Famous Trevi Fountain at sunrise in Rome, Italy

Things to do in  Rome

It wasn’t built in a day

Eternally raucous, eternally rarified: eternally Rome. The Eternal City has withstood millennia to dazzle 21st-century visitors with ancient ruins, baroque squares, and more art than you could ever cover. Tours of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and the Vatican City are the top-tier things to do in Rome. The city’s historic center—home to headliners like the Spanish Steps, Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain—also draws admirers from across the globe. Once you’ve checked off the heavy hitters, delve into the dining and nightlife in historic neighborhoods like Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto.

Top 15 attractions in Rome

Colosseum

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The Colosseum has been a symbol of Rome since 80 AD, and today it’s a top monument in Italy. Some 50,000 spectators once gathered in the amphitheater’s tiered seats to watch gladiator games. Though parts of the original marble facade were pilfered over the years to build the likes of St. Peter's Basilica, the Colosseum remains remarkably intact 2,000 years later.More

Roman Forum (Foro Romano)

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A sprawling mass of ruins, the Roman Forum (Foro Romano) was once the center of the ancient Roman Empire, with temples, courts, markets, and government buildings in full swing until the 4th century AD. All that remains of the Forum Romanum today is an array of ancient Roman ruins and triumphal arches, making it one of the most important archaeological sites in Italy. More

Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani)

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Home to some of Italy’s most important art collections—from paintings and sculptures to tapestries and classical antiquities—the Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani) are among the country’s top attractions. Explore the Pinacoteca, Egyptian Museum, Gallery of Tapestries, Pius-Clementine Museum, and Gallery of Maps, before admiring the crown jewels in the Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina), famed for Michelangelo’s ceiling and The Last Judgment.More

Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina)

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Michaelangelo's spectacular 16th-century ceiling frescoes are the biggest draw to the Sistine Chapel, one of the most celebrated and visited sights in Italy. The monumental The Last Judgment, which covers the apse wall, is the artist’s best-known work and one of the most influential masterpieces in art history. The chapel also holds works by Sandro Botticelli and Pinturicchio, Michalangelo's predecessors, and serves as a glorious homage to Renaissance art.More

Palatine Hill (Palatino)

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Of Rome’s seven legendary hills, Palatine Hill (Palatino) figures most importantly in the capital’s history and lore. It is said that Romulus founded Rome on this hilltop, and many of the city’s most important archaeological sites dating from ancient times are located here.More

St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)

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The enormous St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) dominates Vatican City, and its dome can be seen from all over Rome. Built on the site of St. Peter's crucifixion, it's the epicenter of the Catholic Church and sits atop many papal tombs. The lavishly adorned basilica is the largest church in Italy, and it's also a museum full of priceless works of art—including Michelangelo's sublime Pietà and Bernini's bronze baldachin on the high altar.More

Vatican City (Citta del Vaticano)

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Vatican City (Città del Vaticano) may be the smallest sovereign nation-state in the world, but it's a religious and cultural superpower. Home to some of the world’s greatest artistic and architectural marvels—namely St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peter’s Square, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums—it's located wholly within the confines of Rome, covers 110 acres (44 hectares), and has an official population of about 800.More

Mt. Vesuvius (Monte Vesuvio)

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Looming above the Bay of Naples, Mt. Vesuvius (Monte Vesuvio) famously erupted in AD 79, covering Pompeii in ash and preserving the ruins of the Roman city for thousands of years. The volcano remains the only active one in continental Europe—despite this, many visitors hike to the crater to catch one-of-a-kind views of Pompeii, the Bay of Naples, and the surrounding Italian countryside.More

Pantheon

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Known for its massive dome and center oculus, the well-preserved Pantheon attracts millions of annual visitors to Rome—nd its proximity to the gelaterias along Via della Maddalena is just a bonus. Highlights of this temple-turned-church, which is the burial ground for Renaissance artist Raphael and the first king of Italy, include awe-inspiring architecture and beautiful art.More

Piazza Navona

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One of the most famous and sumptuous squares in Rome, Piazza Navona is home to the Baroque Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone and Palazzo Pamphili, both overlooking Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s famous Fountain of the Four Rivers. Bustling outdoor cafes and rowdy buskers lend a lively air to the otherwise stately square.More

Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)

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The incredibly ornate Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) is the most famous fountain in Rome, and perhaps all of Italy. Centered around the Greek sea god Oceanus—as well as Tritons, seahorses, and other mythological figures—the baroque Trevi Fountain has made cameos on the silver screen and is a popular spot of superstition; throw in a coin and make a wish.More

Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna)

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Climbing from Piazza di Spagna to the Trinità dei Monti church, the Spanish Steps are one of Rome’s most recognizable landmarks, immortalized in countless postcards and films. Built between 1723 and 1725, the 138-step staircase is also one of the widest in Europe and serves as a lively meeting place for locals and visitors alike.More

Arch of Constantine (Arco di Costantino)

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Towering between the Colosseum and Roman Forum, the triumphal Arch of Constantine continues to be one of the most impressive ancient monuments in Rome almost 2,000 years after it was built. This much-photographed landmark is a must for Roman history buffs and a highlight of ancient Rome and Palatine Hill tours.More

Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo)

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Rome’s Circus Maximus(Circo Massimo)—a massive arena for chariot races, games, religious ceremonies, and civic events—was the largest stadium in the Roman Empire. A major restoration in 2016 yielded a spruced-up archaeological site comprising arched walkways, ancient shops, a newly excavated cobbled road, and the Circus track’s oblong outline and starting gates.More

St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro)

