No trip to Italy is complete without a stop in Rome. Full of stunning architecture that has withstood centuries, fabulous squares with decadent fountains, and amazing art from the masters, Rome is iconic. It blends ancient Roman Empire history with modern day culture for an amazing experience. This ultimate Rome travel guide helps outline where to stay, how to get to the city, & what to do in the city …
Where to Stay
Like all of my travel guides, I recommend staying in the city center and this Rome travel guide is no different. This makes it so easy to get to where we want to be and make the most of the limited time we have. We stayed at the Rome Times Hotel for this stay. It was a short walk away from the Coliseum and Trevi Fountain (~10-15 minutes). The rooms were spacious and very modern. The staff at the hotel was also super helpful and arranged dinner for us during our stay.
How to Get There
There are many options to get to Rome. You can fly into one of Italy’s largest airport’s Leonardo da Vinci (FCO) which is about 30 minutes outside the city. From there, you can take a transfer train to the main terminal in Rome or a taxi/uber ride into the city center.
Since we were coming from Florence, we arrived via train into the main terminal in Rome. This is located in the city center and was easy to walk to our hotel.
What to Do
1 | Roman Colosseum
No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Rome’s Colosseum. This amphitheater was built in 80 AD during the Roman Empire. It was the largest of its kind ever built in the world. It was used for entertainment hosting gladiator battles, mock sea battles, & animal hunts, among other events. After centuries, the Colosseum has withstood numerous earthquakes & renovations. Today, it is open to tourists to explore (~12 euros and includes Forum entrance) and support in preservation efforts. Arrive early to escape some of the crowds (opens at ~8:30AM).
2 | Roman Forum
Similarly, no trip to Rome is complete without exploring the Roman Forum (convenient since it’s a joint ticket). During the Roman Empire, this space was home to the government and day-to-day life. Today, the ruins to these significant buildings and shrines stand among the modern city.
3 | The Arch of Constantine
In between the Colosseum and the Forum stands the Arch of Constantine. This arch was built during the Roman Empire to celebrate a major military victory by Constantine. The arch was built by combining different monuments and adding new elements to make it the largest Roman victory arch.
4 | Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous fountain’s of Rome. It’s beautiful sculptures showcase the taming of the rivers. Marveling at the fountain though is not the only thing to do. According the legend, you also have to throw 3 coins in the fountain – 1 for your return to Rome, 2 for romance, & 3 for marriage.
A trip to Rome is also not complete without visiting the Vatican. The museums and chapels in the Vatican showcase amazing art throughout it’s over 50 galleries, including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Stanze, and numerous other notable paintings, sculptures, & tapestries. I suggest to arrive early and pre-book your visit online at the Vatican’s website (~8-17+ euros).
6 | St. Peter’s Basilica
Within the Vatican is also St. Peter’s Basilica. Designed by some of the greatest Renaissance artists of the time, it is the largest church in the world. The church holds many tombs, statues, & sculptures within, including St. Peter’s remains, Michelangelo’s Pieta, & Bernini’s alter. Entrance into the church is free; however, arrive early in the day as it does get crowded.
7 | Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps are a great place to go in the afternoon. The best Tiramisu in the world can be found in this area at Pompi. Grab one of their amazing deserts and sit on one of the 174 steps to enjoy it! Watching the sprawling square & city around while enjoying this amazing desert is a perfect way to spend the afternoon.
8 | Pantheon
Built during the Roman Empire in the 2nd century, this church has been open to the public as a temple throughout the ages. The building is circular inside and the oculus at the top of the ceiling is open exposing the church to the elements. This beautiful temple is free to explore and the many alters inside are beautiful works of art.
9 | Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is a great place to spend an afternoon. Known for Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers, this square has many outdoor cafes and artist vendors to experience Italian life while taking in these beautiful fountains.
10 | Day trip to Pompeii
About an hour south of Rome and just outside Naples is the town of Pompeii. Pompeii was an ancient Roman town that was destroyed in the 1st century during an eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Because the town was buried in ash, the site gives a complete glimpse into Roman life from everything from bath houses to red light districts to political graffiti. It is a great way to spend the day exploring the historic town and experiencing how the Roman’s lived.