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20 Best Things to Do in Rome | A Little Slice of Italy

20 Best Things to Do in Rome | A Little Slice of Italy

Ready to discover the best things to do in Rome? From the iconic Colosseum to hidden gems, these are the places you shouldn’t miss. 

I just got back from an incredible time in Rome and, while I’m currently in a carb coma (not complaining), it was a trip that reminded me how special this city truly is. A city in which history is frozen in time.

Yes, it’s filled with tourists, and yes, it’s expensive AF. But hot damn it’s beautiful.

From walking through the ruins of the Roman Forum to taking a tour of the Sistine Chapel, the city is packed with an unlimited supply of historical buildings and distinct city squares.

So pack your comfiest walking shoes (seriously, you’ll need them) and get ready for an action-packed trip to Rome. Let’s go.

For uninterrupted views of the Colosseum at one of the best locations in the city, stay at the Plum Guide property Hungry Lions. With a fully kitted kitchen in a minimalist home, it won’t be surprising if you fall in love with this accommodation after the first night.

Top 5 Things to Do in Rome

Explore the Vatican City

Vatican-City

No trip to Rome is complete without visiting the Pope’s house. Tip: Head there early on a Sunday morning and you might just spot him in the top right window.

The Vatican City is a tiny country within the boundaries of Rome and home to some of the most famous landmarks in Italy – most famously, the Sistine Chapel (and yes, it really is that spectacular in person). 

I’ll level with you, a trip to the Vatican City is never going to be a calm or quiet experience – but exploring the vast maze of Baroque and Gothic architecture that lead to the calming Vatican City gardens is an absolute must.

Set aside at least a day to visit the Vatican Museums, home of famous artworks such as Raphael’s Transfiguration and the Laocoön sculpture. And if the museum isn’t enough, you can visit Saint Peter’s Square or the Vatican Library.

Top Tip: If you want to experience this part of Rome to its fullest, book this Vatican Museum’s tour with breakfast.

Enjoy the Sistine Chapel & Saint Peter’s Basilica

Sistine-Chapel

Alright, I know I gave you a little teaser of the Sistine Chapel above – but I think we can all agree that it totally deserves its own entry, along with the stunning Saint Peter’s Basilica. 

The Sistine Chapel is Michelangelo’s masterpiece, a jaw-dropping series of ornate murals that swirl around the small chapel in a frenzy of biblical narrative. One moment you’re looking at the iconic figures of The Creation of Adam, the next the apocalyptic rapture of The Last Judgement

Sure, it will be busy and yes, the guards clearly love barking out orders to poor tourists just trying to get a look at one of the greatest masterpieces ever wrought by human hand… Even so. It. Is. Absolutely. Worth. It. 

Once you’re done with the Sistine Chapel (or the guards have shouted in your face one too many times for you to bear), it’s time to move on to Saint Peter’s Basilica – the vast cathedral whose ever-present dome peeps onto the skyline wherever you are in the city. Inside is just as striking – gilded arches and intricately carved wood wherever you look. 

Top Tip: For a private experience, join a Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica tour, where you can learn about both buildings’ history and skip the ticket lines.

Spend the Day Around the Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain Rome

Another must on your list of things to see in Rome, it would be easy to dismiss the Trevi Fountain as just another overblown tourist trap… until you lay eyes on it.

The Trevi Fountain tells the story of the Greek Sea God, Oceanus. The mythological sea horses that pull Oceanus’s chariot each represent the calm and unpredictable nature of the ocean, while Trevi Fountain depicts the Sea God battling to tame the world’s waters in all its glory. 

And before you think the fountain has lost all its charm after learning about its story, you can also explore the ancient aqueducts below the streets that still supply water to Trevi Fountain. Try to go early in the day to beat the crowds.

Top Tip: Learn more about this captivating fountain on a Trevi Fountain guided tour.

Explore Rome’s Catacombs

Catacombs in Rome

Paris’ offering might be more famous, but Rome’s Catacombs are equally fascinating, I promise.