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The heart of Rome's Vatican City is St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro), the grand space that provides a magnificent approach to St. Peter's Basilica. Designed by Bernini in the 17th century, Piazza San Pietro is lined by semicircular colonnades four columns deep on either side that seem to reach out and enfold visitors in an embrace.More

Trip ideas

How To Choose a Colosseum Tour

How To Choose a Colosseum Tour

8 Under-the-Radar Museums in Rome

8 Under-the-Radar Museums in Rome

Art Lover’s Guide to Rome

Art Lover’s Guide to Rome

Top activities in Rome

Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica Guided Tour
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Skip the Line: Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill Guided Tour
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Pompeii, Amalfi Coast and Positano Day Trip from Rome
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Rome by Golf Cart Private Tour

Rome by Golf Cart Private Tour

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Colosseum VIP Access with Arena and Ancient Rome Tour
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Skip the Line Vatican, Sistine Chapel & St Peter Small Group Tour
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Rome in a Day Small Group Tour with Vatican and Colosseum
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The VIP Colosseum Underground & Ancient Rome Small Group Tour
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Colosseum with Arena Access and Ancient Rome Tour
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All about Rome

When to visit

From September to November and March to June are the ideal weather windows for visiting Rome. Summers are famously scorching and muggy, making it difficult to do any serious sightseeing. And don’t even think about coming in August, when many businesses and restaurants close so locals can take month-long vacations. Winters tend to be mild but can bring heavy rains, although the festive Christmas season still draws crowds from abroad.

Getting around

If you stick to the Historic Center of Rome (Centro Storico) and Rome’s main sights, you can get pretty much everywhere on foot. Buses in the capital are notoriously iffy, while the metro's three lines are reliable but limited. Fast and efficient regional trains stop at stations Ostiense, Tuscolana, and Tiburtina and also connect to the Vatican. Electric scooters and bikes can be found in tourist areas, while you’ll also see taxi stands located in well-trafficked areas.

Traveler tips

If you want a taste of real Roman cuisine, venture outside the city center. While you’ll find excellent options in Testaccio or close to the Pantheon—Armando al Pantheon is a standout—dedicated foodies will be rewarded for heading further afield. Reachable by Metro C or the lemon-yellow trenino, Centocelle is a down-to-earth, historically working-class neighborhood in Rome’s sprawling east known for its locally sourced "zero-kilometer" cuisine and buzzy aperitivo joints.

Local Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
CET (UTC +1)
Country Code
+39
Language(s)
Italian
Attractions
191
Tours
6,534
Reviews
298,081

A local’s pocket guide to Rome

Emiliano Esposito

Born and raised in Rome, Emiliano is a software engineer now living in the UK. With family roots in Naples, he’s been a seafood lover from birth.

The first thing you should do in Rome is...

visit the Colosseum and learn all about its history, before trying a typical Roman dish, like spaghetti alla carbonara or coda alla vaccinara, in a nearby trattoria—Luzzi, near the Colosseum, is my favorite.

A perfect Saturday in Rome...

includes shopping in Via Del Corso; visiting the Spanish Steps, Barcaccia Fountain, and the Pantheon; and finishing at the Imperial Fora. Don’t forget to stop at Giolitti’s for a fabulous multi-flavoured gelato!

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Pantheon. It still has many original features and the dome is considered one of the ancient world’s most astonishing architectural feats. Oh, and did I mention it’s free to enter?

To discover the "real" Rome...

take a walking tour of Trastevere and visit Tiber Island, where you’ll find many restaurants still serving rare but traditional Roman dishes such as pajata (unweaned calf intestine).

For the best view of the city...

head to the Janiculum Hill. If you happen to be there around noon, you might also catch the cannon that’s fired daily in the direction of the Tiber.

One thing people get wrong...

Pizza is not a typical dish in Rome. If you want to taste something close to Neapolitan-style pizza (but still really typical of the city), look for Pinza Romana on the menu.

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People Also Ask

What is Rome famous for?

Italy’s capital is known as “The Eternal City,” thanks to its collection of ancient sites that have been standing since the peak of ancient Roman glory 2,000 years ago. The independent city-state of Vatican City is also set in Rome, famous for St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums.

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What is the number one tourist attraction in Rome?

The Colosseum has been the symbol of Rome since it was completed in 80 AD and continues to be the city’s most popular attraction. The largest ancient amphitheater in the world, it sees about 8,000 visitors a day—slightly more than the Vatican Museums across the Tiber River.

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What is something I should see in ancient Rome?

The Colosseum tops most visitors’ lists of things to do in Rome, but the city is also home to a number of impressive ancient sites. The Roman Forum and Pantheon are two headliners in the city center, while the catacomb-lined Appian Way—an intact Roman highway—cuts through the countryside past ancient aqueducts and villa ruins. Palatine Hill is one of the most ancient parts of the city; it has been called "the first nucleus of the Roman Empire." The Column of Marcus Aurelius (Colonna di Marco Aurelio) is another striking ancient landmark, soaring more than 100 feet (30 meters) above Piazza Colonna.

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How can I spend 2 days in Rome?

Divide your time between the two banks of the Tiber River. Dedicate one day to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and historic center sights including the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Spanish Steps. Then cross the river to spend your second day exploring St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Trastevere neighborhood.

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What could you do for free in Rome?

Many of the top things to do in Rome are free, including St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. The Colosseum and Forum can both be admired from outside and strolling through the city’s top squares (Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, and Campo de’ Fiori) doesn’t cost a penny.

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Is Rome dangerous?

No, Rome does not have a problem with violent crime, though this major metropolis and premier tourist destination is rife in petty crime like theft and pickpocketing. Always keep your eye on your valuables and store your phone, wallet, and documents in zipped, inner compartments of your bags.

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Frequently Asked Questions