The Solo Traveler's Guide to Exploring Rome
Here we are, your backpack is ready, the camera is charged and you are holding your airline tickets in your hands for your next adventure.
You're about to embark on a solo adventure to Rome, and you may be wondering where the hell to even begin.
No worries! I’ve got you covered with this practical guide where you’ll find everything you need to visit Rome and all it's glory.
Art lovers, architecture lovers, history lovers, party lovers…Rome has it all!
Colosseum & Roman Forum
Let’s start with Rome's most famous symbol. Take a cab, bus or the subway to one of the greatest ancient monuments ever built. Every time I find myself in front of the Colosseum I feel overcome with emotion and wonder, "how the hell were the ancient Romans able to build something of such magnitude?"
Built in 72 AD and opened at 80 AD, the Colosseum was used for gladiator contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, reenactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.
Just a few meters from the Colosseum lies the Roman Forum, an important meeting point for the ancient Romans. It is home to temples such as Temple of Saturn and Vesta and the Traian Market, known as the first shopping center in history!
You’ll need tickets to see these monuments, book your tickets ahead in order to save time in line. Click here for more info!
The Altar of the Fatherland and Campidoglio Hill
After our visit to ancient Rome, we walk to the Altar of the Fatherland, a huge monument dedicated to official celebrations like ‘Republic Day’.
Just behind, climb the stairs of the Campidoglio hill - home of the offices of the City Mayor and the Capitoline Museums full of ancients marvels like paintings and statues. Monte Tarpeo Street Viewpoint is just behind the square from where you can enjoy a breathtaking and unforgettable view of the Imperial Forum!
I bet you are beginning to feel a bit hungry. Don’t worry! You are close to a beautiful and charming neighborhood called ‘Rione Ponte’.
This area was used during the Middle Ages as a place to eat and rest. There are a variety of restaurants to choose from and also take-out shops where you can grab a delicious slice of pizza while walking!
You can experience:
- Il Corallo for pasta!
- Da Simo for pizza! There is also cheap beer at the bar next door ;)
- Etablì, modern Rome restaurant and wine bar!
Did I hear gelato?
In this cozy area you can find some of the best spots for Italian gelato. Keep in mind you might need to wait in line for it, it’s the best for a reason, right?
- Frigidarium, a classic stop in Rome.
- Gelateria del Teatro, traditional and exotic flavors like white chocolate and basil and rosemary honey & lemon.
Looking for Tiramisù instead? ZUM Tiramisu is THE place, just a 5 minute walk from the area!
S. Angelo Castle and the Vatican
Only a few minutes away lies Sant’Angelo Bridge which connects to Sant’ Angelo Castle. It was once the tomb of Emperor Adriano and his family, then a fortress used by the Popes, and finally a prison during Renaissance. Nowadays the castle is a museum that attracts millions of people thanks to its sculptures and art exhibitions.
At the end of the bridge looking left, there is a great viewpoint of the Vatican.
Continue along the avenue and you will fine the beautiful Vatican Palace, a country within the country - with its own laws, regulations, currency, and radio but with no borders to cross! Crazy, huh?
If you plan to visit also the Sistine Chapel or the Vatican Museum, don’t forget to book your tickets online. Lines last hours to get tickets the same day! Also - don’t forget to dress appropriately: shoulders and knees covered!
At this point, depending on how tired you are, you can take the subway to visit Villa Borghese Park, the biggest park in Rome's center where you can relax and enjoy a great view of Rome.
The Italian Aperitif!
You are ready to experience the Italian Aperitif! One of the greatest neighborhoods to experience the Roman Movida is called ‘Monti’ not far from the Colosseum. Here you can find the greatest spot to drink an Aperol Spritz or a Beer.
Some of the places:
- La Casetta a Monti
- Black Market
- Bar Monti
Trastevere & Dinner!
This is my favorite area of Rome. You can stroll around the cozy streets, little restaurants, and shops.
