What is there to really that you can’t say about Rome? Considered the center of the world for centuries, the birthplace of Caesar, and home to the Catholic Church, Rome is a city built on history. A visit to Rome is a gateway to an understanding of Europe. Of course there are the large crowds, congestion, bad traffic, and tons of tourists. But it’s Rome! And anyone who wanders off the tourist trail here will be rewarded with a city filled with life amid a vast amount of historical ruins.
Hostel prices – If you’re really on a tight budget, Rome has campgrounds that begin at $13 USD per night. Hostel dorm rooms in the city range between $25-45 USD per night, with prices dipping by about $5-10 USD in the off-season. Private rooms begin at $60 USD. (They are not a good deal here and you will find cheaper hotels. Don’t get a private room in a hostel!) Renting from a local is also becoming very popular.
Budget hotel prices – Prices start at $50 USD per night for a double room but are more expensive around the tourist areas, where a hotel in Rome can cost around $100 USD per night.
Average cost of food – Food costs vary widely in Rome. It’s easy to have a great (and expensive) Italian meal here, but it’s also easy to eat for less than $15 USD a day. Most restaurant meals with wine will cost around $25 USD per person. In tourist hot spots, add about $10 USD to that. Quick eats like pizza, paninis, and light snacks will cost $4-5 USD. Fast food will cost $10 USD for a value meal. For cheaper food, head to Trastevre, the student neighborhood, or hit a market.
Public transportation costs – Rome has several different types of transportation tickets: Biglietto semplice B.I.T. (time integrated ticket) – These must be used within 75 minutes and cost $1.30 USD (1 Euro). Biglietto giornaliero B.I.G (one-day ticket) is valid for 24 hours and is $6 USD. Biglietto per 3 giorni B.T.I (3-days tourist integrated ticket) is valid for 3 days in a row on any public means for $15 USD. Biglietto settimanale C.I.S. (tourist one-week integrated ticket) is valid for seven days in a row for $22 USD.
Money Saving Tips
Stay outside the center – If you are open to staying on the outskirts of Rome or in the countryside, you will save a lot of money on accommodation. Food outside of the city is much cheaper as well. You can always take the train into Rome.
Eat cheap! – When eating in Rome, opt for good sandwich and pizza places as opposed to touristy restaurants. These are always more expensive. For really good, inexpensive food, visit Trastevre across the river.
Get a tourist card – If you are going to see a lot of museums, consider buying one of Rome’s many budget cards such as the Roma Pass, Archeologia card, or the Biglietto 4 Musei (Four Museum Combination Ticket). You pay one flat fee for all the attractions.
Top Things to See and Do
See Vatican City – Vatican city is easy to see, but you could spend at least a half a day there. You couldn’t leave Rome without seeing the home of the Pope and the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel, and all of the wonderful museums.
Overload on churches – Rome has a ton of churches. Spend a few days looking at the bigger ones that are filled with great art, sculptures, decorations, and stained glass.
Explore Ostia Antica – The ruins of the ancient Rome port of Ostia Antica are well worth a visit. It is a huge complex, and you can easily spend several hours wandering around the old streets, shops, and houses. You should plan at least a half day for this trip. To get there, take the Metro Line B to Magliana, and take the Ostia Lido train from there.
Enter the Pantheon – The Pantheon looks today much like it did nearly 2,000 years ago, making it a marvel all in itself. Marble floors, a plethora of history, and by far one of the best-preserved buildings in the world.
Wander the Colosseum – Even though the line of tourists can seem endless, The Colosseum, one of the most famous sights in all of Italy is not to be missed. It is nearly 2000 years old, and it is the largest amphitheater in the entire Roman Empire.
Stroll through the Forum and Palatine Hill – Explore the seat of Ancient Rome and explore the forum where Rome administered it’s empire. Next to it is Palatine Hill, where the Roman aristocracy lived. You can combine a visit to the Colosseum with Palatine Hill. It is also worth getting a guide here to give you context and bring the ruins to life.
Hang out on the Spanish Steps – The Spanish Steps are a long and grand staircase in Rome to the Piazza di Spagna at the base. The stairway was built in the 1720s. The Spanish steps are very popular for people to hang out at and people watch. This place is also a popular place for pub crawls too, so watch your step.
See the Trevi Fountain – Probably the most famous fountain the world, the Trevi Fountain is always crowded. It’s especially crowded at night when couples come for their romantic picture. The best time to see this beautiful fountain is before lunch, when the crowds are thin. Don’t forget to throw two coins in (one for love, one to return to Rome) while you are there over your left shoulder.
Check out the art museums – If you enjoy art museums, you are in for a treat. There are a ton of great ones here, several of which are some of the highest-ranking in the world. The Galleria Naionale d’Arte Moderna is a good starting point—as it is home to several Italian masterpieces.
Partake in La Settimana dei Beni Culturali – This is a 10-day event that occurs every May. During this time, all governmentally owned and operated landmarks, museums, and archeological sites offer free admission. There aren’t any other deals better than this!
See a show – Aside from beautiful auditorium complexes, Rome is often host to world-class operas and concerts performed by international musicians. The Olympic Stadium is a hotspot for summer concerts and the Auditorium in Viale Pietro de Coubertin and at Parco della Musica hold events year round.
Visit Castel Sant’ Angelo – This structure was built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian at the end of the 1st-century, C.E.. During the course of history, it has also served as a papal residency and a prison. As you may know from The Da Vinci Code, there’s a passageway here that runs into the Vatican.
Explore the Catacombs – Rome has three major sets of catacombs that are open to the public – the Catacombs of Praetextatus, the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, and the Catacombs of San Callisto. Some of the underground crypts are adorned by sculptures and frescoes.