10 Things to Do on Your First Trip to Rome + Travel Tips

I know there’s no such thing as a perfect holiday, but if there ever was one, it was our first trip to Rome.

From the moment our plane began its descent into Ciampino airport, I could tell this trip was going to be something special. As luck would have it, we’d been seated on the scenic side of the airplane, so while the pilot slowly eased us back onto the ground, we had a bird’s eye view of everything – the Colosseum, Vatican City, the Pantheon, and every other sight Italy’s capital is known for. (And at sunset, no less!) Seeing Rome for the first time, cast in the golden glow of the setting sun, was nothing short of magical. And that was only the beginning, everything that was to follow only continued to exceed our expectations.

The next four days were a blur of pizzas eaten in famous piazzas, daily walks taken through the pages of history books come to life, sunny afternoons and gelato, perpetually drained camera batteries, hours-long meals shared with old friends, and even a glimpse of the pope. Writing it all out like that makes our entire trip sound like one giant Italian cliche, but if there was ever a place to indulge in cliches, it would be Rome. All of the things that make you roll your eyes and say, ‘Of course you tried eleven different flavors of gelato in one day’ are undeniably, without a doubt essential to the success of your first trip to Rome. You’ll no doubt leave several pounds heavier, but trust me, it’s so worth it.

If this is your first time in Rome, you’re probably wondering what, of the massive list of things to do and see in this beautiful, historic city, is actually worth doing. The short answer is all of it, but unless you’ve got weeks to spare, you’ll probably have to make some choices. For first-timers to the city, and those interested in discovering the centuries of history embedded here, I’d recommend including the following 10 things on your Rome itinerary!

10 Things to Do in Rome

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

Take a Tour of the Colosseum

It’s not a trip to Rome if you haven’t stood in the center of the Colosseum and shouted ‘Are you not entertained?’, right?

Just kidding. Seeing as you can’t actually stand in the middle of the Colosseum anymore, you’ll probably have to reenact your favorite Gladiator scenes somewhere else, but definitely don’t miss seeing the Colosseum. Used for entertainment (most often of the gory, one-of-us-is-going-die-today type), the Colosseum is the largest and most well-preserved amphitheater from the Roman Empire. Seeing this epic piece of history with your own eyes is an absolute must-do in Rome.

The cheapest way to visit is to purchase a standard ticket that will gain you entrance into the Colosseum and the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill nearby. If you’ve got the time and are willing to pay a few extra bucks, though, the very best way to visit the Colosseum is on a guided tour. You’ll get to see places standard ticket holders don’t have access to. Plus, nothing quite brings the history made here to life like having someone skilled in the art of story-telling walking you through it. We took the Underground & Third Ring Tour and loved every minute of it. Standard tickets and tour tickets can both be bought online here.

Related Post: Going Behind The Scenes On A Colosseum Underground Tour

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

Walk Through the Ruins at the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

Your ticket for the Colosseum also gets you into a few additional sights including the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Tickets are valid for two consecutive days, so you don’t have to try to pack all three sights into the same day. (I actually recommend you don’t unless you have to. That would be an exhausting day!)

Tip: If you didn’t purchase your tickets online, queues for tickets are far shorter at the ticket booth at Palatine Hill than at the Colosseum, so buy your tickets there!

Palatine Hill is well-known for being the site of the first settlement in Rome, dating all the way back to the 8th century BC. The Roman Forum is a large plaza beneath the hill which was once the center of daily life in Rome and housed some of the city’s most important buildings and structures. What’s left today are only bits and pieces of what was once a gleaming white, prosperous city, but it’s still a fascinating glimpse into early Roman life. For your visit, I suggest either hiring a guide or at the very least printing a written one from the internet so you’ll have an idea of what you’re looking at. Otherwise, you’ll just be walking through lots of famous ruins, which is still cool, but doesn’t provide a lot of context.

Click here for a list of highlights at the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill!

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

Explore the Masterpieces Inside the Vatican Museums

The famous spiral staircase, the papal throne, the Gallery of Maps, the Sistine Chapel. If the opportunity to take in the beauty of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, possibly the most famous work of art ever, doesn’t convince you to visit the Vatican Museums, nothing will.

