I’ve taken a few trips to Rome so grab a pen, pencil, or phone to take notes because I’m going to share a lot of ideas to help you plan your Itinerary and next trip to Rome. These can’t miss things to do in Rome, Italy are perfect if you are looking for things to do in Rome – whether you’re spending 2 or 3 days in Rome and even helpful in helping you determine how to spend a week in Rome and beyond.
Monuments & Sights
The Trevi Fountain is the most famous fountain in Rome and arguably, in the world! It features intricate artwork of Oceanus, a mythological personification of the sea, in baroque style. This fountain is free to visit and marks the junction of three aqueducts in Rome and is filled with flowing water. You can’t drink the water in it and you can’t jump in it; but you can throw a coin into it to ensure your return to Rome with all proceeds going to charity. The scale of this masterpiece is quite impressive spanning 126 feet wide and 86 feet tall. Fun Fact: the stone used is made of the same material as the Colosseum.
Also known as the “Flavian Amphitheater,” the Colosseum in Rome was completed in AD 70-80 and was the biggest amphitheater in the world seating around 50,000 spectators. Back in the day, this structure was used as a spectacle showcasing hand-to-hand gladiator combat or man vs animal combat to the death. One of the seven wonders of the world, the underground chambers housed gladiators and beasts and as of June 2021 you can now visit this underground space! Tickets to the Colosseum range from €16 – €30 for an adult ticket (guided tour optional) and are available through two different websites in advance. I highly recommend booking tickets online at least one month in advance to avoid standing for hours in line. Additionally, I suggest grabbing a tour guide or comprehensive audio guide (not the official one at the colosseum) and pay a few extra euros for access to the underground section.
See: Guided Colosseum Tours and Activities.
Considered the best preserved ancient roman monument, the Pantheon was completed around 125-130AD. The word “Pantheon” means to “honor all gods,” but it is now used as an active church and burial site. Most notably, the famous Italian painter and architect Raphael is buried here. Engineered with absolute brilliance, there is a large “oculus” in the center of the church that allows sunlight and rain to fall freely inside the structure. This ancient site is free to visitors, but please be respectful of church services throughout the day if visiting.
In addition to these top three monuments and sight, the next CAN’T MISS things to do in Rome, Italy is to visit the…
Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill was the hub of ancient roman city life. There you will find ruins of government buildings, courts, shops, and open-air markets. Tickets to colosseum INCLUDE the forum and hill so plan at least a few hours to view both!
Arc of Constantine
Built in 315 AD, the Arch of Constantine celebrates Roman emperor Constantine’s victory over Maxentius in 312CE. It is the largest surviving triumphal arch and the last great monument of imperial Rome.
Can I just tell you how BEAUTIFUL Piazza Navona is?! The Piazza is a public square built on an ancient stadium, known for several art masterpieces from Bernini and Borromini. There are three impressive fountains: Fountain of four rivers (shown above), Fontana del Moro, and Fountain of Neptune. Piazza Navona is a great place to hang out, take pictures, eat, and shop.
The Spanish steps, also known as “Piazza di Spagna,” is the widest and longest staircase in Europe. The impressive staircase gained worldwide exposure from it’s feature in the 1953 film “Roman Holiday” with Audrey Hepburn. You can’t sit down on the steps (unless you want get fined), but nearby there’s Luxury shopping, a century old tea house, column of the immaculate conception, and another impressive fountain by Bernini.
Piazza del Popolo
The “People’s Square” is a 10 min walk from the Spanish Steps and features an impressive city gate into Rome, twin churches, and an obelisk. Can we say STUNNING?!
Altar of the Fatherland – King Victor Emmanuel
Celebrates the unification of Italy in 1861 and first King of Italy. Now home to the tomb of the unknown soldier, a museum, and exhibition space.
There are over 50 museums in Rome and I can’t list them all, but these three are on my CAN’T MISS Things to Do in Rome Italy list:
Vatican Museums & St. Peter’s Basilica
Can you really take a trip to Rome, Italy and not visit one of the best museums in the world? The Vatican Museums are a series of smaller museums the contain a gorgeous collection of papal treasures, maps, chapels, sculptures, gardens…and of course the Sistine Chapel featuring Michaelangelo’s famous frescoes. Entrance to the Vatican ranges from €17 – €70 for an adult ticket, but keep in mind there are multiple tour types (self-guided, tour-guided, VIP, museums + gardens, train access, breakfast included, etc.) and reduced price tickets for kids and students. I suggest taking a guided tour to learn even more history and to take the non-public entrance into the Sistine Chapel that is ONLY accessible through a guide. This ticket was so WORTH THE VISIT and as always, booking online at least three months in advance is the way to go. If not, you may fall victim to one of the many scammers outside of the entrance who tell you there are “no more tickets available” online but then usher you to their “office” across the street to sell you tickets at a premium.
- Skip-the-Line: Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Guided Small-Group Tour
- Fast Track – Vatican Tour with Museums, Sistine Chapel & Raphael rooms
- St. Peter’s Basilica with Vatican official guides
- Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani) Tours and Activities.
