The best time to visit Rome – plan the perfect European backpacking trip

If you’re planning a trip to Europe this summer, we hope a sojourn to Rome, the Eternal City, is on the cards. You shouldn’t need us to tell you why Rome is one of the must-do European destinations – the Pope chooses to call it home, and realistically, he could choose anywhere! If your sightseeing hat is secure, and your hit-list is at the ready, Rome offers more than most European cities in terms of incredible things to see and do – we’re talking ancient monuments like the Colosseum, where gladiators once fought and mighty rulers were defeated, works of art in the Sistine Chapel, and some of the world’s most important religious sites including the Vatican, and Saint Peter’s Basilica. Today we run through all you need to know when planning your Italy activities…

Rome travel tips

When is the best time to visit?

Where possible try and visit Rome during spring or autumn when things are slightly quieter. Having said that, if you want sunshine, and a lot of fun, summertime is when Rome comes to life. Plus the heat means you can enjoy leisurely meals outside, and gives you the perfect excuse to scoff your bodyweight in pistachio gelato. If you do visit in peak season, bear in mind that you might have to battle longer queues for entry to attractions.

What to do before visiting Rome?

If you want to tick off all the major Rome landmarks then it will pay to sit down and plan your trip. There is so much to see and do that a little read of a guidebook will go a long way. Work out which sites to prioritise, especially if you only have a few days in town.

How to make the most of your trip to Rome

Best areas to stay in?

Determining the best area to stay in Rome will hinge largely on what kinds of activities you plan on enjoying whilst visiting…

For hipster hangouts…

To rub shoulders with the city’s cool kids, check out hostels in Rome located in Monti, which was Rome’s Red Light District back in the day. Expect cool bars, independent boutiques, and fantastic restaurants. Plus, as it’s located just around the corner from the Colosseum, it’s the perfect base for those planning on dominating their sightseeing schedule. Ostiense is another cool option.

For foodie fun…

If you plan on spending every waking hour sampling each delicious treat you lay your eyes on, we recommend focusing your accommodation search on Testaccio. Here you’ll find an abundance of authentic trattorias serving up the tastiest, and best value traditional Italian food that Rome has to offer.

For nightlife…

To sample the best of what Rome has to offer once the sun dips behind its churches, consider basing yourself in Trastevere. Not only is this a gorgeous corner of town, we’re talking ivy-covered buildings, cobbled streets, and tiny, undiscovered piazzas, but once night falls this is where many of the city’s best restaurants, and bars are located. Plus, it’s only a short stroll from Centro Storico, and the Vatican.

Whatever type of hostel in Rome you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it on the Hostelworld site.

Rome backpacking

Where to go out in Rome?

Join in with the locals indulging in a spot of al fresco drinking on the streets and bridges, around Viccolo de Cinque Street in Trastevere. This is super lively on the weekend, and fun is guaranteed. Check out Freni e Frizone, a bar located in an old garage, with a tasty aperitif menu and a nice mix of tourists, locals, and students. Akbar, and Baylon are other great options if you’ve got a hankering for a cocktail or two.

Another excellent option for nightlife in Rome is Monti. We recommend heading to the main piazza, snapping up a bottle or two from the off license, and joining the hipster crowd sitting around the fountain enjoying the warm summer evenings. You could also check out San Lorenzo, a cheap and cheerful area popular with the student population. Check out a spot called Marmo, a cool bar with a huge outdoor deck, and a wallet-friendly drinks and food menu.

Rome nightlife

Best places to find decent cheap food?

Oh, Italian cuisine, you delicious mistress…with your carb-heavy masterpieces, pizza that was surely baked in heaven’s own wood-fired oven, and gelato sent from the God’s. Anyway, I digress…Italian food is THE BEST, and Rome seizes this mantle and exceeds all expectations. Mark our words, there won’t be a soggy crust, or overcooked piece of penne in sight.

Formula One in San Lorenzo has arguably the best pizza in Rome, or, if you’ve had your fill of pizza and pasta, head to Dar Filettaro close to Campo de Fiori, for a fried cod for just €4.50.

If you want to keep things super cheap, head to one of the city’s markets to stock up your backpack. The 0km market near to the Roman forum has cheap street food stalls in the back corner, or if your budget is super low, there are cheese, bread, and fruit samples on almost every stand. Fill your boots! Testaccio food market, one of the oldest in Rome, is another great choice, and prices remain low because it’s frequented by locals.

Savvy travellers to Rome should know to capitalise on the city’s aperitif culture. You’ll find many places offer free finger food with every drink bought. So, for €5, you can be chowing down on cold pastas, sandwiches, and other tasty Roman snacks, that you might otherwise not get the chance to sample. One massive perk of Rome is that drinking water fountains are everywhere, and it’s completely free, meaning there’s no excuse not to be hydrated.

Best time to visit Rome

Free activities?

Despite being one the most touristy cities on the planet, there are a numbers of fab things to do for free in Rome. For example, The Pantheon is a must-see, and it won’t cost you a penny. If your idea of a good time is reclining in the sunshine, and sipping on a cold wine whilst people watching, you’ve come to the right city! Rome is famous for all its public spaces, from the Spanish Steps, to the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Novona to Piazza Venezia. Bag yourself a space on the pavement and enjoy watching the world rushing by against an incredible backdrop.

TOP TIP! Although you’ll normally have to pay to visit the home of the Pope himself, should you be in town on the last Sunday of the month, the Vatican Museum is open to the public for free from 9am-12.30pm. Inside you’ll find the Sistine Chapel, and Michelangelo’s works of art.

Rome European trip

Unusual activities?

If you’re on the lookout for more unique things to do in Rome, why not nip around the city like a local …on the back of a Vespa! There are even tours that combine Vespa riding and food! SOLD!

Cat lovers should make time to visit Largo di Torre Argentina. Not only was this the exact spot that Julius Caesar was murdered, but it’s now been transformed into a cat sanctuary home to over 250 moggies.

The awesome author of this post, Amy Baker, can be found on: Facebook, Twitter, Web & Instagram. Massive thanks to Danielle Saunders (dlsaunders88) for the cracking pictures.

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