Visiting Rome is a must-do whenever you're traveling to Italy. This city is so full of history that you can easily fill a day or two simply walking around and taking in the sights. This self-guided walking tour of Rome will take you to many of the highlights that you absolutely must see. We also included our recommendation for the best gelato in Rome! Traveling tip: We found that the best way to do a walking tour of a city is to break it into at least two chunks. Start early in the morning, and take a break (or nap!) after lunch. This is when most businesses also take their mid-day siestas anyway. Head out for round two in the late afternoon to catch sunset and experience a bit of the nightlife. The key to making this all work smoothly is also to have your accommodations as close to the city core as possible, so plan accordingly.
Rome Walking Tour Map
A former Roman temple, the Pantheon is now a church in the heart of Rome. Our Airbnb was a 5-minute walk away from the Pantheon, so this is where our walking tour begins. It is the largest unsupported dome in the world. Perhaps its most fascinating design aspect is the large hole in the middle of the dome. The Pantheon is said to be the best preserved of all ancient Roman buildings. Entry is free.
2. Trevi Fountain
The next stop is the Trevi fountain, one of the most famous water fountains in the world. It is also the largest Baroque fountain in Rome, and it is very impressive to see in person. Expect a big gaggle of crowds at the fountain at just about any time of the day. If you manage to make your way to the water, throw a coin over your shoulder. It is said that doing so will ensure your return to Rome.
3. Spanish Steps
Up next are a set of impressive steps that connect Piazza Trinià dei Monti with the Trinità dei Monti church at the very top. There are 135 steps in this staircase. As for its name, these steps were originally created to connect the aforementioned church (owned by the French) with the Piazza di Spagna (owned by the Spanish). Since the Spanish Steps are public, they're open pretty much anytime unless they're undergoing maintenance. Heading here around sunset or evening time is great for photos.
4. Vatican City
This is a place that needs no introduction. Vatican City is home to the Pope and much of Rome's iconic artwork and architecture. Saint Peter's Basilica is the Italian Renaissance church pictured below. It's free to enter during daytime opening hours, but the lines will be long. Don't miss the Vatican Museum where Michelangelo's famous ceiling artwork of the Sistine Chapel can be visited. Note that the Vatican Museum does have a cost to enter, but you can make ticket reservations online.
Also known as the Flavian Amphitheater, the Colosseum is another iconic structure in Rome that can't be missed. Originally built as a 50,000-seat arena for hosting Rome's great gladiator games, the Colosseum still draws many tourists today. When visiting, you can walk around the impressive structure's exterior, or take a guided tour of its complex interior. This is another great place to be during sunset.
6. Roman Forum
Not far from the Colosseum is the Roman Forum. This sprawl of ruins once consisted of fancy temples, basilicas, and public spaces. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Forum also fell into disrepair. Today, much of its remains such as Platine Hill and the Temple of Caesar can be toured during your visit. Since it's a rather large structure, check out more details on the Roman Forum.
What to Eat in Rome
During our long weekend in Rome, we had our fair share of food whenever we could. Here are some of the typical Roman dishes we definitely recommend trying.
Cacio e Pepe
This dish is incredibly simple consisting of pasta, pecorino Romano cheese, and fresh black pepper. You'll see this dish on menus all over Italy, but it's definitely worth trying it in its place of origin: Rome.
Another popular pasta dish from Rome is Carbonara. It takes the base of Cacio e Pepe and adds egg and Guanciale (cured pork jowl). This is the classic Roman version of Carbonara; other variations substitute Guanciale for bacon and might add peas, mushrooms, and cream.
Best Gelato in Rome
There's a lot of gelato in Rome, but this by far was our very favorite. Funny enough, it was also located right next to our Airbnb, which is how we stumbled upon it. The flavors are fresh and delicious, and you can even see the gelato being made in the window. We really appreciated the natural flavoring of this gelato. Nothing tasted artificial.