Best things to do in Rome that are worth booking in advance
The eternal city is home to some of the world’s greatest architectural landmarks, art and religious sites. It’s no wonder that travellers flock here in their millions each year. While seeing the top Rome attractions is a bucket list experience, spending your time in queues to buy tickets should not be part of the deal.
Many of the best things to do in Rome are so popular that you will save a lot of time and frustration by buying your tickets in advance. You can avoid long queues by booking tickets for the following attractions ahead of your stay in the eternal city.
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Rome top attractions to be planed ahead – Best things to do in Rome
If you wait until you arrive, you could end up standing in line for up to 4 hours to enter the tallest amphitheater ever built. More than five million people visit this iconic landmark each year, making it the most popular of the Rome tourist attractions outside the Vatican.
How to skip the line at the Colosseum – There are various ticket (check price here) and tour options which will allow you to skip the ticket line at the Colosseum. They include the three-in-one Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill tickets or even the Roma Pass which includes free entry to one or two museums or archaeological sites.
You could also book a tour to get access to the Colosseum underground and third ring in the company of a professional guide.
2. Borghese Gallery
As home to one of the world’s greatest private art collections, the Borghese Gallery is the 9th most visited tourist attractions in Italy. Close to 500,000 people visit the gallery in a beautiful villa set in the expansive Borghese Garden every year.
Why you should book in advance (see here) to visit the Borghese Gallery – Visitors to the Borghese Gallery are limited to 360 at a time in 2-hourly slots. To avoid disappointment, it’s essential to book your Villa Borghese tickets well in advance.
Who doesn’t want to visit one of the best-preserved architectural wonders of the ancient world? Its easy accessibility by foot or public transport in the heart of the city makes it one of the most-visited Rome attractions.
People come from all directions to marvel at the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world which has stood the test of time for more than 2,000 years. Visitor numbers are even higher because Pantheon entry is still free.
For this reason, it’s advisable to buy a audio guide in advance. Even better, book a tour to learn more about the Pantheon’s history and remarkable architecture get and get priority entrance as a bonus.
4. St Peter’s Basilica
Until recently the largest church in the world, the most impressive part of St Peter’s Basilica is the huge dome whose design was started by Michelangelo and completed by Carlo Maderno in 1614. Art highlights inside include Bernini’s St Peter’s Baldachin, The Pietà by Michelangelo and the statue of St Peter on his throne.
Entry to St Peter’s is free. However, unless you visit in winter, you can expect to wait in the admission line for around 45 minutes due to strict security checks at the entrance.
Once again, you can plan ahead and save precious time by buying fast-track, skip the line tickets. You should also take note that some areas within the church are only accessible with special tickets or on a guided tour.
5. Vatican Museums
The Vatican is often referred to as the “Museum of Museums” or the Pope’s Museums. They house the extensive collections of art, archaeology, and ethno-anthropology gathered by different Popes over the centuries.
Visitors to the Vatican Museums also get to see some of the Apostolic Palace’s magnificent artistically significant rooms. The highlight, for sure, is the famous Sistine Chapel (see below).
If you don’t have much time to see all the Rome tourist attractions (although technically the Vatican, as an autonomous state, isn’t part of Rome) you simply must plan ahead.
We recommend booking your ticket (on this website) at least a week in advance during the busy tourist seasons. If not, you may find yourself in the unfortunate position where no tickets are available during the period of your Rome stay.
6. Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo created several masterpieces, but the Sistine Chapel is considered to be one of his best, if not the best. He spent four years, from 1508 to 1512, painting the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. It’s mainly the prospect of seeing this beautiful artwork that drives millions of visitors through the Vatican Museums.
If the Sistine Chapel is the main reason for your visit to the Vatican Museums, you most definitely don’t want to be stuck in queues at the entrance. Get there quickly by buying your skip the line ticket more than a week in advance. Better still, avoid the crowds by booking an early access Vatican Museums tour.
Top tip: Combine a guided, skip the line tour of the Vatican Museums with your visit to St. Peter’s Basilica. The complete Vatican guided tour also includes the Vatican gardens.
7. Roman Forum
The concentrated area of ruins that is the Roman Forum tells the tale of everyday life in ancient Rome. More than 4 million visitors per year walk among the historically significant ruins in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills.
By investing in a skip the line ticket before your visit, you’ll have more time to stroll down the famous Via Sacra. This used to be the main thoroughfare connecting the Colosseum with the Piazza del Campidoglio.
8. Palatine Hill
The Palatine Hill is where Romulus started Rome’s first settlement in the 8th century BC. Structures that have been revealed by excavations include huts from the iron age, religious sites, and imperial palaces.
Palatine Hill is the least busy of the three Rome attractions for which a combined ticket, costing €12, is sold. If for some reason you are unable to book in advance, our best advice is to buy the ticket here before visiting the Roman Forum and Colosseum. It automatically gives you fast-track entrance to all three sites.
Top Tip: If you plan on seeing the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill all in one day, you almost definitely need to buy your tickets in advance. Even though you’ll still have to stand in the security check line at the Colosseum, you will save hours queuing for a ticket.
9. Castel Sant’Angelo
The cylindrical fortress on the banks of the Tiber River in Parco Adriano is also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian. In fact, it’s very close to the Vatican City. With close to one million visitors a year, Castel Sant’Angelo is the fifth most visited attraction in Italy and deserving of a place on the list of best things to do in Rome.
Just taking a look inside the luxuriously decorated papal apartments in Castel Sant’Angelo is worth the entrance ticket. By reserving a Castel Sant’Angelo ticket online, you get fast track entrance and the opportunity to visit the castle rooms and art exhibitions in the main rooms.
10. Trevi Fountain
You may wonder what the Trevi Fountain does on the list of things to plan in advance for when you visit Rome. The fountain is free to visit, isn’t it?
Indeed. But because of its popularity, it’s still worthwhile to plan your visit in advance. Visiting during the day in peak season can result in a horrible experience leaving you with bad memories of one of the prettiest Rome tourist attractions. The beauty of Neptune riding a shell-shaped chariot pulled by seahorses will be totally lost on you.
Our best tip is to visit the Trevi Fountain late at night when the crowds have gone to eat or sleep. The fountain is floodlit which bathes the sculptures in a romantic light. The perfect place to end your day.
Is the Roma Pass worth buying in advance?
When planning the best things to do in Rome in advance, you may wonder whether the Roma Pass is worth buying?
The 48-hour Roma Pass includes free public transport and entry into two museums or archaeological sites, with discounts to more.
When doing your planning, you should consider how much time you have and which of the Rome attractions are a must-see in your book. Sometimes it’s better to buy individual tickets with skip the line features or even a guided tour which includes fast-track access.
Conclusion to the best things to do in Rome that are good to book ahead
Don’t miss out on the best Rome attractions
The best time to avoid the crowds and long entrance lines in Rome is to visit in winter (outside the Christmas and New Year’s holidays). Even then it may be a good idea to book your tickets in advance to minimise time spent in the cold winter air.
If you visit at any other time, and especially between June and September, you will be so happy you planned in advance when you arrive at a busy Rome attraction with your pre-purchased skip the line ticket in hand.