The Top 15 Places to Go and Things to Do in Rome, Italy
Rome, the capital of Italy, offers plenty to do, see, and experience. With its rich history and cultural events, exquisite architecture, and divine cuisine, there is no surprise that millions of people visit Rome each year.
Famous Renaissance and Baroque artists and architects captured the beauty of Rome making it the 14th most visited city in the world and the most popular tourist destination in Italy.
Airports in Rome
Rome has two major airports. Used by major airlines, the Leonardo da Vinci Airport at Fiumicino (FCO) remains a major port of call. It is located 32km from the city.
The second airport, Ciampino (CIA), caters to budget airlines such as Easyjet and Ryanair. Small but growing, it offers a tourist a safe departure free from crowds and with the luxuries of reasonably priced snacks, books, and souvenirs.
Things to Do and Nearby Attractions
1. The Pantheon
Among the most exciting things to do and see in Rome is visiting the Pantheon, a 2,000 year old temple turned church in the heart of the city. It’s the largest unreinforced concrete dome built and serves as one of the most important architectural structures in the world.
Built in 126 AD, visitors can still see the name Agrippa inscribed on the foundation. Pantheon means “to every God” and that is to whom the temple was dedicated to by Marcus Agrippa. The dome symbolizes the vaults of the heavens and has symbolic meanings in numeric and geometric codes.
2. The Colosseum
Constructed during the first century, the Colosseum stands at the top of the list of the city’s popular sites. The vast structure once held approximately 60,000 spectators who cheered during the battles between men and beasts.
3. Vatican City
No one leaves Rome without first visiting Vatican City. The complex features 11 museums that include Michelangelo’s famous Sistine Chapel painting.
4. St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome. St Peter’s Basilica is a must see sight for any first time visitor to Rome.
5. St. Peter’s Square
Visitors on their way to the St. Peter’s Basilica pass along St. Peter’s Square. The square is decorated with fountains and an Egyptian obelisk that was transported to Rome in 37 AD.
6. The Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are popular tourist attractions, as well as some of the most famous museums in the world. Founded in the 16th century, these museums display classical sculptures and Renaissance masterpieces collected through the centuries by the Roman Catholic Church. Included are works by da Vinci, Caravaggio and Raphael. The Sistine Chapel features Michelangelo’s, The Creation of Adam.
7. Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps are a set of steps in the heart of the ancient city of Rome. They are quite easy to travel to independently and then walk to neighbouring attractions. The steps climb a steep slope between Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.
The Spanish Steps are quite popular with tourists, but there is no particular wow factor as such. It is just a cool place to congregate and hang out for a while. The Spanish Steps are surrounded by many notable attractions, including a museum dedicated to the English Poet John Keats. The Spanish steps, once a year in the summertime, host a famous fashion show, and they are used as a catwalk.
8. Piazza di Spagna
Piazza di Spagna, at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, is one of the most famous squares in Rome. A masterpiece of the XVIII century, the square, with its irregular shape, extends itself at the feet of Pincio hill. The French Church Trinita dei Monti (1502) is located on top of it. In the middle of the square is the famous Fontana della Barcaccia. The square and the church are connected by the monumental Spanish Steps.
9. Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings. The site was first developed on the 7th century BC, and over time, became the social, political and commercial hub of the Roman Empire.
10. Capitoline Museums
The Capitoline Museums are a single museum containing a group of art and archeological museums in Piazza del Campidoglio, on top of the Capitoline Hill in Rome. It is believed that the Capitoline museums are the world’s oldest national museums, founded in 1471.
11. Trevi Fountain
The Fontana di Trevi or Trevi Fountain is the most famous fountain in all of Rome. The Trevi Fountain is situated at the end of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC by Agrippa, the son-in-law of Emperor Augustus. It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the most beautiful in the world.
12. Palatine Hill
Located 40 meters above the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill is the most central of the seven hills of Rome and forms one of the oldest parts of the city, located in between famous attractions such as the Circus Maximus, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum.
13. Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is one of the most famous squares in Rome. The large and lively square features no less than three magnificent fountains. Piazza Navona is a lively place with plenty of stylish restaurants, gelato bars, and everyday musical or artistic performance.
14. Museo e Galleria Borghese
If you love art, this is one of the art galleries in Rome that you must visit. It has paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian, as well as some amazing sculptures by Bernini. The art gallery is housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana.
15. Eating and Nightlife
Eating is a national past-time in Rome and there are many restaurants to choose from. Whether one is a fan of spaghetti, a wine enthusiast or simply wants to try the best tiramisu, there is a restaurant to try. From the typical ristorante to an outdoor taverna, the food lover will appreciate this city made for gastronomes.
There are various shopping districts in the city that range from bargain basement to upscale. Campo dei Fiori features the city’s oldest market offering everything from fresh produce to books and clothing. The Piazza di Spagna boasts numerous boutique shops offering clothing, jewelry and other accessories designed by the likes of Gucci, Prada and Valentino.
Travel is easy in this cosmopolitan city because of the many forms of public transportation.
The Roma Pass, offered for sale online, offers discounts and services that make it cheaper to enjoy Rome. The city offers the Roman metro or Metropolitana with trains running every 7-10 minutes. There are buses and trams that run hundreds of lines until midnight.
Night buses pick up where they left off making it convenient to enjoy the exciting nightlife of Rome. Taxi cabs are scattered throughout the city. Just look for the white or yellow taxis to give you a lift to your destination.
Rent a Bike or Scooter
For the even more adventurous traveller, renting a bike or scooter allows you to see the city in a completely different light. Rental prices vary but typically run 40 to 50 Euros daily. The time saved waiting on public transportation is priceless.
Where to Stay
Some of the best places to stay in Rome offer more than luxury accommodations. They provide an experience like no other for guests. When choosing a hotel, think about its proximity to the places you want to visit.
Two and three star hotels are plentiful in Rome. Other options include bed and breakfasts, hostels, and homeshares. It’s a matter of cost and preference for most travellers.
When to Visit
Rome is beautiful every time of year. It is, however, less crowded during the months of October to April. Room rates are lowers and crowds are smaller. You will want to pack a warm coat with you because temperatures drop during this time of year.