Rome has many different layers. Literally. The ancient Italian capital has been built and rebuilt many times over thousands of years. It has also been besieged and burned, and then rebuilt again. Its history is linked to many events that changed the world over the past 2,500 years, making it an important part of Western civilization as a whole. (It doesn’t have the name “Eternal City” for nothing.)
Everywhere you go in Rome, there’s an old column or a part of the city that was built around old ruins. It takes so long to build anything in the city because every time they try to build a subway, building, or change something, they find new ruins and have to send in archaeologists to look into them.
Most of these ruins, however, don’t have any signs. There’s nothing to it. A walking tour is a must if you want to learn more about Rome. It will tell you the history and background of what you’re seeing so you can learn more about how the city grew, how it got its culture, and how it came to be. No matter if you’re a foodie, a history buff, or a culture junkie, Rome has a lot of walking tours that will help you see beyond the noisy and overcrowded surface.
Here is my list of what I think are the best walking tours in Rome to help you learn more about the city’s history and culture:
5 great walking tours IN Rome.
Even though the above two tours are my favourites, there are a lot of other great companies to think about when you go to Rome. Here are some more of my favourite companies in Rome that offer walking tours:
1. Devour Tours
Want to eat your way through Rome? Devour has everything you need. Its experienced guides take hungry tour-goers through the atmospheric food market in Testaccio, where Roman cuisine was born, as well as through the narrow, cobbled streets of Trastevere, which are lined with trattorias. It’s fun, it’s educational, and there’s a lot to eat. If you love food as I do, you must do this.
The tours start at 69 EUR.
2. Dark Rome
Despite the name, not all of this company’s tours go into the dark side of things. There are also guided tours that let you skip the line at the Borghese Gallery & Gardens and private tours of the Colosseum. But if you like things that are sad, mysterious, ghostly, and scary, this is the right company for you. You’ll go down into ancient crypts and catacombs in Rome, and there’s also a cool ghost tour.
The tours start at 25 EUR.
3. Elizabeth Lev
This guide and art historian who was born in the United States has lived in Rome for 20 years. She gives in-depth walking tours based on a theme (I love travelling with a theme). So, if you’ve ever thought it would be cool to go to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica with a real art historian, give Elizabeth a call. Love Baroque sculptor Bernini? Join her in a rabbit hole from the 1600s. Want to learn everything there is to know about the interesting history of Christian Rome? You’ll go there with Elizabeth. Elizabeth can make a tour that fits your interests, no matter what they are.
4. FAT tire TOURS
The best bike tour in the city is this one. Fat Tire Tours has a three-hour bike tour of the city centre that goes to all the best places, like the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Jewish Ghetto, and the Circus Maximus. The tours are perfect for the busy budget traveller who wants to do a lot in a short amount of time without missing out on the details. Even though these tours cover a lot of ground, they move at a slow enough pace that you won’t feel rushed or tired as you see the sights.
The tours start at 35 EUR.
5. Stefano Rome Tours
This company, which was started by tour guide Stefano Costantini, gives private tours in and around Rome. People say that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Stefano can show you around in one. Rome in a Day is the most popular tour, but there are also special tours like Rome by Night, Christian Rome, and Angels and Demons, which shows you where Angels and Demons were filmed.
Stefano also offers day trips to the countryside around Rome, such as to the mediaeval hill town of Calcutta, which is 40 miles to the north. This charming town is home to artists and hippies, and it is known for a strange Christian relic (featured in the excellent travel book An Irreverent Curiosity).
Prices for tours start at €150.
No matter how much money you have or what you’re interested in, it’s always a good idea to find a local guide who can show you the ropes and get you off the beaten path. The old Italian capital is a big and interesting city, and walking tours are one of the best ways to see it and get a feel for the area. When I go somewhere, I always take at least two with me.
Walking tours in Rome won’t let you down, whether you’re a first-time visitor on a tight budget or a seasoned traveller who wants a more in-depth experience.