The best things to see & do in Rome
There are so many things to do in Rome that sometimes it gets overwhelming to decide on what to do. From visiting the Vatican Museums to going thrift shopping in Monti, we’ve got you covered with a selection of 39 incredible things to do in Rome.
1. Sample different artisanal foods with the locals
at Mercato Testaccio
Mercato Testaccio is an in-door market where the foodies of Rome go to try some of the city’s best street food. You can find anything from artisanal pizza, gelato, pasta, coffee, and cocktails. The atmosphere is relaxed and familiar, locals swarm the market around lunch time to catch up with friends, crack open a cold Peroni beer, and sample different delicacies.
2. Take a tour of some of Rome’s finest
street art in Ostiense
Just as Rome is known for its fine art, it is also known for its street art. If you’re hungry for some cutting-age street art, take a trip to Ostiense, one of Rome’s liveliest quarters, to tour local artists’ innovative work. To spice things up even more, you can book a Street Art Vespa Tour, where you can hop on the back of a Vespa like a true Roman while being awed by fantastic street art.
3. Get morbid with the crypts of the
Looking for a good spook? The crypts of the Capuchin friars will definitely give you a fright. Above ground is the beautiful 17th century church, Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins. Underneath is the catacomb built up of the skeletons of around 4,000 friars. It doesn’t stop there, however. The bones are arranged as decorations: lamps, statues, and other decor are made up purely of bones. It is truly an unusual and incredible experience, and the spookiness is only enhanced by the creepy organ music and candles that make up the catacomb’s ambience!
4. Visit the grand palazzos of Rome
Rome’s architecture is some of the world’s best, and the best place to observe it is by visiting the grand palaces of Rome. Not only are they beautiful from the outside, many of them have incredible artwork on the inside, and whether it is a political headquarter, an embassy, or a galleria, they are sure to have a fascinating history.
Need some suggestions? Check out our article on The Grand Palazzos of Rome!
5. Visit the Vatican by Night
Visiting the Vatican is an obvious must on the list, but the crowds, fast-pace, and vendors during the day might hamper the beauty that Vatican City has to offer. That’s why we suggest seeing The Vatican lit up by night, for a truly unique experience. Not only is the Vatican magnificent to see under the stars, but going at night ensures fewer crowds for a more personal feel. Interested in an exclusive nighttime tour? Check out this offer and book below!
6. Take a bike ride along the Ancient Appian Way
The ancient Appian Way was one of the most import roads for the Roman Empire. It is one of Rome’s best preserved ancient sites, and walking on it will make you feel like apart of the time of emperors, gladiators, and saints! Want to know all of the captivating history of the Appian Way? Book a tour!
7. Take the train that goes from Vatican to Castel Gandolfo
Want to tour without the aching feet? Take the train tour starting from Vatican City to Castel Gandolfo gardens. By taking the train, you get afforded magnificent views of Rome, all while sitting back and relaxing. Perfect for people with limited walking ability, children, or just for those tired of walking all day!
8. Take a day trip to Ponza Island
If you’re travelling to Rome during the summer months, taking a day trip to Ponza Island is a necessity. There are ferries from Rome that take you to this small island that feels like a mediterranean secret. Come to enjoy the turquoise sea, the cliffs that jut out into the water, tropical vegetation, and complete relaxation. To make things easier, you can book a day trip that takes care of all the extra details for you!
9. Admire Bernini’s masterpieces at Galleria Borghese
Galleria Borghese is located right by the Borghese Gardens and some of its collection highlights are sculptures of the great Gian Lorenzo Bernini, one of the world’s master sculptors. These masterpieces are sure to inspire while touring the gallery and wandering through the gardens.
Want an official tour? You can book an exclusive tour of the Galleria Borghese here!
10. See three of Caravaggio’s Masterpieces
at San Luigi dei Francesi
The Church of San Luigi dei Francesi is a Roman Catholic church in Rome that is just a stone throw’s away from the famous Piazza Navona. The church contains paintings by Caravaggio that depict scenes from the life of the biblical character of Matthew, that are sure to amaze anyone who comes to visit. Experience Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro upclose for an unforgettable memory.
11. Learn to make gelato in an
authentic Roman gelateria
You cannot go to Rome and not try gelato — it would be a sin! But if you want to top that, you can learn how to make authentic gelato, and be fully immersed in the delectable tradition of Italian gelato. Gelato classes in a real, working gelateria are not hard to find. Book yours now!
12. Visit Villa Medici
Villa Medici is an elaborate villa at the edge of Rome’s Borghese Gardens. The villa was once owned by the infamous Medici family, but now it is owned by the French state and acts as the French Academy of Rome. The villa is truly castle-like, with manicured gardens and elaborated adorned walls. It isn’t hard to feel like royalty when walking the grounds of Villa Medici.
13. See the Colosseum at night
During what was known as “The Grand Tour” in the 17th and 18th century, foreign travelers would tour Italy and end in Rome as a way to hone their artistic and cultural tastes. One of the major activities on the list would be to see the Colosseum at night, which has famously been described as one of life’s most sublime experiences. The test of time has still proven this to be true. There is something about seeing the Colosseum under the stars (not to mention, with significantly less tourists!) that makes your roman holiday all the more special.
14. Visit John Keats’ a Percy Shelley’s grave
at Rome’s Non-Catholic Cemetery
If you’re a fan of poetry, visiting the grave sights of the Romantic poets is an absolute must. However, even if poetry isn’t your thing, the protestant cemetery, where Shelley, Keats, Antonio Gramsci and more have been buried, is one of the most underrated and breathtaking places in Rome. Entrance fee is only a three-euro donation, and inside you will find lush greenery, wild daisies, and an overwhelming feeling of peace and silence.
15. Fall in love with the panoramic view of Rome
at the top of Gianicolo Hill
Change things up and see the eternal city from above. From the top of Gianicolo Hill, you can see all of the major sites, including St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vittoriano, the supreme court, and more from the edge of one of Rome’s most scenic vistas. Feeling a bit hungry after the hike up? Don’t worry. There are many trucks at the top that sell sandwiches, gelato, and prosecco if you need a snack, or even better, have a picnic with a magnificent view.
16. Grab an aperitivo where the locals do
Aperitivo is one of those things Italians do that makes you wonder why the rest of the world doesn’t do it as well. Delicious food shared with friends amongst cocktails just makes sense, and Rome sure knows how to do it right. Don’t miss having an amazing aperitivo while in Rome, it will be a tradition you’ll want to bring home with you. Check out our favorite aperitivo spots in Rome!
17. Taste real Italian pizza (& learn to make it)
Not eating pizza in Italy must be close to blasphemy. A trip to Rome is incomplete without trying real Italian pizza, and lucky for you, Rome offers a plethora of different types. Whether you want a whole pizza to yourself at a restaurant, a sample of different cuts of pizza while on the go (al taglio), or if you want to try the original roman pinsa, you are sure to be satisfied.
Learn to make your own pizza by booking the cooking class below!
18. Ride on the back of a Vespa
There’s no better way to feel like a real Roman than by riding on the back of a Vespa. Why not see the Eternal City via Vespa with the wind in your hair? Booking a Vespa is easier (and more affordable) than you think, check out some options below:
19. Spend the day wandering through
the Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are a must when touring Rome. Not only are the museums home to the Sistine Chapel, but they host some of the world’s most treasured art and artists. From Raphael, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio to modern religious artists like Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, The Vatican Museums boast important artists that shouldn’t be missed.
Want to make touring The Vatican Museums easier and without the line? You can book a tour here!
20. Shop for fresh produce at the bustling
market of Campo di Fiori
Campo di Fiori is a bustling outdoor market right across the bridge from the neighborhood of Trastevere. Here, you can find anything from fresh flowers, homemade cheeses, local olive oils, and truffles. The main star of Campo di Fiori is the produce, displayed in endless rows of colorful fruits and vegetables. Whether your looking to sample fruit juices made right in front of you, grab some local vegetables to cook like the Romans, or just simply ogle at all of the beauty Italian land provides, Campo di Fiori is the place to do it.
21. Thrift shop in Monti
Brooklyn is to New York as Monti is to Rome. Monti, just around the corner from the Colosseum, is one of the hippest quarters in Rome, with its cool bars, vegan restaurants, and local designers. What is truly the star of the show in Monti is its amazing thrift shopping. There is a multitude of different thrift stores in Monti that have one of a kind pieces, and the stores are a bunch of fun to sift through.
Here’s a link to our Vintage Shop Guide to help:
22. Try Roman-Jewish cuisine in the Jewish Ghetto
You won’t run out of things to do at the Jewish Ghetto: There is the Teatro Marcello (nicknamed the Jewish colosseum), The Great Synagogue of Rome, The Turtle Fountain, etc. But among these amazing sites, one thing that everyone must do in the Jewish Ghetto is eat. This section of Rome boasts its own unique cuisine, such as Carciofi alla Giuda (tendered and fried artichokes) and Concia (zucchini marinated in olive oil, white wine vinegar, and mint leaves). Don’t miss the unique culinary and cultural experience the Jewish Ghetto has to offer.
23. Take a break from city-life by exploring
Villa Doria Pamphili
Craving a break from the hustle of city life? Take a trip to Villa Pamphili to get your nature fix. It is the largest public park in Rome that features a 17th century villa with beautifully manicured gardens. The park includes different spots for bird-watching, jogging, soccer, picnicking, and more, so whenever the Roman sun inspires you to relax outside, head up here for the perfect day.
24. Go antiquing at Porta Portese
Porta Portese is a spectacle, to say the least. At the break of dawn, hundreds of street vendors line via portuense and sell everything from vintage clothes, gadgets, food, and antiques. Romans and tourists alike flock to Porta Portese every Sunday morning to find something one of a kind to add to one of their collections. Looking for a unique memento of your time in Rome? Porta Portese is the place to find it.
25. People watch by relaxing on the Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps is an obvious destination on the list of what to do while in Rome. However, to get the full experience of the Spanish Steps, you should find a comfy spot near the top, soak up the sun, and watch people from around the world flock to this gorgeous site. You can easily spend hours sitting on the steps, relaxing, people-watching, and feeling the vibrations of the energetic Via del Corso.
26. Wander around the beautiful neighborhood of Prati
The neighborhood of Prati, which is nestled right next to the bustling Vatican City, is a quiet, residential neighborhood with lovely architecture and delicious cafes. When you want a slower pace to your day, but don’t want to miss out on shopping, dining, and some gorgeous sites, check out the Prati neighborhood for the ideal day out in Rome.
Need some suggestions on what to do in Prati? Take a look at our Prati District Guide here:
27. Ponder all of the different legends
at La Bocca della Verità (The Mouth of Truth)
The Mouth of Truth is an ancient mask that can be found at the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. This isn’t just any ancient relic – this marble mask is the foundation of many legends that have haunted Italians for centuries. The legend states that if you insert your hand and lie, the mouth will bite of your fingers. Now, while this is likely untrue, it is a must to see the source of tales that have lasted throughout history, and still inspires awe today.
28. Grab a drink with a view in one of Rome’s rooftops
There is something about a Roman night that is sensual and inviting. Take advantage of this unique essence by grabbing a refreshing cocktail at one of Rome’s many rooftop bars. Sample expert mixology with a view of the city by moonlight — it’ll be an unforgettable experience, I promise.
Here’s a Rooftop Bar Guide to help you decide where to go:
29. Go to an AS Roma game at Stadio Olimpico
Want to feel like a real Roman local? Be sure to catch an AS Roma game at Stadio Olimpico, Rome’s main soccer stadium. This is where you can fully experience Roman Passion. Most Italians support their soccer teams wholeheartedly, but some say that Romans do it best. Before you go, learn some Roman soccer chants so you can be apart of the energy!
30. See an Italian Opera at Teatro dell’Opera
Italy is recognized worldwide as home to some of the finest operas. Thus, it is necessary to see an opera in the country of some of the best! Teatro dell’Opera is an opera house that was originally opened in 1880, and hosts multiple shows monthly. Dress up and have a night of music and culture at the opera of your choice.
