Rome's Top 20
Collected by Gillian Longworth McGuire, AFAR Local Expert
Rome is both a modern, bustling city and an ancient open air museum. You can walk in the footsteps of emperors, Have coffee in Renaissance piazzas and see contemporary art all in one afternoon.
00184 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy
No matter how many postcards you've seen of Rome's iconic Colosseum, you just don't get it until you pass beneath its crumbling arches. Built by Emperor Vespasian in 72 C.E., the huge amphitheater held 50,000 spectators and marked its...
00186 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy
The Roman Forum is where ancient Rome began. The sprawling archaeological park gives us just a hint of what the Roman Empire once was—a dominant and diverse society. The Forum itself was the political, social, religious, and commercial focal...
Piazza del Campidoglio, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Stand at the feet of the Marcus Aurelius statue in this Michelangelo-designed, elliptical-shaped Renaissance piazza, and you will be at what was once the center of the world (or at least the Roman Empire). Today this space, which is surrounded by...
Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
This 1st-century wonder will take your breath away. Not only is it one of the city's most ancient sites, it's been in continuous use for centuries. Originally built as a private temple, today it is a Catholic church and the resting place of...
Piazza Campo de' Fiori, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Like all outdoor markets in Rome, Campo de' Fiori is a bustling social center where locals push past throngs of tourists to complete their errands. Every morning you can find nonni shopping for produce with their grandchildren, feisty butchers...
Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma RM, Italy
Originally constructed as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian in the middle of the 2nd century, the striking circular monument has had many functions over the centuries. Climb to the top and be rewarded with a breathtaking view over Rome. See if you...
Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma RM, Italy
The Galleria Borghese, which is set in the large public Villa Borghese park, was born in the 16th century as the collection of Scipione Borghese, a powerful Cardinal and nephew to Pope Paul V. The Cardinal amassed an enormous number of ancient...
Viale Vaticano, 00165 Roma RM
There is a staggering amount of artwork on display here. It is said that if you stood at each piece for just one minute, it would take you four years to see everything. Created by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, the museums have expanded...
Via Guido Reni, 4/a, 00196 Roma RM, Italy
Maxxi, Rome’s first major contemporary art museum, cost 150 million and took renowned architect Zaha Hadid 10 years to complete. The result—a vast, bold space with exhibits on architecture and art—proves that modern Rome can produce masterpieces,...
Piazza di S. Luigi de' Francesi, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
In 1589, the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi became the official church of Rome’s French community, and with true Bourbon flair, the church's decorations are a celebration of France's power and wealth, with gilded stucco, lavish...
Via del Corso, Roma RM, Italy
This broad street serves as the spine to Tridente, Rome’s main shopping district. Bound by the via Babuino and via Ripetta and intersected by the via Condotti, which begins at the bottom of the Spanish Steps, this is where you will find big...
Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Even with Segway tours rolling through and street performers loudly competing for audiences, the 15th-century Piazza Navona somehow retains a shred of grace and elegance in modern Rome. Calm Renaissance palazzi face the piazza’s centerpiece,...
Piazza del Quirinale, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
This ornate palace is the official residence of the President of the Republic—and newly open to the public five days a week (closed Mondays and Thursdays). It is one of the largest palaces in the world, with more than 1,000 rooms, and before...
Via Appia Antica, 42, 00178 Roma RM, Italy
Leave the hustle and bustle of Rome behind for a sylvan retreat along the Appia Antica. This was once one of the most important Roman roads, connecting the capitol to Brindisi far in the south. Today you can visit catacombs, churches and ruins of...
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