Rome is unique. Nowhere else in the world will you find a city with so much history. When you wander around Rome, you will always discover something interesting. For instance, did you know that there is a Pyramid in Rome or a keyhole where you can see 3 different countries at the same time? If you are still asking yourself is Rome worth visiting, let me explain why it is one of my favourite places to go for a long weekend. In this post, I will also give you some advice to help you avoid spending all your time queuing which is a big problem in Rome. The queues are too long, and you can lose a lot of time by standing in line. If you have any questions about Rome or about anything else, please contact us using the form below this article.
Where is Rome?
Rome is in Italy and is located in the Lazio region of the central-western part of Italy. Rome is the capital of Italy and is also the largest city in Italy. It is very easy to travel to Rome and you can find a lot of commercial flights at a reasonable price.
What to Do in Rome?
1 The Victor Emmanuel II National Monument or Vittoriano
This imposing building was built in honour of Victor Emmanuel II at the turn of the 20th century. This colossal building is made of white marble and makes you feel very small when you stand in the shadow of its walls! The large equestrian statue in front of the building represents Victor Emmanuel II riding his horse.
2 Pincio Terrace Views
There are plenty of spots to get a good view of Rome, but the Pincio Terrace is exceptionally good. If you are travelling on the metro, stop at Piazza del Popolo and take the stairs up to the terrace above the square. To be sure you find this terrace, check out our helpful video below. The terrace is a good place to rest a little and enjoy the views of Rome.
Off the Tourist Treadmill Tip: If you see some friendly men with Roman outfits on your way up, avoid having your picture taken with them. They aren’t always so friendly when they force you to pay for the pictures!
3 The Spanish Steps
From the Pincio terrace, you can carry on walking to the Spanish Stairs. On the way, you can stop at the Villa Borghese and enjoy the villa’s beautiful gardens. After another 5 minutes’ walk, you will reach the top of the Spanish Steps. Before descending the Spanish Steps, make sure you visit the Trinita dei Monti church.
The Spanish Steps or Scalina Spagna were built between 1723 and 1725. The architect Francesco de Sanctis designed the steps in the shape of a butterfly. The Spanish Steps are composed of 138 steps with curved terraces which make a great place to sit and enjoy the view. The beautiful design of the stairs attracts a lot of artists and tourists. At the bottom of the Spanish Steps, you will find an interesting Baroque fountain, the ‘Fountain of the Old Boat’. As you might guess, the fountain is shaped like a sinking ship.
4 The Colosseum
The Colosseum is one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. The other six are: The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Great Wall of China, Petra, Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and Christ the Redeemer. I’m curious to know how many of these wonders you have visited so far. Let me know in the comment section below.
The Colosseum is an extraordinary building. It was built in 72 AD and can hold 50,000 spectators. It is worth spending time to learn about the Colosseum’s history and discover the ingenuity of its builders. Did you know they were already using lifts in Roman times to bring the animals into the arena?
There are different tour packages to visit the Colosseum. You can buy a ticket which combines a visit to the Colosseum and its underground areas or the top of the Colosseum. If you choose a package which allows you to visit the top of the Colosseum, you get great aerial views of the arena and a perfect view of the Arch of Constantine. Tickets to the Colosseum are valid for two days because they also give you access to the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. If you don’t want to spend your time queueing, we recommend you book your tickets in advance. You can book your choice of package using the link below.
5 Palatine Hill
Rome has seven hills and the Palatine hill is the most central one. You will find the Palatine Hill just above the Roman Forum. The hill was used by Roman citizens from the upper class and this is where they built sumptuous palaces. This is also the place, where according to Roman mythology, the cave of Lupercal is situated where Romulus and Remus were raised by a she-wolf. Romulus and Remus decided to build the city of Rome on the banks of the Tiber river but eventually Romulus killed Remus and built the city of Rome alone.
There are hundreds of ruins on the Palatine Hill and some are in good condition. The Palatine Hill is a good place to visit to gain a good idea about how the Romans lived.
6 Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine is comprised of three arches and is the best-preserved monument from the times of ancient Rome and one of the most photographed monuments. As mentioned above, you can get a great view of the arch from the top of the Colosseum. The arch was built in 315 AD for the victory of Constantine I in the battle of Milvian Bridge. The arch is located between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill.
7 The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is another must see in Rome. This isn’t just a fountain; it is one of the best fountains I have seen so far. Tell me about your favourite fountain in the comments below.
