Things to book BEFORE you come to Rome

7.4_Book BEFORE Rome

Getting ready for Rome?  Fine tuning your itinerary so that it runs smoother than a brand new Ferrari?

Of course you are.  Don’t forget that there are things you can book in advance to make your life even easier.

Keep reading for where to book and how.  Yes, you may spend a few euro in booking fees, but your time in Rome is too precious to spend extra minutes waiting in line if you don’t have to!

Galleria Borghese

This one is the main MUST BOOK IN ADVANCE on this list.  You cannot roll up to the door and buy tickets.  Simply isn’t possible.

Even if you are not a huge art person, I advocate checking this out.  First, you’ll get to spend a little time strolling in Villa Borghese which definitely does not suck.  Second, there is Bernini sculpture here so beautiful it will make you cry.  I went in being all “Bernini who?” and came out all “Michelangelo who?”  (You know, because Michelangelo has nothing on Bernini?  You get it?  OK, OBVIOUSLY not true, but I’m making a point here.  It’s stupid good.)

Piazzale del Museo Borghese 00197 ROMA
Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 am To 7:30 PM
Book tickets here

Colosseum/Roman Forum/Palatine Hill

You’ve heard about the horrific lines to see the Colosseum?  Particularly in tourist season?  It’s true.  It’s all true.

Guidebooks advise various strategies, such as waiting in line at a less busy Forum entrance, but why not double down and book your tickets in advance?  You WILL still have to wait in a security line or with other people that already have tickets, but less time in the direct sun in definitely a win in my book.

Open 8:30 am until depends.  Last admission varies from 3:30 to 6:15 pm depending on time of year
Book tickets here

Vatican Museum

You can now buy timed entry tickets to the Vatican Museum.  Game.  Changer.

Want an audioguide?  You can book that online.

Want to get a full guided tour?  You can book that online too.

Want to book a tour aimed at children 6 – 12?  Apparently that is also a thing.

This makes your life a bazillion times easier.  Just do it.

Open Monday to Saturday. the Ticket Office is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. The Museums close at 6:00 pm
NOTE:  During the summer, except for August, you can go to the Museum on Friday evenings, 7-11 pm.  (Last entrance at 9:30 pm.)  We did this once for a fun change of pace.  My friend did this, got the first entry time, raced through the rest of the museum, and got to say she was the only person standing in the Sistine chapel for about two minutes.
Book tickets here

Besides the Vatican museum, don’t miss out on other exciting Vatican opportunities.  Like a tour of the Vatican gardens.

Or a Scavi tour to visit the tomb of Saint Peter and the Necropolis under St. Peter’s Basilica.  (Limited spots for Scavi tours.  DEFINITELY try to book this one as early as you can.)

Forum by Night

Besides the Roman Forum, did you know that there are tours of some of the Imperial Fora?  At night??  With lasers???  (James keeps telling me it is just a light show.  No lasers.  I am undeterred in calling this the LASER LIGHT SHOW AT THE FORUM WHICH IS THE COOLEST THING I’VE DONE IN ROME.)

If you are here April – October, I HIGHLY recommend checking this out.  You can see the Forum of Augustus and the Forum of Caesar.  For Augustus, you sit on bleachers and watch the lights.  For Caesar, you enter through Trajan’s Forum and then are on the move.  Both tours with headphones with eight language options.

Seriously, this was so cool.  They show you how things used to look.  They show you maps.  They show you destruction of the neighborhood in the 1930s that led to us being able to see the Fora again.

This helped me put things together in a way that I’ve never understood before.  It was incredible.  Seriously, if I had a choice of doing the Colosseum/Roman Forum or this, I’d pick THIS.  Hands down.  (I mean I’d still look at the Colosseum and Roman Forum from the outside.  I’m not a monster.)

Because it is at night, you can squeeze even more into your already packed sightseeing day.  Bonus!

Book tickets here

That covers your main attractions, but why stop there?  This is obviously only a fraction of what is available, but plenty more fun stuff you can book in advance.

