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Things to do in Rome

See amazing feats of civilization, ancient and modern alike, in this 2,500-year-old metropolis.

Our most recommended things to do in Rome

Rome: Turning the Lights on at the Vatican Museums

1. Rome: Turning the Lights on at the Vatican Museums

Almost every morning for the past decade, Gianni has led the team with the massive task of opening up the 24 interconnected galleries, museums, and chapels that make up the Vatican Museums. With a small group, join him on his morning routine to open the doors to some of the world’s most renowned artworks. Hear the sounds of the ancient locks turning as you hold the keys, and see the historic rooms go from dark to light as you flick the switch. Discover the Vatican Museums and their treasures in a way no other visitor can. As you explore, listen to Gianni’s experiences and anecdotes of his time as head clavigero, as well as the stories behind some of the 20,000 pieces on display. In the calmness of dawn, you'll have the chance to see the most impressive spaces, as well as those not open to the public. After your tour, head to the Cortile della Pigna to tuck into a delicious breakfast consisting of a croissant or pain au chocolat, pancakes with peanut butter or marmalade, an orange or apple juice, and a tea or coffee.

Vatican: Museums & Sistine Chapel Entrance Ticket

2. Vatican: Museums & Sistine Chapel Entrance Ticket

Take a stirring journey through art and religious history with skip-the-ticket-line entry to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Avoid the long ticket lines and then enjoy your visit at your own pace.  Wander through the Greek Cross Gallery to see elaborately-carved sarcophagi that might just contain the earthly remains of some of antiquity's famous kings and queens. Peek at the Cabinet of the Masks, or tour the Sala degli Animali to see a virtual menagerie of fantastic beasts, real and imagined. Walk the Upper Galleries, including the Gallery of Maps, to see how cartographers depicted the world through the ages. See masterpieces by Renaissance masters in the Raphael Rooms, and rest for a while in the Borgia Apartments. Then, it’s time to marvel at Michelangelo’s exquisite Sistine Chapel, the crown jewel of the Vatican, and perhaps even of all the world’s art treasures.

Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill Priority Access Guide

3. Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill Priority Access Guide

Start your tour right outside the monumental Colosseum where you will meet your guide. Here, your expert in Roman history will give you an introduction to the finest arena of the Roman Empire. Explore the magnificent Colosseum, which had 80 entrances and could accommodate around 65,000 spectators. Hear about the spectacular festivals the Romans held here, which could last up to 100 days. Enjoy time at your leisure after your visit to take some pictures, refresh yourself, and wander around. Then, being the second part of your tour to the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. Explore the social, political, and religious center of the Roman Empire, where the different strata of Roman society would rub shoulders. Take in the incredible ruins at Palatine Hill on a guided tour of the grounds, and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the Colosseum. For the second part of your tour, you will have the opportunity to meet your second guide, who is passionate about Ancient Rome. Make the most out of your experience by having two of the highest-rated guides lead you through the areas of expertise they know best.

Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill Entry Tickets

4. Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill Entry Tickets

Marvel at the remains of some of the greatest monuments of the Roman Republic with an entry ticket to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. Skip the long ticket line at the Colosseum and go straight to the fast track entrance for security checks. After entering the Colosseum at your allotted time, relive the stories of emperors and gladiators. Begun under the emperor Vespasian in 72 AD, and completed by his son Titus in 80 AD, the Colosseum was the largest amphitheater ever built. Imagine the ferocious fights between man and beast, as you stand in the elliptical arena, comprised of 4 levels, and once able to seat up to 73,000 spectators. Your ticket also includes one entry to the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum, must-see sights for all those visiting the “Eternal City.” According to ancient tradition, this is the spot where Rome was born. Look down at the ruins of temples in the Imperial Forum, the center of all political, social, and economic life in the city during the Roman Republic. Experience the most ancient parts of Rome from the most significant of its “Seven Hills.”

Rome: Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Tour with St. Peter's

5. Rome: Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Tour with St. Peter's

Discover the art collection inside the Vatican Museums on a tour with an art historian guide, with an optional entry to Castle Gandolfo and skip-the-line access to St Peter's Basilica for visits before lunchtime. Walk through the galleries and admire masterpieces by Michelangelo inside the Sistine Chapel.  Meet your guide, an art historian who will tell you all about the masterpieces you will be encountering. Hear fascinating facts and stories as you visit the Gallery of the Maps, the Gallery of the Tapestries, and the Gallery of the Candelabra. Round off the tour with by encountering the marvels of the Sistine Chapel, complete with frescoes by Michelangelo. Be awed by coming face-to-face with Michelangelo’s most famous artwork: The Last Judgement. On tours before 2:30 PM, take advantage of skip-the-line access to St. Peter's Basilica. You can also make the most of your experience by taking advantage of additional entry to Castle Gandolfo (if option selected).

