Rome Travel Guide
Our best tips for first-timers
Orientation in Rome
Rome is huge. The population is about 3 million, which doesn’t sound that immense at first. But whats really impressive is the city area: it’s about 10 times the size of Paris.
Of course, such a big city has to be subdivided. Rome consists of 15 districts and 155 neighborhoods. The districts are called “Municipio” and are numbered with Roman numerals. So Municipio I, Municipio II and so on.
The center of Rome is Municipio I. It’s not the largest district in terms of area, but it consists of a total of 22 districts.
For your city trip to Rome, Municipio I is the most interesting, because here are the historic center and the Vatican City. Almost all of the most beautiful and famous sights of Rome can be found in this district.
All neighborhoods and hotel recommendations that you will find in this article are therefore also in Municipio I.
Our top 5 highlights in Rome
There is almost an infinite number of sights in Rome. But these five are definitely a must-see.
The largest amphitheater in the world
The best way to immerse yourself in the history of Rome is to visit the Colosseum. The huge amphitheater has been sitting in the center of Rome for over 2,000 years.
Inside the impressive walls, you won’t be able to stop marveling and you’ll learn everything about the construction and the brave gladiators who had to fight for their lives in the arena.
Most important site in ancient Rome
Right next to the Colosseum, there is another highlight waiting for you to visit.
The archaeological site Forum Romanum was once the center of Roman life and thus of the whole known world at that time. Today you can walk in the footsteps of the ancient Romans and explore the ruins of their palaces and temples.
Church hidden in a Roman temple
This church does not look like a regular church at all. That’s because it is a converted Roman temple.
Almost 2,000 years ago, people were already praying here, although a bit differently than today.
The huge dome of the Pantheon was the largest in the world for over 1,500 years and has a circular opening in the center.
A highlight of 136 steps
Don’t be surprised, you heard it right. The Spanish Steps are right in the middle of the Italian capital. It is named after the Spanish embassy that is located at the foot of the stairs.
The many steps of the Spanish Steps lead you directly from Piazza di Spagna to the church of Santa Trinità dei Monti.
Once you have conquered the steps, you will also have a beautiful view over Rome.
The smallest state in the world
Vatican City lies in the middle of Rome, is the smallest state in the world and the Pope’s residence.
The huge St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square are probably known all over, but also the Vatican Museums with their meaningful artworks and beautiful gardens are definitely worth a visit.All info about visiting Vatican City
The first thing you need for your city trip to Rome is the right accommodation.
That is not at all easy in this huge city. The hotel rates are very high and you don’t want to be too far away from the most beautiful sights. Especially if you are in Rome for the first time, a hotel in the center is worthwhile.
To help you with your search, we have summarized the best parts of the city to stay in and our hotel tips:
Public transport in Rome
The best way to get around in Rome is to take the metro. Even though Rome is a city of millions, there are only three metro lines: A, B and C. You can find a map of all metro lines in Rome here.
Apart from that, there are buses and streetcars. At night, the subway stations are closed, but there are night buses available. A map with Rome’s buses and night buses is available here.
Punctuality is a bit of a problem, so you may have to wait a while at the bus stop. This is quite normal in Rome!
Attention: Tickets are not sold on the bus. Make sure to buy you ticket in advance, if you are planning to take the night bus, because tobacconists and metro stations are closed then.
Tickets for public transport
Tickets are valid for all means of transportation and are available from ticket machines in metro stations, tobacconists or ATAC service counters. You can choose between the following tickets:
BIT ticket: 1.50 euros (valid for 100 minutes for all means of transport, but only one trip on the metro).
Roma 24 ore: 7 euros (24-hour ticket)
Roma 48 ore: 12.50 euros (48-hour ticket)
Roma 72 ore: 18 euros (72-hour ticket)
C.I.S.: 24 euros (weekly ticket, valid for 7 days)
There is also the Roma Pass. You can order it online and pick it up at different pick-up stations in the city.
With the pass, you can travel for free on all public transport after the first validation, skip the queue at the Colosseum and get discounts for various attractions. The Roma Pass is available for either 48 or 72 hours.
Attention: The Leonardo Express and all connections to Fiumicino Airport are not included in the Roma Pass.
How to get from the Rome airport to the city center
There are two international airports in Rome: Rome-Fiumicino (FCO) and Rome-Ciampino (CIA). The former is larger and is located about 29 kilometers from the city center. Ciampino is smaller and is mainly served by budget airlines such as Easy Jet, but is located closer to Rome.
Transfer from Fiumcino Airport
From Fiumcino you have five options to get to the city center, each with its own advantage.
The Terravision bus is the cheapest alternative and the Leonardo Express is the fastest. A cab or a private car is the most comfortable way to get to Rome, and the Sit Bus is the most suitable if you live near the Vatican. Finally, there is the FL1 regional train. This is perfect for those who stay near Rome’s city beach.
Transfer from Ciampino Airport
Since Ciampino is smaller than Fiumcino, there is no rail service to the airport. However, you can still get to the city center by bus or car.
