The Italian capital is a fascinating city that offers a wide range of tourist attractions. From ancient ruins to world-class galleries and lively piazzas, fall in love with Rome and all its beauty with Culture Trip’s list of the best must-visit attractions.
Now you can join a guided bicycle tour of Rome as part of Culture Trip’s specially curated 10-day Northern Italy adventure, led by our Local Insider.
When it comes to Rome, there is no shortage of attractions to visit. History buffs will be drawn to the wealth of archaeological sites – from the Colosseum to the Roman Forum – while art lovers can admire the glittering Vatican treasures, including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling.
The most famous sight in all of Rome is its ancient gladiatorial arena, the Colosseum. Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the 2,000-year-old structure once held up to 50,000 spectators. As the site of epic gladiator battles, roaring crowds and jeering emperors, the historic atmosphere of this bloody arena is palpable. No trip to the capital would be complete without visiting it to discover what life might have been like in ancient Rome.
Trajan’s Markets is a remarkable complex of ancient stores, administrative offices and alleyways that dates back to around 110CE. While historians debate whether or not it was actually a market, there’s no doubting that the covered area was the model for today’s shopping malls. Constructed by Emperor Trajan, one of Rome’s most industrious rulers, the ancient alleyways and multi-level offices at the complex give visitors a chance to step into the everyday life of ancient Romans. This tour also grants access to the onsite Imperial Forum Museum.
Once the centre of public life in ancient Rome, the Roman Forum is an impressive set of ruins and among the most important archaeological areas in the world. Dating back to the seventh century BCE, the site is filled with crumbling remains of Roman temples and government buildings. Most important among the ruins are the Temple of Caesar, the Arch of Titus and the Sacred Way, the road down which the Roman centurions would march when returning home from battle.
If you know only one thing about Emperor Nero, know this: the man was famed for incredible acts of self-indulgence. Domus Aurea is his golden imperial estate, the most aesthetically overwhelming buildings at the time and a testament to his gaudy reputation. Now an active archaeological site, digital re-creations of what the estate would have looked like in its heyday (think intricate mosaics, resplendent artificial lakes and colourful frescoes) allow you to catch a glimpse into the mind of the opulent Emperor Nero.
Home of chariot racing in the sixth century, Circo Massimo once held up to 250,000 spectators and was among the most important public spaces in Rome. On top of the races, it also hosted classic gladiator battles in front of the roaring crowds. Today, the city still holds large outdoor concerts in the space, which lies at the base of the Palatine and Aventine Hills, both of which provide panoramic views over the ancient city.
In a city that once had hundreds of public bath complexes, Terme di Caracalla is among the most important and impressive ones that remain. Constructed in the third century, the original bath complex covered up to 25ha (62 acres), the second largest in the whole of Rome. Today, the central bathhouse makes up most of the remains. The Rome Opera even hosts impressive musical and ballet performances inside the ruins.
The Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) is a large marble sculpture built in the year 9BCE during the reign of Emperor Augustus. As Rome’s first emperor, Augustus led its transition from a republic to an empire after the assassination of his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, ushering in one of the longest eras of relative peace in Roman history. The altar is now housed inside the Ara Pacis Museum, a contemporary glass building (the only one built in Rome’s historic centre since World War II) designed by American architect Richard Meier.
Another of the most important squares in Rome, the Piazza Venezia lies in the heart of the city, with important historical buildings, museums and art galleries surrounding it. At its centre is the eye-catching Vittoriano Memorial, honouring Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of a united Italy. Most impressive of the buildings is the Palazzo Venezia, where Mussolini would famously make his speeches from the balcony of the Globe Room to roaring crowds below. The palazzo is now a museum dedicated to Renaissance art, ancient bronze statues and Medieval weaponry.
An impressive example of baroque architecture, the Trevi Fountain is among the most famous fountains in the world. It contains sculptures of many different fabled figures and wild horses, made from white travertine stone. Don’t forget to toss a coin into the water before you leave; this ensures that you’ll return to Rome in the future.
Still not sure if Rome should be your next holiday destination? Maybe our reasons everyone should visit Rome at least once will convince you. If you already know you want to come to Rome but don’t fancy the hustle and bustle of the city, why not check out the best nearby beaches? While you’re in the Eternal City, make sure to try Italian staples such as pasta and espresso at the best pasta restaurants and cafes in town before you recharge your batteries at one of the best boutique hotels you’ll find here.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Livia Hengel.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.