Rome, also called the “Eternal City”, is a legendary travel destination in Italy filled with history, personality, and architectural gems. Not only are there unreal sights to see in Rome, but it’s also a vibrant city that has recently been brought back to life. Why not put it on your travel bucket list?
If you’re traveling to Rome in the summer of 2022, along with the classic landmarks, you can expect trendy rooftop bars, pop-up patios along the river bank with a view of Ponte Sisto, outdoor terraces buzzing with energy, and in general, a city that has truly been brought back to life post-pandemic.
From ancient artwork to incredible architecture, there is no surprise as to why Rome is one of the most popular and well-known cities in the world. There is so much to see in this city, including 900 stunning churches and about 280 beautifully-designed fountains. People aren’t exaggerating when they say walking around Rome involves a gorgeous fountain at every turn.
So, why is Rome so spectacular? The Romans were always ahead of the times. In fact, they had built an impressive network of roads spanning about 53,000 Roman miles by the time of the 4th century. Each Roman mile measured around 4,800 feet, so it was quite an impressive achievement.
When you visit this iconic city, you will have a hard time seeing it all, since the entire city is a tourist attraction. However, this bucket-list worthy Italian city also has plenty of hidden gems that are less busy, but still amazing sights to see in Rome.
Rome is also mostly a walking city, and a fantastic choice for a solo trip, because you rarely feel lonely or bored in Rome. You can explore most of these sights by foot, many in the same afternoon, as many of them are very close to each other. It’s a great city for getting daily exercise while stimulating your senses with incredible sights (and tastes, of course) at every turn.
If you are only in Rome for a few days, it can be a challenge deciding what to do and see. We’ve got a terrific list of recommendations for some of the best sights to see in Rome in this article. Stop by a luggage locker in Rome if you want to stow your suitcases, shopping parcels, or any extra gear to make it easier to explore Rome comfortably while you are on the go. Check out these tips of what to do and see in Rome:
1. The Colorful and Innovative Neighborhood of Trastevere Offers Unique Sights to See in Rome
Some of the best sights to see in Rome that are not as touristy are in the colorful, bohemian, innovative and trendy neighborhood of Trastevere. From tucked away pubs and artsy cafes to charming trattorias and the buzzing Piazza di San Calisto, Trastevere has it all.
The promenade in Trastevere is always a vibe, and the neighborhood’s Piazza Santa Maria is one of the most beautiful sights to see in Rome.
While you’re in Rome, stop for a drink or a bite at Borgo Ripa, a hidden garden in Rome with a full service menu, making it a truly unique experience.
2. Ponte Sisto (A Spectacular Bridge Spanning the Tiber River in Trastevere, Rome)
Ponte Sisto is a beautiful bridge in the Trastevere area of Rome, spanning the beautiful river called Tiber. This bridge connects Via dei Pettinari in the Rione of Regola to Piazza Trilussa in Trastevere.
We highly recommend visiting this bridge during the day and at night. The lights at night reflecting off the river is truly one of the most spectacular sights to see in Rome, but the view of the Ponte Sisto bridge during the day is incredible as well.
Under the bridge at the river bank, sometimes there are pop-up restaurants and bars with unique decor such as retro patio swings and beds instead of tables, as well as eclectic food and music. This trendy area in Rome is ever-changing, but the bridge itself remains the same: architecturally stunning and a must-see sight in Rome.
Aside from lesser-known pop-up patios you might come across in this area, there’s also The Magick Bar, a more well-known summer pop-up bar along the Tiber riverside, with a view of the river, great music, and one of the most eclectic menus in Rome.
3. Piazza Navona
Why not add a little bustle to your holiday in Rome? Piazza Navona is a great place to see the city come alive. Full of tourists (fair warning) this is the piazza where street artists show off their talents and restaurants compete for hungry customers. Take a look for some of the best street food offerings or sit for a quiet meal to discuss where you’ll go next.
Not only is Piazza Navona one of the best sights to see in Rome, but it’s also fun and lively, with a lot going on.
To offer a little history about Piazza Navona, fountains dating back hundreds of years grace this square, including Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, a beautiful must-see masterpiece. You can also see incredible architecture here in the facade of Chiesa di Sant’Agnese in Agone.
If you are lucky enough to be here at Christmas, you’ll experience a spectacular Christmas market where handmade items, decorations for the season, and of course, special toys are sold.
4. See the Wonders of Vatican City
Reaching just over half of a square kilometer in size, Vatican City is the world’s smallest independent state. Within the limits of the Vatican walls, you will find all sorts of amazing things to see and we recommend saving at least a day to explore it. While you are here, make sure you stop by the Vatican Palace and Gardens as well as St. Peter’s Square.
