Top Tourist Attractions and Things to do in Rome (Italy)
With its rich history, Rome is a treasure trove of art, culture, and heritage sites and one of the most popular places to visit in Italy. There are innumerable things to do in Rome, and each one is impressive. It is home to some of the most splendid architectural structures of ancient Rome such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon. Everywhere you go, you will encounter well-preserved ruins several centuries ago. Spectacular churches, basilicas, and museums are aplenty.
Discover beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and explore various interesting activities in Rome. One of the most magnificent places is Vatican City, an independent city-state within Rome that houses an unbelievable wealth of art and architecture such as the St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. See Michelangelo’s brilliant works along with those of other artists and sculptors.
Visiting charming neighborhoods such as Trastevere is one of the fun things to do in Rome. You can truly enjoy the local life, food, and culture. Witness the beauty of fountains such as the Trevi Fountain, unmatched anywhere else in the world. While you can visit the city any time of the year, the best time to visit Rome is from April to June. Tourists pour in during July and August although it is very hot. September and October are also suitable months. If you are planning a trip, here’s a Rome city guide to help you with your itinerary.
Table of Contents
- 1 Experiences and top things to do in Rome, Italy
- 2 Top Landmarks and attractions in Rome, Italy
- 2.1 Colosseum
- 2.2 Roman Forum
- 2.3 Palatine Hill
- 2.4 Vatican City
- 2.5 St. Peter’s Square
- 2.6 St. Peter’s Basilica
- 2.7 Sistine Chapel
- 2.8 Vatican Museums
- 2.9 Pantheon
- 2.10 Trevi Fountain
- 2.11 Piazza Navona
- 2.12 Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
- 2.13 Galleria Borghese (Borghese Gallery)
- 2.14 Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Archbasilica of St. John Lateran)
- 2.15 Spanish Steps
- 2.16 Castle Saint Angelo
- 3 Practical information and Rome travel tips
- 4 Where to stay in Rome?
- 5 Short on time? Go sightseeing in Rome on a tour!
- 6 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Experiences and top things to do in Rome, Italy
Enjoy a nice meal at Trastevere
A Rome city guide to interesting neighborhoods will list the Trastevere. Due to its proximity to the Tiber River, this place would attract immigrants who eventually settled in the neighborhood. Much later, even wealthy noblemen and artists made this their home.
Therefore, Trastevere today is a fascinating amalgamation of affluence and simplicity. You can walk down its cobbled streets, relax at one of several pubs or restaurants and go shopping. It is a good opportunity to experience the local life and the vibrant atmosphere on the streets. If you are looking for fun things to do in Rome, make your way to Trastevere.
If you’re interested in food and would like to sample some of Rome’s amazing restaurants then don’t forget to pay Trastevere a visit!
Boosting with culture and traditions, you’ll find amazing family-owned restaurants that serve classic Roman dishes such as Carbonara, Roman style Osso Bucco and pizzas, and some appetizers you can drink with wine!
Trastevere is also a beautiful area in Rome that is a bit far away from the usual touristic places so come here at night and enjoy a nice dinner or a glass of wine amongst the locals who come here to chill and relax after a day of work.
Villa Borghese Gardens
Situated right next to the Borghese Villa Complex, these gardens are a real break from the continuous monotony of life. Rome’s points of attractions are never-ending, and the Villa Borghese Gardens are just another addition to them.
Covering almost 200 acres of land, These gardens are one of the largest in Rome and contain some important structures like Borghese Gallery and the Gallery of National Modern Art.
Catacombe di San Callisto (Catacombs of St. Callixtus)
If you are looking for something different than the usual, a visit to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus along the Appian Way is one of the top things to do in Rome. It is quite a thrilling experience. Make your way through this underground burial site with several passageways, chambers, and niches.
You can see many tombs here, including the Crypt of the Popes. Frescoes can also be found inside this catacomb. Situated close by are the Catacombs of Domitilla with its large network of underground passageways, tombs, frescoes, and artifacts.
Go on a free walking tour and learn more about Rome’s history
Although the transport system in Rome is effective, it goes without saying that all tourist attractions in Rome are not far from each other and are absolutely walkable.
If it is your first time visiting Rome, we advise that you book a free walking tour on your first day so you’ll get a grasp as to where everything is and as well to learn a bit about the city’s ancient history. The tour guide usually also gives valuable advice on how to get around, what to see, and where to go – all for free!
Of course, although it is free, the tours are often tip based and even they don’t expect you’ll give anything, it is still a nice gesture to give a bit of something.
Top Landmarks and attractions in Rome, Italy
The mighty Colosseum was built between 70 – 80AD and is also known as Flavian Amphitheatre. The peak of spectators at this iconic landmarks was calculated almost 80,000. Your tour can never be worth it if you don’t visit this Rome’s attraction which was used to hold various games, Gladiator battles, and tournaments. Roman Emperors also visited the Colosseum to witness the historic games.
