Rome travel tips for first timers - depicts Colosseum and arch in Rome

67 Rome Travel Tips for first time visitors

Rome is one of the most historic cities in the world and a must-see destination for anyone! Most people visit for a weekend city break and as there’s so much to do and see, it can be tough figuring out where to start! After spending time exploring the wonders of Italy, we’ve put together a list of 67 Rome travel tips for first time visitors, designed to give you advice for visiting Rome, covering everything from saving money, seeing the top sights and exploring the hidden wonders of the Italian capital.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about Rome before visiting. You’ll be living like a Roman local in no time!

Things to know before you arrive in Rome

1. Before setting off for your adventure, take note of the following pre-arrival Rome travel tips. They’ll help you maximise the value for your holiday! When booking your trip to Rome, consider all of the following:

  • Book a hotel in a city centre location
  • Consider staying during the week as opposed to the weekend. It’s quieter and often cheaper
  • Use Secret Escapes to find some excellent deals on hotels, which can be much cheaper than standard ‘per night’ prices
  • Consider for staying for at least 4/5+ nights. There’s a lot to see and do in the city and it’s nice to have some time for relaxation too!
Rome Travel tips - shows historic Roman bridge

2. Pack a good pair of walking shoes or sturdy trainers. Your feet and legs will thank you! Rome is a city with a lot of walking

3. Pre-book the following attractions well in advance (3+ weeks if possible) if you want to get a good time-slot:

Rome holiday tips - shows interior of St Peter's Church

4. As there’s so much to do in Rome, you’ll want to plan out the top things you want to see. We recommend writing down all of the attractions and saving them onto your Google Maps smartphone app.

5. As above, find some top-rated restaurants and bars and save them to your Google Maps app. It’s always a good shout to find some handy restaurants near your hotel.

6. Consider buying a 2 or 3-day ‘Roma Pass’. This all-in-one pass gives you unlimited public transport, attractions discounts, free attractions and other benefits. Check it out here.

Shows the Panthon monument in Rome - Rome travel guide

7. Travel outside of July and August for fewer crowds and less intense summer heat. April to June and September to October are perfect months to visit!

8. Learn about the history of Rome and its sights before you arrive. Coming to the city with stories of the past on your mind makes it so much more thrilling! We recommend reading a guide such as Rick Steves: Rome or simply watching the ‘Rome’ BBC TV series.

9. Consider visiting Rome as part of a multi-destination trip. Trains are excellent in Italy and you can easily get from Rome to other cities such as Florence, Pisa, Venice, Naples and the Tuscany countryside.

Getting to/from the airport in Rome

Don’t get lost in the terminal or pay expensive taxi fares by following these essential Rome visitors tips for getting to and from the airport.

10. There are two main airports in Rome, Leonardo da Vinci Airport, also known as Fiumicino and Ciampino Airport. Fiumicono is the main International Airport that’s used by major airlines, whilst Ciampino serves budget airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet. Be sure to check the airport you’re flying to and from.

Rome visitors tips - shows Leonardo Express train at Rome airport

11. The best way to get to and from Fiumicino Airport is using the local high-speed Leonardo Express train service. The train is only one stop to Termini station in the centre of Rome and costs €14 per person. It takes 30-minutes. From Termini Station you can then catch the Metro, a bus or a taxi to your hotel. Book your train tickets from the airport station on arrival.

12. The best way to get to and from Ciampino Airport is also via train, however you’ll need to catch a bus to the station first. On arrival in the terminal, jump on the Express Bus to Ciampino town station and then catch a 15-minute train to Termini Station in the centre of Rome. We recommend booking tickets through the Trainline app – it’s quick, easy and you have an in-app ticket.

Sightseeing in Rome

Sightseeing is the main thing you’re probably visiting for and there are no shortage adventures. Follow the handy Rome travel tips below to maximise seeing as much as possible during your stay.

13. You’ll be surprised by how much there is to see and do in Rome. Plan your daily itinerary carefully and choose attractions that are near each other. We recommend doing this before you arrive. Check out our 3-day Rome itinerary here for inspiration.

14. Always keep in mind that you won’t be able to see everything! Rome is a huge city with countless things to do. The most important thing is enjoying your trip, not ‘overdoing it’ and seeing the top attractions on your list.

Shows Trevi Fountain in Rome - Visitors tips for Rome

15. Monday is rest day in Rome and many attractions and restaurants are closed. Plan your Monday around free ‘outdoor’ sights and leave the rest for other days.

