Rome, Italy – the Eternal City. How long do you stay? Where do you stay? What do you see? There’s varying advice on how long you need to stay to see everything worth seeing in Rome. A good rule of thumb is at least 3 days for any major city. Some stay more, some stay less. Below is a complete guide to our time in this beautifully historic city.
If you know anything about us so far, you know that we are BIG BIG planners and this trip was no different. We left for our wedding and honeymoon the first week in June, but I started planning the honeymoon in October. I wanted to make sure I had enough time to find the perfect Airbnb as well as be able to keep our trip on budget. Generally speaking, the earlier you book the better the rates for both your stay and your airfare. Now, for Rome we didn’t have absolutely everything planned – I like to leave our daily itineraries pretty free to allow for our minds to change. I mean we are two women, it’s bound to happen. While there over the course of four days we saw the Coliseum (just from the outside), the Pantheon, the Vatican City and Sistene Chapel, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. OH! And we did a pasta making course which we’ll address a lil later because it’s one of the best experiences we’ve ever had.
WHERE TO STAY:
First question everybody asks: Where do I stay?
After a lot of research between booking.com and Airbnb – hotel vs apartment – we chose an Airbnb. The reason we chose an apartment is because the hotels seemed to either be outside of our budget price point or a little too old for our taste (we prefer newer boutique hotels which are hard to find in an old city). Our cozy little apartment was about a mile from the Vatican City and less than half a mile from the nearest metro station which ended up being very convenient. The apartment was fully furnished, with a very updated shower, toilet, and bidet. It also had a kitchenette with a stovetop, oven, and fridge! Perfect for keeping and warming up food. Pro Tip: One of the ways we save money is by popping over to the nearest grocery stores and buying small things like snacks and breakfast foods. It saves you a meal eating out. Our choice foods happened to be focaccia, cheese, and salami for a picnic in bed every morning. The only thing it lacked, was the one thing we thought it had… a washing machine. We ended up having to wash our shirts and underwear in the sink by hand which was a bit of a nightmare. So please, be sure to check all the amenities to make sure where you’re staying suits ALL your needs.
HOW TO GET AROUND:
Second question asked: Whats the easiest way to get around?
I did a bit of reading online about renting a car/motorbike in Rome and it seemed that the laws regarding having an international driver’s license wasn’t worth the hassle so we opted for public transportation. Pro Tip: Take the TRAIN from the airport. There is a specific train through trenitalia that will take you directly from the airport to the city center where you can catch a metro to your destination. This was the option our host suggested, but of course not the option we chose. LISTEN PLEASE, take this tip. Our choice was a taxi which ended up being over 45 euro one way, it took forever to hail a taxi from the airport, the cab driver accepted only cash (which we didn’t plan on spending that early), and it was extremely hard to communicate with the driver. While it always seems to be slightly inconvenient to get on a train/metro with your suitcases and such, it’s not all that bad. If we can do it from JFK airport into Time’s Square… you can manage it anywhere. Just check on google maps ahead of time to plan out which trains and stations you need to be getting on and off at and you’ll be set.
As we said, our airbnb was about a half a mile walk from the metro station so after that cab experience we chose the metro for most of the rest of the time. Couple of things we realized with the metro stations: 1. Most only take cash. 2. There is an option to get a pass for up to 72h which you can use an unlimited amount of times while in your scheduled time frame. (This is what we recommend doing because it will save you money). 3. The trains run pretty well on schedule, there was a train about every 10min or less. The absolute only downside is that a lot of the metro stations are a bit of a trek to and from. Some of the places we were going required we leave the train station and walk about a mile or more to get to where we were going. Get ready for some serious walking, you’ll need to burn off the carbs anyways.
WHAT TO DO:
There were only two very important things on our list: The Vatican and a Pasta Making Experience. Let’s talk about the Vatican first. We didn’t really have a plan for how we were going to see the Vatican, it’s museum and the Sistene Chapel. At first we were kind of just going to wing it, show up and hope that the line wasn’t overly long. DO NOT DO THIS!!! Luckily, we came to our senses and booked a last minute group skip the line tour with Maya Tours. I think we were lucky to be able to book same day (we woke up really late and didn’t know what to do for the day), so I would also suggest just going ahead and booking early. Depending on the time of year, these tours can get a little expensive, but it’s well worth the price to not have to stand in the long line in the heat.
The skip the line tour of the Vatican was a god send because as we arrived, since we were traveling in June (which is high season) the line was way down the block. The museum, and the Sistine Chapel were absolutely packed. It was the most crowded tour we have ever done, but we have to recommend it because you can’t leave Rome without seeing the Vatican city. Pro Tip: Be aware of the dress code policies! Women must be wearing something that covers the knees and the shoulder. If you are traveling in the summer, wear something light and airy because the buildings get hot with all those people! Lastly, eat before you go, the restaurants around the area are very touristy and will cost above average for the dish you order.
THE MOST IMPORTANT, MOST AMAZING, SERIOUSLY FABULOUS thing we did during our stay in Rome was a pasta making class through Airbnb Experiences. We recommend this experience to everyone who will listen because it was so much fun. It was a four hour experience (a little bit of a trek to get there from where we were staying but well worth it), had wine and cheese appetizers, and of course we ate the pasta we made by hand. The experience is put on by an Italian chef in an old pasta factory. You’ll learn how to make, mix, and roll three different types of pasta and you’ll be given the recipes for two different sauces. We even ended up buying the pasta maker to make homemade pasta at home (of course it’s never turned out the same). The experience left our bellies full and our hearts happy. It isn’t a private experience, although I think you can make it one if you choose, but a lot of the fun comes from meeting different groups of people and talking about travels.
DAY TO DAY ADVENTURES:
Most of our days were spent wandering around the city, finding cute places to eat and snapping pictures. We wandered around the Coliseum, but didn’t do a tour mostly because we missed the last tour of the day by about 30 minutes and it was just a bit too expensive for our liking (two weeks in Europe put us on a bit of a budget). We saw the Spanish Steps several times because the metro station for the area was the first stop when coming into the city from our airbnb. There was a little photo shoot at the Pantheon and then we lived out our Lizzie McGuire dreams at the Trevi Fountain. Just a heads up, the Trevi Fountain was overly overly crowded. It was a struggle to get down to the area right in front of the fountain for a picture or even to toss a coin in. I would recommend trying this tourist attraction early morning or later in the evening while people are at dinner if you want to avoid the crowds.
Share your thoughts with us on how you’ve done or planned your trip to Rome! Feel free to share any tips for the next time we plan an adventure in this city!