Rome

The Eternal City isn't just a throwaway title – Rome's nickname was coined 3,000 years ago; testament to its genuinely universal appeal.

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The city has more A-list attractions than most whole countries, but there's much to it than tourist hotspots – the pasta alone is worth the trip.

Getting around

Rome is a really easy city to get around. The historic centre is where you'll find the main attractions, all within walking distance of each other. There's also a good bus service, plus two metro lines, to get you from A to B quickly.

Walking

The beauty of Rome really is best seen on foot - which is handy for burning off all those extra pizza and gelato calories. In a city that's defined by narrow alleyways branching out from cobbled squares, travelling on foot can get you right to the heart of Rome, and to places other modes of transport can't reach. When you do come to a road, however, be cautious of the hectic traffic and the stealthy mopeds that are constantly zipping around.

Public transport

Rome's public transport network is good, with plenty of buses, two metro lines (A and B), three urban railway lines and a tram that's especially handy for getting to and from the trendy Trastevere area across the river. When using any form of public transport, you must remember to validate your ticket. BIT tickets cost just €1.50 and are valid across all public transport types for 75 minutes from stamping. You can also get a BIG day ticket for €6. Three-day and week-long passes are also available. Note that most public transport options (except some cute little electric buses) don't run within the historic centre to preserve it as much as possible.

Taxis

Always look for official white metered taxis. This can't be stressed enough, as taxi drivers in Rome have a reputation for overcharging. Taxis can be difficult to hail on the go, but there are plenty of official taxi stops across the city.

Car hire

If you're planning on sticking largely to the centre of Rome, car hire isn't a great idea. Much of the area falls within ZTL zones, which only those with special passes are allowed to drive in. Traffic is also hectic city-wide, and parking is almost impossible. If you're planning to leave the city though, you can book car hire in advance for pickup at the airport or locations around the city.

Bike or moped hire

Hiring a moped is a better option than a car for inner-city travel. Not only will you feel very Roman Holiday, you'll also be able to cross the ZTL boundaries and will find parking much easier. Or you could go for the environmentally friendly option and hire a regular bike instead.

Key neighbourhoods

Historic centre: the tourist trail

Every attraction that you likely associate with Rome is in its historic centre (Centro Storico), from the Colosseum in the south to the Spanish Steps in the north, and the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain in between. With an area of around five square miles (14sq km), you can wander it in a weekend, ticking off some of Italy's most famous historic sites as you go.

Trastevere: real Rome

Cross the Tiber river to the Trastevere neighbourhood and you can experience the real Rome, away from the tourist crowds and souvenir touts. This colourful, lively, working-class area holds its own in the charm stakes, with cobbled piazzas, pretty churches and grand palaces. It's also a great place to find brilliant markets, cheap(er) eats and buzzing nightspots where locals and tourists mingle.

Vatican City: a Holy experience

Despite being a huge draw for visitors to Rome, Vatican City is classed as its own sovereign state and does feel very separate to its surrounding city. On entering Vatican City you leave the cobbles, nooks and alleyways behind, swapping them for the sweeping St Paul's Square, elegant St Paul's Basilica, grand Palazzo Apostolico (the Pope's official residence), and rolling green parkland. The atmosphere here is also very different – elegant and sombre, with none of the beeping horns, hustle and bustle or colour of Rome.

Factbox

Voltage: 230V (round two-pin plugs)

Currency: Euro

Time zone: Central European Time (GMT+1) and Central European Summer Time (GMT+2)

Language: Italian, but like most major European cities, English is widely spoken