The Eitch Borromini rooftop terrace is one of the best unusual things to do in Rome

29 Unusual Things to Do in Rome to Escape the Crowds

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Rome’s Colosseum, Sistine Chapel and Pantheon are all extraordinary creations, but there’s more to Rome than the tourist attractions.

If you only visit the major sites, you’ll spend more time fighting through tour groups than enjoying the atmosphere of the city.

Luckily there’s so much incredible art and history in Rome that it’s easy to escape the crowds by getting off the beaten path and visiting less well-known attractions.

Below I share our favourite unusual things to do in Rome divided by area so you can plan your time efficiently.

In each section, I have included our favourite places to eat and suggested places to stay in the neighbourhood.

For those of you who prefer to explore with a guide, I have included tours where relevant.

You’ll also find a map at the bottom of the post with all these alternative Rome attractions.

Our Top Picks: Unique Things to Do in Rome

Historic centre, colosseum area, aventine hill, trastevere and monteverde, other areas of rome, map of unusual things to do in rome, rome books to read, can i really get off the beaten track in rome, more rome tips.

If you have limited time, here are our favourite unique things to do in Rome:

  • Outdoors : Appian Way
  • Art Gallery : Palazzo Doria Pamphilj
  • Roman Ruin : Baths of Caracalla (with VR headset)
  • Church : Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls

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The Centro Storico or historic centre is the heart of Rome and where you’ll find many of the famous piazzas, fountains, and churches.

The popular sights get very busy but avoiding the tour groups is possible with these alternative things to do in Rome.

1) Early Morning Walk

An empty Piazza Navona in Rome on a Sunday morning

My number one tip to escape the crowds in Rome is to get up early.

The historic centre is stunning and you won’t want to miss it, but the crowds and traffic can be stressful.

At 7 am though, especially on a Sunday, you’ll have it almost to yourself and can really enjoy the beauty.

Start with the Trevi Fountain as it’s the most crowded spot.

There were already 50 people at the famous fountain when we arrived at 7.15am, but there was space to sit and take selfies whereas later in the day it is swarming with hundreds of people.

Erin and Simon at the Trevi Fountain, Rome

Continue your walk past the Pantheon (it doesn’t open until 9 am on Sundays) to my favourite square, Piazza Navona , where you can admire the gorgeous fountains without anyone else around.

From here wander to the market square of Campo de Fiori and head down a side street just off it to seek out Arco degli Acetari , a hidden courtyard of picturesque houses.

If you are feeling hungry by now, walk down Via dei Giubbonari , past the cute little piazza Largo dei Librari , to Via dei Chiavari where you can buy freshly baked pizza bianca from Antico Forno Roscioli (it opens at 8.30am on Sundays, 7 am on weekdays).

By now most Rome attractions and museums will be opening so you can visit one of those or continue to wander.

Suggested Tours: This Rome Sightseeing at Sunrise Walking Tour includes all the highlights in small groups (maximum of six people).

2) Teatro Marcello

Teatro Marcello, Rome, Italy

Teatro Marcello isn’t on most people’s must-visit lists, which makes it all the more surprising when you stumble upon it as we did.

The beauty of Rome is that incredible ruins are everywhere—you’ll find ancient history at every turn.

First-time visitors may mistake Teatro Marcello for the Colosseum .

It was originally a 20,000-seat Roman amphitheater completed in 12 BC, but in the 16th century a palazzo, which now contains exclusive apartments, was built on top. It’s interesting to see the layers of history.

It’s never very busy and you can walk through the crumbling blocks and columns next to it for free. There are also summer concerts here. 

Suggested Tours: This Off the Beaten Path 3.5 Hour Walking Tour in Rome includes Teatro Marcello as well as some of the places below ( Appian Way , Testaccio Market ).  

3) Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

Performers on the Sounds and Visions of Caravaggio tour at Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, Rome, Italy

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is a grand private family palace dating back to the 1600s when a member of the family, Innocent X, was pope.

The magnificent rooms are covered in paintings as they were back then and the ceilings are decorated with frescoes.

The collection includes paintings by master artists such as Caravaggio, Caracci, and Velaquez, as well as a Bernini statue of Pope Innocent.

The extravagant Gallery of the Mirrors is similar to the one at Versailles.

The museum doesn’t get busy and their audio guide (included in the price) is excellent.

We visited the museum on a music tour with Roma Opera Omnia which interspersed music performances with discussions of the art.

It was magical to hear an incredible soprano and Baroque guitarist perform in rooms such as the ballroom where the Pamphilj family’s guests would have danced to similar music hundreds of years ago. It’s one of the most memorable and unique things to do in Rome.

D etails: Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is at Via del Corso, 305. Entrance including an audio guide is €14 adults/ free for children under 12 ( advance booking required ). Open Mondays to Thursdays 9am – 7pm and Fridays to Sundays 10am – 8pm on (last entrance is 90 minutes before closing). Suggested Tours: Learn more about the artworks on this Doria Pamphilj Gallery Private Tour .

4) Palazzo Barberini

Simon admiring the paintings in Palazzo Barberini, one of the best unusual things to do in Rome

Do you want one of Caravaggio’s best works to yourself?

Go to Palazzo Barberini at 9 am. It’s one of Rome’s best secrets.

This huge palace is home to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica which includes artwork by Caravaggio, Raphael, Bernini, Filippo Lippi, Piero di Cosimo and many more.

For some reason, this gallery is overlooked and we had it completely to ourselves.

The ground floor houses older art from the 1200s-1400s. We preferred the first floor (the piano nobile where the family would have lived) with its stunning frescos and Renaissance and Baroque paintings.

The highlight is undoubtedly Caravaggio’s mesmerising Judith Beheading Holofernes —we couldn’t believe there was no one else around.

Other highlights of the palace are the grand staircases designed by Bernini and Borromini and the secret garden behind the building (which you don’t need a ticket for).

Details: Palazzo Barberini is at Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13. Entrance is €15 (free for children). Open Tuesdays to Sundays 10am – 7pm (last entrance 6pm). Closed Mondays. Suggested Tours: Let an expert guide bring the stories to life on this Palazzo Barberini: 2-Hour Private Tour .

5) Galleria Sciarra

Art Nouveau facade of Galleria Sciarra, one of the best Rome off the beaten path attractions, Italy

We stumbled upon this hidden Art Nouveau courtyard on our way to the Trevi Fountain, which shows that it’s possible to get off the beaten path in Rome without straying far from the top attractions.

Galleria Sciarra was built in the late 19th century for the wealthy Sciarra family and was originally due to be a shopping mall but instead became the headquarters of their magazine.

It now houses offices and it’s well worth wandering through to admire the vaulted glass ceiling and colourful frescoes celebrating women in different fashions.

Details: Galleria Sciarra is at Via Santa Maria in Via, 30–31 and is open from 10 am to 8 pm.  Suggested Tours: You can also visit it on this Rome Hidden Gem Walking Tour .

6) Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini

There are plenty of Roman ruins to visit in the city, but what makes Le Domus Romane unique is its use of multimedia technology.

Access is by tour only which takes place on a glass floor above the ruins of two Roman villas from the 1st–4th centuries AD.

The building above, Palazzo Valentini, is a 15th century Renaissance villa which was built on top.

These would have been very grand private residences, and the tour includes the hot and cold baths and some beautiful mosaics.

Light, music, visuals, and audio are used to explain what you are seeing and show what the houses would have looked like in Roman times. Although the technology feels slightly dated, it does help bring the ruins to life.

The tour ends with a (rather long) video that explains the bas-reliefs on Trajan’s column, which stands outside, and how they tell the story of Emperor Trajan’s defeat of Dacia (Romania).

Details: Le Domus Romane is at via Foro Traiano 85. 1.5 hour tours costs €12 adults/ €8 children over 6. Advance booking is recommended. It’s currently open Thursdays to Mondays, 10am – 7pm (last entrance 6pm). No photos allowed.  Suggested Tours: This Ancient Roman Domus Tour also includes an added VR experience to enhance your visit.

7) Eitch Borromini Rooftop Bar

View of Piazza Navona from the Eitch Borromini rooftop terrace bar, Rome, Italy

While you won’t have this rooftop bar to yourself, numbers are limited (you must book a table) and it’s not somewhere most visitors know about.

The Eitch Borromini is a luxury hotel overlooking Piazza Navona and the terrace bar has stunning 360º views of the city including St Peter’s, the Pantheon, and Piazza Venezia.

It would be especially lovely at sunset although it was cloudy on the day we visited.

Drinks are expensive (€15 for a glass of Prosecco or wine, €25 for cocktails), but the views are so special that it’s worth it.

You can also enjoy opera concerts at the bar , which we plan to do on our next visit.

Details: Eitch Borromini is at Via di Santa Maria dell’Anima, 30. The rooftop bar is open every day from 6.30pm—reservations are essential by calling +39 06 68215459 (I tried emailing and got no response).  

8) Capuchin Crypt

We have mixed feelings about the Capuchin Crypt. It’s certainly one of the most unusual things to do in Rome, but it’s also very disturbing.

The crypt lies beneath the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione which was once the home of Capuchin friars.

When they moved here they brought the remains of the deceased friars with them, but rather than simply burying them, they decorated a series of tiny chapels with the bones.

The chapels contain the skeletons of small friars in robes with thousands of bones arranged around them in arches and decorative details.

They are divided by body part—skulls, pelvises, and shoulder blades all collected together. Even the light fixtures above us in the corridor were made from bones.

We’ve never seen anything like it. It’s not like Otranto’s Cathedral where bones are displayed in remembrance of the Christian martyrs who died resisting the Turks.

At the Capuchin Crypt the remains have been used to create art out of death—it’s almost beautiful if you don’t think about what it’s made from.

But we couldn’t help asking ourselves—what kind of people joyfully played with bones to create this place?

Our issue is with the presentation of the museum—it’s treated as a holy place with religious music playing and photos and talking banned.

But to us, it seemed anti-religious and thought they should acknowledge how disturbing the place is. Instead, the Catholic order insists it’s a reminder of our mortality.

The small museum before the chapels features the Caravaggio painting St Francis in Meditation , but we’d just seen the original at Palazzo Barberini—this is a very good copy.

Should you visit? That’s up to you—it is a unique and macabre place, but I don’t recommend it for anyone of a sensitive disposition.

Details: The Capuchin Museum and Crypt is at Via Vittorio Veneto, 27. Entrance costs €10 adults/ € 6.50 children) . It’s open daily 10am – 7pm. Suggested Tours: If you’d like a guide, this tour of the crypt and church gets good reviews.   No photos allowed. 

9) Galleria Spada

Forced perspective gallery by Francesco Borromini at Galleria Spada in Rome, Italy

We were the only visitors in this small art gallery of 16th and 17th century art in a Renaissance palace.

The most interesting part is the forced perspective gallery by Francesco Borromini in the courtyard.

The gallery of arches is only nine meters long, but an optical illusion makes it look much longer and the sculpture at the end larger.

It’s not a must-see, but it’s worth stopping by if you have some extra time and want to escape the crowds.

Details: Galleria Spada is at Piazza Capo di Ferro, 13. Entrance is €5 ( € 2 children) . Open every day except Tuesdays 8.30am – 7.30pm.  

Where to Eat in the Historic Centre

Pizza rossa and pizza bianca from Antico Forno Roscioli in Rome, Italy

For a Quick Snack

Don’t miss Antico Forno Roscioli for the best pizza bianca in the city—fresh out of the oven and sprinkled with sea salt and rosemary, it’s absolutely delicious.

The suppli (rice balls) at Supplizio are another typical Roman snack.

For a Full Meal

The absolute best place we’ve eaten in the centre is Armando Al Pantheon . It’s remarkable that a restaurant so close to a major attraction has managed to maintain its quality since the 1960s.

Everything we ate there was delicious including the melanzana alla parmigiana (eggplant parmesan) to start, the spaghetti cacio e pepe (a lighter version than the ones we ate in Testaccio ), and the spaghetti verde with rocket, pecorino and lemon—so simple but so good. You need to book a month in advance .

If you didn’t manage to get a reservation at Armando, L’Orso 80 is touristy, but it’s a good option if you are craving vegetables.

Their 15-dish antipasti plate of grilled vegetables and beans costs €15 and was enough for us to share for lunch (it does usually include one meat dish, so ask for it without if you’re vegetarian).

If you are very hungry, order the 2-person antipasti and watch your table fill with bowls of vegetables, beans, cheese, and prosciutto.

For a Coffee and Break

Avoid the touristy cafes near Piazza Navona and instead head to Barnum Cafe , a rather hipster cafe with vintage furniture and comfy couches (and you’re not charged extra to sit down!).

The coffee and fresh juices are excellent, and I’ve heard good things about the cocktails and food.

For something more classically Roman, the Chiostro del Bramante is a cafe above an art museum with balcony seating looking down on lovely fresco-covered cloisters.

It’s a peaceful retreat from the tourist chaos nearby. Inside the lounge, there’s a window with a view of a Raphael fresco in the church next door (sadly we missed this).

Avoid the awful touristy places (you don’t want unnaturally bright colours or puffy gelato spilling over the tub) and seek out real gelato made with natural ingredients.

My favourite is Fatamorgana , but Gelateria del Teatro and Gelateria dei Gracchi are also excellent.

Where to Stay in the Historic Centre

We usually stay in the neighbourhoods of Trastevere (closer to the centre) or Testaccio (further away but less touristy), but on a short visit, you’ll be close to everything if you stay in the historic centre.

On our next trip, we plan to treat ourselves to a stay at the luxurious Eitch Borromini on Piazza Navona which has elegant rooms and an amazing rooftop terrace with 360º views. Check prices here.

More affordable options in the centre with excellent reviews include Maison Giulia , Campo de Fiori Prestige Rooms , and Colonna Suite Del Corso .

Search for more hotels and B&Bs in Rome’s historic centre here .

The Colosseum is a 20-minute walk from the centre of Rome and the area gets very crowded with visitors to the famous Roman amphitheatre.

There are a few other Roman ruins nearby that most people don’t know about including one of the most cool things to do in Rome.

10) Baths of Caracalla

Simon with a VR headset at the Caracalla Baths in Rome, Italy

The Baths of Caracalla were only the second largest public baths in Rome, a fact that astonished us as they are absolutely huge.

They were inaugurated in 216 AD by the Emperor Caracalla and became the most spectacular thermal complex in ancient times.

The site includes hot and cold baths, gym, library, cafes, and an Olympic size swimming pool where people lounged at the edges and played games (you can still see the notches in the stone).

The gardens are also a lovely place for a stroll or a picnic on the grass. In the summer, concerts take place here.

What we loved most about these ruins is the use of Virtual Reality. You have to pay extra for a VR headset, but it’s well worth it as you can see what the buildings and pools would have looked like in Roman times and appreciate the scale and grandeur of this luxurious complex.

You could combine a visit to the Baths with the Appian Way (see below) which is 15 minutes away on Bus 118. 

Details: The Baths of Caracalla are at Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 52. Entry is €10 adults/ free for children. VR headsets cost €7 (we shared one). Open Tuesdays to Sundays 9am – 7.15pm (earlier in winter). Closed Mondays Suggested Tours: Why not try this Caracalla Baths Tour which can be both for small groups or private.

11) Domus Aurea (Golden House)

Visitors with hard hats in the octagonal room at the Domus Aurea or Golden House in Rome, Italy

The Domus Aurea or Golden House was an immense villa complex of 80 hectares built by Emperor Nero after the great fire of 64 AD which destroyed most of the city.

The ruins only opened to visitors in the last few years and as it’s still a working archaeological site it feels more adventurous than a typical ruin visit—you even have to wear a hard hat.

It’s still very much a work in progress as the ruins of this once grand villa now lie underground. It’s cold inside so take an extra layer.

Emperor Trajan used it as a foundation for his public baths, sealing windows and doors and filling some spaces with dirt.

Entrance is by group tour only. Tours are led by an archaeologist and use video and virtual reality to show what the villa would have looked like with its decorative walls and beautiful views of the countryside.

Most of the art was removed when Trajan built on it, but you can see some small sections of mosaics.

The frescoed walls are well preserved (Renaissance artists clambered down here for inspiration), but they are covered in dirt and won’t be cleaned until the leaking roof has been fixed—it will be splendid once the work is complete.

One of the most impressive spaces is a large octagonal room with an oculus in the ceiling to let in light—it predated the Pantheon and was used as a private art gallery.

Details: The entrance to Domus Aurea is on Via della Domus Aurea. Open Fridays to Sundays 9.15am – 5pm. Tours last 1.5 hours and cost €16 adults/ €11 children. Advance booking is essential. Suggested Tours: Learn more on this Domus Aurea Group Tour with an archaeologist guide.

Where to Eat Near the Colosseum

Instead of eating in this touristy area, I recommend heading to the nearby neighbourhood of Monti , only a 10-minute walk from Domus Aurea. There are plenty of places to eat in the area—we liked La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali .

85Bio Monti looks like a great option for a quick lunchtime sandwich or salad and Aromaticus Monti serves up colourful plant-based plates in a greenery-filled space.

Where to Stay Near the Colosseum

I wouldn’t stay in this area as it’s always so crowded. If you do want to, the Colosseum Palace Star has views of the Colosseum from its spacious rooms and gets fantastic reviews. 

Another option is to stay in the nearby Monti neighbourhood— Soggiorno Downtown is excellent value and only a 5-minute walk from the Colosseum. 

Search for more hotels near the Colosseum here . 

Aventine Hill is one of the seven hills Rome was built upon. It’s a quiet, leafy residential neighbourhood with some worthwhile free attractions.

It’s situated between the Testaccio neighbourhood and the Circus Maximus (and Colosseum beyond).

12) Aventine Keyhole

Aventine Keyhole view of St Peter's on the Aventine Hill in Rome, Italy

This is one of Rome’s oddest attractions. A small keyhole in a nondescript door of the Knights of Malta property reveals a perfectly framed view of St Peter’s Basilica through a shrubbery tunnel.

There can be a queue, so it’s best to get here early.

Details: Aventine Keyhole is at Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta.

13) Orange Garden

Erin on a terrace in Orange Garden on Aventine Hill, Rome, Italy

A little further on from the Keyhole is the Giardino degli Aranci or Orange Garden, a small, peaceful park with stunning views over Rome.

14) Rose Garden

Rome's rose garden, Italy

Continue on to the Roseto Comunale or Rose Garden, another tranquil retreat from the city with a beautiful display of roses and city views. It’s close to the Circus Maximus.

Details: The Roseto Comunale is at Via di Valle Murcia, 6. It’s only open from late April until mid-June, usually from 8.30am to 7.30pm. Suggested Tours: Combine all Aventine Hill sights on this Private Circus Maximus and Aventine Keyhole Tour .

Where to Eat and Stay in Aventine Hill

Aventine Hill is a quiet place to base yourself in Rome and you get more for your money here.

Good hotels in the area include Hotel Villa San Pio in a garden setting and the elegant Hotel San Anselmo .

There aren’t many restaurants in this residential area so head down the hill to Testaccio.

Testaccio is our favourite neighbourhood in Rome and on our last visit, we spent a month there.

It’s not the prettiest part of the city, but it’s great for escaping the crowds and has local charm, fantastic food, and some quirky sights.

Exploring and eating your way around this area is one of the best non-touristy things to do in Rome. 

See our Testaccio neighbourhood guide for more details including where to eat and stay.

15) Taste of Testaccio Food Tour

Crema and cherry gelato topped with panna (cream) at Giolitti in Testaccio, Rome, Italy

Eating Italy’s Taste of Testaccio food tour is the best way to learn about the Testaccio neighbourhood and its history, all while eating delicious food from many different stops.

Read our Testaccio food tour review for more details about one of the most fun things to do in Rome.

16) Testaccio Market

Vegetable stall in Testaccio market, Rome, Italy

Testaccio Market is one of my favourite markets in the world with fantastic fresh produce stalls as well as lunch options ranging from pasta to sushi.

Details: Testaccio Market is at the corner of Via Beniamino Franklin and Via Aldo Manuzio. It’s open 7am to 3.30pm Monday to Saturday (closed Sundays).    Suggested Tours: Taste your way through the best stalls on this Testaccio Market Tour with a local foodie guide.

17) Pyramid of Cestius

Testaccio Pyramid of Cestius in Rome, Italy from the non-Catholic cemetery

One of Testaccio’s most surprising sights is a pyramid that was built in 12 BC as a burial tomb for the Roman praetor, Caius Cestius.

The best views of the pyramid are from the Non-Catholic Cemetery .

Details: The pyramid is at Via Raffaele Persichetti. Tours inside are temporarily closed. See the Coop website  for updates.  

18) Non-Catholic Cemetery

Keats grave in the Non-Catholic Cemetery Campo Cestio in Testaccio, Rome, Italy

Keats, Shelley and Gregory Corso are among the famous people who were buried at this cemetery for non-Catholics. It’s a peaceful, garden-like place for a stroll.

Details: The Non-Catholic Cemetery is on Via Caio Cestio, 6. Entrance is by donation (€3 is suggested). Open Mondays to Saturdays 9am – 5pm and Sundays 9am – 1pm.  Suggested Tours: Combine food and sights on this Testaccio Street Food Tour that includes stops at the Pyramid and Cemetery.

Ostiense is a gritty neighbourhood south of Testaccio with a few interesting sights.

19) Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls

Impressive atrium of Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, Italy

St Pauls is one of the four great basilicas of Rome and it is immense.

When the Apostle Paul was executed here in the 1st century AD, his followers erected a small shrine, which became a church a few centuries later. Over the centuries the church grew in size and splendour.

You enter through the striking atrium of columns with a view of the Basilica’s facade of golden mosaics.

Inside the massive space are more marble columns and gold mosaics, as well as the remains of St Paul near the altar.

It’s a stunning church and far less crowded than St Peters.

Details: Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls is at Piazzale San Paolo, 1. Entrance to the church is free (€4 adults/ €3 children for the cloister and museum). Open daily 7am – 6.30pm (cloister 9am – 5.30pm). Suggested Tours: You can also visit the Basilica on this church walking tour .

20) Centrale Montemartini

Sculpture in front of an industrial machine in Centrale Montemartini museum in Ostiense, Rome, Italy

A 15-minute walk from St Paul Outside the Walls is this unique art gallery that’s part of the Capitoline Museums .

Ancient Greek and Roman sculptures are displayed alongside giant diesel engines and steam turbines in a former power station from the early 1900s.

It was almost empty when we visited which only adds to the appeal of this hidden gem.

There’s also a display of some beautiful mosaics and the railway carriages of Pope Pius IX, and when we visited, a special exhibition about the Etruscans and Egyptians.

Details: Centrale Montemartini is at Via Ostiense, 106. Entrance is €10 adults/ €9 children (including the special exhibition). Open Tuesdays to Sundays 9am – 7pm. Closed Mondays. Suggested Tours: If you’re planning on visiting both Centrale Montemartini and the Roman Empire Museum then this combined ticket could be useful.

21) Ostiense Street Art

Ostiense street art in Rome- a great way to get off the beaten track, Italy

There’s some fantastic large-scale street art in Ostiense.

To find the best spots you can take this Ostiense graffiti and modern street art walking tour or use this Rome Urban Art map for a self-guided walk.

Where to Eat and Stay in Ostiense

Pizzeria Ostiense is our favourite pizzeria in Rome, and it’s conveniently located down the street from one of our favourite gelaterias, Gelateria La Romana .

The pizzeria is only open in the evening so during the day head to the massive Eataly complex for four floors of air-conditioned food shopping and restaurants. It’s opposite the Ostiense train station.

I think Ostiense is a little far out to stay here, but it could be a good option if you are on a budget.

Search for apartments on Vrbo .

Trastevere is one of the prettiest neighbourhoods in Rome and it’s just over the river from the historic centre.

In the evenings it can be crowded with tourists and locals strolling the cobbled streets and visiting restaurants and bars, but there are a few attractions to visit during the day that are usually quiet.

See our detailed Trastevere guide for more things to do and places to stay and eat.

22) Villa Farnesina

Raphael fresco at Villa Farnesina in Trastevere, Rome, Italy

This grand Renaissance villa built in 1506 features ceilings covered in beautiful Raphael frescoes.

I can’t understand how it’s not busier.

Details: Villa Farnesina is at Via della Lungara, 230. Entrance is €16 adults/ €10 children over 10 years old. Open Tuesdays to Sundays 10am – 7pm. Closed Mondays. Suggested Tours: This private tour includes the villa and more of the neighbourhood.

23) Orto Botanico

Vine covered hut in the Medicinal garden at Orto Botanico in Trastevere, Rome, Italy

These botanical gardens are a peaceful retreat from the city and feature Japanese, herbal, and medicinal gardens as well as a lovely city view from the top of the hill.

Deta ils: Orto Botanico is at Largo Cristina di Svezia, 24. Entrance is €4. Open daily 9am – 4.30pm.

24) Janiculum Hill

View of Rome from Janiculum Hill (Gianicolo) in Trastevere, Italy

For the best view of Rome head up Janiculum Hill for sunset.

It’s absolutely stunning and more of a local hangout than a tourist attraction.

Details: The Janiculum Terrace is at Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi. Suggested Tours: This Roman Views E-Bike Tour includes panoramic views from three Rome hills including Janiculum.

25) Villa Doria Pamphili

Tall trees at Villa Doria Pamphili in Rome, Italy

I felt like I was in the countryside as I lay in a meadow of long grass and looked up at the umbrella pines in this large park on a hill in the Monteverde neighbourhood.

It’s huge, peaceful, and the perfect escape from the crowds for a walk or picnic.

Details: Villa Doria Pamphili is off Via di S. Pancrazio. Open daily from 7am until sunset.

26) Appian Way

People strolling along the Appian Way in Rome, Italy

The Appian Way is one of the oldest and most important Roman roads and stretches all the way to Brindisi —some sections still have the original Roman cobblestones.

It’s a lovely escape from the city, especially on Sundays when the road is closed to traffic.

The information centre is the obvious starting point—the bus stops here and you can also rent bikes.

The first section of the path has many sights including three catacomb complexes (see below), churches , and the ruins of the Roman Villa di Massenzio (free entry) with its chariot race track.

After visiting the Domitilla Catacombs and Villa di Massenzio, we continued down the Appian Way and soon reached a quieter section of the road.

This part feels like the countryside with meadows of long grass, fields of sheep with jangling bells, and tall cypress and umbrella pine trees lining the cobbled street.

We chose to cycle the Appian Way, which is a popular way to explore this very long road, but honestly, we wished we had just walked.

We don’t cycle often and found the bumpy cobblestones uncomfortable.

The original sections feature massive stone slabs with deep cracks between them that were impossible to cycle over (although some professional-looking mountain bikers managed it).

Most people like us got off and walked, or cycled along the narrow dirt verge on the side of the road.

An e-bike may be easier (see tour below).

We made it about 7km down the road from the info centre (plus a slight detour to Domitilla) before turning back.

Where to Eat Along the Appian Way

There are a number of restaurants and cafes in the first section of the Appian Way.

We had lunch at Hostaria Antica Roma , a large and rather upmarket restaurant with extensive gardens.

The menu of the day wasn’t long but they were able to cater for us vegetarians and we enjoyed our vegetarian antipasti and pasta.

If you eat meat, they specialise in recipes that have been around since Roman times.

For a more casual lunch, Il Giardino di Giulia e Fratelli next door has a lovely garden setting and does sandwiches as well as main dishes.

Bike rental: You can rent bikes (€1 6 a day, from 9.30am) from the Centro Servizio Appia Antica at the start of the Appian Way Park and also buy maps for €1.50 (although we found Google Maps sufficient). Bus: Bus 118 runs from the Circus Maximus to the Appian Way. Suggested Tours: Catacombs and Appian Way 3-Hour Tour or Appian Way, Aqueducts & Catacombs Full Day E-Bike Tour .

27) Domitilla Catacombs

The most visited catacombs on the Appian Way are the Catacombs of San Callisto , but we decided to visit the Domitilla Catacombs instead, which are slightly off the Appian Way.

Entrance is by guided tour only as it’s possible to get lost in this 8 mile (12 km) network of narrow passageways with 27,000 tombs carved into the soft tufa rock.

Early Christians used the catacombs to bury their dead as there wasn’t enough space above ground. The first tomb was created in 200 AD.

It was fascinating to explore this underground city of the dead, one of the most unusual things to see in Rome.

Bodies were placed directly in the tombs which were sealed with clay, although many were later opened by tomb raiders.

There are no bones here as most were stolen, and any remaining have been moved to another part of the catacombs to protect them.

Details: The Domitilla Catacombs are at Via delle Sette Chiese, 282. 30 minute tours are €10 adults/ €7 children. Open every day except Tuesdays 9am – 12pm/ 2pm – 5pm. No photos allowed.  Suggested Tours: If you truly want to see a lot of Rome’s macabre sights then why not try this Small Group Catacombs and Capuchin Crypt Guided Tour .

28) Quartiere Coppede

Baroque architecture in Quartiere Coppede in Rome, Italy

After a stroll through Borghese Park in the northern part of Rome, we took a detour to the Quartiere Coppede , a surprising area of flamboyant architecture in a residential neighbourhood.

There were no other tourists around as we admired the Art Nouveau buildings with intricate carved details. There are also elements of Greek, Baroque, Medieval and Gothic design.

The centre point is Piazza Mincio with its whimsical frog fountain and you can wander the quiet streets from there.

Afterwards, we had lunch at the Ops! vegan buffet , a 15-minute walk away on the way back to the centre. It’s pretty tasty and worth visiting if you are vegan or craving vegetables.

Suggested Tours: You can also take this Art Nouveau Rome Private Tour which takes in the neighbourhood and also the intriguingly named ‘House of the Owls’, a Prince’s former residence.

Imposing Fascist era architecture of Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in EUR, Rome, Italy

EUR (Esposizione Universale Roma) is a residential and business area in southern Rome that’s very much off the beaten path and different from the rest of the city.

It was chosen in the 1930s as the site of the 1943 World Fair where Mussolini planned to celebrate 20 years of Fascism.

The Fair never happened because of WWII, but in the 1950s and 1960s the building work was completed and it became an out of town business district.

It’s a pleasant leafy area with a small lake and some imposing Fascist architecture like the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana .

It’s not a high priority in Rome, but it’s worth a visit if you are interested in modern architecture or, like us, need to go to the Apple store at the Euroma 2 mall.

Details: You can take the metro B to EUR Palasport or EUR Fermi (near the lake) or EUR Magliana (for Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana). Suggested Tours: Take this Private Rome Architecture Tour to delve more into this startlingly alternate architectural side of the city.

These are my favourite books about Rome:

  • Lonely Planet Rome – Very detailed with lots of information on less visited areas as well as history and cultural background. 
  • Knopf Mapguides Rome – Ideal for a short visit to Rome, this concise book focuses on maps with useful tips and restaurant recommendations for the main areas. 
  • Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City by Elizabeth Minchelli – If you are interested in food, read this book by a local blogger before you visit. It features handy hints on Italian food etiquette, restaurant and shop recommendations, personal anecdotes and a guide to Roman dishes (with some recipes). 
  • SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard – An epic book tracking the rise of Rome from a backwater village to imperial city controlling much of the world.
  • Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World by Anthony Doerr – The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer’s memoir of his year spent living in Rome with his wife and baby twins. 
  • Midnight in the Piazza by Tiffany Parks – This is a young adult novel about a 13-year-old American girl who moves to Rome and uncovers a mystery in the piazza outside her window. It’s a light, fun, easy read that features real places in Rome. 

Yes absolutely! I hope this epic post has given you lots of ideas on how to get away from the crowds in Rome.

Have I missed your favourite Rome hidden gem? Let me know if you have any more suggestions!

  • 14 Best Day Trips From Rome
  • Trastevere Neighborhood Guide: The Best Things to Do and Eat
  • Testaccio Neighbourhood Guide: Get Off the Beaten Track in Rome
  • A Food Lover’s Tour of Rome: Taste of Testaccio Review
  • Eating in Italy: Dos and Don’ts
  • London to Italy by Train: Everything You Need to Know

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15 Comments

After an hour’s ride to the Eataly we are so excited to do some shopping that wasn’t so touristy. Ended up this place was only wines ,cheese ,and fruit. Nothing else really to buy unless you live here. It should be stated that it is not a shopping mall. That was very misleading and very disappointing.

Reply ↓

Thank so much for your time writing this blog

Last year, on my fourth trip to Rome, we were able to see the Capuchin Crypt. I stood at the threshold and mentally shook off the expected creepies before stepping into the hallway. My first look erased all fear and replaced it with awe. Awe that the living had so much respect for the dead that they made their bones living art. Awe that these long-dead priests still speak to the living, if only to say that one day this will be us. I felt awe at the peace, respect and love that I felt went into this display and I’m grateful to have been able to see, and feel, it. Also, if one is a lover of art, the Borghese Gallery is a must see, with prior purchase of tickets. The Bernini statues are incredible and, when we return to Rome (hopefully this October) we are on a hunt for more Bernini’s, Ostiense street art and aqueducts. We will be staying at a BnB that has a view of the Pyramide and are really looking forward to exploring this area. Thank you for all the information!

Such a well written and informative article. So happy I found your blog! We, too are planning a trip to Rome for 2 weeks in April. We eat a plant-based/vegan diet. I’m wondering if that will mean we have to prepare all our own food-even packing lunches? We are staying in an apartment with a full kitchen.

You should be able to find plant-based options in Rome. It’s easiest to use the Happy Cow app to find vegan restaurants – there are quite a lot of them although they aren’t always central. In normal restaurants you should be able to find a few options too.

Here’s a useful guide: https://www.thenomadicvegan.com/vegan-rome-italy-city-center/

Enjoy Rome!

Love your blog! We are planning a trip to Italy for 15 days in April 2020 and you have provided so much great info for us to consider when planning. Thank you!

Thanks so much for the feedback Melissa! Enjoy Italy – April is a lovely time to visit.

Great list. Too bad I have already limited my trip to just 3 days in Rome. I’ll be back for sure and hopefully by then there’s a few more on here :) great work!

Rome is definitely one of those cities that keep drawing you back!

What an amazing article, so comprehensive. I’m going to Rome in March and I’ll be referring to your suggestions. Thank you.

Great! Have a fantastic time in Rome!

Such good information! I’m wondering—we’ll be in Rome two full days and two half days in April. First-timers. Would it be a shame if we didn’t do the Coliseum, but instead the Baths of Caracalla or Teatro Marcello? Not St. Peter’s but St. Paul’s outside the walls? Not the Gallery Borghese but Palazzo Doria Pamphilj? Of the obvious sights, are there some (beside maybe the Forum) that we shouldn’t miss or substitute?

That’s such a difficult question. On your first visit to Rome I recommend picking a few key famous sights you want to see and mixing them with quieter sights for a break from the crowds. It would be a shame not to see the Coliseum and you can combine that with the Forum. As for the others, I can’t really say – it depends whether you feel a strong urge to see them. I think you can still have an amazing trip and miss them.

Have a wonderful trip!

Excellent article ,Very specific times, phone numbers, locations, exceptional and best of all great offbeat places to explore. Thank you !

Thanks Karen! I’m glad you found it useful.

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10 Unusual And Secret Places in Rome (2024): Most Tourists Never See!

Unusual And Secret Places in Rome

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Would you like to discover unusual and secret places in Rome ?

Not only will you find the usual and most predictable tourist locations here, you will also get a precise and entertaining selection of the 10 most unusual things to see in Rome, at least once in a lifetime.

Attention :  if you’re based in Rome , reading this article will cause you look to at those places you’re used to see every day with new eyes , since you may have never had the patience to observe them with greater interest. However, if you’re visiting Rome as a tourist , it will show you some fantastic venues, much different from the usual tourist attractions our Capital has to offer…

This article is read by an average of over 20,000 people a month . One of them is you, so I just wanted to thank you .

Well, let’s begin then, shall we?

10. THE ZUPPIERA IN CORSO VITTORIO

Tureen-Fountain-in-Corso-Vittorio-Emanuele-Unusual-And-Secret-Places-Rome

Where the heck could we ever find a fountain with lid ???

In Rome, it’s no big deal at all: more precisely, it’s not a big deal if a pope decides to cover a monument with a marble lid in order to protect it from the carelessness of citizens, with them retorting to the insult against them (not vice-versa, we have to specify!) by deciding to call the fountain as “ Zuppiera “ (literally meaning bowl), in pure mocking fashion!

Indeed, this fountain rising today from below the street level in Corso Vittorio , was originally located in Campo de ‘Fiori .

However, in market days, local sellers were accustomed to wash fruits, greens, fish and all such stuff within it!

Finally, Gregory XV deemed the fact so outrageous, he decided to fix it himself! Which is why he “gifted” it with that curious lid!

In the end, though, I think the merchants of Campo de ‘Fiori won anyway , especially if by calling it Zuppiera all the time it was first removed, and then relocated where it is today, far away from such pitiful conducts…

9. CANNONBALL FOUNTAIN IN VIALE TRINITA’ DEI MONTI

How did a cannonball , of all things, end up in the middle of a fountain in Viale Trinità dei Monti???

Well, I’ll just tell you what popular legend says about that!

It appears that one morning, Christine from Sweden was just boringly strolling around within Sant’Angelo’s Castle, not knowing what to do.

Well, it came to her suddenly: she felt like going for a hunt!

Of course there was no way she was heading into the woods by herself, so she had to present an invitation to someone.

How would she do that quickly?

That’s simple, by shooting a cannonball towards Villa Medici , in order to wake up the landlord and have him partaking in the hunt (as proof, a mark on the bronze portal is still visible).

Do you think the man was happy about that??

Apparently, and strangely enough, he was, since in the end he decided to recover the cannonball and place it at the center of the fountain right before his residence!

Good luck figuring that idea out!

8. RUBENS’S MOTORIZED FRAMEWORK

Did you know there’s a church in Rome with an altarpiece consisting of a motorized framework ?

It is the Church of Santa Maria in Vallicella , which houses a miraculous icon of the Virgin: indeed, it seems it bled in a long-gone past.

Eventually, this icon began to deteriorate due to the effects of time, so it became necessary to protect it in some way.

So it was decided that Rubens would be appointed with creating an altarpiece, which could also be used as some sort of “casing” for it.

Only Rubens could think of creating some sort of “ motor-ready ” frame , in order to get his famous painting up and down, and subsequently hide or show the famous Virgin.

Today it is possible to attend this curious rite after the Saturday night mass , when the sacristan, armed with his trusty remote , decides to begin the “ changing of the guard ”!!!

If you don’t want to wait until Saturday night after the mass, here’s a video I put below which, from the 7th minute onwards, shows the ingenious device in action !

7. THE WATER WATCH BY PINCIO

The work of Dominican Giovan Battista Embriaco , as well as of architect Joachim Ersoch , this clock is almost like a small tower in the middle of a fountain, with a cast-iron shell resembling the shape of tree trunks, and a transparent box in the center, under the dial, enhancing the visibility of the complex hydraulic device allowing for its functioning.

Things-To-Do-in-Rome-Free-Walking-Tour

What is it powered by?

It works thanks to the Rotten Water (Acqua Marcia) gushing from the fountain below!

Also on YouTube, I found this short video showing how this fantastic water clock works:

6. ANAMORPHOSIS OF THE TRINITÀ DEI MONTI CONVENT

The authors of this pictorial prodigy site on the 1st floor of the Convent are Emannuel Maignan and Jean-Francois Niceron , two monks belonging to the order of the Minims.

The distortion of its images allows to capture, but only from certain spots in the corridor, St. Francis di Paola in prayer, and St. John concentrated on writing the Apocalypse , while from others, it is instead possible to admire a suggestive landscape.

One can end up fascinated by the wonders made possible by a brush…

5. THE MAGIC PORTA DI PIAZZA VITTORIO

It is the only survivor of the access gates to Villa Palombara , which stood in the area, and it today stands in the middle of Piazza Vittorio , extending an esoteric veil all over it.

This is because this door, protected by two statues of the Egyptian god Bes , contains a not yet unveiled coded message, which perhaps would allow to transform its base metals into the most precious gold.

In Piazza Vittorio, in the center of the garden inside the square, there’s part of a structure erected by Marquis Palombara around the mid 1600s: it is the Porta Magica, the Magic Gate also known as the Alchemical Gate , or Porta Alchemica. This gate was part of a real villa, of which nothing remained except for the famous Porta.

The marquis was a famous alchemist of the time, and loved to surround himself with people and scholars in search of the philosopher’s Stone , with which it would have been possible to transform metals into gold.

Want to know the legend of this door?

Well, it’s been narrated over generations that one day, Palombara’s mansion was visited by a pilgrim , which asked the Marquis for a place for resting within his garden.

The Marquis accepted, but shortly thereafter the pilgrim began to handle some herbs and magically disappeared through the Door, generating gold dust behind him, and leaving a sheet with very strange inscriptions.

Really few people know about these wonderful places, and you will hardly find them elsewhere:

unusual and secret places in Rome

The marquis, while not succeeding to interpret the enigmatic message with his people, decided to engrave it on the doors of his villa, so that someone in the future could succeed in the arduous task of interpreting them.

Even today, there is no news concerning the meaning of these symbols, and on how to change metals into gold.

Wanna try and solve the puzzle?

Just get in front of the magic door and start analyzing it, who knows what could happen…

In the meantime, let me quote some cryptic sentence inscribed on its architraves, if you’re bent on trying the impossible:

“Centrum in trigono centri” (the center is in the triangle of the center); Sponsored links (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); “Quando in tua domo nigri corvi parturient albas columbas tunc vocaberis sapiens” (when in your home the black crows will generate white doves you will be called wise); “Qui scit comburere aqua et lavare igne facit de terra caelum et de caelo terram preziosam” (he who will know how to burn with water and wash with fire will transform dirt into heaven and heaven into precious dirt).

And if you indeed are lucky, remember “ What to do in Rome ”…

4. CASINA DELLE CIVETTE

Within the Torlonia estate on via Nomentana , an entirely extravagant building is located, with the name of Casina delle Civette (small house of owls) in honor of the animal Prince Torlonia absolutely loved more than any other, for the subject of one of its most beautiful windows.

The Casina can be hardly assessed in a specific architectural context, as it was really built according to an eclectic blend of styles , from gothic to liberty.

Visiting it makes us children again , bringing us back to the time when we all dreamed of living in an enchanted house…

3. FLAT CUPOLA OF THE CHURCH OF SANT’IGNAZIO

As soon as you enter its entrance, the humongous Cupola di Sant’Ignazio will appear as nothing short of magnificent. You’ll then try to walk along the hallway in order to see it up-close but…

wait a moment…

what’s going on???

it’s getting flat, the dome is literally crushing on itself as you approach it!!!

How can we explain this unusual phenomenon?

Actually, the grandiose dome the church was designed with, was never actually built due to some technical problems.

So Andrea Pozzo , in order to not leave the sacred building incomplete, equally decided to fit it with a dome, but a fictitious one.

He painted the flat space on which it should have been built through the trompe-l’oeil technique , with an optical illusion allowing to perceive it as three-dimensional, when viewed from a given point of view marked on the pavement.

It’s just too bad, though, that not all tourists may get the deception, if they stay on the threshold. Just think about some of them coming back home, and telling friends and family something like:

you cannot imagine what an architectural marvel the Dome of the Church of St. Ignazio is…. Ssssssshhhhh!!!!!

They don’t need to know!!!

2. GALLERIA SPADA

If you were a seventeenth-century nobleman, who bought a representative house, but without a large garden for pleasing your guests:

what would you have come up with in order to amaze them anyway???

Well, you would never get the idea Francesco Borromini had, in order to satisfy his client Bernardino Spada . Indeed, the artist decided to create a gallery which gave the illusion of being quite long, while it really was just eight and a half meters long.

Actually, this illusion originates because the floors on which the gallery develops itself converge towards a single vanishing point, giving it the shape of a “ telescope ”: therefore, the ceiling goes down, the floor rises, and the eye is deceived enough to believe that the gallery is really more than 20 meters long .

Further sharpening the illusion, at the end of the closed corridor between the two columns, a Statue of Mars which looked giant was placed, but it really was just 80 cm long .

So ingenious!

1. PALAZZO ZUCCARI

Front-Zuccari's-Palace-Unusual-And-Secret-Places-in-Rome

The 30th of Via Gregoriana is the address of an extravagant palace, with its only entrance consisting of… the open jaws of a giant monster!!!

This is because his architect, Federico Zuccari , in making it his personal home, decided to draw inspiration from a place he was particularly fascinated with: the Bomarzo Sacred Forest .

Thus, the frames of both gate and windows were created in the form of monstrous figures, which seem to engulf anyone who tries to enter those caves!

Who’s brave enough to get in???

Well, thanks for getting all the way down here with you reading!

I hope this article has stimulated your curiosity , encouraging you to observe places that you see every day with more attention , since in my opinion, this is indeed the only way to really discover what’s unusual and unique within things we’d normally label as “ordinary”…

I hope Rome is good to you.

Congratulations for finishing reading my article! I’d really like to read your comment below , if you feel like it.

And now you could really make me happy.

Paintings by Caravaggio in Rome to see

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Have a Nice Stay in Rome

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Roman and creator of this blog , I love to ride bicycles for my city. This blog is aimed to tourists who want to find the best to see, eat and drink in Rome. Here you will find many tips,  unusual and extraordinary things to do in Rome . You will be able to organize your trip to Rome! 

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22 TOP Hidden Gems of Rome That Most Tourists Never See (+ Map & Tips)

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: October 4, 2023

22 TOP Hidden Gems of Rome That Most Tourists Never See (+ Map & Tips)

Are you visiting Rome and want to get a bit off the beaten path and discover some of the secret or lesser known, hidden gems of Rome? This article might be just what you need. Take a look!

Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and a real bucket-list destination! Even people who have never been to the city can tell you what the main highlights of Rome are. Who hasn’t heard of the Colosseum , Trevi Fountain, or St. Peter’s Basilica? But if you travel to Rome and spend all your time checking off the list of the must-see places only, you are missing a great deal .

I know it because I made this mistake the first time I traveled to Rome. I loved this beautiful city, but I was just ticking off the list of the main landmarks and missing more local experiences… So on the subsequent trips, I decided to set it right and tried to get off the beaten path for a taste of different, secret Rome even if just for a little bit.

If you are also looking to get to know a bit different side of the Eternal City and visit a few of the hidden gems of Rome , this article will give you a few ideas. And if you wonder how to see these places, check out our recommended Rome itinerary for 4 days – in addition to all the ‘musts’, it also includes most of the hidden gems mentioned in this article.

I also included a map indicating all the hidden gems mentioned in this article. At the bottom of this article, you can also find some quirky and different local tours in Rome. Take a look!

Top 3 Unusual Things to Do in Rome:

  • Crypts, Catacombs & Bone Chapel .
  • Street Food Tour .
  • Ancient Appian Way, Aqueducts & Catacombs .

Quartiere Coppede is one of the hidden gems of Rome

In this article, we are sharing some of the less known, amazing places you can find in Rome that most tourists never see. Why are they ignored? Because the competition is fierce. That’s the one and only reason I can think of.

These are one by one top places and they would have no difficulty in attracting big crowds were it not for the bad luck of being located in the shadow of the ‘must-see’ places in Rome.

While some of these gems of Rome are somewhat known and more and more tourists seem to find their way to them, some others are still really undiscovered…

Update: This guide to some off-the-beaten-path places in Rome was originally published with just a few of my personal favorites. However, our readers wanted more ideas and more unique places to see. So we asked our fellow travel writers to share some of their favorite hidden gems of Rome and included them in this updated edition. I also added some more places and updates after our most recent visit to Rome.

This list will give you more ideas for unique places to visit in Rome than you’ll be able to do in one trip. Find out!

TIP: If you want to get a bit off the beaten path and discover the lesser-known side of Rome, consider these two tours: ancient Appian Way, aqueducts & catacombs by e-bike, and this street food tour with a local guide . After lots of research, we booked these two tours on our most recent visit and I can highly recommend them both to everyone looking to get to know Rome in a different way!

The hidden gems of Rome on the map

To make your trip planning easier, I created a map with all the hidden gems of Rome mentioned in this article. It should help you to better plan your visit – take a look below.

How to use this map:  Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.

Rome hidden gems and unique places to visit

Without further ado, here are some lesser-known and secret places, the hidden gems of Rome:

1. Quartiere Coppedè

Visiting Quartiere Coppedè was one of my absolute favorite experiences in Rome. We were walking down the regular busy street, then turned around the corner, and… WOW! There it was – Rome’s smallest district – Quartiere Coppedè .

Quartiere Coppedè is a fairy-tale-like neighborhood in Rome and is different from anything else I have ever seen. The best place to start exploring is by entering Quartiere Coppedè at the corner of Via Dora and Via Tagliamento.

The Coppedè neighborhood isn’t big and there are just a couple of really special buildings. However, it’s so unique that it makes the visit here really worth it. It’s one of those secret places in Rome that are completely off the beaten path and there are hardly any tourists around…

You can easily visit this neighborhood on your own, but if you prefer to go with a local guide and discover more hidden gems of Rome, there are a few tours that also visit here .

Quartiere Coppede in Rome

2. Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio

There are more than 900 churches in Rome, one more impressive than another and it would be impossible and somewhat pretentious to just pick one favorite. Santo Stefano Rotondo made it to my list of the hidden gems of Rome because it’s so very different from the other churches we visited in Rome.

Basilica of Santo Stefano Rotondo is the oldest example of a centrally planned church in Rome. The church was built in the 5th century and is famous for its 16-century graphic frescoes, portraying many scenes of martyrdom. This church has impressed me with the unusual circular architecture, somber interior, and truly authentic feel.

There is plenty of history and very old buildings in Rome, but only a few places make you feel like you traveled back in time. Santo Stefano Rotondo is one of them!

It’s hard to believe that this church is located within such a short walking distance from the Colosseum. It’s a truly hidden little secret that is well worth visiting if you have at least half an hour to spare.

This small church is a real secret gem of Rome, literally hidden. If you don’t know it’s there, it is quite easy to miss.

Practical information: Basilica of Santo Stefano Rotondo is located on Via di Santo Stefano Rotondo 7 (side street of Via Claudia), just a 10-15 minute walk from the Colosseum. It’s open to the public from 10 AM to 1 PM and from 2 PM to 5 PM (October to March) and from 3 PM to 6 PM during the summer months.

Basilica of Santo Stefano Rotondo - secret places in Rome

3. Trastevere

Trastevere is a somewhat lesser-visited district in central Rome. It’s one of the places where you can find a very pleasant local atmosphere and some of the best food in Rome.

Located just across the Tiber River from the city center, is probably the most charming district in Rome. Out of all the places on this list, Trastevere is the most popular one with tourists. However, most travelers seem to limit their visit to Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere and a few streets around it.

The moment you leave the busy square next to the church, the number of tourists decreases dramatically. Just two-three blocks further and you are left to explore the charming old neighborhood all on your own.

There is also an outdoor food market on Piazza di San Cosimato and, together with a couple of restaurants and a playground, it’s a part of the city that gives you a truly local feel.

Trastevere is not a secret place by any means, but as it often goes, most people never take the time to explore it deeper.

TIP: If you can, plan to have lunch or dinner in Trastevere as there are so many good local restaurants in the area. Try to avoid places with pictures on the menu and look for the ones where locals eat. For an even more authentic experience, join this highly-rated Trastevere food tour with a local .

Charming Trastevere district in Rome

If you are interested, you can find some authentic food stores like Antica Caciara selling some of the best cheeses in Rome or Pasticceria Valzani selling traditional pastries.

There are more of these really old shops in Trastevere and while they may look charming to one, somebody else may find that they bear lots of resemblance to the old food stores in the communist countries three-four decades back in time…

I find that small neighborhood stores are well worth paying a visit in order to get a more authentic feel for the place. It’s better than the souvenir stands anyway.

Another great way to discover the local side of Rome and the food of Trastevere is by doing this food tour . It brings you to some secret places you wouldn’t easily find on your own, while at the same time allowing you to taste some local delicacies.

TIP: For an even more local experience, check this highly-rated Rome food tour in an even lesser-known district, the Jewish Quarter. It includes samples of typical Roman dishes, wine and beer tastings, and of course, the Italian Gelato! We did this tour on our most recent trip to Rome and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Local places in Rome - Pasticceria Valzani in Trastevere

4. Aventine Hill and Knights of Malta Keyhole

Recommended by Lori of TravlinMad

A visit to Rome’s Aventine Hill , the southernmost of the Seven Hills of Rome, offers a peaceful respite from the bustling city and crowds. Here, you can find not one, but several bucket list-worthy hidden gems of Rome. 

Steeped in ancient Roman history, the Aventine was home to plebeians during the days of the Republic. Today, the area is comprised of upscale residences, sumptuous gardens, and elegant churches and monasteries with a wealth of architectural interest.

Don’t miss the Basilica of Santa Sabina ( Basilica di Santa Sabina all’Aventino ), one of Rome’s oldest basilicas. Its interior is especially worth seeing!

One of the defining sites on Aventine Hill is the Orange Trees Garden ( Giardino degli Aranci ), one of the city’s most beautiful parks. It’s also one of the largest parks in Rome at nearly 8,000 square meters. Not only is the park worth a visit for its secluded location and feel, but it also offers some of the best views in Rome .

Just nearby, you can find one of Rome’s most interesting hidden gems – the Knights of Malta Keyhole in Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. Near the parking lot and behind the big green door is where you can steal a peek through the keyhole and be treated to one of the most unique views of Saint Peter’s Basilica through the hedges. The view technically spans three countries – across the autonomous property of the Knights of Malta, through a patch of Italy, and over to the Vatican.

Practical information: A visit here is free of charge, but keep in mind that the garden is only open until sunset. The Priory Keyhole is no longer a secret place in Rome. Recently, it has become a very popular site and so expect a long queue at the keyhole. However, it’s usually quieter early in the morning or in the evening at around sunset.

View through the Knights of Malta Keyhole in Giardino degli Aranci in Rome

5. Via Margutta

Recommended by Helga of ShegoWandering

Via Margutta is a beautiful street hidden between Piazza di Spagna’s Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo. As it’s off the main road, it’s never busy, and it’s an absolutely magical place, with beautiful Italian palazzos covered with ivys all along the street. Originally, Via Margutta was home of various stables and workshops, but that has changed in the last century.

The street became famous after the premiere of the movie ‘ Roman Holiday ‘ with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Pack in 1953. Roman Holiday is one of the most iconic movies ever made in the Italian capital. Since the main male character, Joe Bradley, lived on Via Margutta in the movie, the street became famous straight away.

Thanks to the success of this film, many famous people moved to Via Margutta in the 60s -70s. The neighborhood of Via Margutta became an exclusive, super expensive place to live in Rome. Also today, it’s still the residence of wealthier Romans.

In addition to its beautiful buildings, this quiet, cozy, and colorful street also has some unique places to visit. On Via Margutta, you can find numerous amazing art galleries, luxury shops, and high-end restaurants.

TIP: If you’re a fan of the Roman Holiday , you can also visit the palazzo where Joe Bradley was living in the movie. It’s located on Via Margutta 51.

Via Margutta in Rome

6. Doria Pamphili Gallery

Recommended by Dymphe of Dym Abroad

The Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is a beautiful and interesting palace in the center of Rome. It’s absolutely stunning, easy to visit, but is not very well-known. You can easily walk here from other famous sights in Rome, such as the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, or the Victor Emmanuel II Monument.

The interior of the palazzo is lavishly decorated. Inside the palace, everywhere you look, you can see amazing art and impressive architectural details. Furthermore, the courtyard of the palace is also very nice to visit.

But there’s more to this palace than its looks! Inside, you’ll find the Doria Pamphilj Gallery . This is one of the best museums in Rome! All the artwork was collected by the Doria Pamphilj family, a princely Roman family, and contains works from various periods in time. Most of the paintings were made by famous painters, such as Velázquez, Raphael, and Titian.

The combination of the beautiful palace and its rich art collection makes a visit to Palazzo Doria Pamphilj one of the best activities for those looking to get off the beaten path and experience a truly unique place in Rome.

Practical information: The entrance fee includes an audio guide. The gallery is open on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and public holidays from 9.30 AM till 7 PM and on Friday from 11:30 AM till 11 PM. For more information, check their website (in Italian) or book your tickets here (in English).

Doria Pamphili Gallery in Rome

7. Capuchin Crypt of Santa Maria della Concezione

Recommended by Roxanne of Faraway Worlds

If you are looking for something unique to do in Rome, don’t miss the Capuchin Crypt at Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins (Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini). This is one of the best and easy-to-visit Rome underground sites .

Underneath the church lie the bones of almost 4,000 monks. What’s unusual about this crypt is that the bones aren’t buried. Instead, they adorn the six tiny chapels below the church.

In 1631, the Capuchin monks left their home at the friary of St. Bonaventure near the Trevi Fountain and moved to the Santa Maria della Concezione. The cardinal ordered them to bring the remains of their deceased brothers with them, so all the Capuchin friars could rest in one place. This they did. However, instead of burying the bones, they decorated the walls of the crypts with them.

Capuchin Crypt in Rome

The bones of all the monks who died between 1528 and 1870 decorate the crypt walls, the effect both disquieting and strangely beautiful. The ornaments vary in nature – there are separate crypts for the different bones (skulls, legs, and pelvises), light-fittings made from finger bones, and a skeleton holding a scythe and scales (both, of course, made of bones).

This was meant as a reminder for the monks that death is inevitable. A plaque in one of the chapels reads “What you are now, we once were. What we are now, you shall be”. Wandering through the chapels is a melancholy experience, somehow intertwining death, art and religion. 

Practical information: Santa Maria della Concezione is located on the Via Veneto near Piazza Barberini, a short walk from the Trevi Fountain. The crypts are open from 9 AM to 7 PM daily. Keep in mind that modest clothing is required and photography is not allowed these days anymore.

TIP: If you like crypts and catacombs, you may want to join one of the popular tours that visit these unique places in Rome. This is the most popular tour that visits the Capuchin Crypt, the Catacombs, and more . Check it out!

Secret places in Rome - Capuchin Crypt of Santa Maria della Concezione

8. Largo di Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary

Recommended by Cindy of Travel Bliss Now

Largo di Torre Argentina is a town square in the heart of Rome, just a few blocks from the Pantheon. Chances are that you’ll notice the ruins just below street level at Largo di Torre Argentina. What you might not know is that this is the very spot where Julius Caesar was assassinated. Nowadays, it’s a  cat sanctuary .

The ruins of four temples and the remains of Pompey’s Theatre date back as far as the 4 th  century B.C. Julius Caesar was killed on the steps of the theatre on the Ides of March 44 B.C.

When the site was excavated in 1929, feral cats moved in. The cat ladies of Rome started looking after them and eventually established a shelter in one corner of the site. Now, 130 cats live in the ruins. And that’s what also makes this place more special to visit – not just the history, but also the cats.

Good to know: You can’t access the ruins, but can see the site and the cats, at no cost, from street level. And because this place is so central, you can easily add it to your itinerary, even if you only have a day in Rome . You can also visit the shelter itself, where about 20 elderly or disabled cats live. To get there, take the stairs down to the site at the corner of Via Florida and Via di Torre Argentina. 

Practical information: The cat sanctuary is open from noon to 6 PM on weekdays, and 11 AM to 6 PM on weekends. There is no charge to visit, but donations are welcome. You can find more information on their website .

Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome

9. Vatican Necropolis & St Peter’s Tomb

Recommended by Nicholas of Rambling Feet

St Peter’s Basilica is one of the most well-known and visited sites within Rome, but few people visit the ancient Roman necropolis that lies buried under the church.

It is partly because you cannot simply rock up and buy a ticket or wait in line to enter. The process starts with writing to the  Vatican Scavi office  ahead of time, hoping you get a reply confirming your spot on a guided tour. If successful, you would be one of only 250 visitors who would be permitted to enter that day. 

As the tour descends the stairs to the underground necropolis (there are no lifts), you will be taken two millennia back in time. Vatican Hill was once outside the city walls of Rome. It covered in the 1st and 2nd-century mausoleums that lie under the present-day St Peter’s Basilica. Incredibly, they were discovered only 80 years ago and the paintings on some mausoleums are very well-preserved.

Inside, there are also old piers and structures that date to Emperor Constantine’s Old St Peter’s Basilica. That church was torn down and replaced in the 1500s by the Bramante/Michelangelo masterpiece that we see today.

For pilgrims, the Vatican Necropolis is especially significant because it is also the site of the tomb of the Apostle St Peter . To paraphrase the Bible, the tour takes you to see the “rock” on which the Church was built.

Good to know: Vatican Necropolis is very humid and stuffy, so I would not recommend visiting it in the middle of a Roman summer. No photography is permitted during the tour, hence the publicly-sourced photo for this write-up. Lastly, the tour ends in the Vatican grottoes where the popes are buried, which means that taking this underground tour is one of the  ways you can skip the queue to enter St Peter’s Basilica . 

Alternatively, you can just visit the underground of St. Peter’s Basilica – Vatican Grottoes. Here, you can visit the publically accessible St. Peter’s Tomb (one level higher than the original St Peter’s Tomb) and see where some of the Popes are buried. It’s not the same as going deeper, of course, but much easier to do without any prior arrangements.

TIP: You can also do this with this amazing tour that includes St. Peter’s Basilica and Dome visit as well as the underground grottos. We recently did this tour and it was a good way to learn more about the Basilica without getting overwhelmed or trying to figure out where exactly to go and what’s worth seeing the most.

Vatican Necropolis is one of the secret places in Rome

10. Appian Way

Recommended by Jyoti of Story at Every Corner

Dating from 312-264 BC, Appian Way was the first and the most strategic road in Rome. Used for military transportation, this road also led to many conquests for the Roman Empire. These days, visiting the Appian Road is one of the most special, unique things to do in Rome! After all, how many things stand the test of time for thousands of years?!

The Appian Way is the longest straight road in Europe (62 km). It went from Rome to the coastal town of Brindisi, on the other end of the peninsula. Many of the sections of this iconic 2,300 years old road survive to this day. Much of it is renovated and used by cars and other vehicles. So you can drive on the oldest road in Europe! 

There are many ways to explore this historic route. Most locals come for a stroll and a peaceful walk on the quiet tree-lined sections of the road. For a quick visit, the easiest way is to come with an e-bike tour . We opted for a horseback ride. The section we visited is well preserved with its original stone road and remains of many buildings, temples, and mausoleums next to it.

TIP: On hot summer days, it’s best to visit in the morning or evening. 

Practical info: There is no entry fee or even an entrance gate for the road. You can visit any time. As already said, the easiest way to visit is with a tour . Alternatively, you can get here by bus. You’ll have to check the bus route and schedule on Rome’s transit site .

TIP: This Appian Way, Aqueducts & Catacombs e-bike tour also visits the Appian Way, Roman Aqueducts, and it includes a visit to the Catacombs of St. Callisto (more info about these places – below). We did this bike tour on our most recent visit to Rome and it was one of the best days in the city! It’s such a great way to explore Rome off the beaten path and see so many amazing hidden gems in a short time.

Unique things to do in Rome - Appian Way

11. Catacombs of St. Callixtus

There are few places in Rome that are as unique and as special as the Catacombs of St. Callixtus (Catacombe di San Callisto). So if you are looking to discover hidden Rome, definitely consider a visit here. Nowhere else can you feel and experience history as you do here!

St. Callixtus Catacombs are located just outside the city walls of Rome, along the Appian Way. It’s an ancient burial site containing about 500,000 tombs dating from the 2nd-4th centuries. It’s best known for the Crypt of the Popes, where some of the first popes were buried, the grave of St. Cecilia, and some ancient frescoes.

The catacombs have several underground layers connected by staircases and about 20km of tunnels. You can only visit here with a guide, so no worries about getting lost. A guided tour includes a visit to the second underground layer where the most interesting crypts and graves are located. You also walk through several corridors and a visit here gives you a very good idea of the vastness of this site.

Good to know: It’s not a creepy place and one that you can also visit with children (there were lots of kids when we visited and – with the right explanation – they all seemed to be really interested and found the visit fascinating). All the open graves that you’ll see have been emptied and the bones were moved to the lower levels where tourists aren’t allowed (this is because of the vandalism in the past).

Practical info: St. Callixtus Catacombs are open daily except for Wednesdays and some public holidays, in the morning from 9 am to 12 and in the afternoon from 2 pm to 5 pm. You have to book your tickets in advance – see their website for more info or book your tickets here .

The catacombs are located outside the city and can be reached by public transport. You can also drive here by car or taxi. However, the easiest way to visit here is with an organized tour , often in combination with the Appian Way and/or some other interesting sites. That way, you don’t have to worry about any practicalities.

TIP: As already mentioned before, we visited these catacombs on this Appian Way, Aqueducts & Catacombs e-bike tour . It’s a wonderful tour that covers some of the most unique places in Rome in just half a day. Highly recommended!

Catacombs of St Callixtus in Rome

12. Chiesa Santa Maria Addolorata

In the city of 900 churches, one more impressive than the other, Chiesa Santa Maria Addolorata (Church of Our Lady of Sorrows) is well worth including in your list of the hidden gems to visit. Not only because it’s located close to the earlier-mentioned Coppedé district, but also because it’s truly beautiful!

Commissioned by Argentine priests and sponsored by Argentine bishops, this was the first South American national church in Rome. It took 20 years to build and the church was inaugurated in 1930.

Chiesa Santa Maria Addolorata on Piazza Buenos Aires is quite different from most of the other churches in Rome. On the outside, you’ll find beautiful mosaics that change color depending on the light. Inside, the church has two levels and a Neo-Byzantine interior with even more impressive mosaics.

Good to know: There are two churches in Rome with the same name. See our map for the exact location.

Practical information: The church is open daily and is free to visit.

Chiesa Santa Maria Addolorata on Piazza Buenos Aires in Rome

13. Gianicolo – Janiculum Hill

Gianicolo or the Janiculum Hill , also called the 8th Hill of Rome, is another beautiful area that is overlooked by most travel guides. It offers some of the best views of the city of Rome !

Gianicolo is located South of Vatican City, just above Trastevere, and can be easily reached on foot. It’s a bit of a climb though, but the views over the city of Rome are certainly worth it.

The main attraction is the Piazzale Garibaldi with Giuseppe Garibaldi Monument and a cannon that fires each day at noon. In addition, make sure not to miss the 17th-century Aqua Paola Fountain (Fontana dell’Acqua Paola) as well.

Gianicolo is an amazingly quiet area and a good way to escape the city and get a bit off the beaten path.

TIP: One of the best ways to explore Gianicolo and some of the other further located areas in Rome is by taking a bike. You can rent a bike or join a highly-rated electric bike small-group tour .

Private e-bike tours are also available and are great if you want to explore Rome deeper with a local guide but at your own pace.

City view from Gianicolo Hill in Rome

14. Park of the Aqueducts

Recommended by Anda of  Travel for a while

One of the most interesting places in Rome – and a hidden gem at the same time – is the Aqueducts Park ( Parco degli Acquedotti ). This protected area in the southeast of the city hosts two major aqueducts – Aqua Felix and Aqua Claudia – and the remains of a few others.

These aqueducts were used to bring water from the Alban Hills to the busy city of Rome. Aqua Felix was built by Pope Sixtus V in the 16th century. Aqua Claudia is a much older aqueduct, finished during the reign of Emperor Claudius, in 52 AD. Aqua Claudia is still very impressive with its huge arches dominating the fields.

The Romans used only gravity to bring clean water from the higher ground of the hills to the city. The water filled Rome’s many fountains and was used for drinking and bathing.

The best time to visit the Aqueducts Park is just before sunset. The aqueducts and the umbrella pine trees create a picture-perfect setting at that time. A small part of the Ancient Via Latina is also visible in the Aqueducts Park. The locals come here with their bikes or their dogs, or just for a run. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon with friends or family.

Practical info: You can easily reach the Park of the Aqueducts from Rome’s center by metro line A to either Lucio Sestio or Giulio Agricola stations. The park is a short walk away from the metro station and it is free to visit.

TIP: This highly-rated small-group e-bike tour visits the Park of the Aqueducts, as well as several other hidden gems of Rome mentioned in this article. We did this tour and LOVED it. Check it out!

The Aqueducts Park in Rome

15. Galleria Sciarra

Recommended by Kate of Our Escape Clause

Located a mere two-minute walk away from the famous Trevi Fountain, visiting the Galleria Sciarra is both easy and well worth the small effort. This beautiful courtyard, which today stands in the center of an office building, was commissioned by Prince Maffeo Barberini-Colonna di Sciarra in the late 19th century to connect several pieces of his property together.

Repeating a fairly common story in modern Italy, what was once the private realm of wealthy citizens has morphed into a public space. Today, Romans use the Galleria Sciarra as a shortcut when walking across the city.

The courtyard is decorated in an intricate Art Nouveau style, with an iron-and-glass ceiling that brings beautiful light to the space and, most strikingly, intricate frescoes showing off the “Glorification of Women”. The frescoes are painted to show off what the artist, Giuseppe Cellini, believed to be female virtues, including strength, justice, and faithfulness, among others.

Soaring high above a visitor’s line of sight, it’s easy to spend several minutes craning your neck upward to make out various details of the frescoes when visiting this hidden gem in Rome.

Practical information: The Galleria Sciarra is located at Via Marco Minghetti, 10, 00187 Roma RM. While it is a very short walk from the Trevi Fountain, you’re very unlikely to stumble across it accidentally–the courtyard lurks just out of sight, tucked into an unassuming yellow building. As the Galleria Sciarra is located in an office building, it is open to visitors during business hours.

Galleria Sciarra - secret places in Rome

16. Domus Aurea – Nero’s Golden House

Recommended by Steph of The Mediterranean Traveller

Hidden in plain sight is one of Rome’s most intriguing archaeological sites – Domus Aurea , or Nero’s Golden House. It’s located in a leafy park just over the road from the Colosseum, but not many people know about it. Don’t go expecting a literal palace of gold though. This one is underground, although confusingly also at ground level, and was stripped of its splendor a long time ago.

So what’s the story? You may have heard of Nero, the fifth emperor of Ancient Rome whose cruelty and madness is legendary. He famously fiddled as Rome burned in the Great Fire of AD 64. There were even rumors that he started the fire himself. Whether or not these stories are true, Nero did use the opportunity to seize a lot of the damaged land for his new palace project.

The site then became a vast country estate in the heart of the city, possibly as large as 300 acres. At its core was an extravagant villa complex designed for entertaining –  lined with frescos, gold leaf, gleaming marble, and mosaics made with ivory and semi-precious stones.

There was a golden dome with an oculus, endless pools and fountains, and reputedly even a banquet hall that rotated as guests were showered with rose petals. Domus Aurea represented the best of Roman art and engineering and the worst of its excesses.

Frescos at Domus Aurea in Rome

After Nero’s death, the complex was destroyed by subsequent emperors and the land was returned to public use. The main building was filled with rubble and built over – the Baths of Trajan are directly above. 

And so Domus Aurea was lost until the 15th century when a local fell through a hole in the ground and found himself in a cave filled with intricate paintings. The gems and gold had been looted after Nero’s death, but the rubble protected the frescos from light and moisture. The discovery of these caves ( grottos ) had a big influence on the early Renaissance artists of the time.

Excavations at the Domus Aurea are ongoing. Nowadays, you can take a guided tour led by one of the archaeologists. There’s a fantastic virtual reality experience in one room that gives you a sense of what the grounds and building would have looked like in Nero’s time.

Practical information: Domus Aurea can only be visited with an official guide and tickets must be purchased in advance! You can opt for just a guided visit or – recommended – a tour that also includes an amazing Virtual Reality Experience .

Also, don’t trust Google Maps to find it. Instead, walk along the Via della Domus Aurea from the Colosseum, turn left at Viale Serapide, and look for the gate.

Domus Aurea Oculus

17. Baths of Caracalla

Recommended by Katy of Untold Italy

Rome is full of ancient Roman landmarks and 2000-year-old sites , but if you are looking for a really special place, don’t miss the Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla or Termae Anthoninianae) . These are some of the most impressive Roman Empire ruins still standing in the Eternal City.

Built around 212 AD, the baths were in use for 300 years before falling into ruin. At their peak, the Baths of Caracalla (named after the son of the Roman Emperor who commissioned them) was the second-largest bathhouse in the city.

In fact, it is best to think of this site as more like a modern day leisure center. Along with bathing houses, there were also saunas, a sports center, an Olympic-size swimming pool, gardens, and libraries for the Roman citizens to enjoy. The baths themselves were heated by a system of underground furnaces.

When you visit the baths, you can appreciate the grandeur and scale of this complex. Now a working archaeological site, you can watch stunning mosaics being painstakingly uncovered and restored.

TIP: Make sure you choose the interactive guide! It shows you virtual reconstructions of the baths based on the archeologic research. This digital project shows how the baths were constructed and then filled with art and sculpture that covered the walls and ceilings that soared 44 meters overhead. 

Practical information: The Baths of Caracalla are located on Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 52, close to the Circus Maximus and Metro Line B Circo Massimo. You can find more information on the official website . Alternatively, you can also visit here with this highly-rated tour that includes several other ancient landmarks as well.

Baths of Caracalla in Rome

18. Villa Borghese

Villa Borghese is the largest public park in Rome and it’s a great refuge from the hectic noisy streets of the city. The park is huge and you would probably need a day to see most of what it has to offer, but it’s a nice place to escape the city, even if just for a few hours.

The park is known as the ‘park of museums’, the most famous one being the Galleria Borghese which is located in the Villa Borghese after which the park is named. But there is more to the park: the lake and many fountains, the old-fashioned puppet theatre, a small zoo, the beautiful gardens,…

Villa Borghese park is located to the North of the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo and is a bit outside of the regular tourists’ routes and even outside some of the city maps, but it’s not really that far. You can easily walk there from the city center.

The best way to explore the park is by bike and there are several places where you can rent one. There is also a small tourist train driving around the park in the high season. If you are visiting Rome with a family, you could rent one of the 4-6 seater bikes to explore the park.

I really enjoyed this oasis of green and quiet in the middle of the noisy city. It is the perfect place to escape the heat in summer, to have a picnic, let your kids play, or just relax.

TIP:  If you want to visit the Borghese Gallery, you have to book the tickets in advance !

The gardens of Villa Borghese

19. St. Clement Basilica

Recommended by Annalisa by Travel Connect Experience

The Basilica San Clemente , located just a short walk from the Colosseum, is one of the most overlooked  Rome monuments . From the outside, it might look like any other church in Rome, but this Basilica has so much more to offer than it looks at first sight!

Basilica di San Clemente has three underground layers. They were built in a different time period and each is unique. Visiting here allows you to take a journey through the history and ancient ‘layers’ of Rome all the way back to the 1st century.

As you enter, the 17th-century facade introduces you to a medieval church. The church that you see dates back to the 12th century. It has three naves with a gold inlaid mosaic in the apse and can be visited for free.

With a 10 euro ticket, on the other hand, you have access to the underground levels that preserve 2000 years of history . The Dominican friars who manage the Basilica and the adjoining convent discovered the underground levels at the end of the 19th century, during renovation work.

Immediately below street level is an early Christian basilica from the 4th century. Its altar holds a relic of St. Cyril and impressive frescoes on the walls.

Basilica San Clemente in Rome

On the floor below, are the remains of two Roman buildings from the 1st century. Inside one ‘building’ that appears like the foundations of a Roman villa, you’ll find a temple dedicated to the god Mithras with a statue of Mithras subduing the bull.

The other ‘building’ is protected by huge megalithic stones – this is probably a place where they used to create coins.

The floor further down dates back to the time of the burning of Rome by Nero, 64 AD.

Practical information: Basilica di San Clemente is open daily. For opening hours and more information, please check their website . Alternatively, this tour visits Basilica San Clemente and a few other hidden gems.

READ ALSO: Rome Underground Sites, Crypts & Catacombs

Mithras temple in Basilica San Clemente in Rome

20. Isola Tiberina

Recommended by Jiayi of  The Diary of a Nomad

Did you know that there’s an island in the middle of Rome’s city center? And not just an island. Tiber Island (Isola Tiberina) is one of the smallest inhabited islands in the world and a real hidden gem in the city. Furthermore, it’s only a 20-minute walk from the Colosseum and is the perfect place to stop by during a stroll on the Lungotevere (Tiber Waterfront).

Floating on the River Tiber, Isola Tiberina is about the size of three football fields. The island is home to Basilica di San Bartolomeo , which dates back to the 10th century and was built on top of an ancient temple. Inside the basilica, you can see relics from Catholic martyrs that have been chewed up by lions in the Colosseum.

There’s also a restaurant and a 400-year-old hospital on the island, which is still in operation today.

The true magic of Isola Tiberina is its transformation into an annual film festival hub in the summer. A pop-up amphitheater is set up there, with hundreds of guests attending different screenings every day.

On summer evenings, Isola Tiberina also comes alive with rows and rows of pop-up bars and restaurants on the island’s riverbanks. The nighttime atmosphere there is truly breathtaking, with tons of locals packing the bars and expats meeting up for drinks while live music plays nearby.

But no matter the season, Isola Tiberina is always worth a few minutes of your time. If you’re strolling around the city center of Rome, definitely check out this tiny hidden gem on the River Tiber!

Isola Tiberina in Rome on a summer evening

21. Palazzo Massimo alle Terme

Recommended by Stella Jane of Around the World in 24 Hours

The Palazzo Massimo alle Terme , home to one of the branches of the National Roman Museum, is a real gem! It houses one of the most fascinating collections of Roman artifacts and architecture in the city, but doesn’t get nearly as many visitors as the most popular landmarks!

In just a couple of hours here, you can explore the beautiful creations of ancient Rome without the crowds that you find at the Colosseum or the Roman Forum.

Fans of ancient art will love the Roman sculptures and jewelry here. But the most impressive part of the museum is its remarkably intact ancient mosaics. The museum even has some mosaics that come from the Villa of Livia, Emperor Augustus’s wife.

There are also fragments of a temple dating back to the reign of Emperor Claudius. It’s easy to see why some call this museum one of the finest archaeological museums in the world .

Even if you normally don’t like museums, you will enjoy exploring the more unusual parts of the Massimo alle Terme. The museum itself is located in a 19th-century palace, so the building itself is very beautiful. Enjoy the shade and admire the sculptures and greenery in the palazzo’s outdoor courtyard.

TIP: Your admission ticket will also allow you to explore the nearby Baths of Diocletian, also part of the National Roman Museum. These were the largest Imperial baths in all ancient Rome and remain a spectacular place to explore today.

Practical information: Palazzo Massimo is open from 9 AM to 7:45 PM every day but Monday. Admission is 10 Euros. You can find more information on their website .

Courtyard of Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in Rome

22. Park Caffarella

Recommended by Gabi of Under Flowery Sky

Park Caffarella is a large park in central Rome, only 15 minutes walk from the Colosseum. But it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the popular tourist areas. This is a place that is mostly visited by locals. You’ll have difficulties believing it’s in Rome!

So if you want to know the local way of life and get to know a very different side of Rome, I truly suggest visiting Caffarella. Here, you can discover Roman ruins, visit a cheese-farm factory (Casale Della Vaccareccia), see the Tomb of Annia Regilla and the Old Mill Farmstead, or simply take a walk through this simple park.

Historical treasures within the park include the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metela, the Temple of Ceres and Faustina, an artificial cave called Nymphaeum of Egeria with its water source, and also a Great Cistern.

The Almone River that flows into the Tiber adds to the charm of the park. In ancient times, botanical life was much richer here, but also nowadays you can still see a big variety of flora and fauna.

It’s a great place to discover the rural side of Rome, to watch over 70 species of birds, and animals like goats, sheep, and foxes. You’ll also find maple trees, oaks, walnuts, fig trees, wild roses, wild apples, and so much more.

The park continues to the ancient Appian Way (see higher above) where the Roman Aurelian’s Wall proudly stays. These Walls encircled all the seven hills around the Eternal City.

Practical information: Park Caffarella is located very centrally. You can walk here from Colosseum or take a metro to Furio Camillo station. The best way to enter the park is through Via Macedonia.

Tomb of Annia Regilla and the Old Mill Farmstead in Park Caffarella in Rome

So, here are some of the hidden gems of Rome, the city that has thousands of incredible gems, secret finds, and unique places. Most of these places are really worth your time, but of course, there’s no way to visit them all if you are only in Rome for a few days…

But even if you choose just a few places from this list, you’ll discover a very different side of Rome. A truly unique city that has more secrets than any other place in the world.

The good news is that most of these places are quite easy to visit in combination with the highlights of Rome. Getting just a bit off the beaten tourist track will make your trip to Rome so much more special and memorable!

READ ALSO: Best Views & Viewpoints in Rome

Best tours to get off the beaten path in Rome

If you are looking for more hidden gems of Rome or want to explore the more local side of this beautiful city, but aren’t sure where to start, I recommend booking one or several organized tours with a local.

These great tours bring you to the lesser-known places of Rome and show you a different side of the city that you wouldn’t see otherwise.

Here are some highly-rated local tours that I selected especially for our readers . These are one by one excellent and highly-rayed tours that will show you a different side of Rome, far away from the beaten tourist paths. Take a look:

  • By e-bike: Ancient Appian Way, Aqueducts & Catacombs E-Bike Tour .
  • Walking tour: Dark Heart of Rome – Facts, Legend & Mystery Walking Tour .
  • Bus + walking: Crypts & Catacombs Tour with Bone Chapel Visit .
  • Walking food tour: Small-Group Street Food Tour .

READ ALSO: Best Street Food Tour in Rome with a Local Guide

More information and inspiration for your trip to Rome:

  • Tips for Planning a Trip to Rome
  • Top Things to Do in Rome
  • Guide to Colosseum Tickets & Levels
  • 1 Day in Rome (all the best places and one or two lesser-known gems)
  • 2 Days in Rome (includes a few hidden gems)
  • How to See the Best of Rome in 4 Days (includes most of the hidden gems mentioned in this article)
  • Best Area to Stay in Rome
  • How to Get to Rome from Fiumicino or Ciampino Airports
  • Where to Eat in Rome
  • Ancient Rome Landmarks (the oldest Roman sites you can still see in Rome today)

READ ALSO: Italy itinerary: how to see the best places in 2 weeks

If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

Hidden gems and unique places to see in Rome Italy

More travel inspiration and tips for Italy:

  • What to see:  Best Places to Visit in Italy
  • Italy in low season: Rome in November & Italy in November
  • Cities: Most Beautiful Cities in Italy
  • Food:  Italian Food by Region & Where to Eat in Rome
  • Milan:   Must-see in Milan & One Day in Milan
  • Venice: Best Things to Do in Venice & One Day in Venice & Doge’s Palace (must-see!) & Venice Gondola (must-do!)
  • Florence: Best Things to Do in Florence & One Day in Florence & Florence Rooftops
  • Cinque Terre:  One Day in Cinque Terre & Tips & Info for Visiting Cinque Terre
  • Tuscany:  Most Beautiful Towns in Tuscany & Tuscany Itinerary & Siena & Montepulciano
  • Amalfi Coast:   Amalfi Coast Itinerary & Where to Stay on Amalfi Coast & How to Get from Naples to Amalfi Coast
  • Naples: Best Things to Do in Naples & Where to Stay in Naples & One Day in Naples & Best Day Trips from Naples
  • Emilia Romagna:  Emilia Romagna Itinerary & Best of Rimini
  • San Marino: Complete Guide to Visiting San Marino
  • Italian Lakes:  Lake Garda  & Lake Como &  Bellagio & Best Lakes in the Dolomites
  • Italian Mountains:  Best Hikes in the Dolomites & Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites & Best Lakes in the Dolomites
  • … for many more places all over the country, see our Italy travel guide .

Secret places in Rome Italy

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Tuesday 27th of June 2023

Thank you so much for the e-bike tour recommendation! It was a last-minute decision for us because we needed a break from the crowds and hustle & bustle of the city. It was the highlight of our time in Rome. My 14-year old really enjoyed himself and it was wonderful to see a different side of Rome.

I'm really glad to hear that, Nicole. We also loved that tour. One of the best memories of the trip for sure. Enjoy the rest of your vacation!

Patricia Marshall

Saturday 20th of May 2023

My friend and I just returned from a 3 week trip to Italy and were in Rome for a week. We were getting overwhelmed while researching things to see and do (outside of the “usual” ie Vatican, Trevi Fountain etc). Then we found this blog. It certainly helped to target unusual and less-touristy places and we were able to check off 11 out of 22. Although the imbedded map couldn’t be used, we pinned each of the places on our own Google map. Thank you so much for doing all the legwork for us.

Monday 22nd of May 2023

Glad to help, Patricia. Happy travels! PS In case anyone else is wondering about the map. You have to save it to your Google account by clicking on the little star icon. However, you do need mobile network coverage or wi-fi in order to use these maps. Regular Google Maps with your personal 'saved' locations can be downloaded and used offline as well. So indeed, if you are unsure about your data coverage, it's best to save the locations of those places that you want to visit in your own personal Google Maps account.

Tuesday 28th of March 2023

hi and thanks so much for such useful hints and info .

how can i print or copy soem of the info on your blog . we are travelling to Rome and want to custom our trip based on some of the info you have provided . is there a subscription ?

Wednesday 29th of March 2023

Hi Tarek, you can just print whatever you need by using Ctrl+p or simply choose print in your browser menu. Have a great trip!

Tuesday 13th of September 2022

We enjoyed some of these places after reading this. Enjoyed the fountain Paola, pamphilj gallery, Malta keyhole and the coppede area. Via Magurtta was not at all nice anymore, tho. It was near to several pretty streets that we went back to time after time, tho. At the paola fountains go to a fine dining place called Antico Arco up the hill a bit from there. It was difficult getting back via taxi from coppede area. Another hidden gem is the Etruscan museum near Villa Borghese. That whole area is beautiful. Went to the modern art museum there. If you have been to modern art places in big cities before you may be disappointed but the horse figures will disrupt your day in not a good way but,hey it is art. Thanks for this site!

Friday 16th of September 2022

Glad to help and thanks for sharing your experience, Heidi. It might be useful to our other readers. PS We just passed Via Margutta a few months ago and I found it quite nice to see. It's not something I'd go out of my way for, but that's the area most people visit anyway, so why not walk through... Happy travels!

Sunday 27th of March 2022

Hi, thanks so much for this writeup! This exactly the type of exploring and discovering that my husband and I love to do. A few questions: This is our first time to Italy. We're trying to squeeze in a week-long trip as our 2nd honeymoon/babymoon before our baby comes in July. I'll be 26 weeks pregnant when I visit and am prone to foot pain after a few hours of walking. How do you recommend that we tour? I'm leaning toward Rome>Florence>Siena>Tuscany towns> and then flying out of Rome or whatever is cheapest and accessible within 3 hours. Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated! xo

@Jurga, the taxis are cheap here…

Monday 28th of March 2022

Hi Yonit, there are always ways to visit the cities depending on your interests and abilities. If you can't walk a long time, maybe you can opt for a let's say a golf-cart tour or a hop-on hop-off bus. But these will usually cover the main sights and not the off-the-beaten-path places. In general, you'll have to walk quite a lot in order to experience Rome. But you could limit the walking by planning your itinerary in such a way that you concentrate on just one area and visit many sights that are close to each other. Still, there's really no way to avoid walking - pretty much anything you do will involve quite some walking, some steps, and lots of cobblestones. For the other cities, it's pretty much the same situation, except that they are smaller than Rome and most highlights are concentrated closer to each other. Also, depending on when you travel, keep in mind that it can very warm and sightseeing can be exhausting. So make an itinerary that you're comfortable with, wear comfortable shoes, have sun protection, and maybe get a hotel with a pool where you can rest in the afternoons, etc. Your itinerary sounds ok, but it also depends a bit on how you travel. If you are traveling by train and don't want to change hotels/ carry luggage too often, you could just stay in e.g. Rome and Florence (3-4 days each), and then make day trips from Florence to the other places (by train or by tour, depending on what you want to see). Plan some free time for gelatos and long lunches, pool, etc., and make it into a more relaxing vacation without necessarily trying to see it 'all'. You'll love it either way. Good luck with the planning! PS Just last week I stumbled upon this hotel in Rome that looks perfect for a luxury honeymoon/babymoon. I haven't seen anything quite similar in Florence, but for my own trip in a few weeks, I have this hotel booked which also looks very nice for a combination of sightseeing and relaxing vacation.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

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  • 10 Unusual Things to Do in Rome

Crazy Things to Do in Rome

Here are some of the best crazy things to do in rome:, quick navigation.

Visit the famous Sistine Chapel

Visit The Marcello Theater

Visit The Marcello Theater

  • Visiting the Marcello Theater is surely one of the most Unusual things to do in Rome
  • It is one of the most famous and well-known theatres in the city, located near the Pantheon and the Forum
  • The theatre was used for plays, musical performances, and other entertainment in the bygone eras
  • As of today, you can walk through the ruins of this famous theatre, or even enjoy a play, concert, or opera here 

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Discover The Roman catacombs

Discover The Roman catacombs

  • Consisted to be one of the Crazy things to do in rome Italy, visiting the Roman Catacombs surely is something quite intriguing to have in your travel itinerary
  • The Roman Catacombs are a network of underground burial chambers in the city, and date back to the 2nd century AD
  • It is here where you can get a chance to witness how the early Christians used to bury their dead
  • They are a complex labyrinth of tunnels and chambers, and are a fascinating glimpse into the early history of Christianity in Rome
  • Today, you can visit the catacombs and see the ancient graves here, while also learning about the early persecution of Christians in Rome

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See The Skull of St Valentine

See The Skull of St Valentine

  • Seeing the skull of St. Valentine at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin is arguably amongst the top 10 unusual things to do in rome
  • The skull is real, and is said to be that of the saint himself
  • It is encased in a glass case in the Basilica, and is crowned with flowers
  • Witnessing the skull is definitely not for the faint-hearted, and gives off an eerie appeal, especially since it is said to have been exhumed from a graveyard in Rome in the 19th century
  • The skull is said to have been used in a healing ritual by a priest in the 19th century

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Enjoy a Movie on Tiber Island

Enjoy a Movie on Tiber Island

  • Tiber Island is the home of the L'Isola del Cinema's annual film festival, wherein you can watch movies outdoors, whilst being surrounded by the gushing Tiber River
  • Ranked as one of the most Unusual things to do in Rome, this experience is surely something not many people indulge in during their visit to the city
  • The island is also home to a small church, the Church of San Bartolomeo all'Isola, which was built in the 16th century, which you can explore for an even better experience

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Visit Pons Aemilius

Visit Pons Aemilius

  • When looking for Unusual things to do in Rome, try exploring Pons Aemilius, or Ponte Rotto, the oldest roman stone bridge in the city
  • The bridge is built over the Tiber River, and is said to be the first bridge built over the river, dating all the way back to 62 BCE
  • The bridge is 624 meters long and had 24 arches, and was destroyed by floods in 1598
  • Pons Aemilius was also used by the Roman army to cross the river and was the site of many battles

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See Michelangelo’s Last Judgment at The Vatican Museums

See Michelangelo’s Last Judgment at The Vatican Museums

  • Take some time out to see Michelangelo’s Last Judgement at the Vatican Museums, which is surely amongst the Crazy things to do in rome Italy
  • The Last Judgement is a painting by Michelangelo that can be found at the Vatican Museums in the city depicting the final judgement of all humanity by God, and is over 12 meters wide and more than 6 meters tall
  • It is also one of the largest paintings in the world, which took Michelangelo four years to complete
  • The painting is a highly detailed and complex work of art, and is full of symbolism and religious iconography

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Witness The Optical Illusion of St Peter’s Dome

Witness The Optical Illusion of St Peter’s Dome

  • If you are in search of Unusual things to do in Rome, try witnessing the magical optical illusion of the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica
  • Head to Via Niccolò Piccolomini, which offers the best views of the dome and is perfectly aligned with it as well
  • When you look at the dome from a distance, it appears to be much larger than it actually is, almost as if the dome is looming over you but as you get closer, you realize that the dome is actually quite small

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Walk Through The Age-Old Thermal Baths At The Baths of Caracalla

Walk Through The Age-Old Thermal Baths At The Baths of Caracalla

  • Another one of the most off-the-beaten paths and Crazy things to do in rome Italy is to wander through the ancient thermal baths at the Baths of Caracalla
  • The Baths of Caracalla are the largest surviving ruins of an ancient bath complex in the city
  • Today, you can witness an entire complex of brick walls, archways as well as the remains of floor mosaics in the ruins that lie here

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Indulge in Wine Tasting in The Frascati Region

Indulge in Wine Tasting in The Frascati Region

  • Head off to the unexplored region of Frascati and try wine tasting there when you are in Rome
  • Ranked amongst the top Unusual things to do in Rome, a wine tasting session in the Frascati region is a truly unique experience
  • The region is home to some of the best wines in the world, and is home to many vineyards and wineries
  • It is particularly known for its white wines, which are some of the best in the world

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Explore The Conditions At Mamertine Prison

Explore The Conditions At Mamertine Prison

  • For those who wish to try Crazy things to do in rome Italy, explore the ancient Mamertine Prison in the city
  • The prison was used to house criminals and prisoners of war, the most famous of which included Julius Caesar
  • The Mamertine Prison was not a very pleasant place to be, as the conditions were very cramped and the air was filled with the smell of sewage
  • The prisoners were also constantly pestered by rats and other vermin
  • On a visit to the prison, you can actually experience the feeling of being suffocated like the prisoners

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People Also Ask About Rome

What are the crazy things to do in rome.

  • Discover the Roman catacombs
  • Plan your escape at Mamertine Prison
  • See the skull of St Valentine
  • Taste wine in the Frascati region

What are the best places to visit in Rome?

  • The Trevi Fountain
  • St. Peter’s Basilica
  • The Vatican
  • The Sistine Chapel
  • Palatine Hill
  • The Spanish Steps
  • The Roman Forum
  • Porta Portese Market

What are the most haunted places in Rome?

  • The Catacombs of Rome
  • The Colosseum
  • Palazzo de Cupis
  • Ponte Sant’Angelo
  • Ponte Sisto
  • Piazza del Popolo
  • Via del Governo Vecchio
  • Ponte Salario

Is the Colosseum of Rome worth visiting?

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Borghese Gallery & Gardens Tour, Rome

Rome Top Attractions

Rome

Step back in time and explore the awe-inspiring Imperial Forum, an archaeological marvel in Rome, Italy. As the heart of ancient Roman life, this extraordinary site boasts a collection of majestic ruins, including temples, basilicas, and triumphal arches.Wander through the expansive forum and immerse yourself in the rich history and architecture of ancient Rome. Admire the remnants of once-great structures that were centers of political, religious, and cultural life in the Roman Empire.A visit to the Imperial Forum offers a captivating journey through the legacy of Rome's glorious past. Delve into the intricate details of the ruins and let your imagination transport you to a time when emperors, senators, and citizens roamed these very streets.Whether you're a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply curious about the wonders of antiquity, the Imperial Forum promises an unforgettable experience, where the stories of ancient Rome come to life before your eyes.

Capuchin Crypt Rome

Although the city of Rome is dotted with many catholic sites, the Capuchin crypt is one of the most impressive and unique sites because it is entirely made out of bones. The bones and skulls of more than 4,000 capuchin individuals are arranged in a decorative manner, which is both spooky and impressive at the same time. The museum dedicated to the Capuchins and their missions around the globe provides a deep insight into their lives through different artefacts like manuscripts, vestments and reliquaries. Several paintings are also on display here, including the ‘St Francis in Meditation’ which was a work of the ‘Old Master Caravaggio’. The crypt is the main attraction here which is further divided into six different sections. The rooms are very dimly lit, taking the spooky factor a notch above. In one room, one can also find two severed mummified arms cross one another and upon closer inspection, one can notice that it forms Capuchin’s coat of arms. The Capuchins earned their names because of a hooded cap that they used to wear, apart from socks and a tunic. These figures are also placed inside the crypt to let people know how the Capuchins used to look back in the day.Also Checkout: Rome Nightlife

Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Rome

Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme or the Palazzo Massimo is a popular tourist attraction and a great place to explore the authentic history of the beautiful city of Rome. Filled with several artifacts and objects, each floor at this museum is dedicated to a specific part of the history of Rome, making it an ideal place to visit for all history and architecture buffs. Moreover, since the Palazzo Massimo is one of the four parts of the National Roman museum, it is recommended to visit the other three structures, namely, the baths of Diocletian, the Palazzo Altemps, the Palazzo Altemps, and the Crypta Balbi. Home to the rare and best classical art collections in Rome, wonderful antiquities are located on each floor of the Palazzo Massimo. One of the most famous attractions here includes the mosaics, dating back to the second and the fourth century AD, and the frescoes from the ancient Roman period, making up for a rare and extravagant collection of documented proof of ancient domestic life in Rome. Other notable attractions to explore in the Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme are the statues and sculptures, belonging to the ancient Roman and Greek periods, adorned with beautiful sarcophagi. Some other famous nearby places to explore include the Santa Maria Degli Angeli e dei Martiri, Piazza Della Repubblica, Baths of Diocletian, Rome Termini Railway station, and the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Also Checkout a Detailed Guide to Visit: Rome Monuments

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Girl With The Passport

33 Unusual Things to do in Rome in 2024

By: Author Girl with the Passport

Posted on Last updated: January 31, 2024

Categories Europe

When I first visited the Eternal City, I kind of doubted there were any unusual things to do in Rome .

After all, I kept thinking about iconic Rome landmarks like the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the Colosseum .

As a result, I mistakenly thought that the number of unusual things to do in Rome was pretty small.

However, after my third or fourth visit to this epic city, I quickly realized that there were a ton of non-touristy things to do in Rome .

Plus, many of these unique things to do in Rome are hidden in plain sight.

So, you don’t even need to leave the city center to get off the beaten and to plan a 2-day Rome itinerary that will take you away from the crowds.

Therefore, if you want to explore some of the coolest places in Rome then check out this expert’s guide.

It’s filled with tons of insider advice to help you plan the very merry Roman holiday of your dreams.

After all, I have been to Rome countless times and want to share all my secrets with you so that you can have the best trip possible.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my  disclosure  for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

Unusual Rome Attractions

1. visit romeow cat bistro vegan cat cafe.

View of a cat on a whicker chair at a cafe in paris.

Now, you might be wondering, what is the big deal about a cat cafe and is that really one of the unusual things to do in Rome? I mean, people eat at home with their cats every day.

Well, I am not one of those people. Sadly (sob), I do not have a kitty to call my own. So to get the kitty lovin’ that I needed, I headed straight for the Vegan Cat Cafe in Rome.

Because seriously, cats + food = Girl with the Passport heaven (during my twenty-four hours in Milan , I also had some great cafes but I didn’t see any cafes of the kitty persuasion).

But wait: Is it any good? Let me put it to you this way. I felt like I died and went to heaven.

Almost like my wannabe hipster and giddy school girl self-fused together and exploded in a rainbow filled with giant giggles of delight. In case you missed it, that means I really liked the Romeow Cat Bistrot.

Okay, What’s the downside? While I did get to pet six divinely cute little kitties and yes, the food was delicious, I did feel that the plates were a bit small and pricey at about €13 a piece.

I just rolled with it though since you are paying for the novelty of a cat cafe and I wanted to experience one of the best hidden gems in Rome.

That’s why I kind of expected the high prices. But you can’t go that wrong with soba noodles, a bean burger, and specialty cappuccinos to top it all off.

But no worries because I devour food, so I can totally eat yours and mine.

Just remember that Romeow Cat Bistrot doesn’t start serving food until after 8:00 pm (eating dinner too early is a classic Italy travel mistake ).

Plus, not surprisingly, I’m not the only one who loves cats and food, so this place is pretty popular. Therefore, I would make a reservation at least a week in advance.

Pro Tip: If you’re on a budget, just order a drink while you’re there and then go eat somewhere else. But when you sit down, you do have to order something for each person in your groupd

Address: Via Francesco Negri, 15, Rome, Italy, 00154

Hours:  Open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 11:30 pm (again, kitchen opens after 8:00 pm)

Price: Sweets start at around €9.00

How to Get There: Take the blue line “B” to Piramide station and walk from there.

2. Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary

Haven’t had enough kitty cuteness yet? If you answered yes then be sure to check out the Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary.

Currently, 150+ cats now reside in the ruins where Ceasar, you know, met a rather sticky end.

But since Caesar hasn’t been on the Portico of Pompeii since 44 BCE, the feral cats made themselves at home.

Today, volunteers come to spay, neuter, feed, and adopt out the cats while tourists come to “Ohh” and “Ahh” at the insane cuteness of these fine felines.

So, if you want to check out one of the most unusual things to do in Rome then head to the entrance at the corner of Via Florida and Via di Torre Argentina.

Address: scavi archeologici, Largo di Torre Argentina angolo, Largo Arenula, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 4:30 pm.

Price: Free

How to Get There: Take the 30/40/46/62 to Argentina and walk from there.

3. Basilica di San Clemente

The mundane, brick exterior of the Basilica di San Clemente in rome. It's one of the most unusual things to do in Rome. It has an arch over the front door supported by four columns.

⭐️ Rating: 4.7/5.0 (44 Reviews) Price: $52.75 per person Duration: 1.5 hours 📍 Meeting Point: S. Clemente Basilica Operator: EcoArt Travel Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

One of the grandest hidden gems in Rome lurks in the shadow of the Colosseum.

The humble yet holy Basilica di San Clemente was built in the 12th century atop a 4th-century church and former pagan temple.

“So blown away by the history in this tour. Our guide was so enthusiastic and interesting and seemed to love our questions. Loved that we toured it before other key sites and were able to identify Mithras throughout Rome. Saw many people touring on their own and feel that we got an entirely different experience with our amazing guide. Totally recommend this tour.” Erica ( read more reviews now )

Furthermore, the remains of several houses are buried amid the excavation zone.

FYI, it’s free to visit the Basilica di San Clemente and see the gold mosaic in the nave.

However, there is a cost to visit the underground levels (and you’ll not want to miss them).

So, it makes far more sense to book a guided tour and hear about all the awesomeness that this church has to offer.

Address: Piazza di S. Clemente, 00184 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Also open on Sunday from 12:00 pm to 5:30 pm.

Price: Free to enter the Basilica

How to Get There: Take line “A” to Manzoni station and walk from there.

4. Villa Farnesina

A view of the well-manicured paths and green trees and lawns that make up the gardens of Villa Farnesina. It's one of the most unique things to do in Rome.

⭐️ Rating: 4.7/5.0 (7 Reviews) Price: $185.70 per person Duration: 2 hours 📍 Meeting Point: Entrance of Villa Farnesina Operator: Through Eternity Tours Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

Resting on the riverside south of Vatican City, Villa Farnesina is a splendid Renaissance mansion.

Essentially, the star attraction is the frescoes painted by Raphael in the halls. They depict scenes from Roman mythology, rural landscapes, and the wedding of Alexander the Great.

“Our tour of the Villa Farnesina with our guide, Guia, was outstanding. She was not only knowledgeable about the architecture and art, but she also provided other important perspectives. She understands and was able to clearly communicate the context of the Villa and its artwork, so it is possible to appreciate not only what are you seeing, but why it was built or commissioned. We came into the tour with a fair amount of knowledge of renaissance art and architecture, and we’re thrilled with what we learned on our tour!” Anonymous ( read more reviews now )

All in all, this is one of the best hidden gems in Rome for art buffs.

In fact, you can even splurge and take a private tour of Villa Farnesina .

This takes you through the collection with a fine tooth comb and it’s far cheaper than going back to college.

Address: Via della Lungara, 230, 00165 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Price: €12.00 each

How to Get There: Take the 23, 280, n3s to Lgt Farnesina and walk from there.

5. Baths of Caracalla

View of large columns that make up the ruins on the Baths of Caracella. They are surrounded by tall trees with green leaves and this is one of the non-touristy things to do in Rome.

⭐️ Rating: 4.0/5.0 (545 Reviews) Price: $23.15 per person Duration: 1 day 📍 Meeting Point: Bath of Caracalla Operator: GetYourGuide Tours & Tickets GmbH Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

Back in the day, the Romans would have done a bit of skinny dipping at the Baths of Caracalla.

It’s kind of ironic to say this gigantic public bathhouse is one of the hidden gems in Rome. However, they seem to be far less popular than other complexes.

But, the thermal Baths of Caracalla are exceptionally well-preserved.

“The site is pleasant and impressive! Some floor mosaics are complete and well preserved, the height of the walls gives an idea of the scale of the site. Despite the explanatory signs, it takes a little imagination to convey the splendor and colors of the thermal baths. I recommend reading Alix’s Travels on Rome for the reconstruction of the ancient monuments of Rome, including the Baths of Caracalla. When will there be tablets or 3D headsets to visualize the beauty of Rome?” Pierre ( read more reviews now )

Built-in 216 AD, the ruins contain a frigidarium (cold water suite), a caldarium (hot water plunge pool), and a tepidarium (warm relaxation room).

Save time standing around in the heat and pre-book a Baths of Caracalla entrance ticket . This way, you can explore at your own pace – mind, no bathing is permitted.

Address: Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm.

Price: €13.00 each

How to Get There: Take metro line “B” to Circo Massimo and walk from there.

6. Centrale Montemartini

Centrale Montemartini is one of the coolest places in Rome since it is a sculpture museum housed in a former power plant.

In fact, much of the machinery is still in situ. So, exploring the galleries has an industrial vibe that strikes a bizarre contrast with the classical marble that surrounds you.

Yup, this is one of the most surprising hidden gems in Rome.

Note, Centrale Montemartini is part of the Roman Empire Museum (or, Capitoline Museums).

Therefore, you can enjoy decent savings when you buy a Capitoline Museums combo package .

Address: Via Ostiense, 106, 00154 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Price: €8.54 each

How to Get There: Take line “B” to Garbatella station and walk from there.

7. Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio

A gate and green leaffy trees lead you into Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio. It has a stone building with archways supported by columns. This one of the unusual things to do in Rome.

No need to be fluent in Italian to suss out what makes Santo Stefano Rotondo one of the most unique things to do in Rome!

In fact, this is the oldest circular church in the Eternal City. And, it’s both a basilica and a titular church.

Another curious tidbit, the church is dedicated to both Saint Stephen and King Stephen I of Hungary.

Funnily enough, the round church is only 10 minutes from another (very famous) elliptical landmark.

Pro Tip: This is one of the best hidden gems in Rome that you can visit during a private Vespa tour . You can’t get more Roman Holiday than that.

Address: Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 7, 00184 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

How to Get There: Take the 81/nMC to Navicella/Villa Celimontana station and walk from there.

8. Domus Aurea

A view of the interior of the dome that forms the ruins of Domus Aurea. It is a circular, white brick building with a circular hole in the roof and four square doorways along the floor of the building

⭐️ Rating: 4.4/5.0 (320 Reviews) Price: $52.55 per person Duration: 75 minutes 📍 Meeting Point: Viale Serapide, 00184 Roma RM, Italy Operator: Elisabetta Barbaro Details: Read more on Viator now!

Translating to “Golden House”, Domus Aurea was the residence of Emperor Nero.

Therefore, this is one of the best hidden gems in Rome for getting acquainted with how the other half lived.

Now, Domus Aurea is conveniently located in Parco del Colle Oppio near the Colosseum.

“Omg I’ve been wanting to do this tour for years but each time I come to Rome it’s been booked out Finally did it and I can honestly say it was even better than I had expected. Absolutely amazing and the guide was fabulous.” Mike ( read more reviews now )

It’s an archeological site but tourists are welcome. In fact, tours culminate in a snazzy VR experience for a deeper understanding of how the house would have appeared.

However, access to this underground home is limited. As such, advance booking is necessary for Domus Aurea tours.

Address: Viale Serapide, 00184 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 9:15 am to 5:15 pm.

Price: €19.08 per person.

How to Get There: Take metro line “B” to Colosseo and walk from there.

9. Appian Way

Pedestrains walk along the Appian Way. It's a long, straight, paved road lined with trees and is one of the best things to do in Rome off the beaten path.

The OG highway, the Appian Way was Rome’s gateway to the east and one of the best things to do in Rome off the beaten path.

Built in 312 BC, it connected Rome with Capua near Naples . Later, it connected the Eternal City with the seaport in Brindisi.

As you know, Romans liked their roads nice and straight and that’s what you find with the Appian Way.

Therefore, this is one of the best hidden gems in Rome for cyclists. After all, it’s easy to rent a bike and spend the day exploring the route independently.

Another option is to try the Appian Way e-bike tour , which includes a stop at the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus and a visit to the aqueducts.

10. Palazzo Pamphilj

The domed central area of  Palazzo Pamphilj with two bell towers on either side.

At the southern tip of Piazza Navona, Palazzo Pamphilj (or Palazzo Pamphili) is an outstanding 16th-century palace.

In fact, it was the residence of the Pamphilj family into which Cardinal Giovanni Battista Pamphilj was born. Later, he became known as Pope Innocent X.

Now, this is one of the best hidden gems in Rome for Baroque architecture. However, these days it is home to the Brazilian Embassy in Rome.

However, it does host public tours and special events. I mean, you can’t beat dinner and an opera performance at Palazzo Pamphili if you’re looking for one of the coolest things to do in Rome at night.

Address: Piazza Navona, 14, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm and Friday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Price: Varies

How to Get There : Take buses 46, 62, 64, and 916 to C.So Vittorio Emanuele/Navona and walk from there.

11. The Owl House

A stained glass window in the Owl House where a a woman with long blond hair is reaching down to the coean and picking up pebbles inside one of the coolest places in Rome.

I love Rome but man is it packed with tourists like me. Can’t they just all leave while I’m there?

Well, the good news is you can escape tourist mania by heading to the Owl House, a uniquely exquisite piece of architecture set within the Villa Torlonia’s park.

Back in the day, it was a gift to Mussolini from the Torlonia family.

Anyway, to find this magical wonderland of Architecture, all you have to do is walk along via XX Settembre, past the British Embassy, through the Porta Pia, and along via Nomentana.

You’ll know you’re there when you see a huge brick wall on your right that surrounds a park, with Villa Torlonia at the center of the main entrance. Things just got real at Hogwarts.

Now this small museum is totally worth a visit, but the real highlight here is the Owl House. However, to purchase your tickets to the Owl House, you’ll need to buy them at the ticket office in Villa Torlonia.

The Worst Part? There are no signs and it’s totally counterintuitive but no one wants to walk all the way to the owl house (go left of the villa and continue towards the back of the park.

You won’t miss it with its distinctive architecture) just to go back to the main entrance to purchase tickets.

Actually, the more walking you do the more gelato you can justify eating but that’s all up to you.

The best part is no way will you miss the Owl House because it is one of the oddest buildings I’ve ever seen, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Think Gaudi only with the weirdness volume turned down a bit. Sorry, but Gaudi is the king of weird ass architecture that we all love.

Watch out for the rather stern-looking man at the door who will validate your ticket and the rest is up to you. J

Just make sure you have your camera ready because the unique design elements and vibrant, stained glass windows are the stuff that make this one of the coolest places in Rome.

Pro Tip: The gardens themselves are also worth a visit since they feature charming walking paths, scenic ponds, and other distinctive buildings that include granite obelisks, statues, temples., and more.

12. Doria Pamphilj Gallery

A view of the well manicured garden with trees and bushes that is surrounded by the Doria Pamphilj Gallery in Rome.

⭐️ Rating: 4.4/5.0 (320 Reviews) Price: $29.56 per person Duration: 70 minutes 📍 Meeting Point: Via del Corso, 305, 00186 Roma RM, Italy Operator: TOURISTATION Details: Read more on Viator Now!

Now, the Doria Pamphilj Gallery is a 15-minute walk east of the palace.

In reality, this place is just as impressive as the actual palace since it features eavily frescoed halls that showcase works from Raffaello, Tiziano, Rubens, Titian, and Caravaggio.

Meanwhile, the lush courtyard is another hidden gem in Rome that is just waiting to be explored.

“Great museum, not well known by tourists. with explanation of most of the works of art. It is a must in Rome.” Claudia ( read more reviews now )

A huge bonus is that the gallery doesn’t get half as busy as some of the other museums in Rome.

However, word is getting out there and as such, it’s wise to pre-book Doria Pamphilj Gallery skip-the-line reserved entrance .

Address: Via del Corso, 305, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Monday/Tuesday/Thursday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, Wednesday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Friday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Price: €17.02 each.

How to Get There: Take bus 51, 62, 63, and 80 to Corso/Ss. Apostoli station and walk from there.

13. Altar of the Fatherland Observation Deck

The enormous Altar of the Fatherland structure. it has a giant green stature in the mild and out front while the actual structure is made of white marble columns and topped on eityher side by chariots with horses.

Obviously, the Altar of the Fatherland (the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II) is no hidden gem in Rome.

I mean, this gigantic marble temple is almost as big as the Colosseum. It’s even known as the Wedding Cake due to its grandiose architecture.

But, what you might not know is that you can visit the top of the Altar of the Fatherland and score an epic panoramic view of the city.

It’s also free to walk up the stairs. Otherwise, you can pay to ride the elevator.

Pro Tip: The elevator is expensive (16 EUR/17 USD). And, it’s not really necessary unless you have mobility or health issues.

If you do take the elevator, you may as well go all out and purchase the audio guide .

Address: Piazza Venezia, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm.

Price: Free, unless you take the elevator.

How to Get There: Take bus 51, 85, 87 and 118 to Fori Imperiali/Campidoglio station and walk from there.

14. Non-Catholic Cemetery

It’s a known fact that the Catholic church is pretty well established in Rome!

However, not all residents practice Catholicism which is why the Non-Catholic Cemetery exists.

In fact, it’s one of the oldest burial grounds in Europe in continual use, making it one of the non-touristy things to do in Rome.

Here, you’ll find tombs of the romantic poets, painters, and thinkers who relocated to the Eternal City.

Pro Tip: the cemetery is right next to the Pyramid of Caius Cestius. Therefore, you can visit these two hidden gems in Rome at the same time.

Plus, that private Vespa tour also swings by the cemetery.

Address: Via Caio Cestio, 6, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and on Sunday from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm.

15. Pyramid of Caius Cestius

A giant white pyramid sits next to the San Paolo gate which features two circular towers made of brick with a connecting arch.

The Egyptian-style Pyramid of Caius Cestius is one of the most unique things to do in Rome. Because, well, since when did Rome have pyramids?!

Since a wealthy Roman magistrate called Caius Cestius took a fancy to having one built as his future tomb.

At the time of construction, the interiors were richly painted. However, the frescoes have faded over the years and it’s generally closed to the public.

How to find it? Well, the Piramide Metro Station is a bit of a clue.

Address: Via Raffaele Persichetti, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

How to Get There: Take metro line “B” to Piramide station and walk from there.

16. Galleria Sciarra

Stunning fresco of people in Victorian-era garb sitting around a table on either side of the window. The window has gold trim and the background of the building is maroon with lots of intricate patterns.

One of the most beautiful places in Rome is tucked away right around the corner from the Trevi Fountain.

See, Galleria Sciarra is the atrium of an office complex adorned with astonishing Art Nouveau paintings.

Giuseppe Cellini painted the frescoes according to the theme of the Glorification of Women.

As such, they represent virtues associated with women like justice, faithfulness, and strength.

Nowadays, Galleria Sciarra is open to the public (and free!) during office hours.

Address: Via Marco Minghetti, 10, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Monday and Tuesday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.

How to Get There: Take bus 62, 63, 83, or 85 to Corso and walk from there.

17. Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls

The Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls is located in the Ostiense district, south of the Centro Storico.

Now, this papal basilica was built to commemorate Paul the Apostle after his execution.

So, head to the front of the portico and you’ll spot a sculpture of the saint. Plus, his tomb rests inside the basilica.

Essentially, this is one of the most interesting things to do in Rome that is a great alternative to the far more touristic St. Peter’s Basilica.

Address: Piazzale San Paolo, 1, 00146 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm.

How to Get There: Take metro line B to Basilica S. Paolo station and walk from there.

18. Vicus Caprarius

Known as the Water City, Vicus Caprarius is an underground aqueduct right beneath the Trevi Fountain.

While this cistern dates back to the first century, it was only discovered a couple of decades ago.

So, embark on a guided tour that will introduce you to a plumbing system that is very much functional.

Now, despite being one of the most unique things to do in Rome, you can’t just show up.

Yeah, advance reservations via WhatsApp are mandatory for weekends and recommended for weekdays.

Address: Vicolo del Puttarello, 25, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Price: €4.00

How to Get There: Take the 492 bus to Tritone/Fontana Trevi station and walk from there.

19. Roman Catacombs

Some of the bones stacked in the catacombs in Rome.

⭐️ Rating: 4.6/5 (2,582 Reviews) Price: $64.72 per person Duration: 3.5 hour 📍 Meeting Point: Meet your guide in the centre of Piazza Barberini Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

I was sharing the details of my trip to Rome with my dad and I said something like, “Dad, I even saw the catacombs in Rome. I didn’t even know they had any. I only knew about the Catacombs in Paris, France.”

To which he replied, “Oh really? Doesn’t everyone know about the catacombs in Rome?”

Now this clearly means that I live under a social media rock that shields me from anything and everything mildly intellectual.

I had no idea Rome had Catacombs, but clearly, they do because I saw them and they were and are insanely impressive.

“Vanessa is a superb guide – she’s an excellent story-teller, connects amazingly well with her group and has the most positive attitude ever! She gave the backstory to the Roman crypts and catacombs in an enjoyable, engaging manner while taking the time to answer individual questions along the way. Couldn’t recommend a better tour guide than Vanessa!” Mark ( read more reviews now! )

It gets better. They don’t really have the ick factor of the ones in Paris since all the bones have been taken from the graves.

But, these relics of Roman history are probably the coolest historic artifacts that I have ever seen in my life; and that’s saying a lot since I have a degree in history and frequent museums like it’s my job.

Now, the Catacombs of St. Callixtus are the catacombs that I visited and they are located just outside the city walls.

Originally founded in the second century, these underground tunnels served as a burial ground for Christians living in a mostly pagan Rome.

Hidden amongst these tunnels are various statues, tombs of saints, and mosaics that allude to the rich cultural history of this beautiful city, minus all the executions over varying religious beliefs.

Yeah, I found this site to be an enlightening journey into Rome’s history. That’s why I give this site two enthusiastic thumbs up and enjoyed it as part of one of the best ghost tours in Rome .

Address: Via Appia Antica, 110/126, 00179 Roma RM, Italy

Hours:  Open every day, except Wednesday, from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm and from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

Price:  Starts at €8.00 per person.

How to Get There: Take bus 118 to Catacombe S.Callisto and walk from there.

20. Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden of Rome)

Clear your head and give your legs a workout at the ultra-lush Orto Botanico di Roma.

See, the Botanical Garden in Janiculum Garden is one of the loveliest hidden gems in Rome if you want to connect with nature.

Sitting just north of the foodie haven, Trastevere, this park features a wealth of plant and tree species from all over the globe.

Easy to access, epic for photographers, and calmer than most places in the Eternal City: this is where to go to wind down.

Address: Largo Cristina di Svezia, 23 A – 24, 00165 Roma RM, Italy

Price: €4.00 each.

How to Get There: Take bus 23 to Lgt Vallati/Pettinari station and walk from there.

21. Belvedere del Gianicolo

Now, Belvedere del Gianicolo is one of the non-touristy things to do in Rome that you can visit in tandem with Orto Botanico.

Because Belvedere del Gianicolo is located on Janiculum Hill which is the namesake of the park.

This viewpoint looks out over St. Peter’s Basilica and the Altar of the Fatherland.

While the view is insane at sunset, it will still knock your socks off at any time of day.

Address: via Garibaldi, Salita di Sant’Onofrio, 00165 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open 24/7

How to Get There: Take bus 710 to Carini/S. Pancrazio station and walk from there.

22. Keyhole Viewpoint on the Aventine Hill

The keyhole view of St. Peter's Basilica from Palentine Hill. The church can be seen through several green bushes.

Flee the crowds of the Palatine and Capitoline hills and make a beeline for the quieter Aventine Hill.

“Buco della Serratura dell’Ordine di Malta” is a keyhole. Once you peer through, you’ll get a view of St. Peter’s Basilica beautifully framed by the surrounding bushes.

Alright, word has gotten out about this former hidden gem in Rome. Now, it’s standard to wait in line for a glimpse of the view.

I know. Sad, but true. I did this a few years ago and it was one of the most unusual things to do in Rome. Now, blech, people are everywhere.

Even so, it’s totally worth your time if you’re in the neighborhood. Use your judgment and jump in the line if it’s moving at a decent pace.

Pro Tip: To get this view you literally look through a rather insignificant-looking keyhole that sits on a green door in a large piazza on the Aventine Hill.

Address: Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, 4, 00153 Rome RM, Italy

Hours: 24/7

How to Get There: Take metro line “B” to Circo Massimo station and walk from there.

23. Villa Doria Pamphilj

Villa Doria Pamphilj is one of the hidden gems in Rome that requires extra effort to visit since it’s situated in Municipio XII (Monteverde).

Indeed, this is another estate belonging to the Pamphilj family. Here, you’ll find an elegant mansion set amid luxuriously landscaped gardens and water features.

Essentially, this is an awesome destination for a brisk morning walk, a summer picnic, or a stunning sunset view.

Seeing as it’s so large and quite far from the center, it never feels busy.

So, if you want to enjoy one of the most unique things to do in Rome then buses here take around 15 minutes from Trastevere.

Address: Via di S. Pancrazio, 00152 Roma RM, Italy

How to Get There: Take bus 791 to Leone XIII/Villa Pamphili station and walk from there.

24. The Keats – Shelley House

Halfway between the Pantheon and Villa Borghese, the Keats – Shelley House is where the English poet John Keats spent his final days.

Inside, you’ll find several tributes to romantic poets plus a spellbinding library stocked with rare tomes.

Therefore, this is one of the hidden gems in Rome for lovers of literature.

Note, it’s also attributed to Percy Bysshe Shelley as he lived locally. Lord Byron, Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Oscar Wilde are also represented in the exhibition.

Address: Piazza di Spagna, 26, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Price: Starts at €6.00 each.

How to Get There: Take metro line “A” to Spagna station and walk from there.

25. Passetto del Biscione

Passetto del Biscione is one of those easy-to-miss hidden gems in Rome.

See, this is a teeny passage linking the site of the Theater of Pompey and Piazza del Biscione.

It’s a simple yet stunning affair that features elegant tiles and sublime frescoes on the walls and ceilings.

Note, the passageway is sometimes locked. But, it’s usually accessible during daylight hours.

Pro Tip: There are several hotels and restaurants located next to the Passetto del Biscione.

26. Portico of Octavia

A view of the small ruins that make up the Portico of Octavia . There is a small white roof and a domed doorway on the light with three columns on the left.

Right around the corner from Lago di Torre Argentina and Teatro Marcello, the Portico of Octavia is what remains of a 2nd-century walkway.

One of the free-to-visit hidden gems in Rome, this was built to link two temples dedicated to Jupiter.

FYI, that was the chief deity in Roman times. So, it would have been like Ancient Rome’s answer to a cathedral or St. Peter’s Basilica.

Nowadays, it stands in ruins but you can’t not be impressed by the remaining columns and friezes.

Address: Via del Portico d’Ottavia, 29, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

How to Get There: Take bus 280 and get off at P.Za Monte Savello station.

27. Tiber Island

A view of a yellow mansion sitting on Tiber Island in Rome. Arched bridges connect the island to the mainland in either direction.

Tiber Island floats in between Trastevere and the Jewish Quarter

While it’s not exactly a hidden gem in Rome, the isle is often skipped during typical itineraries.

Both the Ponte Cestio and the Ponte Fabricio (Rome’s oldest bridge) provide pedestrian access to one of the most unusual things to do in Rome.

Kind of like Île de la Cité in Paris, it’s pretty small yet worth a visit for the monuments and views.

Over on the east, you’ll find a majestic basilica. Meanwhile, there is a hospital on the west side. In fact, this is due to the island’s storied past as a place of healing.

28. Orange Garden

A stone’s throw from the keyhole, the Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci) is another of the hidden gems in Rome’s Aventine Hill area.

Here, the fragrant citrus trees provide much-needed protection from the summer sunshine.

Plus, the views of the Tiber and Rome are phenomenal. In essence, it’s a rad spot to digest a day of sightseeing and eating your way around Rome.

29. Rose Garden

Likewise, the Rose Garden (Roseto Comunale) is another of the botanical hidden gems in Rome for flower lovers.

And, the garden is just across the Via di Santa Sabina from the Orange Garden.

Roses of all colors bloom from late April to mid-June and frame the Circus Maximus.

Sadly, that’s your limited window for seeing the roses. But, it’s super cool if you time things right.

30. Galleria Spada

First and foremost, Galleria Spada is an art museum dedicated to paintings collected by Cardinal Bernardino Spada.

But, the complex harbors one of the coolest hidden gems in Rome.

See, there is a colonnaded passageway that appears to be over double the length that it really is.

At the end, you’ll see a statue of Mars, the God of War. It has a height of 31 inches although it appears to be lifesize.

Essentially, it’s one big optical illusion and one of the coolest things to do in Rome.

Address: Piazza Capo di Ferro, 13, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Wednesday through Monday from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm.

Price: €6.00 per person.

How to Get There: Take bus 54 to C.So Vittorio Emanuele station and walk from there.

31. Teatro Marcello

A view of the archways and  green grass that stands in front of the ruins of the Teatro Marcello in Rome. This is one of the best hidden gems in Rome.

Before there was the Colosseum, there was the Teatro Marcello.

See, Julius Caesar oversaw this building project and it was inaugurated by Augustus in 12 BC. On the other hand, the Colosseum was built between 72 and 80 AD.

Furthermore, the theater is one of the best free things to do in Rome.

However, you can only visit the exterior. Because, the top floor of the structure has been turned into private apartments – Rome’s most coveted address, surely.

In addition, the theater does hold the occasional summer concert so keep an eye out for that.

Address: Via del Teatro di Marcello, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.

How to Get There: Take bus 170 to Teatro Marcello/Ara Coeli and walk from there.

32. Rome Ghost Tours

⭐️ Rating: 4.4/5 (114 Reviews) Price: $27.42 per person Duration: 1.5 hours 📍 Meeting Point: Meet on the steps of the San Andrea della Valle Church Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

Look, I know it may seem like I have an unhealthy obsession with the dead (one of the reasons why I loved Pompeii so much), but I swear I don’t. I haven’t even seen an episode of the Walking Dead.

I was just one of those kids that loved to be creeped out by Goosebumps books, Are You Afraid of the Dark and my personal favorite, Unsolved Mysteries (only the Robert Stack episodes will do).

That’s why when I saw a ghost tour in Rome, I went for it. The one I booked was through Dark Rome Tours  and it seemed like one of the fun things to do In Rome at night.

The tour lasted about an hour and a half and as you meandered through the quaint streets of Rome and listened to ghastly tales about the darker side of Rome that no one at the Vatican will talk about.

On the downside, the tour meets at S. Andrea della Valle Church and they give you directions that totally confused me. In fact, my taxi driver didn’t even know where this church was.

Therefore, give yourself plenty of time to get there and enjoy one of the most unique things to do in Rome.

“Elisabetta was an absolute joy and overall lovely guide. Her English was great and she spoke clearly and loud for all of us to hear. She was patient with the pace of everyone and knew tons of stories about the city. The walk was a nice small winding trail through beautiful streets, alleys, and squares. Would 100% recommend to anyone looking for a fun little unique tour through Rome.” Morgan ( read more reviews now! )

My verdict was this the best ghost tour I’ve ever been on? No. Was I super scared? No. Did I have a good time? Yes. So I would definitely recommend this tour.

Not only is it a fun way to learn about a side of Roman history that is not often found in textbooks, but the guides are super helpful, super informative, and super enthusiastic.

My guide was a loud New Yorker like me so we bonded and I may be a tad biased in his favor. But I do think this is one of the best Rome night tours around.

The tour guides are locals so be sure to ask them where to eat and what to see. I mean, my guide told me to eat at Pizzarella (Near Castel Santangelo  and the Tiber River) and this pizza nearly changed my life.

33. Capuchin Crypt Rome  

⭐️ Rating: 4.7/5 (860 Reviews) Price: $41.96 per person Duration: 45min – 1hr 📍 Meeting Point: Meet in front of the church. Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

You’ve seen one crypt you’ve seen them all right? Wrong! I guarantee that this Crypt in Rome is unlike anything that you have ever seen in your life! Unless you are into some pretty dark voodoo magic.

See, each chapel is located under the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini and is adorned with the bones and mummified remains of brothers from the Capuchin order of monks.

The rooms are even named for the bone that is most predominantly found in that chapel. Therefore, you’ll find a femur room, a cranium room, a pelvis room, and more.

One chapel is entirely devoid of bones but the rest are absolutely full of them.

On the surface, these decorations may appear to be rather macabre and disturbing, but the message conveyed by these decorations is rather uplifting.

See, many of these men were considered saints. Therefore, their bones were considered relics and were decorated in this manner to show people how short life is and to inspire them to make the most of it.

In total, the bones of nearly 4,000 individuals were used to remind citizens that there was a beautiful, eternal life in heaven awaiting them after their time on Earth.

So while the idea of using people’s skeletons to create inspirational art is indeed a bit strange and kinda of awkward, the message behind the art is beautiful and inspires us to live in the now.

Once inside,  you will see that the church has a created a museum that explains not only who the Capuchins were (no they weren’t monkeys) and how the order developed.

The gist of the story is that the other monks got corrupt so they created a new, more devout order.

Once through the Museum, you will then walk along a long corridor and peer into the crypts which will be on your right.

“Our guide, Eva, was amazing so knowledgeable, I could not imagine doing that tour without a guide. The friars that put these beautiful crypts together were truly artists and commemorated their deceased brothers in a beautiful way. Would highly recommend this tour” Susan ( read more reviews now! )

You might be wondering if I should book a Catacombs and Crypts tour ? Yes, a thousand times yes! A site like this needs explanation.

Otherwise, you’re just going to be sitting there, thinking that these monks had some weird fetish for the grotesque.

They’ll get you into the museum and crypts, as well as transport you to several other historical sites. (Expensive but worth it).

Address: Via Vittorio Veneto, 27, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm.

Price: €10.00 each.

How to Get There: Take the metro to Barberini station and walk from there.

Map of the Best Hidden Gems in Rome

Map of the best hidden gems in Rome. Blue dots sit on a map and represent 30+ spots in Rome.

Unusual Rome Attractions FAQ

What to do in rome if you don’t like history.

Rome is known for its rich history, but if historical sites aren’t your cup of tea, don’t worry! The Eternal City has plenty of unique attractions that will pique your interest. Here are some offbeat places to visit:

The Monster Park (Garden of Bomarzo) : This extraordinary garden is filled with bizarre and whimsical sculptures, including giant monsters, mythical creatures, and surreal architecture.

It’s a perfect blend of art, nature, and fantasy. It is perfect if you are in Rome with kids and they are super bored with all the numerous historical sights

Coppedè District : Coppedè is an enchanting neighborhood known for its unique architecture.

The buildings feature intricate designs, whimsical details, and a mix of artistic styles, creating a magical atmosphere. It’s like stepping into a book.

Centrale Montemartini : This museum is an unexpected fusion of ancient art and industrial machinery. Classical sculptures are displayed alongside colossal engines, creating a unique juxtaposition of old and new.

The reason why it is so interesting is because you will find that the old and the new merges together. So if you’ve found yourself with fatigue after visiting ruin after ruin, this will be a total refresher.

What are the prettiest parts of Rome?

Ah, the Eternal City! Rome is brimming with picturesque spots that will make your heart skip a beat.

Answering this question is tough because everywhere I turned, I saw some amazing places. Like almost every turn had a view that was Instagram gold!

Some of the prettiest areas include the charming Trastevere neighborhood with its narrow cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, the vibrant Piazza Navona with its stunning fountains, and the breathtaking views from the top of the Spanish Steps.

But some of the best wineries near Rome are pretty lovely too. Also, don’t forget to toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain for good luck.

Can you walk around Rome at night?

Absolutely! Rome is enchanting at night. You will find that the city has beautifully lit landmarks and lively atmosphere.

While it’s generally safe to walk around popular areas like Trastevere, the historic center, and the Spanish Steps, it’s always a good idea to use common sense and stick to well-lit and populated areas.

You have to realize that Rome is one of the pickpocket capitals in the world so make sure to keep your bags close by. To be honest, this is something you should do in the day too!

As with any city, it’s wise to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

There you have it! That wraps up this guide to the best hidden gems in Rome.

Tell me, did your picks for the most unusual things to do in rome make the list if not then let me know now., and if you found this post useful, be sure to join our email list and facebook group for even more awesome travel info..

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Wednesday 12th of December 2018

Must say you captured Rome pretty well !!

girlwiththepassport

Thanks so much!

Tuesday 13th of March 2018

On the pin - that got me here-, is a wrong picture ... I would change it because that's Florence and not Rome.... just saying... great story though! ?

Wednesday 14th of March 2018

Thanks! I already changed it! Just forget to edit it here!!

Monday 12th of March 2018

I absolutely love this! I didn't make it to Rome when I was in Italy but I am so checking out the Cat Cafe when I go! And I'm not even Vegan!!

Me either! But I love a good cat cafe and can't wait to get back to Rome to explore more.

Saturday 3rd of March 2018

OWL HOUSE?? Take me there now please!! Where has this been all my life? Also, that crypt sounds pretty darn cool too.

Wednesday 7th of March 2018

Right? The Owl house was amazing. I have to post some more photos from this beautiful place.

I love the idea of a ghost tour. I went on one at st fagans live museum in wales once. Its basically full of homes through the ages and they transferred the actual houses so when they take you inside, turn the lights off and tell ghost stories - its just brillliant! So now I love finding other ghost tours! Its something thats a bit different to do!

I love ghost tours too. I always try and find them wherever I travel. I love when the tour guides dress the part.

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Inside the Travel Lab

21 Unusual Things To Do in Rome to Escape the Crowds

December 4, 2019

Find unique and unusual things to do in Rome with this gorgeous collection of Rome travel ideas. Discover how to get off the beaten track in the Eternal City by filling your itinerary with these alternative things to do. See the Vatican alone, head underground in the footsteps of ancient sects, eat with locals and see the stars. #Italy #Rome #TravelIdeas

 Find unusual things to do in Rome, from stunning skylines, hidden sects, secret passageways and seriously good food. Let’s help get you off the beaten path in Rome, escape the crowds and see the best of the Eternal City.

Unusual things to do in Rome, Italy

Table of Contents

Unusual Things To Do in Rome: Off the Beaten Path in Rome

There are plenty of ways to get off the beaten path in Rome and enjoy the plethora of alternative things to do. Let’s talk about those.

I’ve split this collection of unusual things to do in Rome into categories to help you find your way around. So whether you’re looking for crazy things to do in Rome, quirky things to do in Rome or even slightly weird things to do in Rome, we have you covered.

Walk away from the Spanish Steps and see another side of the city.

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Unique Things to Do in Rome

Inside Crypta Balbi in Rome

Visit an Underground Sect

These days, it’s hard to imagine at time without the Pope, the Vatican and Christianity in Rome. But ancient Rome was awash with groups who felt they’d discovered the religious secret.

Amid the marble columns and the fear and might of the Colosseum, many sects met in private in catacombs beneath the earth. And you can visit some of these meeting places today.

Context Travel offer tours led by docents (academics) who, quite literally,  take you underground to show you t he secret meeting places and worship rituals of sects in ancient Rome. It’s the kind of slice of history that people rarely talk about.

Where to find it: Examples of underground sects can be found on the Cia delle Quattro Fontane, under the church of Santa Prisca on the Aventine and on the Via dell’Ara Massima.

Take in the City Skyline

Rome is surprisingly short of skyline views but once I found one that worked, my word it was beautiful. The rooftop terrace at the Rome Cavalieri overlooks the city of the seven hills almost in its entirety. You can see the dome of St Paul’s, the arc of the colosseum and the terracotta spread of a world city surprisingly bereft of skyscraper grey.

What’s even better? The hotel also has a pool so if the heat from the city-slicker life is getting you down, you can hop on in and cool off with a dip.

Where to find it: Via Alberto Cadlolo.

People in the narrow streets of Trastevere, Rome

Get Lost in Trastevere

Visit the narrow streets of “wrong side of the tracks” Trastevere, where green tendrils and scarlet petals spill out from lopsided windows and vespas laze in the shadows.

Twirls and swirls of thick white paint flick across shop windows, shadowed by shades of crimson and green. And call me romantic but the words seem to have been written with love.

Baccala e ceci. Il prosciutto del bon Gustaio. Porchetta di Ariccia.

Give yourself the gift of time and wander around this beautiful neighbourhood by yourself, stopping for bites to eat.

I’d recommend seeking out some rosemary-soaked pizza bianca amid the cardboard-boxed pasta curls and red wine.

Where to find it: The opposite bank of the river Tiber, south of the Vatican.

Abigail King walking alone in front of the Vatican in Rome

Visit the Vatican Alone (Sort of)

Head to St Peter’s Square after closing time and you may find yourselves the only ones there, save for the odd passing nun and ever watchful Swiss Guard.

The columns seem taller and iridescent, the sainted stone statues more watchful, more close by. The Swiss Guards seem more relaxed and the pink tinge to the sky makes the fountain-footed obelisk appear to glow in charcoal and peach.

For the best entrance, walk on foot from the squat Castel Sant’Angelo along the banks of the Tiber.

Even in the peak season of Rome’s busiest year, I wandered around alone by following this trick.

Where to find it: you need to ask?!

Ponder Life at the Capuchin Crypt and Museum

There are many places around the world where you can see skeletons piled up in crypts. But you won’t find quite so many where the bones have been turned into art. Not piled up neatly. But actually carved into set pieces and attached above an altar. It’s a spooky sight to see in Rome, for sure, and not one for everyone. The Tour Guy offers guided tours of the Catacombs and Capuchin Crypt, for those keen to see both on one go.

Where to find it: Via Vittorio Veneto, 27.

Rome Food Tour Trastevere via @insidetravellab

Fun Things to Do in Rome with Food and Drink

Take a food tour.

True, Italy loves food. But Rome sometimes struggles with its own popularity. Which is a polite way of saying that some of the tourist traps serve awful food.

Book yourself onto a good food tour in Rome and learn the difference between parmesan and pecorino, pizza bianca and porchetta.

I opted for a four hour daylight tour, a voyage through around 20 or so different specialty shops, one open air market and not one but two sit down restaurants with an impromptu gelato and coffee stop thrown in.

It was a blur of gastronomic brilliance, with around ten or so fellow explorers. We saw pecorino cheese stacked waist high and bulbous cheese hanging from the rafters.

We tasted suppli, a deep fried rice ball, on the streets and sugar-dusted pastries indoors.

We sat for wine and pasta, stood for gelato, strolled past pumpkin and prosciutto in the market and slid forks through freshly sliced watermelon

And best of all, the people we met seemed pleased to see us too. Shopkeepers were ready, chefs passionate.

Through pregnancy and a few other issues, my diet was no longer carefree and I’d braced myself to sit on the culinary sidelines as it were.

But the Trasteverini weren’t having any of it.

When it came to gelato, they found me sorbet. For soft, gooey cheese, they substituted hard. Cured meat was swapped with cooked, and cream-laden dessert became so many different types of biscuits and coconut sweets that I struggled to take them all in.

And all without making a fuss, all with making me feel welcome.

Other food tours, which shall remain nameless, have a lot to learn.

I fell in foodie heaven. And it was definitely one of the best things to do in Rome. Curiously, it also helped me to see the off the beaten path side of Rome.

Where to find it: You can join a food tour with a local, expert guide in Rome’s Trastevere neighbourhood.

Rome from above at sunset

Enjoy an Aperitivo in One of Rome’s Rooftop Bars

There’s nothing like sipping a drink on a rooftop bar to make the experience feel more glamorous and cultured all at the same time. Way different to a hotel minibar. Time Out have curated 12 of the best rooftop bars in Rome but I’d like to highlight the following:

  • Hotel Raphael – made famous by Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, this prosecco spot lies close to the landmark Piazza Navona. Prices are not for the faint of heart.
  • Minerva Roof Garden – serves 16 different types of martini within a hop, skip and a jump from the Pantheon.
  • Hotel Capo d’Africa – watch the Colosseum lit up at night. Good enough for me.

Dine in Hipster Rome

Pizza and pasta are fantastic but even afficionados can begin to yearn for something else. Head to Ginger Sapori e Salute right in the heart of Rome. From breakfast til dinner they serve organic, sustainable, healthy food in (ahem) a highly instagrammable setting.

Bright white walls, hanging meats, small green plants and dashes of yellow bring a splash of the modern into the historic centre of Rome.

Teatro di Marcello at night, Rome

Alternative Art Spots in Rome

Listen to musica at the teatro di marcello: the colosseum’s little sister.

First time visitors to Rome may mistake the Teatro di Marcello for the Colosseum, but it’s safe to relax. This was a real theatre, not another location for blood, guts and gore.

Commissioned during the reign of Julius Caesar but incomplete at the time of his murder, it had a rocky start to life but grew to become the most important theatre in ancient Rome. Today, you can still sit and listen to classical music amid the crumbling columns and it makes a good option to pair up with a visit to the Jewish Quarter.

Where to find it: Via Del Teatro De Marcello.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Visit Versailles in Rome: The Galleria Doria Pamphilj

For an opulent art gallery, dripping in gold and priceless wealth, head to the Galleria Doria Pamphilj in Centro Storico. As the Palace of Versailles has a Gallery of Mirrors, so to does this place.

The fact that it stood as a private residence, home to the man who would become Pope Innocent X in the 1600s, shows just how much wealth, power and influence there was swelling around the city at the time.

The rooms are filled with frescoes, portraits, landscapes and chandeliers. Looming sculptures overlook works by Raphael, Tintoretto, Titian, Caravaggio, Bernini, Velázquez and more.

A free audio guide narrated by  Jonathan Pamphilj brings the family’s anecdotes to life in this extraordinary, off the beaten path attraction in Rome.

Where to find it : Via del Corso, 305.

Palazzo Barberini on a summer's day, Rome

Gaze at the Palazzo Barberini and the Galleria Corsini

Move into a 17th century palace at the Palazzo Barberini and find yourself alone with some of Caravaggio’s best works. As the home of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, the main collection of older paintings in Rome, it’s another place to feast and gorge on artistic creation.

Where to find it: Find Palazzo Barberini on Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13.

Play with Illusions at the Galleria Spada

Worth a quick detour on a Sunday when free, the Galleria Spada’s main highlight is the optical illusion of its line of columns. It was also rumoured to hold the sculpture of Pompey the Great, beneath which Julius Caesar fell to his death, but, alas, it seems the details aren’t quite true.

Where to find it: Find the gallery entrance at Vicolo del Polverone 15B.

Ornate architecture at the Galleria Sciarra, Rome

Look Up in the Galleria Sciarra

All glass and light and razzle dazzle, the Galleria Sciarra forms part of the 16th century Palazzo Sciarra Colonna di Carbognano. Only one block and the pedestrian Via delle Muratte separate it from the world famous Trevi Fountain, and yet it still remains off the beaten path in Rome.

It’s a gorgeous art nouveau courtyard with an 1890s iron and glass roof, closed for cleaning in 2018 but due to reopen in late 2019.

Where to find it: Via Santa Maria in Via, 30–31.

Enjoy the Show at Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini

Let a multimedia experience transport you back to the everyday houses of ancient Rome, recently discovered beneath a grand mansion. These virtual tours take place every 30 minutes and are great for older kids and adults who remain young at heart. Book at the Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini website here.

Where to find it: Via Foro Traiano 85.

Packing Essentials for Rome

  • Comfortable shoes. You’ll be on your feet a lot.
  • A scarf or pashmina to cover your shoulders for religious buildings. And wrap around your head when pretending to be an iconic film start in La Dolce Vita. Here’s a gorgeous scarf in my favourite blue and another one in champagne.
  • I still used my Lonely Planet Rome guide for background information and good suggestions on unusual things to do in Rome. Of course, if you’re travelling further in Italy, it makes sense to buy the Lonely Planet Guide to Italy instead. I have both but you only really need one.
  • See the Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Italy - Rome - Cavalieri Hotel Interior

Where to Stay in Rome

My favourite: the rome cavalieri hotel.

  • In brief: The Rome Cavalieri, part of the Waldorf Astoria and Hilton Worldwide network marries cream and gold rooms with opulence, service and one of Rome’s rare outdoor pools.

It’s a large place, a village within a village, and it’s some way out of town. At another time in life, I would have longed to be in among the action, the sweaty, cobbled trattoria-lined streets of the beating heart of Rome around the Vatican.

There’s an indoor pool and gym, too, awash with marble and a Roman nose, because, let’s face it, even Rome lives within Europe’s greyer winter climes.

L’Uliveto Restaurant

I tackled the basket of focaccia, walnut and olive bread with peppery olive oil and a first course of delicately spiced Roman rigatoncini “Amatriciana” pasta.

However, the suckling pork on a bed of lentils defeated me and I declined the option of dessert.

“You will need to change if you are to understand this country, “ the waiter told me. “We love to eat! Some days, that is all we do…”

The petits fours arrived whether I agreed to them or not… ;-)

The Cavalieri also houses La Pergola, the only restaurant with three Michelin-stars in Rome. Book well in advance. 

What I Loved About The Rome Cavalieri

  • That view of Rome. Really, truly, absolutely magnificent. A trip highlight in itself.
  • Incredible service.
  • Excellent sound-proofing – an extra door between the corridor, the bathroom and the bedroom.
  • Heated towel rail within the room.
  • Option of rainshower and focus shower effect.
  • Vanity area in the bathroom
  • Thoughtful touches – such as a dedicated “wet bag” for swimwear so you can have a last minute dip before heading to the airport.
  • Pillow menu – excellent for those with allergies or musculoskeletal problems.
  • The welcome prosecco and rainbow macarons.
  • Extensive provision of toiletries. As it happened, this visit coincided with an assignment I was working on to do with lost luggage. Half my job was done by just opening the bathroom door.
  • The Imperial Club Floor – a quieter, calmer place to check in and out and catch up with emails (while still enjoying that view.) Complimentary breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and pre and post dinner drinks amid 18 th century Venetian masterpieces.

More on Travel in Italy

  • Gorgeous and unusual things to do in Italy
  • Tuscany off the beaten path
  • Exploring the Amalfi Coast
  • How to find the best Italian souvenirs

Italy - Venice off the beaten track - quiet sunset river view

2 thoughts on “21 Unusual Things To Do in Rome to Escape the Crowds”

Rome is on my radar so I will keep these tips.

Hope you reach Rome soon – it’s an amazing city.

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The Best Hidden Gems in Rome

Rome has many must-see sights, including those on the unusual side

Well-known sites such as the Colosseum and St Peter’s Basilica might get all the attention, but there’s more to Rome than just the big-ticket attractions. From optical illusions to secret neighbourhoods, discover the quirkiest, most unusual things to see and do in the Eternal City.

As the local saying goes, Roma, non basta una vita – one lifetime simply isn’t enough to see everything Rome has to offer. One of the city’s many joys is that its layers of culture and history slowly reveal themselves over time, making repeat visits an absolute must. While sightseers should undoubtedly see famed attractions such as the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon , there are equally arresting, if lesser-known, spots to enjoy as well. Dive deep into the Eternal City with a visit to these unique locations.

1. Explore the whimsical Quartiere Coppedè

Architectural Landmark

Quartiere Coppedè is a unique neighbourhood with a whimsical feel in Rome

2. Go inside an ancient Egyptian pyramid

Rome-3-Rome-Italy. The Pyramid of Cestius dates backs to 12 BC

Though the Pyramid of Cestius is, in fact, a Roman copy of an Egyptian pyramid, it’s still ancient – and utterly unique. Built in 12 BC as the tomb and funerary monument of the powerful magistrate Gaius Cestius, the 36-metre-high (118-foot) structure stands on the border between Testaccio and Ostiense and is an emblem of the area’s skyline. The interior chambers of the pyramid, with newly restored frescoes, are only open on the third and fourth Saturdays and Sundays of the month. Tickets must be reserved online.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

3. Admire ancient art in a former power plant

Museum, Historical Landmark

Sculptures. Centrale Montemartini Museum. Rome, Italy

4. See the skull of St Valentine

Fontana dei Tritoni (Fountain of the Tritons) and Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin (Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin) on Piazza Bocca della Verit

The Mouth of Truth, located in the portico of the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin, is possibly Rome’s most over-rated monument, so skip the snaking queue outside and head directly inside the church for a more unusual sight, missed by many tourists. The side altar on the left of the building houses a gold-framed glass reliquary. Inside the box is the flower-adorned skull of St Valentine, a third-century saint killed for helping persecuted Christians. While the saint was initially buried in northern Rome, his body was later exhumed, and 10 churches across Europe now lay claim to his relics.

5. Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio

Rome has no shortage of beautiful churches but the Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio in the historic centre boasts a rather unexpected feature – a fake dome. The church was built between 1626 and 1650, but the planned cupola had to be scrapped due to a lack of funds. Instead, artist Andrea Pozzo was hired to paint an illusion of a dome onto the flat surface. It may have been the cheaper option but the depiction is actually pretty convincing. Look for a marble disk in the middle of the nave floor which marks the best spot to observe the illusion.

6. Climb a historical rubbish dump

Historical Landmark

7. Visit an illegal museum

MAAM is not only a museum but is also home to migrants

8. Break a sweat at the Stadio dei Marmi

The Stadio dei Marmi feature 59 marble statues of athletes

Situated in the Foro Italico in the northern part of Rome, the Stadio dei Marmi is an open-air stadium built under the direction of Benito Mussolini. Circled by 59 marble figures, each representing a different sporting discipline, the complex mixes classical Greek artistry with fascist ideas, and it was part of a bid to try and secure the hosting of the 1940 Summer Olympics in Rome (those games were cancelled due to war). When the atmospheric arena isn’t hosting events, such as the Italian Open, it’s a popular spot with residents who do laps of the track or run up and down the marble seats.

9. Discover gelato gastronomy

Cafe, Ice Cream

6_zucca

Rome has a gelateria on almost every corner, but Gelato d’Essai da Geppy Sferra is the city’s first gelato restaurant. Located in the eastern Centocelle area, the innovative venue invites diners to eat gelato for every course, not just dessert. Dishes change with the seasons and include creations like thinly sliced salmon with grapefruit and ginger gelato, sweet-and-sour pork with pineapple sorbet, and grilled polenta with broccoli, parmesan cream and liquorice gelato.

10. Pick up secret remedies at an ancient apothecary

Piazza della Scala, with the face of the Church of Santa Maria della Scala at left and the old Pharmacy Santa Maria della Scala at right, in Trastevere quarter, Rome, Italy

Hidden in Trastevere – one of Rome’s busiest neighbourhoods – is the ancient apothecary of Santa Maria della Scala. To unlock the door and see this treasure trove of medical artefacts, you’ll need to call ahead and arrange a visit. Guided tours are given by the same order of Carmelite monks who, centuries ago, dished out medicines to nobles, cardinals and popes. The on-site gift shop sells a selection of herbal remedies, as well as therapeutic brandy, grappa and limoncello.

11. See St Peter’s from a new perspective

Rome (Italy) - The view of the Basilica St. Peter in the Vatican, from Via Piccolomini street and terrace

12. Visit a fairytale house

Casina delle civette (house of the owls), Rome Italy

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Places to Stay

Book a stay at the hotel taking a fresh look at the eternal city.

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See & Do

Two days in rome here's a ready-made itinerary.

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This Way To Italy

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

Do you want to know some cool and unusual things to do in Rome, Italy ?

Rome is known for the Colosseum , the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and ancient history. Here you can visit famous fountains , partake in delectable food , and experience Stendhal syndrome galore. With lots of cool things to do in Rome, you really can’t ask for anything more in the Italian capital!

However, we dare you to go off Rome’s beaten paths and tour its macabre and haunted past – and other different ways to experience this fantabulous city.

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

Here are 14 cool and unusual things to do in Rome – from the curiosities to downright macabre, not necessarily in that order.

1. See the skull of St. Valentine at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

St. Valentine lived in the 3rd century, martyred on 14 February in the year 269, for breaking a Roman ban on performing weddings. Because he is the saint associated with courtly love, his feast day came to be known as Valentine’s Day. This special day for lovers has been observed since at least the 8th century.

Myth and mystery surround this celebrity saint. Rome is just one of several European churches that lay claim to his remains. His skull is purported to be kept in Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.

A visit to this macabre relic is among the most unusual things to do in Rome – a must when in this enchanting city. However, please note that you can only enter the Basilica of Santa Maria if you are modestly dressed.

Check out these tours to enjoy these cool and bizarre parts of Rome.

2. Check out the embalmed hearts of popes

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

Would you like to get close to papal hearts? You can literally do it at Chiesa Rettorio di Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio Church, just across the Trevi Fountain.

The little Baroque church is dedicated to two saints, St. Vincent and St. Anastasius. It is where the embalmed hearts and precordia of 22 pontiffs are preserved in special urns. A must-see because nothing’s quite like it!

Want a guided tour? Find the best deals here.

3. See thousands of bones of friars in the Capuchin Crypt

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

The crypt under the Church of Saint Mary of the Conception of the Capuchins houses is decorated with the bones of more than 4,000 Capuchin monks. This includes an entire “crypt of pelvises.”

It’s a quick tour – you’re in and out in half an hour – but totally worth it!

4. See Jesus’ footprints and Benini’s bust of Salvatore Mundi

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

Once a pagan cemetery, the Catacombs of St. Sebastian have been used by Christians since the Middle Ages.

Here you can see Benini’s bust of Salvatore Mundi . To see the alleged footprints of Jesus imprinted on a stone, head to the Chapel of Relics, situated directly across the nave.

Also marvel at St. Sebastian’s martyrdom at one of the legendary arrows that struck him along with a part of the post to which he was tied. In case you’re curious, this did not kill him.

Learn more about this exciting tour here.

5. See the head of St. John the Baptist

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

The Basilica of San Silvestro in Capite is in the heart of Rome. It houses a famous relic – a fragment of a head said to be that of John the Baptist.

A very fine example of the most lavish Baroque style, the Basilica of San Silvestro in Capite was built in the 8th century and rebuilt at the end of the 16th. It is a gem you can admire without the oppressive tourist crowds.

Seeing a piece of the man who baptized Jesus is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Rome.

6. Visit the only “Egyptian” pyramid in Europe (The Pyramid of Cestius)

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

If an Egyptian pyramid in Europe surprises you, you are not alone.

First-time visitors to Rome will be surprised to realize just how much Egyptian stuff there is in the Italian capital.

The Romans actually built at least two pyramids and one them remains – the Peramide Cestia or Pyramid of Cestus. So this one we’re talking about is essentially a Roman pyramid. This is certainly one of the most unique things to do in Rome.

The immense pyramid – about 120 feet high – was built around 2,000 years ago as a mausoleum for the Roman magistrate Caius Cestius and his family. While its design is more reminiscent of Sudan’s Pyramids of Nubia, the Pyramid of Cestius is certainly an Egyptian influence on the Roman Empire.

If you’re visiting the “Roman” pyramid, make sure to also stop by the Cimitero Acattolico (Non-Catholic Cemetery) next door, one of Italy’s most fascinating cemeteries and also among the coolest things to do in Rome.

Check out tour availability here .

7. See the cats in the ruins where Caesar was killed (Torre Argentina)

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

In Rome, cats are quite spoiled – by law. They can’t be bugged wherever they like to live. They seem to particularly like the site where Julius Cesar was murdered by conspirators in 44 BCE.

Colonia Felina di Torre Argentina is Italy’s most famous cat sanctuary and also the oldest in Rome. It is home to hundreds of felines that, by the Roman city laws, are free to live as they please. They are taken care of by volunteers called gattare (“cat ladies”) and some of these cats are available for adoption.

You must come by Torre Argentina – it’s an integral part of any trip to Rome. And while you’re here… both the gatti and the gattare will appreciate your donations!

More details about this tour here .

8. See the tombs of Roman emperors (Mausoleum of Augustus)

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

“ … That one nearby, it teaches us that the gods themselves can die,” wrote the greatest Latin epigrammatist Martial on the first Roman emperor Augustus (and his relatives) entombed in il Mausoleo di Augosto.

At 87 meters in diameter, the Mausoleum of Augustus is the largest circular tomb in the world. Built in 28 BC, it had seen countless different uses since – from the original resting place to a garden, a bullfighting ring, and a theater.

Book this tour here .

9. Discover a hidden Art Nouveau courtyard (Galleria Sciarra)

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

A mere 2-minute walk from the Trevi Fountain, the elegant palace atrium called Galleria Sciarra is a feast for the eyes with its lavish frescoes and a glass-and-iron roof built in 1885.

This building is easy to miss if you don’t know where to look. But be assured that the interior courtyard is far more impressive than its façade – one of the absolutely cool things to do in Rome and definitely worth a visit, whether you’re an art or architure buff or not.

Find out more about this tour here .

