Things to do in Rome

In Rome, art, culture, history, and Christianity mingle and coexist. 

Millions of visitors from across the world arrive annually to experience the beauty of this ‘Eternal city.’

Rome offers many attractions, from archaeological sites like Colosseum and Pompeii to immersive museums like the Borghese Gallery. 

Yet a trip to Rome is incomplete without visiting Vatican City and its famous attractions.

So don’t miss a chance to marvel at the frescoes in Sistine Chapel and stroll in St. Peter’s Basilica. 

The multiple sites in Rome may confuse and overwhelm a first-time visitor. 

But don’t worry; we have you covered.Find out some of the top tourist attractions in Rome in this article; you can also supplement them with some free things to do in Rome:

Roman Colosseum

The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheater, is a 2000-year-old attraction that depicts Roman history’s beauty and tragedy.

More than seven million people visit annually to take in the splendor of this monument. 

According to BBC, around 7.8 million visitors visited the monument in 2019 alone!

This place was the center for gladiatorial battles and other spectator sports.

Gladiators fought each other and wild animals to death in the Colosseum Arena and rested in Colosseum Underground before the match.

And you can also take your kids to the Colosseum.

If you are fortunate, you may see the newly constructed Arena floor of the Colosseum.

The newly constructed floor will have rotational wooden slats to allow ventilation, control humidity, and protect underground structures.

Tickets to the Colosseum include a trip to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, so tourists prefer to explore these attractions together.

In republic times, law courts and public gatherings took place in the Forum. Stores and outdoor markets used to line its entrance.  

Palatine Hill is 40 meters above the Roman Forum and is the most central of Rome’s seven hills.

Many consider it to be the birthplace of the Italian capital. 

You can see the ruins of the spectacular buildings built for ancient Rome’s elite class at Palatine Hill. 

How to visit the Colosseum:

The most cost-effective way to see this marvel is by taking the metro.

The Colosseum is on the Blue Line (Linea B); you can consult this map for easy entry.

Here are the stations on Linea B before the Colosseum.

We’d also suggest staying close to a metro station for hassle-free travel. 

After visiting the Colosseum, you can also take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Rome.

You can read How to Reach Rome for a better idea if you’re coming through the airports.

Caracalla Baths and Circus Maximus

You cannot miss the Terme di Caracalla in Rome after seeing the Colosseum.

Along with the Colosseum, this bathhouse was one of the most significant buildings in Rome.

Ancient Romans enjoyed bathing as a pastime and often frequented thermal baths to socialize with each other. 

And the baths of Caracalla had everything: libraries, a swimming pool, gymnasiums, and aqueducts that brought water.

However, that was not all. 

They also had an elaborate network of tunnels where the enslaved carted wood to brick-built ovens, keeping their pools warm. 

Book a ticket to the Baths of Caracalla and you can see these tunnels and one such brick oven yourself! 

Your guide will also show you the frescoes and mosaics on its walls. 

 The nearest metro station to the Baths of Caracalla is Colosseo. Hence, if you’re near the Colosseo metro station, you can visit the Baths.

Circus Maximus

Want a bonus attraction? You can put the Circus Maximus on your itinerary too!

Before Colosseum, the Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus) was the venue for public sports. 

It held chariot races and many other exciting sports. 

Learn more about the gladiatorial fights, religious ceremonies, plays, and executions here.

How to visit Circus Maximus 

Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo) has its metro station on Linea B. It comes before the Colosseo metro station. 

Domus Aurea

The remains of the Domus Aurea are symbols of one of the most eccentric episodes in Roman history.

In 64 AD, a great fire razed Rome to the ground, and emperor Nero vowed to build a new city named Neropolis.

Soon he seized some 200 acres of land in the heart of Rome and built a magnificent palace. 

Today little remains of the palace, but after extensive restoration, it is open to the public. And you can learn more about its history with a guided tour

How to Visit 

The nearest metro station to Domus Aurea is Cavour on Linea B.

If you are en route to the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, and the Baths of Caracalla, the Domus Aurea isn’t very far. 

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museum houses paintings, sculptures, and other artworks that the Popes have collected over the centuries. 

You can find 70000 artifacts in the Vatican Museum, out of which 20000 are in 54 distinct galleries. 

The last gallery is the Sistine Chapel, one of the most sought-after attractions for tourists. 

Therefore, to visit the Sistine Chapel, you must pass through the entire museum. 

Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel, known initially as Cappella Magna, attracts many tourists with its historical and cultural heritage.

It is at the end of the 26 galleries inside the museum.

The attraction’s popularity is due to the Renaissance frescoes adorning its interior, particularly the ceiling and walls.

Michelangelo’s frescoes are on the ceiling and the west wall behind the altar has his masterpiece— The Last Judgement — painted on it. 

You can also find Michelangelo’s Nine scenes from the Book of Genesis painted on the central ceiling. 

How to Visit Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museums. 