The Trevi Fountain is enormous, standing at 85 feet (26 meters) high and 160 feet (49 meters) long. The construction of the fountain took 30 years and was completed in 1762. When you visit, you will see people throwing coins in the fountain. This is a Trevi Fountain tradition! Legend says that if you stand with your back facing the fountain and throw a coin over your shoulder with your right hand, you will come back to Rome and your wish will be granted. I did this when I visited Rome for the first time and I’ve been back a few times since, so maybe it’s true. The coins are collected each day and they are given to charity. To take the best pictures of the Trevi Fountain, you need to visit early in the morning as afterwards it gets extremely busy.
8 The Pantheon
The Pantheon was built between 119 and 128 AD. Without doubt, the Pantheon is an architectural gem. It was originally a temple but is now a church. You will be amazed by the outside with its columns and original bronze door. However, the inside is even better. The Pantheon has the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome and a stunning marble floor. It’s also free to enter!
9 The Vatican City
The Vatican City is an independent state inside Rome and the smallest state in Europe. It is also the papal residence. Not only does the Pope live here, but it is the administrative centre for the Catholic Church. Inside the Vatican, you can walk around the famous St Peter’s Square where Catholics from all over the world gather to worship Sunday mass with the Pope. You can visit the Vatican garden, museum and St Peter’s Basilica.
The Vatican City uses Euros as its currency, but the coins have a different design from the Italian coins. If you are lucky enough to have some Vatican coins, don’t use them. Collectors are prepared to pay a good price for these coins. The Vatican City also has a radio station which broadcasts in 29 languages, a post office where you can use the Vatican stamps and a daily newspaper.
If you aren’t Catholic and don’t want to see the Pope, we advise you not to visit the Vatican City on Sundays as it gets extremely busy.
10 St Peter’s Basilica and Dome Climbing
The entrance to St Peter’s Basilica is free and can be very busy. A 3-hour queue is not unusual. In order to avoid the crowds and save time, you need to come early in the morning and head here first before visiting the museum. If you aren’t afraid to climb steps, we highly recommend that you start your visit with the dome. This is because you will end up inside St Peter’s Basilica at the end of your descent from the dome. For further information, check out our post about climbing St Peter’s Dome which has a helpful and honest video to let you know exactly what it’s like to climb to the top!
St Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world. It’s an Italian Renaissance church and the papal Basilica. Inside, it is the most impressive Basilica I have visited so far because of the height of its ceiling and the impressive dome. The beauty and atmosphere of the interior will leave you speechless. Take your time and enjoy the beauty of every part of St Peter’s Basilica.
11 Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel
If you managed to avoid the long queue at the Basilica, you will certainly want to avoid them at the Vatican museum too! When you approach the museum from St Peter’s Basilica, you will see a very, very long queue to enter the Vatican Museum. Our top tip is to buy your museum and Sistine Chapel tickets in advance using the link below. (Unfortunately, you can’t buy tickets for the Basilica in advance because it’s free.) These tickets have timed entry and enable you to jump all of the queues. Just head to the front of the line and an official will tell you where to wait. Don’t buy tickets from ticket touts for a fake tour, it’s much better to have a genuine ticket.
The Vatican Museum is enormous but, in my opinion, it is far too crowded. It’s also hard to navigate and you have to follow the designated route to reach the Sistine Chapel. However, the exhibitions are stunning and the pièce de resistance is the Sistine Chapel. When you arrive at the Sistine Chapel, don’t follow everyone else but try to find a place in the middle to stop and admire Michelangelo’s famous artwork. Otherwise, you will be shepherded down the sides and be asked to move on very quickly and you will miss everything. Don’t listen to the officials but take your time. Be warned that the Sistine Chapel will be packed with people. However, by staying in the middle we were able to take all the time we needed to enjoy it. On your way out, don’t miss out the modern Bramante staircase.
12 Domas Aurea
Visiting the Domus Aurea will take you back in time to the heart of Ancient Rome. Here, you can experience a virtual tour which illustrates Roman ingenuity and allows you to experience the beauty of Rome at this time. The Domas Aurea was built by Emperor Nero after the great fire in 64 AD.
13 Roman Forum
The Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill are adjacent to each other. Admission is granted with tickets to the Colosseum. In my opinion, the Roman Forum is an interesting place to visit. Here, you will see the ruins (some well-preserved) of some of the oldest buildings in the ancient city of Rome. This place certainly gives you a glimpse into the Roman Empire. The Roman Forum was the central area for markets and political business. In addition, a lot of other things took place here like gladiator matches, criminal trials and processions.
