It’s not really a hassle to find interesting, rewarding, and truly incredible things to do in Rome. The capital of Italy will reward visitors with hundreds of world famous landmarks and iconic sites to explore and discover the millennial past of the Eternal City. In Rome, every step you take is literally a step into a history that is thousands of years old. In this article we outline the top things to do in Rome.
Mixing archaeological ruins, imposing churches, hipster districts, and delicious food, Rome can be the ultimate European destination on any bucket list.
Whether you are visiting Rome for the first time or are simply curious about all there is to see and do over there, this easy-to-navigate guide presents a summary of the most amazing things to do in Rome, arguably Italy’s most charming city.
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Basic Things to Know about Rome
Lively, noisy, and utterly charming, Rome is a magnetic place that conquers locals and travelers alike with its alluring vibe and flair.
Eclectic and chaotic, Rome still manages to conquer the hearts of all those who take the time to really get to know the endless collection of incredible landmarks that the city shelters.
The former capital of the Roman Empire and today Italy’s capital is the country’s largest and most populated city. It stands in central portion of the country, on the shores of the Tiber River. It hosts the Vatican City, the smallest country in the world and it is often referred to as the cradle of Western Christian civilization.
Rome is the most populated city in Italy
With a history spanning over 28 centuries, you won’t be short of ideas when deciding what to do in Rome. The city offers things to do for history fans, but also for those who are passionate about architecture, food, wine, mythology, fashion, shopping, and even religion.
Learn More: When is the Best Time to Visit Italy?
Among the most visited cities in the world, the City of the Seven Hills (another name Rome is known by) holds the record of being capital of the Roman Kingdom, the subsequent Roman Republic, and the Roman Empire but also capital of the Papal States and birthplace of important artistic schools including Baroque and Neoclassicism.
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How to Get to Rome
There are two important airports in Rome, Ciampino and Fiumicino, this last one receiving flights from virtually anywhere in the world.
The city is also home to an important national train hub, Termini station, where it’s possible to board a train to reach any corner in Italy (and the rest of Europe).
If you’re coming to Rome by train from other Italian centers, keep these travel times in mind when planning your visit:
- Milan – Rome: about 3 hours
- Venice – Rome: about 4 hours and 20 minutes
- Turin – Rome: About 4 hours
- Florence – Rome: 2 hours
- Naples – Rome: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Learn More: Guide to Food in Italy
Where to Stay in Rome
Rome has accommodation for all budgets, tastes, and experiences, from cheap hostels and B&Bs, to refined boutique hotels and stunning apartments, the city will certainly impress you with an overwhelming choice of places to stay.
If you’re looking for a central neighborhood that allows you to visit the important historic landmarks, then choose a central place such as Piazza Navona or Via Veneto, perfect to fully surround yourself with the most authentic Roman atmosphere and providing easy access to unique landmarks.
UNAWAY Hotel Empire Roma is a refined Venetian building located in the center of Rome, steps from the fantastic Via Veneto. Recently renovated and equipped with modern amenities, the hotel rooms are modern and functional with elegant touches and welcoming spaces. In the premises, there is even a picturesque piano bar as well as prime restaurant and a fitness center. Check availability and book your stay now!
It might be tempting to stay close to Roma Termini Central Station if you’re visiting Rome for just a couple of days and then plan to continue to other areas in the country. However, the area around Rome’s main train hub is not the safest. Instead, choose a place like Rione Monti where you can discover incredible places such as the Domus Aurea and the Colosseum.
HS 311 is a hotel offering accommodation only meters from Piazza Venezia and the Roman Forum. Here, the rooms come with convenient comforts including a coffee machine and kettle, perfect to savor your first morning fix without even leaving the room. Make a reservation at HS 311 for a convenient location while in Rome.
For a completely different vibe and experience, there’s nothing like staying in Trastevere. This is the bohemian heart of town located across the Tiber River, colorful and lively, where it is possible to experience an alternative Roman landscape made of funky and innovative restaurants, pubs, and artisan shops, also home to quaint B&Bs and budget hotels.
