What to see in Rome and the Vatican. What to visit in the Eternal City

If you are thinking of visiting Rome, here we tell you which are the most important monuments and places of interest to see in Rome. Rome is the capital of Italy and one of the oldest and most historic cities in Europe.

And not only from Rome but also from the Vatican City, where you have to go when visiting Rome.

You can find more information in our Rome travel diary or in our daily tours:

The essential places to see in Rome

1. The Trevi Fountain

Rome - Trevi FountainThe Trevi Fountain is without a doubt the most essential place to see in Rome. And proof of this is that it is always full of visitors who pack its small square. Of course, if you go first thing in the morning you will find it almost to yourself.

They say that the Trevi Fountain is the most beautiful in the world, maybe they exaggerate, but the truth is that it is a truly spectacular fountain and you cannot leave Rome without visiting it and without admiring every detail of the fountain.

And of course, without throwing the coin, with which according to tradition, you will return to Rome.

2. The Colosseum in Rome

Rome - Colosseum - InteriorThe Colosseum in Rome is possibly the most famous and spectacular monument you can find in the city. And of course, also one of the ones with the most queues to enter.

But it is worth doing it to enter a monument with 2,000 years of history and which is the greatest symbol of the power of the Roman Empire. All kinds of gladiator fights were held there, among themselves and with beasts, but there were also executions and other shows.

Next to it, don’t miss the Arch of Constantine, which forms a spectacular ensemble with the Colosseum.

3. The Roman Forum

Rome - Roman ForumIf you want to continue discovering the ruins of what was the ancient Roman Empire, you should not miss out on visiting the Roman Forum, the center of political, religious and social life in ancient Rome. Another essential place.

Strolling through the ruins of the Roman Forum will take you through the Arch of Titus, the Basilica of Maxentius, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Via Sacra, the Arch of Septimius Severus and many other places built 2 millennia ago and that we now have the chance to Just smoke it.

If you go on your own, you still don’t know much about what you see, but with a good guide or a guided tour you can get to know it in depth.

4. The Palatine

Rome - PalatineThe trio of the best Roman ruins to visit in Rome is completed by the Palatine Hill, one of the 7 hills of Rome and from where you have the best views of the Roman Forum (although from the Plaza del Campidoglio they are also very beautiful).

The ancient Romans of the highest classes lived on the Palatine and that is why we can see remains of stately homes and different palaces such as the Domus Flavia.

Other places to visit on the Palatine are the Casa Livia, the Hippodrome of Domitian or the Casa Augusto.

5. Piazza Navona

Rome - Piazza NavonaTo walk around Rome is to enjoy its streets and squares. Each of them has a unique story behind it and an almost indescribable architectural richness.

One of the best squares to see in Rome is Piazza Navona, a large square where its buildings and fountains take it to a practically unsurpassed level of beauty, making it one of the most beautiful squares in the world.

Its three baroque fountains (Nettuno, Moro and Quattro Fiumi) are the best of Piazza Navona, although you should also admire the Church of Sant Agnese in Agone, located in the center of it.

6. Pantheon of Agrippa

Rome - Pantheon AgrippaVery close to Piazza Navona we find another of the buildings that we consider essential in Rome. It is the Pantheon of Agrippa, the best preserved building that the ancient Roman Empire has bequeathed to us, and when you are in front of it you cannot imagine that it is 2000 years old.

The most remarkable thing about the Pantheon of Agrippa, in addition to its beautiful façade, is the spectacular circular dome that crowns it, with a window that illuminates the interior with natural light and that will surprise you on rainy days.

Inside the Pantheon, the highlight is the Tomb of Raphael. Do not miss this guided tour of the Pantheon and the Ara Pacis, another very interesting nearby place.

7. Saint Peter’s Square and Basilica

Rome - Saint Peter's Square - Aerial viewTechnically this place is not in Rome. Not in Italy. It is in the Vatican, the smallest country in the world. But nobody goes to Rome without visiting this place.

Saint Peter ‘s Square is a magical place, from which you can admire the impressive façade of Saint Peter’s Basilica, the largest Christian temple in the world and, without a doubt, the most important.

Inside the Basilica of Saint Peter, the places of interest are endless, such as the Pietà by Michelangelo, the Baldachin, the Necropolis where the tombs of the Popes are located, or its spectacular dome, which we recommend going up to and having great views. from St. Peter’s Square and much of Rome.

In this area, the best thing we recommend, and also avoid queues, is this guided tour of the Vatican.

8. The Vatican Museums

Rome - Sistine ChapelA visit to the Vatican is not complete if you do not visit its museums, one of the places with the most concentrated art in the world. And it is not a single museum but, as its name suggests, several museums.

And in each of the Vatican Museums you will find different types of art. We must highlight the Bramante Staircase, the Raphael Rooms or the Gallery of Cartographic Maps.

And of course, we have not forgotten the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s great masterpiece, the place where the Pope was elected and where you can admire the scenes of The Creation of Adam or the Last Judgment.

9. The Spanish Steps

Rome - Piazza SpagnaAs we have said before, the squares of Rome have a special charm and this one was not going to be less. Without a doubt, one of the essential places to see in Rome, the Piazza di Spagna.

Its 135-step staircase, with the Church of Trinitá dei Monti at the top, and the Fontana della Barcaccia just below, is one of the most taken photos in Rome and one of the most famous images of the city.

