What to See in Rome – TOP 30 Attractions & Places

During your Italian vacation, the main question that comes up in your mind is usually: “what to see in Rome?”

There are many must see places and here you will find top 30 attractions that you can visit in the Eternal City even if you have only one day.

If you have 2-3 days, you can repeat this itinerary and add visit to the Vatican Museums and Borghese Gallery.

You will see many impressive and fascinating landmarks with rich history and this travel guide can help you to plan your route in advance. If you have only one day in Rome, be ready for long walks. However, all attractions and worldwide known spots of this city worth it. Most of the places listed below are also reachable by night and surrounded by visitors 24/7. Moreover, for travelers who stay in the Eternal City for longer time, there is a list of options for day trips from Rome.

A bit of inspiration before your Roman holiday? Watch movies as “Roman holiday” (1953) and “The Great Beauty” (2013) to admire Rome highlights and top sights

The city with more than 2000 years in existence won’t leave anyone indifferent. While exploring its main sites, don’t forget to try famous Italian gelato, eat pasta and pizza in Trastevere area, and visit churches located almost on every corner of Rome.

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps located in Spanish square (Piazza di Spagna) is an unusual architectural construction, which is considered as one of Rome top attractions. This is famous piazza in the historical center of the Eternal City, which owes its name to Palazzo di Spagna, seat of the Embassy of Spain among the Holy See. Moreover, Pope Benedict XIII inaugurated the 135-step staircase located in this square. Another notable feature of Piazza di Spagna is the Fountain of the Boat (Fontana della Baraccia) commissioned by Pope Urban VIII to Pietro Bernini in 1623.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome, which is known worldwide. Its construction lasted 30 years: from 1732 to 1762. The throwing of coins into the fountain is a popular ritual that tourists from all over the globe love to take part in. The tradition of throwing coins into the fountain comes from a couple of legends. The first is that the throwing of a coin from the right hand over the left shoulder ensures that you will return to Rome in future. The second legend was the inspiration behind the film “Three coins in the Trevi Fountain”, where the legend claims that you should throw three coins into the fountain.

The first coin guarantees your return to Rome, the second ensures new romance, while the third ensures a marriage in the near future

The municipality of Rome have created a fund to finance a supermarket for the poor people of Rome with the help of Italy’s Red Cross charity.

Piazza Venezia and Altar of the Fatherland

Piazza Venezia and Altare della Patria

The Venice square (Piazza Venezia) located in the center of four major roads of Rome. It was named after the Cardinal Venezia, who ordered the construction of his own place, Palazzo Venezia, in 1455. The building later became the seat of “Serenissima” (Republic of Venice). The most notable landmark of the square is Vittoriano (The Altar of the Fatherland or Altare della Patria), white marble monument, inaugurated in 1911. The monument is known among locals as “The Weding Cake” or “The Giant Typewriter” and features a military museum, frescoes, columns, and reliefs inside with huge bronze statue of Victor Emmanuel II and the eternal flame outside. On the top of the giant monument is charming panorama.

Piazza del Campidoglio on Capitoline Hill

Piazza del Campidoglio on Capitoline HillPiazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline Square) is located on the top of the Capitoline Hill in Rome. One of the most impressive Roman squares was designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1538. Roman Divinities were once praised there, while today, it is the headquarter of the Italian government. There are three main buildings: Palazzo Senatorio, Palazzo dei Conservatori, and Palazzo Nuovo. In the center is the bronze equesterian statue dedicated to Marcus Aurelius. This is the copy of the monument, while its original is inside the Capitoline Museum.

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum (Foro Romano) is a forum surrounded by the ruins of the most important ancient governmental buildings of Roman Empire located in the city center of Rome. For several centuries, the Forum was the main center of everyday life in the Eternal City: all triumphal processions, elections, most important public speeches, criminal trials, gladiator matches and commercial affairs took place there. It is located between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills and contains archaeological excavations attracting around 5 million visitors every year.

Capitoline Wolf

Capitoline Wolf symbol of RomeThe Capitoline Wolf (Lupa Capitolina) is a bronze statue of the mythical she-wolf suckling the twin babies, Romulus and Remus, from the legend of the founding of Rome in 753 BC. When the twins grandfather was overthrown by his brother Amulius, the invader ordered them to be cast into the Tiber River. They were saved by a she-wolf who cared for them until a herdsman found and raised them. Moreover, the original statue is located inside the Capitoline Museums.

The Forum of Caesar

The Forum of Caesar

Among main things to see in Rome is the Forum of  Gaius Julius Caesar, which was built in 46 BC. It was originally meant as an expansion of the Roman Forum. However, the Forum evolved and started to serve for two additional objectives. As Caesar became more involved in this project, the landmark became a place for public business that was related to the Senate.

