Your dream vacation is finally about to become a reality? Congratulations! It’s now time to dig deeper and prepare your Rome bucket list. A poet once said that Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city, and I can’t agree more. The Eternal City has this dreamy, magical vibe that will enchant your soul and hold it forever.
I’ve been to Rome plenty of times. In fact, it is my favorite city in the world! I’ve experienced so many marvels there, and I can’t wait to share my Rome bucket list with you. Feel free to take whatever you want or even copy the whole thing. I can guarantee that completing it will be an adventure like no other!
Explore the Colosseum
Having the Colosseum on your Roman itinerary is a no-brainer. There are two ways to take the experience to the next level:
1) Get there at sunrise. As you can imagine, the Colosseum is crowded with people during the day. At the crack of dawn, however, there are only a few crazy guys (like me) who are there to hunt for the perfect photo. The morning tranquility, combined with the Colosseum’s grandness, is indeed a premium experience.
2) Get the Premium tour. While the regular tour will teach you a few curious facts about the place and nothing else, the Premium Tour will take you down to the arena and the underground cages. You’ll see where beasts and gladiators were waiting for their doom, and (the best part) you’ll do it after the Colosseum is closed and the other tourists are gone! Truly a Rome bucket list experience.
Take a sunset photo of the Tiber River
The Tiber River is one of the most legendary rivers in Europe. Find yourself a nice spot on Ponte Umberto I (or under it) and capture the magic of Rome.
Discover the Roman Forum
Situated next to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Rome. It consists of a vast area of ruins that includes political buildings, ancient temples, a market place, and the legendary Palatine Hill. It’s an unmissable place full of history and great photo ops.
Roam the historical center at dawn
Every European capital seems to have a stunning historical center. Nothing can compare to the Roman one, though. Flooded with tourists during the day, exploring the tiny winding alleys at sunrise is one of my favorite activities on the continent. Combine it with the fresh smell of Italian coffee, and you have the perfect travel experience. And speaking about coffee…
Have an espresso
If you’ve never tried the Italian espresso, then you’ve never tasted coffee. No matter where you buy it from, it’s like a gulp of angel ambrosia. I have no idea how they do it, but the aroma and the energy it gives you are unlike any other coffee I’ve tried.
Enjoy a sunset on Pincio Hill
Rome is one of the most romantic cities in the world. If you visit with your loved one, make sure to check the most romantic spot in the City of Love – the Pincio Hill. Get there at sunset, and enjoy a colorful panoramic view coupled with a street performer who certainly knows how to set the mood.
Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain
The legend says that if you throw a coin in the stunning Trevi fountain, you will return to Rome. If you throw two, you’ll fall in love with a Roman girl/guy. If you throw three, you’ll marry him/her.
Dropping a coin in Trevi is undoubtedly a Rome bucket list experience, and it looks like the legend is true since I keep going back again and again. I haven’t tested the two and three coin stories, though. If you have, please let me know if it works.
Pet some cats in Torre Argentina
Largo di Torre Argentina is a cat shelter situated on a historically significant spot – the square where Julius Ceaser got assassinated. The ruins are not that impressive, but the chance to make some new feline friends is a Rome bucket list experience in my book.
See Also: The Big Bad Italian Bucket List
Have an orange in the Orange Gardens
On my first visit to Rome, I was surprised to see orange trees all around the city. In my county, you can find oranges only at the supermarkets. The Orange Gardens will offer not only plenty of trees but also a lovely panoramic view of Rome. I’m not sure if eating the oranges is technically allowed, but the locals didn’t seem to have an issue.
Look through the Aventine Keyhole
The Aventine Keyhole holds the best view in Rome. I won’t spoil it for you, just to the Aventine Hill and look.
Go on a food tour
I haven’t seen someone who doesn’t rate Italian food. And the Italian food in Rome is at the next level! Stroll through picturesque Trastevere, get yourself familiar with the most popular dishes the Eternal City has to offer. Find the good gelato shops, make your own pizza and taste the local wine.
The easiest (and most fun) way to do it is via food-tour. I had a great time with this one, and I always recommend it to my friends. I suggest booking it on one of your first days. That way, you’ll learn how to distinguish the authentic food joints from the tourist ones and guarantee yourself the ultimate foody-vacation.
Eat gelato non-stop
Gelato is a bit like ice cream but better. Yes, there is something better than ice cream! It also comes with a million flavors. Just make sure you’re not buying near a famous tourist spot. It would cost you double.
Enjoy a Roman pizza
The Roman pizza is not the most famous pizza in Italy (the Naples one is), but, God, is it tasty. Again, try to find pizza places away from the tourist sites. If it’s full of Italians inside, you’ve hit the jackpot.
Those Italian sauces taste twice as good when they’re made in Italy!
Witness the Vatican at dawn
Yes, I know this is a Rome bucket list, and the Vatican is a whole different country, but there’s no way I’m leaving it out.
Make sure to have at least one day where you check the main square at the crack of dawn. The marvelous architecture, the marble columns, the St.Peter’s dome, everything looks like some fantasy book world when it’s free from the tourist crowds.
See the Pope
You can’t go to Rome and not see the Pope. And doing it is easier than it sounds. Just go to St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday or Sunday when there are open masses, and there he is. A bit in the distance, but you can definitely see him!
Get exhausted in the Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are one of the best museums in the world. Dedicate a few hours there since the collections you’re about to see are endless. Roman artifacts complemented by Egyptian ones, world renounced paintings and frescoes, and the cherry on the top – The Sistine Chapel. Which leads me to the next Rome bucket list experience…
Be amazed by the Sistine Chapel
The Pope’s private church is one of the most stunning buildings in the world. The first time I visit it, I spend more than an hour enjoying the outstanding Michelangelo frescoes on the ceiling.
The only downside is that it is always full of tourists. If you can afford it, I strongly suggest the premium early access tour or night tour. They are not cheap, but the pristine experience is more than worth it!
Get to the top of St.Peter’s Basilica
The last of our Vatican City adventures, the dome of the St.Peter’s Basilica, offers one of Rome’s most iconic photo ops. It requires a hefty 551-steps climb, but if you’re a photo enthusiast, you won’t regret it for a moment.
Check out Castel Sant’Angelo
Built for defensive purposes, the castle was later used as a residence to one of the Popes. Today it combines a lovely museum that displays all sorts of ancient weaponry and a stunning rooftop that offers a 360-degree view of Rome and the Vatican City.
Piazza Navona is the most popular square in Rome. It houses three beautiful fountains and is a favorite chilling place for locals and tourists (mostly tourists). The piazza is excellent for people-watching or enjoying a street performer show while having a slice of pizza.
Go inside the Pantheon
The Pantheon is one of the most famous buildings in town. Built more than 2000 years ago, it was converted into a Catholic church in 609 AD and still serves as one today. The Pantheon has a hole in its roof, and if you visit on a sunny day, you can see a beam of light that creates an awesome photo op.
Hang out at the Spanish Steps
The Spanish steps are another popular place to sit down and relax a little bit. They are named like that because they connect the Spanish embassy with the Trinità dei Monti church. It’s one of the best places in town for people-watching.
Take a walk around Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese may only be the third-largest park in Rome, but it’s undoubtedly the most picturesque one. It’s also home to the Roman zoo and one of the most famous museums in town – Galleria Borghese.
See the panoramic view from the roof of the Complesso Vittoriano
Located on Piazza Venezia, Complesso Vittoriano is a giant white building known as The Wedding Cake. It houses an art museum, a military museum, and serves as an Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland). Its most impressive feature, however, is the panoramic viewpoint on the roof. It’s a little bit expensive, but the vista is a must-have for your Rome bucket list.
Put your hand into the Mouth of Truth
Standing on the portico of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church, this 1300kg marble mask is a famous Roman attraction. The legend says that if you put your hand in its mouth and tell a lie, your hand will be bitten off. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work (haven’t tried it, though), but it surely makes for a good Instagram photo.
Check out the Pyramid of Cestius
Rome is not the city where you go expecting to see a pyramid, but when you find out there’s a totally authentic one there, you should definitely check it out. Built between 18 and 12 BC, Piramide di Caio Cestio is the only Egyptian pyramid in Europe and one of Rome’s most peculiar attractions.
Roam around the Capitoline Hill and see the museums
One of Rome’s original seven hills, the Capitoline Hill, used to be occupied with the temple of the prime Roman God – Jupiter. Today it’s covered by a Michaelangelo-designed square and Renaissance palaces that house the Capitoline Museums.
Get creeped out at Santa Maria della Concezione’s Crypts
This is indeed a creepy one. There are around 900 churches in Rome, but the Santa Maria church is not your average church because its crypt is decorated with the bones of hundreds of monks. If you’re into weird attractions – go for it; otherwise, you can safely leave this one out of your Rome bucket list.
Ride a Vespa
Get a Vespa and stroll through colorful Trastevere or explore all the ruins from ancient Rome. Riding a Vespa is the most Italian way of transportation. If you’re not confident in your skills, however, you may want to skip this one.
That’s all from me, I hope you enjoyed the absolute Rome bucket list.
If you haven’t planned your trip there yet, find out how I plan my trips!
I have 41 bucket list ideas for Italy. See my impossible bucket list of 1700+ adventures!
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