I’m not going to lie, I got a little carried away creating this Rome bucket list. What started out as a modest list of the 10 greatest sights, experiences and attractions have developed into a year-round Roman bucket list extravaganza.
While not everything on this list might be for you (I am not planning on doing the Rome Marathon anytime soon…) you’ll no doubt find lots of inspiration for your upcoming trip to Rome.
Table of Contents
- Throw A Coin Into The Trevi Fountain
- Take A Tour Of The City On A Vespa
- Have A Gelato… or Two…
- Stay In The Five-Star 17th Century Castle, La Posta Vecchia Hotel
- Head To The Vatican, The Smallest Country In The World
- Watch A Film At The Festa del Cinema di Roma
- Buy Pizza By The Pound
- Educate Yourself At Galleria Borghese
- Learn EVERYTHING At The Vatican Museums
- Visit The Most Popular Tourist Attraction In All Of Italy, The Colosseum
- Gaze Up To The Ceiling In The Pantheon
- Experience Modern Art At MAXXI
- Visit The Italian Ruins At The Roman Forum
- View Rome By Night On A Segway
- Wonder The Piazza Navona
- Explore Rome On A Free Walking Tour
- See Michelangelo’s Iconic Painted Ceiling Inside The Sistine Chapel
- Climb The Spanish Steps
- Ask The Mouth Of Truth A Question
- Shop In Europes Most Gorgeous Place To Shop, Galleria Alberto Sordi
- Get Arty At The Centrale Montemartini
- Watch A Match At The Stadio Olimpico
- Visit The Ancient Port Of Ostia Antica
- Take Part In The Rome Marathon
- Feel Tranquillity In Romes Botanical Gardens
- Visit Castle Santangelo, A Museum & A Roman Fort
- Lose Your Breath At St Peter’s Basilica
- Experience The Bohemian Vibe Of Trastevere
- Get Lost In The Centro Storico
- Drink An Expresso At Tazza D’Oro
- Get Ancient At Palatine Hill
Throw A Coin Into The Trevi Fountain
While Trevi Fountain wasn’t quite what we expected (which on our part was probably a little nieve) it is something on everyone’s Rome bucket list. Visit this fountain as early in the day as possible to minimise the crowds.
You’ll no doubt notice people throwing coins into the Trevi fountain during your visit. Legend states that throwing a coin from the right hand over the left shoulder will guarantee that you will return to Rome sometime in the future. As a result, it’s estimated that ?3,000 is thrown into the fountain each day. The money is collected, sorted and donated to Caritas. A non-profit organisation that provides food to the poor and the homeless in Rome.
Take A Tour Of The City On A Vespa
Vespa’s were designed in Tuscany, Italy back in 1946. These iconic scooters make for the perfect transportation method around the hustle and bustle of Rome city. You can privately rent a Vespa to tour the city of Rome solo.
Alternativly, you can go out on a Vespa guide. This is our preference when visiting the city as you’ve got the expertise and knowledge of a local. These are great tours if you’ve not been to the city before, or are only here for a short period of time and are something we’d recommend choosing over a bus tour if you’re up to riding a scooter around the city.
Either way touring the city on a Vespa should definitely be on your Rome bucket list. After all, just think of the selfies!
Have A Gelato… or Two…
Gelato is a low-fat Italian ice-cream with an incredibly rich flavour. It’s something everyone must eat when in Rome. However, as the desert is so popular you may find that some Italian outlets try and fabricate it, creating a low-par alternative.
It’s therefore important to research the best gelato places in the city prior to your trip or during your trip to ensure you have an authentic gelato experience. Conde Nast Traveller ranks Gelato San Lorenzo as one of the best places to get an authentic gelato in Rome.
Stay In The Five-Star 17th Century Castle, La Posta Vecchia Hotel
Around one hour drive from the centre of Rome is La Posta Vecchia. Built-in 1640 on top of Roman ruins this 5-star luxury hotel should be on everyone’s Rome bucket list.
