10 Spectacular Things to See in Rome

30 Aug, 2023

10 Spectacular Things to See in Rome

Aug 30, 2023

Introduction to Rome’s Attractions

So, you’ve decided to discover the Eternal City? Bravissimo! Prepare to have Rome’s timeless beauty and unique charm sweep you off your feet. This city is a living museum, and every corner you turn unveils a piece of history, an architectural marvel, or a breathtaking view. But with so many incredible sights to see, where do you start? Fret not! We’ve got you covered with the top 10 things to see in Rome that you simply can’t miss!

From ancient wonders like the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, to religious sanctuaries such as the awe-inspiring St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Rome boasts a wealth of attractions that cater to every traveler’s interests.

Or maybe you’re an art enthusiast? Then prepare to be dazzled by the masterpieces housed in the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and Borghese Gallery. For architecture buffs, marvel at the engineering feat of the Pantheon, or admire the Baroque brilliance at Piazza Navona.

Rome is also a city of romance and magic, and what could be more enchanting than tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, or climbing the iconic Spanish Steps? And when you need a break from the hustle and bustle, take a leisurely stroll through the quaint Trastevere neighborhood.

But remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and it can’t be seen in one either! So take your time, savor the experience, and let the ‘City of Seven Hills’ reveal its secrets to you. Ready to embark on an unforgettable Roman holiday? Let’s dive into our list of the top 10 attractions in Rome!

1. The Colosseum

First on our list of 10 things to see in Rome is none other than the majestic Colosseum. This iconic monument is a testament to the grandeur of Rome’s past and remains one of the most visited attractions in the city today.

History and Significance of The Colosseum

The Colosseum, or Flavian Amphitheatre, as it was originally known, dates back to 70–80 AD. Emperor Vespasian’s son Titus finished building it during his rule. Renowned for its architectural prowess, the Colosseum was built to host public spectacles such as gladiator contests, mock sea battles, and animal hunts. At its peak, it could accommodate up to 50,000 spectators!

Today, the Colosseum stands as a powerful reminder of ancient Rome’s cultural and architectural achievements. It’s also a symbol of the city itself, reflecting Rome’s enduring history, resilience, and grandeur. For more detailed information about the Colosseum, read our comprehensive guide on the colosseum.

Tips for Your Visit

Visiting the Colosseum is a thrilling experience, but it can be crowded and overwhelming if you’re unprepared. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your visit:

  • Buy Your Tickets in Advance: The Colosseum is one of Rome’s top attractions and can get quite busy. To avoid long lines, consider purchasing your tickets online beforehand.
  • Arrive Early or Late: The Colosseum is less crowded early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Plan your visit during these times for a more peaceful and enjoyable experience.
  • Stay Hydrated and Protected: Rome can get very hot, especially in the summer. Make sure to bring water, wear comfortable shoes, and apply sunscreen.
  • Take a Guided Tour: To truly appreciate the Colosseum’s history and significance, consider taking a guided tour. It offers valuable insights that you might miss otherwise.
  • Combine Your Visit: Your Colosseum ticket also includes entry to the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. Make the most of it by exploring these sites on the same day.

Remember, the Colosseum isn’t just a monument; it’s a window into Rome’s past. Take your time, soak in the atmosphere, and imagine the spectacular events that once took place within its walls.

brown concrete building under white sky during daytime

2. Roman Forum

Stepping into the Roman Forum is like stepping back in time. This sprawling complex of ancient ruins was once the heart of the Roman Empire, bustling with political, religious, and social activities. Today, it’s one of the must-see destinations for anyone visiting Rome.

What You’ll See at The Roman Forum

As you wander through the Roman Forum, you’ll come across a vast array of ruins that paint a vivid picture of Rome’s glorious past. From the towering Arch of Septimius Severus and the stately Temple of Saturn, to the imposing Basilica of Maxentius and the iconic Rostra, the speaker’s platform is is where notable Romans once delivered their speeches.

You’ll also see the Curia, the meeting place of the Roman Senate, and the Temple of Vesta, home to the Vestal Virgins who were the priestesses of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth. The Forum is also home to the Via Sacra, the main street that runs through the center of the Forum, and the Temple of Caesar, where Julius Caesar was cremated.

Tips for Your Visit

  1. Get a Guide or Audio Tour: The Roman Forum is a complex site with a lot of history. To fully appreciate what you’re seeing, consider hiring a guide or getting an audio tour. They can provide valuable insights into the significance of each structure and the stories behind them.
  2. Wear Comfortable Shoes: The Forum covers a large area and the ground is uneven in places. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes for your visit.
  3. Bring Water and Sunscreen: There isn’t much shade in the Forum, so it can get hot during the summer months. Bring water to stay hydrated and sunscreen to protect your skin.
  4. Plan Your Visit: The Roman Forum is located next to the Colosseum and close to the Palatine Hill. You can easily spend a whole day exploring these three sites. Plan your visit accordingly and take your time to soak in the history.
  5. Take Pictures: The Forum is incredibly photogenic. Don’t forget your camera!

Embarking on a journey through the Roman Forum is undoubtedly one of the top 10 things to see in Rome. It’s a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history and marvel at the architectural genius of the ancient Romans. For more information on visiting the Roman Forum, check out our detailed guide here.

people walking beside dome building

3. St. Peter’s Basilica

As part of your tour of the top 10 things to see in Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica is a must-visit. This remarkable basilica is not just one of the largest churches in the world, but also an architectural masterpiece filled with historical and religious significance.

What Makes St. Peter’s Basilica Unique

St. Peter’s Basilica, located in the heart of Vatican City, is a marvel of Renaissance architecture. Its stunning façade, colossal dome, and intricate interiors are awe-inspiring. But what truly sets it apart is its status as a major pilgrimage site.

The basilica was constructed over the historical site where St. Peter, the apostle and first Pope, is believed to have been buried. This makes it a deeply revered site for Catholics worldwide. Inside, you’ll discover magnificent works of art, including the “Pietà” by Michelangelo and the bronze Baldachin by Bernini.

St. Peter’s Basilica is also unique due to its sheer size. Its dome, designed by Michelangelo, is one of the largest in the world. From the top, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Rome.

Tips for Your Visit

When you visit St. Peter’s Basilica, it’s essential to remember a few key tips to make your experience enjoyable and respectful of the site’s religious significance.

  1. Dress Appropriately: Remember, it’s a place of worship. Ensure your attire is modest, covering shoulders and knees.
  2. Timing is Key: It’s best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds.
  3. Stay Quiet: Maintain a respectful silence inside the basilica.
  4. Climb the Dome: For a small fee, you can climb to the top of the dome. The view of Rome is spectacular and worth the effort.
  5. Visit the Grottoes: Don’t miss the Vatican Grottoes, where many popes are buried.

St. Peter’s Basilica is a highlight on any Roman itinerary. With its incredible history, beautiful art, and religious significance, it offers a unique perspective on the Eternal City. So, take your time and soak in the beauty of this architectural wonder.

low angle view of cathedral ceiling

4. Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Nestled within the heart of the Vatican City, the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are an absolute must-see. They represent some of the most treasured artistic masterpieces and historical artifacts in the world.

Highlights of The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

An extensive collection of art and culture from various eras and regions will greet you as you enter the Vatican Museums. From ancient Roman and Greek sculptures to Renaissance art, the museums house works from some of the most renowned artists in history.

One of the most iconic sights within the Vatican Museums is the Sistine Chapel. This sacred space is renowned for its breathtaking frescoes painted by Michelangelo. The sight of ‘The Last Judgment’ and the ‘Creation of Adam’ will leave you in awe, as you stand beneath the same ceiling that popes have gazed upon for centuries.

