With a vibrant history stretching over thousands of years, this bustling ancient city in Italy is chock full of amazing sights, and Rome attractions continue to be some of the most iconic and recognizable of all European landmarks. From the ancient Colosseum to the remarkable Vatican, you’ll be treated to hundreds of different and equally stunning sights that span the millennia.
Whether you only have one day in Rome or you will be exploring for weeks, the Rome attractions in this article are the best of the best and can’t be missed!
Rome Attractions that should not be missed!
Built around 80 AD, the Colosseum is one of the most instantly recognizable Rome attractions and one of the most visited places in the city. Towering four stories high with additional levels below ground, this massive and imposing structure has a vast and storied history. As the model for modern sports arenas and concert venues, the Colosseum once held plays, sporting events, festivals and circuses throughout its lengthy lifetime.
Today it is a tourist destination that draws visitors by the millions. Savvy travelers should book ahead of time for tours and group tickets that allow visitors to skip the line, often one of the biggest time saving moves you can make when wait times can last hours! Rome is a very busy city and the Colosseum draws on that – you can expect lines. To save time, we suggest getting a skip the line ticket, especially if you are short on time or only visiting Rome for a day.
Standing for over 2000 years, this ancient structure was a marvel of engineering and ingenuity for centuries and remains one of the most popular Rome attractions. The proportions of the interior inspired artists and architects throughout history and the famous dome was one of the first and largest unsupported domes ever built.
The Pantheon is a marvel that has attracted visitors for centuries and the same holds true today; it is often crowded with tourists who are taking advantage of one of the best free things to do in Rome. In order to truly enjoy the experience, travelers are advised to visit early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the crowds of tourists who come to marvel at this ancient landmark.
The largest fountain in the city, this 18th century masterpiece is a must on any list of Rome attractions not to miss. Built by the artist Nicolo Salvi, this landmark features the god of the sea, Neptune, surrounded by horses and figures and fed by water flowing from an ancient aqueduct built around the 1st century BC!
Often featured in movies and television shows, rumor has it that if you throw a coin into the fountain, a return trip to Rome is guaranteed for your future. The pop culture references as well as the stunning majesty of this landmark make it an ever popular tourist attraction.
If you plan ahead and visit early in the morning or later in the evening before the dinner crowds hit the plaza, you’ll be able to enjoy the site with less crowds. If you are looking to get a photo with no other people in it, you will need to get up early and head over. You will find the Trevi Fountain is different with and without crowds.
The world’s smallest state, Vatican City covers an area of less than one square mile, but this highlight of Rome attractions is jam packed with hundreds of breathtaking artifacts and monuments. The Vatican library is filled with texts dating back centuries and the museums of the Vatican are filled with art masterpieces, ancient relics and remarkable tombs.
One of the most noteworthy and renowned museums is the Sistine Chapel, the home of Michelangelo’s famous frescoed ceiling. The Vatican is one of the most frequently visited landmarks in Rome and because of its small size, can become incredibly overcrowded.
Pro tip: you are not allowed to take photos in the Sistine Chapel. You will be well aware of this before you ever arrive and there are guards watching all movements.
Wait times in lines can be hours long, so visitors are advised to purchase tours and small group tickets that guide you through the site while skipping most of the lines.
Saint Peter’s Basilica
Located within the Vatican, Saint Peter’s Basilica is one of the Rome attractions that deserves a mention of its own for the remarkable collections and architecture that make it so famous. As one of the largest churches in the world, this Renaissance architectural marvel attracts hundreds of thousands of people a year. It is even a pilgrimage site for religious people and those coming to marvel at the relics and tombs inside.
The Pope delivers sermons and liturgies from this massive cathedral, presiding over anywhere from 15,000 to 80,000 people, with the overflow filling Saint Peter’s Square outside. This is another site that draws so many people, the crowds and lines can become bloated, but many of the skip the line tours that go through the Vatican include Saint Peter’s Basilica in the itinerary.
The Roman Forum
This surprising and sprawling ancient ruin is tucked smack dab in the middle of the bustling city and is one of the most remarkable Rome attractions to visit while touring the streets. Built over 2 thousand years ago, these ancient ruins were once the seat of power and politics for all of the western world and today feature columns and arches as well as the ruins of temples, residences and political buildings that were the mainstays of life during the height of the Roman Empire.
