I have to start by saying that putting together a 7-day tour in Rome is a very difficult task. Just browse the list of attractions in Rome: there are plenty of cool things to do, always lack of time! So, if you’re looking for the best things to do in Rome, I’m glad you’re here!
My first time in Rome happened because of a stopover (that amazing way of getting to know two destinations with one ticket). And it was a huge gift. Since that first time, I fell madly in love with the city. Today it is my favorite city in the world, and I feel a twinge of pride whenever I start talking about it or giving travel tips to friends. Everyone says they notice my love affair with the Eternal City.
Well, I hope you also enjoy these tips a lot. I explored everything I could in 7 days and will show in this article my 15 Top Tourist Attractions in Rome. Read on!
The place I most wanted to visit in Rome was, without a doubt, the Coliseum. Even if you’ve never been to the city and don’t know what to do in Rome, you’d definitely be able to recognize the Coliseum.
The stage for gladiator battles, the Coliseum, dates back to the year 72. The Flavian Amphitheater (another name for the Coliseum) was built to accommodate an audience of up to 50,000 people.
The place, which was the scene of many horrible deaths, is a historical and must-see place for all lovers of history and architecture. Highly valued by tourists, the Coliseum defied time and inspired the film, Gladiator. It is also considered the largest amphitheater of the Roman Empire in the world.
It is without doubt one of the top tourist attractions in Rome, in addition to being one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Important: With this same ticket, you are also entitled to visit the Roman Forum and Mount Palatine.
2. The Roman Forum
Visiting the Roman Forum is one of the best things to do in Rome, and it’s located right next to the Coliseum.
This was the heart of the social and commercial life of the entire Roman Empire. In its palaces, commercial transactions were carried out, laws were passed, convicts were sentenced, and the most important decisions of the empire were made. And in its squares and temples, the public and religious life of its citizens was carried out.
Walking through the Forum, I got to know other historic buildings, such as the Arch of Titus, the Giulia Basilica, and the Temple of Saturn. These ruins preserve the history of Rome and take you on a journey back in time. Get ready for a good walk all day.
3. Palatine Hill
Also in the region is the Palatino, squeezed between the Coliseum and the Roman Forum. As everything is very close, it is excellent to visit, so we do all these attractions on foot. In my ignorance, the first time I arrived, I thought it was all one.
The Palatino was one of my favorite places to visit in Rome. According to legend, this hill is where the twins Romulus and Remus were raised by a wolf. And where Romulus, after killing his brother, founded the city that later became Rome.
I always repeat that a guided tour is a must if you really want to understand what this place is all about. I got there and got a little lost. After all, they are ruins! Afterward, I saw the map explaining more or less what each thing was and my visit would be much more interesting if I had studied before or had gone with a guide. Anyway, I highly recommend it, as it was one of the best things I did in Rome.
4. Vatican City
To start the second day in Rome (which was Saturday), I chose to visit the Vatican. The smallest country in the world inside Rome. The idea was to make the most of the day and try to avoid the crowds that go to the Vatican on Sunday to meet the Pope.
I entered the Vatican through St. Peter’s Square. And as soon I was inside, I was impressed because its entire perimeter is full of columns that seemed to want to hug me.
I decided to take advantage of the first time to visit the Vatican Museums. I say “museums” in the plural because the place is a complex, with 17 different museums gathered in one place. In the museums, I saw sculptures, paintings, chandeliers, tapestries, sarcophagi, Egyptian art, Etruscan art, maps, ancient literary works, and more. It’s quite possible to spend a lifetime strolling inside.
I recommend buying Vatican museums tickets in advance! This was one of the longest lines I encountered in Rome.
5. St. Peter's Basilica
Then, I visited St. Peter’s Basilica, a tour that offers one of the most beautiful views of Rome and the Vatican. It is here in the Vatican, and more specifically in St. Peter’s Basilica that you will have the most spectacular view of Rome, in my opinion. It shows St. Peter’s Square, Castel Sant’Angelo and the River Tiber. In other words, it would be a shame to miss this place.
The bad news is that there is always a huge queue to get to the elevator that goes to the first level of the dome (and then you have to climb the stairs to get to the top). But it’s still worth the climb.
I ended the day with the sunset at St. Peter’s Square, an unforgettable moment of the trip. Definitely, this is one of the top tourist attractions in Rome that you can’t miss.
6. Castel Sant'Angelo
If you are in the Vatican, you have another monument a stone’s throw away, the Castel Sant’Angelo. It is located on the right bank of the Tiber River, and to access it, I had to cross a pedestrian bridge that bears the same name.
Initially made as a family mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian, it underwent several transformations over time, not only in terms of architecture, but also in relation to its use. It has functioned as a mausoleum, military fortress, state prison, and national museum since 1925.
The castle has five levels to visit, where I was able to see the mausoleum, the jail, a military museum, and the papal apartment with fresco paintings. On the upper level, you’ll find the statue of the archangel.
This is one of the top attractions in Rome! This has been a designated public space since the 15th century, and it is undoubtedly the most beautiful baroque square in Rome. It’s three fountains that stand out are:
- Neptune Fountain: in this fountain, the god Neptune is seen attacking sea lions. In each of the cardinal points of the fountain, there is a nereid. We also find horses that were added after the first construction of the fountain.
