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Benvenuti a Roma! The Eternal City is waiting to show you its best and brightest side with countless things to see and do. Whether you’re into the ruins of Ancient Rome, the religious artwork of the Catholic church, Renaissance art, and architecture, or so many other things, Rome has attractions, museums, and sights that are sure to delight you.
Anneliese O'MalleyBy Anneliese O'Malley

The 10 Best Things to Do in Rome

There are literally hundreds of things that you can do in Rome, so many that it might be overwhelming. We’ve gathered a list of the ten best things to do in Rome for those who have never visited before or for those who want to go a little deeper on their next visit. Pick and choose the things that appeal to you to build your perfect trip.
Vatican City
1

Visit the Vatican

Technically Vatican City is its own country and isn’t part of Rome at all, but the home of the Roman Catholic church is a must-visit sight on anyone’s list. Marvel at St. Peter’s Square, line up and enter St. Peter’s Basilica free of charge, or visit the Vatican Museums to see the glorious Sistine Chapel with its famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo.
Italian Pasta
2

Food Food Food

Italian cuisine is renowned worldwide, for good reason! While pizza comes from nearby Naples and pasta can be found all over Italy, Rome has its own unique cooking style featuring pork, lamb, artichokes, and several specific pasta dishes. Take a food tour of the city, especially the Trastevere district, to sample some Roman delights, finishing off with an espresso or some gelato.
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Inside the Colosseum
3

Discover the Colosseum

The Colosseum has been a symbol of Rome for centuries, hosting gladiator fights, animal hunts, and other spectacles during the Roman Empire. This attraction is well-worth seeing with a guide who can make the empty archways come to life for you, especially if you want to see some of the restricted areas like the arena floor or the upper tiers that aren’t accessible to visitors with a basic ticket.
Discover the Streets of Rome
4

Take to the Streets

Part of the joy of visiting Rome is stumbling across something beautiful while exploring its streets. If you want to find some special spots off the beaten track then consider taking a walking tour, a bike tour, or even a Segway tour of the city!
Rome by Bike
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Segway Tours
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Day Trip to Pompeii
5

See Italy on a Day Trip

There’s more to Italy than just its capital city, and Rome is a great base for those who want to do a bit of exploring. Favorite day trip destinations include the ruins of Pompeii, the Villa d’Este at Tivoli, and the archaeological site of Ostia Antica, the port town of Ancient Rome. Make sure to check what’s included with each ticket - some include lunch and transportation as well as a guide.
Villa d'Este
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Ostia Antica
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Music in Rome
6

Delight Your Ears at a Concert or Opera

Italy is the home of opera, and there are dozens of venues where you can sample classical music and operas. From concerts in the Capuchin Crypt to outdoor concerts under the summer night sky, there are plenty of options to choose from.
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Galleria Borghese
7

Discover Rome’s Art Galleries

The greatest artists in the world were all drawn to Rome. Whether they sought patronage from the Vatican or were inspired by the ancient ruins that litter the city, they left behind a legacy of art that is unrivaled around the world. Art-lovers should book early for a chance to visit the Galleria Borghese, in the impressive Villa Borghese. Alternatively, you can visit the Doria Pamphilj Gallery or the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna.
Doria Pamphilj Gallery
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Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna
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Museums
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Rome after dark
8

Nighttime in Rome

The center of Rome is dazzlingly beautiful after dark, with the main monuments lit up. Discover its secrets on a night-time walking tour, or visit one of the tourist attractions that offer unique nighttime access. The Colosseum is one of these, as are the Vatican Museums on certain selected dates. Access to these events is more expensive, but also far more exclusive!
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Hop-On-Hop-Off-Bus in Rome | Flickr: Chris Sampson CC BY 2.0
9

