Top 10 Rome attractions (with photos and map)

by marta

A curated list of the top 10 Rome attractions with map and tips for visiting. Discover the ten best things to see in Rome and how to see them with this essential Rome guide by a local.

If you are planning your first trip to Rome, you probably want to make sure you see all the top attractions in Rome, those sites that make the city famous all over the world.

I am here to help!

Rome is my hometown and I write this website to help people explore my beautiful city as easily as possible and experience all the best it has to offer.

Today, I want to share the top ten things to see in Rome: reading this guide, you will learn the top 10 Rome attractions, what makes them special and how to visit them.

You will also find all the resources you need to plan your visit.

Roman Colosseum, outside, with sunburst captured on its left
Ancient Colosseum in Rome at dawn, Italy

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List of the top 10 Rome attractions

The ten best things to see in Rome are:

Rome attractionType of attractionRecommended Tickets / ToursMy Guide
Colosseum Archaeological siteStandard entry ticket / Express Semi-Private Tour with arenaFact about the Colosseum
Roman Forum /Palatine Hill (Ancient Rome)Archaeological parkRoman Forum and Palatine Hill entry ticketGuide to the Roman Forum
Vatican City Museums, ChurchEarly morning small group tour (to beat the crowds) Guide to Vatican City
Capitoline HillPiazza / MuseumsN/ACapitoline Hill Guide
Trevi FountainIconic monument / FountainN/ATrevi Fountain Guide
Spanish StepsIconic PiazzaN/ASpanish Steps Guide
PantheonIconic Roman temple now turned churchBooking recommended Pantheon Guide
Piazza NavonaFamous Rome Square with renaissance artworkN/APiazza Navona Guide
Campo de’ FioriFamous Rome Square with markets and cafesN/ACampo de’ Fiori Guide
Borghese GalleryStunning art museumStandard Ticket / Gallery ticket with escorted entranceBorghese Gallery Guide

Bonus! While not often considered one of the top attractions in Rome, I want to add to this list Castel Sant’Angelo – see below why I believe it deserves a spot as a Rome must see!

Rome Top Attractions – The Colosseum

A list of the top ten attractions in Rome can only start with the Colosseum, the most visited attraction in Rome.

Built in the I century AD, the Colosseum is the largest ancient amphitheater ever built and still stands in the center of modern Rome.

inside of the Colosseum
The inside of the Colosseum and arena floor as seen from the upper tier

The Colosseum is most famous for being a theater hosting gladiator battles and it is a landmark with a very interesting history as well as one of the most beautiful and unique in Rome.

What makes the Colosseum worth visiting is:

  • It is breathtaking, inside and out (you’ll take wonderful photos here!)
  • It has a fascinating history that spans from the ancient Roman Empire to the Middle Ages and the Modern Era
  • It is a great place to learn facts about ancient Rome in a fun and entertaining way (the guides are excellent)
  • Movie lovers will enjoy seeing the real thing after so many movie theater appearances
  • Kids usually love the gladiator’s stories connected to this place

The Colosseum welcomes visitors almost every day and you can visit with or without a guide.

There are several tickets available, at different price points and offering self guided / guided tours/ different cancellation policies.

My top picks for Colosseum visits are:

>>> Colosseum small group tour by LivTours – high quality / high flexibility / high budget)

>>> Colosseum standard entry from the official site – no flexibility / low budget

>>>Colosseum entrance ticket by GetYourGuide – Ticket only – medium budget

Good to know! Most Colosseum tickets also include entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. If you are interested in visiting (you should, see below!), make sure to confirm this with your ticket provider.

Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

The Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill are the archaeological sites comprising the Ancient Rome’s main commercial area (the Roman Forum) and the place where Rome was founded and the Emperors had their palaces (The Palatine Hill).

These two areas are beside the Colosseum and they are part of the same archaeological complex, called Parco Colosseo.

The Romand Forum and Palatine Hill can be visited with the Colosseum or independently: most colosseum tickets include them and have 24h validity: if you want to visit Ancient Rome, they are a great option.

The Roman Forum as seen from the Palatine Hill
The Roman Forum as seen from the Palatine Hill

The Forum /Palatine are less popular than the Colosseum but they are wonderful and, if you love history, a Rome must see.

The Roman Forum is worth visiting because:

  • You find ourself walking in the heart of public life in Ancient Rome, strolling along real ancient Roman streets and seeing how the city developed
  • It has some stunning temples and churches with very ancient frescoes
  • You can see some of the oldest remains in Rome, dating back to Republican times
  • You can see the altar to Julius Caesar, built here after his death

You can find here >>> my guide to the Roman Forum and its main attractions

The Palatine Hill is the hill immediately above the Roman Forum and you access it from the Forum itself.

