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Roman Forum in Rome

The Roman Forum in Rome, one of the oldest and most important parts of the ancient city, was the heart of ancient Rome.

It housed temples, courts, shops, and much much more, and peoples from all levels of society, from slaves to the emperor himself would conduct their business in this area. 

View of the Roman Forum in RomeI challenge you to name another place in the world that has so much history in such a compact space!

Today the Roman Forum in Rome is one of the city's most visited sites (in fact, the world!) and is part of the ‘Parco Colosseo’ Archaeological Area which includes the Colosseum and Palatine Hill.

Roman Forum in Rome - Just What You Need to Know

In my opinion, The Roman Forum is a MUST-visit on any trip to Rome (particularly a first visit) but when you’re here, what should you see and how do you go about it?

This page answers that, plus:

Where is the Roman Forum in Rome?

The Roman Forum is located right in the middle of Rome – it was the ancient center of the city and has retained this position throughout the centuries. 

Today, the Via dei Fori Imperiali runs parallel to the Roman Forum, which connects the Colosseum to Piazza Venezia and the Vittoriano monument. 

You’ll find the Roman Forum in Rome as part of the Parco Colosseo – the organization that manages the area including the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum.

When to visit the Roman Forum?

The Roman Forum in Rome is open year round, with the exception of New Year's Day and Christmas Day

The Roman Forum is open from 9 AM - 5:30 PM from September to March, and from 9 AM - 7:13 PM from April to August - for exact dates, refer to the Parco Colosseo website here.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend visiting the Roman Forum in bad weather (even though you can if you really want to) - there is very little shelter from the rain, and when the original ancient Roman paving gets wet, it gets very slippy!

If you are visiting the Roman Forum in Rome in the summer, be sure to wear a sun hat and bring plenty of sunscreen - its position in a valley between two hills, with ancient stonework reflecting the sun makes it a real heat trap!

I’d also recommend bringing plenty of water with you. 

There are clean drinking water fountains dotted around the site as well as a small number of vending machines. As of March 2022, there is also a brand new cafe by the exit onto the Via Fori dei Imperiali.

Map of water fountains in the Roman Forum in RomeLook out for these handy maps of water fountain locations throughout the Roman Forum in Rome and the wider Parco Colosseo area

The Roman Forum is magnificent regardless of the time of day, but my personal favorite time to be there is during the late afternoon in the spring or autumn as the sun sets - the colors on the ancient monuments is truly spectacular, and makes for memorable photos!

The Roman Forum in Rome at sunsetLook at this light in the Roman Forum at sunset! Visit during the afternoon to see this for yourself.

How do I get to the Roman Forum?

The Roman Forum in Rome has two entrances, the first and most direct is at the Arch of Titus on the Via Sacra, accessed from the Colosseum Piazza (perfect if you are planning to visit the Colosseum before or after the Roman Forum).

The second is on Via di San Gregorio, which is also an entrance to the Palatine Hill

You can exit the Roman Forum at Via di San Gregorio and the Arch of Titus, but also on to the Via dei Fori Imperiali - you cannot currently enter here.

Getting to the Roman Forum in Rome is incredibly easy:

  • The nearest Metro station is Colosseo on Metro Line B (the blue one), which is connected to Rome’s other main metro line (A – the red one) via Termini central station. In the coming years, a new station ‘Fori Imperiali’ is opening on Metro Line C (the yellow one) which will allow for almost direct access to the Roman Forum. 
Colosseo Metro station in Rome ItalyThe Colosseo Metro station on line B (the blue line) - just a 5 minute walk from the main entrance to the Roman Forum in Rome on the Via Sacra
  • There are a number of buses that drop-off and pick-up along the Via dei Fori Imperiali. Loading Google Maps and selecting the public transport option from your hotel/apartment will give you the most direct bus route and timings.

NB - To use the public transportation in Rome you must have a valid ticket.

There are inspectors who check for tickets regularly, and if you don't have one, the fines are steep!

