Best Things To Do in Rome
Take time to enjoy la dolce vita – even a week isn’t long enough to experience everything Roma has to offer. From historic tours through ancient Rome (Colosseum, Roman Forum) to Sunday morning shopping at the Porta Portese flea market to climbing to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica, this city is bursting with things to do. You can help your chances of returning to Roma by tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain; fate might just bring you back to the Eternal City, or so the legend goes.
1. Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)
A must-see on many travelers’ itineraries, the Trevi Fountain is situated amongst a high concentration of hotels, shopping and nightlife. Finished in the mid-1700s, the Trevi is a powerful example of a baroque design with a distinctly mythological character. The god of the sea, Oceanus, emerges from the pool, flanked by his trusty Tritons. The fountain underwent an extensive, mutlimillion euro restoration and reopened in its full splendor in November 2015.According to Roman lore, throwing one, two or three coins into the Trevi, with your right hand over your left shoulder ensures you’ll return to Rome; you’ll fall in love with an attractive Roman; and you’ll marry that same Roman.This mythological site is best viewed at night when lights illuminate the fountain. However, some travelers lament the Trevi’s many tourists and aggressive local street vendors. Located in Corso and Spagna, the Trevi Fountain sits off the Barberini metro stop. It is free to visit 24/7.
2. St. Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)
The epicenter of Roman Catholicism, St. Peter’s Basilica is centered in Vatican City and open daily for free. (Though it’s closed on Wednesday mornings for pope appearances.) Many visitors enjoy trekking to the top of the dome. For a fee of 6 euros (about $7.50), you can climb the 551 steps to the summit; for a fee of 8 euros (about $10), you can take an elevator to a terrace where you’ll climb just 320. Regardless, you’ll take in a panorama of Rome’s spectacular landscape. If you’ve come hoping to catch a glimpse of the pope, you should consider attending the Wednesday General Audience, when he address the crowd in St. Peter’s Square with prayers and songs. It’s free to attend, but tickets are required. You’ll also want to make sure he is in residence; check the Vatican website to view the schedule. No ticket is required to see the pope on Sundays, when he usually address the crowd in St. Peter’s Square at noon.Keep in mind that this is an active church with daily Mass services. Likewise, a stringent dress code is enforced: No short skirts, hats or bare shoulders. And because St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the area’s major attractions, there is almost always a long queue – though it tends to go fast. Recent travelers recommend you spring for a tour guide; the depth of insight they bring to the basilica really makes the experience. For more information on tours, read our tips for visiting the Vatican and its attractions.
The Pantheon, a former Roman temple and now a present-day church, is known for its perfect proportions, which is amazing, seeing as it was raised in A.D. 120. While you’re there, you can also pay your respects to Raphael, as well as Italian kings Victor Emmanuel II and Umberto I, who are all buried there.Recent visitors described this free attraction as a must-see; they also say the Piazza della Rotonda, in which it’s located, is a cozy setting for a coffee, pizza slice or gelato. Other recommended paying for a tour guide to better understand the ancient history you’re seeing. Beat the crowds by visiting early in the morning.
4. Colosseum (Colosseo)
The site of many bloody gladiatorial fights, the Colosseum, which was opened in 80 A.D., could then hold about 50,000 spectators. With a circumference of 573 yards and sitting on marshland, experts say the Colosseum is an engineering wonder… not to mention an animal- and human-rights atrocity.Today, the massive complex is a favorite site amongst travelers. That said, you’ll find lengthy lines almost anytime you visit. To beat the queues, you can purchase a ticket at the Roman Forum, which allows you admittance to both, as well as Palatine Hill, and a line jump at the Colosseum.Recent Colosseum visitors recommended opting for a tour guide, with some saying it gives more context, providing a richer experience than simply viewing the structure. Other travelers specifically suggest taking a night tour to beat the crowds.
5. Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
You’ll find one of Vatican City’s most notorious attractions housed within these walls – the Sistine Chapel (and Michelangelo’s famous frescos). A tour of the Vatican Museums grants access to various sections of the palaces, the Sistine Chapel included. But don’t overlook the treasures housed within the museums themselves, including the spiral staircase and the Raphael Rooms. The Vatican Museums are so immense that guided tours are highly recommended though they make the price of visiting pretty expensive. Audio guides are a much cheaper alternative.Budget several hours to see this attraction. Keep in mind that the museums are notoriously crowded, especially on Saturdays, Mondays, the last Sunday of the month, rainy days and around holidays. You should also respect the museums’ dress code (no short skirts, shorts or bare shoulders), as well as the whisper and no-photo policies in the Sistine Chapel. Located in Vatican City, you can find the museums off the Cipro-Musei Vaticani metro stop; bus No. 49 stops in front of the museums’ entrance. Tickets start at 17 euros (or about $21) for adults and 8 euros (about $9.90) for children ages 6 to 18. If you purchase your tickets online (on the museums’ official website), you’ll have the benefit of skipping the line. Audio guide rentals start at 7 euros (less than $9). The museums are free to visit (though very crowded) on the last Sunday of the month.