Tag: Italy Travel

Europe Travel, Italy

1 Day in Rome Itinerary

Planning one day in Rome? As one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, you can probably imagine there’s a lot to see (and do) in the Eternal City! Here you’ll find ancient architecture, history around every corner, timeless beauty, and more fountains than anywhere else in the world.

From famous landmarks like the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, to the iconic Vatican City, you’ll have more than enough to keep you busy. With something beautiful and historic around every corner, i’s often regarded as just one giant outdoor museum!

While many people spend 2-4 days in Rome – after all, there is so much to see – you can absolutely see the highlights in one day. So if you’re looking to see all the best sights in Rome in one day, read on to see our favorite spots, a couple hidden gems, and even see our self-guided walking tour to make sure you don’t miss a single thing!

READ: The Ultimate Rome Travel Guide & Bucket List

Jump To:
The Best Things to See in Rome
1 Day in Rome Itinerary
Rome Travel Tips


The Best Things to See in Rome

The Colosseum

As one of the seven wonders of the world, the Colosseum is one stop you don’t want to miss during your visit to Rome! Construction started on the Colosseum all the way back in 72 AD, making it over 1,900 years old.

Formerly an amphitheater that hosted epic gladiatorial battles, the Colosseum is full of incredible history. Tour the amphitheater, or join a guided tour for access to the underground areas and stage where the gladiators once stood!

You’ll want to arrive early to beat the crowds, or (even better) purchase tickets in advance so you don’t spend half your day waiting in line to see the Colosseum. Check out these priority entrance + sightseeing bus tour tickets, or join a guided tour of the Colosseum (we recommend this one) to really maximize your time there!

The Roman Forum

While you’re by the Colosseum, you’ll absolutely want to check out the Roman Forum as it’s right next door. This sprawling archaeological site that was the heart of ancient Rome. Wander through the ruins of temples, basilicas, and arches, imagining the vibrant life that once thrived in this bustling center of politics and commerce.

Built at the end of the 7th century BC, the Roman Forum served as the center of public life in Rome for more than a millennium. As centuries went on, more and more buildings were built at the Forum, including those for political, religious, economic and judicial activities – it really was the hub for everything!

Stroll through the ruins on your own, or join a guided tour (like this one!) to really understand all of the history that took place here.

The Vatican

As the smallest independent state in the world, Vatican City has a history deeply intertwined with the Catholic Church and the papacy. The origins of the Vatican can be traced to the first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great, who, in the early 4th century, constructed a basilica over what was believed to be the burial place of St. Peter. 

This original St. Peter’s Basilica laid the foundation for the Vatican we know today. The current St. Peter’s Basilica, designed by architects including Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, stands as a testament to the Vatican’s artistic and architectural magnificence.

The sheer beauty of the buildings and the cobblestone streets in Vatican City are enough for anyone to appreciate, and you can wander through the city without needing a ticket. Soak it all in, it’s one of the most important and iconic religious sites in the world!

If you want to tour the Vatican or its museums, you’ll need a ticket or to join a guided tour. It’s imperative that you get these booked ahead of time as queues here can take hours. When we went in the beginning of November (low season), tickets were still sold out a couple of weeks in advance and the line to go inside was a couple hundred people long!

Check out these skip-the-line tickets to see the Vatican, its museums, and the Sistine Chapel.

The Trevi Fountain

As one of Rome’s most iconic landmarks, the Trevi Fountain boasts a rich history that spans centuries. Its origins can be traced back to the 18th century when it was designed as a grand fountain as a part of the newly reconstructed Aqua Virgo aqueduct. 

Completed in 1762, the Trevi Fountain stands at the junction of three roads, or “tre vie,” giving it its name. The legend of tossing a coin over the left shoulder into the fountain to ensure a return to Rome became popularized in the mid-20th century, adding a whimsical tradition to this awe-inspiring monument. 

Today, the Trevi Fountain continues to enchant visitors with its Baroque magnificence and remains a symbol of beauty, art, and the eternal charm of the city of Rome. And as a bonus, it’s totally free to see, no ticket required! Snap a few pictures, then sit on the benches in front of it to really admire and appreciate the most famous fountain in the world.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon, a marvel of ancient Roman engineering and architecture, stands as a testament to the enduring brilliance of Roman civilization. Originally commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD) and later rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian around 126 AD, the Pantheon has weathered the ages remarkably well. 

The building’s most distinctive (and famed) feature is its massive dome, an engineering feat that remained unrivaled for centuries. The oculus, a central opening in the dome, serves both as a source of natural light and a symbolic connection to the divine. 

Over the years, the Pantheon has served various purposes, transitioning from a pagan temple to a Christian church dedicated to St. Mary and the Martyrs in the 7th century. Its well-preserved state and architectural grandeur make the Pantheon a timeless symbol of Rome’s rich history and a must-visit destination for those seeking to connect with the ancient world.

You can enter the Pantheon for 5 euros, but you’ll want to be mindful about what time you go as there can be quite a line. It’s probably a good idea to go first thing in the morning, or wait until the evening when people are heading to dinner and less likely to still be the sights.

Spanish Steps

Completed in the 18th century, these 135 breathtaking steps, designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi, connect the Piazza di Spagna below with the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. 

Beyond being a monumental staircase, the Spanish Steps have evolved into a lively gathering spot and iconic photo opp, perfect for savoring the vibrant atmosphere of the Eternal City. Whether you find yourself basking in the sun on the steps, indulging in a gelato from one of the nearby vendors, or window shopping in the adjacent luxury boutiques, a visit to the Spanish Steps promises an unforgettable experience that captures the essence of Rome’s timeless allure.

Just note – you cannot eat on the steps! Doing so will result in a hefty fine, save your snacks and gelato savoring for when you’re in the piazza below.

1 Day in Rome Itinerary

While a day in Rome may seem too short, it’s entirely possible to capture the essence of this enchanting city by prioritizing key landmarks and experiences.  Embrace the history, savor the flavors, and let the eternal city leave a mark on your heart!

Morning:

Tour the Colosseum

First thing’s first, check the Colosseum off your list! Hit the ticket office first thing in the morning (as of writing, it opens at 9:00 AM), before the lines form, or be wise and plan ahead with pre-purchased skip-the-line tickets or by joining a guided tour (we love this one!)

You can spend an hour here, or several, depending on how long you explore this iconic landmark or if you do a longer tour, like the highly-rated guided Underground tour.

Explore the Roman Forum

As we mentioned above in the previous section, the Roman Forum is right next to the Colosseum. These incredible ruins are truly something to see and explore, you don’t want to miss it! Join a guided tour to understand all of the rich history behind the Forum, when it was the heartbeat of the city of Rome.

Visit the Pantheon

Next, make your way to the Pantheon, a marvel of ancient engineering and architecture. The dome of this well-preserved temple is a testament to Roman ingenuity. Take a moment to appreciate the oculus – a circular opening in the dome that allows sunlight to illuminate the interior.

Afternoon:

Have Lunch Near the Trevi

Before visiting the magnificent Trevi Fountain, grab lunch at one of the many nearby restaurants. There are loads to choose from in this area, and you really can’t go wrong! We had some of our favorite meals here in Rome, and particularly liked Il Chianti Osteria Toscana.

Throw a Coin in the Trevi Fountain

No visit to Rome is complete without tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain. Legend has it that doing so ensures a return to the eternal city, or that you’ll find love in Roma. Join the crowds, make your wish, and marvel at the Baroque masterpiece designed by Nicola Salvi. It truly is so beautiful in person – we went to see it 4 times during our 2 days there!

Stroll Through Piazza Navona

Wander over to Piazza Navona, a lively square surrounded by elegant Baroque buildings. Admire the stunning Fountain of the Four Rivers and soak in the vibrant atmosphere. Street performers, artists, and gelato vendors add to the charm of this picturesque square. There are also a few restaurants around perfect for grabbing an afternoon glass of wine or Aperol Spritz and people-watching!

Climb the Spanish Steps

Walk to the Spanish Steps and climb to the very top to the Trinità dei Monti church! Here you’ll have a beautiful view of the Piazza di Spagna below. You won’t want to miss this iconic spot in Rome, and be sure to snap a few pictures at the bottom!

Evening:

Grab Dinner in Trastevere

Head across the Tiber River to the charming neighborhood of Trastevere. This area is known for its narrow cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and a plethora of authentic Italian eateries. Enjoy a delicious dinner at a local restaurant, savoring traditional Roman dishes and of course, wine!

Stroll Through Roma + Get Gelato

With beauty around every corner, spend the rest of your free time in Rome by wandering through the cobblestone streets and admiring all of the architecture, monuments, and other stunning sights you see. Rome was specifically designed so there was always something beautiful at the end of each street, whether it’s a gorgeous building, an intricate fountain, or an ancient statue. 

And as you explore, you’ll likely find a few gelato shops along the way!

READ: 2 Days in Rome Itinerary

Rome Travel Tips

Rome is a very popular tourist destination, and as such, there are a few things to plan for so you can have as smooth of a trip as possible!

