Visiting the Eternal City for the first time? We created an easy travel guide to Rome so that you know the best things to see and do. In this post, we’re sharing all we’ve learned from our vacations in Rome to help you plan your getaway.
Did you know it is one of the most visited cities in Italy?
I adore visiting Italy. And no trip would be complete without seeing some of the most iconic and historic spots in the Eternal City. Don’t make the mistake (that I made on my first trip) and skip these incredible spots! Fortunately, I was able to see them on return visits!
We’ll cover the most popular neighborhoods, the best things to see and do, how to get around in Rome, the best time of the year to visit, how to get to central Rome from FCO Airport, and tips for traveling.
Where is Rome
Rome is located in the region of Lazio, near the and is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in Italy. It has the highest population of all cities in Italy and sits about 1 hour from the western coast.
And when it comes to tourism, it’s no surprise that visitors from around the globe travel to Rome to see its beauty and Renaissance art, experience Roman cuisine and Italian cooking, shop the fashion capital, discover the piazzas and fountains, explore the historical landmarks, or even practice Italian phrases that they’ve learned.
The various neighborhoods are the most widely visited by tourists because they are where most attractions can be found. Traveling through the city is easy on foot, but you should also consider the Rome sightseeing bus or the Rome golf cart tours.
The Best Time of Year to Visit Rome
Rome can be extremely uncomfortable in the summer months (primarily June through September). In April and May, the spring temperatures are nice, the mornings are cool, and by noon you probably won’t need a jacket.
The Best Things to See and Do (by Neighborhood)
Each neighborhood of Rome has museums, churches, gardens, parks, and iconic spots to visit. This list gives a brief description of each district, and helps you understand what to see in each neighborhood. It will come in handy for deciding where to stay in Rome while planning your trip.
You may need to take public transportation to reach a specific neighborhood depending on where you stay. However, once you arrive, the area is completely walkable and getting from one point of interest to another is easy.
This neighborhood is located around Via Veneto and the Spanish Steps, the Modern Center neighborhood combines classic and contemporary influences. It has a mix of upscale boutiques, trendy cafes, and luxurious hotels, making it a hub for shopping, dining, and experiencing the modern side of Rome.
▪ Palazzo del Quirinale
▪ Complesso delle Quattro Fontane
▪ Trevi Fountain
▪ Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica a Pallazo
▪ Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri
▪ Castro Pretorio
▪ Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria
▪ Museo e Cripto dei Frati Cappuccini
The heart of Rome’s historic center, the Old Rome neighborhood captivates with its cobblestone streets, charming piazzas, and awe-inspiring landmarks like the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.
▪ Scalinta di Trinita dei Monti (Spanish Steps)
▪ Museo dell’Ara Pacis
▪ Campo de’ Fiori
▪ Palazza Farnese
▪ Piazza Navona
▪ Museo di Roma Palazzo Braschi
▪ Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi
▪ Chiesa di Sant’Agnese in Agone
By far this is the most popular neighborhood in Rome for travelers. Trastevere is a bohemian neighborhood located on the west bank of the Tiber River. It is known for it narrow, winding streets, nightlife, and charming piazzas. Trastevere has a lively atmosphere with trendy bars, and traditional trattorias.
▪ Villa Farnesina
▪ Galleria Corsini
▪ Basilica di Santa Maria
▪ Orto Botanico
Home to the iconic Colosseum, the Colosseum neighborhood in Rome immerses visitors in ancient history as they explore the grandeur of the Roman Empire, marvel at ancient ruins, and soak in the architectural splendor of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
▪ Roman Forum
▪ Palatine Hill
▪ Bocca della Verita
▪ Circo Massimo
▪ Piazza Venezia
▪ Altare della Patria
Aventino – Tastaccio
Testaccio is a historic working-class neighborhood that has transformed into a culinary hotspot. It offers a vibrant food scene with traditional trattorias, gourmet restaurants, and a bustling food market.
▪ Basilicia di San Giovanni
▪ Terme di Caracalla
▪ Knights of Malta Keyhole
Esquilino – San Giovanni
Located near Termini Station, the Esquilino neighborhood is a melting pot of cultures and flavors. Known for its diverse immigrant communities, Esquilino is a mix of ethnic restaurants, colorful markets, and architectural gems like the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.
▪ Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore
▪ Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
▪ Museo Nazionale Romano
▪ Basilica di San Pietro in Vincole
Nomentano combines residential tranquility with commercial areas. This neighborhood is characterized by its leafy parks, elegant villas, and the iconic University La Sapienza. There is a mix of students, locals, and dining. Nomentano has a relaxed and intellectual atmosphere.
▪ Sapienza University
The North Center neighborhood of Rome, encompassing areas like Villa Borghese and Parioli, presents a more tranquil and residential atmosphere. With its leafy parks, elegant villas, and cultural institutions like the Galleria Borghese, this area provides a peaceful retreat from the city center.
