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Hey! We are two Michiganders with adventurous souls looking to explore the beauties and wonders of this spectacular world. Our mission is to provide you with budget-friendly itineraries that inspire and encourage you to get outside, eat delicious foods, and enjoy high-quality brews. Ultimately, there are three key ingredients to any amazing trip: 

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Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

Updated: Jun 12


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

Fun Fact


The nickname for Rome is "Caput Mundi", which is Italian for Capital of the World. Home to more than 2,000 fountains, ancient ruins, and the world's smallest country, Rome has surprises around every corner.


Table of Contents

THINGS TO DO

WHAT TO EAT

WHAT TO DRINK

WHEN TO GO

WHERE TO STAY

GETTING AROUND

SUGGESTED DURATION



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What you should not miss in Rome


1. Colosseum

Hours: 8:30am - 7:15pm


This 2,000 year-old building is not only one of the most visited attractions in all of Rome, but a classic example of Roman engineering. As one of Europe's most recognizable landmarks, this colossal, functional stadium was used for entertaining the masses.

Tickets: 24h - Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill Combo Ticket: €16 (€22 to add visiting the area floor)


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

When booking the 24h - Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill Combo Ticket, you are given 24 hours from your Colosseum time entry time to visit the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill. We recommend booking your time slot at the Colosseum right when it opens to have minimal crowds at the beginning of your visit.


Estimated time in the Colosseum: 1-2 hours


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2. Roman Forum / Palatine Hill

Hours: 8:30am - 7:15pm


The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are the birthplace and civic center of Ancient Rome. This common ground between Rome's famous seven hills preserves thousand-year-old history, artwork, and architecture.


Tickets: 24h - Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill Combo Ticket: €16


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

Palatine Hill offers some of the best views over the Roman Forum. This is the most famous of Rome's seven hills and housed very prestigious individuals, such as aristocrats and emperors, during ancient times.



Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

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3. Capitoline Hill


One of the famous seven hills of Rome, Campidoglio Square sits atop Capitoline Hill with a remarkable statue of Marcus Aurelius. Home to the ancient Temple of Jupiter and the center of the city government for over 2,500 years, Capitoline Hill not only offers breathtaking views of the Roman Forum but a significant historical importance.


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

Some of Rome's most famous statues and art are housed in the Capitoline Museums. These museums are located in the two palaces that face the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in Campidoglio Square.


Capitoline Museum Admission: €15 (Open Daily from 9:30am - 7:30pm)


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

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4. Altar of the Fatherland

Hours: 9:30am - 6:45pm


This expansive monument is hard to miss when traveling through Rome. Built in honor of Victor Emanuel II, the first king of unified Italy, Altar of the Fatherland is the largest monument in Rome to this day. Climb to the top of the stairs for beautiful views of the eternal city and ascend to even higher views via the Sky Elevator.


Admission: Free! (€10 for the Sky Elevator)


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

5. Vatican Museum

Hours: Mon - Sat from 9:00am - 6:00pm [Closed Sun]


Located in the world's smallest nation, Vatican City, the Vatican Museums house four miles of the finest art within the Western civilization. From sculptures, to paintings, to a room filled with painted maps, the Vatican Museum experience culminates with Michelangelo's glorious Sistine Chapel.


Admission: €17 + €4 online reservation fee (€8 for students up to 25 years old with valid ID) [Reserve Timeslot at least 1-2 weeks in advance]




Do you want to learn about all of the art and history within the Vatican Museum without spending money on a guided tour our audio guide? We have a great budget tip for you!


Budget Tip: Download Rick Steve's Vatican Museum Audio Guide via the Rick Steve's App prior to your trip and listen for free! Downloading his guides prior to your trip will even allow you to listen while in airplane mode to avoid international roaming fees.


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6. St Peter's Basilica

Hours: 7:00am - 5:00pm (closed during Wednesday Papal Audience)


One of the most impressive churches on earth, St. Peter's Basilica is home to Michelangelo's Pieta and Dome. As one of the holiest sites of Christianity and Catholic Tradition, this basilica marks the burial site of St. Peter, the head of the twelve Apostles of Jesus and first Pope of Rome. St. Peter's Basilica is filled with unmissable treasures and Christian relics. There are several that most people miss, which we have included in our Hidden Gems of Rome article.


Did you Know? To the left of St. Peters Basilica, you can witness the "changing of the guards" show on the hour, every hour.


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

Prefer a Guided Tour?


7. Villa Borghese


Villa Borghese is located on the north side of Rome (about a 10 minute walk from the Spanish Steps) and is well worth the visit for those who enjoy green spaces. Stretching across roughly 200 acres, Villa Borghese offers a peaceful serenity so close to the hustle and bustle of Italy's capital city. With scenic ponds, magnificent greenery, temples, museums, and even a zoo, Villa Borghese is the most beautiful park in Rome. For art lovers, you may also consider visiting the Borghese Museum (requires tickets in advance).