14 Piazza Navona and Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
The Piazza Novona is one of the best places in Rome to visit. The square was once used as stadium and thousands of seats used to line the square instead of today’s buildings. This square has a good ambience and it’s a great place to have a coffee or Italian gelato.
On the square, there are three big fountains – one in the centre and one at each end of the square. The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of Four Rivers) is one of the favourite places for tourists to take a selfie. You will also notice an obelisk in the centre of the fountain and four statues which each represent a different river: the Ganges, Danube, Rio de la Plata and the Nile.
Behind the Fountain of Four Rivers is the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone. It is safe to say that Rome is saturated with beautiful churches and the problem for tourists is knowing which ones to visit. If you put this church in another city anywhere else in the world, it would be a massive tourist attraction. The only way to find out is to go inside and decide which ones you think are the most beautiful churches in Rome.
15 Castle Saint Angelo (Mausoleum of Hadrian)
The Castle Saint Angelo was built by the Emperor Hadrian who wanted to use it as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The castle was incorporated into the Aurelian Walls. The castle is next to the Vatican and was used as an escape route for the Pope. They built a fortified corridor between the Vatican and the Castle. The castle is divided into five floors which are linked together by a spiral ramp. You can visit different areas such as the jail or Papal residence. Don’t miss the terrace, where you can take nice pictures of the city.
16 Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the fourth major Basilicas in world. All of the world’s major Basilicas are found in Rome: Saint Peter’s (in the Vatican City), Saint John in Lanterano and Saint Paul’s. The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The Basilica is extremely beautiful. You will notice the magnificent mosaic floor and the impressive wood ceiling covered in gold. This Basilica is easy to visit as it’s situated near the Tremini Station.
The Trastevere area is a lot less touristic than the centre of Rome but is still quite close. You just need to cross the river and you will be in the Trastevere area. Here, you will find narrow roads with plenty of charm. This district has the best authentic restaurants in the city, and they are also less expensive. This atmospheric area is a great place to take photographs or to relax with a nice glass of wine in a peaceful spot.
18 Rome Food Specialities
If you want to taste authentic Roman food, you need to stay in the Trastevere area. Here, you will find the best restaurants in the city. By best, I mean authentic restaurants where locals eat.
Rome has plenty of specialities, but they aren’t always available. For example, artichokes were one of my favourite discoveries in Rome. However, the season for artichokes starts at the end of November, so until then they won’t be served in good restaurants. For me, Roman artichokes were a pleasant surprise. They are cooked in a couple of different ways but the deep-fried option was my favourite. Another speciality is of course pasta! I really recommend you try the Pasta Cacio e Pepe which is pasta traditionally cooked with Pecorino cheese, black pepper and pasta water. It’s delicious! Of course, you have to try pizza because the dough is so good in Rome. There are plenty of other specialities in Rome and all of them are very affordable.
19 Secret Aventine Keyhole
Whilst you are in the Trastevere district, you can cross back over the river and climb up the hill until you find a small square with an unremarkable door and keyhole. The trick is to look through the keyhole and between an alley of trees you will see a perfect alignment with the dome of St Peter’s Basilica. It’s a stunning sight. Check out our article about how to find the Aventine Keyhole?
20 Ponte Sant’Angelo
The Ponte Sant’Angelo or the Aelian bridge was also built by Emperor Hadrian, like the Castle Saint Angelo located next door. The bridge was constructed to connect the newly built Castle to the centre. There are 10 sculptures of angels on the side of the bridge. The bridge is a nice place to walk across and admire the views.
21 The Pyramid of Caius Cestius
Yes, it is true that you can see an authentic Egyptian Pyramid in Rome! Located near the Piramide train station, this Pyramid stands 36-meters high and is actually the tomb of Caius Cestius. It was built in the first century BC. If you want to visit inside the Pyramid, you need to go on the third and fourth Saturdays and Sundays of each month.
Is Rome Worth Visiting?
For me, Rome is definitely worth visiting. There are so many things to visit in Rome and all the family will find interesting things to do. If you go Off the Tourist Treadmill, the food is delicious and good value for money. The only problem with Rome is the time you spend in queues. This is why we advise you to order your tickets in advance. Below you will find great tours or jump the queue tickets to help you maximise your time in this amazing historic city.