Rome is one of those cities that I can never get tired of. One of those places that I could return over and over again and have new experiences each time. You could spend a month in Rome and not see all there is to see in the Eternal City. There’s just so much history, food and culture to experience. After frequent weekend visits from Naples, I still have a list of things to do next time we visit. However you can pack in a lot in just a few days and there are simply things you must do in Rome, Italy.
1. Eat Cacio e Pepe
It doesn’t get any richer than this classic Roman dish made with Pecorino, black pepper and more Pecorino. You can order this cheesy and delicious pasta all over Rome, but check out my favorite places to eat and drink in Rome.
2. See the Trevi Fountain
As one of the most famous things you must do in Rome, naturally it gets quite crowded. The fountain is breathtaking when it’s lit up at night, but you need to get there early in the morning if you want the place to yourself.
3. Get Gelato
Preferably at Fridgidarium or Gelateria del Teatro. Fridgidarium dips the cone in chocolate making a hard shell over the gelato like a dip, Italian Style. Get the rest of the scoop (pun intended) here.
4. Go to the Pantheon
I like to come here in the early morning, but getting an afternoon Aperol Spritz in the piazza will really give you that “Is this real life?” moment. Entrance to the Pantheon is free, the Aperol Spritz is slightly overpriced at about $10 each.
5. Have an Aperitivo
An aperitivo is a drink and light snack to be enjoyed before dinner, to open up your digestive system before a lengthy, multi-course dinner. The classic choice is an Aperol Spritz. It’s made of prosecco and Aperol, a slightly bitter orange liquor. I love going to Bar del Fico or La Bottega del Caffè. Try Gran Caffè la Caffettiera for a view of the Temple of Hadrian and hearty snacks. Go to Da Simo Pane e Vino if you’re on a budget.
6. Visit St. Clement Basilica
After many weekend trips to Rome we finally discovered St. Clement Basilica on the recommendation of this guesthouse we stayed at in Trastevere. After living in Italy for almost three years, we’ve seen a lot of churches and this one still blew me away. There’s actually three different levels that have sunk into the earth over time. You can visit the first level for free and it’s about $10 to see the other levels. Book a tour with the Roman Guy to get a more in depth experience of St Clement, ancient temples and catacombs (use code PETITESUITCASE to get 5% off). St. Clement Basilica is probably one of the most unique churches and archeological sites I’ve visited in Rome.
7. Visit the Colosseum and the Roman Forum
Nothing says classic Rome like the Colosseum. Going inside the Colosseum and the Roman Forum might not be for everyone (especially if you’re short on time), but seeing the incredible amphitheater, the Arch of Trajan and the ancient ruins is something you must do in Rome. Be sure to walk out the side that leads to the Campidoglio to see breathtaking statues and views of the Roman Forum. If you have a few days in Rome, check out these tours to get a more in depth look.
8. Wander the streets of Trastevere
This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Rome. It’s so charming with its ivy covered buildings, cobblestoned alleyways and outdoor restaurants.
9. Go to a Wine Bar
Tucked away on a side street, Enoteca il Goccetto is the perfect choice to cozy up with a large pour of local wine.
10. Visit the market at Campo di Fiori
This large piazza is one of the oldest markets in Rome. During the day, it’s a vibrant market filled with seasonal fruits, vegetables, pasta and spices. By night, it’s quite lively with people drinking from bottles of wine and sitting on the stairs around the main statue.
11. Have a Drink at Bar Castio
I visited this bar regularly when I studied abroad in Rome years ago and I always have to go back each time I visit. At 2 euros for a glass of wine, it’s one of the best deals in town. Be sure to get the cold black tea with lemon gelato on a hot day.
12. People Watch on the Spanish Steps
While there’s nothing to really “do” at the Spanish Steps, that’s the beauty of it.
13. Drink a Caffè
Get one anywhere and everywhere you can (says the coffee addict).
14. See the Borghese Museums and Gardens
You can’t enter the museums without reservations, so it’s worth it to book as early as you can. I went for the first time about 10 years ago and I can still remember being in awe of Bernini’s amazing statues and Caravaggio’s dramatic paintings.
15. Go to the Vatican Museums at Night
In the summer months, you can visit the museums at night and have a happy hour in the gardens. You’ll pay a few euros more than the normal ticket, but it was a priceless experience to have a glass of wine with the Vatican Gardens lit up with live classical museum playing. You can buy tickets on the Vatican website directly or book VIP access tour (5% off with code PETITESUITCASE).
16. Visit Giardino degli Aranci
Wander south to visit this small garden of orange trees. There aren’t many outdoor green spaces in Rome, so this place really feels like a gem. Keep walking along Via di Santa Sabina to…
17. Look through the peephole.
Just a short walk up from Giardino degli Aranci, you’ll find large green doors with a line in front. Some people will say this is way overrated for how long the line is. I thought it was special so I went in February and there wasn’t a single person in line. I have video saved in my “Rome” highlights on my Instagram if you want to take a peak.
18. Visit Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo is best seen from Terrazza del Pincio up on the hill. The view puts the piazza front and center with Roman rooftops in the backdrop. I guess I love the quieter outdoor area just as much as the view.
19. Walk by the apartment from Eat Pray Love
20. Biblioteca Angelica
You could walk right by the entrance to Biblioteca Angelica and never know that a charming gem of a library is housed in that building. This is a must do for book and library lovers.
21. Ponte Sant’Angelo
This bridge is the best spot for watching the sunset behind Saint Peter’s Basilica. You can’t miss Castel Angelo at the end of the bridge, so #21 is really a two for one.
22. Get a Drink at a Rooftop Bar
Terrazza Borromini is the new and trendy spot to have a cocktail and watch the sun go down over Piazza Navona. If you stay at this hotel though, you get served breakfast on this rooftop terrace overlooking the charming Piazza di Pietra…
23. Shop in the Rione Monti
Not only is this area is home to tasty restaurants and gelato shops, it’s made complete with boutique shops and vintage finds.
24. Go to Piazza Navona
When I’m walking from one side of Rome to the other, I always make sure to take the route that goes right through Piazza Navona. The Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini sits right in the middle of the grand piazza.
25. Visit Saint Peter’s Basilica
If you visit on a Sunday, you can see the Pope give the Angelus prayer. It’s in Italian and he usually ends with Buon Pranzo (have a good lunch). Find the papal audience schedule and information here.
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