Top Must-See Rome Landmarks

Walk in history's footsteps with Rome's iconic landmarks!
Written By: Andrea Spallanzani
Reviewed by: Rick Orford
How & Why We Created This Article

This article has been written, reviewed, and fact-checked by Rick and I. We live in Italy and travel throughout the country to help you make the best choices for your trip. We wrote this piece to help you have the best trip possible on your next trip to Italy. Portions of this article have been written using assistive AI tools to help with tasks like research, spell-checking, grammar, and translation.

Last Updated March 11, 2024

In this article, you'll learn how:

  1. Rome is a must-visit destination with a rich history and stunning architecture, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  2. Top landmarks in Rome include the Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Museums, and more.
  3. To make the most of your visit, buy tickets in advance, arrive early to popular attractions, and respect dress codes.

Visiting Rome sometime soon and wondering what to see and do? Rome is a must-see for any traveler, whether this is your first time there. History abounds in Italy’s capital, which also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The buildings are stunning, and the streets are adorned with fountains and statues. If given the opportunity, you should check out this city. Visitor arrivals come from all over the world to explore this metropolis. Going there will be one of the highlights of your life. Rome is rich in historical sites and prominent locations. Exploring these locations will give you a deeper understanding of the city’s history.

Rome offers a wide variety of activities, whether you’re seeking something more daring or cultural.

  1. Explore the Roman Forum and Colosseum. For history enthusiasts, seeing these old remains is a must.
  1. Take a stroll through Trastevere, a lovely district noted for its winding lanes, brightly painted homes, exciting nightlife, and some of the city’s most incredible cuisine.
  2. Take a stroll or a bike ride alongside the Tiber River. Rome’s most stunning sites, including the Vatican City and the Castel Sant’Angelo, may be seen wonderfully by taking this tour.
  3. Savour some of Rome’s mouthwatering cuisine. Pizza, pasta, and gelato are some of the must-try foods.
  4. Discover the city center’s numerous baroque buildings, fountains, and squares.
  5. Go to a temple or a convent. Around the city, there are several well-known ones.

Top Roman For Your Next Visit

There are so many impressive destinations in Rome! Some of the most popular places to visit in Rome include:

1The ColosseumAncient Roman amphitheater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2The Roman ForumHistorical site with temples, government buildings, and ruins from ancient Rome.
3The PantheonWell-preserved Roman building with a remarkable dome and historical significance.
4The Trevi FountainIconic fountain where visitors toss coins for good luck, featured in movies like “La Dolce Vita.”
5St. Peter’s BasilicaMajestic church in Vatican City, known for its impressive architecture and religious significance.
6Vatican MuseumsRenowned art galleries housing priceless works, sculptures, and historical artifacts.
7Sistine ChapelFamous chapel with Michelangelo’s breathtaking frescoes, including “The Creation of Adam.”
8Piazza NavonaOval-shaped square with baroque churches, fountains, and a vibrant atmosphere.
9Piazza di Spagna & Spanish StepsA picturesque square and a staircase adorned with shops, connecting to Trinità dei Monti church.
10Piazza del PopoloStunning square featuring beautiful structures, monuments, and the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo.
11The CampidoglioOne of the seven hills of Rome, offering a panoramic view of the Roman Forum and Michelangelo’s Piazza design.
12Altar of the FatherlandMonument dedicated to King Vittorio Emanuele II, offering a panoramic view of Rome from the top.
13The Mouth of TruthAncient artifact with a legend: if you lie with your hand in its mouth, it will bite you.
14Michelangelo’s MosesA masterpiece statue of Moses created by Michelangelo, is located in the San Pietro in Vincoli church.
15TrastevereCharming district known for its winding lanes, colorful houses, vibrant nightlife, and delicious cuisine.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum is one of the world’s most well-known landmarks, receiving roughly 4 million visitors every year. And if you’re wondering what the number one must-see in Rome is, it’s surely The Colosseum. It is also one of the Ancient World’s Seven Wonders. The Colosseum merits a visit from every tourist. It is an ancient Roman amphitheater in the middle of Rome’s historic district.

The Colosseum was built between 70 A.D. and 72 A.D. They built it to impress the people of Rome and to celebrate Emperor Vespasian’s triumph over his enemies. It can accommodate up to 50,000 spectators and was the largest amphitheater of its time. Bearing the test of time, it’s one of the most remarkable buildings in Rome. 

Due to its central location, you can reach the Colosseum on foot from almost anywhere in Rome. The Coliseum is also conveniently located near a metro stop. You may access the nearby subway at the Colosseo stop, which is conveniently located directly in front.

Today, the Colosseum, visited by eight thousand people daily, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For this reason, if you want to visit the Colosseum, you must buy your tickets in advance and, even better, buy the skip-the-line tickets. If you don’t buy the tickets in advance, you might end up waiting in line for a long time. You may also look for the best Colosseum tours there, especially if it’s your first time visiting Rome.