Tips for Your Visit

Visiting the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel can be an overwhelming experience due to the sheer volume of art and history they contain. Here are a few tips to make your visit more enjoyable:

  • Plan Ahead: The Vatican Museums are vast, and seeing everything in one day can be challenging. Research beforehand and decide which sections you are most interested in. This way, you’ll ensure you don’t miss your must-sees.
  • Dress Appropriately: Remember, the Vatican is a sacred place. Ensure you dress modestly, covering your shoulders and knees.
  • Reserve Tickets in Advance: The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are popular attractions, and queues can be long. It’s wise to book your tickets online in advance to save waiting time.
  • Avoid Peak Times: If possible, try to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the largest crowds.
  • Take a Guided Tour: To fully appreciate the art and history, consider taking a guided tour. Knowledgeable guides can provide context and highlight details you might otherwise miss.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither should your visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel be rushed. Take your time to absorb the grandeur and significance of these masterpieces as you continue your exploration of the top 10 things to see in Rome.

brown and black cathedral interior

5. Trevi Fountain

Making our way through Rome’s must-see attractions, we arrive at the stunning Trevi Fountain. As one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, the fountain is a spectacle of art and history that’s sure to captivate you.

The Fascinating Story Behind The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain, or Fontana di Trevi in Italian, is more than just a beautiful water feature. It’s a representation of Rome’s rich history and artistic prowess. Designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi in the 18th century, the fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.

The fountain’s design tells a fascinating story. At the center, you’ll see the statue of Oceanus, the sea god, riding a chariot pulled by two sea horses. One horse is calm while the other is wild, symbolizing the varying moods of the sea. On the sides, you’ll find statues representing Abundance and Health, further enriching the fountain’s symbolic narrative.

Remember the scene in the movie ‘La Dolce Vita’ where Anita Ekberg wades through the Trevi Fountain? Well, you may want to resist the urge to recreate that scene as it’s now forbidden to enter the water. But, you can still partake in the famous coin-throwing tradition. It’s said that throwing a coin into the fountain with your right hand over your left shoulder ensures a return trip to Rome.

Tips for Your Visit

Visiting the Trevi Fountain is an experience you wouldn’t want to miss. Here are some tips to make your visit even more delightful:

  • Visit Early or Late: The Trevi Fountain can get very crowded during the day. For a less crowded experience, try visiting early in the morning or late in the evening when the illuminated fountain is a sight to behold.
  • Throw a Coin: Don’t forget to participate in the coin-throwing tradition. The coins are collected and donated to charity, so your wish also contributes to a good cause.
  • Take Your Time: There’s a lot to take in, from the intricate statues to the cascading water, so don’t rush your visit.
  • Respect the Rules: Remember, entering the fountain isn’t allowed, and neither is eating or drinking near it. Respect these rules to preserve this iconic monument.

The Trevi Fountain is a showstopper in Rome’s lineup of impressive landmarks. As you marvel at its grandeur, you’ll understand why it’s one of the must-see attractions on our list of 10 things to see in Rome. If you’re ready for more, why not head over to the Pantheon next? It’s just a short walk from the fountain.

gray concrete building with water fountain

6. Pantheon

The Pantheon is one of the highlights of Rome’s rich historical tapestry. A marvel of architecture and engineering, it’s a must-see on any Rome itinerary.

Discovering The Pantheon

Step inside the Pantheon, and you’ll find yourself immersed in the grandeur of ancient Rome. Originally built as a temple to all the gods, the Pantheon is a testament to Rome’s architectural prowess and the enduring legacy of its civilization.

One of the most striking features of the Pantheon is its massive dome. At its center is the oculus, an opening that allows daylight to filter into the building, creating a spectacular play of light and shadows. The dome remains the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world, an impressive feat considering it was constructed nearly two millennia ago.

The Pantheon also serves as the final resting place for several notable figures, including the famous artist Raphael. As you explore the interior, take a moment to appreciate the intricate marble floor patterns and the beautifully preserved monuments and inscriptions.

Tips for Your Visit

  1. Time Your Visit: The Pantheon is most magical when the sunlight is streaming through the oculus. Try to time your visit for when the sun is directly overhead for the most striking effect.
  2. Respect the Silence: The Pantheon is still an active church, so remember to keep noise to a minimum, especially during mass times.
  3. Explore the Piazza: The Pantheon is located in the charming Piazza della Rotonda. After your visit, spend some time in the piazza, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying a gelato or a cup of coffee at one of the many cafes.
  4. Free Entry: Unlike many other historical sites in Rome, the Pantheon is free to enter. This makes it an excellent addition to your list of ’10 things to see in Rome’ that won’t stretch your budget.

