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Plan your trip to Rome as a Muslim
We recently booked a last minute getaway to Rome, Italy with some friends and their kids for 4 days.
Having not been out of the country for 2 years due to lack of funds and my Stroke in 2016.
We knew we needed to get away and the opportunity was too good to pass up.
While planning this trip to Rome, I found lots of conflicting information.
Especially when it came to travelling as a Muslim.
I’ve written down how to plan your trip to Rome as a Muslim and learn from our mistakes.
Our friends had already booked the hotel, but we tried to find some alternate ones near their choice to make the trip cheaper.
Despite lots of guidance on Tripadvisor, we decided to opt for the same hotel as them.
Rome Life Hotel not only included breakfast but it was also very central and near the train station or Termini.
We could get a train from the airport and walk with our luggage which was a short 10-minute walk.
When you plan your trip to Rome as a Muslim, finding a hotel near the city centre will limit you travelling to and from your hotel and make it easier to come back to do Salah/Prayers in peace.
BOOKING THE HOTEL
On their own site, Rome Life’s price was quite expensive.
I managed to find a deal through Trivago which was booking the hotel through another site.
I later found out I could have got cashback on the hotel from if I had booked directly through Topcashback (you can read my post about cashback sites here).
TOP TIP: Always see if the hotel site offers cashback.
Our friends had booked a package through EasyJet Holidays as they had young children and wanted to get a package deal which included flight, hotel and hotel transfer to and from the airport.
Since we were travelling hand luggage only, we decided to see if we could find a cheaper flight from near us.
EasyJet departs for Rome from Gatwick but that would have added an hour and a half to our journey time to be on the same flight as them.
We opted to get flights to Rome from Alitalia which flies out from Heathrow and was working out cheaper for us.
We saved money on parking by pre-booking a taxi for £20 to the airport and on the way back.
On the way back it ended up costing us £25 as we had to pay for the taxi’s parking fare at the car park at Heathrow.
Total cost: £45 for a local taxi pick up and drop off for 2 people versus £108 to park at Gatwick not to mention the fuel cost there and back.
Travelling in Hijab through Heathrow was fine Alhamdulillah.
I did get stopped on the way back at Rome Airport and had to take my hijab off in a private room for them to check me, which was handled with great sensitivity and swiftness Alhamdulillah.
Alitalia is the Italian national airline.
The seats were quite cramped in economy, and on the way back the flight was full so I had to have my hand baggage put into the hold which delayed us getting home at Heathrow but they took it for free due to the lack of space.
What I found interesting was the staff was friendly and welcoming, and the flight actually ran on time which was a nice surprise!
Travel time to Rome is 2 hours 20 minutes.
They boarded on time, and I didn’t have any complaints at all.
On the way back, our hand luggage was over but because we were so late checking in due to last minute gift shopping, they let us through.
Plan your trip to Rome as a Muslim with airlines wisely, as Alitalia surprisingly did not serve Alcohol! This was great as it meant no drunk banter from fellow passengers Alhamdulillah.
We ended up having to leg it from the check-in gate to boarding which was on the other side of the airport and took us 30 minutes, so do leave enough time on the way back to get from the check-in desk, security to boarding.
TRAIN TO AIRPORT AND BACK
€14 each for the Leonardo Express train in 35 minutes or €8 each for a single ticket on a normal train which took between 58 minutes and 68 minutes.
And it was the same price back from the Termini to the airport.
TOTAL PRICE FOR TRAINS THERE AND BACK: €56 in total for 2 people for trains to and from the airport.
Before travelling it’s always useful to have travel insurance, and we bought ours from RAC for the grand total of £20 for 2 of us!
Plan your trip to Rome as a Muslim with travel insurance, and do not skimp on this essential as it may come in super handy if your things get stolen.
Rome is notorious for pickpockets, so be careful with your belongings, especially in crowded places.
EUROPEAN HEALTH INSURANCE CARD
Plan your trip to Rome as a Muslim by having a European Health Insurance Card is a must.
First of all, it’s FREE and allows you the reduced rate or even free medical care when travelling in Europe.
It lasts for a few years, but make sure it’s not expired or expiring when travelling.
You can apply for one card for yourself or apply as a family for you, your partner and children in the same application.
I would advise applying for it at least 2 weeks before travel, preferably more to give you enough time to receive it before travel.
It’s not the same as travel insurance, but it’s a good addition to have when travelling in Europe.
The one thing that was told to us over and over again was to buy the Roma Pass to save yourself some money on the sights.