Trajan’s Forum

Trajan's Forum

The Trajan’s Forum consists of ruins of several notable landmarks. One of the most important among them is the world’s oldest shopping mall. Trajan’s Market had shops and apartments. Today, remains of its multi-level structure include delicate marble floors and a library. Another feature of the forum is the Trajan’s column with the depiction of his battles over the Dacians. There is a belief that the tradition of establishing triumphal columns in ancient Rome began at the time of Emperor Trajan.

The Forum of Augustus

The Forum of AugustusThe Forum of  Augustus was built by the emperor Augustus following the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC. It includes the Temple of Mars Ultor. The incomplete forum and its temple were inaugurated in 2 BC, 40 years after they were first vowed. Moreover, the landmark was created to provide another space for legal proceedings, as the Roman Forum was very crowded.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum in RomeThe Colosseum (Colosseo), also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is the grandiose construction in the history and culture of ancient Rome. It was built during the extensive reconstruction of the capital and had been the most prestigious place for entertainment in the empire for four centuries.

What to see in Rome? Undoubtedly, the Colosseum is one of the most important options. You can buy a ticket online, book via smartphone or in a ticket office. The full ticket to the Coliseum costs 12 euro. This price also includes visit to the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. The ticket is active for 48 hours.

Also, you can take a private guided tour over the ancient Rome and the Colosseum to see the most interesting things and skip the line

The Arch of Constantine

The Arch of ConstantineAmong top places to visit in Rome is the Arch of Constantine, which was erected in the year 315 in commemoration of the victory of Constantine I the Great in the Battle of Milvian Bridge. Constructed from pieces of previous buildings, it is the most modern of the triumphal arches that were built in ancient Rome.

The arch is 21 meters high and 25 meters wide

Aqua Claudia – Ancient Roman aqueduct

Ancient Roman aqueduct

The Claudian Aqueduct (Aqua Claudia) was commissioned by the Emperor Caligula in 52 A.D. It is considered as one of the “four great aqueducts of Rome.” It took 11 years and more than 30 thousand workers to build the construction. Its source was a number of springs in the Anio Valley.

The Circus Maximus

The Circus Maximus biggest racetrack of ancient RomeThe Circus Maximus or Circo Massimo is the biggest racetrack of ancient Rome. Horse racing has been taking place for centuries in this valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills. However, the initial function of the racetrack was to host the Roman Games that were part of a bigger festival honoring Jupiter. Initially, there was huge obelisk in the middle of Circus Maximus, which now stands in Piazza del Popolo.

The Knights of Malta keyhole View of St. Peter’s in Rome

The Knights of Malta keyhole view of St. Peter's in RomeThe Aventine hill is the most expensive area of Rome,  which is ringed with important churches and monasteries. But the thing why for tourists this is one of main places to see while missing the rest: the Knights of Malta keyhole in Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. The square was designed in 1765 by the Italian architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi and there you can meet tourists waiting in a queue to see the keyhole.

This famous keyhole allows you to see territories of the three governments at the same time: Malta, Italy, and Vatican

The Orange Garden

The Orange Garden in Rome on Aventine Hill

The Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci) offers an excellent panoramic view of the city. It was designed in 1932 by Raffaele De Vico. Moreover, the main objective of the landmark is to offer public access to the view from the side of the hill. There are fascinating decorative orange trees and the area is popular among street artists. In addition, this is one of the most romantic places in Rome.

The Mouth of Truth

The Mouth of Truth in Rome, Italy

The Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità) is an ancient image, carved in a round Pavonazzo marble slab. The statue exists for about 2200 years. The gloomy face of unknown god is set in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Moreover, the Romans are convinced that it is impossible to tell a lie under a stern gaze of the mask.

The Temple of Hercules Victor and Temple of Portunus

The Temple of Hercules Victor and Temple of Portunus

  • The Temple of Portunus is one of the best preserved among all Roman temples. It is dedicated to Portunus, the god of keys, doors and livestock. The temple stands in the historic center of the Eternal City, right by the Mouth of Truth and the Temple of Hercules.
  • The Temple of Hercules is the only surviving sacred structure in ancient Rome that was made of Greek marble. According to the legend, this is the place where Hercules rested after his tenth labor. The building became associated with Christianity in 1140 when Innocent III converted it into a church dedicated to San Stefano.

Arch of Janus

Arch of Janus in Rome, ItalyThe Arch of Janus was built in the early 4th century CE, using material from earlier buildings, including bricks, together with pottery shards, and was covered with white marble. The exact significance of the arch is poorly understood: it is thought to have been a meeting point for Romans during the heat, since the arch helped to stay under a shadow, thanks to its shape.

The Theater of Marcellus

The Theater of Marcellus

The Theater of Marcellus was started by Julius Caesar as his dream was to build the biggest stone theater of the Roman Empire. However, it was finished by Augustus, who decided to dedicate it to his favorite nephew Marcellus. The building is one of ancient examples of the entertainment venues that were important for Romans. It appeared before the Colosseum in 1 BC and about 20 thousand of visitors could fit inside.