There are 54 different galleries and several courtyards within the Vatican Museums, each featuring carefully chosen paintings and sculptures collected by centuries of popes. Like the Louvre in Paris, the Vatican Museums contain more priceless works of art than can be seen in a day, but if you give yourself around three hours, you’ll still be able to see the museums’ most famous bits. Of all the places we visited in Rome, the Vatican Museums were the busiest, so if possible I recommend starting your day here and being in the queue for the museum when it opens at 9am. Current ticket prices can be found here.

Related Post: Top 10 Things To See Inside The Vatican Museums

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

Take a Peek Inside St Peter’s Basilica

Like the Vatican Museums, you’ll find St Peter’s Basilica within the religious city-state of Vatican City. (That there is a small country within the city of Rome itself still sort of blows my mind!)

St Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world, and also the burial site of Saint Peter, one of Jesus’ apostles and whom those of the Catholic faith consider to be the first pope. Religious faith aside, St Peter’s is one of the most impressive churches I’ve ever been inside, and after traveling through Europe for three years, I can say I’ve been in a fair few. Entrance into St Peter’s Basilica is free, but if you want to climb the stairs to the top of the basilica’s dome, there is a small fee. (This is a great way to see the city of Rome from above, though!)

Related Post: 5 Things You Must Do At St Peter’s Basilica (Including How To See The Pope!)

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

Stand Beneath the Pantheon’s Famous Dome

Thanks to the more modern buildings that now stand beside it, the Pantheon, one of Rome’s most famous former temples, almost looks a little out of place when you turn the corner and see it sitting there in the square with gelato shops and fast food joints just steps away. Even still, once you step inside and gaze upward at the Pantheon’s grand concrete dome, it’s easy to be transported back in time.

Located in the Piazza della Rotonda, the Pantheon is in surprisingly good condition in comparison to its equally ancient counterparts. No longer a temple, the Pantheon has served as a church since the 7th century. Entrance is free, but the Pantheon is closed to tourists during weekly mass. (However, if you’re interested in attending mass, I believe you will be allowed in, but obviously no pictures are allowed.) I recommend visiting on a sunny day if you want photos with the sunlight streaming in through the circular opening in the dome!

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

Go for a Walk Along the River Tiber

While it is possible to take a leisurely walk through the city, you’ll find far less people and a more peaceful setting along the banks of the Tiber.

If you’re looking to escape the traffic, I recommend walking the Tiber on the wide bike and walking path on the western bank of the river, accessible via steps down to the riverbanks at any of the bridges that cross the river. Besides several bridges, murals, and colorful buildings that line the river, you’ll also be able to spot the dome of St Peter’s from along this route. (This is not the walk to take if you’re landmark spotting, though. If you want a better view of a few of Rome’s landmarks near the Tiber, it’s better to walk the length of the river at street level.) Sunset makes for the most scenic time for a walk, but any time of day would be pleasant, assuming the temperatures haven’t reached scorching levels yet.

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

Sit on the Spanish Steps

One of the best places in Rome to rest your legs for a bit and soak up all the Italian atmosphere is the Spanish Steps. Located in the heart of the city, these 135 steps connecting the Piazza di Spagna below with the Piazza Trinità dei Monti above have been attracting artists, filmmakers, and visitors to Rome for almost 300 years now. At least when they aren’t completely blocked off for restoration, anyway, which was the unfortunate case when we visited. The steps have since reopened and are now as gleaming white as the Trinità dei Monti church that rises above them!

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

Toss a Coin into the Trevi Fountain

But make sure you do it the right way!

The Trevi Fountain, the largest fountain in Rome, is probably most well-known for the unique superstition and traditions surrounding it. Supposedly, if you toss a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder, you’ll be destined to return to Rome someday. If you want to take it a step further, you can throw three coins over your shoulder – one ensuring your inevitable return to Rome, another promising you’ll find love, and the third that your love will lead to marriage.

If you’re thinking that sounds like a freaking lot of coins being tossed into a fountain, you’re right. Around €3,000 is collected from the fountain every evening and donated to a non-profit providing food to the homeless in Rome. The area surrounding the Trevi Fountain stays super busy pretty much all day long, but if you visit at early morning or after dark, you’ll be able to toss your coin(s) in the fountain without fear of being flicked in the head by everyone else’s coins.

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

People Watch in the Piazzas

The city of Rome is built around its piazzas, aka public squares that aren’t necessarily shaped like squares. These beautiful gathering places found around nearly every corner in the city center often feature famous landmarks and monuments, but they are also perfect spots for doing a little people watching.