Get ready to delve a little bit deeper underneath the streets of Rome, where you can explore centuries-old catacombs that were once ancient burial sites. Only five catacombs are open to the public, but archaeologists have found more than forty over the years.

The Catacombs of St. Callixtus aren’t just the largest tomb in Rome, but they are among the most important. You can explore 90 acres of this underground world where 16 popes were buried between the 2nd and 4th centuries.

The Catacombs of San Sebastiano and the Capuchin Crypt are the most famous in Rome. San Sebastiano Catacombs stretch for an impressive 7.5 miles, while the Capuchin Crypt contains the bones of 3,500 monks.

Take the chance to learn about a darker side of Rome’s history while walking amongst the eerie pathways and looking into the moody tombs. Although it can be a bit unnerving, this is a must-see in Rome.

Top Tip: Book ahead for this Guided Roman Catacombs Tour. 

Tour the Iconic Colosseum & Roman Forum

Colosseum Rome

Did you really visit Rome if you didn’t snap a photo of the Colosseum? I don’t think so.

Built between 70 and 80 AD, the Colosseum is the largest ancient ampitheatre ever created, so it’s no wonder it gets a lot of fuss. The breathtaking architectural ability of the Romans is on display here and you get the opportunity to soak in the atmosphere of this famous landmark. 

Just across the road, the Roman Forum was the centre of Rome, where government buildings stood and a lively marketplace brought in crowds of people every day. Trust me when I say this courtyard still holds the same energy it had at its prime in the 8th century.

If you want to see these two attractions in Rome (and you totally should), check out this Colosseum and Roman Forum Tour for an unforgettable experience.

Brilliant Things to See & Do in Rome

Learn About Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo has a complex history and is one of the best historical places to visit in Rome. Originally built as a mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 139 A.D., the towering building was a fortress, then a castle, and now a museum for all to enjoy.

Castel Sant’Angelo is most famous for being the tomb of Emperor Hadrian, and you can still visit his tomb today. The museum also has a vast art collection, including the amazing etching Girandola by Francesco Piranesi.

Top Tip: Climb to the top on this Castel Sant’Angelo tour and admire breathtaking views of Rome.

Enjoy a Sunny Day at Villa Borghese

Villa-Borghese

Looking for the best free things to do in Rome? Spend a sunny day roaming around Villa Borghese. 

This is the third biggest Roman public park and offers easy access to some of the most iconic buildings in the city, such as the Villa Borghese Gallery. You have to pay $13 USD to enter, but it’s well worth it.

Visit the Monument to Goethe and the Villa Borghese sculpture, both perfectly carved out of marble. Or, head to the impressive Temple of Ascelpius where you cant rent a pedalo and float on the lake.

After your artsy visits, spend the day in nature and enjoy the fun-filled gardens on a Villa Borghese Gardens segway tour. Without a segway, walking up Pincian Hill will leave your thighs burning, but at least you’ll have pretty flowers all around you.

Visit the Arch of Constantine

Arch of Constantine

European capital’s love an arch, but the Arch of Constantine might just be my favourite. This elaborate arch recognises the victory of Emperor Constantine over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge.

The detailed relief sculptures show the significant battles and historical events of past emperors that led to Constantine’s success. Not only is it the last Roman triumphal arch, but it’s also right next to the Colosseum. It’s free to visit, so don’t worry about pesky ticket lines.

Join the Masses at Piazza Venezia

Piazza-Venezia

The Piazza Venezia is home to iconic buildings such as the Altar of the Fatherland, which celebrates Italian unification and was home to the first King.

As four streets intersect the Piazza Venezia, you can expect a lot of vehicle traffic, but there is some reprieve by visiting Palazzo Venezia. The iconic museum is at the centre of the square and was once the headquarters for the past fascist ruler Mussolini during World War II. 

