Sounds crazy right… only one must do thing in Rome that is full of literally a million things to see. The best part about this idea is that every person I have talked to that has been to Rome, well they agree. Another bold statement for you, Rome is a top 3 city to visit in the World. My list in no particular order includes Siem Reap in Cambodia, Rio De Janeiro and Rome. Rome set itself apart from any other city I have seen for the one thing this article is about.
I can’t even just call the city Romantic because it’s so much more than that… it needs its own word. A word that encompasses the movie Titanic, Catherine Zeta Jones & the most expensive bottle of champagne drank by little Cupids pouring it on you as you make sweet love & fight a gladiator simultaneously to the sounds of a harp, while hand feeding 42 puppies dog-friendly cookies at the same time but also watching Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 5…. however, doing it all in God’s name under the watchful eyes and blessings of the Pope. All of that means Rome, that’s the word I was looking for…. hopefully I didn’t oversell it.
Right now as I was reading my notes to write up this article… no fucking joke, literally so much excitement and warmth went up my spine while happiness took over my entire body. Sometimes I walk into a city and I have a grin from ear to ear that can’t be removed. This city makes the hair on your arms stand up and a feeling of euphoria that only certain special places, moments or things can give you. The only way to describe it is that you feel as if you’re in a book…. Not just a history book either, add in a romance novel, mystery book or choose your own adventure. I honestly said out loud to myself, “what a magical place,” countless numbers of times. All you can do as you walk around Rome is continue to say “how.” The architecture, statues and details of every step and block are unparalleled. You’d think every single structure or piece of art took millions of years to construct.
All of that said… I still haven’t told you the one thing you have to do in Rome so let’s get to that. The absolute one thing you absolutely have to do in Rome that maybe no other travel articles tell you about… One thing, doesn’t make sense right? How is there one must do thing in Rome that trumps everything else? Surely with all of the majestic tourist attractions there isn’t one thing you have to do that stands out above the rest? Is it to see the Pope, is it the Colosseum, the Pantheon? I can tell you that you really should see those but that’s the not what this is….
You don’t need read some blogs or articles to know to visit the standard sites throughout Rome. If you need a website to tell you to visit the Colosseum and Vatican City then you must live under a rock. This blog was created to try to open your mind and give you ideas that maybe a standard site doesn’t share… I never want this to be a site where you just read a list of things everyone knows… The goal is to inspire you and open up new ideas, thought processes and the world that you might never see rushing around from place to place. In this instance, everyone in Rome is on a schedule, rushing to each museum and trying to see every single thing… thus this is why my one mindset comes in handy.
So what is this one thing, mindset, the one tip that you absolutely have to do when in Rome. What is the best tip for Rome? If you already know this you will hate I wasted your time… if you didn’t have this idea you will be so happy I gave you this advice.
The answer… is get lost. Throw your rushed itinerary away and go for long walks every day and especially at night. Of course make sure you check off the main points that every website tells you about but don’t make your visit about places to see at set times, make it about falling in love with every step you take and every new corner you turn. There are hundreds of museums you will see but after you see the main sites all others will be marginalized making it so important to just walk and flow.
Rome is absolutely the perfect walking city if there ever is one. Walking the city your first day/night is the most important. You’ll stumble across a ton of the things you wanted to see but mainly you’ll just be in awe as you stroll through the stunning streets and areas of Rome. Stop for a drink when you’re thirsty, stumble into a random museum, stop when you’re hungry to one of the hundreds of restaurants on the side of the road. Grab a map and loosely look at areas you’d like to visit then throw that map away and just walk… take rights instead of lefts, go off the beaten path and follow your heart as you never know what could be around each corner.
Even the streets are enthralling… The cobblestone streets are made up of volcanic rock that well up in the hills behind the city. The surface just adds depth, history and more of an incredible feel to the city. Some cut history for you, it is said there are as many cobbles as there are souls that St Peter has saved. Some of the cobblestones tell stories as well such as one where there was an attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II or in the Jewish quarter where you’ll find some dedicated to the lives of people arrested by German troops and deported to Auschwitz.
Walking around your first day/night you will also feel unrushed and just get to soak in the magic that is Rome. Walking around with no plan you’ll also get a general idea of the layout of the city and see a ton of things you might never see if you come to Rome with an idea to just go from point A to B to C to D to E on your itinerary and schedule. I would suggest spending at least 3 days in Rome but obviously you can stay even longer. There is so much to do within Rome in 3 days you won’t even have time to see the beach or get outside the walls for other day-trips.
