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Top 15 Best Things to Do in Rome, Italy

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Planning a trip to Rome Italy and wondering what to do in Rome, what to see in Rome, and where to go in Rome? I enjoyed my recent trip to Rome a lot. Check out my guide to the 15 best things to do in Rome for the first-timers!

Touring the Vatican Musuems is among the best things to do in Rome Italy
The Vatican Museums

Rome is a top destination for lovers of history, culture, art, and food. There is so much to do in Rome. From sightseeing ancient Roman sites and the holy sites in the Vatican, visiting museums and galleries, wandering beautiful piazzas and cobbled streets, sampling Roman culture food, and more. 

However, here are the 15 best things to do in Rome for the first-timers. 


The 15 Things to Do in Rome, Italy 

The 15 top things to do in Rome

1. Tour the Colosseum 

The Colosseum is a landmark of Rome and a top tourist attraction. Rome’s Colosseum is a World Heritage Site and one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. 

The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater of ancient Rome. The tremendous building had three tiers, 80 entrance arches, and the capacity to receive more than 50,000 spectators. 

It is the most visited tourist attraction in Rome. Around 7 million people a year visit the Colosseum. Only 3,000 visitors a day are allowed to visit it. Thus, I highly recommend buying a ticket to the Colosseum in advance!

The Colosseum opens for visitors at 9 am every day. It closes at 4.30 pm-5 pm in winter-autumn and 7 pm in spring-summer. A ticket to the Colosseum goes from 18€ (the Standard Ticket) to 24€ (the Full Experience Ticket). 

The Colosseum is in the center of the historic center of Rome, next to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. It is a 1-min walk from the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. 
The Colosseum is a must-see in Rome. Check out my Tips for Visiting the Colosseum to find out how to visit the Colosseum the best. 

Visiting the Colosseum is among the top best things to do in Rome Italy
The Colosseum and Arch of Constantine
Visiting the Colosseum is among the top best things to do in Rome Italy
The Colosseum

2. Visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

The Roman Forum was the main square of the ancient Rome. It was its heart.

The Roman Forum was the center of ancient Rome and the focal point of the daily public life and commercial affairs of ancient Rome for 1,400 years. The Forum was active from the 8th century BC to around 600 AD.

Today, you can see the ruins and fragments of ancient monuments that once stood around the Roman Forum. Some of them are ruins now, and some are reconstructed. Among the most significant ancient monuments are temples (like the Temple of Vesta, Temple of Saturn, Temple of Caesar, Temple of Vespasian and Titus, and Temple of Romulus), arches (like the Arch of Constantine and Arch of Titus), government buildings and residences (like the residence of Roman kings, the official meeting places for the Roman Senate, the House of Vestal Virgins, etc.), and early Christian churches. 

The Roman Forum is in the valley between the Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill.
The Via Sacra (the main street of ancient Rome) connects the Palatine Hill with the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. 

The Palatine Hill is one of the seven hills of ancient Rome and the birthplace of ancient Rome. The cave in which She-Wolf found Romulus and Remus was there. The first ancient settlement of Rome was on the Palatine Hill, too. Later Roman emperors had their residences on Palatine Hill.
Today, you can see the residences of Roman emperors Augustus, Tiberius, and Nero, the house of Livia Augusta, the Palatine Museum, the Hut of Romulus and Remus, the Farnese Gardens, and underground tunnels. 

A ticket to the Colosseum includes a visit to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Visit to these three most important sites of ancient Rome takes 3 hours on average. It can take up to 5 hours, though. 
The most popular tour is the Priority Access to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Tour. Check out the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Platine Hill in Rome!

Seeing the famous Arch of Constantine near Colosseum is among the best things to do in Rome Italy
The Arch of Constantine
Guide to Best things to do in Rome
Trajan’s Forum

3. Enjoy the 360-degree views of Rome from the top terrace of the Alter of the Fatherland 

The Alter of the Fatherland is one of the most marvellous monuments of Rome. 

The monument honors Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of unified Italy. The Alter of the Fatherland is a national symbol of Italy and the central place of military parades and state celebrations. 

The Alter of the Fatherland is a beautiful neoclassical marble monument with wide stairways, fountains, columns, and a colossal statue of Victor Emmanuel II on horseback. 

The complex houses the Museum of Italian Unification, too. In addition, a spacious terrace (reached by 196 steps or an elevator) is on the top of the monument. 

The terrace provides 360-degree views of Rome. Stairs to the terrace are free for use, but there is a charge of 7€ for an elevator. The panoramic views of the Roman Forum, Colosseum, and Palatine Hill are among the top things to do in Rome, Italy. There is a cafe on the terrace. Make a stop while sightseeing in Rome, sit in the cafe, and enjoy your espresso with the views of ancient Rome. 

The Pizza Venezia is a must on any one day in Rome itinerary
The Alter of the Fatherland
A view of Rome from the Alter of the Fatherland in Rome  Italy
A view of Rome from the Alter of the Fatherland

4. Throw a coin in Trevi Fountain 

Fontana di Trevi is one of the most famous fountains in the world for its beauty and impressive water feature. It is one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture. 

Trevi fountain shows a statue of Oceanus (god of water) in the center with the statues of Abundance and Health on the sides. The statutes of Triton (a semi-god of the sea with the torso of a man and the tale of fish) and hippocamps (sea horses) are below them. 

This 18th-century Baroque fountain is among the most popular tourist attractions in Rome. A legend says that a person who throws one coin with their right hand over the left shoulder will return to Rome. But, if they toss two coins, they will fall in love with an Italian man/lady. If they toss three coins, they will get married to the person they met and fell in love with.

Trevi Fountain is in the heart of Rome.  It is 10 minutes from the Forum Romanum, a 10-minute walk from the Pantheon, and 10 minutes from the Spanish Steps. 
Trevi Fountain stands at the crossroads of three streets. Its name translates to ‘Three Street Fountain”.  The word ‘tre’ means ‘three’, and ‘via’ means ‘road/street’ in Italian. 

Trevi Fountain is one of the most spectacular fountains in the world. The fountain is transcendently impressive at night. Head to Fontana di Trevi at night to admire it in all of its beauty. 

Seeing Trevi Fountain at night is among the best things to do in Rome Italy
Trevi Fountain at night

5. Tour Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museum is among the most visited places in Rome. It is the second most visited art museum in the world. (Only the Louvre sees more visitors than the Vatican Museum). Vatican Museums see about 5 million visitors each year. 

It is among the largest museums in the world. It has about 2,000 rooms that cover 9 mi (15 km) and a collection of 70,000 works. Only 20,000 artworks in 24 galleries are on public display, though. 

The best parts of the Vatican Museum are the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Room, the Gallery of Geographical Maps, the Pinacoteca, the Pio-Clementino Museum, and the Gregorian Egyptian Museum. 

Vatican Musumes keep masterpieces of the greatest artists in the world like Giotto, Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, etc. The estimated worth of the art collection is € 15 billion. 

A visit to the Vatican Museums takes 3-4 hours. The Vatican Museums usually see long waiting queues of visitors. Thus, booking a ticket in advance is recommended. The ticket is 20 €. 

Vatican Museums are open from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm Mon – Thur and from 8.30 to 10.30 pm Fri – Sat. Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays. 

Touring the Vatican Musuems is among the best things to do in Rome Italy
The Gallery of Geographic Maps in the Vatican Museums
Touring the Vatican Musuems is among the best things to do in Rome Italy
The Vatican Museums
Touring the Vatican Musuems is among the best things to do in Rome Italy
The modern ‘Bramante’ stairs of the Vatican Museums

6. Visit the Basilica of St Peter’s 

The Basilica of St Peter’s is the largest church in the world. It is also one of the finest examples of Italian Renaissance architecture and a World Heritage site. 

The St. Peter’s Basilica stands over the burial site of St Peter the Apostle and the first pope. For the same reason, over 300 tombs of popes, cardinals, and bishops are in St. Peter’s Basilica. Visiting the Vatican Grottoes (the underground chambers and chapels with the tombs of popes, church dignitaries, and monarchs) is a unique experience. 

The main altar of the Basilica stands above the burial site of St Peter, while the famous Baldachin by Bernini covers the altar. 

The bronze statue of St Peter is on the right side of the Baldachin. Pilgrims often wait in lines before the statute to touch its foot for a blessing.  

Donato Bramante designed the original Basilica in the 16th century. However, after his death, many great architects, like Raphael and Michelangelo, continued his work and did some redesigns. Maderno designed the facade, built in travertine stone, with massive Corinthian columns and the statues of Jesus and the twelve apostles. Bernini designed the elliptical St. Peter’s Square with 284 Doric columns and a giant red-granite Egyptian obelisk in the middle. 

Many artworks (mosaics, statues, paintings, etc.) are within the church. However, the most famous is the marble Pieta by Michelangelo, placed on the right side, near the entrance of the Basilica.

Entrance to the Basilica is free. St. Peter’s Basilica is open from 7 am to 7 pm (April-Sep) and from 7 am to 6.30 pm (Oct-March). 

Seeing the Baldachin by Bernini in St Peter's Basilica is among the best things ot do in Rome Italy
The Baldachin by Bernini
Seeing the famous Pieta by Michelangelo in St Peter's Basilica is among the best things to do in Rome Italy
Pieta by Michelangelo

7. Climb the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica

With a height of 137 m, the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is the tallest in the world. It dominates the skyline of Rome. 

Bramante designed the original cupola inspired by the cupola of the Pantheon. However, Sangallo and Michelangelo redesigned it later. Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana did the final work of the cupola, following Michalangelo’s design. Shiny golden mosaics adorn its interior, and medallions with the portraits of four Evangelists are at the base. The interior has illustrations of Godfather at the top and illustrations of angels (Seraphims, Cherubs, and other angels), Jesus, the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, Saint Paul and the Twelve Apostles, bishops, and patriarchs. 

However, the views of Rome from the top of the dome are the ultimate treat!
To reach the top, visitors need to take an elevator or climb 230 steps to a platform before climbing the final 320 steps! 
Ticket for climbing the stairs is 8 € and 10 € for the elevator.

The St. Peter’s Basilica Dome is open from 8 am – 5 pm (October – March) and 8 am – 6 pm ( April – September) every day except Wednesday. It is closed on Wednesdays.

The view of St Peter's Square from the Dome
The view of St Peter’s Square from the Dome

8. See Piazza Navona at night 

Piazza Navona is among the most beautiful squares in Rome. 

It is a Baroque square with three masterpiece fountains: the Fountain of Neptune, the Fountain of the Moor, and the Fountain of the Four Rivers. The beautiful Church of Sant’ Agnese in Agone is on one side of the square. 

The fountains at Pizza Navona are some of the most beautiful in Rome. 

Bernini designed the Fountain of the Four Rivers. The fountain shows gods of four rivers (Nile, Danube, Ganges, the River Plata) with an Egyptian obelisk from Aswan granite in the middle. 

The Fountain of Moor is on the southern edge of Piazza Navone. Giacomo della Porta, a famous Renaissance sculptor, designed the original fountain without the statues in the 16th century. In the 17th century, Bernini designed the central statue of a Moor, while Giovanni Antonio Mari designed the rest of the statues. 
The fountain shows a Moor standing in a shell and wrestling with a dolphin while four Tritons surround them. 

The Fountain of Neptune is on the northern edge of the piazza. 
Giacomo della Porta designed the original fountain without the statues in teh 16th century. But, in the 19th century, Antonio della Bitta designed the central statue of Neptune fighting with an octopus, while Gregorio Zappala added Nereids with cups and walruses. 

Piazza Navona, with its stunning fountains, is extraordinarily impressive at night. 

Strolling piazza Navona at night is among the best things to do in Rome Italy
Moor Fountain at night

9. Visit the Pantheon 

The Pantheon is a symbol of Rome. The Pantheon was a Roman temple but became a Catholic church in the 7th century. It has been in use ever since then. The Pantheon is one of the best-preserved ancient Roman buildings for being still in use. 

While the Pantheon looks not so beautiful from the outside, its interior is quite the opposite. The central space is the enormous Grand Rotunda, covered with the dome and the Oculus (the Eye of the Pantheon) on top of it. 

The Oculus is a hole at the top of the dome through which light gets into the Pantheon. The floor and the decorations are marble of different colors. There are several alters (the Main Alter of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, The Altar of the Holy Spirit, The Altar of St. Peter, and The Altar of St. Paul), chaples (Chapel of St. Joseph, Chapel of the Madonna of Clemency, Chapel of the Crucifixion and Chapel of the Annunciation), statues (like statues of Jupiter, Mars, and Venus) and tombs. The most noteworthy tombs are the tombs of Raphael, the Italian Renaissance master painter and architect, and Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy.

The Pantheon is open from 9 am to 6.30 pm from Monday to Sunday. A Pantheon ticket is 5 €. Tickets are available on the site. 

