Once the center of great Roman Empire that at its peak spanned over 2.5 million square miles, today Rome is the capital of modern Italy. It truly is an Eternal city because, just as ancient Romans believed, many empires have fallen, and many new came, but Rome is still here, in all its glory.
Walking Map of Rome, Italy
Top Attractions in Rome
The most recognizable monument in Rome, The Colosseum, an ancient gladiator arena with 50,000 seats and 80 entrance arches was built by Emperor Vespasian as a present to his people with free entrance to the games. In 404 an end came to the often very savage games involving throwing convicts to animals and other forms of entertainment when Christian Orthodox Emperor Theodosius banned all forms of paganism and customs. Over next centuries, many parts of the arena where pillaged for use in new constructions.
The arena is part of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’ and is the largest amphitheater in the world. You can combine a visit to Colosseum with a visit to Palatino hill, one of the Seven Hills of Rome and one of the most ancient parts of the city. A story from Roman mythology tells how it was on this hill Romulus, the founder of Rome and the Roman Kingdom, and Remus, his brother, were found and raised by the she-wolf, Lupa.
The Colosseum is open daily from 8:30 AM to 1 hour before sunset. Two-day tickets are €12 and include entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatino.
The Roman Forum stood as the center of the political, social, and commercial life of ancient Rome with government buildings, temples, markets, and arches. Unfortunately only fragments remain following the fall of Roman Empire.
The most important surviving landmarks are the 23 meter high Arco di Settimio Severo built in AD 203 to celebrate the Roman victory over the Parthians, Curia as a historical building where Senate used to meet, and Casa delle Vestali, home to virgins who had to make sure the sacred flame kept on burning.
The Roman Forum is open daily from 8:30 AM to 1 hour before sunset. Two-day tickets are €12 and include entrance to the Colosseum and Palatino.
The Pantheon is one of the best-preserved examples of ancient Roman architecture built in 2nd century BC as a temple dedicated to Roman gods. Later on, it was converted into a church where several Italian kings got buried as well as painter Raphael.
The most prominent feature of Pantheon is its dome, famous for being the largest unreinforced concrete cupola in the world supported by a series of arches. One can attend international masses held here every Sunday.
The Pantheon is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 AM to 7:15 PM and Sunday from 9AM to 5:45 PM.
The Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the world and probably the most famous was constructed in 1762 by Nicola Salvi with almost 80,000,000 liters of water circulating through the system every day. Thousands of tourists throw coins in the fountain due to a belief how such act guarantees he or she will return to Rome. To do it properly, throw a coin with a right hand over your left shoulder.
Piazza Navona is a square built on top of an ancient Roman stadium. It is famed for three fountains you can find there – the Fountain of the Four Rivers (Nile, Danube, the Ganges and Río de la Plata) built in 17th century, Fountain of Neptune built in 16th century, and Fontana del Moro built in 17th century. The square is surrounded with restaurants and cafe bars and is also where different annual fairs and festivals take place.
Built on the proposition of the French, the romantic Spanish steps account for 137 step flight of stairs and are the widest staircase in Europe signifying peace between the French and Spanish while connecting two squares, the French (above the stairs) and the Spanish (below).
Galleria Borghese and Borghese Gardens
Galleria Borghese is one sensational gallery, often referred to as being ‘queen of all private art collections’. It is situated in Villa Borghese Pinciana built in 16th century for Cardinal Scipione Borghese. The artwork on show testifies to what extent was he an ardent art collector. Just to name a few masters whose works can be seen in the gallery: Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, and Bernini.
After enjoying the art collection and the building itself that boasts with some amazing frescoes and mosaics, you can step outside and take a walk around heart-shaped Borghese Gardens decorated with statues, fountains, and a small temple.
Located in the center of Rome, in three connected palaces, the Capitoline Museums are the oldest public museums in the world. Pope Sixtus IV began the collection when he donated a number of bronze statues which was later significantly enlarged when in the 16th century Pope Pius V decided to empty the Vatican of all art depicting pagan images.
The Museums are known for holding Italy’s finest collection of classical sculptures. The prized piece is the statue of Marcus Aurelius on horseback; the only surviving bronze statue from Ancient Rome as well as a sculpture of Romulus and Remus under a wolf.
The Capitoline Museums are open daily from 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM with the last admission at 6:30 PM. Tickets are €15 per adult.
National Roman Museum
The National Roman Museum holds the greatest treasury of ancient Greco-Roman art located in four different buildings; the Baths of Diocletian, the Palazzo Altemps, the Crypta Balbi, and the Palazzo Massimo. The exhibits include antiquities discovered in Rome since 1870 as well as a large number of Roman copies of lost Greek works and a few valuable originals.
The National Roman Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9AM to 7:45PM. Tickets are € 7 per adult.
The Imperial Forums were constructed between 46BC and 113AD at Julius Caesar’s initiative, who wanted to relieve overcrowding in the older Roman Forum. The Imperial Forums were a center of Ancient Rome’s political and religious life. They were built as a series of squares and buildings by a different emperor showing off his wealth and power.
Forum of Trajan with 42 meters high Trajan’s Column is the best-preserved part of the Imperial Forums. In the Imperial Forums Museum which is set up inside the complex, you can see artifacts from all of ancient Rome’s forums.
The Imperial Forums are open daily from 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM. Tickets are €12.50 per adult.
Also known as The Hadrian Mausoleum, Castel Sant’Angelo was built between 130AD and 139AD on the right bank of the river Tiber with Ponte Sant’Angelo connecting it with the rest of the city. In the medieval ages, it was turned into a castle to defend the northern entrance to Rome. It is then a hidden corridor was built connecting the castle to St Peter’s Basilica.
Today, the castle is a museum with statues, paintings or ceramics mainly from the Renaissance period, a mausoleum, and a former prison. Some will argue how the most impressive part is the upper terrace offering a fantastic view of Rome.
Castel Sant’Angelo is open daily from 9AM to 7:30PM. Tickets are €10 per adult.
Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini
If you are intrigued by what life might have looked like in ancient Rome, then visit the archeological remains of ancient Roman houses belonging to rich found beneath Palazzo Valentini. A multimedia museum delivers a unique immersive experience where the past has been recreated with a help of virtual reconstructions, videos, and graphics.
The museum is open Wednesday through Monday from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM. Tickets are €12 per adult.
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj
This 16th century palace, likely the largest one still in private ownership, was a home to the Doria, Pamphilj, Landi and Aldobrandini families united through marriage. Today it houses a gallery featuring exhibits from families’ large private art collection including works by Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, Velazquez and many others.
The gallery is open daily from 9AM to 7PM. Tickets are €12 per adult.
Palazzo Colonna – Galleria Colonna
A privately owned palace by the old noble Colonna family that still occupies the upper levels of the palazzo hides a gallery with the highlights of the Italian Baroque and other treasures collected by 24 generations of the family. Marcantonio Colonna is the family’s greatest ancestor is known for defeating the Turks at the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
Colonna Palace is open Saturday from 9AM to 1:15 PM. Tickets are €12 per adult.
Circus Maximus was the first and biggest arena/stadium in ancient Rome that at its height could accommodate an audience of a quarter of a million people. The venue was in use for nearly a thousand years until with time it started decaying. Today Circus Maximus serves as a public park with occasional events such as concerts.
Vittorio Emmanuel II Monument
One of the largest and tallest buildings in Rome built in white marble commemorates the first king of unified Italy – Vittorio Emmanuel II. You can take a lift to the roof to enjoy the 360 degree view of Rome.
The Panoramic elevators are open Monday to Thursday from: 9:30 am to 6:30 pm and Friday to Sunday from 9:30 am t0 7:30 pm. Admission to the monument is free, but the Panoramic elevators are €7 per person.
National Gallery of Modern Art
Established in 19th century, the National Gallery of Modern Art hosts more than 5 000 paintings and sculptures dating from the 18th century all the way to the 1960s including works of world-renowned artists like Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Monet.
The Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm. Tickets are €10 per adult.
Giardino Degli Aranci
A Garden of Oranges is said to be one of the most romantic places in Rome, offering beautiful panoramic views of Rome. It is full of orange trees, with a legend saying how Saint Dominic planted the first orange tree in the whole of Italy in the courtyard of the nearby Basilica di Santa Sabina in 1200 AD.
Piazza del Popolo
People’s Square is a large oval square where you will find architectural beauties and amazing artwork such as the church of Santa Maria del Popolo and at the center of the square, the Egyptian obelisk of Ramses II surrounded by lions splashing water into their paws.
Museum of the Souls of Purgatory
It is not on many people’s itinerary when visiting Rome, but the Museum of the Souls of Purgatory definitely one with a more than interesting theme. It exhibits various articles and artworks that are supposed to prove the existence of a Christian purgatory. The museum’s small collection of objects is contained in a single glass case.
The collection is open Monday to Friday from 9AM to 12:30 pm and 5PM to 7PM.
Via Appia Antica
One of the most important Roman roads of ancient republic, Via Appia Antica is a really nice day outside of city where you can take a walk or bike ride in an area that is now a park. Still, the road has a rather grim history. Beneath it lies a 300 kilometres of underground catacombs where the early Christians buried their dead and it is here where Spartacus and 6000 of his slave rebels were crucified in 71 BC.
As long as you are visiting Rome, take a quick trip without needing a passport or visa the smallest state in the world by both area and population, the Vatican City! Check out our complete guide to the Vatican City for everything you need to know when visiting this walled city.
OMNIA Rome Card
The OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card is a sightseeing pass with free admission to some of the most-visited attractions in Rome and the Vatican City. It also includes skip the line entry to landmarks like the Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and many more. The pass also offers unlimited public transportation. It is a great option if you are going to spend two days in Rome, to see all the highlights with less stress.
The OMNIA pass is also a 3 day travelcard with unlimited access to Rome’s metro system, urban trains and buses. Get around the city comfortably without having to pay every time you use public transport.