Hence, if you are visiting Vatican Museum, you also have a bonus site. 

Get down at the San Pietro and visit them all.

 St. Peter’s Square is a 10-minute walk from the San Pietro Station. If you are traveling from Colosseo on Linea B, it will take you 23 minutes to reach Ottaviano and vice versa.

St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is the most remarkable church in Christendom and the holiest Catholic shrine. 

It is renowned for its magnificent Renaissance architecture. 

Legends say, St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome and one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, is buried under the Basilica.

Popes are now buried inside St. Peter’s Basilica to continue this tradition.

The Basilica is home to numerous rare artworks of marble and bronze, papal tombs, and many well-known artifacts.

You can spot Michelangelo’s Pieta statue and the bronze statues of St. Peter and Longinus.

St. Peter’s Basilica is just a 5-minute walk from Ottaviano, so you are there if you have reached St. Peter’s Square. 

Capitoline Museum

Capitoline Museum
Image: Michal Ludwiczak / Getty Images

Rome’s Capitoline Museum is a collection of numerous art and archaeological museums.

Capitoline Museums are the oldest national museums in the world and have existed since 1471 in one form or another.

It is also known as Musei Capitolini in Roman.

Pope Clementine XII decided to permanently open a substantial collection of paintings and sculptures to the people of Rome in 1734.

He built the first museum in history, which is now on one of Rome’s Seven Hills. 

It is a historical melting point that overlooks the Roman Forum.

You can see the well-known sculpture of a she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, the parents of Rome.

Discover the treasure chest of artifacts that narrate the history of Rome, the former Caput Mundi.

How to reach Capitoline Museum

Barberini on Linea A is a 13-minute walk from the Capitoline Museum, and the Colosseo is a 16-minute walk from the museum.

Barberini is also close to the Trevi Fountain.

However, if you don’t want to walk so much, fetch the Line 63/83 buses! 

Pompeii Ruins

Pompeii was a popular summer vacation spot for the affluent and renowned of the Roman Empire thousands of years ago.

But a terrible volcanic eruption in 79 AD turned Pompeii into a tragic historical monument.

The Mount Vesuvius volcano destroyed Pompeii in less than 24 hours but also preserved the city forever.

The Pompeii Ruins are depressing yet stunning.

You can view the plaster castings of city residents who were there during the eruption. 

Travel back over 2000 years and see preserved mosaics, frescoes and artwork. 

The House of the Vetti and the Lupanar Brothel are highlights of this attraction.

How to Reach Pompeii

You can book a vehicle or board a train from Rome to Pompeii.

Trenitalia operates a few trains from Rome to Pompeii via Termini Station.

You will travel on a high-speed Frecciarosa train, which will take you two hours.

We’d suggest boarding the morning train at 07.26 am; you’ll reach there by 10.24 am.

You can also check the Trenitalia site for more details:

This trip may take a day; hence, it is only feasible if you have an extended stay in Rome.

Castel Sant Angelo

Castel Sant Angelo
Image: Robert Heathcote / Getty Images

Castel Sant Angelo is on the right bank of the river Tiber, outside Vatican city.

It is also Emperor Hadrian’s final resting place and his family’s grave. 

Over the years, this mausoleum served as a prison, a military structure and the papal residence.

And now, it is a museum open to all but for a small price!

Explore its five stories by making your way to the spiral ramp, where you’ll find the cells and the apartments that were formerly the papal home.

Discover the Chamber of ashes and be amazed at the well-preserved remnants of famous Roman figures and murals. 

How to reach Castle Sant Angelo

The nearest metro stations to Castel Sant Angelo are Ottaviano San Pietro and Lepanto, along Line A.

From Ottaviano, it’s just a six-minute walk.

However, visiting it from St. Peter’s Basilica may take you 9-15 minutes on foot.

Borghese Gallery

Borghese Gallery
Image: CAHKT / Getty Images

You’ll adore Rome’s Borghese Gallery if you love art.

Borghese was once a wealthy cardinal’s private collection and now welcomes more than half a million visitors annually. 

It is one of the most well-known art galleries in the world today and a high-end attraction. 

Due to this, just 360 people can enter at once for a two-hour visit.

Discover the stunning complex and marvel at the artworks created by some of the most celebrated artists in history.

Canova’s representation of Pauline Bonaparte, David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio, and Apollo and Daphne by Bernini are highlights of the gallery.

How to Reach Borghese Gallery

The nearest metro station in Borghese Gallery is the Spagna station along Line A.

If you are visiting from Termini station, land at Bareberini; from there, you can begin sightseeing in nearby areas. 

You can take the metro, buses, and cabs.

Catacombs of Rome

Catacombs are underground passages where Pagans, Christians, and Jews buried their deceased loved ones. 

Due to the presence of saints’ and martyrs’ relics in these catacombs, early Christians also used these underground locations for devotion.

The San Sebastiano and Callixtus Catacombs are the two most visited by tourists.

Enter the crypt of the 3rd-century Popes to see five of the nine Roman bishops’ tombstones that are still intact. 

After that, view a marble slab that bears some of Pope Damasus’ most well-known verses.

Pass through the narrow arch and enter the crypt where St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, was buried. 

You will find the colorful frescoes in the crypt and the Maderno monument’s replica that depicts the martyr’s body. 

Continue your exploration of the catacomb through the oldest section after leaving the crypt of Santa Cecilia. 

Admire its magnificent galleries and the exquisite “sacraments” cubicles.

Finally, make your way via the network of tunnels constructed during peacetime. 

Before returning to the surface, view several archaeological findings of funeral furniture on your way out. 

Pantheon Rome

The Pantheon in Rome is the oldest building in the world that is still in use today. 

It dates back approximately two thousand years.

The structure was originally built in 25 BC as a temple for the twelve gods.

It later served as an inspiration for Raphael, one of the greatest Renaissance painters.

Step on the temple’s original, antique marble floor after passing through the Corinthian columns transported from Egypt.

Discover how Pope Boniface IV ordered the removal of many martyrs’ remains from the Christian tombs and placement in the Pantheon in 608.

Admire the enormous 43-meter-diameter dome and its renowned oculus, which allows sunlight to illuminate the exquisite interior.

How to Reach the Pantheon, Rome

The nearest station to the Pantheon is Barberini, on Line A. 

From Barberini, you can take a bus on Line 63, a cab, or even walk if you have a lot of stamina. 

Mamertine Prison

Mamertine Prison
Image: Zelyanodzevo / Getty Images

Mamertine Prison is Rome’s oldest jail dating back to the 7th century BC.

It is sometimes referred to as the Tullianum Carcer and was known as the Tullianum in antiquity.

It is a tiny, dim, and confined location that imprisoned Rome’s enemies.

The prisoners included captured kings, conspirators, and even Saints Peter and Paul before the State put them to death.

Legend says a water spring flowed at Tullianum Carcer so St. Peter could baptize visitors, including two prison guards.

The location eventually ceased to be a jail and turned into a sacred site because it housed some of the most revered saints in the Bible.

You should check out this place to get goosebumps and spooky vibes. 

How to Visit Mamertine Prison

The nearest metro station to this attraction is Repubblica, along Line A.

From there, you’ll have to board a bus to Piazza Venezia.

The buses H/170/40/70/H/64/85 will take you there.

After deboarding from Piazza Venezia, it’s a 7-minute walk to Mamertine Prison.

Da Vinci Experience

One of Italy’s most brilliant brains, Leonardo da Vinci is honored in numerous museums as a painter, sculptor, engineer and scientist.

However, the Leonardo Da Vinci Experience in Rome provides the best experience of all museums.

It is the only Leonardo Da Vinci museum with more than 50 approved replicas of his magnificent paintings and certified inventions.

Learn how Leonardo’s studies of light influenced the development of photography and projection by entering the Room of Mirrors. 

Remember to take a picture next to his tank or chopper.

Admire the two replicas of the Virgin of the Rocks. Their originals are in the National Gallery in London and the Louvre. 

View Leonardo’s picture of the Lady with an Ermine, which transformed traditional portraiture.

How to Reach Da Vinci Experience

The Da Vinci Experience is close to the Vatican Museums. 

It is less than a mile away from the Ottaviano metro station.

You can check out this route map for more information.

Gladiator School Rome

The Gladiator School in Rome houses a Gladiator Training Camp and a Gladiator Museum that has been around for two decades.

It is a modern recreation of the Castrum, a Roman military defense camp run by Gruppo Storico Romano (Historic Roman Group).

Visitors can learn how to play the gladiator games and appreciate Roman history at the Gladiator School.

Both kids and adults find the place amusing.

You will experience life as a warrior for two hours while donning the gladiator costume and learning safe swordplay techniques.

After a brief history of the Romans, learn the fundamentals of gladiatorial sword fighting. 

Each lesson describes what it was like to be a gladiator and gives expert advice on using Roman weapons.

Aquafelix Waterpark 

Aquafelix Waterpark
Image: Aquafelix.it

Aquafelix is one of the top water parks in Italy and is only an hour’s drive from Rome.

The water park is well-liked by locals, visitors, and cruise passengers.

It provides the ideal combination of pools, water slides, water rides, music, and sun for every visitor.

This enormous water park in Civitavecchia is only open yearly during summer.

You can also find a restaurant called Golosariu at the water park. 

Munch on sandwiches, ice cream, and other snacks to re-energize yourself while trying different water rides. 

Remember to check out Magnafelix, the Aquafelix bar, restaurant, and pizzeria. 

Its massive and beautiful terrace makes it a perfect spot for visitors to relax.

Want to add more to your Roman holiday? Here are some free things to do in Rome!

Featured Image: Fodors.com

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!