La Posta Vecchia hotel plays host to its own museum, a free wellness facility, tennis courts and even a private fully equipped beach. It’s the perfect place to recover and rejuvenate from an adventurous trip around the city centre.
Head To The Vatican, The Smallest Country In The World
Okay, so theoretically The Vatican is its own independent country… but it’s in the middle of Rome and somewhere you should definitely visit during a trip to the city. The Vatican is the smallest country in the world, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and home to the Pope – along with an incredible amount of art and architecture.
The Vatican is free to enter (and you don’t need your passport) although entry into some of the museums in the country does cost. We’ll cover that in a bit more detail later in the post.?The country’s economy is, of course, separate to that of Italy and is supported by the sale of postage stamps, the entry to museums and tourist souvenirs. While there’s no official dress code, it is a religious site so we recommend considering your outfits prior to your visit.
As of 2017, there are 1,000 residents of The Vatican, the country has its own post office, flag, national anthem, mints it’s own Euro’s and issues it’s own licence plates and passports – it’s all pretty darn impressive!
Watch A Film At The Festa del Cinema di Roma
Founded in 2006, the International Rome Film Festival is a film festival that takes place annually in Rome, during the month of October. While the festival is hosted across a number of venues in the city, it’s The Auditorium Parco Della Musica which is the centre stage.
Featuring the major film premieres in screening rooms and a red carpet. To learn more about the Rome Film Festival visit the website.
Buy Pizza By The Pound
My favourite food in the whole world is pizza, and there’s nobody that does pizza quite like the Italians. You’ll find pizza served in restaurants but I personally prefer it from the little holes in the wall.
Buying pizza based on its weight is an experience that should be on everyone’s Rome bucket list. With a whole range of different toppings (and on a variety of bases to suit all dietary requirements), there’s a pizza for everyone!
Educate Yourself At Galleria Borghese
Situated inside the former Villa Borghese Pinciana is the Borghese Gallery. This museum exhibits an extensive collection of sculptures, paintings and mosaics from the 15th to the 19th century.
If a trip to art museums are your thing then the Galleria Borghese should definitely be on your Rome bucket list. To learn more about the museum be sure to check out this article from the independent travel cats.
Learn EVERYTHING At The Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are the museums inside the Vatican which include the likes of Sistine Chapel, Chapel of Beato Angelico and Raphael Rooms. All of the museums here host some of the most famous documents, artwork and historical objects in the world and are well worth visiting on your next trip to Rome.
Tickets to the Vatican museums can be purchased online in advance or upon arrival at The Vatican. There are various different packages depending on your age, vocation and any additional extra’s you may want such as the skip the line feature. We recommend looking at the best times to visit The Vatican to maximise your visit with minimal crowds.
Visit The Most Popular Tourist Attraction In All Of Italy, The Colosseum
The Colosseum is the most popular tourist attraction in the whole of Italy. Which means if it’s not already on your Rome bucket list, then it should be. For more than 2,000 years now this area has been the symbol of Roman power. We made the rookie mistake of not pre-booking our visit to the Colosseum during our first visit.
Having queued for almost two hours in the blistering heat to get inside. We’d always recommend booking a ‘skip the line’ tour online in advance. Avoid booking them upon arrival as there is sadly a ridiculous number of touts selling fake tours and tickets.
Gaze Up To The Ceiling In The Pantheon
Perhaps one of the most famous former Roman temples and certainly the best preserved is The Pantheon. Most commonly known for it’s magnificently designed ceiling it’s an attraction that should be on everyone’s Rome bucket list.
While the exact date of construction is unknown it’s estimated that The Pantheon is over 2,000 years old. An despite this the domed ceiling remains the single largest, unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
Experience Modern Art At MAXXI
Established in 2010, MAXXI is the national museum of contemporary art and architecture in Rome. It’s made up from former military buildings, into an architectural work of art in its own right.
