Another trip to Rome! Even though I’d been before, I was keen to visit again. One of the main reasons for doing so was the sudden urge I had to photograph some of the most well-known ancient monuments in the city, like the Colosseum and St Peter’s Basilica. Both of which I’d captured the first time round but had since lost the pictures. With so many things to see and do in the Eternal City, here’s how to plan a trip to Rome in 5 easy steps.
Create your top pick list
Depending on how many days you have in Rome will determine what you can see and how to get the most out of your trip. You can fit in a lot if you plan your time carefully. The first thing I tend to do once I’ve decided on a new place to visit, is use the Notes app on my phone. The best time for me to think about where I want to go and what I want to do is when I’m on the move. Don’t overthink where you want to go as the time when things come to you is when you’re not overly thinking about something. Be ready to get ideas on the go.
Use a travel planner
On my recent trips I’ve started using a travel planner – not to plan what to do per se, but to work out the best order in which to do them. It’s great if it’s your first time visiting or are short on time. Once I’ve etched out what I want to do and when from my notes, I plug it all into the planner and it roughly calculates the time between each location.
Tip – take a look at Inspirock – it’s one of my go-to travel planning platforms. It’s really handy and gives you a better idea of what’s possible and what isn’t. You can choose from an existing list of places and activities or add your own in. I’ve actually found other activities I didn’t know about while using the app. It’s really easy to use and aside from activity planning, you can use it to find accommodation and other things. I’ll be reviewing Inspirock, so if you want the lowdown on how it works, check back soon.
If you’re into photography like me (or even if you’re not) you’ll want to know the best places to visit for getting some good photos. One of the first places I tend to look at is Instagram.
While it’s useful and inspires me to think of other places to add to my travel list, it’s also great for finding places to get some photos that I may not have thought of.
I sometimes ask other Instagrammer’s where they’ve taken a picture if they’ve not added a specific location or it’s not so easy to guess. I’ve also used 500px – an online photography community.
A lot of photographers using the platform provide the actual settings they used to take a photo which can be helpful if you’re learning how to shoot in manual and want to achieve a similar look.
Tip – You probably know and use the bookmark feature on Instagram to save photos from other users but try sorting them into collections by country or city. It helps create a reference catalogue and also makes it easier to find any pictures you’ve liked and saved.
Once you’ve narrowed down your preferred places to visit, it’s always a good idea to try and book as much as you can in advance. If you’ve got a rough idea of what you’ll be doing each day, it should be easier to work out. It will save you time and maybe money as some companies may offer a discount if you book online.
Tip – one idea is to allocate the middle days of your trip to your most desired places to visit because anything can happen. If you have a long delay on arrival it could impact on your first, and even second day. Booking ahead also saves time queuing for tickets. Book bigger attractions, like the Vatican Museums and Colosseum in advance as they’ll be the busiest. It’s possible to book the Vatican online here. I did this and literally walked straight to the front and inside in less than 15 minutes. I was there not long after it opened so if you’re going later I’m the day, even if booking in advance, expect some queue time.
Entry fee or free entry?
With so many things to do and see entrance fees will soon rack up, especially if you’re intent on seeing all the main tourist attractions. You can end up spending a small fortune.
Tip – on the first Sunday of every month you can get free entry to Italy’s state museums and archaeological sites? Just remember that queues will be very long! Prepare for your trip and think about starting out early so you have the flexibility to get as many covered in one day. Take a look at the Italian Ministry of Culture and Environment website for information on which museums are participating. It’s in Italian but it gives you a starting point.
With all of this in mind, check out 7 things to see and do while in Rome, and see what you can add to your hit list!