A Backpacker’s Guide to Rome

Oh Rome, the place I wasn’t supposed to visit, but fell in love with anyways.  My 3-day visit to Rome came about very “spur of the moment” based on the fact that the city of Milan apparently hates me.  But, the truth is that I’m glad it turned out this way.  I really loved Rome and the Vatican City, and it was one of the places on my Europe trip that I’d love to return some day.  It was great for photography, and I’d love to spend some more time shooting the city.  For those who aren’t photographers, you’ll be rewarded with great museums, stunning architecture, great food, and some very interesting history.

I’m sure that you’ll love Rome.

Time Needed: 3-5 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: 50 Euros a Day

Things to do in Rome for Cheap or Free

  • The Roman Forum: The forum is a beautiful place to visit and will make you fell like you stepped into an old cartoon episode of Hercules.  My advice though, come early in the morning to beat the crowds.
  • Colosseum: This is obviously a must-see, and likely Rome’s most iconic place.  My advice for a visit here is the opposite as the forum, come late in the afternoon as the crowds have started to disperse, and enjoy taking some photos of the structure as the sun goes down.
  • Pantheon: One of the most well preserved buildings in the city, it is a magnificent site, and shouldn’t be missed.
  • The Vatican: Get to Saint-Peters either first thing in the morning as doors open or late in the day.  The lines here are insane if you try to go mid-day (or even mid-morning).  This is also a great place to spend sunset.
  • Trevi Fountain: Once the sun goes down, head down to Trevi fountain to make a wish.
  • Santa Cecilia: I tried to avoid going into too many basilica’s in Rome, because I was worried they’d all start to blend together, but this one was fantastic.  I highly recommend it.
  • Ville Borghese: The best park in town?  A great place to hang out, also a great place to have yourself a bit of a picnic.

Where to Eat in Rome on the Cheap

I wish I could help you more here than I can in this regard.  But I only had 3 days in Rome and I made a challenge with myself to see if I could eat nothing but pizza and ice cream for the entire 3 days.  I was successful, and just for the record you can eat very cheap this way.  That being said, I highly recommend that if you are at least half-sane you also dip into some of the other Roman meals.  Don’t take my lead on this one, and when you visit, don’t forget to come back here and let us all know what you discovered.

Where to Stay in Rome

I came to Rome on Easter Sunday without a plan or a room booked, which might have been the silliest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  However, I was told that going to the Plus Hostel/Camping just outside of town would be my best bet, and it was.  I loved the grounds and it works like a little bit of a backpacker’s city.  It’s huge.  If you pack a tent, like I do, you can stay here for very cheap.  The only problem is that you’ll need to find transport to/from town.  There is a shuttle to the Vatican, but later at night you need to use public transport or hire a taxi to get here.

You can find loads of other places to stay in Rome on the Hostelbookers.com page: http://www.hostelbookers.com/hostels/italy/rome/

Getting out of Town

Obviously Rome is well connected and you can get basically anywhere in the country direct from here via the train.  If you are heading internationally, you’ll want to head to Milan and then go from there.

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