Rome, alias the eternal city, is a magical place that you never stop loving nor discovering. The many monuments, hidden views, ancient buildings, parks, and the infinite attractions and things to do, make it one of the most sought after destinations.
But time available to visit the city is not always plentiful, so the question is: “What shouldn’t I miss?” That’s precisely why we’ve prepared a “Top 15” of Rome’s iconic places.
1. See the Colosseum
The first absolute must-see is, of course, the Colosseum, the largest amphitheater in the world built by Emperor Vespasiano around 71A.D. Shut your eyes and imagine the crowds cheering during the gladiator fights or gasping at the brutal executions or just marveling at the entertainment.
Address: Piazza del Colosseo, 1 00184 Roma RM
When: Open every day from 08.30 am to 06.15 pm (latest entry) from the last Sunday in March to August 31st.
2. Visit St. Peter’s Basilica
St.Peter’s Basilica is one of the biggest churches in the world. Built between 1506 and 1626 the basilica is the hub of Christianity that pilgrims cannot resist. Its beauty is difficult to put into words but seeing it ‘live’ is breathtaking. Michelangelo’s dome and Bernini’s embracing colonnade, add to the spectacle.
Address: Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City
When: Open every day from 07.30 am to 07.00 pm from April to September
3. Explore the Vatican Museums
You will find the most beautiful works of art by the most famous painters and sculptors inside the museum. Pope Julian II started off with his private collection before this grew to be one of the greatest in the world.
The Sistine Chapel is, of course, the most important work of art of them all, not only famous for Michelangelo’s genius but also for being the place where the Conclave meets to elect a new Pope.
Address: Viale Vaticano, 00165 Roma RM
When: Mondays to Saturdays from 09.00 am to 06.00 pm (last entrance at 04.00 pm)
Closed Sundays except for the last in the month open from 09.00 am to 02.00 pm (last entrance at 12.30 pm)
4. Admire the Pantheon
The Pantheon is one of the most important examples of Roman Architecture featuring the Oculus, a 9 meter opening at the apex of its dome, providing the only source of light.
Members of the Italian royal family were buried here as was Raphael the famous Renaissance painter and sculptor.
Address: Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma RM
When: Mondays to Saturdays from 08:30 am to 07:30 pm (Last entrance at 07.15 pm); Sundays from 09:00 am to 06:00 pm (last entrance at 05.45 pm)
Public Holidays during the week: from 09:00 am to 01:00 pm (Last entrance at 12.45 pm)
5. Throw your coin in the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is the largest in Rome. It was inaugurated in 1762 and designed by Nicola Salvi. Legend has it, that if you throw a coin in the fountain and make a wish (to return to Rome) your wish will come true. Careful though, you can’t do this any ol’way… you must turn your back to the fountain and throw the coin strictly over your left shoulder. Throw it over the right and you may get the wrong city 🙂
Address: Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM
6. High noon at the Gianicolo
The Gianicolo, or Janiculum if you prefer, is a must if you would like to admire Rome from a hill-top. A beautiful view unfolds below you as you single out some of the Eternal City’s landmarks. Canon fire goes off at noon and has been doing so, off and on, since 1847. The monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi who was instrumental to the unification of Italy stands high in the middle of the square.
Address: Piazzale Giuseppe Garibaldi, 00165 Roma RM
7. Stop over at the Roman Forum
The Roman Forum was a political, religious and financial center. It represented the very definition of the true Piazza which it continued to be right up to the end of Republican life. It provides an extraordinary setting to over 3000 years of history.
Address: Via della Salaria Vecchia, 5/6, 00186 Roma RM
When: Every day from 09.00 am to 07.00 pm
8. Drinks in Piazza Navona
The oval shape is a bit of a “give away” so you won’t find it hard to believe that in Roman times the Piazza used to host Athletics events. When it was built, a mere 1900 years ago, it was known as the Domitian Stadium holding some 30,000 people.