Rome: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and Basilica Tour

6. Rome: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and Basilica Tour

Take a tour of one of the holiest sites in Christendom on this guided walking tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. First, visit the Pine Courtyard, Belvedere Courtyard, the Gallery of the Maps, Candelabra Gallery, Pio Clementino's Rooms, the Tapestry Gallery, Raphael Rooms (only on early morning tours), and the Sistine Chapel. Then, be led by an expert guide to some of the major attractions, as well as to some lesser-known spots that other tourists often miss. You will also get to see other galleries of the Vatican corridors. Finally, visit Michelangelo's Pietà at St. Peter's Basilica before concludig your tour at the Sistine Chapel.

Rome: Colosseum and Roman Forum Ticket with Multimedia Video

7. Rome: Colosseum and Roman Forum Ticket with Multimedia Video

Embark on an educational adventure with a tour of the most important sites in Rome — ideal for introducing you to the history of the city. Get preliminary information from a short video, and then set off on foot to see the Forum, Palantine Hill, and take a tour of the Colosseum. Start your experience at the local partner's office, where you'll pick up your tickets and enjoy a 25-minute multimedia video about ancient Rome. With your ticket, discover the Archaeological park: Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum. Visit the Roman Forum where everyday Roman citizens used to live, see the tomb of emperor Julius Caesar, and explore the ancient ruins at your own pace. Your ticket also includes entrance to Palatine Hill, the site of the foundation of Rome, and the settlement of the most important houses of emperors and kings. Located just feet away from the Roman Forum and Circus Maximum, it is the centermost of the 7 hills of Rome. After the Archaeological area visit, enter one of the world's most famous monuments — the Colosseum. As you explore the immense amphitheater — the largest ever built by the Roman Empire — imagine the gladiator fights and public spectacles that took place in the arena. The entrance to the Colosseum will take place approximately 2 hours after your tour begins.

Rome: Colosseum with Arena, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill

8. Rome: Colosseum with Arena, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill

Skip the lines to the Colosseum and enjoy direct access to the arena on a guided walking tour. See where the gladiators entered the amphitheater in the days of ancient Rome. Then, visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Look out over the Colosseum arena. Learn about the site, the spectators, the fights that were staged, and life in Rome at the time from your art historian or archeologist guide. The tour continues to Palatine Hill, where wealthy Romans lived. Enjoy the stunning views over the Roman Forum. Walk among the ruins of the Roman Forum, as your guide uses overlay books and 3D pictures to show you how buildings looked at the time.

Rome: Skip-the-Line Tour to Colosseum, Forum, Palatine Hill

9. Rome: Skip-the-Line Tour to Colosseum, Forum, Palatine Hill

Skip the line with a guide on this highlights tour of the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill. Enter the Colosseum through a dedicated group entrance. Follow in the footsteps of gladiators and see the monument from a 360° panoramic vantage point. Imagine what it was like to see 50,000 blood-thirsty spectators with help of your guide. Visit the Forum and walk around several important ancient Roman government buildings. Take a step into the past at the Forum Magnum, which was once a bustling marketplace. Learn more about the ancient Roman culture and picture how they lived. Go up Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome. Experience the most ancient place in the city, situated 40 meters above the Roman Forum. Marvel at the view of the Circus Maximus.

