Tag: Rome

Europe Travel, Italy

1 Day in Rome Itinerary

Planning one day in Rome? As one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, you can probably imagine there’s a lot to see (and do) in the Eternal City! Here you’ll find ancient architecture, history around every corner, timeless beauty, and more fountains than anywhere else in the world.

From famous landmarks like the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, to the iconic Vatican City, you’ll have more than enough to keep you busy. With something beautiful and historic around every corner, i’s often regarded as just one giant outdoor museum!

While many people spend 2-4 days in Rome – after all, there is so much to see – you can absolutely see the highlights in one day. So if you’re looking to see all the best sights in Rome in one day, read on to see our favorite spots, a couple hidden gems, and even see our self-guided walking tour to make sure you don’t miss a single thing!

READ: The Ultimate Rome Travel Guide & Bucket List

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The Best Things to See in Rome
1 Day in Rome Itinerary
Rome Travel Tips


The Best Things to See in Rome

The Colosseum

As one of the seven wonders of the world, the Colosseum is one stop you don’t want to miss during your visit to Rome! Construction started on the Colosseum all the way back in 72 AD, making it over 1,900 years old.

Formerly an amphitheater that hosted epic gladiatorial battles, the Colosseum is full of incredible history. Tour the amphitheater, or join a guided tour for access to the underground areas and stage where the gladiators once stood!

You’ll want to arrive early to beat the crowds, or (even better) purchase tickets in advance so you don’t spend half your day waiting in line to see the Colosseum. Check out these priority entrance + sightseeing bus tour tickets, or join a guided tour of the Colosseum (we recommend this one) to really maximize your time there!

The Roman Forum

While you’re by the Colosseum, you’ll absolutely want to check out the Roman Forum as it’s right next door. This sprawling archaeological site that was the heart of ancient Rome. Wander through the ruins of temples, basilicas, and arches, imagining the vibrant life that once thrived in this bustling center of politics and commerce.

Built at the end of the 7th century BC, the Roman Forum served as the center of public life in Rome for more than a millennium. As centuries went on, more and more buildings were built at the Forum, including those for political, religious, economic and judicial activities – it really was the hub for everything!

Stroll through the ruins on your own, or join a guided tour (like this one!) to really understand all of the history that took place here.

The Vatican

As the smallest independent state in the world, Vatican City has a history deeply intertwined with the Catholic Church and the papacy. The origins of the Vatican can be traced to the first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great, who, in the early 4th century, constructed a basilica over what was believed to be the burial place of St. Peter. 

This original St. Peter’s Basilica laid the foundation for the Vatican we know today. The current St. Peter’s Basilica, designed by architects including Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, stands as a testament to the Vatican’s artistic and architectural magnificence.

The sheer beauty of the buildings and the cobblestone streets in Vatican City are enough for anyone to appreciate, and you can wander through the city without needing a ticket. Soak it all in, it’s one of the most important and iconic religious sites in the world!

If you want to tour the Vatican or its museums, you’ll need a ticket or to join a guided tour. It’s imperative that you get these booked ahead of time as queues here can take hours. When we went in the beginning of November (low season), tickets were still sold out a couple of weeks in advance and the line to go inside was a couple hundred people long!

Check out these skip-the-line tickets to see the Vatican, its museums, and the Sistine Chapel.

The Trevi Fountain

As one of Rome’s most iconic landmarks, the Trevi Fountain boasts a rich history that spans centuries. Its origins can be traced back to the 18th century when it was designed as a grand fountain as a part of the newly reconstructed Aqua Virgo aqueduct. 

Completed in 1762, the Trevi Fountain stands at the junction of three roads, or “tre vie,” giving it its name. The legend of tossing a coin over the left shoulder into the fountain to ensure a return to Rome became popularized in the mid-20th century, adding a whimsical tradition to this awe-inspiring monument. 

Today, the Trevi Fountain continues to enchant visitors with its Baroque magnificence and remains a symbol of beauty, art, and the eternal charm of the city of Rome. And as a bonus, it’s totally free to see, no ticket required! Snap a few pictures, then sit on the benches in front of it to really admire and appreciate the most famous fountain in the world.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon, a marvel of ancient Roman engineering and architecture, stands as a testament to the enduring brilliance of Roman civilization. Originally commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD) and later rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian around 126 AD, the Pantheon has weathered the ages remarkably well. 

The building’s most distinctive (and famed) feature is its massive dome, an engineering feat that remained unrivaled for centuries. The oculus, a central opening in the dome, serves both as a source of natural light and a symbolic connection to the divine. 

Over the years, the Pantheon has served various purposes, transitioning from a pagan temple to a Christian church dedicated to St. Mary and the Martyrs in the 7th century. Its well-preserved state and architectural grandeur make the Pantheon a timeless symbol of Rome’s rich history and a must-visit destination for those seeking to connect with the ancient world.

You can enter the Pantheon for 5 euros, but you’ll want to be mindful about what time you go as there can be quite a line. It’s probably a good idea to go first thing in the morning, or wait until the evening when people are heading to dinner and less likely to still be the sights.

Spanish Steps

Completed in the 18th century, these 135 breathtaking steps, designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi, connect the Piazza di Spagna below with the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. 

Beyond being a monumental staircase, the Spanish Steps have evolved into a lively gathering spot and iconic photo opp, perfect for savoring the vibrant atmosphere of the Eternal City. Whether you find yourself basking in the sun on the steps, indulging in a gelato from one of the nearby vendors, or window shopping in the adjacent luxury boutiques, a visit to the Spanish Steps promises an unforgettable experience that captures the essence of Rome’s timeless allure.

Just note – you cannot eat on the steps! Doing so will result in a hefty fine, save your snacks and gelato savoring for when you’re in the piazza below.

1 Day in Rome Itinerary

While a day in Rome may seem too short, it’s entirely possible to capture the essence of this enchanting city by prioritizing key landmarks and experiences.  Embrace the history, savor the flavors, and let the eternal city leave a mark on your heart!

Morning:

Tour the Colosseum

First thing’s first, check the Colosseum off your list! Hit the ticket office first thing in the morning (as of writing, it opens at 9:00 AM), before the lines form, or be wise and plan ahead with pre-purchased skip-the-line tickets or by joining a guided tour (we love this one!)

You can spend an hour here, or several, depending on how long you explore this iconic landmark or if you do a longer tour, like the highly-rated guided Underground tour.

Explore the Roman Forum

As we mentioned above in the previous section, the Roman Forum is right next to the Colosseum. These incredible ruins are truly something to see and explore, you don’t want to miss it! Join a guided tour to understand all of the rich history behind the Forum, when it was the heartbeat of the city of Rome.

Visit the Pantheon

Next, make your way to the Pantheon, a marvel of ancient engineering and architecture. The dome of this well-preserved temple is a testament to Roman ingenuity. Take a moment to appreciate the oculus – a circular opening in the dome that allows sunlight to illuminate the interior.

Afternoon:

Have Lunch Near the Trevi

Before visiting the magnificent Trevi Fountain, grab lunch at one of the many nearby restaurants. There are loads to choose from in this area, and you really can’t go wrong! We had some of our favorite meals here in Rome, and particularly liked Il Chianti Osteria Toscana.

Throw a Coin in the Trevi Fountain

No visit to Rome is complete without tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain. Legend has it that doing so ensures a return to the eternal city, or that you’ll find love in Roma. Join the crowds, make your wish, and marvel at the Baroque masterpiece designed by Nicola Salvi. It truly is so beautiful in person – we went to see it 4 times during our 2 days there!

Stroll Through Piazza Navona

Wander over to Piazza Navona, a lively square surrounded by elegant Baroque buildings. Admire the stunning Fountain of the Four Rivers and soak in the vibrant atmosphere. Street performers, artists, and gelato vendors add to the charm of this picturesque square. There are also a few restaurants around perfect for grabbing an afternoon glass of wine or Aperol Spritz and people-watching!

Climb the Spanish Steps

Walk to the Spanish Steps and climb to the very top to the Trinità dei Monti church! Here you’ll have a beautiful view of the Piazza di Spagna below. You won’t want to miss this iconic spot in Rome, and be sure to snap a few pictures at the bottom!

Evening:

Grab Dinner in Trastevere

Head across the Tiber River to the charming neighborhood of Trastevere. This area is known for its narrow cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and a plethora of authentic Italian eateries. Enjoy a delicious dinner at a local restaurant, savoring traditional Roman dishes and of course, wine!

Stroll Through Roma + Get Gelato

With beauty around every corner, spend the rest of your free time in Rome by wandering through the cobblestone streets and admiring all of the architecture, monuments, and other stunning sights you see. Rome was specifically designed so there was always something beautiful at the end of each street, whether it’s a gorgeous building, an intricate fountain, or an ancient statue. 