The Pantheon is just one of the many wonders that Rome has to offer. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply a curious traveler, you’ll find plenty to marvel at in this remarkable city. Happy exploring!

For more information about visiting the Pantheon, check out our detailed guide on the Pantheon.

beige concrete building under blue sky during daytime

7. Piazza Navona

On your journey through Rome’s must-see attractions, make sure you don’t skip Piazza Navona, one of the city’s most famous squares. It’s an incredible place filled with history, art, and culture, making it number seven on our list of ’10 things to see in Rome’.

What to Expect at Piazza Navona

When you step into Piazza Navona, you’ll be stepping into Rome’s ancient history. The square follows the shape of the Stadium of Domitian, which once stood in its place. Today, it’s a lively, open-air museum surrounded by stunning Baroque architecture.

Your eyes will be immediately drawn to the three magnificent fountains, the most famous of which is Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers. This masterpiece represents four of the world’s major rivers from the four continents known at the time: the Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Rio de la Plata.

You’ll also find the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone on the western side of the square. This beautiful 17th-century church was designed by some of the most famous architects of the time, including Borromini and Rainaldi.

In addition to these historical structures, Piazza Navona is filled with local artists, musicians, and vendors. You might even stumble upon a street performer or two!

Tips for Your Visit

Visiting Piazza Navona is like stepping into a lively, open-air museum. Here are a few tips to make the most of your visit:

  • Take your time: With so much to see, don’t rush your visit. Take your time to appreciate the architecture, watch the street performers, and maybe even get a portrait drawn by one of the local artists.
  • Enjoy a meal: Piazza Navona is surrounded by many restaurants and cafés. Grab a seat, order some authentic Italian cuisine, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
  • Visit at night: Piazza Navona is beautiful during the day, but it’s even more enchanting at night when the fountains are beautifully lit.
  • Explore the surrounding area: Piazza Navona is in the heart of Rome, and many other attractions are within walking distance. After your visit, consider exploring nearby sights like the Pantheon or Trevi Fountain.

By the time you leave Piazza Navona, you’ll have experienced a slice of Rome’s rich history, vibrant culture, and artistic beauty. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss on your Roman holiday.

gray concrete statue in front of white concrete building during daytime

8. Spanish Steps

Easily one of the most famous staircases in the world, the Spanish Steps are one of the must-see attractions in Rome.

Why You Should Visit The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps are more than just a place to sit and rest after a long day of sightseeing. This grand staircase has 135 steps that gracefully curve and cascade down from the French church, Trinità dei Monti, to the Piazza di Spagna below.

They’ve been a popular meeting spot since the 18th century and are a great place for people-watching, especially during the spring when the steps are decorated with beautiful pink azaleas. The steps are also a hop, skip, and a jump away from some of the city’s best shopping streets, so they’re a perfect place to take a break during a shopping spree.

The view from the top of the steps is another reason to add this attraction to your list of 10 things to see in Rome. From the top, you’ll get a stunning view of the Roman rooftops, domes, and bell towers that fill the city’s skyline.

Tips for Your Visit

Visiting the Spanish Steps isn’t just about climbing a staircase. There’s a lot more to enjoy and experience, so here are a few tips to make the most of your visit:

  1. Take your time: The Spanish Steps aren’t something you rush. Take your time climbing the steps, savor the views, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere.
  2. Visit early or late in the day: Like many popular Rome attractions, the Spanish Steps can get crowded. If you prefer a quieter experience, visit early in the morning or late in the evening.
  3. Don’t eat on the steps: To keep the steps clean and enjoyable for everyone, eating on the steps is prohibited.
  4. Explore the surroundings: Near the Spanish Steps, you’ll find the Keats-Shelley House, where the English poet John Keats lived and died. You can also explore the luxurious shopping streets nearby, including Via Condotti.

