Most people think of Rome as a romantic get-away, which of course it totally is. However what I did in Rome, was walk the entire city on a self-planned tour, visited the Vatican on the day the Pope resigned and got really drunk on Limoncello and danced on a bar in a student union on a Sunday night. Not to mention prancing around The Colosseum with a cat, eating my body weight in tortellini and getting lost in the amazing central Zara store between sightseeing trips. I was 21 and with my best friends, so it was fine to have many alcohol and shopping stops and it was SO MUCH FUN. Couple, friends, family getaway, whatever the situ, if you’re considering Rome or not, please just go.
You don’t have to think of Rome as marriage proposals and posing as a couple in front of famous landmarks. You can totally get a group of friends and jump on an Easy Jet flight for a cheeky 5 day frolick. I say 5 days because this was how long I went for and it was PERFECT. We did everything you can possibly think of to do in Rome and more, without rushing and still writing off one morning because of a hangover.
Firstly, accommodation can be scarily expensive. When we first started looking at where to stay on the usual sites like booking.com and Agoda, we were a bit traumatised. With a very limited budget, we wanted to be central but weren’t worried about too swanky. Well, central doesn’t matter all that much, believe me. Rome isn’t massive so don’t worry about staying virtually in the Trevi Fountain. We stayed in a hotel which marketed itself as being a bit further from the main sites, but we walked to EVERY attraction. I mean, we like walking, and we definitely walked further than the average sole might be up for, but do not fear, because public transport is easy and cheap. Less confusing than the London tube and Paris Metro in my opinion, we just opted not to use it much because it was sunny and we had trainers. This is the hotel, it’s called Cinquantatre and is tucked away on a quiet little street, about a ten minute walk from the main bus station and about 15/20 minutes from The Trevi Fountain. I recommend looking into it for amazing off-peak prices. They’re even pretty reasonable during the school holidays, which a lot of other hotels in Rome aren’t. Breakfast is good, you can take snacks for during the day, the rooms are clean with good showers and there was no virtually no outdoor noise to disturb us. Oh and the reception is manned 24 hour. Perfecto for your base.
The best way to really plan a good trip to Rome is to do it beforehand. I booked a tour of The Vatican online, saving about 5 Euros at the time on this website, and I got a reply when I emailed the ticket office with a query. You also get to skip the queues that can form inside. Beware, this is a LONG day and there is a lot of walking, if you have a bad back, go for the shortest tour possible because I ached like a mother after the Vatican and Sistine Chapel tour. You can also find out about walking tours online, or book bus transport from the airport to avoid VERY pricey taxis. If you need to get from the airport to the centre of Rome then try Terravision. I booked a return bus trip online a week before I went for £7.
If you want to make the most of the weather, go to Palatine Hill on the nicest forecast day, the views of the city are lush but I saw it on a really grey day, which wasn’t the best. Also I recommend wearing sensible shoes for this as there is MUCH walking to be done. Best to arm yourself with snacks or a full on packed lunch too. There are loads of nice places to sit down and eat outside and if it does rain there are little museum buildings to duck into. You can easily do this and The Colosseum in a day if you get there early enough, but I recommend Colosseum first thing, as again, long queues and many school trips from mid-morning. Oh and if you want to indulge in some souvenir t-shirts and tacky snowglobes, which I totally did, then the best stalls are around this area.
It’s really nice to have a day with no actual attractions planned to just wander around, and the day we did this was the nicest we had. We started, as we did most days, by passing by the Trevi Fountain just to check it was still there and functioning and took a few more photos of it. We walked from the hotel (where you can get really good maps) to the Porta Portese flea market, which took about an hour, but was SO worth it. If you are a flea market, vintage loving, crazy jumper hoarding kinda person, this place can’t be missed. You can haggle literally everything, and get some seriously cool clothes. Do keep an eye on your bag though, as we warned by the receptionist at the hotel and read online that pick pocketing is rife. I got a 100% cashmere tartan scarf here for 4 Euros. Best day. It’s also a lush walk over the river and through some quiet, rustic Italian streets on a sunny day. So much Instagram potential. You get to see a lot more of the city this way too, so if you can walk there from the centre I really do recommend.
Speaking of photo (Instagram) potential, try and pick a good sunny day to do the Forum, or Foro Romana as the locals say. It’s so beautiful. Perfect place to saunter around near sunset and then grab a coffee after. If you are on a budget, put yourself together a picnic and head on down to Piazza Del Campidoglio, it’s a seriously impressive looking building and so white it’s almost blinding.
For nightlife, there are lots of bar crawls and clubs you can go to, or for something a bit more relaxed there are a lot of late night cafes and bakeries, which all do cocktails and amazing pastries. However I do not recommend a Limoncello hangover because it is unlike any other I have experienced. However if you do succumb, there’s a nice little McDonald’s by the fountain to ease your soul. You’re welcome.
I had literally the best time in Rome on a girly get away. It’s fun, there is plenty to do inside and out and as you can imagine, food that will complete you every time you clear a plate. We went at the end of Feb and it wasn’t horrendously busy or packed at every attraction, and we had sun most days meaning it was warm enough to ditch heavy coats and scarves. You can get some bargain flights from London, especially before the peak summer season, so really, you have no excuse not to book and go immediately.