Traveling to Rome? Read this first.
Last updated: September 7, 2023
Rome Travel Tips
Rome… Remarkable, unforgettable, one of a kind… and quite expensive if you don’t know how to travel to Rome right. We learned it hard way. If you don’t want to join our ranks, read on and find out everything you should know about the capital of Italy and how to enjoy to the fullest.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING TO ROME FOR THE FIRST TIME
1. Skip Taxi and Walk Around or Use Public Transportation
The amount of landmarks and attractions in Rome are overwhelming at first. How can you visit all those places with the limited time on your hands?
No worries. Rome is a walkable city. On top of that, all major attractions are located in the center of the city, not far from each other. You can easily explore most of Rome on foot, without even thinking of flagging down a taxi nor booking an Uber ride.
If you feel tired after walking all day long, stick to public transportation. A pass that allows you to ride 100 minutes after its activation costs 1.50 euros. Pay 7 euros and you can enjoy unlimited rides on all types of Roman public transportation for 24 hours.
2. You Must Have a Car Seat
If you travel to Rome with a baby or toddler and didn’t bring your own car seat, forget about the Uber ride. The driver will not let you sit in the car without a proper seat for your child. The majority of the Uber drivers don’t provide you with any car seats, unless requested in advance. This applies not only to Rome. The same issues we encountered in Barcelona and Vienna.
So don’t even bother to call Uber in Rome if your don’t have the car seat. If the driver arrives and declines to take to your destinations, you’re still responsible for cancellation and will be charged accordingly.
3. Don’t Drive in Rome if You Are not a Confident Driver
The majority of the streets in Rome are one-way and pretty narrow. They can literally turn a first-time visitor’s life into hell especially if you’re not a confident driver. Exploring Rome on foot is far more relaxing and enjoyable.
Driving in Rome comes with another issue. Parking spots are very limited or taken. If you’re lucky and happened to find one, it’s normally tiny. Not everybody can fit a car in there.
4. You Can Almost Always Customize Your Food
Being able to ask to customize my food and hold cheese or add extra eggplant was such a relief for me. Despite its reputation as pizza and pasta city, Rome is not a stranger to different dietary preferences. You can easily get a vegan pizza, create your own sandwich, or have your pasta cooked specially for you (hooray to the best people at Milvio’s Family).
To have a positive dining experience in Rome, all you need to do is to be friendly and ask nicely. Knowing a few words in Italian (at least food vocabulary) is preferable, but not always required. For all vegan sweet lovers, Rome has raw chocolate, vegan gelato, and pretty much anything you may fancy.
5. No Return Policy
If you call North America home, great customer service and return policy is a norm of your life. In Rome, however, there is no return policy. Period. Be selective and choose wisely what you want to purchase in the capital of Italy. Once you buy it, there is no way to return it. In some places in Rome, you might get a store credit, but never a full momentary refund.
6. Be Alert when Crossing the Streets in Rome
Rome is notorious for its chaotic driving situation. Crossing the street here is a game of who does it first. Roman drivers aren’t willing to stop and let pedestrians cross the street even if the green light gives the latter the right to do it. Waiting for the stream of the car to come to an end is not an option either. You might stay at that crosswalk forever.
When crossing the streets in Rome, show a little bit more confidence and start walking when the light turns green. The cars will have to stop. Yet never lose common sense and alertness. Some drivers will never change and still try to proceed first. Let them go. It’s better to be safe than sorry. But once you master this skill in Rome, crossing the streets somewhere else in the country is a piece of cake.
7. Prices for Guided Tours Are Negotiable
The streets of Rome, especially near major attractions, are loaded with representatives from local travel offices that sell all sort of guided tours. If you don’t have much time and prefer to learn more about Rome during your first visit, go for it. The guided tours are great. We used one in the Vatican City and loved it. But don’t let all those tour promoters rip you off.
Remember that the standard price of the ticket sold on the streets is not an actual price. A lot of third party commissions go into that amount. Before buying the ticket, try to negotiate. The majority of the tour sellers will give a much better price.
TIP: The best option, however, is to get your ticket from a reliable source or directly from the company that conducts those guided tours across Rome. They normally don’t charge extra commissions, and you may end up paying half of the price asked for the same tour by street sellers.