On this hop-on hop-off bus tour, you can see all the best Rome tourist sites, including the Piazza Venezia.

Learn All About the Pantheon

The Pantheon is the best-preserved ancient Roman building in the world. The building was first built as a temple to honour the Roman gods and is filled with mesmerising sculptures and artwork.

A large coffer — a hole in the centre of the building — allows light to stream in and fill the hall with an incandescent glow. 

If you plan on visiting over the weekend, you will need to pre book your tickets as they are in demand. Get ready to queue (if you want my advice, head to the nearby Vennchi for a cone of gelato to scoff while you wait).

Top Tip: Visit the great Renaissance artist Raphael at his burial sarcophagus in the Pantheon on this tour.

Unique Things to See & Do in Rome: Hidden Gems that are Off the Beaten Track

Enjoy Trastevere’s Nightlife

Trastevere Nightlife

Trastevere is a colourful neighbourhood in Rome known for its authentic Italian cuisine and affordable accommodation. No surprise then that this area has plenty of cool things to do in Rome for all visitors. 

This is a unique and vibey part of the city, with craft beer pubs and artisanal shops spread across the area. Visit Delirium for the best craft beer in the world (I don’t make the rules, sorry) and if you want to enjoy an out-of-this-world Italian meal, pop in to Nannarella. 

If you’re looking for the beating heart of Trastevere, Piazza di Santa Maria has the best bustling nightlife in all of Rome, with places like La Azotea Disco Bar.

Top Tip: While in the area, join a street food tour of Trastevere and learn all about the best food in Italy.

Spend the Day at Aventine Keyhole and Orange Garden

Aventine-Keyhole

While spending the day at the Orange Garden of Rome, visit the Aventine Keyhole for a unique perspective of the St. Peter’s Basilica Dome. 

As you walk through the gardens, the Aventine Keyhole frames St. Peter’s dome, causing an optical illusion that makes it appear closer than it is. And makes for a great photo.

But the Orange Garden is so much more than just the Aventine Keyhole, as you can admire spectacular views of the city from the Parco Savello terrace. And there’s more to see, from the fountain of the mask sculpture to the distinct orange trees from which the park gets its name.

Enjoy the Street Art in Ostiense

Something you don’t first think of when someone mentions Rome is modern street art, but you can find plenty of art in Ostiense. This is one of the more unique activities in Rome, with vibrant and colourful streets that offer modern energy in a classic city.

I was taken aback by the pure talent of some of the works on display, such as BLU’s work on the old Italia Air Force warehouse. Another amazing piece you have to see is the largest ecological mural in Europe by Iena Cruz in Via del Porto Fluviale. 

Top Tip: This Ostiense street art walking tour will take you through the hidden parts of Rome that showcase some terrific art, all led by an art historian.

Admire the Santo Stefano Rotondo

Santo Stefano Rotondo

The Santo Stefano Rotondo may not be super extravagant, but it’s still well worth popping by. Considering this beautiful building is from the 2nd century, the precision in its finishes is incredible.

Although tragic, the exquisite fresco paintings by Antonio Tempesta depict the deaths of 34 martyrs. Santo Stefano Rotondo is not all sad, with the beautiful Byzantine mosaics depicting a non-crucified Christ on an elaborate cross.

You can also explore the wondrous architecture of Santo Stefano Rotondo on this private golf cart tour of Rome.

Explore the Baths of Caracalla

Baths of Caracalla

The baths of Caracalla are now ruins of crumbling walls, elaborate floor mosaics, and fallen arches that spread for an astonishing 33 acres.

Back in their heyday, an insane 1,600 people could bath at Caracalla at a time. By the way, if you visit in the summer months, you can admire a live opera performance at the baths of Caracalla.

Top Tip: The Baths of Caracalla entry ticket offers easy access to one of the most unique places to see in Rome. 

Fun Things to Do in Rome

Indulge in an Authentic Italian Cooking Class

Looking for the best things to do in Rome, Italy? Brush up on your cheffing skills by joining an authentic cooking class. 

