Rome Things To Do

Tiber bridge at night - Rome things to do

Rome is the capital of Italy with a history that goes back over 3,000 years making it one of the top 10 places to visit in the world. Roman history is everywhere you look. Located in the middle of the Italian peninsula on the Tiber River some 15 miles from the sea, the city covers 495 square miles and the centre is full of historic sites that will take days to see. 

The best time of the year to visit Rome is May and June or September to November. These are quieter times when the weather is pleasant. Rome in the tourist areas is safe. You need to be careful of scam artists and pick-pockets. They prey on unsuspecting tourists and work in crowded areas like the Spanish Steps. 

Ultimate Guide for Rome

Categories of Rome Things to Do

Top 30 Things to Do in Rome

Top 3 Monuments in Rome

Colosseum

1. Colosseum – the largest amphitheatre in the world is in the center of Rome. Much of the covering was stolen or used over the years on other buildings. Half of the Colosseum fell in the 1364 earthquake. It is a must see on your trip to Rome.

Pantheon

Pantheon interior - Rome things to do

2. Pantheon – in Greek means temple. It was first built in 25 AD as a temple to Roman gods. It burned down in 80 AD and was rebuilt as a church. It is amazing to stand in the middle and look up through the large oculus in the roof that is open to the sky above. It is an amazing piece of architecture. 

Roman Forum

Roman Forum - Rome things to do

3. Roman Forum – the original ruins of Rome. Sit and stare and you can imagine the buildings that lined the Forum. It is good to see some pictures of the reconstruction of the Forum before visiting. It really helps put things into perspective. If you are not up on Roman history, you might want to hire a local guide to give a greater understanding of the Forum. 

Top 3 Churches in Rome

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica - Rome things to do

1. St. Peter’s Basilica  – the largest and most famous church in the world. It can hold 20,000 people. It is awe inspiring the first time you enter. The most important building in Christiandom, the corner stone was laid in 1506 and completed by Michelangelo in 1547. Make sure you get there for the 7 am opening to enjoy the Basillica without the crowds. Climb the 551 steps up to the cupola, the highest dome in the world, for a wonderful unobstructive view of Rome. There is a gift shop at the top where I bought my mom a rosary. Buy your ticket in advance and get the combo tour ticket that will give you a guided tour of the church, Sistine Chapel and the Vatican museums. 

Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere

2. Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere – built in 350 AD, it was the first church to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is impressive with beautiful Byzantine mosiacs in the aspe and is located in central Trastevere which should be on your list of places to visit. 

Basilica Parrocchiale Santa Maria del Popolo

3. Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo – rich in history and masterpieces. It was constructed by Pope Paschal II in 1099. The Virgin Mary told him in a dream to build the church on top of where the Emperor Nero was buried and his ghost haunted the area. 

Top 3 Museums in Rome

1. National Gallery of Ancient Art in Barberini Palace – the villa was the most elegant and luxurious of its kind in 1633. It now houses priceless works of art that date back hundreds of years. 

Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese interior

2. Galleria Borghese – is an art gallery holding wonderful works of antiquity and Renaissance art. The gallery is housed in the marvelous 17th century home of the Borghese. The villa is surrounded by formal gardens and fountains. 

3. National Gallery of Modern Art – just a short distance from Galleria Borghese. The National Gallery has a renowned collection of 19th and 20th Century works of art. 

Top 3 Squares (Piazza) in Rome

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona Rome things to do

1. Piazza Navona – all streets in Rome lead to the Piazza Navona. It is the most loved square by Romans. Used for a meeting place for centuries the architecture is Roman Baroque and has 3 fountains. 

Piazza Della Bocca Della Verità

Piazza Della Bocca Della Verità Rome

2. Piazza Della Bocca Della Verità – located in front of Tiber Island. You will find the Temple of Hercules and the Fountain of Tritons here. The Mouth of Truth, made famous by the movie, Roman Holiday, with Audrey Hepburn, is here. Put your hand in the mouth if you dare. Liars will lose their hand.

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia Rome

3. Piazza Venezia – the central roundabout in Rome where you will find the Victor Emmanuel Monument and the Fountain of the Tyrrhenian. Dodge the cars as you cross the circle. 

You will see many other piazzas when you go to see the other monuments and churches on our list. 

Top 3 Markets in Rome

Pora Portese Market

1. Porta Portese Market – is the largest market held on Sundays from 5am to 2pm in Trastevere. It stretches for over a mile and sells everything you can imagine.  

 

Campo di Fiori Market

Campo di Fiori Market Rome

2. Campo di Fiori Market named after the piazza it is located in since 1869. This is the most popular daily food market. 

 

Campagna Amica Market

Campagna Amica Market Rome

3. Campagna Amica Market – Vendors can only sell food grown in the area. It supports local farmers and is the best farm to table market in Rome. This is where we shop when we are in Rome. 

