The Top Things to do in Rome

Yordan

Updated on Apr 21 • 8 minute read

Rome is one of the best cities in Italy and has been around for centuries and is known for its incredible architecture, delicious food, and rich history.

It can be hard to decide what to do in Rome right after you move to the city. That's why we've put together a list of the best things to do in Rome!

Take in the most popular sights in Rome

Once you’ve unpacked your bags, your top priority should be to get your bearings in Rome. And what better way to do that than putting your tourist hat on and exploring the city’s most popular sights!

Start with a visit to the Colosseum. This ancient Roman amphitheater is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, and for good reason. Built in the 1st century AD, the Colosseum was once used for gladiator battles and public executions. Today, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most recognizable landmarks in Europe.

Another must-see sight in Rome is the Vatican. This small country within the city is home to some of the most famous art and architecture in the world, including the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. A visit to the Vatican is a must for any first-time Rome resident.

The Vatican can get quite busy on weekends so it’s best to make your visit during the work week!

You’ll find Castel Sant'Angelo nearby the Vatican. This imposing fortress was originally built as a mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Hadrian and later served as a papal residence and castle. Today, it's one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions.

Next up is the Trevi Fountain. It's a monumental fountain that was built in the 18th century and it's a beautiful piece of architecture. The fountain is located in the Trevi district, which is where the name comes from. Legend has it that if you throw a coin into the fountain, you'll have good luck.

Another popular sightseeing destination is the Pantheon. The Pantheon was originally built as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome. But today, it's one of the best-preserved ancient Roman buildings in the world and a popular tourist destination.

For something a bit more low-key, head to the Spanish Steps. This iconic staircase is one of the most popular gathering spots in Rome and is surrounded by cafes and restaurants. Climb to the top of the steps for a great view of the city.

Take a stroll through the ruins

Rome offers some of the most exciting routes for walking and running. It’s also the best way to explore all the hidden passages, secret alleys, and off-the-beaten-path gems.

For one of those one-of-a-kind strolls, take a walk along the Appian Way and to Appia Antica Regional Park. Spread across 3,500 hectares, this area is known for its rich green landscapes, ancient treasures, and archaeological remains. So whether you’re after a soothing walk away from the hustle and bustle of the Italian capital or craving some adventure, you’re guaranteed to find what you’re looking for.

And don't forget that in Rome you don't have to waste your money on bottled water. You can find drinking fountains scattered all around the city. There are over 2,500 so-called nasoni (big noses) in Italy's capital. You can find the ones nearby easily with the WeTap app.

Pay a visit to the museums in Rome

There are so many things to see and do in Rome and one of the best ways to spend your time is by visiting some of the city's fantastic museums.

The Vatican museums

The Vatican Museums are a must-see for any visitor to Rome. With over 9 miles of galleries and more than 70,000 works of art, there's something for everyone at the Vatican Museums. Highlights include the Sistine Chapel, Raphael's Rooms, and the Egyptian Museum.

The Vatican museums are open every day except Sundays and the entry fee is €17.

The Capitoline Museums

The Capitoline Museums are another great option for museum lovers in Rome. Located on Capitoline Hill, the museums offer stunning views of the city as well as a wealth of art and artifacts to see. Highlights include the Palazzo dei Conservatori, its collection of Roman sculptures, and the Palazzo Nuovo, home to several renaissance masterpieces.

The Capitaline museums are open every day from 09:30 until 19:30 and the admission fee is €13 for adults and €11 for students, elders and children.

The National Museum of Rome

The National Museum of Rome is another must-see for anyone interested in the history and culture of Rome. With three different locations, the museum offers a wide range of exhibits on Roman history, art, and archaeology. Highlights include the Borghese Gallery, with its collection of Renaissance and Baroque art, and the Baths of Diocletian, one of the largest and best-preserved ancient Roman bath complexes.

The museum is open every day except Monday and the admission fee is €8.

MAXXI

MAXXI is a national museum of contemporary art and architecture. To house both disciplines, the building designed by Zaha Hadid is divided into two spaces. Between those two parts, you'll find outdoor areas hosting temporary exhibits of large artworks such as sculptures and other spatial installations.

You can also see the museum's own collection on display in one of its galleries. Rotating according to a theme, you catch works of artists such as Wolfgang Tillmans and Anselm Kiefer.

What's more, MAXXI's agenda includes an extensive program of research activities, workshops, conferences, and educational projects.

The museum is open every day except Mondays and the full price tickets are €12. Are you younger than 25? You're in luck because you can get in for only €9!

MACRO

MACRO is a contemporary art museum and a melting pot for cultural experimentation and creativity. The unique building designed by French architect Odile Decq hosts temporary exhibitions, workshops for children, film screenings, and conferences.

But the best of it all is that you can enjoy contemporary art and culture in MACRO free of charge. It's open every day but Mondays.

The National Gallery of Modern Art

The National Gallery of Modern Art is in the heart of Rome. It houses a large collection of works by Italian and international artists from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of the highlights of the collection include paintings by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Claude Monet. There are also sculptures by Auguste Rodin and Antonio Canova.

The gallery is open every day except Monday and admission is free.

Visit your local market

Like any big city, Rome holds a variety of supermarkets, including the cheaper chain stores like Lidl. But hey, don’t we want to do our groceries like locals?

