Once considered the capital of the world, as part of the vast Roman Empire, Rome holds a host of reminders of this glorious past. From the Colosseum to ancient ruins, this city reminds the visitor of history alongside the power which came with a vast empire. Set against the modern life, amazing food and a glass of wine, you have the perfect backdrop for an excellent city visit.
A tourist card such as the Roma Pass is a great way to both save some money and skip some of the queues. You can purchase either a 72-hour or 48-hour pass, depending on how long your trip is. The Roma Pass allows for free entry to the first 2 museums and/or archaeological sites, along with unlimited free access to the ATAC public transport network, encompassing metro, buses and trams. This is really useful during your stay, and minimises the amount of walking you need to be doing.
Rome is a city rich in history, and as a result there is a lot to do in any trip to the city. The below is a small selection of some of the highlights, particularly suited to the first-time visitor.
Think of Rome and you will likely picture this iconic monument. For over 2,000 years, the Colosseum has stood to signify the great Roman power of an empire which expanded across the world. The history held within this structure is truly awe-inspiring and an unforgettable experience to see for yourself.
You can access the inside of the Colosseum and are free to walk around in your own time, or there are number guided tour options available, as well as audio guides. Worth noting is the Roma Pass gets you access to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum as one entry, also allowing you to skip any queues.
Palatine Hill continues the history with some excellent views of classic Roman sites. The ruins and architecture here allow for a view back in time. It is well-worth exploring the history prior to or after your visit, to really appreciate what has taken place before.
One of the most visited sites in Rome, the Forum allows you to walk in the footsteps of some of the great Roman figures of the past, alongside gaining a view and insight into what was the centre of the ancient world.
The Vatican holds many vast museums which will take a good amount of time to tour and give them justice. The Sistine Chapel is undoubtedly the highlight but there are many other artistic sights to see. Head across to St. Peter's Basilica for what is considered Italy's most spectacular church.
A great place to spend a few hours, and definitely somewhere to include on your visit itinerary. There are a lot of rooms to tour around and the view from the top is worth the entry fee alone, giving you excellent views across the city of Rome, seeing the Colosseum to one side, and St Peter’s Basilica to the other. Tending to not be as busy as some of the other sights, this site was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, before later being used as a Papal fortress, through to being the museum you see today.
Well-preserved and vast inside, the Pantheon presents a remarkable view. The exterior is impressive, with pictures not doing justice to it. Likely the second iconic sight you think of after the Colosseum, when picturing Rome, this former temple inspires, from the entrance doors to the dome above once inside. As it is now a church, you are asked to respect this, and keep noise to a minimum.
The most impressive feature once inside is the interior of the concrete dome, with a central opening allowing you to see the sky above. The dome remains, after over 2,000 years, the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
Piazza di Spagna & the Spanish Steps
An attraction for many a tourist, the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna at the base allow an ideal rest point to really take in your surroundings. With the stairway being built in 1725, you have a good opportunity to reflect on the people that have taken in the same surroundings in times past.
Somewhat quieter than the inner city centre, make your way out to Ostia Antica for half a day or more, for some well-preserved ruins of a once busy working port. The ruins are excellent to explore, and you can really lose yourself in the remains of the different buildings, it really is a quiet find during the week, and very different to the busy aspect of the city.
Purchase the €2 site map for sure, and an audio guide is useful too, to provide some context to what you are seeing. The site has audio guide numbers on signs, allowing you to easily select the information for what you are seeing.
The train ride is fairly easy, and is covered by the Roma Pass travel element – take Metro Line B from Termini, changing at Basilica San Paolo to the Roma – Lido train, through to the stop at Ostia Antica. The site is a short walk from here, over the road bridge.
Where to Stay
When visiting a city, booking a short hotel stay can allow you to have a good base to go on and explore the city centre and its attractions. There are a number of hotel options available in and around Rome, including Intercontinental*, Hotel Indigo*, Crowne Plaza*, Holiday Inn*, and Radisson Blu*.
For your trip home
If flying back home from Rome Fiumicino (FCO) Airport, you may wish to relax before your flight in the Plaza Premium Lounge. If so, check out our Lounge Review.
The above article offers an overview of some of the highlights this area has to offer, however for a more complete guide we recommend the travel guide for Rome, from Lonely Planet.
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