So you’ve come to roam Rome, but what next? What is worth seeing and what isn’t? Should you walk, ride public transport or is there better way to get around (spoiler alert: there is). Here’s a complete Rome bucket list covering everything you’ve gotta eat, drink, see, experience and explore in Rome! There’s also a free printable list at the end of this post to take along on your Roman adventure in the eternal city!
Rome Bucket List
1. Eat gelato
Your first priority on arrival should be gelato, especially if visiting in the summer. Based on nutritional evidence (of my own), gelato health benefits include: sugar spike, flavour party in your mouth, and a further spike in happiness. But more importantly, why does gelato taste even better than ice cream? (I know, it sounds like complete blasphemy, but hear me out). Gelato has less butterfat than ice cream and thus freezes less solidly, creating that melt-in-your-mouth consistency. The flavours are also more prominent, given the higher density of gelato making. Thus you get more bang for your buck and this explains why gelato tastes S O delicious.
The best flavours from the best gelaterias include: Marron glacés gelato from Ciampini; Pistachio from Gelateria dei Gracchi and every and all flavours from Gelateria del Teatro.
2. Eat pizza
The next food item of choice would be pizza. Pizza, pizza, pizza. The first time I visited Rome in my teenage years I was on a carborific pizza hunt around the city to try any and all flavours, shapes, and levels of thickness I could find. My second visit to Rome just last year came after I had been diagnosed with an illness that prevents me from eating wheat (some of the saddest news I have received and will receive in my lifetime), so my pizza days are sadly over. However you can rest assured as a pizza lover you will be well catered for in Rome (and the rest of Italy), with the best test always being taste, but you can also tell by the length of lines and just by getting a good look at the pizza on offer will give you a solid idea of whether it will be good or not.
3. Eat pasta
Next up on your plate should be pasta – another Italian staple. But before you raise an eyebrow, it is important to note that pasta in rest of the Western world outside of Italy tastes invariably different to the real deal Italian pasta. Expect less sauce but don’t be fooled, this is all made up for by homemade, quality pasta and flavoursome sauces that stretch a mile.
4. Stand inside the Colosseum
Now that we’ve got the most important thing out of the way (the food), its time to get cultured and step back in time to the Roman Empire. Your first stop is the incredibly impressive Colosseum, as you have probably already seen in the Russell Crowe film Gladiator. If you haven’t seen the film it is a great introduction (to watch before you arrive) and to further your knowledge, the audioguides are a great substitute.
5. Visit the Pantheon
Built during the reign of Augustus the Pantheon was built and while it is a pretty speccy display of architecture, more importantly it is home to many important documents.
6. Marvel at the Roman Forum
If you’re interested to see the remains of Ancient Rome, this is where you can do so. It also makes for a pretty impressive travel snap.
7. Throw 3 coins into the Trevi Fountain
And so the legend goes, that if you throw three coins from your right hand over your left shoulder, you will be guaranteed to return to Rome.
8. Visit the Vatican
As the world’s smallest country (at 109 acres), the Vatican is a must visit whilst in Rome. It is here where you will learn more about the Pope and Catholic religion as it is the centre of catholicism and home to a range of great sights to see. Be sure to visit St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel.
9. Walk around Piazza Navona
Whilst walking throughout the city, be sure to pass through Piazza Navona, Rome’s prettiest public square with great people watching opportunities.
10. Walk up and down the Spanish Steps (and stay a while)
The Spanish Steps are perhaps my favourite my favourite place in Rome to sit and enjoy the sunshine. Be sure to grab some water at the public fountain at the base, it is an essential experience in Rome!
11. Visit the Galleria Borghese
If you go to just one art gallery in Rome, make this one it. Housed in the former villa Borghese Pinciana, the building and surrounding gardens are as impressive as the gallery itself!
12. Rent a Vespa
What better way to get around Rome than in a vespa!? Sure, the streets are chaotic at the best of times but this could quite possibly be the best way to see the city: with the wind in your hair and not a care in the world! Think Audrey a la Roman Holiday.
13. Go on a walking food tour
What better way to immerse yourself in the Italian capital than to eat your way around the city with a local. There are a range of companies offering these types of tours, but Eating Italy Food Tours is a good place to start.
14. Drink Italian Wine
According to my (Italian) sources, drinking red wine correctly requires you to hold the stem of the glass, not the glass itself as this effects the temperature and in turn the taste of the wine. Whatever the case, always go for the “house wine”. It is always cheaper and always tasty.
15. Rendezvous with Michelangelo
If you’re interested in seeing some iconic art in Rome without spending days in galleries, then have a quick rendezvous or two with Michelangelo and see some of his most famous pieces in Rome. A good place to start is the famous sculpture of Mary inside Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. The sculpture is known as the Pieta and is regarded a masterpiece of renaissance art.
16. Replace hello and goodbye with “Ciao” your Entire Trip
Though if you do do it, you’ve gotta throw a thick Italian accent in there (say it with love). Repeat after me: “Ciao bella!”
17. Step inside the Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is located in Vatican City and will be at the end of the tour of the Vatican Museums. Here you can also see more of Michelangelo’s work; the frescoes painted in the ceiling.
That’s no spelling mistake. People often wonder what is the best way to see and get around Rome and the answer is always to roam. While a map is nearly always a necessity in order to navigate the streets, the best way to see the city is just to wander between sights and learn to love getting lost! Just be sure to wear a comfy pair of shoes as the uneven cobblestones beneath your feet quickly become tiring!
19. Take a day trip to Tuscany
If you’ve got a spare day in Rome after exploring all it has to offer, head onwards to the gorgeous countryside region of Tuscany and make a day trip to Florence. The fast train will get you there in just a few hours each way.
20. Visit Palatine Hill
This is the most important of Rome’s seven hills and with such a great vantage point over the city, offers great views of the city.
21. Join a Cooking Class
If you find yourself loving the Italian cuisine so much that you want to take some skills home and impress your family and friends upon return, an Italian cooking class is a great way to spend a day in Rome. Classes include basics like making pasta and gelato, through to more technical classes with a specific skill focus.
22. Visit the Fountain of Four Rivers
Some visitors find themselves a little underwhelmed by the Trevi fountain (I still do not know why, I personally find it incredible!), however if this isn’t your cup of tea, you might prefer a visit to the Fountain of Four Rivers, regarded as another one of Rome’s most beautiful fountains.
23. Drink an Espresso
Because what better way to start your day than a hit of some of the world’s best espresso!