Rome has definitely earned its nickname as the eternal city, with over 3,000 years of history and ancient ruins that you can still explore. Rome’s culture, charming alleys, and delicious food, make this city one of the most unforgettable places to visit in the world! There is so much to eat, see, and do in this magical city, we’ve narrowed down our top 25 things you MUST do in order to help you plan your first visit to Rome!
- Marvel at the architecture of the Pantheon – Built over 2,000 years ago, the Pantheon is one of the best preserved ancient Roman buildings and is the largest unreinforced concrete dome built to this day.
- Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain – The Trevi fountain is Rome’s largest and probably most well-known fountain in Italy. Legend says that throwing one coin into the fountain will ensure a return trip to the eternal city, two coins will help you find love, and three coins will help put a wedding ring on your finger. The coins tossed into the fountain are donated to a charity that serves families throughout Rome. Get up early (before the crowds) for the best photo opportunities.
- Make a visit to Vatican City – Vatican City is the smallest country in the world with a population of 1,000 residents (1/8 the size of Central Park). The Vatican issues their own passports, license plates, stamps and even mints their own euros. The Vatican museums stretch over 9 miles long and hold one of the largest collections of art in the world. If you spent 1 minute admiring every painting in this city, it would take you 4 years to view it all! The Vatican houses Rodin’s “Thinker” and the Sistine Chapel.
- Speed through Rome on a Vespa – Join a vespa tour throughout the city to see an entire days worth of sites. You’ll experience Rome like an Italian in just a few hours!
- People watch at the Spanish Steps – A perfect meeting place or spot to rest your feet and people watch.
- “Roam” through Piazza Navona – Arguably the most beautiful square in Rome due to its elegant fountains, grand sculptures, and colorful paintings by street artists. Although touristy, it’s worth enjoying a dinner or glass of wine in this square to take in all of its glory.
- Go back in time to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Paletine Hill – Explore the ancient roman lifestyle in the Roman Forum, climb Palatine hill for views of Circus Maximus, and tour the Colosseum, Rome’s largest amphitheater.
- Take refuge at Villa Borghese – The largest public park in Rome and the perfect place to escape the bustling city for a few hours. Whether you want to view the art or sit outside among the natural beauty, it’s the perfect break from a long day of sightseeing.
- Marvel at Michaelangelo’s Masterpiece – Michaelangelo was already a famous sculptor and artist when commissioned by the Pope to paint frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
- Drink from the ancient aqueducts throughout the city – One of the many accomplishments of the ancient Roman empire was their extensive aqueduct system. Today you can still drink fresh water directly from the fountains throughout the city.
- Sip a cappuccino at a cafe – Enjoy the Italian way of life at a cafe in Rome. I’m told you should never order a cappuccino after 11am, so if it’s later in the day why not try a shot of espresso instead?!
- Taste-test the best gelato in Rome – There is never too much gelato when it comes to Italy. Make it a point to find the best gelateria in the city!
- Order Cacio e pepe at a restaurant – An old peasant dish made of spaghetti, pecorino cheese, and black pepper. This simple pasta dish is our favorite thing to eat in Rome.
- Ride the Appian Way on an Electric Bike Tour – See the Roman Aqueducts, Appian Way, and the Catacombs by bike (the electric assist makes it easy to cover a lot of ground). Many visitors are fascinated by the underground Catacombs and crypts burial grounds that date back to the second century.
- Explore a lesser known neighborhood – Get lost wandering through the charming Trastevere neighborhood or rent a vespa to explore the Monti neighborhood.
- Indulge your inner foodie – If you want to experience Rome through your stomach the Gourmetaly gelato making class or the Taste of Testaccio Food Tour are great options!
- Experience one of the most unique views of Rome – Although not the easiest to find, the Aventine Keyhole is worth the hunt. To find the lookout walk down the hill from the Garden of Oranges and look for a large green door with a tiny keyhole.
- Sip away the Aperitivo Hour – Similar to the American happy hour, enjoy a cocktail and snack prior to dinner. Try a new spot each night (preferably on a rooftop). Our favorite summer cocktail is an aperol spritz!
- Stroll along Via Condotti – This famous street houses Rome’s designer shopping area (Prada, Armani, Gucci, and more). Enjoy window shopping or if you’re lucky, buy yourself an expensive souvenir.
- View Rome at the top of St. Peter’s – Climb the steps of St. Peter’s Dome for an amazing panorama of Rome (best at sunset or early morning).
- Discover the Roman Ghetto – Head over the Tiber River to explore the Roman Ghetto. Don’t be confused by its name “Ghetto” as this is one of the loveliest areas to walk in Rome. Stop at Nonna Betta to try the fried Jewish artichoke and have an aperitivo before you head to dinner in nearby Trastevere.
- Take time for an Espresso Break – Head up to the rooftop of Hotel Raphael for a espresso break and to enjoy the views of Rome.
Looking or more on Rome? Check out the Perfect Itinerary for First-Timers !
What would you add to the list? Leave your tips in the comments below for fellow travelers!