Planning a trip to The Eternal City can be a beast, so we have put together the most comprehensive list of Rome Travel Tips to help you in your planning. Rome is one of those cities you learn about read aplenty in schooling, but you hope one day you make it. Well now that you are going, here is what you should know.
Like most trips, we expect them to go off without any issues and we think we have done plenty of research to make sure that does not happen. Inevitably we overlook things, big and small, and those things can have huge impacts on us in the moment.
For most travelers, there is always that fear of getting lost, robbed, not being able to see the things you planned, losing stuff, the airport losing your luggage, health issues, forgetting things at home, etc. Things do and can happen no matter how well prepared you are. Hopefully this guide gets you as prepared as you possibly could be.
So let’s dive into these Rome Travel Tips and get you on your way!
Rome Travel Tips 21 Things You NEED To Know Before You Go
Without a shadow of a doubt, the most important thing you should purchase after you book your trip (or during the booking process) is travel insurance. Even the most seasoned travelers purchase travel insurance because you never know when something can go wrong.
The primary reason you need travel insurance is to protect your investment in your trip and yourself both before you go and during your trip. What if you lose your job or get seriously ill before your trip and cannot make it? Travel insurance would cover it.
One of the top Rome Travel Tips to adhere to is getting that travel insurance. You can be protected from things like lost or delayed luggage, trip interruption, emergency evacuations and medical services, etc. The best part is: it is not very expensive! So do not leave home without it.
Cash and Credit Cards
While credit cards are widely accepted in hotels and restaurants, one of the best Rome Travel Tips is to always have cash on you. The official currency in Rome is the Euro and you can get this at the airport or try and find an ATM. Changing currency at your starting airport (if you are flying) or once you arrive in Rome, is going to be your best bet.
You are probably wondering what you need cash for anyway? GELATO! Italy and gelato are nearly synonymous and one simply doesn’t visit the city and not eat it. Additionally there are a lot of places and vendors that are cash only.
The last thing you want is to show up to a place that only takes cash and you can’t locate an ATM or currency exchange anywhere. Plan ahead and be prepared so that you don’t have to waste anytime on your trip doing this.
Visa and Mastercard seem to be the credit cards of choice when vendors do take them. If you are planning to live solely on a Discover or American Express card for your trip, one of the Rome Travel Tips that should be noted: bring cash or plan to use a Visa or Mastercard. These other two are taken less frequently.
Getting around Rome
If you are flying into Rome, there is a 32 minute train ride that is a direct path called the “Leonardo Express Train.” It leaves every 30 minutes for most of the day and can get extremely busy.
If you are used to using Uber at home to get around, then you will be pleased to know that Rome does have it! If you have never used Uber but are interested, just download the app and upload a credit card for payment. Make sure you have WiFi or service on your phone for it to work.
Taxis are pretty readily available in Rome and easy to get. You will find orange signs with the word “TAXI” on it and cabs below it for hire (this is one of those times that you need cash).
The bus system in Rome is also a great way to get around because they run around the clock. There is a metro system in Rome as well that you can use.
Don’t forget, you can rent a scooter as well to get around!
And, one of the best Rome Travel Tips is that walking in Rome can be very easy as well. Some of the most touristic places are in the same vicinity and have traffic free zones, making it easier to get around.
Latin was the official language during the Roman Empire but now Italian is widely spoken as is English. If you don’t speak Italian, you can still expect to easily find people who speak English to help you.
You could always learn a few phrases before you go! People love when you try to communicate in their language. It shows them you are trying – but no worries if you do not have the time, etc. English is widely spoken.
As a general rule of thumb, tipping in Rome is not expected, but appreciated. Because Americans tip for just about everything, they have taken this practice with them on their travels to Rome and now it is becoming a common theme. However, one of the Rome travel tips to know is that the standards for tipping are not the same.
In the United States it is widely expected to tip 15-20%+ on nearly every service (wait staff, hotels, luggage assistance, taxis, etc). In Rome, tipping is not required exactly – you tip if you feel like it, in a lot of places, anyway. One thing to look for is on your check to see if it was included, if so, you do not need to tip again.
When it comes to how much to tip, usually 1-2 Euro is good (or more if you feel like it) but it does not need to be extravagant. While it is appreciated, it is also seen as flashy.
The dining culture in Rome is not like western cultures. Big breakfasts are not a thing and dining times are not what you think.
If you like to eat in the morning and don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to do so, stop at a store or market and grab some fresh fruits, baked good, etc. You will be hard pressed to find large breakfast spreads.
Dinner times start late, typically after 6:00pm and can go well into the late hours. You will want to adjust to this quickly and note that dining in Rome is slower. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do!” Enjoy your meal and your wine in between. There is no rush.
As with most cities, you should always be aware of your surroundings and your belongings. It takes two seconds for someone to swipe your bag or to take something out of it. You read about this happening to people all over the world all the time. Don’t be a victim.
You should take extra precautions in busy areas or where people are doing shows and tricks. Sometimes the trick is to rob the viewers.
Some of the best Rome travel tips to avoid a pickpocket are:
- Keep your items in front of you
- Don’t expose anything flashy
- Don’t keep a ton of cash on you that anyone can see
- Get yourself an anti theft backpack, cross body bag or even a purse!