31. Experience a wine-tasting of the vast
variety of Italian wines
Italy is known to produce some of the world’s best wine: the beloved chianti from Tuscany, the Nero d’Avola from Sicily, and more. So tasting the variety of wine that each region has to offer is an absolute must while in Rome! There is no better way to get to know Italian cuisine than by pairing it with local Italian wine.
32. Take a romantic walk through Giardino degli Aranci,
a park filled with aromatic orange trees
This enchanting orange garden is located on one of Rome’s seven hills, Aventine Hill, which allows for an incredible view of the city. Be sure to take a trip to Giardino degli Aranci where you can breath in the aroma of bitter oranges, lazily stroll through lush green trees, and admire the view of the city at sunset to experience the romantic essense of Rome.
33. Feel like you’re in Roman Holiday
by ogling at the Altare della Patria
You don’t have to be Audrey Hepburn to have the perfect Roman Holiday. All you have to do is take in the grandeur of the Altare della Patria in the heart of Rome’s Historic Centre. This giant, white monument was constructed in honor of the first king of unified Italy and ,any tourists nickname this monument “the wedding cake” due to its white tiers. Construction started in 1885 and was completed in 1935, a whole of fifty years, which comes as no surprise when standing in front of it. Seeing the monument for the first time is truly breathtaking (you might literally gasp) and is not to be missed when visiting Rome.
34. Listen to the street performers play
while sitting on the steps at Piazza Trilussa
If you’re looking for a night out without the headache of clubbing or the expense of cocktails, all you have to do is make your way to Piazza Trilussa in Trastevere. At night, musicians, magicians, and performers alike flock to Piazza Trilussa to perform for the locals sitting, chatting, and drinking on the fountain’s steps. Gathering here is the perfect way to relax and be entertained without the expense of an elaborate night out. Plus, Trastevere is quite an international section of Rome (likely due to the American university located here) so you can easily meet people here from all around the world.
35. Visit the Roman Forum and travel back in time
Feel like you’re traveling around ancient Rome by talking a walk through the Roman Forum. Beginning with the Altare della Patria and ending with the Colosseum, the Roman Forum is made up ancient ruins that were, at one time, market places, public meeting spaces, and more. From beginning to end, the walk through the Roman Forum is one of a kind, and will leave you feeling like you’ve traveled back in time.
Want to book a tour and learn the full history of the Roman Forum? Book through this link below:
36. See Beatrice Cenci at Palazzo Barberini
At one time, tourists would flock to see the painting of Beatrice Cenci painted by Guido Reni because of the brilliant artistry but also in part because of the scandalous tale of the Cenci family. Now, Reni’s painting is not as sought after, but the haunting effects of the painting still stand. Make your way over to Palazzo Barberini, the former-palace-turned-art-gallery, to see Reni’s painting of the haunting Cenci-stare, as well as other priceless art including Caravaggio paintings.
37. Take a day trip to Tivoli
Tivoli, just a short (and ridiculously inexpensive) train ride away, is a a small town filled to the brim with incredible sites. Here you can find the Villa d’Este, a 16th Century Villa with Italian renaissance gardens, Villa Gregoriana, a vast garden with ruins and natural waterfalls, Hadrian’s Villa, a 2nd century roman villa, and much more (all of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites).
38. Be astonished by the 2000 year old pyramid,
the Pyramid of Cestius
Just next to the protestant cemetery is the Pyramid of Cestius, one of Rome’s best-preserved ancient sites. The pyramid is awe-inspiring: it is huge, grandiose, and, ironically, surrounded by pure modernity – coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries, to name a few examples. The pyramid was built in 12 BC, and still it stands in the heart of Testaccio, with modern Roman life pulses around it. Plus: the pyramid opens to tourists every second and fourth Saturday of each month!
39. Pet cats at the spot where
Julius Caesar was assassinated
In Rome’s historic centre, you expect to find ruins, artwork, and traces of ancient history. You don’t typically expect to find cats. At Largo Argentina, however, you find both. There, you can find the ruins where Julius Caesar was assassinated, and find one of Rome’s cutest cat sanctuaries, where you can pet some local kittens! History lesson and cuteness overload in one? Yes, please.