The “short on time and money” Guide to Rome by a local
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!!!!!
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When to visit Rome?
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.
Where to stay in Rome?
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!
Great places to stay in the center of Rome
Are you going to use Airbnb for the first time ? Grab yourself a discount!
Hostel in the center of Rome: The RomeHello Hostel is one of the best hostels you’ll find in Rome. Located in the center (3m from Repubblica metro stop), it provides free Wifi, private bathrooms in every room, and aircon. Check reviews and prices on Booking.com
Affordable Guest House in the center of Rome: The Mecenate Rooms guest house is located 450m from the Coliseum and is perfect for a couple’s getaway! Comfortable rooms, aircon, bathtub (in some rooms) and free wifi make it one of your best bets! Check reviews and prices on Booking.com
Affordable Hotel close to the Vatican: On top of being cute and homey, Hotel Colors is only a 5min walk away from the Vatican. It offers air conditioning, ensuite or shared bathrooms, a rooftop, and free wifi. Check reviews and prices on Booking.com
Cheap places to stay in Rome
If you are on a very tight budget, check near the Termini station, San Lorenzo or San Giovanni.
Close to Termini: Hotel Sileo is a hotel with twin or double rooms with private bathroom and free wifi, just 100m from Termini Station. It’s also possible to spend some relaxing time in the hotel’s living/reading room, featuring a fireplace. Check reviews and very cheap prices on Booking.com
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€.
Through an organized shuttle bus, it can be as cheap at 6€ per person – Check review and prices on GetYourGuide
From Ciampino Airport
There are 2 bus companies that will take you to Termini in 40 minutes from 4.90€
You can also go through an organized shuttle bus with prices from 6€ – Check reviews and prices on GetYourGuide
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 metro or bus ticket costs 1,50€ and is valid for 100min.
A 24 hours ticket will cost you 7€, it will be 12,50€ for 48 hours or 18€ for 72 hours, and 24€ for a week in Rome.
How do I move around in Rome?
You’ll hear lots of stories about classic big city issues like traffic, not great public transportation system, drivers’ attitude, etc. Most of the time, they’re not wrong. Traffic is insane in Rome.
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. Check this one out on GetYourGuide!
My best option would be to rent a scooter. It 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!
Otherwise you can always use the metro (it’s not that bad but can be a bit crowded and there’s not a lot of stops because our city’s soil is filled with historical artefacts that always prevent us from making new lines or stops!). The prices are the same we’ve listed earlier (1.50€ for 100min, etc.)
Take your time, go slow, stay on your right and you’ll see Roma in it’s entire beauty!
What to see in Rome?
Yeah, right…. you’d think it’s easy to choose!
Where should I start exploring Rome and where should I end up?
Rome is an open sky museum open 24h a day, mostly free for your eyes.
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 » (grab your skip-the-line ticket here) 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.
What to do in Rome when you’re tired and hungry?
Well, food is definitely 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 to be eating like a local in Rome (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 like my wife? Then yes, you can still be eating like a local in Rome and 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.
If you’re worried you might get lost or miss something, you could also go on a food tour with a guide. Check this one on GetYourGuide.
Let’s get back on the road of historical Rome!
Now, I know usually tourists wants to go to see the Vatican and the Chapelle Sistine (get your fast-track ticket here). Well, ok! You’re not far from there, just cross the river Tevere and on your right you got the beautiful Castel Sant’Angelo (a really great place to visit – get your ticket here or even go on the Angels and Demon Official Tour!) 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 an exception to make your life easier and get insider tips from who’s currently there. Go to the bar Animamundi and talk with Stefano (the owner) – he’ll know what is best to do in Roma!
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.
It’s always a good idea to visit, wether it’s for a weekend or a week in Rome. But next time, if you have the chance to have a bit more time, 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.
And if you plan on visiting more than Rome, make sure to check out this cool Italy 10 day itinerary!
