Rome / Rome attractions & sightseeing

Things to do in Rome: attractions & landmarks

Top 25 Rome tourist attractions, sightseeing, what to do & highlights

Rome attractions

Top 25 Best things to do in Rome Italy, sightseeing and all must-see sites, tourist attractions, famous museums, Roman monuments, travel guide and historic landmarks. What to do, highlights and best attractions to see in Rome?

Best things to do in Rome Italy - Top 25 Rome attractions

Rome is a city full of museums, historic squares, rich food culture, Roman landmarks and other highlights. The Italian city has more to offer than just the main Rome tourist attractions like the Colosseum, the Pantheon and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. To prepare your visit to this city, our travel guides shows you the top 25 of the most famous sightseeing and most beautiful Rome attractions. Click one of the must-see highlights, places to visit or Roman landmarks for more information on this unique monuments, museums, tourist attractions and best things to do in Rome Italy:


1. Places to visit: Colosseum

The number 1 attraction of Rome is the Colosseum; the large amphitheatre that housed 65,000 spectators in Roman days. Gladiators battled each other as well as wild animals in the Colosseum's arena, which is considered one of the seven modern wonders of the world. In the giant ‘ruins’ of the Colosseum, you can visit the stands, the arena and the underground spaces of the largest Roman amphitheatre. More info how to visit the famous landmark 'Colosseum'.

📌 Warning: Because of the huge number of visitors, it is always necessary to book Colosseum tickets in advance.

sightseeing rome

2. Trevi Fountain of Rome

The most famous fountain in the capital of Italy and perhaps even the world must be the ‘Fontana di Trevi’, or Trevi Fountain. This baroque fountain, located on the Piazza di Trevi, was built in the 18th century and a must see at the list of 'best things to do in Rome'. The landmark and monument displays the god of the sea, Neptune on his chariot. No visit or Rome sightseeing is complete without tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain, as this means the person throwing the coin will ‘one day return to Rome Italy’.

Pantheon Rome landmarks

3. Must see: Pantheon

One of the best maintained buildings from Roman times is the Pantheon. What function the building had in those days is still not clear, but the Pantheon was given to the pope by emperor Hadrian in 608. The current church has several unique funerary monuments (painter Raphael and a few Italian kings), as well as a remarkably large and open dome (oculus). Since a while you need to buy tickets to visit the Roman Pantheon.

St. Peter’s Basilica

4. St. Peter’s Basilica

The St. Peter’s Basilica, or ‘Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano’ is the spiritual centre of the Catholic Church and residence of the pope. The enormous basilica, located in the independent state of Vatican City and next to St Peter's Square, was built on what is believed to be the grave of Peter. St. Peter’s Basilica contains masterpieces such as Bernini's baldachin and ‘La Pieta’ by Michelangelo, but you can also visit the crypts with 148 papal tombs. Plan your visit to St Peter's well ahead, or you will likely be standing in line for a long time.

Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel

5. Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel

Over the centuries, the popes amassed an enormous art collection varying from Roman objects and religious relics to countless paintings. In the Vatican Museums you can visit 54 richly decorated rooms and view these art treasures of the Catholic church. The highlight for many visitors is likely to be the famous Sistine Chapel. The chapel with lovely frescos by Michelangelo that is mostly known as the site of conclave when a new pope is elected. Because it gets so many visitors, this attraction has by far the longest lines.

📌 Important: It's always important to book your Vatican Museum tickets online, so you can visit the museum at your desired time. During high season, tickets are sold out days in advance!

Rome tourist attractions

6. Roman sights of Forum Romanum & Palatine

The Forum Romanum was the centre of the ancient Roman Empire. During your visit to the Forum Romanum, you will walk past Roman excavations and the archaeological park full of old temples, arches, market halls and other important buildings built there by different emperors. Next to the forum lies Palatine Hill, where you will find excavations of imperial residences. More info 'Forum Romanum'

📌 Recommended: The best way to visit the Roman Forum is with a guided tour, so you can better understand the history of the archaeological excavations. Most tours will combine a visit with the Colosseum and Palatine Hill (view the options for guided tours).

Piazza Navona Rome

7. Famous places: Piazza Navona

One of the most remarkable squares and best places to visit in Rome is Piazza Navona. The famous square therefore owes its elongated shape to its original purpose as a Roman athletics stadium. Interesting sights on the square include a number of fountains, such as the ‘La Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi’ by Bernini, an interesting obelisk, and you can visit the excavations of the old stadium of Domitianus. In addition, Piazza Navona is a lively square with many street performers, cafés and terraces.

Castel Sant'Angelo

8. Castel Sant’Angelo

Originally, the 2nd-century Castel Sant’Angelo, or Castle of the Holy Angel, was a mausoleum for emperor Hadrian. After archangel Michael appeared here in 590 and ended a plague, pope Pius II had a large bronze statue of the angels placed on top of the castle. The Castle of the Holy Angel was part of Rome's defences and offered a place where popes could shelter, as the Vatican was connected to it by a tunnel.

Rome sightseeing, activities & landmarks

Galleria Borghese

9. Galleria & Villa Borghese

The name ‘Villa Borghese’ refers to the largest and most beautiful park in Rome. At one time, this estate belonged to the very wealthy cardinal Scipione Borghese, and was built around the villa of the same name. Since 1903, it has been in the possession of the municipality of Rome and serves as a public park. The ‘Galleria Borghese’ can also be found in the park, a museum displaying the large private art collection of Borghese. The gallery contains sculptures and paintings by artists such as Caravaggio, Rubens, Bernini and Leonardo da Vinci.

Rome attractions

10. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the four papal churches and the largest Marian church in Rome Italy. The church on the Esquiline hill is from the 5th century and still contains many authentic mosaics. It also has a distinctive golden ceiling. It is said that there are even pieces of wood from the crib of Jesus under the altar.

Trastevere highlights

11. Sights of Trastevere

On the opposite bank of the river Tiber lies the old working-class neighbourhood of Rome. Trastevere is a typical Italian neighbourhood where you can get lost in a maze of narrow streets, see old medieval houses, and go for a lively night out in the area's many restaurants and bars. What to do in Trastevere?

spanish steps

12. Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna)

At the foot of the French church ‘Trinita dei Monti’ lie the 135 steps of the Spanish Steps. The Spanish Steps decent to the Piazza di Spagna, where you will find a distinctive fountain by Pietro Bernini. The 18th-century Spanish Steps have grown into a tourist hotspot, and the top of the stairs offers a gorgeous view of Rome.

Rome attractions

13. Rome landmarks: Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II

One of the most remarkable of Rome landmarks, the monument of the first Italian king Vittorio Emanuelle II, is located next to the Piazza Venezia square. The building is also called the ‘Altare della Patria’ – the altar of the fatherland – and commemorates the unification of Italy. Romans also use nicknames for it such as ‘typewriter’ and ‘wedding cake’. The colossal white building also contains a museum and the tomb of the unknown soldier, which is guarded by two soldiers.

Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano

14. Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano

The remarkable thing about the archbasilica of St John Lateran is that the ‘San Giovanni in Laterano’ technically has the status of most important church of Rome Italy. It is one of the four papal basilicas and the cathedral of the Roman diocese. The baroque-looking church has been modified many times over the century, including the addition of the distinctive façade with statues by Alessandro Galilei.

Appian Way

16. Via Appia Antica & Catacombs

Via Appia Antica (or Roman Appian Way) is one of the oldest roads into Rome from Roman times. The road with its large cables and lined with many cypresses was originally intended for trade and moving military troops more quickly. The Via Appia road was located just outside the city walls, which meant there were many funerary monuments and catacombs on the side of it, like the Catacombs of San Callisto.

📌 Personal favorite: The best way to visit the Via Appia and its tourist attractions is with this guided bike tour.

Piazza del Popolo sights

16. Piazza del Popolo

The Piazza del Popolo is a large neo-classical square from the 19th century, originally intended to welcome visitors who entered the city from the north. Noteworthy sights on the square are the two identical churches built across from each other, the city gate ‘Porta del Popolo’, an enormous Egyptian obelisk and the steps that let you climb Pincio Hill for a wonderful view.