The Fountain of the Four Rivers in the center of the piazza, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is a masterpiece to be admired at length. It’s a small wonder that this is one of the most frequented places in Rome with its bars and restaurants to help tourists and locals alike, soak in the unique atmosphere.
Address : Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma RM
9. City tour by Vespa
Rome is so big that seeing it all on foot would take an enormous amount of time let alone the “physique du role”. Moving about on a Vespa is certainly a unique experience which you should try not only to fully appreciate the marvels of the city but also to enjoy your breaks further away from the “madding crowds”.
Warning: you need to have good driving skills!
10. Strolling the streets around the Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps run from the Church of Trinità dei Monti, down to Piazza di Spagna stopping short of the “Barcaccia” a fountain started by Giovanni Bernini and finished by his rather more famous son Gian Lorenzo. A number of well-known streets converge into the Piazza starting with Via dei Condotti where some of the “Big Name” shops await to test the limits of your credit card.
The Piazza has provided the background to a great number of films including the legendary “Roman Holiday” with the delightful Audrey Hepburn and a rather cool Gregory Peck.
Address: Go on … have a guess 🙂
11. Piazza del Popolo…more drinks!
Situated at the foot of the Pincio, the terrace in Villa Borghese where at sunset you can enjoy the special light projected over Rome’s rooftops, the enormous Piazza del Popolo is a great starting point for all shopping fans. From here, three streets are known as the Tridente run in the direction of Piazza Venezia. Via del Corso, brimming with high-street names, Via di Ripetta taking you to Ceasar Augustus’ mausoleum, and Via del Babuino a mix of 5-star luxury Hotels, high-end brands, and art galleries. The center of the square hosts a famous Egyptian 24 meter obelisc dedicated to Ramses II. You can’t miss it … it’s the only one in the square 🙂
12. Going up to the top of Castel Sant’Angelo
You will be surprised to hear that Castel Sant’Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel) takes its name from Arcangel Gabriel whose statue sits at the top. There are five floors to the castle each connected by a spiral staircase. In fact, by the time you get to the “roof terrace” you are likely to feel pretty dizzy, the drinks you had in Piazza Navona and Piazza del Popolo probably won’t help either. Anyway, if you can focus, from up here you will be able to admire a wonderful view of the city.
Address: Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma RM
When: Every day from 09.00 am to 07.30 pm
13. Take in the atmosphere of Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese is defined as the “green heart” of Rome. The park is a mix of history and everyday life with its ponds, benches, a water clock but also The Borghese Gallery Museum representing one of the more important art museums of the city thanks to work by Bernini, Canova, Raphael, Titian, and the Caravaggio.
Address: Piazzale Napoleone I, 00197 Roma RM
When: Dawn to dusk
14. Admire the Vittoriano, the Altar of the Fatherland
Located in Piazza Venezia the Vittoriano (aka the Typewriter or the Wedding Cake) is one of the most visible and prominent of Italy’s capital. It was built in honor of King Victor Emanuel II, the founder of the Unification of Italy. Once inside, you should visit the Sacrario delle Bandiere the Shrine of the Flags, the Renaissance Museum, and the Emigration Museum.
Address: Piazza Venezia, 00186 Roma RM
When: Every day from 09.30 am to 07.39 pm (Latest entry at 06.45 pm)
15. Il Palazzo del Quirinale
The Quirinale Palace built in 1953 is now home to the President of the Italian Republic. In the past, it had been the Royal and also Papal residence. Every day at 03.00 pm you may enjoy the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
Address: Piazza del Quirinale, 00187 Roma RM
When: Tuesdays to Sundays from 09.30 am to 04.00 pm
After all the sightseeing, the delicious carbonara pasta, the gorgeous gelatos sitting on the Spanish Steps and having relaxed on the green grass of Villa Borghese it’s now time to pack and go home, your Roman Holiday over! Enriched by the experience, culture, and emotions but already with the same nostalgic look in your eyes of those that can’t wait to come back to the Eternal City.