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Stef from Germany asked

What are the top 5 things I can't miss in Rome?

Hi guys,

I need some recommendations. What do I have to do in 4 days in Rome? What are the must-do's, what are some hidden secret spots you know? Can you recommend places to eat as well?

Thanks a lot for your help!


Update: Thank you very much for all your answers. They have been so helpful and I'm really looking forward to plan the trip to Rome. One more question: Is it worth it to buy a Roma Pass in your opinion?


9 Answers
top answer by
Alex from London

Oh goody, one of my favourite cities to write about! Stef, you have received some great recommendations already so I will try to add a bit to it.

Rome is best explored in pockets, focusing on the big tourist sites and smaller treasures in each neighborhood. It is easiest to plan this way, you can walk, take a bus or metro to a specific neighborhood or quarter and spent a half-day or day exploring it, slowly making your way back to the hotel or centre.  Here is how I would divide up the time:

Day 1: Rome's Neighborhoods

Begin your day in the Campo dè Fiori market (have a breakfast bread from Il Forno or Aristocampo).  Behind the square, towards the river, you will find the Michalengelo facade of the Palazzo Farnesewhich is now the French Embassy.  Close by, the Palazzo Spada has an amazing colonade corridor that is a mind-boggling trick of perspective, can you figure the trick out? Walk down the via Giubbonari into the old Jewish Ghetto. See if you can find the Turtle Fountain, one of the most charming fountains in Rome.

Walk towards the Marcello Theater, the Colosseum smaller (and older) sibling is a hidden gem, a great example of how houses were built in layers over massive masterpieces. 

You will be heading to the smaller forum boarium with the intact small temples of Fortuna and Victorious Hercules.  On your left will be the monumental Arch of Janus. Continue on to the Byzantine  Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin where you will find the finest mosaics in Rome and the Bocca della Verità

Walk up the Aventine Hill to the Giardino degli Aranci. On the top of the hill you can visit other stunning Medieval and Byzantine churches but the one unique find is in the dead-end Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta. Look through the keyhole of the Knights of Malta and you will find one of the most sought-after views of St Peter's. 

From there continue on to the Trastevere neighborhood across the river. Explore the main sites which include St Maria in Trastevere Basilica and try out the many caffes, osterias and trattorias of one of Rome's most typical residential neighborhoods (great for an authentic inexpensive dinner).

Day 2: From Rome to Renaissance

Begin your day by arriving at the Borghese Gallery and Museum first thing in the morning (tickets bought online and in advance). Visiting the Bernini sculpture collection is, for me, a must -- these are likely to be the most perfect lifelike marble sculptures you will ever see.

Enjoy a stroll through Rome's largest park, walk through the Borghese Gardens towards the Piazza del Popolo. From there, take the high road towards the Piazza Di Spagna and the Spanish steps.  Continue on to the Trevi Fountain from where you should turn to the Via del Corso and the Piazza Colonna.  Nearby is the stunning (and often unseen) Piazza di Pietrawhere an ancient Roman Temple has been converted into the stock exchange. Onwards to Church of St Ignatius of Loyola which has the most spectacular Baroque ceiling, a false perspective which makes a flat roof look like a round cupola. If you love art, a visit to the Galleria Doria Pamphilj is also well worth it.

Next on to the Via Roma and the Pantheon. Take a quick turn to the back of the Pantheon to the Piazza Minerva where Bernini's little elephant and obelisk sculpture sits. Enter the St Maria Sopra Minerva Basilica, Rome's Gothic basilica -- again the exterior looks like nothing special but the interior is inspiring.  If you walk all the way to the altar you will find one of Michalengelo's earliest sculptures of John the Baptist (all free, and you can up close).

