The Capital city of the country, Rome encapsulates the juxtaposition of the amenities of a modern metropolis and centuries old artifacts from the Roman empire. Even with a tumultuous economy, Rome is a city thriving with its culture, history and people. Hustling streets, tourist attractions and quaint neighborhoods portray the ‘eternal city’ that is frequented by casual tourists and culture buffs alike. In order to appeal to a wider audience, in our coverage of one of the most visited cities in the world, we tried to paint the perspective of a relaxed itinerary but with a keen eye for art and history.
Due to the sheer number of important sites to cover and the distances between them, everyone’s itinerary will be different. Depending on your hotel/accommodation location and ‘walkability’, you should plan to club close-by attractions together. Based on location and proximity, we have divided the tourist attractions by Zone (see below).
Suggested zoning of key attractions:
Regardless of the duration of your Rome trip, these five zones should cover most of the better known tourist attractions. Within each zone, we have highlighted the key sites, but please do not restrict yourselves to these; keep a close eye on everything you see in the strolls between sites. You will be surprised to see the hidden gems, not to mention our favorite architectural feats and the ‘Roman Doors’.
This zone should be the priority 1, not only because it has some of the best tourist attractions, but also paints a preliminary picture of what Rome has to offer from a history and art perspective. Below are some of the key attractions, and can be easily covered by foot. Some of the other attractions worth mentioning here are Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Palazzo Massimo Alle Colonne, Largo de Torre Argentina, Obelsk of Montecitorio, etc.
- Trevi Fountain – Iconic 18th century fountain with elaborate Baroque sculptures
- Pantheon – 20 century old cathedral retaining most of its charm
- Piazza Navona – Vibrant square re-purposed from an arena
- Piazza Venezia – Beyond admiring the gigantic palace, go atop the terrace to see panoramic view of the city; how many domes/cathedrals can you spot?
- Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps – Juxtaposition of modern lifestyle with 17th century Baroque creation
We recommend a full day in this side of the River Tiber. Beginning the day in Vatican City followed by a walk to St. Angelo Castle and cross the river through the bridge Ponte St. Angelo. The evening can be spent in the picturesque and hip neighborhood of Rione v Ponte.
- Vatican City (Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basillica, St. Peter’s Square)
- Castel St. Angelo and Ponte St. Angelo
There is more to Rome than ancient history. In this zone, we mix one of the key historic sites with gastronomic indulgence while taking in neighborhood vibes.
- Foro Romano (Roman Forum), Imperial Forum and other Fora
- Trastevere Neighborhood
- Basilica di Santa Maria di Trastavere
Rome is home to numerous museums and galleries showcasing art from medieval times to renaissance, from Michaelangelo, Raphael to Berninis. In this zone, we explore one of the underappreciated collections in Rome in addition to other museums in the area. End the day with a scenic sunset and a quaint meal with a local wine.
- Borghese Gallery and Museum
- After spending time admiring the splendor of 17th century art, take a walk through the serene Park villa Borghese towards the Pincio Gardens to the west. On any given afternoon, the park is wandered by street performers, joggers, and walkers getting their daily dose of fresh air.
- Watch a sunset from the Terrazza del Pincio overlooking the Piazza del Popolo while you sip on a beverage of your choice.
- Piazza del Popolo
Outside the above four zones, there are a few others that are worth mentioning, and should be sneaked in to your itinerary.
- Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore – A masterpiece of Byzantine interiors with high altars, mosaic panels with vibrant colors. We were unable to enter as it was closed by 6.30pm. Well, next time.
- Giardini del Quirinale and the Obelisk at the Piazza del Quirinale
Rome Travel Essentials:
History Food and Nightlife Shopping Tips Accommodation