How to get there
I recommend flying into FCO (Fiumincino Airport) and then to book a car to your hotel. Taking the airport train into the city center is pricey and if you’re two people or more - it’s usually cheeper to hire a car to come and pick you up. And, let's be honest, it's very convenient to have someone waiting for you when you exit bagage claim.
A Google search later, my friend and I found this car service back when we lived in Rome and were flying home to Sweden for Christmas. We had so many bags with us, we couldn't even bare the thought of dragging them onto public transport - at the ungodly hour we needed to leave our apartment that day. So, a few days before we were leaving, we sat down and Googled down a car service.
We found Fiumicino Taxi. Their website may look sketchy, but the service is great and the cars they come and pick you up in are clean, new and with very polite (but very sparingly worded) drivers. You pay cash directly to the driver when you're at your final destination, and nothing in advance. I've used their service a few times now and it's been five stars every time! Book a car here.
Where to stay
This is of course totally dependent on your budget. In Rome, standards aren’t high and to be frank, most hotels in a reasonable price range are worn down and semi-clean. If you're like me, and you would rather spend less money on accommodation and more on exploring, I would look into the places that are central and cost around €100 - €120 a night.
If your budget is slightly higher than that, I would check out Hotel Ponte Sisto as it has one of the best (read: prettiest) locations in the city, if you ask me. I haven’t stayed at the hotel myself, but I know someone who has and she said it was rather swell. The next time I go back to Rome, I hope this will be where I end up staying.
If you have more money to spend, there are some stunning options, of course. However, I cannot tell you much about these myself. But, The Telegraph did an article on luxury hotels in Rome earlier this year, worth checking out if you have the budget for it - here.
Regardless of your budget, most importantly I would say; try to book something central. If you do, you can walk back to the hotel for mid-day naps (win!) and take a break before heading out again at night. Public transport isn't the most reliable thing ever, so if you can walk back - you're good.
Mornings in Prati
Where to stroll & shop
Rome is one of those cities where the best thing really is to just start walking, since around every corner there is something new and amazing to see. Try to walk as much as you can, as this is how I think Rome should be explored - by foot.
Here I've written down a few words on some my fave areas:
One of my favourite areas is Trastevere, with its warm light, cobbled streets and narrow alley-ways - it's an easy and enjoyable place to get lost. It's busy in a charming way, and not in the stressful big-city-way that I often feel when I walk along via del Corso.
Another great area to stroll is Prati. One of few areas in the city with trees and greenery - which is why I think so many expat Swedes tend to live in the area. It's also one of the cleaner areas, which is a huge plus. If you're over the intense gatherings of tourists after a while - this is where I would go. You'll be bumping into locals here, and this is a great place to come and experience how Roman everyday life looks like. Here is where I went to school, for example. The area is also home to a restaurant which serves (according to me) the best pasta in Rome. Big statement, truly amazing pasta. More on that later!
ALONG THE RIVER
I love to stroll alongside the water - weather it is along a tropical beach, or like in Rome; a rather filthy river, there is something special about it. By strolling along river Tiber you'll see a lot of jaw-dropping architecture and views.
From inside the amazing Colosseo
What to see & what to skip
Rome is an ancient city, meaning the amount of things to see, places to experience and streets to stroll are endless. However, as with all cities, some things are more jaw dropping than others. Of course, I recommend strolling along the Forum Romanum, the Spanish steps, walk into Pantheon, toss a coin or two into Fontana di Trevi... - yep, all the classics that you walk by are a must. Then there are things that take up a day's worth of your precious vacay time - that might actually not all be worth your time and effort. Here I'm giving you my two cents on what you must see and what you actually might want to skip.
SOMETHING YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED TO SEE
Colosseo. Make sure to buy your tickets online beforehand (don't remember the exact site we used, but just google!), and pick up your pre-bought tickets first thing when the Colosseo opens. That way, you don't have to wait in line later neither to buy nor to pick up tickets later on around mid morning when everyone else arrive. Tip: add the extra € to get a guided tour with access to the cellar of the Colosseo. It's quite the experience, I'm telling you.
SOMETHING YOU CAN TOTALLY SKIP
The Vatican museum. Okay, so this might be a somewhat controversial thing to say, but I actually wasn't that impressed by it all. Let me explain why; I don't like being pushed around together with hundreds of other tourists, being told by guards thirty times every second to "keep on moving". So if you're in Rome for a weekend trip, I would take those hours it takes to explore other parts of the city instead. If you're in the city for a good few days, however, I still would recommend doing this, as I believe that this is something we all should see once in our lives.
A picture of the best pasta ever & wine on a warm evening
Where to eat
We've come to the best and yummiest of points in this guide. It may be important, but let's keep it short. There are a lot of places to eat in Rome. And my best tip is a classic one, that can be applied to most cities around the world; wander off on the side streets, you'll get better food for a better price. And you'll run into more locals, too.
THE BEST PIZZA
Pizzería Ai Marmi, Viale Trastevere 53.
