If you had been reading a previous post (#17 Complete) here are my handy tips to travel Rome.
- Don’t book to go in the middle of August!
Obviously we had a reason to be going on these dates but if you have no ties then go around May or September time. The temperatures are much cooler so more walking can be done in one day.
- If flying into Fiumicino Airport, grab the Leonardo Express train to Termini train station in the centre of Rome.
Follow the signs in the airport, buy your ticket for 14euros and get it stamped. This is important.
Find one of these machines and pop it in. I have no idea what happens if you don’t stamp your ticket but better be safe than sorry. The train takes around 35 minutes and only stops at Termini. Plenty of luggage holders – although not stacked correctly by humans – and air conditioned carriages.
- Italian Metro
Again very simple to use but its the tickets that I want to tell you about. You have a choice of many but we found that the 100 minute ticket for 1,50euros worked out the best. We did this because we would get the metro out to the furthest point and then walk back to our accommodation (ok we at least had this intention but the heat didn’t help). If you pay out for one of these tickets a day and you stay for a 4 day weekend you’d only spend 6euros. Its 7euros for a 24 hour ticket.
- Grab a free map
This was our bible whilst sightseeing across the city. I got our free one from a guy in the train station terminal. He was rather helpful too. I did buy some maps for others and they cost 1euro each. But having this gives you an idea of how close everything is. A bit like London. You can take the underground from one place to another but you could walk it and see 3 other sights along your way. Don’t be afraid to deface it either. We had many lines, circles and crosses all over the place.
- Book Accommodation near a Metro
This way it just seems so much easier going to and from places. See below the metro map.
- Coliseum Tickets
So in my post about my holiday I mentioned about all the different companies offering you to skip the line and have a tour guide. These could cost 40euros per person. Whereas getting up early and queuing yourself could cost you 12euros per adult. The arena opens at 0830. I was queued out of the metal barriers at the end of the big noticeboard and it took me 20 minutes to get inside the stadium. We must have got there at 0815. If you want to commit and get first in line then you’ll be experiencing gladiator history in no time.
Also note that the first Sunday of every month the Coliseum open up its doors for free. Tim and I checked out the queue for that on the Sunday and it did seem to be a little longer than normal.
- Da Vinci Museum
Fee to enter was 11euros and to hire a headset was 3euros. You had to leave a 20euro deposit for the headset at the ticket office. The headsets are not necessary as many plaques with text in English are by every exhibit. Some of the exhibits are interactive so you can touch them and move them – so it would keep your kids interested for a while whilst you found out all the boring facts. Surprisingly there isn’t too much in the terms of souvenirs.
- Ice Bar
With our free map was an advert about the Ice Bar including an offer to get a second drink free. It does cost 15euros to enter which gets you a drink and the use of their coats. Once you come out of the bar you can not go back in. If you dress in long sleeved clothing and had jeans on (compared to my summer dress) you would be able to last in there for 2-3 drinks. In comparison to other ice bars I hear it is relatively small. But the range of cocktails was vast and very tasty. If you can afford to go or have never been before then pop on in.
- Baths of Caracalla
It is just ruins at the end of the day but there are some nice grounds to go with it. If it were a much much cooler day then taking a picnic would have been a lovely idea (it was 4euros for one bottle of Fanta on the cart outside). This way you would have spent enough time to warrant the 8euro entrance fee. There was a big stage being built when we visited so if you researched into what shows they put on, you can always coincide with that.
- Gladiator School
To book yourself onto this activity I went through Viator. The cost is around £50 per adult for a 2 hour session. Where it is based can be reached by taxi for convenience or it is a 1.5 mile walk south of the Coliseum. Fun for all the family. I would highly recommend. Also if you sign up to Viator’s emails they give you a discount for your order. I’ve let it run until after we got back from Rome and have unsubscribed.
- Vatican Tour
Dark Rome is the company I booked this tour with. But the company itself was called City Wonders. Click on this link to see all their tours on offer https://citywonders.com/vatican-tours
It is a little more expensive but to skip the long queues (potentially in the burning sun) is definitely worth it. The more in depth the tour is the more you’re likely to pay.
Clothing wise, make sure you cover your shoulders and your knees!
- Castle St Angelo
I pre-booked these tickets as well. It doesn’t take too long for tickets in the morning but by the time we finished our visit the queue was being monitored and reaching the bridge. The most expensive ticket is 14,50euros. Follow this link to find out more
- General Pointers
Everything is in walking distance like London. You’ll be surprised by how much of the free activities you can see in a day.
Beware of pickpockets on the Metro. Sometimes its just kids walking up and down the platform then not actually getting onto a train. There are also musicians playing and asking for money or just women and children beggars. Just wave them on.
Around all of the main tourist attractions you’ll have people trying to sell you things like bracelets. They will ask you questions and be very complimentary towards you, just make sure you don’t accept anything from them. Tim jumped out of the way as guy said ‘catch’ when he threw a bracelet at him. Once you’ve got it, they expect you to pay whether you like it or not. The best line I had was ‘Are you from Africa?’ – yes I’m your white ass cousin. FUCK OFF. We even had the same man try it on with us for 3 days straight when we were getting on the Metro.
Buy a thermos flask to take with you. Some of the fountains have drinkable water plus there are running taps around the city too. This saves you from buying water every few hours and downing it because its cold. This was a life saver whilst in the temperatures of 40+
I think that’s all the serious stuff I have to share with you. If you are interested in finding out how my trip went then check out #17 Complete.