Tickets can be purchased online in advance or upon arrival at the museum. Adults are ?12, concessions are ?9 and discounts for families are available too.
Visit The Italian Ruins At The Roman Forum
On the traffic free streets between Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill is another fantastic item for your Rome Bucket List; the ruins at the Roman Forum.
In ancient times a forum was known as a mix of religious area, civic centre and a marketplace. The Roman Forum was the grandest forum of them all, and something you can still experience today.
View Rome By Night On A Segway
If you’re looking for something a little different during your trip to Rome, then consider heading out on a tour of the city at night… on a segway!
Segway tours are a great way of seeing the entire city quickly, without walking and without windows and barriers that you’d get from a tour bus. Better still, you don’t need any prior Segway driving experience, it’s a really easy technique to pick up and the team that runs the tour will provide you with safety equipment – just in case.
Built-in the 1st century AD The Piazza Navona is a square in Rome which is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian. The ancient Romans went to the stadium to watch the agones, and hence it was known as “Circus Agonalis”.
Today, the square is home to three impressive fountains, including la Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi with its large obelisk at the centre.
Explore Rome On A Free Walking Tour
If you’re looking to explore and learn as you go then a walking tour is a great way of doing so. Helen and I have been on walking tours all over the world, and Rome is no exception. There’s a variety of walking tours on offer in Rome, one of which is even free (or pay as you feel)
If you’re looking for a private walking tour of Rome, then there are some great choices. Of course, these private tours will cost, however, you’re able to interact and learn on a much deeper level with the tour being one on one.
See Michelangelo’s Iconic Painted Ceiling Inside The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is the official residence of the pope, in Vatican City. The chapel was origionally named Cappella Magna, however, it takes its new name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480.
In 1508 Michelangelo began work on his?famous frescoed ceiling. It took him four years to complete the work, and it was so physically taxing that it permanently damaged his eyesight. Entrance into the Sistine Chapel is ?14 per person, which can be paid upon arrival and also provides you with access to the other museums of The Vatican.
Climb The Spanish Steps
Opened in 1725, The Spanish Steps are a climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinit? dei Monti. You’re rewarded for climbing the steps with incredible views down the Piazza as well as entrance into the Trinit? dei Monti church which sits at the top.
As of summer 2019, you are no longer permitted to stop and sit down on the steps – before then it was a popular lunch spot for both locals and tourists. However, sitting down on the steps now could incur you a fine of up to ?450.
Ask The Mouth Of Truth A Question
The Mouth of Truth is a large disc made of marble which is carved in the face of a man. You’ll find the Mouth of Truth on the left wall of the portico of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church, at the Piazza Della Bocca Della Verit?.
Visiting the Mouth of Truth costs ?2 per person, legend says that if you’re a liar and place your hand inside the mouth of the face you’ll lose some fingers – ouch!
Shop In Europes Most Gorgeous Place To Shop, Galleria Alberto Sordi
Galleria Alberto Sordi is a shopping arcade in Rome named after the actor Alberto Sordi. It was designed in the early 1900s by the architect Dario Carbone. Even if you don’t plan on spending any money in the high-end shops here, it’s worth wandering around the area simply to embrace the incredible architecture.
You can learn more about the Galleria Alberto Sordi, on their website which is available in both English and Italian.
Get Arty At The Centrale Montemartini
If you have an interest in art then you’ll definitely want to put a trip to the Centrale Montemartini on your Rome bucket list. Filled with ancient sculptures and situated in a former power plant, this museum has no end of quirky features.
Entrance is complimentary for those with a Rome pass. Alternatively, tickets to the museum can be purchased online.
Watch A Match At The Stadio Olimpico
The Stadio Olimpico was built in 1928 and is the largest and most popular sports facility in Rome. The structure is owned by the Italian National Olympic Committee. The venue was the main stadium for the Olympics in 1960 and for the 1990 Fifa World Cup.
