Ahh, Roma. I heard a lot of mixed things about Rome before visiting. Some people said it was touristy and dirty. Others said they adored Rome. I was excited to see what I thought for myself. If you’re looking for a list of the top Rome Attractions, I’ve got you covered. And while Rome wasn’t my favorite city I visited in Italy (here’s lookin’ at you, Florence), Rome is absolutely incredible and not to be missed. And obviously it’s a travel hub so it’s easy to start or end your trip in this city when flying to/from Italy. Rome is definitely a big European city and there is a lot to do, so I’d recommend spending at least four or five days there. Here are the top Rome attractions you can’t miss!
1. The Colosseum. Obviously you cannot miss visiting The Colosseum when visiting Rome. But you should absolutely book tour tickets ahead, because if you think you’re going to just walk up to The Colosseum and buy tickets to go inside, you’re a damn fool. I mean, you can do that, but it is an absolute cluster and you’ll waste hours standing in line, and you won’t be able to go down to the dungeons. I recommend booking this tour with The Roman Guy, which also includes a tour of the Roman Forum (top Rome attraction #2) afterwards.
2. Palatine Hill and The Roman Forum. I had never heard of the Roman Forum before visiting Rome. But as soon as you see it, you know it’s something incredibly special. And old. It’s the ruins of ancient government buildings in the center of Rome, right next to The Colosseum, and it’s amazing. Palatine Hill (where Rome was founded) overlooks the Forum, and is also an archaeological site. If you book your Colosseum Tour through the Roman Guy, you will get a guided tour of Palatine Hill and the Forum after exiting The Colosseum. The Forum is not to be missed and (I think) actually more awe-inspiring than The Colosseum.
3. The Vatican. And all the things associated with it—The Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums, and St. Peter’s Basilica. I highly recommend booking a tour first thing in the morning when the Vatican opens (usually a 7:30am tour) because as the day goes on it gets incredibly crowded. Even during the early morning tour, it will be crowded, but you should be able to enjoy the Sistine Chapel without it being a complete people crush. For The Vatican I would not recommend The Roman Guy, as the headsets were way too shitty for such a crowded place and we could hardly hear what our guide was saying.
4. The Borghese Museum. We loved the Borghese Museum! It is housed in the Borghese Villa, which on its own is stunning. You can also take a stroll through the beautiful gardens after visiting. There are a lot of interesting and notable statues there (like Apollo and Daphne and David (not to be confused with The David in Florence)), and the audioguide is definitely worth it. Just know that the numbers on audio guide are really confusing at first. Check the number above the door for the room number, and then check the printout that comes with your guide to see what number corresponds with the room number. Buy skip-the-line tickets here.
5. Musei Capitolini. The Capitolini was also a favorite museum of ours in Rome. There are a lot of really cool ancient statues, including the famous one with the she-wolf and Romulus and Remus, depicting the founding of Rome. Buy skip-the-line tickets or tours here.
6. Bike tour around Rome. This bike tour was one of our favorite experiences in Rome! We booked a private tour with Simone and he took us around Rome for hours and showed us some amazing spots. As a born and raised Roman, Simone was able to show us some beautiful spots that we never would have known about if we hadn’t gone on a bike ride with him. He shared so much history and information with us, and it was such a fun way to see and experience Rome.
7. Trevi Fountain. I was surprised my family hadn’t heard of the n (I mean, it’s THE most top reviewed place on Google AND there’s a replica of it at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas sooo…), but it was definitely worth a visit. It is extremely crowded so just know it’s going to be hard to get that Insta shot. But it is really beautiful and it’s cool that the water is provided by an ancient aqueduct! Be sure to toss a coin in the fountain (with your left hand, over your right shoulder). We heard that if you want to return to Rome, you toss one coin. If you’re single and want to return to Rome with someone who loves you, you toss two coins. And if you have someone who loves you but you want to return to Rome, by yourself, you toss three coins! 😂
8. The Pantheon. The Pantheon is a freaking engineering marvel. This ancient Roman temple has a huge concrete dome with a hole in the middle allowing light in. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are both 142 feet. And you know, all done in around 120 AD. It’s now a church, so it’s free to enter.
9. Altare della Patria. Or Altar of the Fatherland and also known as the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, this impressive monument was built for, you guessed it, Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy. You can enter and visit the first level of the deck for free, for some beautiful views of Rome. But for even more amazing, 360 degree views, buy tickets to take the glass elevator up even higher.
10. Piazza Navona. Piazza Navona is a really pretty square, and you’ll find cafes, people playing music, and the Fontana del Moro.
11. Explore Trastevere. Trastevere is a super cute, bohemian neighborhood in Rome that is such a nice respite from the busy city-center. It has some delicious trattorias, fun bars, and insta-worthy corners and alleys.
14. Eat all of the gelato. Ok, so gelato isn’t necessarily an attraction, but also it kinda pretty much is since it’s such a phenomenon in Rome, and Italy in general. Giolitti and Della Palma were a couple of our favs.
15. Giardino degli Aranci. The Orange Trees Garden at Savello Park is a gorgeous place to relax in the shade and take in gorgeous views of Rome. Definitely worth coming at sunset!
Rome is so mind-blowing and there’s so much to see and explore! Any other Rome attractions I’m missing?