The Best Places to Visit in Rome (and One “Must-See” that Sucks)

With so many options, looking for the best places to visit in Rome can get overwhelming. Sort through the madness by visiting some of our favorite spots!

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When it comes to Italy, there are no shortage of places to love. Some prefer the natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast. Others appreciate the laid-back artsy vibe of Florence. Who can blame them?

While I’ve enjoyed every corner of Italy I’ve visited, I can’t help but love the grittiness of the Rome. The sheer amount of history in the Eternal City is simply astonishing. Since the first time I stepped foot on Roman soil, I’ve been smitten… and I’m not sure any other destination can ever replace Rome at the top of my list.

If you’re planning a trip to Rome, trust me, you’re in for a treat! Of course, in a city this size, it’s hard to know where to go if you don’t have a plan. Here are a few of the best places to visit in Rome while you’re there.

Best Attractions in Rome

OK, let’s start with an easy one. If you’re going to Rome for the first time, you’re definitely going to want to visit the Colosseum and the Forum. These two spots are located right next to each other, and they’re absolutely incredible. In fact, they are two of my favorite historical sites in the entire world.

Luckily, you can see them both for one entry fee. Your ticket is good for one day, so try to see them back to back. Consider getting a Rome & Vatican Pass which will help you avoid the extremely long ticket lines you’ll find at both locations. Trust me, you don’t want to be waiting in line for hours before you even get in!

Hot Tip: Even if you already have your ticket or a Rome & Vatican Pass with “fast track entry,” you don’t get to skip all the lines. There could still be a line at the entrance. If the line to the Forum seems extremely long, make your way down the road to the Palatine Hill entrance instead. It’s about 150 meters south of the main Forum entrance, is far less crowded, and you’ll get to see all the same stuff – you’re just entering from a different direction.

Best Sightseeing Walk in Rome

One reason Rome is so fantastic is because there are so many free things to do. In fact, many of Rome’s most famous sites are free… and you can see a handful of them on this easy 25-minute walk. It’s also a great way to get a feel for the area.

Start by checking out the famous “Fountain of the Four Rivers” in Piazza Navona. Exit the piazza along the east side of the oval (opposite the church), follow the signs, and walk about 3 blocks east until you reach the Pantheon. From there, keep walking east for another 10 minutes to soak up the view at the Trevi Fountain. Finish your walk with a quick 10-minute jaunt to the Spanish Steps. Boom. You’ve just visited 4 of the most famous sites in Rome in under an hour.

Best Pizza in Rome

If you love pizza, especially thin-crust pizza, Rome is the place for you. The city is packed with oodles of small restaurants, and it seems like each and every one of them makes their own homemade version of pizza.

While it’s practically impossible to choose a winner, one of the best places to visit in Rome for pizza is a restaurant called Emma. Located about a block from Largo di Torre Argentina, this was recommended to us by a tour guide and is apparently a favorite spot of Ben Stiller’s. We tried 3 different types of pizza here, and they were all absolutely delicious. They also have plenty of beer available, so your mouth will never go dry either!

Best Cheap Eats in Rome

Are you looking for a quick bite but don’t want to sit down? Check out the Antica Salumeria located on the west side of the Pantheon’s square. This little “deli” offers a plethora of sandwiches for meat eaters and veggie lovers alike – all for about €5 per sandwich. While there are tables in the back, I suggest grabbing your food and making your own little picnic in the square. Each time I’ve been in, the place is packed with locals, which is always a good sign!

Best Lively Night Spots in Rome

Piazza Navona and the Pantheon area are full of lively but touristy night spots. We’ve eaten at several of the restaurants here, and although the atmosphere is great, the price tag tends to be a little bit high – especially in Piazza Navona itself.

If you’re looking for more good eats and a fun atmosphere, try skipping across the river to the Trastevere neighborhood. This colorful neighborhood is home to a gajillion restaurants and a lively nightlife. Give yourself extra time to see some of the neighborhood’s most important sites, including the beautiful Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Worst “Must-See Experience” in Rome

With so many options, looking for the best places to visit in Rome can get overwhelming. Sort through the madness by visiting some of our favorite spots!Alright folks: If you’ve never been to the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica, you absolutely have to go. Let me warn you, however, it may be your worst experience of the trip. (And yes, I know it isn’t technically “in” Rome.)

The museum, in particular, is absolutely stunning. The collections are incredible. But, to say the Vatican Museum is crowded would be a giant understatement. Unless you enjoy being herded like cattle along with every other tour group that has descended on the city, you’re gonna be a bit uncomfortable.

