Best 20 things to do in Rome, Italy

Welcome to Rome, the eternal city that's guaranteed to make your jaw drop! If you want to experience the best of this charming city, buckle up and get ready for some epic adventures. From exploring ancient ruins that'll make you feel like Indiana Jones, to savoring melt-in-your-mouth gelato on every street corner, Rome has it all. Whether you're throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain or belting out your favorite opera tune at the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica, Rome will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Just remember to pack your walking shoes and appetite, because there's plenty of pizza and pasta to conquer in between sightseeing!

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1. Castel Sant'Angelo

4.7 (76548)

Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma RM, Italy

Nestled amidst the romantic charm of Rome, the Castel Sant'Angelo stands tall, almost like that one friend who's always waiting to photobomb your pictures with their elegant aura. Originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, this extravagant fortress has seen it all – from being a lavish tomb to a papal residence, it’s like a swanky chameleon of architecture. With its impressive cylindrical shape, it's like a giant stone cousin of the world-famous tiramisu – you just can't resist taking a bite out of that architectural delight!

castelsantangelo.beniculturali.it

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2. Roman Forum

4.7 (116966)

Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Welcome to the legendary Roman Forum in Rome, where history comes alive and ruins become hip! Step into the buzzing heart of ancient Rome, where emperors roamed and togas ruled the fashion scene. Marvel at the impressive remnants of once grand temples, basilicas, and buildings, but don't forget your gladiator sandals – who knows when you might stumble upon a spontaneous battle reenactment? With its breathtaking views and centuries-old stories, the Roman Forum is a must-visit spot for all history buffs, as well as for anyone in dire need of an epic selfie with Julius Caesar's distant cousin's nephew twice removed.

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3. Piazza Navona

4.7 (165592)

Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Welcome to Piazza Navona, the lively and eccentric heart of Rome! This bustling square is like the class clown among Roman landmarks, with its vibrant energy and unique quirks. Marvel at the baroque beauty of the Sant'Agnese in Agone church, but don't be surprised if the statues seem to be whispering gossip about the tourists. Take a leisurely stroll along the oblong shape of the piazza, and if you're lucky, you might witness a heated debate between street artists over who can draw the most exaggerated caricature. Piazza Navona is the perfect spot to embrace the vibrant Italian culture while enjoying a gelato, just remember to watch out for the seagulls who might want a nibble too – they've got their eyes on your tasty treat!

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4. Colosseum

4.7 (342098)

Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy

Welcome to Rome, where stunning architectural wonders await your exploration! One such marvel is the Colosseum, a colossal amphitheater that could make even the most skeptical of architects blush. With its impressive limestone façade, this grandiose structure has been teasing gravity for almost two millennia, making it the perfect spot to soak up some Roman history while hoping it doesn't decide to crumble just as you snap a selfie. And let's not forget that the Colosseum is like a time machine back to the days of gladiators, where you can imagine yourself cheering for your favorite combatants, or perhaps lean into your inner Russell Crowe and recite cheesy one-liners about vengeance and freedom.

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5. Campo de' Fiori

Campo de' Fiori, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Welcome to Campo de' Fiori, the lively square in Rome where history meets a vibrant atmosphere, like a bougie disco party with centuries-old confetti. Here, you'll find a delightful mishmash of food stalls, performing street artists, and locals strutting around in fashionable attire that says, "I'm too cool for tourists." Spoiler alert: the square doesn't actually mean "field of flowers," despite what your garden-loving cousin might think - it's more of a "field of action" where the party never stops.

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6. Vatican City

00120 Vatican City

Welcome to Vatican City, the small, yet seriously influential city-state nestled within Rome! Prepare yourself for an awe-inspiring experience, where even the pigeons strut with a papal air. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as you'll need them to explore the not-so-sizable, yet mind-bogglingly impressive St. Peter's Square - a plaza so big it could practically host a dance marathon of holy proportions. Don't fret if you can't find the Holy Grail though, it's probably just on display at the Vatican Museums, where you'll have the chance to marvel at so many masterpieces that even Michelangelo might suffer from a tiny bit of artist envy.

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7. Trastevere

Trastevere, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome Capital, Italy

Welcome to Trastevere, Rome's unofficial backyard filled with cobblestone streets, bohemian vibes, and more gelato shops than there are grains of sand on a crowded beach. As you wander through this delightful district, be prepared to navigate narrow alleys that defy all logic of direction, making it the perfect place to brush up on your cartography skills or just get lost and pretend it was intentional. With lively piazzas and locals buzzing around on their Vespas, Trastevere is the epitome of charming chaos, where you can indulge in authentic Italian cuisine while playing a real-life game of "Dodge the Scooter."

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8. Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo, Roma RM, Italy

Welcome to Piazza del Popolo, the lively square in Rome where history and merriment collide like two overly enthusiastic bumper cars! Prepare to be mesmerized by the grandeur of the imposing Egyptian Obelisk, standing tall like a strict but fashionable schoolmarm keeping an eye on the mischievous children playing below. While you soak in the exquisiteness of the twin churches on either side, don't forget to indulge in some people-watching, as the square attracts a peculiar blend of tourists, self-proclaimed fashionistas, and the occasional pigeon whisperer.

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9. St. Peter's Basilica

4.8 (135120)

Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

Prepare to step into a realm of architectural grandeur where St. Peter's Basilica in Rome graces the skyline like a well-dressed giraffe towering over the Serengeti. Bursting with history, this colossal masterpiece gives even the most sophisticated selfie stick a serious workout. As you explore its hallowed halls, be prepared to dodge eager tourists who've mistaken Michelangelo's dome for the world's largest pizza, and remember to be extra careful not to offend any of the resident pigeons who surely consider themselves the true Vatican VIPs.

www.vatican.va

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10. Sistine Chapel

4.7 (62441)

00120, Vatican City

Welcome to the Sistine Chapel in Rome, a majestic masterpiece that will leave you agape and thankful that Michelangelo actually had a neck! Prepare to crane your own neck too (pun intended) as you marvel at the awe-inspiring frescoes adorning the ceiling. If you think this is just any old chapel, think again. The Sistine Chapel is the Vatican's version of "Pimp My Chapel," where every nook and cranny is lavishly decorated for the ultimate heavenly experience.

www.museivaticani.va

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11. Galleria Doria Pamphilj

4.6 (5179)

Via del Corso, 305, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Welcome to Galleria Doria Pamphilj, where art lovers can not only appreciate exceptional masterpieces, but also marvel at the art of avoiding fellow tourists in narrow corridors. Prepare to navigate through opulent rooms filled with artworks that make you feel small, not only because of their grandeur, but also due to the impressive number of family portraits staring at you judgmentally. Don't forget to admire the dazzling Hall of Mirrors, perfect for pretending you’re in a fancy royal palace but with less worry about breaking anything.

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12. Capitoline Hill

4.8 (142)

Capitoline Hill, 00186 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome Capital, Italy

Welcome to the magnificent Capitoline Hill, or as the Romans like to call it, the OG of hills in Rome! This iconic hump-shaped gem offers a mind-blowing view of the city, making it the ideal spot for anyone looking to channel their inner superhero and dramatically gaze off into the distance. Marvel at the breathtaking Renaissance architecture of Michelangelo's staircase, which promises to leave you speechless, unless you're the chatty type, in which case it might only leave you partially speechless.

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13. Appian Way

4.6 (1556)

Via Appia Antica, 42, 00178 Roma RM, Italy

Welcome to the eccentric and ancient Appian Way in Rome, where history breathes alongside a good dose of mischief! This path, originally paved with stones over two millennia ago, connects the city with a blend of quaint landscapes and offbeat attractions. While strolling along this legendary route, keep an eye out for catacombs, ancient Roman tombs, and even the occasional stray gladiator—proof that Rome's notorious past isn't always just resting in peace!

www.parcoappiaantica.it

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14. Palatine Hill

4.7 (1642)

Palatine Hill, 00186 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome Capital, Italy

Nestled like a noble grandparent sitting on a comfy sofa, Palatine Hill awaits your eager exploration in the heart of Rome. With its almost-giddy elevation, this historic hill offers front-row seats to the eternal city, guaranteeing stunning views that will make even the most jaded travelers let out an involuntary gasp. Step back in time as you stroll through its ancient ruins, marveling at how the Romans managed to build impressive palaces and majestic gardens without the help of IKEA.

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15. Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia, Roma RM, Italy

Tucked away in the bustling heart of Rome, you'll stumble upon Piazza Venezia faster than you can say "gelato." This lively square is a veritable playground for history enthusiasts, boasting a stunning mishmash of architectural styles that could confuse even the smartest GPS. The white behemoth, known as Altare della Patria, stands tall and proud like the fearless leader of an army of gelato stands, commanding your attention and your tastebuds.

