Rome is known for being a city with a ton of stuff to do, so you could imagine my panic when creating a sight-seeing plan for a short five day stay in the Italian capital. Thankfully, with smart planning and a small investment at the start of the trip- my family and I were able to save a lot of money when travelling through the city. But most importantly, we were able to access all of the tourist hotspots and museums without waiting in any queues.
Today I’m going to share with you how I managed to tick off every spot on my Rome bucket list in limited time.
The Omnia Card
I’d first heard of the Omnia card when looking at the reviews of different monuments on Trip Advisor. Even though I’d only seen one review where someone expressed how glad they were that they’d purchased one of these, I was intrigued to look further into what it was- and in all honesty, my trip wouldn’t have been the same without it.
I’d wrongly assumed that by travelling off-peak in December, entry tickets to monuments and museums wouldn’t be necessary to purchase ahead of time. I can tell you now that Rome is super busy all year round. There are still endless queues of people outside all the tourist hotspots, so it’s still worth it to purchase tickets ahead of time.
Instead of getting individual tickets, my family and I purchased and Omnia package each from Expedia. The price per adult is currently £102, however I purchased mine with the £30 off discount code ‘LXUKTHANKYOU‘ (there is no guarantee that it is still available, however they do special offers more often than you think). With this package you get so much more than free entry to a couple of attractions, which is what makes it worth every penny.
The Omnia package comes with two cards. The first one is for free travel on all public transport in Rome. The second one provides you with free access to a hop-on hop-off bus which takes you to the following sites, in which you’ll also have free entry to;
- The Vatican museum
- The Vatican Gardens
- St. Peters Basilica
- Sistine Chapel
- Basilica of St. John
- Basilica of St. Paul
Whilst these are the only sites that require paid entry, the bus also takes you to the following locations where there’s a lot to do, and many more sights to see;
- The Church of San Luigi dei Francesi
- Campo de’ Fiori
- The Pantheon
- Fori Imperiali
- Trevi Fountain
- Spanish Steps
- Basilica of Santa Maria
- Palatine Hill
- Constantine Arch
Whilst the company states that you can pick up the Omnia bus from their selected bus stops every twenty minutes or so, I never waited longer than ten minutes for one to arrive. Even when we found a place on the map that we wanted to go to that wasn’t on the list of Omnia locations, we took the Omnia bus to the nearest stop and walked the rest of the way.
We purchased our package online a picked it up at the Opera Romans’ Pellegrinaggi (ORP) building in the city centre (it’s right by the Pantheon and easy to get directions towards). However, the cards are only valid for 72 hours and become activated the moment you pick them up- meaning, if you’re staying in the city for an extended period, maybe paying for travel/monument entrance fees when you need it may see more appealing to you.
I arrived in Rome on a Wednesday morning and had until Sunday to see everything. I knew on the weekend, the biggest attractions would be the busiest, meaning I headed to the ones that required paid entry first during the week days. This way, I was able to walk around and take pictures without the hassle of huge crowds of tourists. One mistake I did make, was leaving the Trevi fountain until the last day. The Trevi fountain is free to visit and in the heart of the city, meaning the only time it’s not busy is in the early mornings or maybe even late at night. I wasn’t willing to make the early morning commute, but I also wasn’t too bothered about getting others in my pictures. However, it definitely wasn’t the smartest decision to go on a Sunday.
The busiest locations I came across were the Trevi Fountain, Vatican Museum and St. Peters Basilica. The worst queue was the entry to the Vatican museum, in which it streamed all the way down a hill at the side of the building. Thankfully, with the Omnia card you’ll get escorted by a guide through the entrance ‘fast-track’ style, and you’ll find yourself inside and through security in under ten minutes.
I initially didn’t think the public transport card would be of any use to me as I didn’t trust myself to navigate my way through Italian train stations- but you know… when in Rome… (I had to throw that quote in there eventually). I’d discovered the name of the train station that was right on the doorstep of my hotel and the name of the popular station that’s right outside the Spanish Steps- and from that moment I was travelling around the city like a local.
If you’re a meticulous holiday planner or just staying for a short time in Rome, I definitely thing the Omnia card is worth looking at (and of course, look out for those discounted prices). Waiting in queues would’ve definitely ruined my trip as I would’ve wasted a lot of time standing around when there was so much on my to-do list. I was able to plan my days in Rome ahead of time and there wasn’t a single day that didn’t go to schedule. In fact, rather than visiting the Basilica and Vatican Museum within the same day as planned, I had enough time to Visit the Basilica on a separate day, which was great because walking around the Vatican museum definitely tires you!