Rome is a city of sights. It has ancient Roman ruins, Renaissance art, and religious monuments and cathedrals. It's easy to fill days exploring this city and still not see everything. If you've only got a few days, prioritize your time, find tours that let you skip long lines, and make the most of everything you do. Rome won't disappoint.
Archaeology and Ruins
The Colosseum is one of the most famous sites in Rome and it's popularity means it's also one of the most crowded. This is one site where it is often worth arranging a tour that lets you skip lines and avoid crowds. See our guide to getting tickets for the Colosseum
for the best prices and tours.
Construction of the Colosseum began in 72 AD during the Flavian dynasty by Emperor Verspasian and it was completed in 80 AD by his son Titus. The amphitheater was designed for gladiator battles, public executions, and various forms of entertainment. It was the largest colosseum in the Roman Empire, holding up to 50,000 people, and it is still considered to be one of the Roman Empire's most impressive architectural and engineering accomplishments.
In the evening hours they light the Colosseum up and it makes a popular and impressive photo opportunity. If you're in the area, it's worth heading over to catch the view and take a few pictures.
The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is located in the valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills. This area was at the heart of ancient Rome and was home to countless processions and elections and it was the sight of many public speeches and important decisions. For centuries it played an important role in the daily lives of the population. It was lined with the statues of many of the city's greatest men and it was the meeting place and gathering point for many historic discussions. The site dates back to the 7th century BC when construction began on what was originally an Etruscan burial ground.
The Forum today has many architectural ruins on display including the Arches of Septimius Severus and Titus
, the Temple of Antonius Pius and Faustina
, and the Temple of Saturn
. There are tours available in many different languages and the site attracts millions of tourists every year.
Palatine Hill is one of the Seven Hills of Rome. It's where the twin boys of Romulus and Remus were supposedly found by a wolf and eventually rescued by a shepherd. It is the spot where Rome was founded and today you'll find ruins of the palaces that once lined the area.
Tickets to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, & Palatine Hill
There are a variety of combined ticket options available for the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. To purchase online, visit www.coopculture.it
(€12 / reduced €7.50 plus €2 online booking fee) - This ticket is for an assigned entrance time to the Colosseum. It is valid for two days and allows one entrance to the Colosseum and one entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Entrance Ticket With Tour
(€12 / reduced €7.50 plus €5 for tour and €2 online booking fee) - This ticket has an assigned entrance time to the Colosseum and is valid for two days following this time. It allows one entrance to the Colosseum and one entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. It includes a guided tour.
Entrance Ticket With Audio or Video Guide
(€12 / reduced €7.50 plus €5.50 for audio tour and €2 online booking fee) - This ticket has an assigned entrance time to the Colosseum and is valid for two days following this time. It allows one entrance to the Colosseum and one entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. It includes an audioguide.
S.U.P.E.R. Ticket (€20)
- This ticket allows one entrance to the Colosseum and two entrances to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (one a day) for two consecutive days. It also allows entrance to any temporary exhibition as well as seven different places: Neronian Cryptoportico, Palatine Museum, Aula Isiaca - Loggia Mattei, Augustus' House, Livia's House, Temple of Romulus, and Santa Maria Antiqua with the Oratory of the Forty Martyrs and the Domitian Ramp.
Reduced prices are available for European citizens between the ages of 18 and 45. Public school teachers within the European Union may also receive reduced rates.
Free admission is available for citizens under 18, Italian teachers, and everybody the first Sunday of the month.
Ostia Antica was historically the seaport for Rome, but today it is an archaeological site at the mouth of the River Tiber. It's located about 20 miles southwest of Rome, and here you'll find many ancient buildings, some with impressive frescoes and mosaics. The oldest buildings date back to the 4th century BC.
Tickets cost €8 / reduced €4.
Visit the official website
for more information.
