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Top Things to do in Rome, Italy

Updated: Apr 30

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The Roman Colloseum
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

Built in 625 BC, the Eternal City is scattered with ruins that provide a window into the past. It's the definition of larger than life. with architectural feats like the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. The city is the starting point of our two weeks in Italy guide, which will come at no surprise to you after reading about the top things to do in Rome. It's no surprise to the rest of the world either, with 35 million visitors in 2023 - a record-breaking number for the city.

The Vatican City

The Vatican City
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

The Catholic capital of the world, the Vatican City is an 109-acre landlocked country in the heart of Rome. It can easily take a half-a-day to a full day of exploration depending on how much you wish to squeeze in. Upon entering, you step into St. Peter's Square, a plaza with Saint Peter's Basilica as its focal point. A great place to start, the basilica has many can't-miss attractions, from Saint Peter and John Paul's graves to the Pope's high altar encompassed in Bernini's Canopy.


For incredible views of the Vatican and Rome, some choose to trek to the top of the basilica. The dome has 551 total steps, but an elevator can reduce the number by 320 for a few more euros.

The Vatican Museums are home of the coveted Sistine Chapel. The chapel's frescoes, created by Michelangelo, depict Biblical stories including "The Creation of Adam" and "The Last Judgement". The museums also showcase art from Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dali. With 24 total galleries, you'll see tapestries, paintings, sculptures, and more.

The Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and The Roman Forum

The Roman Colosseum

These three attractions are within proximity of each other and booked with the same ticket, and because it's one of the top things to do in Rome, Italy, I recommend securing your ticket ahead of time. Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum is a massive amphitheater spanning six acres. In its heyday, it was a place to watch gladiator fights, mock sea battles, and public executions. It was also a place to pin man and beast against each other for fight-to-the-death competitions.

The Roman Forum in ancient plaza that once contained government buildings and a marketplace. From 500 BC, the forum is where meetings, speeches and elections took place. Another point of interest is the Temple of Caesar, the spot where Julius Caesar's body was burned. All of this can be viewed from above on the Palatine Hill.

The Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain in Rome
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

One of the most famous fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain is connected to an aqueduct that supplied water to ancient Rome for 400 years. Made of travertine stone, the Baroque fountain puts the god of water, Oceanus, front and center. Legend has it, tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain will ensure a return trip to Rome. This story is good for the city, as around 1.25 million euros are collected from the water every year and donated to numerous charities.

The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

The Spanish Steps connect the Trinità dei Monti church to the Spanish Square. Historically, they served as a spot for poets, artists, and painters to draw inspiration. The square in which they're placed is one of the most visited in Rome, partially due to the nearby shopping street, Via Condotti.

Completed in 1725, the Spanish Steps were commissioned by a French diplomat, Étienne Gueffier. They got their name from the former location of the Spanish embassy. Positioned at the mid-way point, the Keats-Shelley house is where English poet John Keats lived before dying of tuberculosis. The house is now a museum.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

The Pantheon is an architectural sensation, and it looks even bigger in person. Noted as the best preserved example of ancient Roman architecture, the church has a dome center with an opening that provides natural light. It was built in 120 AD, but transformed into a church in 609 AD. First constructed as a temple to the Gods, the Pantheon's name means "honor all Gods" in Greek. Its impressive dome remains the largest unsupported dome in the world, and it measures 142 feet in diameter.

Largo di Torre Argentina

Largo Di Torre Argentina
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

The ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina include Pompey's Theatre, the place in which Caesar was murdered. Now, it's the site of the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. A non-profit shelter, it's a place where volunteers feed, fix, and watch more than 150 feral cats as they prepare for adoption. To raise money, they have an indoor section that sells calendars, T-shirts, and other trinkets.

Altar of the Fatherland

Altar of the Fatherhood
Credit: Tipsy Atlas

The Altar of the Fatherland, also known as the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, was built to honor the first king of Rome. It's the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - a memorial guarded by armed military officials that pays respect to those who went missing or were killed at war. Though adorned with beautiful sculptures, the monument's best feature is the view it provides.

The Catacombs

Skulls

Rome is home to 60 catacombs, which are essentially underground cemeteries. They were built from the 2nd to 5th century, when there proved to be too many bodies and not enough room. Though cremation was an option, the Christian population didn't agree with the practice. Today, there are five visitable catacombs, which can only be seen by booking through a tour group.

The Baths of Caracalla

Rome, Italy's Baths of Caracalla
Photo by travelscribe.net

The Baths of Caracalla are Rome's second largest public bathhouses. In use for a little over 300 years, they were built in 200 AD by the Emperor of Caracalla and abandoned in 537 AD. Though they weren't built until Caracalla's rein, the plans were drawn up by her father, Septimius Severus, many years before. The building once included heated baths, two exercise courtyards, and changing room space. When active, the baths could accommodate 1,600 people at once.

Where to Stay

As long as you can access a Metro station, you can find your way to anywhere in Rome. A 15-minute walk to the Colosseum and 16 minutes from Termini Station, Hotel Napoleon offers a decent location when considering its affordability. If you'd prefer views and convenience over a small price tag, consider Romance al Colosseo. You can see the Colosseum from the window of this luxury hotel.


On a personal note, Rome is my favorite place I've visited. You'll be blown away when you see the Colosseum in person, and equally as awestruck when visiting The Pantheon. If you manage to find time for anything on this list, leave a comment and tell us how it went.

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