And as you explore, you’ll likely find a few gelato shops along the way!

READ: 2 Days in Rome Itinerary

Rome Travel Tips

Rome is a very popular tourist destination, and as such, there are a few things to plan for so you can have as smooth of a trip as possible!

Plan Ahead and Prioritize

Rome is a city with a wealth of historical and cultural sites, so planning your itinerary in advance is crucial. Prioritize the must-see attractions based on your interests, and consider booking tickets in advance online to skip long lines (and to avoid not being able to get tickets at all – they do sell out!) Rome is absolutely somewhere that you’ll benefit from planning ahead and booking any tours or experiences you want to have well in advance.

Comfortable Shoes

Rome is a city best explored on foot, we can attest to that. We found beauty around every corner, and I feel like we would’ve missed so many charming streets and beautiful details had we not been walking everywhere.

Because Rome is a larger city and the landmarks/popular sights are pretty spaced out, you’ll likely cover a significant amount of ground. Because of this, ensure you wear comfortable footwear. This is also so important because you’ll be navigating cobbled streets and walking through historical sites, not to mention all of the uneven sidewalks! Stay comfy with all that walking by wearing cushy athletic shoes, or whatever else you’re comfortable doing all that walking in. Your feet will thank you!

Time Your Visits Wisely

To avoid the crowds and make the most of your time, plan your visits to popular attractions early in the morning or later in the afternoon. This is particularly true for landmarks like the Colosseum, Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel. You’ll not only experience shorter lines but also enjoy a more relaxed and immersive atmosphere. This is especially true during the high season, going during non-peak hours will be much less stressful! 

Public Transport and Walking

While walking is an excellent way to explore Rome (and our preferred way to explore the city), we realize that’s not going to work for everyone. The city also has a comprehensive public transport system, including buses and the metro. Purchase a Roma Pass for unlimited access to public transportation and discounted entry to museums and attractions. Walking, however, allows you to stumble upon charming alleyways and unexpected treasures, so strike a balance between the two modes of exploration.

READ: Should I Visit Paris or Rome?

Europe Travel, Featured

Should I Visit Paris or Rome? | Paris vs Rome, Choosing the City That’s Right For You

Choosing between Paris and Rome for your European vacation? It’s quite the task trying to decide which of these two iconic videos you should visit! 

Paris and Rome are both beautiful cities with world-class sights, amazing wine, great food, tons of history, and plenty to do. 

While you can’t really go wrong between the two, there are a few things to consider when deciding if Paris or Rome is the right choice for you.

After visiting both, you’ve come to the right place for some guidance on making your selection. Read on to help you make your decision!

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Paris vs Rome: Which City Is Right For You?
What to Do in Paris
What to Do in Rome
Where to Stay in Rome
Where to Stay in Paris
Our Final Recommendation

Paris vs Rome: Which City Is Right For You?

Choosing between Paris and Rome is so difficult, and the answer is going to majorly depend on who you ask! Having visited both, we can absolutely see the appeal each city has and all it has to offer. 

With night time champagne and watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle,  Paris is without a doubt the more romantic destination and might be more attractive to couples. Here, you’ll also find some of the most incredible art in the world, housed in the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. Art galleries and street artists are sprinkled throughout the city, making it the ideal location for art lovers or those looking for a little romance!

Paris also features one of the densest metro systems in the world so you can easily get all over the city. And it does feel like just that, a city. Probably more so than Rome, Paris feels like a metropolitan beast full of dense neighborhoods, and yes, a lot of traffic! While you can walk most places (averaging 20,000 steps a day, we did), you’ll more than likely want to take advantage of the metro or bus system as the city is quite sprawling.

Rome on the other hand, is a bit smaller in size and infinitely more walkable. From the Vatican to the Colosseum, the two furthest points you’d likely be visiting, is just a 2.5 mile walk. All of the other landmarks are, for the most part, clustered together in the center of this route. Now while 2.5 miles may seem like a lot (and you can definitely take the bus, there’s a lot of them!), it pales in comparison to all the walking you’ll do in Paris with all of the landmarks more spread out through the city. 

While Rome doesn’t have the glittering Eiffel Tower, its landmarks are still lit up and quite magical at night! From the Colosseum to the Trevi Fountain, the sights of Rome are stunning any time of day and dripping in history.

Rome may not seem as romantic right off the bat as Paris, but it sure is an exciting city and a history-lover’s paradise. With world-class landmarks, stunning churches sprinkled throughout the city (that you can go in and explore!), and ancient, intricate fountains and monuments hidden throughout the city, there’s something gorgeous around every corner. It’s like the most amazing scavenger hunt you can imagine!

All in all, Paris may be what you’re looking for if you love art and romance. But Rome has more sights and rich history to offer its visitors.

What to Do in Paris

READ: 12 Things to Do in Paris for First-Time Visitors

When visiting Paris, immerse yourself in the City of Love by exploring its iconic landmarks, world-class museums, and charming neighborhoods. Begin your journey at the Eiffel Tower, an iconic symbol of Paris and a must-visit for breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Stroll along the Seine River and admire the architecture of Notre-Dame Cathedral and Musee d’Orsay, before making your way to the Arc de Triomphe, another legendary Parisian site. 

Wander through the historic streets of Le Marais or Montmartre, where you’ll find trendy boutiques, art galleries, and cozy cafes. Indulge in the culinary delights of French cuisine by sampling pastries at a local patisserie, enjoying a leisurely meal at a traditional bistro, or picnicking in the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens. 

And you won’t want to miss the Louvre Museum, home to thousands of works of art, including the world-famous Mona Lisa. Paris is such a charming city that is rich in history and vibrant culture. Take the time to savor its enchanting ambiance and create lasting memories while touring the City of Light!

You May Also Like: 2 Days in Paris Itinerary

What to Do in Rome

READ: An Epic 2 Days in Rome Itinerary

A visit to the Eternal City is one you won’t soon forget! Begin your journey at the Colosseum, Rome’s most famous landmarks nd one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Explore the Roman Forum nearby, a captivating archaeological site that offers a glimpse into the city’s old-world political and social life. 

Wander through the historic neighborhoods of Trastevere and the charming streets around the Pantheon, stopping at local cafes and trattorias to savor authentic Italian cuisine (or do a food tour!) Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain and experience the grandeur of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican City, home to priceless art collections, including Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel ceiling. 

Rome’s streets are living museums, with something beautiful around every corner. Embrace the opportunity to discover ancient ruins, Renaissance architecture, and the warm hospitality of the Roman people.

You May Also Like: 11 Best Things to Do in Rome for First-Time Visitors

Where to Stay in Rome

When visiting Rome, you really can’t go wrong with where you stay! While price points vary greatly throughout the city, there are a lot of great areas that are safe, clean, and central to the sights.

While we stayed in Prati, we would definitely choose to stay near the Trevi Fountain or the Pantheon when we visit again. This area was much more central (since we liked to walk everywhere), had tons of great shopping and restaurants, and of course, made it easy to see all of the stunning architecture and landmarks in Rome.

You May Also Like: The Ultimate Guide to Rome

Where to Stay in Paris

Choosing where to stay in Paris depends on your preferences, budget, and the experience you’re looking for. The central districts, such as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th arrondissements, offer proximity to major attractions like the Louvre, Notre-Dame, and the vibrant Marais district. 

For a more artistic atmosphere (and often, better prices), Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement, with its charming streets and the iconic Sacré-Cœur Basilica, is a great choice. 

The Saint-Germain-des-Prés area in the 6th arrondissement is known for its intellectual and literary history, offering quaint cafes and a more local-feeling scene. This is where stayed and in November, it was very quiet while still feeling relatively central to the sights. 

If luxury and high-end shopping are priorities, the 8th arrondissement, around the Champs-Élysées, may be ideal. 

Alternatively, the Latin Quarter (5th and 6th arrondissements) is known for its academic feel, historical landmarks, and diverse dining options. Regardless of your choice, Paris has a wide range of hotels, boutique accommodations, and charming apartments to suit different tastes and budgets, ensuring a delightful stay in the City of Lights.

Our Final Recommendation

Our final recommendation in the great debate between visiting Paris or Rome is….

Rome. 

With so many landmarks and beauty around every corner, there’s so much to do in the Eternal City. When we think back to the one we most enjoyed on our trip, and which we would more readily go back to, Rome wins every time. It was absolutely one of the most amazing places we’ve ever been!

Read our Ultimate Guide to Rome to plan the best trip ever – and prepare for your adventure with these mistakes tourists always make in Rome

Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

2 Days in Rome Itinerary

Planning a 2-day trip to Rome? You’re in for such an amazing experience! Of all the places we’ve been, the Eternal City is my absolute favorite and I usually can’t shut up about it!

