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39 Best things to see & do in Rome

  • Rome, Lazio, Italy

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Rebecca Winke
  • Rome, Lazio, Italy

The Colosseum

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The Colosseum

Built by Emperor Vespasian beginning in AD 72 and known as the Flavian Amphitheatre in ancient times, the thrilling Colosseum still manages to pull a hefty crowd.

Inaugurated by the Emperor’s son, Titus, in AD 80, it could hold an unruly crowd of more than 50,000 spectators. With a circumference of 545m, it’s considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering.

The remarkably well-preserved walls, seating stands and underground tunnels are an evocative reminder of gory gladiatorial history.

Lovers of the film Gladiator will relish a guided tour of the monumental arena, where gladiatorial contests and traditional games were held.

Adult price: £14

Good for age: 10+

  • Vatican City, Lazio, Italy

St Peter’s Basilica

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St Peter’s Basilica

Commissioned by the wildly ambitious Pope Julius II, and completed in 1626, few buildings are as recognisable as this enormous, late-Renaissance basilica, majestically situated on St Peter’s Square.

As the burial site of Saint Peter, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles and, according to tradition, also the first Bishop of Rome and therefore the first pope – it is considered one of the holiest Catholic sites.

Good for age: 18+

  • Rome, Lazio, Italy

The Vatican

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The Vatican

Dominating Rome’s skyline, the Dome of St. Peters rises above Vatican City — the world’s smallest sovereign nation-state and Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, within its borders (44 hectares) are St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Apostolic Palace, the Pope’s official residence.

Good for age: 18+

  • Frascati, Lazio, Italy

Frascati Wine Region

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Frascati Wine Region

A day trip to Frascati has long been a tradition for Romans, who savour a stop at the numerous fraschette (outdoor wine bars) to sample the many wines produced in these hills.

Frascati white wine, either dry or sweet, still or sparkling, is made from blends of the Malvasia and Trebbiano grape varieties. Tradition says it’s best immediately after production, namely at the source. Romans flock here just to drink it.

The area is also well known for its beautiful Tusculum villas, a 16th-century legacy of the aristocratic families who came here to escape the heat of the city. Many of these villas have been turned into hotels, such as the grandiose Villa Grazioli.

Good for age: 18+

  • Rome, Lazio, Italy

Roman Forum

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Roman Forum

Few places on earth have witnessed more history. Located between the Capitoline and Palatine Hills, the Forum is packed with Rome’s most ancient shrines, temples (which doubled as banks and art galleries), the Curia (Senate) and basilicas (law courts), the infamous Mamertine prison and the Arch of Titus.

It was here that the Vestal Virgins kept the sacred flame, politicians addressed the crowds from the rostra and victorious legions held their triumphs along the Sacred Way.

 

Adult price: £15

Good for age: 18+

  • Rome, Lazio, Italy

Palatine Hill

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Palatine Hill

Rome was officially born on 21 April 753 BC when the sons of Mars, Romulus and Remus, were found suckled by a she-wolf on the Palatine Hill. It was the favourite address of the Etruscan and Roman elite, and emperors whose magnificent Flavian residence overlooked the Forum. Although the imperial box is long gone, the Palatine offers the best views over the remains of the Circus Maximus, which once sat 300,000 people for chariot races.

Archaeologists have pinpointed the House of Tiberius, Temple of Cybele, Nero’s revolving dining room and the Domus Flavia, all amid the beautiful 17th-century Farnese Gardens.

Good for age: 18+

  • Rome, Lazio, Italy

Rome’s best food & drink

Bucket List Experience

Rome’s best food & drink

Roman cuisine is more straightforward than many visitors expect, dominated by pastas and pizzas made using simple local ingredients.

In Rome, seasonal eating is a way of life. In winter find carciofi (artichokes) along with puntarelle: a green enjoyed with an olive oil/anchovy dressing. Lentils (lenticchie) are another wintertime staple.

Spring tables showcase meaty fava beans and zucchini flowers (fiori di zucca).

Summertime is focused on fruits like peaches (pesche) and watermelon (cocomero).

Good for age: 18+

Duration: -

  • Rome, Lazio, Italy

Doria Pamphilj Gallery

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Doria Pamphilj Gallery

Rome’s most impressive private art collection houses paintings and furniture assembled since the 16th century by the Doria, Pamphilj, Landi and Aldobrandini families.

The main collection is displayed in the state rooms (and chapel) of the lavish Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, still privately owned by the princely Doria Pamphilj family.

The audio guide, wittily narrated by Prince Jonathan Doria Pamphilj himself, offers an endearing way to understand life as the heir to one of Rome’s greatest families.

Adult price: £10

Good for age: 18+

Trevi Fountain

  • Rome, Lazio, Italy

Trevi Fountain

Bucket List Experience

The world-famous, spectacular Baroque fountain, where gods, goddesses and tritons mix with cascades of water, immortalised in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.

Good for age: 18+