Rome is one of the cities where it is difficult to see everything in a few days. To be honest, you should give a good week or even more explore it and see the real beauty and history of this Eternal City.
Italian food, ancient Roman architecture, museums, and the Vatican are all intertwined in different periods of history and the modern face of Italy. And the best thing is that all of this can be found in the beautiful city of Rome.
However, before going to Rome, it’s good to pay attention to details so you can make the most out of your time in the Italian capital, and have fun while discovering every corner in it.
1. When to visit the Vatican City
The Vatican is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It is not surprising that this tiny country in a city is constantly full of tourists. However, on Wednesdays and Sundays, when Pope Francis appears in the gathering, the Vatican sees even more people.
So if you want to see everything peacefully, avoid those weekdays. There is no need to talk about the other main Christian holidays. On the other hand, the opportunity to see the Pope and be with the crowd of pilgrims from around the world will also leave a lasting impression.
One good tip is to get a skip the line tour to save time when visiting the Vatican and to make sure you get the complete tour and not a rushed experience.
Additionally, you should check other unusual tours in the Vatican City, as some of them show you a perspective not many tourists get to see.
2. Research your priorities
Rome boasts amazing history and architecture, but unfortunately, there are also a lot of tourist scams. Before arrival, do thorough research on the best ways to go about exploring all of your must-sees.
You can find cheap tickets for some of the biggest attractions like the Colosseum at this site all year round. In addition to booking tours, doing a bit of background research on the history and current culture is also helpful.
Of course, you won’t be an expert, but walking into the city with some context will help you appreciate your time there more.
3. Don’t miss the aperitivo
While aperitivo is often associated with grabbing a drink, it is a much more encompassing social experience for all Italians. It is a get together with friends at a restaurant or bar to have a social time with drinks before dinner.
Aperitivos usually happen between 7 pm to 9 pm, and in some cases, the aperitivo becomes the dinner itself. One of my favorite aperitivo places in Rome used to offer all you can eat aperitivo with drinks just costing 7 Euros! That was a cheap meal and a drink!
Among the food, you can find is pizza, pasta, olives, bread, a full buffet, and all sorts of snacks. And the drinks, well there are plenty to try! Check out these traditional Italian drinks you must try on your next aperitivo.
4. Wear more covered clothes
Although during the hot and steamy Rome summers wearing shorts, short dresses and other skin showing clothing sounds very appealing, you should rethink wearing it.
You should understand, that you are probably going to visit a lot of churches and museums, and in Rome, it is not considered appropriate showing the naked body in these institutions.
So, if you want to dress light, don’t forget to take a conservative cover-up for visiting sacred sites such as the Sistine Chapel.
Otherwise, you may be asked to leave or be shamed with supervisors’ comments. Also, take some comfortable walking shoes as you’ll do a lot of walking and standing in line.
As mentioned; Italian summers are hot but remember that a trip to Rome also entails a lot of museum visits where air-conditioning can freeze you alive. Carrying an extra sweater can be a lifesaver.
5. Do not leave tips
In Rome, you really do not need to leave a tip. Waiters’ salaries, in this most touristy Italian capital, are quite big and comparable to engineers’ salary.
In addition, if you leave the money in the restaurant, you can even offend the waiter, especially if you know him personally. Italians assume that human sincerity cannot be bought with tips.
If you feel like leaving some tip, it is customary to just leave the change. So, if your meal was 33.45 euros, you can leave just the 0.55 euros in change, or 1.55 euros to round it up to 35 euros.
6. Use public transport
While coming to a foreign country travelers are often reluctant to use public transport, in Rome, you can do that safely. Buy a public transport map, purchase a one-off or a regular ticket and your tour of the big city will be a lot more pleasant.
However, be aware of pickpockets that work in people-full busses. The metro will connect you to most sights and from each particular station, several important sights will be within walking distance.