Views: Don't miss Passeggiata del Pincio (Pincian Hill) for beautiful views over Piazza del Popolo (People's Square).


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8. Pantheon

Hours: Mon - Sat from 8:30a - 7:30pm & Sun from 9:00am - 5:00pm


This domed temple is known as the most well-preserved monument from ancient Rome. The innovative architecture combining both Greek and Roman styles has inspired many replicas throughout Europe.


Did you Know? There is an open hole (oculus) at the highest point in the Pantheon which serves as a connection between the temple and the gods above.


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

9. Trevi Fountain


This 18th century fountain is the largest fountain in Rome and was made popular by movies such as Roman Holiday and La Dolce Vita. The myth states that you must turn your back to the fountain and throw two coins; one to make a wish and the second to ensure a trip back to Rome! As you might imagine, the Trevi Fountain receives a lot of coins and tourists. The best time to visit the Trevi Fountain is before 7am or after 11pm in order to avoid the large crowds of people.


Did you Know? The Trevi Fountain is shut down for cleaning every Monday, Wednesday, & Friday from 8:00am - 9:00am


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10. Incredible Churches


As the home of the Catholic Church, Rome boasts many breathtaking churches and basilicas. As a general rule of thumb, when walking by a church in Rome, take a peek inside! We stumbled upon many spectacular churches in Rome filled with art, relics, gold altars, and crypts.


There are four main Papal Basilicas in Rome. If you are looking to visit the most grand, ornate, and meaningful churches of Rome, these four are on the list of most Catholic Pilgrims. The four basilicas include, St Peter's Basilica, St John Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore, & St Paul Outside the Walls. NOTE: Shoulders and knees must be covered in order to enter the churches in Italy.


Tip: One of our favorite churches we visited in Rome is actually a hidden gem most pass right by!


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

11. Spanish Steps


The butterfly-shaped steps are a popular area to convene for tourists and locals alike. In fact, locals usually walk the bustling Piazza di Spagna as part of their nightly Dolce Vita Stroll. Start at Piazza Del Popolo and walk down Via del Corso towards the Spanish Steps between 5-7pm to partake in this relaxing portion of Roman life.


Did you Know? It is called the Spanish Steps due to the Spanish Embassy located at its base.


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12. Appian Way & Catacombs


A very popular day trip in Rome is to the Appian Way and Catacombs, which is about a 30 minute bus ride from the heart of Rome via the 118 bus. Bus tickets are roughly €1.5 per way and can be purchased in a metro or tobacco shop ahead of your trip (valid 100 minutues). The Callisto and Sebastian Catacombs contain crypts of Christian martyrs and popes, as well as, third century frescoes. Tickets are €8 to enter the Catacombs and includes a 35 minute guided tour (Open 10:00am - 5:00pm; closed on Sundays).


The Appian Way was Europe's first highway, connecting trade to and from Italy's capital city. Go on an e-bike tour through this ancient road taking you through magnificent ancient parks and monuments along the journey.


J&L Tip: Take the hassle out of planning your logistics and book a day tour to the Catacombs including e-biking through the Appian Way!


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13. Rome's Hidden Gems


Rome is home to ancient ruins, towering cathedrals, magnificent gardens, and the world's smallest country. In addition to the top sites of Rome that we have mentioned in this travel guide, we have also created a guide to share the lesser-known spots of Rome that are equally as incredible.


Also Read: 8 Hidden Gems of Rome


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink


More Time?


Noms

What food is famous in Rome?



1. Pizza Florida


Although the name makes it sound very American, Pizza Florida served some of the best pizza we tasted in Italy! With its unique flavors and incredibly friendly staff, you pay for your pizza by the weight. This allows you to try many different pizza options and keep coming back for more.


Tip: Pizza Florida is located across from one of our Hidden Gems of Rome!


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2. Tonnarello


Tonnarello is an amazing pasta restaurant in the heart of Trastevere that is so popular that there are always lines wrapping through the streets. Eat inside or have an early dinner (3-6pm) and you will likely avoid the lines. Do not let the crowds scare you away from eating at Tonnarello, it is certainly worth the wait!


Try: the local favorites: Pesto alla Genovese, Cacio e Pepe, or Pasta Carbonara. Pair with a bottle of their house wine to share!


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3. Grano la Cucina di Traiano


This Italian street food restaurant is located right around the corner from the Trojan's Column and offers affordable pizza, pasta, and calzone meal deals for roughly €5. Enjoy a calzone and lemon soda on shaded steps while overlooking the Roman Forum. Grano la Cucina di Traiano is the perfect quick bite for a day full of adventures.

