10 Best Things to Do in Rome

And some things to avoid!

10 Best Things to Do in Rome

We’ve just returned from Rome having done a mid-week, off-season, frugal break. We’re trying to visit a European Capital every year and Rome marks our third.

It’s a beautiful, ancient city with so much to see.

Way more than you can see in a week!

Here’s Money Mages’ take on a Frugal week in Rome.

10 Best things to do in Rome

1. Soak up Roman History

The seat of the Roman Empire, Rome contains many ancient monuments and is steeped in history.

Sometimes in the least obvious places.

There are obvious mega-attractions. We found beauty in the smaller, less obvious ruins. Pick a few and take a look. If you are going to do the main attractions, read on!

2. Museums

Rome has more museums you could fit in a week’s trip. The Vatican museums. The national gallery. Modern art gallery. Galleria Borghese. There is more culture than you can take in on a short visit.

I highly recommend the strange & spooky but awesome Museum and Crypt of Capuchins. This is a Museum about the Capuchin Friars. Which sounds quite dull. At the end there is a Crypt containing the bones of thousands of Friars and mummified Friars. It’s spectacular.

I’d recommend the OMNIA Card or Roma Card depending on your budget and how many sites you are going to see. They give you free and/or priority entry. You can buy before your trip via Attraction Tickets Direct*

3. Amazing Food

Rome has lots of great food. Though you might overdo the pasta and pizza!

Try and get away from the main Piazzas - into the backstreets. There are lots of cool, small restaurants in the Trastevere district.

We did Osteria da Fortunata one night, which was good but not great.

If you do overdo the pasta and pizza, why not try something a little different? There are some pretty good Japanese places, with the obvious Italian twist!

4. Walk and Explore

Don’t take the metro, or public transport, but walk! You’ll save money and experience more!

We walked 80 miles in 5 days in Rome. Just go and explore! You see so much more when you walk.

5. Walk the Piazzas

There are loads of beautiful Piazzas or ‘squares’ in central Rome.

They are often bustling with tourists, restaurants, and shops. Day and night.

A great way to see central Rome is to walk between the Piazzas. Take the back streets and explore!

6. Beautiful Churches

Rome is the centre of the Catholic Church. It’s known for some of the most beautiful Cathedrals and Churches.

The Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica are in the Vatican. But beware: expect a tourist mob. These are popular sites, some of the most visited attractions in the world.

If you are happy with the queues and the sweaty bodies, by all means, queue. We found some of the smaller, off-the-beaten-path churches spectacular. Despite not being religious at all!

7. Parks

Rome has lots of beautiful parks. The weather is often great, so it’s amazing to get away from the hustle and bustle of central Rome.

We walked to the Villa Doria Pamphili which is a huge public park, the largest in Rome. Beautiful sights and views.

On the way to Trastevere we also stopped by Parco del Gianicolo. It has some beautiful views on its southern side. The other-MM loves the lizards.

8. Shopping - but for a Bargain

We’re not huge shopping fans. But we did find some affordable genuine Italian leather shops. Real leather belts for less than you’d pay in Tesco for non-leather!

From Spagna metro, Via Sistina and beyond. Lots of leather shops, some affordable, others not so!

If fashion is your thing, Via Cola di Rienzo in Prati had loads of boutiques.

9. Take a Train to Naples or Florence

Trains in Italy are super quick and affordable. We took an Italo train to Naples for the day. It’s only an hour.

You can get to Naples, Florence, Milan and Venice for a day or two day trip using Rome as a base.

You can book tickets on most UK based train ticket sites. I recommend booking on trainline.com*

10. Late Night Bakeries

Back home we live a few streets away from a 24 hour bakery. The pastries in Rome were to die for, so we found a little 24 hour bakery.

We recommend Dolce Maniera. Get off the Metro at Ottaviano Cheap, cheerful, friendly. Delicious!

10 Must-See sights in Rome

These are our 10 Must-See sights in Rome

1. Pantheon

The Pantheon, beautiful at night.
The Pantheon, beautiful at night.

2. Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

The Colosseum, book to avoid the queues.
The Colosseum, book to avoid the queues.

3. The Vatican. St Peter’s Square, Vatican Museums, St Peter’s Basilica & Sistine Chapel

The Vatican, St Peters, the Sistine Chapel, and Vatican Museum.
The Vatican, St Peters, the Sistine Chapel, and Vatican Museum.

4. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, much quieter than St Peters and stunning
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, much quieter than St Peters and stunning

5. Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna
Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna

6. Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain

7. View down Via del Corso & Altare della Patria

Alter of the Fatherland. Walk down Via del Corso for a spectacular view
Alter of the Fatherland. Walk down Via del Corso for a spectacular view

8. Castel Sant’Angelo & View down Via della Conciliazione

Stunning view of St Peters, right next to Castel Sant'Angelo
Stunning view of St Peters, right next to Castel Sant'Angelo

9. Trastevere & Side Streets

The side streets in Rome, especially around Trastevere are beautiful
The side streets in Rome, especially around Trastevere are beautiful

10. Quirinale Palace

Changing of the Guard at Quirinale Palace
Changing of the Guard at Quirinale Palace

7. Mistakes to avoid in Rome

1. Queues

Rome is a major tourist destination. The queues for the main attractions. The Colosseum & Vatican are daunting.

You will need to book ahead. Well before your trip. You can turn up on the day but expect to be queueing for hours.

You can buy ‘skip the line’ tickets from the official sites. Beware, you will be given a ‘time slot’ that you need to turn up for.

Try the Official Vatican Tickets site and the Official Colosseum Tickets site. If you can’t get a time slot, you can try an ticket third party like Attraction Tickets Direct*. It might come at a small premium, but at least you’ll have your ticket and timeslot.

Bottom line: Plan ahead.

2. Taxis

Taxi drivers in Rome have a bad reputation. It’s warranted. If I the Italian for “ring-piece”, I’d be emoting it at the side of the road.

Uber doesn’t exist in Rome. If you don’t want to walk or take the metro, use the local Taxi app FreeNow*.

FreeNow books the official local white Taxis. You can prebook with FreeNow. It works like Uber where you can track your driver, and pay via the app. Sign up to FreeNow* and use code tim.jen and you’ll save £10 off your Taxi booking.

3. Rude Waiters & ‘The Bill Please’

We found almost all waiters in Rome rude. I suppose it’s their status-quo. Don’t expect Americanised service culture. It’s brash. Don’t be offended. We saw an american couple storm off from a perfectly good table as they were taken aback.

Waiters also won’t bring you the bill. You need to ask. Just wave your hands.

4. Tourist Traps

Avoid the main tourist traps. Even a few streets away down the side-streets are quieter and beautiful. We found back streets with cool workshops: marble shops, furniture repair shops, cheeseries. It was pretty special & way better than the tat-touting tourist traps.

Obviously see the main tourist traps, but get out of the way to see some cooler sights!

5. Dress code

The main religious sites in Rome, especially the Vatican, have a dress code. Dress by the rules if you want to enter some sites. It’s quite strict, forbidding:

It’s quite easy to get caught out with this, especially in the summer months. This didn’t bother us as we were in our usual Scottish weather affair! Sweating like beasties!

6. Closures

Many Museums in Rome are closed on a Monday. The Pope does his address in St Peter’s square on Wednesday morning. You might find this a better time to visit the Vatican Museum. St Peters Square will be busy.

If you don’t plan ahead, you’ll miss out. As I said above, plan & book before you get on the plane if you want to see all the sights.

7. It’s a bit scruffy. Don’t be put off.

When we first got to Rome we thought ‘shittip’. Graffiti everywhere. The journey from Ciampino was pretty dire.

A walk along the Tiber doesn’t have the same feeling as walks along the Seine.

It wasn’t love at first sight. We also found the locals somewhat rude.

Rome’s grittiness kind of grew on us. After a day or so the blemishes melted away.

Airport Transit

How do I get from Fiumicino Airport to Rome?

Take the Train. There is a direct train from Fiumincio to Rome Termini, the main station in Rome.

If you’d prefer a taxi, book your pickup ahead. You can use an airport transfer service via Expedia* It should cost around €48 which is the fixed fee from Fiumicino to central Rome with an official white taxi.

How do I get from Ciampino Airport to Rome?

You can take the bus. Buy tickets from the departures hall.

Do not take a Taxi from the Taxi Rank. There is a cartel that operates there who are rip-off merchants.

If you’d prefer a taxi, book your pickup ahead. You can use an airport transfer service via Expedia* It should cost around €35 which is the fixed fee from Ciampino to central Rome with an official white taxi.

What are you waiting for? Book your break to Rome now!*

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