Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

15 Can’t-Miss Tourist Sights in Rome

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Planning your trip to Rome, Italy and curious what’s worth your time? While there are many famous places in Rome to visit like the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican, or the Colosseum, there are other, lesser-known sights that you won’t want to miss.

Maximizing your time in the Eternal City is a must, but how do you decide what to see and what to skip? It can feel overwhelming! In this guide, we’ll cover the very best experiences and top sights to see in Rome so you can plan an unforgettable trip.

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As the capital of Italy, Rome is a majorly bustling city in addition to being one of the most ancient, fascinating cities in Europe. Along these cobblestone streets, you’ll find history everywhere you look! There is so much to see and do in Rome that it can feel hard to decide what to put on your itinerary. Read on to see our “Must-See” sights in this stunning city – starting with the most popular Rome tourist attractions and ending with a few of our personal favorites that you won’t want to miss.

Jump To:
The Colosseum
The Pantheon
Roman Forum
The Trevi Fountain
Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums
St. Peter’s Basilica
Piazza Navona
Palatine Hill
St. Angel’s Bridge
Campo de’Fiori Market
Spanish Steps
Piazza del Popolo
Piazza Venezia & Altare della Patria
Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore
Galleria Borghese

1. The Colosseum

When you think of Rome, chances are you think of the Colosseum. This landmark is so iconic and an absolute must-see. Built around 70 AD as an entertainment arena, the Colosseum gives you a unique peak into the ancient past of the Roman Empire.

Whether you want to just admire the Colosseum from the outside, or take a tour of the inside, you won’t want to miss this legendary spot. Join a guided tour to explore the interior, or go for the full Colosseum experience with a tour of the Colosseum Underground and the opportunity to stand on the partially restored Arena Floor.

Good to Know: The Colosseum is unsurprisingly one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome and it’s essential that you book your entrance or tour tickets ahead of time. We recommend getting regular priority tickets so you can visit the Arena Floor or a Rome Tourist Card to make visiting all of the sites easier!

Tour the ancient underground passageways of the Colosseum for a unique perspective. See tickets here.

2. The Pantheon

Located on the Piazza della Rotonda, not far from the Trevi Fountain, is the Pantheon. Originally built as a template to all gods, the Pantheon was built around 125-127 AD and is the world’s oldest building that is still in use today. Best known for its massive dome, it’s one of the most fascinating sights in Rome and served as an inspiration for other buildings throughout the city, and across the world.

At almost 2000 years old, the Pantheon is one visit you won’t want to miss. Book a skip-the-line ticket in advance to avoid crazy long queues and view this stunning, ancient building here.

3. Roman Forum

Situated right by the Colosseum, the Roman Forum is one of those places that you’ll never forget. So rich and full of history, these ruins are something to behold! The Roman Forum is a sprawling former scene of public meetings, law courts, and gladiatorial combats. It was once lined with shops and open-air markets. Today, you’ll see temples still standing and the Arch of Titus and Arch of Septimius Severus, honoring emperors of the time.

Pro Tip: If you don’t want to go into the Roman Forum, or just want an excellent photo op, head up the hill towards Campidogli, a hilltop square designed by Michelangelo and lined with museums. Head around to the backside to a photo spot called Terrazza sul Foro to overlook most of the Roman Forum and snap some amazing pictures!

4. The Trevi Fountain

The most famous fountain in the world, and my absolute favorite sight in Rome: the Trevi Fountain. While it’s a very crowded spot, it cannot be missed. Located close to the Pantheon, these two are great to see back to back. After you toss your coin in the fountain (and of course, snap a few pictures!), you’ll find loads of restaurants, shops and gelato places all a few steps away from the fountain.

The Trevi Fountain was so breathtaking, I made my husband walk by to see it with me 4 times on our short trip – I couldn’t get enough! It was magical, especially at night.

5. Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums

Even if you’re not Catholic, the Vatican is truly an experience unlike any other and another “Must-Do” on your list. Admire the incredible ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, built at the end of the 15th century and painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. It’s truly a masterpiece that you’ll have to take your time appreciating.

In addition to the Sistine Chapel, you’ll also want to tour the four Raphael Rooms, the Gallery of Maps, the gardens, and the famous Momo Staircase.

Pro Tip: Booking Vatican Museum tickets ahead of time are essential as they are always busy and tickets are usually sold out. Get tickets to explore it on your own here or take a guided tour to fully immerse yourself in the experience!

6. St. Peter’s Basilica

As the largest and most important Catholic Church in the world, you might imagine how massive the building would have to be! The sheer scale of this church is so hard to visualize, even while standing outside. Built at the site of St. Peter’s tomb, this is also the location where many Popes are buried and has underground crypts you can tour. 

While you’re here, climb to the top of St. Peter’s Dome  for an amazing view of the Vatican and the city, as well as enjoy the view of the church below. 

Lines to get into the basilica, as well as anywhere else in Vatican City can be exceptionally long. Save hours of time queuing with skip-the-line tickets to see St. Peter’s Basilica & Dome here!

