Top 5 Things to Do in Rome

Top 5 Things to Do in RomeThese tips and advice on the top sites in Rome are brought to you by Colin, a former resident and forever friend of mine, who helped me out when planning my recent 4 days in Rome (my very first time in Europe!) by providing these 5 top things to do in Rome.
(I’ve added my bits underneath Colin’s, in italics)

# 5 of Top 5 Things to Do in Rome

Piazza Navona Rome

Piazza Navona

Cuccagna Pub and the cheapest bar in Rome sit adjacent to this well-known piazza.
In addition the beautiful fountain here (and the super cheap pub), Piazza Navona is a gathering spot for artisans, buskers, and strollers. It’s a great place to take some photos, and rest your feet while people-watching.

#4 of Top 5 Things to Do in Rome

Campo Fiori Rome

Campo di Fiori

Famous open-air market; A bit touristy, a bit awesome.
The goods here might be a bit overpriced, but the salesmen are knowledgeable. I was steered away from black-colored pasta as it is not vegetarian (contains squid). Make sure to go in the mornings and any day but Sundays – otherwise you’ll be disappointed by an empty square!

#3 of Top 5 Things to Do in Rome

Vatican Museum Rome

Vatican City

Timeless, priceless, stunning, even if you don’t care about the religion.
I was raised Catholic (but am not practicing and was never confirmed), and toured Vatican City with my Jewish fiance. While neither of us are Catholic believers, we both found the Vatican City museums to be fascinating! The tour provider advised that we would only need 2 hours (including the walk there and back), but we found this to be not enough time. I’d recommend budgeting at least 3 hours, to take in all the artwork and don’t forget the Sistine Chapel (very long lines!)

#2 of Top 5 Things to Do in Rome

Pantheon Inside Rome

The Pantheon

Check out the Pantheon then go to the deli in the piazza (the sign reads “Salumeria”). The deli is to the right if you’re looking straight at the Pantheon. (Even if you’re not wild about meat, you’ll love the cheese.) I prefer getting a beer too and chowing down while watching tourists. Afterwards, find Giolitti’s, about a 5 minute walk from there, to get gelato. Be sure to get cream on top!

The Pantheon was free to visit on the day I toured (last Sunday of the month) and amazing. It’s still the largest concrete dome in the world. The little holes in the floor are where the water from the hole in the dome drains out when it rains.

#1 of Top 5 Things to Do in Rome

Trastevere Peroni RomePeroni in Trastevere, before the party starts

Trastevere and the Gianicolo Hill

Buy a bottle of red wine, two glasses, and walk to the top of the Gianicolo Hill for sunset. It’s a fantastic view of the city and relatively uncrowded. After you’ve gotten all sentimental doing that, get wild in Trastevere – there’s a ton of bars and clubs and twentysomethings.
The sunset at the top of Gianicolo and the nearby fountain are absolutely stunning and now my new favorite place in Rome (especially since I got engaged there!). It was practically deserted when I visited and the perfect place for a bottle of wine as Colin suggests. Don’t forget to bring your wine opener (or don’t lose yours like I did!)
Trastevere RomeSunset on Gianicolo Hill

Additional Advice:

If short on time, Rome could be done in 2 days (if hustling). I was really thankful I purchased hop-on hop-off bus tickets and skip-the-line passes through Viator, as it saved me a ton of time. To read more about my time in Rome and suggestions, click here
Colin advises spending any extra days on day trips – in particular, Florence, as it is easily reached by train, is less spread out than Rome, and has better museums.
Colin’s tip for Italian first timers: When ordering food, begin “Mi Piacerebbe…” it means “I would like…

Advice provided by one of my dear hometown friends, Colin, who studied in Rome. Colin is an owner of The Commons Ale House, Santa Monica, California. He is renowned for expertise in beer, short but catchy phrases, Italian food, and politics oppositional to my own.

Colin is widely recognized as the ultimate purveyor of Top 5 lists.

Have you ever been to Rome? Would you recommend any other top Rome activities?

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Top 5 things to do in Rome


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

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  1. Sheila
    April 18, 2015 / 8:54 am

    Amazing!!! Rome is definitely in my “bucket list”.. how expensive are the hotel ? During the summer of course … If I want to freeze to death I will just stay in Wisconsin 😉

    • Steph
      April 18, 2015 / 11:15 am

      Haha I really recommend Rome in the spring as well, I think April was the PERFECT month, not too hot and not too cold. Great for sightseeing.
      There is quite a range of hotels for most budgets, from backpackers to luxury. I stayed in an AirBnB which was a bit out of city center but near Marconi metro so quite convenient and only 50USD so a good value (I had an awful AirBnB experience but I don’t think it’s reflective of the general experience)

  2. Anna
    October 17, 2017 / 5:01 pm

    Hi! Thank you for your posts about Rome! Very helpful. I just have a question. How did you book the day tours of museums and sights? Did you book this through the museum or other private tour companies. There is so much info online but I would prefer recommendations on the best route to go with this. Thank you!

    • Steph
      October 18, 2017 / 8:13 am

      I booked all my tours on Viator, which promises the lowest price AND support in case anything goes wrong. I’ve been booking all of my tours through Viator for the past 3 years and have been incredibly happy with them.

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