This post will cover some of the best activities to enjoy in Rome.
In addition to our list of the top 10 things to do, we will also provide several great free, family-friendly, and nighttime attractions.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO
In this section, we will provide our list of the top 10 things to do in Rome.
If you’re looking for activities and events that will be taking place at the time of your trip, please read our monthly things to do posts.
1. Go on a Sightseeing Tour
No matter when you visit Rome, it’s always a good time to do some sightseeing. This ancient city is filled with wonderful and historic landmarks to see!
We offer a number of free walking tours in Rome, including the city's centre, the Rome Forum, the Colosseum, the Vatican, and more.
2. Watch a Musical
There are a lot of great theatres in Rome, and they host a number of great musicals, operas, plays, ballets and more throughout the year.
One of the most popular locations is Teatro dell’Opera, a venue that offers a variety of excellent operas and other events.
During the summer, they also provide shows at the Baths of Caracalla, including concerts with notable musical artists.
Here are a few other venues you may want to consider:
- Teatro Sistina
- Teatro Eliseo
- Teatro Olimpico
- Teatro Brancaccio
- Teatro Argentina
If you’re wondering what will be playing during your trip, please read our monthly posts covering things to do in Rome.
Some events may be cancelled or pushed back as a result of the pandemic, and you will probably be asked to wear a mask, keep your distance from others, and undergo a temperature check.
3. Enjoy a Nice View of Rome
While there aren’t really any traditional observation decks in Rome, you will find several locations that provide excellent views of the city.
One of the best places to visit is the roof of Castel Sant’Angelo.
This open-air area on the 7th floor offers an amazing perspective of St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City, as well as other notable landmarks.
Alternatively, you may also want to visit Aventine Hill for a unique view of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Knights of Malta Keyhole.
The dome of St. Peter’s is also a great place to get a view of the city, as it’s well above most of the other landmarks in the area.
If you’re looking for a better view of the entire city, it’ll be difficult to beat Terrazza del Pincio at Piazza del Popolo.
This terrace is located well above the city, giving you an opportunity to see several notable landmarks.
No matter which of these locations you choose to visit, there are plenty of great places to get a good look at the city of Rome.
4. Visit the Vatican Museums
No matter when you come to Rome, it’s almost always a good time to see the many museums at the Vatican.
Even if you’re not interested in the religious significance of this location, there are a lot of historic pieces of art and other notable items to see.
In addition to artwork from famous artists such as Raphael, this is also the location of the Sistine Chapel.
This site is noted for the depiction of The Last Judgement on the ceiling, which was painted by Michelangelo.
While you’re in the area, you may also want to visit St. Peter’s Basilica for even more historic artwork. One of the most beautiful pieces is Michelangelo’s The Pieta, which is unquestionably some of his finest work.
Depending on when you decide to visit, you may also have an opportunity to see the Pope, as he makes a public appearance at least once or twice a week!
The Vatican Museums are now requiring safety precautions such as wearing masks, keeping a 1.5 metre distance from other visitors, and undergoing a temperature check before entering.
5. Go to a Free Museum
For many years, the city of Rome has offered a monthly program called Domenica al Museo.
Although this program still technically exists, it was changed recently to a system that actually ensures even more free museum days throughout the year.
Each participating attraction will offer 20 free days per year. Here are some of the more notable sites you can visit:
If you’re wondering when to expect the next free museum day, make sure to check the website of the participating museum/landmark.
For more activities that won’t cost a thing, make sure to check our free things to do section.
Most of these museums will require you to wear a mask, undergo a temperature check, and keep at least a 1 metre distance from others.
6. Visit Rome Landmarks at Night
There are a lot of popular sites in Rome that are well lit after the sun goes down, and some even offer tours at night!
In addition to these options, there are several historic fountains that light up the night sky in Rome, including notable examples like the Trevi Fountain and Bernini’s Fontana del Quattro Fiumi in Piazza Navona.
Alternatively, you can also check out the Spanish Steps after dark, as they are open to the public and pretty well lit at night.
You’ll find even more great things to do after dark in our nighttime attractions section.
As we’ve already mentioned, anyone visiting the Colosseum, Vatican Museums, Pantheon, and Castel Sant’Angelo will be required to wear a mask, take a temperature test, and keep at least a 1 metre distance from others.
7. Visit Villa Borghese
There are a lot of interesting activities to enjoy at this popular public park in the center of Rome.