Trastevere Suites Collection is a winning accommodation option in the area. This guest house features a beautiful garden, very comfortable rooms, and easy access (either on foot or with public transport) to local landmarks such as the Roman Forum, Palazzo Venezia, Piazza Navona, and Campo de’ Fiori. Check the reviews and book your room at Trastevere Suites Collection now.
Best Places to See and Things to Do in Rome
The following list provides you with the top sites to see in Rome Italy.
Discover the Vatican City
It’s a great idea to start your journey around the Eternal City by devoting a whole day to the Vatican.
This State, technically not in Rome but standing its own grounds and territory, features an impressive amount of art and religious masterpieces in a very small area, allowing you so see the works of some of the best artists in history in a relatively short amount of time.
First off, start by visiting St. Peter’s Basilica, get ready to queue but also to access the most important church in the Christian world, hosting impressive sculptures, such as Michelangelo’s La Pietà, among others.
No visit to the Vatican is complete without checking the Visit the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums.
Since the Chapel is a well-known as well as incredibly beautiful site, it attracts thousands of visitors every day, so waiting in line can be tedious.
When trying to access such important sites, it’s always better to book a tour in advance or purchase online tickets that allow you to skip the line and save some time too.
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A few hundred meters from the Vatican and Saint Peter’s the Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian is a fortified cylindrical building with an imposing tower, which several Popes have used during the centuries as a fortress, a castle, a prison, and even a summer residence.
The best way — or better — the most imposing way to access the castle is by walking the bridge, Ponte Sant’Angelo, or Pons Aelius, dating back to 134 CE and hosting a myriad of Baroque the castle of Sant’Angelo, as well as many other things which we now see in ruins.
The castle is connected to Saint Peter’s Basilica by a fortified corridor, which allowed different popes in history to seek refuge in the castle from various sieges and invasions.
LEARN MORE: 2 Weeks in Italy Itinerary
Visit the centuries old Roman Forum
The most important archaeological ruins in town comprise the Roman Forum, including the Temple of Vesta and the Temple of Saturn.
Once center of the Roman Empire, it is a good idea to visit the Roman Forum with a guided tour so as not to miss any historic and curious details. There are convenient tours that also include a visit to the nearby Colosseum and a walk along the Via Dei Fori Imperiali.
Marvel at the Colosseum
The utterly famous Colosseum is the next place to visit right after the Roman Forum. Probably the most famous images of Rome all over the world, this is certainly an unmissable thing to do in Rome.
The oval structure is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built, constructed between the 69 CE and 80 CE. This magnificent building, which could host an audience ranging between 50,000 to 80,000 people, was the theater for gladiatorial fights, public spectacles, battles, and dramas.
Listed as one of the new 7 wonders of the world, it is a good idea to book a guided tour that will also show you the backstage and the undergrounds where fighters and beasts used to be kept before the grandiose spectacles given on the main arena.
Enjoy the Vibe in Piazza Navona
Once famous for the stunning Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) and a surprising Egyptian Obelisk, Piazza Navona has slowly turned into one of the places to be when in Rome.
Surrounded by art galleries, small bars and cafeterias, grab a seat for a drink or enjoy a delicious gelato while you spend some time watching life going by in Rome.
Admire the Pantheon
Located in the heart of Rome, this amazing site is one more of the important Roman Temples you’ll be able to visit.
The incredible domed ceiling is the most important feature of the building, so go ahead, stand right in the center of the Pantheon and take a snapshot of the Roman skies through its impressive circular opening, also known as the oculus or the Eye of the Pantheon.
The circular opening measures about eight meters (about 26 ft) in diameter and is the only source of light inside the building. Besides, it was believed to be the place through which the Roman gods connected with the Temple.
Check the Stylish Spanish Steps
Famous for hosting hundreds of fashion shows and other events, the Spanish Steps are another iconic Roman landmark that you should climb up or down when exploring the city.
