Ah, Rome! There’s so much you can say about the eternal city. It holds a very special place in my heart as it was the first solo trip I ever embarked on. Rome is every bit as magical as you think it’s going to be, despite the hoards of tourists that cling around sites such as the Trevi fountain to the point where it’s impossible to get within several metres of the bloody thing!
I’m kicking off my blog travel guides with this special place, so here’s your guide to Rome and your ultimate Rome bucketlist:
Getting there and back: Airport to Rome Centre
From Fiumicino Airport, there’s a shuttle bus or a train that you can take to Termini station, which is the central station for trains in Rome and which also has a bus depot outside. Both busses and trains run regularly, with a train every 15 – 30 minutes depending on the time of day or season, and a bus every 40 – 60 minutes. The bus will cost your around €5 and the train somewhere between €14 – €22 depending what kind of ticket you get. A taxi from the centre of Rome to the airport will more than likely cost you upwards of €50. The bus will take about an hour, and the train around 30 minutes.
The bus you want to get will be Terravision outside of Terminal 3. There are actually several bus companies operating from the airport, but Terravision is the most popular and the only one with its own ticket office and waiting area.
The train you’ll want to look for if you’re going to Termini will be the ‘Leonardo Express’ which is the nonstop train. There is only one other train service operating from the airport, and that is the regional FL1 train, which is only useful if you are staying near another station. It does not stop at Termini station.
The first train out of Termini usually leaves at around 5:35 am and the last leaves at 10:35pm. The first train out of the airport towards the centre leaves a little later at 6:23am but runs until 11:23pm
Depending on the bus company, some start running at about 5am and others later at around 6 – 6:30am. The busses usually stop running (again, depending on the company) between 10pm – 12pm.
Random tips: You can buy bus tickets in all tobacco shops in more or less the whole of Italy, look for the nearest ‘Tabaccheria’.
What to see: The best of Rome bucketlist
These are the main sites that should be on everyone’s Rome bucketlist. All the things you want to see on your first time to Rome are listed below…
The Colosseum can get busy depending on the time of year that you’re going. If you’re traveling in off-peak season, then I wouldn’t bother buying an express ticket. When I turned up there was a queue of about four people long. However, if you’re traveling in peak season, you might see the benefit of booking in advance or purchasing express tickets.
Read my posts on The Colosseum here.
The Pantheon is free entry, so no need to arrange tickets beforehand, although you may still have to queue at busy times. The Pantheon is beautiful, but does have a hole built into the dome of the ceiling. This can mean if you’re visiting and it’s rainy, that you may still get a bit wet inside, and the floor will be slippery. FYI.
Read my posts on The Pantheon here.
The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi fountain was hands down the most crowded tourist site I visited in the whole of Rome and my worst nightmare. It was surrounded by literally hundreds of people, densely packed crowds made it loud and ridiculously busy. I ended up having to get crafty and had to climb, duck and push my way to the front to even catch a glimpse of it. It was well worth it, as it is absolutely stunning but if you want to avoid huge crowds, you’re best of going either very early or very late (either at sunrise, or when you’re drunk at 2am).
Read my posts on the Trevi Fountain here.
At the opposite end of road that The Colosseum is located on, you’ll find the incredible ruins fo Trajan’s market. Another free thing to do in Rome, and well worth the visit. This place is essentially the worlds oldest shopping mall, and is kind of the typical picture you have of Rome in your head, full of ancient ruins against the backdrop of a metropolitan city.
Read my posts on Trajan’s market here.
All within fairly close proximity of Trajan’s market and The Colosseum is the famous Roman Forum. Not to be missed off your Rome bucketlist if you’re looking to take in all of the city’s most historical monuments and sites.
Piazzas: Visit the Piazzas of Rome
Piazzas in Rome are basically squares. They usually consist of burbling fountains, places to eat, and local coffee shops. Sometimes they have markets selling fresh fruit and vegetables or various other wares. Some of the most popular and particularly beautiful piazzas include Piazza Navona, Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, and Piazza Camp De’Fiori.
See my posts on Piazza Navona here.
The Spanish Steps
Rather unfortunately, I missed out on visiting the Spanish Steps as the whole site was under reconstruction when I was last in Rome. If you get the opportunity, then by all means go, as it’s a quintessential site on many people’s Rome bucketlist.
Vatican City: What to see in Vatican city
Vatican city is a Rome bucketlist spot all on its own, but there are several things in and around the Vatican that you want to make sure you don’t miss when you’re visiting.
Also known as ‘The Mausoleum of Hadrian’ or ‘Hadrian’s Tomb’, chances are if you’re entering the Vatican city by coming over the bridge on the river, that you’ll encounter this building. Once a fortress and a castle, now a museum, even if you don’t go in, it’s worth walking past to take it all in.
The Vatican Museum
The treasures that the Vatican museum holds are truly remarkable, and it’s something that you really cannot miss when in Rome. You need to set aside most of your day to visiting the Vatican and the Museum, as you can spend hours just wandering the exhibit before you even get to the chapel.
The Sistine Chapel
The main reason that people visit the Vatican is usually to see the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel. The famous works of Michelangelo are more or less on everyone’s Rome bucketlist, and for good reason. There is nothing else quite like it!
St Peter’s Basilica & The Coppola
St Peter’s Basilica is a stunning church and definitely worth putting on your list of things to see in Rome, but make sure you climb the stairs of ‘The Coppola’ to the top of the Basilica’s dome for a 360 ariel view of Rome, and a bird’s-eye view of the basilica from up amongst the rafters.
Read my post on St Peter’s Basilica & The Coppola here.
What to try: Food & Drink to try in Rome
Pizza – It goes without saying that if you go to Italy, you have to try Pizza. In an ideal world, you would pop over to Naples to get a truly authentic slice. If you can’t be bothered or don’t have the time to go to Naples for pizza, then Rome is the next best thing. Some of the best pizza I had in Rome was just from little local shops and some of the worst was in more expensive restaurants. Try a classic Margherita or a Pizza Bianca.
Pasta – I tried a dish I really loved called Trofi con broccoli (Trofie pasta with broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and salted ricotta) which was at a restaurant called Bramble. Other great dishes to try are Carbonara (but go get a proper one where it isn’t mixed with cream), Cacio e pepe or Bucatini all’Amatriciana.
Desserts – You can get gelato on pretty much every street corner in Rome in a variety of flavours, so just pick somewhere on a whim. My friend Amy over at Toothbrush Travels highly recommends going to Bar Pompi for the best Tiramisu. Other Italian desserts for those with a sweet tooth to try include Cannoli and a slice of Pastiera Napoletana.
Limoncello – Ok personally, I’m not a fan of this stuff, but you should definitely try it at least once. What is it? It’s a typical Italian (lemon flavoured) liqueur that’s traditionally served chilled as an after-dinner digestivo.
Random tips: All the fountains in Rome have clean drinking water
Where to stay: Budget Accommodation in Rome
I loved The Yellow hostel, which you can read more about on my post here. Generator hostels are usually great (I’ve stayed in a few different locations) and good value for money. I always use the Hostelworld app when searching for hostels.
For the pins: