7 top tips for a weekend trip to Rome

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it can’t be seen in one either. Many tourists find it frustrating only having a day or two at their disposal, but if that’s all you’ve got, here’s how to make the most of your time during a quick trip to Rome.

Stay centrally

You could choose to base yourself near Termini (the main train station) for the sake of convenience, but it’s not the most attractive part of Rome. Look out for hotels or apartments in Monti, which is a beautiful, historic neighbourhood with good transport connections, just round the corner from the Colosseum. Rental in Rome has a great selection of holiday apartments in central locations, ranging from good value studio apartments near the Vatican to luxurious penthouses overlooking Piazza Navona.

weekend-rome-piazza-navona

Get to grips with the public transport

Although the centre of Rome is fairly compact for a capital city, you’re going to need to use public transport at some point. A 48 hour metro pass costs only €12, and gives you unlimited access to the metro and buses. Take the time to study the metro map and a couple of useful bus routes, and you’ll save yourself valuable time and energy.

weekend-rome-metro

See the city on a scooter

Whizzing around on a motorino is an even more efficient way to see Rome, and it’s much more fun. There are numerous companies that offer scooter tours, and Scooterino is a useful app for an Uber-esque scooter taxi service. Alternatively, if you’re feeling brave, rent a scooter from Bici & Baci.

weekend-rome-scooter

Book in advance

You don’t need to book in advance for every attraction, but planning definitely pays off for the Vatican. You don’t want to waste half of your weekend waiting in line to enter the Vatican Museums, so book your tickets in advance, or, even better, book a guided tour designed to maximise your time. Rather than wandering aimlessly through endless galleries, go with an expert who can show you the highlights and provide valuable context.

The Borghese Gallery also needs to be booked in advance. There are a limited number of tickets, and if you wait till the last minute to book tickets for a weekend visit, you may be disappointed.

weekend-rome-vatican

Consider alternatives to the “must-see sights”

No one would deny that a visit to the Vatican, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum are essential. But if it’s not your first time in Rome, or you’re only in the city for a couple of days, why not visit some other attractions instead? The Borghese Gallery and Palazzo Barberini have stunning art collections, while Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Centrale Montemartini and Villa Giulia are highly recommended for history lovers. Trajan’s Market and the Baths of Caracalla could be good alternatives to the Roman Forum. These sites may be less famous, but they’re also smaller and more manageable. 3 hours in the Vatican Museums or 1.5 hours in the Borghese Gallery? Whichever you choose, it’s time well-spent, but if you’re only in Rome for a short weekend you may want to opt for the latter.

weekend-rome-centrale-montemartini

Remember to refuel

Sightseeing is tiring, and even the most ambitious tourist can be worn out by a day in Rome, especially when it’s hot. Make time for quick coffee breaks – take it standing up at the counter like a local – and gelato stops. The tradition of aperitivo could also be used to the weary tourist’s advantage. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a drink or two with an assortment of food at about 6pm. A cocktail accompanied by crisps, nuts and pizzette will give you some energy, and keep you going till dinner.

weekend-rome-aperitivo

Research your restaurants

One of the great pleasures of a trip to Rome is the food. If you’re only visiting for a short time, you don’t want to waste valuable dining opportunities in tourist traps near the Trevi Fountain. Before you arrive in Rome, find some recommendations online and make a note of suggestions by Rome-based bloggers and food writers such as Katie Parla and Elizabeth Minchilli. There are plenty of excellent restaurants in the centre of Rome, but you need to know where to go, as it’s not always easy to identify a top quality restaurant when you’re inspecting the menu from the street. Reliable restaurants in Rome include Armando al Pantheon, La Carbonara (Monti) and Flavio al Velavevodetto (Testaccio).

weekend-rome-armando-al-pantheon

Rosario Gorgone is Co-Founder of Through Eternity Tours.

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Comments (1)

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  1. Peter says:

    Rosario, you are so right about sight-seeing being tiring. I really tire easily. Maybe museums should have snack points inside in addition to the seats you get!

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