Get ready to toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain and soak up all of the ancient vibes when exploring the beautiful city of Rome. From the Colosseum’s grandeur to the cozy corners of Trastevere, this city is a time capsule that’ll make your heart race and your taste buds do the happy dance. 

So, lace up those comfy walking shoes, read our Ultimate Guide to Rome and let’s roam around Rome together. 

You May Also Like: 15 Must-See Spots in Rome For First-Time Visitors

Things to Know Before You Go

If you’ve never been to Italy before, there’s a few norms and things to know before you go. None of them are a super big deal, but as someone that really likes to plan and prepare, I would have liked to know before being there!

At Most Places, You Don’t Tip

Something that is more common in Europe than the US (I don’t think I’ve ever seen it here, or ever will!), is the fact that most places you get a meal or a drink already includes the tip in their prices or charges a separate service charge/sitting fee. So make sure you check your receipt for a service fee or some language like “Service Included” to make sure you don’t double tip (unless you feel compelled to).

They Take Credit Card (And Ring You Up At Your Table)

When preparing for our trip, I made sure we had several credit cards that didn’t have international transaction fees so we could use them abroad. But I was still worried we’d need to use Euros a lot of the time. This absolutely wasn’t the case in Rome, everywhere we went took credit cards! The only exception was when we went to a smaller, less popular place and their card reader wasn’t working so we did have to use cash in that instance.

Additionally, unlike in the US, they ring you up right at your table. They bring the bill, ask if it looks alright, and instead of whisking your credit card away, they actually bring their little card readers to the table and check you out right there. It’s very efficient and I have to say, I liked keeping eyes on my card – you never know!

Italians Don’t Really Do Breakfast

As a big breakfast guy, this detail was not my husband’s favorite thing to learn while we were abroad. In Italy, they seem to only have a coffee or espresso, and a pastry in the morning before tackling their day. That being said there were a couple of breakfast places we did find sprinkled throughout Rome (you’ll see it written outside as “Colazione,” which is Italian for breakfast) that had more American breakfast options like eggs and omelettes, sausage and bacon, etc. 

They were few and far between, but after spending a few days in Venice where there was absolutely no option besides the coffee/pastry combo, it was nice to see that they had this option! 

Always Buy Tickets in Advance

I’ll say it again – always buy tickets in advance! I cannot stress this enough. Rome is a very, very busy city. They get almost 10 million tourists each year.

Even going in November, which is supposedly “low season,” the city was still jam-packed with tourists. Thinking it wouldn’t be so busy and because of my husband’s work schedule (we weren’t sure if we’d have to last-minute cancel our trip), I didn’t book tickets in advance to see the Vatican. Two weeks out, when we got the for-sure, green-light to go, I went to buy tickets online and they were sold out!

I was super bummed, and when we walked around Vatican City, I could see exactly why I had had trouble… there was a line to get in about 400 people long! I’ve never seen a line so long before. But that’s Roma for you!

While you can get around this hurdle with some creativity, like booking a guided tour that includes tickets/entry, you’ll still need to expect to pay a bit more for it and expect that tours may be filled up if you wait too long like I did.

The Perfect 2-Days in Rome Itinerary

While some will argue you should spend more time in Rome than two days (and you absolutely could), I think two days is great if you want to see all of the big sites and still feel immersed in the Eternal City, without getting to the point where things kind of start looking the same.

When we visited Rome, we spent 2 full days exploring the city (and a couple of hours that first night we got in), and it felt like perfect amount of time! Could we have spent a third day exploring every nook and cranny, or taking another tour? Absolutely. But for us, I really enjoyed the 2 full days and exploring it on foot made us feel like we really soaked up every second of it! Check out our self-guided walking tour we did here.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Day 1 in Rome:

Explore some of Rome’s most famous sites, like the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. Before strolling through Vatican City and experiencing all this Roman Catholic hub has to offer.

Trevi Fountain

Visit the amazing Trevi Fountain first thing, before the crowds so you can take a few minutes to just sit on a bench and soak it all in. As one of the most famous fountains in the world, and my personal favorite sight in Rome, it’s truly a stop on your list you don’t want to miss – it’s just magical!

Admire the beauty and intricacy of the fountain, snap a few pictures, and of course, toss a coin over your shoulder into the water while you’re there. Legend has it, if you ever hope to return to Roma, you need to toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain. It’s also a wish to find love in the Eternal City!

Pantheon

While you’re by the Trevi Fountain, visit the Pantheon. This ancient building is so stunning, with quintessential Roman architecture and columns that seem too big to be real! As the oldest building still in use, in the entire world, the Pantheon is a really unique experience.

Take a guided tour or enter on your own (it’s only about 5 Euros), to see the world-famous Pantheon dome, and incredible architecture that takes you back in time.

Skip the line (which can be super long, depending on what time of year you go) and get a guided tour so you better understand all that you’re seeing at the beautiful Pantheon! We recommend this tour.

Piazza Navona

As one of Rome’s most bustling squares, there’s always something to see at the Piazza Navona. Here, you can take a moment to enjoy the street artists and musicians, admire the three intricate fountains that fill this square, or just grab a spot at one of the cafes and restaurants that line the square for a drink and some A+ people watching!

Spanish Steps

Climb the Spanish Steps for a fabulous view of Rome and don’t forget to snap a picture on the way up! This iconic Roman landmark is truly special – there’s a reason it’s graced the covers of magazines and postcards for years. If you visit in the spring, you’ll even get to see it covered in colorful flowers!

Piazza del Popolo

Often overlooked by many tourists and itineraries, this large urban square is worth a visit in our opinion – we went to see it again at night after stumbling across it in the daytime!

The Piazza del Popolo, named the “People’s Square,” lies just inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, which was previously a point of entry into the city. The huge doors that guard this square, within the Aurelian Walls, are so massive and ancient, they were so cool to see! It was like a little piece of history that blew us away and was ignored by everyone else walking by.

In the square, you’ll also find a beautiful fountain and have beautiful views of the twin churches built on the edge of the square. With unique architecture and dome-design, they make for a pretty backdrop in photos and are really neat to take a moment and enjoy!

Castel Sant’Angelo

Moving in the direction of Vatican City, our next stop is Castel Sant’Angelo. Originally commissioned by Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family, this fortress has transformed into a multifaceted monument, serving as a papal residence, prison, and now a museum, along the banks of the Tiber River.

Explore the interior and dungeons, or admire it outside from the Ponte Sant’Angelo bridge that connects Castel Sant’Angelo to the rest of Rome.

Saint Peter’s Square & Basilica, Vatican City

In the heart of Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica stands as a beacon of religious and architectural splendor. This magnificent Renaissance church, designed by Michelangelo, Bramante, and Bernini, is a testament to the grandeur of Vatican City and is a must-see for anyone visiting Rome.

The sheer scale of St. Peter’s Square, framed by a colonnade, large fountains, and cobblestone roads feels so magnificent, you can’t help but be in awe! It’s free to enter the cathedral, but once inside, we recommend grabbing a ticket to climb to the top of the dome. From there, you’ll be met with panoramic views of Vatican City and Rome!

Experience all Vatican City has to offer with a guided tour, we love this one!

Dinner & Gelato

Wrap up your day with a delicious Italian meal at one of Rome’s many delicious restaurants. We really enjoyed Il Chianti – Osteria Toscana near the Trevi Fountain. The prices were fair, the ambience spot on, and my Spaghetti Carbonara was to die for!

Then grab some gelato at one of the many nearby gelato shops and go admire the Trevi Fountain lit up at night. We sat there, devouring our gelato and just enjoying the fountain for awhile and it was a really nice way to end the day!

Day 2 in Rome:

Today, we’ll venture to see Rome’s most visited tourist sight, the Colosseum and surrounding ancient wonders.

The Colosseum

As Rome’s most popular tourist destination, the Colosseum is a must-see spot on your trip to the Eternal City! And one you should try to see first thing in the morning (or later at night) to avoid massive lines.

Whether you plan on just admiring this ancient arena from the outside, or you’re going to take a tour of the interior, arena floor or underground, don’t skip out on this iconic landmark.

While there are loads of places to take pictures from all around the Colosseum, we liked taking them from up the hill across from Oppio Caffè. There were a lot less people (at least when we went) and sitting on the wall made for a cute picture! There’s also a garden right next door to the cafe with beautiful views, called the Giardinetto del Monte Oppio.

Tour this legendary, 2000-year old landmark with a guided tour that shows you the secret underground (accessible only by guided tour) and allows you to step onto the arena floor and see how it felt for gladiators to stand out in front of the crowd before battling! We recommend this tour to see all of the awesomeness the Colosseum has to offer.

Or check out this night tour for a one-of-a-kind experience of the Colosseum, and to avoid some of the crowds.

Palatine Hill

Perched above the hustle and bustle of Rome, Palatine Hill is a wonderful, ancient spot to visit while being in the Roman Forum/Colosseum area of Rome. The panoramic views of the Colosseum on one side and the Roman Forum on the other create a jaw-dropping backdrop for your exploration. 

Wander through the remnants of imperial palaces, where emperors once strolled amid opulent gardens, and let the whispers of history transport you. As you trace the footsteps of emperors, you’ll feel the echoes of a bygone era, and the city below takes on a new perspective. 

Roman Forum

Located right next to the Colosseum, and included in most Colosseum tickets and tours, you’ll find the Roman Forum. This ancient site was at the heart of the Roman Empire and is pretty mind-blowing to see.

Explore the ruins on your own, or with a guided tour. We definitely recommend a guided tour so you can get the most out of your visit and provide the most in-depth background on what you’re seeing!

Once you’re done exploring the Forum, head up the hill to Terrazza sul Foro. This is a great place to take some stunning pictures, or just enjoy the ruins from above. While you’re up that way, walk through Campidoglio, the hilltop square designed by Michelangelo.

Capitoline Museums

As the world’s oldest national museum, the Capitoline Museums are worth a visit if your interest is piqued by medieval and renaissance art. Here, you’ll also find famous sculptures and archaeological treasures, spread out over three buildings.

Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

This famous basilica is a great ending point for the day. The Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of Rome’s seven pilgrim churches and is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the virgin Mary. It’s also still used on various occasions by the Pope today.

Enter the cathedral for free, and explore a stunning blend of baroque and renaissance architecture and colorful mosaics. 

Evening Food & Wine Tour of Trastevere

Explore one of Rome’s most popular neighborhoods with a food and wine tour that shows you the best (and most delicious options) in Trastevere. Once a hidden gem in Rome and more of a local scene, Trastevere has become increasingly popular with tourists for its unique Roman cuisine and culture. 

You May Also Like: The Ultimate Guide to Rome

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page, Italy, Travel Hacks, Uncategorized

The Ultimate Rome Travel Guide: Rome Bucket List

From religious marvels like the Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, to iconic sights like the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum, Rome is one travel destination that has something for everyone. In addition to incredible landmarks and architecture, you’ll also fall in love with Roma’s cuisine and food-scene.

As one of Europe’s hottest tourism destinations, Rome doesn’t disappoint. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this beautiful city, as well as our recommendations on where to stay, eat, and see the sights – especially our favorite (secret) spot to see all the Roman Forum has to offer without paying for tickets!

Jump To:
What You Need to Know Before Visiting Rome
How Do You Get Around Rome? | Rome Transportation
What’s the Best Route For a Walking Tour of Rome?
What Are the Best Things to Do in Rome?
What Are the Top Tourist Sights in Rome?
What Tourist Mistakes Should You Avoid in Rome?
What Free Activities Are in Rome?
Are There Christmas Markets in Rome?
What Are the Most Important Rome Travel Tips to Know?
Where to Stay in Rome
Travel Essentials for Rome

While Rome is so stunning, you can easily find something exciting around every corner, it’s a large, tourist-filled city that is easier to see with a little planning! That’s why we’re writing the Ultimate Rome Travel Guide, to make your amazing Rome adventure just a little smoother and make sure you don’t miss out on any of the sights. 

Rather than cram all of this information into one post (and there’s a lot!), we’ve divided it into several posts covering different aspects of the city in-depth and compiled into this guide for easy reading. From food and photo spots, to tourist mistakes, this guide will cover everything you need to know about beautiful Roma! 

What You Need to Know Before Visiting Rome

When visiting Rome, you will typically arrive by train, bus or plane. There are many bus stations and several train stops throughout the city so you can find the one that is best suited for where you are staying. Rome also has two airports, which is surprising for a city of this geographical size, both a 30-40 minute drive depending on where your hotel/rental is. The most popular airport being the Rome Fiumicino International Airport, which you will likely be using if you plan to jump to another country from Rome.

Currency:

Like most of Europe, Rome uses the Euro. Credit cards are very widely accepted (we only had one instance where we had to use cash because their credit card reader wasn’t working). There are plenty of ATM’s throughout the city and it’s wise to have some euros handy, should your card not be accepted or there’s an issue on their part, as was our case. As a rule of thumb, we always had at least 50 euros on us in case we had a meal and there was an issue taking our card.

Climate:

Rome has a Mediterranean climate, meaning it has mild, rainy winters, and very hot, sunny summers. If you’re visiting in the summer, make sure your hotel or rental has air conditioning! We visited at the very beginning of November and it was still somewhat warm on sunny days, as well as many rain showers that moved out as quickly as they moved in.

If you’re visiting in the fall or winter, we recommend packing a rain coat or umbrella – it will not be uncommon for you to see the majority of people walking around with umbrellas for these somewhat-spontaneous rain showers the city gets periodically drenched in, in the fall months.

Languages:

Italian and English. Rome is an international city that is very accustomed to interacting with tourists from all over the world. Everywhere we went, we had no trouble speaking English and it being well-understood.

The only time it seemed to be slightly difficult to communicate was with our Airbnb hosts as they spoke some English but not as well as other places we frequented in the city like restaurants, transportation hubs, and tourist sights.

How Do You Get Around Rome? | Rome Transportation

No matter where you are in Rome, or where you want to go, there’s a bus for that. While we chose to walk everywhere (one day walking over 12 miles!), we saw many people riding the buses throughout the city.

The bus lines run everywhere you would need to go and can really save your feet from the walking. It’s not a very large city when considering the major tourist attraction locations, but it is congested, and you can expect it to take at least 20 minutes to get completely across it by bus. 

Another option for those who don’t walk to walk everywhere is the metro subway system. This underground subway is currently the smallest metro system in Europe, and we really didn’t see people taking it much. However, it is an option if you wanted to get from Prati all the way to the Colosseum in just a few minutes!

Lastly, you can take Ubers, private shuttles and taxis very easily in Rome. However, this is the most expensive option on the list! The bus system and metro system are much more economical, but I will say it was very nice just taking a taxi to the airport when it was time for our trip to end.

Direct and smooth, with no stops was our preferred way to stay on time for a flight! That being said, you could have easily taken a bus for the 40-minute ride to the airport.

What’s the Best Route For a Walking Tour of Rome?

Read: Rome Bucket List: A Self Guided Walking Tour of Rome

As I mentioned above, we exclusively walked in Rome. It was by far our favorite city to walk around because there was a beautiful fountain, sculpture, monument, or otherwise stunning building facade around every corner! We had never seen so much beauty and I feel like we would have missed a lot of the little sights if we were taking public transportation.

The best way to see Rome is by walking, at least as much as you can. It is mostly flat with some gentle hills sprinkled throughout, so it is not a strenuous walk at all. While you can join a paid walking tour, we recommend you follow our tour or create your own. Not joining a group is a great way to experience the city at your own pace, and allows you to stop into a shop or cafe along the way if you see something that grabs your attention! We loved touring the city on foot and then popping into a restaurant for lunch or just a mid-day Aperol Spritz!

See Rome at your own pace and don’t miss any of the best sights (and lesser known spots) by following our self-guided walking tour of Rome here!

What Are the Best Things to Do in Rome?

Read: 11 Best Things to Do in Rome (For First-Time Visitors)

There’s so much to do and see in Rome, it can feel overwhelming trying to make sure you don’t miss a thing! From shopping (local vendors and designer) to taking in the sights, to exploring the food scene, there are so many options. Read our top 11 things to do in Rome for first-time visitors here so you can make sure you enjoy all this beautiful city has to offer!

What Are the Top Tourist Sights in Rome?

Read: 15 Can’t-Miss Tourist Sights in Rome

Rome has many iconic tourist sights, and some stunning, but lesser known ones that are still very much worth a visit. To name a few, in Rome you have:

  • Vatican City
  • The Colosseum
  • Trevi Fountain
  • The Pantheon
  • Spanish Steps

Read our post the 15 Can’t-Miss Tourist Sights in Rome for more!

What Tourist Mistakes Should You Avoid in Rome?

Read: 10 Rome Tourist Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs

When you’re visiting Rome for the first time, there are definitely a few mistakes to avoid. There are many tourist traps in this city, as well as the very real threat of pickpocketing in crowded public areas (I felt someone try to grab my bag in a crowd in Rome). Be mindful and prepared for the city by reading our post on 10 Rome Tourist Mistakes and things to know before traveling!

What Free Activities Are in Rome?

Read: 21 Free Things to Do In Rome

Rome is such a beautiful, walkable city, and offers so much culture and experience just by walking around, looking at the sights! While you’ll have to pay for tickets if you’d like to go into any of the sights, viewing them from outside is completely free. There are also opportunities for free entrance to some of the museums and sights on certain days of the month, and we break that down in our post: 21 Free Things to Do In Rome

You can absolutely enjoy and experience Rome without breaking the bank!

Are There Christmas Markets in Rome?

Like many cities across Europe, Rome does have Christmas markets. The most popular Rome Christmas market is at Piazza Navona from December 1 until January 6 in 2023. This market was not held in years prior because of the pandemic, so it’s very exciting that it will be back in full swing this year!  You can expect lots of stands selling Christmas ornaments and trinkets, delicious food stands, and even a carousel in the Piazza Navona.

What Are the Most Important Rome Travel Tips to Know?

Read: 20 Essential Tips For Your First Visit to Rome

If you’re a first-time visitor to Rome, there are a few things to know to make sure your trip is as smooth sailing and enjoyable as possible! Prepare for your first trip to the Eternal City with the 20 essential tips we outlined in this post.

Where to Stay in Rome

If you’re looking to be in the heart of Rome and walk most places, we can’t recommend enough staying near the Trevi Fountain or Pantheon. This is the best, most central location that allows you to walk everywhere or easily access public transportation. There’s also loads of amazing restaurants (our favorite here was Il Chianti Vineria), cafes, and shopping here, so you have everything you could need!

Photo courtesy of Booking.com

U-Visionary Roma Hotel

4-star hotel offering room service, a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage for guests and free WiFi. This hotel also boasts air-conditioned rooms with a closet, a coffee machine, a minibar, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. Some rooms even have city views, and the hotel receives a rating of 9.1 out of 10 on Booking.com!

Photo courtesy of Booking.com

I Tre Moschettieri – D’Artagnan

An elegant building near the Trevi Fountain, offering free Wi-Fi and large, modern rooms with parquet floors, private bathrooms, and air conditioning. In the lobby, you’ll find it uniquely decorated with antiques!

Photo courtesy of Booking.com

Casa Fabbrini Fancy Suites

With air-conditioned rooms in the Spagna district of Rome, this hotel is just a 2-minute walk from the Spanish Steps. Rated 9.1 by guests on Booking.com, this hotel features private bathrooms, beautiful interior design, and an A+ location.

Travel Essentials for Rome

Cell Phone Power Bank

This is a must-have for any trip abroad, and one that we should have had on our trip to Rome! Using maps and apps on our phones all day severely drained the batteries, and we almost ran out of juice trying to find our way back to our Airbnb apartment! We had no idea where we were and we were running through the city trying to get back before our phones completely died! Don’t be like us, pack a power bank for your phone that you can easily tote around the city. We will never make that mistake again!

Pocket WiFi Device

Say goodbye to crazy roaming charges with a portable WiFi device! Stay in touch with loved ones, look up history or information on the fly, and easily share your pictures and travel adventures on social media. It’s also super handy if you need to do any blogging or work while you’re abroad, you don’t want to have to rely on public Wifi.

Slash-Proof Purse

As a woman traveling, I needed to carry a few things – including my collapsible selfie-stick (see next)! With pickpockets and thieves throughout Rome and the rest of your European travel hot-spots, you want to be very careful with the bag you choose to travel with. I chose a slash-proof purse that had zippers that clipped to the bag, making it more secure and less-likely to be pickpocketed.

When in Rome, I felt someone in a crowd grab at my bag, and was very thankful I had the zippers clipped so no one could quickly grab my wallet or other belongings inside. This is the bag I used and it was the perfect size to carry everything I needed – even a small water bottle! I’ll be taking it on all of my future travels.

Collapsible Selfie-Stick/Tri-Pod

We used this selfie-stick everywhere we went on our travels. You can make it as long or as short as you want, it has a remote that attaches to the base of the stick or you can pull off to make snapping pictures a breeze, and it also is able to be set up as a tripod if you want some further away shots!

Say goodbye to asking strangers to take your picture, you can easily do it on your own with this set-up. And it collapses nice and small so it can fit in your bag!

Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

Rome Bucket List: A Self-Guided Walking Tour of Rome

Exploring Rome on foot is the best way to see everything this amazing city has to offer! Between stunning monuments, artistic fountains, iconic landmarks, and of course, beautiful architecture, there is so much to see in the Eternal City. 

Follow our self-guided walking tour of Rome to see all of the popular sights. Whether you pack it all into one day or spread it out over several days, you’ll love this Rome walking route and all of the ancient beauty you’ll get to see along the way.

You May Also Like: 20 Essential Tips for Your First Visit to Rome

See the walking tour path on Google Maps

In This Article:
Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore
Colosseum
Roman Forum
Piazza Venezia + Altare della Patria
Trevi Fountain
Spanish Steps
Piazza del Popolo
Castel Sant’Angelo
Saint Peter’s Square/Basilica
Piazza Navona
Pantheon

11 Essential Stops on a Self-Guided Walking Tour of Rome

Rome isn’t massive by any means, and exploring all of it on-foot in one day (or two, if you prefer) is definitely possible! However there are many bus stops along the way if you decide you’d like to take some public transportation in between your walking. Don’t miss these 11 essential stops on your self-guided walking tour of Rome:

1. Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

This basilica is a great starting point on your walking journey. From the outside, you’ll see that it looks like many of the other churches you’ll happen upon in the beautiful city of Rome. However, inside is where the real magic is!

Enter the cathedral for free, and explore a stunning blend of baroque and renaissance architecture and colorful mosaics in this large, important church. The Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of Rome’s seven pilgrim churches and is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the virgin Mary.

2. The Colosseum

As Rome’s most popular tourist destination, the Colosseum is a must for every Rome walking tour! Whether you plan on just admiring this ancient arena from the outside, or you’re going to take a tour of the interior, arena floor or underground, don’t skip out on this iconic landmark!

While there are loads of places to take pictures from all around the Colosseum, we loved taking them from up the hill across from Oppio Caffè. There’s also a garden right next door with beautiful views, called the Giardinetto del Monte Oppio.

3. Roman Forum

While you’re right next to the Colosseum, you should explore the Roman Forum! If you purchased tickets to the Colosseum, you’ll be able to enter the Roman Forum as well. You could spend hours exploring these ancient ruins on your own, or take a guided tour to make sense of everything you’re seeing!

Skip the tickets or just get another vantage point after you’re done touring by heading up the hill to Terrazza sul Foro. This is a great place to take some stunning pictures, or just enjoy the ruins from above. While you’re up that way, walk through Campidoglio, the hilltop square designed by Michelangelo.

4. Piazza Venezia + Altare della Patria

This bustling square serves as a hub of activity, surrounded by impressive structures and historical landmarks. At the heart of Piazza Venezia, is the Altare della Patria, also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II. This monumental white marble masterpiece pays homage to Italy’s first king and the unknown soldier, with its grandiose staircase and commanding bronze statues.

Climb the steps to the top for panoramic views of Rome and its ruins. Around the back you can even see the Colosseum!

5. Trevi Fountain

A trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Trevi Fountain and tossing in a coin for good luck! As the most famous fountain in the world, a visit to the Trevi Fountain is a memorable experience. The fountain, adorned with mythical sculptures and intricate details, was built in the 1700s on top of an ancient aqueduct that dates back to 19 BC.

It is easily one of Rome’s most iconic structures and looks magnificent day or night – we recommend seeing it both times of the day if you can manage it!

6. Spanish Steps

Constructed in the early 18th century, these famous 135 marble steps create a backdrop that is truly iconic in Roma. Climb the steps to the top to see beautiful views of Rome, or enjoy the Fontana della Barcaccia, a boat-shaped fountain designed by Pietro Bernini, at the base of the steps.

Visiting in the spring? You’ll find the steps covered in vibrant azaleas that make it easy to see why these steps were inspiration to so many artists and creatives across the globe.

The gates, which look more like enormous doors, really made you feel small.
I can imagine they did quite the job of keeping people out back in the day!

7. Piazza del Popolo

This large urban square in Rome is named as the “People’s Square,” and lying just inside the northern gate in the Aurelian Walls, this square has been a meeting place of the people and, on a darker note, for centuries was a place for public executions.

Even with it’s gruesome past, this square is so large and magnificent, it’s worth taking a stroll through. Enjoy the view of the twin churches that flank the square, and the imposing design of the northern gate that takes you back in time!

8. Castel Sant’Angelo

Originally commissioned by Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family, this fortress has transformed into a multifaceted monument, serving as a papal residence, prison, and now a museum, along the banks of the Tiber River.

