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Monday 11 April 2011

Luxury Travel in Rome on a Budget

How to live like a Roman on a Backpacker Budget

Planning a trip to Rome but not sure how to make your funds last? This Rome travel guide will tell you the things you really want to know - where to eat, sleep and play that won't compromise on luxury but will help your wallet! Travel in Rome is much more fun and affordable when you know these insider secrets!

Where to Eat - More Yum for your Euro

Eating out tips and secrets for Rome

There is a general rule in European travel that most restaurants and cafes located close to the major attractions should be avoided. While I'd give this some truth, I would say this this rule should be used with caution!

It is true that most restaurants with a direct view of, say, the Colosseum or Pantheon with up their prices and may not serve the best food. However venturing a side road or two away will reward you with more taste and less price! If you are visiting the Colosseum , head along Via Claudia and try some of the side roads for authentic pizzerias with excellent set menus.

For example, I enjoyed one of the best pizzas, a simple bruscheta starter and a glass of wine for Euro8 only a slight bend away from the Colosseum! We found this deal as someone handed us a flyer - so don't be afraid to take handouts or else ask a local for the best restaurant in the area.

Where to Sleep - Hotels with more comfort and less charge

Hotel tips and secrets for Rome

Gone are the days of choosing between a luxury room or a simple bunk - nowadays there is an endless of options for your hotel accomodation, making it even easier to keep the simple luxuries (a double bed, private bathroom and clean room) without having to fork our half your travel budget.

Travel-guide websites such as Destination-Traveler.com have a wide variety of Rome hotels, from two-star budget stays to more luxurious ones, to choose from. The best way to maximise your money is to stay in a hotel located outside of the city centre, such as Hotel Tivoli or Hotel Residence L'oasi (view more Rome hotels here). Rome has excellent public transport links (train and bus services) so getting from your hotel into the city centre will be easy.

If you are a single traveller or travelling in a group, another fun option is to stay in one of the many camping resorts in the Roman suburbs. These may require a bit more time to get into the city, but often has a large pool area, on-site bar and restaurant, and cosy cabins to stay in for the same price as a 2-star hotel!

Sightseeing - The Vatican Museum

Sightseeing in Rome - less queues, more fun!

Don't spend hours in the queue for tickets - buy them online! Trust me, when I was in Rome last I was amazed to see the hundreds of people standing in line to enter the Vatican Museum - we waltzed straight to the front and into the cool foyer thanks to our pre-purchased tickets. You can buy your tickets for the Vatican Museum here for Euro15 with a Euro4 fee. Those between 6 and 18 years old, or under 26 with an International Student card are elegible for reduced tickets at Euro8.

To avoid congestion inside the Vatican Museums, arrive at least half an hour before the doors open to ensure you are at the front of the queue and head straight to the Sistine Chapel. This historical room is a must-see however if you try see it between 10am and closing time, you will be pushed and shoved alongside countless tourists so try to get in there before the crowds desend. Downloading a map of the Museums before is a great idea as it can be quite confusing to navigate once you are inside.

If you want to enjoy the Vatican city itself and St. Peter's Square, try go at night or in the early hours of the morning. During the day your photographs will most definitely have random tourists and official guides in the way. At night and in the early morning, the square is pretty much empty and very atmospheric! There are a few late-night restaurants in the area as well, so you can have a drink or dinner afterwards.

Sightseeing - The Colosseum and Surrounding Ruins

Sightseeing in Rome - less queues, more fun!

Any visit to Rome is not complete without a visit to the Colosseum! Like most of the main attractions in Rome though, the Colosseum is best enjoyed either early in the morning or at dusk. If you are planning on entering the structure, try and be the first in-line if you have no pre-booked your tickets (opens most mornings at 9am).

Pre-booked tickets though are the best way to avoid spending hours in the queue (often in the hot sun) and enables you to walk directly to the front. Tickets can be pre-booked through http://www.tickitaly.com for Euro15.50.

Do remember though, the inside of the Colosseum is quite deteriorated and is enjoyable if you know about the arena's history so if you don't know that much about it, hire a portable audio-guide to make the most of your Euro15.50! Alternatively, exploring the outside of the building and the surrounding ruins, is just as enjoyable and costs nothing!

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