Top 10 Things to See and Do in Rome, Italy

Rome is a history lover’s dream. Because of its long, storied history, there are countless things to see and do in Rome. This magical city, whose own creation is steeped in legend, served as the center of the expansive Roman Empire.

Photo courtesy of Allan LEONARD

Today, Rome is essentially a living museum. Remnants of its past are visible everywhere, from its iconic Colosseum and Trevi Fountain to the beautiful artwork in The Vatican. The city also boasts a prominent cultural and food scene. These are the top 10 things to see and do in Rome, Italy.

The Colosseum

Arguably the most iconic structure in Italy, the Colosseum is a 50,000+ seat amphitheater that was built between 70 and 80 AD. It was the site of bloody battles in which gladiators faced off against each other and wild animals. The Colosseum also hosted hunts and mock naval engagements.

Photo courtesy of Travelbusy.com on Flickr

Though two-thirds of it have been destroyed, it is easily one of the most popular things to see and do in Rome. Beat the long queues by buying tickets at the nearby Forum. I also recommend hiring a tour guide if you want to learn about the amphitheater during your visit.

The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

The Vatican Museums contain some of the most important religious artwork in the world, including sculptures and collections set up by various popes. Seeing the priceless artwork in Vatican City is easily one of the top things to see and do in Rome.

Photo courtesy of BriYYZ

The Sistine Chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace. It’s best known for the beautiful frescoes that adorn its interior. These include The Last Judgment, a magnificent piece by Michaelangelo that can be seen on the chapel’s ceiling.

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The Roman Forum

It may not get the same glory as The Vatican or the Colosseum, but The Roman Forum is one of the most important things to see and do in Rome. These spectacular ruins consist of some of Ancient Rome’s most essential public and political structures.

Photo courtesy of Bert Kaufmann

Even in ruins, the former grandeur of the Forum’s Arch of Septimius Severus is apparent. Visitors can also visit the Arch of Titus, the House of Vestal Virgins, and the Temple of Saturn. I recommend hiring a local guide so you get the most out of this incredible place!

Campo De’ Fiori

One of the best things to see and do in Rome is to head out to Campo De’ Fiori. This neighborhood boasts a bustling, daily market featuring fresh local produce. The square is also lined with numerous restaurants, cafés, gelaterias, and pizzerias.

Photo courtesy of Andy Montgomery

My favorite pizzeria there is Forno Campo De’ Fiori, whose expert bakers preserve artisanal traditions by using only the best ingredients. Their delicate pizza bianca is one of the best pizzas in Rome!

Check out A Travel Guide to Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo is an ancient fort, castle, former papal residence, and prison in Parco Adriano. The towering, circular building was once Rome’s tallest building. It was originally supposed to be the mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family.

Photo courtesy of Alan Bloom

Today, Castel Sant’Angelo is a museum that is one of the top things to see and do in Rome. Visitors can learn about the history of the structure inside. The castle is also connected to St. Peter’s Basilica via a passageway called Passetto di Borgo.

St. Peter’s Basilica

As the center of Roman Catholicism, St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most important religious buildings in the world. Attend a daily mass or climb to the top of the dome to get unparalleled views of Rome. This view is one of the best things to see and do in Rome!

Photo courtesy of Ed Brambley

The pope appears on Wednesday mornings during the General Audience, and again at noon on Sundays. Hire a tour guide to learn more about this incredible building and its history!

Check out our Guide to Rome’s Testaccio Neighborhood

The Pantheon

One of its best preserved ancient buildings is the Pantheon. Built in 118 AD in the center of Rome, it’s known for its large, rectangular porch and imposing columns.

Photo courtesy of Deensel

This Roman-temple-turned-church’s interior also features the world’s largest non-reinforced concrete dome. The coffer in its center lets light inside the dome and is one of the best things to see and do in Rome!

Trevi Fountain

No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain. This beautifully-carved Baroque fountain depicts the Roman god Oceanus surrounded by his Tritons. Construction on the 86-foot-high fountain began in 1732 and finished in 1762.

Photo courtesy of Chris Hearne

Throwing a coin into the fountain over your left shoulder with your right hand is said to ensure that you’ll return to Rome someday. Even if you don’t believe the lore, Trevi Fountain is one of the most beautiful things to see and do in Rome. Visit early so you miss the crowds!

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Get Gelato at Gelarmony

Tourists looking for gelato should head over to Gelarmony, an ice cream parlor that has been open since 1996. Everything there comes from Sicily and is free of preservatives and colorings!

Trying their gelato is one of the best things to see and do in Rome, but I also suggest trying their other Sicilian treats. Gelarmony’s brioche, cassate, slushed ice drinks, and cannoli are all excellent options. You can really tell that they’re made with lots of love and care!

The Spanish Steps

Linking Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Trinita dei Monti is another of the top things to see and do in Rome, the Spanish Steps. These are the steps the 19th-century writers Balzac and Byron walked in order to find inspiration for their work!

Photo courtesy of Paolo Margari

There are 135 stairs flanked by stone walls. At the very top of the stairs is a beautiful carved obelisk with a crucifix on top. The view from the top is spectacular, especially in the spring when the flowers in the area bloom!

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Conclusion

With a history as impressive and as enduring as its beauty, it’s no wonder Rome is nicknamed The Eternal City. Book a trip to Rome today to experience its magic for yourself!

Photo courtesy of C.

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