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Hangry in Rome. Waiting patiently for a pistachio gelato behind the Pantheon in the Piazza della Rotonda - Incredible Things To Do in Rome Italy - illumelation

Hangry in Rome. Waiting patiently for a pistachio gelato behind the Pantheon in the Piazza della Rotonda

Rome is an incredible city. History, art, culture, food.

There are so many amazing things to do in Rome.

As someone who has traveled to Rome multiple times, I can confidently say that the ‘Eternal City’ has an endless list of things to see, do, and eat.

From ancient ruins to world-class museums, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with options. But fear not!

I’ve put together a list of 12 incredible and exciting things to do in Rome this summer, plus my top tips on what to see, eat and drink, and the best tours you can do for each recommendation.

Andiamo!

17 Best Things To Do in Rome, Italy, in 2024

Rome's Colosseum - Incredible Things To Do in Rome Italy - illumelation

The iconic, beautiful, brutal Colosseum in Rome, Italy

1. Explore the Colosseum and Roman Forum

Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? The Colosseum and Roman Forum are two of the most iconic and historical sites in Rome. Did you know that the Colosseum was completed in AD 80 and could hold up to 80,000 spectators? That’s a lot of people!

For the best experience, I recommend getting a guided tour, which will give you a deeper understanding of the history and significance of these ancient ruins. Afterwards, take a stroll through the Roman Forum, which was the centre of political and social life in ancient Rome. Read about my own Colosseum visit and experience here – beware, it’s got a pretty brutal history!

Best-Rated and Recommended Colosseum Tours in Rome:

A Sunny Day at the Pantheon at Piazza della Rotonda - Incredible Things To Do in Rome Italy - illumelation

Sunny blue skies over the the Pantheon at Piazza della Rotonda in Rome, Italy

2. Marvel at the Pantheon in the Piazza della Rotonda

The Pantheon is one of the most impressive ancient buildings in Rome, and it’s still standing after more than 2,000 years. It was originally built as a temple to all the gods, but later converted to a church. Inside, you’ll find a stunning dome with a hole in the center, which lets in natural light. It’s truly a sight to behold. After visiting the Pantheon, treat yourself to some authentic gelato at Gelateria La Romana.

Recommended Tour: Exploring the Pantheon: The Official Guided Tour in Rome

The iconic Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy - Incredible Things To Do in Rome Italy - illumelation

The iconic Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy at dawn

3. Take a Snap at the Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps are a popular tourist spot in Rome, and for good reason. The steps were built in the 18th century and lead up to the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.

The view from the top is worth the climb, especially at sunset. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes and bringing a bottle of water to sip on.

Incredible Things To Do in Rome Italy - illumelation

Aerial view of the grand Vatican City nestled in Rome, Italy

4. Visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Did you know that the Vatican Museums are among the largest and most visited museums in the world, with over 6 million visitors per year? That’s a lot of art! I recommend booking a guided skip-the-line tour, which will take you through the highlights and give you a better understanding of the art and history of the Vatican. The museums contain some of the world’s most important works of art, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms.

Recommended Tour: Skip-the-Line Tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter’s | Small Group (5* | Tripadvisor)

 

Incredible Things To Do in Rome Italy - illumelation

One of the best things to do in Rome: take a River Tiber boat cruise

16. Take a boat tour along the Tiber River

Seeing Rome from the water is a unique and unforgettable experience. I recommend taking a boat tour along the Tiber River, which will take you past some of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

If you’re feeling fancy, you can even book a private boat tour with aperitivo on board.

Recommended Tiber River Tours in Rome:

Incredible Things To Do in Rome Italy - illumelation

Dawn light breaking on the beautiful facade and sculptures of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

6. Make a Wish at the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is one of the most iconic landmarks in Rome, and it’s said that throwing a coin into the fountain guarantees a return trip to the Eternal City.

Did you know that the fountain was designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed in 1762?