Before I end this article, I must admit:
This insiders guide to Rome is a love letter to my city. Rome 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:
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
Hi Hayley, asking locals is always the best thing to do!
It’s kind of making your own city guide.
Thanks for following us!
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.
Hello Suzanne, cappuccino e cornetto it’s a real must!
Roma is a city that has to be lived to be explained, hope you will have the chance to go there soon!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
Hi Mel, I always choose the Hop on Hop off solution: no maps needed, no traffic stress , a guide that tells you everything you need to know,etc.
It has it all!
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!
Hi Sonja, believe me when i say that choosing from more than one-thousand picture made me want to go back again.
The story is: I’m going back for a few days!
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!
Thank you very much Gareth, I completely agree with you: local cuisine, always, wherever you go!
What a gorgeous travel guide, and love all the suggestions. I especially like knowing the time of year to travel, I can never figure that out!
Hi Robin, now you know when to go! May, June, September and October are probably the best months.
The weather is perfect!
Great guide! Were heading to Rome in may, but unfortunately only for a couple days. We will try to fit in as much as possible- will definitely use this as a guide!
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!
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!
Rome sounds like the ideal city for me to visit, as it would involve a lot of walking, which I enjoy! The thought of stumbling across places likes this, makes we want to visit really soon!
If you like to walk and and stumbling into places , it’s the place perfect for you, every corner of the city has own appeal!
Hope you get the chance to go there soon!
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.
We actually took more than a-thousand picture, which we’ll show soon.
That weekend we were also very lucky having a great camera and Alice father photography skills with us!
Rome has the most beautiful buildings and the history is so amazing. Thanks for your comprehensive guide, I am saving it for future travels to Rome.
If you’ll have the chance to go, please don’t hesitate and ask us anything that can help!
Wow love how detailed this blog is, I am going to bookmark fir when I travel ????????
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!
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!
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!
Thank you so much Sally, i really did it with love! I do not live there anymore but it will be always my favourite place!
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.
Thank you, make sure to speak to the people i’ve mentioned, you are going to have a great time!
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!
Great tips and gorgeous photos! I’ve been to Rome a few years ago and I’d love to visit it again. 🙂
What a great guide, I truly had no idea that Rome had a seaside! I haven’t been in years so maybe it is time for a return visit 🙂
Rome is the eternal city, there are so many things to see and to experience. Your guide is very interesting because it has lots of tips regarding means of transports and other essential informations.
And your shots are amazing 🙂 Well done!
I visited Rome in 2009 when I was living in the UK and I wish I had your guide then! I loved all the little tips and tricks. Maybe I’ll just have to go back 😛
Love your photos!
You have some nice tips here that are usually not to be found in Rome guides. I mean, only a local would suggest renting a scooter to go around the city, right! 😀 And to tell the truth I love that you did. 😉 I’d much prefer driving from one place to the other on a scooter if the traffic is like in any other European city, than to hop on and off from those tourist buses. Well, when in Rome, right! 😀
This brings back fond memories of our trip to Italy a few years back. I simply adored Rome and still remember the ‘eccentric’ scooter driving culture…it was very amusing to see people driving and eating at the same! You’ve added some great info here, especially the various transport methods from the airport (which always gives me sleepless nights, lol). Seeing the sights from your ‘walking route’ is also a win!
This is exactly what I needed! We are going to Rome next week so to get the express guide is perfect! I noted all of your suggestions! I was wondering how to go from the airport so I’m glad you explained the options! I can’t wait to eat the food and see all of the sights here in the four days we will be visiting!
I’ve been to countless cities around the world, but Rome is still my favourite. Thanks for putting together such a great guide, I’m sure it will be handy for first time travellers!
Such detailed and lovely guide to Rome! Bookmarked it for my future reference. It’s always good to get a local’s perspective on the place we are visiting. Things become easy and fun.
Thanks so much, probably we’ll do a new one in the next month, more updated and with new great addresses