This blockbuster capital city is one of the world’s most recognisable destinations. Between its awe-inspiring art, ancient Roman ruins and some of the best cooking in the country, it’s little wonder why more than nine million tourists make a trip to Rome every year. It’s captured the imagination of generations of artists, writers, moviemakers and musicians, from Lord Bryon to Audrey Hepburn – and now it’s your turn. If you’re planning a trip to the Eternal City, you’ll want to do it properly. Here’s our cheat sheet on how to travel Rome.
Top tips on how to travel Rome
1. Take the train from the airport
If you’re flying into Rome, you’ll either fly into Rome–Fiumicino International Airport (Leonardo da Vinci) or Rome Ciampino Airport (CIA). Rome Ciampino Airport is around 13 km closer to the city centre, but it’s a much smaller airport and usually only serves smaller budget airlines. You can either take the train, taxi or a bus from both airports.
While a taxi might be the most convenient, it’s also pretty expensive with average one-way trips costing around EUR 45–50. You can hop onto the Fiumicino Express from Fiumicino International Airport to Termini for as little as EUR 15. If you’re travelling from Ciampino Airport, a bus and taxi are the best way to travel. Busses average around EUR 6 in price.
2. Take to two feet
Rome is a highly walkable city. Most of the blockbuster sites are concentrated around the River Tiber, connected by winding and narrow alleys that are generally impenetrable for big cars or busses. The best – and easiest – way to explore is by foot.
That said, make sure you bring some comfy shoes. Those cobblestone pavements make for a joyous Instagram feed but it’s torture for your tootsies. Skip the stilettos and make sure you wear a shoe that can withstand pounding those pavements.
3. Order your coffee at the bar
Generally speaking, if you order your coffee directly at the bar and either stand there or sit on one of those high stools, you’ll pay less for your coffee. You won’t need to pay for a service charge which, when you’re drinking a small drink, practically halves the bill. The Italians don’t tend to linger over coffee and you won’t find a huge steaming cup outside of Starbucks. Instead, do as the Italians do and wolf down an espresso at the bar.
It’s good practice not to order a cappuccino in the afternoon either. If you really want one, no one will really judge you but the Italians are pretty fastidious about their bowels and all that milk in the afternoon is considered poor digestive form.
4. Make the most of the metro
While we don’t recommend hopping on the metro for sightseeing, the network can come in handy – sometimes. Unlike most capital cities, Rome’s underground skirts around the city. Rubbish for getting between the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain. Great for those longer-distance journeys, like out to the beach.
ATAC runs the network and you can find a detailed map on their website. There are only three metro lines in Rome, running from 05:30–23:30 Sunday to Thursday and up until 01:30 on Friday and Saturday. They’re pretty regular, running roughly every three to four minutes.
5. Book tickets ahead where possible
If you’re hoping to visit Rome’s superstar sights like the Colosseum and the Vatican, it’s worth booking advance tickets. Not only can you save a considerable amount of euro on the ticket price, but you’ll also get to avoid those queues. The Vatican Museums are (understandably) one of Italy’s most popular attractions, visited by over 5 million people every year. Imagine the queue. For just EUR 4, you can avoid the hassle of queueing.
6. Make the most of the first Sunday of the month
Since 2014, the Italian government has promoted the ‘Io Vado al Museo’ (I go to the museum) initiative. It means that 480 museums and galleries across the country are free on specific days, usually on the first Sunday of the month. This includes some of Rome’s most prestigious landmarks, museums and galleries. Currently, the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, Castel’Angelo, Baths of Caracalla and Borghese Gallery are all included in the scheme. You might want to get there early as it’s popular.
7. Don’t try to cram too much into one day
If you only have a few days in Rome and you’re travelling from further afield, it can be all too tempting to try and cram all the sights into one day. The best way to enjoy Rome is slowly. The whole city is an open-air museum drenched in history, with baroque churches, elegant fountains and famous masterpieces at every turn. Eating is a big part of the allure too and there’s nothing worse than hangry sightseeing in Rome.