18 Best Things to Do in Rome, Italy

|   Last Updated on April 22, 2020

Rome is one of the most visited cities in the world, and for a good reason. It is one of the ancient centers of the world, full of incredible history, character and charm.

It offers the authentic Italian experience, and has something for everybody, whether you are into sightseeing awesome ancient sites, or a foodie looking for the best pasta, or simply looking for the amazing nightlife and trendy districts, Rome is a true global cultural center.

The best things to do in Rome are usually related to the city’s thousands of years of history.

1. The Colosseum(Colosseo)

The true symbol of Rome, this magnificent ancient amphitheater is an impressive testament to human achievement.

Built almost 2000 years ago, this iconic sight was once used to host gladiator matches and other events, and was one of the most important buildings for the Roman Empire, a vast civilization that came to control most of the Mediterranean.

Getting inside the massive structure during high season can be frustrating, as the queues are long, and there is a limit of 3000 people that are allowed inside at any given time, meaning that if it reaches that number the line will be held off for a while.

There is always skip the queue options, however this will cost more. Even if you wait in the queue(which can be hours) entering is absolutely worth it, and a must if you visit Rome.

2. The Vatican (Vaticano) – St Peter’s Square

The Vatican (Vaticano) - St Peter's Square
© Diliff

The seat of Catholic Christianity, this small state is in fact technically an autonomous country of its own, although it has no border with Italy and is surrounded entirely by the city of Rome.

When entering the Vatican main square, you are now standing in one of the most religious places in the entire world, with St Peter’s basilica dominating the view.

The square itself is adorned with interesting mosaics, statues, fountains, an obelisk from Roman times, and other interesting things to discover. You can just walk around, taking in the busy vibe (always a lot of people around) or just sit and watch as the crowds come and go.

3. The Vatican (Vaticano) – St Peter’s Basilica

Free to enter, this massive iconic church is the most important religious building in the Christian world and attracts millions of tourists, visitors, pilgrims and people of all backgrounds to it yearly.

The massive structure has several sections worth exploring, and the waiting lines are usually not very bad.

The church is decorated beautifully in detail with the divine touches of renaissance masters, and truly displays the might and wealth of the Popes.

Going up the Dome is paid, and you can either go by stairs(physically demanding and quite a workout) or elevator (but worth a few more euro) however that is definitely not something to miss, as when you reach the top, you get an amazing view of the Vatican and St. Peter’s square, as well as the city of Rome.

4. The Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani)

The undisputed center of art in Rome, the Vatican Museums boast an immense collection of art, sculptures, frescoes and paintings by Renaissance masters such as Raphael and Michelangelo, making them a treasure trove of cultural heritage and legacy.

The Vatican Museums host the primary papal collection of art, meaning some of the most iconic treasures are hosted here.

The Iconic Sistine Chapel, designed and painted beautifully by Michelangelo Buonarroti in the 16th century is one of the masterpieces from the Renaissance master’s hand, and something that has to be seen.

The museums are so big, detailed and beautifully decorated, that you can easily spend an entire day and not see everything, especially if you are into art and history.

5. Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)

This iconic fountain is situated in the heart of Rome in a very busy area with many restaurants, shops and walking streets.

The fountain itself is decorated by beautifully carved statues and the vibe is usually amazing.

The little square is charming but it’s full of tourists, so it can get very crowded. During the evening when the lights illuminate the fountain, it’s an amazing sight to behold, and definitely one of the best things to do in Rome.

6. Piazza Spagna and the Spanish Steps

The Spanish steps are a long set of steps which take you from the busy, bustling Spanish Square up to the Piazza Trinita di Monti, where a beautiful church is can also be explored.

The upper square gives you nice, upper views of this part of the city and is picturesque, while the immediate surroundings of the stairs are a trendy neighborhood long known for it’s artsy and bohemian nature.

As almost a tradition, Italians and tourists alike go up the stairs or simply sit on them, chilling, taking in the atmosphere and the vibe while watching as observing as the busy square is going about.

7. The Pantheon

Another very preserved landmark from ancient Roman times, this was an old pagan temple dedicated to the gods of the Romans.

The pantheon was later converted to a Christian church, luckily, as it allowed it to be preserved so well to this day.

Inside, the Pantheon is impressive, using symmetrical measurements, seen as a testament to the impressive architectural and mathematical abilities of this great ancient civilization.

8. The Roman Forum (Foro Romano)

A huge, dominating archaeological site, the roman forum has fascinated academics, historians, archaeologists and others as it is considered one of the most important roman sights to study today.

The forum is so important because it was considered the center for the daily lives of most Roman citizens, and it is in this vicinity where a lot of important government offices and buildings once stood.

9. Palatine Hill (Palatino)

Just next to the Roman Forum, and not too far from the Colosseum, the Palatine Hill is often seen as the ground zero for Roman Civilization and History, and it is considered as an extremely important sight, some of the oldest Roman ruins are here, and they are important in understanding how this early civilization came to be.

The Palatine for a long time was the seat for imperial power in Rome, and many palaces as well as some temples were built here.

10. Castel Sant’Angelo

Also known as castle of the angels, this building has an impressive and long history. Built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, originally as a tomb for him and his descendants, the castle went through many periods, including being a medieval military fortification, and then a hiding or resting place for the popes, with some luxurious living apartments and such.

The castello is right next to a bridge beautifully decorated with angel statues, busy with street vendors.

Taking a nice walk in the castle gives you a very authentic medieval feeling as you understand how life was in those times. From the top of the castle nice views of the Vatican, Rome and the river Tiber can be seen, making it a perfect location to also relax and take in the views.

11. Rome Opera House (Teatro Dell’Opera)

Italian opera is world famous, and iconic, and the Opera House is a beautiful building which hosts performances and entertainment all throughout the summer months.

It is the place to be in Italy for ballet and opera lovers. The shows here are world famous and the venue is classy, beautiful and inspiring.

12. Trastevere Neighborhood

Trastevere is a busy, trendy, bohemian part of Rome, famous for it’s numerous places to eat and enjoy yourself.

Shops, cafes and restaurants await here, as it is a popular neighborhood for local Italians to eat and spend their evenings at.

Those looking for nightlife flock to this bustling neighborhood in the evening, taking a stroll in it’s lively streets and looking for a place to enjoy some beers, wine, or good Italian food.

Whether you want a more upscale experience with fine dining, or smaller family business that serve delicious pizzas, or you’d rather go for some quality craft beers, it is the perfect pick for a night out after your long day of exploring the amazing city.

Just pick a good place, enjoy a beer and take in the vibrant atmosphere of your surroundings.

13. Vittorio Emanuele II Monument

The imposing monument, also known as Altar of the Fatherland, it is in close proximity to Capitoline hill and was build to honor Victor Emanuel II, the founding King of unified Italy.

Built in a neoclassical way, the design is almost like a fusion of the new and the old, as it pays respect to the old aesthetic of the Romans, while embracing the new identity of the Italian peninsula.

It is considered a very important symbol for Italians as it symbolizes the de-facto birth of modern Italy.

The monument is massive and interesting to explore, adorned with a statue of the historic King in the middle.

You can climb up the stairs and get some views of the city, or visit the museum which teaches you about the unification of Italy and the challenges it has faced and overcome.

14. Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolini)

Located in Piazza Campidoglio, which is an impressive square by itself, the Capitoline Museums are one of the oldest in Italy and boast an impressive collection of paintings, gold coins, ancient roman treasures and sculptures. The museums are a great way to spend a few hours exploring the history of art as it progressed in Italy, and to have an in-depth grasp about Roman History.

15. Testaccio Market (Mercato Testaccio)

Another exciting place for the food-lovers, Testaccio is a great place to eat, taste, drink, shop and explore the amazing Italian food tradition.

The neighborhood is another popular spot where Italians eat, and is one of the consistently best places to find authentic, affordable Italian food when in Rome.

For the shoppers that are hunting for fresh local produce, here we find fresh vegetables, fruits, meats and fish which are essential to making a good meal, or just learning about traditional Italian standards for food, as the food being fresh is very important in Italian cuisine.

16. Galleria Borghese

Another one of the greats of Italian art galleries, the Borghese hosts an impressive collection of art and sculptures, most notably by Bernini, as well as renaissance masterpieces by Caravaggio and Raphael. The Borghese is a charming, renovated building and is a perfect way to spend a few hours exploring the artistic treasures that Rome has to offer.

17. Piazza del Popolo

This large square in the central area of Rome offers an obelisk, fountains, some beautiful statues, as well as one of the Aurelian walls, today known as Porta Del Popolo.

The square is distinctly roman and exemplifies the beauties and the different elements of history that the city presents.

The unique thing about this massive piazza is how you are surrounded by impressive, beautiful buildings, making it a perfect starting point for walking around and exploring them.

The Santa Maria del Popolo church, which is a medieval, small, but beautiful building stands to the north east of the square, and often hosts exhibitions of artists or temporary museums.

18. The Bridge of Saint Angelo (Ponte Sant’Angelo)

Originally built by the Romans, now highly symbolic for Christianity, this structure over the Tiber river is considered the most beautiful bridge in Rome, especially at night, the impressive passage leads directly to the Castel Sant-Angelo.

It is beautifully designed, decorated by statues of angels on both sides, it leaves a divine and inspiring impression, an architectural marvel, as well as a picturesque spot.

The bridge is often busy and bustling with merchants and traders, and is perfect for a picture with the castle and the river in the background.

The angels on the sides are often symbolic and important to the catholic church, as they are holding objects of significant, such as a cross, a lance or similar.

The bridge is solely pedestrian, making it a perfect spot for taking a stroll. Just a few minutes walk from the Vatican, the bridge as well as the castle are a nice finish after exploring Saint Peter’s square, taking in 2000 years of Roman and Papal history.

Last Updated on April 22, 2020


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