Plan Ahead and Prioritize

Rome is a city with a wealth of historical and cultural sites, so planning your itinerary in advance is crucial. Prioritize the must-see attractions based on your interests, and consider booking tickets in advance online to skip long lines (and to avoid not being able to get tickets at all – they do sell out!) Rome is absolutely somewhere that you’ll benefit from planning ahead and booking any tours or experiences you want to have well in advance.

Comfortable Shoes

Rome is a city best explored on foot, we can attest to that. We found beauty around every corner, and I feel like we would’ve missed so many charming streets and beautiful details had we not been walking everywhere.

Because Rome is a larger city and the landmarks/popular sights are pretty spaced out, you’ll likely cover a significant amount of ground. Because of this, ensure you wear comfortable footwear. This is also so important because you’ll be navigating cobbled streets and walking through historical sites, not to mention all of the uneven sidewalks! Stay comfy with all that walking by wearing cushy athletic shoes, or whatever else you’re comfortable doing all that walking in. Your feet will thank you!

Time Your Visits Wisely

To avoid the crowds and make the most of your time, plan your visits to popular attractions early in the morning or later in the afternoon. This is particularly true for landmarks like the Colosseum, Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel. You’ll not only experience shorter lines but also enjoy a more relaxed and immersive atmosphere. This is especially true during the high season, going during non-peak hours will be much less stressful! 

Public Transport and Walking

While walking is an excellent way to explore Rome (and our preferred way to explore the city), we realize that’s not going to work for everyone. The city also has a comprehensive public transport system, including buses and the metro. Purchase a Roma Pass for unlimited access to public transportation and discounted entry to museums and attractions. Walking, however, allows you to stumble upon charming alleyways and unexpected treasures, so strike a balance between the two modes of exploration.

READ: Should I Visit Paris or Rome?

Europe Travel, Italy

4 Days in Tuscany | 4 Day Tuscany Itineraries

Ah, Tuscany. Italy’s spectacular (and wildly popular) region, home to medieval towns and stunning vineyards. When visiting this beautiful country, Tuscany is a must-see spot on your list!

From the leaning tower of Pisa to the beautiful architecture in Florence, to the medieval city of Siena and the many stunning vineyards sprinkled throughout the Tuscany region, there’s something for everyone here. And it’s a trip you won’t soon forget.

In this post, we’ll be sharing with you our exact 4 day Tuscany itinerary, tips on where to stay, all of the must-see sights, and the best way to travel between cities. 

Let’s start planning your trip to Tuscany!

READ MORE: Should You Visit Rome or Paris?

Jump To:
How to Travel to & Around Tuscany
Tuscany 4 Day Itinerary: Day 1 – Florence
Tuscany 4 Day Itinerary: Day 2 – Siena
Tuscany 4 Day Itinerary: Day 3 – San Gimignano
Tuscany 4 Day Itinerary: Day 4 – Pisa

How to Travel to & Around Tuscany

Both Florence and Pisa have international airports that you can fly into. You’ll then be able to take a train, bus or car to the other cities on this list (or anywhere else you’d like to visit). If you’re used to not taking any public transportation like many of us Americans are, you’ll find that train and bus travel is very common here and if you’re not renting a car, you’re likely to need to take one of them at some point during your trip.

If you’re planning on exploring the small towns of Tuscany or want to spend time in the countryside, you’d likely be better off renting a car so you’re free to see everything you want to see with ease!

READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Rome, Italy

Tuscany 4 Day Itinerary: Day 1 – Florence

Florence (Firenze in Italian), is the most populated city in Tuscany and the capital of the region. This iconic Italian city is home to painting masterpieces, incredible Renaissance architecture, and even the famed “David” sculpture by Michelangelo. 

With lots of ground to cover, you may find this is your busiest stop on your trip in Tuscany, and you may even want to spend two days here instead of just one. With historical statues and monuments everywhere, It’s like walking through a giant open-air museum!

Start your day off at the Galleria dell’Accademia where you can see incredible works of art by Botticelli and Da Vinci, as well as the famous David sculpture. Lines can get long here, even though it’s a small museum, so grab skip-the-line tickets in advance to avoid wasting time on your day in Florence! If you’re a major art fan, you might want to grab this tour ticket to see both the Academia and the larger museum, Uffizi.

Walk the city’s main streets and side streets, soaking up all of the Tuscan atmosphere and architecture. Then take a stroll through Mercato Centrale to shop for authentic olive or truffle oil, local cheese, or hand-made sweets to ship home. 

Next up, you’ll want to go see the Piazza del Duomo, home of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. This is one of the most iconic spots in all of Italy! Enter the cathedral (you can enter for free) and marvel at the incredible architecture. Or grab a ticket to climb to the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower or Brunelleschi’s Dome for amazing views of the city. Get your tickets in advance, especially during high season – we recommend this one!

From the Piazza del Duomo, you can do a quick 3-minute walk to the Piazza della Repubblica. This piazza is the site of the former Roman Forum of Florence, and it was the city center during the Roman Empire. Snap a picture of the beautiful carousel in this square, then continue walking to the Fontana del Porcellino. 

Stick a coin in the mouth of this bronze pig fountain and make a wish as it drops into the grate, if it falls through, your wish is said to come true! Then, as legend has it, if you rub the pig’s nose, you’re guaranteed to return to Florence one day!

Next, we have another piazza! Piazza della Signoria is close by and is home to the Palazzo Vecchio, a beautiful open-air museum showcasing stunning statues, Neptune’s Fountain, and the Uffizi Gallery.

Stroll across the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, one of the most iconic sights of Florence. This pedestrian bridge offers beautiful views of the Arno River, but keep in mind that it can get a little crowded.

Finish the day by watching the sunset from Piazza Michelangelo, back where you started. This is one of the best viewpoints of all of Florence, and an amazing way to end your day in the city. 

Where to Stay in Florence:

Golden Tower Hotel & Spa, new boutique hotel in the heart of Florence, this luxury hotel is the perfect place to rest your head after a busy day out in Florence. Enjoy being walking distance to the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella at the Ambasciatori Hotel Florence. Guests love the historic and convenient location!

HOT TIP: See all of Florence’s top sights with the Florence City Pass! You can check it out here.

Tuscany 4 Day Itinerary: Day 2 – Siena

Centrally located in Tuscany, Siena is famous for its medieval brick buildings and surrounding 1,000-year old wall. As a UNESCO-listed history center, this beautiful city should definitely be at the top of your list when adventuring through Tuscany.

In the summer, they also hold the Palio di Siena, a legendary horse racing competition and one of Italy’s most popular sporting events. Even without the horse races, you can still enjoy seeing the central Piazza del Campo di Siena. This 13th-century square has an iconic shell shape that’s split into 9 downward sloping sections that meet in the center for water drainage. This unique slope also creates a beautiful view of Siena from any angle! 

Next, head to the Pubblico Palace and climb the 400 steps to the top of the Torre del Mangia for panoramic views of the city and its surrounding countryside. This building also houses the city’s civic museum and you can enjoy beautiful works of art here.

Walk to the Piazza del Duomo where you’ll find the Siena Cathedral (or Duomo di Siena). This stunning Roman Catholic Church was built all the way back in 1215 and is the perfect place to admire the city’s ancient architecture. 

When you’re done wandering the beautiful streets of Siena and exploring all of its stunning buildings and squares, go to the Porta Camollia (Camollia Gate) at the north end of the city. Siena is one of the few cities in the world still surrounded by a totally intact medieval wall, and it’s so grand it’s definitely worth seeing!

Next, check out Palazzo Salimbeni, the world’s oldest bank. This 15th century Gothic-style palace overlooks a square that was designed by architect Partini that wanted to create something medieval and renaissance-style for the space. With hundreds of lights filling the interior and square, it’s truly something special to see at night.

Where to Stay in Siena

Stay right near the famed Duomo di Siena at the Il Battistero Siena, with some rooms even having lovely city views.  Just a 5-minute walk from the Torre del Mangia and the Piazza del Campo, the Villa del Sole Siena is another guest-favorite with a great location.

READ MORE: Rome Bucket List + Self-Guided Walking Tour of Rome

Tuscany 4 Day Itinerary: Day 3 – San Gimignano

While a small town in Tuscany, this hilly Italian town just southwest of Florence has a lot to offer! Surrounded by 13th-century walls, this medieval town has a beautiful triangular square lined with ancient houses at its center, called the Piazza della Cisterna. Explore the old-world streets and take in the views of medieval towers – there are 14 of them – including the famous stone Torre Grossa, the tallest tower that still remains here. 

Known as Italy’s Medieval Manhattan, you can make your way through the city on foot or by vespa. From Torre Grossa in the Piazza delle Erbe, you can walk up the hill to La Rocca di Montestaffoli. This is the ruins of the 14th century fortress situated above the town. Here, you’ll find shady olive groves and beautiful views  of the rolling Tuscan hills. In the summer, there’s even an outdoor cinema here where you can watch movies!

Next, for wine lovers, you’ll want to learn about Tuscany’s best white wines at the Vernaccia di San Gimignano Wine Experience, the local wine museum. Or you can book a wine tour at one of the local wineries to have the full Tuscan wine experience!

READ MORE: 2 Days in Rome Itinerary

Where to Stay in San Gimignano

Set in a former monastery, Hotel La Collegiatais a stunning and unique property in the heart of Siena. You may also want to check out Hotel L’Antico Pozzo, a 17th-century convent situated on a narrow pedestrian street just a 4 minute walk from the city center, Piazza della Cisterna – a location that’s very popular with first-time visitors and seasoned travelers alike. 

