Are you planning to visit Rome and wondering about the best activities? Check out our 15 tips on what to do in Rome.
- 15 tips for the best activities to do in Rome
- Walk through ancient Rome
- Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain
- Get lost in the Roman streets
- Visit one of Rome's most beautiful districts, Trastevere
- See Rome from a bird's eye view
- Visit at least one art museum
- Enjoy the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel
- Take the sightseeing bus
- Learn how to make real Italian pizza
- Admire the incredible architecture of the Pantheon
- Visit the Vatican Museums with a guide
- Head to the sea
- Up into the underground
- Taste Roman cuisine
- Visit the Papal Basilica
- Where to stay in Rome?
- How to save in Rome on transport and admission?
- Where to book tickets in advance in Rome?
- More about Rome
15 tips for the best activities to do in Rome
Walk through ancient Rome
It would not be a visit to Rome if you did not visit the places of ancient Rome where it all began. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill, Trajan’s Markets, the Caracalla Baths, Circus Maximus and more.
You will usually find all these places close to each other, so you can admire them in one walk. In Caracall Spa or Circus Maximus, you also get 4D glasses that will take you back hundreds of years.
You must buy a ticket to the Colosseum buy in advance . They won’t let you in without it. Many visitors forget about this and don’t get to the Colosseum on the spot. In addition, tickets to the Colosseum may sell out in advance during the season, on weekends or during holiday periods.
Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain
Tradition says that if you toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain (from the right hand over the left shoulder), you will return to Rome one day. If you toss 2 coins there, you will meet love and 3 coins will bring marriage. It throws its head in there. We even got hit in the head with a coin :).
It is said that it fits into the fountain for € 3,000 a day. Up to € 1.4 million per year. The money is collected 3 times a week when the fountain is closed to the public – MON, WED, FRI between 8 am and 9 am.
Everything then goes to a local charity to help the homeless and in need. So even if you never returned to Rome, you did at least a good deed.
Get lost in the Roman streets
It’s so easy. Until my visit to Rome, I thought I had a good sense of direction. We got lost several times. But Rome is one of those cities where you want to get lost.
You discover unknown places, corners, squares, churches and you come across the real life of the Romans in the morning. Suddenly you’ll come out at the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain or a beautiful church that’s not on any of the to-visit lists.
Visit one of Rome’s most beautiful districts, Trastevere
When you drive from the airport to the center, you may think that you imagined Rome a little differently. And not in the positive sense of the word. However, the historic center and some districts will make up for it.
For example, the Trastevere district on the other side of the Tiber River. She is famous for her great food. You can just wander around and admire the colorful houses around the narrow cobbled streets.
This is how most of us imagine Rome.
See Rome from a bird’s eye view
Rome is known for its Seven Roman Hills, many of which offer great views of Rome.
The most famous of these is the Palatine Hill, where you can enter as part of your ticket to the Colosseum . From the Palatine you will get a great view of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum behind it.
If you continue from the Spanish Steps up the hill towards the Borghese Gallery (where all art lovers must go), you will reach Pincio Hill. From here, Rome will spread out beautifully. You can see the Roman roofs with the dominant dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The ascent is definitely not challenging and the view is worth it. You can walk to the Pincio balcony for the best views of Piazza del Popolo.
Keyhole in the door The Villa del Priorato di Malta on the Aventine hill provides a perfectly framed view of St Peter’s Basilica. But the whole park with pine trees is worth a walk not only because of the view of Rome. It lies southwest of the Colosseum.
You can enjoy a great view of the old town from the Gianicolo hill, which does not belong to the Seven Roman Hills, but it does not detract from its points. In good visibility, you can see the panorama of the Apennine Mountains behind Rome. It is located northwest of Trastevere.
Other places with great views include Castel Sant’Angelo or St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Leave for the basilica calmly before 7 am, when it opens, to avoid long security queues.
Visit at least one art museum
Vatican Museums , Borghese Gallery, National Roman Museum or Capitoline Museums? There are 83 of them in Rome. When writing down what to do in Rome, you can’t miss a visit to at least one of the museums. That would be for you not to choose. The previous article 10 Tips for the Best Museums in Rome will help you with this.
