Things to do in Rome: The 25 Best Places to Visit and Highlights

Things to do in Rome: The 25 Best Places to Visit and Highlights

Explore Rome's Rich Culture and Heritage: Discover Top Things to Do in Rome - From iconic historical landmarks like the Colosseum to savoring delectable Italian cuisine and enjoying the city's vibrant street life, find your perfect Rome adventure.

Top 1 Things to Do in Rome - Visit The Colosseum and its murderous games

Lets start this list of the must-see attractions with the Colosseum, located in the Historic Center (“Centro Storico” in Italian). It’s the most emblematic monument to visit in Rome!

With a capacity of more than 50,000 spectators, it’s the largest amphitheater in the Roman world. Quite much blood was shed in these arenas, where the famous gladiatorial combats, animals fights and Roman games were held, always followed by horrific deaths.

The visit isn’t free and you will probably have to wait for a few hours before getting there if you are going in high season.

Voyage Tips Advice

Here is my tip: to avoid waiting in line for hours, you can:

  • Buy skip the line tickets for the Colosseum, with or without guided visit.
  • Purchase the Rome Tourist Card (click here), an all access pass with no time limit and free skip the line entrances to the most famous touristic sites of Rome and Vatican. (Colosseum is of course included). You also get rebates of 20% or more on other activities.

And you know the best about this pass? It also include a free audio guide.

It’s new and it offers an amazing value for money!

  • Buy the Vatican & Rome City Pass (Omnia Card) – click here: it’s the most complete pass to visit Rome. You will get rebates on more than 40 attractions + free public transport.

I have personally saved more than 50 euros thanks to the Omnia card during my stay in Rome! (And a few hours of waiting in line 😋)

Top 1 Things to Do in Rome - Visit The Colosseum and its murderous games
Top 1 Things to Do in Rome - Visit The Colosseum and its murderous games

Top 2 Things to Do in Rome - Visit The Roman Forum

The ticket purchased at the Colosseum also includes access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill (I will talk about it just below), so it would be a shame to miss them, as the 3 touristic sites are linked together.

The forum was the centre of the city and you can see ruins of ancient markets, administrative and religious buildings. However, you will not find any explanation on the site, so if you’re interested in history, you should really opt for a guided tour.

I recommend you to choose the small group tour of the Colosseum + Roman Forum + Palatine Hill. It’s the most complete and it’s available in English, Italian, Spanish or French, which is really convenient!

Top 2 Things to Do in Rome - The Roman Forum
Top 2 Things to Do in Rome - The Roman Forum

Top 3 Things to Do in Rome - Go to The Palatine Hill

This is the third things to do in Rome that you should do. Palatine Hill, one of the 7 hills of Rome, is according to mythology the place where the city was founded by Romulus and Remus. As you might know, they are the two twins who would have been found and suckled by a wolf in a cave.

At the top of Palatine Hill, you will have access to this cave and ruins of the residences of historical figures such as Augustus, the first Roman emperor.

Top 4 Things to Do in Rome - Go Around Piazza Venezia

Not far from the Roman Forum, at the other end of Via dei fori impierali, you can find piazza Venezia, one of Rome’s main squares. From there, all the streets leads to Rome’s main tourist attractions!

This is where you can admire the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, also called “Altare della Patria” or “Vittoriano”, a huge white marble building dedicated to the first king of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II.

Next to the square, there is also the famous Trajan’s column, with bas-reliefs retracing the military conquests of the Emperor Trajan.

From the roof of the building you can also enjoy a superb panoramic view of the whole city. Access is via a glass lift at the back of the building.

They also include a 25-minute film on Ancient Rome, a ticket for the Risorgimento Museum and the National Museum of the Palace of Venice.

Top 5 Things to Do in Rome - Go Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitol Square)

Climb the broad staircase leading to the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II and you will arrive on Capitol Square. Designed by Michelangelo himself, it was formerly the political and religious heart of Rome. On Capitol Square, you can see:

  • The Palazzo Senatorio or Senatorial Palace
  • The Palazzo dei Conservatori or Palace of the Conservators
  • Palazzo Nuovo or New Palace, which now houses the Capitoline Museums and the Museum of Art and Archaeology. One of the most famous art piece you can find there is the Capitoline Wolf statue: The one with the mythical she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus. 
Top 5 Things to Do in Rome - Go Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitol Square)
Top 5 Things to Do in Rome - Go Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitol Square)

Top 6 Things to Do in Rome - Visit The Pantheon

The Pantheon is the best preserved ancient building in Rome and another must-see touristic attraction to add to list Things to do in Rome!

Originally dedicated to all mythology divinities, it became a Christian church in the 7th century. Don’t hesitate to enter, the visit is free of charge, which is rare enough to mention it!

