Rome, the Eternal City, is a treasure trove of history, art, and culture. With its ancient ruins, Renaissance masterpieces, and delicious cuisine, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. But with so many must-see sights, where should you start? Fear not, traveler! We’ve compiled a list of what to see in Rome that will help you make the most of your visit. So, buckle up and let’s explore Rome together.
Step 1: Dive into Ancient Rome at the Colosseum and Roman Forum
No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the iconic Colosseum. As you step inside this ancient amphitheater, you can almost hear the roar of the crowd and the clash of gladiators’ swords. Take a guided tour to learn about its bloody history and the fascinating engineering behind its construction.
Just a short walk from the Colosseum, the Roman Forum awaits. This sprawling archaeological site was once the center of ancient Rome, where triumphal processions took place, and political speeches were delivered. Wander through the ruins of temples, basilicas, and arches while imagining the bustling city that once stood here.
Step 2: Be Amazed by the Vatican City
As the smallest country in the world, the Vatican City packs a punch when it comes to what to see in Rome. Home to the Pope and the Catholic Church, this tiny state boasts some of the most significant art collections and architectural wonders on the planet.
Start with a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the largest and most opulent churches in the world. Climb to the top of the dome for a breathtaking view of Rome, and don’t forget to marvel at Michelangelo’s Pieta, a stunning sculpture of Mary holding the body of Jesus.
Next, explore the Vatican Museums, a labyrinth of galleries filled with priceless artworks, including the famed Sistine Chapel. Gaze up at Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the ceiling frescoes depicting scenes from the Book of Genesis, and be sure to take your time appreciating the beauty of this sacred space.
Step 3: Throw a Coin into the Trevi Fountain
One of the most famous fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain, is a must-see on your Rome itinerary. This Baroque masterpiece features Neptune, the god of the sea, surrounded by tritons and sea creatures. Legend has it that if you toss a coin over your left shoulder with your right hand, you’ll ensure a return trip to Rome.
While the fountain can get crowded, try visiting early in the morning or late at night to experience its magical atmosphere without the throngs of tourists.
Step 4: Climb the Spanish Steps
A beloved Roman landmark, the Spanish Steps, is a great place to take a break, people-watch, and soak in the atmosphere of the city. At the base of the steps, you’ll find the beautiful Barcaccia Fountain, designed by Bernini, and the chic shopping street, Via dei Condotti.
Make sure to snap a photo from the top of the steps, where you’ll have a stunning view of the city and the Trinità dei Monti church. If you visit during spring, you’ll be treated to a vibrant display of blooming azaleas on the steps.
Step 5: Explore the Charming Trastevere Neighborhood
For a taste of authentic Rome, head to the Trastevere neighborhood. This picturesque area is characterized by narrow cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and a lively atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to get lost and discover hidden gems like small churches, local boutiques
, and quaint cafes. Trastevere is also home to some of the best Roman cuisine. For a mouthwatering dining experience, check out Da Enzo al 29 for traditional Roman dishes or Forno La Renella for a slice of heavenly pizza.
Step 6: Marvel at the Pantheon
The Pantheon, one of the best-preserved ancient Roman buildings, is a must-see when in Rome. This architectural marvel, originally built as a temple to the gods, now serves as a church. Its massive concrete dome, with a central oculus, is a testament to Roman engineering prowess. Admission is free, so take your time exploring this awe-inspiring structure. For more information on visiting the Pantheon, visit their official website.
Step 7: Stroll through Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is one of Rome’s most beautiful and lively squares, making it a perfect spot to unwind and soak in the city’s atmosphere. The piazza is home to three stunning fountains, including Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers, which features an Egyptian obelisk and allegorical figures representing the world’s major rivers.
While in Piazza Navona, be sure to visit the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, a Baroque masterpiece designed by Francesco Borromini. To learn more about the church and its history, check out their official website.
Step 8: Discover the Catacombs of Rome
For a unique and slightly eerie experience, venture underground to explore Rome’s ancient catacombs. These vast networks of subterranean burial chambers were used by early Christians and Jews to inter their dead. Some of the most famous catacombs are the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, which house the Crypt of the Popes, and the Catacombs of St. Domitilla, known for their stunning frescoes.
Step 9: Relax in Villa Borghese
After a busy day exploring Rome, take a break in the peaceful oasis of Villa Borghese. This expansive park is home to numerous attractions, including the Borghese Gallery, which houses an impressive collection of art by masters like Caravaggio, Bernini, and Titian. To reserve tickets for the Borghese Gallery, visit their official website.
Villa Borghese is also perfect for leisurely strolls, picnics, or renting a bike to explore its picturesque gardens, fountains, and sculptures.
Step 10: Take a Food Tour
Rome is a food lover’s paradise, and there’s no better way to experience its culinary delights than by joining a food tour. Companies like Eating Europe and The Roman Food Tour offer guided excursions through the city, giving you the opportunity to taste traditional dishes, visit local markets, and learn about Rome’s rich food culture.