- Fountain of the Four Rivers: the four most important rivers of the time are represented here, which were the Ganges, the Danube, the Nile, and the Rio. At the center of this fountain, there is a 16-meter high obelisk.
- Source of the Moor: the source of the Moor represents an African fighting a dolphin and surrounded by newts.
The Piazza is a fun place to be and often features artists and street markets, depending on the time of day and week you visit.
8. The Pantheon
It is the most preserved ancient monument in Rome! A temple over 2000 years old but refurbished several times. Today it is a church with the tomb of important characters in Italian history, such as Raphael and Kings Humberto I and Emanuel II.
When I entered, there was no way to remain indifferent to the giant gray dome. Once the largest dome in the world until the 16th century, it is also one of the symbols of Rome. In the dome, there is an oculus through which the light enters, which makes the Pantheon always illuminated with natural light.
After visiting the Pantheon, you can take the opportunity to have a drink. I saw many bars and restaurants in the surroundings.
9. Spanish Steps
At first, this sounded strange to me, “a Spanish steps” in Rome. For a long time, the square was the territory area of Spain. This is because the Spanish embassy is at the southern end.
These steps are among the top tourist attractions in Rome and are surrounded by some of the most famous streets in the city, such as Via Dei Condotti, full of shops and restaurants.
In this lively square full of tourists, I could not resist climbing the 135 steps of the staircase that took me to the church of Trinita Dei Monti, where I enjoyed a magnificent sunset and excellent views.
It is common for tourists to take their food to sit on benches in Piazza di Spagna, taking into account that it is forbidden to do so on the steps.
10. Catacombs of San Calisto
Going down to one of the best Roman catacombs, such as that of San Calisto, is another of the best things to do in Rome.
The catacombs are underground galleries that were used as burial sites from the beginning of Christianity until the 5th century. Although they are found in other cities in the world, those of Rome are the oldest and most extensive.
Most of them are located near the Via Appia, one of the most important roads that are preserved from antiquity and another of the places to visit in Rome. Visits to the interior are always carried out with a guide since getting lost in any of them could be quite dangerous, and it is not recommended for people who have acute claustrophobia.
11. The Trevi Fountain
It is another of the places I most wanted to visit in Rome. I was walking, and at some point between ice cream and another, I saw a sign indicating the Trevi Fountain and followed. The detail of the sculptures is simply wonderful and demonstrates a real work of art.
With its unique architecture, the fountain depicts a statue of Neptune (the god of the sea) with horses, shells, and tritons. A real eye-catcher, especially in the evening hours, when the water and the figures are atmospherically illuminated. Truly, it is one of the most important attractions in Rome.
I went in the afternoon, and of course, it was packed with people, mainly because I went to Rome in midsummer, in August. To take the photo with the Trevi Fountain alone, you have to go very early in the morning, preferably before 8 am. Later on, it starts to fill up with tourists. Or, go late at night, when most of the tourism in Rome sleeps.
As I was leaving, I decided to toss my coin in the fountain. They say if you flip a coin, you’ll go back to Rome. With two, you will find love. And with three, marriage. I threw one, coming back to Rome is the important thing!
12. The Borghese Gallery
It was time to visit Villa Borghese. On this visit, I took the opportunity to visit one of the best museums in Rome, which is located inside the park: the Galleria Borghese.
Of all the museums I visited in Rome, the Galleria Borghese was my favorite. The right size to enjoy all the works without getting too tired, and with an impeccable collection to dazzle any lover of art and history! It’s the museum I most recommend in Rome.
Remember that it is necessary to schedule a visit to the Galleria Borghese and the time inside the museum is a maximum of 2 hours. I scheduled the last time of the day, at 5 pm.
13. The Appian Way
The Appian Way was once a great road connecting Rome to Brindisi, in the extreme south of Italy. It was built in 312 B.C. and was originally a military road.
The creation of the road was associated with the name of Appius, one of the high officials of Rome. Today, part of the Appian Way begins right within the city. Along the way, I enjoyed the beautiful sights of ancient monuments as the antique gate of San Sebastian, tombs, entrances to the catacombs, the sanctuary, and many other interesting sights.
14. The Baths of Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla is the second largest Roman public bath in the most impressive city of Rome. They were built between the years 212 and 216 by order of Emperor Caracalla. And today, they have become among the top tourist attractions in Rome to visit.
Baths of Caracalla are gigantic structures, more like fortresses. In fact, these huge baths were not only used for hygiene purposes, but also included other facilities such as dry and steam saunas, swimming pools, gymnastics and sports facilities, gardens, social rooms, hairdressers, libraries, and shops.
15. Trastevere Neighborhood
One of the most beautiful and charming neighborhoods in Rome is the Trastevere. This beautiful neighborhood by itself is quite an attraction, as there are many things to see and do while you visit.
From its beautiful Sisto Bridge to climbing the Gianicol hill, I spent hours without getting bored. What I liked the most about this neighborhood was everything, yes, everything! Its cobbled streets, with many little houses in which the vines falling on its walls, make it a charming place. Make a point of visiting this neighborhood when in this city.
There are many top tourist attractions in Rome to visit. However, I only recommend these if you have at least a week in Rome. Within 6-7 days, you’ll have a lot to visit, as there is no shortage of attractions in Rome.