Find out more about traveling within Rome on my dedicated page here.

  • To drive to the Roman Forum, you should find somewhere nearby to park (such as within the Monti neighborhood) as private vehicles are not permitted along the Via dei Fori Imperiali. Via di San Gregorio is a very busy main road so stopping in a car, even for a quick drop-off, is not recommended. If you are looking to arrive directly by car, the best option is to book a taxi and ask them to drop you off at the Colosseum and then take the short walk to the Roman Forum entrance at the Arch of Titus on Via Sacra. 
  • As the Roman Forum is located in central Rome, walking there is both straightforward and fun – you are bound to pass dozens of other spectacular sites such as the Colosseum, Vittoriano, Markets of Trajan and Santa Maria Maggiore – depending on which route you take of course!
Vittoriano Monument in Piazza Venezia, Rome ItalyThe Vittoriano Monument on Piazza Venezia is a great waypoint to gauge where are you in Rome

How accessible is the Roman Forum?

Throughout the Roman Forum you'll find walkways and ramps that make navigating the ancient ruins more accessible

Wheelchair access sign in the Roman Forum in Rome ItalyAs well as walkways and ramps there are also elevators for improved access in the Roman Forum

Some areas of the Roman Forum in Rome are not accessible except by foot, but generally it is possible for those with mobility challenges to visit the main areas and see the majority of the key monuments. 

Is it possible to see the Roman Forum for free?

Kind of, yes!

If you're visiting Rome on a budget, or are limited for time, you can see a lot of the Roman Forum by walking along the Via dei Fori Imperiali.

As you walk along, you'll find information boards detailing the sites and monuments, as well as dedicated viewing platforms. 

View of the Forum of Peace with an information board on the Via dei Fori Imperali in Rome ItalyA view of the Forum of Peace with a free-to-access info board on the Via dei Fori Imperiali near the Roman Forum in Rome

Alternatively, if you buy the Roma Pass or other Rome City Pass, you are permitted 'free' entry to two sites and then discounts on further visits.

Technically you are paying for these entrances in the cost of the pass, but if you use it on the more expensive sites, you can save a good amount of money.

Another option is to buy a ticket for the sightseeing bus, which is allowed to drive along the Via dei Fori Imperali, and if you grab a seat on the upper level, you'll get a great view of the Roman Forum!

What tickets and tours options are there, and which is right for me?

There are no end of options when it comes to tickets and tours of the Roman Forum in Rome, so which one is right for you?

No matter which option you choose, you must purchase your ticket online prior to your visit - it is not possible to purchase at the site entrances

Standard 24-hour ticket on Coopculture

You can buy a standard ticket to the Parco Colosseo Archaeological Area that covers access to the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Colosseum for 24 hours (from the point you activate your ticket by entering one of the sites) for just €18 (including the 2€ online booking fee).

Book online here via the official website and don't forget discounts and concessions are available under specific circumstances - be sure to check this before booking!

The Roma Pass or other City Pass

Another option for standard visits is to buy the Roma Pass, the official tourist ticket and visit pack from the City of Rome. These can be purchased in tobacco shops and other stores/kiosks throughout Rome but I’d recommend purchasing online here as often vendors don’t have them in stock. 

You can also purchase a 'full experience' ticket online here, which grants access to additional monuments including the S.U.P.E.R sites and Curia Iulia for 22€ per person + the 2€ booking fee.

Note that the opening days and times of these sites changes regularly so be sure to check the information here before your visit.

By buying your tickets direct, you can explore the Roman Forum in Rome at your own pace, but visiting such a huge site can sometimes be overwhelming and it's easy to lose track of time.

I highly recommend considering booking a guided tour of the Roman Forum - with an expert tour guide you’ll get a lot more information than is available on site, and as an added bonus, lots of tours also include a guided visit to the Colosseum and/or the Palatine Hill.

There's a huge range of tours out there, get started with these experiences from our partners at Get Your Guide.

