Rome is one of the most exciting destinations in the world. The Italian capital has it all, nightlife, shopping, fine dining and entertainment, whilst being world renowned for its array of historic landmarks.
It's also an incredibly friendly city. Whether you want to chat over coffee in the piazza or need directions to the Spanish Steps, the locals are more than happy to help.
Known as the 'Eternal City', Rome was once the stronghold of the mighty Roman Empire. Its timeless charm captivates visitors who flock to the city for romantic breaks, family vacations, and shopping sprees.
Built on seven hills and the banks of the River Tiber, the city is a fabulous blend of elegantly crumbling ruins, magnificent palaces and bustling piazzas, ancient cobbled alleyways and glorious open spaces.
The Colosseum, the Pantheon, St. Peter's Basilica, the Trevi Fountain - the historic landmarks are too numerous to list. In fact, the entire city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Rome was synonymous with romance long before Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn zipped through its streets on a Vespa in 'Roman Holiday'. See fabulous sunsets that illuminate the dome of St. Peter's or trace the footsteps of the great Romantic poets with a visit to the Keats-Shelley house at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. Be sure to throw a few coins into the Trevi Fountain to ensure your return some day.
Italians like to share long, extended meals with family and friends. And, who can blame them? Dine on pasta, pizza, risotto, tangy local cheeses, delicious olives, ice-cream, artisan bread and fine, full-bodied wines in cafes and city center restaurants.
Shop for designer clothing in via Condotti, Rome's answer to Avenue Montaigne, Bond Street, and Fifth Avenue. You'll also discover large malls, flea markets and mom and pop stores in this vibrant metropolis.
Rome's piazzas are a leading attraction. Visit Piazza Venezia, the 'Heart of the City', with its famous statue of Victor Emanuel II or sip a cappuccino in Piazza di Spagna close to the Spanish Steps and the Trinita dei Monti Church.
The Colosseum is Rome's centerpiece. This is the largest arena ever built. Once a great social forum hosting an estimated 50,000 - 80,000 spectators; the gruesome shows involved gladiator fights, staged hunts, parades of wild beasts, and brutal executions. This 1st-century feat of engineering still stands in an impressive state, where visitors can imagine the dramatic past as they explore the stands.
The Pantheon rivals the Colosseum when it comes to awe-inspiring construction. Entering this Roman temple is a magical experience, with natural light flooding into the chamber through the dwarfing dome. And the construction truly is mystical: the Pantheon still boasts the world's largest, unreinforced concrete dome in all of history. Begging the question - how did the Romans construct this masterpiece?
Vatican City is home to the Pope, the Catholic Church, and some of the most famous art in the world. "The greatest of all churches in Christendom," St. Peter's Basilica is an architectural wonder and the burial site for many popes. The nearby Sistine Chapel is all the more famous for its ceiling frescos by Michelangelo, inspiring pilgrimages to see "the Birth of Adam" from all over the world.
Just beside the Colosseum is the Roman Forum, the remaining ruins of Ancient Rome's core. This public forum was the heart of Roman society and a celebrated meeting place. Speeches, events, processions and more took place among countless temples, statues and basilicas - a venue that united the people in a constant reminder of what the Empire was all about.
The largest baroque fountain in the city, of which there are many, is Trevi Fountain. This jaw-droppingly ornamented art piece is 86 feet tall and recognized for its iconic sculpture. Visitors go to throw coins into the fountain, which grants them wishes, every day. It's been estimated that over 3000 euros per day are collected from the water!
The summer season runs from May to September but Rome is busiest between June and August. You'll enjoy temperatures of 81 to 88F but because queues for top attractions can mean a long wait in the sun, make sure to pack plenty of water. Book a break from April to May or September to October to avoid the crowds and take advantage of deals on flights and accommodation. Alternatively, visit over the Christmas and New Year period to see the city from a new perspective. Festive events like the Christmas Market in Piazza Navona and religious celebrations in Vatican City are popular with visitors and locals.
Many visitors fly to Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino International Airport (FCO). Rome's main airport is 21 miles west of the city, and there are daily flights from several US cities including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. If you're flying from elsewhere in Europe, carriers like EasyJet, Wizzair, and Ryanair may land at G.B. Pastine/Ciampino International Airport (CIA) which is just 7.5 miles from the city center.
Trains usually stop at the city's main railway station, Roma Termini, which is opposite the Baths of Diocletian, however, the station is closed from 00.30 and 04.30 so you'll alight at Tiburtina station during the night.
There are buses to Rome from various European destinations with operators like Eurolines, Megabus, and Flixbus and from the UK with National Express.
Contrary to popular belief, it is easy to drive to Rome. The Grande Raccordo Anulare motorway (GRA) circles the city and drivers can exit this convenient ring road almost anywhere for the city center.
Whether you're a fan of luxury spa hotels or whether you want good, budget accommodation, you'll find it all in Rome. Since 2011, a small surcharge has been added to the basic cost of accommodation. The city uses this to maintain and repair its magnificent historical landmarks. Charges per person, per night - 2 Euros at campsites, 2.5 Euros at bed & breakfast style hotels, 3 Euros in 2-star hotels, 4 Euros in 3-star hotels and 6 to 7 Euros in 4 and 5-star hotels. Many visitors choose downtown hotels close to the Pantheon and the area close to the Termini station also has hotels to suit all tastes.
Modern Centre – the city's entertainment, nightlife and shopping hub. You'll also find the Quirinal Palace and the via Veneto here.
Old Rome – Old Rome is home to the Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Ghetto and Campo de' Fiori. Stroll through narrow streets or relax in friendly neighborhood cafes.
Vatican City – The Vatican is a treasure trove of art and history. Notable attractions include St. Peter's Square and the Vatican Museums.
Colosseo – Named for the Colosseum and the ancient heart of the city. Other landmarks are the Capitoline Museum and the Forum.
Trastavere – A vibrant and trendy area, Trastevere boasts some of the city's best bars, clubs and restaurants.
Rome is well-served by buses, trams, trolleybuses and the city's Metro system so it is incredibly easy to get around. The entire public transportation system uses just one type of ticket, and a single ride costs 1.50 euros. Popular options for tourists include the Roma Pass for 36 euros and the OMNIA Vatican and Rome pass.
Official Rome taxis are white with a taxi sign on the roof. There is a flat rate charge for journeys to the city (within the Aurelian Walls) from the airports - 48 euros from Fiumicino and 30 euros from Ciampino. A typical journey in the city is 14 euros, and it's usual to tip about 10 to 15%.
It's not too difficult to drive in Rome once you've worked out the road system. However, some areas are limited traffic or ZTL zones which can only be used by local drivers with an electronic pass.
Rome is a surprisingly affordable destination and a simple lunch costs just 15 euros while a three-course meal in a fine restaurant is 80 euros. It's more expensive to buy snacks and drinks close to famous attractions, so it makes sense to stock up on soft drinks and basics in the supermarkets.
Fashionistas will be in their element in the designer boutiques of the via del Corso, via Condotti and via Cola di Rienzo. As well as designers like Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Missoni and Louis Vuitton you'll find lots of elegant one-of-a-kind stores. Shop for your favorite brands at the Pantheon or via del Tritone or at the Euroma2 mall, a complex of over 230 shops and restaurants. Be sure to visit La Rinascente; Rome's oldest department store which has been selling fashion, beauty and home products since 1887.
Buy basics like food and cold drinks in supermarkets like Coop, Elite and Conad or try local grocery stores and bakeries for freshly baked bread, olives, cheeses and cured meats like salami.
Rome is a foodies dream. Dine on classic Italian and international cuisine in fine restaurants or enjoy a snack from a street vendor. Roman pizza has a thin crust, and 'pizza by the slice' vendors are a staple of every neighborhood. Be sure to try fried starters like baccala (salt cod in batter) or suppli (rice balls fried with cheese and tomato).
Italian food is delicious and Roman favorites include Bucatini alla Amatriciana - pasta served with pecorino Romano cheese and tomatoes and Scaloppine alla Romana, a dish that combines sautéed veal with baby artichokes. Ice-cream or 'gelato' is also big news and local brands include Gelarmony, Gelato di San Crispino and La Palma.