Home to some of the world's most renowned cultural and historical sites, a visit to Rome is guaranteed not to leave you empty handed. Whether you're keen to walk in the footsteps of the ancient Romans or discover some of the impeccable craftsmanship of some of the city's top attractions, there's simply no shortage of fantastic things to do in Rome.
Do as the Romans Did
Ancient home to one of history’s most famous and influential empires, Rome is simply brimming with renowned historical sites and cultural hotspots.
Taking pride of place, the iconic Roman Colosseum stands as the world’s largest standing amphitheater and boasts a deserved place among the seven wonders of the world. Once the epicenter of entertainment in ancient Rome, hosting all manner of battles, reenactments and plays, the site is now one of the most recognizable UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
A similar reflection on the daily lives and pastimes of ancient Romans is the Pantheon. Rebuilt from the ashes of a former Roman temple during the second century, the site would continue to serve as a place of worship for many centuries to come, eventually transforming into a Catholic church. Another compelling UNESCO site, the Pantheon is most notable for its towering pillars and the open oculus in its ceiling, permitting both natural light and all weather into its domed hall.
More pertinent whispers of the civilization long since passed exist among the ruins of the Roman Forum, now mere vague outlines of a formerly glorious and major administrative district for the city. Originally a marketplace, the site began to grow as the center of many important social, political and religious activities. Some of the city’s most impressive buildings and monuments stood here, still reflected in the imposing columns and architecture of the remaining ruins.
As far as ruins go, there are none more pertinent in Rome than those built right at the beginning. Most central of Rome’s famous seven hills, Palatine Hill is widely considered to have been the cradle of Roman civilization. Credited in Roman mythology as the location of the fabled Lupercal cave in which the city’s supposed founding twins, Romulus and Remus, were raised by a she-wolf. Steeped in rich history and mysticism, Palatine Hill is home to the oldest ruins to be found throughout Rome.
Somewhat lesser known but still rather remarkable are the remnants of Egyptian influence in Rome, most obvious of which being the impressive Pyramid of Cestius, resting place to priest and magistrate Gaius Cestius and his family from the 1st century BC. Also worth seeing are the Flaminian Obelisk and Obelisk of Montecitorio on Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Monte Citorio, respectively.
Discover Vatican City
One of the greatest draws of Rome is its role as the surrounding home to the beating heart of Roman Catholicism and the world’s smallest official country, Vatican City.
At its core, the Vatican attracts huge crowds of devout Catholics for its hugely significant role as the permanent residence of the Pope. Though its grounds are accessible year-round, the micro-country is often the center of many major religious events to take place in Rome. Around the likes of Christmas and Easter, the Pope himself delivers special masses and sermons open to all, though given their popularity, you’ll want to apply for a free ticket with the Vatican directly.
While naturally very popular as a pilgrimage for devout followers, the city is also home to a wealth of astonishing architecture and expert artwork. St Peter’s Basilica, somewhat of a distant beacon for Rome as a whole, stands as one of the most remarkable examples of Renaissance architecture, iconic in its arching dome and the impressive temple-style pillars at its entrance.
Perhaps most famous of all, however, is the incredible craftsmanship of the Sistine Chapel. While not quite so lauded for its exterior as the St. Peter’s Basilica, the chapel is known the world over for its spectacular vaulted ceiling, adorned with various famous frescoes by the legendary Italian artist, Michelangelo, including his most famous fresco, The Creation of Adam.
Explore the City
All roads may indeed lead to Rome, but it’s getting around once you’re there that might leave you stumped. Though the eternal city has a host of capable public transport systems for getting you seamlessly across town, there are some alternatives that can make your trip just that little bit more exciting.
If you’d like a whirlwind tour of some of Rome’s top landmarks and attractions with the option to hop on and off at your leisure, then a Big Bus Rome pass could be ideal for you. Operating a primary route passing by the likes of the Colosseum and Castel Sant’Angelo, tours also offer optional audio commentary in several major languages, brimming with cultural and historical insights into many of the capital’s most popular sights.
If you’d like to truly live like an Italian, nothing beats swerving through Rome’s ancient streets on your own rental scooter. Besides being particularly well-suited to navigating some of the city’s narrower streets, they’re also typically very convenient to park and can be rented from vendors throughout the city.
Average rental prices can range anywhere from € 30 to € 350 per day depending on the size, specs and classification of the vehicle. Most rentals will also require a rather hefty security deposit of several hundred euros. Among the most popular and reliable scooter rental operators are Eco Move Rent, Roma Rent Scooter and BigaBike.
Take a Break
Should you find yourself keen to get away from the bustle of Rome’s often busy streets, the city happens to be home to a number of serene, open spaces perfect for an Italian-style picnic or a leisurely stroll amid the city’s often idyllic Mediterranean weather.
Most central of Rome’s parks are the 100-plus-acre wooded glades and grassy banks of Villa Borghese, perfect for escaping most of the traffic of the capital. Not wanting to be a one-trick pony, though, the space is also home to an arena used for equestrian events and an impressive art-house cinema, complete with three projection halls, exhibition spaces and an outdoor cinema during ideal weather.
For some of the most impressive views overlooking the stunning city skyline, few spots can be considered quite as romantic as Pincio Hill. Though somewhat of a climb from Piazza del Popolo, you’ll find the effort to be more than worth it for the unique glimpse it will afford you over the likes of St. Peter’s and the Gianicolo Hill.
Rome’s Botanical Garden easily offers the city’s most impressive collection of flora from around the world. Dating back to the 17th Century, the garden comprises roughly 30 acres of exotic plant-life, from the serenity of the Japanese Garden to the humid tropical greenhouse and the splendidly colorful Rose Garden.