Fast Five: Travel Tips for Rome
With its ancient ruins, divine food, and beautiful architecture, Rome is a popular tourist destination. Planning a trip can be daunting, and you want to maximize your time with as few hiccups as possible. Recently, I organized a tour to Rome, Firenze, and Pompei for my family that included three generations, and I found myself completing a ton of upfront research before the trip. Coordinating six people is a bit tricky when you must account for differing interests, physical abilities, and ages. There were a few tricks that I learned on this trip, and here are the top five that you can use on your adventure to Rome.
- After a long haul flight into Rome's Fiumicino airport (FCO), take the Leonardo Express train into Roma Termini, the main train station located in the city center. The cost is around €14 per ticket one-way, and the ride takes around thirty minutes. You can purchase tickets at kiosks located in the airport after retrieving your luggage. Credit cards are accepted at the kiosks, but make sure you know your PIN number to complete the transaction!
- Consider staying near Roma Termini. While the abundance of taxis is plentiful at the train station, we have discovered that the ease of being able to quickly walk to and from the station from our hotel makes life much easier, especially on the day of departure. As an added bonus, the train station makes for a nice landmark while navigating the often confusing Rome city map. The two hotels we have used that are located within walking distance from Roma Termini are Yes Hotel and iQ Hotel Roma. Both hotels are approximately a five minute walk from the station and are clean, comfortable, and located in safe areas.
- Lines are very long at major tourist sites, so book and purchase tickets online before leaving for your trip. You can purchase tickets for the Colosseum/Forum and the Vatican museum online, but you will need to select times and dates for your reservations. Sure, you have to spend a few euros more, but it sure beats standing in impossibly long lines. In particular, the line for the Vatican museum (At 9:30 in the morning!) wrapped around the street on our last visit, but we were able to enter without any waiting at all because I reserved and paid for our tickets ahead of the trip.
- Speaking of the Colosseum, Forum, and the Vatican museum: All visitors are required to go through security screening similar to that found at airports. Yes, it is annoying, but such is the state of the world. Be mindful that the official ticketing website for the Colosseum and the Forum warns that backpacks are not allowed into either site. However, my entire party carried small daypacks into the sites without any issues at all. I wouldn't, however, attempt to carry in a standard backpack as you may be turned away.
- If you plan to take day trips out of Rome, purchase your train tickets a day or two before in order to reserve your desired time and train. Waiting until the day of your excursion is a risky proposition because trains sell out quickly, especially trains to Pompei. There are tons of ticket kiosks located around Roma Termini with staff on hand to assist you. The kiosks accept credit cards, but, again, know your PIN number! Also, if you decide to rent a car, Rome Termini is a central location for rental companies. You are able to complete the transaction and pick up your vehicle at the station. (If you decide to drive, educate yourself about Rome’s ZTL, restricted driving areas and times. It is confusing and can cost you a hefty fine if you break the rules! Also, please know that driving in Rome can be a bit stressful. While my husband successfully navigated us to the autoroute out of Rome, we were all a bit, uhm, tense!)
As with any adventure, double-check bookings and any safety warnings. Heed all local laws, and bring a hefty dose of respect for your host country!