Tuscany 4 Day Itinerary: Day 4 – Pisa

It might be an obviously touristy spot, but if you’re here, you have to go see the Leaning Tower of Pisa! This iconic tower built in 1372, was already leaning when it was completed. As a bonus, you can climb to the top for beautiful views over the rooftops of Pisa.

While you’re there, wander around the Piazza Dei Miracoli, which is the square where the Leaning Tower is.  

Here you’ll see beautiful architecture, the Pisa Cathedral and Camposanto Monumentale. All of the buildings are open to the public so you can check out the interiors as well. 

Explore the Camposanto, a massive cemetery built in 1277 next to the cathedral. It’s even said that the soil here came from Jesus’s place of crucifixion! Be sure to check out its stunning interior courtyard with regal columns and arches that feel like a step back in time.

Then, explore the charming cobbled streets of Pisa, do some shopping and walk along the River Arno. 

Don’t forget to enjoy all of the traditional Tuscan food to really soak up your experience in Pisa!

Where to Stay in Pisa

With it not being a huge city, most of the sights are concentrated in the Santa Maria area near the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This is where you’ll also find charming cobblestone streets, cute boutiques for shopping, and great restaurants.  If you want to explore on foot, or just be near the sights so you don’t have to take buses around, the Santa Maria area is an excellent choice. Check out The Rif luxury hotel for a relaxing, high-end experience or the Grand Hotel Duomo for stunning rooftop views and the AC Marriott Hotel Pisa for fantastic yet affordable accommodations.

READ MORE: 1 Day in Venice Itinerary

Europe Travel, Travel Hacks

Do You Have to Tip in Europe?

In the US, we’re accustomed to leaving a 20-25% percent tip when we’re out at restaurants and bars. In fact, tipping lower than the usual 20% can indicate poor service or offend your waiter.

However, in Europe, tipping culture is completely different. For most, tips are not expected in Europe, especially in more casual settings like bars and cafes. In most European countries, tipping is not the norm and a service fee is usually included already on the bill. Now, if you want to go above and beyond and leave a tip on top of this fee, by all means, go ahead! But know that it’s not expected.

Be sure to check the bill for a service charge or sitting fee, or words along the lines of “Service Included” to know whether or not a tip is already included. 

Is It Rude Not to Tip in Europe?

When dining in Europe, most restaurants and eateries will include a service charge or sitting fee in your bill. This means you don’t have to tip unless you really feel like you want to. If this service charge isn’t on the bill, you can leave a 5-10% tip without insulting your waiter as tipping is a bit more modest over in Europe. But before you shell out a tip, make sure you check the receipt for an extra charge or words like “Service Included” printed at the bottom.

Is It Ok to Tip in Europe With US Dollars?

It’s not like being in Mexico where they love to be tipped in USD! When you’re in Europe, you should tip with the local currency. If you want to provide a tip, withdraw local currency at an ATM so your waiter isn’t left trying to exchange your dollars for something more usable in their country.

Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

2 Days in Rome Itinerary

Planning a 2-day trip to Rome? You’re in for such an amazing experience! Of all the places we’ve been, the Eternal City is my absolute favorite and I usually can’t shut up about it!

Get ready to toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain and soak up all of the ancient vibes when exploring the beautiful city of Rome. From the Colosseum’s grandeur to the cozy corners of Trastevere, this city is a time capsule that’ll make your heart race and your taste buds do the happy dance. 

So, lace up those comfy walking shoes, read our Ultimate Guide to Rome and let’s roam around Rome together. 

You May Also Like: 15 Must-See Spots in Rome For First-Time Visitors

Things to Know Before You Go

If you’ve never been to Italy before, there’s a few norms and things to know before you go. None of them are a super big deal, but as someone that really likes to plan and prepare, I would have liked to know before being there!

At Most Places, You Don’t Tip

Something that is more common in Europe than the US (I don’t think I’ve ever seen it here, or ever will!), is the fact that most places you get a meal or a drink already includes the tip in their prices or charges a separate service charge/sitting fee. So make sure you check your receipt for a service fee or some language like “Service Included” to make sure you don’t double tip (unless you feel compelled to).

They Take Credit Card (And Ring You Up At Your Table)

When preparing for our trip, I made sure we had several credit cards that didn’t have international transaction fees so we could use them abroad. But I was still worried we’d need to use Euros a lot of the time. This absolutely wasn’t the case in Rome, everywhere we went took credit cards! The only exception was when we went to a smaller, less popular place and their card reader wasn’t working so we did have to use cash in that instance.

Additionally, unlike in the US, they ring you up right at your table. They bring the bill, ask if it looks alright, and instead of whisking your credit card away, they actually bring their little card readers to the table and check you out right there. It’s very efficient and I have to say, I liked keeping eyes on my card – you never know!

Italians Don’t Really Do Breakfast

As a big breakfast guy, this detail was not my husband’s favorite thing to learn while we were abroad. In Italy, they seem to only have a coffee or espresso, and a pastry in the morning before tackling their day. That being said there were a couple of breakfast places we did find sprinkled throughout Rome (you’ll see it written outside as “Colazione,” which is Italian for breakfast) that had more American breakfast options like eggs and omelettes, sausage and bacon, etc. 

They were few and far between, but after spending a few days in Venice where there was absolutely no option besides the coffee/pastry combo, it was nice to see that they had this option! 

Always Buy Tickets in Advance

I’ll say it again – always buy tickets in advance! I cannot stress this enough. Rome is a very, very busy city. They get almost 10 million tourists each year.

Even going in November, which is supposedly “low season,” the city was still jam-packed with tourists. Thinking it wouldn’t be so busy and because of my husband’s work schedule (we weren’t sure if we’d have to last-minute cancel our trip), I didn’t book tickets in advance to see the Vatican. Two weeks out, when we got the for-sure, green-light to go, I went to buy tickets online and they were sold out!

I was super bummed, and when we walked around Vatican City, I could see exactly why I had had trouble… there was a line to get in about 400 people long! I’ve never seen a line so long before. But that’s Roma for you!

While you can get around this hurdle with some creativity, like booking a guided tour that includes tickets/entry, you’ll still need to expect to pay a bit more for it and expect that tours may be filled up if you wait too long like I did.

The Perfect 2-Days in Rome Itinerary

While some will argue you should spend more time in Rome than two days (and you absolutely could), I think two days is great if you want to see all of the big sites and still feel immersed in the Eternal City, without getting to the point where things kind of start looking the same.

When we visited Rome, we spent 2 full days exploring the city (and a couple of hours that first night we got in), and it felt like perfect amount of time! Could we have spent a third day exploring every nook and cranny, or taking another tour? Absolutely. But for us, I really enjoyed the 2 full days and exploring it on foot made us feel like we really soaked up every second of it! Check out our self-guided walking tour we did here.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Day 1 in Rome:

Explore some of Rome’s most famous sites, like the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. Before strolling through Vatican City and experiencing all this Roman Catholic hub has to offer.

Trevi Fountain

Visit the amazing Trevi Fountain first thing, before the crowds so you can take a few minutes to just sit on a bench and soak it all in. As one of the most famous fountains in the world, and my personal favorite sight in Rome, it’s truly a stop on your list you don’t want to miss – it’s just magical!

Admire the beauty and intricacy of the fountain, snap a few pictures, and of course, toss a coin over your shoulder into the water while you’re there. Legend has it, if you ever hope to return to Roma, you need to toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain. It’s also a wish to find love in the Eternal City!

Pantheon

While you’re by the Trevi Fountain, visit the Pantheon. This ancient building is so stunning, with quintessential Roman architecture and columns that seem too big to be real! As the oldest building still in use, in the entire world, the Pantheon is a really unique experience.

Take a guided tour or enter on your own (it’s only about 5 Euros), to see the world-famous Pantheon dome, and incredible architecture that takes you back in time.

Skip the line (which can be super long, depending on what time of year you go) and get a guided tour so you better understand all that you’re seeing at the beautiful Pantheon! We recommend this tour.

Piazza Navona

As one of Rome’s most bustling squares, there’s always something to see at the Piazza Navona. Here, you can take a moment to enjoy the street artists and musicians, admire the three intricate fountains that fill this square, or just grab a spot at one of the cafes and restaurants that line the square for a drink and some A+ people watching!

Spanish Steps

Climb the Spanish Steps for a fabulous view of Rome and don’t forget to snap a picture on the way up! This iconic Roman landmark is truly special – there’s a reason it’s graced the covers of magazines and postcards for years. If you visit in the spring, you’ll even get to see it covered in colorful flowers!

Piazza del Popolo

Often overlooked by many tourists and itineraries, this large urban square is worth a visit in our opinion – we went to see it again at night after stumbling across it in the daytime!

The Piazza del Popolo, named the “People’s Square,” lies just inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, which was previously a point of entry into the city. The huge doors that guard this square, within the Aurelian Walls, are so massive and ancient, they were so cool to see! It was like a little piece of history that blew us away and was ignored by everyone else walking by.

