If you’re wondering what to do in Rome, I’m sharing all of my favorites!
The Best Things to do in Rome Italy
Rome is one of the most beautiful and ancient cities in the world. It’s somewhere I hope everyone gets to see at least once in their life. There is just something so romantic about it.
I’m not sure if it’s the amazing Roman food, the friendly Italians, the ancient history dotted all over the city, or just the atmosphere, but it’s somewhere special. I’ve visited Rome many times and just can’t seem to get enough! Every time I go, I find something new to experience, or a new site to see. With so many things to do in Rome, it can be difficult to decide where to start. I hope this will help you choose what to see in Rome.
Here's a Shortcut
- The Best Things to do in Rome Italy
- 1. See the Top Rome Attractions
- 2. Take a Cooking Class in Rome
- 3. Take a Vespa Tour
- 4. Eat Amazing Food
- 5. Take a Walking Tour
1. See the Top Rome Attractions
With so many incredible and ancient things to see in Rome, you’ll be busy for your whole trip. It’s best to have a plan and combine sites that are close by. Rome is built on seven hills, and while it’s still a very walkable city, you’ll want to make the most of it!
I’ve ordered these famous places to visit in Rome in an order that makes the most sense if you’re trying to see them all in one day, which by the way, is not a great idea!
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The Colosseum is a must see in Rome! It’s most likely the first thing you think of when you close your eyes and think of Rome. Well, maybe that or gelato! The Colosseum is one of the many famous buildings in Rome, and one of the most famous in Europe!
Rome without the Colosseum would be like Paris without the Eiffel Tower! It’s hard to even imagine it. Constructed around 70 AD, the Colosseum was used as a large amphitheater for Roman entertainment. It held around 80,000 people who viewed gladiators, animals, and all sorts of sport and show. Don’t skip going inside the Colosseum!
There is some incredible history to be learned from within this massive stadium and when will you get another chance to stand inside a 2,000-year-old structure and picture what life was like in ancient Roman times.
The best way to avoid waiting in long lines at the Colosseum is to book a tour or a skip the line ticket. It’s worth paying a little more to enjoy a few extra hours of your visit to Rome. You can book skip the line tickets here or this amazing Colosseum tour here.
If visiting the Colosseum is like visiting Yankee Stadium, then visiting the Roman Forum is like visiting New York City. The Forum was the center of life for the ancient Roman inhabitants and also the political center of the city. It’s amazing to see many of the structures still partially standing along with the foundations of many important buildings such as important Roman Temples.
St. Peter’s Square
St. Peter’s Square is the front entrance to the Vatican, a country within a country. The massive square, which is actually circular is an amazing site and a great place to people watch. Check out the beautiful statues and columns lining the square.
The Pantheon is one of my favorite buildings in Rome. Almost as old as the Colosseum, the Pantheon has worn many hats over the years. Flopping between Pagan and Christian churches, whatever you believe, it’s still an impressive building. Be sure to look up at the dome to find the Oculus where the sun will be shining through! The Pantheon is free to enter, but it’s so great to book a guided tour to learn more about this ancient building’s fascinating history.
This beautiful work of art by Nicola Salvi was produced in 1762 and is probably the most famous fountain in the world! It’s also one of the oldest sources of water in Rome, built at the end of an aqueduct. Around 3,000 in coins are thrown into the fountain EVERY DAY! Legend says that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain that you’ll be guaranteed a trip back to Rome. Luckily those coins don’t go to waste. Every night the coins are collected and given to a charity called Caritas who provides rechargeable cards to the needy to help them buy groceries. So don’t feel bad throwing your coins in there. You’ll get a trip back and give to charity at the same time. Win-win!
The Spanish Steps are a great place to sit down, take a break, and people watch. These 138 steps have a long history being built in the 1700s. You can visit the Trinita dei Monti church at the top of the steps or the Piazza di Spagna at the bottom of the steps.
It’s a great place to sit and relax in the afternoon with a drink or a gelato, although recently there has been chatter that Rome will soon be discouraging and even outlawing people to sit and eat on the steps. As one of the top sites in Rome, it suffers from the usual effects of overtourism.
Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museum
Of all the places to see in Rome, you shouldn’t miss this! A visit to the Sistine Chapel is one of the top things to do in Rome and for good reason. Painted by Michelangelo, the world’s most famous ceiling can be accessed by visiting the Vatican museum, which also contains some incredible pieces of artwork and history, or by taking a skip the line tour.
The Vatican museum is great, but it is huge! I recommend visiting the Sistine Chapel as early as you can by booking an early morning tour before it opens to the public.
One of the main attractions in Rome right in the heart of the eternal city is Piazza Navona. This large elliptical-shaped public “square”, built on the site of an ancient Roman stadium is full of amazing fountains and busy restaurants, and is conveniently devoid of cars and scooters, making it a great place to relax. Be sure to see the Fontana del Moro and Fountain of Neptune. If you’ve seen the film Angels and Demons you’ll recognize these fountains!
Castle Saint Angelo
This iconic round castle was built in 129 AD and is one of the most beautiful places in Rome. It is now a museum and you can visit the inside and also climb atop the ramparts for incredible views of the Taber River and Rome.
Rome is built on 7 hills, and they’re all worth visiting, but Palatine Hill is a must do in Rome. This is one of the most ancient areas of Rome, and legend has it that this is where Romulus and Remus, the brothers who were raised by wolves and who eventually went on to found Rome, were born. While on the hill be sure to see Flavian Palace and the Temple of Cybele which still stand today. You can access Palatine Hill by booking the Colosseum and Roman Forum. The hike up the hill is worth it for the view alone!
Aventine Hill is the southernmost of Rome’s seven hills and is a quiet residential area where you can go to escape the crowds of the Eternal city. Here you’ll find many churches, monasteries, and the famous Knights of Malta keyhole in Piazza dei Cavelieri di Malta.
The Circus Maximus is an ancient chariot racing stadium. Think of today’s Nascar for people in togas. It was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome. It takes up several city blocks and you can’t miss it! It’s a great place to take kids to run off steam!
Villa Borghese Gardens
If you’re wondering where to go in Rome to escape the crowds and the scooters, the Villa Borghese Gardens is the perfect retreat from city life. Here you can find lush landscaped gardens, museums, ponds, and playgrounds. I recommend taking a tour of the museum and gardens if you have time.
Altar of the Fatherland
This massive structure is one of the top places to visit in Rome. The giant marble monument often called Altare della Patria or Il Vittoriano was built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, who was referred to as the “Father of the Fatherland.” He was the first king of the unified Italy.
You can come here to see the changing of the guard who watch over the tomb of the unknown soldier. It’s an impressive site. You can also climb up to the rooftop for a view of the city.
Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch that was built to celebrate Emperor Constantine’s victory over Emperor Maxentius. It’s located near the Colosseum.
Campo de’ Fiori
Campo de’ Fiori, meaning Field of Flowers, is one of the most popular markets in Rome. It’s been around since the 1400s and is still providing some of the most beautiful food around. Many food tours will start here with samplings from the locals. Out of all the markets and things to visit in Rome, Camo de’ Fiori is a must!
Whenever people ask me where to visit in Rome, I always recommend putting Trastevere high on the list. Literally meaning “across the Tiber river,” this area of Rome, you guessed it, just across the Tiber river, from the centro storico, or historic center of Rome, is a throw back to an older Rome, with a more local feel. It’s one of my favorite areas in Rome, and my favorite place for dinner. Learn more about the best neighborhoods in Rome.
2. Take a Cooking Class in Rome
One of my favorite things to do in Italy, but especially in Rome is to take a cooking class from a local professional or home cook. If you’re a minimalist or you value experiences over things, this is a great choice because you’ll be able to take a little piece of Rome home with you in the form of knowledge.
You can find a list of my favorite cooking classes in Rome here.
3. Take a Vespa Tour
The best way to see all of Rome is on the back of a Vespa! Whether you ride one yourself or hire a guide, it’s one of the must do things in Rome! This one is my favorite tour.
4. Eat Amazing Food
This goes without saying, but one of the best things to do in Rome is simply to EAT! Rome has some incredible delicacies you must try. You can learn more about what to eat here.
5. Take a Walking Tour
You can learn so much about Rome by simply taking a walk with a local. Learn the stories and legends of the Eternal city by taking one of these tours.