Top 15 Tourist Spots and Best Things to do in Rome, Italy
Table of Contents
Rome is a sprawling city with endless options for tourists. The vast number of choices can be overwhelming. In this article, we’ll break the options up into three sections: where to eat, what to tour, and what to see.
Address: Via del Gesù 87
This charming Osteria serves a hardy, authentic Italian lunch. In fact, it is not open for breakfast or dinner. Therefore, the only time to try this traditional Osteria food and atmosphere is in the middle of a long day of touring.
The menu is full of great options, but a great way to choose is to try the meal of the day. With a different home-style Italian meal featured every day, you might find yourself going back to try another!
Address: Via della Croce 39
This restaurant is loved by locals, having maintained true Italian standards through the years. Open for lunch, dinner, and late night, this is a great spot just a short walk from the Spanish steps to enjoy the food you came to Italy for.
Since it is such a popular spot among the locals, it is often better to make a reservation beforehand.
Address: Via degli Spagnoli 27
This restaurant balances modern elegance with a cozy and intimate feel. It is right in the heart of Rome, making it an easy stop for delicious food near many hotel accommodations. There is also an excellent wine selection that is well paired with their menu of high-quality food. The restaurant is rather small, so it is best to make reservations.
Address: Via dell’Arancio 50-52
This is another great spot not far from the Spanish Steps. Though it is often busy, it is worth a stop in for some delicious Roman food. If you’re choosing your first course, the chefs recommend either Ravioli all’arancia (ravioli with orange sauce) or le Pappardelle con totani e Carciofi (pappardelle with squid and artichokes).
Address: Via Della Rotonda 22
And, of course, we would be remiss to exclude gelato from an Italian food list. Cremeria Monteforte offers homemade, quality gelato and a warm atmosphere. Conveniently located near the Pantheon, it is the perfect place to stop for a cold treat while exploring Rome’s ancient history.
Their Strawberry Gelato is particularly favored – especially if you’re touring on a hot summer day! They offer unique flavors like chocolate orange and even have gluten-free options for those who need them.
Tour the City
The Colosseum might be the most iconic symbol of Rome. It is the world’s largest amphitheater and a tie between the current city of Rome and the ancient Roman empire.
Although it is a profound example of ancient Roman brutality, it is also a fantastic display of their engineering ability. Much of the splendor and gore of colossal entertainment was created by using trapped doors. This made gladiators and animals appear seemingly out of nowhere. It is difficult for us to imagine special effects without modern technology. But the ancient Romans when to great lengths to entertain the masses.
The Colosseum is a huge piece of world history. It is an iconic souvenir of an empire that once ruled much of the ancient world. With almost 2,000 years of history, it is easy for stories to change. A lot of misinformation circulates about what actually happened in the Colosseum, so it is worth it to take a tour and hear it from an expert.
Though Vatican City is technically separate from Rome, it should not be left out of the ultimate Rome vacation. The Vatican Museums are made up of rooms, artifacts, and artwork collected by popes throughout the centuries. The most famous attraction, of course, is the Sistine Chapel. The frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were painted by the renowned Michelangelo, drawing visitors from all over the world to see his masterpiece.
While in Vatican City, take a trip to St. Peter’s Basilica. This Basilica is a pilgrimage site for many Catholics and a beautiful display of Renaissance architecture. Not only is the Basilica itself a work of art, but many paintings, mosaics, and artifacts are also displayed inside. This particular church is rich in both spiritual and artistic significance.
The Villa Borghese is home to the Borghese Gallery and the Borghese Gardens. Not to mention, it is a beautiful park to enjoy and explore in its own right.
The Borghese Gallery is a collection of paintings, sculptures, and antiques begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The ground floor features brilliant and moving sculptures from the 1st to the 3rd century AD. Upstairs, you’ll find stunning paintings from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. (Don’t forget that tickets to the Borghese Gallery cannot be purchased at the door, they must be reserved ahead of time.)
While in the villa, enjoy the beautiful landscaping of the gardens, the view of the lake, and a few of the other buildings and attractions in the villa. It is easy to lose track of time in this romantic park, so take some to walk around and enjoy it.
Roman National Museum
There are four separate locations throughout Rome that make up the Roman National Museum. Palazzo Massimo, Crypta Balbi, Palazzo Altemps, and the Bath of Diocleziano offer different ways of exploring Roman culture and history.
But all in all, they display the prehistory and early history of Rome, with a large focus on archeological findings. In keeping with true Italian fashion, there are also many beautiful paintings and sculptures to be found in the museums.
The catacombs are a little off the beaten path since they are outside the old city walls. However, visits to the catacombs are historically immersive, and a spiritual experience for many Christians. It was in these underground graves and tunnels that the persecuted Christians of ancient Rome would not only bury their dead, but also hold secret religious services.
There are several different catacombs to see. The tickets are usually around 7 euros and include a guided tour. It is possible to find bus routes through online maps or to take a taxi.
Places To See
Of all of the fountains in Rome, the Trevi fountain is by far the most famous. It is the oldest fountain in Rome and its artistic display of sculptures makes it easily the most beautiful. There is a romantic and nostalgic feel to the fountain.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming crowds can sometimes take away from the magic. However, if you can look past all of the people, or go early enough to beat them there, it is a truly beautiful piece of art.
Not to mention, the magic of the fountain grants wishes to more than the visitors. Tossing a coin over your shoulder and making a wish is an age-old tradition. But now it also brings better fortune to those in need. All of the money tossed into the Trevi Fountain gets donated to charity.
You can easily find this beautiful staircase covered in tourists and locals alike. While climbing the steps is a great way to experience a famous spot in Rome, the steps are also a great spot to sit and rest. Either option is popular among both tourists and locals.
Though the steps are a popular place to sit and talk with friends, it is not the place to stop and enjoy a panino. This is because eating on the steps is not allowed, in order to keep the steps clean.
If shopping is your thing, there are some great options at the Spanish Steps. Those these options can come at a higher price, there are some great things to find and bring back from your Italy vacation.
The history of this ancient site makes the Colosseum look modern. Historians estimate that the use of the Roman Forum for public events began in 500 B.C., but that it was built long before that.
Time was not kind to Roman Forum, and it had become almost completely destroyed over the centuries. However, many excavation attempts have uncovered the ruins that are there for us to see today.
The Roman Forum was not only a central point for ancient Rome but is also an incredible source of information on the ancient culture. Visiting these ruins provides a unique insight into the thousands of years behind Italy’s capital city.
The Pantheon is a mystery of ancient preservation. While all other monuments of ancient Rome have suffered extensive damage over the years from raids, natural disaster, and gravity, the Pantheon remains pretty much completely intact.
This building was erected as a dedication to all of the ancient gods, a little over one hundred years A.D.
Piazza Navona is a vast and impressive piazza in Rome. It has three beautiful fountains to see, and a couple smaller piazzas within it. If you are looking for a place to walk around and grab a coffee (meaning a caffè, espresso of course,) Piazza Navona is a beautiful option.
There are often street artists and performers, which gives the piazza a very lively feel around all of the ancient art. There is also the beautiful Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone.