If you’re flying, you will most likely start your trip to Italy in Rome. It’s the capital of Italy and the country’s largest city. It was the center of the ancient Roman Empire, so it’s packed with history, ruins, museums and monuments. There’s no shortage of things to do in Rome. Take your time exploring the city though. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you certainly can’t experience it all in a day. Here are some of the popular sights to get you started.
The most iconic image from Rome is the Colosseum, and a trip to Rome isn’t complete without visiting this landmark. It was built in just eight years, which is fascinating given how huge it is and how long ago it was built. It was the site of many gladiator battles put on as shows, but there is so much more to its history. I highly recommend taking a tour so you can hear the details while you’re there, and many of the tours will also allow you to skip the long lines to get in. We took this one, which gave us exclusive access to the underground area and the third tier for amazing views.
The Roman Forum is right next to the Colosseum and usually included on a tour of the Colosseum. At one time, this was the center of activity in the city. The ruins are constantly being excavated, so what you see now might look different if you return in 10 or 20 years. Just like with the Colosseum, there are so many tales of the history that took place in the Roman Forum that help bring it all alive when you’re there.
There are fountains all over Rome, which add to the charm and atmosphere of the city. But the most famous one of all is the Trevi Fountain. Legend has it that you will return to Rome if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain. Plus the money is collected and donated to a local charity.
These gorgeous stairs are named for the nearby Spanish Embassy. It is the widest staircase in Europe, and these steps were one of many sights made famous by the movie Roman Holiday. They’re a great place to sit and relax in between seeing the bigger sights.
While technically a separate country (the smallest in the world), Vatican City is located entirely within the city of Rome. This is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, but even if you’re not Catholic or religious, the art and history inside its tiny borders are well worth a visit. Consider a tour to get in to the Sistine Chapel ahead of the general public. We took this one, and it was so nice to get in before the crushing crowds.
Food tours and cooking classes
Italian food is delicious, but did you know it’s very regional? And some dishes that we think are Italian actually don’t exist in Italy! Food tours and cooking classes are great ways to learn about the rich food culture in Rome. You’ll get to taste a variety of local foods, try your hand at pizza or pasta making, and learn how to spot authentic gelato.
We’ve taken two different food tours in Rome, and both were excellent. This one lets you taste a variety of dishes, such as porchetta, pasta, pizza, gelato, and more. This one lets you compare a variety of vinegar, olive oil, salami, cheese and more, plus you get to make your own pizza at the end.
There are so many other things to do in Rome. What I’ve listed here will give you a thorough introduction to the history and culture of this great city. But don’t just see the sights. Take some time to simply wander the streets and discover pieces of every day life in Rome. Sit in a piazza with a book and watch the world go by. Do as the locals do, and just enjoy!
Read more about Italy:
- Italy itinerary with ideas for one or two weeks in Italy
- 8 Random Things About Eating in Italy
- Ultimate Italy Guidebook which is filled with interviews with 100 locals sharing their insider tips
- Or check out the full Italy section