How to Plan a Trip to Rome – Complete Step-by-Step Guide

Being such a huge city, visiting Rome can be overwhelming. If you are fretting about and wondering how to plan a trip to Rome, you just landed in the right place. Our tips and detailed guides will provide you with all the tools you need to make a perfect trip on your own.

We will give you plenty of information and details and we will direct you to in-depth guides on every topic such as what are the best areas to book your accommodation, what are the best hotels near the most famous landmarks, and where to find authentic and genuine eating experiences.

Are you ready? Find out how to plan a trip to Rome and start organizing your next unforgettable holiday!

Image: How to plan a trip to Rome by Rome Actually.

Planning your Rome trip step by step

Decide when to go

If you ask me, every season is a great time to visit Rome, but not everyone might agree with that. Depending on what your travel needs are, you will choose different months and seasons to visit Rome and Italy.

For example, if you are curious about how we spend Christmas in Rome, the whole month of December is a magical time to come. If you wish to have a crowd-free experience, months like January and February are good times. On the other hand, if you want to come when the weather is at its best, spring and fall are your best bet.

Check out our detailed guide to the best time to visit Rome

Decide how long to stay

Deciding how many days to stay in Rome is one of the hardest parts of the planning process. While I always suggest spending one week in Rome to fully enjoy the landmarks and have more room to plan a relaxed trip, I’m aware this is not always possible.

Depending on how much time is your full holiday in Italy and how many places you want to visit, you need to narrow down your time in each location. If you are staying for at least four days, you will have the chance to visit different neighborhoods, while if you are staying only one day and it’s your first time in Rome, chances are that you will just stick to the historic center.

If you wish to enter at least one major landmark, I suggest stretching your stay to at least 2 days so that half a day is devoted to the monument that takes more time to visit.

Check out our tips to decide how many days to stay in Rome

Create a perfect itinerary

Particularly in the case that you have limited time, drawing an itinerary before you arrive is very important. Along with a step-by-step plan of things to see and do and related schedules, ideally, a perfect itinerary will include also the best restaurants in each area and what’s the best way to move around from and to your hotel.

Rome has a huge number of monuments, sights, and landmarks, and depending on how much time you have, you need to consider what your interests are to make a list of places that better resonate with your passions.

Check out our customized Rome itineraries and travel services

Discover what to see and do

From stunning piazzas to age-old archaeological sites, Rome has something for everyone, whether it’s sunny or it’s raining.

Wandering the narrow alleys of Rome’s Centro Storico or quaint neighborhoods like Trastevere will connect you to the local history and culture, while if you are trying to escape the summer sun or an unexpected shower, ducking into a museum or a church is your best solution.

Image: Rome city planner by

Rome City Planner!

  • Step-by-step city planner
  • Neighborhoods guide
  • BONUS 1: travel planner checklist
  • BONUS 2: packing checklist

Know where to stay

Finding a hotel in Rome can be confusing, but having a planned itinerary will certainly make things easier. One of the Rome neighborhoods we suggest booking your hotel is the city center, probably the best area since it’s close to most of the major landmarks or otherwise well-connected with the other districts via public transport. If you are a family with children, we suggest these neighborhoods.

A great neighborhood for your stay is also around the Vatican, so Trionfale or Prati areas. From here, too, you can easily reach most of the central landmarks either on foot or by bus/metro/train.

For some budget options, also staying around Stazione Termini is not a bad idea. You can find good accommodation, reasonable prices and for sure you will have all the buses, trains and metro you need at your fingertips.

For smoother planning, check out our complete Rome accommodation guide.

Image: Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica is one of the most famous churches in Rome.

Schedule wisely

In Rome, some landmarks are more crowded than others, hence showcasing a longer queue. Visiting busy places like the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums will require more careful planning than entering the Baths of Caracalla or the Trajan’s Markets, even though these, too, are centrally located.

On the days when you have busy monuments on your list, you will need to get ready earlier in the morning and you might consider purchasing your skip-the-line tickets online or joining private tours. There are many guided tours of the Colosseum and the Vatican you can choose from.

Whichever monument or museum you are visiting, or even you are attending, or restaurant you are having lunch in, make sure you check and mark their opening hours.

Image: Request customized Rome itineraries and travel planning services Rome Actually.

Make a packing list

I suggest starting your packing list in the early stages of your Rome trip-planning process so that you can add important items every time you remember them.

Your list will obviously change depending on the season because packing for summer is not quite like packing for winter, but some things are needed and useful at any time such as your travel documents, reusable water bottle, and a backpack.

Check out our full guide to what to pack for Rome in any season

Budget your trip

Whether you want a comfortable holiday or you are traveling on a shoestring, Rome adapts to each and every one of its visitors. While still at home, you can plan on booking budget accommodation options rather than opting for exclusive 5-star resorts.

