Rome has been on my bucket list since high school! I fell in love with the ancient city reading history text books and watching classic black-and-white movies. I could hardly wait the full two weeks of our Mediterranean adventure to meet it’s finale in Rome!
Undeniably, Rome is incredible. While you’re sure to fall in love with this city, it’s important to note that there are ways that you can either enhance your Roman holiday or seriously hinder it. Here are a few of the DO’s and DON’Ts you’ll want to keep in mind for your visit.
DO throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, but DON’T expect to get a killer picture of the moment.
The Trevi Fountain is easily one of Rome’s most iconic attractions! The first thing I did once we dropped off our bags was dig out a coin from my purse and practically drag my Adventureman through the cobble stone streets until we found the fountain.
It was awe-inspiring for sure, but SO CROWDED! People were standing shoulder-to-shoulder just to catch a glimpse of it. Maybe you’re like me and you envision the perfect photo op that makes it seem like you have the fountain to yourself as you make a wish! There was no such moment for me! I made a heroic attempt, but as you can see, not everyone in the frame was ready for the picture!
Even now, I’m dumbfounded by the gorgeous crowd-less pictures I see taken at the fountain. If you know the magical incantation to make the crowds disappear… please share! 😉
DO pay for a joint tour of the Colosseum, Roman forum, and Palatine Hill.
Some of Rome’s most popular ancient ruins include the Colosseum, Roman forum, and Palatine Hill. While the Forum is free to walk through, the Colosseum and Palatine Hill require an admission fee. We chose to pay for a 3-hour guided tour that included exclusive access to all three attractions and we are SO glad that we did!
With an all-inclusive guided tour, we were able to schedule our day and skip the lines to enter each area. Rather than walk through the ruins on our own and have to guess what each ancient structure once was, we were given a full explanation from a history expert.
By far the best perk of our guided tour was the special access it granted us within the Colosseum. Inside the Colosseum there are many different viewing platforms. General admission only grants you access to a few of these spots. Our tour allowed us to enter all viewing areas: the top of the amphitheater, the area encircling the arena, and the underground maze beneath the arena.
DON’T walk out onto the Colosseum arena (or maybe do… just don’t get caught).
I had high expectations for the underground portion of our Colosseum tour. I fully assumed that we’d be permitted to walk among the center ruins – right beneath where gladiators once fought. Much to my bitter disappointment, we were only allowed to look across the ruins from under the eaves!
At the same time our tour was taking place, a group of archaeology students in yellow hard hats explored the center area at their leisure. I frantically looked for a discarded hard-hat in hopes of impersonating an Indiana Jones in training. No such luck. But if you should find yourself in possession of such a hat… you have my blessing! Just don’t get caught!
DO pre-book your small group Vatican tour.
Visting the Vatican is NOT overrated! There is so much to see. We opted to pre-book a small group tour of just our group of six. One of the best decisions of the trip! Like with the Colosseum tour, we were able to schedule our tour time, skip the enormous line, and be guided by a genuine expert. Our guide took us through the Vatican museums, the former pope’s apartments, the Sistine Chapel, and finally to the breathtaking St. Peter’s Basilica.
DON’T eat in the tourist hotspots of the city.
Just don’t. The food is overpriced and very Americanized. You’ll miss out on the authentic Roman flavor – sadly, like we did! You will inevitably need to eat in a tourist area, because.. well … you are a tourist checking out the sights and you will be hungry! But do your research and find out the hidden culinary gems that Italy is known for! If you find yourself in a restaurant packed with locals, you know that you’re in the right place!
DO rent a place using VRBO in Rome’s Centro Storico neighborhood.
We were so glad that we opted to stay in a home for rent over a hotel or hostel! Our house was situated in the heart of the Historic Center, just a few blocks away from Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. The house was beautiful, private, and surprisingly affordable when compared to nearby hotels! We felt like locals in one of the tourist capitals of the world!
DO go with friends.
For years I imagined that I’d honeymoon in Rome. In hindsight I’m glad that we didn’t. Honeymoons are for privacy and relaxation, but Rome is for active exploring. Sure, it’s a city of romance, but I couldn’t imagine experiencing it any differently than with four of our dearest friends!