From there starts Via Condotti, one of the most important shopping streets in Rome with its luxury shops. Another place where you will always find tourists.

10. Venice Square

Rome - Piazza VeneziaThe Piazza di Venezia is the main square in Rome, the most central and the one that separates the ancient city from the modern city.

In Piazza Venezia there is one of the most famous monuments to see in Rome, the Monument to Victor Manuel II, which in addition to being famous is also very controversial, since there are many Romans who consider that its white color and its majesty are out of tune with the environment.

In this square we also find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Risorgimiento Museum and the Venice Palace, the first Renaissance palace built in Rome.

11. The Baths of Caracalla

Rome - Baths of Caracalla - InteriorSituated off the beaten track, though not too far from the Colosseum, is another important site of Ancient Rome, the Baths of Caracalla.

It is worth going to the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla to discover how the baths worked during the Roman Empire and learn more about the importance they had in the social life of the Romans.

It will also surprise you with the mechanism to obtain heat to heat the water and spread it throughout all the rooms that made up this beautiful place.

As in any Roman archaeological ruin, the best thing is a guide and that is why we recommend this guided visit to the Baths of Caracalla and the Roman Circus, which is next door.

12. The Catacombs of Rome

Rome - CatacombsWho has not heard of the Catacombs of Rome? Although many people think that they were built as a refuge for the first Christians to escape the persecution to which they were subjected, in reality their origin is not that.

The Catacombs of Rome, formed by more than 150 km of underground galleries, were built to bury the first Christians, who decided that this was the end of their dead instead of cremating them as was customary at the time.

It is located around the Via Appia, quite far from the center of Rome, but it is worth going there to visit them.

13. The Basilica of Saint John Lateran

Rome - Saint John Lateran - InteriorThe Basilica of Saint John Lateran is the oldest in the world, it was the first residence of the Pope in Rome and that is why we consider it one of the main places to see in Rome.

The exterior of the Basilica of San Juan de Letrán is spectacular, with some very beautiful facades, an Obelisk and the Scala Santa where the most famous stairs of Christianity are located, those that take you to the private Chapel of the Popes, better known as Sancta Santorum.

Of the interior it is necessary to emphasize the statues that represent the 12 apostles and the baldachin.

14. The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore

Rome - Santa Maria Maggiore- ExteriorAnother of the great basilicas to see in Rome is that of Santa Maria Maggiore, which was built in the 5th century and is therefore the first temple dedicated to the Virgin in history.

According to legend, the Virgin herself marked the exact location of the basilica by causing snow to fall in August while Pope Liberius was in charge of marking the perimeter of the basilica that he was to build on the snow.

We must highlight the different architectural styles of the Basilica of Santa María la Mayor, ranging from Paleo-Christian to Baroque, passing through the impressive Renaissance ceiling that we can admire.

15. The Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

Rome - Saint Paul Outside the Walls - FacadeSan Paolo Fuori le Mura, as this basilica is known in Italian, is located far from the tourist areas of Rome so there are many people who do not go there. But if you have the opportunity, do not miss the opportunity and discover it.

The Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is almost as old as the Lateran and it contains the tomb of one of the most important saints of Christianity, Saint Paul. In this same place it was also where his remains were found after being executed in the first century.

Of course, the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls was destroyed in a fire in 1823 and had to be rebuilt.

16. The Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli and Michelangelo’s Moses

Rome - Moses by MichelangeloAnother of the great basilicas to visit in Rome. It is very close to the Colosseum, and inside it is one of the best sculptures remembered in the history of art, Michelangelo’s Moses, which we have seen so many times in books.

But it is not only famous for housing this sculpture but also for containing the chains with which Saint Peter was imprisoned in Jerusalem.

The main facade of San Pietro in Vincoli is not very interesting, but its interior will surprise you.

17. The Campidoglio Square and the Capital Museums

Rome - Piazza CampidoglioNext to the Piazza de Venezia we find some stairs that take you to one of the most important squares in Rome, the Piazza del Campidoglio.

It was the first modern square to be built in the Roman city. But before, on this hill was the Temple of Jupiter and from here the consular roads of the Roman Empire started.

In the Piazza del Campidoglio we can find the City Hall of Rome, a copy of the Capitoline Wolf and the Capital Museums, where in addition to finding the original we can see important sculptures and paintings such as the Capitoline Venus

18. Trastevere

Rome - TrastevereTrastevere is a neighborhood full of charm and one of the most beautiful and famous to see in Rome. Its bohemian air, its shops, its restaurants, its ice cream parlors and its atmosphere make this neighborhood one of the places you should visit.

Trastevere is accessed through one of the bridges that cross the Tiber River from the Tiber Island and taking a walk through Trastevere at sunset is one of the best things you can do .

In addition, it is home to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, another beautiful place that you must visit in Rome.

You could even do a gastronomic tour of Trastevere that you will hardly forget.

19. The Castle of Sant’Angelo

Rome - Castel Sant AngeloVery close to the Vatican we find one of the most famous and photographed castles in the world. It is the Castle of Sant’Angelo, also called Hadrian’s Mausoleum, and is known by the nickname “The Guardian of Rome”.

It forms a splendid ensemble with the bridge that crosses the Tiber River, the Sant’Angelo Bridge, and despite having been built in the 2nd century, it is perfectly preserved.

The interior of the Castle of Sant’Angelo is not essential but a visit to its exterior is an experience that you should take advantage of.

You can find more information about what to see in Rome on the official Rome tourism page.

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