101 Fantastic Things To Do In Rome

There are so many things to do in Rome that a lifetime would barely be enough to explore it all. We drew the most complete and detailed Rome bucket list you can find online including several sections to help you navigate and choose what type of trip you want to plan.

So we have the things to do for first-time visitors, what to see in Rome if it’s not your first trip, secret spots to discover, the best churches often lesser-known and also what to do in Rome if you are a food lover.

This is meant to be an exhaustive list of Rome’s highlights that we continually update, but if you are spending only three days in Rome, you will need to narrow down your options depending on the area you want to visit, your preferences, whether you like art, history or go on a foodie jaunt.

Of course, if you can stay longer, all the better. We have included so many places to visit that even if you have a week in Rome, you will never get bored and run out of things to do. Our list includes something for everybody, whether it’s your first trip to Rome, or second, or your fifth. Enjoy the ride and start planning!

Table of Contents

Unmissable things to do in Rome for first-time visitors

Impossible not to include it in your Italy itinerary, especially if it’s your first time in the country, Rome has something for everyone. Whether you are into ancient history, Renaissance aesthetics, contemporary art, or even industrial archaeology, rest assured that in Rome, you will have a great time.

Image: Visiting the Roman Coliseum is one of the first things to do in Rome
The Colosseum facade

See the Colosseum, one of the first places to visit in Rome

An iconic symbol of the city, no first trip to Rome is complete without a stop at the Colosseum. Flavium Amphitheatre was one of the main places where Romans spent their leisure time. Shows where gladiators fought with other gladiators or wild animals were some of the favorites in ancient Rome.

Today you can visit the Colosseum by yourself or, if you want to access also the arena and the dungeons, you can do so only by booking a private tour.

Walk around the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, one of the must-see places in Rome

With the same ticket to the Colosseum valid for two days, you can also access the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. This is the heart of the ancient city of Rome. You will see where public life took place, important temples, markets, emperors’ villas, and the altar where Julius Ceasar was cremated.

The Forum is very big and there are many things to see, so if you want to visit the most important places, book a tour to be sure you don’t skip any.

Discover the Domus Aurea

The urban villa was built by Emperor Nero after the fire that devastated Rome in 64 AD and was destroyed after Nero’s death to give back the land to the Roman people. After years of digging and renovation work, today we can visit the surviving areas, which reveal the opulence and luxury Nero lived with.

With gardens, pavilions for feasts and relaxation, woods, vineyards, and a little lake, the villa occupied a huge part of today’s city center, including the Palatine Hill, part of the Esquilino Hill, and where now is the Colosseum.

Image of Rome's Fori Imperiali

Walk along the Imperial Fora

Started by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, it was the center of political life. It was built in about 150 years and shows the fora of several emperors including Augustus and Trajan, as well as several pagan Roman temples.

This is one of those places where you will almost certainly end up walking past even if you are staying for only one day in Rome as it’s the long road that goes from Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum.

Check out the best hotels near the Colosseum to start bright and early in the morning!

The Baths of Caracalla among the best things to see in Rome

The Caracalla Baths are one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Rome. A large complex of ancient thermal baths, you can see the mosaic floor, the structure where the different areas were organized as well as the original statues and decorations. In summer, the Baths of Caracalla are used for opera shows.

Visit the Circus Maximus

With a size of 600 mt in length and 140 mt wide, the Circus Maximus was the largest building devoted to public shows. Here they used to run competitions with the biga chariots and now it’s an archaeological area possible to visit. It’s also often used for concerts (always for New Year’s Eve) and cultural events like Rome’s birthday on April 21st. Check out the official website for more info.

Image of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome
The beautiful Dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica one of the most popular Rome tourist attractions

Built on the site of Caligula’s Circus, the basilica we see today is not the original, which was much bigger. Later expanded by Nero, the ancient Roman circus is where Saint Peter was martyred. Today you can see his tomb by booking your entrance to the necropolis underneath the church.

Packed with amazing artwork, some of the most important things to see inside St. Peter’s Basilica are Michelangelo’s statue La Pietà, the dome (cupola) and the Baroque-style St. Peter’s Baldachin.

Image of the Vatican Museums

Visit the Vatican Museums

Among the unmissable things to see in Rome are the Vatican Museums. A large gallery displaying some seven centuries of artwork donated by world leaders or commissioned by the popes, some of the most important parts are the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Rooms, the Gallery of the Tapestries, of the Maps, and of the Candelabra.

TIP: Want to make the most out of your visit and avoid the crowds? Check out some of the best tours to the Vatican Museums: Pristine Sistine Early Entrance and Night Tour with Sistine Chapel.

Explore more of the Vatican City

To make your first trip to Rome complete, do devote at least one day to the Vatican City. Here there are many things to see, and if you want to explore it all, one day is not enough. However, you will still need to start somewhere. If you have more time than just visiting St. Peter’s Square and Basilica and the Vatican Museums, there are so many more places to see in the Vatican. To delve deeper, you can explore the Vatican Gardens and the Roman cemetery below the Basilica.

TIP: To skip the lines in the Vatican’s attractions such as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, the only way is to book a private Vatican tour.

Climb the Spanish Steps, one of the most famous Rome attractions

Taken as a bench to sit, eat and drink by many, the Spanish Steps is actually an important historical Roman landmark and one of the top Rome attractions.

Built between 1723 and 1726 from a project by Roman architect Francesco De Sanctis, they lead to the Trinità dei Monti church on top of the stairs. While on the bottom, Piazza di Spagna, you can see the beautiful Barcaccia fountain by Pietro Bernini (Gian Lorenzo’s father), and a huge array of exclusive and expensive boutique stores.

Image: Light in the Roman Pantheon.

Visit the Pantheon, one of the first places to visit in Rome

Temple devoted to all gods, the Pantheon is a true masterpiece of ancient architecture impossible not to include in your Rome bucket list.

Founded by Marco Vipsanio Agrippa in 27 BC, it was rebuilt between 120 and 124 AD during the rule of Emperor Augustus after a fire damaged the original construction. Its famous cupola, with a hole in the middle to allow the light in, is still now one of the biggest in the world.

Image: Piazza Navona in Rome Centro Storico

Piazza Navona, one of the top Rome tourist attractions

One of the most famous squares and Rome highlights, Piazza Navona has the elliptical shape of the Domitian Stadium on top of which it was built. In the middle is one of the most beautiful fountains in Rome, the Four Rivers Fountain by architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, standing in front of Sant’Agnese in Agone church by Francesco Borromini.

Image of Campo dei Fiori in Rome

Campo de’ Fiori, one of the main things to do in Rome

Home to a daily morning market, Piazza Campo de’ Fiori is one of the most famous Rome tourist attractions popular day and night. In the middle of the square is the tall statue of Giordano Bruno, the Dominican friar burnt at the stake early 17th century. All around the piazza are bars, restaurants, bakeries, and shops.

Largo Argentina

This is where Julius Ceasar was killed and now there is one of Rome’s largest and most famous cat colonies. Visit this ancient sacred area and explore one of the most underestimated tourist attractions in Rome. This is such as busy and central hub that whether you are staying 2 days in Rome or one week, chances are you are going to visit or even only walk across Largo Argentina more than once.

Image: hadrian mausoleum one of the best sights in rome
Hadrian Mausoleum, one of the most popular and best sights in Rome

Discover the Hadrian Mausoleum

Built as the funerary mausoleum of emperor Hadrian, Castel Sant’Angelo has served several purposes throughout the centuries. From residence to papal stronghold to prison, it’s one of those Rome attractions that are impossible to miss.

Explore the Jewish Quarter

A stone’s throw from Largo Argentina is the Jewish Quarter. While you will probably end up here for its many great restaurants, it’s also worth wandering around its alleys, seeing the Turtle Fountain and the archaeological site of the Portico di Ottavia, a porch built under the rule of Augustus and devoted to his sister Ottavia.

Eat gelato

Definitely one of the top things to do in Rome, whether it’s summer or winter, is to enjoy an artisan gelato. Romans have become very demanding when it comes to gelato, and my suggestion is to prefer all-natural, authentic artisan gelaterias. How to tell them apart from fake, low-quality products? Read everything in my complete guide to the best gelato in Rome.

Wander around Trastevere, one of the places to see in Rome for food and trendy nightlife

One of the most famous Rome neighborhoods among tourists, gentrified Trastevere was once the place of the working class. Narrow alleys, quaint shops and restaurants (some traditional many touristy), lovely piazzas. Here, don’t miss Santa Maria in Trastevere Basilica, Santa Cecilia Basilica and Villa Farnesina.

Santa Maria in Trastevere Basilica

Possibly the most famous basilica in the Trastevere neighborhood, Santa Maria in Trastevere is thought to be the oldest official Catholic church in Rome, and for sure the first one officially devoted to the Holy Mary. On its outside facade, you can admire beautiful mosaics.

Image f Santa Cecilia in Trastevere Basilica
Crypt of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere Basilica

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere Basilica

This is not just a church. Like many other places to see in Rome, the undergrounds of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere Basilica hide another world. Once you visit the modern church, go down to see the gorgeous crypt and down again to visit an ancient Roman domus and insula.

Visit the Tiber Island, what to do in Rome for history and food

An ancient man-made island in the middle of the Tiber river in Rome city center, the ship-shaped Isola Tiberina is one of the top places to visit in Rome for first-timers. You can get to the Tiber island on foot from either Trastevere or the Jewish Ghetto. Today is home to the San Bartolomeo church, the 16th-century hospital Fatebenefratelli and several bars and restaurants. In summer, it becomes the island of the cinema, a popular hangout to watch movies outdoors.

Walk across Rome’s oldest bridge

What to do in Rome if, like me, stepping over ancient history excites you. Ponte Fabricio bridge connects the Jewish Ghetto right from in front of Rome’s synagogue to the Tiber island. Built in 62 BC by street keeper Lucius Fabricius, it’s Rome’s oldest operative bridge that kept its original structure.

Explore Rome’s history at the Capitoline Museums

This is Rome’s main museum, where you will discover the history of the city, how it was founded, both myth and reality. Displaying a rich collection of artwork from ancient Roman times, there is also a fascinating section on Etruscan art and daily life.

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Hands-off the most impressive among Rome’s many fountains, this Baroque masterpiece stands in all its huge glory and has been the setting of movies, videos, countless pictures and also polemics when people just can’t resist and take a dip in its waters. Do you want to be sure to come back to Rome? Throw a coin backward in the Trevi Fountain and you will.

Take a picture of Piazza Venezia and Vittoriano Complex

The Vittoriano Complex is the national monument in Piazza Venezia named after the first king of unified Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II. It hosts the permanent exhibition devoted to the Italian Risorgimento, a term indicating the series of wars, battles, intrigues, and clashes that ended with the unification of the country under one rule, Piedmont’s Savoia royal dynasty.

Also called “Homeland Altar”, it was built between 1885 and 1911 and since 1923 it hosts the body of the “Unknown Soldier”. Today they often organize several exhibitions on different topics, be it social, cultural, or historic.

Test yourself at the Mouth of Truth

This is a big sculpture with a man’s face located in the courtyard of Santa Maria in Cosmedin church. Probably an ancient manhole, it became one of the top things to do in Rome because of the movie Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck and the legend according to which the mouth would bite the hand of those who don’t speak the truth.

Saint John Lateran Basilica

The most important among the papal basilicas, Saint John in Lateran is one of the top places to see in Rome. The first official Catholic, it’s Rome’s cathedral and where the pope exerts his duties as the city’s bishop. Located in the Caelian Hill on the land of the Lateran Roman family, it was confiscated by Nero because of a conspiracy against him. Of stunning beauty and rich in artwork, it’s one of Rome points of interest whether you are religious or not.

Go underground in San Clemente Basilica

One of the best places to visit in Rome to travel through the historical layers of the city. San Clemente Basilica, near the Colosseum, includes a medieval church on modern street level, an early-Christian basilica underneath, and a Mithraic temple and school as well as the Roman mint in the lowest underground level.

Take a peek through the keyhole of Knights of Malta headquarters

This is one of the most famous pictures of Rome. Watching from the keyhole of the Knights of Malta headquarters on the Aventine Hill is one of the fun things to do in Rome. It used to be a hidden gem, but now it’s very popular and you will likely find a bit of a queue. Nevertheless, the view is worth the wait.

Image of Santa Sabina church in Rome
Santa Sabina Basilica

Explore the Aventine Hill

Romantic and incredibly rich in history, Aventine Hill is a treasure trove of places to visit in Rome. The early-Christian Santa Sabina Basilica, the old Santa Prisca Basilica with a Mithra temple in its underground, and the orange-scented Parco Savello, better known as the Garden of the Oranges, are all sights that will keep you busy for a good morning or even the whole day.

Marvel at three Caravaggio paintings at San Luigi dei Francesi

This church is located between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon and it’s worth visiting even only for the being home to three of the Caravaggio paintings in Rome: The Calling of St Matthew (on the left wall), The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (above the altar), and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew (on the right wall).

Apart from Saint Louis of the French church, you can find some of his most famous masterpieces in Palazzo Barberini, Galleria Borghese, Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Sant’Agostino Basilica, and the beautiful Santa Maria del Popolo Basilica.

Enjoy the view from the Janiculum Hill

The Janiculum Hill is a favorite spot for a scenic walk surrounded by nature and art. A perfect place to take a break from the city traffic, here you can visit the Aqua Paola Fountain, San Pietro in Mntorio church and see the monument devoted to Garibaldi, active military leader during the battles that brought the Italian unification.

Palazzo Quirinale, what to visit in Rome to combine art and institutions

In the Palace of the President of the Italian Republic, it’s possible to visit the Quirinale palace only by booking at least five days in advance through the official website. Former papal residence, it’s located in the Quirinale Hill and enshrines a huge wealth of artwork.

Take a stroll in Villa Borghese Park

One of the largest and possibly the most famous among Rome’s urban parks, the gorgeous Villa Borghese was the residence of the powerful Borghese family. A green oasis in the city center, it’s packed with attractions and landmarks to visit such as the Galleria Borghese museum (not free entrance), the Lake Garden, several temples, and the beautiful Orangery area. You can also book a Villa Borghese bike tour to visit more of this huge park.

TIP: Make the most of your visit to the park with an expert tour to the Borghese Gallery to view the masterpieces of artists like Caravaggio, Bernini, Raffaello and Canova.

Image of pizza in Rome

Eat pizza

Just like gelato, enjoying a great pizza is one of the best things to do in Rome. By the slice, by the pie, as street food or comfortably sitting for dinner. Napoli-style or Roman pinsa, if you are looking for pizza in Rome you can find just about everything.

Take a food tour

The best way to explore Roman cuisine, its traditional dishes and try great restaurants, especially if it’s your first time in the city, it’s with a Rome food tour, such as Taste of Testaccio or Twilight Trastevere with Eating Europe. There are so many food tours of Rome that you will be spoilt for choice.

We recently took a fantastic food tour in Testaccio with Devour Tours and we had plenty of tastings from breakfast all the way to lunch stopping at Mercato Testaccio for scrumptious nibbles.

Try the best historic restaurants

If you are into tradition, some of the top historic restaurants to try in Rome are by all means Armando Al Pantheon, close to the Pantheon, and Felice a Testaccio, both famous for their tonnarelli cacio e pepe pasta and other traditional Roman dishes. Some other names? Checchino dal 1887 and Cesare al Casaletto.

Learn to make pasta and pizza

We all love Rome food, but what if we want to make pasta and pizza for our friends and family back home? Easy, take one of the many pasta-making or pizza-making food tours and you will learn the basics for creating your own delicious dishes.

There are many cooking classes in Rome where you can learn how to make some of the most famous Roman and Italian dishes for your friends and family back home. We recently took a fantastic pasta-making class with Devour Tours and learned to make egg-based fettuccine and a hearty amatriciana sauce from scratch.

Go for a coffee Italian-style

So you are in Italy and want a coffee. Keep in mind that if you simply ask for a coffee (un caffè, per favore!), they will deliver a short espresso shot, because this is what Italians expect.

If you ask for a “long coffee” (un caffè lungo), you will have the same single espresso with a bit more water in it. If you want the huge cup American style you should just order that, an American coffee (un caffè americano), so the barista will understand.

A tip? Have on the counter to pay the basic fee. If you grab a table they can charge whatever is their fee.

Go for an aperitif

Aperitif in Rome is a pre-dinner meal, but since the formula is often 10/15 euro for a drink and unlimited buffet starting from 6.30 pm until around 8 pm, you can totally take it for an early dinner.

Go for a street food tour

Pizza by the slice, supplì, cured meat, gelato, or the famous Trapizzino. Try some of Rome’s street food delicacies in its famous central neighborhoods such as the Jewish Ghetto, Campo de’ Fiori, or Prati area. The best way to do that? With a street food tour led by a local expert, of course.

Enjoy Rome city center by segway…

Explore the city center by segway to see as much as you can without getting tired on board of your segway. I’ve been seeing groups of segway always more often in Rome. If you are short on time and still don’t want to miss the main landmarks, this is a great and eco-friendly way to do it. Click here for more info and the price.

…Or by electric bike

Comfortable, eco-friendly, and time-efficient, you can either rent an electric bike to tour around the top things to see in Rome by yourself or book one of the many tours with a local guide.

Some of the best electric bike tours? An e-bike tour around Rome’s tourist attractions or a tour by night around the best places to see in Rome at twilight. If you are into more hidden gems and less touristy areas, book a fascinating bike tour of the ancient Appian Way with its aqueducts and catacombs.

What to do in Rome if you have already seen the most famous landmarks

Discover ancient Roman aqueducts

The ancient aqueducts are possibly the architectural and engineering feat Rome is most famous for. While many have been destroyed by the vandals and during the several sacks of Rome, we can still see and appreciate great vestiges from these important pipelines.

Some of the best places to see the ruins of ancient aqueducts are Parco degli Acquedotti in the Appian Way south of Rome and Porta Maggiore in the Esquilino neighborhood where many of these pipelines meet.

The ruins of the important Aqua Virgo aqueduct that supplies water to the Trevi Fountain can be seen in a few places around the fountain. These include Vicus Caprarius where is the cistern and the undergrounds of La Rinascente shopping mall in Via del Tritone where multimedia installations explain everything about the ruins and the neighborhood.

Villa Farnesina with Raphael’s frescoes

If you are still wondering what to do in Rome, located in Trastevere is Villa Farnesina, a historical villa today seat of the prestigious Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. A former noble residence, you can visit Villa Farnesina for the wonderful frescoes by great Italian artists, the most famous of which is Raphael. Check out their website for more info.

Go on a foodie adventure

If you have already tried Romand traditional dishes and want something lighter to your digestive system without giving up on taste, go on a foodie adventure. Rome is a fantastic city for foodies, with new restaurants springing up literally every day. Around the city, you will find anything you are looking for, no matter what are your preferences or dietary needs.

Are you vegan? Rome offers a great choice of wonderful vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Do you want to try traditional dishes prepared with a contemporary twist? Do you like the casual atmosphere of a bistro? Rome has something for every palate.

St. Paul Outside the Walls

Located in the Garbatella neighborhood close to Ostiense, the huge St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica gets fewer visitors than it would deserve. Imposing both outside and inside, here is kept the tomb of Saint Paul. In the underground, you can visit a great Roman archaeological site from the oldest complex dating back to the 5th century.

Centrale Montemartini

This is one of the best things to do in Rome if you have already visited the main museums and are looking for more offbeat attractions. The former main power plant in the city, Centrale Montemartini in the Ostiense neighborhood has been turned into a fascinating museum where the machinery that was used to produce electricity stands side by side with ancient Roman statues, mosaics, sarcophagi, and tools.

Museo Nazionale Romano

After the Musei Capitolini, this is the most important museum and one of the best places to visit in Rome to dig deep into its imperial times, art, and history. Located near Termini Station in the Diocletian Baths, it displays a huge collection of objects, tools, and artwork from Ancient Rome.

Palazzo-Galleria Doria Pamphilj, one of the best places to see in Rome to soak in centuries of art

The gorgeous residence of the Doria Pamphilj noble family is a true treasure trove of artwork, majestic beauty, and history of the Roman aristocracy. Conveniently located in Via del Corso, it’s easy to reach and one of the best things to do in Rome to soak in art, luxury, and history.

Rome’s Rose Garden (Roseto Comunale)

Open only for a couple of months a year in Spring, the Roseto Comunale is located between the Circus Maximus and the foot of the Aventine Hill. When it’s in its full blossoming, with its thousands of rose species it makes for a truly heady and scented walk near Rome city center.

See an optical illusion of St. Peter’s dome

It only happens in Via Piccolomini, off Via Aurelia Antica. As soon as you enter, you will find a giant St. Peter’s dome right in front of you. Keep walking and you will notice that the closer you get, the smaller the dome will become.

Go to the Opera

At Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera you can enjoy operas and ballets from the most famous musicians, such as Mozart, Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Tchaikovsky, Georges Bizet, and more. Check out their official website for more info on shows and the current season.

Quartiere Coppedè

One of the hidden gems in Rome is the quirky Quartiere Coppedè in the Trieste neighborhood. This Liberty-style quarter was designed by visionary Gino Coppedè and shows clear influences from Roman and Greek mythology, shapes of animals, monsters, and fairy tales. You won’t even feel you are in Rome.

Visit the wonderful Sant’Agnese Fuori le Mura complex

Not far from Quartiere Coppedè, in the elegant Nomentano neighborhood is a beautiful religious and historical landmark from the 4th century that shows that the art and history in Rome are not limited to inside the Aurelian Walls.

The complex of Sant’Agnese Fuori Le Mura (outside the walls) is worth your time out of the historic center because it includes early-Christian catacombs, the ruins of an ancient Basilica, a more modern church, and the Mausoleum of Santa Costanza, the daughter of emperor Constantine the Great, with the ceiling coated with wonderful mosaics.

John Keats’ House

Located in Piazza di Spagna on the right corner of the Spanish Steps, here is where English poet John Keats spent his last months before dying of tuberculosis at the age of 25. Today his house is a museum that displays sculptures, paintings, objects, and manuscripts of important English intellectuals like Keats, Shelley, and Lord Byron.

Protestant Cemetery

A collection of beautiful statues, Rome’s Non-Catholic Cemetery in the Testaccio area hosts the tombs of many notables like Italian politician and philosopher Antonio Gramsci, Italian writer Andrea Camilleri, and English poet John Keats among others.

Explore Rome underground

One of the most fascinating things to do in Rome is to explore the many layers of the city. Underneath modern churches, you can find early-Christian basilicas, ancient Roman houses, and Mithra temples. Underneath Piazza Navona, you can visit the ruins of Domitian Stadium. Thankfully there are many Rome underground guided tours that show you and explain these hidden sites.

Do a catacombs tour, one of the best things to do in Rome for history lovers

One of the best things to do in Rome if you are after a history and cultural holiday is a catacombs tour. There are so many catacombs in different parts of the city that it’s difficult to visit them all. Some of the most famous are the ones in the ancient Appian Way St. Callixtus and St. Domitilla, the ones in Villa Ada park of Priscilla, and the ones of St. Sebastian. Check out Take Walks underground tour to Rome’s catacombs and crypts.

Discover the Trajan’s Markets

Unlike the name might suggest, Trajan’s Markets were probably not markets as we intend them today. This complex of buildings was adjacent to the Roman Forum and especially linked to the Trajan Forum.

It consisted of different areas, some areas where political “forum” activities took place, others where they managed administrative duties. Located in Via Quattro Novembre, today you can visit the archaeological area, the Museum of the Imperial Fora, and always different temporary exhibitions.

Santa Maria della Scala ancient pharmacy

Located in the trendy and very touristy Trastevere neighborhood is a beautiful hidden gem. The ancient pharmacy of Santa Maria della Scala was founded in the 16th century. Here, the Discalced Carmelite friars create potions, oils, and remedies until 1954. Today it’s open to the public but you need to book.

Visit Rome food markets

There are so many food markets in Rome that during your sightseeing you are most likely to stumble on one or more of them. Some of my favorites? Mercato Testaccio, Mercato Trionfale in Via Andrea Doria, the daily market in Campo de’ Fiori, even though quite touristy, and the smaller farmers’ market in Piazza San Cosimato in Trastevere.

Explore Rome’s street art

There are several neighborhoods spruced up and made colorful by local and international street artists. Some of these are Ostiense, Quadraro and Tor Marancia. Also look for Popstairs, a project by Roman street artist Diavù who painted the face of famous Italian and European actresses on stairwells around Rome. Here is something cool and free to do in Rome.

Visit the Botanic Garden

A magical place between Trastevere and Janiculum Hill, the Botanic Garden is managed by La Sapienza university. Hosting plants from all over the world and areas such as the Japanese garden, the tropical greenhouse and the Mediterranean wood, it’s one of the most fascinating things to see in Rome.

Image of Villa Pamphilj Park in Rome

Villa Doria Pamphilj

The beautiful summer residence of the Pamphilj family, here you can walk, do jogging, use the gym equipment to do some exercise, rent a bike, take your kids to the playground, and have a nice casual lunch in the local bistro.

They often organize cultural events such as the Oriental Festival, the Yoga Festival and more. This is among the Rome activities your kids will love also because there is the lovely Vivi Bistrot where you can order a picnic and spend a whole day relaxing, jogging, and having fun.

Enter a movie set in Cinecittà

Many movies have been shot in Cinecittà, south Rome, and not only Italian ones. I even visited the set of Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Obviously, in Cinecittà cinema studios, you will see documents, pictures, objects and memorabilia related mainly to Italian movie production with big names like Fellini, Zeffirelli, Luchino Visconti and actors like Totò and Claudia Cardinale. But also other international names, especially actors who have worked here like Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton. Check the official website to know how to visit.

Take a day trip

There are many day trips you can take from Rome. Starting from the medieval towns of Viterbo and Bracciano to the Castelli Romani, in towns like Castel Gandolfo and Rocca di Papa, you can either go by public transport or book a guided tour.

Not to miss if you have the time is a day in Tivoli, home to two UNESCO sites, the Villa of Hadrian and the Villa d’Este.

A little farther but still possible to do in one day is visit Terni and its beautiful Cascate delle Marmore waterfalls.

If you are going around to explore the surroundings, here are some cool road trip games for couples.

Explore Rome’s most international neighborhood

Walking around the Esquilino area next to Termini station you will feel anywhere but Rome. From the Esquilino market selling anything international, from food to clothes, to international restaurants and fast foods to shops displaying products from literally every corner of the planet, here you can find pretty much anything. Afghan jewelry, Chinese tea sets, and blends, Caribbean foods, Indian/Pakistani restaurants. You name it, you will find it.

Image of Horti Sallustiani in Rome
Horti Sallustiani in Rome

See the biggest park of Ancient Rome

Unfortunately today you can only see a small piece because without prior booking a private tour because it’s private property, but Horti Sallustiani (Piazza Sallustio 21) was the largest park of ancient Rome. Once a lush garden populated by fountains, thermal baths and temples devoted to nymphs, Horti Sallustiani was a favorite place for Roman leaders such as Julius Ceasar and Vespasian and it’s where emperor Nerva died.

Go to the beach

This is probably best in summer, but also Spring is a nice season for a walk on the beach. You will get to the coast better if you rent a car but some are possible to reach also with public transport, either train or coach. Some of the favorite beaches near Rome? Fregene, Ostia Lido, Fiumicino, Ladispoli, Torvaianica and, a bit further away, Circeo, Sperlonga, Sabaudia and Anzio.

See the Roman town of Ostia Antica

Very easy to reach with a train ride from Ostiense/Porta San Paolo and with a single Atac ticket of 1.50 euro, Ostia Antica is a great sight to include in your Rome sightseeing. An important Roman city for trades and commerce, several diggings have been done recently that brought about new discoveries, including the fact that the city was much bigger even than the famous Pompeii.

Image of the magic door in Rome
The magic door in Rome

Quirky and more unusual things to see in Rome

Magic door

One of the truly unusual places to see in Rome, the magic door in Piazza Vittorio bears a mysterious past. Also called Porta Alchemica, “Alchemical Door,” it was built in the 17th century by a nobleman who got close to the world of alchemy and science. According to the legend, the mysterious inscriptions decorating the door are the formula to turn a plant into gold. This is definitely what to see in Rome if you are into esoteric history and culture.

Capuchins’ Crypt

The Capuchin Friars’ Crypt displays the bones of some 4,000 friars who died between 1528 and 1870 and is located in the undergrounds of Santa Maria della Concezione church in Via Veneto.

Along with bones, you can also see some mummified friars as well as the skeletons of three nephews of Pope Urbano VIII and Princess Barberini who died very young.

Image of Casina delle Civette in Rome's Villa Torlonia

Casina delle Civette (House of the Owls) in Villa Torlonia

Casina delle Civette, “House of the Owls,” earned its moniker for the presence of two owls on the glass window at the entrance and the obsessive recurring of owl-themed decorations. Worth visiting both inside and outside.

Image of Casino Nobile in Rome's Villa Torlonia

Explore more of Villa Torlonia Park

The Roman residence of Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, Villa Torlonia is a relatively small but lovely park in the Nomentano area. You can have a nice walk and visit the Casino Nobile, where Mussolini lived and where he built his bunker for extra security, that today you can visit with a guided tour. Enter the Casino Nobile mansion also for its antiques and neo-classic and contemporary artwork.

Play and learn at the Museum of Light

The games of lights and shades, colorful reflections, optical illusions, and playful mirrors and shadows of the Museum of Light are only some of the things to do in Rome whether you are traveling with your family or in a group of friends.

Located in the city center next to Piazza Venezia, it’s easy to reach and fantastic to keep the whole family entertained for a couple of hours.

Image: Funny photo opp with Angela Corrias of Rome Actually at Rome's Museo della Luce.

Try Rome’s foreign restaurants

Rome offers also a great choice of foreign restaurants. Chinese, Indian, Ethiopian, Japanese, Lebanese, French, Vietnamese, or Persian if you want to give Roman food a break, you can explore the new flavors found aplenty in the city.

Visit MACRO Museum

Located in Via Nizza in the Salario quarter, MACRO is Rome’s museum of contemporary art. Exhibitions, workshops, seminars and events of all kinds are organized here, so if you are a fan of contemporary artistic expressions, this is one of the Rome activities you will love.

Walk along the beautiful Galleria Sciarra

This is one of the unique places to visit in Rome’s city center. A Liberty-style covered gallery near the Trevi Fountain (entrance through Via Marco Minghetti) built at the end of the 19th century. Decorated with a main woman-focused theme, this is a private courtyard but open to the public during office hours.

Image of the gasometer in Ostiense Rome neighborhood

See the relics of Rome’s industrial archaeology

Take a stroll around the Ostiense neighborhood and discover the relics of Rome’s industrial archaeology starting from the huge gasometer, carrying on to places like the old warehouse and the former main power plant in Centrale Montemartini museum.

Image of Garbatell Lots in Rome
More laundry, just to remind you where you are

See the Fascist Lots in the traditional Garbatella neighborhood

Garbatella is next to Ostiense and was created during the Fascist rule. Inspired by the English urban planning idea of “garden cities” of Ebenezer Howard as a response to the need for sprawling cities for a better quality of life, take a walk around Garbatella Lots and explore a truly traditional Roman neighborhood.

Visit the square Colosseum

For sure one of the unique things to do in Rome is a visit to the Palace of Italian Civilisation, called by the locals “square Colosseum” (Colosseo quadrato) for its resemblance to the more famous landmark and its square shape. Located in the modern EUR neighborhood, it was inaugurated in 1940 under Mussolini’s rule. Managed by the Fendi family, its ground floor is now devoted to a permanent exhibition showing the excellence of Italian craftsmanship and creativity.

Get your sweetness overload at a cat colony

There are several cat sanctuaries in Rome, where our furry friends live and are taken care of. The largest is the one at the monumental cemetery of the Verano, but probably the easiest to reach are the one at Largo Argentina and the one living around the Pyramid in the Testaccio neighborhood. The beautiful cats are used to people and don’t mind posing for a nice photo.

Image of Chiesa Nuova in Rome

See Rubens’ powered painting

The large painting by Flemish artist Rubens is located on the main altar of Chiesa Nuova Church (Piazza della Chiesa Nuova 1) and features a Madonna that disappears once a week. This is a motor-powered painting and if you want to see the Virgin Mary disappearing, you need to go on Saturday when the priest activates the device at the end of the afternoon function.

Be amazed at the anamorphoses of Trinità dei Monti

One of the unique places to visit in Rome is inside Trinità dei Monti church on top of the Spanish Steps. Along a corridor of the convent, the walls are decorated with anamorphic frescoes that change depending on your position. So the more you walk, the more images you will see. It’s open to the public but visits must be booked. Check their website for more info.

Visit the Museum of the Souls in Purgatory, one of the unusual things to see in Rome

In the sacristy of the Gothic-style Sacro Cuore del Suffragio church near Piazza Cavour (Lungotevere Prati 12) is a one-of-a-kind museum. One of the unusual things to do in Rome, here on display is a collection of documents and evidence that would prove the existence of Purgatory and signs from the souls of the deceased.

Image of dolls' hospital, one of Rome's unusual things to see

Visit the dolls’ hospital, one of the unique things to do in Rome

The owner of this quirky and slightly creepy workshop is quite grumpy and unless you have a doll to treat, you can’t enter. This is a true dolls’ hospital and even though you can only view it from the outside, its very central location in Via Ripetta makes it very easy to visit.

Visit San Pietro in Vincoli

Much less visited than many other famous churches, San Pietro in Vincoli Basilica is located in its namesake piazza in the Monti neighborhood. Alongside the chains that held Saint Peter prisoner in Rome and Jerusalem, here you can also see the beautiful Moses sculpture by Michelangelo.

Explore Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica

This important church is one of the four papal basilicas. Located in the Esquilino neighborhood, it’s the only one that kept its early-Christian structure. It’s decorated with beautiful mosaics and you can also visit the undergrounds (booking required, more info on the Vatican website).

TIP: To know more about this important worship place in Rome, you can book a full tour of Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica.

Admire the mosaics of Santa Prassede Basilica

The church of Santa Prassede is located in the Esquilino neighborhood. As history goes, St. Pudenziana was martyred together with her sister St. Prassede because they were giving a Christian burial to the martyrs in the land of their father, a Roman senator. The apse of this church is decorated with beautiful mosaics.

Duck into Santa Pudenziana Basilica

A very old Christian church, Pudenziana was Prassede’s sister. Here you can see both stunning mosaics and also go underground from the garden to visit a two-story insula and an ancient thermal bath. This church, too, is in the Esquilino area not far from Santa Prassede and Santa Maria Maggiore.

Visit Santi Cosma and Damiano Basilica for great mosaics

This is also a church famous for its mosaics, and even though located a stone’s throw from the Colosseum, it’s pretty unknown. Built in the 6th century on the site of former pagan temples, it can be easily accessed from Via dei Fori Imperiali.

Duck into Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Basilica

Close to the Pantheon, in this church, the remains of St. Catherine of Siena and the Italian painter Beato Angelico are kept. One of the few Gothic-style churches in Rome, it was built in the 13th century on the site of three pagan temples. While it’s not too big, it has a great deal of artwork by names of the likes of Michelangelo, Bernini and Filippino Lippi.

Image of Sant'Ignazio di Loyola church in Rome
Sant’Ignazio di Loyola church in Rome

Admire a 3D fresco in Sant’Ignazio di Loyola Church

For sure there’s no lack of churches in Rome, but Sant’Ignazio di Loyola is not your average Catholic temple. At the moment of construction, in the 17th century, the money ran out, so the originally planned dome couldn’t be properly built anymore.

But thankfully, the talent and creativity of artist-priest Andrea Pozzo made up for the lack of funds. Thanks to a finely conceived perspective, you will have the impression of looking at a real dome supported by pillars while you will be standing underneath a fresco.

Image: Borromini's staircase in Palazzo Barberini, one of the places to visit in Rome
Palazzo Barberini in Rome

Explore the notable mansion of Palazzo Barberini

A fantastic place to learn more about the glamorous life of Rome’s noble families is Palazzo Barberini, the beautiful, majestic mansion that opens in Via delle Quattro Fontane near Via Veneto, Via del Tritone, and Fontana di Trevi.

Visit this palace for a glimpse of the Barberinis’ past and the rich collection of artwork that gathers masterpieces from Caravaggio, Bernini, Borromini, Pietro da Cortona, and Guido Reni. Make sure you don’t miss the spectacular staircases by Bernini at the entrance and by Borromini at the exit.

Go on a Bernini-themed tour

Gian Lorenzo Bernini has been one of the most prolific artists in Rome’s Baroque period, often regarded as the creator of Baroque sculpture and one of the leading architects, sculptors, and painters.

You can find Bernini’s Roman masterpieces scattered all around the city. Churches, fountains, sculptures, paintings, you name it, he did it. From the Four Rivers fountain in the heart of Piazza Navona to Palazzo Barberini to the world-famous colonnade of Saint Peter’s Square, you can find the touch of this incredible artist in many of the artwork that makes Rome so beautiful.

Seek out Borromini’s genius

Contemporary and eternal rival of Bernini, Borromini was an architectural genius. Unlike his peer, he was an introvert and quite bad-tempered, and this is mainly why he gained fewer commissions than Bernini who, on the other hand, was more talented in cultivating and nurturing relationships with the influential people of his time.

Some of Borromini’s masterpieces in Rome you shouldn’t miss include the gorgeous Sant’Agnese in Agone church in Piazza Navona and Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza in Corso del Rinascimento near the Pantheon.

What to do in Rome for a romantic trip

One of the best destinations for your honeymoon in Italy, there are many romantic things to do in Rome.

Evening walk along the Tiber

There is hardly anything more romantic in Rome than a night stroll along the Tiber river. The city lights and the landmarks you visited during the day reflect on the calm waters creating a beautiful view.

Enjoy a couple spa treatment

Many hotels offer spa treatments in Rome, but some are really romantic, especially those set in ancient Roman ruins. Such as the wellness center of Hotel Lunetta near Campo de’ Fiori where you can do a sauna, enter the steam room, and do a couple massage.

Enjoy a beautiful view

Thankfully, there is no shortage of such a thing in Rome. Go to the Garden of the Oranges in the Aventine Hill, enjoy the view from the Pincio Terrace in Villa Borghese, climb the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica or take a stroll on the Monte Mario hill for a scenic view from the Astronomical Observatory. From wherever you look, the landscape will be stunning.

Reserve a romantic dinner

No shortage of romantic restaurants in Rome. Candle-lit tables, alfresco options, beautiful views, and historical locations contribute to making the ambiance romantic and perfect for a date. Some of my favorite restaurants? Settimo in the Sofitel Villa Borghese Hotel for a fantastic view, Aroma in the 5-star Palazzo Manfredi hotel, Perpetual gourmet restaurant near the Colosseum.


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About The Author: Angela Corrias

Hi, my name is Angela Corrias! I am an Italian journalist, photographer, and blogger living in Rome. After over ten years of living abroad, I finally came to the conclusion that in order to better organize my future adventures, I needed a base. Since I know and love Rome so much, I moved back to the Eternal City. This is how Rome Actually was born. Here, I cover everything about Rome, from the local food to the culture to Roman history.

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