If you’re an art lover, a trip to the Borghese Gallery is an absolute must.
While this location isn’t free to visit, there are a few other museums in the area that don’t charge for admission.
This is also the site of Bioparco di Roma, a fantastic zoo with several animals to see from around the world.
Families may also want to visit the San Carlino Puppet Theatre to see a great puppet show with your kids.
For additional things to see and do in the park, make sure to check our post about visiting Villa Borghese.
If you’re looking for even more things to do with your children, make sure to read our family-friendly activities.
8. See a Concert
Rome is a pretty popular destination for musical artists from around the world. Depending on when you come, there may be a concert worth checking out somewhere in the city.
Here are a few of the venues where you can expect to see a great show:
- Auditorium Parco della Musica
- St. Paul’s Within the Walls
- Teatro dell’Opera
- Traffic Live Club
- Le Mura
If you really want to know what kind of musical performances will be available when you plan to visit, check this list of upcoming concerts.
Many of these events will likely be canceled or pushed back as a result of the pandemic.
You can expect any concerts to require temperature checks, masks, and other protective measures.
9. Attend a Sporting Event
Rome is home to several popular sporting events and venues.
This ancient city is also often home to at least a few notable tennis matches each year.
No matter which sport you enjoy, chances are you’ll find a great event to attend when you visit.
For more details, check our monthly posts on things to do in Rome.
Like most other activities during the pandemic, you can expect sporting events to require visitors to wear masks, keep a specific distance from others, and get their temperature checked.
10. Consider Getting a Tourist Pass
Some of the most popular activities in Rome are included at a discount with various tourist attraction passes.
These services typically allow you to pay one flat price for access to dozens of different attractions. The more locations you visit, the more money you save!
Certain passes also include skip-the-line tickets at specific locations, making it easier to save time while exploring the city.
Here are a few of the more notable activities offered by various Rome tourist passes:
- Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
- Vatican Museums
- Borghese Gallery
- The Colosseum
- Castel Sant’Angelo
- Baths of Caracalla
- Gladiator Museum
- And More!
Depending on how you use these services, you could save 50% or more off regular ticket prices.
For more details, please read our post covering Rome tourist attraction passes.
FREE THINGS TO DO
If you’re looking for activities that won’t cost a thing, we currently have a post dedicated to free things to do in Rome.
This post covers the following excellent opportunities – and more!
Don’t forget to check our other sections for ideas like going to Trevi Fountain, visiting Villa Borghese, free museums, getting a nice view of Rome, and seeing St. Peter’s Basilica.
11. See the Spanish Steps
This is one of the most popular meeting places in all of Rome, featuring both a unique fountain and a statue which draws the Roman Catholic faithful -- and even the Pope sometimes -- throughout the year.
In addition to being a great place to meet up with friends and family or take a break from walking around the city, the Spanish Steps are always lined with azaleas in the spring, making them one of the most colorful locations in all of Rome.
For more details, please read our post about the Spanish Steps.
12. Visit the Pantheon
This is one of the most historic sites in the city, and in addition to being one of the most impressive architectural feats in Rome, there are a lot of great examples of artwork to see here as well.
Although the Pantheon is still free to visit, they have new regulations to follow due to the pandemic.
All visitors must wear a mask, maintain a distance of 1.5 metres, undergo a body temperature check, and avoid touching their face as much as possible.
Check our post about visiting the Pantheon for more information.
13. Take a Walk Down Appian Way
This is one of the oldest locations in the entire city, dating back to 312 BC. There are a lot of things to see and do along this ancient stretch of road.
Some of the most notable attractions include the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, the Mausoleum of Caecilia Detella, the Circus of Maxentius and more.
For additional details, check our post covering what to do on Appian Way.
14. Spend Some Time at Piazza Navona
If you’re looking for yet another great meeting place, this piazza is one of the most popular gathering spots in Rome, and there is a lot to see and do here.
In addition to three different historic fountains, this public square is also home to the Church of Sant’Angese and Stadio di Domiziano, among other notable sites.
Piazza Navona also frequently hosts markets during holidays and special events.
For more information, please read our post about Piazza Navona.
15. Discover Circus Maximus
This is one of the most historic sites in all of Rome, and it’s quite close to landmarks such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
The best thing about Circus Maximus is that it’s entirely free to visit, but there isn’t much left to see here any more, as the area has almost completely fallen into disuse and eroded away.
That said, if you’re interested in seeing one of the more notable locations in the city, a trip to the Circus Maximus will be a must.