For many Romans, grocery shopping has traditionally become more of a social activity rather than a chore. They wake up early in the morning and visit their local market to cop some garden-fresh fruit and vegetables and chat with the vendor of their favourite stall.

Many of the stalls in Testaccio Market have been run by the same family for generations. This place will captivate you with its overwhelming selection of seasonal produce, cheese, bread, meat, and fish as well as delicious street food stalls.

We recommend trying suppli (rice balls) at __FoodBox!

Discover the best neighborhoods in Rome

Each of Rome’s neighborhoods has something distinct to offer but there are some that districts take the crown. Here’s the list of our favorites:

The Borgho district

If you're looking for a more unique experience, head to the Borgo district, where you'll find charming streets and squares lined with traditional Roman architecture. Some of the most popular things to do in the Borgo district include visiting the Vatican Museums, St. Peter's Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel. Other popular attractions in the Borgo district include the Castel Sant'Angelo, Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon. This district is also home to many of Rome's best shops, restaurants, and cafes.

The Trastevere district

If you're looking for a neighborhood with a bit more history, check out Trastevere. This working-class neighborhood was once home to many of Rome's artists and intellectuals, and it still retains a bohemian atmosphere. This neighborhood is known for its cobblestone streets, quaint cafes and restaurants, and lively nightlife. Be sure to check out some of the district's most popular attractions, like the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere and the Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere.

The San Lorenzo district

If you're looking for shopping and nightlife, then the San Lorenzo district is the place for you. This hipster neighborhood is full of vintage stores, trendy cafes, lively bars and restaurants.

One of the best spots to visit in the evening here is Casa del Jazz. This club hosts performances by both local and international musicians. For a more laid-back atmosphere, try Bar Basso. This bar is known for its Negroni cocktails and its retro vibe.

Experience the traditional cuisine and wine of Rome

Food and wine are some of the main pillars of Italian culture. When it comes to traditional cuisine, Rome is a city that knows its way around food. From mouth-watering pasta dishes to delectable desserts, there's something for everyone to enjoy in Rome.

What dishes is Rome famous for?

Spaghetti alla carbonara, a dish made with egg, cheese, and bacon, is one of the pinnacles of Roman cuisine. Other popular dishes include:

  • Saltimbocca, a dish made up of veal with sage and prosciutto
  • Cacio e pepe, a dish made with cheese and pepper pasta
  • Pollo alla Romana, a dish made up of chicken with garlic cooked in white wine

Of course, no trip to Rome would be complete without trying some traditional gelato! There are countless gelaterias throughout the city, each with its unique flavors.

The best restaurants in Rome

It can be easy to get lost in the wide choice of restaurants that Rome has to offer. Don’t worry, we did the digging and came up with this list for you.

  • For a traditional Italian dinner, try Trattoria dei 13 Gobbi. This family-run restaurant serves up fresh pasta dishes and other classics in a cozy atmosphere.

  • For a traditional Roman meal, try Da Giggetto. This popular spot serves up classics like carbonara and amatriciana.

  • For something a little different, check out Sforno. This pizzeria has been around since 1882 and is known for its unique "oven-baked" pizza.

  • Da Ivo is another family-run restaurant that has been serving traditional Roman cuisine since 1950. This is the perfect place to enjoy a classic spaghetti all’amatriciana or carbonara.

  • La Pergola is one of the city’s most popular fine dining destinations. The restaurant boasts an impressive wine cellar, and its menu features creative takes on traditional Italian dishes.

What are the best local wines to try in Rome

There are so many great regional wines to choose from and each one has its special flavor. Here are just a few of the local wines that you should try during your stay in Rome:

  • Frascati is a dry white wine is produced in the hills around Rome and is one of the most popular wines in the city. It has a fresh, citrusy flavor and pairs well with seafood or light pasta dishes.

  • Est! Est!! Est!!! is a white wine produced in the region of Lazio, just outside of Rome. It's named after the story of a bishop who was so impressed with the wine that he proclaimed "est est est" (meaning "it is, it is, it is!"). Est! Est!! Est!!! has a crisp, clean flavor and goes well with fish or chicken dishes.

  • Orvieto Classico is another white wine produced in the town of Orvieto. It's a dry wine with a fruity flavor and pairs well with pasta dishes or grilled meats.

Make time for the best events in Rome

There's always something going on in Rome, and the city's calendar is packed with events and festivals throughout the year. From art and culture to food and wine, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Here are some of the best events and festivals in Rome that you can look forward to:

  • The Rome Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, and takes place every October.

  • The Rome Jazz Festival is one of the most important jazz festivals in Europe, and takes place every November.

  • The Roma Eurochocolate Festival is a chocolate lover's paradise, and takes place every October.

  • The Rome Coffee Festival is a must-visit for coffee lovers, and takes place every November.

  • The Rome Art Biennale is a major international art exhibition that takes place every two years in odd-numbered years.

  • The Roma Teatro Festival is one of the most important theatre festivals in Europe, and takes place every June.

  • Rome Gay pride is an annual event that celebrates the LGBT community in the city. It typically takes place in late June or early July and features a parade and other festivities throughout the city. This year's pride will be held from July 7-9.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore everything that Rome has to offer. With this guide in hand, you’ll be able to navigate the city like a pro and find all of its hidden gems. Enjoy!

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