Rome, the “Eternal City”, is a destination filled with history, attractions, culinary food and nightlife that captivates anyone who steps foot onto the ancient streets. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so there’s no reason to try to see the city in a day. I studied abroad in Rome during my junior year of college and while I think everyone should spend more than a weekend in this mesmerizing city, here’s the scoop on the best things to do for a weekend trip to Rome.
Rome has two airports, Fiumicino Airport (Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci) which is used by the major airlines, and Ciampino Airport which is used by budget airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair. You can also arrive via train through Rome’s main train station Termini. Not only is it the main train station, but a hub of other kinds of transportation such as Rome’s Metro network and the main bus station for local buses in Rome and airport buses and trains.
Getting Around Rome
There are two metro lines in Rome that get you to the majority of the attractions and make it easier to cover more ground in a short amount of time. You’ll need a ticket to ride the metro, which you can buy from tobacconists, bars, or vending machines at Metro stations and major bus stops. There are multiple ticket options, but for a weekend I recommend getting the B.I.T. standard ticket, valid for one Metro ride or 100 minutes on all buses allowing transfers (€1.50), a 24-hour ticket (€7.00) or a 48-hour ticket (€12.50). When it comes to busses, I never took the busses in Rome as they were too crowded and out of the way from where I lived, so I recommend reading “Rome public bus services in city centre” if that’s something you want to do. Taxis in Rome can be expensive and there’s no Uber so I recommend walking, using the metro or the above ground Tram lines.
Where to Stay
There is a wide variety of places you can stay in Rome depending on your budget and what experience you want to have. I lived in an apartment in the neighborhood Trastevere, so here’s a list of the best hotels and hostels recommended by others.
What to Do
One of the more popular attractions so I recommend going either in the morning or after dinner to ensure a smaller crowd and easier photo opt. Don’t forget to bring a coin!
If you’re visiting in the summer be prepared for the heat and long lines. You can get more out of your experience and skip the line by joining a group tour and paying for a guide. If not, I recommend going at opening (8:30 AM) or 1-2 hours before closing so it’s not as busy. The standard ticket gives you access to the Palatine Hill and Imperial Forum which are some other must-sees. You can buy tickets outside, but I highly recommend purchasing tickets online in advance.
A Food Tour
Rome has so many amazing restaurants and so many options of food to try that it can get overwhelming. I recommend doing a food tour to make sure you hit all the highlights and famous food the city has to offer. While in Rome I did the Foodies in Rome walking food tour with Dominique Barbeau and not only did we eat incredible food but she teaches insider knowledge of eating in Rome, finding authentic places and showing local spots.
A quick, fun and true cultural way to see Rome. Hop on the back of a Vespa with a trained tour guide and you’ll see Rome as the Romans do! I recommend Scooteroma or Dearoma for a once in a lifetime experience.
The center for the Roman Catholic Church contains the Sistine Chapel (with Michaelangelo’s famous ceiling painting), St. Peter’s Basilica (one of the largest churches in the world) and Square, and many other museums that are a must-see even if you’re not religious. Group or individual tours are the best options in order to learn all of the artwork and history, so take advantage of the online reservation system and book your tickets in advance. Make sure to have your knees and shoulders covered when you visit or you might be turned away.
Walk along the Tiber River at Night
Rome is just as beautiful at night and there’s nothing quite like walking up the river while the lights and buildings reflect off the water. Rome has no open container laws, so grab a bottle of wine and enjoy a peaceful ending to a busy day. However, each year from June to September the river comes to life at 7 pm with the Summer Festival filling the banks of the river with shops, restaurants, tables, galleries, music, and lounges for a charming cultural experience.
Drinks in Campo Di Fiori
After a long day of sightseeing, sit down and have a drink in one of Rome’s main piazza’s where there are many bars and restaurants to choose from. Chat and relax outside with locals before heading off to dinner or experience the fun nightlife.
I may be a bit biased, but Trastevere is my favorite neighborhood in all of Rome. Small cobblestone streets filled with restaurants, bars, and gelato shops give you a break from the crazy city. Sit down and have “aperitivo” (a prelude to dinner where you’re offered various appetizer’s as long as your order a drink), rest on the steps of Piazza Trilussa with an Aperol Spritz or take the climb up Gianicolo Hill to see the best view of Rome. Top of the night by visiting Fata Morgana, my all time favorite gelato shop. As you can see there’s simply no place like Rome. There are so many other activities and sights to see that I didn’t mention, but I think this guide gives you the best of the history and sight-seeing activities as well as the food and cultural ones. I hope after following this guide you’ll leave Rome feeling as enchanted and as I did.