Wondering how to enjoy and experience the ancient city of Rome to the fullest? Does the idea of Rome being too expensive for you making you rethink the trip? Then go no further, we have the solution for you!
Read ahead to find out our recommendations for your vacation in the ancient city of Rome! I will tell you a brief history of the city, the most famous sights to see, recommended itinerary for a three-day visit to Rome and the Vatican City, how can you get the most out from your stay in Rome by saving money and lastly, I will tell you the latest COVID-19 measures in Italy.
So, let us help you to have the experience of your lifetime!
Ancient city of Rome
Rome, also known as the "Eternal City", is the capital of Italy with an ancient history dating back to 753 BC. The founding story of the city is still a mystery and is mainly based on the myths and legends, such as the Romulus and Remus, but there are many theories based on archaeological discoveries and ancient writings. In the past Rome was the centre of the Roman Republic, then of the Roman Empire, and later in the fourth century, it became the capital of the Christian world. Nowadays it is the centre of the Italian culture offering experiences to every taste.
Rome is filled with history and just by walking around it can take you back in time with its colossal ruins and majestic monuments. Some of the most known sights are the Colosseum, which is the largest amphitheatre built during the Roman Empire, Roman Forum, which used to be the centre of the social and political activity of the Roman citizens, Trevi Fountain where millions of people come to make a wish, Pantheon which is one the best-preserved buildings from ancient Rome, Piazza di Spagna one of the most known squares in Rome and Spanish Steps where people come to relax and enjoy the day. Vatican City also holds must-visit attractions, such as the St. Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel designed by Michelangelo.
Next, I will tell you how to spend your days in Rome!
3-Day Itinerary in Rome on budget
As we all know, Rome is a very large city with many places to see, and so many experiences waiting to be tried. You might feel confused about where to start and how to stay on budget, so what to do? Here is what I recommend:
When is the best time to visit Rome?
Rome is one of the most popular tourist destinations and trying to figure out the best time to visit the city can be a challenge. During the summer season of July and August, the city is fully packed with masses of tourists and the weather can get very hot. So, instead of spending your summer in Rome, visit the city during the late spring season, when the air is still cool, and the peak season of tourists has not yet fully started. Or if spring is not your thing, then visit Rome during the Autumn season when the weather starts to get a little bit crispy, but still warm. During the winter season, many attractions close earlier than during the spring-fall season, so keep that in mind when you are planning your trip to Rome!
Also, Italians have a midday break called "riposo". During this time, many main attractions are open, but many restaurants and shops may be closed around 2 pm to 5 pm.
For the first day of your trip take yourself back in time by visiting the ancient districts of the city by walking around the famous Seven Hills of Rome where the Colosseum, Roman Forum and other famous sights are located. On the second day visit the holy city of Vatican, explore the religious attractions and enjoy the beautiful sceneries the destination has to offer. On the third day enjoy the Italian culture and architecture through famous sights such as the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. If you are visiting Rome during the weekend, remember that many attractions, especially in the Vatican City, are closed on Sundays.
Day 1: Dive deep into the ancient Rome
On the first day immerse yourself in the ancient history of Rome. Start your day in the famous sights of the city - Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. All three are located near each other which makes it an easy place to start the tour.
- Colosseum (9.00 AM): Visit the ancient entertainment hub of the Roman citizens, where the famous gladiatorial games were held back in the day. It is the largest amphitheatre in the world and still to this day impresses its visitors with its colossal appearance. Beware that the Colosseum is a very popular sight to visit, and the ticket lines are long. So, my advice is to arrive early as possible to be able to purchase the ticket or buy them in advance. The ticket is valid for entrance to the Colosseum, to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill if you visit all of them on the same day.
- Roman Forum (10.30 AM): After visiting the Colosseum head to Roman Forum, which used to be the centre of Roman life for centuries. It was the centre of social, political, and religious activities of ancient Rome and was the home of many monuments and temples.
- Palatine Hill (11.30 AM): Head to one of the seven hills of Rome which are considered as the birthplace of the city. Back in the day the upper class of Rome used to live in the area and some of the must-visit sights of the area are the House of Livia, built in the 1st century B.C. and it is one of the best-preserved buildings in the area. Farnese Gardens is a must-visit. It was one of the first botanical gardens created in Europe. Domus Flavia, a palace built in the year 81 B.C. and the House of Augustus, that still has some of its colourful frescoes remaining. Lastly, visit the Palatine museum, if you are interested to see the archaeological discoveries made in the area.
- The Roman Ghetto (1.00 PM): Between visiting attractions, now would be the best time to take your lunch before the riposo starts! So, head to the Roman Ghetto where you can find many restaurants and little shops selling local foods. It is the oldest Jewish community in all of Europe and The Great Synagogue, Jewish Museum, and the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verita) are located in the area.
