A Short Break to Rome... Always a Good Idea!

Don’t know about you but as an adolescent, watching the Roman Holiday starring the iconic Audrey Hepburn, sure gave me myriad ideas of adventure and maybe some romance too! After all which teenager wouldn’t fancy breaking confinements; perhaps not as luxurious as in the movies, but confinements and teenage go hand in hand right?! And then, of course, there was love and plenty of adventures that came along.

Coming to the point; Rome with its plethora of things to do, caput Mundi or the capital of the world vibe, delicious pasta and gelatos, vibrant colored scooters, and a good dose of high fashion enchants you like a spell. Rome was not built in a day, so trying to see all of it in a day, seems practically impossible. But there are some things to do in Rome along with attractions that can be be fitted in any short schedule for Rome. Giving you the gist of Europe in a handful of days, Rome can never be a wrong choice.

Intrigued? Check out how to make the most of Rome in a matter of few days.

Must-see things on a short break to Rome

While Rome is full of monumental sites and ruins that hold historic significance, there are more reasons than one for you to skip them on your short break to Rome. The must-see attractions in Rome are very likely to be overcrowded, irrespective of the time you visit. They are too big for you to fit in on a schedule of a few days. Most of them are based on the same concept of art.
However, there are some attractions that are an absolute essential of a Roman sojourn. Museums, art galleries, basilicas and archaeological sites are predominant on any course of a short break to Rome. Here’s a lowdown on ten places you must not miss on your Rome city break -

1. Colosseum

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The più importante or most important of all attractions in Rome, the Colosseum or Flavian Amphitheatre is a must on any list of things to do in Rome, even if that is a weekend in Rome! Built in the year AD 72, this eternal gem tends to get very crowded along with having an almost unending queue, so it’s a good idea to get yourself a pass like the Roma Pass Card that also serves as a multi-attraction pass.

2. Roman Forum

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Given the fact that Rome is one of the oldest habited cities in the world, it is the ruins of this civilization that essentially draw people to it. The Roman Forum is where the city’s first administration came into being; complete with a court, a marketplace, and temples dedicated to various Roman Gods. It is an absolute delight to walk through these ruins that date back to the 29 BC!


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3. Spanish Steps

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Built in the 17th century, the Spanish steps are essentially a set of 135 steps leading you to the Trinit dei Monti church. The steps, with their peculiar vibrant vibe, bequeath you with stunning views of the skyline of Rome, dominated by the domes of buildings and churches. Again, most likely to be very crowded, with hundreds of people simply sitting on the stairs.

4. Trevi Fountain

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Located a little outside the then administration of the city, in the Trevi district, this fountain stretches at 86 feet in height and 161.3 feet in width. Indeed, a humongous size for a fountain! Owing to these dimensions, the Trevi fountain with its Baroque style is one of the most famous fountains in the world. This beautiful fountain has a lot of tales attached to it, which we leave untold for you to discover on your visit. We’ll let you in on one of the most popular if you put one coin in the fountain, you are most likely to come back to Rome, whereas if you out two, you are likely to find your love in Rome!

5. St. Peter's Basilica

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The St. Peter's Basilica or the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, has several descriptions to it, including 'the greatest of all churches of Christendom' and 'holding a unique position in the Christian world'. It is believed to be the burial site of one of Christ's Apostles and first Pope, Saint Peter. Determining your visit around the time when the Pope addresses the masses, can be a great idea. The roof of this basilica is gorgeously adorned with paintings of the sculpting God, Michelangelo!

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6. Palatine Hill

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Trust Rome to beckon you with history from every of its nook and corner. The Palatine Hill is one such ancient part of the city. It is perched in the midst of the Seven Hills of Rome with popular attractions like the Roman Forum and the Circus Maximus in its close vicinity. Make sure you get a guided tour of this place, as there is a lot of interesting history attached to it.

7. Borghese Gallery

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There may be a lot of art galleries in Rome, but the Borghese is by far the most-visited one. An incredible Borghese collection- a collection of modern art, sculptures, paintings and lots of interesting artwork by Rome’s Borghese family is what you can look forward to here. Whether you are an art lover or not, this art gallery is a must-see in every way.

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8. Piazzas

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Strolling around Rome is an unexplainable pleasure, that can be comprehended only firsthand. One thing that is common, at almost every avenue, lane, or street is its grand, gorgeous fountains often dotted by live performers. Squares or piazzas in Italian also make for a great pitstops amidst all the attraction-hopping. The Piazza Navona is one piazza with great importance along with being one of the prettiest! Built in the 1st century AD, this fountain square is an absolute stunner with its Baroque Roman architecture! Some piazzas to look out for:

  • Piazza Della Rotonda
  • Piazza Venezia
  • Piazza di Spagna
  • Piazza San Pietro

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9. Vatican Museums

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The Vatican City or Rome’s walled enclave is a treasure of some of the most splendid exhibits. What sets the collectibles here apart from the rest are their being of 'immense collection built up by the Popes'. The museums take about three to four hours to get covered; a good idea would be to get yourself a skip the line pass and wear comfortable shoes.

10. Circus Maximus

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Literally translating to the greatest or largest circus, today the Circus Maximus is nothing but a deserted land, yet with a goosebumps-endowing history. Once a Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue, this attraction lies adjacent to the Colosseum. Today, the grounds hold various city events like musical performances and is even a favorite picnic spot!

Offbeat things to do in Rome

Since you are considering a short break in Rome, we are guessing this could perhaps not be your first trip. So, you have plenty of windows to do unconventional things and take the off-the-beaten-path route. But whether or not, you’ve been to this city before, choosing some offbeat things over some mainstream attractions can be a brilliant idea. If making a local friend seems a tad too stretched an idea, here’s what you can incorporate on your short Roman sojourn.

1. Centro Storico

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Skip the attractions and spend the day strolling the locales of Centro Storico. History does not cease to pop from almost every face of this place, making for one pleasurable walk back in the bygone era. Get your hands on a map and get lost in this beautiful maze of cobbled streets, baroque churches, boutiques, quaint cafes and rather stylish restaurants and bars.

2. Food trails

You are in the land of pizza, pasta, bread, olive oils, and gelato! Could you ask for more? Get as local as possible! Visiting places like the Campo de' Fioriin the mornings for its local, farmer-style markets is one thing the locals suggest. We suggest scouting for authentic local cafes nestled in the depths of the city, over the very commercial ones next to top-notch attractions. The Jewish Ghetto area, for example, is a go-to place for many, for freshly baked cookies! Don’t forget to gorge on the Pizza Bianca, a go-to dish of locals on the go. Despite being a highly basic dish, it is big on flavor and texture, being just a pizza with coarse salt sprinkled over! 

3. Take a Gladiator lesson

What could be a better way to live the Roman past, other than becoming a gladiator yourself. There are several gladiator schools scattered around the Circus Maximus and other attractions that teach you the basics.

4. Ride a Vespa at night

This is an absolute must for me, having been a fan of the movie Roman Holiday. But anyway, this is a great way to see the city at night and an experience rather unusual and fun. A visit to the Trevi Fountain at midnight is nothing short of magic, we say!

5. Head to the student’s district of San Lorenzo

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Being a student’s district, here you are bound to come across some cheap eateries that make the most delicious hot chocolate, bars and boutiques. You cannot miss the laidback, very un-touristy vibe of the place either. Come here when you need a breather from the tourists and overwhelming crowds, and of course, expensive places!

6. Drive to Monte Mario

Rent a car and head to the Monet Mario, Rome’s highest peak, in the outskirts of the city. What to look forward to? Some breathtaking views of Rome!

7. Visit the less famous places

Places such as the San Lorenzo neighborhood, Cat Sanctuary, Keyhole on Mount Aventine, Esposizione Universale di Roma district among more are some places having distinct feature, that make them very interesting to explore.

8. Cycle alongside the Tiber

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One of the most fulfilling experiences Rome can bestow you with impromptu moments with the river Tiber. There are several cycling companies that aid rentals if you just ask around. To make it further memorable, cycle around during sunset!

Where to stay in Rome for a short break

Since you are on a short break to Rome, we would suggest staying centrally, in close vicinity of all the mainstream localities, eateries and attractions. This will save you commute time, giving you enough leeway to explore around. You are bound to be spoilt for choice give the number of AirBnBs, boutique hotels, apartments, homestays and of course the oh-so-luxurious hotels.

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However, different districts and areas serve different purposes of stays. For example, if you are on a romantic getaway to Rome, the Centro Storico with its old-world charm is the ultimate place to stay. For those who are all about sightseeing regions such as the Piazza Navona are very central giving you quick access to all major sites of attraction. The Campo de’ Fiori and the Ghetto region, being a little away from all the top attractions, makes for a less-crowded place, albeit high on the ambience factor. If you are in Rome for a shopping sabbatical, staying in at the northern part of Rome in the Tridente zone can be a smart pick. Your short break is all about getting pampered and spoiled? The Via Veneto and Villa Borghese are abundant with luxe accommodations. For something rustic and rural, check out the accommodations in the Monti and the Celian Hill region. If your trip consists of plans to simply indulge in the food and drinks of the region then you ‘ve got to check in at some place in the region of Testaccio, Trastevere or the Aventine Hill! 

Travel Tips

  • How to reach Rome
    1. There are two main international airports in Rome. The Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino International Airport which is bigger and the G.B. Pastine/Ciampino International Airport which is a low-cost airline airport. After determining your center for getting in Rome, you must know that both the airports lie at a distance from the town center. There are private transports and taxis, to get you to the city center.
    2. There are five main railway stations Roma Termini, Roma Tiburtina, Roma Ostiense, Roma Trastevere and Roma Tuscolana that you can enter Rome through.
    3. Additionally, you can get in by taxis, buses, and cruises too, in case you are traveling from neighboring regions.
  • Hop on and hop off bus tours are the way to go, in case you want to cover all the prime attractions in a day or simply just get around Rome.
  • Carry your student Id, if you are one to get a discount at attractions like the Vatican.
  • Get a tourist pass like the Roma Pass for free and discounted entries to attractions and even public transport.
  • Skip the line pass: One of the most crucial elements in order to save yourself oodles of time, this pass give you a direct access to even the most crowded Rome attractions. The pass helps you to skip the lines for prime attractions including the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums. You must buy them online, as they are not available on site.
  • Free walking tours: One of the most informative way of seeing Rome, that too free of cost, walking tours are simply great. Engaging tour guides and casual walks take you through the day on a walking tour in Rome.

With the above guidelines, you now have a know-how on how to get on with a short break in Rome. So, whether you want to give it a good amount of planning or have a last minute holiday to Rome, the choice is yours!

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A deep-dyed Piscean, Seema is a dreamer. This extends to the fact that she is seldom in another world of her's or dreaming of the place she would rather be ...