The Roman Forum

The old city of Rome has a sizable rectangular plaza known as the Roman Forum. It served as ancient Rome’s political, ecclesiastical, and commercial center. The initial Forum was constructed in the eighth century B.C., but other buildings eventually took its place.

The Roman Forum was a neighborhood of impressive temples, governmental structures, and lively markets in the center of Rome, just a short distance from the Colosseum. It was the site of public speeches, legislative sessions, and religious rites.

The ruins of Rome offer insight into how ancient Romans lived. You can visit the Roman Forum, which was the center of political and commercial life in ancient Rome and is now a ruin, or the Palatine Hill, where the Imperial Palace once stood.

Tourists can visit the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Julius Caesar, the Roman Senate, and the Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum. All four monuments are steeped in history and provide a window into Roman culture.

Buy your tickets in advance to avoid long lines at the Forum and Colosseum. If you’re planning on visiting both attractions, you can purchase a combo ticket that is good for both.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon, one of the most important buildings in Rome, has been standing since its reconstruction around 125 to 118 AD. Today, it is the best-preserved Roman building in the world.

The Pantheon is famous for its beautiful dome. It was the biggest dome in the world until the dome in the Duomo of Florence was built in 1461. Today, it is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. The crown is made of concrete tiles with a diameter of 43 meters. 

The Pantheon was originally built as a temple for all the Roman Gods. In the fourth century, it was converted into a Christian church and has remained intact until today. Nowadays, it is still used as a church. Inside the Pantheon, you can find the tombs of two Italian Kings and the tomb of the famous painter Raphael. 

The Pantheon is free to visit, but make sure to arrive early in the morning to avoid the long lines at the entrance. 

The Trevi Fountain

trevi fountain

A short distance from the Pantheon is the Trevi Fountain. Visitors frequently toss pennies into the fountain, one of the most well-liked attractions. According to common belief, people who throw a coin into a fountain over their shoulder are rumored to have a ticket back to Rome.

Pietro Bracci finished the Trevi Fountain in 1762 after Nicola Salvi. The Aqua Virgo, one of the first aqueducts in historic Rome, is whence the fountain’s water originates. The fountain’s creator employed aqueducts to supply the water for this beautiful landmark, which has been renovated over the years.

In the 1960 Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita, actress Anita Ekberg enters the Trevi Fountain, making it famous for this reason. Today, authorities strictly forbid swimming in the fountain, and the penalties are severe.

St. Peter’s Basilica

The smallest nation in the world, Vatican City, is home to St. Peter’s Basilica. On the left bank of the Tiber River in Rome is where you’ll find Vatican City.

The church, which Bernini himself designed, is located in Saint Peter’s Square.

You must pass a metal detector security check to enter Saint Peter’s Basilica. Be ready because sometimes there are quite long lineups. Wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees as well.

It is one of the biggest churches in the entire globe and a well-liked tourist site. Emperor Constantine originally constructed the basilica in the fourth century, and several popes later rebuilt it. Construction on the existing basilica began in April 1506 and was finished in November 1626. One of the painters that created the current version is Michelangelo. The grave of Saint Peter is one of several significant religious relics housed in the basilica.

The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica is among its most recognizable features. The dome is so enormous that it can be seen practically anywhere in Rome’s heart.

The location of St. Peter’s Basilica is another appealing feature. It is regarded as one of the holiest sites in Christianity since it was built on top of what was formerly St. Peter’s tomb.

In addition, St. Peter’s Basilica is well known for its design and artwork. Some of the most exquisite works of art have been used to embellish the interior, including Bernini’s altar.

A must-see when touring Saint Peter’s Basilica is Michelangelo’s Pietà, a stunning marble sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding her dead Son Jesus.

Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums rank among the most well-known art galleries in the entire world. They are in Vatican City and are home to a fantastic collection of works of art, sculptures, and historical objects. In the early sixteenth century, Pope Julius II founded the museums, which were first made accessible to the public in 1771. Visitors to this fantastic location totaling 6.7 million yearly. Getting your tickets in advance is imperative to avoid waiting in excruciatingly lengthy lines at the box office.

For a good reason, these museums are well-known. Some of the most priceless works of art are widely distributed there. The sizable collection of Roman statues, the map gallery, and the tapestry exhibit are notable highlights.

Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel, located inside Vatican City, was built in the 15th century. Its name pays homage to Pope Sixtus IV, who commissioned its construction.

The chapel is famous for its Michelangelo frescoes. The wall of the chapel, in the middle of the ceiling, is dappled with paintings portraying images from the Bible. The most well-known of these images is the creation of Adam, situated in the middle of the picture.

