10 Tourist Scams You Might Face in Rome | Solo Female Travel
Rome is fabulous! But, if there’s one thing you probably don’t wish to face in the Eternal City, it is the tourist scams. Isn’t it? Rome, like any other big city in the world, has the long-standing problem of tourist scams.
So, before you begin your solo travel to Rome, you must know such tourist traps in Rome. That’s entirely what this blog post is about. Based on my time in the city, I have shared the top 10 tourist scams in Rome. Without further ado, quickly scan through to avoid falling victim to them.
1. Pickpocket in Rome’s Route 64
Undoubtedly, pickpocketing is one of the most common scams in Rome. It can happen anywhere in the city. And Route 64 is its prime hub. Not on Route 64, to be precise, but on the bus that operates via this route. With multiple stops, the bus constantly travels between Termini Station and Vatican City. Because of it, tourists exploring Rome hop on it often.
And pickpocketers take advantage of this opportunity. They mainly target carefree tourists. That is why while you board this bus in Rome, be extra cautious of your surroundings. Use a shoulder sling or belly pouch to carry your belongings. Also, be confident and blend in with the locals to avoid attracting attention.
2. Scam in the name of friendship bracelet and flowers
This scam is something you will frequently encounter in Rome. While walking the streets, strangers might greet and approach you. They sweet talk you to hand you things. Be it placing friendship bracelets on your wrist or handing you flowers. And, if you accept it by any chance, you will have to pay a decent amount of Euros.
The best thing you can do in this situation is to say a firm “no.” Do not pay any attention or engage in any conversation. If they persist or follow you, threaten to call the police. Hopefully, that will get you rid of them!
3. Fake policeman
Talking about police, another shady practice in the city is the fake policeman scam. It is hard to spot this scam because it is common for police to stop you for sudden security checks in Rome.
The con artists mainly disguise themselves in police uniforms. They stop you for a check and finally state your documents are fake.
I must say, the scammers of Rome are quite creative. Jokes apart, do not panic and give in! You might be solo on the trip, but you have common sense. Ask for the ID or badge. And let them know you will only cooperate at the nearby police station.
4. Restaurants and cafés without menu
Another typical scam in Rome is “No Menu” in restaurants or cafés. I know you are exhausted after a day full of exploration. But do not just walk in and sit down in any restaurants you see. The polished scammers are simply waiting for this move.
Once you are in, instead of providing the menu, they recommend their speciality. Some restaurants even lure you in the name of serving authentic Italian meals. It is after the bill arrives you get the picture. They charge double the price! And the dishes are not even authentic.
To avoid such consequences, check restaurant reviews and always ask for menus!
Little Tip: Check your bill thoroughly before paying! They tend to tweak it often.
5. The “I am lost” scam.
While exploring the streets or savouring a gelato, somebody might pull up next to you. They are well-dressed and look extremely sophisticated. They claim they are lost and ask for directions. And, once you help them, they carry on with their plan. They will tell you they work for high-end brands like Gucci, Armani, etc., and offer nice goodies (it’s a trap) to scam a few Euros!
6. The souvenir scam
It is common to collect some souvenirs when you are travelling. And in Rome, like other cities, it is common to scam tourists with fake souvenirs—counterfeit items, low-quality artefacts, illegal tickets, etc.
Make sure the souvenirs you are purchasing are original. How? Check for the authentication of the shops. You can also ask the staff at your accommodation in Rome to get some real deals.
7. Tour guides outside the Colosseum
You cannot skip one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Colosseum- on your travel to Rome. And that’s where most of the scams take place in Rome. Whether in the form of fake tour guides or skip-the-line tickets, scammers are always eyeing tourists.
When you arrive at the Colosseum or any popular tourist spot, these unofficial tour guides buzz around you like bees. They go on with scripted dialogues to convince you.
The best way to avoid this is to purchase the ticket online. Or, take the guided tours offered inside the Colosseum. Besides, you can even buy a Roma Pass, a cost-effective and more convenient way to get around Rome!
8. The taxi scam in Rome
Rome is best explored on foot. But if you happen to use a taxi, make sure to hop on one from the official stand. Look for the official “Taxi” sign if you are hailing one mid-way. Wondering why? Because there are several illegal taxis scamming tourists around in Rome.
They generally do not hold a licence. And even their meters are broken—a perfect trap to scam money from the not-so-aware tourist. Sometimes, the fraudsters even take a longer route to charge higher rates.
9. Rigged machines at ATM and Termini
The biggest scam in Rome is the rigged machines. This works because if you appear lost in Termini, the fraudsters pose as an “official helper” and approach you. Then, they direct you to rigged vending machines. And, once you purchase a ticket from these machines, your card will be hacked. You won’t even realise until you notice the suspicious charges debited from your account!
This same scam also takes place with ATMs, and they have their ways of installing skimming devices. Thus, it is always better to opt for ATMs inside the bank or in a good neighbourhood in Rome.
10. The pricey vendor kiosks
You will often spot this vendor kiosk in front of touristy places in Rome like Colosseum. They will charge exorbitant prices for every item on the karts or kiosks. For example, they sell water for €5-10. And, a simple tiny gelato (not the authentic one) from the kart will cost you €7-8. You will surely not want to fall for this tourist trap, particularly when you are in Rome on a budget.
Is it safe to travel solo with all these scams in Rome?
If you remember these common scams, Rome, Italy, is quite safe for solo travel. Be aware of your surrounding, and you are good to go. And stick to your gut feeling. Always! It knows the best.
That brings us to the end of the blog post. While these scams might dishearten you, do not let them detract you from your solo travel to Rome. Maintain a low profile, keep your belongings to yourself, and be alert. Avoid anything that looks suspicious. And use these insights to roam around Rome scam-free.
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.