Walk now to Sapienza University of Rome (make a stop at my favourite coffee shop of Sant-Eustacchio), enter the gates to find the beautiful and very petite Saint Ivo Alla Sapienzahidden inside, a tiny white masterpiece of baroque.  Now onwards towards the famous Piazza Navona, see if you can find one of Rome's 'speaking statues', the Pasquino.  In the Square, the church of Sant'Angnese in Agona is worth a quick visit, it is Bernini's architectural masterpiece.

Day 3: Christian Rome

Begin your day at the Vatican Museums (must buy advance tickets). If you arrive in the first visiting slot, then skip the museum proper and dart straight to the Sistine Chapel (you can return to the museum later), this is the only way to visit the chapel without crowds, with enough space to really admire the paintings.

After visiting the Vatican, walk down the main avenue to the Castel Sant'Angelo. This is a great place to enjoy the sunset from. If it is too early, then I suggest a stroll through Trastevere to the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi and a climb up the Gianicolo (Janiculum) where you can find another gem,  Bernini's Tempietto. Alternatively, continue north on the river walk to the Ara Pacis and the Piazza Navona.

Day 4: Imperial Rome

Begin in the Capitoline Hill or Capitoline Hill which was Michalengelo's last project. Walk up the grand staircase and visit the Museum if you fancy it. More importantly, stay to your right and walk all the way to the back of city hall, at the end of the alley you will be greeted by one of the best views of the Roman Forum. Retrace your steps and return to street level on the left of the City Hall building.

Walk down the Via Forum Imperiali between the Trajan Forum and the Imperial Forum towards the Colosseum. If you like architecture, before entering the Colosseum, walk to the back towards the Via Labicana to visit the very early-Christian St. Clement Basilica. Buy a joint Colosseum and Forum ticket and spent some time visiting the amphitheater before walking back through the Roman Forum.  

From the Monument of Vittorio Emmanuelle at the Piazza Venezia, if you feel like another long climb, walk up the grand staircase of the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli Basilica, the facade is blank brick but the guilded interior and marbled floor makes this one of the most beautiful and most hidden Roman treasures. 

You can spend the rest of the day wandering in your favourite area or visiting some other sites, for example the super modern MAXXI Museum. Or you could just go shopping :)

In terms of restaurants,  La Tartaruga cantina (behind sant'andrea della valle) is one of my favs, been going for over 10years. A lunch sandwich at Aristo Campoin campo de fiori is a must for me, as well as baked goods from Il Forno Campo de' Fiori(across the street). Other options include Constanza hosteria at Piazza Paradiso, Pizzeria Remo in Testaccio, Nino at Via Borgognona, Osteria del Belli in Trastevere (great neighborhood for good traditional antipasti restaurants), and the Roman Jewish cuisine in Il Piperno and Ba'' Ghetto (amazing artichokes and courgette flowers!). For the best gelato, I recommend San Crispino by the chruch of Santa Maria Maddalena near the Pantheon.

Hope this information helps you plan! Feel free to reach out if you need any more info or details.

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Campo dè Fiori (attraction)
  2. Palazzo Farnese (attraction)
  3. Turtle Fountain (attraction)
  4. Marcello Theater (attraction)
  5. Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin (attraction)
  6. Bocca della Verità (attraction)
  7. Giardino degli Aranci (attraction)
  8. Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta (attraction)
  9. Trastevere (neighborhood)
  10. St Maria in Trastevere Basilica (attraction)
  11. Borghese Gallery and Museum (attraction)
  12. Piazza del Popolo (attraction)
  13. Piazza Di Spagna (attraction)
  14. Trevi Fountain (attraction)
  15. Piazza Colonna (attraction)
  16. Piazza di Pietra (attraction)
  17. Church of St Ignatius of Loyola (attraction)
  18. Galleria Doria Pamphilj (attraction)
  19. Pantheon (attraction)
  20. St Maria Sopra Minerva Basilica (attraction)
  21. Sapienza University of Rome (attraction)
  22. Saint Ivo Alla Sapienza (attraction)
  23. Piazza Navona (attraction)
  24. Vatican Museums (attraction)
  25. Castel Sant'Angelo (attraction)
  26. Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi (attraction)
  27. Gianicolo (attraction)
  28. Tempietto (attraction)
  29. Ara Pacis (attraction)
  30. Capitoline Hill (attraction)
  31. Roman Forum (attraction)
  32. Colosseum (attraction)
  33. St. Clement Basilica (attraction)
  34. Santa Maria in Aracoeli Basilica (attraction)
likes (9) thanks
answered first by
Christene from Kansas City (Missouri)

Even if you aren't catholic, make sure you go to the Vatican Museums. Just stand there and soak up the art and history. Rick Steves has an AMAZING walking self guided tour that will take you by all of the amazing hot spots. The best places I found to eat were the tiny little restaurants off the main square/away from the Colosseum...I don't remember any of the names, but family owned and quaint is best! I loved seeing the Trevi Fountain at night, same with the Pantheon. Though, I am a tremendous history nerd, so those were at the top of my list. Rick Steve's tour will guide you to all of those spots and tell you the historical significance! 

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Vatican Museums (attraction)
  2. Colosseum (attraction)
  3. Trevi Fountain (attraction)
  4. Pantheon (attraction)
likes (4) thanks
answered by
Marleen from Pasadena

When my sister and I arrived to Roma, we were given a 4 day explanation of what to do in Rome by our guesthouse keeper, Monica, who was amazing. Since we were staying by the train station, she started us out by making sure we ate dinner at Ristogrill Gallo Matto then make our way down to the Colosseum by night to see it completely lit up. This was our first night. The next day we were to go to the main train station (it was closest to us) and get the Roma Pass. It gave us free transportation and free or reduced entrance into everything we wanted to see for 3 days. Plus when you're there in the summer, the lines can be long; the Roma Pass allows you to skip the line. We used it immediately to skip the long line at the Colosseum and then we headed to the Roman Forum, and up to the Trevi Fountain. We ate dinner near there in a back alley spot that was absolutely delicious (Al Moro). Rome has a lot of hidden gems, don't be afraid to pick a restaurant if it looks inviting. The next day we went to Vatican City and spend the day around there going into the Sistine Chapel and the rest of the amazing Vatican Museums. Watching St. Peter's Basilica light up in the dusk is beautiful. The next day was spent up at the Spanish StepsTrastevere and all the beautiful Piazzas around Rome. Enjoy!

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ristogrill Gallo Matto (attraction)
  2. Colosseum (attraction)
  3. Roman Forum (attraction)
  4. Trevi Fountain (attraction)
  5. Al Moro (restaurant)
  6. Vatican City (attraction)
  7. Sistine Chapel (city)
  8. Vatican Museums (attraction)
  9. St. Peter's Basilica (attraction)
  10. Spanish Steps (attraction)
  11. Trastevere (neighborhood)
likes (3) thanks
answered by
Brett from Eindhoven

One semi off-the-beaten-path location in Rome I enjoyed visiting was the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi in Rome.  It's at the top of one of the hills, between Vatican City and Roma Trastevere, and offers some outstanding views over the entire city. I walked up to the piazza as I was heading from a morning in the Vatican over to Trastevere for lunch (some great little cafes there) and truly enjoyed both the walk (uphill and downhill) and the views.

Comments (1)

Totally agree with Brett, the walk from the Vatican to Trastevere along the Tiber is really nice. If you do go to Trastevere, head to Dar Poeta for some of the best pizza in town (it's a little hidden, but well worth the search).

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi (attraction)
  2. Vatican City (attraction)
  3. Roma Trastevere (attraction)
comments (1)
likes (3) thanks
answered by
Stef from Germany

Thank you very much for all your answers. They have been so helpful and I'm really looking forward to plan the trip to Rome. One more question: Is it worth it to buy a Roma Pass in your opinion?

