6 Must-Do Things When You Are Visiting Rome For the First Time


A lot of people come to Europe to see the historic sites, enjoy the unique weather, or learn about the different cultures that exist in this region. Europe is home to over 200 languages, dozens of countries, and several religions. It also has a very long and complex history. It’s one of the most feature-packed locations in the world that you can visit.

Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy

If you’re travelling from outside of the EU, you can apply for a single Schengen visa and with that you’ll get to explore some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Travelling across Europe, you’ll learn about places that played a huge role in the formation of the modern world.

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

Of all the European countries, Italy is easily one of the most beautiful and Rome, its capital, one of the most popular cities. It’s a majestic city with a long history, plenty of culture and art, delicious food and a lot to offer to any visitor.

If you are planning on visiting Rome for the first time, make sure you don’t miss out on these attractions.

1. St. Peter’s Basilica

Rome is well known for its close association with Christianity and is one of the most important places in Christian history. It is the final resting place of St. Peter, who was chief among the twelve apostles of Jesus and was also the first Bishop of Rome. This location of St. Peter’s Basilica has both historic and religious significance for Christians the world over. And of course, the church is the heart of Vatican City, an independent state where the pope resides.  Even if you are not religious, this is a place  totally worth visiting.

St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Rome, Italy

2. Roman Forum

The Roman Forum, also known simply as the Forum, was a central part of the ancient Roman Empire. This area was originally a marketplace in the center of the city and later was converted into a space for government buildings and offices. Today it is home to the ruins of some of the main government buildings of the Roman Empire. It is a small area where you can go on a walking tour.

Roman Forum, Fori Imperiali, Rome Italy

3. Colosseum

The main attraction in the area is the legendary Colosseum, home of the gladiators and the venue for the gory games that the Romans were infamous for. If you are planning on visiting the Colosseum, then tickets to the Forum will be part of the package. It is generally quite busy, so getting Colosseum tickets online will not only make it easier to book your visit, but you will also save a lot of time that you’d otherwise spend standing in line. You can choose to explore the space on your own or get a guided tour. Also, be sure to check out the area outside the Colosseum, as that also is an important part of the area.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy - Mondomulia

4. Sistine Chapel

The Vatican Museum are the public museums of the Vatican City. The site is home to some of the most important bits of history in Italy. Among those features is the Sistine Chapel, which is well-known around the world for the Creation of Adam, one of the most legendary pieces by Michelangelo. In the museum, you’ll find some wonderful grounds where you can spend the day and have a picnic, and there are also plenty of other buildings to explore in this area, each having something unique to offer. The main theme you will notice is the art. The walls, ceilings, floors, steps, and every little bit of space are occupied with some form of art. Again, this can be a very busy place, so booking your tickets for a guided tour in advance will save you a lot of time.

Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, Rome, Italy

Photo by Calvin Craig

5. Spanish Steps

Located in the centre of Rome are the Spanish Steps. This is one of the most iconic locations in Rome and while it isn’t that old nor is it that architecturally amazing, it is a major tourist attraction. The area gets its name from the Spanish Embassy, which is located at the base of the steps. Near the top of the steps, you will arrive at the Trinità Dei Monti Church. If you enjoy taking pictures and are in need of a unique backdrop for your next masterpiece, this is the place to be. In the old days, artists would often gather here to draw, sketch and paint models on these very steps.

The Spanish Steps and Barcaccia Fountain in Rome, Italy

6. Eat Gelato

One of the things to do in Rome is eat! The climate is quite warm in Rome, and it is therefore not surprising that one of the most sought-after desserts in the city is gelato. Italy is the birthplace of gelato ice cream and Rome is full of amazing gelato shops. My personal favourites are Rome’s oldest ice cream parlour, Giolitti, Otaleg in Trastevere and Fata Morgana (several locations across Rome). One of the most popular flavours is the traditional Bronte pistachio ice cream – contrary to popular belief, real pistachio ice cream is actually supposed to be light brown and not bright green. Don’t forget that whipped cream as a gelato topping come for free in Rome, so make sure you ask for it! You can find more tips in my Eating in Rome post.

Gelato ice cream at Otaleg in Trastevere, Rome

Other than sightseeing, there is a lot of entertainment in Rome and in Italy in general. From tasting fine wines and olive oil to going on scenic cruises across the Adriatic Sea, there is plenty to do here. Italy is also home to a nearly 5000-mile long coastline, so if you enjoy being by freshwater you will feel completely at home here.

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