Your thoughts are probably going a mile a minute planning your trip. Rome is over 28 centuries old, so it’s had plenty of time to become one of the most interesting and historical cities in the world.
Of course, you don’t want to miss anything. Your to-see list is probably growing longer and longer as you plan. Lengthy to-see lists with no concrete plans, though, can turn into frazzled, confusing days in a hurry.
Narrowing in your focus will help you to make sure you spend the right amount of time on the most essential Rome attractions. Having a plan beforehand will prevent aimless wanderings spent wondering where you should go next.
Keep reading to learn all about the most quintessential Roman destinations, and how to incorporate them into your trip.
1. The Colosseum
First stop one of the most important and historic Roman sites, The Colosseum. Back in its heyday in 80 AD, it was built for wild animal fighting and epic gladiator battles. Everyone and their mother came out to watch these events, including Roman emperors and their royal courts.
In the twenty-first century, it stands in just as much glory as it did back then– just for different reasons. Today, we marvel at the beauty of the structure and the beautiful math that went into its design. When you stand at its base and look up the outer walls toward the heavens, you will, too.
Since it’s such a major tourist destination, it’s very easily accessible. It’s also a stone’s throw from the ruins of another ancient building: the Roman Forum.
2. The Roman Forum
There’s nothing in the world quite like the golden sun of a Roman sunset pouring all over the remains of the Roman Forum. If the ruins of a structure are this beautiful, can you imagine it in its original glory?
If you’re a politics or philosophy buff, the Roman Forum needs to be at the top of your to-see list. It’s where ancient philosophers and rhetoricians like Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates gathered to deliver their orations. These are the godfathers of communication as we know it.
Besides acting as a stage for ancient speakers, the Forum hosted other social and religious events as well. The Forum was home to various temples, most notably the temples of Titus, Saturn, and Vesta.
Merchants also held markets there, selling their food, wares, and goods to the people of Rome. Criminal trials were held publicly here. Before the construction of the Colosseum, gladiators even fought at the Forum.
3. The Pantheon
Religion is a cornerstone of Roman culture. It always has been. There’s a reason the Pope literally presides over his own mini-state within the city.
The Pantheon is an iconic Roman structure with its original construction dating all the way back to 25 BC. It’s hard for modern historians to tell much more about it, though. It’s a good idea to hire a tour guide for this one so you can really see more than meets the eye.
It is known that the Pantheon was originally built as a temple for Roman gods. It was even named for them, with “pan” meaning “all” and “theos” meaning Gods in ancient Greek.
Today, it’s one of the most well-preserved ancient structures still standing in Rome. The beauty of its architecture is undeniable, which is one of the main reasons it’s such an important tourist destination. It also still operates as a working church.
4. St. Peter’s Basilica
When you get tired of looking at ruins, you have to head over to St. Peter’s Basilica to see one of the most beautiful modern-day buildings in the world. It’s a Catholic church and temple, featuring statues of Jesus and his apostles atop the domed architecture, closest to the heavens.
Inside, the building is adorned with artwork by the likes of Bernini and Michelangelo. You’ll get to see Michelangelo’s original work. No big deal.
You can even climb to the top of the dome to get a birds-eye-view of the adjacent St. Peter’s Square, another popular tourist destination where you can eat ice cream and mingle with other travelers.
5. Villa Doria Pamphili
Once you’re ready to take a little break from sightseeing, make sure to do it at Rome’s biggest (and most gorgeous) public park. It features meticulously manicured landscaping, wildflowers, and patches of pine groves.
Go for a short run here to clear your mind, or plan a picnic with your beau in one of the many little nooks the park offers.
The park is also home to a gorgeous seventeenth-century estate that’s been passed down through different families for centuries. Today, it hosts art exhibitions. Make sure to visit the park when the house is holding an exhibition so you can go see some local artists’ work that you can’t find in America!
Pro tip: bring a map. You can spend hours walking in the park, and there are multiple exits that may confuse you as to your location.
6. Mercato di Campagna Amica del Circo Massimo
If you consider yourself a foodie, you have to check out this farmers market. The beauty of the market is that it adheres to a certain philosophy called the “Zero Kilometer” philosophy.
It means that all the products at the market were grown or created within 100 kilometers from the location of sale. Most vendors come from Lazio.
What will you find at the market, you ask? Expect to see everything from local produce, like big leafy greens, to the most authentic and delicious olives you’ll ever eat. The olive oil is unlike any you’ve tasted in America.
Make sure to hit the market before you head out for lunch. The vendors sell the most delicious picnic food you can dream of. Pick up a crusty loaf of bread, some Roman olive tapenade, some fresh hard cheese, locally cured meat, and an Italian red to wash it all down.
Your Favorite Rome Attractions
Now that you’ve read up on all the essential Rome attractions and what to do in Rome, you can go forth and plan your trip with confidence!
If you’ve still got the travel bug even after your trip to Italy, check out our other travel and entertainment articles. You’re sure to find inspiration for your next wanderlust-inspired jaunt there!