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What to do in Rome

Wondering what to do in Rome? The Romans say, non basta una vita!, which means, "A lifetime is not enough!" I live here, and I have to agree. 

visiting the Roman Forum and ColosseumVisiting the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Colosseum is one of the highlights of a trip to Rome

What to do in Rome - a lifetime is not enough!

It's true, there really is always something new to see and do in Rome. Tourism in Rome is my business and my life. Even I am always discovering new things. My husband is from Rome, and he is often discovering new things along with me!

Are you wondering if you should even visit Rome on your trip to Italy or Europe?

Clik here to find out Ten Reasons to Visit Rome

Rome is so much more than just a city to fly into or out of, as I once did. The more time you spend in Rome, the more you want to see.

Rome has over 2000 years of history, and you will find a rich wealth of art, architecture, and archeology, not to mention shopping and my favorite pastime in Rome: eating!

What to do in Rome on YOUR trip

But you are visiting and want to know how to plan your stay.

Whether you have planned a short break to Rome or a 2-week trip; whether it's your first time in Rome or your 5th, I've got lots of suggestions for you!

What to Do in Rome - The Main Attractions

I find the most typical visit to Rome is about 2 1/2 - 3 days. If you've never been to Rome before, you should consider seeing the main sites and monuments. These include:


Are you looking for tours in Rome? Start on my main tour page here.

The above is for tours in US$. For tours in other currencies, go here.

It is possible to see the above sites in a 2-3 day visit to Rome.

But there is so much more to see. The more time you spend in Rome, the more you realize you need more time here!

So if you are not sure how much time you should spend in Rome, I'd suggest you try to add at least one more day if you can.

What to do in Rome - Besides the Main Attractions

Have you already been to Rome? Do you have more than 3 days in Rome? If so, then you may want to consider what to do in Rome besides visiting the above sites and monuments.

Even if you only have a short break in Rome, you may want to and be able to squeeze in some of these:

See how many great things to do in Rome there are? It's always a good idea to add another day or two on to your trip to Rome. 

Do you want to see some really special, unusual things in Rome?

Like the Magic Door, the Broken Bridge, or the last remains of a medeival synagogue in Trastevere?

Here's just a short list of some of these special things in Rome, hiding in plain sight, if you know where to look!


There are hundreds of museums in Rome. Like the Criminology Museum, or extraordinary collection of stained glass in the Casina delle Civette inside the Villa Torlonia, Mussolini's old party pad. Never heard of them? Well, in case you've already visited all the other Rome museums, you might want to check those out.

Visit my page about Museums in Rome for a pretty comprehensive list, including which museums participate in the Roma Pass.

Must-visit Museums

detail of the Sistine Chapel ceiling by MichelangeloDetail of the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo Buonarotti 1508-1512

If you only have time for 1 museum, then one of these three should be on your list:


shopping along the picturesque via dei CoronariShopping along the picturesque via dei Coronari, one of the loveliest streets in Rome

Of course you can fit in some shopping even in a 2-3 day visit to Rome. Many of the main sites such as the Spanish Steps, Pantheon and Piazza Navona are right in the center of Rome, and there is shopping all around. Find out more about Shopping in Rome.

(More Rome neighborhood shopping guides to come, stay tuned)

Seeing the Pope

pope francis greets the crowd during papal audiencePope Francis during Papal Audience. Source - Catholic Herald

If you want to see the pope while you are in Rome, you might still be able to fit it in, even for a short visit. Your best chances are if you are here on a Wednesday for the Papal Audience, or a Sunday for the Angelus in Vatican Square (as long as Pope Francis is in town.)

Find out more about Seeing the Pope in Rome.

Want tickets to the Papal Audience or Papal Masses? Click here.

Checking out cool Roman neighborhoods

In a typical 2-3 day visit to Rome, where you see the main sites, you are not likely to really get a feel for how the Romans live today. Most of the most picturesque, fun and interesting neighborhoods are devoid of any major attractions, so you would have to choose to go there for their own sake.

I am talking about central Roman neighborhoods, easily accessible by foot or metro. Like

  • Trastevere
  • Testaccio
  • Monti
  • The Jewish Ghetto
  • Campo dei Fiori
  • Behind Piazza Navona

(Am working on guides for each of these, and more. Stay tuned!)

Day Trips

If you have extra time, and want to explore within a 2-hour drive or train ride from Rome, there are so many options for day trips from Rome. The most popular are:

  • Pompeii
  • Florence
  • Villa d'Este Gardens in Tivoli
  • Ostia Antica
  • Orvieto
  • The beach at Ostia

These are pages in progress, stay tuned!

What to Do in Rome - Churches

Whether you are visiting Rome for a religious pilgrimage, or as an art-lover, you will want to visit some of the amazing and beautiful churches in Rome. 

Rome has thousands of churches, and so many of them hold precious history, art and even archeological wonders that you can only fully appreciate by seeing them up close.

Rome's Patriarchal, or Major Basilicas

There are four Patriarchal Basilicas in Rome or, as they are now referred to, Major Basilicas in Rome. What does this mean?

Essentially, there are four basilicas in the world where the pope has direct jurisdiction.  And guess what, they are all in Rome! (Well sort of, Saint Peter's is actually not in Rome but it's easy to visit from here!)

san giovanni in lateranoSaint John in Lateran
san paolo fuori le muraSaint Paul Outside the Walls

Anyone coming for the Roman Jubilee must visit all of these four churches to gain the Jubilee indulgence.

The Vatican

St Peter's basilica at the Vatican is a must-see in Rome!

Visiting the Vatican is at the top of most people's list of what to do in Rome. I've got lots of pages just about this!

Rome churches where you can see Bernini scultpures

Rome churches with Caravaggios

Rome churches with underground archeological sites to visit

Really Special Churches in Rome

There are almost 1000 churches in Rome! And many of them have incredible things to see, like underground excavations, baroque facades, or paintings or sculptures by the masters. It's worth popping into just about any church you walk past to see what might be inside.

Visit my page about Special Churches in Rome to see my top ten favorites that are a little off the beaten path.

Enjoying the Outdoors

Rome has mostly mild weather although we do get cold and rainy winters. But most of the time, from mid-March through late November, you can enjoy some outdoor activities in Rome.

Music and Other Events in Rome

Some people plan their trips to Rome around a specific music or sports event.

Every year we see people booking long in advance for weekends there are Six-Nations Rugby matches held in Rome. Or for the Rome Marathon, held every year in March. We also get some pretty big-name concerts in Rome, such as the Rolling Stones, Madonna and Paul McCartney.

But even if you didn't plan for it, there are always lots of great things happening in Rome.

To find out more about Events in Rome, visit the official Rome tourist board website.

What to do in Rome During Holidays

Will you be in Rome during a holiday? Find out what's happening, what the weather's like, what to do and what to expect:


Most of the itineraries I have seen suggested for Rome include visits to the main sites (see top list), spread out over 1-4 days. At our Rome boutique hotel, we've helped thousands of visitors get the most out of their stay, according to their tastes. So I have really seen the gamut of requests for what do in Rome.

I have dedicated many pages to this, as there is more than just one standard answer!

You might be interested in one of these pages:

What to Do in Rome - Practical Matters

You are planning your trip to Rome and thinking about all the great things to see and do. You might also want to be prepared for these practical matters too:

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