Things to do in Rome

First time in Rome? Here are 20 Rome travel tips & hacks!

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Visiting Rome for the first time? Here are some timeless tips to navigate the cobblestone streets and embrace the dolce vita lifestyle without succumbing to tourist traps. While some of these suggestions might surprise you, trust in the Roman way of life. Here's a starter: securing reservations for meals, especially at cozy eateries, is a must. Begin booking as you continue reading for more insights.

Rome Travel Tips 101 - A First Timer's Holy Grail

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Here's our list of expert tips and hacks that you're here for. Read on and thank us later!

#1 When in Rome, always carry cash

A significant portion of Rome, and indeed much of Italy, still relies predominantly on cash transactions rather than card payments. It's advisable to ensure you have sufficient cash on hand at all times. Small denominations, such as coins ("spicci"), are widely accepted, especially at local cafes and thrift stores, so it's convenient to use them for minor purchases instead of larger bills. While many sit-in restaurants do accept card payments, they might not accommodate split bills with multiple cards, making cash indispensable in such situations. Therefore, it's wise to carry an ample amount of cash with you. Although ATMs are readily available, if you prefer to avoid potential losses due to exchange rates, consider bringing along enough cash to last throughout your trip.

#2 Always order coffee at the bar

Rome Travel Tips - First Timers

If you enjoy slowly savoring your coffee at a café while observing the bustling atmosphere, be aware that this indulgence (yes, it's considered indulgent in Rome) comes with a price tag. Opting to have your coffee at the counter allows you to bypass a service charge. However, if you decide to take a seat and fully enjoy your coffee, be prepared to pay twice the amount for the same cup. When you enter a café, head straight to the cashier to place your order. Grab your receipt, pick up your drink, and find the least crowded spot to quickly enjoy your coffee. Italians typically don't linger over their coffee; they drink it swiftly, so follow suit and stand while you sip. Doing so will typically cost you 1-2 euros. If you choose to sit, expect to pay upwards of 5 euros.

PS: If you ask for milk after noon they’ll shake their heads at you. Italians are fastidious about their digestion and milk being heavy on the stomach, is considered suitable only at breakfast. You can however order a caffè macchiato, an espresso with a splash of milk as an acceptable alternative order at any hour of the day without raising any eyebrows.

#3 Book all your attraction tickets in advance

We cannot emphasized enough: Rome stands out as one of Italy's most touristy cities, and without pre-purchased tickets, you're likely to spend much of your holiday waiting in lines. Particularly for renowned attractions such as the Colosseum, Vatican, Catacombs, and Versailles, we strongly recommend purchasing tickets online prior to your visit.

PS : Skip the Line tickets are an absolute boon if you're in Rome for a few days. Even with ordinary tickets, you'll have considerable queues, so Skip the Line tickets are your best bet to breeze through the hour long queues in Rome.

Priority Entrance Tickets to Colosseum, Roman Foru...
Skip the Line Tickets to the Vatican Museums and S...
Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel...
Skip The Line Guided Tour of Colosseum with Arena ...
Borghese Gallery Entrance Tickets
Express Guided Tour of Colosseum, Vatican Museums ...
Special Access Tickets: Colosseum Arena Floor & Ro...
Colosseum Underground Tour with Arena Floor & Roma...
Exclusive: Vatican Museum with Bramante Staircase ...

#4 Keep your belongings close to your heart!

The city is brimming with pickpockets, infiltrating every corner of the cityscape, from iconic monuments to bustling buses and lively piazzas. Exercise caution if anyone attempts to divert your attention, particularly if they persistently vie for your focus. While commuting on the metro or bus, maintain vigilance by keeping your bags secured in front of you with locked zippers in an out-of-reach position. Even amidst the charm of crowded piazzas, notorious hotspots for theft, remain mindful of your surroundings as you indulge in gelato delights.

#5 Get hungry for dinner only after 8:30 PM

If you're an early dinner person, you'll have to wait a little to get yourself dinner in Rome. Most restaurants start serving dinner only at about 8:30 PM or later and take the last order around 11:30 PM. However, if you can't wait until 8:30 PM, grab an aperitivo like the locals at around 7:00 PM. You'll find plenty and more places serving an aperitivo which is an open buffet and drink for about €10. Satiate your hunger with this temporarily and then go for a full fledged dinner at around 9:30 PM.