Back in the day, it could accommodate at least 50,000 people. A major entertainment venue for the ancient Romans, this amphitheater staged drama shows, spine-chilling gladiator fights, and fights between man and beast. It was also used for public executions. With 80 entrances, the Colosseum had a tiered seating structure for everyone from kings and knights to the common folk. A visit here is one of the top things to do in Rome.
What’s even better is that the Colosseum is easily accessible to the tourists as it situates close to a metro station in the north-west of terminus train station. Visit this historic site and marvel at the enormity of this famous Rome’s highlight.
You can book tickets in advance online. Some tickets give you entry to the Colosseum as well as the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
The core hill of the Tiber region, Palatine is one of the most ancient areas making a great Rome’s highlight for the tourists. You can lay your eyes on the expansion of Rome from this hill that stands 40 meters above the Roman forum.
The ancient Romulus and Remus were first found in Palatine Hill according to the Roman mythology. The Flavian Palace and the Temple of Cybele still exist here but not in their original forms of-course.
Throughout Rome, you can see ruins from the time of the powerful ancient Roman Empire. As you will read in any Rome guide, the Roman Forum used to be the seat of power. A political, commercial and legal center, the site has ruins of ancient government structures making it one of the most interesting places to visit in Rome. It also has religious buildings from long ago. Travel back in time as you see the glorious ruins including Curia (Senate House), Basilica Aemilia, and the Temple of Caesar. This should make it to every tourist’s list of the best things to do in Rome.
One of the most ancient and important sites that contain the ruins of old Roman life where once people and political buildings existed. This place was once a center of colossal temples such as Titus, Saturn, and Vesta also the Arch of Severus.
Most of the structures now stand as ruins, but their foundations and structures are still visible making it an important Rome’s tourist attraction. The Roman forum is situated next to the Altar of the Fatherland and the Colosseum and depicts the Roman life efficiently.
If you wish to see some of the earliest settlements in Rome, explore Palatine Hill. Situated a few meters above the Roman Forum, a visit to this site is one of the must-do activities in Rome. Excavations point to the existence of a human settlement around the ninth or tenth century BC. A seat of Roman emperors, you can see ruins of palaces built by Augustus, Domitian and other emperors, as well as the House of Livia, wife of Augustus. So, if you have been wondering what to do in Rome, go to Palatine Hill for a journey into the past.
As any Rome guide will tell you, a visit to Vatican City–home to the Pope–is one of the top things to do in Rome. It will require multiple trips to Rome and Vatican City to see every detail of the outstanding art and architecture of the St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel. St Peter’s Basilica with its striking dome is a place of immense religious and historic importance. Its interiors are breathtaking.
Works of Renaissance art by famous artists, sculptures, religious paintings, papyruses, and more are on display at the Vatican Museums. Don’t miss the Raphael Rooms! Additionally, if you want to see one man’s talent and passion for art, head to the Sistine Chapel especially to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece on the ceiling. Remember to adhere to the specified dress code while visiting these places.
Some people pick off-season as the best time to visit Rome as well as Vatican City to avoid the crowds.
St. Peter’s Square
Ever heard of a country within a country? Well, there’s Rome for you. The Vatican is an independent state inside Rome and is referred as one of the most religious sites in the whole world with its roots lying in the St. Peter’s Square. The square resides at the front of Vatican state and is circular.
Two huge sets of colonnades both side frame this square and atop of them are the famous religious personalities and popes of Rome. St. Peter’s square doubles the charm of Rome’s sightseeing with a magnificent obelisk taken from the Nero’s Circus.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most recognized religious building and stands as the masterpiece of the Catholic religion. The holiest shrine for the followers and even the tourists, the Basilica has a majestic facade with the statues of Apostle and Jesus on top.
No doubt, Basilica is one of the top Rome’s tourist attraction with divine architectural work and decoration in its interior. The minute decorative details in the Gloria sculpture are not easy to study which highlights the brilliant creativity of Michelangelo and Bernini in designing this sensational building.
Known for its minute illuminated details and iconography, Sistine Chapel is a famous Rome’s tourist spot being part of the Vatican Museum Complex. Sistine Chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace was renovated in the 1400s.
It’s also famous for the Papal enclave where new popes are appointed making in the list of Roman activities to watch. The beautiful artwork on the ceiling along with the Last Judgement fresco is said to be the highlights of this Chapel. Make sure you take all the time to explores the wonders of this Roman attraction.
Containing some of the most majestic pieces of artwork, Vatican Museums have been developed by many popes in different ages making it an important Rome’s sightseeing option. These museums contain more than 70,000 pieces of classical and historical artwork and are also called the Treasure Trove of Art.
