From decadent pasta and gelato, handicrafts and haute couture, baroque churches and world-class art museums, there are enough sights in Rome to keep you entertained for years. Whether you're on a short trip or a lengthy stay, here are the top things to do in Rome.
Explore ancient ruins at the Roman Forum
The archaeological site of the Roman Forum is filled with ancient ruins and cobblestoned streets that date back to 500 B.C. You can see remnants of Imperial Rome like Trajan's Column, Circus Maximus and the Arch of Titus, all with the help of a guide to bring these historic stories to life. After checking out the ruins, you can experience the Bocca della Verità, a stone carving of a bearded man that's reputed to bite the hand of anyone telling a lie.
Marvel at the Colosseum
Long recognized as the symbol of Rome, the Colosseum has a storied past that dates back to 80 A.D. Once the site of great gladiatorial combats and animal battles, the large Roman amphitheatre is now a stunning ruin that stands in testament to the bloody history.
Wonder at the Pantheon
Named as a temple for all the gods, the Pantheon is the burial place of Roman kings and prominent historic figures, such as Raphael. Built between 118 and 128 A.D., the Pantheon is a feat of architecture that was once the world's largest dome and is still regarded as an architecturally perfect monument. Once inside, you can view the sky through the oculus in the dome.
Sightsee at Piazza Navona
The magnificent Piazza Navona is a bustling public space with restaurants, souvenir shops, gelaterias and museums. Baroque art is on display, including Bernini's carved figures of Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. Down the street, you'll find the Santa Maria della Pace and its spectacular white portico.
Explore the Vatican
The Vatican and its museums are among the best sights in Rome. Here you'll find such masterpieces as Bernini's Piazza di San Pietro, St. Peter's Basilica and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms, antique sculptures and paintings from the old masters. Castel Sant'Angelo is just south of Vatican City, where you can climb to the top for views of the entire area.
Climb the Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna
Piazza di Spagna is home to high-end boutiques on Via dei Condotti, Rome's renowned shopping street. You can climb the famous steps to the church to view the piazza and Bernini's fountain from the top, climb Villa Medici for stunning views of the Centro Storico or visit the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, a hidden gem of a museum.
Shop at Trastevere
Across the Tiber, you'll find a hip and bohemian neighbourhood with boutiques selling jewellery, perfumes, crafts and artwork on cobblestone streets. When the sun goes down, Trastevere bustles with activity in bars and restaurants along the street.
Make a wish in the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is a must-visit on a trip to Rome. The awe-inspiring baroque masterpiece has a marble statue of Oceanus and his tritons, and the legend says that you'll return to Rome if you throw a coin in the fountain. It's also a beautiful place to take in views of the city and snap a few photos of the spectacular sculptures.
Admire artwork in the Galleria Borghese
The Galleria Borghese is home to an expansive collection of baroque art and a spectacular historic villa. You'll find treasures like Antonio Canova's sculpture of Napoleon's sister, Bernini's Apollo and Daphne and Caravaggio's self-portrait. You can also explore the Villa Borghese park and its vibrant flowers and orange trees.
Get in touch with nature at Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo is the ideal spot to spend a sunny day. You can take a rowboat out on the lake, see a play at the replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, visit the zoo or stop in the Etruscan Museum in Villa Giulia and Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna museums.
Find unique treasures at Centro Storico
The narrow cobblestone streets of Centro Storico hold treasures like baroque art, boutiques with wooden figures or precious jewellery, trendy gelaterias and cafes and private courtyards of wealthy Romans. Take the time to wander the streets to find unique treasures and marvel at the architecture.
Check out modern art at MAXXI
Though Rome boasts some lovely ancient art museums, there are numerous modern art museums to explore as well. MAXXI, the Museum of 21st Century Art, is filled with masterpieces of modern and contemporary art. The building is all glass with wide open spaces and ethereal staircases that showcase the rotating and permanent exhibits.
Climb Gianicolo for panoramic views
Gianicolo is the highest vantage point in Rome and offers spectacular vistas of the city. It's a popular spot for couples, and you can see many of Rome's most beautiful monuments, such as the Palazzo Venezia and Spanish Steps. For an authentic experience, ride up the winding road to the top on a Vespa.
Rome offers a once-in-a-lifetime holiday experience with art, architecture, fabulous food and unique museums. If you have an upcoming holiday in Rome, you might want to have a read of our guides on the dishes you must eat and how to find the best gelato whilst you're there.