We landed in Rome a little bit before noon. Thank goodness our flight wasn’t delayed any longer because we already had sightseeing planned! I had booked a tour of the Colosseum at 2:45. By the time we got our luggage and headed to the hotel, we had just enough time to grab a bite to eat and shower before heading over to the Colosseum.

Hotel

We stayed at the the Hilton Garden Inn Rome Claridge. It’s not the closest hotel for sightseeing, but Hilton only has 2 hotels that are semi-close to everything, and this was one of them. I originally had our nights book on points, 50,000 HHonor points per night (what was I thinking!) I then realized that the hotel goes for about $140 a night. I  swiftly canceled the points reservation and rebooked to pay with credit card.

To give you an idea of where our hotel was and the Colosseum, I mapped it out for you. In my opinion, I think the best place to stay in Rome is anywhere within the red circle. However, the closer you get to the center the more premium you’ll pay for your hotel.

Where to stay in Rome

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. I wanted to collect Hilton points, so we decided to take Uber everywhere. The ideal place to stay while in Rome would be anywhere within the red circle.

Getting around

Since our hotel was on the other side of the park, walking wasn’t an option. I did plenty of research before confirming our hotel booking and there was a tram right outside the front doors of our hotel. The cost is around €1 per person. However, it typically takes double the amount of time to get to where you need to be versus taking Uber or a taxi.

We decided to use Uber the entire time while in Rome. Uber only has “black” cars available in Rome. There’s no Uber X. This means you’ll pay a little bit more for the ride, but I was quite impressed that each time we took an Uber black car, it only cost us €10 – €14 to get to and from the Hilton Garden Inn.

Final thoughts on staying a bit on the outskirts. Our vacation time is valuable. Therefore, taking public transportation was not an option for us. However, staying at the Hilton Garden Inn for roughly $140 per night was worth it in my opinion versus paying $250+ per night to stay in a high tourist area. We would take Uber into the city in the morning and come back to the hotel in the evening. This cost us roughly €25 per day. We still came out ahead and I got to collect my Hilton points to get ready for our trip to Hawaii in January! (I’m using all my points to stay on Maui and Oahu for free!)

What activities we did in Rome

Colosseum

We booked all our tours through CityWonders.com. This means we got to skip the line for all of our activities. When we landed on Saturday, we had our first tour to visit the Colosseum at 2:45pm. While I didn’t read the entire descriptions on City Wonders’ website to learn what each tour entails, the tours include A LOT more than just visiting a main attraction and learning the history. I’ll follow up with more about City Wonders in a separate blog post at the end of this travel report if you’re interested.

Colossseum

I highly recommend the Colosseum Underground tour from CityWonders. We got to visit parts of the Colosseum that are NOT available to the general public.

What I really liked about our Colosseum tour is that we got to see parts of it that aren’t open to the general public. The tour did last 3.5 hours and it includes a tour of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Basically, you walk around and your English speaking tour guide gives you the history. I’m not a big history buff, so this part was not interesting to me. I just care about skipping the line and snapping my photos of the main attraction.

Vatican

The Vatican extended tour lasted 4.5 hours! This was honestly my least favorite tour. The tour consisted of showing us around the Vatican Museum and talking about specific art and artifacts. Little did I know that the tour actually ended at the Vatican Basilica. This is the popular part of the Vatican that most people visit. We should have probably booked the 2 hour tour and saved wear and tear on our feet!

Vatican Bramante Staircase

Our extended tour of the Vatican included the Bramante Staircase.

The Vatican tour did include the Bramante Staircase which is not open to the general public. I still don’t think it was worth 4.5 hours of our time. Instead, I wish we would have done the 2 hour tour that included the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. We could have saved ourselves from having to listen to a tour guide talk about random paintings and artifacts in the museum.

We couldn’t make it through the entire 4.5 hour tour, so we ended up cutting the tour short and giving our headsets back to the tour guide. After just a few tours with City Wonders, we found out that this is not rude. The tour guides understand that people get tired and they often mention this before a tour starts. They just ask that you give the headsets back instead of taking them with you.

Catacombs tour

Our 3rd and final tour we did in Rome was the Catacombs tour. This was actually quite cool! I know this was Teddy’s favorite tour since we got to see where people were buried underground. Unfortunately, no photos are allowed so I won’t be able to show you any.

The catacombs we visited went 4 stories underground. They believe there’s more levels, but they can’t dig anymore in fear that the catacombs would collapse. Our tour includes 2 levels. It’s actually quite chilly going that far underground with no sunlight!

Shopping in Rome

If you’re looking to do some shopping in Rome, you’ll want to start Piazza del Popolo. If you hop in a taxi or Uber and say “Piazza del Popolo” they’ll know where to take you.

 

Piazza del Popolo Rome shopping

Start at the circle and you can go down any of these 3 streets for shopping. I recommend starting with Via del Babuino.

I recommend going down Via del Babuino street first for shopping in Rome. After that, you can try the other two streets, but I don’t remember there being quite as many stores.

Final thoughts on Rome

Rome was actually my favorite city out of the 4 that we visited in Italy. I liked the food, shopping, night life and the activities. I guess Rome isn’t known for shopping??? but Teddy and I found plenty of things to buy! Our favorite store was G Star Raw 🙂

Up next: Taking the trains in Italy.