This stunning Baroque-style square is one of the most charming and popular squares in Rome. Built on the site where the Stadium of Domitian (Circus Agonalis) once stood, this square features three fountains so intricate you won’t believe they’re man-made! There is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) representing the important rivers of continents where Christianity spread. Then there is the Fontana del Moro, originally called the “Seashell Fountain” and lastly, the Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune).

In addition to the beautiful fountains you’ll find in this famous square, you’ll also find plenty of cafes and restaurants lining its sides. However, this is one area of Rome that would be considered more of a “tourist trap” with coffee costing 2-3 times more than at other nearby cafes. There are also pretty mixed reviews on the food at these restaurants so we decided to look elsewhere when we were there around lunch time. However, if you wanted a place to eat and people watch, this would probably be one of the best places to do it!

8. Palatine Hill

The most famous of the seven hills of Rome, and one of the oldest parts of the city, Palatine Hill was once a neighborhood in Rome for the rich and famous. Now, it’s an open-air museum and archaeological site. Here you’ll see grand palaces of the Roman Empire, and views of the Roman Forum and Colosseum from a distance. 

Good to Know: An entrance ticket to the Palatine Hill is included with Colosseum and Roman Forum tickets. 

Tip: Get an amazing view from Terrazzo Belvedere del Palatino, overlooking the Roman Forum and city center.

Choose a guided tour to explore Palatine Hill, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum so you can really understand all of the amazing ruins you’re seeing, and the stories of this city. We recommend this tour that also gives you priority entrance!

9. St. Angel’s Bridge

The most photographed bridge in the Eternal city, St. Angel’s Bridge is another spot to put on your itinerary – especially since you can use it to walk towards the Vatican anyway! Admire the angel sculptures on this beautiful bridge, built in 134 AD to connect Castelo Sant’ Angelo to the city of Rome. 

This pedestrian bridge is so unique, lined with the statues of 10 angels, all while being right in front of the massive Castello Sant’Angelo. Staying in Prati, we happened upon this bridge without looking for it and were so surprised at just how beautiful this bridge was!

10. Campo de’Fiori Market

If you’re looking for local flowers, a bottle of fabulous olive oil to take home, unique wine offerings, Italian pasta, or just some delicious local produce, this is the place to do it! As one of the nicest town squares in Rome, it’s a popular gathering and trading place. The market is open between 7 AM and 2 PM daily, except on Sundays. 

We stumbled upon this square in the afternoon and got a bottle of wine at a restaurant right on the square. We enjoyed our Syrah and people-watching at the market!

11. Spanish Steps

Another iconic tourist spot, the Spanish Steps connect the Piazza di Spagna to the Piazza della Trinità dei Monti on the top of the hill. This impressive staircase has been in countless movies, graced the covers of magazines and is often on postcards and travel guides to Rome. 

At the bottom of the stairs, you’ll find the Fountain of the Boat (Fontana della Barcaccia) and the bustling Piazza di Spagna lined with colorful buildings, shopping and restaurants. Love yourself some English tea time? Check out the famous Babington’s tea room to the left of the stairs!

Good to Know: It’s forbidden to sit or eat on the Spanish Steps. 

12. Piazza del Popolo

This town square is so huge and deserves a visit! Located right inside one of the old city gates of Rome, Porta Flaminia, this piazza is where many famous streets meet. One leading in the direction of the Vatican, the other towards the Pantheon, one leading toward the Colosseum, and lastly, one leading toward the Spanish Steps.

You’ll find an Egyptian Obelisk and the Fountain of the Lions in the center of this piazza, as well as two other fountains at the western and eastern sides of the square. Enjoy the view of two stunning churches, Santa Maria die Miracoli and Santa Maria di Montesanto on the edge of the square and the view of the Museo Leonardo da Vinci at the other end.

And if you’re like my husband, you’ll want to check out the absolutely massive doors leading to the square near the Museo Leonardo da Vinci! With a background in construction, that sweet man couldn’t stop looking at the hinges and door construction haha!

13. Piazza Venezia & Altare della Patria

This is one sight we didn’t set out to find but were blown away by when we came across it. At the Piazza Venezia, you can visit the Italian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and enjoy the huge and truly show-stopping monument to first king of Italy Vittorio Emanuele II, known as the Altare della Patria.

You can also walk up to the very top of the steps of the Altare della Patria onto the terrace for beautiful views of Basilica San Marco, and even the Colosseum when you go around to the back side! We saw it all at night, with everything lit up. It was truly special and one of our favorite moments in Rome!

14. Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

This basilica is important to the papistry, and is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome and is still used by the pope to this day. It’s also the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary and features golden ceilings and 5th century mosaics. This beautiful church has such intricate detail and architecture, it’s worth taking a moment to admire it from the piazza out front or enter the Cathedral for free (if it’s open when you’re there)! There’s also a great little corner restaurant across the street that we got lunch and a couple of Aperol Spritzes!

15. Galleria Borghese

The Galleria Borghese is an elegant palace and contains one of the largest private art collections in the world. The museum has over 20 rooms of antiques, sculptures, and paintings, including the statues “Apollo and Daphne” by Bernini and paintings by Caravaggio, Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci and Sanzio Raphael.

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