With a rich history, magnificent architecture, delicious gelato and the finest of wines, there really is no place quite like Rome. With only two nights in the capital city, I barely scratched the surface, but there’s one thing I learned quickly — whether you are a history buff, foodie, architecture enthusiast, wine connoisseur, club-goer or art admirer, there is something for everyone in this ancient city.
Don’t miss it
Although the historic center is easily walkable, take a “hop on, hop off” bus tour on your first day in Rome. While these kinds of tours get a reputation for being “touristy,” it helps you get your bearings of this huge capital city. The bus stops at most of the major must-see sights, like the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatino, Spanish Steps and Pantheon. Most of the buses have pre-recorded audio guides that provide detailed historical information on each site. For those who forget to brush up on Roman history before their trip, the information is really helpful. I left with a better appreciation for the sites and the city.
If buses aren’t your thing, you can accomplish the same thing with a guided walking tour. Just remember, if it’s advertised as free online, it’s actually a tips-based tour. Remember to bring cash to tip at the end!
If you’ve visited Paris, you know the feeling of catching your first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. It’s a giddy “look, there it is!” feeling in your stomach, and you pick up your pace to arrive sooner. It’s the same experience with the Colosseum. The nearly 2,000-year-old amphitheater really is all it’s cracked up to be. The architecture is stately and the history is rich (even if I do find the original purpose of the Colosseum to be quite disturbing).
Return to the Colosseum at dusk — it’s a completely different experience. There is something so beautiful about the lights shining through it at night!
Must try food/drink
Pizza. Pasta. Wine. Gelato. Espresso. Repeat Often.
The types of pasta are endless, but the Cacio e Pepe is a traditional Roman dish. It’s simple and tasty — topped with a little cracked pepper and cheese.
Here’s a hint
- Although it’s an independent country, be sure to visit the Vatican City during your time in Rome. The Sistine Chapel will leave you speechless (figuratively and quite literally – the security guards enforce a strict “no talking” policy).
- If you have limited time in Rome, I recommend purchasing “skip-the-line” tickets to any popular spot. While it’s a bit more expensive, it drastically cuts down the time you wait in line.
- There are water fountains all over Rome. Save money by refilling a reusable water bottle
Wish I had more time for
More gelato! More wine! More pizza! More relaxing! Take your time in this city — enjoy that cup of coffee on a cafe’s patio, grab a cup of gelato and stroll through a park, pop into that boutique that catches your eye. Don’t rush yourself to all the major sites; take time to enjoy the little things all around you.
I’ve also always wanted to join an evening walking tour. So many of the sites are so beautiful in the evenings (such as the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain).
Two nights in the elegant Grand Hotel Palace was simply perfection. The rooms in this five-star boutique hotel are colorfully decorated, spacious and fully equipped with all you could ever want in an overnight stay. After two months of sleeping in hostel bunk beds, I appreciated the comfort and size of the king-sized bed. Not to mention large showers, floor-to-ceiling windows, a flat-screen TV and wait for it … air conditioning.
To make the experience even more exceptional, the staff is friendly and the service is off-the-charts. The on-site restaurant’s terrace is the perfect spot for breakfast or lunch, too! Located in the center of historic Rome, you will be just a short walk from many major sights and a quick taxi ride to the main train station, Roma Termini.
Fun fact: The U.S. Embassy, located just across the street, has the largest wine cellar of any embassy. When in Rome, right?
On a separate visit to Rome, I stayed in the charming, yet affordable Domus Australia. It is conveniently located near Roma Termini, the main train station. The huge breakfast spread is complimentary. There is a huge outdoor garden to relax in. And the guest rooms offer plenty of space. I highly recommend it!
Helloooo, Tuscany! A 90-minute train ride to Florence, Italy. Pick a window seat — you’re in for an amazing ride.
Additional resources for planning your adventure:
- Six Days on the Amalfi Coast
- A Packing List for Backpacking Europe
- Five Easy Ways to Save Money, Spend Less and Travel More
- A Three Month Itinerary to Europe
- How to Choose the Perfect Hostel for You
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