Top 3 Trattorias in Rome

Da Enzo al 29

Da Enzo al 29​ appetizer

1. Da Enzo al 29 – one of the most best and most popular trattorias in Rome. They only take reservations for 7:30 pm which is very early for dinner by Roman standards, other than that, you have to stand-in-line.

 

Trattoria da Teo

Trattoria da Teo wild strawberries and mascarpone in Rome things to do

2. Trattoria da Teo – located just a few blocks from Enzo, this trattoria is also very popular but they take reservations. All the food is top notch and they have great inexpensive house wines. 

 

Osteria Mani in Pasta

Osteria Mani in Pasta

3. Osteria Mani in Pasta – also in the same area, this restaurant specializes in seafood and pasta. White table clothes and more formal service than the trattorias. 

Top Neighbourhoods in Rome

Trastevere

Located on the west bank of the Tiber River and south of the Vatican, Trastevere is full of character with its narrow cobblestone streets. It has long been an area where eclectic people have lived over the centuries. At night, the entire area comes alive as people from all over Rome flock to the numerous bars and restaurantss. 

Monti

Monti means mountain in Italian and the area encompasses 4 major hills in Rome on the east side of the Tiber River across from the Trastevere area. In ancient times this area was heavily populated but when the aquaducts were damaged and there was no easy access to water the people moved down to the Tiber River leaving this area mainly planted in vineyards and market gardens. During the 1930s the archaeological buildings of the Forum Romanum were excavated which totally changed this area. Most of the important archaeological findings are in this area. 

Testaccio

Testaccio fountain Rome

Traditionally a working class neighbourhood. First as the docks for the Tiber River trade and later as the industrial area of Rome. The gentrification of the area has attracted many small trattories and accommodations. It is located south of Monti along the Tiber. This area is not as touristy as the central core of Rome and will give you a more local experience. 

Top Shopping Areas in Rome

Via Condotti

Via Condotti Rome things to do

Beginning at the Spanish Steps, Via del Condotti is the Rome street that houses all the top design shops. You will find Dolche & Gabbana, Armani, Tiffany’s, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior and many others. It is always great to window shop to see their great displays including the digital staircase at Louis Vuitton. 

Via Corso

The main shopping street in Rome, it is hard to miss as it cuts through the historic part of Rome past the Spanish Steps. You will find most of the big brand stores along this 1 mile stretch of shopping. Be prepared for crowds. 

Via Coronari

Via dei Coronari Rome

This pretty street is lined with antique dealers where you can buy vintage prints and maps and old reproductions. There are wonderful treasures to find here if you look hard. 

Top 3 Other Things to See

Trevi Fountain

Rome monument

1. Trevi Fountain – the name comes from Latin for the intersection of 3 main roads in Rome. This fountain was made famous by 3 major movies in the 1950s and is one of the most visited sites in Rome. It is in central Rome and close to many other attractions. I find that early morning is the best time to visit because of the crowds later in the day. 

Villa Doria Pamphili

Villa Doria Pamphili

2. Villa Doria Pamphili – a noble home from the 1600s, now the largest park in Rome with great gardens and fountains. 

The Baths at Caracalla

The Baths at Caracalla

3. The Baths at Caracalla – a large bath works used from about 216 AD to 520 AD. During the summer, outdoor concerts are held within the ruins. Look for performances and events when you are there, you might luck out. 

Top Hotels in Rome

Luxury - Rome Cavalieri

Rome Cavalieri Rome places to stay

A Waldorf Astoria hotel, the Rome Cavalieri is a 5 Star hotel situated on 15 acres of landscaped gardens overlooking Rome.  The restaurant, La Pergola, is Rome’s only 3 Michelin Star restaurant. Book early as there is up to a 4 month waiting list. There are four pools, tennis courts, full spa and private Rome experiences like driving exotic sports cars. Rooms run from $300 to $10,000 a night.

Moderate - Albergo Del Senato

Albergo Del Senato Rome places to stay

Albergo Del Senato is 3 Star hotel located beside the Pantheon right in the heart of historic Rome. It is just a 5 minute walk from Trevi Fountain and the Piazza Novona. The rooftop terrace bar is a wonderful place to watch the people below. There are restaurants all around the 56 room hotel. This hotel is rated exceptional with rooms running from $200 – $300. 

Budget - Hotel Italia

Hotel Italia Rome places to stay

Hotel Italia is a 2 Star hotel that has been family run for 40 years. It is in the centre of Rome and within walking distance to most historic sites. The rooms are clean but smaller with small bathrooms. To enter you must be buzzed in through the intercom. Rooms start at $110.

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Personal Tours

Tours by Locals 

For those of you who prefer personal tours with your own guide, we highly recommend Tours by Locals. There are 80 personal guides offering over 700 different personal tours of Rome. Click on the link to see the variety of tours and choose the one that best fits your needs or design your own tour.

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