Hopefully, you visited the Pantheon on your first visit to Rome. (If you didn't, you should definitely add this to your list for your second visit!)
On a second visit to Rome, there's still so much to explore.
Rome the second time is the perfect opportunity to learn more about cultural and artistic Rome, Roman history of World War II, to explore some of the less-visited (and less crowded!) ancient ruins, and to visit bustling local neighborhoods where only Italians eat.
On this page, we'll go over some of the best things to see and do in Rome the second time (or 3rd or 4th!) once you've seen the most popular attractions:
You can't miss the huge Castel Sant'Angelo when in Rome!
The beautiful ancient Angel Bridge stretches out in front of it, making it easy to reach from the other side. (The bridge itself is also from the time of Hadrian but the angels are a 17th-century addition.)
Castel Sant'Angelo is easily reached by crossing the "Ponte Sant'Angelo", the Angel bridge.
I find it's an often over-looked monument but it's really one of the best ways to understand Rome's history through its architecture.
When you get up close to Castel Sant'Angelo, you can see the architectural details that show its progression from an ancient Roman mausoleum to a fortress and eventually to a papal party palace in the Renaissance.
It's a gorgeous space and easy to visit without reserving in advance.
While you can easily enjoy the impressive structures of the Caracalla Baths from the outside, a visit on the inside will allow you to see some of the beautiful mosaics, still intact after nearly 2,000 years.
You can easily visit this site on your own, or you can use their virtual reality goggles to enhance the experience.
Head underground to visit the Domus Aurea
The Domus Aurea, or Golden House, was a huge palace complex built by Emperor Nero in the 1st century.
While many say that Nero was mad, which may or may not be true, most historians agree he was an innovator where art and architecture were concerned.
The Octagonal Room of the Domus Aurea was probably used as a dining room, where rose petals were sprinkled through the oculus (hole) in the ceiling.
After being buried for centuries, the ruins were rediscovered in the 15th century and are now open for visitors.
As you tour the Domus Aurea, you will be astounded at the detailed mosaics and frescoes you will see, still intact after all these centuries. Can you imagine what it might have looked like under Emperor Nero?
Part of the visit includes a virtual reality experience, where you will see what the Domus Aurea might have looked like it its glory.
It's so real, I found myself reaching my hands out to touch it!
The Domus Aurea is without a doubt one of Rome's best underground sites, and a great thing to do on your second visit to Rome, especially if you love Ancient Roman history and architecture.
Wander the Jewish Ghetto
Rome's Jewish community is the oldest in Europe.
In Italy, as in other parts of Europe, the Jewish community has often gone through difficult times.
In 1555, by order of Pope Paul IV, the Jewish ghetto was created which segregated the Jewish population from the rest of Rome.
During World War II, in occupied Rome, the Jewish Quarter bore witness to a large deportation to the Nazi extermination camps.
A plaque stands today in front of the Roman ruins of Portico d'Ottavia, where the deportations took place.
As you walk around the neighborhood and many other parts of Rome today, you will find plaques embedded the floor called Stolperstein, which means "stepping stones", commemorating those who never returned.
These "stolperstein", or stepping stones are in the Monti neighborhood. You will find this in every neighborhood in Rome. In the Jewish Ghetto, they are very easy to find on just about every street.
Despite these horrific injustices, Jewish culture, traditions, and cuisine have thrived.
Rome's great synagogue also houses a museum that's easy to visit.
You might decide to stroll the narrow streets, do some shopping, or even visit the great synagogue and its museum.
The streets of the Jewish Quarter are always busy with locals and visitors
In the evening, you'll find locals spending time enjoying a glass of wine and some of the most authentic fresh and delicious Judeo-Roman dishes in the city.
Visiting Rome's Jewish ghetto is a true Roman experience!
Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.
Trastevere also offers plenty of gorgeous churches such as Santa Maria in Trastevere, arguably the oldest church in Rome.
It's worth even visiting the piazza of Santa Maria in Trastevere, but the basilica is truly amazing and deserves a visit, too.
If you can, head inside to admire its beautiful Byzantine mosaics and Cosmatesque floor.
The Byzantine mosaics of Santa Maria in Trastevere are jaw-droppingly beautiful, some of the most stunning in all of Rome.
You could also include Gianicolo Hill, part of Trastevere that sits high above the city, offering stunning views, but also plenty of history, in particular about the Risorgimento - the movement that unified Italy after the long war of 1855 - 1870.
This monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi sits high atop the Giacolo Hill, another part of Trastevere and an important place in Rome's recent and also ancient history.
The museum holding Augustus' "Ara Pacis", or Altar to Peace is right next to the Mausoleum.
Nearby, you'll find the Ara Pacis, the Altar to Peace, also made under Emperor Augustus.
This stunning marble monument is housed in a beautiful building that allows the light to showcase the intricate carvings and sculptures.
It's worth going inside this museum to visit the Ara Pacis, but there are other things in the museum that add to the experience.
Life of Emperor Augustus
Want to learn more about the life of Rome's first emperor, Octavian Augustus?
I could not put down John Williams' "Augustus", a fictional recounting of Augustus' life from the moment he heard of his uncle Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BCE.
The book tells the story through imagined epistles and it's a fantastic and easy way to absorb the history of this pivotal moment in Rome's history.
One of my favorite things inside this museum is the plastic model showing Ancient Rome at the time of Augustus, and where the Pantheon, Altar to Peace, and Augustus' obelisk were in relation to each other in the Campo Marzio, or Field of Mars.
This plastic model showing where the pantheon stood in relation to Augustus' mausoleum is very interesting for those interested in understanding the Pantheon's history.
Fill up your senses with art at the Galleria Borghese
I include the Galleria Borghese on my 3-day Rome itinerary as an option, but I often find many people don't have time for it if they only have 2-3 days, but I do consider this museum a must-see in Rome.
Situated in the Villa Borghese park, the Galleria Borghese contains one of the most impressive collections of Renaissance and Baroque painting and sculpture in Rome.
The halls of the Galleria Borghese are filled with a carefully curated art collection
Many of the pieces come from the original collection of Scipione Borghese (1577-1633) who began to intensely acquire works of art including pieces by Caravaggio, Titian, and Bernini.
The sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, like his Apollo and Daphne, are among his finest works and make a visit to this gallery worth it by themselves. But then there are also the Caravaggio paintings...
Whether or not you visit the Galleria Borghese, the Villa Borghese park is a wonderful place for a stroll if you're looking for some green space and quiet time.
Head out of town for a day trip
If you're looking for a change of scenery when visiting Rome for the second time, why not head out of town for a day trip?
You could visit the ancient Roman port town of Ostia Antica, preserved in excellent condition with many buildings, sculptures, and mosaics still in place, and a bit less of a trek than the other very popular Rome day trip to Pompeii.