Domus Aurea Rome Italy

17. What to do: Domus Aurea

Domus Aurea are the excavations of Nero's "Golden House". Since 2014 it is possible to visit the remains of this huge palace in a very nice way; with this guided tour where you can experience what the huge palace must have looked like at the time. The tour is only available on Saturdays and Sundays, as restoration work is underway for the rest of the week. A lesser-known Rome tourist attraction, but one of my personal favorites. Reservation is necessary (more Domus Aurea).

rome sightseeing by bike

18. Things to do: Rome sightseeing by bike

An easy way to discover much of the Rome landmarks is by bicycle. Rent a bike yourself, or even better, join this guided bike tour (or this E-bike tour) with an English-speaking guide to explore the landmarks and sights of Rome. In a few hours you will see many highlights and you will hear interesting stories about the history of the Roman landmarks. Highly recommended! The tours are very popular, so we recommend that you book in advance (more info & bike tour bookings).

rome sightseeing

19. Palazzo Colonna or Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

In Rome there are a number of beautiful city palaces from the 16th and 17th centuries. These palaces are all splendor with overwhelming private collections of paintings and frescoes. During your city trip, it is worth visiting at least one palace and its associated galleries. I prefer two palaces; if you are in Rome on a Saturday morning I recommend you the Colonna Gallery, on other days you can visit the Doria Pamphilj Gallery.

Basilica San Clemente al Laterano

20. Basilica di San Clemente al Laterano

The basilica, dedicated to pope Clement I, is not one of the most impressive churches of Roma at a first glance of its interior. What makes this Basilica of San Clemente special is that multiple church buildings were built on top of each other over the centuries. During your visit, you will have the opportunity to get to know the history of the church through excavations of a 4th-century church, a secret church from the 1st century and Roman foundations.

Things to do in Rome

21. Weird things to do in Rome: Capuchin crypt

A very bizarre place to visit in Rome is the Capuchin crypt. In five chapels under the "Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini" church, the bones and skulls of nearly 3,600 Capuchin brothers have been incorporated as works of art in the crypts. In the museum you will learn more about the Capuchin Brothers, after which you will visit these very special crypts.

Rome attractions

22. Domus Romane

Below Palazzo Valentini, next to the Forum of Trajan, are the remains of some Roman houses and baths. After a few days in the capital of Italy, you are probably tired of all the stones and archaeological excavations, which is why Domus Romane is highly recommended. The excavations are brought to life with the help of a tour with visual animations and effects. Last visit to Rome, this was my positive surprise. It is recommended to book because of the small groups allowed (more Domus Romane).

churches of Rome

23. Churches, churches and more churches

Roma counts as much as 900 churches. Be sure to spontaneously step into a church during your Rome visit; even the least famous churches are often beautiful. This article gives you more details about 15 of Rome's most special churches.

Baths of Caracalla

24. Baths of Caracalla

The ‘Terme di Caracalla’ are the ruins of the immense bathhouse (baths) from the 3rd century CE. At one time, it was the largest bath complex of Rome with a capacity of 2,500 visitors. Unfortunately, earthquakes and plundering of building materials have left their marks. However, the archaeological digs give a good impression of how truly huge the baths of emperor Caracalla were in those days.

Things to do in Rome: Tours & Activities

No. 25 t/m 40 'Things to see in Rome'

places to visit in rome25. Places to visit: Campo de' Fiori
things to see in rome26. Piazza del Campidoglio: Capitoline Museums
what to do in rome27. Baths of Diocleziano

You can easily spend a whole week in Rome city, and in fact there are plenty of other things to see that could have been in this Top 25 list. Therefore, as a bonus, a short list of places to visit in Rome Italy number 25 to 40:

25. Campo de' Fiori & Food Tours: what to do in Rome center? Campo de' Fiori a lively square in the old center with a daily fresh market with flowers, vegetables, fruit and herbs. In the evening Campo de' Fiori is also a lively square due to the bars and terraces around this square. Also fun is this street food tour where you will taste the flavors of Rome around Campo de' Fiori and the Jewish Quarter. This street food tour is the best way to learn about the rich food culture!

26. Capitoline Museums: these 'Musei Capitolini’ are a number of museums located on Piazza del Campidoglio on top of the Capitol. They belong to the better museums of Rome city with a lot of classical sculpture.

27. Museo Nazionale Romano: four archaeological museums, one of them is located in the Baths of Diocleziano. Other locations of Museo Nazionale Romano are the museums of Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Palazzo Altemps and Crypta Balbi.