Inside, admire the immense dome and the oculus (the opening in the dome), giving the place a unique lighting.

In the Pantheon, you can also see the tombs of Raphael (the famous artist) and Victor Emmanuel II (1st king of Italy, as mentioned above when I talked about the beautiful building dedicated to him on Piazza Venezia)

And if you want to get more historical information, you should get an audioguide. It can be booked here.

And for more detailed explanations, you can also choose a guided tour of the Pantheon by clicking here!

visit Rome Pantheon
The Pantheon, a free visit you shouldn’t miss in Rome

Top 7 Things to Do in Rome - Piazza Navona

The Piazza Navona is located in the heart of the historic center, not far from the Pantheon. it’s one of the most beautiful and famous square of Rome! There, you can admire the 3 following fountains:

  • The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
  • The Fontana del Nettuno
  • The Fontana del Moro

It’s a great place to have a drink or eat ice cream on one of the many terraces, but beware, since this place is very touristic, the prices are too!

Top 7 Things to Do in Rome - Piazza Navona
Top 7 Things to Do in Rome - Piazza Navona

Top 8 Things to Do in Rome - Trevi Fountain

Also close to the Pantheon, you’ll find the most famous fountain of Europe: The Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi in Italian). A must see for anyone visiting Rome.

Because of the legend surrounding it, this fountain is also renowned for hosting a large number of wedding proposals! Legend has it that in order to save her virginity, a young girl had to reveal the location of the source to the Romans.

In the basin, there are numerous statues representing an allegory of the sea, with Neptune on his chariot in the center. The tradition says you should throw 2 coins: one to make a wish and the other one to be sure to return to Rome. 

Behind the fountain, a large baroque palace contributes much to the charm of the place. Just one thing: the place is always crowded, so you will have a lot of trouble to make a perfect photo of the fountain with no unwanted heads!

Nevertheless, the Trevi Fountain is a major point of interest in Rome.

Top 9 Things to Do in Rome - Enjoy a gelato (Italian ice cream)

After Trevi fountain, to recover from your emotions (if you were proposed or if you knelt down on your knees while sweating with stress!) or simply to take a short break during the day, it’s time to enjoy an ice cream.

The great new is that you’re in the ideal place, very close to one of the 2 best ice cream shops of Rome: San Crispino located on the Via della Panatteria. The queue is often impressive, but the best things in life are the hardest to obtain!

And since opinions often differ on THE best ice cream in Rome, I also give you the name of San Crispino’s direct competitor, the gelateria “Giolliti” located in Via Uffici del Vicario.

Whichever you choose, you will face the same problem of long waiting line and multiple choice of perfume dilemma.

And yes, as you know from my articles on Nice or Annecy, I am a big ice cream fan! So I have a pro advice to give you: test both! It’s the best way to make up your own mind, isn’t it?

Top 10 Things to Do in Rome - Go shopping in Rome

If you want to do some shopping in Rome, it’s the right moment: You’re close to the 2 main shopping streets.

Go shopping in Via del corso

Go to Via del Corso to do some shopping at reasonable prices with big brands such as Zara or H&M.

Go shopping in Via condotti

If you have a higher budget or just want to admire the shop windows, continue your way on Via Condotti. It’s the most prestigious street of Rome with brands like Gucci, Armani or Prada. A bit like the Champs Elysée in Paris!

Top 11 Things to Do in Rome - Piazza di Spagna

The Via Condotti will take you straight to the charming Piazza di Spagna, certainly one of the most popular squares, thanks to the beautiful perspective it offers.

The Piazza di Spagna is located at the foot of the monumental staircase leading it to the Trinità dei Monti church. The flowery staircase is the perfect place to take a short break for tourists and Italians alike. A popular gathering place!

On the square, you can also see the Barcaccia fountain ,which adds to the charm of the place.

Top 12 Things to Do in Rome - Visit Rome’s churches

As I was saying, at the top of the Piazza di Spagna stairs, there is the Trinità dei Monti church which offers a breathtaking view of the city. Its location makes it one of the most famous churches in Rome. Did you knew that the city has no less than 900?

Here is a list of the most beautiful churches in Rome, some of them are true architecture masterpieces!

Let’s start with the 4 largest basilicas in the world, which fortunately are all in Rome:

  • The St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican city, which I am talking about in detail below
  • The Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, second largest after the Basilica di San Pietro, it’s also the cathedral of Rome,
  • The Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura, which marks the location of St. Paul’s tomb.
  • The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, the largest shrine in the city erected for the virgin Mary

Some other interesting churches to see in Rome:

  • Chiesa del Gesù
  • Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere
  • Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli
  • Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano
  • Chiesa di Santa Maria della Concezione
  • Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola (my favorite in rome)

Top 13 Things to Do in Rome - Villa Borghese gardens

North of Piazza di Spagna, there is the largest and certainly the most beautiful public park in Rome.

