Top 10 Rome Tourist Attractions

In compiling a list of the top 10 Rome tourist attractions, we had to balance the overpowering weight of the city's history with its modern day attractions. History definitely came out on top, but that doesn't mean you should overlook Rome's open air markets, excellent restaurants or vibrant nightlife.

In a city with such diverse offerings, nearly everything you do in Rome will be enjoyable and memorable. But if you want to experience the best that Rome has to offer, our top ten attractions are a good place to start. Of course, if you get sidetracked along the way, just follow your intuition. Chances are, you'll stumble upon something extraordinary by wandering off the beaten path.

Here are our top 10 Rome tourist attractions in no particular order. If you only have a limited time in Rome, visiting these sites will make you feel you've done justice to the city.

  1. The Colosseum
    The Colosseum is an amphitheater located in the heart of ancient Rome. Constructed around 70 AD, it held 50,000 people and was originally used for gladiatorial battles, public executions, and other public spectacles. Although worn by earthquakes and age, the Colosseum remains a symbol of the city and a monument to the glory days of the Roman Empire.

  2. The Forum
    Close to the Colosseum, the Forum is what remains of the center of ancient Rome. It was the site of the municipal buildings and palaces from which Rome's leaders ran the Empire. Adjacent is the Circus Maximus, the site of Rome's public games, festivals and chariot races. Although it's now a public park, you can still see traces of the ancient race track.

  3. The Trevi Fountain
    The Trevi Fountain is a magnificent stone sculpture depicting the story of a young virgin leading early Romans to fresh water. Legend has it that throwing coins into the fountain will ensure a return trip to Rome, and thousands of Euros are thrown in each day. Perhaps this is part of the reason it often tops the list of Rome tourist attractions.

  4. The Pantheon
    Originally constructed as a temple to the Roman gods, the Pantheon has functioned as a Catholic church since the 7th century. It is the most well preserved ancient structure in Rome, and the oldest to still support a dome.

  5. Palatine Hill
    One of the Seven Hills of Rome, Palatine is located in one of the city's oldest areas. It offers a stunning view of the Roman Forum on one side and the Circus Maximus on the other.

  6. The Vatican
    Established in 1506 and located within the Vatican City, the Vatican museums house art and sculpture spanning centuries, including works by Da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo, as well as modern religious art.

    Be sure to include a visit to the Sistine Chapel, where you can experience Michelangelo's masterpiece, The Creation.

  7. Saint Peter's Basilica
    With a place of honor in Vatican City, this was built in the styles of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Michelangelo designed the dome, and it is one of the most famous and most visually stunning historical churches in Rome.

  8. The Spanish Steps
    Joining two of Rome's most delightful piazzas (Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Trinita dei Monti), these 138 steps are a beautiful sight both day and night. They were built in the 1720s, and today visitors can enjoy the view, then take time out to relax in a nearby espresso bar.

  9. Villa Borghese Gardens
    One of Rome's largest public parks, the Villa Borghese is a beautiful setting for a relaxing morning or an evening walk. Combining open green space with art, fountains, and expansive landscaping, the gardens belong on any list of must-see Rome tourist attractions.

  10. Piazza Campo dei Fiori
    Campo dei Fiori, meaning "field of flowers", is actually a vibrant piazza. Set off by historic statues, the piazza is a hub of fresh flower and vegetable markets by day and popular bars and restaurants by night.

Enjoying these top 10 Rome tourist attractions will give you a sense of the city's significance in world history, as well as its place as a modern metropolis. Hopefully you'll find time on your visit to just to sit back and absorb this unique blend of old and new.

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