If you're planning a trip out to iconic Italy, save this for later! Packed with plenty of picturesque sites, a rich history, and awe-worthy food scene, and a whole lot more, it can be a challenge to know where to even begin. This insider's guide to Rome, Italy, saves you time and hassle.
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Bella Roma! Italy's capital city is easily one of the most celebrated travel destinations globally, and it's for a good reason. The "Eternal City" is a destination where ancient history, architecture, millennia-old art, gourmet gastronomy, and a captivating culture effortlessly fuse together.
It's the land of La Dolce Vita and perfectly so.
You can explore the tunnels of history, discover the urban jungles, stroll through the bustling city streets, and shop 'til you drop. This Mediterranean gem is a true traveler's delight, and if you're dabbling between the top things to do and see, then look no further.
If you're planning a trip to Rome, we'll walk you through everything you need to know – including all the fun activities, the major highlights, budget tips, and the most important things you should and shouldn't do while traveling in Rome.
Top Things to Do in Rome
They say when in Rome, do as the Romans do! On top of diving deep into the city's rich historical background, we'll take a closer look into some of the more quirky, unique activities.
Let's get into the fun things to do in Rome, Italy. We've got you covered with these unique activities.
1. Drive Down the Streets with Fiat 500
Ditch the hop-on hop-off buses and cruise through the streets in style! Get an alternate perspective on Rome's great sites, but with a dash of vintage drama! Hire a Fiat 500 on rent and drive down the lesser-known alleyways. Split the cost between four friends, and it can be a great way to get around.
2. Get artsy at the Borghese Gallery.
Art-lovers unite! Catch big names like Caravaggio, Bernini, and Raphael all in one place. There are so many styles here to fall in love with, from the exquisite design and stunning architecture to the towering sculptures and fresco paintings. Don't forget to head to the gardens for remarkable views overlooking the Piazza del Popolo.
Photo by Tommaso Wang on Unsplash
3. Toss a coin into Piazza Navona
Nestled in the heart of the city, you'll find something a little less frequented than the bigger attractions. Piazza Navona is a happening square lined with traditional restaurants, buzzing bars, trendy stores, and the Fountain of the Four Rivers. Throw a coin into the fountain and make a wish! Stop by here for a quick cafe or gelato before heading to your next attraction.
4. Venture into Colosseum After Sunset
Skip the bigger tourist crowds and aim for sundown! Venture to the charming Colosseum after sunset, or book a special Colosseum Night Tour where you can enjoy the ancient architecture without the buzzing hoards of tourists.
Head all the way to the ground floor to catch a glimpse of the place where both beasts and men used to battle.
5. Explore the Ostiense Mural Streets
If you're wondering what attractions are free in Rome, then the Ostiense Mural Streets should be at the top of your list! If you're on a budget-conscious vacation, then checking out the vibrant murals and street art can give you a sense of the more authentic side of local life, but it can also be a stellar spot to meet other travelers.
Ostiense Mural Streets is one of the best things to do for free in Rome, in my opinion! There's no doubt that these cheerful, colorful streets will leave a mark on your memory. And Instagram, too, no doubt.
6. Hop on the glass elevator to Vittoriano
Catch a different perspective on the Eternal City. The massive, marble-made monument, known as the 'Altar of the Fatherland,' hosts one of the best viewpoints in the entire city.
Tucked away in Piazza Venezia, you can go up the glass-walled elevator and take in 360-degree views of the ancient empire's most stunning sights.
7. Enjoy a Scooter Tour
You could go on a walking tour, or you could get immersed in a true local's experience – a Vespa ride through the heart of the city.
Explore the cobblestone streets and unique flair by setting off on a Vespa tour. Hire a scooter driver and enjoy the ride through the different neighborhoods, local markets, cafes, and hidden gems. Visit the less-traveled corners, and don't be afraid to ask your driver for any insider tips!
8. Marvel at sunset from Monte Mario
There's no better way to soak up all the magic from this hotspot. Head to Monte Mario to catch golden hour as the sun departs for the day. Walk up the maze-like streets to the very peak of Rome's highest hill. On the top free things to do in Rome, this is definitely one of the prettiest! Pack a bottle of wine, grab a pizza to-go, and cherish the spectacular sunset for a memory you won't forget.
