Make the Most of Your Trip to Rome
One of the most glorious cities in the world, Rome boasts a unique history and exciting modern culture, which means every visit is a treat. Whether you’re planning your first or fiftieth trip to the Eternal City, there’s plenty to see and do. From towering monuments and archaeological sites to lively locals around every corner, the city is sure to win your admiration.
Lots of Rome’s best-loved landmarks are within walking distance of each other. You might like to hop on a bus or train to reach others, but thankfully, Rome is well-served by a quick and convenient public transport system. Whatever way you get around, follow in ancient footsteps and let your imagination drift back to the beauty and atmosphere of historical Rome.
Did we mention the food? It should come as no surprise that the Italian capital is home to a treasure trove of fantastic restaurants. Throw in a generous handful of magnificent parks, museums, and nightlife, and you’ve got an ideal destination for a short or more extended city break.
Let’s take a look at some of the best things to do in Rome, so you can make the most of your trip.
The best things to do in Rome
There are lots of exciting things to see and do in Rome. The city is practically bursting with historical significance, with impressive monuments scattered all around. If you’re only spending a short time exploring, you might struggle to fit everything in. Still, give it a try! If you can’t make a few of these must-see attractions, there’s all the more reason to visit again.
- Ara Pacis Augustae
- Arch of Constantine
- Baths of Caracalla
- Campo de’ Fiori
- Capitoline Museums
- Castel Sant’Angelo
- Domus Aurea
- Palatine Hill
- Piazza del Popolo
- Piazza di Spagna
- Roman Forum
- Sistine Chapel
- St Peter’s Basilica
- Vatican City
- Trajan’s Column
- Trevi Fountain
- Villa Borghese
We’ll explore these monuments a little here. If you’d like more, simply click through to our full guides for everything you need to know before you go.
Ara Pacis Augustae
The Ara Pacis is a beautiful commemorative alter in Campo Marzio which. It was built between 13 and 9 BC to celebrate peace in the Mediterranean. Carved marble shows the family of Emperor Augustus in procession, as well as some stories relating to the mythical foundation of the city. It’s one of the most significant artefacts of Ancient Rome and an absolute must-see for history buffs.
Discover our guide to visiting the Ara Pacis Augustae.
Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal monument set between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill, erected in AD 315. At 21 metres high and 25 metres wide, the archway is an impressive sight to behold. Decorations include statues taken from Trajan’s Forum and Marcus Aurelius distributing bread among the poor. This is one of the best-preserved monuments from the city’s ancient past – don’t forget your camera!
Sound good? Why not read our in-depth guide to visiting the Arch of Constantine.
Baths of Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla are one of the most extensive and elaborate thermae, or public baths, in Rome. These baths were a treasure of ancient times, built between AD 212 and 216. Ground floor buildings and some exterior walls are all that remains. However, visitors can still enjoy the architectural wonder of the baths during a visit.
Our guide to visiting the Baths of Caracalla has all the info you need for a great trip.
Campo de’ Fiori
The Campo de’ Fiori, or Field of Flowers, is one of Rome’s main squares. Visit during the day for bright colours and beautiful aromas from the flower, fruit, and vegetable market. By night, the terraces are packed with people enjoying food and drink from a variety of cocktail bars and restaurants. It’s well worth a visit, any time.
Need more info? Read our guide to visiting Campo de' Fiori.
The Capitoline Museums were established in 1471 when Pope Sixtus VI presented some bronze statues to the citizens of Rome. In Piazza del Campidoglio, the museums are the oldest in the world. The two palace buildings are connected by an underground tunnel that means you can visit both leaving. Explore paintings, sculptures, busts, and other artwork, including the first sculpture of a living person!
Sound interesting? Why not visit our guide to visiting the Capitoline Museums for more information.
A short distance from Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo is an impressive historical fortress built between AD 135 and 139. Visitors can explore decorated rooms and enjoy views of the city from the castle’s large terrace. Check out our in-depth guide to visiting Castel Sant'Angelo for a great trip.
The Colosseum is the Roman monument. It’s iconic around the world for its unique architecture and historical relevance, which means it’s a must-see if you haven’t been before. Over six million visitors head to the Roman Colosseum every year. The imposing structure boasts almost 2,000 years of history, so it’s a great way to introduce newcomers to Ancient Rome.
The Colosseum was active for more than 500 years, exhibiting exotic animals, executions, recreations of significant battles, and gladiator fights for public enjoyment.
Discover our guide to visiting the Colosseum.
The Domus Aurea is a vast landscaped palace which sits in the centre of Ancient Rome. Commissioned by Emperor Nero, the building reflects his decadent taste with refined touches throughout. A tour will take you through the beautiful Octagonal Room and introduce plenty of exquisite frescos.
Learn more about this palace on our guide to visiting the Domus Aurea.
The Palatine Hill, or Palatino, is one of the city’s most spectacular sights. Set between the Roman Forum and Circo Massimo, this atmospheric area is scattered with pine trees and ancient ruins and boasts unforgettable views. Palatino is the spot where Romulus is supposed to have founded Rome in the year 753 BC, and where emperors lived in luxury. The most central of the city’s seven hills, the Palatine Hill was once the most exclusive neighbourhood in Rome’s. There’s a lot to see, so dedicate a few hours to your visit.
Intrigued? Why not read our guide to visiting Palatine Hill for the perfect trip.
The best-preserved and one of the most significant buildings from Ancient Rome, the Pantheon is a beautiful temple dedicated to the Gods. Built between AD 188 and 125 by Emperor Hadrian, visitors today can enjoy the Pantheon in close to its original condition.
Want to learn more about one this magnificent building? Check out our guide to visiting the Pantheon.
Piazza del Popolo
Piazza Del Popolo, or People’s Square, is located just inside the northern gate of the city. This was the main entrance to Rome during the Roman Empire. An Egyptian obelisk dedicated to Rameses II soars from the centre of the square. It’s also home to Santa Maria del Popolo, a beautiful basilica which you might like to explore.
Read our guide to visiting Piazza del Popolo for more information.
Piazza di Spagna
A stand-out example of the Italian Baroque style, Piazza di Spagna is one of the most visited sites in Rome. Home of the iconic Spanish Steps, the square gets its name from the seat of the Spanish Embassy for the Vatican which is located here.
Learn more about one of the most famous squares in Rome on our guide to visiting Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps.
The centre of public and political life in Ancient Rome, the Roman Forum is an example of the magnificence of the empire. There are lots of temples to see, not to mention the Arch of Titus, the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, the Curia, and the Column of Phocas. A walk around the Roman Forum is a must while you’re in the city.
Sound good? Read our guide to visiting the Roman Forum and plan the perfect trip with us!
Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel, is one of the greatest treasures inside Vatican City. Iconic for its elaborate decorations and for being the place where new popes are crowned, a visit to the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel should be high on your list of priorities.
Read more about this beautiful place on our guide to visiting the Sistine Chapel.
St Peter’s Basilica
Also located in Vatican City, St Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest temples of the Catholic Church and an extraordinary place to visit whether you practice the religion or not. The Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world, consecrated in 1626 after over 100 years of construction.
Learn more about one of the most well-known basilicas in the world on our guide to visiting St Peter's Basilica.
Surrounded by Rome, this independent state is the smallest in Europe and is ruled by the Pope as the centre of the Roman Catholic Church. Visitors can enjoy the beauty and significance of the Vatican, including sites like St Peter’s Square and the Vatican Museums, home of the Sistine Chapel.
Discover more about this independent state on our guide to visiting Vatican City.
Trajan’s Column towers over the ruins of the forum below. The 38-metre marble column commemorates the emperor’s victory in the Dacian Wars. It’s an impressive spot to stop off during a tour of Rome. Read more about it on our guide to visiting Trajan's Column.
Close your eyes, throw a coin, and make a wish! The Trevi Fountain is the largest and most beautiful in Rome, with a fascinating history and unique contemporary relevance. The 1954 movie Three Coins in the Fountain is responsible for the coin-flinging tradition, with around one million euros tossed in each year.
Want to know more about this famous fountain? Read our guide to visiting the Trevi Fountain and discover how it's become so popular.
One of the largest urban parks in Europe, Villa Borghese has been open to the public since 1903. Nature and Roman art combine in this beautiful green space, which is home to the Borghese Gallery, Rome Zoo, and the Silvano Toti Globe Theatre.
Discover more about this beautiful landmark on our guide to visiting Villa Borghese.
The best Restaurants in Rome
All that sightseeing is sure to have worked up an appetite. Well, you’re in Rome! Expect plenty of independent restaurants serving up unbeatable Italian food, as well as lots of choice from the rest of the world. Here are some of the best restaurants in Rome:
- Roscioli: a deli-restaurant for Roman classics and fresh cheese, meat, and pickles
- Pianostrada: a creative gourmet spot with shareable plates and a leafy terrace
- Felice e Testaccio: an old-school restaurant with something for everyone
- Seu Pizza Illimunati: for perfect Neapolitan pies
- Trattoria Monti: for great food, wine, and friendly service
- Da Enzo al 29: a characterful trattoria on a quiet street
- Bonci: the perfect pizzeria to grab a slice on the go
- Enoteca La Torre: a high-end restaurant for beautiful Italian food
- Marigold: a micro-bakery and café combining Italian cuisine with sleek Scandi design
- Bono Bottega Nostrana: for the best sandwich in Rome!
Head out and explore. There are so many excellent spots to eat in Rome, you never know what you might stumble upon. Read our full guide to the best restaurants in Rome to find out more.
Where to go shopping in Rome
In the mood for a little retail therapy? The Italian capital is an undeniably stylish city, with plenty of designers and independent makers to discover. From wildly expensive Italian fashion houses to more budget-friendly street sales and great art on every corner, there’s something for everyone here. These are some of our favourite shopping destinations in Rome:
- Monti: a residential neighbourhood home to studios and up-and-coming designers
- Via del Governo Vecchio: a pretty street with vintage shops and jewellers
- Via Dei Coronari: home of Roman antique dealers
- Via Cola di Rienzo: for name brands and Italian chains
- Trastevere: for one-off shops selling gifts, clothing, and other treasures
- Piazza di Spagna: for designer brands like Fendi, Gucci, and Prada
- Via Dei Guibbonari: for small storefronts selling bargain clothes and shoes
- Galleria Alberto Sordi: a shopping centre inside an elegant 1922 building
Read our guide to 5 of the best shopping areas in Rome to find out more.
Visiting the Best Museums in Rome
You’ve seen the historical monuments. You’ve eaten and shopped to your heart’s content. Time to hit the museums! Unsurprisingly, there are lots of excellent museums and galleries in the Italian capital. Here are some of the best to fill your days with culture:
- Terme Dioclezanio: these ancient baths are part of the National Museum of Rome
- Museum-House of Hendrik Andersen: a neoclassical villa to explore the work of the artist
- Centrale Montemartini: Greek and Roman statues inside Rome’s first electrical power plant
- The National Gallery of Modern Art: celebrating artists from the 19th and 20th centuries
- Scuderie del Quirinale: for Picasso, Matisse, Kahlo, and others in the former stables of the Quirinale Palace
- Capuchin Crypt: a spooky spot where the bones of over 3,700 Capuchin monks are displayed
- Maxxi: a national centre for contemporary art and architecture
- Ostia Antica: an open-air museum with some of the most intact ruins in the city
- Capitoline Museums: perhaps the world’s oldest museum, home to a collection of artefacts and masterpieces
- Galleria Borghese: home to the Borghese family’s private art collection
There are so many unique things to see and do in Rome, we’re sure you’re feeling spoilt for choice. Whatever way you choose to enjoy this breathtaking city, we’re sure you’ll find a reason to come back for another visit or two!
Getting to Rome
We hope you're feeling inspired after reading about all the amazing things to do in this fantastic city. Luckily, it's easy to travel to Rome by train from other major tourist destinations in Italy, thanks to Trenitalia and Italo high-speed rail services. Some of the most popular domestic routes include Naples to Rome (fastest journey time 1h 08m), Florence to Rome (1h 18m), Venice to Rome (3h 15m) and Milan to Rome (3h 10m). If you want to find out more about travelling to Rome by train, check out our dedicated page to trains to Rome.