Author: heyadventuretonic@gmail.com

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, Italy

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

Exploring Rome on foot is the best way to see everything this amazing city has to offer! Between stunning monuments, artistic fountains, iconic landmarks, and of course, beautiful architecture, there is so much to see in the Eternal City. 

Follow our self-guided walking tour of Rome to see all of the popular sights. Whether you pack it all into one day or spread it out over several days, you’ll love this Rome walking route and all of the ancient beauty you’ll get to see along the way.

You May Also Like: 20 Essential Tips for Your First Visit to Rome

See the walking tour path on Google Maps

In This Article:
Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore
Colosseum
Roman Forum
Piazza Venezia + Altare della Patria
Trevi Fountain
Spanish Steps
Piazza del Popolo
Castel Sant’Angelo
Saint Peter’s Square/Basilica
Piazza Navona
Pantheon

11 Essential Stops on a Self-Guided Walking Tour of Rome

Rome isn’t massive by any means, and exploring all of it on-foot in one day (or two, if you prefer) is definitely possible! However there are many bus stops along the way if you decide you’d like to take some public transportation in between your walking. Don’t miss these 11 essential stops on your self-guided walking tour of Rome:

1. Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

This basilica is a great starting point on your walking journey. From the outside, you’ll see that it looks like many of the other churches you’ll happen upon in the beautiful city of Rome. However, inside is where the real magic is!

Enter the cathedral for free, and explore a stunning blend of baroque and renaissance architecture and colorful mosaics in this large, important church. 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.

2. The Colosseum

As Rome’s most popular tourist destination, the Colosseum is a must for every Rome walking tour! 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 loved taking them from up the hill across from Oppio Caffè. There’s also a garden right next door with beautiful views, called the Giardinetto del Monte Oppio.

3. Roman Forum

While you’re right next to the Colosseum, you should explore the Roman Forum! If you purchased tickets to the Colosseum, you’ll be able to enter the Roman Forum as well. You could spend hours exploring these ancient ruins on your own, or take a guided tour to make sense of everything you’re seeing!

Skip the tickets or just get another vantage point after you’re done touring by heading 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.

4. Piazza Venezia + Altare della Patria

This bustling square serves as a hub of activity, surrounded by impressive structures and historical landmarks. At the heart of Piazza Venezia, is the Altare della Patria, also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II. This monumental white marble masterpiece pays homage to Italy’s first king and the unknown soldier, with its grandiose staircase and commanding bronze statues.

Climb the steps to the top for panoramic views of Rome and its ruins. Around the back you can even see the Colosseum!

5. Trevi Fountain

A trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Trevi Fountain and tossing in a coin for good luck! As the most famous fountain in the world, a visit to the Trevi Fountain is a memorable experience. The fountain, adorned with mythical sculptures and intricate details, was built in the 1700s on top of an ancient aqueduct that dates back to 19 BC.

It is easily one of Rome’s most iconic structures and looks magnificent day or night – we recommend seeing it both times of the day if you can manage it!

6. Spanish Steps

Constructed in the early 18th century, these famous 135 marble steps create a backdrop that is truly iconic in Roma. Climb the steps to the top to see beautiful views of Rome, or enjoy the Fontana della Barcaccia, a boat-shaped fountain designed by Pietro Bernini, at the base of the steps.

Visiting in the spring? You’ll find the steps covered in vibrant azaleas that make it easy to see why these steps were inspiration to so many artists and creatives across the globe.

The gates, which look more like enormous doors, really made you feel small.
I can imagine they did quite the job of keeping people out back in the day!

7. Piazza del Popolo

This large urban square in Rome is named as the “People’s Square,” and lying just inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, this square has been a meeting place of the people and, on a darker note, for centuries was a place for public executions.

Even with it’s gruesome past, this square is so large and magnificent, it’s worth taking a stroll through. Enjoy the view of the twin churches that flank the square, and the imposing design of the northern gate that takes you back in time!

8. 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 for a step back in time, or admire it from the outside or from the Ponte Sant’Angelo bridge that connects Castel Sant’Angelo to the rest of Rome.

9. Saint Peter’s Square & Basilica

Nestled within 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! Once inside, climbing to the top of the dome rewards you with panoramic views of Vatican City and the Eternal City beyond.

