Rome f.a.q.

Your visit to Rome

When is the best time to come to Rome?
December, January and February
are cold (highs during the day between 30's and mid-50's F/ 0º - 10º C ) and can be rainy, but Rome is very un-crowded then. You will not have lines at museums and can get into any restaurant. You will have Trevi Fountain virtually to yourself even at 3pm. Airfares and hotel rates are at their lowest. This is low season in most of Italy (except for Valentine?s Day week.) Winter sales begin in early January!
March, April
have warmer (mid 50's and 60's F/ 10º - 15º C) weather, but can have plenty of rain. Be aware that during March and April, there can be very high-request dates, such as during the annual Rome Marathon (March) and during Easter week (varies each year.)
mid-April, May, June, and early July
are beautiful months, with plenty of sunshine and long days. Weather will be in the comfortable 70's and 80's F/ 20º - 25º C during the day, and 60's and 70's F/ 15º - 20º C at night. This is high season in Rome and other Italian art cities.
mid-July, August
are very hot, with temperatures in the 80's and 90's F/ 26º - 32º C during the day, and 80's F/ 20º - 25º C at night. It can be very humid and you will need to rest and/or stay indoors between 1 and 4pm. This is mid-season in Rome and other Italian art cities, but high season at any coastal cities or the islands. Summer sales are on!
September, October, early November
are the busiest times of year in Italy's art cities. The weather is beautiful, in the 60's and 70's F/ 15º - 20º C during the day, and 50's and 60's F/ 10º - 15º C at night. There is very little rain.
November, early December
are still nice, with cooler weather (mid 50's and 60's F/ 10º - 15º C), but less crowded than early fall. This is mid-season.
Christmas and New Year's
is a beautiful time to be in Rome. The city is all lit up and decorated and there is an old-fashioned fair set up at Piazza Navona.
What holidays should I be aware of?
Easter is one of the busiest times of the year in Rome. The weekend of the Rome Marathon varies, but is usually sometime in March. Two of the busiest holidays of the year for Italians are the 25th of April (Liberation Day), and the 1st of May. If these dates fall near a weekend, it will be very busy in Rome.
What should I see in Rome?
You should plan on a minimum 3 days just to see the main sights. However, there are many wonderful things to include in a visit to Rome:

3 day visit:
Baroque center of Rome, including Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon and Piazza Navona, Vatican and Vatican Museums (includes the Sistine Chapel), Galleria Borghese, the Coliseum and Roman Forum.
4 day visit:
see our suggested itinerary above. It's easier to do it over 4 days than 3.

Options for additional days:
Neighborhoods to visit
Campo de’ Fiori
Jewish Ghetto and Largo Argentina

Interesting churches to includes:
San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains) - This church contains Michelangelo's statue of Moses.
San Clemente - One of the most eclectic churches in Rome, with an underground excavation to visit.
Santa Maria in Trastevere - Probably the oldest public church in Rome.
St. Ignazio (Saint Ignatius) - One of the Jesuit churches in Rome, with a wonderful tromp l'oeil above the altar.
Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Saint Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs) - This church in Piazza Repubblica was built into the oldest Roman baths (Diocletian). Michelangelo designed the ceiling when he was 89. It was his last architectural work.

Shopping at the Spanish Steps
Porta Portese market on Sundays
Day trips (see more details on this FAQ page.)
What should I pack?
You will be doing a lot of walking in Rome, so the key is to be comfortable. During the winter and spring months, you could bring a rain jacket or coat. We have umbrellas for you to borrow if you need one, and they are also inexpensive and easy to buy from street vendors when it?s raining. If you are planning to go to some event such as a wedding, opera or dinner at some special restaurant, then you might consider bringing something elegant to wear. Otherwise, you may dress casually to go to most restaurants. Remember that to enter the Vatican or the Catacombs, you must be dressed appropriately: no bare knees, shoulders or midriffs. Sandals are fine.
Here are some of our suggestions for things not to leave at home:
Sunglasses Comfortable walking shoes Something suitable for going to the Vatican, that covers your knees and shoulders Any medications you are taking, and a list of these medications (do not put this in checked luggage!) Photocopies of your passport and the contents of your wallet (carry separately.) Washcloths if you like to use them
Is it better to visit the attractions in Rome during the week or on weekends? Are places closed on Sundays and Mondays?
The Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays and most other museums are closed on Mondays. Also, on Saturdays, the Vatican Museums has shorter hours (closing at 13:45), so the lines/queues can be much longer. Shops that follow traditional Rome hours close in the afternoons on Saturdays, and reopen on Monday afternoons. Many restaurants pick Sunday or Monday as their weekly closing day. Weekends in Rome tend to be more crowded, as many people take advantage of easy and affordable trips here from all over Europe. If you can come to Rome during the week, you will find more things open, and somewhat smaller crowds.
How many days do I need in Rome?
We recommend 5 days to really see Rome. If you don't have 5 days, then 3 days should be your absolute minimum. Everyone is different, and some people feel they have "done" Rome in two days, while others feel they still need more time after 10 days.

