There are thousands of amazing things to do in Rome, from exploring the opulent palaces, vast ruins, ornate basilicas and myriad of museums and galleries. This UNESCO World Heritage Status city is bursting with rich heritage and classic culture. No wonder it’s one of the most visited cities in the world!
1. St Paul Outside the Walls – This huge basilica is a reconstructed version after fire ruined the religious building in 1823. This faithful version dates back to 1854 and is also known as San Paolo fuori le Mura. Don’t miss the untouched mediaeval cloister.
2. The Pantheon – Emperor Hadrian constructed the iconic Pantheon in 27 BCE which was first used as a temple and since the 7th century has served as a church. To miss the best preserved ancient monument in Rome would be unforgivable.
3. Colosseum – At the very heart of ancient Rome lies the magnificent Colosseum, where 50,000 spectators use to watch gladiators fight. Also known by its correct name, Flavian Amphitheatre, this huge structure is a testament to the violent history of the ancient Romans and is simply not to be missed.
4. San Luigi dei Francesi – This French Baroque church is best known for its three early Caravaggio works of art contained within its side chapel.
5. Palazzo Madama – Rome is bursting with impressive palazzo, aka palaces, and this 16th century example was built by the Medici family, for cardinals, popes and princes to reside in.
6. Via Giulia – Wander the one kilometer long Via Giulia which was created in 1508 by Pope Julius II who envisaged a walkway to connect the major government buildings of the time, in a startlingly modern town planning move from 500 years ago!
7. Trevi Fountain – Toss a coin into the most iconic fountain in the world and you will return to Rome, according the local customs. Did you also know that throwing two coins will lead to you meeting a beautiful Roman girl/boy and three coins says that you will marry your Roman sweetheart in the city!
8. Capuchin Monastery – This ancient monastery is one for lovers of the macabre, as every wall and ceiling space is adorned with human bones, from some 3,700 friars.
9. Vatican Museum – Make the journey into the world’s smallest state, The Vatican, and visit the museum which is best known for its exquisite spiral staircase and the famous Sistine chapel which houses Michelangelo’s frescos.
10. St Peter’s Basilica – Whilst within the Vatican, explore the center of the Catholic religion: St Peter’s Basilica. The dome is taller than the Statue of Liberty and was designed by Michelangelo. Take the elevator and climb the 300 or so steps to the roof for superb city views.
11. Palazzo Valentini – Discover the secrets of ancient Romans houses which have been unearthed and put on display at the Palazzo Valentini.
12. The Roman Forum – The carefully preserved ruins of the Roman Forum hold secrets to the most powerful government of the ages, where laws, politics and religion were decided.
13. Le Quattro Fontane – This pretty fountain in the modern center of Rome depicts Roman mythology.
14. Basilica of St. John Lateran – The first major cathedral in the city was the San Giovanni in Laterano which is located in the Esquilino-San Giovanni district. This is the pope’s official church.
15. Museo della Liberazione – Experience Rome during the German occupation in World War II at this interesting museum.
16. Catacomb of Priscilla – Discover the eerie underground burial site with the catacombs where former Pope’s have been laid to rest.
17. Piazza del Popolo – Wander the biggest square in the city which is lined with notable architectural sights.
18. The Spanish Steps – Shuffle up the iconic 135 steps that make up the Spanish Steps which took 4 years to construct, and were completed in 1725.
19. Villa Ada – Visit this magnificent villa set within the biggest park in Rome and catch a summer concert here.
20. Borghese Gardens – Enjoy a sedate stroll in these extensive and well-manicured grounds.
21. National Gallery of Modern Art – Post Renaissance artists such as Cézanne, Van Gogh and Monet are all featured within this gallery known locally as Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna.
22. Santa Maria Minerva Obelisk – Admire this curious obelisk in Old Rome which is set on the back of an elephant.
23. Basilica di San Clemente – This small but perfectly formed cathedral dates back to 1110 and is the only place in the city to hear the secret underground river winding its way across the city.
24. Arch of Constantine – The monument to the Christian Emperor Constantine and his victory in 312 AD in the Battle of Milvian Bridge.
25. Quirinal Palace – The modern center of Rome is home to the large Quirinal palace which is the official residence of Italy’s presidents.
26. Museo delle Paste Alimentari – Wander the museum devoted to pasta, which, did you know, doesn’t actually hail from Italy originally!
27. Piazza Barberini – Admire the Triton Fountain in this square which was created by Bernini.
28. Capitoline Museum – The trio of incredible structures that make up the museum complex were also designed by Michelangelo and contain Roman, Greek and Egyptian exhibits.
29. San Stefano Rotondo – gaze in awe at the exquisite San Stefano Rotondo which also happens to be the largest round church in the world.
30. Trajan’s Markets – Shop as the ancient Romans would have done within the Trajan Forum which is also home to the gigantic bronze statue of Julius Caesar.
31. Aurelian Walls – Walk the remains of the Aurelian Walls which were constructed to enclose the Seven Hills of Rome in 275 AD.
32. Palazzo Massimo – Take in the sculptures, wall paints and mosaics of the ancient Roman period in this palace.
33. St Paul’s Within the Walls – This Episcopalian church dates back to 1873 and is relatively modern by Rome’s standards; the mosaics are of particular importance.
34. Gelateria – Don’t miss the excellent gelato cafes which offer delicious ice-cream in a myriad of favours.
35. Temple of Hadrianus – Today the temple serves as the Italian stock exchange but it roots lie with the Emperor Hadrian, who also created Hadrian’s Wall in the UK.
36. Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza – This beautiful church was created by the famous architect Francesco Borromini who was instrumental in bringing Roman Baroque architecture to the city.
37. Palazzo Farnese – Dating back to the 16th century, this palace has housed the French Embassy for the last 140 years.
38. Museo Napoleonico – Learn more about both Napoleon Bonaparte and his family at this fascinating little museum.
39. Campo de’ Fiori – Get to this traditional market early to snap up organic fruits and vegetables which are all grown locally and sold at what is believed to be the oldest open air market in Italy.
40. Casina delle Civette – Admire the stained glass with this ornate building which is a curious combination of styles, following two major redesigns in the early 20th century.
41. Tiber River – This major waterway meanders through the very heart of Rome and visitors can either stroll along the banks or take a scenic cruise along the waters which are lined with heritage buildings and crossed with ornate bridges.
42. Ponte Sisto – The new Roman Bridge was built thanks to funds from taxes on prostitution.
43. Santa Maria in Trastevere – Admire the exquisite 13th century gold mosaics at this church which is believed to have been founded in 222 AD.
44. Porta Portese – Hit the Sunday morning flea market to snap up some local bargains.
45. Seven Hills of Rome – Get your bearings by using the iconic 7 hills of Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinal and Viminal.
46. Children’s Museum – Curious kids will love the science exhibits here which encourages them to be hands-on.
47. The Time Elevator – Kids will also love the five dimensional, which shows in the time elevator cleverly combines history and heritage alongside interactive fun.
48. Parco Savello – Savour the delicious scent of oranges in the air at this iconic city park and catch an outdoor performance in the summer.
49. Republic Day – You’re in for a treat if you visit Rome on 2 June, which is Italy’s Republic Day.
50. Teatro dell’Opera di Roma – Take in an opera performance at this Sfondrini designed theatre.
This list of top 50 things to do in Rome barely scratches the surface, so feel free to add you own insider sights and things to see and do in the comments below…