The Church of Santa Maria in Araceli

The church of Santa Maria in Araceli in RomeThe Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven is a titular basilica in Rome. It is still the designated Church of the city council of Rome, which uses the title of Senatus Populusque Romanus. Moreover, several notable families are buried inside. Many wedding rituals take place daily in the basilica, while visitors from all over the world just love to admire the decoration of the construction from the 17th century.

Ancient Insula Romana

Ancient Insula Romana

In Roman architecture, an insula was a kind of apartment building that housed most of the urban citizen population of ancient Rome. The term was also used to mean a city block. Remains of ancient Roman insula located near the Venice square.

Palazzo Mattei di Giove

Palazzo Mattei di Giove

Mattei Palace or the House of Mattei (Palazzo Mattei) is popular tourist destination, located in Jewish Ghetto. The Mattei family was one of the most powerful noble families of Italy, who held high positions in Papal curia and government office. Moreover, they owned one of the most impressive art collections that you can admire today in the palace located in the city center of Rome.

The Turtle Fountain

The Turtle Fountain in Rome, Italy

The Turtle Fountain was built by Taddeo Landini between 1581 and 1588. It is considered one of Rome’s first finest fountains. It is world-acclaimed and four replicas of it were built in the USA. There are four bronze ephebes hold with one hand a circular basin, while with another, they help a turtle to climb the basin. This is one of the most famous Roman fountains.

Largo di Torre Argentina

Largo di Torre ArgentinaLargo di Torre Argentina is one of Roman ancient sites with cat sanctuary in Rome. Moreover, this is the place where Julius Caesar was assassinated. More than 200 cats live in a shelter, where you can adopt one of them or just admire ancient ruins.

Elephant and Obelisk designed by Bernini

Elephant and Obelisk designed Bernini

Elephant and Obelisk is a sculpture designed by famous Gian Lorenzo Bernini. You may have a question:”what do elephants have to do with Rome?” The ancient Romans used them in the Punic Wars, supporting the campaigns of the growing empire. However, by Bernini’s time, elephants were less common in the Eternal City. Most probably, the sculpute was created according to images of that time founded by the artist. This is the reason why the statue of wild animal has imperfections in proportions, comparing it to an average elephant. Behind the sculpture is one of thirteen obelisks of Rome.

Pantheon

Pantheon in Rome, Italy

The Pantheon is an ancient temple dedicated to the Roman gods. Moreover, it embodies the greatness of the Roman Empire. It is assumed that it was built in the AD 2 on the place of another temple, built in the 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa. Pantheon is one of the few buildings of ancient Rome, which have survived unchanged to this day. 

Navona Square

Navona Square in Rome

Piazza Navona or Navona square is, undoubtedly, one of the most refined squares and bright corners in Rome. In ancient times, the athletic stadium was located on this spot and Romans were watching the games on its competition arena. Nowadays, all guests of the Italian capital can visit the impressive baroque fountains and medieval temples.

In the centre of the square you can find the Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi), which was built in 1648-51 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. An impressive baroque fountain enhanced by the satues of the river Gods and Godesses that favour the Nile, Danube, Ganges and La Plata.

Palace of Justice

The Ministry of Justice in Rome

The Palace of Justice (Palazzo di Giustizia) is the building with ten large statues of notable jurists that adorn the ramps before the main façade and the courtyard inside. The upper part of the façade is decorated with a bronze coat of arms of the House of Savoy. Inside the Hall of the Supreme Court are several amazing frescoes.

Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome

The Mausoleum of Hadrian or Castel Sant’Angelo was built at the dawn of Christianity on the banks of the Tiber. It served as the refuge for the Roman emperor, residence of pontiffs, fortress, then prison, and later – the museum and treasury. Inside, there is one of the best observe decks of the Eternal City. Moreover, the ticket costs 14 euro and there is no need to book it in advance.

The Vatican city                    The Vatican city

Of course, among all Rome points of interest, it is impossible to imagine Roman holiday without visit to the Vatican. The smallest country in the world with impressive St. Peter’s square and basilica with its dome, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel – are must-see places which won’t leave anyone indifferent. Don’t forget to book a ticket to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel in advance. Moreover, each guest of the Eternal City has a chance to see the Pope, since papal audiences are set every week.

You can visit the gem of the Christian world with us during the private guided tour to the St. Peter’s basilica at sunrise

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What is your favorite landmark of the Eternal City? Tell us about your experience in comments! 🙂

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Author: Yekaterina Zusmann

Yekaterina Zusmann
For the last five years I live in Rome, Italy. Recently, I've graduated from the American university of John Cabot with major in communication and minor in entrepreneurship. I have a passion for writing, traveling, and exploring new things.