#6 Keep an eye out for the "real gelato"

Rome Travel Tips - First Timers

Not all ice creams in Rome are gelato. Steer away from gelaterias that display pretty, puffy clouds of gelato as these are most definitely the fake ones. Real gelatos aren't fluffy. They are creamy. Also, real gelatos cannot be hot pink and powder blue, because that's just a lot of artificial colouring. If you were to trust the late Anthony Bourdain and his word, head to the Gelateria dei Gracchi in Prati district. He has vouched for it and we frankly consider that our holy grail!

#7 Take rest on Monday since the locals do so

Yes. After the tiring weekend, Romans consider Monday their rest day. Most museums and restaurants remain closed on Mondays. You can use the day to visit the parks in the city, go shopping or maybe head on a day trip from Rome on a Monday. Since you'll spend the day traveling, you're not really losing out on much.

PS: Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays, so they tend to be very crowded on Saturdays and Mondays. Plan your visit from Tuesday through Friday instead.

#8 Never pay for water. Use the water fountains instead!

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If you're traveling to Rome on a budget or otherwise, don't even bother paying for water. The city has water fountains, affectionately called 'nasoni' or little noses around every other corner and these fountains have good drinking water flowing from it 24*7. This is especially convenient during the summers as the water is refreshingly cool! Carry your bottle or flask around and fill it up from these water fountains as you make your way around the city. Water bottles are quite expensive, so save the money and have an extra gelato instead!

#9 Tipping is not obligatory, but it’s always appreciated

Although tipping isn't customary in Italian culture, if you're exceptionally pleased with the service, it's acceptable to leave a tip. In Rome, a service charge is typically included in the bill as the "coperto" (cover) or for bread, so many patrons don't tip beyond that. However, depending on factors like the size of your bill, the quality of service, and the size of your party, leaving a gratuity of 5-10% is always appreciated if you're satisfied with the service.

#10 Get your bus tickets before you get on the bus

Rome Travel Tips - First Timers

Stock up on bus tickets ahead of time because you can’t buy them on the bus. You can grab your bus tickets from any tabaccheria in the city, little convenient shops that are designated with a large T. Tickets are €1.50 each, or opt for a 24-hour, 48-hour or weekly ticket for a discounted price. These tickets are valid for all forms of public transportation in Rome (bus, metro, tram and local train).

#11 It's free museum day on ever first Sunday of the month

Rome’s state-owned museums, galleries, archeological sites, parks and gardens are free on the first Sunday of each month. However, this also happens to be the busiest day to visit these attractions, so show up early or visit a lesser-known attraction on the day for free. If you're looking to explore an attraction with great thoroughness, steer clear of it on this day as you'll have to battle hordes throughout.

rome bucket list
Rome Bucket List

52 Ultimate List Of Things To Do In Rome

Check out these must-do experiences in Rome and plan your itinerary like a pro!

#12 Bread ain't free in Rome

There is almost always a charge for bread, so if you don’t want bread (or rather, don’t want to be charged for it) tell your waiter as soon as you sit down as they mostly bring it automatically.

#13 WiFi is almost always WEAK

Don’t count on WiFi in Rome. It's almost always spotty and even in cafes, restaurants and hotels that advertise free WiFi, you cannot expect strong internet. Consider getting a data plan on your local sim or bring along a portable hotspot if you intend to work. Trusting the WiFi in the city is quite a grave mistake! Also, if you plan on relying on Google Maps, we would strongly suggest downloading the maps offline.

PS: Barnum Café and Analemma are two of the most popular spots for freelancers. Head here if you're in dire need of internet.

#14 Get out of Rome and take a day trip to Pompeii

Rome Travel Tips - First Timers

If you're staying in Rome for over 3-5 days, hop out of the city for a day visit the nearby town of Naples. It's just 2 hours 45 minutes from Rome and you can visit the famous town of Pompeii on your visit. Even the town of Herculaneum if you're a fan of excavation sites! There are many organized tours that take you around and bring you back to the city in 24 hours, so it is just the matter of signing up for one that suits your budget.

Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius Volcano Full Day Trip fro...
Naples and Pompeii Archeological Full Day Trip fro...

#15 If you want wine, order in some house wine

One of the highlights of dining out in Rome is indulging in the local house wine. Not only is it incredibly budget-friendly, but it's also surprisingly delicious! You have the option of red or white varieties, and typically, you can order a ¼, ½, or full litre of wine for less than €10. However, be mindful of your pace; despite its affordability, indulging too quickly could lead to an unexpected tipsy state!

#16 Acquaint yourself with some basic Italian phrases

While this may come as a shock to you, not everyone in Rome speaks English! You don't have to be fluent in Italian, but knowing a few words and phrases in Italian can definitely come handy. Here are a few commonly used phrases you can start with.

  • Hello! –> Ciao!
  • Thank you –> Grazie
  • You are welcome –> Prego
  • Excuse me! –> Mi scusi!
  • Please –> Per favore
  • OK –> OK
  • Do you speak English? –> Parli Inglese?
  • I do not speak Italian –> Non parlor Italiano
  • How much does it cost? –> Quanto costa?
  • Do you accept credit cards? –> Accettate carte di credito?

#17 Neighborhood Exploration

Venture beyond the city center to explore Rome's vibrant neighborhoods. Visit Trastevere for its bohemian charm, Campo de' Fiori for its lively market, and Testaccio for its authentic Roman cuisine and vibrant nightlife. These areas provide a glimpse into the local life and offer memorable experiences off the beaten path.

#18 Ditch the heels and put on your walking shoes

The streets of Rome are unevenly paved, even in posh neighborhoods. Moreover, Rome is best explored on foot so leave the heels at home and bring your sports shoes, comfortable flats and the like. Your feet will thank you by the end of the trip.

#19 Do not take taxis from the airport. Use the Shuttle instead

Rome Airport transfer

After a long flight you may be itching to fork out for a taxi for door-to-door service. While the city of Rome has enforced a set fee for airport transfers, many taxi drivers are known to rip off tourists. A taxi from Ciampino Airport into Rome city is fixed at €30 which is inclusive of all passengers, their bags, and one stop in the center. It’s illegal for drivers to charge more. From Fiumicino-Leonardo da Vinci Airport, the set fee for a taxi is €48. Don’t let a taxi driver bully you into thinking your hotel is not within the Aurelian walls.

If you do not want to shell out so much at the beginning of your trip, we would advice taking the airport shuttles or the shared van service. The shuttles should cost you about €6 and the shared van ranges between €16 to €20. You can even pre-book in advance online and skip the queues to get a ticket on the spot.

#20 Cover up while visiting the many Churches

Rome Travel Tips - First Timers

Image Courtesy: Select Italy

If you intend to tour the St. Peter's Basilica or any of Rome's other 100 churches, remember to dress modestly. Even in the sweltering heat, it's essential to cover your shoulders and knees to gain admission. This rule applies just as strictly at the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. A simple solution is to drape a shawl around your waist or shoulders before entering. While makeshift sarongs aren't ideal, they are acceptable in this context.

Read more about visiting the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St.Peter's Basilica.

Best Time To Visit Rome

Rome in Oct

Tips For Saving Money On Transportation In Rome

Like most other European cities, Rome has a well connected public transport system in place. The public transportation system in Rome - metro, buses, trams & trains in the urban areas - are managed by ATAC and you can check out their handy Rome public transport map here.

  • You can use the same ticket on buses, trams, trains and the metro. However, it will only be validated once you activate it. If you are caught without validating your ticket, you can be fined up to 50 Euros.
  • Walking is nice in Rome but the city is spread out and the prime attractions are far flung. Since taxis are expensive, make sure you keep a good buffer time for getting from one place to the other. You may have to use a combination of different modes of transport to get to your destination.
  • For tourists visiting Rome for the first time, hop on hop off tours are perfect for you. Not only is the getting around sorted, you also get to enjoy free commentary and WiFi access.
  • The Roma Pass is a wise choice as it gives you free transportation for a selected number of days, along with free access to major attractions in Rome. This way your transportation and sightseeing is taken care of without much hassle. Read more about the best city passes in Rome.