Here are some suggestions:
Day 1: Daphne 'Reconnaissance Walk' which is a walk we highlight for you on the map, that takes you around the center, including: The Spanish Steps, Pincio Hill (view), Piazza del Popolo, the Pantheon, St. Ignazio, Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori, Largo Argentina and Trevi Fountain. Of course, we show you where our favorite ice cream and coffee spots are, and throw in a couple of fabulous churches tucked along the way for good measure. This walk takes about 3 hours, not including stops, so you can do some or all of it.
Day 2: If this is not a Saturday or Sunday, then visit the Vatican and Vatican Museums. (Saturday is very crowded and the Museums close early. On Sunday, the Museums are closed.) This is a full day, although you can do it over two days if you like. After this, you can either walk back, passing Castel St Angelo, then strolling through the center over the beautiful via dei Coronari or via del Governo Vecchio, and visit anything you missed on the first day. Or you can take the bus up to the top of the Gianicolo hill and have a gorgeous view of the city from above, then walk down into Trastevere for dinner.
Day 3: In the morning, visit St. Peter in Chains (Michelangelo's Moses), San Clemente Church (fascinating underground excavation of 2000+ yearold burial grounds.) Have lunch, and then visit Ancient Rome, including the Coliseum and Roman Forum and possibly the Palatine Hill. Or, visit the Galleria Borghese (you need a booking for this) in the morning, then Ancient Rome in the afternoon.
Day 4: Galleria Borghese if you didn't do it the day before, and more strolling wherever you missed...or shopping!
Day 5: Possible day trips, including Pompeii, Tivoli, Ostia Antica, Assisi, Orvieto.

We can offer suggestions for other combinations, but this is a good start to just see the basics. You see why one needs at least 5 days in Rome! The reason we suggest 5 days is so that you may take your time, include some rests in between sites, and allow yourself to enjoy the wealth of art and history that Rome has to offer.

Tours in Rome

Can you help with tours for the Vatican?
We can book tours to visit the Vatican and Vatican museums. For more details, see the Vatican bookings F.A.Q.
Can you help with museum and other bookings?
Yes, we will book the Galleria Borghese for you. There is no need to book for the Coliseum, or for most other museums. We will be happy to suggest options for pre-booking the Vatican Museums (where the Sistine Chapel is.)
Can you book museums in other cities?
What kinds of tours can you arrange?
We work with several tour operators, which offer a variety of tour choices: city tours by bus or foot; day trips; and even multi-day tours of neighboring cities. You have the option of participating in a larger group tour, a small group tour, or even a private tour.
Do the tour companies take credit cards?
Some do and some accept only cash. Please ask for details.
Do you have any special or private tours?
Yes, we can put together private tours for any size group, and can help you with any special requests, such as wine-tasting, shopping or culinary tours.

Weather in Rome

What is the weather like in Rome?
In general, Rome is blessed with mild weather. During the winter months (late November through late February), it is cold, and you will need a coat, gloves and a scarf. It hardly ever snows in Rome, but does rain more during the winter. The spring is very mild, warm-ish and rainy. Summer can be very hot, especially July and August. September, October and early November are lovely, warm enough during the day to go out without a jacket, and just cool enough at night to need one.
Weather web sites:

Other accommodation

Can you recommend hotels in other cities?
Yes, please send us an email and ask for suggestions in a specific city.
Can you recommend other hotels in Rome if you are booked?
Please see our links page for some booking sites.

