Rome is one of the most iconic and most traveled cities in Europe, with a long history to match. With a mixture of cultures from around the world, Rome has it all. Wander the cobblestone street with gelato in hand, spend some time people watching from the Spanish Steps and take in all of the stunning architecture the city has to offer. Rome is also a foodie's heaven, from the world-class cuisine, to casual trattorias, to takeaway pizzas. Here's my ultimate Rome travel guide!
What to Expect in Rome
Rome is a big city with a great transportation system and friendly locals. I would recommend knowing a few key phrases in Italian but you will find many English speakers around in case you need assistance.
Language: Modern-day Romans speak Italian, of course, which is widely recognized as a language of love and romance. There are a lot of English-speakers around Rome as well.
Currency: Italy uses the euro (EUR). Currently, $1 U.S. dollar will get you €.86 euro.
Credit Cards and Banks: Cards are used all over Rome, especially Visa, but it’s more common to use cash for small items. Some museums and market sellers only accept notes. As a general rule of thumb, bring a few euros in cash with you wherever you go.
Climate: Resting just off the Mediterranean Sea, Rome enjoys warm and temperate weather with averages of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Expect much more rainfall during the winter and hot and sunny days in the summer.
April to June and late September to October are the best months for traveling in Italy — temperatures are usually mild and the crowds aren’t quite so intense.
My Experience as an Asian Traveler in Italy
I’m an Asian-American living in Italy and locals have overall been nice towards me. But I’ve experienced people staring as they nudge their companions and point my direction. Someone even argued with me recently in Rome that I was from China. While I haven’t been refused services, I sometimes feel unwelcome in Italy as xenophobia increases. My tips are to stay calm, be kind, set boundaries, and educate.
Getting Around in Rome
Getting to Rome: Dozens of airlines fly to and from Fiumicino Airport daily, so you can pick and choose based on your point of origin. You can also wheel into Rome by train—most lines run into Roma Termini, Rome’s central train station.
Car: Driving in Rome isn’t advisable— the traffic is chaotic in the best of terms and drivers are insane.
Taxis: Taxis are an option but tend to be more expensive.
Public Transport: Opt for wandering around by foot— the most romantic way to discover the hidden corners of the city— or use the impressive public system of buses, trams, trolleys, metro, and light railways.
If you’re in town for at least 72 hours, try the Roma Pass— just 38 euros will get you full access to public transportation, admission to two museums, and discounts on performance and exhibition tickets.
With a delicious complimentary breakfast, comfortable beds, and a super helpful staff, this 4-star hotel is a winner in Rome’s city center. Plus, it is only about a 15-minute walk to Termini, Colosseum, Trevi, and Spanish Steps.
Location: City Center
Accommodation: 4-Star Hotel
Price Range: $$
Residenza Venti Settembre
Located near Termini Station and near the Borghese Gardens, this family-owned hotel offers personalized service and is in the perfect location to explore.
Location: Near Borghese Gardens
Accommodation: Budget, Guesthouse
Price Range: $
Top Floor Colosseo Guesthouse
With beautifully designed rooms, this modern guesthouse is a cozy sanctuary away from the city bustle. It’s within walking distance to the Colosseum (500m) and multiple parks. It is highly rated for its staff, value, and location—you can’t go wrong staying here!
Location: Rione Monti District/Colosseum
Price Range: $$
B&B Easy is located right next to Rome Ostiense Train Station and Piramide Metro Stop! It’s an affordable, clean and comfortable place to stay while exploring Rome on a budget. The staff is so helpful here!
Location: Rome Ostiense Train Station
Price Range: $
With a terrace and views of the city, Rarity Suites is in the heart of Rome—just steps from Piazza del Popolo. The rooms are cozy and clean and come with tons of amenities. Amazing hospitality awaits you!
Accommodation: Luxury Guesthouse
Price Range: $$$
Located in an area full of shops, restaurants, and bars—and only a 5-minute walk from Re di Roma Metro Station—RomAntic Dreams B&B has the cutest themed rooms at very affordable prices. It’s a great value for your money and very highly rated!