9. Go for a stroll down Appian Way.
Immerse yourself in local life and walk as the Romans do! Head down the 2000-year-old country road and soak up the atmosphere. Appian Way is the perfect place to get a dash of greenery in amongst the bustling city. Take a walk down the green fields, or stop for a quick snack break before setting off to your next destination.
10. Dine on a Tiber River cruise
Kick back after a big day of sightseeing on a cruise through the Tiber River. Roll down Rome's waterfront in style, and enjoy a delicious meal paired perfectly with an authentic Italian wine. You can admire all the best sights from the riverfront and watch the city light up as the sun sets for the day. The Italian music, food, drinks, and overall ambiance will leave you feeling replenished and, quite possibly, wanting more.
11. Take a day trip out to Tivoli.
Escape the summertime crowds with a quick day trip from Rome. Dash out into Hadrian's Villa and discover the breadth of ancient theaters, baths, and well-preserved temples. Head out to Villa D'Este and get whisked away by the Hundred Fountains. After checking out the series of flowing waterfalls, lush gardens, and towering trees, you'll be left feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the city. Tivoli is hands-down one of the most unique things to do outside of Rome. Trains are cheap, frequent, and fast.
What You Cannot Miss in Rome
When planning a trip to Rome, there's no doubt that the handful of historical attractions will be at the top of your bucket list. If you're thinking, "What should I not miss in Rome?" then here are the top 5 landmarks that you absolutely cannot miss!
1. St Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica is home to some of the most incredible architecture in Rome. Aside from the significant religious history, you can find some mind-blowing masterpieces from the renaissance and baroque art eras. Admission is completely free, and you do not need a ticket to enter! Just arrive early if you want to skip the lines. Get up amongst the heights and climb to the very top of the dome for the best views of Rome!
2. The Pantheon
The Pantheon is the most well-preserved of ancient Rome's most influential monuments. The Pantheon was originally constructed for all the gods of pagan Rome, and over the years, it has inspired countless replicas all over Europe.
Inspired by the notorious Michaelangelo, there are delightful details hidden in every corner. As one of the city's most underrated attractions, you won't catch as many crowds here, especially if you visit in the early morning!
3. Trevi Fountain
Spanning a staggering 85 feet in height and around 65 feet in width, the expanse of the Trevi Fountain will leave you speechless. This Roman gem harbors beautiful architectural details and a large pool with water flowing from the fountains. Close your eyes, make a wish, and toss a coin into the fountain!
4. Roman Forum
The Roman Forum was once a vibrant scene of public gatherings, court deals, gladiatorial fights, and open-air markets in the ancient Italian capital. The spot is one of the most prominent places to visit in Rome, especially if you're interested in the city's social, political, and religious history. Notorious men like Julius Caesar once walked these streets.
5. Vatican Museums
There are 26 museums scattered throughout the Vatican City in Rome. These museums are home to a wealth of well-known Roman Sculptures and world-renowned masterpieces from the Renaissance art era. Additionally, they host around 70,000 works, out of which only 20,000 are available for public view. With over five miles of winding corridors and detailed art, there are even pieces here from Ancient Egypt!
A major highlight includes Michaelangelo's "Last Judgement." If you love art and culture, you can't miss out on these museums in Rome!
6. Vatican Gardens
If you're craving a bit of nature amongst all the sightseeing in Rome, this is the spot for you. The Vatican Gardens is home to soaring trees, elegant hedges, and luscious green spaces. Sit back in the shade, relax with birds chirping, and breathe in the fresh air.
A Foodie's Guide to Rome
Rome is nothing short of a gastronomical affair. There's oh-so-much to choose from mouth-watering gelato, margarita pizza, and authentic carbonara pasta.
But here's a pro tip. Eat what the Romans eat. When it comes down to food, Italians know how to eat.
These are some plates you must try in Rome. Check out our deep dive into all the best things to eat in Rome!
Dos and Don'ts in Rome
Traveling abroad can be a life-changing experience, but now and again, some things come up. Here's everything you need to know about what you should and shouldn't do in Rome, Italy.
- You can save yourself some money by ordering coffee and drinks at the bar rather than at a table. This way, you can ditch the service fees.
- Book tickets in advance and online to avoid long queues.
- Learn the art of bargaining while shopping in local flea markets. Avoid eating in high-end restaurants if you want to save some cash.
- Avoid taking any 'free' gifts from strangers. It's usually a scam to lure you in for money.
- Don't eat anything inside any church or museum while in Rome. Cover up your shoulders and knees with a scarf and long pants.
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