However, since the Pantheon is a top tourist attraction in Rome, the lines for visiting it are long. Consider buying a Skip-the-Line ticket online in advance

Visiting the Pantheon is among the best things to do in Rome Italy
The Pantheon

10. Tour the Borghese Gallery 

Borghese Gallery in Rome is one of the best art galleries in the world. 

The collection covers masterpiece paintings, sculptures, and antiquities over two floors and 20 luxuriously decorated rooms. 

The collection has over 500 paintings, including several masterpieces by Caravaggio, Canova, Titian, and Raphael. The sculptures in the gallery date to the 16th century and 17th centuries, while the most famous are by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (like the sculptures of David, Neptune, Apollo, and Daphne).

Borghese Gallery is a must-visit place in Rome for art lovers. 

The gallery is in the 17th-century Villa Borghese Pinciana in the center of Rome. Apart from the impressive art collection, the Villa Borghese has gorgeous gardens with beautiful fountains, sculptures, and monuments. It is almost impossible to get a ticket on-site. I highly recommend booking a ticket in advance or taking a tour with the Skip-the-Line ticket. 

The Borghese Gallery working time: 
9 am – 7 pm Tue, Fri, Sat, Sun
9 am – 10 pm Wed,
9 am – 9 pm Thur

Borghese Gallery is closed on Monday. A ticket to the Borgese Gallery is €13,00. 

Touring Borghese Gallery is among the best things to do in Rome Italy
Villa Borghese in Rome
Touring the Borghese Gallery is among the top things to do in Rome Italy
David by Bernini in Borghese Gallery

11. Piazza Campidoglio & Capitoline Museums 

Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline Square) is one of the most beautiful squares in Rome. 

Michelangelo designed the current layout in the 16th century. Capitoline Square was the first modern square in Rome. 

Capitoline Square is on Capitoline Hill, one of the seven hills of ancient Rome. 
The first settlements of ancient Rome were on Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill. 
The political and religious center was on Capitoline Hill. The city archive (Tabularium) and the three main temples (temples of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva) stood on Capitoline Hill. 

In the 16th century, Michelangelo redefined the into an impressive square. Three palaces (Palazzo Senatorio, Palazzo dei Conservatori, and Palazzo Nuovo) are on the three sides of the square, while a statute of Marcus Aurelius is in its center. 

The most important building on Capitoline Hill is Capitoline Museums, a world-renowned twin museum. The Capitoline Museums are in Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo.
The Capitoline Museums are home to the grandest collection of artifacts of ancient Rome. The Capitoline Museums are a must-visit for history buffs, particularly those interested in the history of ancient Rome. The Hall of Philosophers and the Hall of Emperors are the most visited exhibition rooms of the museum. The Hall of Philosophers holds the busts of Greek and Roman philosophers, poets, and orators, and the Hall of Emperors holds the marble busts of 67 Roman emperors. The most famous exhibits are Medusa by Bernini, Capitoline Venus, Dying Gaul, the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, and the Capitoline Wolf.

The ticket to the Capitoline Museums is 16 €. The museum is open seven days a week from 9.30 am to 7.30 pm. Visit to the Capitoline Museums takes 2 hours on average.

Visiting the Capitoline Museum is among the top things to do in Rome Italy
The Capitoline Museums
Visiting the Capitoline Museum is among the top things to do in Rome Italy
The She-Wolf with Romulus and Remus

12. Explore Trastevere 

Trastevere is an arty, bohemian, and colorful neighborhood of Rome. Once a working-class district of Rome, modern-day Trastevere is one of the loveliest places to live in Rome. It is a picture-perfect neighborhood with tiny cobbled alleys, pretty piazzas, beautiful churches, ocher-coloured buildings, and small shops. 

Trastevere is particularly famous for its vivid gourmand scene, filled with al-fresco dining restaurants, family-run trattorias, small pizzerias, bars, and cafes. The neighborhood gets especially lovely at night when the lights come on and nightlife bursts. Trastevere is among the top areas in Rome for relaxed strolls, enjoying food (street food as much as fine dining), and nightlife. The heart of Trastevere is the piazza Santa Maria di Trastevere. The stunning medieval Basilica di Santa Maria di Trastevere church is on the same-named square. It is the oldest Marian church in Rome and one of the oldest churches in Rome overall! Pretty restaurants and bars are around the basilica. The 16th-century Villa Farnesina, a top attraction for art lovers, is a 10-minute walk from the basilica. This Renaissance palace is best known for the frescoes by Raphael. Ombre Rosse restaurant in Trastevere is among the top-rated restaurants in Rome. The ambiance is fabulous, and the food is perfect.  If you like taking food tours on your travels, check out this Roman Food Tour in Trastevere.

