Ah Roma! The city is eternal, but I only had two days to explore while making my way back from Morocco to the US. Here are the particulars on my travel adventures in Rome – all of them in 2 1/2 days. I saw most of the major Roman tourist sights and walked or metro-ed it everywhere. It was budget-friendly (less than $500 USD) too!
It wasn’t all go go go and I had plenty of time to enjoy gelato and espresso at plaza-side cafes. My total budget for the time there was $500 and I spent actually $410 because I stayed in a youth hostel, ate one expensive meal a day, ignored the tours, and did not shop too much.
Evening 1: Piazza del Popolo and Trevi Fountain
I arrived at 4:30 in the afternoon and found a shuttle bus at Terminal 3, which took me to the Termini train station for 8 Euros. The ride was about 1 hour longer than the train, but I like how I was able to see Rome from within it and not from the train tracks. Before departing, I got a map from the tourist information office at the airport, which was very helpful over the next few days.
After checking in and getting settled at my youth hostel, I walked to the nearest metro station at Termini and took the train to the Piazza del Popolo. It was sun down and I spent a wonderful time walking down the Via del Corso towards the Trevi Fountain. It was easy to find with signs along the main street and my map. I used the map again to find the nearest station back to Termini and my hostel.
Day 1: Ancient Rome
This was my day to explore Ancient Rome and I started with a metro ride to the Coliseum. And there it was in all its ancient glory, right there in the street. I used to map to chart my course. I walked past the forum, visited the Unknown Soldiers tomb and then found the Pantheon. I also got gelato at the Pizza Novona and then lunch near Piazza del Popolo. At sunset, I walked towards the Republica and down Via Nazionale towards the Spanish steps to see them as evening fell. Again, using the Pizza del Popolo as my guide, I made my way back up the Via del Corso and metro-ed it back.
Read more about my tour of Ancient Rome (and pictures too!)
Day 2: Vatican City and Trastevere
I don’t think this is the ideal itinerary, but it worked out. On Wednesdays there’s a papal blessing and St. Peter’s is closed. The night before, I booked my Vatican Museum tickets for 9 a.m. and was set to visit St. Peter’s at 7:30/8:00 a.m. This was not to be, but as it would happen I got a serendipitous ticket to the Papal mass. The line was massive to the Museum and the 4 Euros “convenience” charge was the best money I spent to avoid that line. After the Sistine Chapel, I attended the Papal mass and then walked along the Tiber to the Trastevere neighborhood. It was lovely and a great view into a Roman “neighborhood.” With my feet still attached, I walked back to the Vatican City and got in line for St. Peter’s. It moved quickly and I waited no more than a ½ hour. In the evening, I went for a delicious dinner and finished my trip in Rome.
Hotel Alessandro Palace and Bar on Via Vincenza near Termini train station. I stayed in a 4 bed female en suite dorm for 25 Euros and booked on Hostelworld.com for a 10% booking fee. Great, safe location
Restaurants of Note
- Il Brillo Parlante on Via Fontenella near Piazza del Popolo
- Restaurant Rinaldi al Quirinale on Via Parma off of Via Nazionale.
- Air: Alitalia to Rome. I carried on everything because I heard that Rome is a notorious airport for baggage losses.
- To and From Airport: I took the bus for 8 Euros from Terminal 3 at the Leonardo Di Vinci airport into Rome and then caught the twice hourly train from Termini to the same airport for 14 Euros. (Don’t forget to validate the ticket at the little yellow machines!)
- Around town: Taxis are crazy expensive, so I relied on the metro. It was 1 Euro a ride and there’s a tourist ticket for 11 Euros and three days. Rome is a very walkable city and where the metro doesn’t reach, you can get to by foot.
Vatican museum tickets. You need a printer to print tickets prior to visiting.