Nearly every day we grabbed our lunch to go and found a different piazza to eat it in. Most of the larger piazzas have benches, but edges of fountains work just as well. Since the Spanish Steps were closed off, the piazzas were where we witnessed the sort of things you often only see in a city like Rome – people passionately kissing with little regard for who might be watching, an older man sharing a gelato with his dog (seriously), and tourists taking 35 selfies in the same spot (wait, never mind, that happens pretty much everywhere these days). My favorites were the elegant Piazza Navona (pictured above) and the bustling Piazza del Popolo from above which you can watch a beautiful sunset over the city of Rome. (Keep reading for more on that.)

Unrelated: I find it physically impossible to type piazza correctly the first time. It comes out as pizza every single time.

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

Catch a Sunset from Pincio Terrace by Villa Borghese

For the very best (free) view in the city at sunset, head directly to the Pincio Terrace beside Villa Borghese. The terrace sits high above the Piazza del Popolo below and from here you’ll have sweeping views of the historic city center all the way to Vatican City. Watching the sun set behind the dome of St Peter’s while being serenaded with Italian tunes by the buskers that play here every evening will certainly make for a sunset you won’t soon forget.

You can access Pincio Terrace from Villa Borghese or via the steps leading up to it from the piazza below. To secure a spot along the front of the terrace, arrive about an hour before sunset. (This way you can see all the changing sky colors as the sunset gradually deepens before disappearing completely, too!) Since this is a popular spot for tourists, expect to be approached fairly often by people selling different things. Those selling flowers seem to be the most insistent, so for the most relaxing experience, it’s probably easiest just to buy a flower from the first person who asks and then keep it near you so that you get skipped over by the next person who comes around.

Rome Travel Tips

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

When to Visit Rome

Rome is one of those places where I feel like the time of year you choose to visit can make or break your trip. Summers can get blistering hot, making walking from place to place and standing outside in full sun (which will be the case at many sights) unbearable. This is also when the city is at its busiest, so besides higher prices you’ll also be battling crowds and queues everywhere you go.

Winter is when Rome is at its least crowded, but at least for me, part of the appeal of an Italian vacation is being able to comfortably sit outside, relax in the sun, and enjoy a meal or treat without shivering through several layers of clothing. While Rome does experience a relatively mild winter, it can still get quite chilly, so unless you’re used to colder temperatures, I recommend visiting in early spring. Crowds are still considerably lighter than they’ll be in the summer, and the weather is pleasant enough to stay out in all day. We visited Rome in February and it seemed to be the perfect sweet spot weather-wise between winter and summer. And except for the Trevi Fountain and Vatican Museums, we didn’t encounter large crowds anywhere during our stay in the city.

How Long to Stay in Rome

For your first trip to Rome, you really ought to stay long enough to see all of the city’s most famous sights, plus have some free time for exploring on your own and relaxing. Rome is not a city to barrel through frantically seeing and doing all the things before moving on to the next destination. I suppose the case could be made that nowhere is meant to be visited in that way, but it’s especially true in Rome (and all of Italy, really) where the pace is slower, the meals are longer, and public transportation can’t always be depended on to show up when it says it will.

For a first-time trip well-balanced between seeing the sights and taking time to savor la dolce vita, you’ll need at least four full days. We were in Rome for four nights, and I wasn’t the least bit ready to leave when our time was up. Maybe it was the sunny days (we didn’t get many of those in February in London), or maybe it was the fact that absolutely everything was going right (which rarely happens when traveling), or maybe it was all the food (I ate so often I forgot what it was like to feel hungry), but I tend to think it was just the simple fact of being in a place where people aren’t rushing around all the time, intent on accomplishing 101 things before they go to bed and do it all over again the next day. (Italians are sort of amazing at life.) For a few days, I got to be one of those people, too, and I’m pretty sure I had a smile plastered to my face the whole time.

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips 10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

Where to Stay in Rome

One of the very few downsides to Rome, at least for travelers, is how expensive accommodations are. Even the Airbnb market in Rome is more expensive than other cities we’ve visited.

After deliberating for a long time between staying in a hotel or booking an Airbnb, we finally settled on this super tiny, but so adorable Airbnb here, located on exactly the sort of alleyway in Rome where you’d expect people to throw their shutters open every morning, shouting Buongiorno! into the street below. (For the record, I was the only one who did that.) We absolutely loved getting to experience a small taste of what it’s like to actually live in Rome, which I suppose is one of the main advantages to staying at an Airbnb.

