Rome Express Guide by a local

The « short on time and money » Guide to Rome by a local

post by: Simone
Roma Caput Mundi, my city, my pride, my hate……. sounds so great!
This is not the classic Guide of the Eternal City, it’s more:
What if I was a tourist, my budget was not that great, and unfortunately I didn’t have much time ?
Well here I am!
No one can explain a city as a local (well, ex-local) does!
So check on any travel price comparison website the lowest fare ticket, and come with me on this tour of Roma!
Click on play and read to the rhythm of this beat!!!!!

 When to come? 

April to the end of October.
Although July and August are quite warm, in these two months there is less traffic then usual and we have lots of parks where to find shelter. And most importantly (something that guides most of the time forget to mention): Roma has a seaside.
panorama views from any corner of the city view from il pincio another view

Where to stay?  

Obviously if you are staying in the center it will be a lot easier. It may not be cheaper, but in terms of distances and transportation at the end of the day the money value is granted!
This airbnb has been tested and approved by family, and the location is great, so I can recommend it with my eyes closed.
[You’re going to use Airbnb for the first time ? Grab yourself a discount!]
If you are on a budget, check near the Termini station, San Lorenzo or San Giovanni.
pantheon castel sant'angelo

What to do once you arrive in Roma?

From Fiumicino Airport 

By train that connect you directly to Termini Station in 32 minutes for 14€ (first at 06:23, last at 23:23), and a second local train for other destination at 8€.
By Bus there are a few company providing a service to San Pietro and termini from 6€.
By taxi the fixed price is 45€ if you go inside the « Mura Aureliane », 60€ if outside. It’s very expensive and be aware, in case you take one, that they don’t charge you for more: it’s illegal!!
With a shuttle taxi company the price should be 25€
marco aurelio
500 vespa la lupa

From Ciampino Airport

There are 2 bus companies that will take you to Termini in 40 minutes from 4.90€

From Termini station

You’ll find in Termini station the biggest bus terminal in Rome, with more then 30 lines, and the Metro. So from there I would suggest you google how to get to your destination and hop on the right bus. The ticket costs 1,50€ and is valid for 100min. A 24hrs ticket will cost you 7€, it will be 12,50€ for 48hrs or 18€ for 72hrs, and 24€ for a week.
piazza navona

How do i move in the city? 

Well, you’ll hear lots of stories about classic big city issues like traffic, not great public transportation system, drivers’ attitude, etc.
If you do not want to take your chances and be sure to see it all, go for the Hop on Hop off bus. There are no less than 5 different companies providing you all sorts of tour, from 24h to 72h pass with a range of cost from 20 euro to 70 euros.
My best option would be to rent a scooter. Prices start from 25€ a day and can usually be cheaper if you reserve them directly online.
Yes, it’s true, we have a unique way of driving… But believe me, not more dangerous then in other city I’ve visited!
Take your time, go slow, stay on your right and you’ll see Roma in it’s entire beauty!
piazza venezia piazza venezia piazza venezia piazza venezia

What to see?

Yeah, right…. you think it’s easy to choose!

Where should I start and where should I end?

Rome is an open sky museum open 24h a day, mostly free. You can walk (again, I suggest taking the scooter instead) from Piazza Venezia, go up to the Altare della Patria, check the amazing view from there that will guide your eyes trough Via del Corso to Piazza del Popolo, get down the steps, walk trough i Fori Imperiali and take a break in the « Rione Monti » neighbourhood. Then walk your way to the « Colosseo » surrounded by Colle Oppio, i mercati di Traiano, Monte Palatino, Circo Massimo and Terme di Caracalla. Find your way back to Piazza Venezia, go up the steps of il Campidoglio, see the statue of Marco Aurelio.
You have done probably 1/10th of what has to be seen just in the center of Roma and you did it for free!!!!!!!
Obviously, to get inside the Colosseo and other sites you have to pay, but if you are a backpacker on a budget, this is a good way to go sightseeing and not spend money.
fori imperiali foro colosseo colosseo

you’re tired and hungry?