An Italian cooking class is a fantastic way to learn some new skills in the kitchen with first-hand experience from a professional Italian chef. At the end of a lovely class, indulge in the delicious food you made, along with some complimentary drinks. The best part, IMO.

In this pasta-perfect cooking class, you will learn the ancient techniques of pasta making and how different pasta works with specific sauces.

Ride Down The Appian Way 

One of the must-do things in Rome is taking a gentle bike ride down the Appian Way. The road was one of the first strategically built roads from Rome to Brindisi in southeast Italy.

Now, the Appian Way Park encapsulates most of this iconic road and offers breathtaking views of the Italian countryside. There are some fantastic sites to see during your ride, from the photogenic ruins at the Circus of Maxentius to the small church of Domine Quo Vadis.

Top Tip: I found an Appian Way electric bike tour an excellent way to experience this iconic part of Rome.

Walk Through the Campo de Fiori Market

Campo de Fiori Market

Walking the Campo de Fiori Market is one of the best things to do in Rome. It’s not often you get to experience an authentic Italian marketplace in the heart of the city, so you should savour every moment.

Since 1869, this popular market has been bringing joy to the people of Rome every day except on Sundays. Here, you won’t fall short of things to taste or buy, with various fresh produce, food stalls, and family-owned shops all offering something different.

Top Tip: Experience the best bits on this Campo de Fiori Market tour.

Go Wine Tasting

You didn’t think I could write a guide to Rome without including wine, did you? Enjoy the good life by tasting the Frascati wines of Rome, also known as the ‘golden wine’ by locals.

Frascati wines have delicate flavours of blanched almonds and white peaches that make your taste buds tingle with joy. Rome is well known for its delicacies in food, and it’s safe to say wine is no exception.

Top Tip: For one of the more romantic things to do in Rome, Italy, learn about the best vino Italy offers at a food and wine tasting tour

Take a Rome by Vespa Tour 

Rome by Vespa

It’s a classic cliche, but for good reason – the best way to get around the city and see everything is on a Vespa. Rather than walking the busy streets of this magnificent city, you can zip around from site to site in style.

On the back of a Vespa, you can see all the main sites and landmarks in one day, which takes you at least two to three days by foot and public transportation. 

Top Tip: Take a look at this fantastic Vespa tour of Rome.

Things to Do in Rome: Practical Tips for Your Trip

How Long to Visit in Rome?

You should visit Rome for at least three to four days, especially if you plan a multi-city holiday. Three to four days gives you ample time to enjoy all the best things to do when in Rome. 

Here’s my handy Italy travel guide so you can plan the best holiday possible.

Best Time to Visit Rome?

The best time to visit Rome is during the shoulder months of May, June, September, and October. These months offer lovely weather, reasonable accommodation costs, and fewer crowds than summer.

Where Should I Stay in Rome?

Here are some great recommendations for all budgets when visiting Rome.

Otivm Hotel (Mid-Range)

For affordable accommodation in the heart of Rome, the Otivm Hotel offers you everything you could need. With rooftop city views and a continental breakfast to start your day, you can expect a comfortable stay.

Check Rates and Availability

Singer Palace Hotel (Luxury)

Enjoy a stay at the Singer Palace Hotel, one of the highest-rated luxury hotels in Rome. With the Pantheon a short 5-minute walk from your hotel room, you can expect to visit all the main attractions in Rome before the crowds start to build.

Check Rates and Availability

Hungry Lions Apartment

If you’re looking for a jaw-dropping place to stay, this beautiful apartment has views covered. Quite literally. Open the windows and you will quite literally find yourself within arm’s reach of the Colosseum.

Stylish and modern, this apartment comfortably sleeps two – and the huge fluffy bed with views will make it oh-so-difficult to peel yourself out of bed in the morning.

Check Rates and Availability

Recommended Tours in Rome

Things to Do in Rome: Map

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