NB - DO NOT be tempted to opt for a tour being offered by the people around the entrance to the Colosseum or outside the Colosseo Metro station - quite often these are unofficial and led by unqualified guides.

What should I see in the Roman Forum in Rome?

There is so much history packed into this relatively small area that you could easily spend an entire day here and not see everything.

If you are exploring the Roman Forum at your own pace, there are some absolute must-sees that, in my opinion, you cannot miss.

I’ve listed the following recommendations in location order, so you can visit them in sequence if you are starting your visit from the Via Sacra entrance:

Arch of Titus

This arch was built by emperor Domitian in 81 CE in honor of his (recently deceased) brother, emperor Titus, and to celebrate Rome’s campaign to quash some serious rebellions in Judaea.

The spoils of these successful campaigns also went towards the costs of constructing the Colosseum.

The Arch of Titus' position at one of the main entrances to the Roman Forum in Rome was done to underline the power of the emperor and Rome to everyone passing through it.

The arch was restored to what we see now in 1821 under the direction of Pope Pius VII.

The Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum in Rome ItalyThe Arch of Titus is the first major monument that you will see when entering the Roman Forum from the Via Sacra entrance

Temple of Venus and Roma

This was Ancient Rome’s largest temple, jointly dedicated to Venus and the goddess Roma - the deified version of the city of Rome.

The Temple of Venus and Roma had a commanding presence overlooking the Colosseum - and still does!

The Temple of Venus and Roma in the Roman Forum in Rome ItalyThe recent restorations at the Temple of Venus and Roma really help to show the scale of this massive structure

I think standing at this temple and looking towards the Colosseum offers one of the best views of everybody’s favorite ancient arena!

Basilica of Maxentius

This imposing building was constructed during the period when Rome’s prominence was declining, and was no longer the capital of the Roman Empire, but that doesn’t take away from its sheer impressive presence - in fact, it is the largest building in the Roman Forum.

The Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum in Rome ItalyIt is impossible to show the scale of this building in photos - you'll have to see it in person to really appreciate it!

Originally a law court and official meeting place, the architectural format of this and other ancient Roman basilicas was adopted in the construction of Christian churches and cathedrals, and is where we get the modern meaning of the word ‘basilica’ from. 

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina is one of the most iconic in the Roman Forum.

It has stood the test of time better than a lot of its neighbors, because a church was constructed inside the ruins - the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda.

The Temple of Antoninus & Faustina in the Roman Forum in Rome ItalyThe church inside has undergone several changes over the centuries, but the ancient Roman columns have always remained

When looking up at the ancient Roman facade, note the diagonal grooves in the columns - these date from hundreds of years later, when ropes soaked in vinegar were lassoed around the columns and pulled back and forth in an attempt to cut through the stone.

The theory is that people wanted to pull down the temple columns and reuse the ancient materials for new construction, so we're lucky they were unsuccessful!

House of the Vestal Virgins

This structure was the home of the Vestal Virgins - the priestesses of the goddess Vesta, who practiced in the adjoining Temple of Vesta. 

The women who lived here were charged with maintaining the sacred fire of Ancient Rome and was one of the most, if not the most, revered cults in the ancient city. 

More a palace than a house, you can visit the remnants of the ground floor, including the central pool, now surrounded with beautiful statues of the Vestals. 

The House of the Vestal Virgins in the Roman Forum in Rome ItalyAdmire the beautiful ancient statuary as you walk along the peaceful confines of the House of the Vestal Virgins

Temple of Caesar

Located right in the middle of the Forum, this tiny little shack and the ruins behind are all that remains of the temple built on the site of Julius Caesar’s cremation following his assassination.

Take a look inside the shack and you’ll still likely see coins and flowers placed by visitors and locals alike on the remnants of the temple altar.

The Temple of Caesar in the Roman Forum in Rome ItalyMany people just walk past this monument to one of ancient Rome's most famous figures - don't be one of them!