In the square, you’ll also find a beautiful fountain and have beautiful views of the twin churches built on the edge of the square. With unique architecture and dome-design, they make for a pretty backdrop in photos and are really neat to take a moment and enjoy!

Castel Sant’Angelo

Moving in the direction of Vatican City, our next stop is Castel Sant’Angelo. Originally commissioned by Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family, this fortress has transformed into a multifaceted monument, serving as a papal residence, prison, and now a museum, along the banks of the Tiber River.

Explore the interior and dungeons, or admire it outside from the Ponte Sant’Angelo bridge that connects Castel Sant’Angelo to the rest of Rome.

Saint Peter’s Square & Basilica, Vatican City

In the heart of Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica stands as a beacon of religious and architectural splendor. This magnificent Renaissance church, designed by Michelangelo, Bramante, and Bernini, is a testament to the grandeur of Vatican City and is a must-see for anyone visiting Rome.

The sheer scale of St. Peter’s Square, framed by a colonnade, large fountains, and cobblestone roads feels so magnificent, you can’t help but be in awe! It’s free to enter the cathedral, but once inside, we recommend grabbing a ticket to climb to the top of the dome. From there, you’ll be met with panoramic views of Vatican City and Rome!

Experience all Vatican City has to offer with a guided tour, we love this one!

Dinner & Gelato

Wrap up your day with a delicious Italian meal at one of Rome’s many delicious restaurants. We really enjoyed Il Chianti – Osteria Toscana near the Trevi Fountain. The prices were fair, the ambience spot on, and my Spaghetti Carbonara was to die for!

Then grab some gelato at one of the many nearby gelato shops and go admire the Trevi Fountain lit up at night. We sat there, devouring our gelato and just enjoying the fountain for awhile and it was a really nice way to end the day!

Day 2 in Rome:

Today, we’ll venture to see Rome’s most visited tourist sight, the Colosseum and surrounding ancient wonders.

The Colosseum

As Rome’s most popular tourist destination, the Colosseum is a must-see spot on your trip to the Eternal City! And one you should try to see first thing in the morning (or later at night) to avoid massive lines.

Whether you plan on just admiring this ancient arena from the outside, or you’re going to take a tour of the interior, arena floor or underground, don’t skip out on this iconic landmark.

While there are loads of places to take pictures from all around the Colosseum, we liked taking them from up the hill across from Oppio Caffè. There were a lot less people (at least when we went) and sitting on the wall made for a cute picture! There’s also a garden right next door to the cafe with beautiful views, called the Giardinetto del Monte Oppio.

Tour this legendary, 2000-year old landmark with a guided tour that shows you the secret underground (accessible only by guided tour) and allows you to step onto the arena floor and see how it felt for gladiators to stand out in front of the crowd before battling! We recommend this tour to see all of the awesomeness the Colosseum has to offer.

Or check out this night tour for a one-of-a-kind experience of the Colosseum, and to avoid some of the crowds.

Palatine Hill

Perched above the hustle and bustle of Rome, Palatine Hill is a wonderful, ancient spot to visit while being in the Roman Forum/Colosseum area of Rome. The panoramic views of the Colosseum on one side and the Roman Forum on the other create a jaw-dropping backdrop for your exploration. 

Wander through the remnants of imperial palaces, where emperors once strolled amid opulent gardens, and let the whispers of history transport you. As you trace the footsteps of emperors, you’ll feel the echoes of a bygone era, and the city below takes on a new perspective. 

Roman Forum

Located right next to the Colosseum, and included in most Colosseum tickets and tours, you’ll find the Roman Forum. This ancient site was at the heart of the Roman Empire and is pretty mind-blowing to see.

Explore the ruins on your own, or with a guided tour. We definitely recommend a guided tour so you can get the most out of your visit and provide the most in-depth background on what you’re seeing!

Once you’re done exploring the Forum, head up the hill to Terrazza sul Foro. This is a great place to take some stunning pictures, or just enjoy the ruins from above. While you’re up that way, walk through Campidoglio, the hilltop square designed by Michelangelo.

Capitoline Museums

As the world’s oldest national museum, the Capitoline Museums are worth a visit if your interest is piqued by medieval and renaissance art. Here, you’ll also find famous sculptures and archaeological treasures, spread out over three buildings.

Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

This famous basilica is a great ending point for the day. The Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of Rome’s seven pilgrim churches and is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the virgin Mary. It’s also still used on various occasions by the Pope today.

Enter the cathedral for free, and explore a stunning blend of baroque and renaissance architecture and colorful mosaics. 

Evening Food & Wine Tour of Trastevere

Explore one of Rome’s most popular neighborhoods with a food and wine tour that shows you the best (and most delicious options) in Trastevere. Once a hidden gem in Rome and more of a local scene, Trastevere has become increasingly popular with tourists for its unique Roman cuisine and culture. 

You May Also Like: The Ultimate Guide to Rome

Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

1 Day in Venice Itinerary

We get it, time is precious, and even though Venice has a lot to see, you can definitely squeeze most of it into a one day visit. On this one day adventure, you’ll get to soak in all the vibes, sights, and gelato goodness. So if you’re ready to start navigating those canals in the enchanting Floating City, let’s dive in!

Morning:

Visit St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)

Start your day off early with a stroll through St. Mark’s Square. Admire the beautiful architecture of St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace, and snap a few pictures before the crowds arrive. If you’re in need of a little caffeinated pick me up, check out Caffè Florian – it’s the oldest coffee house in Italy that’s been in continuous use, and one of the oldest in the world.

While it might be a little pricy, we know you’ll enjoy a hot cup of coffee here like we did (or try their famous hot cocoa), especially if it’s a cool morning.

Take a Tour of Doge’s Palace (and St. Mark’s Basilica if you’re feeling ambitious)

Dive into the rich history of this iconic palace, known for its stunning gothic architecture and historical significance. Originally built in 1340 and expanded over the following centuries, this legendary palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice – their leader and highest official at the time. Grab skip-the-line tickets here for an unforgettable tour!

Lunch:

Head to a local bacaro for a quintessential Venetian lunch. Try cicchetti (Venetian tapas) and pair them with a refreshing spritz. Enjoy the relaxed ambiance of these traditional wine bars.

Afternoon:

Wander Along the Lagoon

Take in the views of the lagoon as you explore the waterfront market in Venice. Once you leave St. Mark’s Square, just head towards the water, and you’ll see street vendors and unique shopping finds in both directions!

Get Lost in Venice

With countless charming stone alleyways, beautiful buildings, and picturesque canals sprinkled throughout the city, take some time to wander and explore Venice without a roadmap.

Grab Some Gelato

While there are quite a few places to grab gelato in Venice, we loved Grom in Dorsoduro. Not only was this neighborhood super cool to walk through and explore, but the gelato was the very best we had in Venice!

Watch the Sunset From the Rialto Bridge

Watch the Grand Canal be painted in orange, pink, and red as the sun sets over Venice. This iconic bridge is beautiful on its own, but seeing it and its view of the canal and palazzos on either side at sunset is a truly special experience!

Evening:

Gondola Ride

As the sun sets, treat yourself to a classic gondola ride to see Venice from a whole new perspective. Glide through the canals, passing under romantic bridges and enjoying the magical ambiance of Venice all lit up at night.

Canalside Dinner

Opt for dinner at a canalside restaurant for delicious food and a view that’s uniquely Venice. Indulge in authentic Venetian cuisine while enjoying the serene views of the water.

Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

9 Mistakes Tourists Always Make Their First Time in Venice

When visiting this beautiful Italian city, there are a few things you’ll want to know ahead of time and a few things you’ll definitely want to avoid. While some are actual law, others are just plain old no-no’s that’ll leave locals shaking their heads.

Don’t find yourself in a frustrating (or embarrassing situation), and just read our 9 mistakes tourists almost always make their first time in Venice so you can be prepared and feel confident for your trip to this stunning city!

1. Feeding the Pigeons

First and foremost, it’s actually against the law in Venice. And secondly, they’re gross and are everywhere in Venice. I am particularly biased in my negative feelings towards pigeons in Venice, as one pooped right on my head while we were there!

Imagine, on the day you decide to actually do your hair, dress a little nicer, and do your makeup so you can take some nice pictures with your husband… and 5 minutes after walking out the door, getting splat right on your head by one of these sky vermin! Not my favorite experience.

Do yourself, and everyone in Venice a favor, and don’t feed the pigeons.

2. Not Validating Train & Bus Tickets

This tip is on our Rome Mistakes list too because it’s so important – and something that can feel really foreign to us Americans that don’t have much experience with public transportation. When you’re taking the bus or a train, you will need to validate your ticket before getting on board. 

At the station, there will be a little machine that you have to put your ticket in that punches a hole or clips a corner of your ticket, from there you can get on board. Not validating your ticket can result in a big fine!

3. Putting Your Feet (Or Any Other Part Of You) in the Water

While it may look so refreshing to dip your toes in the lagoon on a hot summer day in Venice, it’s probably not the best idea. Locals warn the water isn’t clean and it’s full of germs, so it’s best to stay away from putting any part of your body in the water.

There might not be a rule against dipping your toes in a canal, but Venice police did recently fine two tourists hundreds of euros each for swimming in the canals. 

On those blazing hot days, you might just want to find some shade instead!

4. Not Packing an Umbrella or Raincoat in Fall or Winter

When we visited Venice at the very end of October, it was pretty cold and windy with frequent rain showers throughout the day. We were really glad to have our rain coats as there were not many places to hide when those downpours hit!

Also keep in mind that Venice floods in certain parts of the city several times per year so keep in mind if you’re close to the lagoon or in a low area that you may have seek higher ground and wear water booties at some point if you’re visiting during the rainy months.

5. Visiting St. Mark’s Square Midday

This is the busiest part of the day to visit St. Mark’s square. If you’re a little claustrophobic, or just want a decent picture, we recommend visiting early int he morning or later in the day. Even at the end of October (during low season), it was still super, super busy in the middle of the day.

6. Eating Food in St. Mark’s Square

This might be one rule you aren’t familiar with – and it can cost you! Eating in St. Mark’s Square and on the Rialto Bridge is banned, and it can result in a big fine. You also can’t even sit in St. Mark’s Square unless it’s in a designated area, or at one of the cafes or restaurants located there.

7. Riding or Pushing a Bicycle in the City

Unless you’re a city resident or under the age of eight, you’re not allowed to use bicycles in the city – even if you’re pushing it by hand. While there’s an expensive fine, we’d imagine all of the bridges and narrow passageways would deter you as well!

While this isn’t a huge deal for most people, there are bicycle rentals and tours in virtually every other Europe hot spot that allow visitors to more easily traverse the city and see the sights. Don’t expect to be able to do it here – you’ll need to be on foot or on a boat.

8. Not Securing Your Valuables

While Venice felt the safest of any other city we’ve visited in Europe, it’s still always smart to make sure your valuables are secured both in your hotel room and on your body. Take advantage of the safe in your room for passports and electronics, and use a slash-proof purse like this one for your explorations around the city! 

I absolutely loved this bag, I used it in Venice and everywhere else we went. It fit my collapsible selfie stick/tripod, a small water bottle, my wallet, and phone with ease. And I was able to clip the zippers together to make it harder (and a much less exciting target) for pickpocketers.

9. Not Staying Near the Train and Bus Stations

If you don’t pack light (I never have and I never will!), staying near the bus or train station is your friend. There are no roads and no cars in Venice, and this can present some issues if you’ve got heavy luggage you’re wheeling around.

The first night we arrived, we didn’t know we could take a water taxi (and honestly, where we were staying, it wouldn’t have saved us that much headache) and my poor husband lugged our two giant suitcases up and down the bridges of Venice (including that super enormous one right when you enter). That poor man was drenched with sweat by the time we got to our Airbnb over by the Museo de la historia natural!

Pack light or pick your accommodations strategically!

Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

10 Best Things to Do in Venice For First-Time Visitors

Picturesque canals, winding stone pathways, and stunning, gothic architecture… it’s easy to see why Venice is such a romantic and beautiful destination to visit in Italy!

Known as the “Floating City,” Venice is one destination that should be on your bucket list! Built on a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, Venice is a beautiful island city, lined with Renaissance and Gothic buildings that feels straight out of a storybook.

After visiting Venice for the first time this year, I can tell you it lives up to the hype and we enjoyed every minute here! So if you’re planning a day trip or a full multi-day adventure here, there are 10 things you’re going to want to do if you’re a first-time Venice visitor.

1. Walk Over the Rialto Bridge

Whether you’re looking to watch the sunset or just snap the perfect picture, a walk over Venice’s most famous bridge is essential while you’re visiting the city. Seeing the city from the top of this huge bridge and the bustling boat activity below was so cool and definitely one of our favorite views of Venice!

2. Wander Through St. Mark’s Square

There is one large square on the island of Venice, and it’s a stunning place to soak in quintessential Venetian architecture and culture. St. Mark’s Square, features Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica, Campanile and many cafes.

3. Tour Doge’s Palace

While it’s fun to admire Doge’s Palace from outside in the square (and of course, snap a few pictures), we recommend taking a tour of this historic palace to get an inside look into ancient Venice life! 

Definitely book your tour in advance to avoid crazy long lines. We recommend this fast-track ticket or bundle it with St. Mark’s basilica and see them both – after all, they’re right next to each other! We recommend this skip-the-line guided tour ticket to see both beautiful sites.

4. Visit St. Mark’s Basilica

Known for its intricate mosaics and impressive Renaissance architecture, a visit inside St. Mark’s Basilica can’t be missed. Originally founded in 828 AD, the basilica was built to house the relics of the patron saint Mark that were brought, or reportedly stolen, from Alexandria. 

Check out this guided tour of St. Mark’s Basilica with access to the terrace overlooking the square!

5. Visit Caffé Florian

At St. Mark’s Square, you’ll find the oldest coffee house in continuous operation in Italy, and one of the oldest in the world: Caffé Florian. Established in 1720, this coffee house is one adorable stop you have to make while in Venice! Enjoy a hot cup of coffee or its famous hot chocolate while you’re exploring the city. While it’s a little pricey, we definitely enjoyed grabbing a coffee here – especially visiting in the chilly month of October!

6. View the Bridge of Sighs

Right by St. Mark’s Square is one of Venice’s most iconic bridges (behind the Rialto bridge of course!), the Bridge of Sighs. To see this bridge, leave the square and head in the direction of the sea. Then take a left along the waterfront and climb the small bridge, and look left. Here you’ll find a view of the Bridge of Sighs.

This bridge, built in 1600, was used connects the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace to the New Prison, crossing over the Rio di Palazzo.  The name “Bridge of Sighs” was coined in the 19th century by Lord Byron in reference to the idea that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice, and their freedom, before being taken to their cells. 

7. Climb the Campanile di San Marco

Enjoy panoramic views of Venice by climbing the Campanile (bell tower) in St. Mark’s Square. The only way up to the top of the 100-meter tall tower is an elevator, and you can buy tickets right at the counter there. 

8. Take a Gondola Ride

A gondola ride in Venice is truly a once in a lifetime experience, and often at the top of most people’s bucket lists when visiting the city. Seeing the city from such a unique vantage point and enjoying the leisurely ride is an absolute must when visiting Rome, especially if you’re with you’re significant other – it looks so romantic!

When we visited Venice at the end of October it was rainy, windy and freezing, so we did not do a gondola ride, and it was so disappointing. Do yourself a favor and soak up the once-in-a-lifetime experience while you’re there! 

9. Eat Tons of Gelato

When it comes to gelato, any flavor is good and if you’re like me, you won’t be able to get enough! I have a serious sweet tooth, so I made it my personal mission to find the best gelato spot in all of Venice: Grom tucked away in the Dorsoduro neighborhood of Venice.


Not only did we have an amazing time wandering through this picturesque, and considerably less busy, area of Venice, but the gelato did not disappoint – even in the chilly October weather!

10. Plan a Day Trip to Burano & Murano

If you’re only visiting Venice for the day, you may not have time for #10 on this list. But a day trip to Murano & Burano by boat is an amazing option for those visiting Venice for multiple days.

Usually coupled together for a boat trip, these are two of the lagoon’s most popular islands and unique experiences. Burano is known for it’s picturesque colorful houses found all over the island. And Murano, is famous for its glass making – you can even see glassmakers at work while you’re visiting the island!

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page, Italy, Travel Hacks, Uncategorized

The Ultimate Rome Travel Guide: Rome Bucket List

From religious marvels like the Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, to iconic sights like the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum, Rome is one travel destination that has something for everyone. In addition to incredible landmarks and architecture, you’ll also fall in love with Roma’s cuisine and food-scene.

As one of Europe’s hottest tourism destinations, Rome doesn’t disappoint. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this beautiful city, as well as our recommendations on where to stay, eat, and see the sights – especially our favorite (secret) spot to see all the Roman Forum has to offer without paying for tickets!

Jump To:
What You Need to Know Before Visiting Rome
How Do You Get Around Rome? | Rome Transportation
What’s the Best Route For a Walking Tour of Rome?
What Are the Best Things to Do in Rome?
What Are the Top Tourist Sights in Rome?
What Tourist Mistakes Should You Avoid in Rome?
What Free Activities Are in Rome?
Are There Christmas Markets in Rome?
What Are the Most Important Rome Travel Tips to Know?
Where to Stay in Rome
Travel Essentials for Rome

While Rome is so stunning, you can easily find something exciting around every corner, it’s a large, tourist-filled city that is easier to see with a little planning! That’s why we’re writing the Ultimate Rome Travel Guide, to make your amazing Rome adventure just a little smoother and make sure you don’t miss out on any of the sights. 

Rather than cram all of this information into one post (and there’s a lot!), we’ve divided it into several posts covering different aspects of the city in-depth and compiled into this guide for easy reading. From food and photo spots, to tourist mistakes, this guide will cover everything you need to know about beautiful Roma! 

What You Need to Know Before Visiting Rome

When visiting Rome, you will typically arrive by train, bus or plane. There are many bus stations and several train stops throughout the city so you can find the one that is best suited for where you are staying. Rome also has two airports, which is surprising for a city of this geographical size, both a 30-40 minute drive depending on where your hotel/rental is. The most popular airport being the Rome Fiumicino International Airport, which you will likely be using if you plan to jump to another country from Rome.