The museums are divided into several sections like Museum Chiaramonti, the Museo Gregoriano Etrusco, and Museo Pio-Clementino. Visitors can buy separate tickets to observe the museums as well as the Sistine Chapel.
One of the most preserved and ancient buildings of Rome is the enormous Pantheon and is considered regularly as the Rome’s top attraction. Its construction was started in 118AD on the orders of Emperor Hadrian. This site was originally a temple commissioned by Agrippa.
There are a triangular pediment and a rectangular porch in front of the pantheon lined with enormous columns that serve as a symbol of dedication to Agrippa. The interior is equally splendid as the outside with detailed stone patterns on the dome and a coffer at the center to let light through while this whole structure features as a prominent Rome’s tourist spot.
With its lovely Corinthian columns, the exterior of the Pantheon, a former Roman temple looks wonderful. When you step inside, you realize the stunning beauty of the interiors. It is one of the best places to visit in Rome. You can see the dome, mesmerizing in size and design, with a circular opening (oculus) at its center.
The only source of natural light comes through the oculus and the main entrance. With its beautifully proportionate interiors and the seemingly suspended dome, the Pantheon is a splendid work of architecture.
It is also the burial site of the famous artist Raphael. Today, it functions as a church. This should undoubtedly be on your list of things to do in Rome.
Unique of its kind, you can hardly find such brilliant creativity in a fountain in the globe and thus, is counted in the Rome’s highlights. Trevi Fountain was constructed in 1762 by Nicola Selvi. The Roman god Oceanus is seen riding his chariot pulled by Tritons and Hippocamps in this fountain.
This sculpture is a rejoicing piece of art and sets its distinction through the detailed crafting. Throwing coins over your shoulders into the fountain is seen as a good omen and has almost become a tradition. Although, it might be difficult for so many tourists practicing this interesting Rome’s activity.
Although the origins of the Trevi fountain can be traced back to 19 B.C., work on the current Trevi Fountain was done between 1732 and 1762. It looks breathtaking with its gorgeous sculptures against the backdrop of the magnificent Palazzo Poli.
The movement of the water amidst the sculptures makes it magical during the day, and also when it is illuminated at night. Several films have featured the Trevi Fountain. You can see people throwing coins into the fountain to make their wishes come true. You can try it too! It is one of the fun things to do in Rome.
A public square, the Piazza Navona is your escape from the busy streets of central Rome. The highlight here is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) with its fabulous sculptures and the tall Obelisk of Domitian at the center. You will find cafes, shops, and restaurants around the Piazza Navona.
The best time to visit Rome is during spring and early summer. That is also when you can watch artists and street performers at this public square. This place may or may not be listed in a regular Rome city guide, but it is worth a visit.
Piazza Navona is located close to the Pantheon and Trevi fountain and has remained a popular Roman tourist spot. The square was built in 15th century on the site of Domitian Stadium.
The square is enlightened with Fontana del Moro, Fountain of Neptune, the Palazzo Brasch and the famous Saint Agnese in Agone church. You may even find world-famous artists here if you are lucky.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Trips to Rome are incomplete without visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, and it is one of the best things to do in Rome during your trip.
One of the earliest churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the interiors of this basilica is very detailed and ornate in appearance. Lovely mosaics showcasing Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary as well as scenes of Moses are some of the highlights.
Gilded ceilings, intricate altars and marble columns make the basilica a marvelous work of architecture. Do put this on your list of places to visit in Rome.
Rome never ceases to present ancient historic and religious buildings, and luckily, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is included in that long list.
Also regarded as one of the largest churches, this Rome’s tourist spot is filled with an array of stone columns and statues with inscriptions written on them.
A large bell tower arising from this church dominates the surroundings. The interior presents itself as a work of magician with its gold decorated frescoes and the collections of paintings.
Galleria Borghese (Borghese Gallery)
The Galleria Borghese is situated in the Borghese Villa Complex that was established in 1903. Galleria Borghese situates in the northern part of the city and contains a large number of fine colossal paintings, ancient artworks, and ancient sculptures.
This Rome’s tourist attraction has an awe-inspiring facade decorated with stone statues. The Galleria Borghese contains the collection of many famous artists like Raphael, Titan, and Rubens.
An initiative by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a visit to the Galleria Borghese, an art museum is one of the wonderful activities in Rome. Housed in a former villa, it contains superb paintings, sculptures, and mosaics from famous artists including Bernini, Caravaggio, and Raphael.
Another prime attraction on this property is the Villa Borghese gardens, an extensive public park with pathways, ponds and a zoo. The landscaped garden also has another villa that is now the Etruscan Museum.
You have to reserve your tickets in advance for the tour of the Galleria Borghese. For art lovers who think about what to do in Rome that will appeal to their senses, this is the place to go.
Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Archbasilica of St. John Lateran)
One of the best things to do in Rome is to visit its wonderful churches and basilicas. The Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano has a striking façade, and the interiors have a grandeur that makes it very captivating.
Ornate decorations, stunning mosaics, elaborate ceilings, a lovely octagonal baptistery, an intricate high altar and a beautiful papal cathedra are just some of the reasons for people to visit this church on their trips to Rome. You can also see huge statues of the apostles and various other facets of this church.
The 135 Spanish steps were constructed in 1725 to fill the gap and span the slope between Piazza Di Spagna and the Piazza Trinita Dei Monti. These steps are framed by a stone wall and hold a huge stone ledge on them.
A gigantic crucifix obelisk can be seen on top of the steps with carefully carved inscriptions getting it into the list of Rome’s point of interest. When you reach the bottom tired, Piazza Di Spagna has several cafes and restaurants for your refreshment.
Castle Saint Angelo
Once the largest building in Rome, Saint Angelo is a circular castle that was created in 129AD. This ancient castle is also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian intended as Mausoleum for the great Emperor.
Th castle connects to St. Peter’s Basilica via Passetto di Borgov now part of the Vatican state. This castle stands as a living wonder of the history of people and infrastructure and no doubt, is a classical Rome’s attraction.
Now, you need not worry about what to do in Rome as you can go to all of these attractions on your trip. This Rome guide is a handy reference to an enjoyable time in the city. With so many things to do in Rome, you will certainly make plans for another trip soon!
It’s never possible to see all the Rome’s tourist attractions in a few days or a few weeks even at the least. While all the attractions may not be situated nearby, the major attractions are not far away from each other with a 20-30 minutes estimated drive. The Monti Neighborhood is a vital point to see several structures at a time if you are on a short trip.
Practical information and Rome travel tips
Why should you visit Rome?
The largest city of Rome in Italy is the land of many years old historical architectures. Are you an artistic architecture lover? Then Rome is must-visit for you to explore many historical landmarks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll love to explore some stunning architectural design as well as the culture and local lifestyle of ancient Rome. Rome is also the most visited capital city in Europe. The traditional local food is must-try during your trip to Rome. You might also enjoy shopping from designer boutique shops in Rome.
When is the best time to visit Rome?
- Summer (May to August)
- Summer is the highest season and you can expect big tourist crowds around this time of the year. But June is the peak travel season
- You can witness several music festivals, many local events happening during this time in Rome
- The average temperature is 25°C
- Autumn (September to November)
- September and October are also suitable to visit Rome. Tourists are lesser from European countries. But you can expect a rainy day during this time
- The weather is starting to get colder at nights
- Winter (December to February)
- Winter in Rome isn’t so bad and quite mild. The temperature rarely goes down below 0°C
- But December is the wettest month in Rome
- There are lesser crowds as this is the low season for this city
- You’ll like to visit Piazza Navona to explore the large Christmas market
- Spring (March to April)
- This perhaps the best time to visit Rome as the weather starts to be warmer
- Trees are starting to bloom and there’s more sunshine
Do you need a visa for Rome?
Italy is part of the Schengen area and citizens of EU group of countries can freely enter while citizens of USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia can enter the country just with their passports and stay for 90 days. You can check our complete guide on how to get a Schengen visa and as well to see if you’re eligible to enter the country with just your passports or if you’ll need to apply for a visa prior entry.
Where to book your flights to Rome?
Check our handy-dandy guide on how to find the cheapest flights around the world – read it here.
Do you need an insurance?
Remember this: anything can happen! Read our take on why you need a travel insurance and how it can save you money when things go unplanned – read it here.
Where to stay in Rome?
The 4-star Hotel Artemide is located in the center of Rome city. All rooms and suites are nicely decorated and occupied with all standard facilities. Some Roman landmarks, boutiques, cafes and art galleries are very close to this elegant hotel. The popular landmark Colosseum is just 2 km away from the hotel. Hotel Artemide also offers Artemís Spa. Termini train station is also very close to the hotel.
The 4-star luxury Hotel Barocco is located in the center of Rome city. All rooms and suites are nicely decorated and occupied with all standard facilities. Some suites offer private terraces. Pets are allowed at this hotel. There is also one relaxed bar. The popular landmarks Trevi Fountain and Pantheon are not much far away from the hotel.
Hotel Martis Palace
The 4-star luxury Hotel Martis Palace is located in the center of Rome city. All rooms are well decorated and furnished. There is one rooftop terrace and also offers all standard facilities during your stay here. Piazza Navona is just walking distance from the hotel. Termini train station is 3 km away from Hotel Martis Palace.
Short on time? Go sightseeing in Rome on a tour!
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