10. Get “swallowed” by a monster house (Zuccari Palace)

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

Hidden from tourists in a famous place like the Piazza della Trinità dei Monti, right next to the Spanish Steps, lies the Zuccari Palace. Built as a studio in 1590 by the artist Federico Zuccari, this residence is well-known for its front door and windows that were designed to look like monsters’ heads.

If you’re in the area for the Spanish Steps, you should also definitely drop by the Zuccari Palace and take pictures. This is one of the most unique things to do in Rome, something you won’t experience in many places.

Reserve this tour here .

11. Hike a hill of Roman jars (Monte Testaccio)

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

This hill – called the Broken Pot Mountain in English – is an artificial mound made entirely of ancient Roman jars.

Monte Testaccio (spelling variant: Monte Testaceo ) is also called Monte dei Cocci. It dates back to the time of the Roman Empire and covers an area of nearly 5 acres, making it one of the biggest garbage dumps in the ancient world. Monte Testaccio is 115 ft. high and deemed to have been higher back then.

Today, the area is teeming with bohemian life, night clubs, crowded restaurants, and street parties – the reason for its party reputation. Here you will also find one of Rome’s large produce markets.

Monte Testaccio is a wonderful place where you can spend some time looking at everything.

Book a tour to Monte Testaccio here .

12. See the ruins of the oldest shopping mall in the world (Trajan’s Market)

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

Trajan’s Market is an ancient market that is often considered the oldest shopping mall in the world. It is a large complex of ruins, an extension of Trajan’s Column, found at the opposite end to the famous Colosseum. It was built between 100 and 110 AD by Emperor Trajan’s attendant.

Trajan’s Market is now being used for archaeological research, an absolute must-see for anyone visiting the Italian capital.

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13. Enter an alchemist’s “magic door” (Porta Magica)

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

Also known as the Porta Alchemica (Alchemy Gate / Alchemical Door), the Porta Magica (Magic Portal) is a monument erected by a marquis sometime between 1678 and 1680. This “magic door,” situated in the middle of a Roman park on a hill near Piazza Vittorio, is the only remaining gate of the marquis’ grand villa.

Porta Magica bears alchemical inscriptions, hence, the monicker “alchemist’s magic door.” It also has statues of Egyptian gods.

Although it sits behind a massive fence, the Magic Portal in the park is a delight for anyone who needs a break from the crowded Pantheon and Colosseum.

Customize this tour here .

14. Eat your hamburgers and fries next to a 2,500-year-old Roman wall

14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

Fancy eating hamburgers and French fries beside an ancient wall? Then McDonald’s in Rome’s Termini Station is the place to go!

The fast-food restaurant has a preserved section of the Servian Wall that dates back to the 4th century BC.

This is the best – though not necessarily the healthiest – way to eat your fatty burgers and fries!

Once you’ve had enough of fast food, check out the following dining places in Rome:

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  • 13 Best Restaurants in Rome, Italy

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unusual places to visit in rome italy

13 Unusual Things to Do In Rome: Hidden Roman Gems

  • Off the beaten path

August 30, 2023

When it comes to fully embracing a city by adapting its local customs and culture, the phrase ‘When in Rome!’ is usually declared. In fact, the phrase is so well known that it’s usually used even without its context-forming latter half: ‘…do as the Romans do!’ So, when in Rome… how does one do as the Romans do? And what are some unusual things to do in Rome? 

While it would be a shame to forgo a visit to the Vatican City on your first trip to the capital, or to avoid the Pantheon and the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, and while you should definitely be treating yourself to gelato in Giolitti every time to you find yourself in the city – what do you do once you’ve taken in the main highlights?

Statues at the Centrale Montemartini museum in Rome.

Statues at the Centrale Montemartini Museum, one of our choices for unusual things to do in Rome. Photo credit: Matteo Basile

Table of Contents

Alternative Rome: Our picks for the city’s lesser-visited attractions 

If you find yourself with extra time in the city, or just in need of a break from the sheer scale of the sometimes overwhelming history of the area, it may be time to look for some of the hidden gems, local experiences and lesser-visited landmarks on offer. From tourist-friendly yoga to a pasta-making class , fried artichokes to special exhibitions, there are some amazing, unusual things to do in Rome for those looking for the more subtle side of the city.

Man sitting on a doorstep with laundry above his head in a quiet Roman neighborhood

Get off the beaten path with these unusual things to do in Rome!

Have dinner surrounded by art at Cafe Canova Tadolini

Canova Tadolini is an artist atelier, museum, cafe-bar, and restaurant located near the Spanish Steps on Via del Babuino. The multi-functional, historical setting has become an attraction in itself, with sculptures and casts from 19th Century artists spilling out onto the street from the studio within, enticing curious travelers inside.

Visitors rave about the cafe-cum-museum for the unique photo ops this quirky, bizarre setting allows for. It doesn’t hurt that there’s also delicious food, good coffee , and a casual, welcoming atmosphere.

Sculpture at Rome's unusual Museum Atelier Cafe Canova Tadolini

Attend a summer concert under the stars at the Caracalla Baths

The spectacular Caracalla Baths – ruins of a vast Roman bath complex – play host to a variety of special live concerts, gigs, operas and plays throughout summer. While the line-up varies every year, you can typically expect to find cinema, dance, jazz, opera, pop, and symphonic performances during the summer’s Caracalla Festival.

The atmospheric baths make an incredible setting for this event series. When planning your trip to Rome, it’s well worth checking out a general Rome calendar of events to see if you can nab a ticket to any of the popular concerts and shows.

Rome's Caracalla Baths

Take a midday stroll through Trastevere

Trastevere is one of Rome’s most colorful neighborhoods. While it may be less touristy when compared to the ancient town or Vatican City, it has to be said that it does remain firmly on the tourist trail – but that’s not to say it’s not worth a visit!

Known for its laid back, bohemian vibes, shady side streets, great restaurants and artisan shops, Trastevere offers tourists a welcome breather from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Budget-friendly trattorias and backpacker hostels are standard here, with mostly a younger crowd gravitating to the area.

Riverside movies take place over summer (see below!), while the delightful Sacher Cinema offers a permanent residence for arthouse movie enthusiasts. On Sundays fill your bags with bargain-basement clothes and trinkets from the Porta Portese market before visiting Da Enzo al 29 to fill up on fresh pasta and some of the best tiramisu in Rome .

A man walking through a quiet street in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood.

One of Rome’s oldest neighborhoods, there’s something magical about Trastevere.

Spend Saturday morning in the private Palazzo Colonna

Palazzo Colonna is one of the oldest and largest private palaces in Rome. Home to the Colonna family (whose impressive 31-generation history is well worth delving into itself ), the 14th Century palace is a sprawling stately residence filled with grand marble staircases, colorful salons, impressive hallways and a beautiful open courtyard at its center.

While the palace remains a private home for the Colonnas, it opens its doors to the public on Saturday mornings. Tickets include a guided tour at specific times. Special guided tours of other restricted areas of the palace are also available for an additional cost and weekday tours are by appointment only.

Gilded and elaborate hallway lined with paintings at the Palazzo Colonna, or Colonna Palace, in Rome.

Rome’s Palazzo Colonna is one of the largest private palaces in the city. Pictured here is the building’s impressive Colonna Gallery. Photo credit: Sailko

Run the trails at the Villa Doria Pamphili 

While tourists and locals alike flock to the Borghese Park in search of open green space in the city, the lesser-visited Villa Pamphili on the east side of the River Tiber is the perfect alternative when the Borghese gardens gets too busy. On weekends, take a break from pizza and pasta and grab a healthy brunch at Vivi Bistrot in the heart of the park, then take a stroll to the nearby Belvedere Lake. At lunchtime, Romans like to picnic just outside the private Villino Algardi, also known as Casino del Bel Respiro.

Pamphili is well known to local joggers for its natural trails, while its perimeter adds up to just about 10km – the perfect distance for a Saturday morning stretch. There are bathrooms and water fountains at the entrance too, while a run to and from the park takes in some of the city’s impressive landmarks, should you wish to do some sightseeing pre and post-run!

Villa Doria Pamphili estate with gardens and tress in Rome

The Villa Doria Pamphili is a hidden Roman gem that many visitors overlook. Photo credit: Luca Pennacchioni

Bag a designer bargain at a local vintage market

While the Port a Portese Market in Trastevere bustles with bargain hunters digging through 1 euro souvenir trinket stands and haggling over a packet of plastic forks, the more subtle Mercato della Città Ecosolidarietà offers a relaxed take on Saturday browsing.

Located in the Piramide in Rome, via del Porto Fluviale, the eco-friendly market sells all sorts from furniture and toys to clothes and jewelry, often with some stunning vintage style dresses and accessories on offer for a bargain. The market isn’t open every day, so be sure to visit their Facebook page for details.

Catch a movie on the Tiber Island

From mid-June to September a charming outdoor cinema pops up on the Isola Taberina showing both international and Italian films. The L’Isola del Cinema attracts both locals and tourists alike, who make a movie showing the focal point of a night spent browsing the craft stands and food stalls of the nearby riverside summer market. As evenings go, you could do worse than a stroll through Rome and an outdoor movie on the river! 

Isola del Cinema on the River Tiber, Rome

Spending an evening at L’Isola del Cinema is a unique thing to do in Rome, especially if you’re a cinephile. Photo credit: Larry Koester

Learn how to make pasta like a pro at an Italian cooking class

Full disclosure, we may be tooting our own horns with this one , but here at Walks of Italy everyone agrees that learning how to make pasta with a local chef – plus enjoying a full homemade meal after – is an amazing way to spend an evening (or lunchtime!) in Rome.

Cooking classes may not sound like they’re for everyone, but more times than not, couples, solo travelers, families, and especially children find themselves sometimes unexpectedly calling it a highlight of their vacation!

Making fresh pasta is one of the best things to do in Rome!

Making fresh pasta is one of the best things to do in Rome!

Browse classical works of art in a unique setting at Centrale Montemartini

Centrale Montemartini gets our vote for one of the most peculiar musuems in Rome. Housed in a former power plant, the museum juxtaposes classical Roman sculptures with industrial machinery, creating an intriguing fusion of art and technology. The museum’s collection features statues, reliefs, and other artifacts from ancient Rome, offering visitors a chance to see these classical pieces in an unconventional setting .

This contrast of ancient art against a backdrop of massive turbines and generators highlights the intersection of the past and modernity. Visitors to Centrale Montemartini will get a fascinating look at Rome’s rich history and its transition into an industrialized city.

Statue at art museum in rome

The statues at Centrale Montemartini are juxtaposed with an incredibly industrial setting. Photo credit: Fred Romero

Drop by an exhibition at Palazzo delle Esposizioni

If you find yourself craving a more modern exhibition in Rome, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for in the innovative Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Via Nazionale 194.

The Palazzo has hosted all sorts of cultural icons, from Rothko to Pixar, and offers interactive learning opportunities for all the family with many of its immersive events.

The Palazzo delle Esposizioni bills itself as an ultra-modern “space for culture and ideas at an international level.” The peaceful, quiet, open air space makes the Palazzo a perfect break from the hot Italian sun, busy tourist spots. With a 136-seat cinema, cafe, bookshop, and restaurant, the Palazzo offers something for curious travelers of all stripes.

Facade of Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome

Looking for unusual things to do in Rome? Palazzo delle Esposizioni is a great option for offbeat and interesting exhibitions. Photo credit: Justin Ennis

Soak up sunset views at the Eitch Borromini Rooftop Bar

If you’re familiar with Italian culture, you’ll know how much the Romans enjoy their aperitivo , or aperitif . And one place that boasts some of the best views in the city for said evening drinks is the Eitch Borromini, located on Via di Santa Maria dell’Anima.

The sixth floor bar, nicknamed “ La Grande Bellezza ,” plays host to some of Rome’s more affluent residents. Visitors can also enjoy a relaxing evening of cocktails and chat on the terrace as the sun sets over the Piazza Navona, Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Palace of Justice, and beyond.

The views don’t come cheap – ask for the wine list – so keep this one for a special treat night. This Roman rooftop bar is strictly reservations only, so we call ahead or book online.

Eat fried artichoke in the Jewish Quarter

One of life’s great pleasures is discovering a foodstuff you never knew you loved, and this is exactly what happens to most foodies on a trip to Rome’s Jewish Ghetto. Part crispy, part creamy fried artichoke is on the menu at almost every restaurant, and for good reason; carciofi alla giudìa (Italian for ‘Jewish style artichoke’) originated in the city’s Jewish Quarter, and it’s there that it has been perfected.

Try it out at the Nonna Betta, one of the charming kosher restaurants lining the cobbled stoned Via del Portico d’Ottavia, and a special stop on this fantastic Rome food tour .

Insider’s tip: If time permits, take a trip to Rome’s Jewish Quarter in the day time and discover the history of the area, its culture and people in the Jewish Museum , located beneath the impressive synagogue.

Crispy fried Roman artichokes on a plate

Crispy fried artichokes are a tasty Roman bite dating back to the 16th century.

Find your zen at an English-speaking yoga class

If you’re feeling toured out and in search of some serious breathing space, a drop-in yoga class may be just what you need. Happily, there are plenty of English-language-friendly yoga classes dotted around Rome – some even offering special tourist packages too!

Zem Yoga near Piazza Navona on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, specialises in heated and non-heated vinyasa and hatha yoga. Their flexible options are great for travelers, such as drop-in rates for individual classes and comprehensive, five-class tourist passes (with a yoga mat, towel, and shower towel).

Ifyoga, barre, or pilates is your thing, there are also several other English speaking classes around the city. You’ll have no problem following the excellent instructors at Yoga Rome (‘RYOGA’) , which has studios in several neighborhoods in Rome. Just make sure to check the calendar to see when English classes are scheduled. 

Update notice: This article was updated on August 30, 2023. 

Want to explore another hidden aspect of this incredible city? Join our Alone in Rome’s Catacombs: Exclusive After Hours Tour with Bone Chapel to see these historic sites without the crowds. With transport between sites, we take the hassle out of your visit, exploring the Capuchin Crypt (aka the Bone Chapel) as well as the Rome catacombs on this after-hours tour with an expert Walks guide.

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The Whole World Or Nothing

13 Unique Things To Do In Rome

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If it’s your first time in Rome of course you need to see all the big hitters. But if you have more than a few days, have been to The Eternal City before or simply want to escape the crowds, this list of the more unique things to do Rome is for you.

Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Forum and Palatine Hill, Vatican City. They are the most popular listed sights when tourists are searching for what to visit in Rome.

And for good reason. We agree with them all. Well except the Sistine Chapel. We thought that was overpriced and rather boring to be honest. And don’t get us started on the audio guide!

Anyway I digress, because there are so many alternative things to in Rome that it is virtually impossible not to fall in love with the city.

Here’s our thirteen favourite unique things to do in Rome.

Unique Things To Do In Rome Pasta Shop

Unique Things To Do In Rome

Walk down via giulia.

I have no idea why this street isn’t busier with tourists than it is because it’s so charming. But then again if it was, it probably wouldn’t be on our list of unique things to do in Rome.

The street runs almost parallel to the river Tiber and has some unusual places to visit in Rome, namely Farnese arch and via Guilia’s Mascherone.

Farnese Arch On Via Giulia

The story goes that the Farnese arch was supposed to extend into a private bridge over the river Tiber to connect the Farnese family mansion to another of their residences, but it was never completed.

Further down the street towards Ponte Sisto bridge you’ll find the via Giulia’s Mascherone, meaning grotesque face overseeing a fountain.

Unusual Places To Visit In Rome via Giulia's Mascherone

Fun fact. If the inside of a fountain is smooth it is made from an ancient recycled Roman bath. However, if it is rough, it’s made from a reused coffin. I know which I’d rather drink from. How about you?

Chill Out in the Orange Garden

If you really want to escape the crowds with one of our unique things to do in Rome, check this elegant spot out.

Located atop Aventine Hill, it’s one of the more serene parks in Rome. Which is surprising given it has, in our opinion, one of the best views of the city.

Unique Things To Do In Rome Aventine Hill

It is also known as Savelli’s Park, simply because it has belonged to the Savelli family since 1200. Inside, only the remains of the family fortress remain. It was demolished in 1613.

Alternative Things To Do In Rome Orange Garden

Look Through the Aventine Keyhole

Near the Orange Garden is another of our recommendations for unique things to do in Rome, the peephole vista of the perfectly framed dome of St Peter.

Unique Things To Do In Rome Aventine Keyhole View

You can’t enter the gardens that are part of the Priory of the Knights of Malta, so there’s nothing more do to that put your eye upto the big green metal door.

Nevertheless it’s still a pretty fun activity to do in Rome if you are in the area.

Fun Activities To Do In Rome

Rock out at piazza trilussa.

When we were asking around for what to visit Rome, this place was recommended a few times by people who live in the city so we knew we had to check it out and were so glad we did.

By day it’s just a square but come dusk it comes alive with evening entertainment and the steps in front of the fountain are lined with people watching buskers perform in 30 – 60 minute sets.

It’s one of the cheaper evening alternative things to do in Rome instead of hanging out in the bars. Locals and tourists alike grab a few beers or a bottle of chilled prosecco from one of the small shops around the square.

Fun Activities To Do In Rome At Night

Just a note on drinking in public In Rome. Before 10pm anything goes. But between 10pm and 12am any alcohol has to be in plastic containers and after 12am it’s banned.

And another note on tipping the buskers. It’s their job. Don’t be the dick, sitting there watching them perform and not give anything. Get up off your bum at the end of their set and show your appreciation with a few euros.

If you do fancy a few drinks in a bar instead, nearby Mr Brown’s on Vicolo de’ Cinque, 29 is a good choice. And their cocktails are half price at €3.50 until 10pm. Bonus tip for you there!

Take A Segway Tour

During our time hanging out in the Eternal City, we took a segway tour with Turtle Tours Rome . Our guide Camila was genuinely one of the best we’ve had on our travels.

As well as the big hitters, she took us around some of the more unusual places to visit in Rome. We learnt so much about the city that we would otherwise not have known and just generally had a really fun afternoon buzzing around and chatting away.

Turtle Tours Rome Segway

It was our first time riding them so we were a little apprehensive given all the crowds of tourists in Rome. But they are surprisingly easy to control.

If you are want to put some unique things to do in Rome on your travel itinerary, this should be one of them. It’s a fun activity to do in Rome if you are short on time too. Wow did we cover some ground!

Fun Activities To Do In Rome Segway Tour

The tours range from €50 – 80 each and last between 2 – 4 hours. Click here to check out the exact tour we did.

Different Things To Do In Rome For Lunch

Gorge on pasta on via dei coronari.

Okay let’s dive into one of the main reasons so many people visit Italy in general. For the food!

Of course a capital city plus tonnes of tourists mean restaurant prices are often hiked up. And that’s exactly why it’s best to scout out more unusual places to visit in Rome when it come to food.

We stiffed out a whole street where you can get loads of great lunch time deals on some seriously delicious pasta. Some are just takeaway spots but some have a few tables inside where you can go in and sit.

Different Things To Do In Rome For Lunch

Typically there are mix and match pasta and sauce options.

Our favourite was called Pasta Imperiale where you could grab a plate of yummy pasta for €5 and a small glass of wine for €2. Alright the wines not the best we’ve tasted but for that price, who cares right?! It’s still one of the fun activities to do in Rome.

Another good spot for grabbing a cheap lunch in Rome is Pastificio Guerra on Via Della Croce, right near the Spanish Steps. At 1pm sharp they serve up freshly made pasta for €4, this time with a free small glass of wine!

Cheap Places For Lunch Rome

Get there on time though to this recommendation of unique things to do in Rome. That pasta goes quick.

Pig Out On Some Serious Porchetta

If your heading to or have just come out of the Vatican City and are feeling peckish, this is the perfect stop off to fill your belly up. And it won’t blow a hole in your travel budget either.

Here’s the address: Angrypig Birretta e Porchetta, Via Tunisi, 38.

There’s a selection of several different sandwiches with fillings such as sun dried tomatoes and grilled aubergines accompanying the perfectly cooked porchetta.

Best Porchetta in Rome

There’s a good range of beer or wine on offer, just help yourself. And you can even leave your review of the place on the walls. Really cool place on our list of unique things to do in Rome.

More Foodie Alternative Things To Do In Rome

Get your sugar fix in trastevere.

I guess this isn’t so much one of the most alternative things in do in Rome. However, if you buy a huge bag and just eat that for your lunch it’s definitely different.

We’re not even massive fans of sweet stuff but when we walked past this window full of pastries we just couldn’t help ourselves. I mean look at it!

Cheap Places To Eat In Rome

And then we didn’t know which to choose and so ended up with a selection of pretty much all of them. We felt slightly sick afterwards but definitely didn’t regret it. Definitely a fun activity to do in Rome.

Here’s the address: Biscottificio Artigiano Innocenti, Via della Luce, 21.

But take your time finding it. The trastevere neighbourhood is our favourite in Rome. It’s so pretty and is great for just wandering and getting lost. That’s how we found this place.

Well Off The Beaten Track Restaurant

If you fancy taking a little trip and going to a genuine Italian neighbourhood that sees very few tourists for one of your unique things to do in Rome, this fab restaurant will be right up your street.

I’m not going to lie, there’s not anything else to do around here, so there’s no need to allow for more time than an evening at this place. But if you want some proper delicious Italian food in an authentic atmosphere, this is the place.

Capraecavoli Authentic Resturant Rome

All the pasta dishes hit the spot, but if you fancy something a little different try the pear and gorgonzola pizza. The prices are so reasonable and they serve a good house wine at €2 for half a litre. That’s not a typo.

We only happened upon it because we were staying a little outside of Rome near some friends, but this is hands down the best restaurant we ate at in Rome. We went 4 times!

Here’s the name and address: Capraecavoli , Via Capraia, 64.

It’s gets super busy with big italian family meals so it’s best to call ahead and book. The menu is in Italian only but most waiters speak English. Get off at the Jonio metro stop and it’s 10 minute walk for one of the more alternative things to do in Rome.

Unusual Places To Visit in Rome

Take in the views on pincian hill.

As Rome’s largest green space, the gardens of Vila Borghese are a great place to while away a few hours. Either exploring by foot or by renting one of the golf buggies. If you’ve not been yet, yes the park really is that big!

Unusual Place To Visit In Rome Pincian Hill View

So don’t miss the best view while you’re up there. The romantic Pincio balcony overlooking Piazza del Popolo and stretching out across the city to St Peter’s Dome and the Vatican City.

Picnic at Circo Maximus

Onto another romantic but unusual place to visit in Rome. Circo Maximus or Circo Massimo in Italian is an ancient chariot racing stadium. It’s ruins lay in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine Hills.

The stadium itself is now not much more than a dusty basin of grass with a few ruined structures at one end. However the views from the seats, overlooking it onto the forum ruins in the background, are spectacular.

Romantic Things To Do In Rome Circo Maximus

It’s also a lovely spot in Rome to bring a picnic and enjoy a quieter viewpoint if you’re tired of the eating at bustling Rome restaurants . Or trying to watch your pennies.

Quirky Things To Do In Rome

Visit john keats grave.

The Protestant Cemetery in Rome is, amongst many others, the final resting place of the English poets Percy Shelley and John Keats. Both young and tragic deaths.

Quirky Things To Do In Rome Keats Grave

Keats travelled to Rome after contracting tuberculosis and his doctor futilely advising him to go somewhere warm. And Shelley drowned in a storm while aboard a boat in the gulf of Spezzia in Northern Italy.

Packed with history and beautiful monuments, it’s one of the oldest burial grounds in Europe that is still in use. Historically the site was used to bury ‘Roman society outcasts’ as the sign outside explains.

Quirky Things To Do In Rome Protestant Graveyard

It’s also home to a feral cat colony who are looked after by the volunteers. The graveyard doesn’t receive any government funding yet it’s free to enter. You can and should leave a donation towards the upkeep of the place.

Campo de’Fiori Market

One of the oldest markets in the city, this has to be on your list of unique things to do in Rome. Traders have been coming here from the countryside since 1869 and there’s lots of tasty food samples to try.

Come afternoon the market is packing up and the restaurants around the square begin to roll out their tables and chairs. It’s a very picturesque and multifunctional square.

Unique Things To Do In Campo de’Fiori Market

So multifunctional that what most tourists aren’t aware of is that it was also previously a place of public executions.

The statue in the centre of the square is philosopher Giordano Bruno who was burned at the stake in that very spot in 1600.

Honouring him and the freedom of thought, the shrouded figure stands defiantly facing the Vatican City.

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful in your trip planning of what to visit in Rome. As always if you have any questions? Thoughts to add? Or other unusual things to do in Rome that you’d like to share. Hit up the comments below!

Full disclosure. Our segway tour with Turtle Tours Rome was complimentary in return for an honest review and associated promotion. As always, all opinions are own and were in no way obligated to provide a positive review.

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Building Street Art Unique Things To Do In Rome Italy

Yorkshire born & bred, Sarah is a professional blogger who loves to travel. Pushing her boundaries with new adventures is her jam, so you likely won’t find her in one place for too long. Also a serious Marmite addict. 

unusual places to visit in rome italy

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Sarah

I loved the Sistine Chapel! We made it there before the throngs of crowds showed up (went in at opening and had some solitude). Enjoyed the pizza more than the pasta when we were there…must have went to the wrong spots. The gelato was spot on! Will check out Aventine next time, it looks amazing.

Sarah McAlister

Thanks for commenting Sarah. Yeah the Aventine is really very special. We can’t wait to go back too!

Lucy

Hi, thanks so much for this. We are off on Sunday and will definitely check out some of your recommendations. Where is the picture at the top of the article taken? Thanks

Hi Lucy – hope you had a lovely time! Apologies for the super late reply. This street art is on Via del Porto Fluviale in Ostiense.

Sophie

Thanks so much! I’m really excited to take my husband and I will defo check out some of your recommendations

Have a great time!

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13 Unusual Things to See in Rome

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By Elyssa Bernard

September 18, 2021

Want to know where to find really unusual things to see in Rome?

cloister in a church in rome

I mean really off the beaten track , amazing things hidden (almost) from plain view.

While you wander around Rome checking out the major attractions like the  Colosseum , see if you can find these.

Unusual Things to See in Rome - see if you know these

On a typical first-time 2-3 day visit to Rome, you may not have a chance or even the desire to look for these unusual things to see in Rome.

But if you are looking for some of the most off the beaten track things in Rome, here are a few of the more fascinating ones I've collected over my years of walking and wandering in Rome. 

Frankly this page could have hundreds of things on it.

Eventually I'll make more pages like this with more fun unusual things to see in Rome.

Why not make  a treasure hunt  for yourself, and try to collect these unusual things to see in Rome (hint: there is a  map  at the bottom):

  • The broken bridge
  • Saint Valentine's skull
  • The monkey tower
  • Remnants of last medieval synagogue in Trastevere
  • The medieval-era fountain inside a hidden church courtyard
  • Medici crests in Rome
  • The Magic Door
  • The water clock in Villa Borghese
  • Augustus' sundial
  • The meridian line inside a basilica
  • The cannonball in the wall
  • History's permanent bullet holes 
  • The stepping stones of the Jewish Ghetto

Most of the unusual things to see in Rome on this page are free with the exception of the medieval fountain (1€ donation)

Unusual Things to See in Rome - Ancient Rome

Of course there is such a wealth of ancient Roman ruins even inside the city itself, you could endlessly find ancient unusual things to see in Rome.

For example, the Servian walls, from the time of the kings (700-300 BC more or less) are still left standing in lots of spots around Rome and most people don't realize what they are or how old they are. 

servian walls in rome

But I find it amazing to see them still standing, right in the middle of a traffic island in the city center, or even running through the Termini train station.

Here are just a couple of ancient really unusual things to see in Rome that I find fascinating, and hope you do too:

Want more unusual things to see in Rome?

Check out my page Cemeteries in Rome (and near Rome) that you can visit!

1) The broken bridge

ponte rotto in rome

The Ponte Rotto (broken bridge) is the oldest Roman stone bridge in Rome. Dating from the 2nd century BC, and originally called  Pons Aemilius , the bridge was destroyed by various floods over the centuries, and always rebuilt. Finally in the 16th century, half the bridge was washed away and they stopped fixing it.

What remains stands in the Tiber, next to the newer and sturdier Ponte Palatino (which I find pretty uninteresting even if it is useful.)

This is one of the more unusual things to see in Rome that really is hiding in plain sight. Most people have no idea it's here unless I tell them.

2) The skull of Saint Valentine

skull of st valentine

Many visitors in Rome flock to the  Bocca della Verità  (Mouth of Truth), made famous in the wonderful Audrey Hepburn/Gregory Peck 1953 movie  Roman Holiday .  In recent years they decided to make money off this and now, you have to pay to stand next to the Mouth of Truth and have your picture taken with it, presumably sticking your hand in its mouth as Audrey's character did in the movie. And this has caused huge queues that wrap around the entrance to the church where the Mouth of Truth is located.

However, there is no line whatsoever to get into the church itself (which is of course free.) And that is a shame indeed because it's a gorgeous Byzantine-era church, with cosmatesque floors, and high beamed ceilings that always seem to let in just the right amount of light to give the place a hushed and special feeling.

One of the curiosities in this church is the (alleged) skull of Saint Valentine , probably from around the 3rd century.

It's a bit of a grey area, since there was more than one saint Valentine and apparently there is more than one church in the world claiming to house his remains. In any case, it can be a special place to come and make a wish or just check out this relic, quietly sitting inside this un-crowded church behind all the crowds outside.

Want more unusual things to see in Rome from ancient times?

Check out the Domus Aurea , Nero's Golden House. A must-see!

Unusual Things to See in Rome - Medieval times

During the Medieval period, there was a lot of poverty and despair. People simply struggled to survive societal ills such as plagues, sacks of the city, unpleasant power-mongering between nobles, etc. So taking care of monuments, relics and artefacts was not high on anyone's list. That's one reason a lot of really ancient stuff (like the Egyptian obelisks ) fell to ruins and abandon.

Rome was also pretty sparsely populated then (about 50,000 people give or take.) So there is a little less of medieval Rome to see today than there is from other periods.

However, we do have quite a few unusual things to see in Rome from that era. You just have to know where to look:

3) The Monkey Tower

unusual places to visit in rome italy

This medieval tower sits surrounded by more modern buildings in the little street near piazza Navona called via dei Portoghesi.

The tower, actually called La Torre dei Frangipani, came to be called the Monkey Tower . Here's the legend and why:

About a thousand years ago, a family lived in this tower, with their small baby and pet monkey.

One day, the monkey, left alone with the baby for a few moments, took the infant to the top of the tower, ostensibly to play with him there.

The parents, horrified and desperate, prayed to the Virgin Mary that she help them get their son back safely. They promised that if she helped them, they would build a shrine to her.

Soon, the monkey brought the child back, safe and sound.

And so, of course, the family placed this madonna on top of the tower in homage to the Virgin Mary as promised.

Alongside her is an electric lamp, always on.

Want to find out even more Rome secrets?

Don't miss 111 Secret Places in Rome You must not Miss!

111 Places in Rome That You Must Not Miss

4) The last synagogue left in Trastevere

synagogue on vicolo dell'atleta

Trastevere was where Jews originally settled and lived in ancient Roman times. There was a thriving Jewish community there through medieval times, until 1555 when the Jews were forced to move to the other side of the river, in the area known today as the Jewish Ghetto .

In the quietest part of Trastevere, there is a tiny alleyway, Vicolo dell'Atleta (named Street of the Athlete because of a Greek statue  Apoxyomenos , found there in the mid 1800's, today in the Vatican Museums.)

The street was originally called Vicolo delle Palme, probably because of palm trees planted there as a symbol of Judea.

One of the oldest synagogues in Rome was here, and it's the only one of seven from that era that remains at all.

closeup of column of synagogue with hebrew writing

Founded by lexicographer Nathan ben Jechiel (1035-1106), and eventually destroyed in a fire in 1268, there are still remnants of this synagogue, which you see here.

If you look very closely at the middle column, you can even see faint writing in Hebrew.

This is one of my favorite of the unusual things to see in Rome on this page, because I find many Romans do not even know of its existence.

You really have to know where to look and how to find it.

5) A sweet fountain hiding inside a precious monastery courtyard

unusual places to visit in rome italy

By itself, the exquisite basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati is one of the more unusual things to see in Rome. Easily overlooked on its perch a few blocks away from, and above the Coliseum, it's one of the best examples of medieval architecture in Rome.

The basilica has many wonderful treats if you know where to look , like the 12th century frescoes inside a secret chapel, the foundling wheel and much more...

One of my favorite things to do with people who've never seen this church before is to take them into the secluded ancient cloister to the left of the main nave. You have to ring a bell so someone can let you in, and then pay a Euro "offering." The look on the faces of first-time visitors is worth every penny.

The basin in the middle of the fountain is from the 12th century. Many churches in Rome have hidden cloisters, but I think this one is by far the most beautiful.

The reason I find this fountain to be one of the loveliest of the unusual things to see in Rome is the whole setting overall: the basilica, all the secret and unknown little places to visit, and so much ancient and medieval stuff all in one spot.

Unusual Things to See in Rome - traces of nobility long gone

6) the medici.

Palazzo di Tizio di Spoleto with medici crest painting

The Medici dynasty were prominent bankers, patrons of the arts, and cardinals and popes, from the mid 1400's - late 1700's. They are usually associated with the Tuscany area, specifically Florence.

One does not come to Rome looking for signs of the Medici family...but of course they were here too.

First of all, four of the Medici were popes.

Second of all, the family's influence and wealth were widespread, and it's understandable they would be responsible for investing in art and architecture in Rome as well as their native Florence.

If you look around Rome (particularly in churches and on ceilings), you might see the Medici crest (coat of arms), which is a distinctive horse-shoe shape of five red balls.

Maybe, then, the Medici crests are not such unusual things to see in Rome. But I find most people have no idea they are here, or where to find them. 

My favorite of these is the richly colored fresco on the outside of a building, plainly visible yet often overlooked, right in the center of Rome.

The perfect 3-day itinerary in Rome

Trying to figure out how to organize your visit to Rome? I've got the perfect 3-day itinerary for first-time visitors (or those who have not been here in a while.) It works for a 2.5 day visit as well.

In my 3-day itinerary, you'll see all the major must-see Rome attractions like the Vatican , Colosseum , Trevi Fountain , Pantheon , Piazza Navona , Spanish Steps , Castel Sant'Angelo , and much more.

And if you have more time, or want suggestions for extra/other things to do, you'll find that there too.

Visit my page with the best 3-day itinerary in Rome for first-timers .

7) The Magic Door

Many visitors to Rome skip the park of Piazza Vittorio (Emanuele.) It's kind of near the Termini train station, not in the prettiest part of town, and certainly not that near any major tourist attractions (although it was one of the most important areas in Ancient Rome.)

But I find the park beautiful and peaceful to walk through (at least during the day.)

There is a dedicated dog-park, ruins of an ancient Nymphaeum, an odd dried fountain, a cat sanctuary, and, the Magic Door .

the magic door in piazza vittorio

In the 1600's, a lot of people were very into alchemy and mysticism. This did not go over well, however, during the Inquisition, and practicers were often singled out, persecuted and sometimes executed.

The Marquis of Pietraforte , Massimiliano Palombara, whose Villa Palombara used to run along the edge of today's piazza Vittorio, was a well-known practitioner of alchemy. Due to his wealth and status, he mingled with other such luminaries of the day like Christina (the queen of Sweden), Giuseppe Francesco Borri, and Athanasius Kircher. The Marquis was likely also a member of a secret society called the Rosicrucians, a forerunner to Freemasonry.

The Marquis had created a sort of laboratory outside his villa, where he and Borri conducted experiments, trying to find the Philosopher's Stone, which could turn metal into gold. Legend says that Borri found the solution, but had to escape into the night, leaving his formula behind. So he (or perhaps the Marquis) inscribed Borri's writings onto the frame of the door for posterity, in hopes that one day someone could figure them out and use them to make gold.

The villa and its other gates and doors are long gone. But this Magic Door (also called the Alchemist's Door) remains, along with its inscriptions. In my opinion, this really is one of the most unusual things to see in Rome.

The two funny looking guards on either side of the door were not originally at the Villa Palombara.

They are Egyptian deities, and come from ancient Roman times, when there was a bit of Egypt-fever in Rome.

They were found near the Quirinale Hill, near an pre-Christian temple to Isis and Separis, and eventually placed here, as if to guard the door. I think they go very well together!

Unusual Things to See in Rome - telling time

Over the centuries, people found all kinds of ways to tell time. Traces of old timepieces are fascinating and sometimes very unusual things to see Rome.

8) The Water Clock in Villa Borghese

water clock villa borghese

This curious water clock in the middle of the Borghese Gardens actually tells the time correctly. Amazing isn't it? 

This marvel of mechanical engineering is based on using the force of the water that flows beneath it to move the pendulum and wind the clock. At the same time, the water alternatively fills two basins, which gives the clock its ringtone. The clock has four quadrants, which allow you to tell the time from any direction. 

In 1867, a friar of the Dominican Order, Giovanni Battista Embriaco, presented two of these types of clocks ( hydrochronometers)  at the Paris Expo.

In 1873, one of these water clocks was placed in Villa Borghese gardens, on a fountain designed by the architect Gioacchino Ersoch. 

Ersoch wanted to place the clock in perfect surroundings, and he settled on a little islet in a pond in the Borghese Park, where it still stands today. The idea was to show a harmony between technology and nature. In fact, to keep the clock in continuity with its surroundings, the base looks like tree trunks, although it is made of cast iron. 

The water clock worked quite accurately until 2004 when it abruptly stopped working. Nobody was able to fix it, so, in 2007, it was completely re-engineered. Today it works perfectly, thanks to constant care and upkeep of its delicate mechanisms.

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9) Augustus' sundial

unusual places to visit in rome italy

So now we step back about 2000 years. Not hard to do in Rome. How did the Roman's tell time back then?

Some of the unusual things to see in Rome are the 13 obelisks from ancient Egypt. These obelisks were brought over from Egypt (mostly as trophies) by various Roman emperors, and placed around Rome in strategic spots. In the middle ages, most of them broke apart, fell to the ground and often got buried by mud and dirt.

In the late 1500's, popes started restoring the obelisks and having them installed around Rome in front of monuments, plazas and churches. These obelisks were then inevitably topped with the symbol of that pope.

One of the obelisks most badly destroyed was the one you see today in piazza Montecitorio, home of the Italian Chamber of Deputies (parliament.)

This particular obelisk was originally from Heliopolis in around 600 BC, and was later brought to Rome from Egypt by Rome's first emperor, Augustus, and used as a sundial.

August used this obelisk as a gnomon (the thing that causes a shadow on a sundial) of his Solarium Augusti ,  (giant sundial, or horologium) in Campo Marzio. There was a floor made of travertine, with a meridian line where the shadow would fall to show the time.

Unfortunately (according to Pliny ), the obelisk did not work at all after about 30 years.

I love the Rome ArtLover website for a wealth of detailed knowledge about art, architecture and history in Rome.

To read more about all of Rome's obelisks on the Rome ArtLover website, click here .

10) The meridian line inside a basilica

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Another, later, example of a meridian line may be found on the floor of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri .

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Pope Clement XI commissioned the astronomer and mathematician, Francesco Bianchini to build a meridian line inside the basilica. It was completed in 1702. 

Among other reasons, the pope wanted to check the accuracy of the Gregorian reformation of the calendar.

Bianchini's sundial was built along the meridian that crosses Rome, at longitude 12° 30' E. At solar noon, the sun shines through a small hole in the wall high above, and it lands on the meridian line at a spot that depends on the time of year.

At the summer solstice, the sun's ray hits the meridian line at the point nearest the wall. At the winter solstice, the sun beam hits the meridian line at the point farthest from the wall. At the spring and autumnal equinoxes, the sunbeam lands just between these two points.

It actually works pretty well, even today.

diagram of bianchini meridian line

This is one of the more unusual things to see in Rome, to me, partly because of the setting inside this amazing and magnificent church, and partly because the meridian line is flanked with signs from the zodiac, a later addition, but one that seems to go against church teachings.

Unusual Things to See in Rome - reminders of wars

As you can imagine, many wars were fought in this city since its founding in 753 BCE . In much of Europe, and certainly in Rome, it's common to find reminders of previous important moments in history, particularly of World War II. 

See if you can find these fairly hidden reminders of more recent wars and their affects on the Eternal City. 

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11) A reminder of the bloody battle for the unity of Italy

unusual places to visit in rome italy

For much of history, Italy was not a unified country. Most of what you think of as Italy today was a peninsula comprised of various and sometimes very divisive kingdoms, duchies and states. 

By the early 1800's, Rome was under French control as part of the Papal States.

At the same time, nationalism was on the rise around Europe, and this included the area that is Italy today. 

This is actually a long, complicated, and really fascinating history, and I am only learning about it in depth now that I have been living in Rome for so long.

But to cut to the chase: In 1849, the Janiculum Hill in Rome ( Gianicolo ) was the site of a very bloody battle fought by the forces of  Giuseppe Garibaldi in their risorgimento , the resurgent movement to return Rome to a republic, against the French who wanted to restore the power of the Pope.

There are several very evident memorials to this battle and to Garibaldi, on the Gianicolo  Hill.

One of the more unusual things to see in Rome and a more subtle reminder of this tremendous and historically important battle, is a French cannonball high on the outside wall of the church of San Pietro in Montorio .

tempietto del bramante

I don't mean this at all as an aside, because it's so special, but one of the most beautiful buildings in Rome is also at the site of this church.

Donato Bramante's Tempietto which marked the beginning of High Renaissance style in Rome.

You have to walk around the church to its right side and at the least peer through the gate of the courtyard there, if you can't get in.

Opening hours are limited but it is truly a jewel and another of my favorite unusual things to see in Rome.

12) A bullet-ridden building to remind us of a chapter in Roman WWII history

via rasella bulletholes

On March 23, 1944, a group of Partisans attacked a battalion of SS Policemen as it came down via Rasella. Just as the soldiers were coming down the street, the Partisans exploded a bomb they'd hidden in a rubbish cart. 

Twenty-eight SS police died immediately (more of them would die over the next days.) In the panicked moments right after the bomb went off, the policemen who'd been knocked to the ground by the explosion grabbed their weapons and sprayed gunfire around themselves in self-defense.

The reasons this episode became so monumental is that, in reprisal for this attack, Hitler ordered 10 Italians killed for every Nazi who'd died. Every Jew, everyone in prison, and then eventually, even men and boys from the street were rounded up. Among them was also a priest.

At the time of the roundup, 33 SS had died, but instead of taking 330 men (and boys), the Nazi's took 335 by mistake. 

On 24 March, led by SS officers Erich Priebke and Karl Hass, the Nazis took the their victims outside the city center to the via Ardeatine, and murdered them all in cold blood. By the time they'd realized they'd taken 5 people too many, it was too late, and so they killed these additional 5 as well, to prevent them from being witnesses.

The victims were buried in a cave there, called a fossa.  They were discovered only after Rome was liberated in 1944. The event is today known as the Massacre of the Fosse Ardeatine .

On via Rasella, where the Partisan attack took place, most of the buildings have been renovated over the years. Today it's a pretty cobblestone street that leads from Piazza Barberini towards the Trevi fountain.

But this one building and its bullet holes remain, to remind us of the tragedies and horrors of war.

To me, this is one of the most important unusual things to see in Rome to remind us of WWII, because in a city that's always renovating its old buildings, this one is being purposefully left intact. Lest we forget.

13) Stepping stones in the Jewish Ghetto (stolpersteine)

stolpersteine in rome ghetto

During WWII, more than 2000 Jews were deported from Rome and sent to Auschwitz (more than 7000 Jews from all over Italy were deported to deaths camps in the Reich.)

Only 102 of the Jews deported from Rome survived. 

Today, Rome's Jewish community is thriving, still in the Ghetto neighborhood, which has today become one of central Rome's loveliest areas for strolling and eating.

In the mid 1990's, German artist Gunter Demnig had the idea to commemorate victims of the Holocaust by placing stolpersteine  (stumbling blocks or stepping stones) in front of the last place the victims lived. The stone would be a way of symbolically returning that person to their home. 

They are made of concrete, then covered in brass, and engraved - "Here lived..." and then "arrested" or "deported" and the date of death, and place of death if known.

There are now more than 40,000 of these blocks in cities all across Europe. They commemorate not only Jews but also many other victims of the Holocaust including gypsies, homosexuals, blacks, communists and others.

In Rome, these stepping stones are mostly concentrated along the streets of the Jewish Ghetto, where so many Jews lived during the occupation. But there are also stolpersteine all around other parts of Rome as well. 

You just have to look down.

I find these to be unusual things to see in Rome because it's easy to walk around Rome today and forget that a major war took place in very recent history here.

I've also discovered many people do not know that Rome has a Jewish Ghetto. In fact, it was one of the first in Italy.

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Unusual things to do in Rome – Best 10 Unique Attractions & Places

Written by: Kate Zusmann

Unique things to do in Rome

Rome is full of interesting and unusual tourist attractions and unique places to visit that one can choose according to his points of interest. So whether you are a risky person, art or nature lover, or adventure seeker, there will be something interesting in this city full of unexpected corners, history, and unforgettable experiences!

Rent a Boat in Villa Borghese

Boats in villa borghese lake

Rome has several huge beautiful villas, where Villa Borghese is one of the most notable and charming. It attracts visitors because of the largest private collection of art located in Borghese Gallery (Galleria Borghese), but not only. The area is full of greenery and attractions for any age. One of them is renting a boat on the artificial lake in the middle of the villa. The price for 20 min rent is 3 euro per person. You will have an unforgettable experience since the ambiance is so peaceful and romantic.

Try Skydiving

skydiving in rome

There are many skydiving options for extreme lovers, either with tandem jump or free-fall flight near Rome. This thing can make your holiday very special and memorable. The average price for a tandem jump starts from 200 euro, while the AFF skydiving course costs from 1500 euro. This is a unique experience of admiring ancient cities, castles, and lakes from high. Ready to risk?

Skydive companies:

  • www.romaskydive.it
  • www.yumping.it
  • www.flyzone roma .com
  • www. paracadutismo nettuno.it

See the Janiculum Canon

gianicolo hill canon

The terrace of the Janiculum hill (Gianicolo hill) offers stunning views of Rome and is easy to reach from the city center. Located high above the Trastevere neighborhood, the greenery area with the peaceful ambiance is always full of young locals and couples. Dating back to the 19 th century, there is a tradition related to a single canon which shot breaks the silence daily at noon. The canon even has a Facebook page !

Our private walking tour over Trastevere district starts from charming Janiculum hill

Admire the Quartiere Coppede Area

Quartiere Coppede' in Rome

It takes so much time to explore the whole Eternal City. One of its gems is Quartiere Coppede , an unexpected and bizarre quarter within the Trieste district. There you will find an unusual mix of ancient Greek, Roman baroque, medieval, mannerist, and art nouveau styles that were brought to reality by architect Coppede in 1919. The master worked on the area from the 1910s until 1927, and today, if you are looking for unique things to do in Rome – one of the best options is to admire the Quartiere Coppede.

Adopt a Cat from Cat Sanctuary

Largo Argentina cat shelter

Explore Rome in the most comfortable way!

from €150.00

Right in the historical center of Rome, there is a place with ruins of four ancient temples where more than 200 cats live. This is a cat shelter on Largo di Torre Argentina , which is also notable because Caesar was assassinated there. Nowadays, tourists and locals come to admire lovely pets. You can adopt a cat even on a distance by paying fees for its care and receiving pet photos and news about it every month.

Visit the Aventine Keyhole

Aventine keyhole where you see three countries at the same time

The Aventine hill is ringed with many important churches and monasteries, but the main thing tourists come to see is the Knights of Malta Keyhole in Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. This is a unique opportunity to see two nation-states and one country simultaneously: Malta, Vatican, and Italy. Also, this is one of the  best free things to do in Rome .

Check Yourself if You Are a Liar

Legend of the Mouth of Truth

Sounds interesting, right? There is an ancient image carved in a marble slab, which exists for about 2200 years. Romans are convinced that it is impossible to tell a lie under the stern gaze of the mask. Hundreds of tourists come to the Mouth of Truth and wait in a queue to check if the carving will bite off the hands of liars.

Walk Along the Oldest Road

Via Appia antica in Rome

The Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) is the longest and oldest road of the Roman Empire Times, stretching for 560 km from Rome to Brindisi. The road was built in 312 BC and was originally meant to bring armies and supplies across the empire. Nowadays, it is the perfect spot to rent a bike, do a picnic, or ride a horse during sunny weather . Moreover, below the Appian Way, you can find miles of tunnels, known as catacombs, where early Christians were buried during persecution, and hidden churches held services.

Admire the Monster House

the monster house in rome

Among Roman churches, ancient buildings, and monuments, there is a unique and unusually ornate building named Zuccari Palace or The Monster House. It has its name from the façade of the building, which features large faces of monsters and their wide gaping mouths while swallowing the door and windows. Famous Baroque artist Federico Zuccari built the construction  in 1590. It is wonderful, and you can take amazing photos near it.

Visit the House of Owls

the house of owls in Rome

The House of Owls (Casina delle Civette) was commissioned by its owner Giovanni Torlonia, who remade it in 1919 from “The Swiss Hut” into “ Villa Torlonia ,” as it is known nowadays. The fairytale mansion features a mix of medieval themes and Art Nouveau craziness. It became famous for its wonderful windows with depictions of birds, flowers, and owls. There are so many interesting details!

  • Adress:   Via Nomentana, 70, 00161 Roma RM

The Eternal City is full of unexpected corners and unique things that you will not find in any other city in the world! What do you think is the most unusual thing to do in Rome? Leave in comments 🙂

Author: Kate Zusmann

Kate Zusmann

For the last 10 years, I live in the Eternal City. Traveling, exploring new things, writing blogs, and shooting vlogs are my main hobbies, but the thing that I like even more is sharing my experience and thoughts with you! Explore Rome with Us :)

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Rome Bucket List: 40 Epic Things to Do in Rome

Julie Last updated: January 26, 2024 Italy 11 Comments

Rome Bucket List Things To Do in Rome

Rome is the capital city of Italy and one of the largest cities in Europe. With its long, rich history, famous landmarks, museums and archaeological sites, the to-do list for visitors is enormous. 40 things to do in Rome sounds like a lot, and it is, but there are many more places we could have added to this list.

Below is a big list of things to do in Rome. Don’t expect to see them all on your first visit, not unless you are planning to spend at least a week here. Most likely, you don’t have that kind of time, so at the end of this guide, we list the top 10 experiences to have in Rome (or skip ahead now).

Before jumping right into the best things to do in Rome, we give a quick overview of the city. At the end of this guide, we have links to more information about Rome, including how to plan your time here and how to include Rome on your trip to Italy.

I do my best to keep the hours of operation and pricing up to date for each attraction, however, these can change at any time. I recommend getting updated hours and pricing for your dates of travel. The link to the official website is provided for each site.

Table of Contents

Interesting Facts about Rome

Rome is located in the Lazio region of Italy. It is often referred to as the City of Seven Hills, with the city encompassing Palatine Hill, Aventine Hill, Capitoline Hill, Viminal Hill, Quirinal Hill, Caelian Hill, and Esquiline Hill.

Legend has it that Romulus and Remus founded Rome on Palatine Hill in 753 BC. When they were infants, the god Tiberinus ordered them to be killed, so they were abandoned on the bank of the Tiber River. Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf and they were later raised by a shepherd. Romulus went on to found Rome. As you visit Rome, you will see statues of the she-wolf throughout the city, and even in other cities in Italy.

Rome is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. The first settlements date back to a time even before Romulus and Remus. When you walk through Rome, it feels like you are walking through a string of archaeological sites. Ancient ruins and excavations can be seen throughout the city and new discoveries continue to be made. In fact, the historic city center of Rome is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rome is the most popular tourist destination in Italy. People from around the world travel here to see the Colosseum, stroll through the historic heart of Rome, and tour the Vatican, all which top the best things to do in Rome list.

Located within Rome is Vatican City, the smallest country in the world. Vatican City is an independent city-state that became independent from Italy in 1929.

Many of the best things to do in Rome are found in the city center, but there are a few outliers. To get around Rome, plan on doing a lot of walking, but you can also get around by metro, taxi, Uber, and bus.

Rome Bucket List

Best things to do in rome.

In no particular order, here is our list of best things to do in Rome. At the end of this list, you can see all of them on a map.

