The 50 Best Things to Do in Rome

Rome is best for travelers interested in history and food. The Italian city is filled with historic sites, bustling restaurants and impressive museums, meaning you’ll want at least a few days to uncover everything Rome has to offer. Whether you’re looking to take a selfie in the Colosseum or try the local wines in the city’s many wine bars, Rome won’t let you down. Here are 50 of the best things to do in the Eternal City. 

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1. Book a room in chic Hotel Roma, nestled on a side street in the city’s historic Regola neighborhood.

2. A more indulgent stay can be found at the Hotel de la Ville, a Rocco Forte Hotel, a luxury property close to several famous sites.

3. For your first stop, tour the Colosseum, an iconic Flavian Amphitheatre that dates back to A.D. 70-80.

4. For more ancient Roman ruins, head to the Roman Forum, which dates even further back to 500 B.C.

5. The Pantheon is a former Roman temple that is now a church. Visitors can check out the architecture and historical touches with free entry.

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6. Visit the Vatican Museums, located within Vatican City, to see works of art and impressive buildings.

7. Inside the Vatican, marvel at the iconic Sistine Chapel.

8. While in Vatican City, be sure climb to the Top of the Dome at St. Peter’s Basilica, where the panoramic views of the city are unparalleled.

9. Speaking of climbing, the Spanish Steps, 135 stairs that connect the Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza Trinita dei Monti, are a bucket list activity when in Rome.

10. Descend into the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, where half a million people—including 16 popes—were buried in the third century A.D. Buy tickets in advance and line up early.

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11. Absorb the master artworks in the Galleria Borghese, which includes paintings by Raphael, Caravaggio, Rubens and Titan.

12. The Capitoline Museums are the oldest public museums in the world, dating back to 1734.

13. While Rome is most well-known for its historic museums, those into modern art should pay a visit to MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Art. Designed by Zaha Hadid, the museum focuses on contemporary art and architecture.

14. More modern art decorates the walls of La Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, dedicated to works from the 19th to 21st centuries.

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15. Stick your hand in the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità), a sculpture of a face that is said to chomp your fingers off if you tell a lie. Movie lovers will remember it from a key scene in Roman Holiday.

16. Visit the Keats-Shelley House, a museum dedicated to Romantic poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

17. Stroll through the Orto Botanico di Roma, a set of impressive botanic gardens accessible to visitors for a small fee.

18. The hip neighborhood of Trastevere is worth a visit, especially for travelers looking for boutique shops and winding cobblestone streets.

19. Another great way to see Rome is to head out on a Vespa tour. Try Scooteroma, which offers traditional tours as well as foodie tours.

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20. There’s a ton of colorful street art around Rome if you know where to look. The best way to see it is on a tour with a local guide, like the “Alternative Rome – Street Art Tour” offered through Airbnb Experiences.

21. Shop the stores in the Galleria Alberto Sordi, an impressive collection of boutiques and chains in an ornate 1922 building.

22. For designer brands like Prada and Fendi, head to Rinascente. It’s a fancy department store with an ancient aquaduct in the basement and a memorable food hall for hungry shoppers.

23. Bookworms can find a cozy corner (and lots of English-language books) in the Almost Corner Bookshop.

24. Snap a photo in Piazza Navona in honor of Julia Roberts’s Eat, Pray, Love, which featured the square on the movie’s poster.

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25. One word: Gelato. Try the flavors at Giolitti, established in 1900, for one of the most classic experiences.

26. A more contemporary take on gelato can be found at Otaleg, which boasts unique flavors like prickly pear and gorgonzola.

27. Order up a coffee at the famed La Casa Del Caffè Tazza D'oro, a busy spot that’s very Instagram friendly.

28. No visit to Italy is complete without a pre-dinner Aperol Spritz. One of the best can be found at the Stravinskij Bar in the Hotel de Russie.

29. Grab a cocktail at Salotto 42, which has views of the Temple of Hadrian and a solid selection of food to pair with your drinks.

30. Another cool cocktail spot is The Jerry Thomas Project, a speakeasy with delicious Prohibition-era drinks.

31. There are no lack of good wine bars in Rome, but start with a glass at Il Tiaso or Il Goccetto.

Spirito DiVino

32. Speaking of wine, delicious restaurant Spirito DiVino has the oldest wine cellar in Rome, dating back to 80 B.C. Go for dinner and be sure to book ahead.

33. Pasta is the thing in Italy and you can learn to make your own with a cooking class from Eat & Walk Italy.

34. Alternatively, you can just eat, partaking in all the local snacks and treats with Secret Food Tours.

35. For a quick snack, Le Levain Roma is one of the best bakeries in town.

Emma Pizzeria

36. You’ll obviously want to indulge in pizza for at least one meal. Try the thin crust pies at Emma, which is located right in the center of the city.

37. For an elegant meal, book a table at Il Sanlorenzo, a modern eatery that serves seafood dishes. It’s pricey but worth the splurge.

38. Discerning diners will want a reservation at La Pergola, which boasts three Michelin stars and a seriously fancy atmosphere.

39. It might sound strange to seek out Jewish dishes in Italy, but Nonna Betta is a great place to experience Kosher Italian food. Be sure to order the fried artichokes.

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40. For something more casual, shop the food stalls at Mercato di Testaccio, an indoor/outdoor market with a glass roof.

41. Those interested in learning more about wine should embark on an adventure with Old Frascati Wine Tour, which offers a half-day vineyard tour around the Frascati region.

42. Not every moment of your trip has to involve sightseeing or eating. Unwind at the Nardi DaySpa with a massage or a few hours in the wellness area.

43. For something even more indulgent, head to the Victoria Regeneration Spa, a luxury spot located right on the sea.

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44. Dress up all fancy and take in an opera or a ballet at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma. The ambiance is enough to make up for not quite understanding what’s going on on stage.

45. If rock and roll is more your thing, Le Mura is a cool music club that features local acts and weekly events.

46. Dance the night away at Shari Vari Playhouse, a refined nightclub with a restaurant.

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47. You may not think of Rome as a coastal city, but there are several beaches only a quick train ride away. Try Santa Marinella for a nice stretch of sand and some great beach clubs.

48. Or take a day trip to the ancient port of Ostia Antica, where visitors can see ancient ruins and learn more in the archeological museum.

49. Another great day trip is Castel Gandolfo, a town south of Rome on Lake Albano that’s only 40 minutes away by train.

50. Before you fly home, toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain to ensure you’ll return to Rome.