- Pantheon (3.30 PM): From the Jewish Ghetto walk to the Pantheon, which was built in the year 126 A.D. Today it is a church and is considered as one of the best surviving examples of ancient Roman architecture. Inside the Pantheon is also the tombs of several Italian kings and famous artists such as Raphael, who was the famous architect of the Renaissance period.
Day 2: Visit the holy city of Vatican
On the second day travel to the Vatican city. The three must-visit sights in Vatican City are the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica. Since the Vatican City is a very popular place to visit, I recommend starting your day in the Vatican Museums, so you can enjoy it in peace before the big crowds start to appear. If your visit is during the weekend, remember that many attractions, especially in the Vatican City, are closed on Sundays. Also remember to dress respectfully, cover your shoulders and knees.
- Vatican Museums and The Sistine Chapel (9.00 AM): Vatican museums holds one of the most impressive art collections in the world, with almost 20 000 pieces of painting, sculptures and many more. Some of the art pieces are done by famous artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Salvador Dalí. The chapel is part of the Vatican Museums, so it is easy to visit at the same time as going through the museum. The beautiful work of Michelangelo can be found in the ceiling of the chapel, such as the Final Judgment and The Creation of Adam.
- St Peter’s Square (11.30 AM): The square is near St Peter’s Basilica so visit it before going to the church. The square is one of the most famous squares in the world and it is designed by Bernini during the 17th century.
- St Peter’s Basilica (12.00 PM): After visiting the square head to the St Peter's Basilica, which is one of the largest churches in the world. Some of the famous artists were part of the building process of the church, such as Michelangelo, Donato Bramante and many more. The church also holds the St Peter’s Tomb and an underground graveyard of former popes. Remember to climb up to the top of the dome where you find the stunning view of St Peter's Square!
- Late lunch in a local restaurant (2.00 PM): After visiting Vatican city, take a break and have lunch. Even though many restaurants are closed during riposo, you should be able to find an open place. If you want to save money, buy picnic supplies from a grocery store, and have a picnic in a park.
- The Castel Sant'Angelo (3.30 PM): The fortress of The Castel Sant'Angelo is close to Vatican City which makes it an easy attraction to visit after the day in the holy city. The fortress is one of the oldest buildings in Rome, and inside is a museum. You can also climb up to the top where you can see the beautiful scenery of the ancient city. A great way to end your day!
Day 3: Walk around in the Centro Storico
Spend the last day of your trip walking around Central Rome while visiting the famous sites such as Piazza di Spagna and Spanish Steps, and the famous Trevi Fountain. This day is also a great day to do the last souvenir shopping in the shopping streets of Rome.
- Piazza del Popolo (9.00 AM): Start your day in the famous square which used to be the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire. The square also has an Egyptian obelisk dedicated to Ramesses II, Santa Maria del Popolo, Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli churches.
- Piazza di Spagna and Spanish Steps (10:00 AM): From there walk down to the Piazza di Spagna, where the famous Spanish Steps and Fontana della Barcaccia are also located. Walk around the area which has several impressive 17th and 18th-century villas.
- There are several street markets held in Rome, and one of them Piazza Fontanella Borghese Market is open every morning, except Sundays, near the Piazza di Spagna. So, if you are visiting the area on other days, remember to visit. The market specialises in selling antiques and books.
- Via dei Condotti, Via Frattina and Via del Babuino (12.00 AM): In these streets, you can find different shops for souvenirs, art and antiques, fashion, and street markets. It can be a little expensive for a low budget, but little window shopping never hurts.
- This is also a great opportunity to have lunch before heading to the most beautiful fountain in the world.
- Fontana di Trevi (3.00 PM): Continue to the famous fountain, which history dates to the year 19 B.C. The current appearance of the fountain was built in 1762. The fountain is also famous for its myth that originates from the 1954 movie "Three Coins in The Fountain", which has led to people throwing coins to the fountain. If you throw one coin: you will return to Rome. If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian. If you throw three coins: you will marry the person you met. To achieve them, you should throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder.
- The Galleria Sciarra (4.00 PM): If you still have energy, walk to the Galleria Sciarra, where you can find the beautiful Art Nouveau frescoes painted by Giuseppe Cellini in the late 19th century.
- For the rest of your trip, just enjoy the evening strolling around the city and enjoy Italian culture and food!
- Remember to buy the famous Italian pasta to bring back home with you and if you have not yet tried the famous gelato, now is the time!
How to save money?
