A Roman holiday may be the next adventure you want to tick-off your bucket list. You may already be planning visits to the Trevi Fountain to throw coins and wish, to the Sistine Chapel to stare at its magnificent frescoed-ceiling, or to the Colosseo to imagine how gladiators fought.
Before you embark though on this dream vacation, remember Rome is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Therefore, thousands of tourists will be doing the same Roman adventure at the same time you will. Big crowds, traffic jams, and long lines are unfortunately inevitable but with the right planning all these are definitely manageable.
So if you want to enjoy your stay at the Eternal City even more, these Rome travel hacks may be of help:
1. Find accommodation within the City Center
If you want to see more of Rome, don’t live outside the Center.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have the City’s highlights like the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Vatican, all within walking distance from the place you stay?
This way, if you wake up early, you have the chance of having these sites all to yourselves. For all the other tourists are still trying to make their way to the City.
Living in the Center will not make you dependent on public transportation too like the Metro and buses, which can be really jampacked during rush-hour and almost non-existent during transport strikes. Staying in the Center will make it very easy for you to just walk to the sites at any time of the day.
2. Book airport transfers
If you are a Rome first-timer you may find it challenging to find your way to your hotel from the airport or train station. It can be quite inconvenient to walk outside the airport with all your luggage in tow looking for the taxi stand or the train station. You are making yourself an easy target too of pick pockets.
It is advisable to book airport or train transfers. The driver will pick you up right inside the airport or train station and bring you to your hotel fuss-free.
There are companies like My Bella Italia that don’t charge an arm and a leg for Mercedes limousine transfers. Transfer prices are just about 10 Euros more from the taxi rate. And even if you encounter traffic, no need to worry about the ticking meter because the price stays the same.
Not only will you arrive in style in Rome, you have also protected yourself from long tedious walks, pushing and squishing crowd, thieves, and wasting precious time figuring how the public transportation works.
3. Secure entrance tickets to major tourist destinations as early as possible
Rome has an average of 7-10 million tourists every year. Its two most popular sites are the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum, with more than 4 million visitors annually.
If you don’t secure your entrance tickets beforehand you need to line up for hours just to get in.
You will also pay more if you decide to buy the skip the line entrance tickets and tours being sold by tour vendors outside these places.
There are some beautiful sites too that you will not see at all like the Galleria Borghese if you don’t book early.
4. Get a guide or join guided tours
When in Rome, it sure is a great idea to get a very good guide.
Having an art expert, art historian, or archaeologist showing you around the Eternal City is one amazing way to appreciate it even more.
The structures around Rome will surely stun you, but knowing the stories behind them like exactly how old they are, and that the locations were originally mountains or marshlands, will amaze you even more.
5. Eat authentic Italian food
Food is definitely one of the many things foreigners love about Italy. Its numerous types of pasta dishes, awesome meat and seafood recipes, and the mouth-watering pizza are just to die for. Even the starters and deserts are unforgettable too.
However, it is no secret among Italian insiders that the best food the country has to offer are those not prepared in restaurants and trattorias but in the kitchen of Italian mothers.
Do get tables at top restaurants like Armando al Pantheon, Felice al Testaccio, Checchino dal 1887, Da Cesare al Casaletto,or L’Arcangelo. But trying out a cooking class with an Italian mom and eating all the food she prepared with you will definitely be a memorable and yummy experience.