How to get the most out of your time in Rome
Rome is a magnet for travellers. Tourists from all over the world flock to the eternal city, creating human traffic jams in Rome’s charming streets.
You can’t get out of their way entirely, but here are some tips on how to keep squeezing through tour groups to a minimum.
1. Choose the time of your visit well
Rome attracts up to 10 million visitors every year. A real off-season doesn’t exist. However, there are times you should prevent. When planning your trip, check the school-holidays not only in Italy but also in other big European countries, and avoid those.
Unless you are a pilgrim, refrain from a visit during Christian festivities such as Palm Sunday or Easter. If your schedule allows it, visit the sights during the week, rather than on weekends.
Although European high season runs from May to September, many Italian companies have holidays in August and Romans leave the city to enjoy the Italian beaches. This promises slightly smaller crowds, if you can handle the heat.
2. Plan what you want to see
These days, it’s almost impossible to enter a museum or a sight spontaneously. Make a draft of your itinerary and think about which attractions and museums you want to visit.
If you’re going to take special tours (e.g. underground of the Colosseum or a guided tour of Vatican’s hidden museums), you may need to reserve an excursion well in advance.
3. Pre-Book the tickets
Booking the tickets online will spare you many nerve-wracking hours of standing in line. For the Vatican Museums, use their official website, where you can book a ticket for a designated entrance time.
Tip: If you want to use an audio guide in the Vatican Museums, pre-book it with your ticket reservation as well. There are separate lines for reserved and non-reserved audio-guides. Guess which one is longer!
Tickets for Colosseum and Roman Forum / Palatine Hill are valid for two consecutive days for 1 entrance to each site. Also, if you hire a guide, you can skip the line with him/her.
4. Start off the beaten path
Tourists flock to Trastevere for an afternoon drink and stay until late night. If you explore the neighbourhood in the morning, you can enjoy some charming empty streets and a relaxed atmosphere.
Be the first or the last one to visit a major attraction. When we “closed down” the Vatican Museums, we experienced some unique quiet moments in the galleries.
5. Book your dinner table
To prevent standing in a long queue at a trattoria, book a table. Some popular restaurants are booked out weeks in advance.
6. Check where to get in
The main entrance to Roman Forum is from Via dei Fori Imperiali. If you pass by the crowds there, you’ll soon lose the will to get in. However, enter from the Capitoline Hill, and you’ll smoothly skip bigger crowds. To get there, proceed from Piazza del Campidoglio towards the famous bronze Capitoline Wolf (Lupa Capitolina) statue.
After that, take the stairs to Via dell’Arco di Settimio, where you’ll find the side entrance.
7. It’s not only about the sights
If you see crowds in front of a sight like Pantheon, just relax, find a bar, get a cafè and observe the happening outside. Wait for the right moment and swoop in.
If you need a little snack accompanied by a glass of wine, head to one of the Prosciutterias conveniently located in quieter streets around major attractions.
Don’t rush only through the sights. Enjoy the Dolce Vita feeling in cafés, trattorias and bars of the eternal city!