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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 07 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Rebecca Winke

Rome has been on history’s front page for more than 2,000 years; it’s a city of marvels that has seen glory, greatness and triumph – and excess, murder and decadence – in equal measure. Yet despite its dazzling wealth of ancient, medieval, Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture, the Eternal City is no museum piece.

A thriving and modern metropolis among venerable treasures, Rome boasts a hip, 21st-century art scene, world-class theatre, outstanding shopping, superb cuisine and, of course, gelato. One of Europe’s most exciting capitals, Rome is a shining example of la dolce vita; its many piazzas alive with al fresco bars and restaurants.

Orientation

Founded on seven hills, Rome is largely defined by its tightly packed historic centre. Most of the city’s landmarks can be found here, such as the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Colosseum. Across the Tiber lies the Vatican, the world’s smallest independent state and home to the world’s most famous ceiling fresco. Beyond the ancient walls, Rome is also very close to the sea, and a trip to the beach makes the perfect urban escape.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Capitoline Museums

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Three museums on one complex, founded in 1471, packed with ancient Roman, Greek and Egyptian statues. Look out for the Capitoline Wolf and the statue of Marcus Aurelius.

Best for ages: 18+ | £12

The Colosseum

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Built by Emperor Vespasian in the 1st Century AD, Rome’s magnificent and iconic Colosseum, steeped in gory gladiatorial history is a must-see. Let the games begin!

Best for ages: 8+ | £14

The Vatican

Rome, Lazio, Italy

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Vatican City is the world’s smallest sovereign nation-state and Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church. Within its borders are St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and Apostolic Palace, home to the Pope.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Arch of Constantine
Experience

Arch of Constantine

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Located between the Colosseum and Palatine, the triumphal arch – the Arch of Constantine – was built by Emperor Constantine in AD 315. Art was at a nadir: most of the carvings were pilfered off earlier monuments.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Arch of Titus
Experience

Arch of Titus

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Located on the Via Sacra, just southeast of the Forum, the Arch of Titus was built in 82 AD by Emperor Domitian. It has inspired other triumphal aches around the world since, most notably the Arc de Triomphe.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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Porta Asinaria is a gate in the Aurelian Walls of Rome, ancient landmark from Roman Empire, stone walled largest city of the world.
Experience

Aurelian Walls of Rome

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Rome has so many treasures, this one is often overlooked. But with the empire under threat from invaders, Emperor Aurelian gave the city one of the greatest sets of fortifications in the world – a job finished in only five years. 19km long, and almost completely intact today, the circuit includes several monumental gates, and it passes some of the Eternal City’s most interesting monuments.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Caravaggio at the Church of St. Louis of the French
Experience

Caravaggio at the Church of St. Louis of the French

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Caravaggio single-handedly transformed Italian art in the early 1600s. Three of his most stunning paintings hang in the Contarelli Chapel of this small Rome church, including The Martyrdom of St Matthew.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

 Hidden Gems & Rome Catacomb Tour Small Group 8 People Max.

Hidden Gems & Rome Catacomb Tour Small Group 8 People Max.

Rome

This tour is designed for those who want to enjoy a different Rome, far from the hectic atmosphere of popular tourist sites, but still full ...

€65 | Rating 4.88 / 5 [45 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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All Rome in 1 Day WOW Tour - Luxury Car, Guide, Entrance Tickets, Lunch included

All Rome in 1 Day WOW Tour - Luxury Car, Guide, Entrance Tickets, Lunch included

Rome

Only 1 day in Rome? There is still time to visit many of the city’s most iconic attractions. The itinerary focuses on the best of Rome: the...

€576 | Rating 4.87 / 5 [207 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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Best of Rome by Golfcart private tour

Best of Rome by Golfcart private tour

Rome

Relax in comfort as you glide around the Eternal City on your private Golf Cart tour. Begin your visit either the morning or the afternoon w...