Tips For Saving Money On Eating In Rome

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The first and foremost rule of eating cheap in Rome is to stay away from the city center. Anything that is around the famous attractions and Piazzas are mostly tourist traps. They are exorbitantly priced and if you walk 500m away from them to the closest lane, you'll get the same dish for less than half its price. Check out these afforable eateries in Rome -

  • Bars offer a buffet with pre-dinner aperitivo in almost all of Rome. All you have to buy is a regularly priced glass of wine, beer or cocktail, and you’ll be given access to the food that ranges from small sandwiches to pasta.
  • While it can be hard to resist a sit down meal after walking around all day, takeways are a good option to save money. Check out these affordable options in Rome. Note, it is illegal to eat on the steps to any of Rome’s fountains, churches and monuments.
  • Hav your coffee at the bar. The price for a coffee at a table (which entails a service charge) is much higher than a coffee that's grabbed on the go. If your morning ritual involves enjoying a mug of coffee, grab it to go and sit at a cosy spot on the piazza and enjoy your coffee. Your pocket will definitely feel better, if not you!

More Tips To Save Money In Rome

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  • Accomodation can get quite expensive in the city, hence taking a hotel or Airbnb outside the city center can help you save big bucks. However, make sure you're close to a mode of public transport so that you can get to the city centre with ease.
  • If you're planning to hit up the museums and galleries in Rome (which you obviously should!), know that the price will add up quickly and soon you'll be wondering how the trip worked out to be so expensive! What you should do instead is:

    • Figure out the free entry days for each attraction. Many museums have one free day every month, so plan your visit around that day. It might be more crowded than normal, but if saving money is your priority then a few shoulder rubs are doable.
    • Throw in a few free sights into your itinerary, like the parks, churches and such. That way you're still acquainting yourself with Rome and the Romans without burning a hole in your pocket.
    • Buy tickets online and get cashback offers, discounts and more. Buying on-site is always the most expensive option, hence buy your tickets in advance and have them ready and for half the price before you get there. You'll save a lot of time that would otherwise have been spent in queues as well!
    • Buy tickets online and get cashback offers, discounts and more. Buying on-site is always the most expensive option, hence buy your tickets in advance and have them ready and for half the price before you get there. You'll save a lot of time that would otherwise have been spent in queues as well!


What should I avoid in Rome?

  • Pickpockets are common, so be sure to keep your valuables close. 
  • Beware of scammers who may try to sell you fake goods or services.
  • Be mindful of your belongings when out and about, as theft is not uncommon.

What should I know before travelling to Rome?

  • It is important to be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings close, as pickpockets are common. 
  • Beware of scammers who may try to sell you fake goods or services. 
  • Roman roads can be very congested, so plan your travel accordingly.

How much money do you need in Rome per day?

This will depend on your travel style and budget, but a general rule of thumb is to budget for around 50-70 EUR per day. This will cover your accommodation, food, transportation, and activities.

What are some free things to do in Rome?

There are a number of free things to do in Rome. Taking a walk around the historical center to see some of the city's most famous landmarks, such as the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, is definitely something to do! Second, visit one of Rome's many parks or gardens, such as the Villa Borghese or the Catacombs of San Callisto. Check out the 15 Free Things to Do in Rome.

Is Rome English-friendly?

Yes, Rome is English-friendly. Most locals will speak at least some English, and you'll find that many signs and menus are in both Italian and English. However, it's always helpful to learn a few key phrases in Italian before travelling.

What is the best time of year to visit Rome?

The Best Time to Visit Rome is from April to May or from September to October. The weather is mild and there are fewer crowds than in the peak summer months. However, keep in mind that some attractions, such as the Vatican Museums, are closed on certain days in the spring and fall.

What is considered rude in Rome?

It is considered rude to eat while walking on the street. Be mindful that it is also considered rude to haggle for prices at markets and shops.