blog_post_38

Top 5 Rome

Don't miss these top 5 sites in Rome. Some will surprise, and the absence of others will intrigue, but you definitely want to view this list before your travels.

Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

Tickets purchased at the Roman Forum grant access to the Colosseum as well and are good for 2 consecutive days. So, visit the Roman Forum the first day and skip the ticket line at the Colosseum the next. The grounds are beautiful, and on a nice day it’s such a fun way to learn about Roman History. We downloaded the free Rick Steves audio guide and listened as we toured the ruins.

Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, Rome

Colosseum

Get up early and head to the Colosseum to capture photos without the crowds, grab a coffee and croissant, then be the first in line for entrance to the arena. We downloaded the Rick Steves audio guide to direct us as we explored the arena. It was free and informational.

Colosseum, Rome - Arrive early to avoid long lines

Biking Appian Way

Get outside the city and explore the ancient road. This was a family highlight of our time in Rome. The road is bumpy and uneven so a bit of mountain biking experience wouldn’t hurt (it is thousands of years old afterall). However, there are dirt paths along the road that many a tourist has taken. Along the road, there are multiple stops where you can explore ruins and enjoy endless photo opportunities. 

Along the road, there are multiple stops where you can explore ruins and enjoy endless photo opportunities.

Be sure to bring enough cash for your bike rentals and lunch along the way. We ate at the Appia Antica Cafe and rented bikes there as well. They only accept cash however, and we unfortunately didn’t bring enough so we had to ride into a nearby city to find an atm. On Sundays, the Appian Way is closed to vehicles making it the perfect time to enjoy the road with kids. 

On Sundays, the Appian Way is closed to vehicles making it the perfect time to enjoy the road with kids.

Depending on the day you visit, you could also stop and see the Catacombs of San Callisto (Thurs-Tues) or Catacombs of San Sebastiano (Mon-Sat) along the way. Be sure to confirm the hours before visiting. Both catacombs close in the afternoon for a couple of hours and during certain holiday weeks. We took the public bus from our flat near Piazza Navona, making this a fairly inexpensive but incredibly fun day.

Biking the Appian Way, Rome

Walking along the Tiber River at dusk

One of my favorite things to do in Rome was walk along the Tiber River at dusk, just as the street lights began to shine, music from local street musicians filled the air, and vendors unabashedly sold their wares. Each evening, I set out from our flat near Piazza Navona with our pup, Fletcher, and walked across Ponte Sant’ Angelo where a quick right turn would take me along the river and past some beautifully lit vendor tents and cafes. This nightly stroll remains as one of my most treasured memories of Rome, proving it’s not always the famous sites that make a location special.

This nightly stroll remains as one of my most treasured memories of Rome, proving it’s not always the famous sites that make a location special.

Crossing Ponte Sant' Angelo and the Tiber River, Rome

Easter service at the Pantheon

The Pantheon should be on your list of stops no matter the time of year but, if it is Easter and you don’t have a strong desire to see the Pope, attend mass at the Pantheon. This was another highlight of our trip. 

There were about 100-150 guests in attendance for the 1 hour mass, making it a wonderful retreat from the tourist laden city.

We aren’t catholic, and our girls were a bit bored with the service as it was entirely in Italian (there is a Saturday mass at 5pm for the European speaking language), but it was so beautiful to hear a cappella choruses while watching birds fly overhead through the Pantheon’s oculus. Who gets to do this? Once the mass began, doors were closed to visitors. There were about 100-150 guests in attendance for the 1 hour mass, making it a wonderful retreat from the tourist laden city. 

Easter service at the Pantheon, Rome

Honorable Mention

If time allows, these sites deserve your attention as well.

St Peter’s Basilica

Admission to St. Peter’s Basilica is free, however, if you would like to skip the long lines you will need to purchase a special ticket online to do so, or arrive well before the doors open. St Peter’s Basilica is stunning and the sheer size is mind boggling. 

St Peter’s Basilica is stunning and the sheer size is mind boggling.

We downloaded the free Rick Steves audio guide before visiting here as well. If you have time and are physically fit, you can pay to climb the stairs to the top of the cupola for amazing city views. 

St. Peter's Basilica, Rome

Piazza Navona

Our flat was near this piazza and it was so fun to walk through each day and see various street performers, musicians, and artists. The square was once a stadium and has three beautiful fountains and plenty of history. Grom, one of our favorite gelaterias was on the North end of the piazza, giving us an excuse to savor some pistachio or salted caramel gelato while we strolled through the square.

Piazza Navona, Rome

Trevi Fountain

If you want a great photo, I highly recommend waking early for this visit. At 6 am we had the fountain to ourselves, but just an hour later it was packed with tourists. The Trevi Fountain is beautiful and will not disappoint. It’s free and doesn’t take long to visit, making it an easy destination to work into your day. Don’t forget to toss in a coin to ensure your return visit to Rome.

If you want a great photo, I highly recommend waking early for this visit.

Trevi Fountain, Rome

Spanish Steps

We walked here early in the morning after visiting the Trevi Fountain, but I think these steps would be a lot of fun mid day with crowds of people. It seemed like a great place to grab a sandwich, rest your legs, and people watch.

Spanish Steps, Rome

Daily Stops for gelato, cappuccinos, and chocolate croissants

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. That’s way too many calories! But, seriously, you will walk them off in Rome so don’t be shy. Try to find cafes or gelaterias just off the beaten path offering lower prices and better quality.

Coffee at a cafe in Rome

If you’re wondering why I didn’t include some major sites you may want to read

Don’t do this in Rome

12 Tips for Rome

How Can I Afford to Travel
How Can I Afford to Travel
Apr 27, 2017
Which Travel Booking Site is the Best?
Which Travel Booking Site is the Best?
Oct 08, 2018
Airport Scavenger Hunt Cincinnati CVG
Airport Scavenger Hunt Cincinnati CVG
May 05, 2017
10 Travel Tips You Should Know Before You Go
10 Travel Tips You Should Know Before You Go
Apr 12, 2017