Are you planning your first visit to Rome? Wondering what to do? Rome offers so much to see, do and enjoy – the list can be overwhelming.
Naturally, there are the top tourist attractions, such as the Colosseum, the Vatican, St Peter’s Basilica, the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and Trevi fountain, to name just a few. While seeing these sights is highly recommended, there’s an almost endless list of other things you can do to experience Rome.
Of course, it depends on your interests. I was lucky enough to visit with my best friend, and we both enjoy shopping, eating and drinking wine (just a little taste!), as well as doing all the touristy things.
If you’re a first time visitor to Rome, or you’ve only visited the major tourist attractions, read on. Here are 5 things to do in Rome that may give you a different perspective of this ancient and beautiful city.
Rise early and walk
We stayed in a small B&B in the historic centre of Rome, chosen specifically for its location (and reasonable price). The location allowed us to walk just about everywhere we needed to go in Rome.
Thanks to the jetlag from our 26 hour journey from the other side of the world, we were awake super-early – 4am! By about 5.30am, we were dressed and ready to venture out. I highly recommend the early morning as a fabulous time to explore the city. We were able to take photos of Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain with barely any people in the shot. When we returned to these sites later in the day, each of them was teeming with people, giving absolutely no chance of snapping a pic of the site without hordes of tourists in the shot.
We also saw shopkeepers preparing for the day and the markets being set up in Campo di Fiori, which was really interesting.
Rising early and wandering the city is especially recommended during the summer months, when the city is literally overrun with touristas!
Take a Segway tour
As an orientation on our first full day in Rome, we took a Segway tour with Rex Tours – who also do walking and bike tours of the city. The segway tour was amazing. While we’d never ridden a segway before, we got the hang of it in about 10-15 minutes, then we were off – and we really enjoyed zipping past the hordes of people who were walking. Riding the segway allowed us to cover so much more ground that we could by walking, and our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about the history and development of Rome. Now that we are segway converts, we would definitely seek out a segway tour in another capital city – it’s the way to go!
Do a Cooking Class
Wanting to experience authentic cuisine, and take home some new skills in preparing it for ourselves, we signed up for Cooking Classes in Rome. Chef Andrea takes you through the preparation of a 5-course menu made with local ingredients, which you help prepare and then get to eat, together with accompanying wines. The day starts at 10am and finished around 3.30-4pm, so it’s a big chunk of time, but we thoroughly enjoyed the experience – and the food and wine. We also got to meeet other people from all over the world, which was really interesting. We didn’t need to eat much more for the day, so it covered our food budget too. Afterwards, we took some time to explore the beautiful district of Trastevere, where the cooking school is located. We also enjoyed some shopping on the way back to the B&B – why not!
Stroll and eat
As I may have mentioned, we do love to eat, so booking an Eating Italy Food Tour was a no-brainer. The biggest issue was choosing which tour to do – Trastevere evening or day tour? Or the Taste of Testaccio tour? We eventually decided on the Twilight Trastevere tour.
We met our lovely guide at 5.30pm and she led us through the ancient, magical streets of Trastevere, where we enjoyed the most sensational food and wine tastings. All the food was so very fresh and prepared from local ingredients, which made it even more interesting.
Our guide provided an informing commentary about the history of this beautiful area, as well as taking us to the best places to eat. We enjoyed the sightseeing and people watching just as much as the food. We plan on doing the Testaccio tour next time we visit Rome.
Wander the piazza trail and find shopping treasures along the way
Open up a map of central Rome. You may notice there are a lot of piazzas, which are basically squares. However, the Rome piazza is a place where locals meet, markets are held and gorgeous fountains and statues watch over the proceedings.
Perhaps the largest is Piazza Navona, which features some of the most incredible fountains we saw in Italy – definitely worth a visit. If you have some time, stroll from Piazza Navona to Campo di Fiori, where you’ll find a daily market each morning, offering fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers and local produce – another must-see. From here, you can then wander on to Piazza Farnese, which is nearby, and then head south to the River Tiber and stroll across one of the lovely bridges.
If you’re a shopper, keep your eyes open along this stroll. We found most of the shops which front onto the piazzas had higher prices, but found some real treasures in the small alleys which connect the piazzas and the main roads. The best of our shopping finds happened along these strolls, where we found tiny boutiques selling beautiful and interesting items.
You could easily spend weeks or months in Rome and not run out of things to do. The above suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg!
Have you visited Rome? Did you do something different? Tell us about it below.
The Besties Do Italy series details how Seize The Day Project’s Lyndall and her long time best friend Jane ventured to Italy to celebrate a significant birthday – sans husbands and children. Shhh, don’t tell anyone they’ve gone! Read more posts in this fascinating series here:
Linking up with JustinPlusLauren #WeekendWanderlust
Also linking up with Albom Adventures for #WKendTravelInspiration