Things to See & Do
Colosseum & Roman Forum
The largest amphitheater ever built. Back in the day, it was used for gladiator contests and public spectacles and could hold up to 80,000 spectators. Right in the center of Rome, it is one of the most visited sites in the city so make sure buy tickets ahead of time and avoid the wait in line. The roman forum is right next to the Colosseum. Stroll through the ruins of ancient government buildings.
If you buy tickets on site they are 12€ ($13.53), 7.50€ ($8.46) for EU members between 18 and 25 years and free for Italian citizens under 18. The ticket is valid for 2 consecutive days for an entrance to the Colosseum & Roman Forum.
Skip the line tickets can be bought online and are 19€ for adults and 12€ for children under 18.
A chaotic intersection right at the center of Rome. Take in the impressive Palazzo Venezia while trying not to get hit by cars. If you want to go into the Palazzo itself the entrance fee is 5€ ($5.64).
The Trevi Fountain is bigger and more beautiful than pictures make it out to be, so don’t skip this site. Be sure to throw a coin behind your back while making a wish. They say that if you throw a coin in the fountain you are sure to return to Rome.
Once a temple and now a church, the pantheon is a popular stop for many tourists. Go inside and look at the dome with its central opening.
A set of 174 steps in Piazza di Spagna. If someone tries to hand you flowers, do not take them! The second you put your hands on them they’ll want you to buy them.
Via del Corso
Stroll down one of the main streets in Rome for some window-shopping.
Visit the independent city-state nestled in Rome. Friday evenings are less crowded.
St. Peter’s Basilica: Entrance is free, but you can buy tickets ahead of time to skip the line (I don't know how reliable these are. We looked online and couldn't find anything that looked legit). The line is long but it moves quickly. St. Peter’s is the most beautiful church we’ve ever seen so if you only see one thing in Vatican City, go inside here. You can pay about $7 to go up to the dome.
Vatican Museum: The Museum is quite big and there is a lot to see. If you are only interested in seeing the Sistine Chapel you will have to walk through the entire museum to get to it and the museum is usually very busy so it’s not a quick walk. Again, if you do decide to go to the Vatican Museum, buy tickets ahead of time. Tickets are around 21€ if you book online.
Admire the beautiful fountains while eating some snacks and enjoying a drink.
Via Appia Antica (Appian Way):
An ancient highway connecting Rome to a southern seaport. You can see the Catacombs of San Callisto and Catacombs of San Sebastiano here too.
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme: National Museum of classical Roman art.
Baths of Caracalla: Ancient ruins of a Roman thermal bath complex.
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme:
National Museum of classical Roman art.
Baths of Caracalla
Ancient ruins of a Roman thermal bath complex.
Where to Eat
Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina
A great choice for dinner, and recommended to us by our dear friends that were previously living in Rome.
Any local pizza shop that will cut you a slice as big or small as you like and heat it up for you is a good choice. Also try as many gelato flavors as you can. Finally, make sure to start your day with a cappuccino; you need the energy for all the walking. Don’t order it for take-away, you are on vacation. Sit and people-watch.
A good general rule is to avoid any restaurants that are catering towards tourists. Conversely, if you see multi-generational Italian families eating there, then you are probably at a good restaurant.
Where to Stay
If this is your first trip to Rome you cannot go wrong staying in either the Historic Center or Ancient Rome areas. You may also see the area called “Municipio I”
Another rule that worked for us was being within walking distance to Termini Station, which then leaves you within walking distance to most sites. We stayed in a cozy AirBnb off of Via Tiburtina, about a 20-minute walk east of the Termini Station. It was about a 30-minute walk for us from the AirBnb to the Colosseum. We paid $95/night.
Tips & Resources
Length of Stay
Two days and you can see a lot Rome has to offer.
To and from the airports:
Buses: you can take a bus from the airport to Termini Station for about 6-8€ ($7-9)
Trains: you can take the Leonardo Express train for 14€ ($15.79) to Termini Station.
White Licensed Taxis: Taxis are available at a fixed rate of 48€ ($54.13) from Fiumicino Airport to anywhere inside Aurelian Walls. It’s 30€ ($33.83) from Ciampino Airport to the city center.
To Vatican City: Take the metro train to the Ottaviano stop for Vatican City and walk from there.
Termini Station: a great central hub if you are arriving or departing to another part of Italy by train or bus. Read our warning below about petty theft at Termini Station.
Walking: we were able to walk from our AirBnb to all of the sites listed above Vatican City.
UberBlack is only available in Rome. UberX and UberPool are not available.
MyTaxi App: before you use it note that the fare starts from when/where the taxi accepts your request, not when it picks you up. If the taxi appears far away we’d recommend canceling and trying to request another taxi. We did not have this app during our last visit, but this is what we found in our research.
When traveling through Termini Station (which you are likely to do at some point) beware of locals attempting scams with your train/bus tickets. Some people dress and act like they work at the station; they wear collared shirts, have lanyards with fake credentials tucked into their shirts and often have a pen in hand. They will kindly offer to assist you and then walk you to the automated ticket kiosks. We are not sure what happens from there, but we did see tourists following them and exiting the station. Exercise caution and keep an eye on your pockets and your belongings. There are numerous police shooing away the scammers but they return as soon as the police wander off continuing their rounds.
Streetart Roma: this app will show you the best street art in the city.
WC Rome: a very handy app for when you need to find a bathroom.
Rome Travel Guide: one of the best city guides.
Rome Pocket Guide: an audio guide of the city.
Mic Roma Musei: see the latest events and exhibitions happening at 20 of Rome’s museums.
Spotted by Locals: see what the locals recommend in this vibrant city.
ezTaxi: call a cab in seconds.
Klook: a great app with affordable tours and activities.
Airbnb: find lodging and book “experiences.”
Maps.Me: city maps you can use without WiFi or data.
Google Maps: you can download a map area for use without cell service or WiFi service. We also always save our lodging on the map as well as ideas for things to-do, places to visit, restaurants, cafes, etc. It saves time for us when we want to grab a coffee or a bite to eat.
Google Translate: this is helpful during those language barrier moments when you need to ask a question or make a menu item request. Also good for translating food labels or other signs. You can download Italian and still use the app if you have no service.
WhatsApp: a free messaging app to keep in touch with friends and family. WhatsApp also has free audio and video calling.
XE Currency: how many dollars is that?