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25 Best Things To Do In Rome 

From art museums to parks, basilicas to markets. 

The Eternal City and capital of the eponymous empire certainly lives up to its reputation. Rich in ancient ruins and monuments, Rome is the story of its people throughout millenniums. From the Spanish Steps to the Colosseum, the Vatican to the Trevi Fountain, there is no shortage of grandeur, drama and artistry. Boutiques, cafes, bars and restaurants line the streets and plazas of the city where the pace is suited to la dolce vita

With so much to do, see, and eat, it's hard to know how best to plan out your itinerary for optimal sightseeing—whether it's your first time visiting or your fifth. This list of the best things to do in Rome is a great place to start. 

But remember—no list of things to do can compare to a custom-built itinerary from Journy. Leave it to the experts to build a daily travel plan from scratch just for you—complete not only with activities, but also restaurants, cafés, bars, transportation, and accommodation.

1Take in Rome's Hustle and Bustle at Piazza Navona


Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma, Italy
Piazza Navona is Rome’s elegant and very showy central square, where you’ll find ornate fountains, Baroque palazzi, and crowds of street artists, hawkers, and tourists. Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, an elaborate fountain featuring personifications of the rivers Nile, Ganges, Danube and Plate, is the piazza’s grand centerpiece.  

2Visit The Trevi Fountain


Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma, Italy
The scene of Anita Ekberg's unforgettable dip in La Dolce Vita, the Trevi Fountain, or the Fontana di Trevi, is a lavish Baroque ensemble of mythical figures and sea creatures. A restoration (sponsored by Fendi) finished in 2015, and the fountain now gleams brighter than it has for years. If you want to ensure you’ll return to Rome, the tradition is to toss a coin into the water—about €3000 makes it in the water every day. Two coins are for those seeking love, and three for the wedding bells.
Sounds like something you’d like to experience? Trust the experts at Journy to build an itinerary from scratch just for you with all the must-see sights and hidden gems.

3People Watch on The Spanish Steps


Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma, Italy
The Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti, or the Spanish Steps of Rome, are your go-to spot to perch and people-watch while in the city. Once a favorite haunt of artists, painters, and poets, the steps are a majestic meeting place between the Piazza Spagna and the Trinità dei Monti church. 

And for the romantics, the steps are home to the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, where poet John Keats spent his final months—it’s now a museum dedicated to Romantic poetry.

4Shop and Explore Via del Boschetto / Monti


Via del Boschetto, 00184 Roma, Italy
Set in the center of Rione Monti, Via del Boschetto is one of the best shopping streets in Rome, replete with custom tailors, swanky boutiques, and plenty of vintage shops for browsing. Highlights include the Miki Way concept store that focuses on emerging Italian designers, Perlei jewelry boutique, and Colpo di Tacco, a leather-focused shoe store. 

The prices at the Via del Boschetto's boutiques are on par with many of Italy’s chain stores.

5Visit The Pantheon


Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma, Italy
The 2,000-year-old Pantheon is the best preserved of Rome's ancient monuments and one of the most influential structures in the Western world. Formerly a temple, it is now a Catholic church housing the remains of two kings (Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I) along with the artist Raphael. But its primary draw for visitors is architectural. The 8.7-meter opening in the center of the dome was meant to directly connect the temple to the gods of ancient Rome. 

Once you're done marveling at the ceiling, look down at your feet: the geometric-patterned marble floor is still the ancient Roman original. 

6Explore Villa Borghese


Piazzale Flaminio 00196 Rome
Covering over 200 acres of forests, gardens, and banks, the luxurious Villa Borghese has earned its place as Rome’s most celebrated park. 

Originally the estate of Cardinal Scipione Borghese during the 17th-century (built by architects Flaminio Ponzio and Giovanni Vasanzio), it’s now home to several museums, landscaped gardens, and film events. If 200 acres sounds like too much to walk, rent a bike at one of several kiosks.

While you're here, consider taking a guided tour of Galleria Borghese to see a large collection of paintings, sculptures, and antiquities (including Caravaggio!).

7Walk Through History in The Roman Forum


Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6, Roma, Italy
The Roman Forum—located between Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum—is one of the most interesting archaeological sites in the world. Although it was meant to become the social and political center of the Roman Empire, it became submerged in marshland, was then uncovered, and finally assumed its role as a bonafide social hub by the end of the seventh century. Today, there’s plenty to see at the Forum complex, including the forum’s oldest Christian church, the last Republican basilica, and more. 

8Visit Fontana dell'Acqua Paola


Via Garibaldi, 00153 Roma, Italy
It's worth the walk (or cab) to the top of Gianicolo Hill for the best picture-perfect view of Rome. The decadent white marble of Fontana dell'Acqua Paola (or Il Fontanone — "The big fountain") served as the inspiration for Trevi Fountain, and the opening scene of the Oscar-winning Paolo Sorrentino film, La Grande Bellezza was filmed here. Four of the fountain’s six pink stone columns are from the facade of the old St Peter’s Basilica.