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16. Villa Borghese Gardens

4.6 (72177)

00197 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome Capital, Italy

Welcome to Villa Borghese Gardens, Rome's best-kept secret escape from the city chaos! These lush gardens, conveniently located in the heart of Rome, offer you a chance to stroll, relax, and even pretend to be royalty for a day. Indulge in the park's sweet serenity while trying to avoid those determined couples on rental tandem bikes, desperately trying to maintain balance and their relationship all at once.

www.060608.it

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17. Pantheon

4.8 (198253)

Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Welcome to the Pantheon - where the gods only know how they built it! This awe-inspiring ancient Roman structure will leave you gobsmacked, and no, I'm not talking about the pigeon population that seems to have taken up permanent residence on its roof. Prepare to be wowed by the massive dome that looks like it's been photoshopped straight out of Mount Olympus itself.

www.pantheonroma.com

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18. Spanish Steps

4.5 (60810)

Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

Welcome to the iconic Spanish Steps in Rome, where you can embark on a never-ending quest to count every step while getting slightly out of breath! These 135 mesmerizing steps bring out the inner athlete in even the most dedicated couch potato. Be prepared to engage in an intense stair-climbing competition with the relentless Roman pigeons, who always seem to be one step ahead of you (pun intended).

www.turismoroma.it

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19. Borghese Gallery

4.6 (19339)

Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma RM, Italy

Welcome to the Borghese Gallery, where art and elegance collide in a fancy mansion turned museum! Brace yourself for a delightful journey through history, as you wander among masterpieces, feeling slightly inadequate in comparison to all that talent. Prepare to have your mind blown by Bernini's sculptures, so lifelike you'll start checking if they're breathing!

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20. Trevi Fountain

4.8 (357519)

Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

Welcome to the Trevi Fountain, the ultimate destination for those who've always dreamed of making a splash. This iconic masterpiece, created by Nicola Salvi, stands tall and mighty, ready to grant your wishes, as long as you're willing to toss in a coin or two. Prepare to be dazzled as you witness the spectacular sight of this Baroque wonder, filled with water as clear and refreshing as the bottled kind (although I wouldn't recommend taking a sip).

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How to get there

Plane

The best way to get to Rome by plane is to fly into Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO), which is the main airport in Rome. Many major airlines such as Alitalia, Delta, and United offer direct flights to FCO from various cities around the world.

Car

Driving to Rome is possible, but it can be quite challenging as the traffic in the city can be hectic. If you do plan to drive, the Rome-Fiumicino Motorway offers a direct route from the airport to the city center.

Train

Traveling to Rome by train is an excellent option, with Roma Termini being the central railway station. You can take a high-speed train such as the Eurostar from cities like Milan or Naples.

Boat

Though Rome is not directly accessible by boat, you can take a cruise to the nearby port of Civitavecchia, which is around an hour's drive from Rome. From there, you can take a train or a bus to the city center.

Bus

Taking a bus is a cheaper alternative to travel to Rome. You can take a coach service such as FlixBus from various cities throughout Europe, with the bus stop located at Tiburtina Station in Rome.

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The Ultimate 4-Day Roman Adventure on a Budget

Explore the ancient city of Rome without breaking the bank. Reap the benefits of free entry to the magnificent landmarks such as the Colosseum, Pantheon and the Roman Forum. Indulge in authentic Italian cuisine without denting your wallet, with a plethora of budget-friendly restaurants and street food vendors to choose from.

Rome in a Day: How to See It All

A trip to Rome, Italy as a tourist offers a perfect blend of ancient history and modernity. Visitors can marvel at the awe-inspiring Colosseum and Pantheon while also enjoying the diverse culinary scene and bustling nightlife. Liberal doses of gelato, espresso, and wine are guaranteed to make memories of Rome last a lifetime.

Budget-Friendly Day Trip: Roman Adventure

A trip to Rome, Italy on a limited budget could still be filled with unforgettable experiences. Visit free attractions like the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, and enjoy street food like pizza al taglio and supplì. Stay in budget-friendly hostels or vacation rentals, and take advantage of affordable public transportation options like the metro or buses.

Rome in 4: From Gladiators to Gelato!

A family friendly trip to Rome, Italy offers a perfect balance of history, culture, and entertainment for everyone. Explore iconic landmarks such as the Colosseum, Vatican City, and the Roman Forum, immersing your family in the rich history of the city. Enjoy delicious Italian cuisine, indulge in gelato, and take a stroll through the charming streets of Rome, creating unforgettable memories for the whole family.