Well, food is our thing!
Get lost in the little streets around the Pantheon, Campo dei Fiori, Trastevere, Fontana di Trevi, Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, and just hop on one of the little trattoria you’ll find in every corner(avoid common restaurant chains!).
The waiters don’t speak english? That’s an old cliché about our hospitality, let them guide you trough an amazing variety of traditional and gourmet dishes, drink a good bottle of red or white wine and end the meal with a good espresso.

By the way, are you vegan by any chance? Then yes, you can still go to that little trattoria! We’ve made you a guide on what to order in traditional restaurants in Rome when you’re vegan!


Usually, right after the coffee the waiter brings bottles of limoncello, grappa and amaro at the table. It’s what we call « ammazza caffè » it helps you digest after your feast.
arco arco e colosseo barcaccia

Let’s get back on the road!

Now, I know usually tourists wants to go to see the Vatican. Well, ok! You’re not far from there, just cross the river Tevere and on your right you got the beautiful Castel Sant’Angelo and on your left Via della Conciliazione that opens to Piazza San Pietro and the Vatican Museums!

rome by night

The day has passed and you want to see what Roma has to offer by night?Well, to be honest in the last years bars and clubs have spread out from the city center, but I’ll just stick to what to do in this area.
We love aperitivo. And when I say aperitivo, I mean drink combined with food ….. lots of food. So I know… maybe you just came from a restaurant, but it’s worth it to go in any bar and ask either for a Spritz, Americano or Negroni, or anything you like, and enjoy what is for us a ritual, especially on Sundays.
You won’t be disappointed by the quality of cocktail bars around the area, from the most simple pub to the speakeasy, we got it all!
I will make a proper guide about bars and clubs in Rome, I cannot let down all my friends and colleagues whom I worked with, but I have to make a couple of exceptions to make your life easier and get insider tips from who’s currently there:
The Perfect Bun, talk with Marco (the legendary Roman bartender)
Animamundi, talk with Stefano (the owner)
Besides the fact that both locations are incredible, they really know what is best to do in Roma!
piazza del popolo piazza del popolo fontana di trevi trastevere

it’s time to go to bed

It’s time to go to bed, but if you really want to end the day like a local: cornetto (croissant) e cappuccino is a must!
Maybe you won’t be able to go to sleep instantly ‘cause of the caffeine, but you’ll be smiling happy and satisfied like a baby.
tatuaggio
express roma itinerary

Next time, if you have the chance to go back to Roma make sure to be there no less then five days, it’s a huge city and it could be quite stressful trying to get the most out it in a short amount of time.
Before I end this article, I must admit:
This is a love letter to my city, it has problems but it is indeed one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
P.S: I wrote this in Belfast during Saint Patrick’s day weekend, so:
Cheers, salute or sláinte!
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Rome Express Guide by a local | Rome, Italy | When and where to go in Rome | Guide of Rome By a Roman, to get the best of Rome!

36 Commentaires

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  1. 1
    Hayley Botte

    I love this! I traveled to Rome last summer and kept asking locals where they likes to go, so I was able to experience an authentic Rome experience! Can’t wait to try out your picks on my next trip! xx

  2. 3
    Suzanne

    Great write-up about Roma. I always appreciate travel blog posts written by people who actually LIVED there, not passed through there in a few hours or a couple of days. I would definitely go to your home city just to have a cornetto e cappuccino in the evening. Sounds divine.

  3. 5
    Rhiannon

    I visited Rome by train when I was studying in Forlì, and to this day it remains one of my favourite cities in the whole world!! We were poor students so, asides from one short journey we didn’t take any public transport whatsoever and walked EVERYWHERE! The accessibility of all the main sites by foot really surprised me (in a good way!). The only downside of walking all day is that we were totally exhausted by night and mostly ended up sleeping by 9!
    We only stayed for 3 or 4 days (I can’t remember!) in December which was great but slightly rushed (and cold!). Next time I go – because there will definitely be a next time – I think I’ll take your advice and go before October for at least 5 days.

