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Visiting Rome: how to pick the perfect tour for you

Visiting Rome is both exciting and daunting for a first time traveler. Discover the sites that work best for you whether arriving alone, with family, of if you haven’t seen a gym in a while.

The Eternal City brims with architectural and cultural jewels that demand more than one lifetime to explore. Thus, creating a memorable itinerary is crucial to getting a bang for your buck, and ticking off the right boxes.

Furthermore, not every travel situation is the same.

Some of you will be braving ruins and museums with just a playlist and a selfie-stick. Others will be weaving through cobbled side-streets with the kids in tow. A portion of you could be celebrating freedom in your retirement, while the rest of you could be challenging your fitness in a long time.

Regardless of your circumstances, here are a few ideas and guidelines to help you pick the tours that cater best to your needs.

Visiting Rome the way you want to

It’s a Family Affair

Going on holiday with the family creates a shared experience that you can revisit for years to come. Smart devices and social networking make capturing and sharing memorable moments a breeze. In a breath-taking setting such as Rome, tagging your partner or children near amazing monuments will definitely make your in-laws jealous.

However, you need to have memories you enjoy recalling in the first place.

Walking for long periods of time will take a greater toll on children. Furthermore, focusing on information that is geared to an adult audience will tax their concentration.

While guidebooks are useful tools in navigating a city, they don’t fully prepare you for the variables involved at each site. As in, correctly predicting how long queues will be, where the bathrooms are, great places to sit and have a rest, grab water, etc.

Thus, hopping onto a tour is a safe way to address the previously mentioned issues, while operating from a small framework.

However, not all tours are created equally.

Most aren’t specifically catered to tiny humans, who need different types of care than their bigger counterparts. In that regard, we don’t recommend group tours, even small ones, if you’re traveling with children. The pace can often be difficult, and the duration might be too long for them.

So what’s the solution?

To focus all of your energy on taking that great family photo, check out Joy of Rome’s kid-friendly tours. The guides crafted them to engage both parents and children, while making sure to highlight juicy and relevant pieces of history. Great options include the Vatican for Kids tour, and Ancient Rome for Kids.

Since these tours are made to enlighten you kids without tiring them out, it’s possible to do two tours in one day. However, they have to be planned properly. An early morning tour to beat the heat, and then an afternoon tour are definitely viable options.

You can also try Joy of Rome’s short, two hour tour of the Colosseum (suggested times are 8:30-10:30 in the A.M), and then a late afternoon two hour tour of the Vatican (suggested times are  3-5 in the P.M). Contact our guides to coordinate and confirm times!

If you’re no stranger to the above tours, then it’s time to branch out.

Unleash your inner nerd and history freak with a deeper glimpse into Roman antiquity.

Travel back in time with our Bread and Circus tour, to join the ancient masses in the spectacles and shows of a bygone, yet not forgotten era.

To soak in even more history, take a trip to the Baths of Caracalla. See how the sprawling bath complex influenced ancient Roman daily life, and how they still play an integral role in Rome’s modern culture.

Fitness Level = On Haitus

If you’re not a fan of going to the gym, are recovering from a recent injury, or are enjoying your retirement, then Rome’s undulating terrain can be tricky.

Bear in mind that the cobblestones, while aesthetically pleasing, are not uniform. They also create an uneven surface that can trip even the best of us.

If your body isn’t operating at maximum capacity, then wearing comfy shoes is an absolute must. While the advice is commonplace, it is invaluable.

Location, location, location

However, you should also consider the types of sites that have captured your imagination. Monuments in the historical centre include walking up steep inclines and unsteady terrain.

As such, doing back to back tours is exhausting, mentally draining, and difficult to coordinate. Taxis in the historical centre are often in high demand, and the public transport system can be inconsistent.

If your goal is to visit the Colosseum, then we recommend that you don’t schedule another tour after it (such as the Vatican, where there’s also a lot of walking).

However, our experts at Joy of Rome are happy to help you plan tour times. Additionally, if you have special needs, they can also assist in scheduling a private tour that would accommodate your situation.

Furthermore, time your tours for the cooler hours of morning. Visiting Rome during spring and summer can make things very hot!

Now that it’s getting warmer, every traveller should bring a bottle of water with them to stay hydrated.

Although exploring the Vatican Museums does require long periods of walking, going via a private or small tour is best. It’s time efficient because there will be an expert leading you to pertinent galleries and works of art. Thus, you don’t have to wander aimlessly trying to navigate things on your own, which would add to physical discomfort.

Small or private tours also allow a higher level of communication with the guide to inform them if you require a quick rest. The guide can easily make minor amendments in such an intimate group dynamic.

Important Side Note: We know your navigation skills are great, but galleries such as the Vatican would test even the best of explorers. If you don’t stick with your guide, you will get lost. Remember that roughly over 25,000 people visit the Vatican per day. Therefore, asking to go on a personal detour, or to catch up with the group later on is a big no-no (and not even fun). So please, stay with the group and enjoy the tour.

Moving on!

For inspiration, check out Joy of Rome’s short but informative Ancient Rome tour of the Colosseum and the Arch of Titus.

Other physically-friendly tours include Joy of Rome’s food tours. They last for two hours, and the pace is sedate and relaxed.

Lastly, we know that exploring a new city can be daunting. Due to its world-famous sites, Rome can be especially intimidating. If you want to prepare ahead of time for the thrills of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, then we’ve got the tool for you. Check out our 5 Practical Commandments for Exploring St. Peter’s Basilica. The title is self-explanatory, and you can thank us later.

Canoodling Couples

If you’re visiting Rome as a couple and keen to gobble up as much as you can, then take advantage of traveling in two. Splitting the cost of things will greatly help your budget while adventuring.

If you have the energy (and of course, the right shoes), then experiencing longer tours may also be up your alley. The history buff in you will be appeased, and it’s a wonderful way to occupy your day. Furthermore, longer tours also present the possibility of striking new friendships with others.

Moreover, an in-depth tour saves time on flipping through various different guide books for research. Following an expert with well-researched and cohesive data is a richer experience than reading from multiple sources.

Although visiting Rome coupled up certainly adds a touch of romance to your wanderings, following a tour provides more than just historical information. Your guide can also pass on valuable insight into the cultural underbelly of Rome. For example, they know the best restaurants for candle-lit dinners from authentic experience.

If experiencing Rome by yourself stimulates and challenges you, try Joy of Rome’s Vatican Museums Extended, or Extra Large tour. They last up to five hours long however, so be sure to channel your inner Indiana Jones.

For any intrepid visitor in the Eternal City, Joy of Rome’s entire portfolio is also waiting for you!