It’s a true masterpiece, with intricate details and sculptures depicting the sea and various mythological figures. After making your wish at the fountain, go get some gelato. I recommend pistachio, coconut and stracciatella!

Incredible Things To Do in Rome Italy - illumelation

Ivy-lined alleyway with a restaurant in Trastevere

7. Wander through Trastevere with a gelato in hand

Trastevere is a picturesque bohemian, artisanal neighborhood located on the west bank of the Tiber River. It’s known for its narrow streets, colourful buildings, and lively nightlife.

I recommend grabbing some gelato (nutella, please!) and taking a stroll through Trastevere during the day to admire the architecture and stopping by Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, which is home to the beautiful Basilica di Santa Maria.

Best-Rated and Recommended Trastevere Tours in Rome:

Incredible Things To Do in Rome Italy - illumelation

Cutting into a slice of pizza in street food capital Trastevere, Rome

8. Do a Roman Street Food Tour

Nowhere does street food in Rome quite like Trastevere. While you’re there, for a taste of traditional Roman street food, head to Trapizzino. Try their ‘specials’ sandwiches, or specific dishes like Polo alla Cacciatora, eggplant parmigiana, and of course, arancini!

If you’re a hardcore foodie, go one step further and get involved in an actual street food tour. Yum!

Best-Rated and Recommended Street Food Tours in Rome:

Incredible Things To Do in Rome Italy - illumelation

Amazing thing to do in Rome: take an Italian cooking class!

9. Enjoy a Traditional Roman or Italian Cooking Class

When in Rome, why not learn how to cook some delicious Italian dishes? Rome is home to several cooking schools and classes, which offer hands-on experiences and teach you how to make traditional Italian dishes from scratch.

You’ll develop a passion for Italian cuisine and learn more from a local about their use of local and seasonal ingredients. After the class, enjoy the fruits of your labour and indulge in authentic Italian dishes!

Best-Rated and Recommended Traditional Cooking Classes in Rome:

Incredible Things To Do in Rome Italy - illumelation

Someone with a mid-afternoon Aperol Spritz in Rome, Italy

10. Experience the Roman nightlife, starting with an aperitivo

Rome is known for its lively nightlife, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from. Aperitivo is a beloved Italian tradition where you enjoy a pre-dinner drink with some snacks. It’s the perfect way to unwind after a long day of sightseeing and soak up the local culture.

One lively place for an aperitivo in Rome is at Salotto 42, a chic cocktail bar located near the Pantheon. They offer a great selection of cocktails and wines, along with a delicious selection of appetizers.

After that, head to the Testaccio neighborhood for some of the best nightlife in the city, with bars and clubs staying open until the early hours of the morning. I recommend starting your night at the highly-rated Enoteca Cavour 313 for some delicious wine and antipasti.

Best-Rated and Recommended Nightlife and Drink Tours in Rome:

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11. Visit the Capuchin Crypt

The Capuchin Crypt is a unique and eerie site in Rome. It’s located beneath the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini and contains the bones of over 4,000 Capuchin monks.

The bones are arranged in various shapes and designs, including chandeliers and arches. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but it’s an interesting and unforgettable experience. Afterward, take a 30-minute stroll along the River Tiber and head to Osteria del Pegno for a truly authentic Italian dinner.

12. Admire the Roman aqueducts

The Roman aqueducts are a testament to the engineering genius of ancient Rome. The aqueducts were used to bring water from the mountains to the city, and some of them are still standing today.

I recommend taking a day trip to the Parco degli Acquedotti, which is home to several well-preserved aqueducts. It’s a great way to escape the city and experience the beauty of the Italian countryside. Afterward, stop by Panella for some delicious bread and pastries.

13. Explore the Appian Way

The Appian Way is one of the oldest and most important roads in ancient Rome. It was used to connect the city to the port of Brindisi and played a crucial role in the expansion of the Roman Empire.

Today, you can walk or bike along the Appian Way and admire the ancient ruins and tombs that line the road.

I recommend renting a bike and stopping by the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, which are located along the Appian Way. Afterward, head to Da Enzo al 29 for some authentic Roman cuisine.