The chapel walls are also covered with frescoes, including The Last Judgment, which Michelangelo painted towards the end of his life. This painting covers almost an entire wall and is one of the world’s most famous works of art. Critics and art lovers have praised the Renaissance ceiling for centuries. 

Keep in mind that taking photos inside the Sistine Chapel is not allowed. 

It will take you half a day to quickly visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine chapel; take note of this when you plan your trip to Rome.

Piazza Navona

One of the most well-known tourist destinations in Rome is Piazza Navona. The piazza’s oval shape results from its construction on the former site of Domitian’s stadium.

Numerous baroque churches, fountains, and street performers may be found on the Piazza. The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Four Rivers Fountain), the Fontana del Moro (Moor’s Fountain), and the Fontana di Nettuno (Neptune’s Fountain) are its three most famous fountains.

The Fountain of the Four Rivers, or Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, is the most well-known fountain in Piazza Navona.

Tourists and locals alike prefer to congregate in Piazza Navona. Amazing cafes, restaurants, and stores surround it. A must-see is a fountain at the piazza’s center.

Piazza di Spagna & The Spanish Steps

Just below the Trinità dei Monti church is the Piazza di Spagna, where you’ll find the famous Spanish Steps. The Piazza was named after the Palazzo di Spagna, which was the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican in the past.

The Spanish Steps are an outstanding flight of 135 stairs that connect the Piazza di Spagna with the Trinità dei Monti church.

Francesco De Sanctis constructed the Spanish Steps between 1723 and 1726. The lowest part of the Piazza was once home to a deep open well. At the base of the Spanish Steps is the Fountain of the Barcaccia, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s son Pietro. As with all Rome’s fountains, this one provides potable water.

In early nineteenth-century Rome, the Piazza di Spagna was a popular meeting place, especially among the city’s young intellectuals and creatives. The adjoining Cafe Greco was frequented by the likes of Gioacchino Rossini, Lord Byron, Richard Wagner, and many others.

This area has become one of Rome’s most popular shopping destinations. Here you can find flagship locations of the world’s most exclusive and prestigious labels.

Piazza del Popolo

Rome’s Piazza del Popolo is a famous destination. It was constructed in the sixteenth century and had various uses. It is now a popular location for locals and tourists due to its gorgeous structures and monuments. Beautiful nearby structures include the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo. You can find great works of art inside this church. In actuality, Bernini designed two Caravaggio paintings and the Chigi tomb. If you’re a fan, they filmed the entire scene from Angels and Demons here.

One of the many Egyptian obelisks in Rome is at the center of the Piazza.

Additionally, feel free to look at this map if you’re considering a vacation to Florence.

The Campidoglio

One of the seven hills upon which Rome was established is known as the Campidoglio. In ancient Rome, this was the site of the Temple of Jupiter, the patriarch of the Roman pantheon of gods. These days, you can marvel at Michelangelo’s original Piazza. The figure of Marcus Aurelius atop his steed dominates the Piazza. City Hall for Rome is located in the buildings around the Piazza.

You can also see one of the most stunning panoramas of the Roman Forum from the Campidoglio.

Altar of the Fatherland

They dedicated this enormous, stark-white monument in 1911. In the center is the statue of King Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy. Additionally, they erected the tomb of the Unknown Soldier here following World War I, and an everlasting light now burns in front of the memorial.

Although the building is pretty spectacular, the view from the top is the most significant part. After ascending several stairs, you may enjoy a breathtaking view of the entire city, from the Colosseum to the Vatican.

Another free sight to see in Rome is this. Again, as a symbol of respect, you must wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees even though entry is free.

The Mouth of Truth

If you walk five minutes from the Altar of Fatherland toward the river Tiber, you will pass by Marcello’s Theatre, another beautiful destination in Rome. Then you can continue walking a couple more blocks; you will arrive at the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. In this church, you will find the Mouth of Truth. This ancient artifact represents a giant face with its mouth open. According to the legend, if you are a liar and you put your hand in the mouth, the statue will bite your hand. Nowadays, it is a popular place for tourists to take photos with their hands inside the mouth of truth. 

It is another free attraction in Rome, and it is worth a visit. 

Michelangelo’s Moses

Five minutes away from the Colosseum is the historic church of San Pietro in Vincoli. In this church, you can see the antique chains that, according to mythology, imprisoned Saint Peter. The church is notable for more than just this, though.

You can find the Statue of Moses, another masterwork by Michelangelo, right next to the altar. Between 1513 and 1515, Michelangelo created this magnificent statue for Pope Julius the Second’s tomb.

We highly recommend you check out this masterpiece, as sightseers underappreciate it, yet it is free.


In Rome, it’s simple to pack a week or more with fascinating trips. You’ll discover something you like whether you enjoy modern art or ancient history. Enjoy the gorgeous architecture, mouthwatering cuisine, and welcoming residents of the city. Don’t let a vacation to Rome pass by without seeing some of these must-see sights.