‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’
This age-old adage rings truer than ever when you step foot in the Eternal City. With its rich history, captivating culture, and mouthwatering cuisine, Rome is a city that beckons travelers from around the world. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply seeking a taste of la dolce vita, Rome has something to offer for everyone. Here are 25 of the must-visit sites for sightseeing in Rome.
1. The Colosseum
The Colosseum, a magnificent structure constructed between AD 70-80, stands as an enduring testament to Roman engineering prowess. With a seating capacity that could accommodate an astonishing 50,000 spectators, it was the epicentre of ancient entertainment. Today, as you step within its weathered walls, you can’t help but be transported back in time, envisioning the fierce gladiator battles and dramatic events that once unfolded on its sandy floor. As you explore this iconic amphitheatre, you’ll find yourself immersed in the echoes of a bygone era. And when hunger strikes, make sure to indulge in Roman street food, with delicacies like supplì, delectable fried rice balls, beckoning from nearby vendors.
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2. The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum, a historical treasure that thrived for centuries as the heart of Roman public life, invites you to embark on a journey through time. As you wander through its sprawling ruins, you’ll be surrounded by the vestiges of a once-vibrant city centre where important decisions were made, speeches were delivered, and history was shaped. Marvel at the remnants of ancient temples, arches, and government buildings that have stood the test of time. After immersing yourself in history, satisfy your appetite with classic Roman pasta dishes at a nearby trattoria, offering a taste of both the past and the present.
3. Palatine Hill
Palatine Hill, one of the Seven Hills of Rome and the centre of Roman mythology, invites you to explore its ancient ruins and breathtaking views. As you wander through the ruins, you’ll gain insight into the mythological and historical significance of this storied hill. To complete your experience, try carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style artichokes), a dish that adds a delicious layer of history to your culinary journey.
4. The Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums, home to an astounding collection of over 70,000 works of art, including the renowned Sistine Chapel, beckon art enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Begin your exploration of this vast treasure trove, marvelling at the diverse array of art, sculptures, and historical artefacts on display. Your journey through the museums culminates with the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel, where Michelangelo’s masterpiece ceiling fills your vision with breathtaking beauty. Once you’ve immersed yourself in this artistic wonderland, treat yourself to a slice of pizza al taglio from a nearby bakery, savouring a slice of Roman culinary tradition.
5. The Pantheon
The Pantheon, a marvel of architecture and engineering, boasts a fascinating claim to fame: its dome still stands as the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. As you approach this iconic monument, your eyes will be drawn upward to the oculus, a circular opening in the dome that allows a beam of natural light to illuminate the interior. Step inside to admire the grandeur of this ancient temple, which has been repurposed as a Christian church. Whether you’re appreciating the impressive architecture or gazing up at the open sky through the oculus, the Pantheon offers a truly awe-inspiring experience. When it’s time for a refreshment, savour a coffee or gelato in the charming nearby Piazza della Rotonda.
6. Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain, a Baroque masterpiece, is steeped in legends and lore. As you approach this iconic fountain, you’ll learn the fun fact that tossing a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain ensures your return to Rome. Take a moment to make a wish and participate in this time-honoured tradition. The fountain’s cascading waters create a mesmerising backdrop for your contemplation. To satisfy your sweet tooth, indulge in tiramisu from a nearby café, allowing the flavours of Italy to linger on your palate.
7. Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is a bustling square in Rome known for its baroque palaces and the famous Fountain of the Four Rivers by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The square’s history dates back to ancient Rome when it was a stadium. Today, it’s a vibrant hub where street artists and musicians entertain visitors. The Fountain of the Four Rivers is a masterpiece, representing four major rivers. Piazza Navona’s rich history, stunning architecture, and lively atmosphere make it a must-visit destination in Rome.
8. Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps, made famous by Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday,” are more than just a cinematic landmark; they offer a captivating view of Piazza di Spagna. Ascend the steps and find yourself amidst a lively atmosphere, where both locals and tourists gather to enjoy the scenery and the vibrant ambiance of the city. For a taste of authentic Roman cuisine, venture to a local restaurant and savour the unique flavours of artichokes prepared in traditional Roman style.
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9. Capitoline Hill
Capitoline Hill, home to Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio design, beckons art and history enthusiasts alike. Visit the Capitoline Museums to discover an impressive collection of art and historical artefacts. As you explore the exhibits, you’ll gain insight into Rome’s rich cultural heritage. Conclude your visit with a plate of pasta amatriciana, a classic Roman dish that encapsulates the city’s culinary tradition.
10. Galleria Borghese
The Galleria Borghese houses a magnificent collection of sculptures and paintings, showcasing the artistic brilliance of Bernini and other renowned artists. Admire Bernini’s masterpieces, including the exquisite “Apollo and Daphne,” as you journey through this elegant gallery. To complete your cultural experience, treat yourself to Roman-style fried artichokes, a culinary delight that mirrors the artistic excellence within the gallery.
11. Castel Sant’Angelo
Castel Sant’Angelo, originally constructed as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, stands as a testament to the enduring history of Rome. Explore the intriguing mix of architectural styles that have shaped the castle’s identity over the centuries. Ascend to the terrace for a commanding view of the city and the Tiber River, providing a sense of connection to the past and present. After your exploration, savour fried cod fillets at a nearby friggitoria, offering a taste of Roman street food.
12. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the four papal major basilicas in Rome, boasts stunning architecture and intricate mosaics. Step inside this sacred space to admire the grandeur of its design and the artistry that adorns its walls. As you gaze at the mosaics that depict religious narratives, you’ll be transported to another era. To complement your experience, try carciofi alla romana, Roman-style artichokes, a dish that embodies the city’s culinary heritage.
13. Aventine Hill
Aventine Hill offers a unique and enchanting view of St. Peter’s Basilica through a priory gate’s keyhole. Embark on a quest to find this iconic vantage point, and once you do, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view framed by lush greenery. Capture the perfect photo op that encapsulates the essence of Rome’s beauty. Afterward, indulge in a traditional Roman pizza with a crispy thin crust, savouring the flavours of the city.
14. Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo, the largest square in Rome, is adorned with an Egyptian obelisk that adds an exotic touch to its grandeur. Spend time people-watching and admiring the surrounding architecture, which reflects the city’s rich history. To satisfy your culinary cravings, sample supplì and indulge in a scoop of Roman-style gelato, savouring the sweetness of Rome’s culinary delights.
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15. Baths of Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla, a sprawling complex that could accommodate 1,600 bathers at a time, offer a fascinating glimpse into ancient Roman leisure. Explore the well-preserved ruins, where you can imagine the opulence and grandeur of public bathing in antiquity. After your exploration, sip on a classic Italian espresso at a nearby café, savouring the essence of Italian culture.
16. St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world, is an architectural marvel that dominates the skyline of Vatican City. Its stunning dome, designed by Michelangelo, beckons visitors to ascend for panoramic views of the eternal city. As you climb to the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see, providing a unique perspective on the historic city below. After your ascent, relish a Roman-style porchetta sandwich from a nearby eatery, combining the spiritual and the gastronomic in one unforgettable experience.
17. Campo de’ Fiori
Campo de’ Fiori, a vibrant square in Rome, bursts with life during the day as it hosts a bustling food and flower market. Meander through the square, immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere. Discover stalls brimming with colourful blooms and an array of fresh, locally sourced produce. As the sun sets, the square transforms into a hub for dining al fresco, offering the perfect opportunity to sample porchetta sandwiches and fried artichokes, all while surrounded by the energy of this historic locale.
18. Ponte Sant’Angelo
Ponte Sant’Angelo, adorned with ten angel sculptures crafted by Bernini’s students, offers a picturesque passage across the Tiber River. Stroll across the bridge and take in the serene river views, with each angelic statue serving as a guardian of the city’s history. For an authentic Roman Jewish meal, seek out a nearby eatery and savour the flavours of tradition.
19. Villa Borghese Gardens
Villa Borghese Gardens, the third-largest public park in Rome, beckons nature lovers and art enthusiasts alike. Whether you choose to rent a rowboat on the picturesque lake or immerse yourself in the artistic treasures of the Borghese Gallery, you’ll find serenity and culture coexisting harmoniously. For a delightful al fresco meal, pack a picnic featuring fresh mozzarella and prosciutto, savouring the beauty of both art and nature.
Trastevere, a charming neighbourhood known for its mediaeval streets and lively nightlife, invites you to immerse yourself in its unique atmosphere. As you wander through its narrow alleys, you’ll encounter quaint piazzas and hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Embrace the opportunity to feast on Roman-style pizza and savour local wine, all while basking in the vibrant ambiance that defines Trastevere.
21. Circus Maximus
Circus Maximus, once the grandest chariot racing stadium of ancient Rome, now offers a serene place for a leisurely stroll. Immerse yourself in the historic ambiance as you meander through the sprawling grounds, conjuring images of the exhilarating races that once captivated the city. When it’s time to dine, opt for a hearty bowl of pasta carbonara from a nearby trattoria, allowing the flavors of Italy to transport you through time.
22. Appian Way
The Appian Way, one of the earliest and most important Roman roads, invites you to take a scenic journey along its ancient path. Whether you choose to embark on a bike ride or a leisurely walk, you’ll be surrounded by history at every turn. As you explore, savour a plate of pasta cacio e pepe, a simple yet flavorful dish that echoes the traditions of the past.
23. Altare della Patria
The Altare della Patria, also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, is a monumental tribute to Italy’s unification. Explore this grand monument and pay your respects at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a solemn reminder of sacrifice and patriotism. As you take in the architectural splendour, try a classic Roman pasta dish featuring pancetta, a savoury taste of Italian culinary tradition.
24. Janiculum Hill
Janiculum Hill offers one of the most spectacular panoramic views of Rome, making it a must-visit location for photographers and enthusiasts of breathtaking vistas. Pay a visit to the Garibaldi Monument and enjoy the sweeping view that unfolds before you. Capture the beauty of the city from this elevated vantage point. To enhance your experience, share a plate of bruschetta at a local trattoria, savouring the simple yet delicious flavours of Italian cuisine.
25. Bocca della Verità
The Bocca della Verità, featured in the movie “Roman Holiday” alongside Audrey Hepburn, holds an intriguing legend of truth-telling. Put your hand in the mouth of the sculpture and tell the truth, a playful ritual that has captivated visitors for generations. As you partake in this charming tradition, savour a Roman-style pizza with a crispy crust, embracing both the cultural and culinary aspects of Roman heritage.
Rome isn’t just a destination; it’s an immersion into the past, a celebration of artistry, and an embrace of the present. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or returning for the umpteenth time, Rome’s timeless beauty and magnetic charm are bound to leave an indelible mark on your heart. So, pack your bags, throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, explore different sightseeing sites, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the streets of Rome. Buon viaggio!