Written by: Kate Zusmann
During an 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 the top 30 tourist attractions you can visit in the Eternal City even if you have only one day.
You will see many impressive and fascinating landmarks with rich history, and this travel guide can help you plan your route. If you have only one day in Rome, be ready for long walks. However, this city’s attractions and worldwide known spots are worth it. Most of the places listed below are also reachable by night and surrounded by visitors 24/7. Moreover, there is a list of options for day trips from Rome for travelers who stay in the Eternal City for a longer time.
A city with more than 2000 years in existence won’t leave anyone indifferent. So while exploring its main sites, don’t forget to try famous Italian gelato, eat pasta and pizza in the Trastevere area, and visit churches located in almost every corner of Rome.
I also advise you to watch this video on YouTube about the main attractions described in this article.
The Spanish Steps located in Spanish square (Piazza di Spagna) is an unusual architectural construction, considered one of Rome’s must-see attractions. This is a famous piazza in the historical center of the Eternal City, which owes its name to Palazzo di Spagna, the 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.
The Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome, known worldwide. Its construction lasted 30 years: from 1732 to 1762. Throwing coins into the fountain is a popular ritual that tourists from all over the globe love to participate in. The tradition of throwing coins into the fountain comes from a couple of legends. The first is that throwing a coin from the right hand over the left shoulder ensures that you will return to Rome in the 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 has created a fund to finance a supermarket for the poor people of Rome with the help of Italy’s Red Cross charity.
Explore Rome in the most comfortable way!
The Venice square (Piazza Venezia) is located in the center of four major roads in Rome. It was named after Cardinal Venezia, who ordered the construction of his 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), a white marble monument inaugurated in 1911. The memorial is known among locals as “The Wedding Cak” or “The Giant Typewriter” It features a military museum, frescoes, columns, and reliefs inside with a giant bronze statue of Victor Emmanuel II, the eternal flame outside. On the top of the massive monument is a charming panorama.
The Roman Forum (Foro Romano) is a forum surrounded by the ruins of the most important ancient government buildings of the Roman Empire located in Rome’s city center. 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 that attract around 5 million visitors annually.
Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline Square) is located on the top of 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 headquarters of the Italian government. There are three main buildings: Palazzo Senatorio, Palazzo dei Conservatori, and Palazzo Nuovo. In the center is the bronze equestrian statue dedicated to Marcus Aurelius. This is a copy of the monument, while its original is inside the Capitoline Museum.
The 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. However, 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.
Among the main things to see in Rome is the Forum of Gaius Julius Caesar, which was built in 46 B.C. It was initially meant as an expansion of the Roman Forum. However, the Forum evolved and started to serve two additional objectives. As Caesar became more involved in this project, the landmark turned into a place for public business related to the Senate.
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 isTrajan’ss column depicting his battles over the Dacians. There is a belief that establishing triumphal columns in ancient Rome began at the time of Emperor Trajan.
The Forum of Augustus was built by the emperor Augustus following the Battle of Philippi in 42 B.C. It includes the Temple of Mars Ultor. The incomplete Forum and 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 (Colosseo), also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an exquisite 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 essential options. You can buy a ticket online, book via smartphone, or in a ticket office. The full ticket to the Coliseum costs 16 euros. This price also includes a visit to 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
Among the top places to visit in Rome is the Arch of Constantine, which was erected in the year 315 to commemorate the victory of Emperor 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 built in ancient Rome.
The arch is 21 meters high and 25 meters wide!
Useful to know how many days do you need in Rome to see everything.
Emperor Caligula commissioned the Claudian Aqueduct (Aqua Claudia) in 52 A.D. It is considered 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 several springs in the Anio Valley.
The Circus Maximus or Circo Massimo is the giant racetrack of ancient Rome. For centuries, horse racing has been taking place in this valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills. However, the initial function of the racetrack was to host the Roman Games, which were part of a more important festival honoring Jupiter. Initially, there was a giant obelisk in the middle of Circus Maximus, which now stands in Piazza del Popolo.
The Aventine hill is the most expensive Rome area, ringed by essential churches and monasteries. But the thing why for tourists is that one of the 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.
Read also about what to see in 3 days.
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 provide 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 (Bocca della Verità) is an ancient image carved in a round Pavonazzo marble slab. The statue has existed for about 2200 years. The gloomy face of an 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 the stern gaze of the mask.
The Arch of Janus was built in the early 4th century C.E., using materials from earlier buildings, including bricks, pottery shards, and white marble. However, 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.
Julius Caesar started the Theater of Marcellus 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 the ancient examples of entertainment venues important for Romans. It appeared before the Colosseum in 1 B.C., and about 20 thousand visitors could fit inside.
The Basilica of St. Mary of the Altar of Heaven (Santa Maria in Araceli) 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 occur daily in the basilica, while visitors worldwide love to admire the construction decoration from the 17th century.
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 the ancient Roman insula are located near Venice square.
Mattei Palace, or the House of Mattei (Palazzo Mattei), is a popular tourist destination in Jewish Ghetto. The Mattei family was one of Italy’s most powerful noble families, who held high positions in the Papal Curia and government office. Moreover, they owned one of the most impressive art collections you can admire today in the palace in Rome’s city center.
Taddeo Landini built the Turtle Fountain between 1581 and 1588. It is considered one of Rome’s first finest fountains. It is world-acclaimed, and four replicas were made in the USA. Four bronze ephebes hold a circular basin with one hand while they help a turtle climb the basin with another. This is one of the most famous Roman fountains.
Largo di Torre Argentina is one of the ancient Roman sites with a 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 admire ancient ruins.
Elephant and Obelisk is a sculpture designed by the 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’ss time, elephants were less common in the Eternal City. Most probably, the sculpture was created according to images of that time founded by the artist. This is why the statue of a wild animal has proportions imperfections compared to an average elephant. Behind the sculpture is one of the thirteen obelisks of Rome.
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 2 A.D. in the place of another temple, built-in 27 B.C. by Marcus Agrippa. Thus, the Pantheon is one of the few buildings of ancient Rome which has survived unchanged.
Piazza Navona or Navona square is, undoubtedly, one of the most refined squares and bright corners. In ancient times, the athletic stadium was located on this spot, and Romans watched the games in its competitions arena. Nowadays, all guests of the Italian capital can visit the impressive baroque fountains and medieval temples.
In the center of the square, you can find the Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi), built-in 1648-51 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. An impressive baroque fountain enhanced by the statues of the river Gods and Goddesses that favor:
The Palace of Justice (Palazzo di Giustizia) is a building with ten giant 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 unique frescoes.
The Mausoleum of Hadrian or Castel Sant’Angelo was built on the Tiber’s banks at the dawn of Christianity. First, it served as the refuge for the Roman emperor, then the residence of pontiffs, fortress, prison, and later – the museum and treasury. Inside is one of the best observation decks in the Eternal City. Moreover, the ticket costs 14 euros, and there is no need to book it in advance.
Read about where to travel from Rome.
Of course, among all Rome’s points of interest, it is impossible to imagine a Roman holiday without a 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 that won’t leave anyone indifferent. So, 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
Using this particular route map, you can repeat our itinerary.
What is your favorite landmark to see in the Eternal City? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
Author: Kate Zusmann
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