Keep in mind that if you book an Airbnb, if it isn’t already included in your room rate, you’ll have to pay a nightly per person Rome city tax directly to your Airbnb host when you arrive in Rome. If you’re not sure if it’s included in your rate, just ask. (We had no idea about this and thought our host was trying to pull one over on us at first!)

Not into Airbnb? Search all hotels in Rome here!

Regardless of what type of accommodations you prefer, location is key. Rome is relatively compact, but you’ll still be doing a fair amount of walking. Most of the sights in Rome are on the eastern side of the river, so if convenience is a priority (and chances are it will be if this is your first trip and/or you’ve got limited time), it makes sense to base yourself there. We stayed a few streets west of the Piazza Navona and couldn’t have been happier with our location. We were about equal distance between the Colosseum and Vatican City (the two major sights in Rome furthest apart), as well as the sights in the city center.

10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

Where to Eat in Rome

Since you can find delicious food everywhere in Rome, even in tiny pizza to-go shops, I probably don’t even need to bother with recommendations. But for those of you who are like me and prefer to arrive in a new destination with at least a few personal recommendations (even if I never use them), these were our favorites.

Pizza To-Go: Alice Pizza by Vatican City and Il Capriccio by the Pantheon (Alice Pizza is a large chain of pizza takeaway shops in Rome. Il Capriccio has only 1-2 locations. Both offer very cheap prices and delicious pizza, best eaten in your favorite piazza on a sunny day.)

Gelato: Ciuccula by the Pantheon (This was our favorite gelato shop in Rome. Ciuccula is more expensive than some of the others, but the ice cream is so good. My favorite flavors were the pistachio and panna cotta.)

Cheap Italian: O’Pazzariello on Via Banco di Santo Spirito (Located just across the bridge from Castel Sant’Angelo, O’Pazzariello has excellent pasta for good prices. I loved the fettuccine and eggplant!)

Traditional Italian: Piazza Sforza Cesarini in the piazza of the same name (We stopped for lunch here on a whim one day, enticed by the aroma of tomato sauce and the restaurant’s beautiful outdoor patio. It did not disappoint.)

Traditional Italian: Osteria La Quercia in Piazza della Quercia (This is where we met some of our local friends for dinner one night. The atmosphere is cozy and warm, and the food was some of the best we had on the trip. Very family-friendly place, too.)

How to Get Around in Rome

The best way to get from place to place in Rome is on your own two feet. Rome is a highly walkable city, assuming you’re not trying to walk all the way from Vatican City to the Colosseum in one go. (That’s almost an hour walk, fyi.) If you’ve chosen a centrally-located hotel, you’ll only be about a 20-minute walk from the sights in either direction.

If you’re not up for walking or simply can’t, the local bus system in Rome is easy to use and cheap. Buses are frequent, but not necessarily always on time. (Rome has a metro, but we personally never needed to use it on our trip.) I suggest using an app like Citymapper (my fave, I use this everywhere!) to plan your route. One-way bus tickets or all-day passes can be bought at most newspaper kiosks and convenience shops in Rome.

As for getting to and from the airports, whether you’re flying into Ciampino or Fiumicino, the cheapest way to get into Rome is via the Terravision bus which will take you directly to Rome’s Termini station from either airport. From here, it’s easy to hop on a local bus or take the metro on to your hotel. Taxis are another option at a flat rate of €30 from Ciampino and €48 from Fiumicino to central Rome. Fiumicino also offers the additional option of the Leonardo Express train to Termini station, but it’s quite a bit more expensive than the bus.

And that pretty much covers it! If you have any other Rome travel tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

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10 Things To Do On Your First Trip To Rome & Travel Tips

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  • Kanika Bakshi
    April 26, 2019 at 2:12 AM

    Sounds a great way to plan a trip to Rome ..this year giving a treat to myself and my wife for our anniversary! thanks for sharing this post, all the information is very helpful…Rome is really very amazing and awesome, I can’t wait to visit…

  • Monica Sharma
    April 26, 2019 at 1:04 AM

    Thank you for the article. We are going to visit this country with my hubby. Hotels and cars have already booked. It remains only to have a good time

  • travelgasm
    April 13, 2019 at 4:04 AM

    Enjoyed your Rome itinerary and especially your beautiful sunset photo from Pincio Terrace. Nice shot!

    As a tip to add, we would suggest trying to make it over the Tiber (or extending the walk along it a bit) to include some time in Trastevere. Trastevere is an especially good neighborhood for a pleasant stroll and a delicious meal.