The Villa Borghese gardens offers a bit of very welcomed calm, after the crowded streets and tourist attractions! You will be able to walk in the wide shady alleys and at the edge of a lake surrounded by temples, statues and many fountains. The park also has a beautiful botanical garden.

To get there, go to Porta Pinciana or Piazzale Flaminio, the 2 park entrances.

Top 14 Things to Do in Rome - Visit Rome’s museums

The Villa Borghese park is also home to 3 museums:

  • The galleria Borghese that contains a collection of paintings and sculptures. Get your “skip the line” tickets here!
  • Museo Nazionale Etrusco, a collection of pre-Roman objects
  • Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna with remarkable paintings by Van Gogh and Cézanne

In addition to the museums located in the park, there are many others to visit in Rome, such as:

  • The Capitoline museums: On Piazza del Campidoglio, I told you about it a bit before
  • The Vatican museums: more than 13 museums grouped together in a huge architectural ensemble of nearly 7 kilometers long! Several possible routes ranging from 1h30 to 5 hours of visit. But don’t worry, all routes end at the very famous Sistine Chapel. To have more time to enjoy the visits, I highly recommand you to buy the skip the line tickets in advance. You will save a lot of time! 
  • Museo Palatino, with everything archaeologists discovered on Palatine Hill
  • Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica or National Gallery of Ancient Art, with a collection of Italian and European paintings. You should go there to admire the works of Raphael or Caravaggio.

Top 15 Things to Do in Rome - Piazza del Popolo

The Piazza del Popolo or People’s Square is located near Villa Borghese.

It’s one of the largest squares of Rome. It’s a major point of interest, with its fountains, 3 churches and obelisk. From the square, climb the stairs to the top of the hill, you will have a beautiful view up to the Vatican.

Top 16 Things to Do in Rome - The bridge and Castel Sant’Angelo

From the piazza, you can then follow the Tiber to the Sant’Angelo bridge and the castle of the same name located on the opposite bank.

The bridge is decorated with 10 statues representing angels, all designed by Bernini. From the bridge, you will have a magnificent view of the city and the river.

The Castel Sant’Angelo, on the other hand, was built by Emperor Hadrian to serve as a mausoleum. Later on, it started to play an important military role: it even served as a place of refuge for the popes during invasions! They have even created a direct access to the Vatican.

You can visit the castle, see the tombs and the ancient popes apartments. You shouldn’t miss the great view from the rampart walk.

Don’t waste your time waiting and buy the skip the line tickets in advance here.

Top 17 Things to Do in Rome - The Vatican

A long corridor leads from the Castel Sant’Angelo to the Vatican. Even if you’re not a believer, a visit to the Vatican is a must during a stay in Rome.

It’s the smallest country in the world, yet is one of the most visited places during a tour in Italy. Only priests and nuns, some dignitaries, guards, and of course the pope are allowed to live there.

A little fact about the guards: they are only Swiss and must of course be Catholic. They swear an oath of fidelity to the Pope himself.

This tradition goes back to the sack of Rome in 1527, when the Swiss guards protected the pope during his escape to the Sant’Angelo castle.

Top 18 - St. Peter’s Square

You will enter the Vatican through the famous St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro in Italian). Every year, millions of pilgrims and tourists comes to see this square!

St. Peter’s Square was designed with the following principle in mind: they wanted to allow the greatest number of people to see the Pope give his blessing from the balcony of  St. Peter’s Basilica.

Two colonnades surround the square, consisting of nearly 280 columns and 145 saints statues. In the center of St. Peter’s Square stands an Egyptian obelisk surrounded by 2 large fountains.

The long waiting lines to visit the basilica start from this square.

Top 19 - St. Peter’s Basilica

To visit St. Peter’s Basilica, you will have to be patient (or be smarter than others and buy the skip the lines tickets here!) However, once inside, the impressive basilica will make forget the long waiting hours. There, you can admire many altars and monuments and be impressed by the rich baroque decoration. To see:

  • The many funerary monuments of the popes
  • The famous Saint Peter’s statue
  • The gigantic dome designed by Michelangelo.

On the right side of the basilica, you can access the dome. You need to take an elevator first, and then, the hardest thing, to climb 323 extra steps.

It’s not recommended for claustrophobes, the ceiling is low and the corridors narrow, but your effort will be greatly rewarded by the magnificent view of the city of Rome.

The entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica is free of charge, you will just be searched at the entrance. Access to the dome has a fee.

Top 20 - Trastevere district

After the basilica and to stay on the right bank of the Tiber, I advise you to visit Trastevere district during your trip to Rome

This neighbourhood is becoming more and more trendy and a little “Hipster”, but for now it has retained all its original charm.