- Museo e Galleria Borghese
- Villa Borghese
- La Galleria Nazionale
- Museo Nazionale Etrusce di Villa Guilia
Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world and the spiritual center of Catholicism. Home to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel, this iconic neighborhood offers a rich blend of religious significance, magnificent art, and awe-inspiring architecture.
▪ St. Peter’s Basilica
▪ Vatican Gardens
▪ Vatican Museums
▪ Castel Sant’Angelo
The southern part of Rome is less touristy and has an authentic atmosphere that portrays a taste of local Roman life. From food markets and traditional trattorias to vibrant street art and a strong sense of community, Southern Rome provides a glimpse into the city’s everyday charm.
▪ Via Appia Antica
▪ Catacombe di San Sebastiano
▪ Catacombe di San Callisto
▪ Museo Capitoline Centrale Montemartini
How to Get Around Rome
Getting around the cobbled-stoned streets of Rome is not hard. I’ve walked, biked, and bused throughout Rome and loved it! All are great ways to get around and the method you choose depends on how much time you have and your personal preference.
With these tours, you’ll see all the top Rome attractions with audio commentary in your language of choice. If you choose an open top tour bus, the added benefit is free wi-fi and for 3 extra euros, you can use your ticket for two days (it is worth it).
When it comes to seeing Rome, walking can not be avoided especially when getting to an attraction that require climbing hilly pathways or navigating ancient streets. In my opinion, being on foot is one of the best ways to travel in Rome.
Exploring the narrow streets can lead you to the most marvelous pasta, the creamiest gelato, or the most perfect pasta! I highly recommend visiting the Trastevere neighborhood for Italian street food.
This is the best option for getting to a part of town that is more than 20 minutes on foot, especially if visiting a museum or park. Save your energy and use public transportation for less than 2 euros. You can purchase them at the tobacconist store.
You will need to validate your ticket upon boarding the bus (it’s an honor system). Getting caught with an un-validated ticket can result in a fine. You should also use a really good map of Rome.
Bike or Vespa
Peddling around the city on your own time feels so liberating. Bike rental is very affordable and is an enjoyable way to experience the outdoors, get some exercise to make up for all the Italian breakfasts that you eat, and explore Rome.
You can find rentals for as little as 13 euros for 24 hours, complete with lock, for a standard bike. The price for e-bikes is higher.
Getting around on a two-passenger scooter is loads of fun! Rent a Vespa to skirt traffic or explore outside the city. They can be rented by the hour or day. This will make your trip to Rome memorable as you travel in true Italian style!
How to Get to Central Rom from FCO Airport
There are several options to get from Leonardo da Vinci International Airport to the center of the city. I found the train to be the quickest and most affordable especially if you’ve had a long day of travel and want to get to Termini station.
The most economical way to get from the airport to the city center is via a shuttle bus service from the airport. You can travel conveniently between Rome’s city center and the airport and take pleasure in a stress-free arrival or departure from the city.
The ride takes about 50 minutes and departures run from the airport every 30 to 40 minutes so you have time to collect your luggage. Shuttles stop in Terminal 3’s arrivals section. Look for the respective service at the arrival platform.
Terravision offers a shuttle service for less than 8 euros it’s quite popular. The buses are air-conditioned and there is no cost to bring your luggage aboard. It goes directly to Termini station with no extra stops.
Another option is the public transportation system, which costs about 6 euros. The bus stops multiple times in the city center, including one close to the Vatican and one at Termini Station, throughout the 45- to 1-hour one-way trip.
Buses halt in Terminal 3’s arrivals section, at number 14. You can purchase tickets at the airport desk or online.
A taxi is quite expensive. It will set you back almost 50 euros and the ride takes just as long as a shuttle service (about 50 minutes). You can find the taxis at the arrival level of Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.
The Leonardo Express train is less than 20 euros and runs every 15 minutes during peak periods. It is operated by Trenitalia and the ride takes about 30 to 40 minutes.
If you wait to collect your luggage, and then make your way to the window or kiosk to purchase your ticket, note that many others will be doing the same. Hate long lines? You can purchase tickets in advance and be ready for validation after boarding the train.
I can’t recommend a car rental unless you plan a day trip and need a set of wheels. Rome is completely walkable. Not to mention, even Italians know that finding a parking space can be a hassle.
Tips for Visiting Rome
Whether you are visiting the Vatican for the first time or returning because you tossed a coin into the Trevi fountain, these Rome travel tips will come in handy to make your stay enjoyable.
- Be prepared! Read these tips on the essentials for an international flight.
- Think comfort when flying coach, it will help you stay calm and confident.
- Beware of scammers, pickpockets, and panhandlers. It’s a thing in Europe and it can happen when you least expect it.
So, what are you waiting for? Book that flight to Rome and thank me later.