The Colosseum in Rome at sunset
Photo by Willan West  –  Link

Rome

Italy

Visually striking and rich in culture, with a vibrant food scene and a lively nightlife, Rome has to be one of the most charming cities on earth. Affectionately known as 'The Eternal City', you can feel the history in every paving stone, with iconic Ancient Roman architecture - including the Colosseum and the Pantheon - dominating its central streets. Just over the River Tiber sits the smallest independent state on earth, Vatican City, and the buzzing bars and restaurants of the neighbourhood of Trastevere. Head North of the centre and you can uncover the artistic treasures of Villa Borghese, climb the Spanish Steps, and roar with the most passionate of football fans at the famed Stadio Olimpico. And that's only scratching the surface.

However, the real pleasures of Rome are the simpler ones: slurping pasta and drinking wine in quaint squares, scoffing crusty pizzas fresh from the oven, the way the light bounces around its pretty side streets during golden hour, the large open spaces where you can relax for hours on end. As much as it's a cliché, it's true to say that there are two types of people: those who love Rome and those who haven't been there.

Where history and art meet

When you think of Rome, the first word that often springs to mind is 'history'. But while this in itself is fascinating - going from a small and irrelevant town to the centre of one of the largest empires the world has ever known - there is another, more specific legacy that this city is known for: art. From its ancient ruins and its precious statues to the fountains that sit in every piazza, there's no escaping the idea that art, religion and politics have influenced each other in this city. Whether on the street, in a church or a museum, you'll never have to journey far to find frescoes, paintings and sculptures created by some of the most renowned artists in history, including Michelangelo, Bernini, Caravaggio, Raphael. To walk around Rome is essentially to step into a humongous, unrivalled art gallery.

When to visit

April - September:

Spring is a great time to visit the Italian capital: by late-March to April, the weather in Rome is usually starting to warm up, the flowers are starting to bloom, and the whole city is bathed in that summer-is-coming positivity. Generally the crowds are still quite low during this time, but do note that Rome during Easter can be notoriously busy as people flock to the Vatican.

The high season really ramps up from mid-June to mid-September, as people from all over Europe head to the city to soak up the good weather, with temperatures typically hovering in the mid-late 20s, higher on particularly warm days. During this time, expect prices to be higher and attractions busy.

October - March:

Although temperatures in October are just starting to fall, it should come as no surprise that during winter the temperatures drop off and the city sometimes experiences snow - the ski resorts of the Italian Alps are just a few hours away, after all. Visiting Rome at this time of year is an entirely different experience to visiting during the summer: it's quieter and normally quite a bit cheaper. While it may be rainier, there should be a good number of sunny afternoons to give you that crisp, fresh feeling. In early December the Christmas markets kick off, giving an already very pretty city a warm glow; many open until late in the evening.