Explore the interior and dungeons for a step back in time, or admire it from the outside or from the Ponte Sant’Angelo bridge that connects Castel Sant’Angelo to the rest of Rome.

9. Saint Peter’s Square & Basilica

Nestled within the heart of Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica stands as a beacon of religious and architectural splendor. This magnificent Renaissance church, designed by Michelangelo, Bramante, and Bernini, is a testament to the grandeur of Vatican City and is a must-see for anyone visiting Rome.

The sheer scale of St. Peter’s Square, framed by a colonnade, large fountains, and cobblestone roads feels so magnificent, you can’t help but be in awe! Once inside, climbing to the top of the dome rewards you with panoramic views of Vatican City and the Eternal City beyond.

Experience all Vatican City has to offer with a guided tour, we love this one!

This bustling square is one of Rome’s most famous piazzas (and a great one for people watching)! Admire the three beautiful fountains that fill this square: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro and Fontana di Nettuno. Then grab a drink or meal at one of the local restaurants that line the square.

11. The Pantheon

Our walking tour ends at the incredible Pantheon. With quintessential Roman architecture, chances are this building is one of the few you imagine when you think of Rome. Built between 126 and 128 AD, this ancient building was built on the site of a pagan temple dedicated to all Roman gods.

It later became a Christian church, and while weathered by time is still the oldest building still in use today, in the entire world. The Pantheon’s design has influenced countless buildings throughout history, across Europe and throughout the Americas.

And you’re just a few minutes of walking away from the Trevi Fountain again, so if it’s night time now is a great time to go see the fountain all lit up and it’s evening glory!

You May Also Like: 10 Rome Tourist Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs

Europe Travel, Featured, Home Page, Italy, Travel Hacks

20 Essential Tips For Your First Visit to Rome

Are you planning a trip to Italy and looking for travel tips for Rome? In this post, we’ll talk about 20 essential tips for your first Rome visit so you can have a more enjoyable trip and soak up your time there! 

After our visit to the Eternal City for the first time, there were definitely a few things I would have loved to know ahead of time to really maximize my time there, and make it as smooth sailing as possible. From where and when to go, where to stay and what to wear, find out all you need to know when planning your trip to Rome!

You May Also Like: 11 Best Things to Do in Rome For Your First Visit

1. Pack a cell phone power bank

This is one travel tip we almost learned the hard way in Rome! After spending an obscene amount of time packing, I still managed to forget to bring our cell phone power bank and it was something we wished we’d had every step or our trip. After exploring the city all day, using our phones for maps, pictures and videos, both my husband and I found our phone batteries extremely low. After hightailing it back to our Airbnb to charge them, we arrived with one phone dead, the other at 1% and so much relief that we weren’t almost in a terrible situation! We would have had no idea how to get back to our rental, even the address of it was – you guessed it – only on our phones. 

Avoid a stressful situation like that one and make sure to bring along a cell phone power bank! We like this one

2. Book Tickets in Advance

Even when we visited in November, tourist attractions were busy and had long lines. We wanted to go into the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, but were unable to get tickets after waiting too long to book. When we arrived and walked around Vatican City, we saw why – there was a line probably 500 people long waiting to get inside!

Pro Tip: If the tickets you want are sold out, you can often still visit the place by joining a guided tour. Most tour companies have access to additional tickets or pre-book tickets for their tours.  While a more expensive option, this is a great way to see the sights if you miss out on tickets, or if you just prefer a more guided experience. 

3. Get “Skip the Line” tickets

To piggyback off our last tip, booking your tickets in advance, we recommend you get “skip the line” tickets. While it may hurt a little to spend the extra money upfront, we promise you’ll be so glad you did when you arrive and see the massive entry lines to get inside! If you only have a few days in Rome, you want to give yourself as much time as possible to see all the city has to offer, and you can’t do that if you’re standing in line half the day!

Another way to avoid lines is with guided tours. Many offer a “skip the line” experience and often even enter through a different entrance than the main line. It can feel “touristy” and cost you a few extra euros, but it can really help you maximize your time and give you a deeper understanding of everything you’re seeing.

4. Get the Keys to the City: A Rome Tourist Card

Make seeing all of the tourist attractions easier with timed entrances to Rome’s most iconic attractions, using the Rome Tourist Card.

This digital card is simple to use and pretty much gives you the keys to the city! Once you purchase it online, you get a digital pass sent straight to your phone. You can then choose the date of activation and the individual tickets and time slots for each activity. There’s no time limit on the card once it’s activated, so you can spread out your time slots as much or as little as you need.

The card also helps you to skip the lines at each attraction and head right inside where a guide will meet you at the specified meeting points. You can learn more about the pass here. 

5. Plan Your Transportation

As Americans, most of us aren’t accustomed to taking public transportation or really giving it much thought unless you live in a large, dense city. As suburban dwellers ourselves, we were a little mystified when it came to figuring out buses and trains to get around! When visiting Rome, decide if you’ll be walking around the city or taking the bus or metro, and get acquainted with where the stops are that will be beneficial to you. 

6. Give Yourself Time to Wander

Rome truly is a city unlike any other. Every street, church and building is so full of history, it feels as if there is something to see around every corner. While I created a walking path for us to follow in Rome, we often found ourselves straying from it, being distracted by a beautiful street, monument, or fountain. While you can follow my walking plan, a guided tour, or your own custom creation, give yourself time to wander off the beaten path and explore this stunning city!

This is especially fun because Rome is very crowded, especially during peak season. It feels as if everyone on the planet is visiting Rome when you are! Visiting the major sights is amazing (they’re popular for a reason), but exploring a little off the traditional path will allow you to get away from the crowds and have quiet experiences mixed in with the loud, craziness of the crowds.

7. Plan For the Heat

Rome gets exceptionally hot in the summer, and the vast majority of places will not have air conditioning. Some hotels and restaurants may (this is something you might consider checking ahead of time), but most will not. And those that do, are probably not going to be as efficient at cooling the space as we’re used to in the US.

Don’t underestimate the heat and sun exposure while waiting in long lines to get into the Pantheon or Vatican or any of the other sights, where shade is not plentiful. Wear light, loose clothing, sun block, shades, and consider bringing along a small portable fan to help cool-off.

8. Eat the Pizza How You Want To

This tip is for those that are visiting for the first time and afraid about making some major food faux-pas like I was! Everywhere I looked online and everyone I talked to told me no one eats their pizza with their hands in Italy, as it is common in the US.

And like a good little tourist, I tried to cut my pizza with a knife and eat it with a fork, before very quickly abandoning the idea as it was taking so gosh dang long to eat. I picked up my pizza with my hands, folded it over and ate it like an American… and to my surprise, not a single person cared. Or if they did, I didn’t notice!

The rest of the trip, I never bothered with a fork and knife again. So eat how you’d like to eat, be polite about it, but don’t expect a big reaction like so many people convinced me was coming!

9. Meal Timing

On the topic of food, it’s important to know that the meal timing over there may be different from what you’re used to. This was something that presented problems for us throughout the trip and could be very frustrating at times!

In Italy, lunch seemed to begin around noon and wrap up around 2-3 PM, before dinner being served at places no earlier than 7 PM. While this isn’t the end of the world, after lunch at noon and walking around all day and becoming ravenous by 5 PM, there were definitely times of frustration and hanger.

We frequently found ourselves in that awkward time of 3 PM – 7 PM, starving and unable to find anywhere to eat! My tip to you is to have a solid lunch and plan for snacks if you need them before places open for dinner. You can then fill in the time with wine, Aperol spritzes, and aperitivos.

10.  Avoiding the Crowds

One common complaint for those visiting Rome is how busy and crowded it is – we even felt it in November, when it was supposed to be “off season!”

It can feel difficult to enjoy the sights when you’re being swarmed by people in every direction. But if you plan well, you can minimize this frustration as much as possible. Do this by visiting during the less busy season like we did (between November and March), and visiting the popular tourist sights at less busy times of the day.

See the colosseum first thing in the morning before you grab your coffee, or pay the Trevi Fountain a visit while everyone is getting ready for dinner or in the late afternoon as most people will try to do their sightseeing between 10 AM and 3-ish in the afternoon.

11. Bring Earplugs

No matter where you’re staying, you will likely encounter some degree of noise while you sleep. There are quieter streets that hotels and rentals are on with limited traffic and crowd noise, but there’s always the possibility of loud neighbors or people stomping around above you. If you’re a light sleeper like I am, a pair of ear plugs and a white noise machine is your friend!

Everywhere we stayed in Rome and throughout Europe, there was usually someone stomping around in the unit above us and I was very grateful for my ear plugs!