1. Colosseum

Completed in 80 AD, this is the largest amphitheater that was ever built at the time. It could hold up to 80,000 people, spectators who were drawn here to watch gladiatorial contests, executions, animal hunts, and re-enactments of famous battles. It is one of the seven New Wonders of the World.

On a visit to the Colosseum, there are several ticket types. The basic ticket gives you access to the main area of the Colosseum, plus the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. You can also add on the Arena Floor and the Underground, each for an additional price.

Adding on the Arena Floor is absolutely worth it. A platform was built over a portion of the arena, and with a ticket here, you can stand on this platform and look up at the walls of the Colosseum.

On a guided tour, you can tour the Underground and learn about the fascinating history of the Colosseum, including stories on where the animals were kept, where the gladiators waited to be released, and the inner workings of the Colosseum.

On our most recent visit to the Colosseum, we took a private, guided tour of the Colosseum with the Underground at opening time. If you want to get the full experience of visiting the Colosseum, book a tour that includes the Underground …it is one of Rome’s most interesting history lessons.

Note: There is also an upper level (the second tier) of the Colosseum that can be visited. At the time that I am writing this, it is still closed for renovation work, but check the official website for updates about when it will reopen.

Colosseum Rome | Best things to do in Rome

The Colosseum | Best things to do in Rome

Colosseum Underground

Touring the Underground

Earth Trekkers Colosseum

On the Arena Floor

How to Visit the Colosseum

We have a detailed guide about how to visit the Colosseum, but here are a few tips. 

On your visit to the Colosseum, you can either wander through it on your own, take the audio guide tour, or join a guided tour. Most visits last 1 to 3 hours.

You must purchase your entrance ticket in advance (you cannot just show up and get in line for a ticket). It costs an extra €2 per ticket for the online reservation fee, but this is worth it to avoid standing in long lines.

If online tickets are sold out for your dates of travel, I recommend joining a guided tour of the Colosseum. You will spend a little more money than purchasing your tickets directly from the Colosseum website, but at least you will get to visit the Colosseum.

Hours: Hours vary by season. Click here to get hours for your dates of visit. Cost: €16 (+ €2 online reservation fee) for the standard ticket that gets you in to the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum; there is also a Full Experience ticket that also includes a visit to the Colosseum arena and underground area for €24 Website: Get updated hours and pricing and purchase your tickets here. Roma Pass: If you have the Roma Pass, you must make your reservation to visit the Colosseum in advance. There is a €2 reservation fee. Click here for more information. Getting Here: The closest metro stop is Colosseo. When you exit the metro station, the Colosseum will be right in front of you.

For more information, including ticket types, how to book your tickets, things to do at the Colosseum, plus many more photos, check out our guide on How to Visit the Colosseum.

2. Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is the historical center of Rome. This is ancient Rome, a complex of government buildings, temples, and marketplaces from 2000 years ago.

The Roman Forum is located just a short walk from the Colosseum. It sits in a valley between Palatine and Capitoline Hill.

Notable things to see in the Roman Forum include the Via Sacra, the Temple of Venus, the Temple of Romulus (the bronze doors date back to 309 AD), the Temple of Antonius and Faustina and its “hanging door,” the Temple of Vesta, the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Septimius Severus, and the Temple of Julius Caesar.

Roman Forum | Best things to do in Rome

The view of the Roman Forum from Palatine Hill

Tickets to the Colosseum also include the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. A visit here lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how many sites you visit and/or your tour.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: It is helpful to take a guided tour of Roman Forum. There are many ancient sites to visit and without a knowledgeable guide, it’s hard to know the importance of each site.

3. Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome. It looms over the Roman Forum and is just a short walk from the Colosseum. Since it is included on a ticket with the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, grouping these three sites together makes the best use of your time. To visit all three, plan on spending anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, depending on how quickly you move.

We visited all three sites with a guide and I highly recommend it. It’s the best way to learn about the long history here, and to know what you are looking at.

Sitting on Palatine Hill is a complex of archaeological excavations, the remains of temples and palaces, and a museum. During the time of the Roman Republic, many imperial palaces were built here, including palaces for Augustus, Tiberius, and Domitian.

Palatine Hill | Best things to do in Rome

Palatine Hill | Best things to do in Rome

Palatine Hill Rome

There are several sites, such as the House of Augustus, which requires an additional ticket (it is included on the S.U.P.E.R ticket).

One of the best things to do on Palatine Hill is to enjoy the view over the Roman Forum. There are two different viewpoints.

This viewpoint is lesser known. From a small terrace near Tempio della Magna Mater you look out to Capitoline Hill and a small portion of the Roman Forum. It doesn’t have a name but here are the GPS coordinates 41°53’23.8″N 12°29’05.7″E and here is the view:

Palatine Hill View | Best things to do in Rome

The view from Palatine Hill | Best things to do in Rome

From Terrazza Belvedere del Palatino, you get a bird’s eye view of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. It’s one of the best views in Rome. Here is the view:

Terrazza Belvedere del Palatino | Best things to do in Rome

The view from Terrazza Belvedere del Palatino | Best things to do in Rome

4. Arch of Constantine

The Arch of Constantine is a triumphal arch that is dedicated to Constantine the Great. It is the largest Roman triumphal arch and it was built between 312 and 315 AD. It is located next to the Colosseum and free to visit.

Arch of Constantine | Best things to do in Rome

Arch of Constantine (from the Colosseum) | Best things to do in Rome

5. Forum of Augustus and Trajan Forum

These two archaeological sites sit side by side, just a short walk from the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.

The Forum of Augustus (Foro di Augusto) was built by Emperor Augustus from 42 to 2 BC to celebrate the success of the battle against Cassius and Brutus, the assassins of Julius Caesar.

Forum of Augustus

Forum of Augustus | Best things to do in Rome

Trajan Forum (Foro Traiano) was inaugurated in 112 AD and it was the final forum to be built in Rome. Trajan’s Column, which still stands in the forum, was erected in 113 AD.

Trajans Forum

Trajan Forum | Best things to do in Rome

Both of these forums can be seen while walking along Via dei Fori Imperiali and Via Alessandrina, which runs alongside the Roman Forum and connects the Colosseum to Piazza Venezia.

6. Capitoline Hill & Museums

Capitoline Hill is located in between the Roman Forum and the Altar of the Fatherland. Sitting on top of Capitoline Hill is Campidoglio Square, a piazza that was originally designed by Michelangelo.

Sitting around this square are several historical buildings, the Capitoline Museums, and a few more viewpoints of Rome.

Campidoglio Square | Best things to do in Rome

Campidoglio Square | Best things to do in Rome

Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolini)

The Capitoline Museums are located inside of Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo. These museums contain works of art by Caravaggio, Rubens, and Tiziano. Be sure to see the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (a copy of this statue sits in Campodoglio Square) and the original statue of the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, called the Capitoline Wolf (a replica of this statue sits next to the Senatorial Palace).

For hours and pricing, visit the official website.

She Wolf Romulus and Remus

The Capitoline Wolf

Views of the Roman Forum

For the best viewpoint of the Roman Forum from Capitoline Hill, walk between Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Senatorial Palace along Via del Campidoglio to Terrazza sul Foro for another great view of the Roman Forum.

Roman Forum View | Best things to do in Rome

The view from Terrazza sul Foro | Best things to do in Rome

There is a second viewpoint of the Roman Forum and Via dei Fori Imperiali. It’s not quite as good, but it is just a short walk to get here. From Campidoglio Square, walk between the Senatorial Palace and Palazzo Nuovo, look for the replica of Lupa Capitolina (the she-wolf statue) on your right, and walk out to the terrace for this view:

Rome Viewpoint | Best things to do in Rome

View of Via dei Fori Imperiali and a portion of the Roman Forum

7. Altar of the Fatherland

The Altar of the Fatherland, also called Altare della Patria, the Victor Emmanuel II Monument, or simply the “wedding cake,” is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Italy.

This national monument was built between 1885 and 1935 to honor Victor Emmanuel II, who was the first king of unified Italy. It contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and an eternal flame.

The monument sits on Piazza Venezia, within walking distance of the Roman Forum and the Capitoline Museums.

Altar of the Fatherland | Best things to do in Rome

Altar of the Fatherland | Best things to do in Rome

Visiting the top of the Altar of the Fatherland for amazing views of the city is one of the best things to do in Rome.

For free, you can climb the series of staircases to the upper terrace and café. For the best view, ride the elevator (€12 in 2022) to the top of the monument for panoramic views of Rome. From here, you can see all of Rome’s major landmarks, including the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum.

Altar of the Fatherland Steps

View from the steps

Altar of the Fatherland Terrace | Best things to do in Rome

Terrace on Altar of the Fatherland | Best things to do in Rome

Colosseum Photo

View from the highest terrace on the Altar of the Fatherland

Top of the Altar of the Fatherland | Best things to do in Rome

Highest terrace of Altar of the Fatherland

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia from the top of the Altar of the Fatherland

8. St. Peter’s Square

Located in Vatican City, this enormous square was designed by Bernini between 1656 and 1667.

Sitting in the center of St. Peter’s Square is the Vatican Obelisk, which is an Egyptian obelisk made of red granite as well as two fountains, the Maderno Fountain and the Bernini Fountain. Flanking the square are 284 Doric columns and 88 pilasters.

The square can hold up to 300,000 people. If you get here mid-morning to enter St. Peter’s Basilica, it may feel like the square is filled to capacity. This can be a very busy place to visit.

St. Peter’s Square is free to visit. For the grandest entrance, walk up Via della Conciliazione to the square.

St Peters Square Rome | Best things to do in Rome

St. Peter’s Square (early in the morning) | Best things to do in Rome

9. St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world. It is also considered to be the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture.

This is one of the most awe-inspiring churches we have visited. Step inside and it will take your breath away.

St Peters Basilica | Best things to do in Rome

St. Peter’s Basilica | Best things to do in Rome

While inside, see the dome, which was designed by Michelangelo, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Donato Bramante, and Carlo Maderno, St. Peter’s Throne, which was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the Baldacchino, and the Vatican Grottoes (tombs of the popes).

For another spectacular view of Rome, climb 551 steps to the top of the Dome (€8) or take the elevator to the terrace and climb 320 steps to the top (€10).

St Peters Square | Best things to do in Rome

The view from the dome | Best things to do in Rome

St. Peter’s Basilica is free to visit, with the exception of the dome. To enter the basilica, you will have to wait to get through security. There is no way to skip this line, even if you are on a tour of some sort.

Get here early to avoid a long wait in the security line. We arrived at 7:15 am and had a 5-minute wait to get through security. Later in the day, we returned at 10 am and the line was enormous. I estimate it was at least a 45-minute wait to enter the basilica (this was at the end of September in 2022). If you can, get here at opening time.

For more information about hours and pricing, visit the official website.

10. Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel

Vatican City is the smallest country in the world. There are three big sites to visit in Vatican City: the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica (mentioned above).

The Vatican Museums display a massive collection of art that was amassed by the Catholic Church. There are 70,000 works of art on display, in various rooms and corridors of this maze of a museum.

Vatican Museum Room

Room of the Immaculate Conception

Vatican Museum Statues | Best things to do in Rome

Gallery of Statues and the Hall of Busts

On a visit to the Vatican Museums, you can add on a few rooms that are closed to the general public (sometimes called the “secret rooms” of the Vatican ). The Cabinet of Masks has mosaics from Emperor Hadrian’s Villa, statues of Aphrodite and Nymph, and the Dung Chair.

Cabinet of Masks Vatican

Cabinet of Masks Vatican

You also have the option to add on the original Bramante Staircase. It was built in 1505 by Donato Bramante as a double helix. Its purpose was to allow people and animals to ascend to the Belvedere palace of Pope Innocent VIII.

Bramante Staircase | Best things to do in Rome

The original Bramante Staircase

The design of the modern staircase, which is also a double helix and how visitors exit the museum, was inspired by the original Bramante Staircase.

Vatican Staircase | Best things to do in Rome

The modern Bramante Staircase

On a visit to the Vatican Museums, you will also see the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is famous for its frescoes on the ceiling and The Last Judgement, which were painted by Michelangelo. Note, no photos are allowed in the Sistine Chapel and this is strictly enforced.

The lines to enter the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are legendary. We are talking up to 3-hour waits on the busiest days. Mid-mornings tend to be the busiest time to tour the Vatican. In the afternoon, crowds tend to lessen, at least a little bit. To avoid the worst of the crowds, the best times to visit Vatican City are first thing in the morning and just before closing time. You can skip this line by purchasing your ticket in advance.

We highly recommend taking an early morning tour of the Vatican. Starting bright and early at 7:30 am, you get to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel before they officially open to the public.

LEARN MORE: Check out our guide to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, where we cover what you need to know to plan your visit, including if a tour is worth it, how to avoid the lines, plus information about the “secret rooms” in the Vatican.

11. Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’ Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, was originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family. Later, it was used as a fortress, a prison, a castle, and now it is a museum.

Castel SantAngelo

Castel Sant’Angelo | Best things to do in Rome

Our favorite part of visiting Castel Sant’Angelo were the views from the upper terrace, looking out across Rome.

During your visit, you will follow a walking route through the fortress. First, you make a loop around the lower level. At the end of this loop, you will enter the center building, and climb to the top on a series of ramps and steps.

From the highest terrace of Castel Sant’Angelo you have almost 360° views of Rome.

Castel Sant Angelo View

View from Castel Sant’Angelo | Best things to do in Rome

View from Castel Sant Angelo

Another view from Castel Sant’Angelo

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP: Our visit was right at opening time and these photos were taken around 9:30 am. The lighting towards St. Peter’s Basilica is perfect this time of day but the city center of Rome looks hazy. For the best lighting for photos of the historic center of Rome, plan your visit for the afternoon.

12. Views of the Tiber River & Castel Sant’Angelo

There are several places near Castel Sant’Angelo where you can take an iconic shot of the Tiber River, Castel Sant’Angelo, and Vatican City.

Ponte Sant’Angelo

For a great view of Castel Sant’Angelo, walk down Ponte Sant’Angelo (St. Angelo Bridge), the bridge that crosses the Tiber River in front of the entrance into the castle. Once at the far end of the bridge, turn around and look back. This is a great spot to photograph the castle with the angels that line the bridge.

Castel Sant Angelo

Ponte Sant’Angelo | Best things to do in Rome

Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II

From Ponte Sant’Angelo, it is a 2-minute walk to this bridge. From here, you can photograph Castel Sant’Angelo and Ponte Sant’Angelo. It’s worth the short walk to this bridge for a slightly different view of the castle.

Tiber River Castel Sant Angelo

The view from Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II | Best things to do in Rome

Ponte Umberto I

This bridge sits to the east of Ponte Sant’Angelo. From this bridge, you can photograph Ponte Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s Basilica along with the Tiber River. You will not see Castel Sant’Angelo from this bridge since trees block the view.

Tiber River Rome

The view from Ponte Umberto I | Best things to do in Rome

13. Piazza del Popolo

This large piazza is flanked by three basilicas. In the center sits the Flaminio Obelisk, an Egyptian obelisk of Sety I. This obelisk was brought to Rome in 10 BC and erected in this square in 1589.

This square sits on the Via Flaminia. Piazza del Popolo was the first view travelers had of Rome, once they entered through Porta del Popolo.

For the best view of Piazza del Popolo, walk uphill to Terrazza del Pincio in the Villa Borghese Gardens.

Piazza del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo from the Pincio Terrace | Best things to do in Rome

14. Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese is an art museum that contains one of the best collections of art in the world. See works of art by Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, and Bernini. Even the building is an attraction.

Borghese Apollo and Daphne

Apollo and Daphne in Galleria Borghese

Borghese Gallery

PRO TRAVEL TIP: You can only visit the Borghese Art Gallery with a reservation. Reservations can be made up to 3 months in advance. Reservations are made for two-hour time slots, starting at 9 am, and the last time slot is at 5 pm.

You can make your reservation online or call +39 06 32810. There is a €2 fee for making online reservations. Tickets can also be purchased through GetYourGuide, which includes a guided tour of Borghese Gardens. This is a great option if you want to visit the museum with a guide or were unable to purchase tickets on the official website.

For hours of operation and updated pricing, and to make your reservation, visit the official website.

Italy Travel Guide Florence

15. Villa Borghese Gardens

The Villa Borghese Gardens are one of the largest parks in Rome. This is where you will find Galleria Borghese, but as you stroll through the park, there are a few notable things to do and viewpoints of Rome to visit.

Terrazza del Pincio. You get a wonderful view of Piazza del Popolo from this terrace that overlooks it. This viewpoint is located on the west side of the park. Scroll up to our section on Piazza del Popolo for a photo from this viewpoint.

Orologio ad Acqua del Pincio. This clock, which has been telling time since 1867, is run by hydropower. It’s located on a tiny island on a tiny lake within the gardens. It’s worth the visit if you will be in the area but not worth going out of your way to see it.

Orologio ad Acqua del Pincio

Orologio ad Acqua del Pincio

Tempio di Esculapio. Sitting on a small lake in the Villa Borghese Gardens is a temple dating back to 1786. It’s a popular photography location within the gardens. You can rent rowboats if you want a closer look.

Tempio di Esculapio

Tempio di Esculapio

Terrazza Viale del Belvedere. The view from here is nice. It’s worth a quick stop if you will be walking from the Borghese Gardens to the Spanish Steps, but I don’t recommend going out of your way to get to this viewpoint.

Terrazza Viale del Belvedere

Terrazza Viale del Belvedere

16. Spanish Steps

Linking Piazza di Spagna with Trinità dei Monti church are the world-famous Spanish Steps. This stairway is one of the most popular places to visit in Rome, frequently shows up in walking tours of the city, and is free to visit.

The fountain that sits at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Longboat), dates back to 1629 and was built by Pietro Bernini, father of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps on an afternoon in September

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Tired and need a break? Think twice about having a seat on the Spanish Steps. In 2019, a new law was put in place to crack down on “bad behavior” in Rome. If you are caught sitting on the Spanish Steps, you risk paying a €400 fine. There are officers here enforcing this rule.

17. Keats-Shelley House

Located next to the Spanish Steps, this house contains an extensive collection of memorabilia, letters, and paintings relating to Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, Byron, Robert Browning, and Oscar Wilde.

In 1821, English Poet John Keats died of tuberculosis in this house. In the early 20th century, the house was bought by American poet Robert Underwood Johnson and the house was turned into a memorial.

For a unique view of the Spanish Steps, visit the Keats-Shelley house and you can look directly onto this famous staircase.

For hours of operation and pricing, visit the official website.

Spanish Steps View

View of the Spanish Step from the Keats-Shelley House

18. Temple of Hadrian

Built in 145, this temple was constructed to honor Roman Emperor Hadrian. It is one of the oldest buildings in Rome. All that remains are eleven Corinthian columns and these can be seen on a walk through the historic heart of Rome, not far from the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon.

Temple of Hadrian

Temple of Hadrian | Best things to do in Rome

19. The Pantheon

The Pantheon is even older than what remains of the Temple of Hadrian.

Construction of the Pantheon was completed around 120 AD. Just think about what this building survived…barbarian raids, wars, earthquakes, and the natural aging of 1900 years of wind, rain, and even snow.

For 1300 years, this was the largest dome in the world, until the completion of St. Peter’s Basilica during the Renaissance. But the best part of the Pantheon is the oculus, the circular window in the top of the dome, the only source of light inside of the building.

When you first walk up to it, the Pantheon looks like an ancient, bulky, worn-out building. But inside, it looks surprisingly nothing like the exterior. It’s beautiful in the inside, with colorful Italian marble and the very unique lighting from the oculus.

For hours of operation and ticket options (the Pantheon is no longer free to visit), visit the official website.

Pantheon Rome

Pantheon | Best things to do in Rome

20. The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is one of Rome’s most famous icons.

Legend has it that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you will be ensured a return visit to Rome. This is such a popular activity that an estimated $1.5 million USD was thrown into the fountain in 2016!

Fendi funded the most recent renovation, which took over one year to complete between 2014 and 2015. State of the art LED lights illuminate the fountain…it is an awesome sight to see!

This is an extremely busy spot all day. From morning to night, expect huge crowds around the Trevi Fountain. On our first night in Rome, we were here at 1 am and even then, there were about 20 to 30 people hanging out by the fountain.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain | Best things to do in Rome

Trevi Fountain Crowd

Midday crowds at the Trevi Fountain

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Want a bird’s eye view of the Trevi Fountain? Go to Trevi Rooftop, a rooftop bar with a view of the fountain. Learn more in our guide to the Best Rooftop Bars in Rome.

21. Piazza Navona

This huge, colorful piazza is a joy to visit. It’s filled with cafes, fountains, and lots of people. This is a great spot to take a break and enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of wine while people watching.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona | Best things to do in Rome

There are also a few must-see fountains and sculptures.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) stands at the center of Piazza Navona. This fountain was created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It contains four river gods and is topped by an obelisk made of Aswan granite.

Fountain of the Moor (Fontana del Moro), at the southern end of Piazza Navona, and the Fountain of Neptune (Fontana del Nettuno), at the northern end, were sculpted by Giacomo della Porta.

Fountain of Neptune Piazza Navona

Fountain of Neptune | Best things to do in Rome

Piazza Navona

Fountain of the Moor | Best things to do in Rome

Sant Agnese in Agone

The interior of Sant Agnese in Agone, which sits on Piazza Navona.

On our most recent visit to Rome, we stayed at Lifestyle Suites Rome. We had a view of Piazza Navona from our room. But the best part was the rooftop terrace for a stunning aerial view over the piazza.

Piazza Navona Photo | Best things to do in Rome

View of Piazza Navona from Lifestyle Suites Rome.

22. Campo de’ Fiori

Not far from Piazza Navona is Campo de’ Fiori. This smaller square is filled with markets during the day is a popular hangout spot in the evening.

Campo de Fiori

Campo de’ Fiori | Best things to do in Rome

23. Trastevere

Trastevere is located on the west side of the Tiber River. This neighborhood is one of Rome’s best spots for dining and nightlife. Trastevere is a great mix of locals and tourists, charming cobblestoned streets, and some of the best restaurants in town.

On a visit to Rome, ending the day here, with a stroll through the streets and dinner at one of the cafes is a must-have experience.

Trastevere Rome

Trastevere | Best things to do in Rome

24. Belvedere del Giancolo

For a sweeping view of Rome, visit Belvedere del Gianicolo. This scenic viewpoint is located on top of Gianicolo Hill (also called the Janiculum). It is the second-tallest hill in Rome and the views from here are amazing.

Views of Rome | Best things to do in Rome

Belvedere del Gianicolo | Best things to do in Rome

This viewpoint is located near Trastevere, so you can pair these two things together at the end of the day, for dinner and sunset views of Rome. The easiest way to get here is to take a taxi or walk from Trastevere (about a 15-minute uphill walk).

25. Take a Food Tour of Rome

One of the best things to do in Rome is to take a food tour. These walking tours combine some of Rome’s most interesting neighborhoods with local foods.

This highly rated street food tour takes visitors through Trastavere or the Jewish Quarter.

Take a food tour of Rome at night and sample more than 20 different foods.

Or take a sunset food tour of Trastevere or this food and wine tour also includes a visit to a market.

26. Domus Aurea

The Domus Aurea is massive villa that was built by Emperor Nero.

In 64 AD, most of Rome was destroyed in a fire that raged for six days and seven nights. After the fire, Nero built a palace in the center of Rome, spanning 80 hectares. This immense, opulent palace, also called the Golden House, was covered in marble and gold. It had 300 rooms. After Nero’s death, the palace was stripped of its marble and jewels and much of the palace was filled with dirt, which helped preserve it.

The Domus Aurea was rediscovered in the 15th century. It recently underwent a massive renovation project and opened to visitors.

Domus Aurea can only be visited on a small group tour on limited days of the week. The most interesting part of the tour is wearing the virtual reality headsets to see what the palace may have looked like in its heyday.

Visit the official website for pricing, hours, and tour times.

Domus Aurea

Domus Aurea | Best things to do in Rome

Domus Aurea Virtual Reality

Inside the Domus Aurea. As part of the tour, you put on a virtual reality headset and can see what Domus Aurea may have looked like.

27. Basilica of San Clemente

The Basilica of San Clemente is famous for its three-tiered design: a present-day church that sits atop two much older churches. The “modern” Basilica was constructed in the 12th century and contains colorful mosaics and frescoes. Descend down to the much older, 4th century church, which contains a collection of some of the finest medieval frescoes in the world.

Finally, as you head deeper underground, you enter the 1st century church. The spring that you see on this level runs to the Colosseum.

St Clemente Basilica

Basilica of San Clemente | Best things to do in Rome

28. Eat Gelato

Restaurants selling gelato can be found throughout Rome, but there are a few notable places to mention.

Venchi. This gelateria is a chain, so it can be found in other cities around the world. This is one of our favorite gelato shops, because you can get Nocciolo Supreme (a thick, chocolate hazelnut sauce) poured into the bottom of the cone and then topped with gelato. It doesn’t matter what flavor of gelato you get, that last bite of the cone is out of this world. They have a smaller choice of flavors than other shops we visited, but on the list is chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, and Stracciatella, just to name a few. Whether you order a cone or a cup, it will look like a work of art once they hand it over.

Venchi Gelato | Best things to do in Rome

Venchi gelato

Giolotti. There’s nothing fancy about this place, they just serve really good gelato. The pistachio seemed like a popular pick and it was delicious. Expect the longest wait in line here. If you can only pick one gelateria, this is the one we recommend.

Giolitti

Gelato at Giolitti

Gelateria Della Palma. This popular gelato shop has an overwhelming choice of flavors, some of them a bit bizarre. It also feels a little more chaotic here than the shops mentioned above. Pay first and then pick out your flavors after you pay.

29. Basilica of Saint John Lateran

This basilica, which also goes by the name Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (in Italian), is the seat of the bishop of Rome, the pope. This church, and the Scala Sancta (mentioned next) are located on an extraterritorial property of Vatican City.

It was founded in 324 AD, making it the oldest basilica in the Western world. This basilica is one of the four major papal basilicas in Rome.

A visit here is free, but for a few more euros, you can visit the cloister and monastery, which is well worth it.

Basilica of Saint John Lateran

Basilica of Saint John Lateran

Saint John Lateran Cloister

The cloister at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran

30. Scala Sancta & the Holy of Holies

Located across the street from Basilica of Saint John Lateran is a staircase that is an important pilgrimage site in Rome.

The Scala Sancta, or Holy Stairs, is a staircase of 28 marble steps that lead to the Sancta Sanctorum (Holy of Holies). The Sancta Sanctorum is the first private Papal chapel.

It is believed that Jesus Christ climbed these same stairs several times a day while imprisoned in Pontius Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem. The stairs were later relocated to this site in Rome.

Scala Sancta | Best things to do in Rome

Scala Sancta | Best things to do in Rome

A visit to Scala Sancta is free. The only way to climb the Holy Stairs is by staying on your knees. On a visit here, you can climb these stairs, or, if you want to stay on your feet, there is a second staircase you can climb on foot.

At the top of the Holy Stairs is the Sancta Sanctorum. You can get a peek of it through the window or spend a few euros for a ticket to enter the chapel, which is well worth it. This small chapel is covered in colorful mosaics and a beautiful place to visit.

For more information, visit the official website.

Sancta Sanctorum

Sancta Sanctorum | Best things to do in Rome

Sancta Sanctorum Ceiling | Best things to do in Rome

Ceiling of the Sancta Sanctorum

31. The Church of Santo Stefano al Monte Celio

This very old church has a circular shape and is covered with some of the most interesting, yet morbid, frescoes that we saw in Italy. The frescoes portray various scenes of martyrdom, displaying executions of men and women.

Church of Santo Stefano al Monte Celio

Church of Santo Stefano al Monte Celio | Best things to do in Rome

Church of Santo Stefano al Monte Celio Artwork

For hours of operation, visit the official website.

32. Theatre of Marcellus & Porticus Octaviae

If you want to explore more ancient ruins without big crowds of people, put this small area of Rome on your list.

The Theatre of Marcellus (Teatro di Marcello in Italian) looks like a much smaller version of the Colosseum. It was built in 13 BC as an open-air theater that could hold between 11,000 and 20,000 spectators. Now, several tiers of the arches still remain, but the original structure was incorporated into a palace (Palazzo Orsini) in the 16th century.

Theatre of Marcellus

Theatre of Marcellus | Best things to do in Rome

If you walk along the Theatre of Marcellus for 50 meters, you arrive at Porticus Octaviae (Portico d’Ottavia in Italian). This structure was built by Augustus in 27 BC to enclose the temples of Jupiter Stator and Juno Regina. It was damaged several times, by fire and by an earthquake. In 770 AD, a church as built over the ruins.

Portico d’Ottavia

Porticus Octaviae

The Theatre of Marcellus and Porticus Octaviae are located in the Jewish Quarter.

33. The Jewish Ghetto

In 1555, Pope Paul IV established the Jewish Ghetto in Rome, requiring all Jews to live in one designated, walled area of the city. This area sits to the east of the Tiber River and includes the Theatre of Marcellus (just mentioned). With overcrowding and its location next to the river, malaria and cholera were endemic. The people lived in poverty under terrible conditions until 1870, when the Papal State ceased to exist.

While here, have lunch or dinner in an outdoor café, see the Turtle Fountain, stroll along Via Del Portico d’Ottavia, and visit the Great Synagogue (Tempio Maggiore di Roma).

Jewish Ghetto Rome

Jewish Ghetto | Best things to do in Rome

34. The Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verita a has grave)

This marble mask is located in the portico of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church. Legend has it that it will bite off the hand of anyone who tells a lie while their hand is inside of the mouth.

Mouth of Truth Rome

Mouth of Truth | Best things to do in Rome

After seeing the Mouth of Truth, you have the option to enter Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Inside, you can visit the crypt and see the skull of St. Valentine, which sits in a side altar on the left side of the church.

Santa Maria in Cosmedin

Santa Maria in Cosmedin

Hadrians Crypt

Hadrian’s Crypt

35. Appian Way

The Appian Way is a marvel of Roman engineering at the time it was constructed 2000 years ago. This road was built to connect Rome to Brindisi.

Many monuments lie along this road, including the Circus of Maxentius and numerous catacombs. One of the best ways to explore the Appian Way is to rent bikes and cycle along this very historic, and bumpy, road. If you will be visiting with kids, this is one of the best things to do in Rome. Tyler and Kara loved this when we were in Rome on our first visit. You can read more about our experience in our article about the Appian Way.

Appian Way | Best things to do in Rome

Appian Way | Best things to do in Rome

The Appian Way is not located in historic city center. You can get here by bus or taxi. There are also numerous tours that include an e-bike tour of Via Appia Antica with the option to add on the catacombs.

36. The Catacombs

Many of the catacombs in Rome lie along Via Appia Antica, so it’s easy to combine both of these together in a half day trip from central Rome.

The Catacombs of San Callisto are the largest of Rome’s catacombs and about half a million Christians are buried here. The Catacombs of San Sebastiano contain the remains of St. Sebastian and possibly Peter the Apostle. Also on Via Appia Antica are the Catacombs of Domitilla, which are the only catacombs to still hold human remains.

37. The Capuchin Crypt

In several small chapels underneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappucchini are the skeletal remains of almost 4,000 Capuchin friars. The bones are arranged in artistic patterns. It’s morbidly fascinating and definitely an off-the-beaten-path location. Unfortunately, photographs are not permitted.

For updated hours and pricing, click here.

38. Santa Maria Maggiore

Santa Maria Maggiore (also called the Basilica of Saint Mary Major and Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore), is the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome and a Major papal basilica.

This is one of the most important churches in Rome and inside there are a few notable things to see:

  • The Crypt of Nativity: Located under the high altar, this crypt is said to contain wood from the crib of the nativity of Jesus Christ.
  • Salus Populi Romani: An image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is kept in the Borghese Chapel of the basilica.
  • Coffered Ceiling: The coffered ceiling is said to be gilded with gold brought by Christopher Columbus to Ferdinand and Isabella.
  • Mosaics from the 5th century with images of the Virgin Mary

Santa Maria Maggiore | Best things to do in Rome

Santa Maria Maggiore | Best things to do in Rome

Crypt of Nativity

High Altar and below is the Crypt of the Nativity

39. San Pietro in Vincoli

It may not look like much on the outside, but San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains) is another important church in Rome.

This church is famous for Michelangelo’s statue of Moses, which is a funeral monument for Pope Julius II. There is also a reliquary containing the chains of St. Peter.

Moses by Michelangelo

Michelangelo’s Moses is the bottom middle statue

San Pietro in Vincoli

The chains of St. Peter

Santa Maria Maggiore and San Pietro in Vincoli are located near each other and both can be visited in about one hour. They are located between the Colosseum and Roma Termini.

40. Rooftop Bars in Rome

One of the best things to do in Rome is to visit a rooftop bar, enjoy the view, while having a drink or dinner. There are quite a few rooftop bars to choose from. Our favorite is Oro Bistrot. The view from this rooftop bar is awesome, as you look across the Trajan Forum to the Altar of the Fatherland (the header photo for this article was taken here). The food and drinks are great, too.

Three other notable rooftop bars include Divinity Rooftop and AcquaRoof Terrazza Molinari. Imago on top of Hotel Hassler Roma is a Michelin restaurant with a stunning view of the Spanish Steps. For the full list, check out our guide to the Best Rooftop Bars in Rome.

Rome Rooftop Bars | Best things to do in Rome

Oro Bistrot | Best things to do in Rome

Divinity Rooftop

Divinity Rooftop | Best things to do in Rome

With More Time

For those who want to go off the beaten path, here are a few more things to do in Rome.

These are things we enjoyed, but overall found them to either be overrated or just not worth the time or hassle to get there. I’m mentioning them, just so you know they exist, but I think they are only worth it for those who have a lot of time in Rome.

Baths of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla in Italian), were the second largest public baths in Rome. They were built between 212 and 217 AD and were used until the 530s.

These baths span a huge area, covering 62 acres (25 hectares). Many of the ancient adornments, such as frescoes and statues, have been removed, and what remains are the massive walls.

A visit here is relatively quick and it is a bit out of the way from other sites in Rome, so this is only worth the visit if you have an interest in Roman history and have a lot of time in the city.

Baths of Caracalla

Galleria Spada

Galleria Spada is an art museum that is located inside of Palazzo Spada. This gallery contains four rooms filled with Baroque paintings that were collected by Cardinals Bernardino and Fabrizio Spada. In these rooms, you will see works of art by Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, and Guido Reni.

Spada Gallery Museum

Spada Gallery

Spada Gallery Rome

Borromini’s Perspective Gallery

The main attraction here is the perspective gallery that was created by Borromini. This is the best place to see an optical illusion in Rome. The colonnaded gallery is only 8 meters (26 feet) long and the statue of Mars is only 60 centimeters (24 inches) high, but they look much larger than this.

Galleria Spada is just a 3-minute walk from Campo de’ Fiori and a 7-minute walk from Piazza Navona, so if this is something you have interest in, it’s easy to add on to a stroll through Rome’s historic center.

Tickets can be bought online or at the palazzo. We purchased our tickets onsite and there were just a few other people here during our visit. Visit the official website for pricing and hours.

Largo di Torre Argentina

This archaeological site contains four Roman Republican temples and the remains of Pompey’s Theatre. It is believed that Julius Caesar was assassinated at this spot.

Largo di Torre Argentina | Best things to do in Rome

One of the four temples is now being used as a cat sanctuary. It’s estimated that anywhere between 250 and 350 cats call this area home.

You can see Largo di Torre Argentina, and its cats, as you stroll the sidewalks that line the square. You can also pay a small fee to enter the walkway that has a closer look of the cats and the archeological sites. 

Largo di Torre Argentina is an interesting spot to see but you’ll have to go a little out of the way to get here. You can see its location on our map.

Knights of Malta Keyhole

This was one of the most overrated things we did in Rome. Sure, it sounds cool, to see the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica through a keyhole. But getting here can be challenging, you need to be prepared to wait in line, and you may not get the view you were hoping for.

This famous keyhole is located on a wooden door in the complex of Sant’Anselmo, on top of Aventine hill. If you put your eye up to this keyhole, you can see St. Peter’s Basilica.

To do this, we took a taxi to this spot and then waited in line for about 10 minutes, which isn’t too bad. However, a black bar sat across the keyhole, obstructing the view.

Knights of Malta Keyhole

With so much to do in Rome, this felt like a waste of time. And you may get the same view we did, seeing more of that black bar than the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. But while you are here, it is a short walk to Terrazza Belvedere Aventino in the Orange Garden for a beautiful view of Rome.

This is what the view is supposed to look like:

Knights of Malta Keyhole

photo credit: Matteo Gabrieli/shutterstock.com

Doria Pamphilj Gallery

Located in Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, which is one of the largest palazzos in Rome still under private ownership, is a large art collection with works of art by Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, Bernini, and more. The palace is also a work of art, with its lavishly decorated rooms.

This lesser-known art gallery is worth it for art aficionados. Get hours of operation and pricing on the official website.

Best Things to Do in Rome: On a Map

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.   If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Best Things to Do in Rome: Our Recommendations

Top 10 experiences in rome.

Here are the top 10 things to do in Rome if it is your first time in the city:

  • Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
  • St. Peter’s Basilica (be sure to climb the dome!)
  • Vatican Museums & the Sistine Chapel
  • Stroll through the historic heart of Rome (Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona)
  • Enjoy the view from the Altar of the Fatherland
  • Tour an underground site (Catacombs, Capuchin Crypt, or the Domus Aurea)
  • Galleria Borghese
  • Have dinner and drinks at a rooftop bar and restaurant

Learn how to put many of these sights together in our 2 Day Rome Itinerary.

Best Views of Rome

Trajan’s Forum and the Altar of the Fatherhood (from Oro Bistrot)

Best Free Things to Do in Rome

  • Stroll through the historic heart of Rome
  • Spend some time in Piazza Navona
  • See the Trevi Fountain
  • Stroll through St. Peter’s Square
  • Visit St. Peter’s Basilica (visiting the basilica is free and it is worth paying a few euros to climb to the top of the dome…the view is one of the best in Rome)
  • Stroll along the Tiber River near Castel Sant’Angelo for iconic views of Rome
  • Altar of the Fatherland (free to visit and the view is nice from the terrace; for a few euros ride the elevator to the top for 360° views of Rome)
  • Villa Borghese Gardens
  • The Jewish Ghetto

10 Best Things to Do in Rome with Kids

  • The Colosseum
  • Ride bikes on Via Appia Antica
  • Visit St. Peter’s Basilica (our kids were amazed with the sheer size and grandeur of this basilica; adding on the dome makes it an all-around great experience for kids)
  • Visit the Vatican Museums & the Sistine Chapel (this one can be boring for kids but it is such an important place to visit that it should not be missed on a visit to Rome)
  • Altar of the Fatherland
  • Stroll through Piazza Navona
  • Rent bikes and cycle through the Villa Borghese Gardens
  • Tour Castel Sant’Angelo

More Information for Your Trip to Rome

Learn how to plan your time with our One Day in Rome Itinerary , 2 Day Rome Itinerary,   3 Day Rome Itinerary and 4 Day Rome Itinerary.

For the best viewpoints of Rome’s famous landmarks, take a look at our article Best Views of Rome.

Don’t miss our detailed guides about How to Visit the Colosseum and How to Visit the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica.

For advice on where to eat, read our guide about Where to Eat in Rome, that has restaurant recommendations near the Colosseum, Vatican City, and the historic heart of Rome, plus some great rooftop restaurants. We also have a guide to the Best Rooftop Bars in Rome.

Get recommendations on where to stay in Rome in our Rome Hotel Guide.

If you have any questions about the best things to do in Rome, or if you want to share your favorite experiences, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Italy

ITALY ITINERARIES: If you are just beginning to plan your Italy itinerary, take a look at our 10 Days in Italy Itinerary for five different ways to spend 10 days in Italy. We also have a detailed 10 day itinerary that includes Rome, Florence, the Cinque Terre, and Venice. For those with more time, check out our 14 day Italy itinerary, which covers the highlights of Italy.

FLORENCE & TUSCANY: If this is your first visit to Florence, read our guide to the Best Things to Do in Florence and the best rooftop bars in Florence . If you plan to visit Tuscany, learn how to spend one day in Siena, things to do in Montepulciano , the best things to do in Volterra, and the best things to do in San Gimignano.

VENICE: Learn more about what to do in Venice in our Venice Bucket List. To help you plan your time, we have a detailed one day Venice itinerary and a 2 day Venice itinerary.

MILAN & LAKE COMO: Learn how to visit Milan on a day trip or while traveling between the Cinque Terre, Florence and Venice. Lake Como and Bellagio are two more beautiful places in Italy that are great day trip destinations.

PUGLIA: Read about 15 beautiful places to visit in Puglia and the best things to do in Alberobello. We also have a guide to the best things to do on the Gargano Peninsula and how to spend one day in Vieste.

MORE CITIES AROUND THE WORLD: Visit more cities around the world with our guides to Paris , New York City , London , Barcelona , Athens, Lisbon , and Sydney.

We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, and Puglia.

Rome Bucket List Things To Do in Rome

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2 Days in Rome Itinerary

Comments 11

Avatar for Andy

You all do a great job. Think that we did many of the same trips until I discovered your blog right before Yosemite. Great tips on Rome and Venice for us when we got next month. Safe travels and thank you.

Avatar for Julie

You’re welcome! Have a great time in Italy! Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Mel

First time going to Rome for 5 days, how can i hire a local tour guide for a day or two. where can i find them online. or can you recommend some people. Also where should i stay. should i break the hotels in two area’s .

thanks for all the info on you web page

I don’t have experience with local guides, so unfortunately I don’t have any specific recommendations. As far as where to stay, we have a hotel guide for Rome. I recommend staying in one location, in the city center. Once you have a hotel booked, you could reach out to them for recommendations on a local guide. We have used GetYourGuide for specific tours in Rome, so you could also look at this website. Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Melanie Palmquist

Hi EarthTrekkers, What a wonderful site! Really appreciate your helping others to enjoy travel and the specifics of how to make it a great experience.

We are going back to Italy for the 2nd time and have a week in Rome before our land package begins. We love the 40 Things to Do in Rome article, but have been unable to print it out. Can you suggest how to get a copy please?

Thanks and we will be tuning into your site for other information. Thanks to you travel aficionados. Melanie

Wow, a week in Rome! That’s awesome! You should be able to print it from your browser (press CTRL+P to bring up the printer dialog box) and from here you can save it and/or print it. Just be aware that our website is not optimized for printing so it will be a lot of pages. But we don’t have a printable version available, so this is the best option. Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Lora

Lots of great ideas for our 4th visit to Rome. Sure wish I could copy and print a few of them for our trip.

We are in the process of working on that but it will still be some time until it is ready. Have a great time in Rome! Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Swati

Hi, I am visiting Rome for research exchange program for two weeks. My days will be dedicated to office though I have several evenings and one weekend. So could you please suggest me whether I should stay at Rome and explore it more or I should plan my weekend to some nearby places?

Hello Swati. That depends on whether or not there are things you want to do in Rome or if a weekend trip to Florence or the Amalfi Coast look more interesting. I think there is enough to do in Rome that you could have a great weekend here, and use the nights you are in the city to go to great restaurants and walk through some of the neighborhoods. But you can take a look at our Florence and Amalfi Coast content to see if this looks more interesting to you. Both are easy to plan from Rome. Cheers, Julie

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Hi Julie, thanks for the quick response and suggestion. I have saved your page for guidance to visit places in Rome. Thanks for creating one. Plus you can ignore my last query, I put it twice coz I thought my first mail wasn’t correct. Thank you again.

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Hidden Gems of Rome: 17 Epic Lesser-Known Attractions

Rome’s hidden gems: the definitive guide to rome’s secret spots.

You’re planning to visit Rome on your next trip and you want to discover the lesser-known attractions?

Great idea, you’re in for a real treat!

While the Eternal City is famous for its iconic landmarks like the Colosseum, the Vatican , and the Trevi Fountain (I talk about them all in my article “ The 25 best Things to do in Rome “) there’s so much more to explore beyond the usual tourist trail.

In this guide, I’ll take you on a journey to discover the hidden gems of Rome , the lesser-known attractions that will make your trip even more memorable.

Get ready to explore the secret corners and hidden treasures of Rome that most visitors never get to see.

So, are you ready to uncover the secrets of Rome?

Let’s dive in!

1. Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

2. galleria sciarra, 3. the capuchin crypt, 4. vicus caprarius (the water city), 5. centrale montemartini, 6. the aventine keyhole, 7. quartiere coppedè, 8. the protestant cemetery, 9. san pietro in vincoli, 10. the church of san luigi dei francesi, 11. the appian way (via appia antica), 12. villa doria pamphilj, 13. the mouth of truth (bocca della verità), 14. the quartiere garbatella, 15. the torre argentina cat sanctuary, 16. the quartiere eur, 17. basilica di santo stefano rotondo al celio, where to stay in rome, 1. osteria bonelli, 2. trattoria da cesare al casaletto, 3. osteria der belli, 4. antico forno roscioli, 5. la tavernaccia da bruno, you’re traveling in italy these articles will help you.

The Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is an opulent palace and art gallery (the Doria Pamphilj gallery) tucked away in the heart of Rome.

This lavish residence, still owned by the Doria Pamphilj family, houses an impressive private art collection , featuring works by renowned artists such as Caravaggio, Raphael , and Titian.

As you explore the rooms adorned with frescoes, gilded stuccos, and antique furnishings , you’ll be transported back in time to the splendor of the Roman aristocracy.

Adding the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj to your Rome itinerary will provide you with a fascinating insight into the city’s aristocratic history , as well as the opportunity to admire beautiful artworks.

Don’t miss the chance to experience the elegance and grandeur of this lesser-known Roman treasure.

The Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is located on Via del Corso , just a short walk from Piazza Venezia.

The gallery is open daily, and the entrance ticket includes an audio guide.

Be sure not to miss the breathtaking Gallery of Mirrors , inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles . You can take photos, but flash and tripods are prohibited to preserve the artwork.

To visit the Palazzo and Doria Pamphilj gallery, you need to book your tickets here:

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

Galleria Sciarra is a hidden architectural gem in the heart of Rome, just a stone’s throw from the famous Trevi Fountain.

This beautiful Art Nouveau gallery features stunning frescoes, intricate ironwork, and colorful stained glass.

Although it’s now a private office building, t he courtyard is open to the public , offering a quiet and enchanting retreat from the bustling city streets.

Galleria Sciarra is located on Via Marco Minghetti , just off Via del Corso.

To avoid disturbing the building’s occupants, please be respectful and keep noise levels low when visiting. Take some time to admire the stunning details and snap a few photos of this hidden treasure.

Galleria Sciarra

For a truly unique and slightly macabre experience, visit the Capuchin Crypt , located beneath the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini.

This underground crypt contains the remains of over 4,000 Capuchin friars, artistically arranged in intricate patterns and designs.

The crypt is a fascinating attraction that offers a different perspective on Rome’s history.

The Capuchin Crypt is open daily, except for Sundays , and has an entrance fee. Photography is not allowed inside the crypt.

Additionally, due to the nature of the attraction, it may not be suitable for young children or those who are sensitive to such displays.

To discover the Capuchin Crypt and other catacombs of Rome , you should book a guided tour.

I took the one below and it was just awesome!

Rome catacombs

The Vicus Caprarius , also known as “The Water City,” is an impressive archaeological site located beneath the bustling streets of Rome.

It’s an off the beaten path visit you shouldn’t miss!

Discovered during the construction of a cinema complex, this ancient Roman neighborhood features well-preserved ruins , including a water distribution system, residential buildings, and a section of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct.

The site offers a fascinating glimpse into the everyday life of ancient Rome and its sophisticated infrastructure.

The Vicus Caprarius is located just a few steps from the Trevi Fountain , at the corner of Via del Lavatore and Via della Stamperia.

The site is open daily.

You should really book a guided tour to make the most of your visit . It’s the best way to learn more about the history and significance of the site.

Simply click on the button below to book it:

Vicus Caprarius

Looking for off the beaten path things to do in Rome?

Then you should visit the Centrale Montemartini.

Located in an old power plant, the Centrale Montemartini is a unique museum that combines industrial architecture with ancient Roman art.

Housing over 400 sculptures, mosaics, and artifacts , the contrast between the classical masterpieces and the industrial setting creates a truly unforgettable experience.

To avoid crowds and make the most of your visit, try to go on a weekday morning. The museum is closed on Mondays, so plan your visit accordingly.

To visit the Centrale Montemartini, you need to buy a combined ticket “Capitoline museums + Centrale Montemartini”:

In order to help you plan your trip to Rome, I have prepared detailed itineraries depending on the duration of your trip .

They are 100% free and you can find them here: simply click on the orange links to read the guides!

  • 2 Days in Rome – How to visit Rome in 48h
  • 3 Days in Rome – The best itinerary to visit Rome in 72h
  • 4 Days in Rome – The best places to visit in 4 days
  • 5 Days in Rome – How to spend 5 days in Rome
  • One week in Rome – The perfect 7-day itinerary!

They will allow you to plan your trip very easily!

And if you have any question, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section, at the end of the corresponding article. I will be glad to help you plan your stay in Rome.

Centrale Montemartini

One of Rome’s best-kept secrets, the Aventine Keyhole offers a unique view of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Found in the door of the Knights of Malta headquarters, this small keyhole perfectly frames the basilica’s dome , creating a stunning perspective.

It’s a must-visit spot for anyone who loves discovering hidden gems in a city!

The Aventine Keyhole can be found at Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta.

Be prepared for a bit of a wait, as there is often a line of people eager to take a peek through the keyhole. However, it’s definitely worth the wait!

aventine keyhole rome hidden gems

The Quartiere Coppedè is a hidden architectural wonder tucked away in the heart of Rome.

Designed by architect Gino Coppedè, this whimsical neighborhood features a mix of Art Nouveau, Baroque, and medieval styles.

The fairytale-like atmosphere, complete with intricate details and stunning sculptures , makes it a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts.

The Quartiere Coppedè is located between Via Tagliamento and Piazza Buenos Aires.

To get there, take the Metro Line B to Policlinico station , and then it’s just a short walk to this enchanting area. You will for sure love the beautiful buildings and details!

Quartiere Coppedè

Although it may seem unusual to visit a cemetery while on vacation, the Protestant Cemetery in Rome is a serene oasis and a true hidden gem.

This tranquil spot is the final resting place of many famous non-Catholic artists , writers, and poets, including John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Wander through the peaceful grounds and admire the beautiful sculptures and monuments.

The Protestant Cemetery is located near the Pyramid of Cestius and can be easily accessed by Metro Line B (Piramide station) .

The cemetery is open daily, but opening hours vary , so be sure to check the official website before planning your visit.

protestant cemetary Rome

While St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel are must-sees, don’t miss out on the lesser-known but equally stunning San Pietro in Vincoli.

This historic church is home to Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of Moses , as well as the chains believed to have once bound St. Peter.

The church’s impressive architecture and rich history make it a must-visit for any art and history lover.

San Pietro in Vincoli is located on the Esquiline Hill , just a short walk from the Colosseum.

The church is open daily, with a break in the afternoon , so plan your visit accordingly.

Entry is free , but donations are appreciated.

San Pietro in Vincoli

The Church of San Luigi dei Francesi is another hidden treasure in Rome that you don’t want to miss.

This beautiful church is dedicated to the French community in Rome and features impressive Baroque architecture.

The real highlight, however, is the stunning Caravaggio paintings housed within the Contarelli Chapel, including “The Calling of St. Matthew,” “The Inspiration of St. Matthew,” and “The Martyrdom of St. Matthew.”

To get there, you can take a short walk from the Pantheon or Piazza Navona. It’s located on Via Santa Giovanna d’Arco.

The church is open daily, with shorter hours on Sundays. Photography is allowed, but make sure to turn off your flash to preserve the works of art.

Additionally, be prepared for a possible line to enter the Contarelli Chapel, as it is a popular attraction for art enthusiasts.

To make the most of your visit to Rome and its numerous attractions, your should purchase the Rome Tourist Card.

Here is what’s included:

  • Colosseum ticket with audio guide + Roman Forum + Palatine Hill
  • Ticket for St. Peter’s Basilica with audio guide
  • Visit to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel
  • 10% discount on museums (Castel Sant’Angelo, Borghese Gallery), guided tours (Guided tour to the catacombs, Rome by bike) and excursions in Rome’s surroundings, in case you plan to continue your trip to Rome and visit another major Italian city (Florence, Pisa, Venice…).

To purchase your Rome Tourist Card, simply click on the button below:

Church of San Luigi dei Francesi

Step back in time and explore the ancient Appian Way , one of the oldest and most important Roman roads.

The well-preserved cobblestone path, lined with ancient tombs, remains of villas, and monuments , offers a glimpse into Rome’s fascinating past.

Rent a bike or take a leisurely walk to fully appreciate this historic site and the beautiful surrounding countryside.

To make the most of your visit, I recommend you to book an e-bike guided tour!

The best one also includes an authentic Italian-style picnic lunch , with local products and wine.

To book your 4h e-bike guide tour to the Appian Way, simply click on the button below:

And if you want to enjoy a longer experience (6h) , which also includes a guided visit to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus , you should book that one:

The best day to explore the Appian Way is on Sundays when the road is closed to traffic, making it a peaceful and enjoyable experience.

Also, consider visiting the nearby Catacombs of St. Callixtus or San Sebastiano for an even deeper dive into Rome’s ancient history.

Via Appia Antica

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by visiting Villa Doria Pamphilj , Rome’s largest public park.

This sprawling estate features beautiful gardens, fountains, and sculptures , as well as the stunning Villa Doria Pamphilj , a 17th-century palace.

It’s the perfect spot for a relaxing stroll, picnic, or even a morning jog.

Villa Doria Pamphilj can be reached via Tram 8 from Piazza Venezia or by bus from various locations in the city.

The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset and is free to enter.

Don’t miss the picturesque view of Rome from the Belvedere del Gianicolo , located within the park. Also, be sure to visit the beautiful Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, a majestic fountain just a short walk from the park.

Villa Doria Pamphilj Rome

Located in the portico of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, the Mouth of Truth is an ancient marble mask that has become a popular, quirky attraction.

Legend has it that if you put your hand in the mouth and tell a lie, the mask will bite your hand off.

While you can be sure your hand will remain intact, it’s a fun and unique experience to try while in Rome.

The Mouth of Truth can attract quite a crowd, so try to go there early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid other tourists.

There is a small fee to take a photo with the mask , but it’s a fun and memorable keepsake from your trip to Rome.

For a truly off-the-beaten-path experience, explore the charming neighborhood of Garbatella.

With its winding streets, colorful houses, and picturesque gardens , Garbatella offers a glimpse into authentic Roman life.

Originally built as a working-class neighborhood, Garbatella is now a trendy area filled with local cafes, bars, and street art , making it an ideal destination for an afternoon stroll or an evening out.

To get to Garbatella, it’s very simple: take Metro Line B and get off at Garbatella station.

Be sure to visit the historic Teatro Palladium , a beautifully restored theater that hosts various events and performances.

And above all, try some delicious Roman cuisine at the local trattorias and pizzerias in the area.

Quartiere Garbatella Rome

Located among the ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina , this unique cat sanctuary is home to over 100 stray cats who are cared for by dedicated volunteers.

The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary not only provides a safe haven for Rome’s feline friends but also offers a chance to explore the ancient ruins where Julius Caesar was believed to have been assassinated.

To get there, it’s just a short walk from Piazza Venezia or the Pantheon.

The cat sanctuary is open daily and is free to enter , but donations are appreciated to help care for the cats.

If you’re a cat lover, consider adopting or sponsoring a cat from the sanctuary. It will be a unique and souvenir from your trip to Rome!

Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary

The EUR district is a fascinating example of Fascist-era architecture and urban planning.

Built during the reign of Mussolini , the area features wide streets, imposing buildings, and grand public spaces, all designed to showcase the power and ambition of the Fascist regime.

The area is now a thriving business district and is home to several museums , including the Museum of Roman Civilization and the National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography.

To get to the EUR district, you need to take Metro Line B (EUR Palasport or EUR Fermi stations).

Be sure to visit the iconic Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana , also known as the “Square Colosseum,” which has become a symbol of the district.

You should explore the district on foot or by bicycle to fully appreciate the architectural details and historical context.

quartiere EUR Palazzo Civil

The Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio is a lesser-known but remarkable church, located on Caelian Hill.

This ancient church, dating back to the 5th century , is known for its unique circular design and its frescoes depicting the martyrdom of various saints.

It’s a really special church that you should visit, especially if you’re interested in Rome’s religious heritage.

The Basilica is just a short walk from the Colosseum and is open daily, except for Sundays, with a break in the afternoon.

Be sure to also visit the nearby Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo and the picturesque Villa Celimontana park , both within walking distance.

Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio

With these lesser-known attractions , your visit to Rome will for sure be filled with unique experiences and unforgettable memories.

So, pack your bags and get ready to uncover the hidden gems of the Eternal City!

You’re wondering where to stay in Rome ?

In Rome, finding accommodation at a good price isn’t that easy. In order to help you out, I have selected for you the best hotels depending on your budget.

One last advice: Book now if you can , there is a lot of demand in Rome, so the best hotels rooms are sold out very quickly!

  • Biancaluna: B&B located near Termini Station, 1.5 km from the Colosseum. Modern, comfortable and very clean room from 70€. Strong points: the warm welcome and the advice to visit Rome, the location. An excellent choice for a cheap stay in Rome!
  • Hotel Balilla: Located 1.6 km from the Colosseum and close to a metro station. Well-equipped and quiet double room, impeccably clean, from 99€, breakfast at 5€. Strong points: the friendly staff, the comfort of the beds, the location at 10 min walk from the Colosseum. This is our favorite for its excellent value for money!
  • Alice Vatican House : Located 450 meters from St. Peter’s Square. Contemporary room with neat decoration from 95 € per night, breakfast included. Strong points: ideal location, terrace overlooking the Vatican, warm welcome. This is the best choice for your stay in Rome under 120 euros!
  • MZ Hotel: Located near the Campo di Fiori and not far from the Pantheon. Modern double room from 150€, breakfast at 12€. Strong points: the location near the historical center, the warm welcome, good bedding, new hotel.
  • Roma Luxus Hôtel : High end hotel located at only 400 meters from Piazza Venezia. Beautiful double room starting at 200€ per night, breakfast at 20€. Strong points: The room design, the 5 stars service, the superb breakfast, the spa, the amazing staff. It’s the best hotel for a high end stay in Rome!
  • NH Collection Roma Fori Imperiali: This 5* hotel located right next to the Roman Forum offers sublime rooms from 580€, breakfast included. Strong points: the exceptional location, the attentive staff, the view, the comfort. This is my recommendation for a luxury stay in Rome!

if you want to save a bit of money, you can find an accommodation around Rome. I recommend you the bungalows of Camping Village Rome , located at only 15 minutes by car from the Vatican city.

The price starts at only 30€ per night! It’s the best “budget” solution if you don’t mind not being in the city center. It’s also a great choice for families, with the swimming pool!

5 Off-The-Beaten-Path Restaurants in Rome: Savor Authentic Roman Cuisine

While exploring the lesser known attractions of Rome , why not take some time to discover some of Rome’s culinary hidden gems?

If you’re a food enthusiast in search of authentic Roman cuisine and local dining experiences, you’re in luck.

Here are five off-the-beaten-path restaurants in Rome where you can enjoy delicious Italian dishes away from the tourist crowds.

Located in Torpignattara neighborhood, Osteria Bonelli is a family-run trattoria known for its traditional Roman dishes and warm atmosphere.

The menu changes daily and features classic Roman favorites such as pasta alla carbonara, cacio e pepe, and saltimbocca alla romana.

How to get there: Osteria Bonelli is a short walk from the Torpignattara train station, making it easily accessible by public transportation.

Address : Viale dell’Acquedotto Alessandrino, 172/174, 00177 Roma

Be sure to arrive early or even better, make a reservation . Osteria Bonelli is very popular among locals and is often fully booked.

Hidden away in the residential neighborhood of Gianicolense, Trattoria Da Cesare al Casale is an off-the-beaten-path gem serving authentic Roman cuisine.

The trattoria is famous for its homemade pasta, slow-cooked meat dishes, and an extensive wine list. Don’t miss their signature dish, the tonnarelli cacio e pepe, which is prepared tableside.

How to get there: Trattoria Da Cesare al Casale can be reached by taking the tram or bus from Rome’s city center to the Gianicolense area.

Address: Via del Casaletto, 45, 00151 Roma

While visiting Da Cesare al Casale, save room for dessert! Their tiramisu and panna cotta are both delicious and highly recommended.

Situated in the charming Trastevere district, Osteria der Belli offers a relaxed dining experience away from the tourist crowds.

Known for its seafood and traditional Roman dishes , this cozy osteria is a favorite among locals. Try their fettuccine with fresh seafood or the spaghetti with clams for a taste of authentic Italian cuisine.

How to get there: Osteria der Belli is easily accessible on foot or by public transportation from Rome’s city center. You can for example take the tram and stop at Belli station.

Address: Piazza di Sant’Apollonia, 11, 00153 Roma

Don’t miss their daily specials, which often feature fresh, seasonal ingredients and unique seafood dishes.

Located near Campo de’ Fiori, Antico Forno Roscioli is a historic bakery that serves some of the best pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) in Rome.

This family-owned bakery has been delighting locals with its crispy, flavorful pizza and other freshly baked goods since 1972.

The bakery also offers a variety of other Roman specialties, including breads, pastries, and sandwiches.

How to get there: Antico Forno Roscioli is within walking distance from many of Rome’s major attractions and can be easily reached on foot or by public transportation. If you take the tram, stop at Arenula/Cairoli and walk a few minutes.

Address: Via dei Chiavari, 34, 00186 Roma

The pizza bianca (white pizza) and pizza rossa (red pizza) are must-tries at Antico Forno Roscioli. Arrive early in the day for the freshest selection.

Tucked away in the Trastevere neighborhood, La Tavernaccia da Bruno is a family-owned restaurant that has been serving delicious Roman cuisine since 1968.

The restaurant’s warm atmosphere and traditional menu make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Be sure to try their wood-fired pizzas, homemade pasta dishes, and slow-roasted meats.

How to get there: La Tavernaccia da Bruno is located close to Roma Trastevere train station, so you can stop there with the tram. The restaurant is then only a few minutes walk away.

Address: Via Giovanni da Castel Bolognese, 63, 00153 Roma

Reservations are highly recommended , especially on weekends, as La Tavernaccia da Bruno is a popular spot for both locals and tourists seeking authentic Roman cuisine.

Italy travel Guides

  • Buy the Lonely Planet Italy guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
  • Buy the Rick Steves Italy guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk

Discover all my articles about Italy : All my articles to help you plan your trip to Italy are listed there.

  • 25 Best Things to do in Rome   – The Definitive guide

Where to stay in Rome? – The definitive guide of the best areas!

  • Colosseum: The 7 best skip the line tickets
  • Milan: The Top 15 things to do in the city and around
  • Turin: The 20 must-see attractions

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Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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88 Fun & Unusual Things to Do in Rome, Italy

fun things to do in Rome, Italy

A shining beacon of Roman history and a melting pot of some of Europe’s — scratch that, the world’s most delectable food, it’s no wonder that the Italian capital welcomes over nine million visitors each and every year.

Thanks to its eclectic mix of past and present, fast-paced and slow, and its proximity to places like the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii, there’s no shortage of things to do in Rome, Italy.

Explore the distinctive sites like the historic Colosseum – a magnificent place that in its heyday amassed up to 65,000 spectators at a time to watch all sorts of events take place, to the timeless beauty of the Pantheon, and the overall Old World flair at the turn of every cobblestone street.

Walking through Rome is like walking back in time, with its glorious architecture, stunning and social piazzas, and exquisite restaurants, while also learning to co-exist with its future as a culture and creativity hub.

Need help deciding what to do first? Then read on! to see the best things to do in Rome , Italy.

Want to dive straight in? Browse our catalog now!

1 – See Michaelangelo’s Last Judgement at the Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

This labyrinth museum has over five miles of corridors and breathtaking art ranging from Ancient Egypt to contemporary paintings, with themes of divinity and spirituality running throughout.

Often the fresco art is literally plastered on the walls! Visitors love the exciting and chaotic Last Judgement, depicting the Second Coming of Christ.

Beat the crowds, and make sure to pre-book your skip-the-line access to The Vatican museum, starting at $25 USD.

  • Vatican Museum tickets & tours

See also: Best Vatican Museum Tours and Tickets Price .

2 – Stare at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel, Vatican

Ever complained about how long it took to paint your house? Well, this ceiling took four years to paint!

The artistic apex is Michaelangelo’s The Creation of Adam — elsewhere, Michaelangelo paints people both clothed and nude to flex his skill in depicting people in different poses.

The entire Chapel is a living, breathing masterpiece!

  • Sistine Chapel tickets & tours

See also: Sistine Chapel early access tickets .

3 – See the blood-soaked sands of The Colosseum and the heart of Ancient Rome

Colosseum, Rome

As the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome!

The crown jewel of the ancient world is the roaring Colosseum – just imagine the lions and the gladiators battling it out!

A Colosseum tour will show you the well-preserved great city which once controlled the world as you get a glimpse of Roman life!

Explore even further into the Colosseum Underground where the gladiators would wait to go on stage and see exactly how the animals used to be brought up to the stage from this area.

Another sight to catch is the Roman Forum , an area that will truly take you back in time, to see the social spaces for public life, and buildings used for political and religious use.

  • Colosseum tickets & tours

See Also: Colosseum tickets price

4 – See the macabre Capuchin Crypt and Roman catacombs

Roman catacombs

During years of Roman oppression 2,000 years ago, Christians were forced to practice in secret under the streets.

Fast forward to today, and the maze of secret, underground tunnels — which doubled as a place of worship and a sacred burial ground with solid rock tombs — remain mostly intact.

Don’t forget to check out the Capuchin Crypt , a chapel lined with the bones of 3,700 monks.

  • Catacombs of Rome tickets & tours

See Also: Catacombs of Rome tickets .

5 – Glimpse the spectacular views of Orvieto & Assisi on a day trip

Orvieto day trip from Rome

Orvieto’s magnificent 14th-century cathedral and surroundings are the pinnacles of Gothic architecture, then at the foot of Mount Subasio, the green slopes of Assisi in the ancient city walls are amazing to explore!

In between, taste the local Umbrian wines and local dishes for lunch! Wind through the Umbrian hills from Rome and discover what makes this region so popular with visitors from around the world.

6 – Design your ultimate holiday house on a day-trip to Tivoli

Villa D’Este, Tivoli

Looking for a holiday house?

See two of the best on a Tivoli trip! When Hadrian’s Villa was built it was larger than Imperial Rome with its own temples, theaters, and baths.

The Villa D’Este is renowned for the Hundred Fountains among pristine gardens, trees, and artificial waterfalls.

The perfect place to escape the busy city!

  • Villa D’Este day trips from Rome

See also: Hadrian’s Villa day trips from Rome

7 – Be blessed by the Pope

Papal audience

Every Wednesday, Pope Francis I graces either St Peter’s Square or Nervi Hall for the weekly papal audience.

He greets pilgrims and groups in each language, imparts some divine wisdom onto the crowd, then leads the audience in collective prayer.

Less-religious visitors love the opportunity for reflection and spirituality.

Consider booking a Pope Audience Experience ticket, ensuring the best possible view of the Pope during his blessing for an inspiring moment of contemplation.

  • Papal Audience experience tickets

See also: Papal Audience tickets .

8 – Channel your inner art-lover at the Borghese Gallery

Borghese Gallery, Rome

Along with the huge collection of swanky art by the likes of Raphael, Bernini, and Caravaggio are grand statues of famous Roman Emperors for you to come face-to-face with on a guided tour !

After wading through this petri dish of fine fresco, paintings, and sculpture; head to the Villa’s remarkable gardens for views over the Piazza del Popolo!

Ensure that you get to see the incredible Borghese Gallery without waiting for too long, by pre-booking a Fast-Track ticket inside, including access to the temporary exhibits.

  • Borghese Gallery tickets & tours

See also: last-minute Bhorgese Gallery tickets and check out ticket prices .

9 – Climb the dome at St Peter’s Basilica

St Peter's Basilica, Rome

The soul of the world itself resonates from the Basilica, a product of the Renaissance’s finest artists including Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Bramante.

The Pope’s local church took 120 years to build and is brimming with spirituality as well as incredible fine art.

At the top of the dome are unparalleled views of Rome itself, which you can see when you book a St. Peter’s Basilica guided tour that includes climbing up to the dome for the privileged views, amongst access to other parts of the holy space.

  • St. Peter’s Basilica tickets & tours

10 – Go on a pilgrimage to Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

The resting place of Bernini, whose architecture is found all over Rome, this is one of just 7 pilgrimage basilicas anywhere in the world!

It was built on a pagan temple where the Virgin Mary appeared to the Pope, bringing instructions to construct the basilica .

Its decor is varied but all beautiful, showing different artistic periods from the Romanesque facade to the Baroque interior.

11 – See the Sacred Steps at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran

Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, Rome

Rome’s oldest basilica is a real stunner!

It has relics dating back to Ancient Egypt, giant mosaics, marble statues, Renaissance artwork, a Gothic altar, and the Sacred Steps where it’s said that Jesus climbed during the Passion!

If you’re really lucky you’ll be visiting when the divine Holy Door is opened, which is only once every 25 years, with its next opening in 2025!

  • Archbasilica of St. John Lateran tours

12 – Party with the locals at Rome’s most Popular festivals

popular festivals in Rome

Whatever time of year you can visit, Rome is a lively city. Visit during one of the city-wide festivals though and you’re in for a real treat.

Many of the biggest celebrations center around religious festivals such as Lent – which is when the colorful Carnevale happens, Easter and Christmas.

In the Summer months, visitors can enjoy Republic Day (June 2nd) and Festa dei Noantri (late July) in the Trastevere neighborhood.

13 – Light up with joy at a candlelight concert

Candlelight concerts in Rome

Feel illuminated with pure happiness as you enter the candlelit concert venue, presenting your favorite music, whether it’s contemporary music or classical renditions.

Taking place in more than a few music venues throughout Rome, check out the Candlelit Concerts in Rome and choose from a variety of concerts offered, from a tribute to Queen’s music to viewing an intimate, candlelit Ballet concert, and Italian classic singers like Lucio Battisi.

Tickets start at 27 euros.

  • candlelight concerts in Rome

14 – Hit all Rome’s must-see sights on a hop-on hop-off bus tour

Rome hop-on hop-off bus tour

Overwhelmed by all the things to see  in Rome? Why not relax and visit them all on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour?

This open-air bus is a great way to explore with bus stops at all the city’s major tourist attractions , audio-tours in a bunch of languages, and buses leaving so often there’s always another one just around the corner!

The bus even has free Wi-Fi!

  • hop-on hop-off bus tours in Rome

See also: Rome hop-on hop-off bus tours .

15 – Explore the eerie streets of Pompeii

Pompeii day trip from Rome

After a sudden and fiery volcanic eruption at nearby Mt Vesuvius , the great city of Pompeii was buried and preserved forever in volcanic ash.

Today you can walk the streets of the ill fated city, go inside houses, and enter restaurants which were frozen in time 2,000 years ago on that fateful day!

Discover Ancient Rome as it was. It’s eerie, immersive, and simply unforgettable!

  • Pompeii tours from Rome

Hot tip: Experience a journey back in time with the best Pompeii tours from Rome and read everything you need to know about Pompeii skip-the-line tickets with our guide.

16 – Take your seat at Circus Maximus

Circus Maximus, Rome

Imagine 150,000 spectators cheering and jeering at the chariot races — that’s the wild atmosphere at Circus Maximus.

Take your seat where so many others have at the Circus Maximus, or feel like Ben Hur as you step out onto the track!

Nowadays, if you’re lucky, you can catch an opera here too — a much better spectacle than some darker events in its history.

17 – Ride Rome’s ancient Appian Way on a super-modern e-bike

e-bike tours in Appian Way, Rome

Ready to feel the wind through your hair on a 2,000-year-old country road ?

The scenery will leave you breathless — but if you don’t want to be out of breath pedaling, let the electric bike do its thing!

The color contrast of green fields alongside golden-brown soil between ancient ruins is unmissable, so take a few snaps before riding by Rome’s most famous sites on a bike tour starting at $62 USD!

  • bike tours in Rome

Hot tip: learn about the best bike tours in Rome that offer a unique perspective on its famed art and history.

18 – Try a fried artichoke at the Jewish Ghetto

fried artichoke at the Jewish Ghetto, Rome

Get a taste of real Rome by going a little off the beaten path in this historic area.

Starting at the bank of the Tiber River, you’ll see remnants from ancient through to modern times, all perfectly layered like an onion – or perhaps like a fried artichoke?

If you have a little time, try the local delicacy!

Be sure to book a Jewish Ghetto walking tour, to further deepen your knowledge of the Jewish influence in Rome as some of the first citizens of the city, as well as learn about the culinary scene that remains a large part of the Jewish Ghetto today.

  • Jewish Ghetto tours

19 – Hear the tales of the town on a segway tour

segway tour in Rome

Gliding past the major tourist attractions and hidden gems while a local guide delivers great anecdotes about the city and advice on things to do in Rome is an ideal way to start your journey!

Don’t be worried about the segway either, they’re fun and easy to ride… jus a quick lesson and you’re on your way!

Nervous about Roman traffic? Segway tours of quieter and trendy neighborhoods are available as well, such as segway tours of Trastevere, and if you’re interested to explore a bit outside of Rome, check out segway tours of Villa Borghese, passing by peaceful gardens and parks.

  • segway tours in Rome

20 – Do a walking tour around Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona, Rome

Make a wish and throw a coin in the gorgeous Trevi Fountain !

Nearby, the pitter-patter of Piazza Navona is the heartbeat of the city with the Fountain of the Four Rivers is similarly beautiful.

Then round off your tour with a rich Italian coffee and Rome’s famous ‘dolce far niente’; the sweetness of doing nothing!

With dozens of different walking tours and routes around the city, you’ll be delighted to be able to choose from getting to know the city overall, or focusing on a specific neighborhood, concentrating on the details that make the city as attractive as it is.

  • walking tours in Rome

Read more: 15 Best Walking Tours in Rome Unveiling the Secrets of the Eternal City

21 – Have a picnic at the Villa Doria Pamphili gardens

Villa Doria Pamphili gardens

The gardens around the 17th-century Villa Doria Pamphili earn the title of the largest public park in the city!

The gardens are a sea of greenery with statues and fountains throughout. It is a great place to settle down and relax on a sunny afternoon. Perhaps, enjoy a rustic Italian picnic lunch, before touring the opulent villa to marvel at its magnificent collection of sculptures.

22 – Cruise the streets in style on a Vespa sidecar

Vespa tours in Rome

Avoid the crowded tour buses. Get into a quaint and charming Vespa built for two, plus your driver who will take you around the Eternal City and her beautiful sights.

The narrow Vespa is perfect for getting into those narrow cobblestone-paved streets where other vehicles could only dream of entering!

To sweeten the moment, even more, many Vespa tours include stopping by for a cappuccino or some gelato!

  • Vespa tours in Rome

Travelers choice: 11 Best Vespa Tours in Rome for an Exhilarating Urban Escape .

23 – Stroll through the Vatican Gardens

Vatican Gardens

For almost a thousand years, the lush gardens have been a place of retreat, relaxation, and recreation for the Pope and those in the know!

Visitors love coming on a sunny day, putting the phone away, and taking a moment to reflect among the hustle and bustle of the Italian capital.

Though the gardens are free to enter, tours of the grounds are available to explore the botanical beauty in depth, which will in many cases, also include access to Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

  • Vatican Gardens tours

24 – Follow Professor Langdon on a Angels & Demons tour

Angels & Demons tours in Rome

Calling all Dan Brown and Tom Hanks fans! Here’s your chance to follow Professor Langdon’s footprints around the eternal city.

The Illuminati tour brings Brown’s “Angels and Demons” novel to life in front of your eyes, with the added bonus of a coffee-pitstop at around the halfway mark.

Discover the lost symbols, riddles, and secrets sprinkled throughout Rome which would take a detective’s eye to spot!

25.Discover Rome in comfort and style in one of the most recognizable vintage cars Europe has to offer, a classic Fiat 500!

The benefit of these tours is that travelers can customize their trip to their own preferences!

Want an overview of the major sites? Want a deep dive into historical sites? Want to see all the fine art and shopping? Just let your driver know!

  • Angels & Demons tours in Rome

25 – Choose-your-own-adventure in a Fiat 500 tour

Fiat 500 tours in Rome

Discover Rome in comfort and style in one of the most recognizable vintage cars Europe has to offer!

The upshot to this tour is that travelers can customize their tour!

Want an overview of the major sites? Want a deep dive into historical sites? Want to see all the fine art and shopping? Tell your driver!

  • Fiat 500 tours in Rome

26 – Say Saluti at the best rooftop bars

best rooftop bars in Rome

Pop into Cielo Terrace near the Spanish Steps, which offers small bites along with an extensive list of craft cocktails, as you lean back on the lounge chairs to take in the Roman views.

Be in the middle of historic Rome at the Terrazza Nainer , where aside from a great list of drinks and house-made cocktails for night fun, they are also open for lunch.

Get all of Rome in one panoramic shot at Singer Palace Hotel’s rooftop bar. Open all day, you can expect to find a great selection of lunch and dinner, that pair especially well with their craft cocktails.

27 – Get your Money Heist on in a escape room

escape games in Rome

The world-famous, adrenaline-pumping escape rooms are a thrill no matter where you are!

Your team enters the room and, when the door bolts behind you, you have just one hour to solve the Puzzle. You can only escape by scouring the room for answers.

Check out Rome’s best escape rooms and enjoy themed experiences, including prison escape, bank assault, insane asylum, and more. Good Luck!

  • escape rooms in Rome

28 – Play a scavenger game across Rome

scavenger hunts in Rome

If a walking-tour isn’t fast-paced and exciting enough, explore Rome and the Vatican on an exciting scavenger hunt – like contestants on the Amazing Race !

Collect 16 sealed envelopes, which will lead you to challenges across the city and guide you through all the major attractions. See the city in a whole new light over the course of an adventure packed day  – so, are you ready?

  • scavenger games in Rome

29 – Step inside the spectacular Pantheon – temple to the gods of ancient Rome

Pantheon in Rome

One of the most underrated historical things to do in Rome is this 2,000-year old temple dedicated to the gods – one of the city’s best-preserved and most influential buildings!

The stunning design inspired Michaelangelo and others while the sun beaming through the oculus basks the temple in a spiritual glow.

Let the history of the Pantheon inspire you too by learning more about it on a guided tour, express tour, or even by downloading an audio guide app to your phone for as low as $2 USD.

  • Pantheon tours

30 – Take a street-art tour in Ostiense

street art in Ostiense

Rome isn’t all fine art and Renaissance sculpture, the street-art scene is vibing too!

The lively Ostiense neighborhood is packed with hip bars and nightclubs and you’ll find streets here that are like a bohemian canvas, as well as great food to match.

Look out for Blu’s colored faces in a former homeless shelter and ROA’s Jumping off Wolf – the wolf being the symbol of Rome!

  • street art tours in Rome

31 – Lights! Camera! Action! at the Cinecitta Studio Tour and Museum

Cinecitta Studio Tour and Museum

Hollywood on the Tiber is Europe’s largest film studio!

The studios and backlots have been graced by some of the world’s most legendary directors, including Sergio Leone, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Mel Gibson!

See sets from the television show Rome and from  films The Two Popes and Gangs of New York !

A studio and backlot tour will delight any film buffs, that’s for sure.

32 – Escape reality at the Museum of Illusions Rome

Museo delle Illusioni, Rome

Immerse yourself in a fascinating fantasy world at the Museum of Illusions Rome . This is a place for all ages, offering sensory, educational and exhilarating adventures into a world of awe.

From the dazzling vortex tunnel to the mysterious clone table and the endless wonders of the Infinity Room, get ready to challenge reality.

Along with holograms and optical illusions, the museum also has a playroom full of tricky games and puzzles. Don’t forget to charge your camera to take these impossible pictures.

  • Museum of Illusions Rome tickets

33 – Explore Trastevere on a foodie tour

food tours in Trastevere, Rome

It’s hard to think about Italy without its incredible food.

The Trastevere neighborhood will dazzle your eyes with marble fountains, and cobblestone streets; while delighting your tastebuds with wine, cheese, prosciutto, gelato, and of course, pizza!

On the way, learn the legend of Margaret of Savoy and the famous dish named after her – the Margherita pizza!

  • food tours in Rome

Hot tip: If you are a foodie, don’t miss our selection of the best food tours in Rome .

34 – Head to the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast day trip from Rome

Picture colorful houses perched on rocky cliffs plunging into azure waters and you’ve just pictured Amalfi Coast!

On the stunning shoreline lies the dynamic waterside villages of Sorrento and Positano – two gastronomic giants with gorgeous views and charming piazzas perfect for lunch and a limoncello.

If you have time, go on a nearby hike or enjoy the scenic view from one of the Amalfi Coast boat tours .

Looking for inspiration? Check out our selection of fun things to do on the Amalfi Coast .

  • Amalfi Coast tours from Rome

35 – Let history come alive at Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome

If these walls could talk you’d be in for a story!

The resting place of Roman Emperors, a fortress and Papal residence; and now a Museum which has seen sackings, deaths, and where the Archangel Michael descended to end the plague of 590!

The view of Rome from here is also top-notch.

Step inside to see the wonders that are the murals, the intricate details of the designs on the walls as well as the ceilings that you simply cannot imagine what it could look like from the outside.

  • Castel Sant’Angelo tours

36 – Discover the hidden gems of Tuscany

Tuscany day trip from Rome

There are a million things to do in Tuscany on a short trip from Rome !

Pair wine and cheese in the vineyards of the rolling Tuscan countryside; explore the artistic and architectural haven that is Florence ; see the leaning tower of Pisa ; and catch the medieval Palio horse racing in Siena !

While touring the Italian Tuscan region, stop by and fall in love with the picture-perfect landscapes of Montepulciano – including a stroll through the Centro Storico, specifically the Piazza Grande for an eyeful of Medieval architecture.

  • Tuscany tours from Rome

Hot tip: Read more about the best things to do in Tuscany .

37 – Gaze over Rome at Belvedere del Gianicolo

view from the Belvedere del Gianicolo

For one of the best photo opportunities to update your profile or post a jealousy-inducing selfie, make sure you stop by the Belvedere del Gianicolo!

Being on the second tallest hill in Rome has its perks, like spectacular panoramic views of the Eternal City.

Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as it is a bit of a hike!

38 – Set your alarm clock for a sunrise hot-air balloon ride

hot air balloon rides from Rome

What better way is there to see Rome than from the sky?

Take a scenic flight in a Hot Air Balloon as you glide over the beautiful city and countryside at sunrise.

It is a truly unique experience with added glam as you celebrate with a complimentary wine toast with salami as you land!

Be sure to book your hot-air balloon ride with anticipation, especially if you are planning on celebrating something special, or would like to book a private experience. Other than that, prices start as low as $110 USD.

  • hot air balloon rides in Rome

39 – Wine and dine on a Tiber River cruise

Tiber River dinner cruise, Rome

When in Rome, why not head out onto the River Tiber to enjoy a romantic boat ride with that special someone!

Taking a riverboat cruise through the heart of Rome is a fabulous and unique way to see the sights.

Enhance the experience with a glass of Italian wine and some appetizers, with that perfect playlist in the background as the sun sets over the Eternal City.

  • boat tours & cruises in Rome

40 – Witness the stunning illusions of Museo della luce

Museo Della Luce, Rome

Located in a historic palazzo in the center of the city, you can find the super-modern Museo della Luce , or Museum of Light.

This mind-bending attraction is packed with optical illusions, hi-tech light displays and interactive installations to inspire wonder in visitors of all ages.

The exhibitions offer a fascinating combination of science and art that are both puzzling, enticing and visually beautiful.  Don’t miss this!

41 – Walk the footsteps of the ancient Romans at Ostia Antica

Ostia Antica, Rome

Experience a day in the life of a Roman at Ostia Antica – Ancient Rome’s harbor city!

Your guide will bring the history around you to life as you walk the Decumanus Maximus thoroughfare to the Baths of Neptune, before you cheer and take your seat at the amphitheater for chariot racing — bizarrely, if it tickles your fancy, you can also try out the ancient public washrooms!

  • Ancient Ostia tours from Rome

42 – See the shimmering sea caves of Capri at the Blue Grotto

Capri Island

Only a short jet-boat ride from the coast of Naples, the Isle of Capri is an island of treasures!

The vibrant houses, artisanal merchants, and luxury boutiques add to the stunning colors and sights of the island itself.

Many Travelers love to explore the island’s sea caves, including the famous Blue Grotto, but try rowing a boat along the shoreline for another equally impressive view!

  • Capri Island tours from Rome

See also: Best Capri Boat Tours – All you Need to Know

43 – Shopping bags at the ready!

Galleria Alberto Sordi, Rome

This chic Galleria Alberto Sordi mall is the first stop for shopaholics. Named after a popular Roman actor, its elegant Art Nouveau style fits wonderfully in the center of Rome!

The design of the building is almost as beautiful as the designer clothes you can pick up from retailers like Calvin Klein and Massimo Dutti. This is a must for fashion aficionados.

44 – Explore the Roman countryside on horseback

horse tours roman countryside

Don’t let the country views pass you by through the window of a tour bus. The countryside here is absolutely stunning — and just a stone’s throw from Rome!

Why not tour the ruins of Ostia Antica or the hills of Tuscany on horseback? Enjoy the fresh air,  unobstructed views, and most importantly the peace and quiet of nature!

Complete your tour with a traditional breakfast or lunch from local produce.

  • horse riding in Rome

45 – Wander Rome’s streets lit by moonlight

Colosseum by night

When the streets and squares are bathed in the gentle glow of street-lamps and moonlight, Rome will really take your breath away!

The Eternal City’s glorious monuments (don’t miss the Colosseum night tour ) are lit for dramatic effect and look stunning during the evening. The streets are also quieter with fewer tourists blocking the way so you can really enjoy their beauty at your own pace.

  • Rome night tours

See also: best Rome night tours .

46 – Don’t bring a towel to Caracalla Baths

Caracalla Baths

See the weird and wonderful ways the Romans would relax, study and play sport at this ancient spa!

Among the colorful mosaics and equally colorful gossip of the day, the engineering and architectural ingenuity to keep the water hot and the building standing is thoroughly impressive.

A welcomed change from the tourist traps, the Baths give a glimpse into ordinary Roman life.

  • Caracalla Baths tickets & tours

47 – Ride the world’s longest, fastest zipline at Rocca Massima

zipline at Rocca Massima

The quiet, medieval village of Rocca Massima is an unlikely home for a thrilling zipline.

Those who feel the need for a little white knuckle adventure can find it here! Zip through 2 kilometers of zipline at dizzying heights of 730 meters above the picturesque village. You’ll hit speeds of 160 kph and enjoy stunning views of the village and nearby slopes!

If you need to hold someone’s hand, you can ride as a tandem.

  • ziplining in Rome

48 – Eat at Michelin-star restaurants

michelin star restaurants in Rome

Molto benne! 23 Roman restaurants own at least one Michelin star — three of them belong to La Pergola , where the views are as delectable as the carbonara sauce!

There’s nothing funny going on at Il Pagliaccio (‘the Clown’), where the eight-dish set menu is a journey through the head chef’s career. Wherever you dine, just make sure to book ahead.

Get the dreamiest views of The Eternal City as you dine at Antico Arco , offering some of the best dining experiences in Rome, with popular dishes like a fresh plate of Carbonara with spaghetti and black truffle.

Enjoy an inclusive menu offering gluten-free options, as well as the Japanese-Italian fusion at Bistrot 64 that meshes classic ingredients with a modern, international twist.

Relish the beautiful display of Italian food on every plate at Enoteca La Tore . Offering elegance and tradition, you’ll surely enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant, as much as the meal itself.

49 – Paraglide through the Central Apennine mountains

paragliding in Rome

Ever dreaming of flying through the sky?

Da Vinci and many others sure did, and there’s nowhere better to do it than in these mountains – the Wild Heart of Italy!

Admire the views from a vantage point you could only dream of as you soar like an eagle through the mountain tops.

When you book your paragliding adventure, keep in mind that the price also includes hotel pick up and drop off, as well as safety instructions by the professionals, and some experiences will even include professional photography and video taken of you gliding around.

  • paragliding in Rome

50 – Step into the fairytale Ninfa Gardens

Ninfa Gardens, Italy

Breathe in the fresh, aromatic air of the stunning Ninfa Gardens.

Presenting over 100 hectares of bountiful green space, monuments, forests, perfect gardens, quaint bridges, and lush trees, to visit Ninfa Gardens is to explore another side of the beloved expression, La Dolce Vita.

See the stunning sights of quaint beauty when you book a day trip tour to Ninfa Gardens from Rome, in a comfortable coach bus, with a lovely lunch in the garden.

  • Ninfa Gardens tours from Rome

51 – Understand the mind of history’s greatest genius at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum

Leonardo da Vinci Museum, Rome

Inventor. Scientist. Artist. Engineer. Architect. Renaissance man. Da Vinci is definitely on the podium as one of history’s greatest brainiacs!

Follow his story and step into his mind at this museum to see just how much he did, including 65 working wooden models of his inventions created by the da Vinci codes!

Whether you opt for a museum visit, exhibition tour, or VIP experience, an insightful day is guaranteed.

Digging more Da Vinci? Don’t miss out on visiting the Leonardo Da Vinci Exhibition and the Leonardo Da Vinci Experience , two separate activities that offer a technological presentation and immersive experiences like nowhere else of Da Vinci’s personal life and inventions.

  • Leonardo da Vinci Museum tickets

52 – See the Marcus Aurelius statue at the Capitoline Museums

Capitoline Museums, Rome

Said to be the oldest archaeological museum in the world, the Capitoline Museums are like an exciting history book brought to life, but there’s so much more around here too!

The nearby Piazza del Campidoglio was designed by Michaelangelo and is so beloved it was used on 50-cent coins, whereas Piazza Venezia contains the Vittoriano monument dedicated to unified Italy’s first king — and fitted with a glass elevator!

  • Capitoline Museum tours

53 – See the owls of the Casina delle Civette

Casina delle Civette, Rome

Plenty of tourists overlook the rustic ‘House of the Owls’, home of former Prince Giovanna Torlonia Jr., but it’s a hidden gem certainly worthy of a visit!

There’s a simple explanation as to where the building gets its name; the owl motif appears everywhere: stained glass windows, in the furniture, and in the decor!

All up, the decorative house is a petri dish of experimental artistic expression with mixed aesthetics.

54 – Taste wine in the Frascati region

wine tasting tours from Rome

Want to try an Italian wine?

The grapevines and olive groves of the Frascati region are a peaceful oasis to relax away from the busy city – they also have some of the world’s best wine and bruschetta available to taste!

Your sommelier will make you into a true connoisseur, or maybe just a wine lover!

  • wine tours in Rome

Hot tip: Experience the best wine tasting tours in Rome , where you can savor the excellence of Italian vintages and learn about the winemaking process from expert sommeliers.

55 – Take an Italian cooking class

cooking classes in Rome

For all you culinary artists, add this to your list of things to do in Rome.

Join local chefs for a hands-on cooking class and capture the true flavors of Italian cooking. Learn to make classic Italian dishes from authentic recipes. over a glass of wine, or two!

Soon you will be making authentic pizza, pasta, and delicious tiramisu to impress your Nonna back home.

  • cooking classes in Rome

Hot tip: Our guide highlights the best cooking classes in Rome for a truly authentic culinary experience.

56 – Get dressed up for an evening at the opera

Opera concerts in Rome

When in Rome, do as the Romans do!

The locals love their opera and build their opera houses to match.

You will fall in love with the facade and interior design of the 17th century Palazzo Santa Chiara before the show even starts, while Teatro dell’Opera di Roma is known for its legendary acoustics!

Catch a performance and enjoy a night out in style during your time in Roma!

  • opera concerts in Rome

57 – Meet all the animals at Bioparco Zoo

Bioparco Zoo, Rome

A sanctuary for exotic animals to marvel at in the heart of Rome!

This great escape is loved by kids and adults alike with plenty of cuddly (and not-so-cuddly) creatures calling the Bioparco Zoo home.

While you’re there, be sure to check out the park’s endangered animals, including white rhinos, komodo dragons, Sumatran tigers and lemurs, and learn a little about the important conservation efforts taking place.

  • Bioparco Zoo tickets

58 – Browse MAXXI contemporary art museum

MAXXI contemporary art museum, Rome

The extravagant MAXXI Contemporary Art Museum building is an award-winning architectural marvel, totally inkeeping with Rome’s reputation for grand and awe-inspiring buildings!

Visitors can see the best of the city’s modern art scene, with the gallery displaying contemporary works by local and international artists. It also hosts classes and talks for artistic and cultural innovation.

See, there’s more to Roman art than ancient artifacts and Renaissance portraits.

59 – Float through the skies on a thrilling helicopter tour

helicopter tours in Rome

Take to the Roman skies on a helicopter tour of the city’s beauty and magic from above.

For the duration of 30 minutes, you’ll be flying with a professional pilot, learning about the sights from a unique perspective that will truly take your breath away.

Aside from seeing the scene of Roman landmarks like the Colosseum, Tivoli, and the Castelli Romani, you’ll also see the countryside just outside of Rome come alive like nowhere else.

  • helicopter tours in Rome

60 – Find a bargain at Castel Romano Designer Outlet

Castel Romano Designer Outlet in Rome

What do you get when you cross 156 leading designer stores, 9 restaurants, and one credit card?

You get Castel Romano Designer Outlet, which is home to lots of famous Italian and international labels offering as much as 30-70% off their stock! What better excuse to shop till you drop.

For a little help carrying those bags, arrange for an air-conditioned minivan to take you to/from your hotel!

  • shopping tours in Rome

61 – Feel the rush of your life with an exhilarating skydive at Nettuno

skydiving in Rome

Skydiving is at the top of everyone’s bucket list.

Hop on board a plane, climb up to 4000 meters and take a deep breath before you get the adrenaline-hit of a lifetime and views of Rome to match – all you have to do is be brave and jump!

You’ll also get a DVD of your jump to show off to your friends and a participation certificate.

  • skydiving in Rome

62 – Don’t get spooked on a Ghost Tour

ghost tour in Rome

The legends and mysteries of the Eternal City which saw it all give rise to plenty of folklore and ghost stories!

See the house of Rome’s most notorious murderer, the bridge haunted by the female Pope, and learn Rome tried to tackle crime and the plague by burning heretics and hanging pictures!

With a history spanning thousands of years and tickets as low as $0 USD, a ghost tour of the Eternal City is an absolute must on your itinerary.

  • Ghost tours in Rome

63 – Watch the Rome derby at Stadio Olimpico

Stadio Olimpico, Rome

When the two local football teams do battle here ( Lazio and AS Roma ), Stadio Olimpico is the modern Colosseum!

On derby day, 70,000 fans will pack the stadium, creating a charged atmosphere unlike anything else. The stadium regularly hosts matches by both teams and watching either side play is a treat.

If football isn’t your thing, the stadium also hosts rugby union games, athletics, and concerts.

64 – See the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo

Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo

The Pope’s summer holiday house is a great place to escape.

The ancient villas overlook a crystal lake with landscaped gardens on either side and contain art, a theater, and a circus!

On a guided audio tour of the facility, keen visitors will learn a little about the politics, stories, and controversies of the different Popes who inhabited it in decades gone by.

Don’t miss out on the other fun with kayaking tours available at the lakes nearby, as well as taking a tour through the splendor of the Pontifical Villas , overflowing with aromatic, manicured gardens.

  • Castel Gandolfo Lake tours from Rome

65 – Ride through Rome on a golf-cart

golf-cart tours in Rome

Roam past palaces, churches, monuments, fountains, and galleries on a family-friendly and well-covered golf cart!

Save your legs from the seven hills of Rome as you get acquainted with Italy’s beating heart and the long-time capital of the Western world.

Cruise through city’s Centro Historico, past the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine before you head for photos at the Spanish Steps.

You even have the option of customizing your tour’s itinerary in line with your interests!

  • golf-cart tours in Rome

Hot tip: Discover the Eternal City’s famous landmarks in style with the best golf cart tours in Rome .

66 – Check out the Gladiator School Museum

Gladiator School Museum, Rome

Sharpen your sword and don your tunic in an Ancient Rome-style gladiator school!

Learn the basics of authentic gladiator sword-fighting and wield your weapon in a gladiator tournament with the other students. If you’ve ever pictured yourself in the Colosseum face-to-face with a lion and in front of thousands of screaming fans, now’s your chance to try!

You’ll be sure to give this a thumbs-up.

  • Gladiator School Museum tickets

67 – Drink up Rome’s craft beer scene on a beer tasting adventure

craft beer tastings in Rome

With the growing scene of craft beers in Rome, a beer tasting is an absolute must!

Join a group of avid travelers and a professional tour guide to take you to the best breweries in the city, including the oldest brewery in Rome, Birreria Perroni , and learn about the beer-making process in between sips.

Whether it’s visiting the Roman countryside’s breweries, or it’s checking out the trendy breweries in Trastevere, the Beer-tasting tours start at $25 USD.

  • beer tastings in Rome

68 – See three countries at once at the Garden of Oranges

The Orange Trees Garden, Rome

The romantic walks through Parco Savello’s orange trees lead to beautiful panoramic views of Rome and the Vatican City!

The third country — one seldom known by tourists or locals — is the mini-state of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.

Find the door with the keyhole to see all three countries at once!

69 – See Van Gogh’s Gardener at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art

National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rome

What do artists like Cezanne, Van Gogh, Monet, and Jackson Pollock have in common?

Their works are among the 1,100 on display here at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome! Here, visitors will find Italy’s largest collection of 19th- and 20th-century art.

Fun Fact –the museum , is sometimes referred to as ‘the teeth’ due to the  intimidating columns of the building’s grand entrance!

  • Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art tickets

See also: best museums in Rome .

70 – Catch a movie at Villa Medici’s open-air cinema

Villa Medici’s open-air cinema, Rome

The fantastically preserved 16th-century French villa and gardens wouldn’t look out of place around Versailles, but lucky for travelers to Rome it’s just around the corner!

Parts of the elegant Villa Medici are only accessible by private tour, which usually last around an hour and a half,  but it also holds regular events and exhibitions in its rooms and gardens for art, film, and music.

71 – Have fun at Rainbow Magicland

Rainbow Magicland, Rome

Rainbow Magicland amusement park with 180 factory shows nearby is a playground for older and younger travelers alike!

Dine on a medieval banquet in front of a live jousting show, or for thrill-seekers, the Cagliostro indoor roller coaster will turn you around and upside down. Ride in a virtual reality time machine, visit the spooky dungeons or hop on board the Wild Rodeo.

For the best bang for your buck, grab a ticket that also includes entry to ZooMarine.

72 – Tour the mansion of the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia

National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia

This beautiful 16th-century Renaissance palace and its lovely gardens would be worth visiting even if they didn’t have the most phenomenal exhibit on the Etruscans !

Discover the golden Pyrgi Tablets which feature multi-lingual texts from as far back as 2,500 years ago.

Visitors love the Sarcophagus of the Spouses where the lovers recline for all eternity along with pottery, art, funeral urns, jewelry, and sculptures — all of which combined bring the civilization alive.

  • Villa Giulia tickets and tours

73 – Explore the bustling Trajan’s Market

Trajan’s Market, Rome

Once home to over 150 shops and apartments, Trajan’s earns the title of the oldest shopping mall in history.

With its original appearance basically intact, it’s easy for visitors to imagine the place bustling with vendors, fresh produce, and buyers looking to bargain!

Complete your visit at Museo dei Fori Imperiali which synthesizes past with present to give a unique glimpse of Rome.

74 – Experience the white-water thrills of rafting in the Marmore Falls

rafting in Rome

Thrill-seekers and adventure lovers will be quick to add white water rafting to their list of things to do in Rome.

Europe’s highest waterfall flows through the Nera River and culminates in 2 miles of 4th-degree rapids, flanked by views of lush greenery and vegetation!

When you’ve enjoyed all the white-knuckle thrills you can take, the Marmore Falls Natural Park has lovely trails and picnic spots!

  • rafting in Rome

75 – Work on that tan on Ponza

Ponza day trip from Rome

Lose yourself on a day trip to the idyllic island of Ponza.

The peaceful island of Pontine Islands are a popular day trip destination from Rome and there are multiple boat tours to choose from. You can snorkel in the crystal blue waters of the Thyrrenian Sea, whilst discovering the secrets and history of the island.

With lunch provided on the private boat to enjoy alongside the views, you won’t want to leave!

  • Ponza tours from Rome

76 – Eat to your heart’s content in Testaccio

food tours in Rome

Food, glorious food!

We all know that Rome is the home of some of the most popular dishes in the world – and the best way to experience it and find the most-loved local establishments is through a local food tour.

Be guided through the streets of blue-collar Testaccio, said by some to be the birthplace of Roman cuisine, tasting its rich history and authentic local treats.

77 – Race a chariot at Circus Maximus with a Rome VR Experience

Rome VR Experience

It would be awesome to travel back in time to Ancient Rome and see how the city’s iconic landmarks really looked. The next best thing is a Rome Virtual Reality experience which helps bring the past back to life.

Slip on your VR headset and visit the city’s most epic buildings. See The Colosseum as it would have been or take part in a thrilling chariot race at Circus Maximus.

  • virtual reality experiences in Rome

78 – Get ready for a night of entertaining fun at Ellington Club

Ellington Club, Rome

Whether you’re looking for a night of impressive Burlesque, a snazzy Jazz club, a musical, or a comedy show, you’re in for a fun night of surprising fun at Ellington Club .

Situated a little outside of the city center of Rome, and presenting shows all week long, Ellington Club offers incredible talent, and wonderful dinner and drink options where you can rub shoulders with the locals, and relish an evening of singing, spectacle, and performance.

Be sure to book your table ahead of time on their website.

79 – Ride the K2 at Hydromania water park

Hydromania water park, Rome

Hydromania water park has something for everyone: water aerobics sessions, a jacuzzi pool and beach area to chill in the water, a restaurant, and waterslides of all kinds!

The pick for thrill-seekers is K2, where with two parallel slides, you and your mate can see each other one last time before a 3-second drop! Next, check out the deep dark thrills of Big River and the Black Lagoon if you dare!

80 – Hit up the best bars in Rome on a pub crawl

pub crawl in Rome

Explore the enchanting city of Rome at night on a fun and lively pub crawl. Check out some of the city’s best bars and enjoy the sophisticated vibes of Argot in Campo de Fiori, sample unique craft beers at Open Baladin , and sip elegant cocktails at Jerry Thomas Speakeasy .

Later on, visit some of the city’s coolest and most exciting clubs, including Alcazar — a theater turned live music venue, Spazio Novecento – a great place for house and minimal techno, and Art Cafe – located underneath Villa Borghese.

  • pub crawls in Rome

81 – See all of Rome’s iconic squares and fountains

Squares and fountains tours in Rome

The squares and fountains are the city’s lifeblood, so whatever things you do in Rome will involve them!

Take a tour to discover the coolest ones, including a fountain shaped like a half-sunken ship and the Campo de’ Fiori which had a medieval market. Visit the epic Trevi Fountain, and be sure to toss in a coin, so, as legend says, you’ll return to Rome!

The squares are brimming with life and tales for you to hear!

  • squares and fountains tours in Rome

82 – Revel in the classic elegance of the Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps, Rome

Grab some gelato and savor the flavor on the Spanish Steps!

One of the most famous set of stairs in the world, located between the Piazza di Spagna at the Piazza Trinità dei Monti, it’s an essential selfie spot.

With a beautiful view of the Trinità dei Monti church at the top of the stairs as well, it’s definitely worth climbing.

See Also: Best Rome Tours .

83 – Plan your escape at Mamertine Prison

Mamertine Prison, Rome

If you think you’re too good to be behind bars, just remember even St. Peter was held here in Rome’s oldest prison!

These cells have held saints, emperors, and kings condemned to their fates — hear the fascinating fables of how they got into trouble, how they were treated, and how St. Peter escaped!

Learn the fascinating history of Rome’s Mamertime prison, likely one of the oldest in the world!

  • Mamertine Prison tickets and tours

84 – Sip cocktails at sunset on the best rooftops in Rome

best rooftops in Rome

The locals know that Rome is a beautiful city and have created some amazing rooftop bars to enjoy the views from.