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

This bustling square is one of Rome’s most famous piazzas (and a great one for people watching)! Admire the three beautiful fountains that fill this square: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro and Fontana di Nettuno. Then grab a drink or meal at one of the local restaurants that line the square.

11. The Pantheon

Our walking tour ends at the incredible Pantheon. With quintessential Roman architecture, chances are this building is one of the few you imagine when you think of Rome. Built between 126 and 128 AD, this ancient building was built on the site of a pagan temple dedicated to all Roman gods.

It later became a Christian church, and while weathered by time is still the oldest building still in use today, in the entire world. The Pantheon’s design has influenced countless buildings throughout history, across Europe and throughout the Americas.

And you’re just a few minutes of walking away from the Trevi Fountain again, so if it’s night time now is a great time to go see the fountain all lit up and it’s evening glory!

You May Also Like: 10 Rome Tourist Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs

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!

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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.

You May Also Like: 20 Essential Tips For Your First Trip to Rome

Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

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

Rome. The Eternal City. The capital of Italy. A city that has stolen the hearts of millions, as it has stolen mine! After visiting for the first time, my husband and I can’t wait to go back. It was absolutely one of the best places we’ve ever been.

With iconic landmarks mixed in with architectural artistry, show stopping fountains and intricate details woven throughout the city… there’s always something to find around every corner in Rome. It makes for the most amazing scavenger hunt!

If you’re planning your first visit to Rome, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled the 11 best things to do in Rome for first-time visitors, so you can make sure you don’t miss a single sight or beautiful hidden corner of the city!

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11 Best Things to Do When in Rome For the First Time

Now, if you’re like me, you like to plan your trip a bit and then give yourself time to wander. Especially if you only have a short time in Rome, you’re going to want to be on the move for most of it – there’s so much to see!

Going somewhere for the first time and trying to see it all, and create the perfect itinerary for your visit can be challenging. It usually requires a certain degree of planning if you’re not taking a big guided tour where they’ve mapped it out for you! If that’s more your speed (and we don’t blame you, Rome is so amazing, you really don’t want to miss a thing), we recommend this guided tour to see the Eternal City’s biggest highlights.

To save you time when planning your Rome adventure, I’ve compiled this list of the 11 best things to do in Rome for fist-time visitors. It includes all of the legendary landmarks and hot spots you won’t want to miss on your first visit to one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

1. Toss a Coin in the Trevi Fountain

Always first on my Rome lists, is the Trevi Fountain. When we were going to Rome, I knew this was the site I was most excited to see and it did not disappoint – I made my husband walk by it with me 4 times during our 3 day trip! Being there was magical.

Toss a coin into this Baroque masterpiece to, as legend has it, make a wish to return to return to Rome or to find love in the Eternal City. Or just to get a cute video!

On our last night, we came to see the fountain gorgeously lit up at night. We grabbed some gelato from a shop close by and sat on one of the benches listening to the sounds of the fountain (and the crowd of people, of course – this is Rome!), and admiring the fountain. It was so special and I’ll always cherish that memory. 

I highly recommend seeing the Trevi Fountain both during the day and lit up at night if you can make it work on your itinerary! There are also loads of great restaurants and shops near here so you could easily grab lunch or dinner when you’re over here.

Most travel “gurus” will say these restaurants are tourist traps, but we found them to be the best ones we tried in Rome. We especially liked Il Chianti Vineria!

Steal this photo spot: From the east entrance of the Colosseum, take a left and head toward the park sitting at the top of the hill. You’ll find the Oppio Caffè, and right across the street is where we had this prime photo spot!

2. Visit the Colosseum: One of the 7 Wonders of the World

Seeing the Colosseum in Rome is a no-brainer! It’s such an iconic landmark in Italy and this ancient amphitheater is even one of the seven wonders of the world. How often are you going to get the chance to see one of those seven? Not very often!

Constructed between 70 and 80 AD, the Colosseum was mainly used for gladiator fights, theatrical performances, and other entertainment during this time. As the number one tourist attraction in the city, it really can’t be missed and it understandably gets really crowded.

Get there early in the morning if you want a photo without people in it, and take a guided tour to really understand everything there is to know about the Colosseum. 

Like with all of Rome’s biggest attractions, buying your tickets online ahead of time is an absolute must as lines can be hundreds of people long and tickets can sell out! Check out this guided tour of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill or get an even more unique perspective with the exclusive Colosseum Underground tour (this part of the Colosseum can only be seen on a guided tour!)

3. Climb the Spanish Steps

Another famous spot in Rome, the Spanish Steps are not to be missed. Not only are they a fabulous photo opp near the bottom at the Piazza di Spagno, there is also a beautiful view from the top!

The steps can get very crowded, so you’ll want to get there bright and early if you want less people in your photos. And keep in mind that eating on the steps is banned, you could get yelled at by a security guard, or worse, receive a hefty fine!

4. Visit Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

As one of Rome’s four major basilicas, and one of Rome’s seven pilgrim churches, this is one stop in Rome that shouldn’t be missed. Be wowed by its beautiful interior, renaissance-era ceilings, and colorful mosaics as you take a stroll through it. And as a bonus, it’s free to enter the cathedral!

5. Sistine Chapel

This ceiling masterpiece by Michelangelo in the holy Sistine Chapel is an experience unlike any other. The ceiling painting is said to depict God’s creation of the world and of man, humanity’s subsequent fall from grace and then the birth of Jesus, the savior of humankind. 

6. Stroll through Vatican City

As the home of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the largest churches in the world and renowned for its stunning architecture, Vatican City is the spiritual and administrative center of the Roman Catholic Church. Here you’ll also find the Vatican Museums, which house an extensive collection of art and historical artifacts that have been collected by the Catholic Church over centuries. 

Even if you don’t make a trip inside the Vatican buildings (which will require a ticket), strolling through Vatican City and admiring St. Peter’s Square and the surrounding buildings and fountains is an absolute must when visiting Rome.

If you do want to go into the Sistine Chapel or Vatican Museums, definitely plan ahead and book tickets! When we went, we waited too long (two weeks before arriving) to get tickets and they were completely sold out. It was surprising since it was off-season (November) and so disappointing!

When we visited Vatican City, we could easily see why the tickets were sold out – there was a line several hundred people long, wrapped around the square, waiting to go inside!

Skip the line with these Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel tickets or take an official guided tour here.

7. Explore the Ruins of the Roman Forum

Right by the Colosseum, you’ll find another important historic site: The Roman Forum. The forum served as a place for all public gatherings, elections and even gladiator fights, when it was originally built. Now, it’s a beautiful sprawling area of ruins for you to explore!

Here you’ll find the Arch of Titus, the Curia Julia, the Temple of Saturn, and the Temple of Caesar, among others. 

Colosseum tickets include entry into the Roman Forum, so make sure you give yourself enough time to explore both while you’re on that part of town!

8. Visit the Villa Borghese Gardens

Take a break from the hectic, business of the city with a visit to the nearby Villa Borghese Gardens. With plenty of green space, a small, relaxing lake, and trees casting shade, it’s the perfect place to take a walk, or relax on the grass. You can even row a boat on the lake if you want!

9. Enjoy the Piazza Navona

As one of Rome’s most popular and beautiful squares, the Piazza Navona is a beautiful open space filled with restaurants, street artists, musicians, and fountains!

Once the Stadium of Domitian, where sporting events took place in Ancient Rome. The stadium could even fit 20,000 spectators! It was then paved over in 1500 AD to become what you see now as the Piazza Navona.

Here you will also find three impressive fountains: the Fontana den Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of Four Rivers), the Fountain of Neptune, and the Fontana del Moro.

When you’re done enjoying the fountains, grab an end table at one of the square’s many restaurants for a drink and a little people watching!

10. Visit the Pantheon

Located close by to the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon is an incredible historic site you’ll want to put on your list. This ancient building was built between 25 and 27 BC, making it about 2,000 years old and the oldest building in the world that is still in use today.

Admire the massive pillars and quintessential Roman architecture from outside, or take a tour inside to view the famous dome. This dome is the oldest unreinforced dome in the world, and has served as architectural inspiration for buildings across the globe.

The Pantheon is free to enter, but you can buy guided tour, skip-the-line and special fast-track entrance tickets to beat the crowds.

11. Stand at the Top of the Altare della Patria

While you won’t find this stop on a lot of the Rome lists out there, I really recommend it! This is one sight we didn’t set out to find but were blown away by it when we came across it. 

At the Piazza Venezia, you can visit the Italian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and enjoy the huge and truly show-stopping monument to the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, known as the Altare della Patria. 

Walk up to the very top of the steps of the Complesso del Vittoriano for beautiful views of the city and Basilica San Marco, and even the Colosseum when you go around to the back side! We saw it all at night, with everything lit up. It was truly special and one of our favorite memories in Rome!

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Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

15 Can’t-Miss Tourist Sights in Rome

Planning your trip to Rome, Italy and curious what’s worth your time? While there are many famous places in Rome to visit like the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican, or the Colosseum, there are other, lesser-known sights that you won’t want to miss.

Maximizing your time in the Eternal City is a must, but how do you decide what to see and what to skip? It can feel overwhelming! In this guide, we’ll cover the very best experiences and top sights to see in Rome so you can plan an unforgettable trip.

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As the capital of Italy, Rome is a majorly bustling city in addition to being one of the most ancient, fascinating cities in Europe. Along these cobblestone streets, you’ll find history everywhere you look! There is so much to see and do in Rome that it can feel hard to decide what to put on your itinerary. Read on to see our “Must-See” sights in this stunning city – starting with the most popular Rome tourist attractions and ending with a few of our personal favorites that you won’t want to miss.

Jump To:
The Colosseum
The Pantheon
Roman Forum
The Trevi Fountain
Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums
St. Peter’s Basilica
Piazza Navona
Palatine Hill
St. Angel’s Bridge
Campo de’Fiori Market
Spanish Steps
Piazza del Popolo
Piazza Venezia & Altare della Patria
Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore
Galleria Borghese

1. The Colosseum

When you think of Rome, chances are you think of the Colosseum. This landmark is so iconic and an absolute must-see. Built around 70 AD as an entertainment arena, the Colosseum gives you a unique peak into the ancient past of the Roman Empire.

Whether you want to just admire the Colosseum from the outside, or take a tour of the inside, you won’t want to miss this legendary spot. Join a guided tour to explore the interior, or go for the full Colosseum experience with a tour of the Colosseum Underground and the opportunity to stand on the partially restored Arena Floor.

Good to Know: The Colosseum is unsurprisingly one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome and it’s essential that you book your entrance or tour tickets ahead of time. We recommend getting regular priority tickets so you can visit the Arena Floor or a Rome Tourist Card to make visiting all of the sites easier!

Tour the ancient underground passageways of the Colosseum for a unique perspective. See tickets here.

2. The Pantheon

Located on the Piazza della Rotonda, not far from the Trevi Fountain, is the Pantheon. Originally built as a template to all gods, the Pantheon was built around 125-127 AD and is the world’s oldest building that is still in use today. Best known for its massive dome, it’s one of the most fascinating sights in Rome and served as an inspiration for other buildings throughout the city, and across the world.

At almost 2000 years old, the Pantheon is one visit you won’t want to miss. Book a skip-the-line ticket in advance to avoid crazy long queues and view this stunning, ancient building here.

3. Roman Forum

Situated right by the Colosseum, the Roman Forum is one of those places that you’ll never forget. So rich and full of history, these ruins are something to behold! The Roman Forum is a sprawling former scene of public meetings, law courts, and gladiatorial combats. It was once lined with shops and open-air markets. Today, you’ll see temples still standing and the Arch of Titus and Arch of Septimius Severus, honoring emperors of the time.

Pro Tip: If you don’t want to go into the Roman Forum, or just want an excellent photo op, head up the hill towards Campidogli, a hilltop square designed by Michelangelo and lined with museums. Head around to the backside to a photo spot called Terrazza sul Foro to overlook most of the Roman Forum and snap some amazing pictures!

4. The Trevi Fountain

The most famous fountain in the world, and my absolute favorite sight in Rome: the Trevi Fountain. While it’s a very crowded spot, it cannot be missed. Located close to the Pantheon, these two are great to see back to back. After you toss your coin in the fountain (and of course, snap a few pictures!), you’ll find loads of restaurants, shops and gelato places all a few steps away from the fountain.

