Rome has so much to offer, but tourists often end up visiting the usual sites like the Colosseum and Vatican City. Whitney Webster, a contributor for Conde Nast Traveler, provides a list of great alternatives to classic attractions located in the City of Seven Hills.
Skip the Colosseum; Visit the Baths of Caracalla
While the Colosseum is arguably the most recognizable symbol of the Roman Empire, the fact that the location seems to be part of every tourist’s itinerary makes it a headache for everyone. The peak season is witness to long lines, while the lack of shade makes visiting the Colosseum really hot. Thankfully, there are other ancient locations within the city like the Baths of Caracalla.
Built in the third century AD, the Baths of Caracalla (pictured) are a group of imposing structures built as one of the largest public bathing complex in ancient Rome. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the site’s splendor from thousands of years ago, such as some exquisite mosaics. Nowadays, the ruins of the baths are being used as a concert venue. It is located just a short distance from the Colosseum, but it is usually deserted.
Skip the Vatican Museums; Visit Capitoline Museums
The Vatican Museums house vast collections of artwork amassed for over five centuries, making it one of the greatest (and the most crowded) museums in the world. The museum does not limit the number of visitors allowed to enter, which make it extremely difficult to navigate the collections and appreciate the artwork.
Why allow yourself be cramped in a crowded and hot museum when you are better off visiting the Capitoline Museums? It houses the second largest collection of the world’s ancient art (following the Vatican Museums), as well as a timeline of Roman history through the artifacts on display. The museums themselves are housed in majestic palazzi, two of which were built between 1500 and 1600. Also, the location is air condition, something the Vatican Museums lack, making ideal to visit during the sweltering summer months.
Skip Pompeii; Visit Ostia Antica
While Pompeii is not actually located in Rome, many tourists take day trips to the city in ruins. However, Webster recommends visiting Pompeii from nearby Naples to save precious time, energy, and money.
Ostia Antica is just a 30-minute train ride from Rome. It is much closer to the city, less crowded, and more environmentally sustainable. During the Roman Empire, Ostia Antica was a port town and for centuries was buried under river mud after being abandoned over a series of invasions and sacking by Arab pirates. The area has been excavated since Mussolini’s rule in Italy and more areas are being unearthed to this day. Unlike Pompeii, which displays a city that was frozen in time, Ostia Antica provides visitors with a solid understanding of how ancient Roman society evolved through the centuries.
Source: Conde Nast Traveler