The Roof Garden Les Étoiles is a magical place to dine with views of St. Peter’s Basilica. Alternatively, enjoy a romantic meal overlooking the Trevi Fountain at Minerva Roof Garden, or chic decor and Japanese cuisine at Zuma.

For an unforgettable evening, the Hotel Capo d’Africa has views over The Colosseum to die for.

85 – Listen to the buskers at Terrazza del Pincio

Terrazza del Pincio, Rome

Take some time one afternoon to visit the Terrazza del Pincio and to listen to the talented buskers (don’t forget to throw them a coin or two!).

The Terazza is next to the extravagant Borghese Gardens, so is easy to find.

This is a great spot to round off an amazing day in Rome while watching an equally wonderful sunset. Sit down on the warm marble and enjoy the vibrant orange light spilling over this ancient city, magical!

86 – Watch the acrobatic divers show at Zoomarine Water Park

Zoomarine Water Park

Get up close and personal with the animals at the Zoomarine Water Park. Enjoy live shows featuring dolphins and sea lions; step into a green aviary at Parrots Forest, and strap in for adrenaline-pumping roller coasters and water slides.

There are a bunch of great shows to enjoy and visitors typically love the circus-style elements of the acrobatic divers’ show!

It is a fun-filled adventure for all to enjoy!

  • Zoomarine tickets

87 – Play a round or two at the best golf courses in Rome

golf courses in Rome

If the first thing you do when booking a vacation is check out the local golf courses – you probably already know that Rome has some fantastic golfing opportunities.

Golf Resort Rome is one of the city’s premier courses and offers first-class accommodation to match.  If you would like to enjoy historic park surroundings, Golf Club Parco de’ Medici is an excellent choice.

Alternatively, the modern Parco di Roma Golf Club in the far north of the city is a perfect peaceful escape.

88 – Go bowling and become the city’s ten-pin king

bowling in Rome

If you’re looking for fun activities to do with kids while visiting the city, there are some great games facilities to check out.

Bowling Brunswick is a good choice, with a modern bowling alley as well as outdoor games, including mini golf course, basketball courts and play areas for younger children.

If you’re travelling with a group of adults, Bowling Roma Tiam is also a good choice.

How to get to Rome?

Rome has 2 international airports – Fiumicino and Ciampino, each offering a variety of ways to get to Rome’s city center, including by train, airport shuttle bus, Taxi or even uber.

However, if you’re looking for an easier, more convenient mode of transportation that takes you straight to your hotel, consider booking a private transfer. Private car airport transfers in Rome usually starts at around €40 or $45 USD.

Where to stay in Rome?

Stay in the complete luxury and cleanliness of The Liberty Boutique Hotel , an 11-minute metro ride from the main sights like the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum. Continental breakfast is served fresh daily, and additional amenities are offered like an airport shuttle for guests only.

The Spanish Suite Campo de’ Fiori is a great option for those wanting to stay near sights like the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and of course, Campo de’ Fiore. Feel like royalty slipping into your cozy robe and slippers after a day of walking around, and wake up in the morning to fresh coffee and tea in the lobby.

Hotel Scenario is a wonderful hotel that boasts a modern style, with warm hospitality and an in-house restaurant not to miss. Stay minutes away from lovely sights like Palazzio Venezia and the Pantheon. Brimming with great services like airport shuttles, wake up every day to fresh coffee on your beautiful terrace.

  • best hotels in Rome

Visiting Rome on a budget?

What’s the best way to explore the city? F ree walking tours in Rome with a local guide, offer a chance to see the city’s best sights, plus a few places that don’t make the guidebooks.

To make your budget stretch, even further, consider purchasing the Go City pass or the Omnia Card – a tourist pass that allows you entrance into some of Rome’s most popular sights at a discounted price, as well as lower-price fares on public transportation.

You can save around 30% on full-price entry, with skip-the-line options available.

Where to go next?

If you can’t wait to see what else Italy has to offer, there are plenty more experiences to discover just around the corner.

Travel south for the best, and most authentic pizza in your life – one of the essential things to do in Naples.

Discover some of the best things to do in Sorrento , another wonderful Italian city not too far from Naples . Here you’ll find citrus fruits growing all over the city, adorning and adding a lovely fragrance to the air.

A tour of the stunning cliff-side villages is one of the best things to do on the Amalfi Coast . Soak up  the sea views, the charming houses perched on the mountain sides and the famous firey red sunsets.

Florence is a must-see city in northern Italy, dazzling visitors with its striking Renaissance architecture.  A visit to the Florence Duomo, The Ponte Vecchio and Giotto Tower, are some of the most popular things to do in Florence, just to name a few.

Be enamored by the romantic ambiance of Venice , and its winding canals, narrow bridges, and classic beauty. Don a mask for Carnival or enjoy a classic Gondola ride, just some of the many things to do in Venice.

Culture lovers will find lots of enticing things to do in Milan .  Italy’s fashion capital offers its visitors an eyeful of architectural beauty, gastronomic pleasures  and historic culture.

To travel well and comfortably, make sure to check out multi-day trips from Rome , taking you beyond the city to explore more of the Lazio region.

Final thoughts

To capture all there is to see in Rome, would be a tremendous task, but we hope that we inspired a few ideas to get your list of things to do in Rome started.

With its historic charm and romantic atmosphere that will always remain in Rome, no matter the era, we can bet you’re ready to start looking for flights.

So, what are you waiting for? The Eternal City awaits you.

Happy travels!

Italia Delight

  • Foodie Travel

Top Tourist Attractions in Rome: discover the 32 most unusual places to visit in Rome!

  • 5 January 2024 5 January 2024
  • Ilaria Corona

cose originali da fare a roma

It’s time to discover all the best places to visit in Rome: picturesque corners, little-known treasures, unique atmospheres and unforgettable experiences!

Rome is a city where every stone tells centuries of history, every narrow street hides age-old secrets and every corner offers timeless emotions. The world-renowned capital of Italy becomes an irresistible lure for travelers eager to explore a place rich in art, culture, history, fashion and gastronomy.

During a visit to Rome , iconic sites are the calling card of an unparalleled adventure. The Colosseum, the Imperial Forum, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Vatican: names that evoke ancient eras and bring to life the city’s glorious past. Rome’s historic center, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, and the Holy See’s extraterritorial properties in the city are not just tourist attractions, but true UNESCO World Heritage treasures .

Rome, however, is much more than a cathedral of history and monuments. Its soul is also manifested in cinema, with unforgettable films such as “ La Grande Bellezza ” (2013), Oscar for best foreign language film, and “Roman Holiday ” (1953), starring actors Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. In the field of fashion , some of the biggest and most prestigious fashion houses, such as Fendi, Bulgari, Gattinoni, Valentino, were born in this city. In food and wine , authentic flavors conquer the palate of Roman food lovers : from the famous supplì to tonnarelli cacio e pepe, from amatriciana to carbonara, each dish is a celebration of unique and unmistakable flavors that you find only in Rome.

rome attractions

The Italian capital is an open – air museum , encompassing buildings from all eras. Not only ancient monuments, but also modern ones. These include contemporary masterpieces signed by Archistars , famous Italian and foreign architects who have built in this city: the Maxxi by Zaha Hadid, the cloud by Fuksas, the sails by Calatrava, the auditorium parco della musica by Renzo Piano, and the building shell of the Ara Pacis by Richard Meier, and many others.

visit in rome

Rome is a symphony of artistic styles, a city so majestic and rich in stimulation that each visit holds constant surprises. After the first exploration, the excitement shows no signs of abating, as you discover new places all fascinating , unusual and unknown to most visitors.

I invite you to follow me on a tantalizing journey to discover the lesser- known but equally attractive sights that make Rome a treasure to explore. Get ready to unveil a list of interesting things to do and extraordinary places to visit, that will make any outing or trip to the capital an unforgettable experience. Break the mold and let the Eternal City reveal itself in all its glory, taking you to places off the usual tourist track. This will be a unique adventure that will enchant anyone looking for something more, something different from the typical tourist experience.

From hidden corners of the historic center to lesser-known architectural gems, I will guide you through unusual Rome attractions via an itinerary that turns every step into an engaging discovery. You’ll get to know places where history whispers within the walls and where modern art blends with age-old tradition. No matter your age or personal tastes, there will be destinations that will captivate all hearts and minds. That’s why I invite you to follow me on this adventure, because the things to see in Rome go far beyond conventional travel guides.

Top 32 Tourist Attractions in Rome

Get ready to be inspired and fascinated by the must-see attractions in Rome . Follow me, because what awaits you goes beyond all expectations and will turn your visit into an unforgettable experience.

Explore the most unusual places to visit in Rome:

1. stadium of domitian – piazza navona underground.

Let’s descend into the hidden heart of Rome , exploring the ancient Stadium of Domitian, hidden beneath Piazza Navona. This site, little known among tourists, offers a journey back in time through the remains of the ancient stadium built by Emperor Domitian in the 1st century AD . Walking under the square, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the history of Roman athletic games and discover secrets buried for centuries. The mysterious atmosphere and well-preserved architecture make this a unique and fascinating experience.

2. Borromini’s Perspective Gallery – Spada Gallery

places to visit in rome

An artistic treasure hidden in the heart of Rome is Borromini’s Perspective Gallery, located inside Palazzo Spada. This masterpiece by Francesco Borromini , an Italian architect and sculptor of the 1600s, is an extraordinary optical illusion designed to be read in a symbolic key: a metaphor for an illusory earthly world made up of values that are important in appearance, but tiny and deceptive on this earth. Here the gallery of only 8 meters seems to extend over 35 meters. The perspective grandeur is made all the more striking by the presence of a giant statue of the great leader Pompey the Great at the far end of the gallery. Let yourself be captivated by this ingenious example of Baroque architecture and enjoy the unique view at Piazza Capo di Ferro, 13 . Don’t forget to take your camera with you to capture this optical play on photos.

3. The Roman Domus of Valentini Palace

Hidden beneath the imposing Valentini Palace, the Domus Romane offer an exciting journey into the daily life of ancient Rome. Thanks to innovative multimedia projections, you can see and relive the original frescoes and structures of Roman-era dwellings. Located in the area of Via Foro Traiano 85 , these richly decorated dwellings reveal the more intimate side of the habitual life of the Roman people. This is an immersive experience that combines the past and the present in a fascinating combination not to be missed by history lovers.

4. Villa Torlonia with the Casina delle Civette, the Bunkers and the Serra Moresca

tourist attractions in rome

Explore the magnificent Villa Torlonia, a lesser-known gem but full of surprises.

The Casina delle Civette is a fascinating building designed in 1840 and located within the Villa complex. The name “Casina delle Civette” derives from the presence of owls carved into the architectural details , which contribute to the unique and evocative atmosphere of the structure. In fact, the Art Nouveau-style residence features windows with owl motifs, which are repeated in various decorative elements, such as lamps, railings and wrought-iron decorations. Today, the Casina delle Civette is open to the public as a museum, and inside is a collection of stained glass windows made by master glassmaker Francesco Moretti. Certainly one of the must-see sights in Rome.

The Villa Torlonia bunkers represent a significant part of Rome’s history during World War II . They were designed as air-raid shelters for Mussolini and his family. The villa itself had been requisitioned by the fascist regime and became an official residence for Mussolini. After the liberation of Rome in 1944, the bunkers were abandoned.

The Serra Moresca is a 19th-century architectural structure with an exotic, oriental style, reminiscent of the typical atmosphere of Moorish buildings . The structure was originally designed as a place of leisure and relaxation, where the Torlonia family could enjoy a kind of winter garden. The Serra Moresca, with its exotic plants and unique architecture, represented an oasis of serenity in the heart of the park. Today, the Serra Moresca is open to the public as part of Villa Torlonia’s museum itinerary.

5. Coppedè District

top attractions in rome

Immerse yourself in the surreal atmosphere of the Coppedè Quarter, a charming and quaint corner located between Via Salaria and Via Nomentana. It was designed and built by Gino Coppedè between 1915 and 1927. This neighborhood, famous for its Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture, has been the location for several films . Among the most famous are “The Bird with the Crystal Feathers” and “Inferno” by horror director Dario Argento . Strolling through its streets, you will admire unique buildings, ornate arches and enchanting fountains. Every step will be a cinematic experience!

6. Circular Plan Churches of Rome

best attractions in rome

Rome hides extraordinarily designed circular-plan churches that add a unique touch to its religious heritage. In addition to the famous Pantheon, circular-plan churches include such gems as Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio , a masterpiece of early Christian architecture. The Mausoleum of Saint Constance on Via Nomentana is another fascinating example, with its central structure and well-preserved mosaics. These sacred sites offer a different perspective into the history and architecture of Rome. A unique spiritual and cultural experience.

7. Bioparco of Rome

For a curious experience combining nature and biodiversity, the Bioparco di Roma is the oldest zoological garden in Italy with 1,200 animals and 150 different species . Located within Villa Borghese, this park is committed to animal conservation and offers visitors the opportunity to connect with nature in an ethical and educational environment. From tropical jungles to African habitats, the Biopark is an experience for young and old alike.

8. Water Clock of Villa Borghese

In the heart of the Pincian Hill, in addition to the artworks and gardens, lies an unusual tourist attraction in Rome : the Water Clock. This hydraulic clock, located near one of the park’s many ponds, is a fascinating example of 19th-century hydraulic engineering. Still functioning today, the clock displays the perfect blend of aesthetics and functionality, representing a hidden gem for lovers of watchmaking and technological history. It is the only hydroelectric clock in a public garden in Italy.

9. Montemartini Power Station

places in rome

A surprising link between ancient and modern, is the Centrale Montemartini, which offers a unique perspective on Rome’s industrial history . This early 20th-century thermoelectric power plant has been transformed into a museum and houses ancient Roman sculptures alongside majestic industrial machines. Located in the Ostiense district, Centrale Montemartini is a fascinating place to visit in Rome where classical art blends with industrial engineering.

10. Non-Catholic Cemetery

The Non-Catholic Cemetery, also known as the Protestant Cemetery, is a multicultural resting place located in the heart of Rome, near the Cestia Pyramid. Among its graves are distinguished people of various nationalities and faiths, making this place in Rome unique in its diversity. For example, poets such as John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley , politicians and writers such as Antonio Gramsci, Andrea Camilleri, and Giorgio Napolitano rest here.

11. Orange Gardens and the Keyhole of the Knights of Malta Priory

At the striking Orange Gardens, atop the Aventine Hill , the experience goes beyond scenic beauty. A peaceful walk among the orange trees outside the traffic and chaos of the cities. Here you can admire a breathtaking view of all of Rome.

Next to the Basilica of Santa Sabina , there is a small cloister that houses the Priory of the Knights of Malta. Through the Keyhole of this historic building, you can enjoy the view over the dome of St. Peter’s in the Vatican . A unique visual experience that enchants visitors and makes them feel part of a secret shared by few. Certainly one of the most striking sights of Rome .

12. Rome’s Rose Garden

rome tourist attractions

The Rose Garden is an enchanting garden located on the Aventine Hill , one of the seven hills of the Eternal City. This beautiful rose garden is one of the most romantic places to visit in Rome. It was opened in 1950 and is home to a wide variety of roses from all over the world, each with its own distinctive beauty. During flowering, which usually occurs between May and June, the garden is transformed into a true spectacle of colors and scents. One of the distinguishing features of the Rose Garden is the presence of a menorah , a seven-branched candelabra, located inside the garden. But where is it hidden? The paths in one of the two parts that make up the Rose Garden were designed precisely in the shape of a menorah, to honor ancient burials. Here in fact stood until the mid-19th century, the Jewish Community Cemetery.

13. Piazza Vittorio’s Magic Gate

Hidden among the multi-ethnic streets of Vittorio Emanuele II Square is a surprise: the Magic Door. This monument built in the 17th century , also known as the “Alchemical Gate,” is a mysterious portal decorated with esoteric and alchemical symbols . A unique place that awakens curiosity and imagination, inviting visitors to reflect on the ancient mystical arts.

14. Little Cathedral of Rome

On a quiet little street in the Monti district is the “Little Cathedral of Rome” , officially known as the Basilica of San Martino ai Monti. Don’t let its modest size fool you: inside, this place holds precious works of art, including a magnificent altarpiece by Jacopo Vignali , an artist from the 1600s . The intimate atmosphere makes this church a little-known but enchanting gem.

15. Crypt of the Capuchin Friars

Immerse yourself in the Crypt of the Capuchin Friars, located under the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini, a few steps from Piazza Barberini. This unusual and somewhat macabre place is decorated with the bones of more than 4,000 Capuchin friars . The walls are adorned with intricate designs made from human skeletons, creating an evocative atmosphere of reflection on human mortality and transcendence. One of the must-see sites in Rome that induces contemplation in a setting as fascinating as it is disturbing.

16. Basilica of St. Mary in Cosmedin with the Skull of St. Valentine

tourist attraction in rome

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, located in Piazza della Bocca della Verità, not only enchants with its architectural beauty, but is also the custodian of a spiritual treasure. It is to this day one of the rarest examples of sacred 12th-century architecture in Rome . Here, in the reliquary under the high altar, is preserved the skull of Saint Valentine , the patron saint of lovers.

17. The Cats of Largo di Torre Argentina

In an archaeological area in the center of Rome, the Largo di Torre Argentina reveals an unexpected surprise: a colony of cats . This square houses the remains of four ancient Roman temples and, at the same time, has become a home for numerous stray cats. The area has been adapted to accommodate and protect these animals. This must-see place in Rome, in addition to letting you explore the archaeological remains, will give you a close look at the daily life of this affectionate feline colony.

18. The Gazometer

places to visit in rome italy

In the Ostiense district, the Gazometro emerges as an industrial icon with an unmistakable silhouette. This structure, originally built to contain illuminating gas, has now become a symbol of innovation and creativity. The Gazometer is often used as a film location and event area-a touch of modernity and urban culture . Its imposing presence and industrial history make the Gazometer a unique landmark in the Roman landscape.

19. Jasmine Walk

Among the quiet streets of the Monteverde neighborhood, the Jasmine Walk offers a haven of serenity and beauty. Along this avenue, during spring, you can admire jasmine in bloom and be enveloped by their intoxicating scent. This place, often off the traditional tourist trac k, offers a pleasant atmosphere of relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of the city center.

20. Fascist Architecture of EUR with the Square Colosseum

sites in rome

EUR (Universal Exhibition of Rome) is a district of the capital that displays impressive Fascist architecture, built during Mussolini’s regime. One of the most iconic places of interest in Rome is the “Square Colosseum” or Palace of Italian Civilization, designed by architects Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Bruno La Padula, and Mario Romano. This imposing white building, first made of reinforced concrete and then covered with white travertine marble, features a series of arches and columns that form a Colosseum-like structure. Opened in 1940 , it played a significant role during Fascist exhibitions and is now a symbol of Italian rationalist architecture. Other notable Fascist buildings in EUR district include the Palazzo dei Congressi and the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul .

21. The Pigneto

places of interest in rome

Pigneto, a neighborhood in Rome known for its bohemian atmosphere , has become a vital center of creativity and culture. Famous for its nightlife and trendy clubs, Pigneto is also a place rich in street art that graces its streets. Characterized by vibrant murals and graffiti , the neighborhood exudes a feeling of energy and innovation. In addition, Pigneto has often been chosen as a film set because of its authenticity and distinctive ambiance. Directors such as Luchino Visconti, Dino Risi and Pier Paolo Pasolini have set some of their works in this vibrant neighborhood. Street art also extends to the nearby Tor Pignattara neighborhood, further enriching the art scene in this area of the city.

22. Street Art of Tormarancia

sights of rome

Tormarancia is a suburban area of Rome that has transformed its walls into an authentic open-air art gallery through the Big City Life project , promoted by the Roman Urban Art gallery 999 Contemporary. This project has involved numerous international and local artists, transforming the gray walls of Tormarancia into vibrant and engaging works of art. What is special about these murals is that many of them are enclosed within a condominium museum. The residents themselves become custodians of a collective artistic heritage. This approach to urban art promotes a sense of community and makes street art an integral part of daily life.

23. Palazzetto Zuccari

best rome attractions

Palazzetto Zuccari, located in the heart of Rome just steps from the Spanish Steps , is an architectural gem also known as the “Casina Zuccari” . Built in the 16th century, this building features a facade decorated with eclectic frescoes and stucco work. Artist Federico Zuccari, who created many of the works, created a unique environment where architecture and art blend harmoniously.

24. The Little London of the Flaminio Quarter

The Flaminio District, also known as the “Little London” of Rome, is an area that reflects an international and cosmopolitan lifestyle. Characterized by wide tree-lined boulevards, elegant colorful buildings, Victorian-style wrought-iron street lamps and green space s. It is home to trendy cafes, designer boutiques and townhouses that help create a l ittle corner of England . This location is used for many commercials and films.

25. Via Piccolomini

Are you familiar with Via Piccolomini? This street offers a unique and striking visual experience of St. Peter’s . As you walk along the street, the perspective offers a fascinating optical effect : the closer you get to St. Peter’s, the more the dome of the basilica seems to decrease in size, while as you move away, the dome seems to expand and get closer. This phenomenon creates an optical illusion that makes the view of St. Peter’s even more memorable. No magic and no mystery, just a visual game. Don’t miss these top sites of Rome.

26. Ancient Pharmacy of Santa Maria della Scala

In the heart of the Trastevere district, we find one of the special places in Rome that I advise you not to miss. The Antica Farmacia di Santa Maria della Scala is a historic treasure that preserves centuries-old pharmaceutical tradition. Founded in the 1700s , this pharmacy offers a journey into the past, with wooden shelves, antique display cases, and a rich assortment of herbs and traditional remedies. The pharmacy is an authentic time capsule that gives visitors a unique insight into the pharmaceutical practice of the time .

27. Cestia Pyramid

attractions near rome

The Pyramid Cestia is an ancient monument in Rome that dates back to the 12th century BC . Located near the non-Catholic cemetery, it is a pyramid-style tomb built for Gaius Cestius , a Roman magistrate. The pyramid is a unique example of Egyptian architecture in ancient Rome and represents the appeal of the cultural influence that permeated the city in ages past. Thirteen pyramids have been built in Rome, but the Pyramid Cestia is the only one remaining visible in the city.

28. Rome Aqueduct Park

place to visit in rome

Aqueduct Park is a green oasis of tranquility located in the southeast quadrant of the capital. This public park offers spectacular views of the ancient Roman aqueducts, including the Claudian Aqueduct and the Happy Aqueduct. Walking along the park’s paths is like taking a trip back in time, admiring the city’s ancient hydraulic network . It is a great place for a relaxing walk and to enjoy the history and beauty of the Roman countryside.

29. Cinecittà

Cinecittà Studios, located a few kilometers from the city center near Via Tuscolana, is one of the most famous film complexes in the world with 80 years of history and more than 3,000 films made . Open to the public, Cinecittà Studios offers guided tours that allow visitors to explore the historic film sets, recording studios and behind-the-scenes scenes of Italian and international film production. It is one of the top attractions in Rome that will make you experience unparalleled emotions, as if you were in a dream factory.

30. Japanese Garden in Rome

The Japanese Garden, located inside the Japanese Cultural Institute , just a short walk from Villa Borghese, offers a peaceful place to immerse yourself in Japanese culture. Created in 1995, this garden features traditional Japanese elements such as ponds, bridges, stone lanterns, and characteristic plants such as the famous cherry trees. It is an ideal place for meditation and contemplation, and is a unique connection between Japanese culture and the Roman context .

31. Museum of Illusions in Rome

The Museum of Illusions, on Via Merulana, is an interactive experience that challenges perception and tricks the mind. For certain, one of the strangest things to see in Rome. Upon discovering this museum, visitors find themselves immersed in optical illusions, interactive installations and visual games that challenge sensory perception. The museum is designed to be fun, educational and engaging for all ages.

32. Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden of Rome, located in the heart of the Trastevere district, was founded in 1883 . This garden is managed by Rome’s “La Sapienza” University and is one of the oldest and most impressive in Italy. Covering an area of more than 12 hectares, the garden is home to a vast collection of flora, including plants from every corner of the planet, centuries-old trees, herbs and brightly colored flowers. The Botanical Garden is divided into several zones, each dedicated to a specific botanical category: the rose garden, the bamboo forest, the Mediterranean forest, the herb garden, the tropical greenhouse, the Japanese garden , and many others. Visitors can get lost among shady paths, stone bridges, and fountains, finding themselves in an atmosphere of serenity and discovery.

Now that you know all the cool and unusual tourist attractions in Rome , visit this incredible city! I remind you that with Italia Delight, you can find many travel tips and discover memorable food and wine experiences.

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10 Unusual things to see and to do in Rome

Tired of the same old things you already know the classics of rome are great, but there’s much more find it together.

Travel tips

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Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, St. Peter Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Piazza Navona, Fontana di Trevi and literally every single street of the historical center: these are the things you already know you have to see in Rome. Maybe these are the things you already saw in Rome and you are looking for something else. Here we are, here to tell you 10 unusual things you can see (and you can do) in Rome.  Rome is a huge city, the largest in Italy and the eight in Europe: there are endless things worth to be seen in the Eternal city. So take our top 10 list as a suggestion and continue the exploration alone!

piramide cestia

1) See the Pyramid and the Protestant Cemetery

Do you know Rome has its own pyramid? It's actually 2000 old and has a Metro stop dedicated to ( named Piramide). Its real name is Pyramid of Cestius and came from its owner, Gaius Cestius: not a king, not an emperor, just a really rich guy in ancient Rome who wanted to be buried as Pharaons do. Just behind this huge tomb, there are a lot of other ones: the Protestant Cemetery, known in Rome as "Cimitero Acattolico". This is a place characterized by huge diversity: everyone who wasn't Catholic did found his last home here. In fact, other than Protestant and eastern Orthodox graves, other faiths that are represented such as Islam, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.  There are also many big names buried here, Italian and international ones. We are talking about people like the romantic heroes Keats and Shelley and the most influential Marxist in Europe, Antonio Gramsci. Are you looking for something more pop? Do you remember the cover of that Nightwish album, maybe one of the most recognizable grave ever? Well, guess what.

blu ostiense porto fluviale

2) Admire the street art in Ostiense (and the Gasometer skeleton)

Rome is known for its ancient art and nothing can change this. But it doesn't mean you can't find contemporary forms of expression in the Eternal City, like street art, which is not a Berlin prerogative! In Rome, there are some post-industrial districts turned into temples for street art. One of the most central ones is Quartiere Ostiense, actually near the Pyramid we just discussed. Around this area, you will find many buildings called by their former function "Ex Porto Fluviale" (former river port), "Ex Dogana" (former customhouse). Now they are transformed into trendy clubs, pubs, and restaurants or still in disused. In both cases, some great street art redesigned their giant walls. On name above all? Blu, the indisputed best known Italian street artist and one of the most famous in the world as well. The post-industrial vibe will grow stronger when you noticed strange geometrical iron structures on the horizon. They are the (former) gasometers, or at least, their skeletons. This huge cage used to surround equally large gas tanks in the past. Now they are no longer needed and stand here like monuments. Some Romans call them "the iron Colosseum" and they became the symbol of this area.

3) A walk through Coppedè district

Unusual things can happen in Rome. One moment you are walking through Quartiere Trieste, an upper class somewhat modern district, largely build after the WWII. The following moment, you enter the wrong arch and find yourself into a fairy-tale town.  This is Coppedé District, named after the architect, Giulio Coppedé, a visionary talent who built a little district inside a larger district, playing only by his rules. Every building here has its own surreal character, something between modernism, baroque and neogothic style. You can compare what Coppedé did here to what Antoni Gaudì did all around Barcelona. A place you can't miss.

coppedè

4) Find the surreal House of Howls

Another masterpiece of eccentric architecture is not far from Coppedé. Inside the city park of Trieste district, called Villa Torlonia, you will find the magical Casina delle Civette, which means House of Howls. With its turrets, mullioned windows, arches and gables of various heights, Casina delle Civette looks like something you can find inside an English village, not a common Roman park. Even the roof is unusual, made mainly of grey slate, but with vividly colored ceramic tiles of glazed terracotta on lower levels. Of course, you will see owl motifs in stone, wood and glass all over the structure, explaining the curious name. The House of Howls is also a museum of stained glass: you can walk around its interiors to admire 54 pieces originally designed for it, and 18 others in frames, all in "stile liberty" (art nouveau style). The interior has been magnificently restored after fire, theft and vandalism, but not altered since the old times so you can see the wood paneling, mosaic floors, nooks and crannies, made-to-measure furniture and oddly-shaped spaces just ad they looked like two hundred years ago.

5) Discover Eur District and the "Square Colosseum"

There are many different Romes in Rome, now you are getting in touch with this concept. In the south of the city, there is a whole district built entirely during the fascist era, following Benito Mussolini's idea of aesthetics. He wanted to reproduce the imperial atmosphere but with a modern vibe on it. The result is EUR district: an area characterized by large streets, huge marble buildings and geometrical patterns all over the place. It was also largely inspired by De Chirico metaphysical paintings, and by its colonnade suspended in a surreal city. The most famous building here is Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana, also known as Colosseo Quadrato, The Square Colosseum. Are Romans so addicted to naming other buildings after the Colosseum? Yes, they are, but the Palazzo Delle Civiltà was truly intended as an homage to Ancient Rome and, visiting it, you will feel the attempt to reproduce that sense of power and eternity. Of course, fascism was a criminal regime but this peculiar architecture is worth a visit due to its unique aesthetics, closely linked to early century avant-garde movements.

square colosseum colosseo quadrato

6) Ride along the Old Appian Way

Can you come to Rome and do not visit the oldest street in the city and, maybe, in Italy as well. No, you can't and this is the reason why you should take the Old Appian Way, an ancient Roman main street which is actually older than the Colosseum itself! Built-in the year 312BC, the road was made during the time of the Roman Republic in order to provide an easier transportation network for the army because, at the time, Rome had many close enemies in Italy, like the Samnites. The road comes across a natural area and is dotted with ancient monuments, like catacombs and vestiges of old buildings and structures. It is very long and the best way to take it is by bike. We suggest you to take this guided tour on e-bikes to not miss anything about this open-air archeological park.

san calisto bar

7) Have a drink in Bar San Calisto

After a long walk or a long ride, there is nothing better than drink something. But you know where to go? Like many visited cities, Rome is full of tourist traps, bars, and restaurants who pretend to be authentic and genuine but are just washed-out replicas. And if you roam beautiful districts like Trastevere (as you should), the probability to fall in one of these traps is really high.   Here we are to tell you the best bar in the districts and maybe in the whole city: Bar San Calisto. This is a traditional Roman bar which became known among youngsters and traveler WITHOUT losing its soul. The place did stay almost the same for decades, while generations come and go. Here you will find any kind of people, from tourists like you, to young hipster bobos and old true Romans who live here since forever and keep everything under control. San Calisto is a legend in Rome for its unique atmosphere who make people talk to each other, even if they come from far away countries and can't speak a common language. When local authorities shut the place down for five days due to night noises, people in the area put on a huge protest. A documentary explains the history of the Bar San Calisto and it features in many media, like the oscar-winning movie "La Grande Bellezza" by Sorrentino, a Fifa commercial and this Italian trap-pop song.

8) Meet contemporary art at Maxxi Museum

As we said, Rome is great in ancient and in contemporary art. And not just the wildest one, the street art on the walls: in the Eternal City you can visit the MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Art. Maxxi is home masterpieces from both local and internationally recognized artists. It is the place to visit if you already love contemporary art or if you want to know more about it in a  fun and entertaining way. Every period of the year, they host different exhibits, collections and events, so check the program on the website to schedule your visit. One last warning:  the building is a masterpiece itself, designed by Zaha Hadid, winning the Stirling Prize of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2010. In contemporary architecture, this means you will likely get lost inside MAXXI area... but this is part of the fun, isn't it?

forte prenestino

9) A night out at Forte Prenestino

Regarding nightlife, you can hang out to a very unique place: the first social center in the city, inside an ancient fortress. If you are not from Southern Europe, you could not be familiar with the concept of "social center" itself. They are squatted buildings but people do not just sleep there. Instead, they host events like conferences, concerts, and dancehalls. Usually, social centers are barely legal or completely illegal, like every occupied building, but their acknowledgment by local communities is so strong that no authority wants to mess with them. Forte Prenestino is a special one: it was founded at the beginning of the 80s inside an old fortress, called Forte Prenestino, which was used as a landfill since decades. Militants and activists give to the place a new life and now is a captivating and evocative place to spend a different night.

10) Explore Piazza Vittorio and its Alchemical Door

Surrounded by buildings with large porticoes in the 19th-century style, the piazza was designed by Gaetano Koch shortly after the unification of Italy and it is the largest square in the city. It is also known as the "Torinese" square of Rome due to its Umbertine style. Today is also the most multicultural area in the city, a place chosen by people from the east and middle-east to be their home. They came here many years ago and are perfectly integrated with locals, making Piazza Vittorio (and Esquilino district at large) the most New Yorker area of Rome. In the heart of the square, there is a garden and in the heart of the garden, there is a door, a walled door. This is the Alchemic Door, the esoteric core of the Eternal City.  It was built between 1678 and 1680 by Massimiliano Palombara, marquis of Pietraforte, in his residence, the villa Palombara. The villa crumbled down and this is the only one of five former gates of the villa that remains. The door is full of symbols and signs of uncertain meanings and a lot of legends tell different stories about the origin and the purpose of this weird artifact.

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The Intrepid Guide

19 BEST Things to do in Rome That’s AREN’T On Your List // 2024 GUIDE

19 Unique Things to do in Rome That Aren't On Your List 2023

Don’t want the usual tourist trip to Rome? See the other side of the Eternal City with these unique ways to experience the best things to do in Rome and unique ways to see some of Rome’s top attractions that aren’t on your list…yet!

There are so many unique things to do in Rome. It’s not only one of the oldest but the most beautiful and fascinating cities in the world. A place where you can literally walk amongst the ruins of its two-and-a-half thousand-year-old history. Sometimes called “Roma Aeterna” (The Eternal City) and “Caput Mundi” (Capital of the World), these two names communicate the two central notions of ancient Roman culture.

My affection for Rome all started when I first visited the Italian capital back when I was 22. Not only was it my first trip abroad, but it was also a sort of pilgrimage to travel back to the country where my dad and his family had emigrated from. My two-week trip set the wheels in motion for what eventually led to me learning Italian and moving to Rome .

Don’t miss my guide to   Rome Tips and Tricks: 27 Things You Should Know Before You Go to Rome

I cringe whenever people tell me they are only visiting Rome for only a couple of days. Don’t let the relatively small size of the historic centre fool you. There is so much more to Rome than the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum . Be aware that all these typical tourist hotspots are swarming with other like-minded tourists which makes for a rather stressful experience. What’s more, the surrounding restaurants take advantage of making a quick tourist buck by serving mediocre food, that’s why you’ll hear mixed reviews from people after their experience in Rome. Luckily, you’ve stumbled across my website where I’ll continue to share further insights on Rome. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter in the footer so you don’t miss a beat.

That being said, promise me that you will stay in Rome for at least three days (Check out my 3 day Rome itinerary here). That’s me being lenient, too! By all means, go ahead and see the attractions Rome is famous for, but make sure you allow enough time to go off the beaten track and visit these must-see beauties that will make your experience even more memorable. If you can, allow at least one day for a day trip from Rome.

When choosing where to stay in Rome I recommend basing yourself in a central location to make accessing each of the places easier. As for when to visit Rome, that will depend on your priorities. Use my guide on the best time to travel to Italy to help you decide when is best for you.

Watch unique things to do in Rome video guide!

Map of the unique things to do in rome.

To help you locate each place included in this guide to Rome, I created this handy map which also includes images for each pin. Zoom in and click each pin for more details.

1. Step Inside Santo Stefano Rotondo, the First Circular Church in Rome.

Unique Things to do in Rome - Santo Stefano Rotondo

On a crisp autumn day, I accompanied my landlady Rosaria on a long walk. She took the opportunity to show me one of the largest and oldest circular churches in existence, Santo Stefano Rotondo. Upon stepping into this church, I immediately fell in love with its spiraling columns.

Built on top of a 2nd-century Mithraic temple, this church dates back to the 5th century A.D. and is dedicated to St. Stephen, the first martyr.

The altar in the centre of the church was ordered by Pope Gregory XIII (1572-85), along with the frescoes on outer arcade walls, painted by Antonio Tempesta and Niccolo Circignani, which portray the grisly deaths of 34 martyrs.

Take this guided tour of Santo Stefano Rotondo as part of this Secret Rome tour. Opening times are Tuesday-Sunday 10:00-13:00 /  14:00-17:00 and closed Mondays.

2. Visit a Three-Tiered Complex at St Clement Basilica Dating Back to 64 AD (Basilica of San Clemente al Laterano)

Unique Things to do in Rome - The Basilica of Saint Clement

In 1857, the Dominican Friar Mullouly who lived in the monastery at San Clement began excavating beneath the relatively modern church, which dates back to the 1200s. He was rewarded with one of the most interesting discoveries of his time; an early Christian basilica dating back to 350 A.D. Mullouly continued digging and discovered yet another, more ancient, layer from 1 A.D. All of this is located just a short walk from the Colosseum!

Unique Things to do in Rome - The Basilica of Saint Clement - Mosaic

Upon entry, you will see the beautiful interior of St Clement Basilica which features a marvelous 12th-century apse mosaic depicting the “Trionfo della Croce” (Triumph of the Cross) and wonderful Renaissance frescoes in the Chapel of St Catherine.

For a small admission fee, you can explore the excavations of the lower two levels. Take the steps down to the 4th-century basilica which was mostly destroyed by Norman invaders in 1084. Look out for the faded 11th-century frescoes illustrating the life of San Clement.

Unique Things to do in Rome - The Basilica of Saint Clement - Roman House

Continue down another level to see a 1st-century Roman house and a dark, 2nd-century temple to Mithras which features an altar showing the god slaying a bull.  To add to the atmosphere, you will hear the eerie sound of a subterranean river flowing through a Republic-era drain. This place is NOT to be missed!

Book your private tour of St Clement Basilica here.

3. See the Magical Optical Illusion of St Peter’s Dome

Unique Things to do in Rome - Optical Illusion from Via Niccolo Piccolomini

From the far end of this long hilltop road, the dome appears large and imposing, but as you walk towards the dome you’ll begin to see the optical illusion. The nearer you get, the smaller the dome appears to the point where it looks tiny. Wondering how the illusion works? Well, it’s said to be attributed to the layout of the buildings in the street.

The illusion is best enjoyed and more dramatic when viewed from a moving vehicle. It’s an ideal spot to end your day out in the city centre. Via Niccolò Piccolomini is located  here .

Click here for my detailed guide to the best views in Rome.

4. Wander Through Ancient Thermal Baths at the Baths of Caracalla (Le Terme di Caracalla)

Unique Things to do in Rome - Baths of Caracalla - Terme di Caracalla

Granted, this one may have made its way onto your list, but it’s worth mentioning. The Baths of Caracalla are the largest surviving ruins of an ancient bath complex in Rome. This is a must-add item to your list of things to do in Rome. The crumbling complex of brick walls, broken archways, and the remains of floor mosaics extends over an impressive 33 acres.

Commissioned by Septimius Severus before his death, the baths were named after his son, emperor Caracalla who reigned from AD 211-221. Caracalla is remembered as one of the most notorious of emperors due to the massacres and persecutions he authorised and initiated throughout the Empire. Despite his threatening demeanour, Caracalla proved to be a strong administrator evidenced by his granting Roman citizenship to all freemen throughout the Roman Empire.

Unique Things to do in Rome - Baths of Caracalla - Terme di Caracalla - Pine Tree

Be sure to have a guided tour of this marvel. You’ll be fascinated to learn how the temperature of the water was controlled, and how each of the three major baths ( tepidarium , calidarium , and frigidarium ) were used.

If you’re visiting during the summer months you can even see live performances. The baths create a superb and dramatic backdrop while watching an opera.

Book your guided tour of the Baths of Caracalla here

5. Take Stroll Along the Oldest and Longest Road of Rome, Via Appia Antica

Unique Things to do in Rome - Via Appia Antica - Casal Rotondo

It was named after Appius Claudius Caecus, a Roman censor who began and completed the first 90 kilometres as a military road to the south in 312 BC during the Samnite Wars. The Appian Way was the first long road built specifically to transport troops outside the smaller region of greater Rome.

Unique Things to do in Rome - Via Appia Antica Cobblestones

Via Appia Antica is a gorgeous cobbled road surrounded by towering pine trees, grassy fields, and dotted with ancient wonders. While you may not be able to visit all 300km, three major catacombs (San Callisto, San Sebastiano and Santa Domitilla) are open for guided tours.  Wondering why there are so many catacombs here? Well, Roman law forbade burial places within city limits so the early Christians buried their dead in 300km of underground catacombs.

Another interesting fact is that Spartacus and six thousand of his slave rebels were crucified here in 71 BC. After the catacombs is Circus Maxentius which is much better-preserved compared to Circus Maximus. From here is the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, a round mausoleum that was later converted into a fortress.

Unique Things to do in Rome - Via Appia Antica - Circus Maxentius

Since the Appia Antica is long, joining this small tour group like this electric bike tour is a great idea. This is another top rated-tour.

6. Take the Pope’s Secret Escape Route at Il Passetto di Borgo

Unique Things to do in Rome - Il Passetto view from St. Peter's Basilica Dome

The Passetto di Borgo, or simply Passetto meaning small passage, is an elevated passage that links the Vatican City with Castel Sant’Angelo. This corridor, located in the district of Borgo, was erected in 1277 by Pope Nicholas III and extends for approximately 800 metres (2,600 ft.). On several occasions, it served as an escape route for Popes in danger.

In 1494, Pope Alexander VI crossed it when Charles VIII invaded the city. Then in 1527 during the Sack of Rome, Clement VII escaped to safety through this passage when troops of the Holy Roman Emperor massacred almost the entire Swiss Guard on the steps of St Peter’s Basilica.

Unique Things to do in Rome - Il Passetto from the Vatican

This has to be one of the coolest things I’ve done in Rome. By walking in the footsteps of Pope’s who sought safety when Rome was under threat, you get a sense of how they must’ve felt as they fled along this passageway. Unfortunately, Il Passetto is only open in the summer for guided tours during the event “Notti d’Estate a Castel Sant’Angelo” (Summer Nights at Castel Sant’Angelo). Be sure to book your tickets here!

7. Marvel at the Best Private Art Collection at Galleria Borghese

Unique Things to do in Rome - Galleria Borghese

The collection was begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the most knowledgeable and ruthless art collector of his day. Scipione Borghese was an early patron of Gian Lorenzo Bernini and an ardent collector of works by Caravaggio. Amongst the gallery’s gems are paintings by Caravaggio including Boy with a Basket of Fruit  and St Jerome Writing  and Sacred and Profane Love  by Titian.

Unique Things to do in Rome - Galleria Borghese - Paolina Borghese

My personal favourite part of the collection is the sensational sculptures by Bernini. Look out for Bernini’s “Ratto di Proserpina” (Rape of Proserpina) and “Apollo e Dafne” (Apollo and Daphne).

Unique Things to do in Rome - Galleria Borghese - The Rape of Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Closed on Monday’s, the Galleria Borghese must be booked in advance as admittance is set at two-hourly intervals and time slots fill up quickly. This ensures you’ll have the pleasure of wandering around without having to navigate through the crowd. Reservations are essential, as visitor numbers are regulated. Check availability and book your timed entrance here. Skip the queue and buy your tickets here or if you’re like me, pay a little bit more for a small group guided tour here.

8. Savour the spectacular city views from Villa Borghese 

Residents and visitors are drawn to Villa Borghese for the bellissimi giardini (beautiful gardens.) But the crowning glory is the views over Rome from the statue-lined promenade, the Passeggiata del Pincio. 

Add to the mix famous villas, a picturesque lake, and 80 hectares of green space, and you’ve got the perfect al fresco lunch setting. 

That’s not all. I’ve picked out a few other illuminating facts that mark Villa Borghese as one of the most unique things to do in Rome, worthy of putting aside an afternoon. 

The cosmic views from the Villa Borghese gardens

The panoramic vistas atop Pincian Hill in the Villa Borghese gardens are worth the climb. Looking out over the rooftops of Rome, you can see the Vatican City and, directly below, the lively Piazza del Popolo (another must-visit for fountain fans.) 

The Spanish Steps adjoin the park

You can enter the park from one of the leading attractions in Rome, the Spanish Steps . For an idyllic walk, start at the Spanish Steps and wind your way through the English-style landscape gardens. Stop to take in the views from Passeggiata del Pincio before leaving via Piazza del Popolo.

Haven’t booked your accommodation yet? Staying close to the Spanish Steps is one of the best locations in the city. Check out my guide on where to stay in Rome for ideas on where to stay and recommendations for hotels and apartments for all budgets. Don’t miss my complete guide to the best apartments and hotels near the Spanish Steps.

There are 90 points of interest in the gardens

The original Villa Borghese is well-known. Yet numerous statues and monuments are peppered throughout the park, plus several other museums in and around the gardens. There is even a zoo, the Bioparco di Roma. 

The Galleria Borghese is a joy for art lovers

Art lovers are clearly spoilt for choice in Italy’s capital. But if you can’t get enough art, then the Borghese art gallery  is one of the top things to do in Rome. The villa (full name: Villa Borghese Pinciana) is a pristine, gleaming example of Baroque architecture. Its collection includes exceptional art from lesser-known artists, alongside world-class sculptures of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Reservations are essential, as visitor numbers are regulated. Check availability and book your timed entrance here.

The Villa Medici is as impressive as Villa Borghese 

The Villa Medici is a fine example of Renaissance architecture and is also found in the gardens. 

Hosting the French Academy in Rome, the villa boasts its own picturesque gardens, intriguing history, and art exhibitions. It makes a compelling alternative if you can’t find a conveniently timed slot for Villa Borghese.  

Distance from the Sistine Chapel : 1.5 miles / 30 mins walk Metro Stops nearby : Metro Line A (orange) – Spagna / Flaminio – Piazza Del Popolo (for Galleria Borghese) You can also catch the tram direct into the park on line 2 When to visit Villa Borghese : The park never closes. As the capital’s third largest park, there is never a bad time to visit.  Villa Medici’s opening hours are: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday – 10am to 7pm. Closed on Tuesdays. Friday and Saturday – 10am to 7.30pm.

Galleria Borghese’s opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday – 9am to 7pm Final entrance is at 5.45pm.

Visitor numbers are limited. Save time and book your slot with skip-the-line tickets.

9. Walk in the Steps of Gladiators Under the Colosseum Arena Floor and Access the Third Tier

Unique Things to do in Rome - View of Colosseum from Roman Forum

Below the arena floor you’ll see the subterranean backstage that was completely filled in during the 5th century AD, as a result, has preserved the area considerably. On the tour, you’ll see where slaves worked, where wild animals such as lions, tigers, hyenas, and bears were kept and see where gladiators rested, ate, and prayed.

Top 10 Unusual Things to do in Rome 2023 - Coloseum arena floor underground

I also recommend visiting the hidden underground palace of Emperor Nero, called Domus Aurea or Nero’s “Golden Palace” located just opposite the Colosseum. Check times and book your tour here.

10. Visit Quartiere Coppedè, a Hidden Fairy-Tale Neighbourhood

Unique Things to do in Rome - Quartiere Coppede - Piazza Mincio

Unknown to most tourists and even the locals, Quartiere Coppedè gets its name from Gino Coppedè, a Florentine architect who designed and built the quarter between 1913 and 1926.

Upon entering this tiny neighbourhood from Via Tagliamento and Via Dora, you’ll see Tuscan turrets, Liberty sculptures, Moorish arches, Gothic gargoyles, frescoed façades, and palm-fringed gardens.

Unique Things to do in Rome - Quartiere Coppede

Book your walking tour of this area here.

11. Explore a Baroque Palace at Palazzo Barberini

Unique Things to do in Rome - Palazzo Barberini

Perhaps the most famous of paintings here is Raphael’s “La Fornarina” (The Baker’s Girl), a portrait of his mistress who worked in a bakery in Rome’s Trastevere neighbourhood.

Book your private tour of Palazzo Barberini here.

12. Walk around the prettiest streets in Rome

Unusual Things to do in Rome 2023 - Trastevere walking tour - Via in Piscinula

13. See the Trevi Fountain without the crowds

Unusual Things to do in Rome - Trevi Fountain - Fontana di Trevi

In fact, around 2.16 million gallons (8.2 million liters) of water flow through the fountain every day. Don’t worry, the water is continually recycled to reduce waste. This is why you can’t scoop up the water to drink. Inevitably, such a defining fixture in the Eternal City has a fascinating backstory. Here are some fun facts about the Trevi Fountain that prove a visit is always one of the best things to do in Rome. 

A Breathtaking Design

Commanding attention is Oceanus , father of the river gods and son of Uranus (sky) and Gaia ( earth.) The hydro theme is completed by horses and Tritons (half-man, half-merman.) The horses, one angry and one calm, represent the changing state of the seas.  The striking image is set against the resplendent Palazzo Poli, from which space was cleared to accentuate the fountain in the foreground. The addition of soaring Corinthian pilasters and a triumphal arch to the façade completes the iconic image. 

An origin story that stretches back to ancient Rome

The Trevi Fountain marks the terminal point of an aqueduct originally constructed in 19 BC by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Emperor Caesar Augustus. At the time, the Aqua Virgo was one of 11 aqueducts serving ancient Rome. 

Legend claims the aqueduct was named after a virgin who led Roman engineers to the water source 8 miles (13 km) outside the city. The resulting aqueduct, ‘Virgin Water’ in English, eventually snaked over 14 miles (22 km) to the Trevi Fountain.

After a long period of disuse following the fall of the Roman Empire, the aqueduct was revived in 1453 and renamed Acqua Vergine. It still provides the city with clean water.

The Trevi Fountain is tucked away in one of Rome’s oldest neighborhoods

The Trevi Fountain takes its name from the Trevi district, the second rione (administrative district) of Rome. The name refers to the three streets ( trivium in Latin) that converge on Piazza dei Crocifer, a square adjacent to the modern Trevi square. 

The Trevi Fountain took 30 years to complete and was almost built by a Florentine (gasp!)

In 1730, Pope Clement XII demanded something decidedly more impressive for this legendary water source. The story tells that the design competition was originally won by a relative of Galileo. But there was a problem: he was a Florentine, an insult few in Rome could accept.  The gig was instead given to a native Roman, Nicola Salvi. Sadly, it took 30 years to complete the Trevi Fountain, 1732-1762, and he did not live to see his masterpiece finished. After he died in 1751, four other sculptors realized his vision. 

The Trevi Fountain was lottery funded

Even the papacy needed a cash injection to pay for such monumental work. Those funds were conveniently found when the lottery was reintroduced to Rome, allowing the citizens to gamble again and enabling the morally flexible pope to finance his grand project.  

Around €3,000 of loose change is deposited every day

I doubt Pope Clement XII imagined his lottery-funded jewel would generate an income one day. But every day good luck seekers chuck around €3,000 into the fountain. This practice replaced the unsanitary practice of drinking from the fountain for luck. 

Keeping the gods of luck onside, the money is cleaned and donated to the Catholic charity Caritas Rome. That practice only started in 2001 and the idea of using the money for less noble purposes does resurface from time to time. 

Even less honorably, there has been a long tradition of theft from the fountain. Thankfully, hefty fines and police patrols put paid to that. 

If you’re wondering how to maximize your good luck returns, tradition demands you throw the coin over your left shoulder with your right hand.  If you fancy getting tacking on a few extra wishes, all coins should be thrown individually. Not my rules, probably not the fountain’s rules. But it is an established tradition, probably due to Hollywood.  

The joy of launching coins into the clear waters of the Trevi Fountain went global following screenings of the 1954 romance, Three Coins in the Fountain . Here’s Frank Sinatra singing the theme tune.

Since then, the Trevi Fountain has racked up several cameos, from the Lizzie McGuire Movie to its distinguished role in Federico Fellini’s 1960 classic , La Dolce Vita .

When to visit : Day or night, there are always crowds at the Trevi Fountain and you should definitely aim to see it both during the day and night, as the night lights transform the fountain into an other-worldly apparition. The most magical time to visit is between 3 am – 7 am when there is almost no one around.

Don’t miss my complete guide to the best apartments and hotels near the Trevi Fountain

14. see piazza navona from above.

Unique things to do in Rome - See Piazza Navona

If you thirst after more fountains — who can ever tire of them in Rome? — then stopping for coffee in Piazza Navona is one of the top things to do in Rome. This immense square started life as a public space in ancient Rome. Today, it is renowned for its three charming fountains, impressive sculptures, and shining examples of Baroque architecture. 

