Top 20 things to do in Rome
So, you’re planning a trip to Rome. How exciting! As with any time you are planning a trip, it can be overwhelming to try to figure out the best places to go. You will want to hit the historical sites, maybe visit a museum or take in a show, and you definitely want to get a feel for the local culture. Well, luckily for you we’ve done all the hard work and have put together a list of the top 20 things to do in Rome.
Visit the Trevi Fountain
You may recognize this iconic fountain from the movies “La Dolce Vita,” “Roman Holiday,” or even “The Lizzie McGuire Movie.” The fountain was constructed in the mid-1700s in the baroque style with the god of the sea, Oceanus, emerging from the pool. It recently underwent and extensive restoration and reopened in 2015. If you are a believer, Roman lore says throwing one, two or three coins into the fountain, with your right hand over your left shoulder, will ensure you will return to Rome, fall in love with an attractive Roman, and marry them. You should add this to your list of things to do at night, when the lights illuminate the fountain.
Explore the Pantheon
This former Roman temple, built in AD 120, is known for its perfect proportions. This is a perfect destination for a trip on a budget, as it is free to visit. The Piazza della Rotonda, where the Pantheon is located, is also a wonderful place to spend some time, with coffee shops, pizza shops and gelato shops nearby.
Visit the Colosseum
This is an obvious choice and a must-see! The Colosseum was opened in 80 AD and could hold 50,000 spectators for gladiatorial fights. As understandably the most famous site in Rome, it’s no surprise there are always long lines and waits to take a tour. You can get around the long waits, however, by purchasing a ticket at the Roman Forum. It’s highly recommended that you take a tour with a tour guide, as it enhances your experience significantly. The Colosseum is open at 8:30 a.m. and closes between 4:30 and 7 p.m.
The Vatican and Sistine Chapel
This highly visited site includes the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s famous frescos. With a tour of the Vatican you will also be able to visit the Sistine Chapel, but beware that photography is absolutely not allowed. It’s highly recommended that you take a guided tour, As with the Colosseum, you should purchase your tickets in advance, as the lines to enter do get very long. It’s also very important to keep in mind that there is a dress code at the Vatican: no short skirts, shorts or bare shoulders.
The Spanish Steps
At the Spanish Steps, visitors can walk the same paths as Balzac and Byron did in the 19th century. During the appropriate seasons, azaleas bloom along the steps, adding to the magic. Some visitors absolutely love visiting the Spanish Steps and others report feeling underwhelmed. This is a wonderful place to take a break and enjoy a snack and do some people watching. It’s also a great place to visit at night, when there are fewer crowds.
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica can be found in the center of Vatican City and is well known to visitors as allowing trips up to the dome. When you get up there, you will find stunning panoramic views of Rome. If you would like to catch a glimpse of the Pope, be sure to visit on Wednesdays, when he addresses the crowd in St. Peter’s Square with prayers and songs.
The Roman Forum is an ancient site that was once the center of public and political life in Rome. Now ruins, the site features temples, squares and arches, including the temples of Saturn, Titus and Vesta and the Arch of Severus. The Roman Forum is located next to the Colosseum, and is a must-see for visitors.
Built into the 15th century, the Piazza Navona is a square located near the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. There are usually large numbers of artists and street vendors on site. While there, check out the Fontana del Moro, Fountain of Neptune, Palazzo Braschi and Palazzo Pamphilj.
Castle Saint Angelo
Created in 129 AD, the Castle Saint Angelo is a circular fort and castle that was once the tallest building in Rome. The Castle was originally intended to serve as a Mausoleum for the emperor. The castle contains exhibits about the history of the structure.
This is one of the most ancient areas in Rome, standing 40 meters above the Roman forum. While up there, visitors will have an awesome view of the entire city. According to mythology, this is the location where Romulus and Remus were found.
This important art museum was established in 1903 in the northern part of the inner city. The collection includes works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Rubens and Titan.
Villa Borghese Gardens
Nearby, visitors will find the gardens, a true respite from the historical architecture of the city. It is the third largest park in Rome, covering just under 200 acres of land. In it you will find sculptures by Bernini, the Villa Giulia and remnants of other villas.
Altar of the Fatherland
The Altar of the Fatherland is dedicated to King Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy. The stone monument is located near the Colosseum and Pantheon. There’s a large bronze statue of Emmanuel and is often a first-stop for visitors.
Piazza del Popolo
Translated to mean square of the people, the piazza is surrounded by historical structures such as the Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli, the Porta del Popolo gateway and the Basilica Parrocchiale. This is a wonderful place to relax and people watch.
Arch of Constantine
Built in 315 AD the Arch of Constantine was dedicated to Emperor Constantine. One of the most iconic landmarks in Rome at 21 meters high, the arch includes artwork and sculptures from ancient history. It’s worth spending some extra time at the arch, because there’s so much to take in.
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, located in the Piazza Navona, was created for Pope Innocent X in 1651. It features four river gods surrounding a large Egyptian obelisk, which pay tribute to one of the major rivers around the world: The Nile, The Danube, The Ganges, and the Rio de la Plata.
If you’re up for a little adventure, and a little walking, nothing is more charming than losing yourself in the cobblestone streets of the Centro Storico. Among the streets and alleyways, you’ll discover churches, boutiques, private courtyards, gelateria and much more.
Galleria Alberto Sordi
If exploring ancient ruins has you itching to get back to the modern world, take a break at the Galleria Alberto Sordi. The galleria, built in 1922, has stained-glass skylights and mosaic floors and is often regarded as one Europe’s prettiest places to shop.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Italy without some gelato! And if you’re going to come this far, you should have the best stuff around. Giolitti is Rome’s best “old-school” gelateria. Built in 1900, it serves dozens of flavors. Don’t miss this one!
Baths of Caracalla
The baths are the largest surviving ruins of an ancient baths complex in Rome, encompassing over 33 acres of land. The baths were fed by an aqueduct that provided water for 1,600 bathers at a time. They were suited for both cleaning and socializing and included two gym, two libraries and lots of shops.