Rome is without doubt one the most beautiful cities in the world; every year millions of tourists come from around the world to admire the treasures and masterpieces of Roman art and architecture.
But a trip to the Eternal City can be eternally confusing for first-time visitors. This guide will make it easier to uncover Rome, offering lots of practical advice that will help you discover and enjoy the city in all its glory.
Because Rome is such a huge tourist draw, choose the date for your trip carefully. The best times of the year to visit are April, May, and late September through October. In the depths of summer, the heat and the crowds make the city nearly unbearable. August in particular should be avoided because this is the month that the entire country of Italy seems to go on vacation. Traveling too late or too early in the year can also be risky because the opening hours for many attractions are shorter, and some are closed completely.
Airfares typically drop quite a bit when "shoulder season" begins in the early autumn, making this the optimal time to visit in my book. The days are still warm, the nights are slightly cool, and the tour groups and student mobs have mostly disappeared.
If you can plan to stay as long as a week, you won't run out of things to do and you'll still feel like you're leaving too soon. But if your time is limited, allow at least four days to see all of Rome's major attractions
. If you try to cram the entire city into a two-day span and do nothing but run from place to place furiously snapping pictures, you'll only be cheating yourself. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day and it can't be seen in one, either.