Within walking distance of the Trevi Fountain, here are a few facts to convince you that the Piazza Navona should be the next step in your Roman adventure.  

The square once hosted naked sporting festivals

The Piazza Navona follows the outline of a sporting amphitheatre gifted to the city in AD 86 by Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus, Stadio di Domiziano . The stadium has since crumbled away, although parts of the structure were still visible until the Renaissance age before finally being stolen. 

It is believed the sporting arena was initially used for athletic agones (games.) Even if they lacked the blood and guts of gladiatorial games (which may have come later), the games were pretty spicy as they featured naked Greek athletes. It must have entertained the mob, as the stadium was believed to hold 30,000 spectators. 

Known as the Circus Agonalis , the name morphed over time into avone , navone , before settling on Navona , from which the piazza takes its name. 

There are three delightful fountains on Piazza Navona 

The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) is the most striking water feature in the square. Designed in 1651 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the structure was built to impress Pope Innocent X, whose palace overlooked the square. 

Depicting river gods at the base of a replica Egyptian obelisk (albeit an ancient Roman replica), it contains allegories that reflected a worldview at the time. The four gods represent major rivers on the four known continents of the period: the Nile, Rio de la Plata, the Danube, and the Ganges. 

Clues are hidden within the intricate designs of what those four continents meant to Renaissance Rome. The Rio de la Plata god, for example, holds coins, believed to intimate that riches await explorers of the New World. A threatening snake carved into the sculpture may reflect fears that those riches could lead to danger. 

At the northern end of the square sits the Fontana del Nettuno , Fountain of Neptune. Upon completion of the revived Aqua Virgo aqueduct in 1570, an undecorated fountain was constructed to serve locals with fresh water. 

In 1878, recognizing the increasingly symbolic role of the city’s fountains, the statue of ‘Neptune fighting with an octopus’ and smaller sculptures were added to create a more impressive structure. 

At the southern end of the piazza, the understated Fontana del Moro (Fountain of the Moor) portrays an African wresting a dolphin accompanied by four Tritons.

There is a ‘talking’ statue nearby

You might find the occasional ‘living statue’ on Piazza Navona, but just south of the square on Piazza Pasquino is the famous statue the square is named after.  The statues are for talking to, and they’re good listeners. Citizens got a free pass to complain about anything, including the pope. 

Dating to the third century BC, Pasquino was the first of six ‘talking’ statues across the city. The statue was probably once a decoration in Stadio di Domiziano before being lost for centuries. Unearthed in its current location in the 15th century, some say he is still listening if you need a rock-solid shoulder to cry on.  

When to visit Piazza Navona : If you want to dodge crowds and take some memorable photos, mornings are the quietest. As lunchtime rolls around, the cafés and restaurants of the area fill up, as does the square.

Top Tip : If you want the best views of Piazza Navona in a refined setting, I recommend booking a table at Eitch Borromini , a hotel with an intimate rooftop bar and restaurant.   The hotel sits inside Palazzo Pamphili, the home of the pope who transformed the square. If you’re looking for unique things to do in Rome, the unrivalled views are worth every centime you spend on dinner. 

Distance from Trevi Fountain : 0.6 miles / 12 mins walk

15. Visit inside the Pantheon for Pentecost AND when it rains

Unique things to do in Rome - Visit inside the Pantheon when it rains

Here are 9 things you might not know about this extraordinary building.

It was designed by the remarkable Marcus Agrippa

Three-time Consul feted general, writer, and renowned architect Marcus Agrippa had a hand in many of Rome’s admired constructions. His finest work is the Pantheon. A marvel of ancient architecture that has evidently stood the test of time.

Agrippa’s legacy was set in stone

Unique things to do in Rome - Pantheon

What’s remarkable is the temple was built under the reign of Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian, unlike his predecessors, left his name off public works (except for a temple in honor of his father, Trajan.) 

Hadrian allowed the inscription, which had previously appeared on an earlier Pantheon built by Agrippa but destroyed in the great fire of 80 AD.  A prime example of the emperor’s fabled generosity, in stark contrast to his other notorious acts of cruelty. 

The Pantheon is an exceptional feat of engineering 

Michelangelo reportedly said the Pantheon was the work of angels, not humans. The Pantheon dome is made with unreinforced concrete. 142 ft (43.3 m) tall and is the world’s largest unsupported dome. For 1,300 years, it was the largest dome of any kind.  

The most striking feature is the oculus, the temple’s light source. Light pours through the eye in the ceiling, and, timed right, an emperor would be bathed in light. A piece of showmanship that would surely impress today.   

The towering columns were ‘Made in Egypt’

16 Corinthian columns support the portico, each weighing 60 tons and measuring 39 feet (11.8 m) tall. Remarkably, they all made the journey from Egypt, traveling down the Nile and across the Mediterranean before heading up the Tiber River. Another feat illustrating the power of Rome at its zenith.  

The Temple has been a Catholic church since 609 AD 

Somehow evading destruction from the barbarian hordes, the Pantheon (meaning ‘all the gods’) was converted in 609 AD into the Basilica of Santa Maria and Martyres (St. Mary of the Martyrs.) Everybody ignores this and simply calls it the Pantheon. However, the consecration is sometimes credited with ensuring the building was preserved, so maybe the pagan Marcus Agrippa would have approved.  It is reportedly the oldest building in the world in continuous service. 

Rainy days are good days to visit

You won’t see this sentence too often in travel guides, but if you get lucky it will be raining when you visit. Rainwater pouring through the oculus is a sight to behold, worthy of altering your plans if the skies open up. 

Will you get wet? Probably. But it’s much more rewarding than getting soaked elsewhere. And you can marvel at how quickly the floor drains through holes in the imperceptibly concave floor. It’s a testament to the brilliance of Roman engineering that the rain has done little damage to the marble floors or statues lining the walls.

Experience a shower of rose petals during Pentecost

Illustrious figures are buried there

No ordinary church, only the biggest names in Italian history can be laid to rest in the Pantheon. Renaissance master Raphael was laid to rest there, along with the Italian kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I. 

Fountain fans, there’s good news – there’s another gem outside the entrance

The appositely named Fontana del Pantheon (Fountain of the Pantheon) sits directly outside the temple. Designed by Giacomo Della Porta in 1575 and originally sculpted in marble (replicas now stand where the marbles were moved for preservation reasons), the fountain is understated yet still makes a big impression. It also adds an extra layer to selfies in front of the majestic Pantheon. 

Distance from Piazza Navona : 0.19 miles / 4 mins walk

When to visit the Pantheon : Anytime is a good time, although it is generally quieter in the evening. For a truly unique way to experience the Pantheon is to visit when it rains as the floor is slightly convex which causes the water to flow into the centre of the space through a series of holes in the floor. Also, bear in mind that reservations are required on weekends and public holidays. Entry is still free. Book here.

The area around the Pantheon is one the best places to base yourself when choosing a place to stay in Rome. Read my guide to the best hotels and apartments near the Pantheon.

Don’t miss my complete guide to the best apartments and hotels near the Pantheon

16. see the cat sanctuary and where julius caesar was assassinated at largo di torre argentina.

Unique things to do in Rome Italy - See where Julius Caesar was assassinated in Largo di Torre Argentina

I love visiting this square, which is compact and brimming with ancient ruins. Amazingly, despite being one of the top things to do in Rome, the area is usually free from crowds. 

I’ve selected 4 facts that might convince you to visit one of the underrated parts of Rome. 

There are a lot of furry friends to be made

Unique things to do in Rome Italy - Cat sanctuary at Largo di Torre Argentina

Julius Caesar met his demise here

On the Ides of March 44 BC, one of the striding figures of history was assassinated by Brutus. The over-emboldened dictator was killed at a Senate meeting in the Curia of Pompey in the Theatre of Pompey , whose ruins are still visible in Largo di Torre Argentina. 

The square is a site of archaeological importance 

Scheduled for demolition in 1927, Largo di Torre Argentina was saved after careful excavators unearthed an archeological treasure, tipping off city planners. The discovery of an immense marble statue prompted an exhaustive archaeological dig, revealing four temples and Pompey’s historically significant theatre. 

Exploring the ruins is a new experience

If you had visited the Eternal City before 2019, you could only view the ruins in Largo di Torre Argentina from a distance. But if you plan to return and are searching for unique things to do in Rome, you will welcome the addition of walkways that have opened the square to visitors. Now you can get even closer to the spot where epochal events unfolded.  

The square is named after Strasbourg, France, not Argentina

If you were doing the math in your head and wondering why Largo di Torre Argentina was named after a country that didn’t exist before 1816, worry not. It is believed the square was named after the Roman name for Strasbourg, Argentoratum . Should you ever find yourself on a quiz show then this info might prove invaluable! 

Distance from the Pantheon : 0.25 miles / 5-7 mins walk

When to visit Largo di Torre Argentina : The square lacks the wow factor of other places to visit in Rome, so it is often quiet throughout the day.  If you want to drop into the cat sanctuary, visit from midday onwards.

17. See Striking views from Rome’s traffic hub in Piazza Venezia

Unique things to do in Rome Italy - il Vittoriano in Piazza Venezia

To admire the majestic Vittorio Emanuele II National Monument

Unique things to do in Rome - View of Roman Forum and Colosseum from Il Vittoriano

View of Roman Forum and Colosseum from Il Vittoriano

The Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II is an arresting sight for drivers hurtling around the Piazza Venezia.  Starting in 1885 and finished in 1935, this imposing landmark was built to honour King Vittorio Emanuele II the first king to rule the newly unified Italy. A relatively modern edifice, it fits right into the Roman cityscape.  

A soaring portico supported by 16 Corinthian columns, each 15 m tall, supports a building adorned with allegorical statues. It is always worth a few photos. 

But it’s the views from the top of the monument that make it one of the best things to do in Rome. For €12 or less, you can enjoy a rewarding panorama.

The monument honours Italy’s war dead

The monument to Italy’s first king is better known as Altare Della Patria , which means Altar of the Fatherland. The name refers to an altar to the goddess Rome that is now also a shrine to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

Remnants of Trajan’s Forum can be seen close to Piazza Venezia

Unique things to do in Rome - Trajans Market - Mercati di Traiano Museo dei Fori Imperiali.

Trajans Market (Mercati di Traiano Museo dei Fori Imperiali)

Trajan was the emperor who pushed the borders of the Roman Empire to their peak. He is remembered as one of the most accomplished Roman leaders, widely respected even in his day. 

Little remains of his forum, but recovered columns have been re-erected. If you have even a passing interest in Roman history, you will want to see the forum where one of ancient Rome’s greats once invested his war spoils. 

One of Rome’s most important archaeological discoveries of recent times was made here

Rome is a challenging place to build sizeable public works. Every time a hole is dug, another historic building is unearthed. Illustrating the point, Emperor Hadrian’s Athenaeum, an art center, was discovered while digging a new underground metro line under the piazza. 

Uncovered in 2009, it was described as one of the most important finds for 80 years . Improbably situated in the center of the busiest roundabouts in Rome, it is largely inaccessible to the general public. 

Distance from the Largo di Torre Argentina : 0.37 miles / 8 mins walk

When to visit Piazza Venezia : Unless you can visit when Rome sleeps, this area is always busy. 

18. Be the first to visit the Sistine Chapel at Vatican Musuems with exclusive early access

Unique things to do in Rome Italy - Early access Inside Vatican Museums

The best way to experience the Sistine Chapel without the crowds is with this early access private guided tour where you’ll get entry to both the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel and have the opportunity to visit the famous Vatican galleries and the Sistine Chapel before the usual opening. The tour ends inside an empty St. Peter’s Basilica.

It took 4 years for Michelangelo to finish his world-famous frescos 

It is claimed that Michelangelo was hesitant to paint Pope Sixtus IV’s chapel, built between 1473 and 1481. Thankfully, he had a rethink. The ceiling frescos are probably the most feted makeover in history. And all it took was four years to cover a ceiling measuring 131 ft (40 m) by 46 ft (14 m.)

The nudity was too much for one pope

Michelangelo’s frescos included 6 images of God and are considered one of the earliest drawings to depict him in that form. Yet it was the nudes that caused the biggest stir. Living up to his name, Pope Pius IV demanded the nudes be covered with fig leaves and loin clothes in the 1560s. The scandal has never gone away, with modern scholars lamenting the censorship. 

The Sistine Chapel is the pope’s personal place of worship 

The building was built as a personal chapel for the pope. It has been used for that purpose ever since. A lot of popes have prayed there!

New Popes are chosen in the Sistine Chapel

The Papal Conclave decides who will be the next pope. They meet beneath Michelangelo’s extraordinary art before releasing smoke to let the world know who will lead the catholic church.  

Distance from the Piazza Venezia : 2 miles / 40 mins walk Metro stops nearby: Line A (orange) – Cipro-Musei Vaticani When to visit the Sistine Chapel : Opening time and visitor numbers are strictly controlled. For the best experience, join this tour.

Be aware that there is a dress code – shorts and sleeveless shorts are a big no no. 

19. Head to San Luigi dei Francesi to see Caravaggio paintings

Unique things to do in Rome Italy - See Caravaggio paintings atSan Luigi dei Francesi Church

The same architect worked on St Peter’s Basilica and San Luigi dei Francesi

Giacomo della Porta is a celebrated Italian architect. Born in Genoa yet responsible for many notable works in Rome — including the dome in St Peter’s Basilica and many of the city’s fountains — he also designed this beautiful church.

Three paintings by Caravaggio, each a masterpiece

The interior of San Luigi dei Francesi is stunning. It is the perfect companion to the Sistine Chapel. Arresting art adorns the wall and ceiling, although star billing goes to the ‘cycle’ of paintings by Caravaggio, which are considered some of his finest works. 

Above the altar sits The Inspiration of Saint Matthew , while on opposing walls is The Calling of St Matthew  and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew . All three are highly regarded by art connoisseurs. 

It is free to visit San Luigi dei Francesi!

Unlike the Sistine Chapel, there is no charge to enter this spellbinding church. There is even a free 20-minute English audio guide to help you appreciate the art. Easily one of the best things to do in Rome for free. 

The Church of St. Louis of the French is an oasis of tranquillity 

The good thing about discovering unique things to do in Rome is the possibility to dodge crowds. I can’t recommend this church enough if you want to escape the bustle while experiencing the very essence of Rome. 

Distance from the Villa Borghese : 1.5 miles / 30 mins walk (this brings you full circle back to the area around Piazza Navona)

When to visit San Luigi dei Francesi : Opening hours are limited to mornings and afternoons. Closed for lunch. Check the times here.

Looking for a place to stay in Rome?

Hotels near the Pantheon Rome - Pensieri Stupendi - Terrace with view of Pantheon

Got more time? Join these tours

  • Private Helicopter Tour over Rome
  • Skip the Line: Crypts and Roman Catacombs Small-Group Walking Tour
  • The Roman Food tour in Trastevere
  • Skip the Line: Borghese Gallery and Gardens Walking Tour
  • Papal Audience Tickets and Presentation
  • Rome Street Food Tour with Local Guide
  • Early Access: Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums Ticket
  • Roman Gladiator School: Learn How to Become a Gladiator
  • Pompei Day trip from Rome
  • Small-Group Pompeii with Amalfi Coast Drive and Positano Stop from Rome
  • Naples and Pompeii Day Trip from Rome
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  • 4-Day Tuscany and Cinque Terre Tour from Rome
  • Exclusive Catacombs After Closing and Bone Chapel Tour
  • Tivoli Day Trip from Rome: Villa d’Este and Hadrian’s Villa
  • Florence Day Trip from Rome
  • Venice Independent Day Trip from Rome by High-Speed Train

For more inspiration, check out my guide to 29 amazing day trips from Rome.

Don’t miss my other travel guides to Rome and beyond

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Unique things to do in Rome Italy

Over to you!

Have you visited any of these places? What other top things to do in Rome would you recommend? Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

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unusual places to visit in rome italy

merci pour toutes les infos, je n’ai plus qu’à y être :)

Merci a toi aussi, Hugo

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Thank you for these ideas! I can’t wait to incorporate these into my upcoming trip to Rome. I’m always on the lookout for local adventures (in addition to the more touristy classics).. :)

My absolute pleasure, Bonnie. So happy that you found it useful :)

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Best things to do in Florence - Piazzle Michelangelo

Rome   Travel Guide

Courtesy of joe daniel price | Getty Images

unusual places to visit in rome italy

24 Best Things to Do in Rome

Take time to enjoy  la dolce vita  – even a week isn't long enough to experience everything Rome has to offer. From historic tours through ancient Rome to admiring art-filled institutions to climbing the Spanish Steps or  St. Peter's Basilica ,

  • All Things To Do
  • 1-Day Itinerary
  • 2-Day Itinerary
  • 3-Day Itinerary

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Colosseum (Colosseo) Colosseum (Colosseo)

U.S. News Insider Tip: A normal ticket includes the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (valid for 24 hours) and you can visit all three in one day. It doesn't include a visit to the Colosseum's underground tunnels. For that, you'll have to book a guided tour. – Laura Itzkowitz

The site of many bloody gladiatorial fights, the Colosseum, which was opened in A.D. 80, could then hold about 50,000 spectators. With a circumference of 573 yards and sitting on marshland, experts say the Colosseum is an engineering wonder… not to mention an animal and human rights atrocity. Not only were gladiators pitted against each other, but gladiators fighting animals and animal-on-animal fights were common as well. Today, it's considered one of the world's most famous landmarks .

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

U.S. News Insider Tip: The Vatican Museums contain some of the greatest artworks ever made, but it's also one of Rome's most crowded spots. Consider paying a bit extra to join an early morning tour before the museum opens or check for late opening hours. – Laura Itzkowitz

While Vatican City is home to both the Roman Catholic Church's governing body and its leader, the pope, this small nation within Rome offers a wealth of attractions open to visitors of any faith.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) free

The epicenter of Roman Catholicism, St. Peter's Basilica is centered in Vatican City and is renowned for its stunning architecture. What's more, it's open daily for free. (Though it's closed on Wednesday mornings for pope appearances.) Many visitors enjoy trekking to the top of the dome. For a fee of 8 euros (about $8.65), you can climb the 551 steps to the summit; for a fee of 10 euros (about $10.80), you can take an elevator to a terrace where you'll climb just 320. Regardless, you'll take in a panorama of Rome's spectacular landscape. If you've come hoping to catch a glimpse of the pope, you should consider attending the Wednesday General Audience, when he addresses the crowd in St. Peter's Square with prayers and songs. It's free to attend, but tickets are required ; you should request them well in advance of your visit. You'll also want to make sure he is in residence; check the Vatican website to view the schedule. No ticket is required to see the pope on Sundays, when he usually address the crowd in St. Peter's Square at noon.

Keep in mind that this is an active church with daily Mass services. Likewise, a stringent dress code is enforced: No short skirts, low-cut tops, hats or bare shoulders, and be sure to cover any tattoos. Because St. Peter's Basilica is one of the area's major attractions, there is almost always a long queue – though it tends to go fast. Recent travelers recommend you spring for a tour guide ; the depth of insight they bring to the basilica really makes the experience. For more information on tours, read our tips for visiting the Vatican and its attractions.

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unusual places to visit in rome italy

Roman Forum Roman Forum

Though it's not as popular as the  Colosseum  (but located nearby), the Roman Forum is more interesting, according to some reviewers. The Roman Forum comprises much of the Ancient Rome's most important structures, from shrines to government houses to monuments. Although much of the complex is in ruins, you can see the remains and imagine the former glory of the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus and the House of the Vestal Virgins, among other structures.

Recent travelers called a visit to the Roman Forum a "must," but they do advise future visitors to rent or stream an audio guide or sign up for one of the best Rome tours (according to reviewers, little is written on the informational plaques). Past visitors also suggest allotting plenty of time to see the ruins and wearing weather-appropriate attire as there is little to no shade at the site.  

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) free

A must-see on many travelers' itineraries, the Trevi Fountain is situated amongst a high concentration of hotels , shopping and nightlife in the Trevi district. Finished in the mid-1700s, the Trevi is a powerful example of a baroque design with a distinctly mythological character. The god of the sea, Oceanus, emerges from the pool, flanked by his trusty Tritons. 

According to Roman lore, throwing one, two or three coins into the Trevi, with your right hand over your left shoulder ensures you'll return to Rome; you'll fall in love with an attractive Roman; and you'll marry that same Roman. An added bonus? The city collets the money tossed into the fountain and donates it to a local charity.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Pantheon Pantheon

U.S. News Insider Tip: After visiting the Pantheon, stop for an espresso at the historic Tazza d'Oro Caffè or walk a few blocks to the old-school gelateria, Giolitti, for a cone of the good stuff. – Laura Itzkowitz

The Pantheon, a former Roman temple and now a present-day church, is known for its perfect proportions, which is amazing, seeing as it was raised in A.D. 120. While you're there, you can also pay your respects to Raphael, as well as Italian kings Victor Emmanuel II and Umberto I, who are all buried there.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Piazza Navona Piazza Navona free

U.S. News Insider Tip: To enjoy a coffee or Aperol spritz on the piazza, grab a table at Camillo, but if you want to eat, it's best to avoid the tourist trap restaurants on the piazza and explore the side streets instead. – Laura Itzkowitz

The centuries-old Piazza Navona is perhaps one of the best-known public squares in Rome. People sipping coffees while watching street performers and artists fill the square. Cafes abound, and there are a number of shops, too, although recent visitors said both tend to be expensive. You'll also find a number of impressive monuments, including one by Gian Lorenzo Bernini ( Fountain of the Four Rivers ) and another by Francesco Borromini (Sant'Agnese in Agone). 

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi free

Much like Piazza del Popolo , Piazza Navona 's centerpiece features an obelisk. However, in this case, the obelisk is surrounded by one of Bernini's masterpieces: Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. The four figures at each corner of the statue are a personification of the four rivers best known to Europe in the 1600s. The rivers are the Ganges (Asia), the Danube (Europe), the Nile (Africa) and Río de la Plata (Americas). Animals, plants and other iconography help to further differentiate the four nudes.

Travelers invariably have high praise for the fountain's artistry, saying that it is a must-see.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

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Skip-the-Line Tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's | Small Group

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unusual places to visit in rome italy

Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna) Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna) free

U.S. News Insider Tip: During the era of the Grand Tour, the area around the Spanish Steps earned the nickname of the English Ghetto. Immerse yourself in the area's English past with a visit to the Keats-Shelley House or afternoon tea at Babington's. – Laura Itzkowitz

Found at the Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish Steps (which get their name from the nearby Embassy of Spain among the Holy See) are another must-do for many travelers. Here, visitors can tread the same stairs that writers and artists have climbed for centuries. The steps are especially alluring come spring when they're flanked by blooming azaleas.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Piazza del Popolo Piazza del Popolo free

U.S. News Insider Tip: If you want to do some people-watching on the piazza, skip the expensive and overrated Rosati and go to Canova across the piazza instead. It was frequented by famed filmmaker Federico Fellini, whose drawings decorate the halls inside. – Laura Itzkowitz

Piazza del Popolo is yet another Roman square where you can take in phenomenal architecture and magnificent sculpture. The square dates back to the mid-1500s and is the historic center of Rome. In fact, three major roads intersect here: Via di Ripetta, Via del Corso and Via del Babuino.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Galleria Borghese Galleria Borghese

U.S. News Insider Tip: Don't forget to purchase your timed ticket in advance. Afterward, spend some time strolling through the Villa Borghese park, which has attractions like a little lake, a replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and a few small museums. – Laura Itzkowitz

A favorite among travelers to Rome, the Galleria Borghese is half-villa/half-museum, and it has some resplendent gardens, too. Originally commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 17th century to shelter his massive art collection, it's now considered one of the premier art galleries in the city. The villa's extravagant rooms, spread across two floors, are filled with famous works, including Canova's Venus Victrix, Bernini's sculptures David and Apollo and Daphne, and Caravaggio's "Boy with a Basket of Fruit" and "David with the Head of Goliath," among other masterpieces.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Campo de' Fiori Campo de' Fiori free

The Campo de' Fiori is worth visiting twice in a trip – once during the day for its bustling market, and again as the sun sets for its convivial nightlife. According to historians, the Campo de' Fiori looks much the same as it did in the early 1800s, except for the numerous pizzerias, cafes and gelaterias that line the periphery.

Recent travelers raved about the people-watching throughout the day; the fresh veggies and fruits at the market and the hopping bar scene at night. Some warned that the market is overrun with tourists and not the most authentic market experience in Rome. Even if you don't plan on eating or buying anything within the area, the architecture alone may be enough of a draw, as it was for some.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Church of St. Louis of the French Church of St. Louis of the French free

If you're a fan of Caravaggio, you'll want to visit the San Luigi dei Francesi, or the Church of St. Louis of the French. Inside this church near  Piazza Navona are three of the baroque artist's works, including the "The Calling of St. Matthew" (one of his most famous paintings), "Saint Matthew and the Angel" and "The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew."

Recent visitors recommend stopping in the church, especially if want to get a glimpse of some of Caravaggio's most famous works. Several reviewers recommended reading up on the works before visiting as there is no information within the church. However, you can access a prerecorded audio tour by downloading it to your smartphone from a QR code available on-site.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

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unusual places to visit in rome italy

Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolini) Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolini)

The  Musei Capitolini  (Capitoline Museums) dates back to the 1400s, and it holds Rome's symbol, the bronze Capitoline She-wolf. According to lore, the wolf nursed the half-wolf, half-god founders of the city, twins Romulus and Remus. Its namesake museum contains busts of Roman emperors, statues – including a famous one of Marcus Aurelius – and paintings by Caravaggio and Battista, among others. It also offers spectacular views of the Roman Forum .

Several travelers mention that though the Capitoline Museums wasn't high on their list of things to do or see, they're very happy they did see it. Reviewers also urge visitors to look up at the magnificent ceilings. Some note that the museum has a bit of an odd layout with little information about the paintings. Others say the staff can be rude.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Trastevere Trastevere free

If you want a look at the real Rome, experts and travelers strongly recommend you visit Trastevere. Located southeast of Vatican City, this neighborhood is home to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, as well as numerous restaurants and neighborhood shops (it's often compared to New York City 's Greenwich Village or Paris 's Left Bank thanks to its charming cobblestone streets and narrow roads). 

Although a little farther from the city center, Trastevere is a hit with visitors who appreciated the distance, noting that after so many days weaving through crowds and getting stuck in tourist traps, it's nice to explore a quieter neighborhood (with cheaper, more authentic food). Travelers also said they felt like they experienced a genuine look into life as a Roman after having visited Trastevere.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Santa Maria della Vittoria Santa Maria della Vittoria free

This featured chapel from Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" is now heavily trafficked by Robert Langdon wannabes. But baroque art fans might want to brave the crowds for a look at Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Cornaro Chapel, which features the Ecstasy of St. Teresa statue.

Recent visitors can't stop gushing about Santa Maria della Vittoria. Many said the church is nothing short of stunning, noting that the detail of Bernini's Ecstasy of Saint Teresa is truly incredible. However, travelers also noted that the church is relatively small compared to some of the city's other masterpieces, so prepare for a tight space during peak tourist season (summer). Others warn of odd opening times.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo

The Castel Sant'Angelo has had many purposes over its lifetime. Originally built as a mausoleum for Roman emperor Hadrian, the castle has also been a place of protection for popes during invasions, papal residences, military barracks and a prison. Today, it's a museum showcasing not only the site's military history but also incredible frescoes (which were added to the building when the castle became a residence).

For many visitors, admiring the frescoes and learning the history of the site made for a pleasant stop. However, the top draw for many are the views. The top floor terrace (Terrace of the Angel) provides outstanding vistas of Rome.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Basilica di San Clemente Basilica di San Clemente free

Archaeology buffs might find the Basilica di San Clemente interesting as it's a veritable nesting doll of churches. It's a second century pagan temple, underneath a fourth-century church, which is underneath a 12th-century church. Enter the 12th-century church from the street level, take stairs down to the fourth-century one and finally end up at a shrine for Mithras, the god whom was known to gain popularity in the second and third centuries. The oldest structure is believed to have been an ancient mint.

Travelers are fascinated by the story of the church and recommend visiting for the history lesson that it provides. Past travelers also said you should ignore the panhandlers who linger around the church, as some pretend to be affiliated with the church and tell visitors they can't enter unless they give a donation. The church is free to enter, but there is a fee to go down to the lower levels, which people say is worth the cost. To visit the lower levels, you'll pay 10 euros (about $11) for adults and 5 euros (about $5) for students up to age 26. Children younger than 16 explore for free.

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Tuscany Guided Day Trip from Rome with Lunch & Wine Tasting

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unusual places to visit in rome italy

Ancient Appian Way Ancient Appian Way free

The Ancient Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) has a history that dates back to 312 B.C. and includes the site of Spartacus' execution (in 71 B.C.), the tomb of Caecilia Metella, and many a Roman military march. These days, it stretches for 38.5 miles, though several monuments and historic sites are centered around an approximately 2-mile stretch along Parco dell'Appia Antica. The park sits roughly 2 miles south of the Colosseum . 

Recent visitors said the Appian Way is worth the long trek. Some even recommend hiring a tour guide to tag along with you, as even the smallest details along the walk provide a lot of insight into days past. Many agreed that visitors should come prepared with good walking shoes and water. Other advised visiting during the day as some areas can be seedy at night. 

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Colle del Gianicolo Colle del Gianicolo free

To the west of the Tiber River (near another top attraction,  Trastevere ), Colle del Gianicolo, or the Janiculum Hill, is just waiting to be climbed. Although a hike, the site provides unobstructed, panoramic views of the Eternal City. Once at the top, visitors will be able to spot some of Rome's most famous buildings, including  St. Peter's Basilica  and the Altare della Patria. Interestingly, since it sits outside the ancient city, it's not considered one of the seven hills of Rome. Along with the spectacular views, you'll also spot a few monuments, including the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola, or Il Fontanone, which was originally built in the early 1600s.

Travelers report being impressed by the views of Janiculum Hill, with many recommending a visit at sunrise or sunset for a truly breathtaking experience. Though many don't consider it a "must-see," especially for first-time visitors, reviewers did concede that a trek here offers a nice respite from the city's crowded tourist spots.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

Rome is full of aristocratic palaces whose splendors are hidden behind closed doors. One such place is the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj right on the bustling Via del Corso. Enter and you'll find yourself in a quiet courtyard that feels a world away from the crowds. Upstairs, spend some time marveling at the hall of mirrors, which looks like a smaller version of the one at Versailles , with gold-framed Venetian mirrors, antique statues and chandeliers. The palazzo dates all the way back to the 16th century and the gallery that encircles the courtyard was renovated in the 18th century, with the paintings that form the family's private art collection still displayed as they were in the 1700s. Among them are paintings by Raphael and Caravaggio. In the Velázquez Cabinet at the end of one of the halls is a marble bust of Pope Innocent X by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and a portrait of the pope by Velázquez.

For a few extra euros, you can also visit the "secret apartment," which is supposedly still used sometimes by the princess. Inside it, you'll see the family's furniture and personal objects, like a desk with writing implements, hairbrushes and beds. It's far more intimate than the typical museum experience and might just make you feel like you've stepped into a scene from the Oscar-winning film "La Grande Bellezza," director Paolo Sorrentino's modern-day take on "La Dolce Vita."

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Jewish Ghetto Jewish Ghetto free

Sandwiched between the Tiber River and Campo de' Fiori is a neighborhood that was historically home to Rome's Jewish population, the oldest Jewish community in Europe. A papal edict in 1555 created the ghetto, which was walled off from the rest of the city until 1888. It also established laws about what professions Jews could and couldn't hold. To learn more about the neighborhood, you should visit the Jewish Museum of Rome attached to the Great Synagogue, which displays religious artifacts and explains the area's history in a series of panels. A guided tour of the Great Synagogue is included in the museum's admission price and is the only way to see the ornately decorated synagogue without attending religious services.

Recent visitors praised the beautiful synagogue and said the neighborhood is a "hidden gem" in Rome. Travelers say the neighborhood is worth a few hours of your time.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

Mercato di Testaccio Mercato di Testaccio free

For a less touristy alternative to the market at Campo de' Fiori , venture beyond the historic center to the Mercato di Testaccio. The large covered market is filled with stalls selling fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat, where Romans do their daily shopping. It's also home to a handful of stalls where you can purchase prepared food, like sandwiches and pizza. Take a number and wait your turn for delicious pizza al taglio at Casa Manco. Ask for a few small slices so you can try more than one topping.

For sandwiches, the place to go is Mordi e Vai, a hole-in-the-wall stall serving sandwiches made with the offcuts that form the backbone of Roman cuisine. Indeed, the quinto quarto tradition of Roman cooking was born in right here in Testaccio. The neighborhood was once home to the city's slaughterhouse and the working-class families who lived here created recipes using the less prized cuts of meat, including the organs, that were cheaper. Many restaurants in the neighborhood are known for this type of cooking, with signature dishes like trippa alla romana (Roman-style tripe with tomato sauce, pecorino and mint) and coda alla vaccinara (oxtail stew). If you're not into that kind of stuff, Mordi e Vai always has a vegetarian option available.

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Rome in a Day Small Group Tour with Vatican and Colosseum

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unusual places to visit in rome italy

MAXXI MAXXI

If you've had enough of ancient and Baroque art, consider visiting one of Rome's modern and contemporary art museums. MAXXI – an acronym for the National Museum of 21st Century Art – is located in the residential Flaminio neighborhood north of Piazza del Popolo and was designed by the late Iraqi-British starchitect Zaha Hadid. The building itself is a masterpiece of modern architecture, with dramatic sweeping lines, steel staircases that seem to float in the air, and galleries with glass ceilings. The collection comprises more than 400 works of art by Italian and international artists, including Andy Warhol, Francesco Clemente and Gerhard Richter, as well as a collection of material related to architecture. It ranges from photography and film to art installations and performance art.

Before you go, check to see what's on display. Past exhibitions have featured Bob Dylan's videos, the work of Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, and the architecture of Lina Bo Bardi, a midcentury modern trailblazer and one of the few female architects working at that time. MAXXI has also hosted special off-site exhibitions and events, including guided tours of Casa Balla, the apartment of futurist artist Giacomo Balla.

unusual places to visit in rome italy

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Yardbarker

When in Rome: 15 things you must do in the capital of Italy

Posted: November 17, 2023 | Last updated: November 17, 2023

<p>At this point, is there anything we can say about Rome that hasn't already been said? The famous city has been drawing in tourists, romantics, and artists for centuries, and has been the star of more movies than Marcello Mastroianni himself. It's a film come to life, an endless stream of ancient ruins, piazzas, and restaurants that never seems to lose its charm. Looking for a list of the best things to do here? Look no further. </p>

At this point, is there anything we can say about Rome that hasn't already been said? The famous city has been drawing in tourists, romantics, and artists for centuries, and has been the star of more movies than Marcello Mastroianni himself. It's a film come to life, an endless stream of ancient ruins, piazzas, and restaurants that never seems to lose its charm. Looking for a list of the best things to do here? Look no further. 

<p>You likely already know, have seen, or heard about the Colosseum. It is the largest amphitheater ever built, and, if you have the chance to explore inside, one of the most impressive things you can see in Rome. The arena that once housed gladiator battles and executions is now a maze of tunnels, columns, and dust. The best views can be found on the 5th level, which offers panoramic views of the theater. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_big_batch_cocktails_that_are_perfect_for_small_gatherings_110823/s1__34869380'>20 big-batch cocktails that are perfect for small gatherings</a></p>

You likely already know, have seen, or heard about the Colosseum. It is the largest amphitheater ever built, and, if you have the chance to explore inside, one of the most impressive things you can see in Rome. The arena that once housed gladiator battles and executions is now a maze of tunnels, columns, and dust. The best views can be found on the 5th level, which offers panoramic views of the theater. 

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<p>Let's be clear: Rome's Pantheon is not just another temple. It is the city's most important landmark, built in 125 AD and boasting some of the most epic pillars on earth. These things make the White House look small, and no trip is complete without a picture of its facade. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Let's be clear: Rome's Pantheon is not just another temple. It is the city's most important landmark, built in 125 AD and boasting some of the most epic pillars on earth. These things make the White House look small, and no trip is complete without a picture of its facade. 

Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.

<p>Walking is the perfect way to burn off pasta, so the Spanish Steps make for a perfect afternoon activity. The staircase connecting Piazza di Spagna to the Spanish Embassy is filled with magical sights, from kids splashing in the fountain to emeralds glowing in the embassy. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_spinach_recipes_you_absolutely_must_try_111723/s1__39117830'>20 spinach recipes you absolutely must try</a></p>

The Spanish Steps

Walking is the perfect way to burn off pasta, so the Spanish Steps make for a perfect afternoon activity. The staircase connecting Piazza di Spagna to the Spanish Embassy is filled with magical sights, from kids splashing in the fountain to emeralds glowing in the embassy. 

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<p>The Vatican is home to one of the largest and most important art collections in the world and is set across 54 galleries, courtyards, and hallways. You'll find countless works of art by artists like Raphael and Michelangelo, whose Sistine Chapel remains the GOAT of frescos. You get goosebumps just looking at Jesus reach out to Adam--the entire history of man at their fingertips. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

The Vatican

The Vatican is home to one of the largest and most important art collections in the world and is set across 54 galleries, courtyards, and hallways. You'll find countless works of art by artists like Raphael and Michelangelo, whose Sistine Chapel remains the GOAT of frescos. You get goosebumps just looking at Jesus reach out to Adam--the entire history of man at their fingertips. 

<p>Did we mention Rome might have invented cacio e pepe? Whether the stories are true or not, the city's restaurants all serve their own version of this signature dish. The best place to order one of these plates is at Felice a Testaccio, which prepares the pasta in front of you and has graciously located itself outside of town. You're going to need a long walk after this one. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_slow_cooker_recipes_with_six_ingredients_or_fewer_110823/s1__39117846'>20 slow-cooker recipes with six ingredients or fewer</a></p>

Felice a Testaccio

Did we mention Rome might have invented cacio e pepe? Whether the stories are true or not, the city's restaurants all serve their own version of this signature dish. The best place to order one of these plates is at Felice a Testaccio, which prepares the pasta in front of you and has graciously located itself outside of town. You're going to need a long walk after this one. 

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<p>Rome is full of quaint neighborhoods but, with all the sightseers, not many will offer you a proper taste of bohemian life. For that, cross the river to Trastevere: home to street markets, local bars, restaurants, and apartments, and more alleys than all the canals in Venice. Get lost in the maze of streets that make up this section of town--then, after you spend a couple of hours walking, stop in for drinks at one of the many outdoor bars. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Rome is full of quaint neighborhoods but, with all the sightseers, not many will offer you a proper taste of bohemian life. For that, cross the river to Trastevere: home to street markets, local bars, restaurants, and apartments, and more alleys than all the canals in Venice. Get lost in the maze of streets that make up this section of town--then, after you spend a couple of hours walking, stop in for drinks at one of the many outdoor bars. 

<p>Since its founding by Domenico Costanzi in the late 19th century, the Rome Opera House has remained one of the finest opera houses in Europe. We recommend you stop by for an opera or if you find that too snooty, check out one of the many fashion shows put on by brands like Dior. <em>Is that</em> too snooty for you? Take a tour instead, which will give you access to the neo-classical design. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/pep_talk_23_foods_and_drinks_you_didnt_know_contain_caffeine_101223/s1__38120216'>Pep talk: 23 foods and drinks you didn’t know contain caffeine</a></p>

Rome Opera House

Since its founding by Domenico Costanzi in the late 19th century, the Rome Opera House has remained one of the finest opera houses in Europe. We recommend you stop by for an opera or if you find that too snooty, check out one of the many fashion shows put on by brands like Dior. Is that too snooty for you? Take a tour instead, which will give you access to the neo-classical design. 

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<p>You can't visit Rome and not spend at least a couple of hours in a piazza. The best place to do so is Piazza Navona, an area surrounded by restaurants, fountains, and ancient statues. Here, you can grab a bite or an Aperol spritz, and take a second to relax while the rest of the world goes by. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Piazza Novana

You can't visit Rome and not spend at least a couple of hours in a piazza. The best place to do so is Piazza Navona, an area surrounded by restaurants, fountains, and ancient statues. Here, you can grab a bite or an Aperol spritz, and take a second to relax while the rest of the world goes by. 

<p>Grab a drink at the same place actors like Julia Roberts and Richard Gere frequent, on the rooftop of one of Rome's most prestigious hotels. Located just above the Roman Forum--the ruins next to the Colosseum--this spot is perfect for those looking to take a second to unwind. Many only come here for an Instagram photo, but the best thing you can do here is to spend a couple of hours in the company of silence. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/20_foods_that_are_basically_calorie_free_102323/s1__39105893'>20 foods that are basically calorie-free</a></p>

Forum Hotel Bar

Grab a drink at the same place actors like Julia Roberts and Richard Gere frequent, on the rooftop of one of Rome's most prestigious hotels. Located just above the Roman Forum--the ruins next to the Colosseum--this spot is perfect for those looking to take a second to unwind. Many only come here for an Instagram photo, but the best thing you can do here is to spend a couple of hours in the company of silence. 

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<p>This oasis was once a public bathing complex in the third century. Now, it's open year-round for visitors to wander its many ruins, fields, and arches. Each summer, the Roman opera performs at the baths to sold-out crowds. Those lucky enough to get tickets are treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Baths of Caracalla

This oasis was once a public bathing complex in the third century. Now, it's open year-round for visitors to wander its many ruins, fields, and arches. Each summer, the Roman opera performs at the baths to sold-out crowds. Those lucky enough to get tickets are treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

<p>Does anyone here like sunsets? Thought so. If you're in Italy, you'll probably want to see a sunset at some point, which means you should probably head down to the Tiber river at golden hour. There's a great view from the river itself, though we recommend you stand on the bridge to watch the eternal city swirl into an eternal haze. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/24_facts_stats_and_other_stories_about_starbucks_101123/s1__39334959'>24 facts, stats, and other stories about Starbucks</a></p>

Tiber River

Does anyone here like sunsets? Thought so. If you're in Italy, you'll probably want to see a sunset at some point, which means you should probably head down to the Tiber river at golden hour. There's a great view from the river itself, though we recommend you stand on the bridge to watch the eternal city swirl into an eternal haze. 

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<p>Emperor Nero's pad was once considered the Playboy Mansion of Rome. Built between 64-68 AD, the underground mansion was home to some of the wildest parties in town before it was abandoned completely. The site is under restoration, but visitors can join guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays to see what made this place so unique. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Dormus Aurea

Emperor Nero's pad was once considered the Playboy Mansion of Rome. Built between 64-68 AD, the underground mansion was home to some of the wildest parties in town before it was abandoned completely. The site is under restoration, but visitors can join guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays to see what made this place so unique. 

<p>Often referred to as "The Three Street Fountain," the Trevi Fountain is an excellent example of the city's regional art. Located at the intersection of three streets, this fountain draws in visitors from all sides of Rome. Its statues are a lineup of masterpieces from Nicola Salvi, but the real reason everyone is here is because of Federico Fellini, who shot the famous scene of Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg lapping in the pool at midnight. </p><p>You may also like: <a href='https://www.yardbarker.com/lifestyle/articles/12_high_fat_foods_you_should_avoid_and_12_you_should_eat_regularly_110823/s1__39147466'>12 high-fat foods you should avoid and 12 you should eat regularly</a></p>

Trevi Fountain

Often referred to as "The Three Street Fountain," the Trevi Fountain is an excellent example of the city's regional art. Located at the intersection of three streets, this fountain draws in visitors from all sides of Rome. Its statues are a lineup of masterpieces from Nicola Salvi, but the real reason everyone is here is because of Federico Fellini, who shot the famous scene of Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg lapping in the pool at midnight. 

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<p>Move over, American football. The crowds of 70,000 that cram into Stadio Olimpico make the Superbowl sound like a high school game. Even people who find soccer boring can't help but be blown away by the noise. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

Stadio Olimpico

Move over, American football. The crowds of 70,000 that cram into Stadio Olimpico make the Superbowl sound like a high school game. Even people who find soccer boring can't help but be blown away by the noise. 

<p>St Peter's Basilica is a church built by some of Rome's greatest architects. It is the most renowned piece of Renaissance construction, with contributions from Michelangelo, Maderno, and Bramante, and houses one of Rome's most dramatic squares. On the way to the top, you'll get a birds-eye view of both the square and the Vatican chapels. </p><p><a href='https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-cj9pqbr0vn9in2b6ddcd8sfgpfq6x6utp44fssrv6mc2gtybw0us'>Did you enjoy this slideshow? Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.</a></p>

St. Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica is a church built by some of Rome's greatest architects. It is the most renowned piece of Renaissance construction, with contributions from Michelangelo, Maderno, and Bramante, and houses one of Rome's most dramatic squares. On the way to the top, you'll get a birds-eye view of both the square and the Vatican chapels. 

Did you enjoy this slideshow? Follow us on MSN to see more of our exclusive lifestyle content.

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  1. 134 Cool and Unusual Things to Do in Rome

    Discover 134 hidden attractions, cool sights, and unusual things to do in Rome from Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts to The Mithraeum at Circus Maximus.

  2. 29 Unusual Things to Do in Rome to Escape the Crowds

    Rome's Colosseum, Sistine Chapel and Pantheon are all extraordinary creations, but there's more to Rome than the tourist attractions. If you only visit the major sites, you'll spend more time fighting through tour groups than enjoying the atmosphere of the city.

  3. 10 Unusual and Secret Hidden Places in Rome! (Update 2024)

    One can end up fascinated by the wonders made possible by a brush…. 5. THE MAGIC PORTA DI PIAZZA VITTORIO. It is the only survivor of the access gates to Villa Palombara, which stood in the area, and it today stands in the middle of Piazza Vittorio, extending an esoteric veil all over it.

  4. 22 TOP Hidden Gems of Rome That Most Tourists Never See (+ Map & Tips)

    Top 3 Unusual Things to Do in Rome: Crypts, Catacombs & Bone Chapel. Street Food Tour. Ancient Appian Way, Aqueducts & Catacombs. Quartiere Coppedè - one of my personal favorite hidden gems in Rome In this article, we are sharing some of the less known, amazing places you can find in Rome that most tourists never see. Why are they ignored?

  5. 10 Unusual Things to Do in Rome: 2024 Updated Edition!

    Visit the Marcello Theater, Discover the Roman catacombs, See the skull of St Valentine, Enjoy a movie on Tiber Island, Visit Pons Aemilius, See Michelangelo's Last Judgment at the Vatican Museums, Witness the Optical Illusion of St Peter's Dome, Walk through the age-old Thermal Baths at the Baths of Caracalla , Indulge in wine tasting in the Fr...

  6. 33 Unusual Things to do in Rome 2024 + Expert Tips

    Pro Tip: This is one of the best hidden gems in Rome that you can visit during a private Vespa tour. You can't get more Roman Holiday than that. Address: Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 7, 00184 Roma RM, Italy. Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Price: Free.

  7. 21 Unusual Things To Do in Rome to Escape the Crowds

    You can see the dome of St Paul's, the arc of the colosseum and the terracotta spread of a world city surprisingly bereft of skyscraper grey.

  8. The Best Hidden Gems In Rome

    19 May 2020 Well-known sites such as the Colosseum and St Peter's Basilica might get all the attention, but there's more to Rome than just the big-ticket attractions. From optical illusions to secret neighbourhoods, discover the quirkiest, most unusual things to see and do in the Eternal City.

  9. 14 Cool and Unusual Things To Do in Rome, Italy

    1. See the skull of St. Valentine at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin St. Valentine lived in the 3rd century, martyred on 14 February in the year 269, for breaking a Roman ban on performing weddings. Because he is the saint associated with courtly love, his feast day came to be known as Valentine's Day.

  10. 13 Unusual Things to Do In Rome: Hidden Roman Gems

    From tourist-friendly yoga to a pasta-making class, fried artichokes to special exhibitions, there are some amazing, unusual things to do in Rome for those looking for the more subtle side of the city. Get off the beaten path with these unusual things to do in Rome! Have dinner surrounded by art at Cafe Canova Tadolini

  11. 13 Unique Things To Do In Rome

    The street runs almost parallel to the river Tiber and has some unusual places to visit in Rome, namely Farnese arch and via Guilia's Mascherone. ... And Shelley drowned in a storm while aboard a boat in the gulf of Spezzia in Northern Italy. Packed with history and beautiful monuments, it's one of the oldest burial grounds in Europe that ...

  12. Unusual Things to See in Rome

    13 Unusual Things to See in Rome Elyssa Bernard September 18, 2021 Pinterest Want to know where to find really unusual things to see in Rome? It's worth exploring churches in Rome to find Renaissance cloisters like this one inside Sant'Andrea delle Fratte.

  13. Unusual Things to Do in Rome: Top Unique Attractions and Places to Visit

    Try Skydiving See the Janiculum Canon Admire the Quartiere Coppede Area Adopt a Cat from Cat Sanctuary Visit the Aventine Keyhole Check Yourself if You Are a Liar Walk Along the Oldest Road Admire the Monster House Visit the House of Owls Rent a Boat in Villa Borghese

  14. Rome Bucket List: 40 Epic Things to Do in Rome

    With its long, rich history, famous landmarks, museums and archaeological sites, the to-do list for visitors is enormous. 40 things to do in Rome sounds like a lot, and it is, but there are many more places we could have added to this list. Below is a big list of things to do in Rome.

  15. 134 Cool and Unusual Things to Do in Rome

    134 Cool and Unusual Things to Do in Rome - Atlas Obscura Discover 134 hidden attractions, cool sights, and unusual things to do in Rome from Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts to The...

  16. 17 Epic Hidden Gems in Rome

    1. Palazzo Doria Pamphilj 2. Galleria Sciarra 3. The Capuchin Crypt 4. Vicus Caprarius (The Water City) 5. Centrale Montemartini 6. The Aventine Keyhole 7. Quartiere Coppedè 8. The Protestant Cemetery 9. San Pietro in Vincoli 10. The Church of San Luigi dei Francesi 11. The Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) 12. Villa Doria Pamphilj 13.

  17. 88 Fun & Unusual Things to Do in Rome, Italy

    2 - Stare at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel 3 - See the blood-soaked sands of The Colosseum and the heart of Ancient Rome 4 - See the macabre Capuchin Crypt and Roman catacombs 5 - Glimpse the spectacular views of Orvieto & Assisi on a day trip 6 - Design your ultimate holiday house on a day-trip to Tivoli 7 - Be blessed by the Pope

  18. Tourist Attractions in Rome: 32 Top Places to Visit in Rome!

    Explore the most unusual places to visit in Rome: 1. Stadium of Domitian - Piazza Navona Underground. ... For a curious experience combining nature and biodiversity, the Bioparco di Roma is the oldest zoological garden in Italy with 1,200 animals and 150 different species. Located within Villa Borghese, this park is committed to animal ...

  19. 10 Unusual things to see and to do in Rome

    Find it together! Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, St. Peter Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Piazza Navona, Fontana di Trevi and literally every single street of the historical center: these are the things you already know you have to see in Rome. Maybe these are the things you already saw in Rome and you are looking for something else.

  20. 10 Unusual Things to Do in Rome that Aren't On Your List YET!

    For MORE Things to do in Rome, VISIT my guide http://bit.ly/UniqueRome 🇮🇹 Learn travel Italian with my 80/20 method, VISIT https://bit.ly/IntrepidItalianCo...

  21. 19 BEST Things to do in Rome That AREN'T On Your List // 2023 GUIDE

    Watch on Map of the unique things to do in Rome To help you locate each place included in this guide to Rome, I created this handy map which also includes images for each pin. Zoom in and click each pin for more details. 1. Step Inside Santo Stefano Rotondo, the First Circular Church in Rome.

  22. 988 Cool and Unusual Things to Do in Italy

    Discover 988 hidden attractions, cool sights, and unusual things to do in Italy from Santa Maria della Concezione Crypts to The Sunken City of Baia.

  23. 24 Best Things to Do in Rome

    A rainy day in Rome is the perfect time to explore the city's many museums. Art aficionados should stop by Galleria Borghese or the Capitoline Museums. Meanwhile, history buffs should pay a visit ...

  24. When in Rome: 15 things you must do in the capital of Italy

    1 / 16. When in Rome: 15 things you must do in the capital of Italy ©Universal History Archive/Getty Images. At this point, is there anything we can say about Rome that hasn't already been said ...