What to do in Rome (And an easy way to save money whilst doing it!)
Off to Rome? Fantastic! Flights booked? Awesome! Now deciding what to do ‘when in Rome’ well, I’ve a few tips.
Firstly, there is no way you will ‘see it all’ on a short break to Rome. Just accept it.
The city is so packed to the rafters with beauty, history, art and culture, and tourists, you need to have a plan. Your plan could be ‘let’s just see how it goes’ which in most of my life tends to be a mantra of mine.
HOWEVER, I don’t suggest this for Rome. I’d suggest a bit of pre planning to make sure you don’t miss out on some exceptional, awe inspiring, breath taking and unique experiences.
When you arrive in Rome
We got the public bus from the airport, boy it was packed, and late, and hot and not fun with a large backpack but it was cheap and we arrived safely. The locals helped us find the right stop otherwise I think we’d still be on it! I guess you pay your money you take your choice.
Oh, and remember, there are two airports!
Where to stay in Rome
It’s not cheap, it’s a city and it’s a busy one. However you can bag a bargain if you shop around. I noticed the hotels offered with the flight companies didn’t have great reviews, so booked separately.
We stayed at the hotel Mimosa, I’ve posted a review on Trip Advisor if you want to get more details.
It’s in an ideal location for everything central in Rome, with helpful staff.
Talk to locals and staff, we found extra iconic Caravaggio paintings which weren’t mentioned in the guide books by chatting over breakfast.
If you are staying in a smaller hotel, you may find they lock up, not just at night. Make sure you read all the small print and can gain access when your flight arrives. Make sure they know you’re coming.
How to find things in Rome
Luckily we’d downloaded a map and pinned sites off line. Don’t rely on having wi-fi. A good old fashioned guide book is a great resource in Rome.
Everything is within walking distances, if you wear the right shoes. This is not a city for heels. Cobble streets and ancient steps are the norm, so don’t be a martyr to fashion. You’ll look pretty daft with a pot on your ankle, and yes we saw more than one person in that sad situation.
Be a tourist for a day in Rome
Try the ‘hop on hop off’ bus for a cheaper way to get around, it’s also more comfortable than the PACKED and delayed, public buses we encountered. The commentary wasn’t the best but it still gives you historic facts and figures.
Keep safe when in Rome
This beautiful and historic city can be a bit intimidating in the rabbit warren of locked doors and high buildings, even more so at night. Make sure you have an idea where you need to be.
The cafes are busy but as soon as you move from those busy areas it’s spookily lonely with few people about.
Rome is infamous for pickpockets so be wary with your valuables and cash. The rooms in smaller hotels probably won’t have a safe, although the reception areas can look after your valuables. I tend to travel light so not a problem for me.
Please don’t spoil your trip by taking too much stuff with you, then having to worry about where to keep it safe. Be cautious though not paranoid.
Be respectful in Rome
Rome is a city built around history and religion so please be respectful. I got quietly angry at some young tourists (won’t say what nationality, it’s embarrassing) who took photos in areas where cameras are banned. They kept taking them, despite requests not to. It’s just rude, so don’t do it.
Remember your memories are in your head. As much as it’s great to take photos, I do all the time, it’s also great to see stuff with your eyes not your lens.
You can see excellent photos online, you can’t see the real thing.
I thought I’d share two shots I took, one to show you a ‘wow’ piece of sculpture.
Another to show just how many people were experiencing my ‘wow’ moment at the same time! What I find hilarious is how many are facing AWAY from the view!
An easy way to save money in Rome
As promised I can maybe save you money. How?
We saw lots of stuff free purely because it was Sunday!
Listening to people in the queues some had paid, quite a lot of cash, in advance. Ooops! I’m always on a budget and look at advance discounts, I was so glad I didn’t jump in and buy tickets before we arrived. Do your research!
Sunday is also the day to avoid the Vatican, unless you are visiting for religious reasons. Try to get a ‘beat the line’ ticket for the Vatican, we got ours with bus ticket. It really does help, although you’ll still be in a queue it will be MUCH shorter.
What to include in your Rome travel plan
My plan was based around the biggies like Colosseum and Vatican, as well as seeing as many Caravaggio paintings I could find. I need to go back, I saw loads of stuff by pre planning but there is so much more to enjoy.
You will get bored of your own voice saying things like ‘wow’ and ‘look at that’ and ‘oh that looks yummy.’ You may also hear the occasional, ‘I need coffee’ or ‘let’s eat pizza.’
If you’re really stuck use my 1-2-3 method:
- List the things you’d like to see or do
- Mark the absolutely DO NOT MISS ones with a 1
- The ones you really want to experience, but they aren’t bucket list ones as a 2
- The 3’s are the ‘if we have time’ or ‘if we have money left’ items
I find this helps get things in order in my head, and ensures I don’t get distracted from why I’m going in the first place.
Rome will not let you down. Get up early, embrace the cafe culture and most of all, ENJOY!
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