Currency:

Like most of Europe, Rome uses the Euro. Credit cards are very widely accepted (we only had one instance where we had to use cash because their credit card reader wasn’t working). There are plenty of ATM’s throughout the city and it’s wise to have some euros handy, should your card not be accepted or there’s an issue on their part, as was our case. As a rule of thumb, we always had at least 50 euros on us in case we had a meal and there was an issue taking our card.

Climate:

Rome has a Mediterranean climate, meaning it has mild, rainy winters, and very hot, sunny summers. If you’re visiting in the summer, make sure your hotel or rental has air conditioning! We visited at the very beginning of November and it was still somewhat warm on sunny days, as well as many rain showers that moved out as quickly as they moved in.

If you’re visiting in the fall or winter, we recommend packing a rain coat or umbrella – it will not be uncommon for you to see the majority of people walking around with umbrellas for these somewhat-spontaneous rain showers the city gets periodically drenched in, in the fall months.

Languages:

Italian and English. Rome is an international city that is very accustomed to interacting with tourists from all over the world. Everywhere we went, we had no trouble speaking English and it being well-understood.

The only time it seemed to be slightly difficult to communicate was with our Airbnb hosts as they spoke some English but not as well as other places we frequented in the city like restaurants, transportation hubs, and tourist sights.

How Do You Get Around Rome? | Rome Transportation

No matter where you are in Rome, or where you want to go, there’s a bus for that. While we chose to walk everywhere (one day walking over 12 miles!), we saw many people riding the buses throughout the city.

The bus lines run everywhere you would need to go and can really save your feet from the walking. It’s not a very large city when considering the major tourist attraction locations, but it is congested, and you can expect it to take at least 20 minutes to get completely across it by bus. 

Another option for those who don’t walk to walk everywhere is the metro subway system. This underground subway is currently the smallest metro system in Europe, and we really didn’t see people taking it much. However, it is an option if you wanted to get from Prati all the way to the Colosseum in just a few minutes!

Lastly, you can take Ubers, private shuttles and taxis very easily in Rome. However, this is the most expensive option on the list! The bus system and metro system are much more economical, but I will say it was very nice just taking a taxi to the airport when it was time for our trip to end.

Direct and smooth, with no stops was our preferred way to stay on time for a flight! That being said, you could have easily taken a bus for the 40-minute ride to the airport.

What’s the Best Route For a Walking Tour of Rome?

Read: Rome Bucket List: A Self Guided Walking Tour of Rome

As I mentioned above, we exclusively walked in Rome. It was by far our favorite city to walk around because there was a beautiful fountain, sculpture, monument, or otherwise stunning building facade around every corner! We had never seen so much beauty and I feel like we would have missed a lot of the little sights if we were taking public transportation.

The best way to see Rome is by walking, at least as much as you can. It is mostly flat with some gentle hills sprinkled throughout, so it is not a strenuous walk at all. While you can join a paid walking tour, we recommend you follow our tour or create your own. Not joining a group is a great way to experience the city at your own pace, and allows you to stop into a shop or cafe along the way if you see something that grabs your attention! We loved touring the city on foot and then popping into a restaurant for lunch or just a mid-day Aperol Spritz!

See Rome at your own pace and don’t miss any of the best sights (and lesser known spots) by following our self-guided walking tour of Rome here!

What Are the Best Things to Do in Rome?

Read: 11 Best Things to Do in Rome (For First-Time Visitors)

There’s so much to do and see in Rome, it can feel overwhelming trying to make sure you don’t miss a thing! From shopping (local vendors and designer) to taking in the sights, to exploring the food scene, there are so many options. Read our top 11 things to do in Rome for first-time visitors here so you can make sure you enjoy all this beautiful city has to offer!

What Are the Top Tourist Sights in Rome?

Read: 15 Can’t-Miss Tourist Sights in Rome

Rome has many iconic tourist sights, and some stunning, but lesser known ones that are still very much worth a visit. To name a few, in Rome you have:

  • Vatican City
  • The Colosseum
  • Trevi Fountain
  • The Pantheon
  • Spanish Steps

Read our post the 15 Can’t-Miss Tourist Sights in Rome for more!

What Tourist Mistakes Should You Avoid in Rome?

Read: 10 Rome Tourist Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs

When you’re visiting Rome for the first time, there are definitely a few mistakes to avoid. There are many tourist traps in this city, as well as the very real threat of pickpocketing in crowded public areas (I felt someone try to grab my bag in a crowd in Rome). Be mindful and prepared for the city by reading our post on 10 Rome Tourist Mistakes and things to know before traveling!

What Free Activities Are in Rome?

Read: 21 Free Things to Do In Rome

Rome is such a beautiful, walkable city, and offers so much culture and experience just by walking around, looking at the sights! While you’ll have to pay for tickets if you’d like to go into any of the sights, viewing them from outside is completely free. There are also opportunities for free entrance to some of the museums and sights on certain days of the month, and we break that down in our post: 21 Free Things to Do In Rome

You can absolutely enjoy and experience Rome without breaking the bank!

Are There Christmas Markets in Rome?

Like many cities across Europe, Rome does have Christmas markets. The most popular Rome Christmas market is at Piazza Navona from December 1 until January 6 in 2023. This market was not held in years prior because of the pandemic, so it’s very exciting that it will be back in full swing this year!  You can expect lots of stands selling Christmas ornaments and trinkets, delicious food stands, and even a carousel in the Piazza Navona.

What Are the Most Important Rome Travel Tips to Know?

Read: 20 Essential Tips For Your First Visit to Rome

If you’re a first-time visitor to Rome, there are a few things to know to make sure your trip is as smooth sailing and enjoyable as possible! Prepare for your first trip to the Eternal City with the 20 essential tips we outlined in this post.

Where to Stay in Rome

If you’re looking to be in the heart of Rome and walk most places, we can’t recommend enough staying near the Trevi Fountain or Pantheon. This is the best, most central location that allows you to walk everywhere or easily access public transportation. There’s also loads of amazing restaurants (our favorite here was Il Chianti Vineria), cafes, and shopping here, so you have everything you could need!

Photo courtesy of Booking.com

U-Visionary Roma Hotel

4-star hotel offering room service, a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage for guests and free WiFi. This hotel also boasts air-conditioned rooms with a closet, a coffee machine, a minibar, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. Some rooms even have city views, and the hotel receives a rating of 9.1 out of 10 on Booking.com!

Photo courtesy of Booking.com

I Tre Moschettieri – D’Artagnan

An elegant building near the Trevi Fountain, offering free Wi-Fi and large, modern rooms with parquet floors, private bathrooms, and air conditioning. In the lobby, you’ll find it uniquely decorated with antiques!

Photo courtesy of Booking.com

Casa Fabbrini Fancy Suites

With air-conditioned rooms in the Spagna district of Rome, this hotel is just a 2-minute walk from the Spanish Steps. Rated 9.1 by guests on Booking.com, this hotel features private bathrooms, beautiful interior design, and an A+ location.

Travel Essentials for Rome

Cell Phone Power Bank

This is a must-have for any trip abroad, and one that we should have had on our trip to Rome! Using maps and apps on our phones all day severely drained the batteries, and we almost ran out of juice trying to find our way back to our Airbnb apartment! We had no idea where we were and we were running through the city trying to get back before our phones completely died! Don’t be like us, pack a power bank for your phone that you can easily tote around the city. We will never make that mistake again!

Pocket WiFi Device

Say goodbye to crazy roaming charges with a portable WiFi device! Stay in touch with loved ones, look up history or information on the fly, and easily share your pictures and travel adventures on social media. It’s also super handy if you need to do any blogging or work while you’re abroad, you don’t want to have to rely on public Wifi.

Slash-Proof Purse

As a woman traveling, I needed to carry a few things – including my collapsible selfie-stick (see next)! With pickpockets and thieves throughout Rome and the rest of your European travel hot-spots, you want to be very careful with the bag you choose to travel with. I chose a slash-proof purse that had zippers that clipped to the bag, making it more secure and less-likely to be pickpocketed.

When in Rome, I felt someone in a crowd grab at my bag, and was very thankful I had the zippers clipped so no one could quickly grab my wallet or other belongings inside. This is the bag I used and it was the perfect size to carry everything I needed – even a small water bottle! I’ll be taking it on all of my future travels.

Collapsible Selfie-Stick/Tri-Pod

We used this selfie-stick everywhere we went on our travels. You can make it as long or as short as you want, it has a remote that attaches to the base of the stick or you can pull off to make snapping pictures a breeze, and it also is able to be set up as a tripod if you want some further away shots!

Say goodbye to asking strangers to take your picture, you can easily do it on your own with this set-up. And it collapses nice and small so it can fit in your bag!

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page, Italy, Travel Hacks

20 Essential Tips For Your First Visit to Rome

Are you planning a trip to Italy and looking for travel tips for Rome? In this post, we’ll talk about 20 essential tips for your first Rome visit so you can have a more enjoyable trip and soak up your time there! 

After our visit to the Eternal City for the first time, there were definitely a few things I would have loved to know ahead of time to really maximize my time there, and make it as smooth sailing as possible. From where and when to go, where to stay and what to wear, find out all you need to know when planning your trip to Rome!