Explore Rome on Hop-On Hop-Off Buses

Rome’s public transport system can be extremely busy and a little confusing, but a ticket for a Hop-On Hop-Off bus can make your life much easier. These air-conditioned buses will take you between the city’s top attractions and, whether you want to ride a full loop to orient yourself or you’ve picked stops to visit, you’ll also be able to enjoy audio commentary along the way.
Gardens in Italy
10

Relax in Rome’s Green Oases

Sightseeing can be tiring, and sometimes you just need a park or garden where you can enjoy a picnic and rest your feet. One of the most popular options is the Villa Borghese Gardens, which surround the Galleria Borghese and are found on one of Rome’s famous hills. The park area also houses the Bioparco di Roma, a zoo where you can visit over 200 species of animals. If you’re visiting the Colosseum then your ticket also includes access to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill - the Palatine Hill and the remains of the Domus Augustana are particularly lovely to explore.
Bioparco di Roma
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City Passes for Rome

City Passes

If you know that you want to visit several different attractions on your visit to Rome, then you might want to consider buying a city pass for your trip.There are a couple of different options, including the Roma Pass, the Rome Explorer Pass, and the Omnia Card. Some include entry to the Vatican Museums and some don’t, while some offer access to Rome’s public transport or to a Hop-On Hop-Off bus. Consider the options before buying the one that suits your needs. A comparison of the different offers can be found on TicketLens Magazine.
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Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome

Many of Rome’s best attractions date back two thousand years or more, to the days of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.One of the highlights is the Roman Forum, which contains the remains of buildings from different eras of Ancient Rome. You can access the forum with a ticket to the Colosseum, and the area with the Roman Forum also includes the Palatine Hill. The Capitoline Hill originally housed several important temples, and today you can visit the ruins alongside the Capitoline Museums. The Circus Maximus was the largest stadium in Ancient Rome, hosting chariot races. Today it’s a public park and you can visit free of charge - though you might want to take a guided tour instead to learn more. The Baths of Caracalla are also an impressive set of ruins, but the original bathhouse was in use until at least 530 CE. This snapshot only scratches the surface: Rome has dozens of ancient sites that have been excavated by archaeologists and are available to visit.

Catholic Rome

The other noticeable theme when you visit Rome is the power of the Roman Catholic Church. You’ll barely be able to turn a corner without finding another church, but there are several that are well worth a visit.While St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is the largest church in the world, there are several other cathedrals in Rome that are important to practicing Catholics and that house treasures of their own. The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is one of the most important, being the seat of the Bishop of Rome and the oldest basilica in the Western world. It’s also the final resting place of several popes and the interior is extremely beautiful. The Basilica of San Clemente al Laterano is also fascinating to visit - underneath the medieval church are the remains of an older church from the 4th century AD and beneath that lie the remains of a Roman mithraeum or temple to the god Mithras. Other beautiful and significant churches include the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, or Saint Mary Major.
Archbasilica of St. John Lateran
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Archbasilica of St. John Lateran
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Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
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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 Spada
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Doria Pamphilj Gallery
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Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna
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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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Baths of Diocletian
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Trajan's Market
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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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St. Paul's Within the Walls
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San Nicola in Carcere
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More sights in Rome
Santa Pudenziana2 tickets & guided tours
Mausoleum of Hadrian1 tickets & guided tours
Santa Prassede2 tickets & guided tours
Villa Farnesina8 tickets & guided tours
Castello di Santa Severa1 tickets & guided tours
Museum and crypt of Capuchin Monks2 tickets & guided tours
Ostia Antica37 tickets & guided tours
Mostra Leonardo da Vinci4 tickets & guided tours
Villa d'Este53 tickets & guided tours
Hard Rock Cafe Rome4 tickets & guided tours
Hadrian's Villa25 tickets & guided tours
Galleria Colonna2 tickets & guided tours
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica1 tickets & guided tours
Mamertine Prison8 tickets & guided tours
Campo de' Fiori25 tickets & guided tours
Bioparco di Roma3 tickets & guided tours
Porta Maggiore1 tickets & guided tours
Rainbow MagicLand2 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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