Welcome to your guide for spending a day exploring the gorgeous city of Rome and only taking a small handful of money with you. This is Exploring Rome on a budget!
Please note, this guide is designed assuming you have already arrived in Rome, have accomodation organised with a free breakfast included and you aren't interested in dining throughout the day.
Additionally, the fees to enter the Colosseum, Sistene chapel and Musei Vaticani are currently €12 respectively for an adult, therefore, if you are satisfied just seeing the outside of each, you will save €36 on the day.
Lastly, Rome is easily navigated by foot, so if you want to save yourself further money, or enjoy walking, then the following information regarding public transport can be disregarded and please feel free to tailor this guide to suit your walking pace.
Rise and shine!
First thing's first. Get showered, pack a backpack with all the essentials, get down to the free breakfast and let's get going. Don't forget to fill up your water bottle!
The free breakfast provided by some accomodation choices is the hidden key to getting the most out of your accomodation. Although basic, usually the food provided is nutritious, filling and won't go bad during the day, therefore, without breaking any hotel rules (usually it's fine) it is advisable to grab a piece of fruit or two and perhaps a bread roll or croissant if they are available. Always handy to have in the backpack on a day of exploration.
First call of business
Head to a train, bus or tram station nearest to your hotel and organise a metro pass. These are quite cheap, only costing €7 for a 24-hour pass. Grab one of those and validate it straight away. Once that's done, your travel around the city is organised for the entire day.
Rome has 2 main train lines that run through the city, A and B (with a new line C in progress). These connect a large amount of the city and will cover all the main attractions on offer.
If you've chosen the walking option, go you! Simply get going and head to the furthest attraction from your hotel, so as to gradually make your way back towards your accomodation as the day progresses.
It is always advantageous to visit the main attractions such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain etc., during the early or late parts of the day so as to avoid the enormous crowds and enhance your experience. Ph: Photointoto / Shutterstock.com
Take this first part of the day to explore the previously mentioned attractions and be sure to give yourself the proper time to explore and photograph them.
They are world famous for a reason and they have well and truly earned their reputations. The Colosseum and Roman Forum can be accessed via bus, tram or train, all of which have stops dedicated to this spot.
Depending on what is the easiest to access from your accomodation, take your chosen transport method to the 'Colosseo' stop and there you'll find the most visited attraction in the world.
Within a 10 minutes walk of the Colosseum, there is also the Roman Forum, as mentioned, the Arch Di Constantine, the Mouth of Truth, Circus Maximus and an enormous range of other ancient ruins. Ph: PalSand / Shutterstock.com
Break time (but only briefly)
North-west of this area, around 25 minutes by foot or 10 minutes by bus (line 87) is the Parione area. In this "Rione" you will find the incredible Piazza Navona, containing museums, restaurants, cafes, Neptune's Fountain, along with some beautiful churches and other facilities.
Find a quick on-the-go lunch here, like an enormous yet delicious slice of takeaway pizza, a focaccia, a salad etc., have yourself a quick rest, use the facilities (fill up that water bottle!) and then it's time to go!
Less than 3 minutes east of Piazza Navona on foot is the Pantheon, a beautiful piece of architecture built somewhere between 118 and 125 A.D, a must see!
Another very short walk, north-east of the Pantheon, Il Tempio Di Adriano can be found. An old temple with columns similar to those of the Pantheon, this building is now a conference center, but the facade is worth the detour.
Continuing east on foot (hopefully you have some change from lunch) you'll find the Trevi Fountain! Completed in 1762, this spot needs a moment to soak in how incredibly detailed the figures are.
Once you've tossed in your coin, made your wish and snapped some photos, head north where you'll find the Spanish Steps as well as the surrounding Piazza di Spagna. A stunning area with a great view from the top of the steps. Here there is the metro station 'Spagna,' for those with metro passes. Those without, you're in for a decent, yet beautiful walk. Take the Metro line from 'Spagna' to 'Ottaviano' and you're now a short walk away from the smallest country in the world! Ph: sancastro / Shutterstock.com
Late afternoons in a new country
The Vatican City is merely 0.44 square kilometres (0.17 square miles) and hence claims the title as the smallest country in the world.
Making a lot of its tiny space, however, Vatican City contains some very famous architecture, works of art and events. Being the location of Easter mass held by the pope each year, Vatican City draws around 80,000 people for that particular service in Saint Peter's Square.
You can enter the country and Saint Peter's Basilica for free, however seeing the amazing contents of the museum, as well as the inside of the Sistine Chapel will cost you (around €24 for an adult). Ph: RPBaiao / Shutterstock.com
As the sun goes down
After spending time in your second country for the day, it's time to wind down. A gorgeous 20 minute walk south of Vatican City (suggested that even public transport users take this walk and also suggested that you walk along the river), you'll find Janiculum Terrace. This particular location provides panoramic views of the amazing city you just spent the day exploring and is a beautiful spot to watch the sunset and unwind after a huge day.
There are facilities and a bar so you can freshen up and choose to treat yourself to an aperitivo after a day of spending very little if you like. After the sun disappears, it's time to head back to the accomodation and get some much deserved rest whilst looking through your photo collection.
If you can master this way of travelling in Rome, then there is absolutely no reason why you couldn't apply the same formula to travelling other parts of the world. All of a sudden, those amazing places you've only ever dreamed of visiting seem a little more within your grasp.