The place not only offers incredible photography opportunities, but it is definitely a beautiful spot in town.
When in the area, don’t forget to check the Trinità dei Monti Church at the top of the steps, or the humble architecture of the Fontana della Barcaccia (or Fountain of the Boat), a delicate Baroque fountain at the foot of the Steps, built by artist Pietro Bernini.
Toss a Coin at Fontana di Trevi
Ready to see one of the most visited places in town? Then reach the spectacular Fontana di Trevi and toss a coin to make a wish, the obvious wish being to return to Rome soon!
The place is often overcrowded, making the visit difficult and taking a picture even harder, however, you can also visit Trevi Fountain very early in the morning — when light is at its best, or late at night when crowds are smaller.
Remember to bookmark this article for future reference to plan your trip to Rome
Eat Your Way Through Rome
No matter if it’s a giant cone of gelato, a dish of bucatini all’amatriciana, or a delicious platter of cold meats, Rome will surprise you with its simple but incredibly tasty gastronomy.
Head to Frigidarium in Piazza Navona for some of the most delicious ice cream flavors, including the iconic pistachio, or a generous portion of creamy tiramisù. Gelateria ai Cerchi (Via dei Cerchi, 61) not far from the Colosseum, claims to produce the best gelato in Rome, so why doubt them? Give their fabulous cones a try.
Pasta is synonymous with Italy, but Bucatini all’Amatriciana is synonymous with Rome.
This delicious pasta dish with pork meat, pecorino cheese and tomato sauce is one of Rome’s most iconic dishes and La Matriciana is the place where to try them. Located in Via del Viminale, this old trattoria serves one of the most authentic bucatini dishes you could think of.
They also prepare other Roman pasta delicacies, such as Rigatoni alla Carbonara (with fresh eggs, pecorino cheese and pork), Tornarelli Cacio e Peppe (a really simple but delicious pasta dish with tons of creamy pecorino cheese and black pepper).
Are you a fan of Pizza? Then you’re in the right place!
Rome is no Naples, we are certainly aware, however, you can still try some of the best pizza in the capital if you head to Piccolo Buco, a well-known pizza house only minutes from the Fontana di Trevi (Via del Lavatore).
It was once a traditional bakery and has turned into the best place in Rome to try innovative pizza toppings as well as some of the best traditional pizza toppings from all over Italy.
If you’re in the mood for an aperitivo, then head to Il Goccetto, in Via dei Banchi Vecchi.
In this wine bar you can taste one of the many Italian labels, or go when it’s aperitivo time, right before dinner, and spoil yourself with an Aperol Spritz and platter of local cheeses and Italian prosciutto.
Coffee in Rome
Espresso, cappuccino as well as less traditional coffee styles can be savored in Rome’s most famous coffee spot, La Casa del Caffè Tazza d’Oro.
The place is in Via degli Orfani, just steps from the Roman Pantheon and it’s the place where to sample the celebrated iced coffee granita with lush layers of thick whipped cream.
Final Thoughts on Best Things to Do in Rome
Rome is an enchanting, controversial city, with everything you wish for an unforgettable experience, charming views, impressive landmarks, unique buildings, centuries-old sites, and delightful gastronomy. Bookmark this guide for your upcoming visit, and check with us again when it’s time to start planning your itinerary of the Eternal City.
Learn more about traveling to Italy with these articles:
Mini Guide to Florence (including Where to Stay)
Mini Guide to Venice (including Where to Stay)
Best Places to Visit in Sicily + Hotel Recommendations
When is the Best Time to Visit Italy?
Foods of Italy by Region – What to Eat in Italy
About the Author
Gabi Ancarola is a translator and travel journalist living in Crete. She regularly writes about Europe for several magazines about travel, gastronomy, and hospitality. She has published several travel guides about Greece and plans customized trips to the Greek islands. She loves cooking local dishes, taking photos, and driving on the mountain roads of Crete.