I love Rome – it’s one of my favorite places. Walking the cobbled streets among fashionable Italians, you’re immersed in a city rich in history, art and architecture. In the shadows of monuments like the Colosseum, the Pantheon or St. Peter’s Basilica, you’re left in awe of this amazing place. How can you not love a city that has gelato, wine, and freshly ground coffee around every corner?! As the Italians would say -La dolce vita!
Needless to say, Rome has a lot to offer visitors. If you’re lucky enough to spend an extended period of time here, you’ll spend your days exploring at your pace. But if you’re like most of us, you’re likely to only be in Rome for a few days. For those visitors, we’ve created a must-see list of 10 of our most-favorite places in Rome. Once you land – drop those bags, grab your expresso and hit the metro!
In Rome, the Metro is the easiest (and fastest) way to get around the city. With most of our must-see locations just minutes from metro stops, public transportation will really save you time. Another option is the popular hop on, hop off sightseeing buses.
#1 -The Colosseum (Colosseo)
-Metro stop: “Colosseo”
One of the most recognizable monuments of Rome. Home to ancient gladiators and public spectacles. Estimated to hold between 50K and 80K spectators, it is the largest amphitheater ever built. Outside the “Colosseo” is a photo extravaganza with plenty to see, including the Arc De Constantino nearby. But should you decide to take a tour of the inside of the Colosseum, be sure to buy tickets in advance and be prepared to possibly endure some long lines. Multi-site admission tickets are available, which include access to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. These multi-site tickets may even let you skip the line to get in the Colosseum.
If you don’t want to spend hours touring the inside, use the time to snap some selfies and grab a refreshment. We happened across an outdoor bar across the street and enjoyed the Colosseum with a cool afternoon cocktail.
#2 -Palatine Hill (Palatino)
Walking beside these ancient grounds will give you a strong sense of just how old Rome is. It’s a mixed bag of ruins from different times in history. I prefer a leisurely stroll snapping pictures away from the crowds of tourists, but if you have a stronger interest in the particulars of the artifacts, the archaeological site is open to the public for tours.
You’ll likely want an audio guide, as most of the pieces are unmarked with no historical information. If you plan to make a day of it, purchase tickets in advance. As mentioned, a single admission ticket can include access to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. Also, the area is largely unshaded, so be prepared with a hat, water and sunscreen if you decide to venture out for the afternoon.
#3 -Roman Forum (Foro Romano)
Located in the same archaeological area as the ruins of Palatine Hill, this site dates back to the 7th century BC. This is the location of a once grandiose public space full of temples and basilicas. After the fall of the Roman empire, the space fell into disrepair and was plundered extensively. While incomplete, the ruins are still amazing to explore and provide a glimpse into Rome’s past.
#4 -Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi)
-Metro stop: “Barberini”
Visitors flock to the Baroque marble fountain to take pictures with a statue of Neptune and toss a coin into the water. Legend has it, that anyone who throws a coin into the fountain will return to Rome. It can be a bit crowded, so avoid some of the mayhem by visiting in the morning or later in the evening. This is also a great place for a Gelato break!
Just a short walk from Trevi Fountain you’ll find the Pantheon. This was the ancient world’s largest dome structure and still remains a true architectural feat. An oculus at the very top of the temple is the only source of natural light. Originally a burial place for Rome’s most prominent Italian figures (including the artist Raphael) the sight is still used today and in amazing condition. Before you go, you’ll also want to check out the Fontana del Pantheon in the Piazza! The Pantheon is open to the public daily, and there is no admission charge for entry. Check out a streaming video we shot on our last trip to this site below.
#6 -Piazza Navona
Just a short walk from the Pantheon, Piazza Navona is one of most popular public spaces in Rome. The square, in the historic center of Rome, was built on a former 86AD stadium, giving it an oval shape. Lined with street vendors and restaurants now, it’s one of the liveliest squares you’ll find in the city.
The main attraction however, is the beautiful Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). This just might be your afternoon stop for a cold beer or glass of wine! Soak up the ultimate in Baroque style while exploring the oval-shaped Piazza. -At this point you’re about a 15 minute walk to the Spanish Steps and the closest Metro stop Spagna.
#7 -Spanish Steps
–Metro stop: “Spagna”
At the base of the Spanish steps you’ll find the Piazza di Spagna, one of the most famous squares in Rome. Film buffs may recognize the location from the 1953 film classic, Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.
This square is also home to the famous Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Old Boat), a baroque sculpture by Pietro Bernini and his son Gian Lorenzo Bernini. This area also has legendary shopping, so take a break to people watch or do a little window shopping of your own.
#8 -Villa Borghese Park
Should you decide to climb to the top of the Spanish Steps, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the city from Villa Medici, Pincio Promenade and the Villa Borghese park.
If you packed a little picnic, or gabbed a pizza al taglio (sliced pizza), this would be a great place to throw down a blanket for a little sustenance and an afternoon siesta.
#9 -Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani)
While home to Catholic Church and the Pope, the immense collection of iconic art and architecture (including the Sistine Chapel), makes this a must-see visit. With the sheer volume of rare art, paintings and sculptures housed in the Vatican Museums, guided tours are highly recommended.
The Vatican is a full day visit and tickets should be purchased in advanced to avoid long lines or heavy markup from 3rd party tour agencies selling passes outside. Even better, purchase a ‘Breakfast At The Vatican Ticket’ which allows you to skip the lines and enjoy a meal in the courtyard before the gates open to the general public.
Be aware, the museums do have a dress code (no bare shoulders, skirts or shorts), and there is a strictly enforced no-photo policy in the Sistine Chapel
-Metro stop: “Ottaviano-S. Pietro”
#10 -St. Peter’s Basilica & St. Peter’s Square (Basilica di San Pietro)
The epicenter of Catholicism, St. Peter’s Basilica is located in the heart of Vatican City. The Basilica is said to be the most renowned work of Italian Renaissance architecture. Both the size and it’s immense artistic offerings, make it a true wonder to experience.
Like the Vatican, tickets should be purchased in advance. If you’re visiting the Vatican Museums, buy your tickets together to avoid the line.
-Metro stop: “Ottaviano-S. Pietro”
We’re so happy to have been able to share our list of must-see places in Rome. As you stroll from place to place, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers once in a while. When in Rome – do as the Romans. Ciao, for now!