This gallery is one of the best in Rome and a can’t miss thing to do in Rome, italy! It houses an impressive collection of Renaissance and Baroque work, including Caravaggio, Bernini, Raphael, and Titian. You MUST get tickets at least a month in advance because they WILL sell out.
See: Villa Borghese Gallery & Gardens Small-Group Tour with Skip-the-Line Access
Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo
This beautiful site held the ashes of emperor Hadrien and other Roman Emperors until becoming a fortress in AD 401. Now it houses art, archeological finds, and weaponry.
Food & Shopping
When in Rome, you can’t miss our on eating all of the fresh, delicious Italian food and shopping! How do you know what’s worth your time and money and what’s not? Below are some of my favorite can’t miss things to do in Rome, Italy food tours and shopping locations.
It’s hard to find a bad meal it Rome, but it is possible. Check out some of the destinations below to find good food and fun!
- Trastevere – plenty of local, delicious spots for fresh Italian food.
- Campo de’Fiori – renting an apartment or home and need to buy groceries? Check out Campo de Fiori for the freshest local ingredients (vegetables, meat, cheese, bread, spices, and seasonings).
- Prati District – Rome Food Tour by Sunset around Prati District
- Small-Group Cooking Lesson in Rome (Pasta making + market tour) – you’ve seen me shop and make pasta by hand in my Last Day in Rome vlog, this is the exact tour I took!
- Giolitti for gelato and excellent sweets
- Jewish Ghetto
- Pizza and Gelato Making Class – Why not learn how to make pizza and gelato yourself, then take the recipes home to use over and over again!
- Michelin star restaurant dining – some of the finest, high-end food you can taste in Rome!
Also on my CAN’T MISS Things to Do in Rome Italy List: Go Shopping! Rome has some of the best shopping.
- Via del Corso – the main high street shopping, here you’ll find luxury shops and chain stores side-by-side.
- Via Condotti – perpendicular to via del corso, a great shopping destination in it’s own right.
- Galleria Alberto Sordi – a traditional mall, but in a gorgeous setting.
- Via Cola di Rienzo – close to the Vatican
- Vintage Shopping: Flamingo (Via del Boschetto) & Omero e Cecilia (frequented by costume designers, decades of fashion)
As you may have seen from my birthday vlog in Rome, a highlight of my entire trip was a visit to get custom sandals and ballet flats from Di San Giacomo!
Day Trips from Rome
If you are spending more than three days in Rome, I recommend going on a day trip. HEAR ME OUT! YES this blog is about can’t miss things to do in Rome, Italy, but if you have more than a few days in the city you’ll quickly see that Rome is centrally located to almost all the other major cities in Italy, so why not visit one (or more) of the places below?
- Amalfi Coast – colorful seaside towns, cliffs, beaches, picturesque views… who doesn’t love Positano? The lemons are large and sweet here, so take your time sipping limoncello as you visit Sorrento, Positano, or Capri.
- Pompeii – This ancient city and UNESCO world heritage site was destroyed in 79CE when Mt. Vesuvius suddenly erupted, covering everything nearby in ash. Archeologists rediscovered this ancient city and were caught off guard because it was shockingly well preserved. A day trip to Pompeii is worth the visit to see how the volcanic residue froze the city, and its people, in time. . See also Hurculaneum
- Mt. Vesuvius (Monte Vesuvio) – Famous volcano that erupted and covered Pompeii. It is the only active volcano in continental Europe and is still considered one of the most dangerous. Excellent views of the Bay of Naples & Italian Countryside
- Tuscany – Get away from the crowds and experience the Italian countryside. Known for it’s wines, dramatic landscapes, delicious cuisine, castles, and historic sites siena, San Gimignano, and Florence.
- Florence – Duomo, Michelangelo’s Statue of David at the Galleria dell’Accademia, Uffizi Palace & Gallery,
- Milan, Venice, Naples, Bologna, Verona are all just a few hours away via high-speed train or flight. GO VISIT if you can!
Unique Things to Do in Rome, Italy
Finally, there are more than a few CAN’T MISS things to do in Rome, Italy that are unique.
- Semi-Private Colosseum Underground Tour with Roman Forum & Gladiator Arena
- Crypts and Catacombs – Underground site dates back to the 1st Century. Some are elaborate with long passageways, tunnels, and chambers. Kinda spooky, kinda cool.
- Bike Tour – I went on an evening tour around the city that stopped by a majority of the sights I mentioned in this blog. One of my all time FAVORITE can’t miss things to do in any city and especially Rome, the tours are only 3-4 hours and run in the day or evening. We took an evening eBike tour so we didn’t have to pedal and huff and puff as hard. Our guide explained the history of each sight, gave us great tips for our week in the city, and took us to great photo spots all over the city. We met international travelers, joked, laughed, learned, and quickly got comfortable navigating the city.
- Vespa Sidecar Tour
- Gladiator school – learn how to be a gladiator
- Sketching Rome Tour
- Mosaic workshop – There are many mosaics throughout Rome, so why not learn how to make one
These are my can’t miss things to do in Rome Italy – which of these activities would you add to YOUR itinerary? What activities would you ADD to this list? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!
Antoinette | Frolic & Courage