Things to do
Rome is one of those cities which possesses so much history you probably walk past most of it without even realising it. But what you do see is simply mesmerizing. I spent four days in the eternal city which I think is enough time if you plan your days accurately enough.
The usual list of tourist attractions in Rome include; the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Forums, Palatine hill, the Spanish steps, the Trevi fountain and endless churches. They are all worth a visit and it is easy to appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry of those who have shaped Rome’s architecture.
Take a break from the selfie stick and perfect pictures to remember what took place in the very place you stand. That, for me, is the key to enjoying Rome.
The Colosseum was build 70-80 AD which makes it almost 2,000 years old. To stand in a place steeped in that much history is something which takes some time to appreciate.
The Trevi fountain and the Spanish steps are ideal for relaxing in the evening. Sitting at either landmark with a gelato is the perfect end to any day spent in Rome.
The Vatican and Colosseum close relatively early so it is advisable to go as early as possible to give yourself as much time as possible inside. You should also allow time for security lines even if you have purchased skip-the-line tickets.
Before you go
Purchasing skip the line tickets to any of the cities attractions is advisable as queues can be hours long. Purchasing Hop on- Hop off buss tickets is also advisable. My 48-hour ticket allowed me to use the bus as a means of gaining information about the city and a very useful mode of transport.
Roman weather in October is better than most other European cities but it is not unbearably hot. The pleasant weather makes walking to all the historical sites a pleasurable part of visiting the city. Take care booking a hotel before you leave for Rome, a good hotel in a central location will allow you to walk to most of the cities tourist attractions and save on travel costs.
Many people travel to Rome for the food alone and that would be justified. Dozens of restaurants line every street and offer local Italian foods which we often eat from a microwave at home. Lasagne, pasta dishes, pizza, all stereotypically Italian and stereotypically tasty. I advise you eat away from major tourist attractions as the food may not be as fresh and the prices will be twice as high.
I also found that breakfast is not a big meal in Italy. If you are looking for anything other than a continental breakfast you will be looking for a long time. I found it best to have some fruit in the morning and have a large early lunch to set you up for the day.
Gelato is also a good idea after most meals. You won’t walk through a Roman street without seeing at least 5 gelatarias so you have no excuses!
Without tours many historical sites in Rome can look just like old ruins without any context or information. Audio guides are available at most tourist sites. You can also book group tours when you arrive inside the Colosseum and the Vatican. Segway and walking tours were also very popular in Rome but I didn’t do either. If you wish to be a true DIY tourist you can always google and Wikipedia the places you plan on visiting although this is not a great substitute for a real tour guide.
1 day in Rome
- Start the day with some fruit for breakfast before taking a walk to the Colosseum (remember to buy your skip the line tickets before you leave home).
- Enjoy the Colosseum at your own pace. There is an exhibit on the second floor and the main amphitheater itself takes time to explore from every angle.
- When you eventually drag yourself away from the Colosseum you will be in dire need of some lunch. Walk 15-20 minutes from the Colosseum to avoid paying massive prices and then enjoy from a huge selection of restaurants.
- After lunch Hop on an open top tour bus and take the full tour of the city. Take note of anything that interests you and remember to visit it later in your trip. You can always hop off the bus if you see anything that just cannot wait.
- Allow yourself at least one hour to wander the streets of Rome without a tour guide or phone in your hand, you may be surprised what you stumble across.
- A visit to the Spanish steps is always advisable in the early evening, climb the steps to the church at the top which gives an excellent view over the busy shopping streets of Rome.
- The hardest part of dinner in Rome is settling on a restaurant. Once that is completed, enjoy your meal.
- Ending the day at the Trevi fountain with gelato is perfect. Sit at the fountain edge or just beside and enjoy the artistry of the fountain. It is extremely relaxing.