Rome had been on my list for quite a while, so when my sister asked me if I wanted to go I didn’t hesitate! A city that breathes history, fashion, food, and so much more! I love the vibe in the city, during the day, during the night, there’s just something about Rome.
Don’t plan too much when going on a citytrip, but if you do, plan these!
Going on a citytrip might come along with a certain amount of stress. So much to do and so little time! Especially when it’s your first time visiting a place, you want to be sure you didn’t miss out on any ‘important’ experience. On my big trips, I tend to not to plan too much, cause I just really love the feeling of freedom and doing whatever you feel like doing at the time, but citytrips, that’s something else. So you are lucky : if you are going to Rome any time soon, here are the things you absolutely can not miss!
1. Visit the Colosseum
You are walking in the streets of Rome and suddenly there it is, in all it’s glory, the Colosseum, the largest amphitheater ever built. I’ve learned about it when I was a little kid while studying Latin, so I was excited to finally behold the impressive building where so many spectacles had taken place. We took a guided tour that we booked online. (be sure to book it a few weeks in advance) When you visit Rome during high-season, it’s advisable to take a tour to skip the long waiting lines. We were in Rome in February, which is a perfect time to visit because although there will always be a lot of tourists in Rome, it’s not super crowded. Don’t forget to come back at night, when the Colosseum is beautifully lit, it’s truly magical!
2. Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain
I don’t know what I was most excited about; the Colosseum or the Trevi Fountain. The fountain that acquired world fame after being featured in the movie ‘La Dolce Vita’. You could already hear the water of the fountain, whilst strolling around in the cosy small streets in the Trevi district and I started walking faster and faster.. Couldn’t wait any longer to witness the beauty of the fountain. My sister looked at me like I was an idiot 😀 I expected a big fountain, but it was HUGE! And truly magnificent. But there were so many people! 😮 don’t ever think you’ll have the fountain to yourself. Unless you go in the middle of the night, or very early in the morning. Don’t forget to toss a coin over your left shoulder with your right hand. (and not the other way around, or you’ll have to toss in two coins, like I did :D)
3. Visit the smallest country in the world : Vatican City!
It’s kind of hard to advise you what day is the best day to visit Vatican City, because there will always be a lot of tourists. Tuesdays and thursdays are a little less busy, and on wednesday you have the Papal Audience, so you know when to go when you want to ‘meet’ the pope!
We also did the guided tour in the vatican. You don’t need to wait in line, you get a guide that provides you with a lot of information, information you wouldn’t get if you would just walk there on your own. Do keep in mind that the tour lasts for about three hours.
Some tours also include the St. Peter’s Basilica, but if you want to climb the dome itself, you have to buy an extra ticket. I absolutely wanted to climb up because I’m a sucker for viewpoints! It was a breathtaking view, but the climb up there was breathtaking too! 😀 We climbed all the way up, 551 steps!! (tip: you can also take an elevator, then ‘only’ 320 steps remain). I’m not in bad shape, but the stairs were a bit claustrophobic from time to time..
4. Watch people on the Spanish Steps
I’ve always loved to just sit and observe people as they pass by, but it’s something else when you can do it in the center of one of the fanciest shopping areas of Rome. In addition, the Spanish Steps, that are a great example of Roman Baroque Style, are the widest stairways in Europe! Buy yourself an icecream, enjoy the sun, and most of all, enjoy the view!
Update 2019 : Since the beginning of June 2019 it is no longer allowed to sit on these steps. If they catch you sitting there anyway, it is possible you’ll get a fine (up to 400 euro’s). This is one of the new rules the city of Rome has to keep tourists from behaving in a way that may damage Rome’s heritage.
5. Shop till you drop!
Since Italy is one of the leading countries in fashion design, you won’t be surprised it’s the perfect place to buy yourself that new outfit! Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana; not a high end fashion brand you won’t find here. The four main streets for the fashion lover are : Via dei Condotti (more exclusive brands like Dior, Gucci,…), Via Borgognona (go here for a more relaxed shopping experience : you find luxury Italian design houses, but also beautiful leather stores), Via Frattina (which is a nice mix of cheap and expensive shops) and Via del Corso (with major brands like Zara, H&M and Nike).
6. Be amazed by the greatness of the Pantheon
Visiting the Pantheon was actually the first thing we did in Rome, since it was close to the hotel where we were staying. Talking about our hotel : we stayed at iRooms Campo dei Fiori. A nice little hotel in the heart of Rome. Breakfast was served in our room, and we got to borrow a phone with data to navigate more easily through the city, which was very convenient cause I tend to get lost everywhere.. somehow I always find my way back though.
The pantheon; which literally means ‘honor all gods”, is impressive both inside & out. This former temple, that is now a church, is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings. When you step inside, don’t forget to look up, you see an oculus, ‘the eye of the dome’ where you can look at the sky.
7. Walk across the most beautiful bridge in the world : Ponte Sant’Angelo or The “Bridge of Angels”
The bridge was built by emperor Hadrion to link the left bank of the Tiber with his mausoleum. The highlights of the bridge are without a doubt the statues of the angels, that were only added later, and are each carrying an instrument of passion.
8. Eat gelato, sip a wine on a terrace and eat lots and lots of pizza&pasta!!
You find gelato shops in literally évery street in Rome, but I always bought my icecream at Venchi. Needless to say I recommend the place! They have multiple locations all over Rome, so you simply can’t miss it!
I really liked the atmosphere at the Piazza della Rotonda, the square where you can also find the Pantheon. It’s a perfect spot to drink a glass of wine.
There are a zillion places to eat pizza & pasta, so it’s impossible for me to make a selection. One thing I can recommend to find good places to eat is, use foursquare. I always do it when I am abroad (or even in Belgium), and I haven’t been fooled by the app once. When the rating on the app is good, the food will be good!
Last but not least, I would advise you to just stroll around in the city, and enjoy the beauty and charm of Rome without any must-visits in mind. Even if you don’t do any of the things I mentioned above, you will enjoy your time there, cause Rome tends to have that effect on people, there just something about the city, and to find out what that is, you’ll just have to go!