Once we got into Rome, we walked just about everywhere. This is what we do on most of our trips unless we absolutely have to get somewhere too far away to walk.
I found Rome to be a very easy city to walk in. There are only a few hills, but the majority of sites are located on a flatter part of the city. I was surprised at how compact everything was and how close the various sites are to each other.
We divided our days in Rome to specific locations which also cut down on the amount of walking required. Rather than zig-zag back and forth, we focused on all the sites in a particular area for the day before moving on. This can be a challenge depending on what you are seeing and if the site/church closes for several hours in the afternoon. Do your research ahead of time and set up a schedule if you want to avoid walking all over the place.
Taxis, buses, and the metro are available if you need them, but my recommendation is to put on a good pair of walking shoes and see the city from the pavement!
Central Rome is eminently walkable...its historical centre is compact, and walking is very much the norm (as it is in all European cities and towns). You won't be alone (unless you are walking in the early hours of the morning) and you will be perfectly safe as long as you use normal city common sense precautions.
And you will see so very, very much more if you walk as much as you can.
Rome also has an excellent and efficient public transport system: buses, trams and Metro (and some suburban trains to places such as Ostia Antica). so you can walk until your feet can walk no more, then just hop on a bus, or a tram, or take the Metro back to wherever you are staying.
You can buy tickets from some tabacchi (cigarette/tobacco sellers, signed with a white 'T' on a blue background, or a black T on a white background), from some newstands and from machines dotted about the city. A single ticket lasts 70 minutes on all forms of transport.
The easiest thing is to buy a 3-day ticket (also available for other periods). This will cover any and all bus, tram, Metro and suburban train rides you take over those 3 days; it only needs validating once, at the start of your first journey. Make sure you always have it with you, and that you have filled in your name and date of birth on the back: inspectors do check, and they don't always wear uniforms (though they do carry ID, so check it).
The simplest places to purchase such a travel pass are the booths at the Termini bus station. Strangely, you won't get it from the bus information building there: look for the little row of booths near the Metro entrance in the bus station. At the moment (July 2012) there is a massive construction project in this area, part of the new Metro line, so you'll have to wander a little bit more to find the booths. But they are still there (I checked).
The carabinieri (police) at Termini, by the way, seem to have abandoned their Segways since my last visit. They now use a rather nifty golf buggy to get around!
Rome is a very walkable city. You can walk in Rome and see so many things. In an afternoon I went from the Colosseum inside and out then walked through the Palatine Hill and into the Forum. I then walked through Piazza Venezia down the street Via del Corso which is right in front of the monument and on to the Pantheon which is on the left hand side of the street, there are signs that will guide you. It took me about 5 hrs and I'm a big guy. And all this wouldn't cost you much money. Only 10 euros for the entrance to the Colosseum and the Forum or if you have the Romapass it won't cost you anything.
Just as in Paris, and London, Rome is great on foot, the metro drops you off close to the major sites but a good amount of your time getting to places from the metro is on foot !!!! Be warned the walks are great but look down to make sure your foot doesn't get caught in between the crack of the 1,000 year old streets !!!!! Bring good shoes, if not you'll regret it !!!!!
Rome is a wonderful city to walk in. I was surprised at first how quickly you can get from one point to another in Rome by walking. For example, we walked from the Borghese Museum back to our hotel near Fiume Square with no problem. Same with the Roman Forum to Pantheon and then on to Trevi Fountain. In some areas, like through Trastevere around Piazza Navona, walking through the narrow streets, window shopping and popping in the various shops is the only way to get around.
One word of caution however, the walking surfaces are virtually all hard stone so wear comfortable shoes. After a week of a lot of walking, our feet were definitely sore; however, if we had uncomfortable shoes on it would have been much worse.
Our hotel was centrally located for the places we wanted to visit, so that's why we chose to walk to most places and then take the subway for those who weren't that close. We also plan so that we can "hit" several adjacent sights on the same zone.
For subway tickets, we chose to buy a BIT, valid for 1 trip within 75 minutes.
Always remember to validate your ticket and keep it with you throughout your whole journey. You don't want to get a juicy fine because you either didn't validate your ticket or didn't have one, if a controller catches you.
The link below will give you updated info about the transportation tickets and a useful route planner.
Pictures coming up.
Walking is one of the best ways to explore Rome. That way, you can see the city itself instead of just the inside of a subway/bus car and what's surrounding the tourist attractions. On my first night, I walked from Piazza di Spagna, to the Trevi Fountain, to the Piazza del Popolo, to the river, down the river, and across a bridge to St. Peter's Square, and though my feet took quite a beating, I loved every minute of it! If you have the time and/or are visiting Rome without a set schedule, I highly recommend taking the time to stroll around the city to explore on your own.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes. I managed in strappy high-heel sandals but I'm a dancer - we have tough feet. There are a lot of cobblestone streets in Rome and you don't want to end up with a sprained ankle. One thing that did annoy me at times is when I'd be walking on a cobblestone street, and the skinny heel on my sandal would sink into the space between the stones and get stuck. That meant I had to yank my foot out and it could be dangerous whenever I happened to be in the middle of the street.
Also, watch out for the traffic - drivers (both car and motorbike) are crazy. I nearly got run over by a motorbike that jumped the curb onto the sidewalk.
It is appalling - the length of time it took me to figure this ! We all know you wear out a few pairs of boots, the amount of walking you do in Rome. However , there is a great shortcut through the tunnel under the Quirinale, but it is never on any maps as they always show the Quirinale itself.
It runs from very near the Trevi, just outside the Albert pub (see Nightlife Tip) in Via del Traforo to the short Via Milano, which leads to Via Nazionale. This is the main shopping street from Piazza Republicca (near Termini) to Piazza Venezia (Monumento Vittorio Emanuele II). A revelation when you first try it ! Not too many tourists in the know either as there is regularly just half a dozen - at very most - people walking it at any one time. Ther are small pavements(sidewalks) either side of the road.
When you are in Rome you don't really need transportation. From the the Presidents Summer Palace you can see the Vatican at the other end of the city which just shows how small Rome is. I managed to walk to every place I wanted to go within twenty minutes of starting out. (Also having a hotel in a central position helped) The city did also have an efficient Metro system, bus service and taxi service.
We stayed in a hotel around the Castro Pretorio Metro station, which on the map doesn't look all that far so I didn't bother finding out about the transportation. However once you walk to and from the tourist attractions and walk around/up them it all adds up to a lot of walking.
My advice, even if you think you will walk everywhere it's worth finding out about public transport anyway.
We were surprised to find that the underground shuts at about 9:30pm so you have to get a bus after this time if your hotel is a little further out as ours was. We found the number 64 very useful in getting from Termini (Central Train Station) to the Piazza Navona Area. I don't know how often this bus runs, but it was always at the train station when we went there so I guess it's pretty frequent.
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