Un-impressive interiors, long cues, incredibly rude waiters - yet the most amazing pizza ever. My landlord Lorenzo took my friend and I here and it was an experience. Word on the street is that it's the best pizza in town. But if the line is a mile too long for your patience and your tummies are rumbling, don't worry. Pizzas all over Rome are great and you'll be fine sitting down at most places. Just that this place, well... it's something extra.
THE BEST GELATO
Gelateria del Teatro, Via dei Coronari 65.
Not many words needed - the best thing is just to go there and have a taste and you'll understand why I label this as the best. I recommend this place to literally everyone I know who are going to Rome, and to this day everyone have been blown away by their amazing gelato. Fun fact: you can sometimes spot them making the gelato, though the windows.
THE BEST PASTA
Mama Ristrotbistrot, Via Sforza Pallavicini 19.
No joke, you'll love their pasta. My fave is their amazing one with saffron and spinach. Again, I recommend this place to everyone, because yes; it's that good.
UNIQUE PLACE FOR COFFEE & COCKTAILS
Bar del Fico, Piazza del Fico, 34.
A café on Piazza del Fico with (you guessed it) - a fig tree standing a just outside. A more raw and genuine Roman bar - with a touch of hipster. Here you'll see a lot of locals and a few old men sitting outside, playing chess under the fig tree.
COFFEE WITH A VIEW
Vittorio Emanuele monument rooftop bar.
On top of the Vittorio Emanuele monument, there is a terrasse with a bar, where you can have coffee or wine with a spectacular view over the Foro Romano. Tourist trap? Yes. Still a great experience? Yes to that, too.
Coffee with a view, overlooking the Foro Romano
When to go
How well can your body handle the scoarching heat? That might be a question to ask youself before you go. My friend and I just went on a long weekend in end of June. If I were to describe our stay with just one word I would say: sweaty. In fact, it was so hot & sweaty we had trouble sleeping. I would prefer to visit the city during April or May and then again in October or November. But the great thing about Rome is that even the winter works, it's still beautiful and the temperatures don't go that low. The only time of year I would say "no, don't go" is around August. Why? It's very hot in the city and many Romans leave town and restaurants and stores close.
Where to shop
VIA DEL CORSO
If you're all into the big high street brands, then this is where to go. It's the big shopping street in the city, starting just behind the Foro Romano and ending at Piazza del Popolo and the metro stop Flaminio.
If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, I suggest you walk the streets around Piazza di Spagna. All the luxe brands can be found here and like most people, I walk those streets just to window shop. If you want to actually buy things, keep in mind that you need to dress "appropriately" if you want to have a look around the shops in this area. Spelling it out short; dress fancy and leave the Havaianas and mini shorts at the hotel.
As mentioned above, this is the area I went to school and with its greenery and authentic Italian feel - it's one of my favourite parts of the city. Nice little shops, a slower tempo and more locals than in other more central parts of town. Cannot recommend enough.
BUYING LEATHER GOODS
T-Nobile on Via dei Pettinari, 47
If you didn't already know, Italy is known for their leather goods. And a great place to get just that is in this little shop in Trastevere called T-Nobile. At a great price, great service (read: chatty Italians) and the couple who run the shop have a cute dog that's slowly walking around the shop or sleeping in the middle of the entrance. Adorable!
The oh-so-charming area Trastevere & one of many bridges along river Tiber
Other things worth knowing
RUSH HOUR AND THE METRO DON'T MATCH
If your life is dear to you, skip the metro during rush hour. Jokes aside, it's insane. With close to 3 million people and two metro lines, things are a little bit sweaty and not a good idea at all if you have anything even remotely close to claustrophobia. Try to bring comfy shoes and walk in the mornings, and take the metro during the day and early afternoon when it's less crowded.
DON'T OVERPAY FOR COFFEE
I’ve said it somewhere before, but if you’re paying more than €2 on a cappuccino, you’re paying too much. Around where we lived, and were we went to school, €1 was the price for a cappuccino and they were always amazing. Making it very sad to think about the fact that we have to pay around €4 for a very mediocre cup here in Sweden. Yeikes!
Make sure the make the most of your beautiful surroundings and take photos of your friends and loved ones. One night on my visit a few weeks back, my friend and I walked passed this spot at the end of Largo Corrado Ricci, as we had done so many times before. But this time, I realised how stunning the evening light was at that very spot. As usual I forced my friend Josefine to act as my model, found the perfect light and snapped a few pictures. And, didn’t they turn out stunning? The Roman evening light makes the entire city look like an awesome Instagram filter and the pastel buildings make the perfect photo backdrop. Rome is filled with narrow alleyways, making the light hard to catch and to photograph, so wide open piazzas and streets full of light are your solution.
Found the perfect light for photographing portraits at the end of Largo Corrado Ricci, one early evening in June
Sharing is caring
Are you going to Rome yourself, or do you know someone who is? Please feel free to share this post with anyone you think would appreciate the read. There is a direct link via the Facebook icon down below if you liked what you read - sharing is caring, after all.