On your first trip to Rome, there are numerous things to see and do that will allow you to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history, culture, and culinary delights.
Zack and I spent our third anniversary in Italy, but I never shared any of the trip.
Here are nine things to do on your first trip to Rome
1. Palatine Hill
Palatine Hill, also known as the Palatium, is one of the seven hills of Rome, Italy. It is located in the center of the city and is considered one of the most ancient parts of Rome. Palatine Hill holds great historical and archaeological significance, as it is believed to be the place where Rome was founded.
Today, Palatine Hill is an open-air museum and a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the archaeological site and walk among the ancient ruins, including the remnants of palaces, villas, and gardens. The hill offers panoramic views of the Roman Forum, Circus Maximus, and the city of Rome.
We went on a tour and it is huge. They gave us headsets so we could listen to its history while walking through it.
Visiting Palatine Hill provides a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the rich history of ancient Rome. It is a must-see destination for history enthusiasts, archaeology lovers, and anyone interested in the ancient world.
- Address: 00186 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome Capital, Italy
Start your journey with a visit to the iconic Colosseum, the ancient Roman amphitheater. Explore the fascinating history of this architectural marvel and imagine the spectacles that once took place there.
The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an iconic symbol of Rome and one of the most famous ancient Roman landmarks. Located in the heart of the city, near the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, the Colosseum is a massive amphitheater that stands as a testament to the grandeur and architectural achievements of ancient Rome.
Visitors to the Colosseum can explore its interior, including the underground chambers where gladiators and animals were kept, as well as the upper levels offering panoramic views of the surrounding area.
I have been to Rome previously, but I never went inside the Colosseum. It was really quite a sight to see inside the walls of the Colosseum.
- Address: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
3. Castel Sant’angelo
Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, is a historic fortress located in Rome, Italy. Situated on the right bank of the Tiber River, just a short distance from the Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo has a rich history that spans over 2,000 years.
Castel Sant’Angelo is a museum and a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore its interior, including the mausoleum, the fortified walls, and the various rooms and chambers.
We did not go inside Castel Sant’angelo because we were just leaving our tour of the Vatican. You really need to allot for the time to visit all of places throughout the city.
- Address: Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma RM, Italy
4. Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain, or Fontana di Trevi in Italian, is one of the most famous and iconic fountains in the world. Located in the Trevi district of Rome, Italy, it attracts millions of visitors each year. The fountain is renowned for its grandeur, architectural beauty, and the tradition of tossing a coin into its waters.
It remains an iconic symbol of Rome, a masterpiece of Baroque art and architecture, and a must-visit destination for travelers exploring the city’s historical and cultural treasures.
The Trevi Fountain is always super busy. I have found that one of the best times to visit is early in the morning – around 7 a.m. Both times I walked by that early and there are usually only a couple of people walking by. It’s the perfect time to get your photos without having to photoshop anyone out of them!
- Address: Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
Step inside the remarkably preserved Pantheon, a Roman temple turned church, known for its awe-inspiring dome and its well-preserved ancient architecture.
The Pantheon is a remarkable ancient Roman temple located in the heart of Rome, Italy. It is one of the best-preserved and most influential structures from the Roman Empire and stands as a testament to the architectural genius of the time.
Inside the Pantheon, you can marvel at the harmonious proportions, the decorative details, and the sense of grandeur. The floor is paved with a beautiful pattern of colored marble, and several tombs of notable figures, including the artist Raphael, are located within the building.
The Pantheon is another place where we didn’t have time to go inside.
- Address: Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
6. Vatican Museums
Visit St. Peter’s Basilica, admire Michelangelo’s masterpieces in the Sistine Chapel, and explore the Vatican Museums.
The Vatican Museums are a collection of art museums located within Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world and the spiritual center of the Catholic Church. The museums are home to an extensive collection of art and historical artifacts that span thousands of years.
The Vatican Museums were founded in the early 16th century when Pope Julius II began collecting and displaying various artworks in the papal palaces. Over the centuries, subsequent popes expanded the collection, and the museums now encompass multiple buildings and galleries.
Exploring the Vatican Museums can be an overwhelming experience due to the vastness and richness of the collection. It is advisable to plan your visit in advance, consider a guided tour, or focus on specific areas or artworks of particular interest to you.
This trip was my first time inside Vatican City. I thought the grounds and the museum were so beautiful. You cannot take photos while you’re inside the Sistine Chapel, but we saw several people with their phones out.
- Address: Viale Centro del Bosco, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City
7. Eat Gelato
Italy is renowned for its delicious gelato. Gelato shops typically offer an array of flavors, ranging from classic ones like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry to more unique options such as pistachio, hazelnut, or fruity variations.
If you’re headed to Italy, please make sure you have room for gelato. I had maybe three or four cones during one trip. It’s delicious and there are gelateria’s all over the city.
- Address: Gelateria del Teatro – Via dei Coronari, 65/66, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
8. Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps, known as “Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti” in Italian, are a famous staircase located in Rome, Italy. They connect the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square) at the base to the Trinità dei Monti Church at the top. The Spanish Steps are not only a notable architectural feature but also a popular meeting place and a prominent tourist attraction in the city.
The Spanish Steps are not only a tourist attraction but also a shopping district. The area around the steps is known for its luxury shops, boutiques, cafes, and art galleries.
The same with the Trevi Fountain, if you can get to the Spanish Steps early in the morning (7 a.m.) you will be able to get all the photos your want without the pesky crowds.
Once the late afternoon hits, there are tons of people sitting throughout all the steps.
- Address: Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
9. Villa Borghese Gardens
The Villa Borghese Gardens, or Giardino di Villa Borghese in Italian, is a large public park located in the heart of Rome, Italy. Covering an area of approximately 80 hectares (197 acres), it is one of the largest green spaces in the city and offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling urban environment.
Visitors can stroll along winding paths lined with lush greenery, trees, and flowers. It’s an ideal place for nature lovers, art enthusiasts, and those seeking a peaceful escape in the heart of Rome.
The Villa Borghese Gardens was something new to me during this visit to Italy. It did not disappoint. The weather was lovely to walk through the gardens and we stopped at a restaurant and had a little snack before heading back to the hotel.
Located right off the Piazza del Popolo, the Villa Borghese Gardens
- Address: 00197 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome Capital, Italy
What is your favorite place to visit in Rome? Let me know in the comments below!