The cheapest transfer from Ciampino is the combination of bus and metro. The Terravision and Sit buses offer you the best value for money and taking a cab or private transfer is the most comfortable alternative.
Local cuisine in Rome
The cuisine in Italy differs from region to region and also Rome has its own typical dishes. As in all of Italy, the food in Rome is delicious.
Roman cuisine is a very simple cuisine, with few but fresh ingredients and without complex cooking processes. The food is therefore super tasty, healthy and does not lie heavy in the stomach. Of course, the whole experience is always accompanied by a glass of wine.
Most famous dishes of Rome
Absolutely worth a try
Spaghetti alla Carbonara is a must try – classic with bacon and egg (without cream!). Spaghetti all’Amatriciana you can get with tomato sauce and pork cheek meat. Thin slices of veal with sage leaves and prosciutto combine to make the super tasty Saltimbocca alla Romana.
If you order Coda alla Vaccinara, you’ll be served oxtail in tomato sauce. Sounds strange, but it’s really delicious. Carciofi alla Giudia is deep-fried artichokes – perfect for vegetarians.
Don't miss out on this one
Outside of Rome there are many wine-growing areas. Thus, there are naturally many different types of wine in the city. Most of them are red wines, but there are also some good white wines.
An excellent white wine is Frascati. There are several varieties of this, but Fontana Candida and Colli Albani DOC are particularly recommended.
Meanwhile, popular Roman red wines are Cesanese del Piglio and Roma Rosso DOC.
Frequently asked questions
When is the best time to travel to Rome?
The best time to visit Rome is definitely spring and fall.
In the months of April to June and September to October, Rome has warm temperatures and it doesn’t rain that much. However, you have to be prepared for many tourists and long queues.
In winter, the temperatures in Rome are still pleasant, but it is usually very rainy. Summer, on the other hand, is very hot. Overall, however, there is much less going on in Rome than in spring or fall.
How expensive is a vacation in Rome?
Italy is definitely not the cheapest destination in Europe and Rome is no exception.
You can expect the following costs:
All in all, you can expect the following costs:
Overnight stay in a good middle class hotel: 100 to 200 euros
1-liter bottle of water at the kiosk: 2 to 3 euros
Beer (0,4 liter): 4 to 5 euros
Cappuccino: 2 to 3 euros
Bus or metro ticket: 1,50 euros
Dinner in a simple restaurant: 20 to 30 euros
Dinner in an upscale restaurant: 30 to 60 euros
Most larger restaurants and also hotels accept a credit card. Smaller businesses often do not accept credit cards, especially American Express, because the fees are much more expensive for them. So make sure you always have cash on you as well.
By the way, it is not common to tip in Rome. However, many tourists do it anyway, so some waiters, who also usually earn very little, might expect it from you. So if you leave a few euros more, you certainly won’t do anything wrong.
How safe is Rome?
In Rome, you don’t have to worry about your safety any more than in any other European city, such as London, Berlin or Paris. Even at night you can walk through Rome’s streets without worrying. Especially in the center there is always something going on and the police is very visible.
However, there are of course always cases of petty crime, such as pickpocketing, fraud and the like. Pickpockets especially like to hang out in crowded places like the Trevi Fountain, where they can reach into someones purse or backpack without being noticed.
It’s best to simply carry very little cash and keep an eye on your valuables at all times.
The only place in the center that is less recommended at night is the area around Termini Station. Apart from the station forecourt, where the shuttle buses to the airport leave from, there are some strange characters in the streets around the station. But that’s often the case near train stations at night.
Can I drink the tap water in Rome?
According to EU directives, you can drink tap water throughout Europe. In Rome, however, this was already the case 2000 years ago. Why should it be any different today?
The tap water actually tastes quite good. Everywhere in the city there are also small fountains with clean drinking water, where you can fill up your water bottle.
What should I pack for my vacation in Rome?
If you travel within Europe, you usually don’t need too much for a city trip, because you usually only stay a few days and everything has to fit in your hand luggage.
To ensure that you don’t forget anything, here’s our article on a packing list for city trips.
In Rome, the streets are often in a sorry state. Here and there is always a pothole on the sidewalk. So sneakers are particularly useful. They are also ideal as you will be doing a lot of walking in Rome, going from sight to sight all day long.
If you want to go out in the evening and go to a club or restaurant, you should also bring appropriate clothing. Italians are very particular about their appearance, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
Do I need a travel adapter?
There are three different electrical outlets in Italy. Depending on where you are from you definitely will need a travel adapter.
You can’t go wrong with a universal travel adapter. Which you can then also use for other trips.
How can I communicate in Rome?
Rome has been a tourist hotspot for a long time and accordingly Romans are attuned to it. That means everyone who works with tourists speaks a certain amount of English.
Even in restaurants there are almost always English menus.
In general, signs on the street or information boards in museums are always multilingual. In hotels everyone speaks English anyway.
So if you speak English, you will get along just fine in Rome.