10 Ways to Beat Jet Lag in Rome

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:

Alitalia Airlines

Alitalia Airlines – sleep on the way over

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.

Italian Coffee

Espresso by Ewan Munro

Espresso by Ewan Munro

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

Pantheon by Clayton Tang

Pantheon by Clayton Tang

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

Spanish steps

Spanish steps

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.



Gelato comes in many flavors

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

Rome's Capuchin ossario

Rome’s Capuchin ossario

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







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  1. Marilyn says

    Excellent suggestions, Mattie, thanks. I’ll happily spend a few days in Rome, jet lag or not. One tip: Benadryl is often the sleep aid in acetaminophen pills , so if you’re sensitive to Benadryl (as many of us are) be sure to read the label.

  2. annette says

    Great article. With many flights getting in early morning it’s always difficult to keep you eyes open. The flight from Australia is 24 hours!!

  3. Mattie Bamman says

    Hey Marilyn, Thanks for the kind words and for the heads up regarding Benadryl. And yes! Sleepy or not: Rome is so much fun! —Mattie

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