Filled with more history and personality than just about any other single city in the world, Rome provides unlimited possibilities for exploration and adventure. Much of what defines Western Civilization originated from this one location, and it still holds as much meaning as it did in the days of the caesars. Visiting Rome is on everyone’s bucket list, but there is so much to experience that it can be overwhelming.
This guide is designed to explain the best techniques for touring the city efficiently and enjoyably. Many of the same public transportation methods that are common in every major city– buses, trains, subways, etc.– exist in Rome, but they are very different there. Understanding these differences can help you plan a Roman vacation that you will remember fondly for the rest of your life.
The only way to really experience any city is by getting out and walking around. Although the major monuments, historic sites and attractions in Rome are towering and obvious, some of the more subtle beauty of the Eternal City can easily be missed if you are cruising by. Walking allows you to take in all that Rome has to offer in the most personal, up-close manner and enjoy Rome in a similar way as the ancients.
However, walking for your entire trip can be impractical, especially if you are new to the city. Much of the city is hilly, and because there is so much to take in, you can easily become very tired without noticing it at first. Walking also poses some obvious disadvantages and dangers to tourists at times, and it is difficult to reach every part of this large city on foot.
Especially if you are an American, you may feel the need to rent a car upon arrival in Rome. While this can be a helpful way to reach your hotel and any areas outside the city you wish to visit, driving in Rome is an unnecessary and difficult task. Traffic can be horrid, and Rome is notorious for aggressive, careless drivers. If you are staying outside the city proper, you can take your rented car into town, but you would be well advised to park it and use alternate travel methods as soon as possible.
Just like nearly every major European city, Rome has an underground train network that can be an efficient way to travel. However, unlike most other cities, the metro in Rome only has two major lines and is not as useful to most tourists. This is because Rome is filled with so much history, that it is nearly impossible for city planners to dig a few feet underground without stumbling upon a meaningful archaeological site.
The buses and tram lines in Rome are generally more practical than the metro because there are so many more routes and stops. The same tickets that are used for the metro can also be used in these public transports, and there are options for just about any need. However, this complex network is ever-changing and difficult for newcomers to understand. Make sure that you buy a map (and check the date to make sure it is as current as possible) and plan your route ahead of time.
Although it can be slightly more expensive, taxis still provide the best way to travel if you have very specific needs.
“Unlike other cities, taxis are not hailed in Rome,” says one expert from BookTaxiRome. “You will have to find a taxi stand or order in advance to get a ride.”
Ordering your taxi online or by phone also ensures a good price, as Roman taxi drivers are notorious for overcharging unwitting tourists. Planning ahead is always the best way to ensure yourself an enjoyable, affordable and memorable Roman holiday.