As destinations go, few rival Rome’s reputation.
Ancient, romantic, spell-binding…the superlatives are endless for this astounding city, and it’s a trip everyone should make at least once in their life.
Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, or just off on your own Eat, Pray, Love adventure, there’s an endless list of things to do in Rome. So much that it can be a little overwhelming.
To help with your trip planning, here’s a list of the best things to do in Rome.
If we broke down every historical site in Rome, we’d have a 500-piece article. So, to keep things simple, we’ve condensed the city’s rich past into one all-encompassing segment.
At the top of the list are some world-renowned headliners. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon are all icons in their own right. The former, once the site of bloody gladiatorial battles, is particularly epic and a firm can’t-miss on any Rome itinerary. You can explore them yourself or take a guided tour with an expert to deepen your understanding of them.
If you’re on a return visit, some lesser-known sites include the Baths of Caracalla, the Gladiator School, the Temples of the Form Boarium, the Pyramid of Cestius, and Palatine Hill. Palatine Hill holds special significance as the supposed site of Romulus’ murder of his brother Remus.
Explore the Vatican
As the spiritual center of the Catholic faith, Rome is home to the Vatican. Technically a country within itself, days could be spent exploring the site. From the wonders of Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, to the staggering St Peter’s Basilica, it won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
While many think a visit entails a quick look at the Basilica and Chapel, the Vatican actually boasts over nine miles of museums. There are only 20,000 pieces on display at any one time, with many of the most significant works ever created found within its halls. It’s not to be missed.
Dabble in some wishful thinking at the Trevi Fountain
Many a romantic movie has found the leading couple bearing their souls to one another in front of the Trevi Fountain. While we can’t guarantee a wondrous love story, Rome’s largest water feature is a must for any visitors to the city.
While over-tourism has made it a bit of a controversial spot in recent years, an early morning visit still allows you to enjoy the fountain at its quietest. You can still expect a few influencers kicking around, though. Make sure to stroll past in the evening when it’s illuminated.
Get your art cap on at Rome’s museums
surprise that Rome is packed with world-class museums. The Capitoline Museums date back to 1471, making them the oldest museums in the world. Packed with both art and archeological artifacts, they’re one of the best to visit.
If you have more of an eye for contemporary art, head to MAXXI. The strikingly modern building houses a host of unique exhibitions, often partnering with the likes of MoMA New York. Check what’s on before you go to see if anything catches your eye.
Other highlights include the Galleria Borghese, Scuderie del Quirinale, and the Capuchin Crypt, a spooky museum housing the bones of 3,700 Capuchin monks.
Take a day trip to Pompei
While you’re in the region, it would be a shame to miss out on one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time:Pompei. Buried in 79 AD by a vicious volcanic eruption, the Roman settlement and its inhabitants are frozen in time.
While several days are required to take in the entire expansive site, it’s possible to take in the highlights on a day trip from Rome. Grab an early high-speed train, and you should have plenty of time. There’s a direct train in the works which should be ready in the next few years, making it even easier.
Spend the morning exploring Rome’s markets
Rome’s markets are a wonder to experience. From mouthwatering local produce to knickknacks and flea markets, there’s treasure to be found.
Amazingly, many of the markets have remained relatively free from the negative impacts of over-tourism. Some, like Mercato di Campagna Amica, are only open on the weekends and operate using a 100KM rule–only produce made or sourced within 100KM from Rome can be sold there. For an excellent flea market, head to Borghetto Flaminio. You’ll stumble across designer labels, antiques, and fabulous jewelry.