Planning your trip to Rome: our tips and recommendations.

Whether it’s your first trip to Rome or you’re a veteran visitor to the Eternal City, read on for our tips on how to make the most of your stay.

What’s the best time of year to visit Rome?

planning your trip to rome
Rome in the spring (park of the aqueducts)

The best time for visiting Rome depends on what you want to do, and how much you mind the crowds. The least crowded time of year is November-February (January is the quietest month). The queues are shorter and you may have some places to yourself, but if you get unlucky with the weather, you risk a few days of rain and cold. Believe it or not, Rome does get cold – very rarely, it even snows!

If you’re planning on doing lots of sightseeing, avoid July or August. Temperatures regularly reach 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), making a walk around the Roman Forum something of an ordeal. There are hours of the day when it’s just too hot to do anything, which is a problem if you’ve only got a few days to spend in the city.

The best time of year for your trip to Rome is probably spring (though the centre gets very crowded over Easter), or late September/October, when the temperature is perfect and there’s a low risk of rain.

What should I bring to Rome?

Comfortable shoes! Not flip-flops – you’ll get side-eyed by the locals for walking around the city centre in flip-flops, and they’re impractical for sightseeing. You’ll inevitably find yourself doing a lot of walking on your trip to Rome, so comfortable shoes are a must.

Tourists are often caught out by the temperature changes over the day, and after enjoying radiant sunshine in the afternoon, they find themselves shivering after the sun goes down. Make sure you bring layers, and don’t go out without a jacket unless you’re safely in summer (June-August).

Remember that you won’t be allowed to enter St Peter’s Basilica (or any other church, for that matter), if you’re not dressed “appropriately”. Even if you’re visiting in summer, your wardrobe shouldn’t consist entirely of shorts/short skirts. Women should pack a shawl, scarf or cardigan to cover their shoulders when visiting churches.

What should I book in advance?

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Rome can be very nice in December!

 If you’re planning a guided tour of the Colosseum, Vatican or any other site in Rome, this should of course be booked in advance. The Vatican Museums should always be booked in advance anyway, to avoid the notorious queues, and the Borghese Gallery is also worth booking in advance; visitor numbers are restricted, and the gallery is often fully booked. Another important aspect of any trip to Rome is of course the food. Most restaurants don’t need to be booked in advance, but if you have your heart set on a famous restaurant (such as Da Felice in Testaccio), you should definitely call up at least a few days in advance to book a table.

 Insider tips for your trip to Rome

  •  Double check opening times if you’re sightseeing on a Monday. With the exception of the Vatican Museums and Colosseum/Forum/Palatine, the majority of museums and cultural sites in Italy are closed on Mondays.
  • You should always have cash on hand. Credit cards are becoming more widely used, but are not accepted everywhere.
  • Note that some bars (especially in touristy locations) will charge you extra if you sit down for your drinks. There’s often not a huge difference, and it’s worth paying a little bit extra to sit down and enjoy your drink. However, if you’re on a budget and you want to order a drink in a particularly touristy or scenic location, it’s worth checking the cost before you sit down and order.
  • On the other hand, if you feel like splashing out and enjoying the view, why not try a rooftop bar? Some of the best views are on rooftop terraces, such as the Eitch Borromini, which has spectacular views of Piazza Navona.
  • Don’t waste money on bottled water. You can fill up your bottle from any of the nasoni water fountains (“big noses, as the locals call them) scattered around the city centre.
  • Similarly, unless you’re a wine connoisseur, you don’t need to order from the wine menu in restaurants. The house wine is cheap and usually good (emphasis on the ‘usually’).
  • Don’t get ripped off by taxi drivers. Here are some useful tips on not getting ripped off by taxi drivers in Rome from an expat.

For any other queries about your trip to Rome, get in touch with the team at Roads to Rome Private Tours.

 Read more: Travel tips every first-time Rome visitor needs to know (Time Out)