Top things to do in Rome, Italy
If you don’t have a lot of time, don’t know where to start, or just want to make sure you’re not missing anything important, we’ve prepared a list of the best things to do in Rome. The Eternal City will certainly keep you busy!
1) Marvel at the Colosseum
Among the things that make Rome such a special place to visit are the remnants of its ancient history and architecture. The Colosseum is a perfect example of that – the largest ancient amphitheater ever built, and the largest one you can still see today, is something you won’t experience anywhere else. No wonder this is one of the sights you absolutely must visit in Rome! Built between 70-80 AD, it held up to 80,000 spectators and was used mainly for gladiator fights, executions, and performances for the public. To enter, you have to buy a ticket in advance. Make sure also to check out the Arch of Constantine, located next to the Colosseum.
2) Stand in the middle of St Peter’s Square and enter St Peter’s Basilica
While in Rome, you can also easily step foot in another country – the Vatican. As the heart of the Catholic Church and home to the pope, the Vatican is of great religious significance. St Peter’s Square is the heart of Vatican City and its most famous feature, apart from its size, are the 140 statues of saints above the columns. From the square, head to St Peter’s Basilica, a magnificent church built in Renaissance style and the resting place of popes. The basilica’s stunning interior is home to priceless paintings, statues and treasures, one of them being Michelangelo’s Pieta. While visiting the Basilica, be sure to climb to the top of the Dome for views of Rome and St Peter’s Square. The good news is that St Peter’s Basilica is free to enter, however, be prepared to wait in a queue for at least an hour. If you don’t have time, you can also buy a skip-the-line ticket in advance.
3) Go back in time at the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
Step back in time and get a glimpse into the center of ancient Rome. Located next to the Colosseum, this is where the political, economic, and religious life of the Roman Empire took place. Although today it is mostly in ruins, it is one of the most important ancient sites in Italy and you can still see some of its important structures like the Temple of Saturn. To get a good view of the entire Roman Forum, go slightly up to Palatine Hill, which also has some impressive archeological sites.
4) Get some luck at the Trevi Fountain
One of the most popular attractions in Rome is the Trevi Fountain, which featured in many movies. In fact, it could well be one of the most famous fountains in the world. As the tradition has it, you should throw a coin into the fountain for good luck. Be ready to brave the crowds and fight for your spot, though, as it’s a must-see stop for most tourists it is rarely empty.
5) Admire the interior of the Sistine Chapel
A part of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel needs no introduction. Seeing Michelangelo’s frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is definitely among the mandatory things to do in Rome. Apart from its artistic value, the Sistine Chapel is where new popes are chosen and crowned. If you want to make the best of your visit, consider booking a guided tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.
6) Enjoy time at Villa Borghese Gardens
Located in the center of Rome, this large public park is an ideal place for a stroll or a picnic if you’re looking to get away from the bustle of the city. You can visit Villa Borghese for art and to relax in the grand park. In the Borghese Gallery, you can see an impressive collection of works from artists like Bernini and Caravaggio (the latter famous for paintings like The Calling of St Matthew located in the Church of St Louis). If you’re visiting with kids, you can also visit the Zoo located within the park. Finally, you will be able to get a nice panoramic view from Terraza del Pincio.
7) Step inside the architectural perfection – the Pantheon
A former Roman temple turned into a church, the Pantheon (made mainly of stone) is the best-preserved monument of ancient Rome. Built in the current style in 120 AD during the Emperor Hadrian’s reign, its most fascinating part is the big dome with a hole in the top. The round opening is the building’s only source of light.
8) Look through the keyhole at The Aventine Hill
Located south of Vatican City, Aventine Hill is a nice place for walks if you want to get away from the crowds. Not as touristy as other places on this list, the hill is home to a few gardens, in particular, the Rose and the Orange Gardens. However, the main highlight here is the Aventine Keyhole, through which you can see the nicely-framed Dome of St Peter’s Basilica. This surprising attraction is a keyhole in the door of the Priory of the Knights of Malta located on the hill. We invite you to take a peek through the keyhole, although keep in mind there may be a queue of people wishing to do the same.
9) People watch and enjoy a gelato or a cup of coffee at Piazza Navona
Make sure to take a rest from all the sightseeing. Piazza Navona is one of the best places to do that while still marveling at the beautiful architecture. This popular square in the Baroque style is also referred to as the Square of the Fountains – you can probably guess why. Its focal point is Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers located right in the middle of the square. Stop for a nice lunch or dinner accompanied by street musicians and watch people passing by.
10) Take a day trip
Rome has enough attractions to keep you occupied for days, but if you’re staying in Rome for longer, or just want to explore more of Italy, you can easily do some day trips. For example, many tourists decide to see the beautiful Amalfi Coast or visit the archeological site of Pompeii. In fact, you can find many tours that take you from Rome to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.