Castel Sant’ Angelo AT NIGHT

Speaking of squeezing more into your day, you can also visit Castel Sant’ Angelo at night during the summer.

I did this.  It was pretty sweet to walk on the ramparts of the secret tunnel to the Vatican by the light of the moon.  The advertised exclusive guided tour was pretty limited, but you get to wander anywhere you want after.

Book tickets for 2016 here.  This link may not work for other years.  Try googling around for Castel Sant’ Angelo at night.

Domus Aurea

Did you know that you can visit Nero’s Golden Palace?  Well, at least until September 25, 2016.

These tours fill up fast.  Book ’em while they’re hot!

Open on Saturdays and Sundays, 9:00 – 5:00 pm
Book tickets here

Palazzo Farnese

This one might not be high on your list, but tickets must be purchased a week in advance.  This home to the French Embassy is, according to the website:

one of the jewels of the Renaissance in Rome.

The tours offer the opportunity to discover the atrium of Sangallo, the yard, the garden, the Hercules Salon and tapestries inspired by Raphael’s frescoes and the famous Carracci Gallery, recently restored and reopened to the public, Chief absolute work of the Carracci brothers commissioned by Cardinal Farnese Odorado late sixteenth and early seventeenth century.

If this interests you, English language tours are available on Wednesdays.  Sadly, no kids under 10 admitted.
Book tickets here.

Food Tour

I love food.  You can easily get amazing food in Rome.  You can also easily get very meh food.

You only have so many meals here.  Gotta make ’em count!

Food tours can be a great way to maximize your travel time.  You get to tour a neighborhood you might not otherwise see AND you get to try lots of delicious food?  They may look a little pricey, but I think it is a pretty decent value when you consider you are getting a four-hour tour plus a lavish meal.

You can find food tours that cover just about anything or anywhere.  Eating Italy offers tours in Trastevere and Testaccio.  (We had a blast on the Twilight Trastevere one.)  The Roman Food Tour offers options in Prati and Trionfale.  Food Tours of Rome offers many, including a gluten free option.

Tram Tracks

Have you ever thought I really wish I could eat on public transportation?  Or better yet I wish I could eat on public transportation while listening to live music and jamming around Rome?

If so, Tram Tracks is for you.  You get to jam out on an antique tram with booze (and food depending on which tour you pick).  As they say on their website, “Have you ever danced to a live band in front of the Colosseum?”  Nuff said.

Book tickets here.

Quirinal PALACE

We had the opportunity to bump into the President of Italy during our visit to the Quirinal Gardens on Republic Day.  (No joke, that happened.)

I can’t guarantee that you will see the President, but you can also visit the Quirinal Palace and gardens on your visit.  According to the website, reservations are mandatory and must be booked five days in advance.

Piazza del Quirinale – 00187 Roma
Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 9:30 – 4:00 pm
Book tickets here

More Churches

You know what Rome has in spades?  Churches.  All the churches.  Churches errywhere.

They can become overwhelming.  Monotonous.  Boring even.  Oh, another amazing church?  Yawn.

A great way to keep churches interesting is to do a guided tour.  They point out things you’d never notice and give context to what you are seeing.

Santa Susanna, home of the American Catholic Community in Rome, offers spiritual walks that hit multiple sites.  An affordable way to get more bang for our buck.

Book tours here.  (You can also request tickets for the Wednesday Papal audience through Santa Susanna.)

Mussolini Bunker Tour

Did you know that you can visit a house where Mussolini lived at Villa Torlonia?  Did you know that you can ALSO sign up for a tour of the bunker built to protect Mussolini during WWII?

Musei di Villa Torlonia, Via Nomentana 70 – 00161 Roma
Book tours here.

(If bunker tours are your thing, you can also book a tour of the bunker in Villa Ada built for the Savoia family here.)


P.S.  Prepping for your trip to Rome?  Check out my tips on what to wear and what shoes to pack.

5 thoughts on “Things to book BEFORE you come to Rome

  1. Sara Ackerman says:

    Hi Melissa! We love this blog post! I am still sending it out to friends that visit Rome! Enjoy your last weeks there!

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