    • Sarah Shumate
      April 15, 2019 at 2:34 PM

      Thanks so much for the tip! You’re so right – Trastevere is a gorgeous area. If we ever make it back to Rome (crossing fingers on both hands!) I think I’d like to stay in that area just to experience something different than we did before.

      Thanks for the kind compliment on my photo, too!

  • Sofia
    April 2, 2019 at 5:30 AM

    Great article with very useful tips! I can’t wait to visit Rome again :)

  • Robert Jones
    February 27, 2019 at 11:18 AM

    Dear Sarah, what an informative post. Thank you very much. In all of my 56 years I’ve never taken the trouble to visit Italy – I’m based in The Hague, Netherlands. At the beginning of April I am making amends by visiting Rome for a week, staying in a nice b&b in Trastevere near the banks of the Tiber. You’ve provided me with some nice pointers. Thanks again.
    Kind regards, Robert

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 1, 2019 at 8:15 AM

      Hi Robert, I’m happy to hear these tips have been helpful for you. The place you’ve chosen to stay sounds lovely. My parents (who also live in the Netherlands) stayed in Trastevere on their trip to Rome last year and loved the area. I hope you enjoy your much-overdue week in Rome! :)

  • Kate Fraser
    February 20, 2019 at 2:53 PM

    The Vatican museum and all museum in Rome are just amazing but the real charm of Rome is really in its streets! Lovely atmosphere and even better food.

  • Sandra
    December 27, 2018 at 3:06 PM

    Our hotel was near the Rome Termanus which had trains , buses and metro which gave lots of options for travel around the city and to the airport, Best way to get to Rome and back to airport is the buses which can be booked on line prior to arrival.

  • Hanna
    August 21, 2018 at 2:58 AM

    We are very excited because we are all first-timers. Rome is one of my dream destinations

    • Sandra
      December 27, 2018 at 3:03 PM

      We had a great time in Rome 1st to 4th December 2018, We only had time to see Colloseum, Pallentine Hill Roman Forum and Vatican Museums , Had lots of lovely food and had nice hotel, We will defo come back and do more , We loved the experience.

  • Rachel
    August 5, 2018 at 3:15 AM

    Thank you! Great article- super helpful.

  • Tammy
    July 22, 2018 at 11:19 PM

    I love this post. I have been reading a lot of them lately, and this is my favorite! I have been in love with all things Italian since grade school and I am finally planning a trip to Rome in the spring. My question is, I am planning on spending 19 days there, did I plan too much time? There are a couple of things not on your list that I wanted to see also. Last spring we spent ten days in Paris, and I didn’t see half the things I wanted too. I thought I would spend more time in Rome since I have always wanted to go there. Also, we have a twelve hour layover at night in London. Is there anything to see or do at night there? Thanks again for such a wonderful post!

    • Sarah Shumate
      July 23, 2018 at 11:31 AM

      It’s so exciting when you finally get to see in person a place you’ve been wanting to visit for years and years. I hope Rome will live up to what are sure to be pretty high expectations. :)

      19 days is quite a bit longer than most people plan to spend in Rome, but it’s all relative to what you’re hoping to achieve on your trip. I know many travelers like to have enough time to see all the sights, plus do a fair amount of relaxing (it is a vacation, after all) and 19 days would be plenty of time for that. If you do end up getting bored after a while, there are several day trips you can take outside of Rome (Pompeii, Naples, to name a couple) or you could do an overnight trip to somewhere a bit further out, like Capri. For me, if I had 19 days, I’d probably try to visit a few different places in Italy – maybe the Amalfi Coast for a week, Rome for another week, and somewhere like Florence/Tuscany for the remainder of the trip – but that’s because my priority is usually seeing new places rather than relaxing.

      As far as what to do in London, walking along the Thames is a great way to see some of London’s most famous sights, and they’re beautiful when they’re lit up at night. The London Eye also runs at night, if you want a bird’s eye view of the city. If you’re into theater, you could catch a show in the West End. Some of the free museums are open until 10pm on weekends. And then, of course, there’s London nightlife, but I’ve been gone too long to be able to offer any suggestions there.

      I hope you have a wonderful trip. Please feel free to reach out if you need any more advice!

    June 11, 2018 at 9:18 PM

    We were there last year. We are going there this year too. My boyfriend and I love Rome. We walked everyday over 30.000 steps. Rome is perfect by walk.

