Where to stay: With Rome being such a popular travel destination, there are a plethora of accommodation options to choose from- the key is keeping the price low. I stayed in a hostel called Hostel Alessandro Downtown which, despite the relatively mediocre reviews was a great hostel. It was clean, served breakfast, was close to the train station and public transit, and had a great atmosphere for meeting people- it’s also pretty inexpensive! If you’re looking for something a bit more private, there are a ton of Airbnb options for under $50 a night, which split between friends is a pretty good rate! Try to stick somewhere close to public transportation as Rome is a big city, and it’s easy to spend all of your time walking.
Where to eat: DEFINITELY stay far, far away from anything even remotely touristy if you’re looking for a restaurant. There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating gelato next to the Trevi Fountain (or anywhere else for that matter), but DO NOT sit down for a pasta dish or pizza next to the Colosseum, it just won’t be good and you’ll pay a fortune for it. If you take a metro ride a couple stops away from any particular attraction to find a more residential neighborhood you’re likely to have significantly better food experiences. But feel free to grab a gelato and espresso or cappuccino anywhere!
What to do: There are a ton of things to see and do in Rome, so it’s kind of hard to choose! Here’s a list of my top things:
- Vatican and the Vatican Museum– I may not be Catholic, but I can certainly appreciate the incredible beauty and strength displayed in this religious capital. The museum is home to a massive collection of art, most spectacularly of which is the Sistine Chapel, which is definitely worth a visit. St. Peter’s Basilica is also an absolutely incredible cathedral with interesting history.
- The Colosseum– If you’re in Rome, you really need to see the Colosseum. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, but with good reason. Understanding the history of this incredible structure is key to truly appreciating its majesty when you’re standing inside.
- The Castel Sant’Angelo is a really beautiful castle that isn’t too far from Vatican. If you’re looking for something interesting to see that isn’t the Colosseum, this may be a good option! It isn’t of the Roman Era, but it is a beautiful piece of modern Roman history.
- The Trevi Fountain is a bit of an overrated tourist attraction, but if you have the opportunity to see it when it isn’t completely overrun by tourists, it’s really quite beautiful. More important are all of the more inconspicuous fountains in the neighborhood of the Trevi Fountain. I certainly recommend going to see the Trevi, but then grab a gelato and take a wander around the area to find some other beautiful little corners of Rome.
- The Pantheon may have been one of my favorite spots in Rome because of the incredible history. It was once a Roman temple, converted into a Catholic cathedral, so everything about it is extremely unique for a Christian cathedral. I also love that it’s a fully standing Roman structure, it’s incredible to think that it’s been there for almost two thousand years!
- The Piazza Navona is one of my favorite piazzas in Rome- the Bernini fountain in the center is absolutely breathtaking, and it’s a great place to sit and watch life go by (with a gelato in hand, of course!). It can be a little touristy, but take yourself out of the madness for a moment, sit on the fountain, and truly enjoy the spirit of Rome in this absolutely beautiful spot.
- The Spanish Steps are another quintessential site to see in Rome, but they’re certainly worth a visit, as they’re really just a beautiful place to be. Try to hit these earlier in the morning or late at night as you’re less likely to run into crazy crowds of tourists, and you’ll get a better view!
There are a ton of other things to see and do in Rome, but those are some of my favorites! Rome, like many other major/capital cities, is a huge undertaking for just a couple of days, so you’ll want to try to give yourself plenty of time to truly explore it- it’s worth it! Fortunately, the metro system is quite good, so you’ll be able to cover a lot of ground no matter how much time you have!
Overall Opinion: Every time I’ve visited Rome, I’ve truly enjoyed my visit. It’s the city most people think of when they think of Italy, and it certainly holds its weight in terms of sites, food, and culture. With all of that, though, comes an unreal amount of tourists, which is one of my least favorite things about the city. If you’re willing to tackle the crowds, and want to see all of the incredible and famous sites, I’d certainly recommend a visit to Rome!