If you do not want to carry a bag but still need to carry your stuff, consider this lightweight scarf that has a hidden pocket where you can conceal the items you need.
Nothing is FREE
One of the best Rome travel tips we can offer is that nothing is ever free, not even in Rome. If someone on the street hands you something or tries to give you something for “free.” it surely will not be. Avoid this mistake at all costs.
Christianity is what Rome is known for and the churches tend to be Roman Catholic.
What to wear
Rome is definitely similar to western countries. You should wear whatever you are comfortable in but recognize that you will be doing some walking whether indoors or outside. Comfort should be a priority.
While there is not strict dress codes walking the city, it is enforced in the church, Vatican and Basilicas that you do not wear shorts or sleeveless tops, just to be respectful. You do not need to be covered head to toe, but you will need to adhere to the dress code in those situations or being admitted will be denied.
Booking tours in advance
One of the top Rome travel tips we can give is to plan in advance and book your tours. You never know when something will fill up and it would not be fun for you to show up and not get what you want. It does not take long to book the Rome attractions you want to see while visiting.
You could also look for anything going on in the city during the time frame you are visiting. Sometimes free concerts are happening during the summer outdoors, specialty dining events, operas, etc. It would be wise to plan ahead for things things you really want to do.
Walking in Rome is one of the best activities you can do but with that comes a lot of cobblestone and a lot of miles walked. One of the most important Rome travel tips to have is that you should have an amazing paid of walking shoes! You need support on your feet, especially if you are in the city more than a day.
Whether you are walking through museums, architecture sites, taking tours, or just walking the streets, you will want comfortable shoes with support for your feet.
Beware of local laws
One of the newest laws to hit Rome is that it is now illegal to sit or lay on the Spanish Steps. This used to be a place for gathering and photos and got overcrowded.
Carry toilet paper or the like
Public restrooms leave much to be desired. If you are out for the day exploring and find that you need to use a public restroom, it is far better to be prepared than to not be.
Plan ahead for WiFi
You can often get WiFi in cafes if you make a purchase and hotels have it as well, but if you are planning to be out all day and need to stay connected, you should plan ahead. We love portable WiFi that we take almost everywhere we go and you can connect up to five devices on it. It is small and fits in your bag or pocket and keeps you connected with 4G!
Alternatively, you could set up a phone and WiFi plan with your phone company before you leave. They can alert you as to how much each call, text and what data costs. For cost purposes, the portable WiFi is the better deal because you just pay a flat fee for a 24 hour period and you can have multiple people using it or devices.
The water in Rome is safe to drink, much like western countries. Which is great news if you pack a water bottle, you can easily refill it. However, one of the most common unknown Rome travel tips is that water is NOT free when you dine in restaurants.
The average cost of a large glass jar of water in restaurants is about two Euro (give or take with the exchange rate), and while that is a cheaper alternative to a different beverage, you will need to budget for that.
Best time to visit Rome
This can be tricky as often visits to The Eternal City are dictated by time off and availability. However, if you have full control on when you can visit, spring and fall are considered the best times to visit (with the exception of Easter).
Summer is the most popular time to visit and also the most expensive and hottest. You will pay a premium to stand in the sweltering heat all day with troves of people, essentially. If this is the only time you can visit, plan ahead and book everything that you can ahead. Skip the line tickets are worth every single cent visiting during the summer and you can thank me later for that tip.
In the winter, one of the Rome travel tips to note is that the days are shorter and attractions tend to close earlier whereas the summer has longer days. You can always utilize the earlier closures to stroll the streets and eat lots of delicious Italian food.
How to save money
Rome can go both ways, you can do it on a budget or as extravagant as you would like. If you want to save money here are a few tips to help:
- Stay in a hostel
- Rent an Airbnb so you can cook food
- If you stay in a hotel, stay at one that offers complimentary breakfast
- Avoid eating meals in hotels and find street vendors
- Grab snacks and food from grocery stores instead of dining out every meal
- Use public transportation versus a taxi or Uber
- Walk the city
- Take advantage of any free walking tours
Don’t pack your Sunday’s with activities
A lot of businesses are closed on Sunday’s but you can still go to museums, just expect them to be packed with people since there is a limited availability of things to do with closures.
You could also use Sunday to go to church, take a day off from site seeing, just take a leisurely stroll, go to a spa, etc. You do not have to hit the pavement hard every single day you are there.
On the first Sunday of every month museums and some attractions are free!
Order the house wine!
When you dine out for meals, make sure to ask for ‘vino della casa’ which is house wine. It tastes just as good (if not better) and it will save you some money. Which means – you can drink more of it.
Rome can be very crowded at certain times throughout the year, and some places, every single day. We know you want that picture perfect photo without the masses in it. Here are some of our top Rome travel tips to getting photos without people in them:
- Get up extremely early and be at your destination before or around sunrise. This should give you plenty of time to get your photos.
- Scout your locations ahead of time and plan.
- Visiting during off seasons when the crowds are not as bad
This wraps up our Rome travel tips. We hope you find this guide useful for your trip to the Eternal City.
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I am making my first trip to Rome in a couple of weeks and this post was super helpful as I start to plan my trip. Thanks!