Nothing compares to Rome. The Eternal City boasts 2,700+ years of history – from its glory days during the Roman Empire when it was known as Caput Mundi and impressive structures like the Colosseum were built, to the High Renaissance in the late 15th/early 16th century when Michelangelo painted exquisite frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Booking one of the best tours in Rome is your ticket to the world’s greatest history show.
Not only will monumental history, art and architecture be on display on one of the best tours in Rome but also endless cultural treasures that the modern Roman citizen cherishes. Food and feasting is at the heart of local life – late night alfresco dinners at a bustling neighborhood trattoria or fine dining in a Michelin starred restaurant in the city center, whatever whets your appetite. Gorging on pizza, pasta, wine and gelato is a daily ritual here.
Then there are the simple pleasures of walking around pretty plazas and alluring alleys that invite you in unexpectedly, or relaxing at a street-side cafe with an espresso and people-watching. Rome is everything you dream of and more when you know how to experience it properly. And this is where Tours and the City comes into play with their range of small group tours and private tours in Rome – offering the best in local immersions.
Tours and the City run excursions that immerse you in Rome as a local, not as a tourist. A mix of highlights and hidden gems are included, so you can tick off bucket list attractions while at the same time seeing a different side to Rome that you never knew existed. Features of the tours are the ability to skip lines, be shown around by local guides, intimate sized groups and more. Below we go into more detail about these amazing tours.
Best Tours in Rome
1. Gastronomic Experience Trastevere
This small group tour (with a maximum of 13 people) showcases authentic Italian cuisine through two locally loved neighborhoods: Campo de Fiori and Trastevere. Campo de Fiori, which translates to “Field of Flowers”, is one of the most iconic squares in Rome – it’s home to a colorful market during the day and packed terraces at night. Trastevere, on the other hand, is a bohemian area where cobbled streets and vibrant nightlife awaits.
Wandering through these charming regions on a gastronomic themed tour reveals how Romans go about their daily lives – whether it be eating, shopping or hanging out. The guides at Tours and the City are foodies themselves and pride themselves on understanding the connections that locals have with food. Most of your time will be spent sitting rather than walking with plenty of street food, classic dishes and fine wine to try.
The tour kicks off in Campo de Fiori at a family grocery shop. Here, guests sample a selection of cold cuts and cheeses paired with wine. After that, you will be ready to sit down at a restaurant and enjoy a more substantial meal – fried cod with wine. Fascinating anecdotes will be shared at this famous ristorante. Next, you cross the Tiber River en-route to Trastevere and find yourself at a local osteria being served two types of traditional pasta.
As if it couldn’t get any better, the street food suppli follows the pasta and then you get to visit the “King of Porchetta” who serves the tastiest roast pork in Rome. Wash it down with beer and leave room in your stomach for gelato, since the best artisan ice cream of Trastevere is your final tasting. Along the way you will be enchanted by the rich history of Campo de Fiori and Trastevere, and get recommendations for the rest of your stay in Roma.
2. Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
The Vatican Museums house one of the planet’s largest artwork collections and the Sistine Chapel is one part not to be missed – Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes and his Last Judgment painting captivate all those who look at them for long enough. These masterpieces draw crowds, so a great advantage of booking with Tours and the City is that you can skip the line and marvel at the art while receiving in-depth information from your guide.
The group is limited to 15 which means everyone has access to the guide to get questions answered. This tour isn’t limited to the Sistine Chapel. Other spots that leave a lasting impression are the Belvedere Courtyard, the Pigna Statue and antique galleries. These tours are done in English and each guide is fluent in the language. They will tell you interesting facts like why different black and white smoke is used for Vatican signals.
This experience also gives you access to St. Peter’s Basilica, but it’s not included on the tour and so most people visit after. In Christendom, this is the holiest of all the churches in the world. The Pope presides over many liturgies here all year round. You might be lucky enough to time your visit with the Pope and be able to see him in person. The sense of raw spirituality you feel once inside St. Peter’s Basilica is undeniable.
For those who view this as a once in a lifetime opportunity and would prefer to book a private tour rather than a group one, then that is absolutely possible with Tours and the City. Simply visit the Private Tours page on their site and fill out the form. There are more benefits to opting for private than just receiving the full attention of a guide. You can also get picked up and dropped off at your hotel, and add extra activities.
3. Colosseum, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum
The tours above cover the topics of gastronomy and art/religion, but this one is unmistakably about history. The history of Rome spans 28 centuries and it was inhabited for many more before that. The guides at Tours and the City are well versed in archaeology and history, and will help you dive into the heritage of Rome at three sights: the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. Each place offers a unique vantage point into the past.
With a group size not exceeding 15, you will get the chance to learn about the Roman Empire in the company of like-minded travelers. Skipping queues means more time admiring extraordinary pieces of architecture. The Colosseum transports you back in time when gladiators were the heroes of the day. By exploring the amphitheater’s first and second levels, you will get a better understanding of the epic battles that took place.
If you wish to book the private version of this tour, then the option of visiting the arena floor of the Colosseum becomes a possibility. It has to be requested before the reservation so the arrangements can be made. The next destination on the itinerary is the Roman Forum where the Temple of Hadrian is sure to delight history-buffs. Afterwards, a leisurely walk up the Palatine Hill will show you how the wealthiest of Rome’s citizens once lived.
Keep in mind that during summer it can get hot and being outside can take its toll. Ensure that you come prepared with a hat and sunscreen. Bring water too because no doubt you will get thirsty taking in the info. This tour is suited for solos, couples, families, groups or anyone who wishes to discover the historical gems of Rome in an authentic fashion. There is no better way to begin your Rome visit than by booking this tour.
Travel Tips for Rome
- Plan at least three days in Rome but five would be better
- Book a guided tour for the Vatican Museums to skip the lines
- Dress modestly when entering the churches and historical sites
- Learn about the different types of pasta and pizza before you go
- Make reservations in advance for popular trattorias or restaurants
- Get in sync with the local eating times – lunch and dinners are late
- Don’t order a coffee with milk after 11am, order an espresso instead
- Use the metro or bus system to get around and forget about driving
- Carry plenty of cash just in case the local vendors don’t accept cards
- Go off the beaten track – there is more to Rome than the Colosseum.