    • 6
      Simone Cardillo

      Hi Rhiannon, before that date I’ll write a more specific guide so to make your stay even better!
      As i said Roma is huge, and walking around does really exhaust but there is really a lot to see.
      September would be a great month, perfect weather!

  4. 7
    Daisy

    I miss Rome! But tbh, I do like Florence a tad more 😉 Regardless, I do wish I spent some more time in Rome. Really wanted to enjoy the streets as opposed to running around like a wild tourist! Also, I remember being mildly surprised by how quite everything got at night!

    Regardless, Italy remains one of my favorite countries, hopefully I will head back sooon!

    • 8
      Simone Cardillo

      Hi Daisy, Florence is beautiful, I define it a « human size city » you can just walk around and you have everything.
      That is why i’m writing a guide of Roma, it’s huge and not easy at all!
      Hope you go back in Italy as soon as possible!

  5. 9
    Samantha Sparrow

    I’ve just come back from Rome, and this is bringing back all the memories! My favourite places was The Pantheon, I stayed just overlooking it and I loved the buzz of the square around the monument. We got to Trastevere once, but also Testaccio for food which we much preferred to central Rome for dining options!

    • 10
      Simone Cardillo

      Hi Samantha, Testaccio is one of our historical district , food wise is amazing, you really can get the real authentic roman cuisine there!
      It will be totally my pick too.
      If you have any restaurant suggestion, please tell me ’cause in April I got to back!

  6. 11
    Mel

    This is exactly what you need when planning a trip to Roma. I love all the details about where to stay, what to see, and how to get around. The hop on hop off bus seems like an ideal way to move around without having to drive or park. Love your city pictures!

  7. 13
    Sonja

    This is pretty much what I did on my visit because I was short on time and money too! The good thing about Rome is that a lot of it is just walking and seeing things which I love. Your photos make me want to go back again soon!

  8. 15
    Gareth

    Now this really was a thorough guide for what to do in Rome and really, who better than a local to tell you where to check out. You did a really great job capturing the beauty of the city with your shots and I couldn’t agree with you more, the entire place is practically an open air museum. But even with so much to do and see, no visit to Rome would be complete without indulging in a little of the local cuisine. Excellent!

    • 20
      Simone Cardillo

      For a couple of days i would really suggest the hop on hop off busses, it takes you everywhere, you decide when to get off, what see
      and most of the times you get cheaper ticket prices for the museum when you book with them!
      Enjoy Roma.

  9. 21
    Bistra Yakimova

    Hey, thank you for this detailed guide! I was in Rome for few days in October some time ago and it was hot! I regret not hiring a scooter – less sweaty walking 🙂
    Thank you for the comprehensive local guide!

  10. 24
    Maria

    That’s a great guide to Roma! My goal is to return Rome and stay there for a couple of weeks to enjoy it with time. Your photos are amazing. Love when people can manage to take the photo from high places like you did in many cases.

  11. 29
    Brigitte

    Going for my first real Italy trip in two weeks and narrowed it down to Venice, Florence, Bologna and Verona, leaving Rome for next time. It was a super tough choice, and I’m still not sure about it.. Rome is a must see too, but as you said, five days at least.. that’d be half of the trip this time. Ah, next time maybe!

    • 30
      Simone Cardillo

      You really picked great places, Venice is a must see , Florence you’ll fall in love with it (actually all Tuscany has to be seen), Bologna has amazing food, and Verona….. is a little Roma. We actually went there for a couple of days and soon we’ll put a guide about it!

  12. 31
    Sally

    Loved this! Thanks for sharing the insider details of this beautiful city. Rome is an incredible place to visit, but I wished I had known all these helpful hints before I had gone- Guess I’ll have to go back again lol! Love your photos too!

  13. 33
    Kyntra Strickland

    This is such a helpful guide! I can’t wait to visit the bars mentioned. I’m going for 5 days in a couple of months and I’m incredibly excited. Thank you for sharing.

  14. 35
    Lisa

    Grazie mille! I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Rome. I fell in love with it years ago, and always love to return. The sights are amazing, and you always forget about the beach!

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