The Pantheon - top 10 things to do in rome

Top 10 things to do in Rome

As the saying goes “all roads lead to Rome”, so it’s no surprise that most travelers embark on a journey to the Eternal City at least once in their lives. Filled with history, ancient architecture, and some of the best food in the world, Rome is without a doubt one of the best cities in Europe.

Back in February 2017 I had the chance to “do as the Romans do” and spend one week in the Capital. Here I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 things to do in Rome and I hope it will help you plan your own Roman Holiday.

1. Santa Maria della Concezione dei CappucciniCapuchin crypt - rome - bone church

We’ll start with the wild card. The Capuchin Crypt is not for everybody and if you’re travelling with children then I would think twice. However, the macabre nature of this museum had me intrigued and I had to see it. The museum at the beginning of the self guided tour doesn’t ease you into what you’re about to behold. You can see and read all about the Capuchin Friars and Monks which does give you a little insight into their lives, but not a real reason as to why there are 3,700 skeletal remains being used to decorate a small chapel. If you’re looking for something different, then this is the place. Overall, the experience can leave you somewhat exhausted, but nothing that a large gelato wouldn’t cure. Score 8/10

2. Caravaggio hunting

Judith Beheading Holofernes - caravaggio in rome

Judith Beheading Holofernes

There are many famous works of art in Rome and depending on your preferred artist, you can easily change this to Michelangelo hunting, Da Vinci  Hunting and so on. I chose Caravaggio (as you can deduce from my first recommendation I have a more macabre taste in art). I have made a post on where to find Caravaggio’s art here. Score 7/10

3. Cinecittà StudiosCinecitta Rome

The largest film studio in Europe has been the setting for many popular movies including Ben-Hur, Gangs of New York, Cleopatra, Passion of the Christ, and many more in its long history. Founded by Mussolini in 1937, it was originally used to make propaganda movies, as well as to boost the Italian film industry. You can visit some of the studios with a guided tour and finish with a walk around the two museums and the garden. If you’re a film buff, then I can’t recommend this enough. You will get to see some real props from the movies above as well as an insight into how the movies were made. Score 10/10

4. The Colosseumcolosseum rome - top 10 things to do in rome

Of course the Colosseum is on this list and for good reason too, it’s incredible. However, there’s one down side to this, and that is the ticket touts that hound you the moment you step out of the Metro. I don’t mind a little hounding but this was beyond anything I’ve experienced before and I wasn’t expecting it. I found myself getting a little angry with the situation and I decided to leave. However, I went back the next day knowing what was to come and I managed to brush it off with a polite “no thank you” 100 times. My point is you are going to get hounded by anyone with a badge, and they will follow you and you may get annoyed. Just look past that and know that you are in for a real treat as you walk through the doors of the Colosseum like a Roman Gladiator. Score 9/10

5. St Peters BasilicaSt Peter top 10 things to do in Rome

The Granddaddy of all churches is St Peters in The Vatican. It’s only until you’re at the door when you realise the sheer scale of it. The interior is home to some fine artwork from the likes of Michelangelo and Bernini. Expect queues to get in. When I was there in February we had the luxury of waiting for about 20 minutes (which is short). There is no way to judge it really as it’s busy most of the time. Be aware that every Wednesday, the pope holds a public Mass in the square which attracts some 15,000 people. Score 6/10

6. Sistine Chapel

The most famous Chapel in the world, and rightly so. Most people visit just to see Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, but there is so much art here that you have to take a step back to take it all in. Be aware that photography is not permitted and the guards are very strict about this. Score 9/10

7. Vatican MuseumsSpiral staircase Vatican museum rome - top 10 things to do in rome

Comfortable shoes are needed here as this place is huge. Most people visit Vatican City and see everything in one day including St. Peters and the Sistine Chapel. The amount of art here is phenomenal. Ancient Egyptian artifacts, medieval tapestries, Renaissance paintings, and Baroque sculptures. It can be a little overwhelming and tiring to some and after walking around Rome for a few days before, you may have had enough of all of the above. However, the key here is just to take a steady stroll around the museum and look at things that catch your eye. There is enough variety here to keep anyone intrigued. Score 10/10 

8. The PantheonThe Pantheon - top 10 things to do in rome

Wow. My review here is going to be a little biased, as I had always wanted to visit this place since I was a child. It did not disappoint. No pictures can really give this place justice. It’s grand, it’s stunning, and all I can say is that if you’ve never had a reason to visit Rome before, then this is it! (BONUS – around the corner you can find Bernini’s Elephant Obelisk outside Santa Maria sopra Minerva)  Score 10/10 

9. Get lostRoman streets - top 10 things to do in rome

Simple but you will be surprised at what you’ll find just by taking a few hours to wander the streets of Rome without any end goal. It also helps to leave the tourist spots too and find a genuine Roman cafe that doesn’t charge you a small fortune for a coffee. I did this a few times on my trip and nine times out of ten I found myself walking down some beautiful streets on my own without the nuisance of sales reps and ticket touts. Score 10/10  

10. Trevi Fountain Trevi Fountain - top 10 things to do in rome

No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the most famous fountain in the world. A popular past time for visitors is to throw a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder. This ensures that you will return to the Eternal city in the future. It’s a great way to spend your last evening in Rome. Score 8/10

If you liked what you have read then please follow me on facebook, twitter, and instagram

Have Pinterest? Pin itTop 10 things to do in Rome

13 thoughts on “Top 10 things to do in Rome

  1. Eric Gamble says:

    I agree with #9 getting lost. What better way to learn about a city or anywhere in the world then just heading to a section on your PAPER map, yes paper map so you aren’t tempted by the distractions of a cell phone, and then just wandering around exploring shops, cafes, bars, etc.
    I went to rome 20 years ago so I need to go back because I don’t even remember a Capuchin Crypt being an option

  2. Sol Solntze says:

    Eclectic list. Which is a good thing! I like a good museum and the opportunity to appreciate art and history, but it’s good to have some less obvious things to balance that with.

  3. neha says:

    Just back from a trip to Rome and did visit most of these. But couldn’t visit the ST PETERS BASILICA since we just spent some 48 hours in Rome. A part of which was spent recovering from a bad jet lag 🙂 Although I didn’t throw a coin into the trevi fountain, I definitely am going to return to Rome some day

  4. Sandy N Vyjay says:

    Rome is indeed a living museum. A dream come true for art lovers. We have a great time when we were there, exploring the treasures of the place. But of course you can never have enough of Rome and we want to go back again and again.

  5. Joan Narciso says:

    Great list, Kevin (as always!). I love most the ‘get lost’ part because it is so true for cities famous for landmarks.. there’s always a hidden gem in some corner that tourist maps don’t highlight.

  6. Ami Bhat says:

    I loved the Colosseum from my own visit. Though I wish I had done the underground tour as well.I wanted to do more of the Roman forum, hopefully the next time. Have done the rest . Cheers

  7. 18megapixel says:

    I have been dreaming to visit Rome, Italy since I was a kid. I want to visit this place mainly because of 4 things. 1. History 2. Culture 3. Arts and 4. Architecture. 🙂 I would like to thank you for sharing your top 10 things to do in Rome I would definitely to this when I visit Rome.

Leave a Reply