How many times have you arrived in Europe feeling like an extra from The Walking Dead—eyes puffy and mumbling something incoherent (English in this case)? Having begun many trips to Europe in Rome, I’ve found that the city has a great variety of things to do to help you beat jet lag. Here are 10 ways to beat jet lag in Rome:
Sleep on the Way Over
There are lots of general tips for diminishing the effects of jet lag, and the one that I’ve found truly indispensable is sleeping on the plane. To help, I almost always take a sleep aid, and in my personal experience, taking acetaminophen with a sleep aid built in has worked well. I find that this type of sleep aid both thwarts headaches and helps me sleep without making me drowsy when I get off of the plane. (Note: You may want to consult your doctor before using a sleep aid.)
From the Airport to Rome
When you land at Fiumincino Airport in Rome, you still have a 30-minute train ride to the city center. Don’t use this time to sleep, because pickpockets are common on these trains. Instead, use this time to stretch from the flight, hydrate, and make sure that you have all of your hotel details in order. This will prepare you for a smooth transition into the city.
After you’ve checked in and dropped off your luggage, it’s time for coffee, and Italians make excellent coffee, whether cappuccino, espresso, latte, or macchiato. If you feel like sitting, grab a table, but note that the prices will be more than if you stand at the bar. On your first day at least, it’s probably the way to go. Just say bon giorno followed by “un espresso/cappuccino/latte/macchiato, per favore.” Two of my favorite cafés in Rome are Rosati and Ciampini.
Walk: The Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon, Piazza Navona
Depending on how much time you have in Rome, you should consider skipping the Coliseum, The Sistine Chapel, The Forum, and all museums on your first day. Why? Because you’ll be too tired to enjoy them. Further, Rome offers lots of amazing tourist attractions for free, such as the Pantheon, The Trevi Fountain, and Piazza Navona. Take in these free and beautiful sights the first day, and you can always enjoy them again later on your trip. Plus, can you really think of something that would put you to sleep faster than standing in line for the Sistine Chapel for two hours?
Do Not Eat Pasta
As much as you may want to indulge in your first hearty Italian meal, try to eat a light lunch. Grab a veggie-heavy panino, a bowl of minestrone, or bruschetta, instead.
Walk: Spanish Steps, Villa Borghese Gardens, Piazza del Popolo
Another of Rome’s wonderfully free attractions, the Spanish Steps is located in a lovely neighborhood great for strolling. Climb the Spanish Steps and find Villa Borghese Gardens just around the corner. This expansive park is a great way to escape from the hustle and bustle of Rome and take a few minutes to regroup. If you wind your way northward, you’ll find a viewpoint overlooking the iconic Piazza del Popolo, as well as a walkway down to the piazza.
Feeling peckish? Need a pick me up, but not feelin’ it for a tenth espresso? Grab some of Rome’s excellent gelato. Some of the flavors with the most kick are coffee (caffe) and cioccolato fondente, an incredibly rich chocolate.
The Capuchin Catacomb of Rome
If seeing the well-preserved remains of capuchin monks artfully arranged among the skulls and bones of their brethren doesn’t wake you up, you might need to check your pulse. And just imagine if you died, and this is where you ended up. Ugh! It’s one of the most horrifying sights in Rome!
Eat a Big Dinner
When I’m at my sleepiest, envisioning a lavish dinner can give me the incentive to stay awake—especially if that incentive is a big bowl of spaghetti carbonara or cacio e pepe (two famous Roman pastas) and a ½ liter of vino della casa. When dinner time rolls around, it’s time to reward yourself with a simple, true Italian meal. Imagine, you’ve managed to stay awake for your entire first day in Rome!
Go to Sleep Early
Thanks to all that food, you’ll be catching Zs in no time. You’ve stayed awake, hydrated, safe, and active, and now it is the time to defeat jet lag. Go to bed anytime after 7pm, and do your best to sleep through the entire night. I’ve used a sleeping aid to help me stay asleep, but I’ve often been fine without, too. Buon viaggio!
Written by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com