7. Drink water from public taps
Do not spend money on water in plastic bottles. Throughout the entire city of Rome, you will find valves with not only safe to drink but also delicious water.
But remember: out of respect for other users of drinking water, do not put your head under the tap. If you want to refresh yourself, better moisten a scarf or splash a bit of water by hand.
8. Reconcile, that you will not see everything
This is the main and most important tip for visiting Rome. Create a plan, make your priorities, evaluate your options, and find the time to enjoy the sun and the atmosphere of the city near each site you want to see.
There are so many unmissable things to do in Rome, but if you try to know Rome in a few days, you will constantly get stuck in queues, get irritated by tourists, and get quickly tired because of the heating sun.
Better take a slow pace and enjoy the spirit of this amazing spirit without any rush to see everything. Remember, Rome is one of the most photogenic capital cities in Europe, so take your time to enjoy it.
9. Sometimes it pays to skip the queue
Some important sights, like the Colosseum, Vatican City, and some museums will have long queues that can last over an hour. Since you have a limited time in the city, why not spend a bit more to skip the queue and save time to see more?
You can do this by booking a tour or buying a “skip the queue ticket” that allows you to enter the site at a certain time of the day. Rome has a few options for this.
Also, don’t forget there’s a lot of free things to do in Rome, so you can balance your sightseeing budget by adding several free sights too. In my opinion, most great sights in Rome are free!
10. Open your mind
During your trip, you will undoubtedly be met with miscommunication, language barriers, and strange exciting food. Embrace these challenges and work within the tides of new and different situations.
Being willing to adapt to customs, food, and behavior that are unfamiliar will provide you with a more fun-filled, authentic experience.
11. Don’t be shy
Italians are jovial, outgoing people. Don’t get too comfortable by only interacting with other travelers or your friends at hostels and hotels. Engage with locals, be playful and curious.
Language barriers will exist, but don’t let that stop you from a cultural exchange. Plus, Italian is such a beautiful language, who wouldn’t want to practice it? (Even if you get every word wrong, they’ll still love you for trying)
12. Be safe!
Romans are amazingly friendly, but as with many major cities, crime happens, and tourists are often the targets. Be alert in crowded public areas as pickpockets happen often there, and don’t buy tickets from “random people on the street.”
Rome is a beautiful place to let your guard down and explore, but you should always keep your wits about you, especially if traveling alone.
Essential Info: Logistical Tips and Tricks to Book your Trip to Rome
BOOK YOUR FLIGHT
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Kayak. These are two of the sites I use the most due to their exhaustive search on several websites and airlines around the world. They usually bring the cheapest fares.
BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION
If you’re looking to save money by staying at a hostel, HostelWorld has the largest inventory of hostels. On the other hand, Airbnb offers a wide variety of rooms and apartments at affordable prices. (Get $40 off your first Airbnb booking with this link.)
For hotels, guesthouses, and other types of accommodation, I also recommend Booking.com. They usually have the cheapest fares for guesthouses and hotels. I always book my hotels with Booking.com.
DON’T FORGET YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance with comprehensive coverage will protect you against unexpected events like theft, cancellations, injury, and illness. I use World Nomads and highly recommend it.
If you’re a nomad and travel often or long term, then SafetyWing could help you save a lot of money on travel insurance.
FIND THE BEST TOURS AT THE BEST PRICES
If you’re looking for the best day-tours and cheapest ticket entrances to local attractions, I recommend checking Viator, as they have the largest selection of attractions, passes, and activities all around the world.
BOOK YOUR LOCAL TRANSPORTATION AHEAD OF TIME
Bookaway offers the easiest and most accessible way to book overland transportation with local operators; be it by bus, train, ferry, plane, mini-van, or even private transfers.
OTHER TRAVEL AND MONEY-SAVING TIPS?
Lastly, check out my resources page for some of the best products and companies to use for your trip. If you like saving money (like I do!), then this page will help.
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