You May Also Like: 11 Best Things to Do in Rome For Your First Visit

1. Pack a cell phone power bank

This is one travel tip we almost learned the hard way in Rome! After spending an obscene amount of time packing, I still managed to forget to bring our cell phone power bank and it was something we wished we’d had every step or our trip. After exploring the city all day, using our phones for maps, pictures and videos, both my husband and I found our phone batteries extremely low. After hightailing it back to our Airbnb to charge them, we arrived with one phone dead, the other at 1% and so much relief that we weren’t almost in a terrible situation! We would have had no idea how to get back to our rental, even the address of it was – you guessed it – only on our phones. 

Avoid a stressful situation like that one and make sure to bring along a cell phone power bank! We like this one

2. Book Tickets in Advance

Even when we visited in November, tourist attractions were busy and had long lines. We wanted to go into the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, but were unable to get tickets after waiting too long to book. When we arrived and walked around Vatican City, we saw why – there was a line probably 500 people long waiting to get inside!

Pro Tip: If the tickets you want are sold out, you can often still visit the place by joining a guided tour. Most tour companies have access to additional tickets or pre-book tickets for their tours.  While a more expensive option, this is a great way to see the sights if you miss out on tickets, or if you just prefer a more guided experience. 

3. Get “Skip the Line” tickets

To piggyback off our last tip, booking your tickets in advance, we recommend you get “skip the line” tickets. While it may hurt a little to spend the extra money upfront, we promise you’ll be so glad you did when you arrive and see the massive entry lines to get inside! If you only have a few days in Rome, you want to give yourself as much time as possible to see all the city has to offer, and you can’t do that if you’re standing in line half the day!

Another way to avoid lines is with guided tours. Many offer a “skip the line” experience and often even enter through a different entrance than the main line. It can feel “touristy” and cost you a few extra euros, but it can really help you maximize your time and give you a deeper understanding of everything you’re seeing.

4. Get the Keys to the City: A Rome Tourist Card

Make seeing all of the tourist attractions easier with timed entrances to Rome’s most iconic attractions, using the Rome Tourist Card.

This digital card is simple to use and pretty much gives you the keys to the city! Once you purchase it online, you get a digital pass sent straight to your phone. You can then choose the date of activation and the individual tickets and time slots for each activity. There’s no time limit on the card once it’s activated, so you can spread out your time slots as much or as little as you need.

The card also helps you to skip the lines at each attraction and head right inside where a guide will meet you at the specified meeting points. You can learn more about the pass here. 

5. Plan Your Transportation

As Americans, most of us aren’t accustomed to taking public transportation or really giving it much thought unless you live in a large, dense city. As suburban dwellers ourselves, we were a little mystified when it came to figuring out buses and trains to get around! When visiting Rome, decide if you’ll be walking around the city or taking the bus or metro, and get acquainted with where the stops are that will be beneficial to you. 

6. Give Yourself Time to Wander

Rome truly is a city unlike any other. Every street, church and building is so full of history, it feels as if there is something to see around every corner. While I created a walking path for us to follow in Rome, we often found ourselves straying from it, being distracted by a beautiful street, monument, or fountain. While you can follow my walking plan, a guided tour, or your own custom creation, give yourself time to wander off the beaten path and explore this stunning city!

This is especially fun because Rome is very crowded, especially during peak season. It feels as if everyone on the planet is visiting Rome when you are! Visiting the major sights is amazing (they’re popular for a reason), but exploring a little off the traditional path will allow you to get away from the crowds and have quiet experiences mixed in with the loud, craziness of the crowds.

7. Plan For the Heat

Rome gets exceptionally hot in the summer, and the vast majority of places will not have air conditioning. Some hotels and restaurants may (this is something you might consider checking ahead of time), but most will not. And those that do, are probably not going to be as efficient at cooling the space as we’re used to in the US.

Don’t underestimate the heat and sun exposure while waiting in long lines to get into the Pantheon or Vatican or any of the other sights, where shade is not plentiful. Wear light, loose clothing, sun block, shades, and consider bringing along a small portable fan to help cool-off.

8. Eat the Pizza How You Want To

This tip is for those that are visiting for the first time and afraid about making some major food faux-pas like I was! Everywhere I looked online and everyone I talked to told me no one eats their pizza with their hands in Italy, as it is common in the US.

And like a good little tourist, I tried to cut my pizza with a knife and eat it with a fork, before very quickly abandoning the idea as it was taking so gosh dang long to eat. I picked up my pizza with my hands, folded it over and ate it like an American… and to my surprise, not a single person cared. Or if they did, I didn’t notice!

The rest of the trip, I never bothered with a fork and knife again. So eat how you’d like to eat, be polite about it, but don’t expect a big reaction like so many people convinced me was coming!

9. Meal Timing

On the topic of food, it’s important to know that the meal timing over there may be different from what you’re used to. This was something that presented problems for us throughout the trip and could be very frustrating at times!

In Italy, lunch seemed to begin around noon and wrap up around 2-3 PM, before dinner being served at places no earlier than 7 PM. While this isn’t the end of the world, after lunch at noon and walking around all day and becoming ravenous by 5 PM, there were definitely times of frustration and hanger.

We frequently found ourselves in that awkward time of 3 PM – 7 PM, starving and unable to find anywhere to eat! My tip to you is to have a solid lunch and plan for snacks if you need them before places open for dinner. You can then fill in the time with wine, Aperol spritzes, and aperitivos.

10.  Avoiding the Crowds

One common complaint for those visiting Rome is how busy and crowded it is – we even felt it in November, when it was supposed to be “off season!”

It can feel difficult to enjoy the sights when you’re being swarmed by people in every direction. But if you plan well, you can minimize this frustration as much as possible. Do this by visiting during the less busy season like we did (between November and March), and visiting the popular tourist sights at less busy times of the day.

See the colosseum first thing in the morning before you grab your coffee, or pay the Trevi Fountain a visit while everyone is getting ready for dinner or in the late afternoon as most people will try to do their sightseeing between 10 AM and 3-ish in the afternoon.

11. Bring Earplugs

No matter where you’re staying, you will likely encounter some degree of noise while you sleep. There are quieter streets that hotels and rentals are on with limited traffic and crowd noise, but there’s always the possibility of loud neighbors or people stomping around above you. If you’re a light sleeper like I am, a pair of ear plugs and a white noise machine is your friend!

Everywhere we stayed in Rome and throughout Europe, there was usually someone stomping around in the unit above us and I was very grateful for my ear plugs!

12. Bring a Selfie-Stick

While it may feel a little silly when you’re packing it, you’ll be glad you have it! I cannot tell you how much we used our selfie-stick throughout Rome, there was always something we wanted to grab a picture in front of and we didn’t want to be asking strangers to take our picture everywhere we went. 

We loved having this selfie-stick that could also double as a tripod if we wanted farther away shots. It was super easy to collapse and fit right in my bag!

13. Stay in the Trevi Fountain or Pantheon Area

If your budget allows, we found the best place to stay in Rome is near the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon. It is so central, it makes it so easy to see all of the tourist attractions by foot! There’s also a lot of great restaurants and shops in this area, making it easy to find delicious food any time of day. 

While we stayed in Prati for our first trip to Rome, we frequently wished we had stayed in this area instead. It was much more central and would have made it so much easier to see all of Rome without needing public transport. We also found it to have the best restaurants during our November visit.

14. Book Airport Transfers in Advance

With the airports being so far out of the city center, it’s a good idea to book your airport transfers in advance if you are arriving to Rome by plane. There are two airports in Rome, both being a 35-45 minute drive depending on where you’re staying. You can also take a taxi, Uber, train or bus to the airport but you’ll usually find a private transfer is the most comfortable and time-efficient option.

Pro Tip: If budget is a concern, the cheapest way to travel between the airports and the city center is by bus. Though, you’ll want to plan for it having to stop along the way. 

15. Explore the City’s Churches

Whether you are a Catholic or not, the churches of Rome are something amazing to behold. So full of rich history, artistic detail, and an overwhelming peace the moment you walk through the door, taking a peak inside a church as you’re out and about is something that can’t be missed!

When we were exploring near the Colosseum we came across several churches along quiet streets that had their doors open, ready to be viewed by anyone who had an interest.

They were probably one of the highlights of our trip, though we opted not to take any pictures out of respect. With jaw-dropping ceiling paintings, intricate sculptures, and a peaceful presence I have not otherwise felt in my lifetime, I will forever remember spending the 10 minutes to admire and appreciate those little Roman churches!

16. Eat Where You Want to Eat!

So many travel websites and “gurus” say you have to eat where the locals eat and anywhere touristy is not going to be good. I call BS!

Some of the best food we had in Rome was in the “tourist” areas of the city and the few times we ventured off the beaten path to more local establishments, we were left a bit disappointed. There’s also something to be said of the busy, tourist-focused restaurants having the freshest foods because they’re going through much more than a restaurant that sees a lot less traffic.

The point is, eat where you want to eat. My husband and I would walk near the tourist destinations, check out the menu and do a quick Google search of the reviews and make our decisions that way and we had much better meals doing that than when we tried to find the “local” favorites sprinkled outside of the tourist epicenters.

