Rome—the Eternal City. An ancient nickname that now feels like it applies to how long it takes to see all the attractions in Rome. From ancient ruins to Renaissance art, there are centuries of history to see in Rome.
The lists of what to see and do in Rome are plentiful. But if you only have limited time in the Eternal City, you won’t come anywhere close to be able to do it all. This is our guide to what attractions are most worth your time—and which popular Rome attractions we think are overrated. Although I’m just going to be honest, there isn’t a lot we think you should skip. Rome is such an amazing city!
What to See in Rome
The Roman Forum and the Palatine are some of the most popular ruins in Rome, and they are some of our favorites. They are right next to each other near The Colosseum and require one entry ticket (the same ticket for entrance to The Colosseum).
The Roman Forum is an old Roman marketplace and is now an archaeological site. The Palatine Hill is where you can find the ruins of ancient palaces and is a bit more spread out with lots of green space (which makes it my favorite). This is a prime attraction for wandering and soaking in all of Rome’s beauty and history!
St. Peter’s Basilica
This is the most famous church in the world, and so incredibly grand. Our tip here: get there early! Honestly, if you can’t get there early, we’d say to skip it as the crowds and lines can get incredibly long. But if you can find a time to visit when the crowds are low, it is well worth your time.
If you want to go on a guided tour, book this ahead of time to skip some of the lines. Otherwise it is free to get in. A remember, there is a dress code! Long pants for me, covered knees and shoulders for women.
The Pantheon is an ancient Roman temple that has been standing since about 125 AD. It’s worth stopping into if you are nearby because it’s free to get into and lines tend to move pretty quickly.
This is the famous temple with a hole in the roof, and at Pentecost they drop rose petals into the building from the top.
The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is popular and crowded, but we think it’s still worth seeing. It is such a grand fountain, set implausibly in a city square that almost doesn’t seem large enough to contain it.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time at the Trevi Fountain, but don’t miss seeing it if you’re in Rome. It will be crowded (and this is why it ends up on some people’s overrated lists), but I still think it is a magical sight.
Wandering the Streets of Rome
Getting lost in the streets of is one of our favorite things to do. Almost every corner and ally feels magical and lovely. Our favorite areas of the city are the Campo d’Fiore, Piazza de Navonna, and The Jewish Ghetto.
Eating as much gelato as possible is a must-do when in Rome. You will pass gelato shops constantly, so grab some whenever you feel like it, preferably a couple times a day.
What to Skip (Without Guilt) in Rome
We’re always going to tell you to see whatever is most important to you, so if you’re a big-time Renaissance art junkie, obviously don’t skip the Sistine Chapel. But if you are trying to prioritize your trip to see the best attractions, these are things we think you can skip (or at lease breeze through quickly) without feeling bad about it.
The Colosseum is worth seeing, but not always worth going inside of. If you have time to go inside, it’s pretty cool. But if you are pressed for time, seeing it from the outside is perfectly sufficient. The lines to get inside can be long and inside can feel a bit crowded and touristy. If you do choose to go inside, we recommend purchasing tickets online ahead of time.
To us, this is perhaps the most overrated sight in Rome. The Sistine Chapel is contained within the Vatican Museum, and the lines to get in are long (if you are going, definitely buy tickets ahead of time). The Sistine Chapel itself can be disappointing—lowly lit, small, and crowded with tourists. Seeing the Sistine Chapel was maybe the single most overrated thing I’ve ever done if I’m being honest.
The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps are a giant staircase in the middle of the city often crowded with tourists. If you are in the area, stop by. But there is nothing particularly special about seeing them, and we don’t think it’s worth making a special trip out of your way.
You’ll notice our “skip” list is small, because honestly Rome is such a great city! But just like with our London Attractions 101 Guide, not being able to see everything just means you’ll have to go back again!