Rome can be expensive and there is a lot to see and experience, which can take a large chunk out of your budget. Fortunately, there are many ways to save money in Rome and here are my tips:
- Instead of staying in expensive hotels, stay in independent hotels or bed & breakfasts owned by the locals. This way you get a more authentic experience compared to big hotel chains.
- There are different options for pass cards that include free entries and discounts to popular sights. Some of the cards have public transportation included. Whichever you choose depends on your itinerary. The cards come in different prices and period of validity. Some examples are the Roma Pass, OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card and Rome City Pass.
- Some museums and public monuments have special free entries or discount tickets, for example for people who are under 18 or over 65 years old, students, journalists etc.
- Every last Sunday of each month some sights have a free entrance for the public. Also, during certain holidays such as Christmas Day, some attractions have a free entrance.
- Try to find restaurants off the main tourist hubs since the prices are usually higher than normal. Many shops sell takeaway meals, such as pizza and sandwiches, so eating on the streets saves you a lot of money. Enjoy our snack in the parks or piazzas and enjoy the moment!
- And lastly, take public transportation instead of taxis or tourist busses. This way you can save a lot of money.
But what other choices there are for those who have a little bigger budget for their trip? With thousands of other tourists wanting to experience the city, popular sights can be very crowded especially during the peak seasons and public transportation can be a bit of a challenge and it may take a whole chunk out from your sightseeing time.
Also, travelling on your own might not allow you to dive deeper into the local culture by learning about the history, significance, culture of the destination as easily as other choices. Of course, you can choose to go on a group tour to get these experiences, but then again who wants to travel in a big group, with strict schedules and not being able to ask questions nor get a personal experience with a local guide?
Why would you not want to enjoy your vacation hassle-free while immersing yourself in the authentic Italian culture while avoiding the big crowds? Well, we can offer you that!
So, what is the solution? Hire a private tour guide who can make sure you get the most out of your vacation!
Here is how...
Our private tour guides in Rome can offer you different tour options, some with their own transportation. Our certified local guides will give you first-hand information about the sights you visit, offer you flexible tour options, show you Italian culture through the locals' eyes and help you to enjoy your time like never before. Our guides can also offer you personal suggestions from places to visit, delicious restaurant recommendations, and the best places to shop.
Since the Italian culture is known to be stress-free and laid back, booking a private tour guide allows you to enjoy your time at the destination without stress or hurry. Letting our guides plan and manage the details of the tour saves you valuable sightseeing time. Our guides know the fastest ways between places and when is the best time to visit attractions. Since the guides are locals, they are more passionate to offer you the best of the best their country can offer and give you once-in-a-lifetime experiences!
Every tour is customizable to your needs, schedule, and preferences, all you have to do is contact one of our guides and they will work with your requests. Let us know your interests and we can your itinerary based on your preferences to make your visit truly unique and memorable. Finally, you may save a lot of money compared to bus tours or group tours. Our pricing is often per-tour, not per person!
I hope this article got you interested in hiring a private tour guide for your next visit to Rome. Below you can find more recommendations of the tours offered by our local guides.
Recommended Private Tours
Full-Day Private Tour-Rome in the Golf Cart
The 7 Hidden Gems of Rome Tour In an antique FIAT 500
Private 3-Hour Vatican Museums Tour
The FIAT 500 90-Min chauffeured Tour
FIAT 500 self-drive Tour in Convoy
Information about COVID-19 measures in Italy
The current European entry ban is affecting some people from travelling to the European Union or Schengen area.
Some countries are on a total ban from entering Italy. Please refer here to see the latest information on which countries are allowed to enter Italy. Different areas of Italy have different restrictions or recommendations, please refer here to see your area's situation.
When arriving in Italy:
- It is mandatory to undergo a swab (antigenic or molecular) carried out within 48 hours before entry into Italy
- The results need to be negative
- Undergo health surveillance and isolation for a 5-day period, regardless of the result of the test
- To do another test after a 5-day isolation period
The whole nationwide recommendations:
- People who are showing symptoms, even mild, ones, should stay at home or their accommodation and immediately contact health services
- If you are under quarantine, mobility from home and social contacts are on a total ban
- Gatherings in public places or places that are open to the public are forbidden
- Wash your hands frequently, cough or sneeze directly into a tissue or the crook of the elbow
- Keep a safe distance of at least 1 metre between other people
- Always wear a mask (mandatory)
- Masks are not mandatory in the following cases
- If you are unable to use one due to health reasons
- It is strongly recommended to wear a mask in private homes when there is a non-resident visiting
Other useful websites for COVID-19 information in Italy:
Ministero della Salute (general information)
Ministero della Salute (traveller)
Ministero della Salute (current situation)
For current information about the COVID-19 Measures in Italy, click here.