The Appian Way
The Appian Way is an ancient road in Rome that connected Rome to the city of Brindisi in southeastern Italy. It was one of the earliest, and at one time, most strategically important Roman roads. It was named for Appius Claudius Caecus, who was the Roman censor who completed the first part of the road in 312 BC during the Samnite Wars.
The road stopped being used after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, but it was later restored by Pope Pius VI. A new road, called Via Appia Nuova, was built alongside the original one in 1784. Today the original road is lined with many historical monuments along its first eight kilometers. Many tourists visit the original road in the areas near Rome, which are free to access. You can expect traffic along the first 5 kilometers, but fewer cars along the later 3 kilometers. For more information, see this guide to the Appian Way
just outside of Rome.
The Baths of Caracalla
The Baths of Caracalla were the second largest public baths in Rome. They were built in the 3rd century by Emperor Caracalla in an effort to gain political support. Although the baths are now ruins, they were functional for 300 years and are still an impressive sight to see.
Tickets are €8 / reduced €4.
To purchase tickets online visit www.coopculture.it
The Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums date back to the 16th century and have grown to include some of the world's most important items, including the spiral staircase, the Raphael Rooms, and most famously, the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 and are thought to be one of his most important accomplishments.
There are a variety of different ticket and tour options, and most sell out so reservations are highly recommended. It's best to research ticket and tour options on the official website
, as the options and variations are countless, but several options are listed below for your convenience.
Open tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
- €17 / reduced €8 (€4 booking fee). Audioguides are available for €11.
Guided tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
- €34 / reduced €24 - includes Pio Clementino Museum, Gallery of the Candelabra, Gallery of the Tapestries, Gallery of the Geographical Maps, Raphael's Rooms, and the Sistine Chapel.
Castel Sant'Angelo was originally built in 123 BC to serve as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family. It was later made into a fortress and castle and then a prison. Now it is home to a museum.
Tickets are €14 / reduced €7.
For official ticket information, visit their website
The Galleria Borghese
This art gallery was built in the 17th century by Cardinal Sciopione Borghese. It's housed in what was once the Villa Borghese Pinciana (designed by Flaminio Ponzio), and today you'll find many works of art here including paintings by Titian and sculptures by Bernini.
The collection was begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who was the nephew of Pope Paul V and now fills 20 rooms that are spread across two floors. On the main floor you'll find works from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD and classical and neo-classical sculptures. There's a ceiling fresco in the first room that is by the Sicilian artist Mariano Rossi and quite impressive.
The Capitoline Museums
These museums were designed in 1536 by Michelangelo and then took 400 years to build. You'll find a wide variety of medieval and Renaissance art here.
Standard rates for tickets are €15 but reduced rates are available.
For more information visit the official website
The National Roman Museum
This museum is actually spread through several locations throughout the city. There are four main sites: The Thermal Baths of Diocleziano
, Crypta Balbi
, Palazzo Massimo
, and Palazzo Altemps
Tickets are €16 / reduced €10.
St. Peter's Basilica
St Peter's Basilica is located in the Vatican City, which is the papal enclave in Rome. It is a Renaissance church that is believed to be built on the site where Peter, the apostle who is considered to be the first pope, was crucified and buried. The building which now stands on the site began construction in 1506 and was completed in 1615. Designers included Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
It is the largest church in the world and is considered to be one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It is also a place of pilgrimage for many Catholics.
Visiting St. Peter's Basilica is free. If you wish to go to the top of the Dome there's a lift to the terrace (plus an additional 320 steps) for €8 or you could climb the entire 551 steps and pay just €6.
Plenty of other churches can be found around Rome, many of which are worth seeing. Some are considered to be off the beaten path in Rome
because they are not major attractions. However, with just a little bit of walking you can take them all in.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
This basilica was founded during the 4th century and it is one of the most important Catholic churches in Rome. The interiors are some of the best preserved of the Byzantine time, and the exterior is from the 18th century. If you happen to visit on August 5th, you'll be able to experience the Miracle of the Snows celebration. During this event, thousands of white petals fall from the ceiling.