Trastevere is south of the Vatican in the southwestern corner of Rome. Trastevere is across the Tiber River from the historic center (Trastevere translates ‘across the river’). Trastevere is a 15-minute walk from Colosseum and a 20-minute walk from the Vatican.  

13. Eat as Romans do 

Sampling local food is a top travel experience. Savoruing traditional Roman food is one of the best things to do in Rome. 

Traditional Roman cuisine is best known for delicious pasta dishes like pasta carbonara, pasta amatriciana, tonnarelli cacio e pepe, and pasta alla gricia, but also for food delicacies like Roman-style or Jewish-style artichokes. Roman street food like suppli, fried squash flowers, and pizza al taglio are not less tasty either. 

In addition, meat lovers rave about Saltimbocca alla Romana, a veal-based Roman dish with sage and prosciutto. Read my complete Guide to Food in Rome

Tonnarelli cacio e pepe is a must-try food in Rome Italy
Tonnarelli cacio e pepe

14. Have an espresso in the iconic Antico El Greco Caffe 

The Antico Caffè Greco Rome is a coffee institution in Rome. 

Opened in 1760, it is the oldest cafe in Rome. 
Numerous famous historical figures sipped their coffees there. Like Lord Byron, Goethe, Nietzsche, Wagner, Keats, Thomas Mann, Mark Twain, James Joyce, and Orson Wells, to name a few. 

The Antico El Greco Caffe is an iconic cafe in Rome and a must-visit for coffee enthusiasts.
Read more about Visiting the Antico El Greco Caffe.

Antico Caffè Greco in Rome Italy
Antico Caffè Greco in Rome

15. Indulge in gelato in Rome 

The iconic gelato is the most famous Italian dessert

Gelato is a symbol of Italian food culture, as much as pasta, pizza, and espresso are. 

There’s no visit to the Eternal City without indulging in local artisan gelato. 

If you are searching for the best gelato in Rome, try it in Frigidarium near Pantheon, Günther near Ponte Sisto bridge, or Otaleg in Trastevere. These are the top gelato shops in Rome. 

Gelato is a popular food in Rome
Gelato from Oataleg gelato shop

Where to stay in Rome in 2 days

Hotel Barrett – a lovely hotel with an excellent location near the Pantheon in the historic center of Rome, with great service and breakfast.
Horti 14 Borgo Trastevere Hotel – a luxury boutique hotel with large designer rooms and a fabulous breakfast in Trastevere.


ROME: Read about a perfect 2 days in Rome itinerary, Must-Try Food in Rome, Tips for Visiting the Colosseum in Rome, visiting the iconic Sant Eustachio Il Caffe in Rome, savoring coffee in the famed Antico Caffe Greco in Rome, the Best Day Trips from Rome and Rome in One Day Itinerary
NAPLES: Read about The Best Things to Do in Naples, One Day in Naples Itinerary, and find out Where to Stay in Naples, Italy.
TUSCANY: Check out my Tuscany Travel Guide, a perfect Tuscany road trip itinerary, the stunning Tuscan villas to rent, and must-try food in Tuscany.
UMBRIA: Read about the Best Things to do in Umbria and the Best Towns in Umbria. Check out the tourist map of Assisi with the most famous sites, and find out How to Visit the Basilica of St Rita in Cascia, Umbria.
ITALY IN GENERAL: Read about the best traditional Italian food, typical Italian desserts to try, the most popular Italian drinks in Italy, and where to go for the best truffle Hunting in Italy.
EMILIA ROMAGNA: Find out the Best Things to do in Bologna
PUGLIA: Read about the best places to visit in Puglia, the best food to try in Puglia, a perfect Puglia road trip itinerary, things to do in Alberobello, the amazing trulli of Alberobello in Puglia. Find out How to Visit the Sanctuary of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo in Puglia.
BASILICATA: Read about the Best Things to Do in Matera
VENICE: The must-see magnificent Venice Carnival: Its masks and costumes

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