  • Michael
    May 20, 2018 at 9:51 PM

    What would you suggest doing on a Sunday in or around Rome? (I’ll be in Florence for a couple days before)

    Great post!! Thx

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 20, 2018 at 10:57 PM

      Hi Michael! As far as I’m aware, almost everything in Rome stays open on Sunday. The exception is the Vatican Museums which are closed on Sundays. Churches, like St Peter’s, will likely be closed to tourists during mass, but are otherwise open on Sundays. I’d recommend checking the websites of whichever churches you plan to visit to look at their schedule.

      So you’re really free to do whatever you’d do on any other day in Rome, but be aware that crowds are heavier at the major sights on weekends, so if you’re planning to see the Colosseum, try to visit on a weekday if you can. Palatine Hill and the Forum would be good choices for a weekend as they’re larger, more spread out spaces, so even if they’re crowded, you won’t notice it as much!

  • Pat @ Travel ETA Australia
    May 18, 2018 at 12:31 AM

    Read and loved every one of these travel tips! Keep on writing and awesome pics by the way!

  • Madhurima Chakraborty
    February 11, 2018 at 2:24 AM

    If there is one place I am dying to visit, it has gotta be Rome. What stunning pictures you have got there.

  • The Unending Journey
    February 11, 2018 at 2:17 AM

    How I miss Rome! It’s been so long since I was last there that I’m sure the city will feel completely new to me. And your photos have me wanting to get on the plane now. Besides the sights, the culture, the history, there’s the amaretto gelato (that I can only seem to find in Rome while in Italy). Great article!

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 12, 2018 at 2:34 AM

      I’ve never tried that kind before! Maybe that’s a good thing seeing as it sounds addictive and hard to find. :) I hope you get to go back to Rome at some point. It’s definitely one of those places worth returning to!

  • Stefanie
    February 10, 2018 at 11:50 PM

    Amazing post! I have never been to ROme but Italy is very high on my bucket list!

  • Annette Duvdevani
    February 10, 2018 at 9:26 PM

    This is a great itinerary for Rome. The photos are also beautiful. I can’t wait to go back.

  • Lynne Nieman
    February 10, 2018 at 8:45 PM

    Wonderful post with some great tips. Images are fabulous! Been to Rome for one quick night and have been wanting to go back…

  • Scarlett | Petite Suitcase
    February 10, 2018 at 7:20 PM

    I agree, I think Rome is beautiful in the winter! No crowds and the weather is still mild. Love your photo in Piazza Navona!

  • Mina
    February 10, 2018 at 6:07 PM

    I’ve already visited most of those spots in Rome but, oh my, I wouldn’t mind going back and explore them all over again… There’s something really magical in that city

  • Hannah Logan
    February 10, 2018 at 1:31 PM

    The first time I went to Rome I didn’t go into the Colosseum- told myself it was too expensive and Rome was my last stop of the trip. Regretted it for 2 whole years until I got back and could finally see it!

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 12, 2018 at 2:29 AM

      At least you finally got to see it! That is how I feel about the Louvre in Paris. We missed getting to see it because we ran out of time while we were in Paris. Four years later, it’s still bugging me!

  • Lucile
    February 10, 2018 at 10:45 AM

    I’m planning on going there pretty soon, also doing Pompeii and Herculanum. Been there before, but your post brought all my memories back!! Good job!

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 12, 2018 at 2:26 AM

      That sounds like a great holiday! We visited Pompeii on another trip to Italy and loved it. Missed getting to see Herculaneum, though. Hope you enjoy your trip!

  • Lisa Michele Burns
    February 10, 2018 at 7:03 AM

    Every single thing you’ve mentioned is every reason I love Rome. To wander those cobbled streets is such an experience that’s unlike most other cities in Europe. The sense of history is all around!

    Now I wanted to go back again, meet you there for some gelato :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 12, 2018 at 2:27 AM

      Deal! But meet me in Singapore first so we can make the journey together! :)

  • Stephanie |
    February 10, 2018 at 4:23 AM

    What a thorough post and incredible photos! They take me right back to exploring cobblestone-lined paths of Rome <3 Visiting the Vatican was a major highlight (even though the lineup made me want to turn away!) I will definitely come back to this list for future reference!

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 12, 2018 at 2:28 AM

      We were in the queue for the Vatican Museums before the doors even opened so it wasn’t too bad, but when we exited three hours later, the queues were insane! Still worth it, though, no matter how long you have to wait to get in!