17. Join a Food Tour

Explore the city and taste some of its famous flavors by joining a food tour. Not only is it a great way to learn about Rome, but trying all of the little bites throughout the city can give you some ideas of where you’d like to have lunch or dinner later in the trip.

18. Have Some Cash On You

While most places will accept credit cards, it’s always a good idea to have some Euros on you in the event you need them. Almost everywhere we went in Rome accepted card payments, until we got somewhere where their machine wasn’t working! We were very glad we had Euros to pay. As a rule of thumb, we always tried to carry at least 50 Euros in the event we went to a restaurant and had a meal, and our cards didn’t work. Though, this never ended up being the case.

19. Wear Comfortable Shoes

Rome is not the place to break out your heels or adorable sandals. With cobblestone streets and uneven sidewalks anywhere you go, your feet will be hurting in no time without the proper foot attire.

I wore my favorite pair of Asics and they were absolute champs – my feet never even hurt, even after a 12 mile day in Rome!

20. Get the Gelato

Whether you’re visiting in the dead of winter or on a scorching summer day where there’s a line out the door at the gelato shop, always stop and enjoy some gelato! Enjoy this delicious dessert any time of day and try new flavors each time. We were freezing in the rain in November and still enjoyed every bite of delicious gelato (and we could hide inside from the rain for a few minutes while we savored it!)

The best gelato shops we found were Grom – a chain of authentic Italian gelato stores. By far the best tasting gelato in our opinion!

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Europe Travel, Featured, Italy, Travel Hacks

10 Rome Tourist Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs

Heading to Rome for the very first time? Be sure to avoid these common tourist mistakes so you don’t feel like a total rookie, get taken advantage of, or are stuck in a bad situation because you weren’t prepared.

The Eternal City is one of the most popular and iconic destinations in the world, and frequented by about 10 million tourists each year. It’s easy to see why, with stunning architecture and legendary sights like the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain – not to mention the food! But as with any other tourist destination or big city, it’s common for visitors to make certain mistakes.

Avoid as many hiccups as possible with these 10 common mistakes you should avoid in Rome so you can enjoy and soak up all this beautiful city has to offer during your trip!

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1. Not Pre-Booking Tickets For the Major Sights

One of the most important things you’ll do when planning your trip is booking tickets ahead of time. In Rome, there are so many tourists at all times of the year, leaving it up to chance isn’t the best course of action. Between the long lines and most attractions selling out, especially in the peak travel months, your time is better spent exploring the city than waiting for hours and crossing your fingers you’ll be able to get inside.

Even in November, we waited until two weeks before our trip to try to get tickets to see the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, and could not get tickets, they were sold out. I figured that time of year, we wouldn’t need to plan so far in advance (especially with my husband’s work schedule, we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to make our trip altogether and didn’t want to book tickets too early). What a mistake! We couldn’t get any tickets at all, and when we walked around in Vatican City (which you can do for free, without tickets), we saw line probably 500 people deep waiting to get into the Vatican!

2. Not Packing a Cell Phone Power Bank

When my husband and I were in Rome, we forgot our cell phone power bank and it was almost a complete disaster! Using our phone maps to navigate and explore the city, in addition to taking photos and videos, rapidly drained our phone batteries.

We hurried back to our Airbnb rental across town to charge our phones, with my phone dying and his being at 1% when we found our way back to the Airbnb (once again, having to use phone maps). We were almost in a serious pickle. Don’t be like us, plan ahead and bring a cell phone power bank just in case! You can see the one we recommend here.

3. Not Bringing a Secure Purse

Having a bag is so helpful on those long days out exploring Rome (and any other destination for that matter). We carried our collapsible selfie-stick, a small water bottle, my wallet, hand sanitizer and phone all in this bag.

But it’s not just a regular cross-body purse, it’s a travel purse. Featuring slash-proof material and zippers that clasp together and to hooks on the bag, this bag while looking like any other purse, is actually much harder to pickpocket and steal. When it comes to protecting your belongings, the name of the game is time. Pickpockets and thieves will move on to other less-difficult targets if your bag is more difficult to slash or open.

In Rome, in a crowd down by the Roman Forum, I felt someone grab at my bag and as quickly as I turned around they were gone. It was the slightest touch, but I felt whoever it was reaching at the zippers on my bag and quickly moving along when they couldn’t open it in the few seconds required to snatch belongings undetected. I was very happy to have this bag and not a regular purse in that moment!

Another option is a money belt that you can wear under your clothes or a zip-tied fanny pack – though the latter isn’t going to be protected if the thief plans to slash the strap and grab your bag. On our trip, we brought all three options (the travel bag, fanny pack, and money belt) and only ended up using the travel bag – it was perfect and fit everything!

4. Trying to Do It All In One Day

It can be tempting to squeeze everything into one day, especially if you’re just stopping in Rome on your way to another destination. But Rome had so much to see and experience, it’s best to give yourself at least two days to explore!

We spent 2 full days in Rome and even after seeing the major tourist attractions, still found so much to see off the beaten path. Beautiful building facades, stunning fountains that don’t seem like they could have been man-made, monuments, and fabulous little restaurants abound in this city, give yourself the time to explore it all!

5. Not Wearing Comfortable Shoes

Of all the places we visited on our trip, Rome was the destination I was most happy to have comfortable walking athletic shoes in! Walking on Cobblestones is no joke, and even after a day of walking in my athletic shoes my feet were crying. Skip the cute sandals, flip flops, and heels and opt for a comfy pair of sneakers to explore the city in – even if you plan on taking the bus and metro!

6. Not Being Aware of Scams 

With about 10 million people visiting Rome each year, the city is a prime location for pickpockets and scammers to prey on distracted, unsuspecting victims. While we touched on securing your valuables with a secured bag or under-clothing belts, you need to be on the lookout for scammers as well.

There are quite a few common scams in Rome to watch out for, especially in the more crowded areas like the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum. Watch out for these scams:

Free Rose/Flower

Men and women will walk around, trying to hand out a free rose or other flower to women at the busy tourist sights. Initially, they act as if it’s a free, kind gesture. But will very quickly demand payment, some even making a huge scene and screaming until they’re paid, even if you try to hand the flower back.

Sign a Petition

While I didn’t see this one in Rome (I saw it in Paris), I have heard of it happening here. Someone, usually a woman, will try to encourage you to sign their petition, offering a clip board and pen. While you’re signing someone may try to pickpocket you as you’re distracted, or they will ask for/demand money for their “cause.”

The Bracelet Scam

Similarly to the free rose or flower scam, someone will try to put a bracelet on you as you are walking by. They will then demand money or make a scene in an attempt to embarrass you into complying. 

Fake Police Officers

While the most intimidating of the scams, and the hardest to recognize, fraudsters will sometimes pose as police officers. They will come up to you for an impromptu “security check,” demanding your passport, wallet, or money. Never hand over your belongings in public, ask to be checked at the nearest police station.

Taxi Scam

Some drivers, especially at airports and train station, may try to get more money out of passengers when they can. Tricks can range from giving back the wrong amount of change if you pay in cash, to meters “not working” or even meters switched to pricier weekend or holiday rates for weekday rides. Avoid scams by taking the official white Roma Capitale taxis, or even booking a taxi with the Uber app (this is what we did, and we always knew ahead of time what each trip would cost us). Most taxis will also have their rates and fare information on the windows or sides of the vehicle so you can see what your trip should cost.

7. Having Exposed Knees and Shoulders in Church

While this isn’t a mistake you will probably have to worry about in the colder months, it’s something to be mindful of in spring and summer if you plan on exploring the Vatican or any churches you may see along your walking paths. There are many churches that are open and free to enter throughout the city (we found two when we were just wandering around and they were probably one of the highlights of our Rome trip!)

Whether you’re looking to check out the incredible painted ceilings and sculptures, or want to feel the peace (or even just the air conditioning), you should be aware that you may be turned away at the door if your knees or shoulders are exposed, or you don’t remove your hats. Whether there’s someone checking at the door or not, aim to be respectful either way. 

8. Not Looking Both Ways Before Crossing the Street

I have never seen such crazy driving until I visited Italy! Between the gobs of tourists wandering around and the drivers making Rome their race track, be sure to look both ways before crossing the street and maneuvering around town. While many drivers will stop to let you cross the street, many will not even slow down a little so be mindful as you traverse the city and use cross walks when you can.

9. Forgetting to Validate Train & Bus Tickets

For buses and overground trains, you must validate your ticket at the machine before boarding. This validating takes just a moment, but ticket inspectors will look for the punch in your ticket and you should keep the ticket on you for your entire journey as it can be asked for at any point (and a hefty fine can be given out if you don’t have your ticket when asked for it, or if you don’t have it validated).

The only exception is if you buy your tickets online ahead of time. We purchased train tickets from Venice to Rome and they were already validated, as it expressly said on our mobile tickets. 

10. Expecting Air Conditioning

While Americans love their air conditioning (myself included!), Italians apparently do not. Don’t expect to walk inside to cool off. Many restaurants are even warmer on the inside than the outside, and is likely why many Italian opt to eat outside.

This can be true of lodging as well. Many hotels and rental properties do not have air conditioning. And if they do, don’t expect them to create a crisp, cool tundra like our units do back home in the states! Before your trip, adjust your thermostat a bit higher to try and acclimate before you arrive.

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