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Ultimate Rome Visit: 3 Tours To See the Best of the City

February 24, 2024

A trip to the beautiful city of Rome is a dream for many people. Think about all the incredible things the Italian capital has to offer: millennia of history, breathtaking views, a unique artistic heritage — and gelato! 

There is so much to see and do, and you may feel unsure about what to include in your Roman adventure. There’s no better way to discover the Eternal City than by walking side by side with a local. Something worth knowing about us Romans is that we could spend hours talking about our city. Simply asking a random person on the street for directions could lead to a passionate discussion about the seven kings of Rome. 

Don’t worry, we’ve prepared the best itineraries to make the most of your time. Ready to find your inner gladiator?

Get to know Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome

When thinking about Rome, images of majestic and ancient ruins come to mind. They’re the last witnesses to a history that spanned more than 1,000 years. It left us an archeological legacy that still amazes visitors to this day. 

To show visitors the best of these sights, we created our Ancient Rome Walking Tour.

On this tour, you’ll feel like Julius Caesar could show up at any moment. Here are some of the amazing sights you’ll see.

  • Circus Maximus: This was once the largest stadium in ancient Rome and the first of its kind. If you expected to watch the latest football game, that’s not going to happen though. This stadium used to host spectacular chariot races.
  • Colosseum: One of the most recognizable sights in Rome, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater on the planet. It’s also one of the seven wonders of the world. The Colosseum owes its name to a “colossal” statue of the emperor Nero that stood beside it. In ancient times, Romans used to come here to attend different kinds of shows. 
  • Arch of Constantine: When Romans had something big to celebrate, they didn’t just throw a party. They built a triumphal arch. The Arch of Constantine honored the victory of the emperor Constantine over his enemy Maxentius. 
  • Roman Forum: The Forum was the heart of the ancient city, both the marketplace and the main meeting point in Rome. Here you can find the most important temples and political buildings. Admiring its ruins will give you the best idea of the ancient Romans’ daily lives.
  • Trajan Markets: The emperor Trajan decided to build a new forum around the year 106. The Trajan Markets are the most impressive ruins left. Even if the name suggests it was a complex of shops, they were probably administrative offices.
  • Victor Emmanuel II National Monument: Also called the Altar of the Fatherland, or “Vittoriano, this monument is a must-do photo spot in Rome. At this stop, we take a peek into Rome’s more recent history as this monument, celebrating Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy, was completed in 1935. Romans have nicknamed it the “wedding cake” or “typewriter” because of its unique shape.
  • Largo di Torre Argentina: Julius Caesar was assassinated here in 44 BC. The area was a religious center, and you’ll find well-preserved ruins. If you love animals, this place has a lovely surprise for you — cats! The ruins host a famous cat shelter, and it’s common to see the furballs chilling on a random column. 
Ancient Rome

You’ll also learn about Rome’s early days. Throughout its history, Rome has been a monarchy, a republic, and then an empire. Because the Roman Empire managed to conquer a vast territory, it left a deep impact far beyond today’s city limits.

The history of Rome is steeped in lore. According to the legend, Romulus was the founder and first king of the city. After murdering his twin brother Remus in a heated fight, Romulus founded Rome in the year 753 BC. If you see images or statues of wolves around the city, that’s part of the story. The legend tells us that a kind she-wolf helped take care of the twins. That’s why the she-wolf is still one of the symbols of Rome.

We don’t know if Romulus actually existed or not. It’s documented that the first settlements started in the area of Palatine Hill and grew to become an impressive metropolis.

Your guide has much more to tell you about Ancient Rome. Join us on a morning during your trip to Rome. We pack a lot into two hours with this tour!

See Rome’s best piazzas on our highlights tour

Roman Piazza

One of the most glorious moments of Rome, and my favorite artistic movement, was its Baroque period. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the Catholic Popes ruled Rome for centuries. Many of them aimed to improve the city, hiring the most renowned artists to do so.

The Baroque art movement was born in Rome in the 17th century. Its artists looked for exuberant and over-the-top forms of expression. They gave a new look to the city with their wonderful buildings, squares, and fountains.

During our Rome Highlights Outdoor Walking Tour, you’ll experience the Baroque soul of Rome and much more. 

Here’s just a glimpse of the highlights.

  • Campo de’ Fiori: This is one of the central “piazzas” (squares) in Rome. Its name means “flower field” in Italian. The square is known for its flower market and the statue of the philosopher Giordano Bruno. Bruno died on this spot in 1600, burned alive for heresy. 
  • Piazza Navona: As a local, Piazza Navona is my favorite piazza. Built over the ancient Stadium of Domitian, it kept the stadium’s peculiar shape. At the center of the square, you’ll find the beautiful Fountain of the Four Rivers. The gorgeous statues that decorate the fountain will be sure to leave you awestruck.
  • Pantheon: Once an ancient Roman temple, it’s now a catholic church. “Pantheon” means “all the gods” in Ancient Greek, since it was probably dedicated to more than one deity. The greatest peculiarity of the building is the “oculus”, an opening in the center of its dome.
  • Trevi Fountain: The most celebrated fountain in Rome, Trevi Fountain has stunning statues that represent the different aspects of the sea. Don’t forget to throw a coin in the fountain for a special kind of good luck — as your guide will explain. 
  • Piazza di Spagna: Here you’ll find the renowned Spanish Steps. The square and the steps owe their name to the nearby Spanish embassy. In front of the steps stands the Barcaccia fountain, known for its boat-like shape. This is one of the most glamorous areas of the city and hosts many world-known Italian fashion brands.
Roman Piazza

The light and vibe of these piazzas and other sites change completely depending on the time of day. If you’re visiting over the summer, you’ll have the chance to choose to take the tour either at midday or dusk. The latter lets you enjoy the fresh evening breeze (what we Romans call “la rifrescata”) while the daytime option shows you the bustling markets and cafes. Both times are special in their own way.

Local tip: After feeding your eyes, it’s time to feed your stomach! Near the Pantheon, you’ll find Gelateria della Palma, where you can taste more than 100 different ice cream flavors. Bar Pompi (famous tiramisu) is next to Piazza di Spagna. For more dining tips, check out the eight authentic dishes you must try in Rome.

Visit Vatican City

St Peters Basilica

A city like Rome has many peculiarities, and one of them is our most famous neighbor. It’s not the kind you can invite over for your next barbecue — I’m talking about the pope, chief of Vatican City. The rule of the popes in Rome ended in 1870, when the city joined the new Italian state. In 1929, the Lateran Treaty led to the creation of the modern Vatican City. 

Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world. Even so, world-famous landmarks are located there, such as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. It’s no surprise that millions of people come to the Vatican each year to admire such wonders.

It’s amazing how there is to see at the Vatican Museums. They’re called “museums” because it’s several galleries of art and treasures collected by popes over centuries. To see the highlights — or even know where to begin — can be daunting, but in a good way.

I recommend going with a guide who can point out the must-see artwork and explain the significance behind it.

Enter our budget-friendly tour.

Sistine Chapel

Our Vatican Museums guided tour will let you enjoy your visit without stress. Curious about what you’ll see? Here’s a taste.

  • The Pinecone Courtyard: The large courtyard owes its name to a singular pine cone statue. The statue is from the ancient Roman period and has been located in the Vatican for centuries.
  • Pio Clementino Museum: Here you’ll find a vast collection of impressive classical statues. The most famous one is “Laocoön and His Sons,” which represents the death of the Trojan priest Laocoön. 
  • Vatican Galleries: The galleries are filled with detailed historic maps, tapestries, and other ancient antiques. You’ll be amazed by the ancient map illustrating the whole Italian peninsula.
  • Sistine Chapel: This chapel is known around the world for the frescoes Michelangelo created in the 16th century. The representation of the creation of Adam has inspired viewers for centuries. See what you think when you visit in person!

On a different day from your Vatican Museums tour, I suggest returning to visit St. Peter’s Basilica. Your guide will share useful tips about how to explore this world-famous church, and it’s free to visit.

Final tips for your visit to Rome

Roman Ruins

You may be wondering how much time you need to see these amazing sights. 

If you’re planning a nice week-long trip, you’ll be able to take part in all the tours I mentioned and get the full Roman experience. You could dedicate a different day to each tour and enjoy them in the most relaxing way. 

However, if you’re coming for a short visit of 2-3 days, you could choose the areas that seem most appealing to you.

I recommend bringing plenty of water and sun protection (like sunscreen) for your guided tours and self-guided rambles around town. Rome is often sunny, and staying hydrated is key in all weather.

There are also lots of great places all over Rome, so don’t worry about finding good Italian food. It’s everywhere! You can ask your guide for recommendations, or check out our blog on where to eat near the Colosseum, which is central to many of the tourist sites.

With the list above, you’ll have the chance to:

  • Travel through time and feel like an ancient Roman with our Ancient Rome Walking Tour.
  • Live the beauty of the Baroque squares and fountains with our Rome Highlights Outdoor Walking Tour.
  • Experience the best Vatican City art (including the Sistine Chapel) with our Vatican Museums Tour on a Budget.

We can’t wait to see you in Rome!