Europe Travel, Featured, Italy

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

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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.

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See the walking tour path on Google Maps

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

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!

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