12. Bring a Selfie-Stick

While it may feel a little silly when you’re packing it, you’ll be glad you have it! I cannot tell you how much we used our selfie-stick throughout Rome, there was always something we wanted to grab a picture in front of and we didn’t want to be asking strangers to take our picture everywhere we went. 

We loved having this selfie-stick that could also double as a tripod if we wanted farther away shots. It was super easy to collapse and fit right in my bag!

13. Stay in the Trevi Fountain or Pantheon Area

If your budget allows, we found the best place to stay in Rome is near the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon. It is so central, it makes it so easy to see all of the tourist attractions by foot! There’s also a lot of great restaurants and shops in this area, making it easy to find delicious food any time of day. 

While we stayed in Prati for our first trip to Rome, we frequently wished we had stayed in this area instead. It was much more central and would have made it so much easier to see all of Rome without needing public transport. We also found it to have the best restaurants during our November visit.

14. Book Airport Transfers in Advance

With the airports being so far out of the city center, it’s a good idea to book your airport transfers in advance if you are arriving to Rome by plane. There are two airports in Rome, both being a 35-45 minute drive depending on where you’re staying. You can also take a taxi, Uber, train or bus to the airport but you’ll usually find a private transfer is the most comfortable and time-efficient option.

Pro Tip: If budget is a concern, the cheapest way to travel between the airports and the city center is by bus. Though, you’ll want to plan for it having to stop along the way. 

15. Explore the City’s Churches

Whether you are a Catholic or not, the churches of Rome are something amazing to behold. So full of rich history, artistic detail, and an overwhelming peace the moment you walk through the door, taking a peak inside a church as you’re out and about is something that can’t be missed!

When we were exploring near the Colosseum we came across several churches along quiet streets that had their doors open, ready to be viewed by anyone who had an interest.

They were probably one of the highlights of our trip, though we opted not to take any pictures out of respect. With jaw-dropping ceiling paintings, intricate sculptures, and a peaceful presence I have not otherwise felt in my lifetime, I will forever remember spending the 10 minutes to admire and appreciate those little Roman churches!

16. Eat Where You Want to Eat!

So many travel websites and “gurus” say you have to eat where the locals eat and anywhere touristy is not going to be good. I call BS!

Some of the best food we had in Rome was in the “tourist” areas of the city and the few times we ventured off the beaten path to more local establishments, we were left a bit disappointed. There’s also something to be said of the busy, tourist-focused restaurants having the freshest foods because they’re going through much more than a restaurant that sees a lot less traffic.

The point is, eat where you want to eat. My husband and I would walk near the tourist destinations, check out the menu and do a quick Google search of the reviews and make our decisions that way and we had much better meals doing that than when we tried to find the “local” favorites sprinkled outside of the tourist epicenters.

17. Join a Food Tour

Explore the city and taste some of its famous flavors by joining a food tour. Not only is it a great way to learn about Rome, but trying all of the little bites throughout the city can give you some ideas of where you’d like to have lunch or dinner later in the trip.

18. Have Some Cash On You

While most places will accept credit cards, it’s always a good idea to have some Euros on you in the event you need them. Almost everywhere we went in Rome accepted card payments, until we got somewhere where their machine wasn’t working! We were very glad we had Euros to pay. As a rule of thumb, we always tried to carry at least 50 Euros in the event we went to a restaurant and had a meal, and our cards didn’t work. Though, this never ended up being the case.

19. Wear Comfortable Shoes

Rome is not the place to break out your heels or adorable sandals. With cobblestone streets and uneven sidewalks anywhere you go, your feet will be hurting in no time without the proper foot attire.

I wore my favorite pair of Asics and they were absolute champs – my feet never even hurt, even after a 12 mile day in Rome!

20. Get the Gelato

Whether you’re visiting in the dead of winter or on a scorching summer day where there’s a line out the door at the gelato shop, always stop and enjoy some gelato! Enjoy this delicious dessert any time of day and try new flavors each time. We were freezing in the rain in November and still enjoyed every bite of delicious gelato (and we could hide inside from the rain for a few minutes while we savored it!)

The best gelato shops we found were Grom – a chain of authentic Italian gelato stores. By far the best tasting gelato in our opinion!

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Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

11 Best Things to Do in Rome (For First-Time Visitors)

Rome. The Eternal City. The capital of Italy. A city that has stolen the hearts of millions, as it has stolen mine! After visiting for the first time, my husband and I can’t wait to go back. It was absolutely one of the best places we’ve ever been.

With iconic landmarks mixed in with architectural artistry, show stopping fountains and intricate details woven throughout the city… there’s always something to find around every corner in Rome. It makes for the most amazing scavenger hunt!

If you’re planning your first visit to Rome, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled the 11 best things to do in Rome for first-time visitors, so you can make sure you don’t miss a single sight or beautiful hidden corner of the city!

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11 Best Things to Do When in Rome For the First Time

Now, if you’re like me, you like to plan your trip a bit and then give yourself time to wander. Especially if you only have a short time in Rome, you’re going to want to be on the move for most of it – there’s so much to see!

Going somewhere for the first time and trying to see it all, and create the perfect itinerary for your visit can be challenging. It usually requires a certain degree of planning if you’re not taking a big guided tour where they’ve mapped it out for you! If that’s more your speed (and we don’t blame you, Rome is so amazing, you really don’t want to miss a thing), we recommend this guided tour to see the Eternal City’s biggest highlights.

To save you time when planning your Rome adventure, I’ve compiled this list of the 11 best things to do in Rome for fist-time visitors. It includes all of the legendary landmarks and hot spots you won’t want to miss on your first visit to one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

1. Toss a Coin in the Trevi Fountain

Always first on my Rome lists, is the Trevi Fountain. When we were going to Rome, I knew this was the site I was most excited to see and it did not disappoint – I made my husband walk by it with me 4 times during our 3 day trip! Being there was magical.

Toss a coin into this Baroque masterpiece to, as legend has it, make a wish to return to return to Rome or to find love in the Eternal City. Or just to get a cute video!

On our last night, we came to see the fountain gorgeously lit up at night. We grabbed some gelato from a shop close by and sat on one of the benches listening to the sounds of the fountain (and the crowd of people, of course – this is Rome!), and admiring the fountain. It was so special and I’ll always cherish that memory. 

I highly recommend seeing the Trevi Fountain both during the day and lit up at night if you can make it work on your itinerary! There are also loads of great restaurants and shops near here so you could easily grab lunch or dinner when you’re over here.

Most travel “gurus” will say these restaurants are tourist traps, but we found them to be the best ones we tried in Rome. We especially liked Il Chianti Vineria!

Steal this photo spot: From the east entrance of the Colosseum, take a left and head toward the park sitting at the top of the hill. You’ll find the Oppio Caffè, and right across the street is where we had this prime photo spot!

2. Visit the Colosseum: One of the 7 Wonders of the World

Seeing the Colosseum in Rome is a no-brainer! It’s such an iconic landmark in Italy and this ancient amphitheater is even one of the seven wonders of the world. How often are you going to get the chance to see one of those seven? Not very often!

Constructed between 70 and 80 AD, the Colosseum was mainly used for gladiator fights, theatrical performances, and other entertainment during this time. As the number one tourist attraction in the city, it really can’t be missed and it understandably gets really crowded.

Get there early in the morning if you want a photo without people in it, and take a guided tour to really understand everything there is to know about the Colosseum. 

Like with all of Rome’s biggest attractions, buying your tickets online ahead of time is an absolute must as lines can be hundreds of people long and tickets can sell out! Check out this guided tour of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill or get an even more unique perspective with the exclusive Colosseum Underground tour (this part of the Colosseum can only be seen on a guided tour!)

3. Climb the Spanish Steps

Another famous spot in Rome, the Spanish Steps are not to be missed. Not only are they a fabulous photo opp near the bottom at the Piazza di Spagno, there is also a beautiful view from the top!

The steps can get very crowded, so you’ll want to get there bright and early if you want less people in your photos. And keep in mind that eating on the steps is banned, you could get yelled at by a security guard, or worse, receive a hefty fine!

4. Visit Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

As one of Rome’s four major basilicas, and one of Rome’s seven pilgrim churches, this is one stop in Rome that shouldn’t be missed. Be wowed by its beautiful interior, renaissance-era ceilings, and colorful mosaics as you take a stroll through it. And as a bonus, it’s free to enter the cathedral!

5. Sistine Chapel

This ceiling masterpiece by Michelangelo in the holy Sistine Chapel is an experience unlike any other. The ceiling painting is said to depict God’s creation of the world and of man, humanity’s subsequent fall from grace and then the birth of Jesus, the savior of humankind. 

6. Stroll through Vatican City

As the home of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the largest churches in the world and renowned for its stunning architecture, Vatican City is the spiritual and administrative center of the Roman Catholic Church. Here you’ll also find the Vatican Museums, which house an extensive collection of art and historical artifacts that have been collected by the Catholic Church over centuries. 