St. Peter’s Basilica is located nearby and should definitely be on your list of places to visit. The Basilica houses Pieta, the amazing masterpiece of Michaelangelo, as well as numerous works by other historic artists. Take a tour through the Vatican museums so you can see places like the Sistine Chapel with its incredible frescoed ceiling and painted walls. The Raphael Rooms, Vatican Library and Borgia Apartments are other spots to check out and are all found within the Vatican Palace.
One of the best preserved Roman monuments from antiquity is the Pantheon. It is extremely well preserved considering that it dates back nearly 2,000 years, although it has gone through some changes since then. For example, the gilded roof tiles were removed by Pope Gregory III and the bronze roof was ordered to be stripped and melted down by Pope Urban VIII. Fun fact: that same metal was used for the altar’s canopy in St Peter’s Basilica.
The Pantheon also had to be rebuilt in 80 AD after it was damaged in a fire. This structure is home to an incredible 43-meter dome that appears unsupported as it has supports hidden in the walls and a 9-meter hole in the center of the dome that serves as the only light source. The Pantheon is used as a burial place for select individuals like famous painters and Italian Kings. Just imagine what the structure would have looked like when it was first built.
6. Santa Maria Maggiore, From 432 AD
Aside from the St Peter’s Basilica, Rome has hundreds of other churches that are just as impressive – as well as some of the world’s oldest churches. The Santa Maria Maggiore has been around since the 4th century and is still in great shape. It was built because Pope Liberius received a vision from the Virgin Mary who told him to build a church, and so he did.
In the vision, he was instructed to build it where the snow fell, and legend has it that the snow fell the very next day even though it was August. The walls are decorated with some of the oldest mosaics in Rome and the first gold to ever get to Italy from the Americas is on the ceiling. Since the 5th century, the Santa Maria Maggiore has hosted mass every day.
7. Enjoy a Cafe Refreshment Overlooking the Mausoleum of Augustus
The Mausoleum of Augustus is a fabulous sight to see, and enjoying a relaxing cup of coffee in Rome is a nice way to start the day or even end it!
The mausoleum is a circular tomb and at 87 meters in diameter is the biggest in the world. Before being left unused, this tomb was used for more than a century. From a bullfighting amphitheater to even a concert hall in recent history, this Roman attraction is worth visiting. Take a tour, climb the many steps and then sip on a refreshment afterward as a reward for your climb, with a view overlooking the mausoleum.
8. Trevi Fountain
Another one of Rome’s top attractions is the Trevi Fountain. It is an architectural masterpiece that was built in the 17th century, and it was an iconic part of the city back when it was constructed, and still today. Tradition says that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you’ll safely return to Rome again one day – maybe even to find love. Thousands of Euros worth of coins are tossed into this fountain every day.
This is the largest fountain in Rome, and the shocking amount of coins from it receives from tourists each day get donated to locals in need, and used for the upkeep of the area. Even if you don’t want to toss a coin you can just come to admire the fountain which has numerous statues in the center, including those depicting Neptune the sea god alongside sea horses, shells and tritons.
9. Imagine Days Gone By at the Roman Colosseum
The incredible Roman Colosseum is one of the top sights to see in Rome, and a must-see for everyone who visits. This impressive structure dates back to 72 AD and if you use your imagination you can almost picture what it was like in the past.
During its prime, the Colosseum was used to host battles between fierce gladiators, wild animals and prisoners as well as for theatrical performances.
If you want an idea of how big it really is, you can imagine 50,000 people in its stands since that is how many people it could fit. The audience was separated based on levels; the high officials and Imperial Court would get front row seats, Roman families would be seated on the second level, and the third and fourth levels were reserved for everyone else. It is the largest and most glorious structure of its kind, so make sure you don’t miss your chance to see it.
Walks of Italy is a fantastic walking tour to see these landmarks and hear about their compelling history.
Rome is one of those places that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. It was once one of the most dominant and influential cities in the world, and is still an inspirational city today. You can spend weeks in Rome with tons to do, and this article only scratches the surface of all the incredible sights to see in Rome.
Personally, Rome exceeded my expectations when I visited Italy on a solo trip. I only planned to spend 4 days in Rome, before heading off to Florence, Cinque Terre, and other parts of Italy. All of the nooks and crannies in Rome were so incredible that I ended up spending a full 2 weeks there, extending my trip and discovering hidden gems in Rome well after hitting all the major tourist attractions.
Curious what it’s like to be a travel blogger? Check out my truths and lies article, on being a travel blogger.
Feature image of Trastevere, Rome from ColorMaker / Shutterstock.com