The Trevi Fountain was so breathtaking, I made my husband walk by to see it with me 4 times on our short trip – I couldn’t get enough! It was magical, especially at night.

5. Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums

Even if you’re not Catholic, the Vatican is truly an experience unlike any other and another “Must-Do” on your list. Admire the incredible ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, built at the end of the 15th century and painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. It’s truly a masterpiece that you’ll have to take your time appreciating.

In addition to the Sistine Chapel, you’ll also want to tour the four Raphael Rooms, the Gallery of Maps, the gardens, and the famous Momo Staircase.

Pro Tip: Booking Vatican Museum tickets ahead of time are essential as they are always busy and tickets are usually sold out. Get tickets to explore it on your own here or take a guided tour to fully immerse yourself in the experience!

6. St. Peter’s Basilica

As the largest and most important Catholic Church in the world, you might imagine how massive the building would have to be! The sheer scale of this church is so hard to visualize, even while standing outside. Built at the site of St. Peter’s tomb, this is also the location where many Popes are buried and has underground crypts you can tour. 

While you’re here, climb to the top of St. Peter’s Dome  for an amazing view of the Vatican and the city, as well as enjoy the view of the church below. 

Lines to get into the basilica, as well as anywhere else in Vatican City can be exceptionally long. Save hours of time queuing with skip-the-line tickets to see St. Peter’s Basilica & Dome here!

This stunning Baroque-style square is one of the most charming and popular squares in Rome. Built on the site where the Stadium of Domitian (Circus Agonalis) once stood, this square features three fountains so intricate you won’t believe they’re man-made! There is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) representing the important rivers of continents where Christianity spread. Then there is the Fontana del Moro, originally called the “Seashell Fountain” and lastly, the Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune).

In addition to the beautiful fountains you’ll find in this famous square, you’ll also find plenty of cafes and restaurants lining its sides. However, this is one area of Rome that would be considered more of a “tourist trap” with coffee costing 2-3 times more than at other nearby cafes. There are also pretty mixed reviews on the food at these restaurants so we decided to look elsewhere when we were there around lunch time. However, if you wanted a place to eat and people watch, this would probably be one of the best places to do it!

8. Palatine Hill

The most famous of the seven hills of Rome, and one of the oldest parts of the city, Palatine Hill was once a neighborhood in Rome for the rich and famous. Now, it’s an open-air museum and archaeological site. Here you’ll see grand palaces of the Roman Empire, and views of the Roman Forum and Colosseum from a distance. 

Good to Know: An entrance ticket to the Palatine Hill is included with Colosseum and Roman Forum tickets. 

Tip: Get an amazing view from Terrazzo Belvedere del Palatino, overlooking the Roman Forum and city center.

Choose a guided tour to explore Palatine Hill, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum so you can really understand all of the amazing ruins you’re seeing, and the stories of this city. We recommend this tour that also gives you priority entrance!

9. St. Angel’s Bridge

The most photographed bridge in the Eternal city, St. Angel’s Bridge is another spot to put on your itinerary – especially since you can use it to walk towards the Vatican anyway! Admire the angel sculptures on this beautiful bridge, built in 134 AD to connect Castelo Sant’ Angelo to the city of Rome. 

This pedestrian bridge is so unique, lined with the statues of 10 angels, all while being right in front of the massive Castello Sant’Angelo. Staying in Prati, we happened upon this bridge without looking for it and were so surprised at just how beautiful this bridge was!

10. Campo de’Fiori Market

If you’re looking for local flowers, a bottle of fabulous olive oil to take home, unique wine offerings, Italian pasta, or just some delicious local produce, this is the place to do it! As one of the nicest town squares in Rome, it’s a popular gathering and trading place. The market is open between 7 AM and 2 PM daily, except on Sundays. 

We stumbled upon this square in the afternoon and got a bottle of wine at a restaurant right on the square. We enjoyed our Syrah and people-watching at the market!

11. Spanish Steps

Another iconic tourist spot, the Spanish Steps connect the Piazza di Spagna to the Piazza della Trinità dei Monti on the top of the hill. This impressive staircase has been in countless movies, graced the covers of magazines and is often on postcards and travel guides to Rome. 

At the bottom of the stairs, you’ll find the Fountain of the Boat (Fontana della Barcaccia) and the bustling Piazza di Spagna lined with colorful buildings, shopping and restaurants. Love yourself some English tea time? Check out the famous Babington’s tea room to the left of the stairs!

Good to Know: It’s forbidden to sit or eat on the Spanish Steps. 

12. Piazza del Popolo

This town square is so huge and deserves a visit! Located right inside one of the old city gates of Rome, Porta Flaminia, this piazza is where many famous streets meet. One leading in the direction of the Vatican, the other towards the Pantheon, one leading toward the Colosseum, and lastly, one leading toward the Spanish Steps.

You’ll find an Egyptian Obelisk and the Fountain of the Lions in the center of this piazza, as well as two other fountains at the western and eastern sides of the square. Enjoy the view of two stunning churches, Santa Maria die Miracoli and Santa Maria di Montesanto on the edge of the square and the view of the Museo Leonardo da Vinci at the other end.

And if you’re like my husband, you’ll want to check out the absolutely massive doors leading to the square near the Museo Leonardo da Vinci! With a background in construction, that sweet man couldn’t stop looking at the hinges and door construction haha!

13. Piazza Venezia & Altare della Patria

This is one sight we didn’t set out to find but were blown away by when we came across it. At the Piazza Venezia, you can visit the Italian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and enjoy the huge and truly show-stopping monument to first king of Italy Vittorio Emanuele II, known as the Altare della Patria.

You can also walk up to the very top of the steps of the Altare della Patria onto the terrace for beautiful views of Basilica San Marco, and even the Colosseum when you go around to the back side! We saw it all at night, with everything lit up. It was truly special and one of our favorite moments in Rome!

14. Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

This basilica is important to the papistry, and is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome and is still used by the pope to this day. It’s also the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary and features golden ceilings and 5th century mosaics. This beautiful church has such intricate detail and architecture, it’s worth taking a moment to admire it from the piazza out front or enter the Cathedral for free (if it’s open when you’re there)! There’s also a great little corner restaurant across the street that we got lunch and a couple of Aperol Spritzes!

15. Galleria Borghese

The Galleria Borghese is an elegant palace and contains one of the largest private art collections in the world. The museum has over 20 rooms of antiques, sculptures, and paintings, including the statues “Apollo and Daphne” by Bernini and paintings by Caravaggio, Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci and Sanzio Raphael.

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Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

21 Free Things to Do In Rome

Visiting the Eternal City doesn’t have to break the bank. Rome is such a magical city to visit, with many low-cost or free options to experience all of its glory. From beautiful monuments and fabulous fountains sprinkled throughout to city, to seeing most of the sights up close and personal, there’s plenty to do in Rome on a budget.

Compared to most of Europe’s hottest tourist destinations, Rome has a surprising number of famous sites and things to do that are completely free to visit. Read on to see the best free things you can do in Rome!

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Free things to do in Rome

1. Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Visit the world’s most famous fountain and iconic Rome tourist attraction: the Trevi Fountain. Toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain for good luck, or as the legends say, to find love in Roma!

2. View the Colosseum

It’s free to check out the Colosseum from the outside. Take a walk around the perimeter and snap pictures at your favorite spots!

3. Get a bird’s-eye view of the Roman Forum

If you don’t want to spring for a Colosseum or Roman Forum ticket, you can view most of the Roman Forum from Terrazza sul Foro. Here you can overlook most of the Roman Forum and take some amazing pictures!

4. Visit the Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

This incredible basilica is not only beautiful from an architectural stand point (featuring gold ceilings and mosaic windows, and such intricate details!), it’s also an incredibly important Catholic Church. It is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome and is still used by the pope to this day. It’s also the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary

You can enter the Cathedral for free, or admire it from outside like we did. But if you want to climb to the top of the bell tower or the top of the Cupola, there’s a ticket you’ll need to buy.

5. First Sunday of the Month

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting on the first Sunday of the month, several of the most popular museums and historic sites open their doors to the public for free. These tourist sights include:

  • The Colosseum
  • Castel Sant’Angelo
  • Roman Forum/Palatine Hill
  • The Borghese Gallery
  • Baths of Caracalla
  • Ostia Antica
  • National Rome Museum
  • Villa Giulia
  • Palazzo Corsini
  • Galleria Spada
  • Palazzo Venezia

And others.

6. Admire St. Peter’s Basilica

Visit the city’s largest, most spectacular basilica for free – though there will probably be a large line to get in. After taking 126 years to build, maybe a little waiting in the line won’t feel so bad! Admire three of Italy’s most stunning masterpieces in the basilica: Michelangelo’s’ Pieta and his soaring dome, and Bernini’s 95 ft baldachin over the papal altar. 

7. Take a stroll through Vatican City

While you can’t go into the Vatican Museum or the Sistine Chapel without a ticket, you can absolutely spend time wandering around Vatican City. Enjoy the beautiful architecture, view the fountains, grab a coffee at one of the city’s cafes, and soak up the Vatican vibes from the outside!

8. Watch the street artists on Piazza Navona

This bustling square is not only full of tourists, but is also full of street performers and artists throughout the day, usually until dusk.

9. Piazza Navona fountains

While you’re there, check out the three beautiful fountains found in the Piazza Navona. There is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) representing the important rivers of continents where Christianity spread. Then there is the Fontana del Moro, originally called the “Seashell Fountain” and lastly, the Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune).

10. Visit the Vatican Museums on the Last Sunday

Similarly to how many of Rome’s state-run museum’s offer free admission on the first Sunday of the month, the Vatican opens their doors to the public for free on the last Sunday of every month. Just keep in mind, it can get very crowded!

11. Walk Down Appian Way

As one of the oldest roads in Rome, there are lots of historic sites to see nearby and along the road. While many people opt to bike the road, walking it is free and a great way to see all of its smaller details.

12. Stand (Almost) Beneath the Arch of Constantine

Located between the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, you’ll find the Arch of Constantine. This historic and cultural landmark is a well-preserved monument that encompasses the true beauty of Roman architecture. 

13. Walk Up The Spanish Steps

Visit one of the most well-known sites in Rome by taking a walk up the Spanish Steps from the Piazza di Spagna below. In the spring, you’ll find the steps covered in colorful flowers!

14. Visit Campo de’ Fiori

Campo de’ Fiori is the main market in Rome, and here you’ll find everything from Italian pasta and authentic olive oil, to fresh flowers and produce. While making a purchase here isn’t free, you can absolutely wander around and see all the market has to offer for free!

15. Visit where Julius Caesar was killed

Next to the Pantheon, in the center of Rome, there’s a square called Largo di Torre Argentina, that has to be reached by a stairway. The area is also well-known for having been the scene of Julius Caesar’s murder in 44 BC, with a plaque on one of the temple columns designating the place of the alleged murder.

16. Stand Atop Capitoline Hill

Situated in the center of the city, Capitoline Hill is one of Rom’e seven hills and has an excellent view of the city. As the site of various temples, honoring various Roman gods and goddesses, it’s a cool perspective in Rome.

17. Take a walk through Trastevere 

Once a hidden gem in Rome, this neighborhood has become more popular among tourists in recent years. Stroll through the neighborhood, admiring the architecture and piazzas.

18. Wander through Quartiere Coppedè

The Quartiere Coppedè is one of Rome’s smallest and most unique neighborhoods, with nothing like it anywhere else in the city. The neighborhood’s architecture blends Art Deco, Baroque, Art Nouveau, and medieval styles, making it feel like a fairy-tale as you take a stroll through it!

19. Relax in the Gardens of Villa Torlonia

This villa served as Mussolini and his family’s home during World War II, and now houses a museum that can be toured for a price. However, the estate’s gardens are beautiful and can be toured for free.

20. See the Foro Italico

This huge sports complex was built between 1928 and 1938, and originally called the Foro Mussolini. Here, you’ll find two stadiums that host Rome’s soccer teams, and see 60 marble sculptures meant to show power and strength.

21. Visit Villa Borghese Gardens

Similarly visiting the Gardens of Villa Torlonia, you’ll need to buy a ticket to enter the building but enjoying the park and beautiful scenery is free!

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