I have mixed feelings about this because with better planning we could have utilised this much better.
The Roma Pass costs €28 for 48 hours and €38.50 for 72 hours.
If you are planning to opt for the Roma Pass, check the list of museums and see if you will actually go to them.
We only visited the Colosseum, and like I say down below, we had already booked tickets, so to me it’s not worth buying the Roma Pass.
ROMA PASS FOR KIDS
Don’t get a Roma Pass for children as those under 10 travel free and you can pay a reduced rate at most sites for children over 6.
Before we bought the Roma Pass we had already booked tickets to see the Colosseum, which would have been our one free museum.
As it happens, we ended up using the Roma Pass to get into the Colosseum and jump the queue so our Colosseum tickets went to waste.
Our friends booked a guided tour of the Colosseum which cost €29 per person and €14 for children.
Tours open only once every 3 months for pre-booking but sell out super fast so you need to keep checking every day if you want to book these tickets.
The tour is not included in the Roma Pass or entry to the Colosseum tickets,
You need to book Vatican Museums tickets online before you travel as otherwise the wait to get tickets on the day can go up to 2 – 3 hours.
There is an online Admin fee, but booking beforehand means no waiting and you can skip the line quickly, especially if you get morning tickets.
The Vatican is a bit further out from Rome, so keep in mind how long it will take you to travel from the hotel to the train station and then it’s a further 10 minutes walk to the Vatican Museums and St Peter’s Square.
You should book at a time that you can get to it easily as you are only allowed in at the time stated on your ticket, not before and not after.
St Peter’s Square and the Basilica are free to enter, but you will have to wait in line to see the church, which at the time we got there was a 2-hour wait and with 2 young children, we didn’t want to wait that long.
It is very much worth the visit and we spent a good few hours exploring the museums and the grounds, as well as visiting the Sistine Chapel.
Plan your trip to Rome as a Muslim by making sure you visit in the morning and can leave sufficient time to explore and then make your way to Rome mosque to pray Salah (I will be talking more about Rome Mosque in a different post).
TICKET PRICE: Entry to the Vatican Museums is €17 for adults, for children between 6 – 18 there is a reduced price of €8 and every ticket has an online reservation fee of €4 so that makes the total online price for one adult €21 and children €12.
Children under 6 go free, but you will need to carry your passports with you in Vatican City because technically it’s a different country and security is very tight.
CHILDREN AT THE VATICAN
I would not advise bringing your pram to the Vatican, as you will struggle with lugging it around the narrow streets, but we did see people bringing them, so it’s up to you.
You will not be able to get into the Sistine Chapel as the entrance is quite narrow and there’s nowhere to store prams whilst at the museums, and a huge queue to get in, so if you do bring the pram, you have to leave it outside at your own discretion.
You can take a wheelchair in as there is a lift to take wheelchairs down to the Sistine Chapel.
The best way to get around Rome is on foot.
Depending on where you end up staying, you might not even end up taking the trains as Rome is so compact, but if you do want to take public transport, you can either buy a:
- a single ticket for €1.50
- a 24-hour pass for €7.00
- a 48-hour pass for €12.50
- a 72-hour pass for €18.00.
With the Roma Pass, as I mentioned above, transport is included in the price.
The only time we really took the trains was to come into the city on the Leonardo Express, which is a separate cost.
Then we took a train to the Vatican, and then to Rome Mosque as both are outside of the main city.
Children under 10 are free on all public transport systems.
Plan your trip to Rome as a Muslim and leave enough time to get to and from the major sites as train stations can be a walk away from the sights.
We didn’t get any stares or abuse on public transport Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah), but always be wary of your belongings when boarding or on a crowded train or bus.
VISIT A CITY
Ever since we got married and spent our first Anniversary in Paris, I’ve been utilising Vist a City to plan our trips.
Visit a City will help you plan sights for all major cities and sights including travel time and how long to give to each place.
It’s free to use and now includes an app for you to download your itinerary online.
Plan your trip to Rome as a Muslim by including Rome Mosque on the list of your itinerary. It doesn’t appear automatically, but you can add it in by copying the address and it will work out the travel time from the sight you’re departing from.
Google Maps is going to be your best friend when travelling so do download it to help you navigate the city.
Learning a few basic Italian phrases will help you garner smiles from the locals.
Downloading Google Translate will help you to decipher menus and make sure you’re not buying anything with Alcohol, which we almost did when buying gifts!
It has a wonderful feature which utilises your phone camera to live translate packaging on food and menus as well as showing to people if you can’t get your point across clearly.