Three reasons Rome isn’t for me

When I hear people talk about their trips to Rome, it often seems revolved around how amazing of a time they had. But I didn’t fall in love with the city like how I’ve heard so many people do. I didn’t dread my whole time there or anything. And it’s definitely not a bad city. It has a lot of beauty and interesting history. But Rome just wasn’t for me, plain and simple. Here’s why:

Rome, Italy

It’s overwhelming. I love exploring cities by walking, but Rome is very spread out, especially when taking it on by foot. And all the sights you “can’t miss” are scattered all over the city. The thought of facing the Vatican and endless tourists intimidated me so much I almost decided not to go.

I spent three days in Rome and was so exhausted every afternoon, I barely moved when I got back to my hostel. My last night I didn’t even make it out for dinner. I don’t like just sitting in my room on vacations, but I still like to have quality down time.

I felt like I was just checking items off my bucket list. I can say I’ve explored the Colosseum, and I stood in awe at the Sistine Chapel. But sometimes it felt like I was there just to say I’ve seen this and done that.

In the jam-packed Vatican, it looked like we were all a tourist zombie pack – walking together shoulder to shoulder, not able to stop and enjoy the beauty of anything for too long or you’d lose your tour guide or travel partner. It was hard to really to take it all in and enjoy the second largest museum in the world for all its glory.

The Vatican, Vatican City, Italy

I couldn’t relax. After a full day of tromping all over the city, I wanted to enjoy a beer outside at a café. But that’s hard to do when you’re constantly bombarded with people selling scarves, selfie sticks and odd toys.

Saying ‘no’ or nothing at all never seemed to get the point across that you weren’t even a little bit interested. After I finally got them to leave me alone, an accordionist came up and played a song and waited at my table with an outstretched hand until I forked over some money. My peaceful thoughts were constantly being disturbed. I couldn’t have a minute to just enjoy having a drink on a nice summer day.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to Rome. Go! Throw a coin in Trevi Fountain. Check out the Roman Forum. But Rome isn’t for everyone, just like any other city in the world. Traveling to different places helps you discover what you like in a destination and what’s most important to you on a trip.

Have you visited a city you thought you’d fall in love with but found it just wasn’t for you?

Three reasons Rome isn't for me

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29 thoughts on “Three reasons Rome isn’t for me

  1. I loved Rome because I loved walking down the narrow alleyways and then all of a sudden them opening up to ruins, or the Trevi Fountain, or a bunch of wonderful cafes. However I do agree with you that the “bucket list” places were so uncomfortably crowded that it was hard to enjoy. I definitely had a better time just walking around aimlessly lol.

  2. I kind of feel this… There are certainly parts of Rome that are overly touristy and overwhelming! But there are also hidden neighbourhoods, and awesome street art… I think Rome is best when you don’t know what you’re looking for!

  3. I completely understand. I haven’t had a chance to go to Rome yet, but this is exactly how I felt about Paris. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, and it is definitely beautiful. But I was sick and tired of waiting in line for hours to check items off my bucket list and trying to get the sellers in the street off my back. I’ve had a much more memorable time in other places. Glad to know I’m not the only one!

  4. I can see where you’re coming from. Personally I loved Rome, but it can be a challenge to visit and you’ll often come out exhausted 🙂

    My place that I didn’t fall in love with was Chichen Itza in Mexico. A wonder of the world, and yes the temple was amazing, but the surroundings didn’t capture my heart.

  5. I completely agree. I really didn’t like Rome either. I found myself comparing it to a dirty east London…a bit ‘run down’? (For want of a better word). The gelato was nice though!

  6. I completely understand where you are coming from. There are so many iconic sites in Rome that if you are short on time it can feel like you are rushing from one place to the next just to say you have seen/visited it. We spent 4 days in Rome which we really enjoyed and think that 3 days would have been perfect – but I can see why its not for everyone.

  7. Awwww I know what you mean but I hope you give Rome another shot! It’s one of my favorite cities. I will say I agree with you that on the first visit there, I found it all pretty overwhelming – so many queues and so much time ticking off the tourist things to do. But then the last few days I was in town, I made sure to get to some of the less touristic neighborhoods – away from some of the major tourist sites – and I found it so much more enjoyable!

    That’s maybe a good tip for those big tourist cities – spend at least one day NOT doing anything touristic. Go somewhere on the fringe and just explore. Can really open up the city in a whole new way…

  8. I can totally see why anyone would say these things about Rome. I was lucky to travel there with someone who had lived in the city for several years. He knew how to avoid all the “noise” and tourist traps. Had I not been with him I probably would have felt the same way!

  9. I felt the same way about Cusco in Peru. Everyone that I’d talked to loved it and I never really connected with the city the way I thought I would.

    Personally, I love Rome. It’s one of my favorite cities! That being said, I’ve traveled through Rome a few different times and check out different neighborhoods that are less touristy. If you do choose to go back, Rome in the fall is gorgeous and there aren’t as many tourists. 🙂

  10. I felt very similar to you after my first visit. I loved my 2nd trip. It was much slower paced and I felt like I had a better grasp of the layout of the city. So don’t write it off completely!