Step 11: Visit the Capitoline Museums
The Capitoline Museums, located on Rome’s Capitoline Hill, are a must-see for art and history enthusiasts. These museums house a vast collection of ancient Roman statues, frescoes, and artifacts. Highlights include the iconic equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, the She-Wolf sculpture, and the mesmerizing Hall of the Emperors. For more information on visiting the Capitoline Museums, head to their official website.
Step 12: Explore the Palazzo Barberini and Galleria Corsini
Art lovers shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the Palazzo Barberini and Galleria Corsini, two magnificent art galleries housed in stunning Baroque palaces. The Palazzo Barberini showcases masterpieces by Raphael, Caravaggio, and El Greco, while the Galleria Corsini houses works by artists such as Rubens, Van Dyck, and Guido Reni.
Step 13: Attend a Papal Audience
For a truly unique experience, attend a Papal Audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Held on most Wednesdays, these gatherings give you the chance to see and hear the Pope as he addresses the crowd in multiple languages. While Papal Audiences are free to attend, tickets are required. Visit the Vatican’s official website for information on how to obtain tickets and the Papal Audience schedule.
Step 14: Wander Through the Jewish Ghetto
The Roman Jewish Ghetto, established in 1555, is one of the oldest Jewish settlements in the world. Today, this charming neighborhood offers a fascinating glimpse into Rome’s Jewish history and culture. Stroll through its narrow streets, visit the Great Synagogue, and sample traditional Jewish-Roman dishes at local eateries like Nonna Betta or Ba’Ghetto.
Step 15: Cross the Tiber River to Tiber Island
Tiber Island, situated in the middle of the Tiber River, is a charming and often overlooked destination in Rome. The island is home to the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Island, a church dedicated to the memory of Christian martyrs, and the picturesque Fabricius Bridge, Rome’s oldest standing bridge. For a unique dining experience, visit Sora Lella, a historic restaurant that serves delicious traditional Roman cuisine.
With these additional steps, your Roman adventure will be even more memorable, offering glimpses into the city’s rich history, art, and culinary traditions. Remember to savor every moment and let Rome’s magic work its wonders on you. Happy travels!
Step 16: Discover the Basilica of San Clemente
The Basilica of San Clemente is a fascinating, multi-layered historical site that offers a unique insight into Rome’s history. The current basilica, dating back to the 12th century, was built over a 4th-century church, which in turn was constructed on top of a Roman house and a Mithraic temple. Explore the different levels of history by taking a self-guided tour through the underground excavations. For more information, visit the Basilica’s official website.
Step 17: Visit the Baths of Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla, once the largest public baths in ancient Rome, are an impressive site to explore. These enormous ruins give you a sense of the grandeur and opulence that characterized the Roman Empire at its height. Wander through the complex, admiring the beautiful mosaics and imagining the social hub it once was. To learn more about the Baths of Caracalla, check out the official website.
Step 18: Explore the Ostia Antica Archaeological Site
Located just outside Rome, Ostia Antica is a well-preserved ancient Roman harbor city that offers a glimpse into daily life during the Roman Empire. With its impressive ruins, including a theater, baths, and marketplaces, Ostia Antica is often referred to as “Rome’s Pompeii.” To reach Ostia Antica, take the local train from Rome’s Porta San Paolo station. For more details about visiting, head to the official website.
Step 19: Take a Day Trip to Tivoli
Tivoli, a picturesque town located about 19 miles (30 kilometers) from Rome, is an ideal destination for a day trip. The town is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the stunning Villa d’Este, famous for its incredible fountains and gardens, and the ancient Roman ruins of Hadrian’s Villa. To reach Tivoli, you can take a train or bus from Rome or join an organized tour. For more information on visiting Tivoli, consult the official tourism website.
Step 20: Stroll Along the Appian Way
The Appian Way, one of the oldest and most important Roman roads, offers a lovely escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. This ancient road, which once connected Rome to the southern regions of Italy, is now a peaceful, picturesque path lined with ancient ruins, tombs, and monuments. Rent a bike or take a leisurely walk along the Appian Way, and be sure to visit the nearby Catacombs of St. Sebastian and the Park of the Aqueducts.
With these additional steps, you’ll delve even deeper into Rome’s rich history and culture, ensuring that your visit to the Eternal City will be a truly unforgettable experience. Take your time, embrace the adventure, and let Rome’s captivating spirit enchant you. Buon viaggio!
Rome is a city like no other, bursting with history, culture, and beauty at every turn. We hope this step-by-step guide helps you make the most of your visit to the Eternal City. Remember to take your time, savor the moments, and let Rome’s enchanting atmosphere sweep you off your feet. Buon viaggio!