Things to Do in Rome, Italy

by  Kristine Hansen | Updated on May 1, 2023
Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy / sborisov/iStock

A city of 2.87 million people — Rome is also Italy’s capital — rich with ancient ruins, world-class art, and top-notch trattorias. The people-watching here is incredible, and if you’re a culture seeker, this is your utopia. You might spend the day museum hopping and wind down the night lingering over drinks at an outdoor café. Some of Italy’s most revered cultural attractions, like Vatican City and the Colosseum, are here, pleasing history buffs and lovers of architecture and art.

Related: Where to Eat In Italy's Top Cities

Where Is Rome? 

Rome, Italy / johny007pan/iStock

Rome is smack-dab in the middle of Italy, closer to the country’s western edge along the Tyrrhenian Sea. It's 169 miles south of Florence; Naples is 141 miles south.

Visit the Ruins of Ancient Rome

The Roman Colosseum / Anton Aleksenko/iStock

The Colosseum is Rome’s most famous ancient ruin and is a must-visit site. In fact, you will probably be strolling past it many times during your stay in Rome.

Have an Amazing Meal at a Trattoria

Trattoria in Rome / Roman Babakin/iStock

All those dishes you enjoy at Italian restaurants in the States were actually born right here in Rome, on trattoria menus. You can’t not dine at a trattoria —they’re everywhere. Classic pasta dishes include cacio e pepe and carbonara.

Throw a Coin in the Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain, Rome / Xantana/iStock

Even before you approach the Trevi Fountain, it’s going to look familiar because it’s that iconic to Italy. Per the legend, tossing three coins into the fountain yields three pieces of good news: your return to Rome, a new romance, and a marriage proposal.

Visit Vatican City

Vatican City / carmengabriela/iStock

As headquarters for the Roman Catholic church, Vatican City spans 110 acres within Rome. Not only is it considered an independent state, but it's also the smallest sovereign state in the world. The Sistine Chapel (see Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement”), St. Peter’s Basilica, and Vatican museums are all here, and about three hours should satisfy a visit.

Where to Stay in Rome

Guest room at Hotel La Rovere / Courtesy of Hotel La Rovere

While there are hundreds of hotels in Rome, we recommend picking one in a neighborhood near the city's best attractions and restaurants. If you want character, look at boho-chic Trastevere, with its charming cobblestone streets and narrow alleys; Vatican City and the Colosseum are a 30-minute walk from here. Hotel La Rovere, which boasts modern design elements, is behind St. Peter’s Basilica. Next to the Colosseum and The Forum is Hotel Capo d’Africa. Stylish trendsetters might like the five-room D.O.M., within a building Michelangelo completed one block east of River Tiber; or Generator Rome (you can book a private room at this hostel) three blocks from the Colosseum and a short walk from Rome Termini station.

Where to Eat (and Drink Coffee) in Rome

Coffee in Rome / Em Campos/iStock

Some popular trattorias, even with locals, include Osteria Chiana and Checchino dal 1887 (as the name suggests, it’s been around since 1887, so you know it’s going to be good). And when in Rome, don’t even think about straying from local coffee traditions. Sip java from a glass, and don’t be shy about standing up while doing so. Caffé Greco — Rome’s oldest café, open since 1760 — is a fine option.

How Many Days to Spend in Rome

Exploring Rome / maroznc/iStock

Because Rome is such a big city, experiencing it in just a weekend would be short-sighted. For a true taste of Italy’s largest city, we recommend a minimum of four days in Rome.

Related: What to Do in Venice

How Far Is Venice from Rome?

Rome at night / Nicola Forenza/iStock

Don’t be fooled: Italy is a large country. Even so, visiting Venice and Rome on the same trip is not impossible. Driving between these two cities (326 miles) takes about 5.5 hours. Taking the Frecciargento train is much faster (anywhere between 3 hours and 40 minutes to 4 hours, departing from Rome Termini on the “9400 Venezia S. Lucia” train). 

Find The Best Cruises
Find a cruise

Find the best deals!

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices