When to start planning your trip?

Posted on Mar 12, 2015 in Planning Support

Plan-your-trip1[revised December 2023]  We firmly believe a trip starts when you start planning it. That said…the sooner, the better!

But it is also true you cannot reserve everything too much in advance. Make your reservations well ahead of time, choosing the best period for you/your family to travel. Consult local experts (like us!) concerning how many nights you should spend in each location, options for accommodations, transportation between one city and another and so on… Once a schedule is in place and you have your flights and accommodations booked, you can finalise details on tours. Most of the attractions in Rome are just there for you to enjoy:  the city itself is THE attraction and you don’t need a booking for that.

But some museums/sites/events do require pre-booking:

  • Vatican Museums: this is the link to the booking engine where you can book your admission to the museum skipping the lines. You can also book  internal group tours (approx. 3 hrs long) or audio-guides. The above site also allows you to reserve a slot in a group tour to the “Necropolis of the Via Triumphalis”  (not to be confused with the “Tomb of Peter”, but still very interesting!) or the Vatican Gardens (select “Guided tours for individuals”) or the Papal residence in Castel Gandolfo recently opened to the public. We do not offer the tour of the Vatican anymore (here is why) but this is the article to assist you. 
  • Vatican Excavations: visits to the necropolis underneath the Basilica, where the tomb of St. Peter is located, are only possible with a special permission granted by the “Fabbrica di San Pietro”. This visit has to be booked months in advance: few visitors per day are allowed and children under the age of 16 are not admitted. Only internal guides of the Excavations office are allowed, so we cannot guide you there (sigh!).
  • Colosseum: since 2019 a time slot is mandatory to visit the site and since 2023 tickets have your name on it, which  cannot be changed.  Children up to 17 are entitled to free admissions but they need a reservation anyway and everyone has to show an ID. This ticket also allows you to visit the Palatine/Forum area. If you are interested in the Colosseum undergrounds, check our dedicated post. 
  • Borghese Gallery: booking is mandatory. If you wish to be guided by A Friend in Rome, reserve a free ticket for your guide as well (after agreeing time/day with us, of course!).
  • Papal Audience/Celebrations: be careful! The Papal Audience and the celebrations at the Vatican are always free of charge (some fraudulent companies sell tickets!), but reservation is mandatory. Audiences take place on Wednesdays, celebrations depend on the liturgical calendar. All information is available through the link above. The Angelus blessing is on Sundays at noon sharp and does not require booking. An interesting article here to figure out how it works: Papal Audience for beginners!