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Rome Travel Guide and Tourist Attractions

Guide to Visiting Rome, Italy

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Exterior of Roman Colosseum
Dennis Hallinan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Rome Overview:

Rome, the Eternal City, is a top travel destination in Italy with many interesting attractions. Today's Rome, Roma, is a vibrant and lively city with reminders of its past everywhere. The visitor encounters ancient monuments, medieval and Renaissance buildings and fountains, and great museums. Rome is the capital of modern Italy and boasts many fine restaurants and cafes, good nightlife, and lively streets and squares. Although it's a huge city, the historic center is fairly compact.

Rome Location:

Rome is in Central Italy, not far from the west coast. The main port today is Civitavecchia, where cruise ships docks to visit Rome. See Civitavecchia to Rome Transportation for information about getting to the city or airport from the port.

Transportation to Rome:

The best way to arrive in Rome is by train. The main station, Stazione Termini is close to the historic center. There are several outlying stations, too. You can also arrive by bus near Termini station or in Piazzale Tiburtina in front of the Tiburtina train station. The main airport, Fiumicino, is a major international airport and visitors from the United States often arrive here. You can take a train into the city from the airport (see Fiumicino to Rome transportation). You'll probably want to avoid driving in Rome.

Public Transportation in Rome:

Rome has an extensive bus and metro system (Metripolitana) so you can get almost anywhere on public transportation, although it's often crowded. Be aware of pickpockets when riding in crowded subway cars and buses. There's a good transportation map, Roma, that's worth buying if you plan to use public transportation. Look for it in tourist offices, newspaper stands, or souvenir shops. If you plan to take a taxi in Rome, check these Rome Taxi Tips to avoid being overcharged.

Tourist Information Offices:

There is a tourist office in the train station that can help you find a hotel and gives out maps and information. Most staff at tourist offices speak English. The main office is on Via Parigi near the Piazza della Republica and there are tourist offices near several of the main attractions.

Rome Festivals and events:

During the summer there are many music and cultural events. The Festa di San Giovanni, June 23-24, is an important festival with dancing, music, and food. Around Christmas, there are nativity scenes in many churches and a big Christmas market in Piazza Navona (see Christmas in Rome). Rome is a top place to celebrate New Year's Eve and there's a big party in Piazza del Popolo. There are religious festivals and processions during the week before Easter both in the city and at the Vatican. See Rome Month by Month to find top events during your visit.

Pickpockets in Rome:

Be aware of pickpockets especially in the train station, on the metro, and in crowded tourist areas. Pickpockets may be groups of children, people trying to get you to read something, or even a woman carrying a baby in a blanket or shawl. As in all crowded places and big cities, you should always carry your credit cards, money, and passport in a travel pouch under your clothing.

Rome Hotel and Lodging Recommendations:

Places I've stayed in Rome and recommend:
Daphne Inn - a small, personal bed and breakfast with two central locations. They even give you a cell phone so you can call them if you need help or suggestions.
Hotel Residenza in Farnese - nice 4-star hotel in a great location near Campo di Fiori.
Hotel des Artistes - large but quiet budget to moderate accommodations near the train station. The private rooms are very nice and there are dorm beds available, too.

See Where to Stay in Rome for top-rated lodging choices from budget to luxury in all parts of the city including the historic center and near Termini Station.

Rome Weather:

Rome has a Mediterranean climate. It is sometimes unpleasantly hot in the summer. Romans will tell you the best weather is to be had in October. They even have a word, ottobrata, for those bright, sunny, Roman days. April and May or Late September through October are the best times to visit. For average daily temperatures and rainfall month by month, see Rome Italy Weather.

Rome Sights and Attractions:

Just walking around in Rome can by entertaining and you will can something interesting almost anywhere. Here are some of Rome's top attractions.

  • The Colosseum - Colosseo is the largest monument in existence from Imperial Rome. It is a huge amphitheater that housed the fierce gladiator and wild animal fights. A good approach is along the Via dei Fori Imperiali. Ticket lines may be long. See tips for buying Colosseum Tickets to avoid the ticket line and Rome Colosseum Pictures for an overview.
  • The Roman Forum - Foro Romano is one of the city's most important archaeological sites. It was the focal point of Republican Rome and has monuments from 900 years of history. You can buy a combination ticket for the Forum, Colosseum, and Palatine Hill. What to See in the Forum
  • The Pantheon is Italy's best-preserved ancient building, It started out as a pagan temple and then became a church. There is a big piazza in front of it that makes a nice place for an evening drink (although pricey).
  • The Capitoline Hill is a great place to get a view of the Roman Forum. The focal point of the hill is the grand Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo. There are two important museums housing an impressive collection of sculptures, paintings, frescoes, and mosaics. More about the Capitoline Museums.
  • Piazza Navona is a lively piazza ringed by upscale cafes. At its center are three lavish fountains. See Piazza Navona.
  • The Villa Borghese houses the Galleria Borghese, with a large collection of famous sculptures and paintings.
  • Saint Peter's Basilica - Basilica di San Pietro is the largest Roman Catholic building in the world. It houses important works by Michelangelo and Bernini. Although not really in Rome, Vatican City is a popular destination for travelers in Rome. St. Peter's Pictures
  • Vatican Museums - Musei Vaticani, the largest museum complex in the world, houses art spanning 3000 years from the Classical and modern world. Here you can see the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo's frescoes. Vatican Museum Visiting Information

For more details about Rome's sights and attractions, see our Suggested Rome 3-Day Itinerary or Top Rome Tourist Attractions.

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