Vatican bookings

Is there a way to book at the Vatican so I don't have to wait in line?
You may pre-book your entry to the Vatican Museums (where the Sistine Chapel is), right on the Vatican website.

Some of the tour companies with whom we work also allow you to “skip the line.” Also, we have found that when going about 3 hours before the museums close, you have a better chance of having little or no wait (except in the busiest months of peak season, such as May, June, September and October, when lines later in the day will be shorter but still quite long.) Most people have the idea they will go early to 'beat the line', but this results in much longer waits in the early part of the day.

A few things to note:
1) You cannot just see the Sistine Chapel. It is at the end of the Vatican Museums, which take about 2-3 hours to visit.
2) When pre-booking tickets, or going with a tour group which promises you do not have to wait in line, please realize that no matter, in high season, there are huge crowds going to the Vatican and many many other people and tour groups will also want to “skip the line” meaning there will be lines/queues of people with pre-bookings or with tours. It is not necessarily true that you will not have to wait at all to get in.
3) There are security measures to go through for both the Museums and the St. Peters Basilica. This will also cause a wait in line.
How long do I need to see the Vatican?
A visit to Vatican City usually entails two things: St. Peter's Basilica (open daily and free), and the Vatican Museums (closed Sundays), which is where the Sistine Chapel is. A total visit to both will take about 5 hours, but should be considered a full day. Do not plan other things on this day.
Can I just go see the Sistine Chapel?
No. The Sistine Chapel is at the very end of the Vatican Museums. You must go through the museums to get to the Sistine Chapel...but they are wonderful museums with some of the world's most impressive art collections. A visit through these museums should take you about 2-3 hours.
Can you help with bookings at the Vatican?
We can book (at no charge) the Papal Audience, which occurs every Wednesday except during the summer months. We can also book several kinds of tours to visit the Vatican and Vatican museums. If you would like to visit the Vatican gardens or St. Peter's tomb, we can try to make these bookings for you, although they can be difficult to come by.

Day trips from Rome

Ostia Antica
16 miles from Rome. Ostia was Rome's main commercial port and a military base defending the coastline and the mouth of the Tiber River. The city is well preserved and gives an excellent picture of life under the Roman Empire. The excavations are amazing and famous for their mosaics. There is a 'caffeteria degli scavi' on site. You can go there by boat on the Tiber river, which takes about an hour, or you could go by train, which will take under an hour. If you like the ancient stuff, then this would be a very nice daytrip.
Tivoli (Villa d'Este and Hadrian's Villa)
Here you can visit Villa d'Este, the villa of a thousand waterfalls, and Villa Adriana, the summer residence of emperor Hadrian. The combination of these two palaces of different times in this charming little town on the top of a small hill in the back of Rome, with a beautiful view over the city, makes this a very special day trip.
Both of these Umbrian towns are reachable from Rome via train or with a bus tour. Each has a very special church to visit and is an excellent example of a medieval hill town, with fantastic cuisine and beautiful views of the Umbrian countryside.
These are certainly among the most impressive excavations you can find in Italy. You can go there in one day, but consider that it will be a very long day, so we recommend a group tour. The trip to Pompeii takes about 3 hours one way using the train system.
You can reach Florence in a 1.5-hour train ride (with the Eurostar.) As Florence is a very small town, you can easily go there for one day only and see quite a lot.

Money matters

Should I bring Euros with me?
It is a good idea to arrive anyplace in Europe with a few Euros handy, if only to get you from the airport to your hotel. We suggest going to your local bank and exchanging just enough to have about 70-100 Euros for your arrival. If you change money at the Rome airport, you will get a horrible exchange rate.
Should I bring traveller's checks with me? Or is it better to take money out of ATM's? Do businesses accept currency other than Euros?
Most businesses do not accept foreign currency, and do not accept traveller's checks, even in Euros. If you bring traveller's checks, you will need to take them to an exchange office to get the Euros cash, and there will be a small fee. Using your ATM card is a good way to get cash as you need it, but check with your bank to find out first 1) if your ATM card is usable outside your country, 2) what the daily withdrawal limit is, and 3) what your bank's fees are for using foreign ATM machines.
Do most places of business accept credit cards?
Many do, especially larger establishments such as shops, restaurants and hotels. However, you will probably find more businesses only accepting cash here than in your home country. Plan to pay with cash for parts of your trip.