  11. Interesting perspective. I personally can’t get enough of Rome, just because it’s totally overwhelming. 3 days is crazy – I’ve been 4 times in 2 years and there are still things I need to visit. Sometimes, less is more.
    Few tips to avoid the crowds:
    – Vatican Museum, book a slot around 1 pm – the museum will be empty as most groups are out for lunch. And book your ticket via internet. Don’t even think of waiting in line. Also, check before what you want to see to avoid museum fatigue. Me? Raphael, Da Vinci and Caravaggio (in the Pinacoteca), ancient sculpture in the octagon garden, Raphael stanza, sixtine chapel.
    – distances? split the city up into zones: walking Navona to Trevi (with all the sites in between), buy a one day ticket for the metro for Colosseum / Spanish steps / Lateran church (everything close to metro stops). And one day for Vatican museum and church. That’s roughly it.
    – I personally like church hopping, the best treasures (Caravaggio, Bernini) are inside churches and the best thing is: free of charge
    But agree that sitting on a terrace can be hell – like in most Italian cities these days.
    cheers – rik

  12. Yes! I totally thought I would fall in love with Boston (everyone told me it was going to be the best experience I had in America considering what a history buff I am), but when I went there, I just felt it wasn’t for me. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t head over heels in love with the place either.

  13. I love this perspective. So often I think people feel like they *have* to love wherever they’ve travelled, especially somewhere as historic and significant as Rome. But sometimes, like you’ve just said, it just isn’t their cup of tea for one reason or another. I didn’t love Versailles (in large part due to poor weather and exhaustion) and I’ve felt so guilty for it. I’m glad you’re honest with yourself about appreciating it, but it not being for you!

  14. At first I thought: how can you not like Rome (as I love it) but then I thought: maybe you’re right. Rome can be overwhelming. There is so much to see and do and there are so many people who want something from you. You inspired me to write a post about Rome and how I have a strategy to tackle all the challenges of the city. Thanks.

    1. That’s awesome! I wanted to create a conversation with people about Rome with this post. I checked out your strategies! If I ever decide to see Rome again, I will try to use those tips! I think it’s a place that can also be even more overwhelming as a solo traveler. Splitting up the planning and researching with a travel partner could make it less daunting.

  15. I went to Rome and rather enjoyed it, but I had researched ahead of time to find ways to skip lines and avoid crowds. Pretty sure that made all the difference for me. And I don’t do tours with guides I have to keep up with. I always explore on my own.

  16. Aaawww… I don’t know why I am always feeling sad when people return from Rome without feeling the love, the passion, the history and the vibration that I am feeling for Rome. This city is magical, but 3 days are definitely not enough to experience it! I understand your points, I think that you could say that for all big cities you’re going to visit… I lived in Rome and in a lot of cities around the world and I can tell you that Rome is still my favorite (the number 1!!) although I lived in Vancouver (which is supposed to be the “best city to live in”)… 🙂 I’d love to take you around Rome and let’s forget about your bucket list and live like Italians “con calma” 🙂

  17. Unfortunately, I had the same exact feeling when I visited Rome 8 years ago. Some cities just dont click with us- while we appreciate all the history. For me, it was also the crowds, the crowds again (it happened to be over May 1 holidays with lots of local school trips), the lines, the abundance of “must do-s”. I also only had 3 days…not sure if spending the week would make a difference. I think we “connect” with certain places and not the others. Big cities overwhelm me and there is nothing wrong with that. Just not my cup of tea. There were plenty of charming small places i enjoyed and I plan to return to Italy for more smaller cities and villages experiences.

  18. I just got back from Rome as well, and while it was beautiful, I didn’t fall in love the way I did with Paris. I found it extremely walkable, but the throngs of tourists and the street hawkers definitely detracted from the overall experience. My favorite moments from the trip are the ones where, miraculously, we found some space to ourselves. I liked the Roman Forum because, despite its popularity, the site was big enough that we often had entire sections to ourselves. Glad I’m not the only one who wasn’t enamored with the city. 🙂

  19. Aw, sorry to hear you felt stressed in Rome. I had a similar experience with feeling like I was just checking sights off a list until I stopped visiting tourist attractions and just walked the streets. I found delicious food, local markets, and a relaxed pace of life. I think having several days in a city allowed me to enjoy the city more because I didn’t feel like I always had to rush off to the next place. I like that you shared this alternative perspective on travelling in Rome.

  20. I’m quite relieved to see this post! I, too, didn’t fall in love with Rome. I saw some amazing sights and am glad I went but just didn’t find it all that enjoyable. It was boiling hot and, like you, I ended up knackered by tea time. We also got a LOT of unwanted male attention to the point we didn’t want to go out in the evenings which was a real shame. Great blog 🙂

  21. I know it sounds like sacrilege, but we have been known to skip seeing must see spots! People are just aghast when they find we didn’t go see x, y, or z!

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