Planning a trip where you’ll be visiting Rome for the first time?
You’ve come to the right article as I’ve written a complete guide about visiting Rome for the first time.
Visiting Rome is a magical, special and unforgettable experience, whether it’s your first time or your fifth time.
Before visiting Rome for 4 days, I too had many questions and things I wanted to know before visiting the city. I didn’t want to “waste” a trip to Rome, I wanted to do everything the right way, and I’m sure you do too.
Now, after spending time in Rome, I can confidently provide answers to questions anyone may have before visiting Rome, particularly for your first visit, so that’s why I’ve written this guide to visiting Rome for the first time.
🇮🇹 When planning a trip to Rome, I recommend using:
✈️ Flights: Skyscanner
🏨 Hotels: Booking.com
💵 Hostels: Hostelworld
🗺 Tours: Walks Tours & Devour Tours
👨👩👦👦 Activities: Viator and GetYourGuide
🚗 Car Rental: Discover Cars
🚌 Transport: Flixbus
🏥 Travel Insurance: Safetywing
💻 VPN: Surfshark
When To Visit Rome
When planning a trip to Rome, it is important to know when is the best time to visit. But I don’t believe there is a single “right” answer.
If you visit Rome in the summer, you can enjoy lovely weather, July particularly is the high season for Rome. On the other hand, you can avoid crowds by going in the winter.
Personally, I went to Rome in December, right before Christmas, and it was fantastic. The temperature was perfect, hovering around 15 °C (60 °F) every day with clear, blue skies.
And I didn’t feel like it was busy whatsoever! Not to mention the magnificent Christmas markets in Piazza Navona and all of the Christmas trees and decorations scattered throughout the city.
So, in my opinion, you can travel to Rome at any time of the year and have the trip of a lifetime. It ranks among my favourite locations I’ve ever been to.
How Long To Stay In Rome
Deciding how long to spend in Rome can be tricky.
I spent 4 full days in Rome and I felt like it was more than enough time to do the “must-dos” and a little bit extra- I went to the Zoo and the Stadio Olimpico, for example. I also had a lot of spare time where I just wandered the streets, which is a great thing to do in Rome by the way!
In my opinion, 3 days would be the perfect amount of time to see the main attractions in Rome along with some “hidden gems”.
Rome is a city that you could explore forever, and you will always find a new fountain or a new church that is absolutely beautiful. However, it is possible to visit Rome in just one day!
If you stay for a week, you will still have a great time in Rome. You will never run out of things to do. But I would say 3 days is the minimum amount of time you should spend in Rome.
Where To Stay In Rome
The best area to stay in Rome in my opinion is near the Roma Termini, particularly if you are visiting Rome on a budget. This area is very affordable despite being in a great location- everything is within walking distance!
I suggest staying in the Hotel called “Seven“. It is rated 8.9/10 on Booking and it costs €103 for a night. The rooms here are excellent, and you are guaranteed to have a great stay. Of course, it is in my recommended area of staying near the Roma Termini.
Not only is everything in walking distance, you are right beside the main train and bus station in Rome, so you can go literally anywhere in Italy and beyond!
Another hotel option if you are on a smaller budget is the Raeli Hotel Regio. It’s rated 7.2/10 on Booking and costs only €55 a night. As far as budget hotels go, there aren’t many better than Raeli Hotel Regio.
Once again, it is near the Roma Termini, the best area to stay in Rome!
Alternatively, if you are a solo traveller, budget traveller or enjoy staying in hostels, I recommend Freedom Traveller Hostel. I stayed here for 3 nights and had a wonderful stay. The free croissants at breakfast are incredible! I also made some friends for life while staying here.
I enjoyed my stay in the hostel so much that I wrote a full Freedom Traveller Hostel review.
And don’t worry, if you are wondering is Rome safe for walking to and from your accomodation, it is! Rome is one of the safest cities I have visited in my opinion.
Things To Do When Visiting Rome For The First Time
When visiting Rome for the first time, you have SO many things to do! To help you keep track of things to do in Rome, here are 20 must-do things during your first trip.
Trust me, if you are wondering “Is Rome worth it?“, even if you just see the Colosseum, the answer is yes.
There is an endless list of things to do, and obviously, everyone enjoys different things, but this is a list of what should make any Rome itinerary.
- Visit the Colosseum
- Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain
- Visit the Pantheon
- Walk up the Spanish Steps
- Eat lots of gelato
- Look around the Vatican Museums
- Step back in time in the Roman Forum
- Try some authentic Italian pizza
- Take in the Sistine Chapel
- Chill out in the Piazza Navona
- See the view from the dome in St. Peter’s Basilica
- Take a walking tour around Rome
- See the animals at Rome’s Zoo
- Get a tour of the Stadio Olimpico
- Visit Castle Sant’Angelo
- Walk around Villa Borghese
- Eat some of Rome’s finest pasta
- Visit Palatine Hill
- Admire the Arch of Constantine
- Stroll through the Gardens of Vatican City
Rome is such a picturesque city, you’ll leave with so many new photos. Personally, I think I took over 2,000 photos in Rome. I’m a travel blogger so I have an excuse- or so I keep telling myself! But my phone storage tells me to calm down a bit. By the way, make sure to check out my best Rome Instagram captions to show off your pics to your friends.
Josh’s 15 Rome Travel Tips
Before visiting Rome for the first time, it is important to learn some tips and tricks. Like all cities, there are great ways to save some money, or have the best experience in the Italian capital. These are some tips I picked up from when I visited Rome for myself. They’ll help to make your trip go that little bit smoother.
1) Get the bus from the airport
When travelling from Fiumicino to Rome City Centre or from Ciampino, it is best to get the bus. It is the best balance of time vs money, as it is 15 minutes slower than the train but a third of the price.
2) You need to book in advance
The most popular tourist attractions book out days, weeks and sometimes months in advance. The Colosseum (which includes entry to the Roman Forum) and the Vatican Museums are the main two. Particularly during high season in the summer, you should book tours well in advance.
3) Tips are not expected in Rome
Obviously, tips are a nice gesture to show appreciation for exceptional services, but they are not “mandatory” in Rome like they are in other countries like the United States. I have a full guide for tipping in Rome if you are interested in learning more.
4) You can visit The Colosseum for free on the first Sunday of the month
That’s right. On the first Sunday of each month, entry to the Colosseum is free. Tickets usually start at around €30 per person, so it is a great way to save money while on a trip to Rome. If your trip happens to fall over a Sunday at the start of the month, it’s a no brainer which day on your trip you’ll be paying the ampitheatre a visit.
5) You can visit the Vatican Museums for free on the last Sunday of the month
Another great way to save €20 is by visiting on the last Sunday of the month (excluding Easter Sunday) as you can get free entry to the Vatican Museums including the Sistine Chapel. It will be very busy on these days, but it’s worth it to save money.
6) You can drink the water from the fountains
Throughout Rome, there are many drinking fountains from which you can fill up a reusable water bottle. The water is also extremely fresh and tastes good. Yes- it’s fine to drink, as is tap water in Rome.
7) Carry cash
In Rome, cash is probably still the main form of payment. I found that card machines still had a minimum payment of €5, something that the UK got rid of many years ago. There were also a few times that I had dinner with a friend and we tried to split the bill paying by card but it was not possible, so cash is king. Rome isn’t that expensive either, I found it to be the same as pretty much any city in Europe.
8) Get travel insurance
As always when travelling, it is best practice to seek travel insurance. I recommend SafetyWing because they cover both health and travel issues while travelling. Travel insurance is one of those things that no one wants to pay for, but you never know when you’ll need it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
9) Bring comfortable shoes
In Rome, you will do a lot of walking, particularly if you are visiting Rome for the first time. My highest day was 40,000 steps or 32 kilometres. You can get public transport, but it’s not great in Rome so it’s best to walk everywhere. I would say I’m a pretty extreme example and walk a lot more than most, but even so, make sure to bring comfy footwear.
10) Drink coffee standing at the bar
If you sit at a table to drink a coffee in a cafe, it will cost you about 4 times the amount it would if you stood up and drank at the bar. The reason is because of the high fees for having tables on piazzas, which the cafes relay onto their customers. So one of the best ways to save money in Rome is to simply stand at the bar.
11) There is a riposo (siesta) between 1pm and 3pm
Give or take an hour either side, there is a few hours period each day known as a riposo where most shops will close as the workers go home and have a meal with their families. Make sure you don’t plan to go shopping between these hours. It’s pretty much the same as a siesta in spain, but the Italian version.
12) You can see Rome in a day
When I was in Rome, I took a Rome in a Day walking tour which took me inside the Colosseum, Vatican Museums and allowed me to see all of the main attractions of Rome within one day. I also didn’t feel rushed and I would highly recommend this guided tour to anyone who is going to Rome.
13) Make sure to bring respectable clothing for churches and the Vatican
As a general rule of thumb, ensure your shoulders and knees are covered when entering churches and the Vatican museums and St. Peter’s Basilica.
14) Eat in Trastevere
I found the best place in Rome to eat was Trastevere which wasn’t as expensive as people make out. I had delicious pizzas and pastas for around €10. I would recommend Tonnarello, it’s one of my favourite restaurants I have ever eaten in. Just thinking of the pasta now is making my mouth water.
15) There is a tourist tax for staying in Rome
When staying in Rome, there is a tourist tax charged by your hotel/hostel/Airbnb that varies between €3-7 depending on your accommodation. This is charged upon your arrival to the accommodation and most places require it to be paid in cash.
Visiting Rome For The First Time: FAQ
Here are some questions related to visiting Rome for the first time, along with my answers.
The best area to stay in Rome is near the Roma Termini. It means you are within walking distance of all the main attractions. With the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum 25 minutes away on either side.
You need to book the major tourist attractions in advance, expect to walk a lot, and prepare to be amazed. It’s the best city I have ever visited.
The Colosseum and Vatican Museums need to be booked in advance as these sell out days, weeks and even months in advance during the tourist months in summer.
Plan your itinerary roughly. Have the main attractions like the Colosseum booked, but allow some time to explore Rome and find hidden gems. There are fountains and statues around every corner. It’s an amazing city, don’t limit your trip to the main attractions.
Rome is quite a dirty city, there is a lot of litter and dog waste about the city streets. Homelessness is also quite rife in Rome. Nonetheless, your trip to Rome will not be ruined by these 2 factors, they will have a really small impact.
Final Thoughts: Visiting Rome For The First Time
And there you have it. A complete guide to visiting Rome for the first time along with Rome travel tips for any visitors.
Honestly, you will have the trip of a lifetime. Rome is the best city I have ever visited and I would encourage anyone to go in a heartbeat.
Just make sure to book the Colosseum and Vatican and you’re good to go! Enjoy Rome- it’s extraordinary.
I wish I could go back and get that feeling of visiting Rome for the first time because it is unbelievable. Next on your trip planning agenda is to find a place to stay, maybe you’ll book a hotel by the Colosseum to make the most of your first time.