Stepping into the Roman Forum is like stepping back in time as you wander the same streets that the ancients walked millennia ago. As with most of the popular Rome attractions, this landmark can be very busy, so it is advisable to arrive either early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the worst of the crowds.
You can get a skip the line ticket (which is advised) and explore without waiting in what can sometimes be very long lines.
The Spanish Steps
Right in the middle of the robust and cultural historic center of the city, the Spanish Steps have been one of the most popular Rome attractions for centuries. From the boat-shaped fountain in the Piazza di Spagna at the base of the stairs to Trinità dei Monti Church at the top, the Spanish Steps are a hub of activity year round and were a famed stop along the Grand Tour in the 19th century.
Caffè Greco on the Steps boasts a historic who’s who of clientele from artists, poets, writers and musicians throughout history. The Steps also intersect the luxurious Via Condotti, a street filled with high-end retail shops selling designer goods from major fashion houses known in Italy and beyond.
Because it is such a busy and bustling thoroughfare, this landmark is the perfect place to people watch as locals and tourists alike gather to admire the architecture and views along the Spanish Steps. But beware, it is now illegal to sit or lay on the Spanish Steps and you can be fined.
This bustling and opulent square is ringed on all sides by classic Baroque architecture and boasts not one, but three historic fountains to gather around. The facades, domes and ornate windows overlooking the Piazza gives it a magnificent atmosphere and the central location has made it a bustling hub of street artists, souvenir shops and Italian cafes serving espresso and various baked goods and treats.
In December, the square is particularly popular. One of the largest and most quintessential Christmas markets fills every nook and cranny of the space, bringing tourists by the hundreds to shop the unique and memorable gift items and Christmas decorations. The earliest morning hours are the least crowded, but the appeal of the square is accentuated by the hustle and bustle of tourists and vendors, making it one of the can’t miss Rome attractions to see during your travels through the city.
The Borghese Gallery and Gardens
As one of the largest parks found within Rome, the Borghese Gardens are a lush paradise amid the hustle and bustle of the city. Orange trees line the paved pathways through the lawn and surrounding the park are a huge amount of sights to explore within a centralized hub.
The Villa Borghese is a massive gallery museum featuring art from the 15th to 18th centuries while the nearby modern art museum features newer works from such art masters as Van Gogh and Degas.
The Etruscan Museum also located on the property features artifacts from the pre-Roman Empire era and you’ll even find a zoo located within the grounds of the Borghese Gardens, making it one of the best Rome attractions to see as much as possible within such close proximity.
Street food tour
Delicious food and Rome are synonymous in nature and trying everything should not be missed. Sometimes visiting a new city can be overwhelming and trying to figure out where to start food wise can be challenging. Take a street food tour and try some of the cities gelato, wine, pizza, meats, beer, suppli, and more.
During this tour you will have an English speaking guide who can tell you all about the food and the local life and areas you will be exploring. Also a great way to get some local insider tips!
This Italian tourist destination is a hub of culture, history and vibrancy and you’ll find so many Rome attractions within such a small area that you won’t be able to see it all without planning ahead! With more attractions than probably any other city in Europe, this area boasts the title of one of the top five most visited cities in the EU and it’s no surprise given how much there is to see and do.
Whether you’re spending just a few days or a few weeks, the number of Rome attractions is a daunting list because every turn reveals yet another breathtaking monument, sculpture, building or historic site worthy of your attention. Be sure to plan ahead to make the most of your time spent in this remarkable and ancient city! With so many famous landmarks, art collections and ancient ruins, this astounding number of cultural and unique sights will be sure to inspire awe and craft memories to last a lifetime!
A few tips for your visit to Rome:
Do not forget a pocket WiFi! We love Skyroam because it is compact and can run up to five devices at the same time (great for families or groups or if you have more than one thing you need a stable connection on).
Comfortable walking shoes are a necessity in Rome! You will do a lot of walking on a variety of terrain, come prepared.
Tipping in Rome is not like in the USA. Check your receipt to see if a tip has already been put on. Otherwise, 1-2 Euro is fine.
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I love this post! It highlights all of the must-see things in Rome!