Top 10 Things to Do in Rome
I once walked past some graffiti on a wall in Rome that read: “Rome, you are like Disney Land meets a museum. Thank you.”.
I could not have summated this city into 11 more accurate words myself. Rome is indeed like a cultural, adult theme park with attractions lurking around every corner of the city center.
Whether you’re into shopping, art, history, ruins, architecture, theatre, music or simply just Italian food, Rome has something to please us all. What follows is a list of ten things everyone should do in Rome at least once during their first visit.
1. Toss a Coin Into the Trevi Fountain in Rome
If you’ve watched any film ever set in Rome then you’re probably well aware of the cliche of tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain for good luck.
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world. It’s a Baroque work of art, dating back to 1732 when construction first began.
The attraction is always packed with people; everyone wanting to get a photograph by the water or make their lucky toss. People watching for failed selfie attempts is endless fun here.
2. Visit St Peters Basilica in Rome
Another Roman attraction that is world famous is St Peters Basilica; the Italian Renaissance church in the Vatican City.
Thousands of people from around the world make their pilgrimage to this holy space every day. Since the pope resides inside of the Vatican City, St Peters is where he makes his regular appearances to the public. It is one of the biggest churches in the world, with a capacity of 60,000 people.
3. Walk Through Rome, The Eternal City
Rome is by no means small, but with the right walking shoes and a determined attitude, one can cover a significant amount of ground on foot in a day.
The thing about Rome is that between every main attraction is glorious street life and residential architecture; so waking ensures you get to see as much as possible.
It’s easy to self guid through Rome, but a free guided walking tour through the city center is a great time saver that puts navigation into the hands of someone more experienced with the city. One thing you’ll notice in Rome are the ridiculously big intersections that require you to walk two blocks in the wrong direction just to get to the direction you need.
4. Eat the Best Pasta in the World in Rome
Where to eat the very best pasta in Rome needs an entire article in itself. For now all you need to know that the best pastas in the world definitely reside in Rome, and it’s a process of elimination for you to track down your best one.
The streets of Rome are saturated by trattorias offering simple menus and world class pastas. The thing about Italian cuisine is that the recipes and techniques are passed through tradition & families — there are no two dishes that will ever be made exactly the same between each restaurant.
5. See the Pantheon in Rome
Considering its age, it is astounding that the Pantheon in Rome should still be standing today. The building was constructed in 118 AD and remains one of the best preserved ancient Roman buildings on the planet.
It is today considered a church, rather than the temple it used to be, and is open for public viewing on a daily basis.
6. Go Inside of the Colosseum in Rome
The Colosseum sneaks up on you in Rome; one minute you’re getting off the metro because there’s a vintage store you wanted to check out nearby, suddenly the Colosseum in all its glory is right there (Read more about Discover walking tours).
Seeing it from the outside is one thing. Seeing it from the inside is definitely worthwhile, regardless of the long lines and steep entrance fee. It’s utterly mind blowing to walk under the stone archways that the gladiators did in ancient times.
7. Wander Through the Cimitero Acattolico in Rome
Where do non-Catholics go when they die in Rome? They go to the Cimitero Acattolico.
That’s right, this cemetery has served as the official resting ground for non-Catholics since 1784. The residents include Buddhists, atheists, scientologists, Muslims and everyone else who doesn’t fit the Catholic mould.
It’s a beautiful garden cemetery and undoubtedly one of the most tranquil parts of Rome. There are a lot of European artists buried here, look out for names on their tombs as you stroll through.
8. Shop at the Testaccio Market in Rome
Italian culinary traditions are said to have largely originated in the Testaccio neighborhood in Rome. This was also the site of the largest animal slaughterhouse in Europe, and employees were paid in discarded animal parts that could not be sold.
Today the Testaccio Market is a great revival of this culinary journey in Rome. You can taste different Italian street foods inside of the market and even sample some local wines and bees.
9. Marvel at the Sistine Chapel in Rome
A tour of the Vatican Museums will include a visit to the Sistine Chapel. I am not usually one to jump on the tourism bandwagon, but this really is a sight that is worth the time, money and effort spent getting to Rome.
Seeing Michelangelo’s work across the ceiling is one of the most fulfilling feelings you’ll have in the city. Not a work of art that is easily put into words.
10. Go Swimming at Hydromania in Rome
Rome can get hot and there really aren’t a lot of places to swim, especially if you’re not staying at a luxury hotel that offers a pool on site.
The Hydromania complex is situated slightly outside of the city center. It can be accessed by taxi or by bus and offers many pools, slides and water activities for the whole family to enjoy.
There are also bars, restaurants and retail stores on site so you can send the whole day here. Entrance is around €17 for kids and €22 for adults.