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Things to See in Rome: Top Attractions & Sights

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Welcome to Rome! The capital of Italy is bursting at the seams with incredible things to see, from museums and archaeological sites to churches and tourist attractions. Whatever you’re interested in, you’re sure to find plenty of cool things to see in Rome.
Anneliese O'MalleyBy Anneliese O'Malley

The 10 Best Things to See in Rome

It can be tough to put together an itinerary for a city as huge as Rome, especially since it has hundreds of attractions and sights. We’ve gathered the ten best things to see so that you can discover all the best highlights, book tickets, and plan the perfect trip.
1

Colosseum

This huge amphitheater is one of Rome’s most popular attractions, and is a must-see stop for most visitors. Basic tickets get you access to the main stands of the theater plus the archaeological area of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Special tickets are available that grant visitors access to the arena floor, the underground areas, and the Belvedere terraces.
Vatican Museums
2

Vatican Museums

The Vatican owns one of the most impressive art collections in the world, and it’s open to the public to visit every day. Basic tickets also include access to the Sistine Chapel, where you’ll see the famous ceiling and frescoes by Michelangelo. Tickets are also available for special early morning access, where you can enjoy breakfast in the museum before exploring without being surrounded by crowds.
Galleria Borghese
3

Galleria Borghese

Art-lovers should book tickets in advance if they want to visit the Borghese Gallery. This collection, which features works by Bernini, Caravaggio, Rubens, and Raphael, only sells 360 tickets for every two-hour slot.
Roman Forum
4

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is included in the ticket for the Colosseum, but it’s also well-worth seeing in its own right. You can imagine where the impressive temples once stood when you explore their ruins and see where Julius Caesar was famously murdered by members of the Roman Senate.
Pantheon
5

Pantheon

The Pantheon was built as a temple nearly 2000 years ago, and today it’s a Catholic church. The most impressive thing is the dome, with its incredible oculus. It’s free to visit, but a guided tour will reveal the building’s many secrets.
Castel Sant'Angelo
6

Castel Sant’Angelo

Also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, the Castel Sant’Angelo is an impressive fortress situated on the banks of the Tiber River. In addition to being historically interesting and housing a varied museum, you can also get a great view down to Vatican City by visiting the 7th floor terrace.
Trevi Fountain
7

Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is another icon of Rome, featuring in movies and TV shows. It’s a stop on several walking tours of the city where the guide will stop, explain the history of the fountain, and give you a chance to toss a coin into the water. It’s often extremely crowded, so visit in the morning or after dark to see it at its best.
St. Peter’s Basilica
8

St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is the most important church in the Roman Catholic faith, and is as elaborately decorated as you might expect. In addition to being able to see the tombs of several popes, you can also see sculptures and paintings by Bernini and Michelangelo, or you can climb the dome for a fantastic view of Vatican City and Rome.
Piazza Navona
9

Piazza Navona

Why visit a public square, you ask? It’s one of the biggest and most interesting piazzas in Rome, with three fountains and an underground secret: the remains of the Stadium of Domitian. Visit with a guide in order to learn all about it.
Spanish Steps
10

Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps are yet another famous sight to see in Rome, an impressive public stairway that links the Spanish Embassy to the Piazza di Spagna. It’s a popular stop on walking tours and is the perfect place for a holiday photos that will make your friends jealous.
Doria Pamphilj Gallery

Excellent Museums to Visit in Rome

Rome has dozens of high-quality museums that you can visit on your trip. In summer they’re a great place to escape the heat while learning more about the art and history of Italy.The National Etruscan Museum is dedicated to pre-Roman artifacts from the area around Rome, while the Palazzo Massimo alla Terme contains the National Roman Museum - a must-see stop for Classicists. Meanwhile the Museo dell’Ara Pacis was specially designed to hold the Ara Pacis Augustae, an ancient altar dedicated to the Roman goddess of peace. For those interested in Renaissance art, the Capitoline Museums and the Galleria Spada are well-worth a visit. Palazzo Barberini contains the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, which is the national collection of art, while the Doria Pamphilj Gallery contains one of the largest private art collections in Italy. Modern art fans should look up the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, while fans of recent history should pay a visit to the Villa Torlonia, which was used as a residence by Mussolini from the 1920s to 1945.
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Capitoline Museums
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Palazzo Barberini
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Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna
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Museo dell'Ara Pacis
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National Etruscan Museum
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Villa Torlonia
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Catacombs of Domitilla

Crypts and Catacombes

Those with a taste for the macabre are in luck: Rome is full of fascinating crypts and catacombs that are open to visitors.The most elaborate is the Capuchin Crypt, where the skeletal remains of Capuchin friars are arranged in several underground chapels and are intended to remind them of their own mortality. The Catacombs of Domitilla are an early Christian burial ground and were discovered in 1593 and are far larger: it’s estimated that they contain over 26,000 tombs and the tunnels are over 15 km long. Only two rooms have been restored and opened to the public. The Catacombs of Callixtus contained the Crypt of the Popes, being the final resting place of several popes from the 2nd to the 4th centuries CE. The Catacomb of Priscilla was also the known burial site of two early popes, and the tomb is a good place to see early Christian symbols in use.
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Capuchin Crypt
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Catacombe di Santa Domitilla
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Catacomb of Callixtus
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Catacomb of Priscilla
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Archaeological Sites

You can’t turn a corner in Rome without stumbling on some ancient and interesting ruins, many of which can be explored with a ticket or a guided tour.The Palatine Hill contains the ruins of several Roman villas and palaces - it’s included with a ticket to the Colosseum and Roman Forum. The Circus Maximus is the remains of an ancient chariot-racing course and is open to the public free of charge. If you’re interested in Roman baths then you should check out the Baths of Caracalla or the Baths of Diocletian, both will give you an insight into Roman public hygiene. Trajan’s Market is part of Trajan’s Forum and is close to the Colosseum - it’s not clear whether the buildings were offices or shops, but you can climb the different levels and decide for yourself.
Palatin Hill
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Palatine Hill
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Baths of Diocletian
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Trajan's Market
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Arch of Titus
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Archbasilica of St. John Lateran

Churches and Basilicas

Apart from the wonders of Ancient Rome, the biggest influence on the art and architecture of Rome is the Catholic Church. Even if you’re not religious, it’s worth visiting some of the most important churches to see their impressive frescoes, paintings, and sculptures by some of the biggest artists of the Renaissance.Some of the most important churches to visit are outside the Vatican: the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is the seat of the Bishop of Rome and is second only to St. Peter’s Basilica in terms of importance. Meanwhile visitors to the Basilica of San Clemente can descend two levels: first into the remains of an older church and then into the ruins of an ancient Mithraeum or temple to Mithras. The basilicas of Saint Paul Outside the Walls and Saint Mary Major are also worth visiting due to their beautiful interiors. Finally, visitors who want to see the glorious art in the Sistine Chapel should buy a ticket to the Vatican Museums, as the chapel can only be accessed through the museum complex. If you’re planning to visit a church on your trip to Rome, make sure to dress appropriately as Italian churches require you to cover your shoulders and often your knees as well.
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Archbasilica of St. John Lateran
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Santa Maria sopra Minerva
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Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
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Santa Maria in Vallicella
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St. Paul's Within the Walls
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San Nicola in Carcere
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More Sights in Rome
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Trastevere31 tickets & guided tours
Altare della Patria1 tickets & guided tours
Hadrian's Villa17 tickets & guided tours
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Hard Rock Cafe Rome2 tickets & guided tours
Studi di Cinecittà2 tickets & guided tours
Bioparco di Roma1 tickets & guided tours
Santa Pudenziana1 tickets & guided tours
Forum Boarium3 tickets & guided tours
Villa Farnesina6 tickets & guided tours
Porta Maggiore1 tickets & guided tours
Castello di Santa Severa4 tickets & guided tours
Ostia Antica20 tickets & guided tours
Campo de' Fiori6 tickets & guided tours
Rainbow MagicLand1 tickets & guided tours
Mostra Leonardo da Vinci4 tickets & guided tours
Santa Prassede1 tickets & guided tours
Mausoleum of Hadrian2 tickets & guided tours
Anneliese O'Malley
Written byAnneliese O'MalleyAnneliese is a former Londoner, keen traveler, and total word nerd. As a Content Management Specialist she knows the TicketLens inventory inside out and curates, matches, and writes about the most interesting attractions worldwide.
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