Don’t Make These 6 Mistakes in Rome

Rome is one of the most remarkable cities in the world. From the ancient Colosseum to the Vatican, Rome deserves the millions of visitors that flock to her decadently marbled streets each year.

With all of the promise that the Eternal City holds, make sure you have an unforgettable visit for the right reasons.

Here are 6 mistakes to avoid when you head to Rome:

1) Visiting in the Summer months

Crowds in Rome can be colossal in the summer. Photo by Tostie14.

June, July and August are popular months to take vacations and Rome might seem like the perfect location for one.

However, between the scorching heat that melts the city and the multitude of tourists that swarm the sites, you’ll feel more like cattle visiting a market wearing an extra leather coat than a traveler wanting to immerse yourself in a sense of Rome’s ancient past.

Lines become impossibly long (restaurants and toilets included) and what should be a fun trip can quickly turn into a torturous ordeal befitting a gladiatorial battle. If you have any choice, avoid these months.

I visited in late September when the sun was still shining, but not baking, and the streets were busy but not jam packed.

2) Lining up for hours at the Colosseum

See the Colosseum without the crowds. Photo by lightmatter.

The Colosseum will absolutely be on your travel itinerary, but you don’t need to get there hours ahead of time awaiting entry. Standing in line is not what you traveled to Rome for.

Most tourists hop out of bed early and head to the Colosseum as though it’s going somewhere; it isn’t.

One of the best pieces of advice is to visit in the late afternoon when the crowds are ever-diminishing. Don’t worry, unless you have an archaeological interest, an hour or two inside should be plenty.

Another line-busting tip is to buy your ticket at the Roman Forum. Few tourists realize that the Colosseum ticket is dual entry with the Forum and can be bought at the lesser site with smaller crowds.

I visited the Roman Forum at lunchtime, hit the Colosseum at 4:30 p.m. and sailed into both sites without waiting.

3) Eating badly

There is no reason to eat badly in Rome. Photo by norwichnuts.

Italy is a country defined by food, and Rome is no exception.

You shouldn’t have to eat badly in this city. Sadly, many unscrupulous restaurants are more interested in gaining a quick buck than making their customers sigh with culinary content.

The number one tip for ensuring you don’t have a bad meal in Rome is to steer clear of the restaurants near tourist attractions and in tourist hotels.

Ask the locals or other visitors for recommendations and definitely avoid the Vatican area. You’re much better taking a short walk over the river.

If hunger catches you and you’re stuck eating at a tourist site, I’d recommend ordering something simple. Pasta is harder to serve poorly compared to a cut of meat that has probably been purchased with profits (not quality) in mind.

4) Heading home after dinner

See another side of Rome by night. Photo by rayced.

A four-course dinner followed by a nip of grappa makes most people sleepy, but instead of heading for bed, do as the locals and explore the city of Rome by night.

So long as you have your street smarts with you, wandering by night should be perfectly safe and gives you a chance to see the Rome you probably came for.

Fine lighting accentuates the beautifully Baroque Trevi Fountain, and there is arguably no more romantic spot than the Spanish Steps by night—all without the crowds.

If you’re a night owl like me, a visit after midnight means you’ll practically have the sights to yourself.

Push on through to dawn (or rise early) to see the Eternal City bathed in light at sunrise from Gianicolo Hill. I took a croissant and coffee, which completed the experience.

5) Booking a bed near Termini Station without research

Termini isn’t a bad place to stay if you know where to book. Photo by Terrazzo.

For those on a budget, the Termini area is likely to be where you base yourself in Rome. Reputed to be fume-filled by day and a seedy hangout for hookers by night, the reviews hardly lure you in.

However, much work has been done to improve the area, and if you know where to look, you can bag a budget bed without paying by the hour or feeling like you need to put a padlock on the door.

My recommendation is to stay on the side near Via Masala, which has a sprinkling of restaurants. The area is a bit more atmospheric and safer at night, especially for solo female travelers.

I stayed at The Yellow, which I highly recommend for price, location and meeting people.

6) Tempting pick-pockets

Keep your cash close in Rome. Photo by MattP33.

Of course you want to avoid this mistake in Rome, as in any city, but the key is knowing where you are most at risk.

Although tourist areas will necessarily see some pickpockets, they are not the most-targeted sites in Rome, as crowds can block the thief’s escape.

Instead, pickpockets tend to work in Termini station as well as at the metro (subway). The number 64 bus route, which is usually packed with tourists going to the Vatican, is also an infamous spot for getting your belongings nabbed.

I never carried more money than I needed and added a discreet padlock to my daypack. This allowed me to travel Rome without any problems.

With these 6 tips in mind, go forth and conquer Rome with confidence!

Have you traveled to Rome? Did you fall for any of these common traps? Let me know in the comments.

If you liked this, you might also like: 7 Paris Myths Debunked.

Main photo: Rome—one of the world’s greatest cities riddled with ancient history and beauty by Joao Maximo.

19 thoughts on “Don’t Make These 6 Mistakes in Rome”

  1. “steer clear of the restaurants near tourist attractions and in tourist hotels.”

    Good advice for any city you may travel too. You want to eat where the locals eat! Even getting a few blocks off the beaten path can open up a whole new culinary world.

  2. There are some really horrible restaurants near the Termini station as well as the Coliseum. Just stay away from those areas and you should be fine. Any restaurant that needs to lure you in with someone outside is to be avoided. As well any restaurant that advertises their specials in English will produce some of the worst food in the city. Trastevere however is a great place to find a restaurant and you will hardly go wrong there.

  3. Thank you for these helpful tips! Rome is definitely a place that many people are attracted to so it is best to be prepared and make the right moves when visiting these spots and truly enjoy yourself.

  4. I literally did five out of six of these things and had a terrible time in Roma! Actually, maybe I did all of them because although I wasn’t robbed, maybe I inadvertently tempted a thief!

    Seriously though, I found the city to be hugely disappointing. I went in July and it was too hot and touristy, plus it was one of my first stops on a three-month backpacking trip so I had to eat cheap/badly.

  5. We stayed near, but not too near, the Termini station and it’s extremely convenient as almost all the bus routes head that way eventually.

    The restaurants near there are poor though.

  6. I visited Florence and Venice in mid-May and it was perfect. After four and a half months in Ireland, the sunny days were absolutely perfect, and nothing was ridiculously crowded. May was perfectly hospitable to summer dresses and a quick dip in the Mediterranean!

  7. I studied abroad for 5 weeks in May/June 2005. It was absolutely wonderful and I really hope to get back someday. We stayed in Trastavere (sp) and it was perfect. Very central location to busses, train station, restaraunts, tourist attractions. I felt safe and comfortable there. I ate well, we visited lots of different places. It was very hot but not too touristy. I did however get $ stolen while I was on my way to Naples, but I was asking for it. I put my money in the outer pocket of my backpack. But, I was young and dumb then. I really hope to get back there someday! Good tips!

  8. I love Colosseum, it’s the most iconic site in Rome, you can’t miss it! Be careful about “gladiators” making photos and try to go when it’s not too croudy. I think November is the best time to visit Colosseum: weather is still good but not too hot, it’s not croudy at all and everything is cheaper. Better to go in the afternoon because the neighborhood is full of good place to have dinner or a drink.

  9. See all the comments about the heat, heat is really what you are used to, if you come from a cold country then sure Rome might be hot in July/August for you, with some of the comments here i am assuming people come from Alaska. Generally speaking even in the hot months Rome max temp is a low 30, 31 to 33 tops.

    Last week we had days of 40 to 48, so heat is really only relevant to what you are used to.

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