Oh, Rome, city of the soul. Rome, the capital of Italy, is the cradle of one of the most influential civilizations in history. It is also a place of religious importance for Christians. Rome is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with almost 3,000 years of art, architecture, and culture. 2.9 million people live in Rome, in an area of 1,285 square kilometers. This Rome travel guide will introduce you to the best places to visit in the city, the best time to visit, where to stay, how to visit Rome on a budget, and a lot more.
Ancient Rome was spread on seven hills – the Capitol, Aventine, Palatine, Quirinal, Viminal, Eskvinil, and Celli. One part of the hill is on the right bank – Janiculum. Ancient ruins, such as the Forum and the Colosseum remind us of the power of the Roman Empire. Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which is also famous for masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
Top 100 city destinations survey Rome has ranked Rome as the 12th most popular city with tourists. 9.6 million people visited Rome in 2017.
The name Rome comes from the city’s legendary founder and first king ‘Romulus’. It’s a Latin word.
Rome – 10 Quick Facts
1. Rome is the capital of Italy
2. Currency – Euro ( € )
3. Rome is spread over 1,285 square kilometers
4. Population – 4,355,725 in 2018
5. Time Zone – (GMT + 1)
6. ISD code – 0039
7. Official and most widely spoken language – Italian
8. Approx 9.6 million international tourists visited Rome in 2017
9. Rome is served by 3 airports: Ciampino, Fiumicino, and Urbe
10. Very efficient public transport system – metro trains, trams, buses, overground trains with travel cards.
Rome Travel Guide – Top 10 Reasons to Visit
1. History Everywhere – There is a bit of the Roman Empire almost anywhere you visit in Rome. There is the stunning Colosseum, the Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, Roman Forum, Circus Maximus, and more. There are ancient ruins and columns over modern piazzas, temples that go back 2000 years. You will find cultural heritage displayed like nowhere else. Click this link for more information on the history of Rome.
2. Art – There is no city like Rome for art appreciators. You will find masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and architecture throughout the city. See the works of Michelangelo, Sangallo, Maderno, Salvi, Bernini, and others. There are many galleries and museums that showcase brilliant artworks, the best – Museum of Contemporary Art and the Villa Borghese Gallery.
3. Religion – Vatican City, in the Prati district, is the world’s smallest independent state since 1929. Vatican City is the religious hub of the Roman Catholic Church. Sunday at noon the Pope speaks from his window overlooking the St. Peter Square.
4. The Sistine Chapel – The Vatican Museums are priceless for their paintings, tapestries, frescos, and sculptures. But it is the Sistine Chapel, which is the main attraction. It is inside the Apostolic Palace, which is the Pope’s residence. You can see Michelangelo’s work on the ceiling. It is one of the greatest works of art.
5. The Fountains – The Trevi Fountain is world-famous. But Rome offers much more, thanks to the popes in the Baroque and Renaissance periods. There are spectacular fountains everywhere. See Bernini’s Tritone fountain at Piazza Barberini and the Four Rivers Fountain at Piazza Navona. There is also a beautiful fountain at the Spanish Steps and the Fontana delle Tartarughe. Don’t miss the Turtle Fountain in Piazza Mattei.
6. Roman Cuisine – Italian food is world famous. Try the renowned ‘cucina povera’, especially the traditional trattoria while in Rome. Of course, there is the pasta too – carbonara, amatriciana, cacio e pepe, and gricia. Don’t miss pizza al taglio, which are thin pizzas and very popular street food. You will also find Jewish influence in the food – anchovies, zucchini flowers, and artichokes. There is also cappuccino and gelato. Chocolato, Panacotta, Fragola, Limon are the flavors of Gelato.
7. Fashion Shopping – Rome is one of the world’s fashion capitals together with Milan, Paris, London, and New York. Many streets are lined with some of the most renowned brands like Armani, Zara, Sermoneta, and Benetton. Start near the Piazza di Spagna and run parallel till you reach the Via del Corso.
8. Walking Tours – Walking is one of the best ways to explore the city and know Rome. This is the way to spend time at the piazzas and fountains. The lanes and cobblestoned streets are perfect for walking trips. You may come across an unexpected delight at the next corner.
9. Diverse Neighborhoods – There are dozens of diverse neighborhoods. There is Trastevere, the medieval quarter of Rome, where you will find many cafes, restaurants, and bars. Pigneto and San Lorenzo are popular with students.
10. Wine – Try the magnificent Italian wines on a trip. The wine shops are called ‘Enotecas’. There are also wine tasting ceremonies regularly in Rome.
The drinking fountain in Rome, in Italian, is called ‘Nasoni’. It is a big nose fountain that provides clean, fresh and cold drinking water.
Read our travel guide for Italy here.
