The saying “all roads lead to Rome” seems to still be true today, as there are increasing flights, tours and travellers flocking to the Italian capital. Rome boasts sights such as the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon and they are truly marvellous! I find that wandering the charming streets is where the true magic of Rome can be found. A Roman holiday is a definite must for any visit to Europe, but make sure you see everything without breaking the bank.
The unmissable Trevi Fountain
What To Do
- Colosseum It is pretty amazing that this structure has stood the test of time and its imposing presence can still be felt when visiting. The entry fee is expensive but it might be something you want to see, although a walk around and a few snaps from the exterior is a great option for super-budget travellers.
- Trevi Fountain Tucked away from the main roads, the intricate and beautiful Trevi Fountain is certainly worth a visit when in Rome. For a less crowded experience, aim to have a look around earlier in the morning. This site is also completely free, unless you wish to toss a coin into the fountains water, which folk tale suggests you will one day return to the Rome.
- The Vatican Paying a visit here means you’ll be exploring the smallest country in the world! The impressive Vatican Cathedral is also free to enter and worthwhile experiencing the grand ornateness once inside. However the queues can reach kilometres in length, so arriving before all the tour busses drastically shortens time spent queuing.
- Trastevere A wonderful charming suburb of cobblestone laneways, complete with the awakening smell of coffee and alfresco dining that Italy is renowned for. Affordable eats that respect the traditional Italian cuisine are an ease to find in this part of town.
- Piazza Navona and Campo de’Fiori Both are large town squares with carved marble sculptures and fountains, and shutter covered buildings lining their perimeters. Many years ago Piazza Navona used to be a location for athletics competitions and horse races. Both squares have great markets, with Piazza Navona hosting Rome’s Christmas markets.
- Pantheon Another worthwhile and free building to visit when exploring Rome. The main lighting for the building actually comes through a circular hole in the roof and remains a comfortable temperature inside during those hot Roman days.
- Spanish steps An amazing place to experience but this place can get crowded easily and offers little shade from the heat on hot days.
The crowded Spanish Steps on a summer day in Rome
Epic views of the Colosseum can be found all around Rome
Where To Stay
Budget accommodation can be a challenge to find in Rome, especially during the peak summer months. I stayed in a lovely AirBNB near the Vatican and got a great feel of how the locals live. For a more affordable and local experience an AirBNB might be the best option, but also remember to book in advance.
What To Eat and Drink
- The Italians were responsible for inventing espresso coffee, so morning caffeine hits taken at the bar are now an ingrained part of the daily routine. Espressos are usually just over a Euro in price, and I’d strongly recommend enjoying a morning coffee at the bar to anyone visiting Rome.
- Gelato is also a must try and a great little snack to enjoy and cool off at the same time. Look for gelato shops down smaller side streets rather than main thoroughfares or near famous landmarks for a much cheaper price.
- Everyone should also enjoy some pizza at least once when in Rome or Italy. However traditional styles often surprise many travellers as toppings are kept basic and minimal. A tomato, cheese and prosciutto topped pizza being a very common style.
- Rich and delicious pastas are another famous and common food. A local restaurant in Trastevere is a great place to find a pasta dish with a recipe passed down generations.
A storm brewing over the Tiber River
When To Go
The best weather and most sunny days are between June and August, but that also coincides with the most expensive prices and most tourists. The shoulder months of May and September would be the ideal balance between weather and cost. Winter is definitely the cheapest but don’t forget your coat.
How To Get Around
Walking is by far the best transportation method to absorb what Rome has to offer. However there is an underground train system, bus routes and taxis. Buses are cheap and quite effective. I didn’t use the underground system, although it is well-known for it’s incompleteness due to constantly running into underground archaeological wonders. If you chose to drive, be warned, Romans to not hold back on aggressive driving and triple parking!
A crowded but beautiful Piazza Navona
A chilled beer or glass of wine during some alfresco dining is the most popular evening activity. A litre carafe of house wine in a local restaurant is usually quite affordable as well. There are awesome nightclubs and bar crawls, however relaxed drinks with friends is a more local commonality.