Vatican Museums are one of the largest museums in the world with more than 20,000 exhibits. And that’s only a fraction, because most art and works are not visible. The Vatican Museums are 6. the most visited art museum in the world. It will amaze you with Roman sculptures and masterpieces of Renaissance art.
The Borghese Gallery will provide you with its floor mosaics depicting gladiators, ancient sculptures, Egyptian art, Renaissance paintings by Raphael and Titian, or some of Bernini’s most famous sculptures.
Capitoline Museums are art galleries on one of the seven hills of Rome – the Capitol. The museums are spread around Piazza del Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo. In the museums, you will enjoy a collection of sculptures, paintings and other objects that are closely linked to the history of Rome.
The National Roman Museum has a collection divided into four collections. All you need is one ticket and you will enjoy an extensive collection of art from sculpture to Roman inscriptions and written texts.
Advance booking to all museums is mandatory or recommended:
- Borghese Gallery – One of the best art collections in the world attracts a lot of visitors, but the gallery strives to maintain a limited number of visits daily. So you need to book your ticket at least a few weeks in advance .
- Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel – in the current situation, due to queues of several hours, it is better to book in advance for a specific date and time.
- Capitol Museums – no booking required
- National Roman Museum – no booking required
Enjoy the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel
Probably the most famous ceiling in the world. The ceiling, which is decorated with Michelangelo’s frescoes from 1508-1512. You can enter the Sistine Chapel as part of one ticket with the Vatican Museums , and even though the collection in the Vatican Museums is beautiful, the Sistine Chapel is a golden nail in our opinion.
Please note: Tickets for the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel can sell out days or weeks in advance. Skip the line and order tickets to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel online.
TIP: Want to save on entrance fees and transport around Rome or use one card for everything? See Roma Pass and Roma and Vatican Passwhich give you free entry to a number of sights, including public transport and sightseeing bus rides.
Take the sightseeing bus
The sightseeing bus will take you to all the main points in the historic center of Rome. It stops near major sights such as St Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon and the Colosseum.
Tickets cost from 17 €.
Learn how to make real Italian pizza
I’ve had pizza in Italy several times and often it sucked. For the first time we were lured to one of the restaurants from where they called us on the main street (not in Rome) and it was a disappointment. We enjoyed it as much as the pizza from the freezer. But even with us, they do not serve you an excellent sirloin steak everywhere. And it is no different in Rome.
Learn how to make the right Italian pizza. Bake it with a glass of wine and then eat it. Or have it in a cozy secluded restaurant where locals go.
Admire the incredible architecture of the Pantheon
We were literally in awe when we saw what they had already built. Incredibly. The Pantheon is a church and mausoleum that in its early days was used for the worship of planetary gods.
It is known for its dome, which is the largest dome of unreinforced concrete in the world. You just stand there and don’t understand how they did it. But they came up with a great idea – as the layers of concrete blocks rose higher and higher, they used lighter and lighter material. So the bricks at the very top are made of extra light pumice.
In the upper part of the dome there is an opening with a diameter of 9 meters, through which, in addition to the door, the only daylight enters the church.
Visit the Vatican Museums with a guide
A collection of 20,000 (and that is only a tenth of the total collection – most are not open to the public). It is not possible to pay attention to everything you see.
And this is a great guided tour with guides (if you understand English) who know about the best works and tell you interesting and entertaining information.
Read our detailed guide to the Vatican.
Head to the sea
The sea is a stone’s throw from Rome. In addition, you can choose from several options. Keep in mind that most of the beaches around Rome are private. These beaches are called “stabilimenti”.
You pay 10 – 30 € per day. What will you get for it? Clean beach, deck chair, parasol, dressing room, outdoor shower, good access to water and toilets.
Nearest beaches around Rome:
- Santa Marinella – The town can be reached by train from Rome’s main stations (Termini, Ostiense, Trastevere, San Pietro). You can choose from 2 to 3 connections per hour. The beach is a 5-minute walk from the station.
- Santa Severa – You will board the same train as you would have taken to Santa Marinella. You get off at Santa Severa station (1 stop in front of Santa Marinella). The beach is a 20-minute walk away.
- Ostia Lido – the nearest beach, but on the other hand crowded and not as clean as the others. Take metro B to Piramide station. At the station, after the performance, you follow the sign that will take you to the train to Roma – Lido – up and left on the escalator. You perform at Lido Centro.
- Anzio – crapet on, but it will compensate you with its quality and purity. Anzio Colonia is a train ride from Termini Station. Several nice beaches are just a few steps away. Do you want more privacy on the beach? Get off at the next Nettuno station.
- Ladispoli – long beach with easy access. You can take a train from most stations in Rome to Cerveteri-Ladispoli. You are at the beach in 10 minutes.
Up into the underground
Are you done for fear? Take a tour of the Roman catacombs. And frankly, I wouldn’t want to get lost here myself.
The catacombs are underground passages that have been used for centuries as burial grounds for Jewish, pagan and early Christian Roman citizens from the second to the fifth century. Hundreds of thousands of people were buried here, including dozens of martyrs and 16 popes.
The largest and most popular are the Catacombs of San Callisto . Also worth seeing are the catacombs of San Sebastian, which contain several underground mausoleums and lots of ancient graffiti dedicated to St. Peter and Paul.
Not far away is the Basilica of San Sebastiano, which contains one of the arrows used to kill Saint Sebastian.
Taste Roman cuisine
Roman cuisine is excellent, but choose carefully so as not to be disappointed. I recommend avoiding restaurants where they call you from the door and are located near major tourist points. The prices tend to be high and the quality of the food certainly doesn’t match it. Sometimes you just have to go in another direction or a few steps further.
A typical fast food in Rome is pizza al taglio. The best that locals go to is behind the Vatican Museums near Cipro – Bonci Pizzarium Station . But you will also like it anywhere else.
Another popular snack is supplì – fried croquette stuffed with rice and mozzarella. They do great in Supplì Roma . If you are looking for something more in the center, try the PanDivino street snack. It is 600 meters from the Pantheon on the Vatican.
Great food can be found in the already dilapidated district of Trastevere, where you rarely step out with a selection of restaurants next door. Another tip is the Celio, Testaccio and Garbatella districts south of Rome.
Tips for restaurants south of the Colosseum:
- Li Rioni and Santiquattro , where you can enjoy great pizza and other Italian dishes. They are open daily from 19:00 except Tuesdays.
- At Hostaria I Clementini you can enjoy authentic Roman cuisine. They are open for lunch and dinner.
- Pizzería di Sforza Piero , where you can take a slice of delicious pizza with you. They are open all day.
- Flavio Al Velavevodetto is located at the foot of Mount Testaccio and across the road from the crumbling ruins of the first AS ROMA stadium.
- Al Ristoro degli Angeli with a lively atmosphere and friendly staff. Various curios from the mid-20th century are exhibited here. Century – Antique pizza trasporter or Star Wars toy.
When you go for a peek at St Paul’s Basilica outside the walls, pop into Trattoria Zampagna for a meal. An affordable restaurant with large portions and ancient Roman food.
And finally, it wants a sweet dot in the form of a gelato. The Italians are rightly proud of that. You can have a great ice cream everywhere, but if you want something extra, here are two tips:
- Venchio gelateria on Via del Corso complemented by excellent chocolate
- Fatamorgana gelateria with innovative flavors
Visit the Papal Basilica
Did you know that there are 4 papal basilicas in Rome? The most famous is St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. An important place of pilgrimage and one of the holiest and largest churches in the Catholic Church, where the Pope presides over many liturgies throughout the year.
The impressive Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is near Termini Station. It is covered with mosaics from 5. century, depicting 36 scenes from the Old Testament.
The Lateran Basilica is the oldest church building in Rome. In 896, however, after a strong earthquake, almost nothing remained of it and it was not restored until 17-18. century. Archbishop is the home of the Roman diocese and technology thus gains the status of the most important Roman church.
St. Paul’s Basilica Behind the Walls is the second largest papal basilica in Rome. And others that will absolutely captivate you with their interior. On the walls you will find medallions of all officially recognized popes from St. Paul to the present.
Just above the tomb of the Apostle St. Paul’s Basilica was reportedly built. The basilica is a bit out of hand. You can get here by metro B (San Paola station).
You must dress appropriately for all church buildings (not just the Vatican) – keep your knees and shoulders covered and remove your headgear.
Where to stay in Rome?
My recommendation is to stay near Termini Station, where you arrive from Fiumincino or Ciampino Airport. There are several nice hotels, many good restaurants nearby, grocery stores (Coop), good metro connections to the whole of Rome and you can walk to the centre in a few minutes.
Tips for the best accommodation in Rome:
- Hotel Impero – cheap hotel with excellent breakfast and roof terrace; older facilities but clean and cosy; quiet at night
- Hotel Borromeo – cosy period rooms with private bathrooms and air conditioning (for 2-4 people); a few minutes from the metro and within walking distance of the historic centre; beautiful roof terrace with seating and sun loungers
- Hotel California – 2-4 bedded rooms with private bathroom and air conditioning; within walking distance of the main station and the historic centre
- Hotel Nord Nuova Roma is located on a busy street but has double glazed windows to avoid most noise; roof terrace for evening seating; comfortable beds and overall very pleasant rooms
- The Hive hotel – trendy hotel with modern and clean rooms; rooms and suites for up to 4 people available; spacious roof terrace with seating and restaurant
We’re moving more towards the center. If you want to soak up the unmistakable atmosphere of Rome, a stay in the very centre is ideal. My tip is the guesthouse L’antica Locanda Dell’Orso with 2-3 bed rooms near Piazza Navona. Great value for money considering the location in the historic centre.
How to save in Rome on transport and admission?
In Rome, it is very easy to save thanks to the Roma Pass tourist card. With it, you get free admission to the most famous sights and reduced admission to many other places.
The card also includes unlimited travel around Rome and the use of information points with public toilets and the possibility to get a phone (this is always useful in cities, what we will talk about).
Roma Pass is available in 3 variants:
- Roma Pass 48 hours – free entry to the first monument you visit (I recommend choosing the Colosseum first to save the most) and reduced admission to all other monuments you visit within 48 hours. Unlimited travel for 48 hours in Rome on top of that.
- Roma Pass 72 hours – free entry to the 2 sights you visit first (such as the Colosseum and Capitoline Museums) and reduced admission to all other sights you visit within 72 hours. Here, too, unlimited travel is valid for the duration of the card.
- Roma Pass in combination with the Omnia Card – you get the benefits of the Roma Pass for 72 hours, as well as free admission to the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and a 72-hour sightseeing bus ride that takes you around Rome’s biggest attractions (you can get off and back) at any time.
I’ve written about whether the card is worthwhile for you and a detailed guide in this article.
Where to book tickets in advance in Rome?
In some places it is mandatory or recommended to book a ticket in advance to avoid long queues. Is part of them:
- The Colosseum – the influx of visitors in the Colosseum in recent years has been so enormous that they have introduced the obligation to book a ticket in advance. The price also includes the adjacent Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill.
- Borghese Gallery – One of the best art collections in the world attracts a lot of visitors, but the gallery strives to maintain a limited number of visits daily. You must book your ticket in advance.
- Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel – in the current situation it is better to book in advance for a specific date and time due to long queues.
- Capitol Museums – no booking required
- Angel Castle – on holidays and weekends it is recommended to book in advance (booking fee € 1). I recommend booking at any time of the season from April to October – there are already queues in April
- National Roman Museum – no booking required
These were our tips on what to do in Rome. Do you have a question? Ask in the comments below. Have a safe journey!
More about Rome
THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN ROME: In our article on what to visit in Rome, you will find detailed descriptions of the most beautiful places, including information on admission fees and opening times. We also have special guides for the monuments of ancient Rome or the best museums in Rome.
We’ve created a detailed guide to the Vatican that tells you everything you need to know before your visit.
ACCOMMODATION IN ROME: We’ve created a detailed guide on where to stay in Rome (best neighbourhoods and accommodation on a budget, a map and how to get from your accommodation to the sights or the airport).
HOW TO ENJOY ROME: We also share some tips on how to save in Rome and more than 35 tips for travelling around Rome. In a separate article, you can find out about all the ways to get from Fiumicino Airport to the centre of Rome.