Even if you don’t make a trip inside the Vatican buildings (which will require a ticket), strolling through Vatican City and admiring St. Peter’s Square and the surrounding buildings and fountains is an absolute must when visiting Rome.

If you do want to go into the Sistine Chapel or Vatican Museums, definitely plan ahead and book tickets! When we went, we waited too long (two weeks before arriving) to get tickets and they were completely sold out. It was surprising since it was off-season (November) and so disappointing!

When we visited Vatican City, we could easily see why the tickets were sold out – there was a line several hundred people long, wrapped around the square, waiting to go inside!

Skip the line with these Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel tickets or take an official guided tour here.

7. Explore the Ruins of the Roman Forum

Right by the Colosseum, you’ll find another important historic site: The Roman Forum. The forum served as a place for all public gatherings, elections and even gladiator fights, when it was originally built. Now, it’s a beautiful sprawling area of ruins for you to explore!

Here you’ll find the Arch of Titus, the Curia Julia, the Temple of Saturn, and the Temple of Caesar, among others. 

Colosseum tickets include entry into the Roman Forum, so make sure you give yourself enough time to explore both while you’re on that part of town!

8. Visit the Villa Borghese Gardens

Take a break from the hectic, business of the city with a visit to the nearby Villa Borghese Gardens. With plenty of green space, a small, relaxing lake, and trees casting shade, it’s the perfect place to take a walk, or relax on the grass. You can even row a boat on the lake if you want!

9. Enjoy the Piazza Navona

As one of Rome’s most popular and beautiful squares, the Piazza Navona is a beautiful open space filled with restaurants, street artists, musicians, and fountains!

Once the Stadium of Domitian, where sporting events took place in Ancient Rome. The stadium could even fit 20,000 spectators! It was then paved over in 1500 AD to become what you see now as the Piazza Navona.

Here you will also find three impressive fountains: the Fontana den Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of Four Rivers), the Fountain of Neptune, and the Fontana del Moro.

When you’re done enjoying the fountains, grab an end table at one of the square’s many restaurants for a drink and a little people watching!

10. Visit the Pantheon

Located close by to the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon is an incredible historic site you’ll want to put on your list. This ancient building was built between 25 and 27 BC, making it about 2,000 years old and the oldest building in the world that is still in use today.

Admire the massive pillars and quintessential Roman architecture from outside, or take a tour inside to view the famous dome. This dome is the oldest unreinforced dome in the world, and has served as architectural inspiration for buildings across the globe.

The Pantheon is free to enter, but you can buy guided tour, skip-the-line and special fast-track entrance tickets to beat the crowds.

11. Stand at the Top of the Altare della Patria

While you won’t find this stop on a lot of the Rome lists out there, I really recommend it! This is one sight we didn’t set out to find but were blown away by it 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 the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, known as the Altare della Patria. 

Walk up to the very top of the steps of the Complesso del Vittoriano for beautiful views of the city and 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 memories in Rome!

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Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

15 Can’t-Miss Tourist Sights in Rome

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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Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

21 Free Things to Do In Rome

Visiting the Eternal City doesn’t have to break the bank. Rome is such a magical city to visit, with many low-cost or free options to experience all of its glory. From beautiful monuments and fabulous fountains sprinkled throughout to city, to seeing most of the sights up close and personal, there’s plenty to do in Rome on a budget.

Compared to most of Europe’s hottest tourist destinations, Rome has a surprising number of famous sites and things to do that are completely free to visit. Read on to see the best free things you can do in Rome!

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Free things to do in Rome

1. Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Visit the world’s most famous fountain and iconic Rome tourist attraction: the Trevi Fountain. Toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain for good luck, or as the legends say, to find love in Roma!

2. View the Colosseum

It’s free to check out the Colosseum from the outside. Take a walk around the perimeter and snap pictures at your favorite spots!

3. Get a bird’s-eye view of the Roman Forum

If you don’t want to spring for a Colosseum or Roman Forum ticket, you can view most of the Roman Forum from Terrazza sul Foro. Here you can overlook most of the Roman Forum and take some amazing pictures!

4. Visit the Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

This incredible basilica is not only beautiful from an architectural stand point (featuring gold ceilings and mosaic windows, and such intricate details!), it’s also an incredibly important Catholic Church. It 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

You can enter the Cathedral for free, or admire it from outside like we did. But if you want to climb to the top of the bell tower or the top of the Cupola, there’s a ticket you’ll need to buy.

5. First Sunday of the Month

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting on the first Sunday of the month, several of the most popular museums and historic sites open their doors to the public for free. These tourist sights include:

  • The Colosseum
  • Castel Sant’Angelo
  • Roman Forum/Palatine Hill
  • The Borghese Gallery
  • Baths of Caracalla
  • Ostia Antica
  • National Rome Museum
  • Villa Giulia
  • Palazzo Corsini
  • Galleria Spada
  • Palazzo Venezia

And others.

6. Admire St. Peter’s Basilica

Visit the city’s largest, most spectacular basilica for free – though there will probably be a large line to get in. After taking 126 years to build, maybe a little waiting in the line won’t feel so bad! Admire three of Italy’s most stunning masterpieces in the basilica: Michelangelo’s’ Pieta and his soaring dome, and Bernini’s 95 ft baldachin over the papal altar. 

7. Take a stroll through Vatican City

While you can’t go into the Vatican Museum or the Sistine Chapel without a ticket, you can absolutely spend time wandering around Vatican City. Enjoy the beautiful architecture, view the fountains, grab a coffee at one of the city’s cafes, and soak up the Vatican vibes from the outside!

8. Watch the street artists on Piazza Navona

This bustling square is not only full of tourists, but is also full of street performers and artists throughout the day, usually until dusk.

9. Piazza Navona fountains

While you’re there, check out the three beautiful fountains found in the Piazza Navona. 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).

10. Visit the Vatican Museums on the Last Sunday

Similarly to how many of Rome’s state-run museum’s offer free admission on the first Sunday of the month, the Vatican opens their doors to the public for free on the last Sunday of every month. Just keep in mind, it can get very crowded!

11. Walk Down Appian Way

As one of the oldest roads in Rome, there are lots of historic sites to see nearby and along the road. While many people opt to bike the road, walking it is free and a great way to see all of its smaller details.

12. Stand (Almost) Beneath the Arch of Constantine

Located between the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, you’ll find the Arch of Constantine. This historic and cultural landmark is a well-preserved monument that encompasses the true beauty of Roman architecture. 

13. Walk Up The Spanish Steps

Visit one of the most well-known sites in Rome by taking a walk up the Spanish Steps from the Piazza di Spagna below. In the spring, you’ll find the steps covered in colorful flowers!

14. Visit Campo de’ Fiori

Campo de’ Fiori is the main market in Rome, and here you’ll find everything from Italian pasta and authentic olive oil, to fresh flowers and produce. While making a purchase here isn’t free, you can absolutely wander around and see all the market has to offer for free!

15. Visit where Julius Caesar was killed

Next to the Pantheon, in the center of Rome, there’s a square called Largo di Torre Argentina, that has to be reached by a stairway. The area is also well-known for having been the scene of Julius Caesar’s murder in 44 BC, with a plaque on one of the temple columns designating the place of the alleged murder.

16. Stand Atop Capitoline Hill

Situated in the center of the city, Capitoline Hill is one of Rom’e seven hills and has an excellent view of the city. As the site of various temples, honoring various Roman gods and goddesses, it’s a cool perspective in Rome.

17. Take a walk through Trastevere 

Once a hidden gem in Rome, this neighborhood has become more popular among tourists in recent years. Stroll through the neighborhood, admiring the architecture and piazzas.

18. Wander through Quartiere Coppedè

The Quartiere Coppedè is one of Rome’s smallest and most unique neighborhoods, with nothing like it anywhere else in the city. The neighborhood’s architecture blends Art Deco, Baroque, Art Nouveau, and medieval styles, making it feel like a fairy-tale as you take a stroll through it!

19. Relax in the Gardens of Villa Torlonia

This villa served as Mussolini and his family’s home during World War II, and now houses a museum that can be toured for a price. However, the estate’s gardens are beautiful and can be toured for free.

20. See the Foro Italico

This huge sports complex was built between 1928 and 1938, and originally called the Foro Mussolini. Here, you’ll find two stadiums that host Rome’s soccer teams, and see 60 marble sculptures meant to show power and strength.

21. Visit Villa Borghese Gardens

Similarly visiting the Gardens of Villa Torlonia, you’ll need to buy a ticket to enter the building but enjoying the park and beautiful scenery is free!

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