I’m so glad that you are all enjoying my recent posts on places I’ve visited around the world. I visited Rome back in 2016 as a present for my partner. I never expected to fall in love with Rome as much as I did. Rome can be a tricky place to organise your travels as it can be extremely expensive and most people don’t know where to start with hotels, flights and trips. I for one was one of them.
I spent a lot of time researching different areas of Rome as certain areas can be more expensive and certain areas can be unsafe. Vatican City is quite some distance from the centre of Rome (coliseum area) so I definitely knew that I wouldn’t want to stay near Vatican City. However, I definitely knew that I would love to be within walking distance of all major sites. That narrowed down the areas in which I could stay. The next thing that I spent a lot of time researching is what time of the year should I visit and what airline should I use. April-September can consist of some of the largest numbers of crowds; one thing I really hate is large crowds. I decided to travel in March so that the weather isn’t to bad and that I get to visit most of the sites in reasonable crowds. As I decided to go out of season, most airlines didn’t fly to Rome during this time. I was quite limited in whom I could travel/book with. I ended up booking our trip and flights with British Airways (connecting via Heathrow). This worked out much cheaper than most other airlines due to the time of year and because it had a tiny connection (I flew Manchester-Heathrow-Fiumicino) my layover in Heathrow was around 40 minutes.
Flights and accommodation
I decided to visit Rome for a week as I truly wanted to experience and emerge myself in the local culture. As previously mentioned we travelled with British Airways from Manchester airport to Heathrow (roughly 45 minute flight) we then had short layover booked and then we continued to Fiumicino,Rome. However, it did not go to plan and our Manchester flight was delayed to London so we missed our connecting flight to Rome. This was sorted out promptly as we were booked on the next available flight to Fiumicino which actually ended up arriving 30 minutes later than our original flight; so it wasn’t to bad. The flights this time of year also tend to be quiet and I can vouch for this as the flights to Rome and home were reasonably quiet. We opted to stay in a boutique style hotel rather than a main stream one. So… Hotel Morgana was our final choice. I was very skeptical upon booking this hotel as it was an extremely reasonable price with breakfast and WiFi included for 6 nights. However, it was one of the nicest and friendliest hotels that I have ever experienced. The staff were outstanding, honest and welcoming. They were super helpful with advice on restaurants, trips and anything that you need. The breakfast host was my favourite person in the hotel! (I believe his name is Vincenzo if I remember correctly. I apologise if it’s spelt incorrectly.) He was so pleasant and welcoming and I looked forward to seeing him every morning he was a part of my day and also made great cappuccinos. The hotel was being renovated and we were lucky enough to stay in one of the newly refurbished rooms. The rooms in boutique hotels are usually reasonably small and this was no exception however it was beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean. It was my home away from home. It was also a reasonably quiet hotel; I didn’t hear any other guests or any street noise so it was perfect to get a decent nights sleep after a long day of sightseeing. The hotel was perfect for us! It isn’t in the best of areas (or shall I say the most expensive areas) but it was safe, clean and the locals were all friendly. Like every other city in the world you should expect beggars, pick-pockets etc. But I was never made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe in the area. The hotel was about a 10-15 minute walk to the Coliseum (maybe 20 minutes if you stroll). It was pretty central to all the sites except the Vatican; everything else we easily walked too.
Money and budget
I will be very honest… Rome is all about the food! It just so happens to be quite expensive too especially if you want to indulge. We was lucky that our hotel included a breakfast and a really good quality breakfast! We only had to worry about spending money on lunch and dinner (maybe the odd few snacks). Lunch is quite easy and can be done on a reasonable budget however dinner is the difficult part as by this time in the day you are usually hungry, tired and ready to relax after a long day of sightseeing. I would definitely recommend eating away from the major tourist areas as they do increases the prices around those areas. I’m not talking about a hike away either most of the time you can find a reasonably priced restaurant about a 10 minute walk from the main tourist attractions. You’ll be able to tell which restaurants are for the tourist because the prices are extortionate and it’s filled with tourists who have fallen into the trap. I prefer to visit the more authentic places to have an official Italian meal! You probably won’t need a lot of money for travelling (i.e. taxis etc.) as everything is within walking distance. You may need to book a transfer to and from the airport. The most important things that you budget for are trips and food. The trips you can easily save money on depending on what you want to do and what time of the year you go… but more on that later.