These are left here out of respect for Caesar more than 2000 years after his death - something that I personally do on any visit to the Roman Forum in Rome.

curia iulia

This building was at the epicenter of the ancient Roman political scene - like a modern day senate, congress or parliament, it was here that all lawmakers and representatives of the people gathered to debate and decide policy.

Having been recently restored, you can sometimes visit inside the Curia building (if you have the Full Experience ticket), but the outside is also very impressive.

The Curia Iulia in the Roman Forum in Rome ItalyBe sure to go inside if you have the full experience ticket and the doors are open - it's not always open and hasn't been for years

Temple of Saturn

This structure is probably the most recognized in the whole Roman Forum in Rome - if you search ‘Roman Forum’ online, there’s a strong chance you’ll see the Temple of Saturn.

It's particularly notable for anyone passionate about history, as it features one of the most iconic surviving examples of the famous 'Senatus Populusque Romanus' (abbreviated to SPQR), meaning the 'The Senate and People of Rome', which is now the official tagline for the city of Rome. 

Close up view of the inscription on the Temple of SaturnNote the Senatus Populusque Romanus inscription across the top of the Temple of Saturn

Arch of Septimius Severus

This arch, like its counterpart the Arch of Titus at the opposite end of the Roman Forum, was built by an emperor to demonstrate their power to the people of Rome following successful military campaigns (this time against the Parthians).

The Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum in Rome ItalyLike the Arch of Titus, but bigger - much bigger!

Dedicated in 203 CE by Septimius Severus, the arch has been recently restored and is a worthwhile last stop in the Roman Forum before venturing on to my final recommendation...

Palatine terrace

While technically not in the Roman Forum, I would recommend making the trip up the hill to the Palatine terrace, found near the Farnese Gardens (Orti Farnesiani) for the view of the Forum below, and Rome beyond. 

For me this might be one of the best views in Rome - you can see so much history from this single spot, and take in everything below that you have visited!

EPIC is the only word that describes the view of the Roman Forum and Rome from up here!EPIC is the only word that describes the view of the Roman Forum and Rome from up here!


Where to eat and drink near the Roman Forum in Rome

Being located in the historic center of Rome, there's no shortage of great places to eat and drink near the Roman Forum. 

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to cafes, bars and restaurants - here are some of my top recommendations:

  • Bar Monti, Via Urbana 93 - Perfect for breakfast with fantastic coffee and fresh pastries, as well as for aperitivo with a range of drinks served indoors and outdoors in their covered area, which is also a fun people-watching spot!
  • Pizza della Madonna, Via della Madonna dei Monti 110 - This place is great for a quick and traditional Roman lunch, offering pizza taglia (pizza slices) and everyone’s favorite fried local speciality - supplii!
  • Avocado Bar Roma, Via della Madonna dei Monti 103 - For a healthier, but just as quick, lunch option, you’ll find this place a few doors down from Pizza della Madonna where the menu comprises salads, wraps and poke bowls.
  • Angelino "ai Fori" dal 1947, Largo Corrado Ricci 40/Via dei Fori Imperiali - This restaurant couldn’t be any better situated for visits to the Roman Forum in Rome - it is directly opposite the exit from the Forum on Via dei Fori Imperiali, and has an extensive menu covering all Italian classics.
  • Hotel Forum, Via Tor de' Conti 25-30 - When it comes to the best views of the Roman Forum, the rooftop bar at the Hotel Forum is certainly a top contender. Drinks are pricey, but the service is immaculate and when you see the whole Roman Forum, and across to the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum while sipping your aperitivo, the cost feels reasonable. 
  • Suburra 1930 Cucina e Liquori, Piazza della Suburra 13/15 - After dinner drinks in Italy are a big thing, and Suburra is a fantastic spot to sign-off any evening - the cocktail menu is extensive, and its interior a throwback to the art-deco era. Being located right next the Cavour metro (line B) station is just an added bonus!
View of the Roman Forum from the rooftop bar of the Hotel ForumThis is just a portion of the incredible views from Hotel Forum - note the Curia in the Roman Forum in the bottom left!

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