9Visit Basílica de Santa María en Trastevere


Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, 00153 Roma, Italy
The Basilica di Santa Maria is tucked away in a quiet corner off Trastevere's main square of the same name (Piazza de Santa Maria). It was constructed in the 3rd century, and is said to be the oldest church in the city dedicated to the Virgin Mary (although the signature Romanesque bell tower and portico were added later). Inside, you'll find 12th-century mosaics, including tiles that showcase the lives of Christ and Mary. 

Legend has it that the church stands on the spot where a fountain of oil miraculously sprang from the ground on the day of Jesus’s birth.

10Grab a Bite in Mercato Centrale Roma


Roma Termini, Via Giovanni Giolitti, 36, 00185 Roma, Italy
Mercato Centrale is a large, vaulted food hall located in Rome's Termini Train station. The 2000 square meter space houses 18 artisan food stands, all of which aim to transport guests back to the basics by talking about the essence of food, simple flavors, and traditions. 

Vendors include Gabriele Bonci, a local baker of Pizzarium fame who is known as the "Michelangelo of Pizza" due to his innovative experiments with different kinds of long-fermented flours and grains. Luciano Savini offers fragrant truffles, and Marcella Bianchi offers vegetarian and vegan options. Erico Lagorio's Chiania hamburgers from Tuscany are not to be missed. But then again, neither are the Sicilian specialities from Carmelo Pannocchietti. 

11Tour The Borghese Gallery and Museum


Piazzale del Museo Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma, Italy
Housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana, the Borghese Gallery and Museum is the place to be if you want to become well-versed in the Italian fine arts aesthetic. The 20-room collection specializes in antiquities and Renaissance/Baroque art. The gallery also houses intricate Roman floor mosaics, extraordinary fresco paintings, and a large picture gallery. 

In order to access the incredible Bernini sculptures, reservations must be made in advance through the gallery’s official website.

12Visit Castel Sant'Angelo


Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma, Italy
Castel Sant'Angelo houses the eponymous Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo, which has an extensive collection of paintings, sculpture, military memorabilia, and medieval firearms. But it wasn't always a museum. Originally constructed as a mausoleum for the emperor Hadrien, Castel Sant'Angelo was converted, in the 6th century, into a papal fortress with an underground secret passageway directly to the Vatican. 

When visiting, be sure to step out onto the terrace, which offers unbeatable views of Rome. 

13Stroll Through Piazza del Popolo


Piazza del Popolo, Roma, Italy
Piazza del Popolo is a bustling square inside the northern gate of Rome. It was designed in the neoclassical style between 1811 and 1822 by the architect Giuseppe Valadier, and existed for centuries as the main entrance to the city as well as the square for public executions, the last of which occurred in 1826.

For the best birds-eye view of the piazza, climb the stairs on the east side of the square up to Pincio Park. 

Don't miss the twin churches: Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria di Montesanto—and once you leave stop by the Hotel de Russie on the southern side of the piazza for an Aperol spritz in their beautiful courtyard. 

14Tour The Sistine Chapel


00120, Vatican City
The Vatican houses one of the world's greatest collections of art. From Egyptian mummies to Renaissance greats to a contemporary rotating gallery, it's possible to spend hours lost in its galleries. 

At the end of this long walk is the Sistine Chapel, which is known for Michelangelo's ceiling frescoes and his Giudizio Universale (Last Judgment)—two of the most famous works of art in the world. It's the part of the Vatican Museum that everyone wants to see (on a busy day, you'll find yourself sharing it with up to 2000 people). 

If you want to skip the lines, book ahead on the Vatican’s website. 

15Explore Villa Medici


Viale della Trinità dei Monti, 1, 00187 Roma, Italy
Villa Medici is a stunning Renaissance palace with a storied history. Originally built for Cardinal Ricci da Montepulciano, it was eventually purchased by Ferdinando dei Medici, acquired by Napoleon for the French Academy, and served as a prison facility for Galileo. Explore the wonderful landscaped Borghese gardens, enjoy the ancient Roman sculpture within the villa walls, and take in the sweeping views over Rome.

16Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Mercato Testaccio


Via Lorenzo Ghiberti, 00153 Roma, Italy
Don't let the sleek modern design of the building deceive you: most of the vendors in the Testaccio Market have been in the business for generations. Relatively free of tourists, this is a market where the vendors are happy to offer you tastes (or "assaggi") of their goods if you ask. Visit stall no. 84 for Pugliesi specialties and Dess'art for cannolis filled to order.

17Visit Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi


Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma, Italy
Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers, or Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, is a fountain located in the Piazza Navona. Originally designed in 1651, the fountain was built for Pope Innocent X so he could view it from his family palace across the way. With personifications of the rivers Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Platea it's a beautiful and strikingly ornate structure to take in. 