16. Visit the Vatican Museums For Free
As we mentioned earlier in this list, the Vatican Museums are filled with historic artifacts and works of art that are definitely worth checking out.
While tickets are typically a bit expensive, they do offer free days on the last Sunday of every month and on special holidays.
It’s important to note that the museums can get quite crowded on these days, so you may not want to take advantage of this opportunity if you’re trying to avoid large crowds.
17. Take a Free Audio Tour
We currently offer a GPS enabled audio tour of Rome City Center which you can use with any smartphone. In addition to this outing, we will also be adding a tour of Ancient Rome very soon.
There are several free audio tours available in Rome, many provided by none other than Rick Steves.
He currently has tours of the Jewish Ghetto, Trastevere, and the Heart of Rome.
If you plan on visiting some of the more popular attractions in the city, it’s also worth noting that he has audio tours of the Colosseum, Pantheon, Roman Forum, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.
18. Go on an Art Walk
There are a lot of incredible works of art that you can see in Rome for free, and you could easily spend at least a few hours walking around the city to find some of the best examples.
Visit churches such as Santa Maria del Popolo and Sant’Agostino for some of the finest works of Caravaggio.
You’ll also have an opportunity to see Michelangelo’s Pieta at St. Peter’s Basilica.
19. Take our Free Tour of the Vatican + St. Peter’s Basilica
This self-guided tour is entirely free to take, and it includes several notable stops which are important to the history of the Vatican.
Starting at Castel Sant’Angelo, this tour will lead you to St. Peter’s Square and cover multiple sites along the way.
20. See the Trevi Fountain After Dark
Many people feel that this fountain is best experienced at night, as it is well lit and the movement of the water below creates magical reflections off the marble thanks to the light.
This is the largest fountain in Rome, and it’s also arguably the most beautiful one to see after the sun goes down.
Even if you plan to see it during the day, plan to come after dark as well!
Check our post about the Trevi Fountain for more information about the history of this landmark.
NIGHTTIME ATTRACTIONS IN ROME
Although a lot of businesses close up pretty early in this city, there are still quite a few fun things to do at night in Rome.
Don’t forget to check our other sections for ideas like visiting the Trevi Fountain, taking an audio tour, watching a musical, seeing a concert, and many more.
21. Visit the Colosseum After Dark
Some tour companies offer the opportunity to see this famous landmark at night.
This is an excellent opportunity to avoid the crowds and see the Colosseum when there are fewer people inside.
The only way to get in after dark is by taking a tour, so you’ll need to purchase your tickets well in advance to avoid the possibility of sold-out tickets.
Find out more about visiting the Colosseum at night.
22. See the Vatican Museums At Night
As with the Colosseum, you can visit the Vatican Museums after dark with the help of a tour group.
This is a limited opportunity, but it also ensures you won’t have to worry about the crowds.
Due to the pandemic, tour groups are kept even smaller than usual in the Vatican Museums, so you can expect tickets to be more difficult to come by.
Make sure to purchase your tickets for this experience well in advance to avoid missing out.
Discover more about going to the Vatican Museums at night.
23. Take a Tour of the Capuchin Crypt
This historic crypt is home to a chilling Bone Chapel which you can actually visit after dark.
Much like visiting the Colosseum and Vatican Museums at night, you will need to purchase tickets for an official tour of the site in order to see the Capuchin Crypt after the sun goes down.
24. Take a Ghost Tour
With a history dating back thousands of years, it probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that there have been several spooky events and reported hauntings in Rome.
If you want to learn about the darker side of this ancient city, consider taking a Rome ghost tour.
25. Enjoy a Wine Tasting
Italy is one of the best regions in the world for wine, and there are several wine tasting outings and tours you can take which will allow you to sample some of the best drinks in Rome.
This Rome wine tasting tour is led by a professional sommelier, and it includes samples of either 3, 5, or 8 wines.
26. Go on a Tour in the Evening
Many of the landmarks in Rome are well lit at night, which makes this an excellent city to tour after the sun goes down.
Even during the sunset, many of Rome’s most notable sites look positively magical in the evening.
27. Discover the Fountains of Rome At Night
There are several beautiful fountains in Rome that are lit up very well during the nighttime.
You may also want to visit the Spanish Steps to see the Fontana della Barcaccia.
28. Go to a Museum in the Evening
If you’re looking for something fun to do as the sun begins to set, consider heading to a museum before it closes.
There are several notable museums that remain open until 7:30 pm or 8 pm.
Some of the best examples include Castel Sant’Angelo, the Baths of Caracalla, and MAXXI.
Don’t forget that there are also night tours available at the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum.
29. Spend Time at Capitoline Hill
The public square at the center of this area is known as Capidoglio, and it was designed by Michelangelo.
This is also the site of the Capitoline Museums, which house several notable artifacts and works of art.
Both our self-guided and audio tours of Ancient Rome begin here, and both are excellent options if you’re interested in learning more about the area.
If you’re looking for an even more affordable activity in the area, visit the Basilica di Santa Maria to see in Ara Coeli to see some of the best frescoes in all of Rome.
30. Take the Kids to the Children’s Museum
The Explora Museum is specifically designed for kids, and it has several fun exhibits that they can interact with.
They have changed some rules after the pandemic in order to keep your children safe, including taking new sanitation measures and keeping the number of visitors limited to just 85 guests at a time.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY ATTRACTIONS IN ROME
It’s not always easy to find fun activities with your family, but there are quite a few excellent options.
For even more ideas, read our master post for things to do with kids in Rome.
31. Visit Rainbow Magicland
As the name implies, this amusement park is a pretty magical place that has plenty of fun things to see and do.
If you visit during a holiday season, chances are there will be at least a few activities related to that event.
In order to keep everyone safe, Rainbow Magicland requires you and your family to wear face masks, keep a distance of at least 1 metre from others at all times, and undergo a temperature check before entering the park.
32. Enjoy Some Time at the Zoo
Located in Villa Borghese, this beautiful zoo is home to many incredible animals that kids and their families will truly enjoy.
There is also a museum here which is entirely free to visit with admission to the zoo.
Due to the pandemic, you’ll need to wear masks and keep your distance from people while inside the park.
33. Walk Around Villa Borghese
This is one of the most beautiful places in Rome, and there are a lot of things to see and do in the area including multiple museums, the zoo, fountains, and even a small theatre for kids.
Whether you want to enjoy a nice walk through a park or see the attractions in Villa Borghese, there are many reasons to make a trip to this part of the city.
And don’t forget that this is the home of the Borghese Gallery!
34. Go to the Gladiator School
Located near Appian Way, this school will literally teach your kids how the gladiators once fought in the Colosseum and prepare them for battle.
Alternatively, you can also watch demonstrations of the professionals on hand at the Gladiator School and enjoy a simulation of actual gladiatorial combat!
35. Check Out the Pinocchio Store
The Bartolucci shop in Rome is well known for crafting a lot of beautiful wooden toys, including many items based on the story of Pinocchio.
In addition to toys, this store also sells mementos and items such as wooden music boxes, so even if you aren’t bringing any children, it may be worth a visit if you’re looking for something unique to bring home.
36. Go to the Cat Sanctuary
The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary is actually a historic location that uses the ancient ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina to house hundreds of cats.
Whether you love cats or you want to see how this notable ancient location became a shelter for felines, it’s entirely free to visit this cat sanctuary, and we recommend checking it out if you’re in the area.
37. Visit the Rome Rose Garden
Just up the hill from Circus Maximus, this rose garden is one of the most beautiful locations in all of Rome when the flowers are in bloom during the months of May and June.
Best of all, it’s entirely free to visit!
This location is also within walking distance of the Orange Tree Garden, a keyhole view of the dome of St. Peter, and many other fun, free activities.
38. Take the Kids to a Playground
There are several wonderful playgrounds all over Rome, including one within walking distance of the Rome Rose Garden.
If you want to know where to find the best playgrounds in the city, check our post about things to do with kids in Rome for more details.
39. Spend Some Time in Trastevere
There are a lot of interesting things to see and do in this neighborhood, including a botanical garden, the museum of Rome, Villa Doria Pamphili, the San Cosimato Market, and more.
For additional ideas of what to do while you’re here, check our post about things to do in Trastevere.
40. Visit the Jewish Ghetto
We currently offer a free self-guided tour of the Jewish Ghetto, and there are a lot of interesting things to see in the area, including a historic synagogue and an ancient portico.
Although some of the stories from this part of Rome can be sad, if you really want to know about the history of the city, a trip to this part of town is an absolute must.
MONTHLY THINGS TO DO
There are some events and activities that only take place during certain times of the year.
If you want to learn more about these opportunities, click on the month that you will be visiting Rome for more details.