Rome is an ancient city and with thousands of years of culture under its belt; however, the eternal city can be devilishly tricky for first-time visitors. With so much to see, taste and experience, even a month wouldn’t be long enough. This guide will give you some insight into the common attractions for first-time visitors, as well as a little tip for dealing with the notoriously terrible transport.
What to do:
Vatican City is a must for any first-time traveller to Rome. The capital of Christianity, Vatican City is abundant in history and art and its opulence is astounding. It may be the world’s smallest country, but there is still plenty to see: The infinite artworks of Saint Peter’s Basilica, the famed Sistine Chapel, the architecture of the piazza, and inside the Vatican Museums and of course the view from the Dome.
Cameras: Allowed, no flash
Dress code: Modest, shoulders covered, no mini-skirts, no shorts that are too short, both men and women
Visiting hours: The Basilica is open every day 7 am-7 pm from April to September, 7 am-6 pm from October to March
Location: Piazza San Pietro, inside the Vatican City
How to get to St. Peter’s Basilica: The nearest metro station is Ottaviano, line A (red). Buses that get close are 64 and 40 from Termini Station that goes through the main places in the city centre. The nearest train station is Stazione Roma San Pietro in Piazza Della Stazione di San Pietro, some 15 minutes walking from the Vatican or two stops with the 64 bus.
Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps). A favourite hangout for locals and tourists; Piazza di Spagna is located at the bottom of the magnificent 18th century Spanish Steps, in which climbs up to the Piazza Trinità dei Monti. Spend time eating, drinking and chatting. For a quieter visit go early morning to beat the crowds.
How to get to Piazza di Spagna: Metro Line A (Red) Spagna station.
Trastevere. Take a trip across the Tiber, to explore this medieval working-class district. Trastevere has transformed into a labyrinth of ornate mosaics and heady nightlife, with Piazza di Santa Maria at its heart. Ensure to indulge not only in Gelato and Aperol spritz but also The Basilica of Santa Maria, one of the oldest churches in Rome, dating back to 340AD.
How to get to Trastevere: Go to Trastevere train station, then take line 8 (Venezia) for 6 stops. Get off at Belli, and continue by foot for approximately 450 meters towards Piazza do Santa Maria.
Pantheon. Famous for its dome and “Oculus”, a hole meant to connect men with their gods, and let the daylight in. The Pantheon is one of the few buildings from the Greco-Roman time in which has remained intact. Originally the Pantheon was a temple devoted to all gods, it is now a Catholic church.
Trevi Fountain. If you’re already loving Rome, the Fontana di Trevi cannot be missed. As by throwing a coin into its waters, it is said that you are sure to return to the eternal city. Completed in 1762 when the statue of Oceanus, god of the water was position: Culture lovers can indulge in the decadent Baroque style.
Address: Piazza di Trevi
Best time to visit the Trevi Fountain: Early morning for a view without the crowd.
How to get to Trevi Fountain: Any bus stopping at Piazza Venezia or Via del Corso, n. 40, 64, 62, 63, 170, 87, 81, 628. Metro line A (red), Barberini station, less than 10 minutes walk.
Colosseum. This landmark doesn’t really need an introduction, as the ultimate icon of Rome. The Colosseum, also known as Amphitheatrum Flavium, was built by Emperor Vespasian between 70 and 80 AD to host shows, fights between gladiators, and animal hunts.
Opening hours: 8.30 am- 5 pm, in summer until 7pm. For safety reasons, no more than 3,000 people can enter the Colosseum, so if you want to skip the long queue, you can book the ticket online.
Best time to visit the Colosseum: It’s always super crowded and if you don’t want to wait in the lines, be there at 8 am. Crowds are bigger in summer.
Admission fee: 12€, it lasts two days and is valid for both the Colosseum and the nearby Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Free admission on the last Sunday of the month.
How to get to the Colosseum: Metro line B (blue), Colosseo station, buses 64, 30, 46, 62, 70, 81, 87, 628, 40, 492, 916, 117, or tram 8 in Piazza Venezia.
Best time to visit:
Throughout the seasons Rome remains magical. If possible visit during spring, as during summer the number of tourists and the temperature skyrocket. For warm colours that match Rome’s terracotta rooftops opt for autumn.
Travelling Around Rome:
The traffic is notoriously terrible in Rome, so a car is not necessary. If staying fairly central public transport is a better option. However be sure to take your relaxed Italian state of mind with you and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination as the buses and trains don’t ever seem to be in a hurry. For those who like a little control, you can try using city mapper, as it will give you routes and rough departure and arrival times.