You will be (relatively) away from the crowd to discover its typical narrow and flowery streets. There is no big historical monument here like in the rest of Rome, but a real “Italian” neighborhood with its inhabitants and local shops.

I personally visited Trastevere in October, but it seems many tourists visit the area in high season and it becomes less quiet!

On your way to the north of the district, go up the Gianicolo hill to admire a beautiful panorama of the city.

Top 21 -  Where to eat in Rome: Have lunch in a trattoria!

The Trastevere district is also the ideal place to enjoy pizza or good pasta in a traditional trattoria. There are a lot of authentic local restaurants with nice small terraces and without too many tourists, it’s the perfect match!

Some nice places in the district:

  • Roma Sparita: Big terrace, traditional Roman cuisine. Don’t miss the speciality of the restaurant: the “cacio e pepe” spaghetti with pecorino cheese and pepper served in a cheese shell. This is my favorite for its great value for money. Requires reservation.
  • Antico Arco: Excellent dishes (especially the risotto) and a very good wine list. Bonus: they bring you a sample of your partner’s dish in a small plate so you can taste it.
  • Tonnarello: Typical, excellent cuisine on a very pleasant setting. Generous dishes at affordable prices.

Of course, if you’re not in the neighborhood for lunchtime, you won’t starve to death with the many choices of trattorias, restaurants and sandwich shops right in the heart of Rome’s historic centre:

  • Birra e sale: Located next to Piazza Navona. Sandwiches are delicious and made with fresh products. You should definitely try the cold cuts and cheeses!
  • Pizzeria Loffredo: Very good pizzas and fresh pasta. Great selection of dishes. Friendly atmosphere and very welcoming staff. Booking strongly recommended. Perfect price / quality!
  • Il Tamburello di Pulcinella: little family restaurant with food made by the mama. Pizzas, pastas, desserts, all home made for a reasonable price. Booking recommended.

Top 22 - Campo di Fiori

Since I’ve made your mouth water with Italian cuisine, let’s keep going! To enjoy the smell of fresh produce and admire their bright colors, I advise you to take a little walk through the campo di Fiori.

Every morning (except Sunday) there is a fruit, vegetable, meat and fish market. Although appreciated by tourists because it’s located in Rome historical centre, this small market has managed to preserve all its authenticity.

It’s the perfect place if you want to bring home high quality products from Italy, and it’s much cheaper than in Rome touristic areas!

Voyage Tips Advice

If you want to discover Rome’s gastronomy and typical products, you should book a street food guided tour with a local guide.

It’s clearly the best way to discover off the beaten track places and enjoy great italian food!

This tour is so amazing that they offer you a full refund if you don’t enjoy your time.

Top 23 - San Lorenzo district

Like Trastevere district, the San Lorenzo district is less known to tourist and clearly worth a look.

Originally a working-class district, it’s nowadays the student district, with Roman universities. In addition to students, it’s also the street artists favorite place.

And for amateurs, the nightlife is great and beer isn’t expensive at all!

Top 24 - Aventine Hill

A peaceful neighborhood, beautiful gardens and an incomparable view of the city, this is what the Aventine Hill (“Aventino” in Italian) has to offer!

You can also add:

  • Basilica di Santa Sabina all’Aventino
  • The famous Aventine Keyhole, located Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. You will see people standing in line to look through the keyhole (I won’t say anything more!).

The Aventine hill will also offer you one of the most beautiful views of Rome. Did I say that already? 

Top 25 - Visit the Catacombs of Rome

I will finish this list of the best things to do in Rome with an unusual activity: visiting the catacombs. I recommand you the Catacombs of Callixtus, the best to visit in my opinion!

Once used as cemeteries for Jews and Christians, they are the largest in the city and cover almost 15 hectares. On the walls, you can see representations of Christian life such as baptism and scenes from the Old and New Testaments.

The visit of Rome catacombs takes about 30 minutes and must be done with a guide.

Book the tickets for the tour here!

If you want to visit Rome’s catacombs during your stay, the easiest is probably to go to the Capuchin Crypt, as it’s located downtown, next to the Trevi Fountain. You should book the tickets for the tour bus rental Rome or coach rental Italy.

Other catacombs such as San Sebastian, Domitilla or Catacomb of Priscilla can also be visited. 

In conclusion

Rome, the eternal city, offers an astounding array of experiences that truly live up to its reputation. Our list of the "Top 25 Things to Do in Rome" has only scratched the surface of what this remarkable destination has to offer. From exploring ancient wonders to indulging in world-class cuisine and immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of Roman culture, there's no shortage of adventures to embark on in this historic city. Whether you're a history buff, an art enthusiast, a foodie, or simply a traveler seeking the magic of la dolce vita, Rome's timeless charm ensures there's something for everyone.

>> See more: What to do in Rome: beyond the Colosseum

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