A guide to things to do in Rome
Rome definitely wasn’t built in a day, in fact, the stunning examples of Roman Empire architecture that stand today span back over 3,000 years. From the largest amphitheatre in the world, to one of the best-preserved domed temples, most photographed fountains and most walked steps, we cover what not to miss on your holiday in Rome.
The Colosseum is the most iconic of all Rome’s buildings and perhaps the one that evokes images of what life was like in the Roman Empire. Built in 80 AD, the Romans celebrated it being their largest amphitheatre with 100 days of gladiatorial games and animal fights.
Still mostly intact, despite being used as a quarry for other local building in the 18th century, you can imagine the crowds of up to 50,000 people crammed inside chanting. It’s also worth noting that if you buy a combined two-day ticket for the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill you get to skip the Colosseum queue.
The Forum and Palatine Hill
Right next to the Colosseum, The Forum was the centre of Roman life for centuries, but is now little more than building foundations and a few pillars. That said, we suggest you take a guided tour and walk the huge cobble-stoned roadways through the ancient city. This will give you a real glimpse of Rome’s antique past as you pass grand government buildings and a bustling marketplace. Head up to Palatine Hill, included in the entrance fee, and take everything in like the view across to the Colosseum.
The headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, Vatican City is actually its own independent city-state and houses St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. The latter of which contains the Vatican’s most famous building – the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo’s iconic 16th-century painted ceiling.
Many other works from the immense collection built up by the Popes are contained in the museums. Another area worth visiting is the 1,400-room Pontifical Palace where Pope Julius II resided in the 1500s. Its four Raphael Rooms display old master paintings, including those by Raphael himself, and antique sculptures.
Standing for almost 2,000 years, The Pantheon has had many incarnations – a Roman temple to all Gods, the burial place of Raphael and now a church. It’s by far the most well-preserved of all of Rome’s monuments and has a huge dome that was, until the beginning of the 20th century, the world’s largest. The opening in the centre of the dome, called an oculus, lets sunlight in, creating a spectacle as it floods the interior.
The Trevi Fountain
One of 50 monumental fountains in Rome, and among thousands of smaller fountains, the Trevi Fountain is by far the most iconic. Built in the 18th-century, it’s the largest Baroque fountain in the city, and at 26 metres high and 49 metres wide, it’s hard to miss in the relatively small square. And it’s said that if you throw a coin in the fountain you’ll return to Rome.
The Spanish Steps
Another place to get a tip-top view of Rome is from the brow of The Spanish Steps. Climb them to admire Piazza di Spagna and Bernini’s ship-shaped fountain from above. Or, see Piazza Trinita dei Monti and its namesake church up close before browsing the upmarket boutiques on renowned Via dei Condotti.
The keyhole of the Knights of Malta
The keyhole of the Knights of Malta in Piazza Cavalieri di Malta has a surprise in store. Peek through to see the three sovereign territories of the Knights’ Garden, Italy and the Vatican line-up before you, with the dome of St Peter’s looming large. Get your camera angle just right and you’ve got the perfect shot.