Next month we’re visiting Rome!!!! I’m super excited. This will be my second visit and the first time I have taken my 6-year-old, Aurelia. (Who is equally, if not more excited than me). This time when planning our trip to Rome, I know exactly what to expect. Last year, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, where I was going and how we were going to travel around this beautiful city. (You can read all about my last visit to Rome here). So with a previous trip under my belt, this time we are infinitely more prepared. If you’re planning to trip Rome for the first time, here are some essential tips you’ll find extremely useful.
Where to Book?
When planning both our trips to Rome, I checked out the prices online. Scouring the internet, I weighed up the cost of booking the trip separately or whether booking the trip as a package (flight and hotel) would be cheaper. I soon discovered that booking the flight and hotel separately would mean the trip would not be ATOL protected. Therefore if anything went wrong with the trip, it would be me doing all the running around for a refund and not the travel company. And in fact, it worked out more expensive to book flights and hotel separately!
I called into my local travel agents and found booking through them took £100 off the cheapest online package holiday price. Last year I booked through a travel agent for precisely the same reason. I had assumed travel agents were a thing of the past but they may, in fact, be the way forward!
Where to Stay?
This all really depends on your budget. You can get hotels right next to the Colosseum or the Vatican for hundreds of pounds per night. But most of us want something reasonably priced and comfortable which isn’t 100 miles away from the city!
The two main attractions in Rome are the Colosseum and the Vatican. The vast amount of other attractions roughly lie in between these two sites. Last year we found the perfect location which lay right in between these two places – Trevi Fountain.
When looking for accommodation, look for something close to the Trevi Fountain. The hotels in this area are utterly beautiful, yet extremely affordable. This area is filled with shops, restaurants and cafes. The streets are filled with beautifully decorated churches too. Not to mention the Trevi Fountain itself which no one could ever tire of gazing at.
The coliseum is approximately a 20-minute walk away and the Vatican city a mere 40-minute walk. As you walk to each of these locations, you can take in so many more attractions too!
Walking isn’t for everyone though. At times you may need or want to take some form of transport. Fortunately, Rome has excellent transport services.
When leaving the airport people on our flight headed for the bus stop. Buses run frequently from the two airports in Rome (Ciampino and Fiumicino). Tickets can be purchased from inside the airport for as little as 4 Euros. The bus journey from Ciampino takes around 40 minutes.
However, we wanted to get to the hotel in comfort and enjoy a latte without having to queue for a bus. We opted for a taxi. Taxis have a fixed rate from Ciampino to Rome city centre of 30 Euros (although you should always check with the driver first). This rate applies for up to 4 passengers and their luggage.
We will certainly be using this form of transport to and from the airport again. We arrived in the centre of Rome, at our hotel in 30 minutes.
Once we were in the centre of Rome, we made good use of public transport. The metro enabled us to move between many of the main sites. Single-use metro tickets can be purchased for 1.50 Euros. If you’re planning to make multiple journeys, 24 hours, 48 hours and 72-hour tickets can also be purchased from the metro stations.
Which Attractions to Visit?
You’re going to want to visit the coliseum when in Rome. I can highly recommend the queue jump tickets. There are many companies which offer these tickets but Co-op Culture offer the best prices. And we used this service before and so can recommend! We walked past huge queues and walked straight to a sperate entrance (with no queue). We scanned the ticket from our phone and headed straight into the Coliseum. Tickets cost 18 Euros for adults, 4 Euros for 18-25-year-olds and under 18s are free.
The ticket also includes a visit to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Again, queue jump tickets for the Vatican are essential. The quietest days to visit the Vatican are Tuesdays and Thursdays so you might want to factor this into your trip.
Entry to the Vatican with a queue jump pass is 17 Euros for adults and 8 Euros for children aged 6 – 18. Children 5 and under can enter the Vatican for free. These tickets include a visit to the Vatican Museums as well as the Sistine Chapel. St Peter’s Basilica is free to visit but does get rather busy. If you would like to visit the Vatican gardens, you will need an additional ticket.
There are hundreds of Churches scattered throughout Rome and these are free to enter. There are numerous other sites to visit including the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and the Circus Maximus.
My advice would be to consider the attractions you want to visit before you depart and make this an integral part of planning your trip to Rome.
Bring a Map
Last year I often found myself utterly lost in the city. Trying to reach a particular attraction, I seemed to walk miles and miles out of my way. This year, we will be taking a map with us.
I’m using google maps to print out all the walking routes from our hotel to the attractions we will be visiting too. Rome is so vast and for this reason, can be a tad hard to navigate.
If you can’t plan your visits before you leave, make sure you have google maps or similar on your phone when you get there. Use these apps to guide you through the streets of the city to your destination.
Perhaps a simple or an obvious point, but what to wear? I had no idea what the weather would be like in Rome when we first visited and had no idea what to take. Last January, I found the weather to be warmer than here in the UK. So even though it was winter, I walked around in a jacket/jeans type outfit during the day but needed a coat in the evening when the temperature cooled. Other seasons are the same – Spring, Summer and Autumn are warmer and drier than in the UK.
Make sure you bring comfortable footwear. I cannot understate this point. You’ll find yourself embarking on plenty of walks in the Eternal City!
Do you have any essential tips for those who are planning a trip to Rome? Please share in the comments below.