Here is a list of all the major sites we visited:
- The coliseum
- Vatican City
- Capuchin Crypts
- The pantheon
- Trevi Fountain
- The Spanish Steps
- The Roman Forum/ Palatine Hill
This is a place that you have to visit when you go to Rome. It is truly stunning and I couldn’t believe that the place still actually stands to this day! It is full of history and its even more breathtaking upon stepping inside. I paid quite a lot of money for this tour as it was the one thing that my partner had always wanted to do. So I booked a tour with an English tour guide with underground access, third floor access and information provided. We also got to visit Palentine Hill and the roman forum with this tour. However, I wouldn’t recommend paying over the odds for this tour when you can actually pay for tickets at the coliseum that start at around €10 and increase if you want a tour guide and access to different areas. I would definitely recommend visiting the underground and the third floor as you get an amazing view and a different outtake from the different areas. We were very lucky as we got amazing weather the day that we visited the coliseum and the sun truly captured the architecture well. I paid roughly £80 for our tour and it included (the above) plus skip-the-line access; but the lines in off-peak season are usually not that bad anyway. We also visited a few days later and paid €10 for the both of us but this did not include any other access or perks or information.
I literally could not wait to visit here! I had heard such great things about the tours and opted for one of the more expensive and longer tours. It cost me again roughly £80 but again we got skip-the-line access, a English speaking tour guide and access to a variety of different areas. I booked the tour for 2pm as Vatican. City is quite a while a way from Rome city centre. We walked from our hotel to here purely because we love to explore cities and we found that this would be the best way to see it. It approximately took 2 hours to walk but obviously a taxi or bus would be a lot shorter. Our tour lasted roughly 1 hour- 2hours and then we were left in St.Peters Basilica and free to leave when we wanted. I would advise anyone who visits Rome to also visit the Vatican. I am not a religious person and neither is my partner but it was truly amazing and educational to see how much history that this place does have. Sistine chapel is astounding and it is truly breathtaking; I could not believe how long ago it was painted. Be warned that this will probably take an entire day to explore and see everything that you may want to see; the Vatican is absolutely huge! The staff are really friendly and our tour guide was informative and answered all questions asked. He actually had a really good relationship with staff and guards at the Vatican.
I believe that Rome has a few different crypts but upon researching this looked to be the most popular at the time. It was reasonably cheap costing roughly €17 for us both. It has a mini museum that educates you on the history of the crypts and it was really informative. However, if you cannot handle anything death related I would not advise visiting the crypts as it can be extremely eerie and emotional. After the museum, you have the option to visit the crypts; I won’t go into to much information about this place as I believe you should really experience it for yourself and I would not want to explain anything incorrectly.
I had never really heard of the Pantheon before our trip to Rome. We discovered this place existed upon sitting at a local Irish bar and the bartender advised us to visit as it is his favourite place in the entire world. He described it as “only aliens could have made this place, as it is huge and beautiful.” He basically had me drawn to it from the minute he told us it was his favourite place. It is probably my favourite place in Rome now. I remember stumbling upon the Pantheon and just being in awe of its size in comparison to the surrounding buildings. It is free to go inside. Upon walking inside, my jaw literally dropped! The bartender was right… how was this place built? I couldn’t believe that this place existed and was created by people before modern engineering, technology and tools. This truly astonished me. We spent about an hour inside of the Pantheon and then a further hour sat outside of it; we just could not believe such a place existed!
Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps
Be prepared for large crowds at the Trevi Fountain! We visited around 2-3 times and each time was a different time in the day; every single time it was just as busy! The crowds are huge! The fountain is much bigger than I expected and it is completely out of place being surrounded by shops and restaurants! However, you must visit the fountain and make a wish! I can’t really comment on the Spanish steps as they were being refurbished when we visited, however, the view from the top is beautiful and you can see for miles across the city.
The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
I enjoyed walking around the old ruins and learning about Rome and how it was built. We had a tour guide for this part too as we had access to this with the coliseum tour. However, I wouldn’t really waste your money on a tour in here. As it is much more fun and enjoyable to explore on your own. As sometimes the tour guide was taking us to places that didn’t have much history compared to other places. We visited here around sunset and it was really stunning! Many of the old ruins are closest to the exit and I’d go earlier on in the day so you have enough time to explore as much as you like and to not feel rushed.
- Eat locally and stay away from mainstream restaurants located around the main tourist places.
- Don’t take anything to valuable and don’t fall into a trap of talking to people that want to give you things; pickpocketing and robbery is apparently one of the worst crimes against tourists.
- Do your research before you go!
- Try to go in off-peak season to avoid paying a lot of money just to visit in the summer.
- You don’t always have to prebook tours depending on when you’re visiting.
- Make a plan before you go; such as places you want to see, restaurants you want to try and plan your days out specifically so you don’t miss anything out.
- Spend sometime getting lost and exploring the city we found some of the best restaurants and places by doing this.
- Have the best time!
I never expected to love Rome as much as i did. But… Rome truly has my heart. It is now one of my favourite places in the world and I cannot wait to visit again soon. I hope you enjoyed my breakdown of my Rome trip and I hope it was informative and something that you could potentially find useful in the future!
Comment if you really enjoyed this post and subscribe to my mailing list for more posts like this!