Recommended Experience: Rome: Appian Way Catacombs and Aqueducts Bike Tour

14. Explore the Catacombs

The Catacombs are a network of underground tunnels and burial sites that date back to the second century AD. They were used by early Christians as a place to bury their dead and practice their religion in secret.

There are several catacombs throughout Rome, but I recommend visiting the Catacombs of San Callisto, which are the largest and most well-preserved. Afterward, head to Pasticceria Andreotti for some of the best pastries in Rome.

15. Take a stroll through Villa Borghese

Villa Borghese is a large park in the heart of Rome, and it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

The park is home to several museums and galleries, including the Borghese Gallery, which houses an impressive collection of art and sculptures. After a leisurely stroll through the park, stop by Roscioli for some delicious cured meats and cheeses.

16. Attend an opera at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma

The Teatro dell’Opera di Roma is one of the most important opera houses in Italy.

Attending an opera here is an unforgettable experience, with some of the world’s most talented musicians and performers taking the stage.

I recommend booking your tickets in advance and dressing up for the occasion. Afterward, head to Pizzeria La Montecarlo for some delicious pizza.

17. Take a day trip to Tivoli

Tivoli is a charming town located just outside of Rome, known for its stunning gardens and historic villas.

The Villa d’Este is a must-see, with its beautiful fountains and terraced gardens. I recommend taking a guided tour of the villa to learn about its history and significance. Afterward, stop by Osteria Il Cacciatore for some delicious pasta.


Nutella and hazelnut gelato in a cone being held up at Il Doge

When in Rome… have copious amounts of gelato (ice cream)

5 Things You Must Eat & Drink in Rome:

  1. Cacio e pepe – This simple yet delicious dish consists of spaghetti tossed with pecorino romano cheese and black pepper. You can find it at almost any trattoria in Rome. Try it out at Flavio al Velavevodetto.
  2. Supplì – These fried rice balls are a popular street food in Rome. They’re filled with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and sometimes ground meat, and are a must-try for any food lover. Try them at Supplizio.
  3. Gelato – Italian gelato is some of the best in the world, and Rome is home to several excellent gelaterias. I recommend trying the pistachio gelato at Gelateria del Teatro – though anywhere tastes good to me!
  4. Espresso – Italians take their coffee seriously, and you’ll find espresso bars on almost every corner in Rome. I recommend trying an espresso at Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè, which is known for its excellent coffee.
  5. Aperol Spritz – This refreshing cocktail is a popular drink in Italy, especially during the summer months. It’s made with Aperol, Prosecco, and soda water, and is the perfect way to cool down on a hot day. I recommend trying one at Caffè Propaganda.


The stunning interior of Rome’s Colosseum

Recommended Places to Stay in Rome

Looking for some top-rated places to stay in Rome?

  • Low budget option: The Yellow Hostel – This hostel is located in the heart of Rome and offers a range of affordable accommodation options, including dorms and private rooms. It’s known for its lively atmosphere and social events, which are perfect for solo travelers.
  • Mid-range option: Hotel Artemide – This boutique hotel is located near the Termini train station and offers comfortable and stylish rooms. It’s known for its excellent service and rooftop terrace, which offers stunning views of the city.
  • Luxury option: Rocco Forte Hotel de Russie – This five-star hotel is located in the heart of Rome and offers luxurious rooms and suites. It’s known for its beautiful gardens and impeccable service, making it the perfect option for a special occasion or a luxurious stay in the city.

Rome is a city full of history, art, and delicious food. With so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming to plan your trip. But by following these epic things to do in Rome, you can experience the best that the city has to offer.

Mel Legarda

Melissa Legarda is the founder of illumelation. She has worked as a travel blogger, creator and writer since 2015, and has collaborated with well-known brands worldwide. She has helped over 1,100+ students improve their travel photography skills since launching her creative courses. Her mission is to encourage and empower others to travel and create more. Find her on Instagram.

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