28. Vatican Gardens: behind the Vatican Museums lies 23 hectares of Vatican Gardens which make up more than fifty percent of the surface of Vatican City. It is possible to visit these gardens with this official tour of the Vatican.

29. Circus Maximus: unfortunately, there is not much left of Circus Maximus, the gigantic chariot racing stadium, but a short view will give you a good impression how huge this stadium has been.

things to do in Rome Italy28. What to do in Rome: Vatican Gardens
Rome things to do29. Roman landmarks: Circus Maximus
tickets roma italy30. Colle del Gianicolo

30. Colle del Gianicolo: from this hill near the Trastevere district you have a magnificent view of Rome. Walking from Trastevere you will come across the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola and the equestrian statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi. You find a nice route from Trastevere to the Vatican at the bottom of the page of Trastevere.

31. Trajan's Markets: the Mercati di Traiano, located next to Trajan's Forum, was a five-storey semi-circular complex formerly used for shops and offices. Part of it now houses the Museum of the Imperial Forums.

32. Stadio Olimpico: this huge stadium used to be an Olympic Stadium, but nowadays you can follow this guided tour in the stadium of both AS Roma and Lazio to learn all about these legendary clubs.

33. Boat trip on the Tiber: a relaxing way to experience the Tiber River that flows through Rome city is with a boat trip, for example with this evening cruise while you enjoy a snack and drink.

34. Bioparco: in the gigantic city park Villa Borghese is also Bioparco, Rome's 17-hectare zoo, which is over a hundred years old.

must see in rome31. Places to go: Trajan's Markets
what to do in rome32. What to do in Rome: Olympic Stadium
must see37. Roman sites: Ara Pacis

35. Welcome to Rome: this immersive multimedia exhibition takes you on a journey in a time machine to explore ancient and new Rome. Nice activity to start your city trip and learn more about the history of the Roman city. Recommended to book your time slot.

36. Palazzo Barberini: this 17th century palace Palazzo Barberini near Piazza Barberini now houses the 'Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica', the most important national collection older paintings in Rome Italy.

37. Ara Pacis: the Ara Pacis Augusta is an intricately detailed altar dedicated to peace dating back to 9 BC. at the time it stood outside the city on Campus Martius, but can now be admired beautifully restored.

38. Mamertine Prison: near the Forum Romanum is Carcere Mamertino, the dark place where, according to legend, the apostles Peter and Paul were imprisoned.

39. Torre Argentina: in the center of Rome Italy are the ancient ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina, which today serves as a shelter for more than 150 cats. Not to be missed if you take a walk through the old town.

More unique activities

Day trips from Rome

40. Day trips from Rome: from the city center you can easily undertake a number of day trips. In this article, you will find an extensive overview of the 12 best day trips from Rome. The best activities if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Rome city:

Ostia Antica

Roman sightseeing in Ostia Antica

If you want a break from the bustle of the city of Rome Italy, a great day trip is to visit the archaeological digs of the old Roman harbour town of ‘Ostia Antica’. This archaeological park is located 30 kilometres west of Roma, has a good connection by train and you can take your time wandering the 100 hectares of Roman excavations and tourist attractions in the Roman old harbour.

Castel Gandolfo

Day trip: Castel Gandolfo

Castel Gandolfo is only 25 kilometers from Rome. This small town is easy to visit by train as a day trip from Rome and is known for the summer residence of the Pope (Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo) next to the beautiful lake of Lago Albano. Since a few years, Pope Francis, who does not use the Papal Palace itself, has opened the complex to the public. It is therefore a unique opportunity to visit this historic site with the beautiful Barberini Gardens. Reservation is necessary. More info about 'Castel Gandolfo'.

Villa d'Este Tivoli

Day trip Tivoli: Villa d'Este & Villa Adriana

The town of Tivoli is 29 kilometers east of Roma. In the green surroundings of Tivoli are two villas of the World Heritage List, namely the Renaissance Villa d'Este with a beautiful interior and beautiful gardens. The other sights are the Roman excavations of Villa Adriana, the enormous villa of Emperor Hadrian. Read more about the villas in Tivoli, a fun day trip from Rome.

Rome sights highlights attractions
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