So, when you’re exploring Rome, make sure to take a breather on the Spanish Steps. They’re more than just a staircase; they’re a slice of Roman life. And remember, the city is full of wonderful sights, so after you’re finished with the steps, why not head over to the Trevi Fountain or the Pantheon? The adventure is just beginning!

a fountain with a clock tower in the background

9. Borghese Gallery

One of Rome’s most prestigious art galleries, the Borghese Gallery, is definitely worth your time and attention. This spot should unquestionably be on your list of top 10 things to see in Rome.

Art and Architecture at The Borghese Gallery

The Borghese Gallery is a treasure trove of spectacular art and architecture. The villa where the gallery is housed is a work of art in itself. It’s adorned with frescoes, intricate baroque designs, and even a secret garden.

But the real magic happens once you step inside. The gallery is home to a mind-boggling collection of sculptures, paintings, and antiquities. The works of great artists like Caravaggio, Bernini, and Titian are on display here. You’ll be enthralled by the larger-than-life marble sculptures, fascinating mythological scenes, and masterfully painted portraits.

The Borghese Gallery will captivate you with its art-filled rooms, each offering a different journey into the world of Italian art and history. You won’t be just witnessing art; you’ll be experiencing it!

Tips for Your Visit

Visiting the Borghese Gallery requires a bit of planning. Tickets must be booked in advance and are timed, meaning you’ll be given a two-hour window to explore the gallery.

Here’s a quick rundown to help you plan:

BookingBook your tickets in advance to secure your spot.
Time SlotYou get a 2-hour window to explore the gallery.
Audio GuideConsider getting an audio guide for a more immersive experience.
PhotographyPhotography is not allowed inside the gallery.
Dress CodeThere’s no strict dress code, but comfortable shoes are recommended.

Remember, the Borghese Gallery isn’t just about the art inside. The villa is surrounded by the lush Borghese Gardens, one of Rome’s largest public parks. After your gallery visit, take a leisurely stroll through these gardens and soak in the serene beauty.

For more details, check out our article on the Borghese Gallery. And don’t forget to explore other must-see attractions in Rome, like the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and Pantheon. Happy exploring!

white concrete statue of a man

10. Trastevere

The final stop on our list of 10 things to see in Rome takes us to the enchanting neighborhood of Trastevere.

Exploring Trastevere’s Charm

Trastevere, a picturesque neighborhood nestled on the west bank of the Tiber River, is a charming haven of narrow cobbled streets, ivy-clad buildings, and vibrant squares. It’s a place where you’ll feel the true essence of Rome, away from the bustling tourist hotspots.

Stroll through Via della Scala, one of Trastevere’s main streets, lined with colorful houses and shops. Make your way to the heart of the neighborhood, Piazza di Santa Maria, where you’ll find the stunning Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere. This beautiful church, with its glistening mosaics and ancient columns, is considered one of the oldest churches in Rome.

Another must-visit spot is the Piazza di San Cosimato. This lively square hosts a daily market with vendors selling fresh produce, local cheeses, and other gourmet treats. If you’re a foodie, Trastevere will be a delight with its numerous trattorias serving traditional Roman dishes.

As you explore Trastevere, you’ll also come across stunning views of the city. Head to the Gianicolo Hill for a panoramic vista of Rome’s skyline, including the Vatican City and the Pantheon.

white motor scooter parked beside brown wooden door

Tips for Your Visit

When visiting Trastevere, it’s best to set aside a whole day to fully absorb its charm. It’s a neighborhood that invites you to wander aimlessly, discovering hidden gems along the way. The area is also known for its vibrant nightlife, so consider coming back in the evening to experience the lively bar scene.

Remember, Trastevere’s streets can get quite busy, especially during the weekends. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting on a weekday.

Lastly, don’t miss out on the local cuisine! Trattorias in Trastevere are known for their authentic Roman dishes. It’s a great opportunity to try classics like carbonara or amatriciana.

That wraps up our list of the top 10 things to see in Rome. From the grandeur of the Colosseum to the tranquil charm of Trastevere, Rome offers a rich tapestry of experiences waiting to be discovered. Enjoy your journey through the Eternal City!


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