16. Short on time for your Rome city break or wondering what the simply ‘must-see’ attractions are? We recommend the following as a matter of priority:

  • Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (same area, all in one ticket)
  • Vatican City and St Peter’s Basilica
  • Trastevere old town streets
  • Trevi Fountain area
  • Villa Borghese Gallery and park

17. Most attractions have a guided tour and self-see option, with the latter being cheaper. Seeing a sight with a tour guide will give you a much more in-depth experience, however it obviously takes longer so you’ll use up more of your day. We recommend only choosing a guided tour for the key things you want to see. For us, the Vatican City galleries and St Peter’s Church were well worth paying more for a 3-hour guided tour.

18. Book tickets in advance for the Colosseum and Vatican City tour. The lines can be hours’ long and you’ll get to skip the queue for a small fee. This is essential!

Tips for visiting Rome colosseum - shows exterior of Colosseum arena

19. Take note of the dress code for entering Vatican City as you may get turned away at the door. Men must wear long trousers, cover shoulders and not wear a hat, and women must cover shoulders, knees and cleavage. Camera tripods and large backpacks are also not permitted.

20. Many people overlook the amazing Appia Antica Regional Park to the south. Catch a bus to the south of Rome and rent an electric bike to explore this amazing collection of ancient sites and greenery. We recommend renting a bike from Centro Servizi just outside the park. Stop by the Catacombs on your trip to see this amazing and often missed-out site.

21. One of the things we love most about Rome is the amazing viewpoints and parks. You can see some impressive sights without setting foot in a museum! Take time to relax in a park or hike a hill for panoramic city views. Villa Borghese park and Parco del Gianicolo are among the best.

Shows view of Rome skyline from Palatine Hill - Rome travel tips

22. Consider seeing some of the sights at night. It’s much quieter and you’ll see a completely different side of the attraction. For example, the Colosseum has a night tour where you can explore the underground warrior chambers (not available during the day) and the Vatican has a peaceful aura on an evening where the lights are dimmed. Other top sights to see on an evening are the fountains and Palatine Hill.

23. It’s important to re-charge and refresh every so often, especially if the weather is super-hot! Pop back to your hotel for an afternoon rest, swing by an Ice Cream parlour for a treat and a simply sit down on the side of a wall whilst waiting in line for an attraction.

Saving money in Rome / spending tips

For a capital city in Europe, we were surprised how reasonably priced Rome can be and it’s a city that can definitely be done on the cheap. Here are our top Rome holiday tips for being cost-effective.

24. Whilst we love using our zero-fee travel credit card whilst abroad, we found Rome to be quite a cash-based city. It’s much easier and quicker to pay for everything in cash so be sure to head to an ATM before venturing around the city.

25. Use ATM’s rather than bringing cash from home to exchange. You’ll get a better rate.

26. Take advantage of the free attractions. Most sights have zero entry fee and the few that do are cheap and well worth paying for.

Shows the Spanish Steps sight in Rome - first time tips for visiting Rome

27. Avoid expensive taxi’s and opt for the low-cost public transport and walking option.

28. On a similar note of transport, try to stay in the centre of the city. You’ll save on public transport costs and save time travelling. Budget-friendly accommodation is available everywhere!

29. Explore ‘cheap eats’ food stalls, ‘grab a slice’ pizza restaurants and bakeries. Eating inside at a table is more expensive and you can get great food on the go. There are also plenty of McDonald’s and local takeaway eateries.

Shows free fresh drinking water at a fountain in Rome

30. Rome was one of the early adopters of purified water and you’ll find free, safe water fountains throughout the city. There’s no need for shop-bought bottles – simply pack your own bottle and refill!

31. Avoid restaurants in tourist areas and venture off-the-beaten track into alleyways of cheap-eats. The area near Termini station is particularly good for authentic Italian cooking on the cheap. We also recommend using Tripadvisor’s ‘Cheap Eats’ list.

32. Consider staying in a central AirBnB apartment. They’re often cheaper than hotels, more spacious and you can cook some of your own meals to save money.

Shows an overhead view of the city buildings in Rome - Where to stay in Rome

33. Watch out for scammers. Anyone trying to sell you souvenirs or bracelets on the street should be avoided. They’ll try to place the item in your hand and make you pay for it, so don’t fall for their seemingly friendly nature!

34. Watch out for pickpockets. The main tourist areas and Metro’s, like any major city, have pickpockets waiting to prey on tourists. Keep your phone and wallet in your front pockets and keep your handbag tucked around your arm. Don’t put anything in your back pocket!

Rome Transport/getting around tips

Getting from A to B doesn’t have to be time consuming and costly. Rome transport is excellent! Download your handy Google Maps app directions and take note of the following.

35. In our opinion, the local Metro system is the best way to get around in Rome, especially if you’re staying on the outskirts. A one-way trip costs only €1.50 and 24-hour passes are available for €7, which you can buy at the ticket machine in subway stations. The Metro is the best option for travelling the outskirts of the city centre, but doesn’t run in some areas, so you’ll need to catch a bus.

36. Buses cost €1.50 and are readily available throughout the city. They can be a little slow and crowded, but will be your saviour after a full day of walking around. We recommend using buses if a Metro isn’t available for your journey or you’re travelling a short distance. Use the ‘Directions’ function on your Google Maps app to navigate public transport easily.

37. You can buy tickets from buses, trams and the metro from convenience stores, machines at bus and metro stations and tourist information centres.

38. Taxis are the more expensive option for getting around and aren’t recommended, unless you want your own space or you’re in a rush. Roman roads and traffic can be quite chaotic! Expect to pay around €20 for a half-hour journey.

Transport advice for Rome - Shows white Roman taxis

39. Some taxi drivers have a habit of charging more to tourists. Always check the start price on the meter and mention it to the taxi driver if it looks unusually high as you enter the car. We recommend booking taxi’s through an app called ‘myTaxi’. It uses the official taxi service, you can an idea of how much a journey will cost and you can pay on the app with your credit card.

40. We found Uber to be more expensive than standard taxi’s in Rome. Stick to the ‘myTaxi’ app.

Rome eating out tips

It goes without saying that Italian cuisine is one of the finest in the world. It’s simple yet tasty and not many places have as many high-quality Italian restaurants than the Roman capital. Keep the following in mind when eating out:

41. Our first tip for eating out in Rome is what we always abide by – checking reviews before entering a restaurant. Paying good money for your meal, you want the best of the best and TripAdvisor is the best place to find good quality and non-touristic restaurants. Do a little research before heading out to find a nice place to eat.

42. Rome is a busy place and restaurants can fill up quickly. Make a reservation in advance at the restaurant of your choice to avoid being turned away. Sometimes it’s necessary to book at least a day in advance if the restaurant is particularly popular.

Eating out tips for Rome - Shows pretty Roman restaurant with bushes

43. Roman’s eat quite late and restaurants are open til’ late. Eat like a Roman and head out to dinner after 8pm for a livelier atmosphere. It’s not uncommon for locals to head out for dinner at 10pm!

44. Pre-dinner ‘Apertivo’s’ are a common thing in Rome. It consists of a drink around 6-7pm with a small buffet selection of appetizers. Live like a Roman and embrace a daily Apertivo. It can also be a great way to fill up on the cheap and save money.

45. In bars and cafes, it’s often cheaper to sit at the bar than it is to grab a table. You’ll notice separate prices on the menu for table service so make a note of the price difference. Save money and drink like a local by ordering a bar cappuccino.

46. Although you can ask for tap water in restaurants, it’s seen as a bit strange and slightly rude. Ordering a large and cheap bottled water is more common and means you won’t be waiting for refills.

Shows a pizza at a restaurant in Rome - Where to eat in Rome

47. Most restaurants will give you a basket of bread or appetiser without you asking. This is common and you should assume you have to pay a few euros for it, although some places offer it as a complimentary snack. Ask if you’re unsure.

48. It isn’t common for service/tips to be included on your bill, but some restaurants do include it. Check your receipt to see if ‘servizio’ is listed. Tipping isn’t a big thing in Italy but feel free to add a little extra for good service.

49. It should be a crime to visit Rome and not try the simple but delicious pizza and pasta. These dishes are made perfectly and although they might not contain as many ingredients as pizza dishes back home, the rich flavours are divine. They’re cheaper options than meat and fish too!

50. For super cheap but delicious pizza-on-the-go, check out Pizza E Mozzarella. Places like this one are perfect for a quick lunch where you’re on the move. One slice costs between 1 and 2 euros.

51. House wine in Rome tastes surprisingly good and costs only ~€6 for a half-litre. Consider house instead of the pricier restaurant wine list. You’ll usually find it on the main menu as opposed to the separate (more expensive) wine menu.

Shows outdoor tables at a restaurant in Rome - Rome restaurant tips

52. One of our favourite places to eat out on an evening are the quaint streets of Trastevere, over the bridge to the west. Eat here for cheap but delicious local food and a romantic ambience.

53. Avoid eating near the main tourist attractions such as the Colosseum, Vactican City Museum and Pantheon, etc. Food is overpriced and poor. Take this as a generalisation and always remember to check reviews first 😊

54. Cooking for yourself in your apartment or fancy trying some delicious street food? Visit one of the local food markets. We recommend Market Testaccio for fresh ingredients and tasty food on the go.

