Rome is bursting with so many important historic buildings, awe-inspiring ruins, world-class monuments and top-notch art galleries! In saying that, exploring what to see and do in the ancient city can be overwhelming! With numerous popular tourist attractions, it’s impossible to see everything in one trip! But if you do these 10 first, I’m sure your first trip to Rome would be treasured for a lifetime! Here you go!
1. Climb the SPANISH STEPS
At first, I wasn’t sure what the big deal is with these steps other than to take a picture and say you were there. But after climbing the massive staircase, my eyes were filled with wonder and awe! Connecting Piazza di Spagna with Piazza Trinità dei Monti, the steps are a popular meeting place for young Romans and tourists alike! You’ll be fascinated by the sea of people bustling below, the artists along the sidewalks and the breathtaking view of the eternal city! If you want a dose of daily Italian life, this spot is the place to be!
2. A day trip to the VATICAN CITY
While in Rome, why not visit the smallest independent state in the world? The VATICAN CITY! It might only cover less than a square kilometre, but it has plenty of history and marvellous art! Start your day walking around lush and large gardens, check out the world’s richest art collection at the Vatican Museum, gaze heavenwards at the Sistine Chapel then finish off your day at the St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world! If you’re feeling a little bit extra, Climb the church’s cupola! The overhead views are spectacular and unbeatable from the top!
3. Visit the biggest amphitheatre ever built, THE COLOSSEO!
I can still clearly remember the moment I came out of the subway and saw the Colosseo staring back at me! I had to stand back as I was awestruck and dumbfounded by such awesome structure! And by the way, it’s even more amazing in person! Seriously… How can you visit Rome and not visit the Colosseum? I dare you!
► I’ve actually written everything that you need to know from how to skip the line, when to go, which ticket to buy, how to get the most of your visit and more! Read my full blog post here!
4. Check out CASTEL ST. ANGELO at night!
I came across Castel Sant’Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel) purely by accident and it turned out to be one of my unforgettable experiences in Rome. Strategically located close to Saint Peter’s Basilica & on the west side of River Tiber, I crossed the Bridge of Angels and stumbled upon the castle shining in the dark! I found out that it was an ancient imperial tomb turned into a papal fortress and was gradually transformed into a castle! My late-night walk was very romantic as I was being serenaded by the sound of the river and live music from local artists! For one moment I felt like I was a Rome local without the daytime traffic and crowds. And if you’re coming here during the day, this is where you admire the best panoramas of Rome from its high walls, corridors, courtyards and terraces!
5. Make a wish at the TREVI FOUNTAIN
The Fontana di Trevi is the world’s most famous wishing well and Yes, one of the most important things to do when you come to Rome is to throw a coin into the fountain! Legend says tossing your first coin will guarantee your return to the Eternal City, the second will ensure new romance and the third will give you a Roman wedding! If you’re wondering where all the coins go at the end of the day, the money collected goes to charity to help feed and clothe the needy! Oh and by the way, the Trevi Fountain is surrounded by a cocoon of gelato shops and stands, so make sure to grab one before you go!
6. Catch the sun as it streams through the Oculus of the PANTHEON
Come to the Pantheon and see ancient Rome come to life! Most of this church’s floors are original which means you’ll be walking by where Hadrian the Great and the like have walked past! So, what to do in this historic landmark? Look upwards the dome and be mesmerised by the oculus: the round opening in the centre of the dome! It is the only source of natural light in the Pantheon and if you’re here midday, you will see the sun shining through inside! When it starts to rain, you will see the water falling down in to the building and the floor has a drainage system to take away the water out from the site. Cool, right? Also, the Roman Pantheon is still a fully functional church which provides Mass twice a week and all visitors are welcome to attend if they wish. It’s free entry for all but it is a religious site so be respectful, keep the noise down and no flash photography allowed.
7. Dine in a Classic Roman Osteria
There is no better way to feel like a Roman than by eating at the city’s many trattorias and osterias! And trust me when I say that you can still have a tasty, inexpensive Italian meal aside from pizzas, gelatos or fried street foods in a proper restaurant! Romans take their food and wine seriously! They follow the mantra of freshness over fuss and simplicity over complex cooking techniques! Their food is characterized by a combination of the most basic ingredients resulting to an extra-incredible cuisine! How I wish I’m sitting in an Italian table eating Italian food right now! Gosh! Anyways, don’t forget to say Grazie e Arrivederci when you leave the ristorante… It simply means Thank You and Goodbye!
8. Go on a Food or Walking tour in the neighbourhood of TRASTEVERE
If you’d ask me the most charming district in all of Rome, my answer is Trastevere! Get lost in charming medieval alleyways and winding cobblestone streets! Don’t be surprised to see more foreigners than Romans though! You can’t blame them as the trendy cocktail spots, edgy boutiques, flower-filled balconies and cool street arts are simply irresistible! If you’re done restaurant and bar hopping, head over to the piazzas where locals and tourists gather to watch street artists perform every night! No wonder Trastevere has become very popular for visitors! It has something to offer for everyone!
9. Visit the hipster hotspot and bohemian capital of Rome, MONTI!
Just a few minutes away from the Colosseum, you’ll find a trendy village that’s famous for its’ chic hang-outs and lively piazzas! You would not believe that it was used to be the city’s red-light district and where the poorest of citizens lived! These days, it is a normal sight to see artsy folks dressed in vintage clothing, locals sipping cappuccinos all day and laid-back individuals debating over whatever topics strike their fancy in artsy cafes and charming sidewalks. After seeing the Colosseum & making a wish at the Trevi, come over to Monti’s old residential neighbourhood: Where old meets new!
10. Do what Romans do best: “Dolce Far Niente”
Italy is, hands down, one of my favourite countries to visit. The history, the food, the language and most of all… the people! Romans are usually portrayed as lazy citizens, but the truth is, for the most part, they are simply living their best lives! They slow down and just enjoy every moment! This is what I ask of you: Spend one day in Rome without any plans or itinerary and let your senses be your guide! Get lost and immerse yourself in the vibe of the enchanting city! Just sit back and breathe easy… The kind of relaxation where you can just wine and dine away! At the end of the day, you’ll realize… That the Romans are absolutely right: There is sweetness in doing nothing!
Given Rome’s historical significance in world history, I am so grateful to experience the city first-hand. And more importantly, I feel so happy to be able to share this guide to you all! Thanks for being here!
Love from Rome,
The Travel Belle
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