€90 | Rating 4.92 / 5 [212 ratings]

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Best of Rome in Two Days Private Guided Tour and Chauffeur Service -VIP Entrance

Best of Rome in Two Days Private Guided Tour and Chauffeur Service -VIP Entrance

Rome

Exclusive Rome in Two Days Chauffered Private Guided Tour Maximizes your time for an unforgettable experience. An extraordinary private sig...

€826 | Rating 4.2 / 5 [20 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Hotel Santa Maria

Rome, Lazio, Italy

A peaceful, family-oriented hotel in a 17th-century convent, close to the main sights of Rome, and in the heart of buzzing Trastevere.

Official star rating:

Casa Montani

Rome, Lazio, Italy

A strikingly designed, romantic B&B in a superb central location. It combines state of the art comforts and privacy – perfect for couples.

Official star rating:

Villa Laetitia

Rome, Lazio, Italy

A 1911 Roman villa-turned-fashionable townhouse hotel with lush gardens in a peaceful setting and Michelin star restaurant.

Official star rating:

Mario de’ Fiori 37

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Seven gorgeous, ultra-comfortable boutique suites in a historic townhouse, in Rome’s most fashionable quarter.

Official star rating:

When to go

High summer can be unbearably hot and humid in Rome so it’s best to visit in spring or autumn, though the Easter holiday period, when pilgrims and school groups descend on the city, tends to be very busy.

Winter is a charming time to visit, especially around Christmas, and January and February can be mild.

June and July are good months for culture vultures – the squares are filled with open-air restaurants and bars, and parks such as Villa Celimontana and Villa Ada play host to concerts and festivals.

Getting there and away

Rome has two main airports. The main international airport, Fiumicino (FCO), also known as Leonardo da Vinci Airport, is 30km from the city centre and serves major international airlines. Busy Ciampino (CIO), 17km to the southeast, serves mostly budget carriers from European destinations. There are plentiful taxis at both flat-rate fares of approx EUR50 from Fiumicino and EUR30 from Ciampino. From Fiumicino, you can take a fast, direct train to Roma Termini. The journey takes about a half-an-hour and costs around EUR20, departing every 20 minutes.

Getting around

Walking around the compact historic centre is the best way to admire its many sights – and discover its hidden secrets. You can’t hail taxis on the street – they must be booked or hailed at taxi ranks. Licensed taxis are white or yellow, with ‘SPQR’ on the doors; don’t get in an unauthorised taxi. Also watch for drivers switching to the more expensive tariff 2 – tariff 1 is standard within the GRA ring road. See here for up-to-date rates.

Renting a car isn’t recommended as the traffic is usually awful and parking is almost impossible. Cycling is a popular option and especially good for getting around the historic centre: there are bike-sharing racks on most of the piazzas. Download Uber’s Lime app and go!

The ‘Archaeologia Card’ allows access to nine major archaeological sites in Rome, with discounts on audio guides and guided tours. It may be purchased at the Colosseum, Baths of Caracalla and the four museums that comprise the National Museum of Rome (Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Baths of Diocletian and Balbi Crypt).

The three-day Roma Pass offers free entrance to the first two museums visited and discounts on the others, as well as free public transport.

Where to stay

Rome’s historic centre is split into key urban quarters or rioni. Most of the grand luxury hotels are around Piazza di Spagna (the Spanish Steps) and Via Veneto, while intimate boutique hotels and B&Bs tend to be in Trastevere and near Campo de Fiori. Other neighbourhoods such as Testaccio – a mecca for foodies – and Monti, Rome’s oldest neighbourhood are filled with cool shops, funky bars, and fashionable restaurants.

For an edgier cosmopolitan mix, head further west towards Esquilino, near Termini train station and Il Pigneto, home to loft-dwelling artists and students.

Orientation

Founded on seven hills, Rome is largely defined by its tightly packed historic centre. Most of the city’s landmarks can be found here, such as the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Colosseum. Across the Tiber lies the Vatican, the world’s smallest independent state and home to the world’s most famous ceiling fresco. Beyond the ancient walls, Rome is also very close to the sea, and a trip to the beach makes the perfect urban escape.