San Giovanni in Laterano
This is believed to be the first Catholic church built in Rome. It is one of the four most important basilicas in the city and it was dedicated to John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. It is also the home cathedral for the pope and the archbishop of Rome.
It is free to visit but donations are accepted.
Basilica of San Clemente
This basilica dates back to the 12th century and it was built over top of a 4th century church and an older Roman Temple. It has impressive frescoes and mosaics and it's located just a short distance from the Colosseum.
If you wish to explore the excavations of the lower two levels, there's a fee of €10 per person with reduced prices available for those under 16.
Santa Maria in Trastevere
It is believed this church was originally built in the 4th century, making it one of the oldest churches in Rome, although it has been enlarged and restored several times. It has beautiful mosaics that date back to the 12th and 13th centuries and it's best visited at night when it is lit up.
Free to visit.
Piazza's (City Squares)
Piazza Navona is one of the most well-known squares in the city. It dates back to the 15th century on the site of what was once the Stadium of Domitian, and it maintains the original shape of the stadium. Today the square has three fountains, as well as many cafes, shops, and street performers, making it a fun place to hang out.
Campo de' Fiori
This rectangularly shaped piazza is located south of Piazza Navona. During the daytime it's used as a marketplace that sells vegetables, produce, fish, meat, and flowers, and at night many college students hang out and party in the area. There are some nice cafes and restaurants here, so it's a good place to grab a bite to eat or sip cappuccino.
St. Peter's Square
Located in the Vatican City in front of St. Peter's Basilica, this is the gathering place for hundreds of thousands of people who come to hear the pope speak. It's also the most famous square in Rome. It dates back to the 17th century when it was designed by Bernini. It is an elliptical shape and has colonnades on two sides that are topped with statues. At the center of the space is an Egyptian obelisk. This is of course, one of the most visited sites in Rome. For even more ideas of things to do here, check out this guide to spending two days in Rome
Piazza del Popolo
This oval-shaped piazza is located in northern Rome and dates back to the Roman Empire. It originally served as the starting place for a major road heading north. Today there are three churches found in the piazza as well as an obelisk from Egypt. Porta del Popolo is on the northern side of the piazza.
Monuments and Landmarks
The Pantheon was built as a temple to the Roman gods in 126 AD. It is famous as the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The building that exists today was reconstructed in the 2nd century by Emperor Hadrian and in the 7th century it became a Roman Catholic Church.
In the past the Pantheon was free, but starting in 2018 they began charging a €3 entry fee.
The Trevi Fountain
This Baroque fountain is another iconic Roman site. It was completed in 1762 by Nicola Salvi and is designed with a mythological sculpture of Neptune, the god of the sea. On each side are two Tritons.
The fountain is at the end of the ancient Aqua Virgo aqueduct and its popularity makes it one of the most popular tourist sights in the city. Most tourists toss a coin into the fountain over their shoulder, which as tradition says, means you'll one day return to Rome.
The Spanish Steps
Another iconic spot in Rome, this impressive stairway was built between 1721 and 1725 and climbs 135 steps. It was funded by the French to connect the Bourbon Spanish embassy to the Holy See with the French church of Trinita dei Monti. The steps are located by Piazza di Spagna where you'll also find the Fontana della Barcaccia. You can expect large crowds throughout the day and into the evening.
Victor Emmanuel II Monument
This famous monument (sometimes referred to as the wedding cake building
) was built to honor the first king of unified Italy, Victor Emmanuel. It was designed in 1885 by Giuseppe Sacconi but not completed until 1925. Today you'll find two museums in the building and an impressive view from the top.
If you have a limited amount of time for your journey, see our advice about how much time to spend here:
Should I spend 1, 2, or 3 days in Rome?, Should I spend 3, 4, or 5 days in Rome?, Should I spend 1 or 2 weeks in Rome? and Is Rome Worth Visiting?