Rome: Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum Guided Tour

10. Rome: Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum Guided Tour

Explore the most famous amphitheater in the world on this guided tour. Enter the Colosseum with skip-the-line tickets and learn its incredible history. With your guide, walk on Palatine Hill and through the Roman Forum to see the most iconic monuments of Ancient Rome. Start your tour by admiring the outside of the Colosseum. Listen as your guide explains the history of the monument over the centuries. Enter the Amphitheater, through a security check, and discover the spectacular activities that took place inside it. Then, visit the first floor and admire the interior.  Take a moment to stop in front of the imposing Arch of Constantine as your guide describes its history and most significant features. Walk on the ancient Via Sacra to reach the entrance to Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. After the security check, admire the Arch of Titus up close. Continue with the tour of Palatine Hill, where the remains of the oldest settlement in the city are. Visit some of the most significant imperial residences: the Palatine Stadium, the Domus Augustana, and the Domus Flavia. Next, go down to the valley that hosts the Roman Forum. Along the Via Sacra, discover the magnificence of the Basilica of Maxentius, the bronze door of the temple of Romulus, the curious suspended door of the temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the temple, and the house of the Vestals. Finally, arrive in the central area of the Roman Forum, which over the centuries has become the political, religious, economic, legal center, and square of the ancient city. Here, admire and learn about the Curia, the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Tabularium, the temple of Saturn, and more.

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Frequently asked questions about Rome

What top attractions are a must-see in Rome?

What are the best day trips and excursions from Rome?

The best day trips and excursions from Rome are:

Pompeii

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Rome

Elyssa Bernard is the creator and publisher of the Romewise. She comes from Florida but has been living in Rome for more than 20 years now, a place that she calls home and is passionate about. On her blog you can find all the detaills for a planning a 3 day Itinerary in Rome.

What should I do on my first trip to Rome?

A first-time visitor to Rome may want to see some of the must-see sites like the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, along with Saint Peter's Basilica; the one and only Colosseum, along with the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, and one of the most amazing monuments from ancient Rome, the Pantheon.

What are some hidden gems to see in Rome?

Rome is packed with hidden gems. If you love art, don't miss the Galleria Doria Pamphilj or Palazzo Barberini. The Museo Barracco is a free museum and well worth a quick visit. If you love the ancient stuff, don't miss the Domus Romana at Palazzo Valentini, the Domus Aurea, and the Baths of Caracalla. For even more hidden gems, take a tour of Trastevere, a fascinating neighborhood full of history and ambiance.

How much time should I spend in Rome?

To really see the "must-see" sites in Rome, you need at least 2.5 days. Try to avoid visiting the Vatican and the Colosseum on the same day, as both are huge with lots to see, and it can be tiring. I'd split these over two days. You'll also want to fit in other sites like the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon. And if you want some additional time for strolling, shopping, and just soaking up the atmosphere, you really need 3-4 days.

What food is Rome known for?

Every region of Italy has its own cuisine, and Rome is no exception. Some foods Rome is known for include the 4 classic Roman pastas, all made with pecorino (sheep's milk) cheese: cacio e pepe, gricia, carbonara, and amatriciana. Rome is also famed for its artichokes, either braised (alla Romana) or deep fried (alla Giudia, or Jewish-style). A large part of Roman cuisine is based on "cucina povera", simple food, and this includes many offal dishes like tripe, coratella, pajata, and more. This is actually a rich topic so I highly recommend trying out some local trattorias, and if you really want to know more, take a cooking class or food tour.

What is the best way to get around Rome?

The best way to get around Rome is on foot. You will see more hidden courtyards, cobblestone streets, shops, etc. But it can also be tiring when you are sightseeing, so you can opt for Rome's public transportation system of underground metro or city bus. Another great way to get around Rome, especially for first-timers, is with a hop-on/hop-off bus that allows you to get an overview, while stopping at all the major sites and monuments.

What are the best months to visit Rome?

For the loveliest weather, visit Rome in spring and fall. But these are also the most crowded times of year in Rome. The quietest months are January, February, and August. Christmas is a beautiful time to visit Rome, despite the cold. The city is all lit up and festive. Summer is a great time to experience a lot of things outside and at night, but you can expect hot, humid days. If you want a good mix of fair weather and smaller crowds, try late November or late August/early September.

What is neighborhood Trastevere known for?

There are many interesting and picturesque neighborhoods in Rome, most with hundreds if not thousands of years of history behind them. There is not one particular neighborhood that Rome is best known for but perhaps one of the most popular and picturesque neighborhoods is Trastevere, just across the Tiber river (hence its name). Its history goes back at least 2,000 years and you can find layers of ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque Rome here. You'll also find tiny winding cobblestone streets with fascinating doorways and even smaller streets at every turn. Despite its fame as a "touristy" neighborhood, Trastevere is in fact a very fascinating area to explore. I recommend a tour so you get the most out of this beautiful Roman neighborhood.

What are the best neighborhoods for food?

You can eat well in just about every Roman neighborhood. Some of the most well-known include Trastevere, Monti, Campo dei Fiori, and Testaccio. I'd venture to say that some of my favorite restaurants can actually be found around the historic center near the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Pantheon.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?

