A week before Christmas, I spent four lovely days in Rome – and it didn’t break the bank.
A similar trip to the city could easily be expensive, but thanks to some savvy shopping around online we saved a lot of money.
Flights and getting to and from the airport:
We flew from Dublin to Rome with Ryanair. At the time of booking, return flights were just €57 each. If, like us, your journey begins in Cork or elsewhere outside Dublin, a return bus will cost around €30.
Upon arrival in Ciampino Airport, we hopped on a shuttle bus to the nearby train station (€1.20) and took a train straight to Roma Termini (€2), which was a five minute walk from our hotel.
When we were leaving Rome, we chose to get a direct bus from Termini for €6.
We stayed in Hotel Colosseum (€195.88 for three nights B&B), a three star hotel just minutes away from (you guessed it) the Colosseum.
The hotel is ideally located for sightseeing: In the four days we spent in Rome we used the Metro just once, to travel to the Vatican.
If the weather disproves, there is a Metro station a few minutes walk from the hotel. However, we were blessed with sunshine during our stay so we primarily travelled on foot.
The highlight of the hotel has to be its rooftop terrace, which offers uninterrupted views of the Roman skyline.
The terrace is open 24 hours a day, and during summer months a bar serving drinks is also open. As we were there in December, we ordered our drinks at the downstairs bar and brought them to the roof.
Places to see:
1. The Colosseum
No matter how many times you see it during your trip, you’ll always be blown away by the sight of the Colosseum.
It’s an impressive structure, and while we didn’t go inside (we didn’t fancy standing in a long queue) it’s just €16 to gain entry, and that includes access to the nearby Palatine Hill and Forum.
2. Spanish Steps
Another iconic part of Rome, it’s easy to spend an afternoon at the Spanish Steps enjoying the views and atmosphere.
Although Audrey Hepburn once famously enjoyed a gelato on the steps in Roman Holiday, eating food is frowned upon and the nearby police will tell you to put your food away.
3. The Pantheon
The Pantheon is a marvel. It’s currently in use as a Catholic church, but the current building is about 2000 years old. To this day it remains the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
4. The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is probably the most famous fountain in the world, and for good reasons. Large crowds were gathered both times we visited – once during the day and another time in the evening.
We bought some gelato and spent an enjoyable while in the shadow of the fountain.
5. The Vatican
We paid a visit to the famous St Peter’s Square in Vatican City one sunny morning. As it was Christmas, there was a dominating Christmas tree at the centre of the square, and an imposing Nativity scene beside it.
Every Wednesday at 10.30am Pope Francis holds a Papal Audience, and tickets to this are free. Tickets can be collected from the Swiss Guard at the Vatican Office at the Bronze Doors. More information can be found here.
6. Altar of the Fatherland
You can get a stunning view over Rome from the top of the Altar of the Fatherland. The imposing building is the location of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, who was killed during World War I, and and eternal flame.
Inside the building is the Museum of Italian Unification.
Via del Corso is the main shopping street in Rome and it includes shops such as the Disney Store, H&M, Aldo and Zara.
There is a point in the street when you can journey towards the Spanish Steps by turning onto Via dei Condotti. This street is home to a number of luxury brands, such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Cartier.