Spending a weekend in Rome and don’t know how to best plan your stay? Fear not, we’ve got you covered for a memorable weekend getaway to Rome!
As one of the most well-loved and historical cities in the world, Rome is a definite must-visit in anyone’s lifetime, even if you just plan for a weekend in Rome on another visit to Italy. Two days might seem too little to truly appreciate Rome, but if you plan your trip wisely, you’ll have more than enough time to revel in its magic. We asked Sam Ross, of The Hammock Hombre, to contribute this post, and he came up with a wealth of ideas.
So, without further ado, we present to you a weekend guide to Rome, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
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The best time to visit Rome
An ideal time to visit Rome would be between October and April as this is a low season for tourists and accommodation rates tend to be cheaper. You’ll be needing to plan appropriate outerwear, though, as it can get as cold as 37°F in the winter.
If you’d prefer the Roman sun, visit in May or September since it will be fairly warm and not too overpopulated with tourists.
Where to stay in Rome
Much like other cities, accommodations in Rome tend to get more expensive the closer you are to the city center. And if you opt for a hotel a bit further away from the center, it won’t be much trouble as Rome has an underground system that will let you get around quick and easy.
Is this a romantic weekend in Rome, or will you be celebrating a special occasion? If you’re looking to treat yourself, here is a list of Rome’s 10 best boutique hotels.
What to do in Rome in a weekend
If this is your first visit to Rome, you may want to opt for an orientation experience that will give you an initial familiarization with the city and provide general historic and cultural context. The following are our recommendations.
Individual attractions in the Eternal City abound. The following is a list of the most popular, from which you can choose buffet-style to build your own weekend itinerary in Rome.
Home to world-famous attractions such as the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican Museum, Vatican City is a must-see in Rome.
As there tend to be long lines to the museum, be sure to get there before 9AM to also make the most of your day.
Click here for additional Vatican Tour options.
Be sure not to miss out on the famed Map Room and the double helix stairwell while you’re there.
Tip: If your weekend plans include heavy sightseeing, consider an Omnia Rome and Vatican pass, which can amount to considerable savings in time and money.
Not far from Vatican City is this large, magnificent monument that’s served as a mausoleum, castle, fortress, and now, a museum.
Make your way to the top for a breathtaking view of the city. But keep in mind: the Castel closes at 6PM from spring to fall, but at 1PM for the rest of the year, so best head here early in the day. Click here for additional information.
Piazza del Popolo
Just 20 minutes away, the Piazza del Popolo awaits. Years ago, all travelers had to pass through the Piazza as it was Rome’s northern gate. Today, in the center of the Piazza stands an Egyptian obelisk, dating back to 10BC. You can also find the gorgeous twin churches of Santa Maria del Miracoli and Santa Maria Montesanto.
Walk through the Villa Borghese Gardens and down the Viale della Trinita dei Monti and you’ll find yourself on the Spanish Steps. At 135 steps long, this famous staircase was featured in the 1953 Audrey Hepburn movie Roman Holiday.
Known as the world’s largest Baroque fountain, there’s no reason to skip seeing the grand Trevi Fountain. Legend has it that you must throw a coin into it if you wish to return to Rome one day.
Not far from the fountain is the striking Pantheon. Despite being almost 2,000 years old, it’s the most well-preserved monument of Ancient Rome. The size of it alone is enough to take your breath away.
Built in Ancient Rome to host public events, the Colosseum was famous for holding gladiator fights to the death. You’ve likely already seen at least one movie about it.
Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
A Coliseum ticket doubles as a same-day Roman Forum & Palatine Hill ticket. This site is sprawling with towering ancient architecture, which definitely makes it a sight to see.
At the foot of Palatino Hill, you’ll find yourself in Roseto Comunale, one of the most romantic gardens in Rome. With over 1,000 species of roses, flower lovers will want to time their visit to coincide with the greatest number of blooms in May or June.
Rome’s ancient catacombs
There are more than 60 catacombs in Rome, so don’t miss out on this unique experience. Visit the ancient tombs of San Sebastiano, Saint Domitilla, and San Callisto.
If you want to see real skeletons up close, check out the Cripta dei Cappuccini.
Campo de’ Fiori
Visit Campo de’ Fiori for its hip bars, homey family restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.
Best places to eat in Rome
Giolitti – A local favorite best known for its coffee and cakes. Click here for location, contact information and reviews.
Cacio e Pepe – Fresh, homemade pasta and large servings for a good price. Click here for location, contact information and reviews.
Della Palma – 140 different gelato flavors? Yes please. Click here for location, contact information and reviews.
Ginger Sapori e Salute – The best carbonara in town. Click here for location, contact information and reviews.
La Carbonara – The pistachio cream pasta is to die for. Click here for location, contact information and reviews.
Pompi – A tiramisu and cannoli lover’s heaven. Click here for location, contact information and reviews.
And, of course, pizza – make your way through this list of Rome’s best pizzerias to decide.
Tips from a local
If you’re traveling in the summer, be sure to dress appropriately—and bring around a water bottle, which you can refill at the public fountains. Don’t forget to carry around a scarf, though, as some churches may not let you in if you’re wearing sleeveless summer wear.
Invest in comfortable shoes
Most of Rome’s streets are made of cobblestones and you’ll be walking around a lot, so wearing high heels or uncomfortable shoes may quite literally ruin your trip and your feet.
Bring some cash
Some establishments require a minimum amount to allow credit cards, so be sure to carry some euros.
Keep your belongings close and your wits closer
Europe is actually known for being riddled with pickpockets, so be sure to hold on to your bags and belongings. Avoid keeping anything valuable, like cellphones, in your pocket.
Also, do not accept any “gifts” from strangers on the street as they will often try to extort money from you.
Bring tissues with you
Some public bathrooms are notorious for their rough toilet paper that feels more like sandpaper. To save yourself from such pains, make sure to always bring tissues.
Learn how to recognize freshly made gelato
If it comes in a white plastic tub, it’s most likely store-bought. Look for the silver tubs to find freshly whipped gelato.
Get the best view of Rome
Head to Gianicolo and climb Janiculum hill for a magnificent view of the city.
Sit by the Pantheon by night
Late at night, it’s incredibly peaceful to sit by the Pantheon and maybe even bring along a bottle of wine.
Buy an Omnia Rome and Vatican Card
This is the best and most affordable way to see Rome as you get discounted entry to a lot of attractions, free public transport, and the privilege of skipping the line. Click here for pricing.
Since you’ll likely only have two or three days for your weekend in Rome, your itinerary will most likely be packed with the essential tourist attractions. While this is never a bad thing, be sure to plan a return visit, so you can explore Rome on your own and really soak up its centuries’ worth of history, art, culture, and great food.
Author Bio: Sam Ross runs the blog The Hammock Hombre – a travel blog focused around the digital nomad lifestyle.
Over the past 3 years, he’s traveled to every continent, so writes on a broad range of countries, cities and destinations.