A Backpacker’s Travel Guide to Rome
Rome! It’s not hard to see why Italy’s capital is known as ‘The Eternal City,’ there really is history and ancient ruins around every corner. With so much history and culture combined with beauty, incredible food and that Italian passion, Rome really is a place that everyone should visit at least once in their lives. It’s not a cheap city but there are many ways you can still enjoy Rome on a budget.
Daily Backpacker Budget for Rome: €50 / $55
Top 5 Things to do in Rome
Visit the Colosseum
You can’t visit Rome without visiting the Colosseum, the iconic image of Rome. The Colosseum was built in 80AD, was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater and is the most impressive building of the Roman Empire. It’s so huge it could accommodate 55,000 spectators and is probably best known for bloody tales of gladiators and slaves being fed to the lions, but there is so much more to learn and discover about the ingenious Roman Empire and the important role that this Colosseum played.
Explore Ancient Rome – The Palantine Hill and Roman Forum
Whilst there is so much ancient history in Rome, the most important area that you really should see is Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Don’t just visit the Colosseum – there is so much more to see and discover. See the Palantine Hill where the emperors lived and the Roman Forum; the ancient and mythical heart of the city that used to be bustling with life and markets and is still full of ruins, some perched precariously defying gravity and time to be still standing after so long. Price – Combined ticket for all three – €12
Visit the Vatican
The world’s smallest country has a lot to see. Visit the home of the Pope, St Peter’s Basilica – arguably the grandest churches in the world and the Vatican Museum – one of the world’s finest and largest art collections that includes the famous Michealangelo masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel and much more. Price– €16
Take a Free Walking Tour
Take a free walking tour from the lovely Spanish Steps around the main historical sights in Rome including the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain but don’t get too caught up with ‘ticking off the sights’ that you forget to lose the crowds and just wander, explore and soak up the atmosphere of the timeless and characterful city.
Explore the Trastevere area
Wander through the charming medieval neighbourhood of Trastevere, just over the River Tiber. The cobbled streets and pretty, characterful houses are a great place to soak up the atmosphere of Rome and there are many nice cafes, restaurants and bars here to watch the world go by or just hang out in one of the pretty piazzas. In the summer food and craft stalls line the banks of the Tiber River.
Worth splashing out on: Rome is busy with tourists and especially in the Summer there are long lines at the most popular sights. Splashing out on a guided tour will help you skip these queues and Rome had such a long, rich and fascinating history that really comes alive a lot more with a guide.
Get off the beaten track: Escape the crowds and explore a different side to Rome by whizzing around on an iconic vespa motorbike tour.
Did you Know – Most people also don’t realise how close to the coast Rome is, only about half an hour by train from the center you can chill out on the Lido (beach)
Also try: Take the train out towards the Fiumicinco Airport and explore the ruins at Ostia Antica, while the more famous ruins at Pompeii show how the rich lived, the ruins at Ostia show the important 100,000 year old port city and the best part is that these ruins are usually mercifully less busy than the other sites in the centre of Rome.
Where to stay in Rome on a budget
Rome is not cheap destination by any means but it’s still possible to enjoy on a budget. Many budget accommodation options are clustered around Rome’s main train station – Termini. The Yellow is a popular and lively hostel. Alessandro Palace is also one of the best with a rooftop garden and bar great for meeting others.
For something a little quieter try a stylish, private room at The Blue Hostel or The Beehive has loads of stylish options for all budgets and preferences and is somewhat of a Rome institution. Get out of the city centre and get a great deal at Plus Camping Roma which has all the facilities of a resort (loved the pool, bar and open air cinema) and you can stay in cabins or permanent tents .
Or for a more local feel how about renting an apartment through Air BnB or Flipkey. Read more about my experience renting an apartment near the Vatican.
Read More: The Best Places to Stay in Rome
Where to eat in Rome on a budget
You will never go hungry in Rome, with so much delicious pizza, pasta, gelato, coffee and wine. There are many places where you can grab a slice of pizza on the go for a cheap meal or look for lunch specials. Or visit the Campo dei Fiori Markets, a daily gourmet market not far from the pretty Piazza Navona.
Rome is home to many fine restaurants but eating out isn’t cheap and many of restaurants around the most famous Piazzas and the main tourist sights are over priced touristy restaurants – avoid these if you want good value for money and go for the more modest, unassuming, local venues.
How to get to Rome
Rome has 2 airports and is well served by Ryan Air and budget airlines. Trains and buses connect all of Europe, if you making a longer trip then getting an inter rail pass could save you money but in Italy even with a rail pass you can’t just hop on, you need to make a reservation. Rome has good metro and local bus systems and it is actually pretty walk able and easy to get around on foot.
Italy has so much to offer! The ruins of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius are not far from Rome. Heading North you can visit the gorgeous rolling hills of Tuscany, the leaning tower of Pisa, the art galleries of Florence and the magical canals of Venice.