When In Rome, Do What You Can To Avoid Those Crowds
June 8, 2018
We all go nuts for city breaks. What better way is there to throw yourself into the full experience of a country than to land in a bustling city? Never a dull moment will there be when the city’s alive around you. Just think of the experiences you could have right in the heart of things.
Of course, some cities rate higher than others. New York, for instance, pulls in around 60 million tourists each year. Then, of course, you have staples like Paris. The city of love attracts more visitors each year than any other city in the world - this list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Rome. Italy’s capital may only boast modest figures compared to the other beasts mentioned, but it still pulls an average 9 million international visitors out of the water each year. Which is a good job, too, because that’s where our focus lies today.
Rome is one of those destinations which makes its way onto any keen travelers’ bucket list. Boasting of sites like the Colosseum and Trevi fountain, it promises a city break with a difference. Not only will you get lost in the excitement all around you, but you can also walk right into history itself.
There’s just one problem; high-season sees the city getting very busy indeed. In truth, this is nothing unique to Rome. Any city is sure to get crowded with tourists all over the shop. But, what is unique to Rome is that most visitors bottleneck into the same small areas. For instance, anyone who visits is guaranteed to pay a visit to the Colosseum at some point - while the city may be fit to cope with masses of visitors, these iconic tourist attractions often come off worse for wear. In fact, many who visit Rome state they would never go back there because of the crowds.
The best way around this would, of course, be to head to this destination at quiet times. June, July, and August are obviously best avoided. Instead, visiting between October-April will be like visiting a different place entirely.
The sad thing is, we can't all pick and choose in that way. Sometimes, we have no choice but to stick with the time we have off work - if your longest stretch of time off is during the summer months, you may have no choice but to visit then. Fear not, though, because there are some wise ways to work around the crowds. Keep reading to find out what they are.
As we’ve mentioned, one of the primary issues is that the crowds here often build in particular places. Unfortunately for you, those places are likely where you want to be. But, if you join the queue, there’s every chance you’ll wait hours to see each destination - given that temperatures often soar above 30 degrees, standing around like this won’t be much fun. Instead, you can save yourself a whole lot of hassle by merely booking ahead.
The chances are that you have some idea of which locations you most want to visit before even setting off. So, there’s no reason not to get on top here. Most places will allow you to book tickets well in advance. It might also be worth looking out for guided tours you can book ahead of time. These often enable you to bypass queues altogether. If you do fail to get ahead, look for the best places to buy your tickets. Paying for entry at the Colosseum itself, for instance, is one of the worst things you could do. By comparison, queuing at the nearby Palatine ticket office the day before is sure to see you sorted sooner.
Think about times
It’s also worth considering the times at which you visit these sites. You may not be able to change which time of year your trip is, but you can at least control how you arrange your days. Of course, we all love the idea of a lie in when we’re on vacation. When else do you get a chance to kick back and not even think about setting the alarm? Never. Sadly, that’s not an option in Rome, either. At least, not if you want to beat the crowds.
It should come as no surprise that afternoons are, by far, the most popular time to visit landmarks here. That’s because every other tourist in the city took time to enjoy their lie-ins. You, however, should set your alarm early and aim to arrive at the Colosseum shortly before it’s 8:30 am opening time - you can click here to find out about opening times in most other destinations of note. While you won’t be the only person who has this idea, the queues won't be a patch on later in the day. What’s more, pairing this with buying tickets ahead of time could work wonders for your wait.
Consider how you’ll get around
It’s also worth thinking about how you’ll get around. As you can probably guess, the roads get pretty gridlocked around this metropolis - public transport is near enough out of the question during peak season. At least, it is if you want to drop the risk of waiting for hours until you can actually find a place on those buses. What’s more, the high demand means taxi cabs are either impossible to find, or extortionate in price. Instead, consider your alternatives. It may be that you want to hire a car which can help you see the sites for less. Bear in mind, though, that it may take some getting used to those rammed roads.
Locals are so acclimated to driving fast that tourist crashes aren’t unheard of - you could consider options such as bicycles or motorbikes - either hire these or bring your own along with you. All you would need to do is set about finding a motorcycle or bike before you go. The ability to weave in and out of traffic will undoubtedly save some time. What’s more, this may well be a safer option than a car. If even that doesn’t appeal, it might be worth working out how you can walk around the city. Map out your route for each day, or use satellite on your phone to help you find your way. Bear in mind, though, that those roads aren’t exactly pedestrian friendly. Always practice caution when crossing!
Book accommodation outside of the city
While any visitor to Rome dreams of views of the Pantheon, the reality of this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Aside from charging through the roof, hotels in the center can be overcrowded. Not to mention that you’ll need to put up with a fair amount of noise right outside your window - given your early wake-up call, that’s the last thing you want. In fact, lack of sleep may well be the reason so many Rome tourists are stressed out on their return.
Make sure you don’t make the same mistake by booking accommodation slightly outside the city. With transport sorted, there’s no reason you can’t head a little further afield each night. It might seem like you’re missing out a little, but this will work wonders for your sanity and your bank balance. Besides, there are some fantastic places outside of Rome which would suit this purpose. The city’s surrounded by hillside towns designed to help locals escape scorching summer heat. Areas such as Castelli Romano andCastel Gandolfo aren’t too far from the city. Yet, they seem like a different world. What’s more, they still boast of some fantastic views. These destinations could form the ideal backdrop for calm evenings after manic city days.
Visit lesser known locations
Along the same vein, it might also be worth visiting lesser known locations around the city itself. Of course, no trip here would be complete without the iconic locations we all know. But, one of those each day is sure to be more than enough stress for you. So, tackle the bigg’uns first, and then chill for the rest of the day in some quieter locations. Though you might not realize, there are plenty of lesser-known places worth attention. Palazzo Massimo, for instance, is an underrated museum which boasts a collection of Roman statues. What’s more, many of the over 900 churches in the city escape tourist attention. Why not visit a few of these one day of your stay? There are also a whole host of quiet parks around the outskirts of the city. Gems like The Gianicolo hill allow for the best panoramic view of Rome out there. Here, you can see all the main sites, without having to get near a single crowd.
You see; those crowds shouldn’t put a stop to your city break. There’s no reason to return from Rome at the end of your tether. A little forward thinking is all it takes to make this trip you’ve always dreamt of.