Hipmunk’s “Off the Beaten Path” Guide to Rome

Although attractions like the Coliseum and the Vatican top must-see lists for a reason, don’t let your trip to Rome stop there. We’ve compiled a list of five of the best lesser-known Rome attractions to help you see all this beautiful ancient city has to offer. Enjoy your trip off the beaten path!

Baths of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla were named for Emperor Caracalla, a Roman ruler who reigned from AD 211-217. The vast ruins that stand today are an incredible monument to Roman architecture and culture, featuring many of the Baths’ original mosaics, tiling and marble walls. The sheer size of the ruins speaks to the scale of Roman construction! This is a great spot to check out incredible Roman ruins without dealing with the crowds that pack more famous destinations. A don’t miss experience: during the summertime, the Baths become a venue for operas and other cultural events.

Palazzo Altemps

Housed in a Renaissance palace, the Palazzo Altemps is a recent addition to the Roman art scene after opening in 1997. Its relative youth makes it one of the city’s best-kept secrets, housing a beautiful collection of classical sculptures without the staggering lines found at other museums. The collection features works from ancient Greece and Rome, most notably a 3rd-century sarcophagus, picturing the Romans fighting the Ostrogoths, carved from a single block of stone.

Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter (or Ghetto) is a historic destination dating back to 1555, when Pope John Paul IV pushed all Jews into a small, restricted walled-off area of the city. Today, while the walls have come down, the area retains the flavor and culture of its early inhabitants. It is the home of the Synagogue of Rome, and a small piece of the original Ghetto wall remains in the area. Take a stroll through to sample kosher food and experience incredible lived history.

Tiber Island

This small island in the middle of the Tiber River has been linked to the Roman mainland by bridge since antiquity. Once called the Insula Inter-Duos-Pontes, or “island between the two bridges”, its bridges are the Ponte Fabricio, the only original bridge in Rome, and the Ponte Cestio. In 239 BC, the Temple of Aesculapius was built on the island to worship the Greek god of healing. Although the temple is now gone, legend still holds that the island is a place of healing.

Aurelian Walls

The Aurelian Walls, a line of city walls built around 271 AD, remain standing after nearly 1400 years of Roman life, creating both a testament to Rome’s history and a line between antiquity and modern Italy. Created to provide fortification against invasion, the walls cover 12 miles in a circuit that includes 383 towers and 2,066 external windows. The walls continued to serve as a military defense for the city until the late 19th century, when the Bersaglieri of the Kingdom of Italy captured Rome.

Ready to stop reading and start sightseeing? Check out http://www.hipmunk.com to book your flights and find your perfect hotel.



5 European Cities to Visit This Summer

This is a guest post from Colm Hanratty, Editor of Hostelworld.com.

Beginning to plan your Summer vacation? Thinking of maybe hitting up one of Europe’s hotspots? In this guest post Hostelworld.com Editor Colm Hanratty gives us his selection of 5 of Europe’s top cities you should think about visiting on your annual summer getaway…


Regularly referred to the ‘Venice of the North’ and home to over 800,000 people, Amsterdam is easily one of Europe’s most welcoming, relaxed, charming and fascinating cities. Thanks to its location on a cobweb of canals, it boasts one of the most picturesque settings in the world. It’s also where you’ll find world-class museums (one of which opens on April 14th after a decade-long renovation), stunning architecture and, of course, a buzzing nightlife making it the perfect city for a few days.


There are some places on the planet where you can feel an energy and a sense of excitement in the air, almost all day long. Barcelona is one of those places. From the second you hit Las Ramblas for the first time you know you’re going to enjoy yourself here. This city on the east coast of Spain is buzzing all day long, but of course it’s at night that it really comes into its own. Choose from a bar in the Barri Gotic, one in El Raval, another down by the port or just hang out on the streets and you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s not only hedonists that will love Barcelona – thanks to one Antoni Gaudi, it is where you will find some of the world’s most fascinating architecture. It’s also where you’ll find a beach to catch rays on, a park to unwind in, tapas bars to meet locals in…the list goes on.


It’s a bit of a cliché when it comes to many cities around the world, but there really is nowhere else on earth like Prague. A perfect blend of the old and the new, the Nové Mesto (New Town) symbolises the new independent Czech Republic, while the Staré Mesto (Old Town) is one of the best preserved old towns in Europe as it remained untouched in both World Wars. While these are both on the eastern side of the River Vltava, stroll across the famous Charles Bridge to the west and you’ll encounter the Malá Strana (Lesser Town) and the city’s medieval castle. Along with all the sightseeing to do, Prague has more than its fair share of affordable restaurants, while if you search hard enough you’ll find some of the cheapest (and tastiest) beer in Europe.


In my opinion, there are three cities on earth that epitomize the definition of the word ‘city’ more than anywhere else. Tokyo is one, New York City is another, and London is the third. No matter what part of the city you’re in, it still has that ‘bright lights big city’ aspect to it. It’s also one of the most iconic destinations on earth. Within a couple of hours you can walk from Big Ben to Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace to Piccadilly Circus, stopping for fish and chips along the way of course. After dark, if you want to be in the thick of it you’re spoiled for your choice. You can go bar hopping in the West End, chill out for a beer in the East End after a curry on Brick Lane, or see what the cool kids do in Shoreditch or Hoxton. No matter what you do, you’ll never forget a visit to one of the world’s great capitals.


I was lucky enough to have visited Budapest for four days last summer. I made sure to do two things…explore two aspects of the city that are extremely unique to the Hungarian capital – thermal baths and ruin bars. They complement each other quite well – at night you can sample local brews and meet people from all over the world in the ruin bars; bars literally built into ruins of old buildings (don’t leave without going to the most famous one called Szimpla Kert). Then during the day you can dust off the cobwebs caused by those brews in one of the city’s thermal baths. There are five in the city centre, with the Gellert Baths and the Szechenyi Baths being the most famous. But if you want to experience something visit the Rudas Baths, the most Turkish of all the baths and home to the hottest steam room I’ve never been in (I could only go to the one beside it that was 10C cooler and almost unbearable).

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