There are many factors to consider when budgeting your travels and are just starting your “how to plan a trip to Rome” list. Do you want to visit all the landmarks? Are there some landmarks that are more or less expensive? Are there any free ones? Are you willing to spend some extra money to join guided Rome tours or cooking classes?

On the logistic side, according to your budget, are you going to use only public transport or book a taxi more often? Are you going to treat yourself to Michelin-type restaurants or inexpensive on-the-go street food places?

Check out our guide to visiting Rome on a budget

How to get to Rome from the airport

There are several ways to reach Rome from Fiumicino airport or the other way around, and in all these years we have used pretty much all of them. If you want to come by car, you can take a public taxi by standing in line at the exit and taking one of the official white taxis or booking a private transfer.

Otherwise, you can use the shuttle bus, which is the cheapest way, or the train, which is the fastest solution particularly useful if your hotel is downtown and easy to reach from Termini or any other train station.

There are trains to Termini Station every half an hour (Leonardo Express) for 14€, or trains to the stations of Trastevere, Ostiense, Tuscolana, and Tiburtina roughly every 15 minutes for 8€.

Get your bearings

I know Rome’s public transport has been under the radar for quite some time and it’s true, it can be greatly improved. However, since you are in the city for a short period of time and most of your days will be spent downtown, you can rely on the public service, especially the Rome metro and trains, for your mobility with little to no issues.

I think most of the time you will be walking anyway, so I guess a single ticket (€1.50 for 100 minutes validity inclusive of 1 train, 1 metro, and unlimited bus rides) each time you need to get around will be enough.

You can also purchase a 24h/48h/72h ticket, but I recommend these only for the days when you are actually planning to use public transport a lot as they cost respectively 7/12.50/18€.

Check out our detailed guide to get around Rome

Know where to eat

I might have said this before, but often in the city center, it’s not too straightforward to find a good place to eat or enjoy some properly made artisan gelato.

Especially around the most popular landmarks, you might find restaurants using enticing words like “antica”, “trattoria”, “osteria”, “tradizionale”, just to give a traditional and genuine impression. Sometimes, unfortunately, they are just tourist eateries. As a general rule, I suggest avoiding the “tourist menus”.

Luckily for you, I enjoy trying new restaurants and also going back to old ones, so I’m always pretty up-to-date about the Roman food scene and I can suggest great restaurants whether you want to enjoy pizza, seafood, or you are following a plant-based diet.

Carry a small dictionary

While in tourist areas you will find many people able to communicate in English, if you go a bit far from the most popular spots or even out of town, English is seldom spoken.

Learning some basic Italian phrases will get you out of some impasse, otherwise, you can always carry with you a small dictionary or glossary to help you get by in situations like restaurants or asking for directions.

Stay connected

One more thing to consider when planning a trip to Rome is how you are going to stay connected and online. All hotels in Rome have WiFi but when you are out and about, you will either need to have a roaming plan with your home network provider, use an Italian SIM card, or subscribe to an e-SIM plan that you can use wherever you are.

Check out our full guide to WiFi in Rome

Image: Serra Moresca Moorish greenhouse of Villa Torlonia in Rome.

Go offbeat

It might come as a surprise to you, but many neighborhoods in Rome are still untapped. So why not venture out of the comfort zone of the city center and explore fantastic districts such as Prati, Testaccio, Ostiense, and the elegant Nomentano/Trieste zone?

In and around Via Nomentana are the beautiful Villa Torlonia Park, the fascinating Sant’Agnese Fuori le Mura complex, and the quaint Coppedè Quarter, along with fantastic restaurants.

Consider a day trip

Rome has enough landmarks for a lifetime, but if you want to see the surroundings and take a break from the hustle and bustle, you can plan a day out of the city. Some of the easiest trips you can take by train from Rome include Ostia Antica and Ostia Lido if you are going to the beach, Tivoli, Bracciano, and Viterbo.

Other fantastic locations such as Civita di Bagnoregio, Calcata, and Bomarzo’s “Park of Monsters” are easier to reach by car. If you are not comfortable driving in Rome (I hear you!), you can join a guided tour such as this one to Civita with Villa Lante Gardens.

If you are more into private and semi-private experiences, check out the top-notch services of LivTours like this private day trip to Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio, this semi-private Tivoli tour, or the private tour to Assisi and the Marmore Waterfalls.

Check out our guide to cool and easy day trips from Rome


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About The Author: Angela Corrias

Hi, my name is Angela Corrias! I am an Italian journalist, photographer, and blogger living in Rome. After over ten years of living abroad, I finally came to the conclusion that in order to better organize my future adventures, I needed a base. Since I know and love Rome so much, I moved back to the Eternal City. This is how Rome Actually was born. Here, I cover everything about Rome, from the local food to the culture to Roman history.

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