Here’s everything you need to know before booking your trip to Rome, Italy!
We just got back from spending 10 days traveling throughout Italy! Rome, Italy was our first stop and it is one of my favorite spots. We spent a lot of time exploring the city and eating alllll the food. I wanted to share the best things we did on our trip and break down some of the things you should know before booking your next vacation. Going to such a big city can be overwhelming but I hope this blog post helps relieve some of the stress. I’m talking about the top 10 must-see attractions along with some of the best places to stay in Rome, Italy and our favorite restaurants. Here’s what to know before you go:
Things to Do in Rome, Italy
On our first day in Rome, we went to the Colosseum. My mom reserved our tickets online and that was AMAZING since the line to get tickets would take hours. We decided to go without a tour guide so we could see as much or as little of the Colosseum as possible. Also, if you follow a tour group around, you can get all the same information. We walked along the top, middle and down onto the stage area. There is no access to the catacombs underneath the stage unless you pay more money so we opted out of that.
What To Know Before You Go: When buying a ticket online, the tickets are good for 1-2 days. If you miss your designated time, you can technically get in anytime that day and tickets are good for both the Colosseum and Roman Forum but you can only visit each place one time.
I had never been to the Roman Forum before and it’s absolutely HUGE! Walking around the Roman Forum was one of the highlights on our trip because seeing all the architecture is breathtaking. Plus, the road dates to before the birth of Christ. The slight history nerd was FREAKING out I was so excited! I could’ve spent all day here! There’s so much to see and I didn’t even see all of it after 3 hours there.
What to Know Before You Go: Climb to the very top and you’ll see the best view of the entire city of Rome! There’s also running water fountains along the trail with fresh water to drink.
The Trevi Fountain is the oldest running aqueduct in the world! When I first came to Rome, Italy, the Trevi Fountain was under construction. I was devastated that I didn’t get to have my Lizzie McGuire moment. Now, the Trevi Fountain isn’t covered with scaffolding and enough people to fill a small country are gathered around it. There were So. Many. People. It was easily the most crowded area I saw in Rome, Italy besides the Colosseum. If you’re standing looking at the fountain, go all the way to the right hand side against the wall. It’s a more open space to take photos rather than head on.
What to Know Before You Go: A ton of men go around offering to take pictures for you on your phone. This may seem nice but rumor has it they pretend to snap the photo and then take off with your phone. Be aware of the people around you and the risk you run from having a stranger snap your photo. Trade with a friend or another couple nearby. Trust your gut and you should be just fine! Also, I recommend going early in the morning just as the sun rises for optimal lighting and for better pictures with less people.
The Pantheon is soooo cool! You cannot take pictures inside and I wish I could’ve. The inside is a huge dome with a hole in the middle so when it rains, water pours inside. Weird, right? It’s a former Roman temple turned church so definitely take some time to go see it. Plus, it’s a great photo-op!
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
This is one of my favorite spots in all of Italy! There’s a gorgeous fountain in the middle of a square. During the first time I went to Rome, Italy, the square filled with artists during the summer sharing their handmade sentiments and oil paintings. During the winter, it is the center for Rome’s Christmas market. There’s chestnuts roasting on each corner, candy shops, windows filled with ornaments and a giant carousel. It’s SO magical! No matter what time of year, it’s a spot you must take some time to stumble upon.
On our second day in Rome, Italy, we went to the Vatican. It was PACKED! I’ve never seen more people in one spot before. We didn’t buy any tickets in advance but we were able to get in fairly quickly. If you want to get in early, I recommend buying them ahead of time. It is so easy to get lost in the Vatican without a tour guide, but when you’re on a tour, you don’t get to see everything. Get a map if you can find one. We didn’t grab one at the beginning and backtracked a lot of the time we were there. My favorite parts of the Vatican are the Egypt exhibits and the Roman sculptures. The Sistine Chapel is incredible but I can’t stay in there long with the sheer amount of people stuffed into the room. (I get very claustrophobic…)
What To Know Before You Go: Your time in the Vatican ends in the Sistine Chapel. There’s an exit that goes straight into St. Peter’s Basilica and the other exit brings you back to the entrance of the Vatican. If you don’t want to wait hours to get into the basilica, take the other exit. We made that mistake and it cost us a lot of valuable time.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of my favorite places in Rome, Italy! It’s 100% free to go and it’s STUNNING! The line is crazy long to get in but if you also have tickets to the Vatican, refer to my tip above. It’s absolutely massive and has some of the best architecture in all of Rome. If you go, don’t forget to go down to the crypt where all the previous popes are buried and apparently St. Peter’s body is down there too along with a spike from the cross of Christ.
Place to Stay in Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy Hotels
The Crosti Hotel is one my favorite Rome Italy hotels I’ve ever stayed in. My family loved staying at the Crosti Hotel! It’s really close to the Termini train station, but if you are wanting to be more centralized I recommend going somewhere else. However, the train station also has a subway entrance with many tracks to take you to all the local attractions. Our room was HUGE! We had a queen bed, two toilets, a bidet, a shower and a pull out couch in a separate room. It was nice having all the space and we could’ve easily fit another person (or two) on the pull out couch. The shower is absolutely tiny but that’s pretty much any shower in Europe. Every room included a safe which gave us peace of mind when we went out to explore Rome, Italy.
What to Know Before You Go: Before booking, you should know that there are two different types of rooms: hotel rooms and apartments. Hotel rooms are in the building and the apartments are three blocks away. Taz and I had a hotel room and the rest of my family was in an apartment. It was kind of crazy that they are so far away, but definitely keep that in mind if you’re going with a group. Also, breakfast is only complimentary with hotel rooms and not apartments since the apartments have their own kitchens.
Rome, Italy Restaurants
We ate a TON of yummy food when we went to Rome, Italy and here’s some of my favorite places that we ate during our time there:
Tre Scali Gelato
Dessert is always first, right? This gelato shop is right next to the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. I got the Stracciatella gelato (aka chocolate chip) but there’s a ton of gelato/sorbet flavors. It’s one of the cheaper options I was able to find and they definitely don’t skimp out on how much they give you.
Vito E Dina
This restaurant was the best one we ate at the entire time we spent in Rome, Italy! The portions were larger and it tasted incredible. We got fresh bread with every plate and my sister said it was the best food she ate on our entire trip. I ordered the Fettuccine Bolognese. If you go, order the pasta because you have to taste it!
Pizzeria del Secolo
We found this place right down the street from our hotel. It’s a pay per slice pizza restaurant which is great if you’re on a budget. It definitely wasn’t the best pizza I had during our entire trip but it was still tasty. My sister and I died over the patate (potato) pizza with the white sauce. It’s DELICIOUS!
Those are all the things to know before going to Rome, Italy! I wrote about all the places to go, hotels to stay in and food to eat. If there’s any other questions you have before booking your vacation to Rome, Italy, don’t hesitate to ask! I would love to answer any and all questions you may have. If you are booking any other trips this year, here’s my post all about my trips to Paris, London, and Edinburgh.