Location: San Giovanni
Price Range: $
The Inn At The Roman Forum
This intimate boutique hotel is in the heart of Rome’s greatest sites, just minutes from the Forum & Colosseum. Splurge for one of their secret garden rooms, and enjoy complimentary breakfast and happy hour on a stunning terrace overlooking the city.
Location: Near the Roman Forum & Colosseum
Accommodation: Boutique Luxury
Price Range: $$$
Baguetteria del Fico (Cheap Eats)
Friendly service, delicious sandwiches and an extensive beer list—what else could you want? Stop by for a satisfying and affordable lunch!
Da Cesare al Casaletto (Trattoria)
Da Cesare al Casaletto is by far the best trattoria in town. You can’t go wrong here, and the wine list is very affordable.
What to Order: The pasta alla gricia is cooked to perfection, the spicy polpette di melanzane (eggplant balls) are delicious, and the fried gnocchi is delicately prepared.
Mercato Testaccio (Market)
A lively food market that sells both raw ingredients, baked goods, fresh produce and takeaway food every day of the week except Sundays.
What to Order: Be sure to grab some fresh juice, a takeaway pizza, or a glass of wine and pasta!
Supplizio (Casual Dining)
This casual street-food-inspired spot on the ground floor of a Renaissance building in the city centre brings fried specialities and signature finger foods to the masses.
A must-stop for gelato in Rome! Located in the Portuense district, Otaleg uses all-natural ingredients to make their rich and creamy gelato. You won’t regret it.
Trapizzino (Cheap Eats)
If you’re traveling on a budget, you have to try the triangular shaped, popular tramezzino sandwich here (for about 4 euros). Delicious sandwiches filled with goodies like oxtail simmered with tomato and celery, chicken with bell peppers, and a full bar with local wines.
When to Go: If you’re traveling on a budget, plan to eat a meal out here.
Flavio al Velavevodetto
Popular with locals and visitors alike, Flavio al Velavevodetto is an elegant yet cozy place to take friends and family with dishes that are 100% traditional. Be sure to try the local specialities and carbonara!
Trek up to Gianicolo Hill
Rome is best explored on foot through all the winding streets and hillslopes. You can find a fun and free walk on Via di Gianicolo, which runs from the Piazza Della Rovere up to one of the tallest hills in Rome. The panoramic view of the city from the top is one of the best, and though the steep hike is a bit challenging, there are several benches and cafés along the way so you can take a breather.
Visit The Vatican
The Vatican is closely tied with Rome’s heritage, and there is a wealth of art and history to explore in its Vatican Museums. Start early to beat the crowds.
If you have only a few hours in Rome, you should absolutely visit the Pantheon. It’s the only ancient Roman temple that survived virtually intact.
The beautiful Villa and grounds were built in the sixteenth century as a “party villa” for Cardinal Scipione Borghese. It now houses the impressive Galleria Borghese and the villa’s gardens.
Throw a coin in the iconic Trevi and legend has it that one day you’ll return to Rome. The fountain was designed by Nicola Salvi in 1732 and depicts the sea god Oceanus with his seahorses. It was also featured in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and is still popular with the crowds who make the pilgrimage to admire it.
The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps, a lively staircase of 135 steps, were made famous by Audrey Hepburn’s 1953 film Roman Holiday. They are a great place to people watch and start your window shopping.
Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II
This magnificent monument was built to commemorate Victor Emmanuel, the first king of unified Italy. Located between the Piazza Venezia and Capitoline Hill, it was pieced together by famous sculptors from all over the new nation.
Food and Pizza-Making Tour
I joined a culinary-themed tour and it was so worth it! You get to explore the streets of the city all while trying delicious food. You’ll stop by a bakery, a market, a coffee shop, and a traditional pizzeria where you get to make your very own pizza.
Roman Forum + Colosseum
On your list should definitely be the Roman Forum, which houses Trajan’s market, the relatively intact ancient Via Biberatica, and, of course, the iconic Colosseum.
Join a Take Walks Tour
I mentioned the food and pizza-making tour above, which was absolutely incredible. Take Walks offers so many different tours around Rome and I would highly recommend booking one with them—from food to history!
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