55. When in Rome, you can’t miss the delicious Gelato they’re serving on seemingly every corner! Italian ice cream is super-creamy and has a lower fat content but higher sugar content that other variants, and it comes in a whole variety of flavours. Just like restaurants, ice cream parlours can be hit or miss and we recommend looking at reviews. Simply open your Google Maps app, search for ‘ice cream’ and it’ll return all of the ice cream parlours in your area, with their review rating. Aim for 4+ stars. You won’t have to go far to find it.

Rome bars and nightlife tips

Explore both the local and tourist nightlife scene with these handy evening tips. Relax with a glass of wine in a picturesque rooftop bar or party until 5am in a disco club. The choice is yours.

56. As everyone eats late in Rome, nightlife also livens up later on. Expect bars to start filling up after 9pm.

57. Lively bars, clubs and party places are frequented on a weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), whereas mid-week can be a little quieter, with locals choosing to visit more casual wine bars.

Rome nightlife tips - Shows glasses of wine on a table in Rome's main square

58. Speaking of wine bars, they’re scattered throughout the entire city. Order at the bar and stand outside chatting with friends under in the warm evening climate. They’re reasonably priced and great atmosphere. See the best wine bars in the city in Fodor’s guide here.

59. Rome is a city of amazing sights, so what better to party the night away than in a rooftop bar? There are many rooftop bars to choose from, but we recommend Marco Martini Cocktail Bar or Roof Garden Les Étoiles.

60. Nightlife stretches on until the early hours and it’s normal for locals to head home around 6am via a bakery. Keep this in mind when planning your night out.

Shows the Roman Colosseum at night - Best area for nightlife in Rome

61. Rather than one single area for bars and clubs, Rome has trendy nightlife spots in different areas of the city, depending on what type of vibe you’re after. If nightlife is important for you, consider staying in one of these areas:

  • Trastevere – The trendy ‘student’ area just across the bridge to the west of the city centre. The streets are beautiful and have a very local feel, and the bars are a mix of casual wine bars to lively underground bars running late into the morning. Great for all ages and not just young people.
  • Campo de’ Fiori – A bustling square in the city centre with plenty of bars, cocktail lounges and a few late-night venues. The heart of city-centre partying and guaranteed to be busy.
  • Testaccio – The modern district just south of the city centre and the firm choice of locals for a night out at the weekend. It has the highest concentration of nightclubs and plenty of bars.
  • Beyond the above areas you’ll find pubs, cocktail bars and wine lounges spread throughout Rome and the tourist area around the Trevi fountain is always great for people watching and outdoor drinks.

Rome accommodation/hotels tips

Find the best place to stay and pay less for it with these helpful hotels and apartments Rome travel tips. Be in the centre of all the action!

62. Stay in the centre of Rome for a more immersive visit and without having to waste time travelling into the centre. Unlike other cities, there isn’t one main area and the main sites are spread throughout the centre. We recommend the following areas:

  • Trevi Fountain area – One of the most touristic and popular areas to be in the centre of all the action. More expensive than elsewhere
  • Ancient Rome Pantheon/Colosseum area – The historic centre of Rome, within walking distance of everything
  • Trastevere – Just across the river from the main sites, this quaint and trendy area is one of the prettiest places to stay. It’s popular with both students and couples looking for a romantic place to stay
  • Termini Train Station area – some great-value hotels just outside of the action. Plenty of affordable restaurant options without feeling too ‘touristy’.

63. If you’re looking to stay in the centre of Rome on a budget, consider renting an AirBnB apartment. You’ll have your own place to cook meals and they’re often cheaper than hotels.

64. Book your hotel with deal-finding websites such as SecretEscapes or Wowcher. Although choice is limited, there are some great savings to be had.

65. Ensure you get the cheapest price available for your room by using a hotels comparison website and discount codes. Find a full guide to getting the best price for your hotel here.

66. Always check TripAdvisor reviews for a hotel you’re interested in before booking. Hotel quality can be very hit or miss in Rome. This is paramount! Aim for a 4+ TripAdvisor rating.

67. Check that breakfast is included in your hotel room rate. A complimentary continental breakfast is the perfect start to your day of sightseeing and many Rome hotels offer it – make sure you pick one where you don’t have to pay.

Now you’ve read our comprehensive list of Rome travel tips and tricks for seeing the city, you’re ready for an action-packed visit to Rome, one of the most historic and thrilling places on earth! Remember to take some time to relax from all the walking, sample the fine Italian cuisine and enjoy plenty of cappuccino’s in corner cafes. If you have any questions about any of the Rome travel tips on our list, get in touch.


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