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Must see in Rome, tips and tricks for a great trip in Italy
A visit of the must see in Rome should be on the travel bucket list of every serious traveler. It’s a city that stimulates all the senses with its historical ruins, rich cultural heritage, and contemporary Italian flair. The biggest challenge when planning a trip is to decide on the things you must see in Rome and how to best use your time and available budget.
Our Rome travel guide is designed to help you make the most of your visit in every possible way.
Must see in Rome : Know before you go
Best time to visit Rome
Rome is pretty much a year-round destination, depending on what your preference is. Spring and autumn (March-May) and September-November) are the best times to visit Rome in pleasant, mild temperatures. If you don’t like crowds and queuing, then the winter months outside the Christmas holidays are a good time to visit. The summer months of July and August can be hot and busy. Then again, there’s a special charm to long summer evenings in Rome.
Top annual events in Rome
21 April – Rome’s birthday – “Born” in 753 BC, Rome celebrates its birthday in great fashion with costumed processions and gladiator fighting at historical sites.
Holy Week & Easter – Especially the Saturday before Palm Sunday when St Peter’s Square is packed full of people for the open-air Mass.
Carnival in February/early March – 2 weeks of dressing up and having fun parties before Lent.
Note: Most shops are closed on public holidays and during August when the Romans go on their summer holiday.
Roma Tourist taxes
A tourist tax is levied on travelers staying in Rome. The amount depends on the accommodation class. For example, the tax per night per adult in a 3-star hotel is €5 while those staying in a 5-star hotel will pay €7. Children under 10 don’t pay tourist taxes in Rome.
While tipping in Rome is not expected because a service charge is mostly included in your bill, there are some other restaurant charges you should be aware of. A cover charge (coperto) may be charged for the use of cutlery, salt, etc. However, this is illegal in Lazio where Rome is situated. Also, be aware that you may be charged extra for bread (pane).
The best things you must see in Rome
Discover Colosseum (the ancient must see in Rome)
The Colosseum is the main symbol of Rome and almost 2,000 years old. The original structure was 188 meters long, 156 meters wide and 57 meters high, making it the greatest Roman amphitheater of its time. It accommodated more than 50,000 spectators at a time, watching free spectacles such as gladiator fights, exotic animal exhibitions and even the execution of prisoners.
Today, with around 6 million people visiting every year, there’s no doubt the Colosseum is a must see in Rome.
Getting there: The Colosseo Metro station (Line B) is only minutes away from the Colosseum. Various buses also stop in the area, including most hop-on/hop-off tourist buses.
Top tip: Avoid waiting in line to buy a ticket on the day by buying a skip the line ticket in advance on this website.
The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
If you want to know what life was like during the time of the ancient Roman Empire, strolling through the Forum and Palatine Hill is one of the best things to do in Rome. The area was buried under the earth after the fall of the Empire. Fortunately, excavations during the 20th century now make it possible to see where the seat of government, the courts of law, temples, and monuments were.
The Palatine Hill which extends behind the Forum was a popular area for emperors to build their palaces. It’s also where, according to legend, Rome was founded by Romulus.
Getting there: The blue Metro line (B) goes past the Roman Forum, with the closest stop being the Colosseo station. Or you could take the same bus which you would take for the Colosseum.
Top tip: The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are close to the Colosseum, with the entrance ticket also including entrance to the Colosseum. Booking online to skip the line (check here the SUPER Ticket) or visit either early or late in the day will help to minimize queues.
Explore the Vatican
No Rome travel guide is complete without the inclusion of the Vatican even though, as the smallest independent state in Europe, it’s not really a part of Rome. Surrounded by the eternal city, the Vatican City is home to around 1,000 people of which the Pope is the most famous.
The top attractions in the Vatican City’s surface area of 0,44 km² are the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel, as well as St Peter’s Square and St Peter’s Basilica.
Getting there: Getting to the Vatican is easy by bus, metro, taxi or on foot. Buses 64, 62, 40 and 81 stop within an easy walking distance from the Vatican. Or you could take the Metro line A and get off at Cipro (closer to the Vatican museums) or Ottaviano (closer to St Peter’s Square).
Top tip: Make life easier by booking a time slot with fast-tracked tickets (available here) to visit the Vatican. The best times to avoid crowds are late afternoons during the middle of the week.
Capitoline Hill and Museums
The world’s oldest public museum is on Capitoline Hill and dates to 1471. A Rome travel guide must include the two grand pallazi facing each other across the Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitol Square) between the two peaks of Capitoline Hill. The square and the buildings flanking it were designed by none other than Michelangelo.
Must see artifacts in the Capitoline Museums include the bronze she-wolf which is Rome’s emblem, a statue of Pope Urban VIII by Bernini, as well as a remarkable collection of paintings by famous artists such as Caravaggio and Tintoretto.
Getting there: Most Rome public buses go around the Piazza Venezia which is right at the Capitoline Museums. Or you could take the Metro to the Colosseum and walk there along the side of the Roman Forum (about 10 minutes).
Top tip: The Capitoline Museum is one of the main attractions on the Roma Pass.
The legendary Trevi Fountain
Throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain is one of the most popular must see in Rome by tourists. It’s so popular that a million Euros worth of coins ends up in the fountain each year.
The Trevi Fountain is well worth seeing even if you don’t want to throw a coin into it. It’s the biggest fountain in Rome and arguably also the most beautiful. It has taken on many different shapes since the first version was built during the Renaissance, with the final touches provided by Guiseppe Pannini in 1762.
Getting there: The Trevi Fountain is near the Barberini Metro stop in the Trevi district. Or you can walk there in 10 minutes from the Spanish Steps.
Top tip: Don’t let your enjoyment of the Trevi Fountain be spoiled by pushy rose sellers. Simply ignore them. And remember to throw three coins in the fountain (with right hand over left shoulder) as per the 1954 movie Three Coins in the Fountain. Why? The first is to ensure you return to Rome, the second that you’ll fall in love with an attractive Italian, and the third that you’ll marry him or her.
Rome passes to fully enjoy the top attractions
There are various Rome sightseeing passes designed to suit different interests and itineraries. They are well worth considering if you don’t want to miss out on the attractions that are a must see in Rome.
Save money with Roma Pass
Roma Pass – The Roma Pass is the tourist sightseeing pass of the City of Rome. It offers free entry to the first one or two visited museums or archaeological sites (depending on 48 or 72 hours) and discounts to the others. It also includes free public transport for three days. The Roma Pass is available online from €28 or at official tourist offices in the city.
Rome City Pass, the best for all must see in Rome
Rome City Pass (or Rome Tourist Card)– A good option if it’s your first time in Rome. The Rome City Pass includes a 1-day hop-on/hop-off sightseeing bus as well as fast-track entrance over two days to the Vatican Museums, St Peter’s Basilica, Colosseum and Roman Forum.
Fast-track admission tickets to the Vatican Museum and St Peter’s Basilica also comes with an audio guide. The Rome City Pass can be bought online (check here) from €93 per adult.
Omnia Card – A very comprehensive 3-day Rome sightseeing pass which includes the Roma Pass, the Vatican Card, a hop-on/hop-off bus and free public transport. Click here for all the features and to buy it online from €113.
So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to the eternal city with our handy Rome travel guide. Experiencing the top must see in Rome has never been easier with different sightseeing passes and fast track admission tickets that can conveniently be bought online before your visit.