18Walk Across St. Angelo Bridge


Ponte Sant'Angelo, 00186 Roma, Italy
Ponte Sant'Angelo, or the bridge of angels, is regarded as the most beautiful bridge in Rome. It was constructed in 136 AD under the orders of Roman Emperor Hadrian, who wanted it to extend across the Tiber River to connect his mausoleum (now the Castel Sant'Angelo) with the city of Rome. Today, the bridge features three central arches from Ancient Roman times along with several statues that were subsequently added in 1668 by the sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It's made of travertine marble. 

19Enjoy The Views From Atop Aventine Hill


Aventine Hill, 00153 Rome, Italy
Aventine hill is equally as well known for its stunning views over the city of Rome as for its history—legend has it Romulus wanted to found the city on the Palatine Hill while his brother, Remus, preferred Aventine. The disagreement led to a fight in which Romulus killed his twin. 

At the top of the hill lies Santa Sabina basilica, which was restored in 1936 to its original appearance—including a 5th-century wooden door that contains panels with carvings depicting biblical scenes. 

Also worth visiting is the Garden of Oranges (Giardino degli Aranci), where Dominican friars first planted orange trees in the 13th century after bringing seeds to Rome to from Spain. From here, you can catch stunning views of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. 

There's also the Rose Garden facing the Circus Maximus, which was dedicated to the goddess of flowers. In Ancient times, an annual Floralia festival was held here to celebrate spring. Today, it's home to more than one thousand rose varieties from around the world. 

20Visit The Great Synagogue of Rome


Lungotevere de' Cenci, 00186 Roma, Italy
The Great Synagogue of Rome is the highlight of the city's Jewish Ghetto, which was established in 1555 and is one of the oldest Jewish settlements in Europe. Located south of Campo de’ Fiori, the Ghetto was originally walled and crowded until the walls were torn down in the 19th century. Now a beautiful area with incredible restaurants and sights, the Ghetto is steeped in rich history. 

The Great Synagogue of Rome became the first synagogue to be visited by a pope since the early history of the Roman Catholic Church when, on April 13, 1986, Pope John Paul II made an unexpected visit. Pope Francis visited as well, in 2016.

When visiting the synagogue, don't miss the commemorative plates honoring the local Jewish victims of Nazi Germany and of a Palestine Liberation Organization attack in 1982.

21Wander Down Via Margutta


Via Margutta, 00187 Roma, Italy
For a taste of old Rome, wander down the romantic Via Margutta, an elegant cobblestone street home to art galleries, small stores, and a beautiful fountain. Just a short walk from the Spanish Steps, this charming street has an authentic charm, especially during the spring, when the hanging flowers are in full bloom.

22Visit St. Peter's Basilica


Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City
St. Peter's Basilica, which straddles Vatican City and Rome, is home to three of Italy's most celebrated masterpieces: Michelangelo’s Pietà, his soaring dome, and Bernini’s 29m-high baldachin over the papal altar. As the burial site of Saint Peter, one of the 12 apostles, it is considered one of the holiest Catholic shrines. 

Don’t miss the grottoes below the basilica, where you’ll find tombs of former popes, as well as several huge columns from the original 4th-century basilica.

Expect to wait in line to enter, and note that there is a dress code—no shorts, miniskirts, or bare shoulders allowed. 

23Tour The Vatican 


00120, Vatican City
Vatican City is a city-state encircled by a two-mile border with Rome. As the official headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, it is governed by and home to the Pope. Travelers from around the world flock to Vatican City for its historic art and architecture on display in the Vatican Museums, St. Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel, and Castel Sant'Angelo. The most well-known works include Renaissance frescoes in the Raphael Rooms and Michelangelo's ceiling at the Sistine Chapel. 

24Visit The Colosseum


Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
The half-crumbled silhouette of this 2,000-year-old amphitheater has become the symbol of Rome and, accordingly, one of its most-photographed sites. A visit during the day is a must, but be sure to drop by in the evening as well: you won’t need to re-enter the grounds to appreciate the magnificent nighttime illuminations. Nearby is the Roman Forum, which, while just as popular, covers a greater surface area, if you need an escape when the crowds at the Colosseum begin to peak. Save yourself the frustration of an hour-long wait time by buying tickets online or at the Palatine Hill or Roman Forum, both of which are included in the price of admission.

25Explore Piazza Campo de' Fiori


Piazza Campo de' Fiori, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Campo de Fiori translates to “field of flowers,” which is exactly what this space used to be. Today, however, it’s a bustling square overflowing with markets selling fruits, vegetables, and flowers (every morning from Monday through Saturday). Keep an eye out for the towering statue of the Italian philosopher, Giordano Bruno, who was burnt at the stake in the plaza for heresy in the year 1600.

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