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12 Best Things to See in Rome + Walking Guide

Rome is the most incredible city! It is literally built around endless ruins and they discover more every day! It is amazing to walk through these streets that once housed the great Roman Empire that controlled Europe as well as parts of Asia and Africa.

You can just feel all the rich history as you walk around the streets! These are the top things to do and see in Rome!

This post is part of our 2-week trip through Switzerland and Italy! Start with our 3-day Switzerland itinerary to see more of this amazing trip!


12 Best Things to See in Rome

Here’s a quick overview of the top things to see in Rome! You can follow these in order to create a walking loop in Rome as these are grouped in sequence.

Top Things to See in Rome:

  1. Colosseum
  2. Arch of Constantine
  3. Circus Maximus
  4. Mouth of Truth
  5. Palatine Hill
  6. Roman Forum
  7. Altar of the Fatherland
  8. Pantheon
  9. Trevi Fountain
  10. Spanish Steps
  11. Piazza del Popolo
  12. Villa Borghese

Walking Route Basic Itinerary

See these Walking Points Around Rome in this Google Map link!


If you are spreading your Rome sightseeing across several days, group thees sites together for less overall walking.

Day 1:

These 4 sites are all in the same area, though you’ll spend a lot of time walking in and around these sites learning about the history of this area. You can easily spend a day exploring these four sites:

  • Colosseum
  • Arch of Constantine
  • Palatine Hill
  • Roman Forum

If you have additional time or energy, these two sites are nearby the Colosseum and can be added on or visited on a separate day:

  • Circus Maximus
  • Mouth of Truth

Day 2:

Spend your second day visiting these sites and add on the Villa Borghese if you have additional time and energy for sightseeing:

  • Altar of the Fatherland
  • Pantheon
  • Trevi Fountain
  • Spanish Steps
  • Piazza del Popolo

Additional nearby Rome Sights if you have more time:

  • Villa Borghese

Q: Can you see everything in Rome in a day?

A: Yes, you can hit nearly all of the major sites in Rome in one day. It will take a lot of walking and determination and you may miss a few sites, but if you only have a day you can hit a significant portion of the Rome attractions in just one day.

We were able to do a tour of the Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum which gave us so much insight into these important historic sights.

From there, we continued walking these ancient streets to see the Altar of the Fatherland, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Piazza del Popolo. Our step count was over 20,000 steps that day, but we did manage to see all the top sites which allowed us a day to spend in Pompeii!


Things to See Your
First Day in Rome

The Colosseum

The show-stopper, must-see sight in Rome is of course the Colosseum! We learned so much about the history of the Colosseum and it’s legendary games from a local tour guide.

It was used as a tool by the Roman Empire to spread political propaganda. Different leaders would sponsor the games and show off their wealth and power during the various events. All were invited to the events and there was no admission fees, though the people were seated by class and station.

Our tour included the stadium floor level which gave you views of the lower chambers that were used to keep the exotic animals, gladiators, and slaves who would fight in the arena. They brought in lions, tigers, elephants, and more from all over the world – creatures the people had never before seen.

Our sports stadiums today are designed after the inspiration of the Colosseum in Rome.


Arch of Constantine

This famous Arch was created and dedicated to the emperor Constantine the Great. Those returning from battle would march triumphantly into the Roman Forum, the central hub of the city, through the Arch of Constantine.

It is a very impressive sight at 69′ high and nearly 85′ wide with three arches and many carved in details.

This site is just a couple of minutes walk from the Colosseum and in the vicinity of the Roman Forum.


Palatine Hill

From atop Palatine Hill, you’ll have an amazing view of the Roman Forum below. It’s worth the steps and make sure you stop to take in the view of the impressive archways formed into what was at the time the central


Roman Forum

The Roman Forum was incredible! This area is full of ruins and so much rich and interesting history. Here in the Forum was the center of life of the Roman people.

You can see the original ruins that have been excavated. They were filled in over time with mud and soil and eventually new buildings were built right on top of the original structures. This church is one such example!

Standing in the middle of the Roman Forum there are ancient ruins to see in every direction. This would have been a major world city and quite a sight to see back at the height of Roman rule.


Additional Sightseeing Attractions in Rome Nearby:

  • Circus Maximus – This is the ancient site of the famous Chariot races. We didn’t have time to visit this attraction.
  • Mouth of Truth – At this marble mask, visitors will place their hand inside the mouth to prove they are not a liar.

Best Sights to See Your
Second Day in Rome

Altar of the Fatherland

You won’t be able to miss this sight that you’ll spot several times while walking the streets of Rome. This huge monument to Victor Emmanuel II first started being built in 1885 and wasn’t completed until 1925.


Pantheon

This former Roman temple is one of the most interesting churches I’ve ever toured. It has a dome shaped ceiling with an open hole at the top most point of the dome.

Because of the height, it isn’t immediately obvious that the dome is actually open. We visited the Pantheon on a rainy day and learned about this unique feature from the roped off center of the floor space where some water still remained. I would have loved to visit inside the Pantheon during the storm!


Trevi Fountain

While the Trevi Fountain is incredibly beautiful, don’t expect to spend very much time here. The site is very over crowded and getting a front row spot to toss a coin was difficult.

Their is a tradition that states if you toss a coin into the fountain, you’ll have the good fortune to return to Rome again in the future. Toss two coins, and you may also find love during that return visit!

Of course, we had to join in on the fun, because who wouldn’t want a chance to return Rome someday! Beyond that, we quickly made our way to our next stop along the route and away from the bustling crowds. Morning may have fewer people clustered around the fountain.


Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps may be the most overrated “sight to see” in Rome. Like the Trevi Fountain, they were incredibly busy during our visit and we toured during the off season.

While there isn’t anything necessarially to do here at the Spanish Steps, it’s right along the route and worth a stop for a picture and to say you’ve spotted the site.

They are a beautiful set of stairs with the Trinita dei Monti church at the top. Be warned, though, a recent law was passed that tourists may not sit on the Spanish Steps and fines are being issued for violators, so don’t linger here too long.


Piazza del Popolo

The one-of-a-kind ruins don’t stop with Roman antiquities, you can even spot an Egyptian obelisk in the center of the Piazza del Popolo.

It stands 72′ tall and is an authentic Egyptian treasure that was brought to Rome in 10 BC by Emperor Augustus as a trophy of his conquest of Egypt.


Additional Rome Sightseeing Attractions Nearby:

  • Villa Borghese – Visit the beautiful gardens and included buildings and museums on site at Villa Borghese for a change of pace from the endless ruins of Rome.

No matter what you decide to do and see while in Rome, you will certainly have a memorable and rich experience in this city that everyone should make a point to visit at some point in their lifetime!

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Krystel | Frugal Living

Monday 17th of February 2020

I love a good walking guide! Believe it or not I have never been to Rome

Ruth I

Wednesday 12th of February 2020

Oh I'd love to visit ROme to see how beautiful it is! There are lots of lovely places to see!

Erin

Tuesday 11th of February 2020

Rome is such a beautiful city! So many things to see and explore!!

Monica Y

Tuesday 11th of February 2020

We are planning a trip to Rome, so this guide is going to be so useful, so many details, love it

Myrah Duque

Tuesday 11th of February 2020

I visited Rome years ago and missed a few of these places. The PIAZZA DEL POPOLO was one of them. I need to return as it was 20 years ago.