The Ultimate Guide to Rome: What to See and Do

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Rome plays a very important role in ancient history, as it was once a center of power, politics, and culture.  Today, the Eternal City is an open air museum waiting to be discovered! The Italian capital is the perfect blend of history, culture, and of course delicious cuisine! Next time you’re in Rome make sure to take a look at our guide of things to see and do!


When planning a trip to Rome, The Colosseum should be high on the list of places to visit! The ancient structure is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, and listed as one of the seven wonders. Roman emperors, and civilians alike used to attend frequent gladiator tournaments at the Colosseum.  The amphitheater could hold an estimate of 80,000 spectators, making it one of the largest ever built!

Roman Forum

Located next to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum is one of the most important Roman ruins in Italy.  Once the downtown of Ancient Rome, the Forum used to be the center of Roman political and public life.  Various temples, squares, arches, and churches make up this impressive sight! Climb up to the gardens to have a breathtaking few of the Forum from above! Make sure to buy your combination ticket for both the Colosseum and Roman Forum ahead of time.


The ancient temple dedicated to “All of the Gods,” is one of the best-preserved buildings in the world. Several Italian kings and artists have tombs inside the Pantheon, including Renaissance painter and architect, Raphael.  The architecture is probably one of the most fascinating aspects of the ancient building! The large dome is larger than that of St. Peter’s Basilica, and has an oculus in the center for natural light to enter.

Spanish Steps

Photo by: Mike McBey

There might not seem to be anything special about a staircase, but the Spanish steps are definitely another must see when in Rome! Located in one of the most famous neighborhoods in Rome, the Spanish Steps connect Piazza di Spagna to the Church of Trinita dei Monti. Climb the 135 steps, to take in the views of the piazza, relax on the stairs, or hit the luxury surrounding shops on Via Condotti, Via Frattina, and Via del Babuino.

Fontana di Trevi

The Trevi Fountain is a favourite amongst most travelers!  The lavishly decorated fountain constructed in 1762 pays tribute to the Roman God, Oceanus.  Located within walking distance of the Pantheon and Spanish Steps, this Italian landmark is not to be missed. Once there don’t forget to throw a coin into the water over your shoulder for good luck!

Picnic in Villa Borghese

For a bit of relaxation, nature, and beautiful Roman artwork, Villa Borghese is the perfect place. The gardens, located near Piazza del Popolo, are one of the largest in Europe.  The park is home to the Borghese Gallery, and the Gallery of Modern Art, which contain paintings, from Raphael, and Caravaggio.  Take a boat ride in the lake, or bring a picnic and enjoy a quiet afternoon marveling at the beauty of Rome’s 3rd largest park.

The Vatican

Vatican City is an independent city-state located in the heart of Rome. It is actually the smallest state in Europe, with only about 1000 inhabitants (including the Pope).  Although small, there are many sites and attractions to visit in Vatican City!  Wander through the impressive St. Peter’s Square, explore the many Vatican Museums, and marvel at the beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica.  Among the Vatican Museums, is the famous Sistine Chapel.  Designed by Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel is one of the greatest treasures of Vatican  City, and a must see while in Rome!

St. Peter’s Basilica

Located in Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches ever built, and remains one of the holiest sites in Christendom.  Furthermore, it is the site where the Pope leads liturgies throughout the year.  The Dome is one of the most impressive elements of the famous Basilica, and has inspired many other buildings, such as, the Capitol in Washing DC, and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.  A visit to the Basilica is a once in a lifetime experience. Make sure to arrive early, and wear appropriate clothing if you would like to enter (trousers for men, and covered knees and shoulders for women).

Piazza Navona

The public square was once the site of the Stadium of Domitian, dating back to 86 AD. Approximately 20,000 spectators would gather to watch varying athletic competitions take place. Today, Piazza Navona is famous for its three central fountains, and surrounding restaurants and terraces. Enjoy a delicious Italian meal while watching performances by local street artists, and musicians.

Aperitivo in Trastevere

Trastevere, which means “across the river” is a charming neighborhood south of the Vatican. It’s maze of narrow streets and ancient piazzas are full of shops and restaurants waiting to be discovered!  Often referred to as a “real Roman neighborhood,” the colorful area is the perfect place for an aperitivo. For all of those unaware, “aperitivo” is simply a drink served with small hors d’oeuvres before dinner.  Sit at one of the piazzas, or at one of the many restaurants along the Tiber River, and enjoy an authentic Italian evening.

If you’re a lover of the arts, ancient history, or simply just a lover of travel, I’m sure you will fall in love with the capital of Italy. For those planning a trip to Rome, check here to search for cheap flights, hotels, and rental cars! Finally don’t forget to take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Planning Weekend Trips, to help with all of your future travels!


Leah has been living in and exploring Madrid since 2013 when she moved to the city for a simple summer abroad. She started the Citylife Blog in 2014 with the goal to share everything there is to know about her favourite place on earth!

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