24 Top Things to Do in Rome Italy


Rome, Italy is one of the most visited cities in the world. It also happens to be on many people’s wish list. And it is worth all that. The city combines a historical feel to a modern city like no other city is able to achieve. Not to speak of the food, Man!! the food!!! Italians know their food and how to make you fall in love with it. Most of the top things to do in Rome, Italy will involve a trip down history lane that will leave you wanting more.

Here are the top things to do in Rome, Italy:

1. Colosseum

The Colosseum is the most enduring monument in Rome. This amphitheatre was built in 80AD could hold up to 80000 spectators at the height of its glory. It has been used for many purposes throughout history. From gladiator wars, massacres, and as a fortress for royal families.

The Colosseum
Inside the Colosseum

From the top of the Colosseum, gaze on its surroundings. The arch of Constantine, the Temple of Venus and Rome, the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. can be seen from the top of the Colosseum.

2. Vatican Museums

Vatican City is the smallest country in the world. It is headed by the pope. There are usually long lines to get in so it is advisable to buy skip the line tickets in advance. Once inside, it is easy to get lost in it all. So I recommend getting an audio guide. I personally went with Rick Steve’s free audio tours and it made the experience so much better. Rick’s audio guide starts at the Pine Cone Courtyard, with a big bronze ball and a huge pine cone.

The Pine Cone Courtyard.

The audio guide allows you to learn the history of all the structures and paintings you will see. Soon you fall in love with the works of Michelangelo and Raphael. Move through the Octagonal Courtyard lined with statues. Notably the statues of Apollo Belvedere, Laocoön, and just into the next hallway, the Belvedere Torso.

Continue walking to the Round Room, the Scarcophagi, Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of tapestries, the Map Gallery, and finally the Raphael Rooms that features some of his best works; the Constantine Room, The Room of Heliodorus, the Room of Segnatura and the Room of the Fire in the Borgo. Here you get to see some of Raphael’s masterpieces such as the School of Athens

Raphael’s School of Athens

After you are done with the Vatican Museums, make your way to the Sistine Chapel for an experience of a lifetime.

3. Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is probably one of the most beautiful sights you will ever see. This is where the Popes are elected. When you get inside, find a comfortable place to sit/stand and gaze at the glorious ceiling. Once again, use an audio guide in order to get a fulfilled experience. Michelangelo spent four years painting the ceiling.

Sistine Chapel Ceiling featuring the 9 scenes from the Bible.
Michelangelo’s Last Judgement

At the end of the tour, you go through the famous Bramante Staircase.

The Modern Bramante Staircase

4. St Peter’s Basilica

It is the greatest church in Christian History. It was built in the memory of the first pope, Saint Peter.

St Peter’s Basilica

Inside the church is as magnificent as the outside, from the atrium to the nave to the dome, to Michelangelo’s church, there is a lot to marvel at despite your religious inclinations. An audio guide here will also serve you well.

Inside the Basilica

5. St Peter’s Square

St Peter’s Square is right outside the Basilica and its surrounded by a ring of columns. Bernini designed . There are 284 Doric Columns, topped by Bernini’s 140 favourite saints.

St Peter’s Square

There is a 90 feet obelisk in the centre. You can also pay to climb the dome for amazing views of Rome.

View of St Peter’s Square and Rome from the top of the Dome

6. Pantheon

The Pantheon is a testament of Roman’s mastery in building technology and architecture. The magnificent building still stands today was built in 120AD. Its ugly and ageing exterior provides no confidence in its beautiful exterior whose only source of light is a circular window at the top of the dome, the oculus.

The Pantheon

7. Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome and one of the most popular spots in Rome. Beware of the crowd as it is often very busy.

The Trevi Fountain

There is a coin throwing tradition. You throw the coin with the right hand over the left shoulder. Each coin represents a wish. The first coin you wish to return to Rome. The second coin you wish to fall in love. The third coin you wish to get married. So toss a coin and make a wish.

8. Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo is a towering cylindrical building commissioned by the Emperor, Hadrian as a mausoleum for him and his family. Yes, the same egomaniac who would rather starve people for beautiful architecture as seen in Athens Greece. Read about him here. It was later used as a Papal fortress, and today it is a museum.

Castel Sant’Angelo

From here walk along the Tiber River, Past the Piazza de Popolo, unto the Borghese Gallery. Visit this museum to see famous art by Bernini, Raphael, Titian, and Caravaggio.

9. Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps are spoiler alert, steps along a steep slope. They start at the Piazza di Spagna at the bottom. At the top of the steps is the Trinità dei Monti, where you can get good views of the city. Since 2019 people are not allowed to sit on the steps, attracting a fine of 400 euros if you get caught, and a good old Italian shouting from the guards who wear green reflectors.

Spanish Steps
The legendary Spanish steps (You are not allowed to sit on them anymore – 400 Euros fine)

10. Piazza di Spagna and Fontana della Barcaccia

This is one of the most popular squares in Rome. In the centre of it is the Fontana della Barcaccia, a baroque period fountain built by Pietro Bernini and his son, the more famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is also where the Spanish Steps start.

Fontana della Barcaccia, one of many Bernini creations in Rome

While at the piazza make sure you look around and spot some monuments and museums.

The Column of the Immaculate Conception which depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Column of the Immaculate Conception

The Keats-Shelley Memorial House, where the English poet John Keats lived until his death. You can also checkout Babington’s tea room, and another of Bernini’s design Palazzo di Propaganda Fide

11. Piazza Navona

The Piazza Navona filled with cafes and fountains is a good spot to relax your feet after walking.

Fountain at the centre of Piazza Navona

12. Roman Forum

The Roman Forum today is a ruin that comprises ancient government buildings and a marketplace.

13. Trajan’s Forum

This was the last forum believed to be the last forum built in ancient Rome. Emperor Trajan built it after his victory in the Dacian war. Trajan’s column was erected in the middle to commemorate Emperor Trajan’s victory.

Trajan’s Forum, north of the Roman Forum

14. Temple of Hadrian and Piazza di Pietra

Emperor Hadrian’s son dedicated the Temple of Hadrian to him. It lies on once side of the impressive Piazza di Pietra.

The temple of Hadrian

15. Palatine Hill

The Palatine Hill is the centre most of the seven hills of Rome. It contained houses and palaces of rich families.

16. Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo presents another beautiful square, with an Egyptian Obelisk right in its center. With each side lined with beautiful fountains.

The Egyptian Obelisk in the center of the Piazza.

On the north east corner of the piazza is the church of the Santa Maria del Popolo.

17. Santa Maria del Popolo

Walk to the church of Santa Maria del Popolo to enjoy the art works of various artists like Bernini, Caravaggio and the great Raphael.

18. Altare della Patria/ Altar of the Fatherland

Altare della Patria or Vittoriano or the Victor Emmanuel II National Monument. It was built in honour of the second king of unified Italy, Victor Emmanuel II.

Altar of the Fatherland with night lights

There are various features worth checking out here. The stairways, fountains, statues and Corinthian columns. One notable structure is the equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel II. Legend says there once was held a dinner with 24 guests inside the horse’s belly. Another structure Tomb of the Unknown Soldier built to honour soldiers who died in the first world war.

19. Piazza Venezia

The beautiful piazza provides a modern touch to a landscape with ancient Ruins. It is outside the altar of the fatherland.

20. Food! More Food!

It’s not a secret that Italians know and love their food. Make sure to enjoy various authentic Italian delicacies.

21. Take a night stroll

Take a night/evening stroll to marvel at the lightings and the fountains.

22. Join a free walking tour

Join a free walking tour to learn more about the major sites and also meet like-minded travellers.

23. Go to karaoke/dancing

Whether you want a glass of wine or to belt out your favourite song, Rome’s nightlife will keep you on your toes. I went to karaoke at the Scholars Irish Pub Rome, while it was crowded, it was pretty great, even joined a group of girls to dance away.

24. Do a food tour at Roma Termini

At the Roma Termini, there is a food market that provides all kinds of alternatives. They give free samples that leave you wanting more.

Final Thoughts

Rome is in no doubt a beautiful city with a very long history. If it is not on your list, you should be making a plan to add it. In fact, a few days are not enough to see everything. It will leave you wanting more.

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