The Palatine Hill is worth seeing because:

  • It is where Rome was founded, and you can still see the remains of the so called Romulus’ Hut, where Rome began
  • It has stunning remains of the massive Palaces of the Emperors, very beautiful and impressive
  • It offers spectacular views over Rome

You can find here >>> my guide to the Palatine Hill

Top Tip: I highly recommend you visit the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill as well as the Colosseum. You can easily do so by using the combined ticket: plan one attractions in the morning, have a long lunch in the area, and then visit the second one. This will be a good way to see everything without getting exhausted nor breaking the bank

Vatican City

The Vatican is inside Rome city center and while technically a different state, it is one of the top things to see in Rome as entirely surrounded by the city!

St Peter square Vatican city

The Vatican is where you find some of Rome’s most famous sights, such as:

  • The Vatican Museums, world famous museums with incredible art, where you also find the Sistine Chapel
  • St Peter’s Basilica, the centre of Catholicism and where you also find the famous statue of the Pieta’ by Michelangelo
  • St Peter’s Square, a masterpiece by architect Bernini and one of the most beatiful squares in Rome

Vatican City is worth visiting for its religious significance but also for the invaluable art it contains.

If you don’t mind heights, it is is also where you find one of the best birds’ eye views over Rome: if you climb to the top of St peter’s Dome, the view is breathtaking (so is the climb up, you need to be rather fit for all those stairs!).

Vatican city is big and planning a day here can be overwhelming and there are several things you can see.

You can find here >>> my guide to visiting Vatican City, so you can plan your day at best.

The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountains is one of the most famous and recognisable landmarks in Rome.

A tall, monumental fountain with elaborate decorations, the Trevi Fountain is one of the best example of Baroque sculptures in Rome and was made famous by many famous movies.

Trevi Fountain on sunny day

Fellini’s La Dolce Vita is only the most famous of them all, but you’ll be hard pressed to watch a blockbuster movie set in in Rome and not see it!

The fountain is stunning and free to visit.

It occupies the entire side of Trevi Square in central Rome and always makes an impression on visitors as it is beautiful, huge and unexpected – even if you know it is there, nothing prepares you to that first glance at it!

The Trevi Fountain is unfortunately a victim of its own notoriety and it is often so busy with tourists, you cannot even get near enough to see it properly.

The best way to avoid crowds is to come very early in the morning (7 am or anyway well before 9 am) or late at nigh although lately even late evenings have seen lare crowds.

Good to know! If you get to the Trevi Fountain, make sure you do the touristy thing and throw a coin in the fountain: as well as coming back to Rome, as the legend says, you will also do a charitable act as the coins get collected and send to support local soup kitchens and shelters for the poor!

Find here >>> fun and interesting facts about the Trevi Fountain

The Spanish Steps at Piazza Di Spagna

The Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna are one of the most famous and recognisable laces in Rome and one of the top ten Rome attractions.

Piazza di Spagna Rome with Spanish steps one of the top ten attractions in Rome

The steps are a monumental staircase connecting Piazza di Spagna with the the top of the Trinita’ de’ Monti Hill and they are scenic and picture perfect: you can walk up and down them and catch a view of Rome from the top.

The Spanish Steps are an urban feature and free to visit.

You will most likely encounter them as you stroll in Rome city center but they are so beautiful and unique, you want to make a special effort to seek them out.

As they are very popular, they also get very busy. Sunrise and sunset are the best time to see the Spanish Steps.

You can find here >>> my guide to Rome’s Spanish Steps

Rome’s Pantheon

Rome’s Pantheon is the best preserved ancient Roman building in the world and a unique site in Rome.

Built in the I century AD, the Pantheon was initially a temple to all Rome’s Gods and Goddesses and then later turned into a Christian church, still working now.

Rome Pantheon with fountain in the foregound and blue sky

The Pantheon is unique and worth visiting in many ways:

  • The Rome Pantheon is a perfectly preserved ancient roman building like no other worldwide
  • The Pantheon has a peculiar sound shape with perfect proportions that make it an engeneering marvel
  • It has a peculiar round aperture on the roof that has been at the center of many legends
  • It is an exceptional photo spot both inside and outside

Access to the Pantheon is free. However, due to the large number of visitors, booking is mandatory at weekends.