Today it plays host to the majority of Rome’s football team home matches. Dates and ticket purchases can be made online.
Visit The Ancient Port Of Ostia Antica
Ostia Antica is a large archaeological site around 15 miles southwest of Rome – Our guide to Rome Termini to Ostia Antica makes getting here very easy. The site has become famous for the excellent preservation of its buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.
A trip to the port of Ostia Antica along with a visit to the town of Ostia is a perfect day trip out of Rome for those looking for some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Take Part In The Rome Marathon
The Rome Marathon is a great way to get to know this fabulous city and its people. The marathon takes place in April and has around 8,000 participants each year.
You can book to take part in the Rome marathon on the dedicated website. Which is available to view in both English and Italian. Entries are usually taken up until the end of March, however, there are significant discounts for booking your place earlier in the year.
Feel Tranquillity In Romes Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens have been located behind the Corsini Palace since 1883. Here you’ll find more than 3,000 species of plants including 60 different types of coniferous trees, 35 different types of palm trees, a rose garden and a Japanese garden.
The opening times of the botanical gardens vary depending on the time of year, so we suggest visiting the website prior to travel to ensure the gardens are open.
Visit Castle Santangelo, A Museum & A Roman Fort
The Mausoleum of Hadrian often referred to as Castel Sant’Angelo, is an incredible towering building in Parco Adriano. Initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle.
Today Castel Sant’Angelo is a museum split over five floors, with the top floor providing incredible panoramic views over Rome. Entrance to the museum is ?10.50 for adults, and ?8.50 for concessions.
Lose Your Breath At St Peter’s Basilica
In a city full of churches, St Peter’s Basilica stands head and shoulders above the rest. Rome’s largest, most expansive and most luxurious church was designed to awe the public and even now, 500 years since it was built it continues to do just that.
The church is free to enter for all guests, although donations towards the church are always greatly received. There’s also a number of free guided tours available. One at 2.15pm daily from Monday to Friday, and another at 9.45am on Tuesday and Thursdays. These tours are hosted by seminarians and leave from the Centro Servizi Pellegrini e Turisti.
Being a church St Peter’s Basilica opens early at 7am. If you want to minimise your time waiting at security etc. then we suggest arriving between 7am and 9am. Between 10.30am and 1pm are the busiest time for the church where you can expect to wait around 30 minutes at security alone.
Experience The Bohemian Vibe Of Trastevere
Trastevere is one of the most popular areas in Rome known for its craft beer pubs, artisan shops and budget hotels it’s perfect for an evening stroll. TripSavvy has a great article covering eight things you can do while you’re here.
Get Lost In The Centro Storico
The Centro Storico is a set of tightly packed cobbled streets north of the Piazza Venezia. Along the side of the road, you’ll find everything from bars to boutiques, caf?s to street artists.
If you’re into architecture then this area is perfect to walk along and take it all in. However, if you’re planning on visiting using a hire car then you’ll need to park up as the area is for pedestrians only.
Drink An Expresso At Tazza D’Oro
The phrase Tazza D’Oro translates literally into “The Golden Cup” and that’s exactly what’s served in this historic coffee bar. This place is a tourist hot spot so either get there early (it opens daily from 7 am except on Sundays) or be prepared to wait for 5 to 10 minutes (while the queue may look long it does move quickly)
The cafe has been here since 1946 and much of the 40’s interior decor still remains. This traditional Italian coffee shop doesn’t just serve coffee, it also roasts and blends all the flavours it serves.
Get Ancient At Palatine Hill
There are seven hills in Rome known as the Palatino that offer some incredible vantage points of the city. One of the best, however, is Palatine Hill.
This is where Romulus supposedly killed Remus and founded the city back in 753 BC. This attraction concludes our incredibly long Rome bucket list. I hope you’ve managed to find something you would like to see and do during your visit to Rome from this. In the meantime, have a wonderful trip!