How To Visit Rome On A Budget
Rome might seem like a pricey city. However, you can still spend a few days in the ‘Eternal City’ on a budget, if you know what to pay for (and more importantly, what not to pay for). Here are some tips to help you save some euros when visiting Rome.
|Public Transport – Take public transport instead of taxis. The Local trains, metros, trams, and buses will save you money. Use the travel card, it’s cheap.||Stand up at the bar for a coffee – If you take a seat at any bar, you will have to pay € 5 more for your espresso or cappuccino.|
|Walk and Explore – Rome is a city best seen on foot. Plus, you will also save money by walking. Keep a map with you and you won’t get lost. Most of the locals also know decent English, so you can always ask. You will also meet many international tourists who know good English.||Catch A Free View – Get a free view from the hills, instead of paying to take the elevator to the top of the Vittoriano monument, or climbing St. Peters Dome. You will get the best views from Janiculum hill. The best sunset view is from Pincian hill.|
|Avoid the tourist restaurants – Stay away from the overpriced, tourist variety eateries in the city center or near the famous landmarks. Eat at local places. Do what the locals do, and you can save a lot of money.||Go shopping during the sale – There are sales in Italy at specific times during the year. Shop in January for winter clothes and August for summer. You will get good discounts at these times.|
Rome Travel Guide – The Best Time to Visit
There is really no bad time to visit Rome. But the weather in Rome is comparatively hotter in July and August. It is more humid too. December to March is on the chilly side. The best time to visit Rome is between October and April. Everything is cheaper this time of the year – hotel accommodation, flight tickets, as this is not the peak tourist season, and yet, it would be pleasant in Rome. The summer is very popular with tourists. Expect long queues and higher prices.
But remember, it is best to carry a warm coat. Rome has a pretty Mediterranean climate with cool wet winters and hot humid summer.
Spring: March to May
The weather is slightly more variable and cold in March. The city begins to warm up in April. Spring is usually a busy time in Rome as thousands of Christians flock to Rome during the Easter week.
Summer: June to August
These are the warmest and the most humid months. Many locals will go out, taking their summer break.
Festa di San Giovanni is an important festival where there is dancing, music and food in June. July is the hottest month. There are temporary pop-up bars, food stalls, restaurants and music in Lungo il Tevere along the banks of the Tiber River. August can also be as hot as July. Many locals go to the beach, so Rome is often very quiet. Ferragosto is celebrated on 15th August. This is the time for BBQ.
Fall/Autumn: September to November
The schools are open again. The weather is more pleasant. Days will still be warm, but it is cool in the evening. The Sagra dell’Uva (Festival of the Grape) is held early in the month. There are fall colors and arts, crafts, and antique fairs in October. Winter is just around the corner in November. The All Saints Day is on November 1st.
Winter: December to February
December to February sees relatively mild weather. Christmas in Rome is magical. There is the annual Christmas market in Piazza Navona. Also attend the midnight mass on Christmas Eve with Roman traditions.
The weather in Rome is cooler in January, but you will still have sunny days. The biggest New Year’s Eve celebration is in Piazza del Popolo. February in Rome is cold. There are very few tourists this month. Rome’s Carnevale is held in this month.
Weather in Rome
|Month||Max temp in °C||Min temp in °C||No. of rain days|
Top 7 Rome Neighborhoods For Tourists
1. Vatican City & the Prati – Technically, Vatican City is an independent state, but it is a part of Rome. St. Peter’s, Vatican Gardens, and the Vatican Museums take up most of its land area. The Pope has stayed here for six centuries. There are many good hotels in the ‘Borgo Pio’ neighborhood, just north of the Vatican. But the nightlife here is quite dull. ‘Prati’ is a better district.
2. Pantheon and Centro Storico – Centro Storico or the historic center is a better place to stay in Rome. You will find many palaces, churches, cobbled alleys, and narrow streets. Explore on foot. Piazza Navona is at its heart. The area around the Pantheon is also a good one. You will find many Renaissance-era buildings around the Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Farnese.
3. Monti, Celio, Ancient Rome – This is not the heart of Rome anymore, but this is where the city began. Many landmarks, including the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palantine Hill, Circus Maximus, and the Imperial Forums. Most hotels are budget properties. Aventine Hill close to the Tiber offers good city views. Monti, the oldest quarter of Rome, provides a more neighborhood feel.
4. Tridente, the Spanish Steps – Piazza di Spagna is the star attraction that attracts both tourists and the Romans. Sit on the Spanish Steps for people watching. Many upscale shopping streets are here, including the Via Condotti. There are many chic restaurants, expensive hotels, and designer boutiques.
5. Parioli, Villa Borghese – Parioli is the neighborhood for true connoisseurs, people who want to avoid the commercialized Via Veneto and the crowded Spanish Steps. This is the most elegant area of the city with many museums, public parks, hotels, and the finest restaurants. It is close to the Tiber and Prati.
6. Piazza Barberini, Via Veneto – This used to be very popular till the 1960s with Dolce Vita paraded along the boulevard. It is no longer that happening, but there are still many cafes, restaurants and luxury hotels. It is often overcrowded and overpriced.
7. Trastevere – In Roman, this means, ‘across the Tiber’. Once a medieval working-class district, now you will find many dance clubs, pubs, sidewalk vendors, offbeat shops, and tour buses here. Trastevere is also emerging as a major hotel district.