This area is not right in the heart of the city and is not connected to the subway. Once you’re there, you won’t regret it! Nowadays it’s a popular night spot.
Stop by for a classic Italian dinner at Il Duca in Trastevere or Tonnarello.
You can finally spend your night out at one of the many bars with live music in Trastevere. Monti is also a great spot for a night out.
After dinner you can stroll around Trastevere and Campo de’ Fiori, another popular night hangout spot reaching the beautiful Pantheon, one of the unique Roman temple still standing, home of ‘all the Gods’.
Leaving the majesty of the Pantheon we are going to cross the imposing facade of Adrian Temple until…
We stumble across Trevi Fountain, after an urgent restoration, it shines more brightly than ever.
Are you already in love with Rome? According to the legend if you throw a coin closing your eyes, putting your right hand on your left shoulder without looking at the fountain you’ll come back! So why not giving it a try?
I usually end my exploration at the Spanish Steps. Try climbing all of the stairs and your will reach the Trinità dei Monti church. This spot offers beautiful views of the city.
If you're not too tired you can walk to the Pincio Terrace. It's not too far from the Spanish Steps and can end your night with a sublime view of the city and Piazza del Popolo.
Arriving and Departing
So you just landed in Rome Fiumicino International Airport (FCO) but…how can I reach my hotel?!
Moving to and from the airport is actually very easy, as you can choose from different options and different prices:
- Leonardo Express, a fast and reliable non-stop train from the Airport to the Rome Termini main railway station. Journey takes approximately 32 minutes. Just follow the directions to the train departure!
- Taxi is another way to reach the city centre. The service provides fixed fares, more info here.
- Regional FL1 Train is the most affordable option if you are travelling on a budget. Just on the platform in front to the Leonardo Express departs a local commute train.
Landing in Rome Ciampino Airport (CIA) instead? Just take the SIT bus to Termini Railway Station. Have a look clicking this link!
Transportation in Rome
I highly recommend exploring Rome by just walking around. The subway line is not extended, having only three lines but letting out basically the entire heart of the city due to environmental preservation.
City buses can be a good option, but be careful - during rush hours (8-10 am and 5-7 pm) buses can be crowded!
You can opt for a single/multi day transportation card which allows you unlimited bus, tram, and subway rides!
Have a look at the official website for prices and conditions.
Did you choose to move around by bus? Read this!
- Timetables are not available at the bus stop and the time showed in Google Maps is not always respected.
- You will need to print the tickets at the machines on board all the times, don’t forget that!
- Stop the bus using your hand at the bus stop otherwise it can happen it won’t stop (and I experienced that during my first months as a High School student… so many buses lost. Don’t do my same mistake!)
I highly recommend you to download the App ‘MyTaxi’. It is the European version of Uber and connects you with the taxis of the city. It is cheaper than Uber and if you are a new user, after the first use, you’ll get a 10€ discount for the next ride!
Keep a look also because from time to time they provide discounts from and to the Rome Fiumicino International Airport!
Where to Stay in Rome
Rome offers a variety of options. You can choose a stylish Airbnb or a nice Boutique Hotel.
If looking for a hostel I recommend the RomeHello Hostel, just 5 minutes from the subway stop Repubblica, with many bus stops nearby to move around. Rooms are nice and spacious for a very good price!
If you are looking for a Hotel I can recommend Abitart Hotel, in the typical area of Testaccio where you can admire stunning street art and is located just a 5 minute walk from the subway Piramide.
Short Day/Weekend Trips From Rome
Just 3 hours from Rome lies the beautiful city of Verona where I used to live for many years!
I am very proud to say that Italy has one of the greatest high speed train connections in Europe AND it offers great deals. So why not take advantage of that?
As all roads lead to Rome, in only 2 or 3 hours you can reach stunning destinations such as Bologna (the Red City), Verona (the city of Romeo and Juliet) or Bari (a port town in Southern Italy). Don’t miss these gorgeous places!
Feel free to contact me for any advice regarding Rome.
I hope to see you on our Italy trip soon!