Rome is full of great shopping areas, perhaps none more famous than the Spanish Steps neighborhood. For more boutique-style shopping, head to the Pantheon, Monti, or the area around via Cola di Rienzo on the other side of the Tiber River not far from the Vatican.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Rome?

Choosing where to stay in Rome is subjective for everyone. If it's your first time in Rome, I recommend staying as central and close to public transportation as possible. This means staying near Piazza Barberini, the Spanish Steps, and Trevi Fountain. If you want to be a bit further from the historic center, but still close enough to easily access it, Esquilino offers many good affordable as well as luxury options. Prati, near the Vatican, is another lovely but slightly less central area with several metro stops making it convenient to get across the river to the center. Campo dei Fiori, the Jewish Ghetto, Pantheon, and Piazza Navona are charming neighborhoods that are not close to a Metro stop. But as they are so central, you can easily walk most places.

What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Rome?

The best family things to do in Rome will depend on your children's ages and their interests. Visiting the Vatican and Colosseum are probably high on your list, but if your children are small, you should consider keeping the visit short or taking a tour geared towards families. Other family friendly things to do include cycling, taking a food tour or cooking class, or just strolling very leisurely through the historic center and taking lots of breaks.

What is the best thing to do in Rome for solo travelers?

The best things to do in Rome for solo travelers depends on whether you want to meet some fellow travelers or not. For solitude, visit some of Rome's amazing churches, including of course, Saint Peter's Basilica and the Pantheon. Take some time enjoying Rome's many parks, gardens, and markets. To meet fellow travellers join small-group tours, especially food tours and cooking classes, where you will have more of a chance to chat and mingle.

What is the best thing to do in Rome for couples?

Rome is already such a romantic city, or it can be. If you are here from Spring through early fall, you can enjoy some of the many outdoor nighttime events like shows on the Fori Imperiali, or night tours of the Vatican Museums or Colosseum. Other fun things for couples include doing wine or gelato tastings, cycling along the Appia Antica, enjoying a picnic in the park, or taking a Vespa tour.

What are the best annual events in Rome?

Rome enjoys a fairly mild climate year-round, making it a great destination any time. You may want to visit Rome during the Christmas/New Years holidays, as the city is all lit up and festive. Easter is another beautiful time to visit when the city is bursting with spring blossoms. Summertime in Rome means lots of outdoor nighttime events, and it's also a great time to check out the nearby beaches.

What are the best areas for outdoor activities around Rome?

Rome is blessed with huge swaths of green space. You can spend time in the Appia Antica park and not even feel like you are in a city at all. This historic and archeological park is full of things to see and do, such as visit the catacombs, rent bicycles or just explore on foot. The Villa Borghese is another of Rome's most beloved parks. It offers stunning views over Rome at one end, one of Rome's best museums (the Borghese Gallery) at the other end, and a gorgeous, shaded, well-kept park in the middle. You can do all kinds of sports here, along with visit other smaller museums, rent boats on a lake, or picnic.

Other Sightseeing Options in Rome

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What people are saying about Rome

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 394,364 reviews

My husband and I were *blown away* by this tour - our tour guide (I'm so sorry we didn't catch her name) was absolutely phenomenal, and made this tour one of the highlights of our entire trip to Italy (5 cities). She enthrallingly made each work of art come to life, with the story behind it, the artist's life and so many interesting facts. It was almost a performance vs a regular tour, but one we could not get over. Her knowledge and delivery were absolutely incredible, though I did have some trouble understanding her accent at times. That still wouldn't take a star away from this being an outstanding tour, and each of the other people on our tour made sure to tell her how incredible a job she did before we left, with extra emphasis. We would highly recommend this tour!

This was a great experience, and we got very lucky with our guide. Eugene explained everything in an engaging matter that made us visualize how it was at the time. Before we went into the Colosseum he even said «make a mental picture in your head so that the experience gets even better» :) Recommended!

Our guide was excellent, unfortunately I can't remember his name other than he was Americian. He was very knowledgeable and made the trip informative and entertaining. He provided lots of opportunities to take photos and I would highly recommend booking this trip.

Our Guide, Lindsy(?) from Netherlands was amazing and very passionate about the tour and content and stories etc.

Our tour guide was enthusiastic and used every second of our time to share her knowledge of the Colosseum.