It doesn’t matter the time of year you visit or what time of day you go, the place is always packed. Your best bet is to skip the guided tours and use a fast track entry pass (like the one provided with the Rome & Vatican Pass) to get in. You’ll get to see a lot more of the museum, take the museum at your own pace, and leave when you’ve had enough. Again, you need to see this place at least once… just don’t expect it to be empty… ever.

Best Places to Visit in Rome: Final Thoughts

Obviously, in a city the size of Rome, there is just too much to see and experience in one or two visits. And while my travel tastes may be a bit different from yours, I hope this list has given you a good starting point for your trip to Rome.

I hope you enjoy your time in the Eternal City and please report back on the things you love about it! Until next time, happy traveling!

What have I missed? Where are your favorite spots in Rome? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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  1. Great rundown Greg. It’s been around ten years since I’ve been in Rome, but one thing we had fun doing was trying all the “bars” – the espresso shops. We’d grab a cheap snack or sandwich on the run, along with an espresso to keep fuel in the tank.
    Have you spent much time in Central or Eastern Europe? I find they’re just as gorgeous, and significantly more cost effective. I’m spending a few weeks in Prague before heading back to Abu Dhabi (where my wife and I spend most of the year).

    1. Hey Brian! I love all the little coffee bars in Rome. We would grab a cup of coffee and sometimes breakfast on the run almost every morning. They’re super cheap too.

      At this point, we haven’t spent much time in Eastern or Central Europe (unless you count Switzerland in “Central” – although it is much more expensive). We’ve got plans to visit Croatia next summer, and trips through Budapest, Prague, and Vienna will probably be happening within the next two or three years. I can’t wait to visit.

      Speaking of cheap, Greece is very affordable right now as well. I thought I’d like it there but was surprised by how much I actually loved it. We did a mainland trip last fall but will probably hit a few islands next summer.

      1. Brian Davis says:

        That’s awesome you’re visiting Croatia next summer, I haven’t been yet but have heard nothing but good things.
        Prague and Budapest are spectacular. Budapest is my wife’s favorite city in the world!
        I found Vienna only okay. It felt a little stiff and stuffy compared to its neighbors.
        Hoping to make it to Greece and Montenegro this coming school year, we’ll see though. I’ll reach out for recommendations if we make it to Greece!

  2. I really enjoyed riding a vespa when in Rome. The funny thing is that I fell when I was at the Vatican. The roads were so slippery. Thankfully nothing bad happened except I broke a mirror. lol

    1. Ha! I’ve yet to ride a vespa in Rome. I guess I haven’t had the full experience yet 😀 You’re right though, the roads in Vatican City do seem slippery – especially when wet.

  3. Great article! Let me share our Vatican experience with you – it may solve some of the issues you mentioned. We had a tour guide (set up through our travel agent) just for our family. We got to go in the group entrance rather than the public entrance, which was a lot faster. But because it was just her and the four of us, we got to go at our own pace and linger where we wanted to. She was incredibly knowledgeable, answered all of our questions, and knew all the “tricks” (like knowing we needed to see a certain part of the building because mass was starting soon and we wouldn’t otherwise be able to walk up to that particular spot again until it was over). I apologize that I don’t remember the cost of this tour, but I think it made the most of our time there and felt like it was worth the cost. It was a great option in between going it on your own and being in a large tour group.

    1. Hi JH! Thanks for reading.
      I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your Vatican Museum experience. I think your guide must have been a magical unicorn 😀

      I’ve been there 3 times and have tried about every combination of tour, dates, and times. My favorite by far was using the Rome & Vatican Pass to get skip the line entry and then wandering the museum on our own. We actually got to see most of the museum instead of just the Gallery of Maps, Raphael Rooms, and the Sistine Chapel. Even on the small group tour during the evening (8 people), I felt like they still spent too much time discussing the Sistine Chapel (outside the chapel of course, since you can’t talk in there) and herding us through. I can see where a private guide may be better, but I think I’ve discovered that I personally don’t like using guides in art museums. (I love guides at historical monuments!) I’d rather use an audio guide or guide book instead.

      Regardless of whether you’re own your own, with a tour, or private guide, the rooms I mentioned above are always elbow to elbow with people – even on an “after hours” tour. It’s such a great museum, though, that people really should see it. I just like to let people know what they’re getting into.

      Thanks again for adding your tip! I’m sure that many will find it helpful!!!

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