  • Alex
    February 10, 2018 at 4:03 AM

    Your photos are so pretty! I’ve been to Rome once and did [almost] all of this. One of my favorite activities was just wandering around the city and admiring all the beautiful doors and quiet streets. We also discovered the best hole in the wall restaurants from our wanders!

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 12, 2018 at 2:23 AM

      Yes!! That’s exactly why I think 4 days is an excellent amount of time to spend in Rome. It leaves plenty of time for wandering and eating after sight-seeing!

  • Alyse
    February 10, 2018 at 3:26 AM

    This is such a comprehensive guide, and your photos are amazing – they look like they’re right out of a magazine! So many great tips for first-time visitors to Rome. I wish I could go back to Rome and do a few of your recommendations. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 12, 2018 at 2:22 AM

      Thank you so much! That is such a wonderful compliment! :)

  • Addie
    February 10, 2018 at 3:17 AM

    I want to go to Rome, but I haven’t made the trip as I’m worried it will be to touristy and not authentic Italy. I’ve heard some horror stories. BUUTTT maybe if I use some of these tips I could have a great time!

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 12, 2018 at 2:21 AM

      Well, like London and Paris and many other cities in Europe that could be deemed ‘touristy’, I’d say Rome is still worth a visit. If you’re worried about authenticity, you could always combine a trip to Rome with stops in smaller, off-the-beaten path destinations.

  • Julie
    February 8, 2018 at 10:17 PM

    It’s not a trip to Rome if you haven’t stood in the center of the Colosseum and shouted ‘Are you not entertained?’, right? HA-best line ever :)

    I visited Rome during my semester abroad in Spain and honestly, I didn’t have the greatest time even though Italy was a destination I had dreamt about visiting for years (okay, since I was in middle school). The hostel I stayed at was terrible and my traveling companion was also blech worthy. So while I certainly have photos of me standing at those iconic places, I would truly love to return for a do over. Especially now that food is such a focal point of my travels.

    Your photo of the Pincio Terrace is a stunner. And I had no idea about it either!

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 9, 2018 at 7:44 AM

      You definitely need a do-over. That sounds awful. Regardless of where you are or where you stay, a crappy traveling companion can ruin a whole trip. On the flip-side, a really good one can make even the worst of hostels into a funny story to tell later. :)

      Knowing how much you love food (we are definitely kindred spirits in that respect), it’s kind of shocking to think about you not taking advantage of all the delicious food in Rome. I mean, even picky college students like pizza, pasta, and gelato, right? ;)

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    February 8, 2018 at 4:34 PM

    I loved Rome, but we stayed a few days, I completely agree, don’t try to do everything in a couple days, it’s impossible! We heard about the extra tours for the coliseum after we’d already gone, so I’d love to go back and do them!

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 9, 2018 at 7:39 AM

      I think they’ve opened yet another tour up now, too. While we were in Rome, there was a lot of construction going on on the Colosseum (I had to get super creative with my angles), but one of the things they were doing was prepping to open the fourth and fifth rings, so now you can go even higher if you book the right tour!

  • Cynthia
    February 5, 2018 at 1:23 PM

    Whoa. This is the PERFECT Rome post! I have been hoping to get there one of these days and this pretty much answered all my questions :)) I was even surprised that you said four full days feel necessary. But I get it – I prefer slower traveling too and it would be much better not to rush around. Why not embrace that dolce vita, right?

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 6, 2018 at 6:39 PM

      I guess technically you could see all of the major sights in Rome in 2 days, but they would be REALLY crazy days and you wouldn’t be able to stay very long at each place. I definitely prefer going a little slower and getting to enjoy where I am instead of racing through it. (I learned that lesson in Paris. Never again!) Maybe it’s because I’ve been traveling for a good amount of time now, or maybe I’m just getting older – ha!, but travel for me is no longer about seeing as many places and doing as many things as possible while I’m there. Instead, it’s all about the experience and coming home happy vs frazzled! :)

  • Ashley | Domestic Fashionista
    February 5, 2018 at 7:15 AM

    You got some especially stunning photos here friend! So dreamy! I would love to make it to Rome one day!

    • Sarah Shumate
      February 6, 2018 at 6:32 PM

      Thank you so much! I was really pleased with how my photos turned out, too! It probably had more to do with where I was that my own skills, but whatever. :)