What Area to Stay In Rome
Rome is so safe and walkable you can stay pretty much near any of the major sites and be happy where you stayed. Like most people I got really overwhelmed with where to stay as there are so many options. With that said, after spending time there you really can say anywhere as every corner has a coffee shop, amazing restaurant or incredible site to see. I would suggest staying central anywhere near Piazza Navona / Pantheon area, or the Trevi Fountain & Spanish Steps area is great and lots of places to stay as well. Staying near the Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain is close to the metro line, which is really helpful. With that said, you could stay near Capitoline Hill / Roman Forum / Colosseum area and be right near the metro line as well as be surrounded with things to do. My best advice would be to just find the best value in a hotel, with good reviews, which is somewhere central and book it. Trastevere is really nice as well or you could stay near the Vatican, however, I would suggest more central ideally though near the Pantheon or Spanish Steps.
Should You Get The Roma Pass?
Should I get a Roma Pass is a common question of visitors. I am torn on whether to get it or not and when that is the case I say don’t get it. You get two free museums (if you buy the 72 hour pass), one being a line skipping pass for the Colosseum, however you still have to reserve a spot to see it… so it’s still an extra step regardless. Then I went to the two museums I actually wanted to see and Villa Borghese as well as Capuchin Crypt didn’t even accept the Roma pass. The Roma Pass is good for transportation, but you can buy that separately simply enough and as I mention you should be walking around everywhere as much as you can anyways. Furthermore, you still have to pay for the metro line that takes you from the airport to Termini Station, which is €14.
Transportation in Rome
So you don’t get too overwhelmed, out of the 3.5 lines, you will most likely only take Metro Line A, which is commonly marked in orange and it runs every 5-10 mins. The metro directions are based on the terminal station at the end of the line so Line A is Termini to Batistini. This line will bring you to the Vatican, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Capitoline Hill, Galleria Borghese, close to the Pantheon.
Tickets can be purchased at all metro stations via credit card and cash. You can buy single ride tickets or purchase 24 hour, 3-day and 7-day passes. If you don’t know what you are doing I would just buy a 3-day pass and call it a day since it is pretty cheap and saves you stress of planning out each step, how often you need a pass etc. The metro is open from 5:30am to 11:30pm and open late until 1:30am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Getting To & From The Airport in Rome
Getting To & From Fiumicino Airport
From Fiumicino airport you can take a bus, Leonardo Express to the Termini Metro Station or a Taxi as the main methods. There are also private airport shuttles that run around €7-10 however if you have traveled you know sometimes these can be overwhelming when you arrive and not knowing how to trust with everyone shouting for you to come with them.
Bus is the cheapest obviously, called the COTRAL lines and they leave from Terminal 2 arrivals. Just follow signs to the Regional Bus Stop and hop on, people will guide you as well if you are unsure. It will cost €3.50-4 and takes about an hour where you can get off at either Termini Station, Comelia Station and Magliani Station.
The Leonardo Express is a good option at only €14 and it takes you from the airport to Termini Station. From there you would take the Metro, bus, a taxi or walk to you hotel. This is nice as it takes just 30 minutes to get to Termini, where the bus takes an hour.
Taxi is a great idea if you have a group of people as it is €48 but if there are 3-4 of you then it is almost the same price as the Leonardo Express but it will also drop you off right at your doorstep vs. having to find your way from Termini Station.
There are shuttle companies as well such as the T.A.M., SIT, Terravision & Atral all of which cost €6-7 and will drop you off at Termini. These will take 50 minutes so really the bus and the Leonardo Express seem the best cost-benefit analysis. Not to mention, as with shuttles you sometimes are waiting for the companies to fill their seats before they take off.
Getting To & From Ciampino Airport
This one is a little trickier as it is a smaller airport. To be honest if there is 2 or more of you then take a taxi. It is closer to the city than Fiumicino and is only €30. Tthe other option is to take the COTRAL bus to get off at Metro A Anagnina Station and then go to Termini Station. From Termini then you have to figure out your method from there to your hotel… so it is a lot. I think spending the €30 to get dropped off at your door is worth it for piece of mind in this case.
What To Eat & Drink In Rome
Everything! Literally you will have no shortage in finding amazing places to eat and drink. I don’t even like coffee and got addicted to their cappuccinos, they’re ridiculous! As you walk around Rome you will see a cafe and restaurant on every corner. Normally you can see which ones are busy and go for it! Also ask your hotel, friends or locals about their recommendations however there are 100+ places you will be happy with.
Finding a good resolution map for Rome online was near impossible so here is a better resolution one for you as well!
Rome truly is the most magical place and I hope you enjoy it. Please share your favorite places, things and tips in the comments below!