pm it ends. Therefore, the average price for an aperitif per person is 10-15 euro.
If you are in Rome, be prepared to walk a lot. The city is full of unique decorations, where every angle has its history. Therefore, it is better to discover Rome on foot. Thus, it would be best to have comfortable shoes for your everyday walks and tours.
Moped drivers zip around cars without a seemingly moment thought to their security. Horns are blaring, lanes mean nothing, and no one appears to have an ounce of patience behind the wheel. So if you want to travel around Italy, you better do it on high-speed trains.
- How to buy tickets on Trenitalia trains in Italy.
- If you stay for several days in Rome, you can also consider one day trip to Florence.
Take a Scarf with You
It is usually warm in Rome, where according to statistics, there are more than 270 sunny days per year. However, you should take a scarf with you because there are about 1000 churches in Rome and you have to cover your knees and shoulders to go inside. My advice is to visit at least five churches during your Roman holidays because, trust me, local churches are masterpieces with famous artworks inside.
Opening Time of Restaurants
Dinner in Rome starts later since at 7 pm all restaurants are still empty. Therefore, locals usually start to eat around 8.30-9 pm. Moreover, most restaurants work from 12:30 until 2:30 pm and from 6 pm until midnight. Most bars offer only sweets as cornetti (croissants) for breakfast since Italians do not eat eggs or ham for breakfast.
As in any city, there are many supermarkets. However, most of them work until 7-8 pm maximum. On Sunday, moreover, most supermarkets are either closed or work until lunchtime. Therefore, my advice is to visit a local supermarket and try Italian delicacies such as cheeses (formaggi) or prosciutto (meat cuts) sold by weight. This is the best option for a budget lunch or dinner with ingredients of high quality.
Beware of Pickpockets and Scams
Since there are many tourists, you can meet people trying to steal something from them. Therefore, observe your bag, and do not keep any valuables in your pockets. Also, sometimes restaurants in tourist places try to charge guests hundreds of euros for dinner (always check menus and avoid restaurants for tourists). In addition, do not sign any petitions on the street, giving your details to random people. However, Rome is still a very safe city.
Italian gelato (ice cream) is a must-try during your visit to Rome. Try to avoid tourist places when you choose gelateria. Here is the list of the best gelato places in Rome.
You can purchase 3, 7 and 30 day passes for public transport
The trains don’t always run on time, be ready for it. Regardless, the public transport system is an incredible way to get around, particularly if you’re on a budget. The trams are a great way to navigate yourself around town, and they keep you above ground, so you see more. Also, kids under the age of 10 ride the metro for free.
How to Get from Airport to the City Centre
Both airports (Fiumicino and Ciampino) are reasonably far from the city center. The easiest and fastest way from Fiumicino airport is to take Leonardo Express Airport Train to Termini Station. However, there is also a way to take the regional train for about half the cost. The regional train makes multiple stops so that you can get off at the stop closest to your hotel. From Ciampino airport, many buses go directly to Termini Station.
You can order a private transfer from our website for 50 euro. So to say, the price for a regular taxi is 48 euro. The driver, Sergio, will meet you at the airport and with him, you will be able to reach any point of the city quickly and comfortably.
- Price: 50 euro (no additional payment for luggage)
- Website: www.rome4.us
Taxi can be costly, but the City of Rome has set rates for guests traveling from the airport. You should expect to pay 48€ to get to the center of Rome or within the C&T Publishing-Butterfly Stitches from FCO. The fixed price from Ciampino airport to the city center is 30 euro. The pleasant thing about the set taxi rate is the cost includes baggage and up to four travelers. As always, with set fares, make sure the taxi driver knows you’re aware of the admission rate before jumping within the cab. Indeed though it’s illegal to charge more, you don’t want to get scammed.
There are too fake taxi’s and you should look for white taxi’s with the taxi sign on top, an ID# and meter, before jumping in
How to Choose a Hotel
I recommend you choose a hotel in the area of the Pantheon. This is the best area to explore all main Roman points of interest on foot. Moreover, it is located right near Trastevere district so that you will save a lot of money on food since restaurants in the Trastevere district are much cheaper than in the historical center.
- Read about unusual things to do in Rome
Free Places to Visit
If this is a tourist city, it does not mean that you have to pay for everything you want to visit or see. There are many free admission museums galleries (and, of course, churches). You do not have to pay to visit the Pantheon as an example. Here’s the list of free museums in Rome
Do not Accept Free Gifts from Strangers on the Street.
Do not spend time of your Roman holidays on such a typical scam. If a stranger gives you something for free, he will start demanding money from you right after accepting a gift.
- By the way, as an option, you can buy local delicacies for souvenirs on one of the farmers’ markets.
Some Shops Close for Siesta
There is a relaxed lifestyle that Romans follow. Shops may or may not close for siesta from 1 to 4 pm. Thus, if you plan to go shopping, better start in the morning to avoid closed doors of the shops you like (most shops work until 8 pm). You can visit one of the Roman shopping streets or the Castel Romano designer outlet as an option.
Read about the History of the Eternal City
The history of Rome is unbelievably rich and exciting. However, to get maximum from your holidays, you must understand what you see and why this place is essential. There are many places, monuments, piazzas, and events in Rome.
Carry cash – is one of the most valuable advice that I can give you. It is normal if you can’t pay for your coffee with a credit card. Moreover, in the Vatican, almost everywhere, only cash is accepted.
- Our team is always waiting for you in Rome! We are happy to help with the organization of the cultural program for your holiday 🙂
How Much Does it Cost to Travel in Rome?
It would help if you planned to spend around 131 euros ($145) per day on your vacation in Rome, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. On average, tourists spend 37 euro ($41) on meals for one day and 10-17 euro ($19) on local transportation. Also, the average hotel price in Rome for a couple is 134 euros ($148). So, a trip to Rome for two people for one-week costs on average €1,830 ($2,030) – including visits to paid museums, souvenirs shopping, and meals in restaurants.
- Read about the cost of living in Rome.
Rome is the best place for your perfect holiday. Get to know about things to do, what to see, where to stay, the best places to visit in the Eternal City, and where to go around Rome. In our travel tour guide, we offer weekend trips and sightseeing activities with all the must-see things