You can find here >>> my guide to Rome’s Pantheon

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona is one of the mosy famous and beautiful squares in Rome.

Piazza Navona Rome with greenery in the foreground

For many, it is the highlight of their trip to Rome and a place they tend to go back to over and over again.

Indeed, Piazza Navona is wonderful!

The ancient stadium of Emperor Domitian, the piazza developed over the centuries into an elegant Baroque Masterpiece and it is now one of the most distinctive and beautiful places in Rome.

In Piazza Navona, you can see:

  • The square itself, a beautiful space built over an ancient chariot stadium
  • The famous Fountain of the Four Rivers, a masterpiece by Bernini
  • One of Rome’s famous obelisks
  • Two additional stunning fountains
  • The incredible Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, a baroque masterpiece by Master Borromini

Piazzas Navona is a square and, as such, free to visit and always open.

Good to know: the is one of the best areas to stay in Rome so if you find accommodation here, it is the perfect location!

You can find here >>> my guide to Piazza Navona and what to see there

Campo de’ Fiori

Campo de’ Fiori is a beautiful square in Rome city center.

Giordano Bruno statue on Campo de' Fiori

It is most famous famous for hosting a market (now a bit of a tourist trap to be honest) and being a local hangout in the evening.

However, it is a beautiful piazzas, with an interesting history, and a great place for an evening drink or an aperitivo so it belongs in this list of the top ten attractions in Rome!

In Piazza Campo de’ Fiori you will find:

  • The statue of Giordano Bruno, who burnt here at the stake in 1600
  • A lovely square with a medieval feel (almost unique in Rome)

Find here >> my guide to Piazza Campo de’ Fiori

The Capitoline Hill

The Capitoline Hill is one of the seven Hills of Rome and one of teh top ten things to see in Rome fo beauty and signficance.

Piazza del Campidoglio Capitoline Hill Rome

Originally the seat of the most important ancient Roman temples, the Capitoline Hill was entirely redesigned by Michelangelo and it is now one of the most beautiful examples of renaissance urban architecture in Rome.

On the square, you can see:

  • The square itself, designed by Michelangelo
  • The impressive statue of Marcus Aurelius (replica, yet stunning)
  • The incredible Capitoline Museums, with an excellent collection of ancient art
  • A stunning view over the Roman Forum

The square is a public area and it therefore free to visit and always open. The museums are, however, ticketed.

Find here >>> my guide to the Capitoline Hill in Rome (Campidoglio)

The Borghese Gallery (museum)

The Borghese Gallery is one of the most famous museums in Rome and an absolute treat for art lovers.

Borghese gallery Rome, outside

Hosted in what used to be the private residence of the Borghese family and still surrounded by their stunning estate, the Borghese gallery has priceless masterpieces by work renowned painters and sculptors.

Among the most famous, you will find:

Several pieces by Bernini, including the famous Taking of Proserpina and the David

Canova’s Paolina Bonaparte

Paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian and many more.

The Borghese Gallery is one of the top 10 attractions in Rome and should be your number 2, after the Vatican Museums, f you have an interest in art. It is that special!

Find here >>> My guide to the Borghese Gallery

Rome top 10 sites – bonus!

I know I said top 10 attractions in Rome but I feel this list would not be complete with one more: Castel Sant’Angelo!

Castel Sant’Angelo is the ancient mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian but was then used as Papal Fortress, a time during which acquired the appearance we see now, with turrets typical of a fortified castle.

While often overlooked by visitors, the Castel is one of the most beautiful monuments in Rome and a place from where you catch fantastic views over Rome.

I highly recommend you add it to your Rome itinerary!

You can find here >>> my guide to Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome.

Rome top 10 attractions on a map

Rome main attractions – You may also like to read

How far are Rome main attractions from one another?

More top tourist attraction in Rome you may want to see

A list of the ten main attractions in Rome only scratches the surface of what you can see in the Eternal City.

If you have more than a few days and want to see more, we have some resources for you!

Find here:

>>> Our list of 100 things to do in Rome, including tourist attractions and experiences

>>> Our list of the top free thing to do in Rome, for visitors on a budget (Vittoriano, Santa Maria Maggiore and all Papal Basilicas and churches, Rome best gardens and more)

>>> Our list of the most beautiful piazzas in Rome

>>> Our list of the most famous fountains in Rome

>>> Our list of real hidden gems to discover the real Rome

Top 10 attractions in Rome – pin this!

Photo collage of the top ten Rome attractions mentioned in the article with text: 10 top attractions in Rome

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