Comments (0)

likes (2) thanks
answered by
Isabella from Florence

Even though I live here I always lose my breath when I see the Colosseum especially at sunset or at night when it’s lit up with lights. You should also try to see the Vatican City and of course the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Finally, you must see the Trevi Fountain where they say if you throw a coin over your shoulder you’re sure to come back! 

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Colosseum (attraction)
  2. Vatican City (attraction)
  3. Sistine Chapel (city)
  4. Trevi Fountain (attraction)
likes (1) thanks
answered by

Vatican Museums boast one of the world's greatest art collections. 

Roman Forum

Roman Forum was ancient Rome's showpiece centre, a grandiose district of temples, basilicas and vibrant public spaces.


Rome’s great gladiatorial arena is the most thrilling of the city's ancient sights. 

St. Peter's Basilica

In this city of outstanding churches, none can hold a candle to St Peter's (Basilica di San Pietro), Italy’s largest, richest and most spectacular basilica. 

Palatine Hill

Sandwiched between the Roman Forum and the Circo Massimo, the Palatino (Palatine Hill) is an atmospheric area of towering pine trees, majestic ruins, and memorable views.

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Vatican Museums (attraction)
  2. Roman Forum (attraction)
  3. Colosseum (attraction)
  4. St. Peter's Basilica (attraction)
  5. Palatine Hill (attraction)
  6. Circo Massimo (attraction)
answered by
Kathy from Deerwood

That is a complex question because there is so much to do and everyone has there own interests.   Mine is History.  All history regardless of politics and religion.   So here are mine:

1. Vatican City

I planned a whole day and then went back the next day.   All I can say is wow.    I would book a tour of the museum only.   This gives you a specific entrance time and minimal special lines.   I would not do a combo museum Basilica tour.    Because that tour leaves the museum to walk you through the Basilica and you can't get back into the museum.  It is such a zoo in the Basilica that I got almost nothing out of that part of the tour.  If you take just the museum tour you are still inside the museum when your tour ends and you can wonder around on your own.    What I don't know is how difficult it is to get into the Basilica on your own.

If you have months of planning (I didn't start early enough) you can get into a very special tour that takes you to the underground tomb of St Peter.   Like I said it must be schedule MONTHS a head of time.

2. Colosseum

Make sure you consider the underground tour.   More money, more planning and well worth being able to get through locked doors that the masses can't.   Gives you a gladiator point of view!

3. Forum of Augustus / Palatine Hill

Again Roman history, I can't get enough of it.

4. 7 hour City Tour of Roman with Miles and Miles

This is again a private tour.   We were picked up at our hotel and dropped off there.  It covered the things that are pretty far a field to bus / train to.  It also helped a lot because my mother was along and climbing on and off overloaded buses was not what she needed.  It was great.  We saw things like the Spanish steps, Trevi Fountain, Church of Santa Maria del Popolo (Angels & Demons church), Crypt of the Cappuccin Monks, a Catacomb.   The list of options is long and they customize it to what you are interested in.  Be careful not to waste too much time on lunch! (Tour guide Marco- the best!)

5.  Roma S.Pietro in Vincoli, or San Pietro in Vincoli Basilica 

This church house Moses by Michelangelo.    It is a little walk from the colosseum (uphill)  But it is an amazing sculpture.

We did not get the city pass and we ate on the fly a lot.  We did have a more authentic meal in the back alleys by the Piazza Navona

One last piece of advice.  Save energy to move around the city at night at lease once.   Everything is lit up and that makes it so much more special.

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Vatican City (attraction)
  2. Colosseum (attraction)
  3. Forum of Augustus (attraction)
  4. Palatine Hill (attraction)
  5. Roma S.Pietro (attraction)
  6. San Pietro in Vincoli Basilica (attraction)
  7. Piazza Navona (attraction)
answered by

Rome card is useful if you plan some activities around it. Try to localize your interests (Rome is a big city;), and see if you can save with Roma card. Time is a value!

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