Also Read: Top 10 Restaurants of Rome




4. Trapizzino Trastevere


This restaurant is a wine bar with only two things on the menu, a variety of €4 Trapizzino (pizza-like wraps with freshly toasted crust), and €2 Suppli (the Roman answer to Arancini - Sicily's fried rice balls). We tried a variety of each, pairing with wine to make our sampling into a full meal. The Trapizzino and Suppli were some of the most unique and delicious Italian foods we experienced while in Italy.


Recommendation: Go inside and dine-in at one of their tables rather than ordering at the take-away window outside. You will be served much faster!


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5. Suppli Roma


Suppli is the Roman answer to Arancini, which are fried rice balls originating from Sicily. We are not claiming suppli to be a healthy snack option... but they are oh, so good and only €2! Trying Suppli is the perfect time to coin the phrase, "when in Rome!"


Also Read: Venice Italy Complete Guide


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink


Brews

Does Italy have craft beer?


1. Open Baladin


With 40 Italian beers on tap and a selection of over 100 bottled Italian and international beers, Open Baladin is the place to stop for any craft beer lover. Try a bottle of Etrusca, a beer brewed with ingredients that have been discovered at several Italian archaeological sites, creating a beer which the Etruscans thought to have drank over 2,500 years ago!


Also Read: Florence Italy Complete Guide


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2. Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà


One of Rome’s first places for craft beers, this small spot in Trastevere has a rotating selection of 16 beers on tap. Belgian Lambics, Irish Stouts, and Italian brewed IPAs are regular features at Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà.


Also Read: Cinque Terre Day Trip


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

3. Bierra Moretti


Bierra Moretti is an Italian brewing company that originated in Udine, Italy. With limited breweries in Italy, one of the best (and most affordable) ways to sample local beers is by grabbing a three pack at a local grocery store (i.e. Coop). With no open container law in Italy, we found ourselves purchasing some local beverages and heading to a nearby park for a J&L classic: brews with a view.


Want to grab a bottle of Bierra Moretti at a local pub? La Botticella is a great option!


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink


Planning Your Trip


What are the travel guidelines for visiting Italy during COVID-19?

With travel restrictions constantly changing, we recommend you visit the US Embassy's website for the most up-to-date information.


How many days is enough to see Rome?

In order to complete our suggested activities, we recommend spending at least three full days in Rome. If you want to add a day trip to the Appian Way or nearby beaches, you may consider adding 1-2 more days.


J&L Recommended: 3-5 Full Days


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What month is the best to visit Italy?

To take advantage of the pleasant weather while experiencing a minimal amount of tourists, the best time to visit Rome is on the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-November.


J&L Recommended: April - May & September - November


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Where is the best area to stay in Rome?

We lodged south of the River Tiber in Trastevere. We found this to be an ideal location as it was within close walking distance to all of our desired Rome attractions while being surrounded by quaint eateries, nightlife, and local charm. We never had to use public transportation within the city (although it is available from Trastevere if needed).


Giorgia's Condo was in the perfect location to explore the Eternal City while being tucked away off the main street enough to enjoy a peaceful night sleep. Her condo was clean, filled with thoughtful touches, and overlooked a stunning view of Basilica di Santa Maria.


J&L Recommended Location: Giogia's Condo in Trastevere


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

Use the search box below to select your travel dates and find a great deal on hotels in Rome.


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

Getting Around Rome


What is the best way to get around in Rome?

It is very easy to walk most places in Rome. If you prefer not to walk, you can either hire a taxi, take ATAC Buses or use the Rome Subways.

Bus tickets are roughly €1.5 per way and can be purchased in a metro or tobacco shop ahead of your trip (valid 100 minutes, cannot purchased on the bus).


J&L Recommended: Use Rome2Rio or Google Maps to select your route in real-time.


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How do you get to Rome from the Airport?

From the Rome Airport [FCO], take the Trenitalia train from Fiumicino Aeroporto to Roma Termini. Tickets can be purchased at Trenitalia kiosks within the station and will cost roughly €6-9 to get to Roma Termini.


J&L Recommended: Use Rome2Rio to select your route in real-time.


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink

Looking for affordable International Data?

Want to avoid roaming charges and $10/day international data fees? Airalo allows you to download an eSIM to your phone and activate while in Italy for a very affordable price. We bought 3 GB of data which was valid for 30 days from activation for only $7. It worked great throughout our entire trip and was very easy to install. Airalo offers eSIMs all around the world and we can validate that it works with ease in multiple European countries.


Get $3 off with code NBV8668 by signing up here!


Rome, Italy: Top Things to See, Eat, and Drink


Happy Adventuring!

J&L



Travel Planning Resources

Below are the resources we use to plan all of our trips, find great deals, and pack our bags with affordable gear. We received a small kickback whenever you purchase something through a link on our site. But rest assured, there is no additional cost to you. In fact, in some cases you even get a greater discount for shopping through NBV! A Win, Win!

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