For some people it’s the beaches, for some the food, others are curious about a different culture and for some about the history of a place. Many like to travel for a combination of all of these. If you are one of the latter, you will appreciate our top reasons to visit Rome.
Rome is one of those travel destinations that you will hardly forget. Once back home, it will suffice to sip an espresso or watch a movie set in the eternal city to make you want to go again. Rome is unique, and in this article, you will read what makes it an unforgettable experience and a must-see destination.
Is Rome worth visiting?
If Rome is one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe and the world, there must be a couple of good reasons. I think Rome is absolutely worth visiting. The eternal city never fails to impress, surprise, and bedazzle.
Whichever neighborhood you will visit, you will be surrounded by art and history literally around every corner. Wherever you will stop for lunch, your food will be delicious, and if you feel like gelato, you are sure to find a great one all year round.
Rich culture, the enviable dolce vita lifestyle, and the pride of an ancient world capital make a visit to Rome always a wonderful experience that somehow travelers like to repeat over and over again.
Why visit Rome? Our top reasons to travel to the Eternal City
There’s art and culture everywhere
If not the richest, Italy has one of the richest cultural heritages in the world. Rome boasts a huge collection of artwork and Romans hold on to it with pride. Museums, galleries, old villas and palaces, Rome will give you a hint of how was the life of its old noble families also through their artwork-rich residences, some turned into museums, most still private.
It has a long history
An ancient and important imperial past is always among the reasons to visit Rome. Set in countless movies and TV shows, ancient Rome is the birthplace of one of the most important ancient civilizations. Heart of the biggest empire of their time, Rome has been home to emperors, poets, warriors, and the birthplace of war strategies, marketing techniques (Panem et circenses!) and advanced urban planning.
The role Rome has played in history has been so crucial that UNESCO included its city center in the World Heritage List.
It’s an open-air museum
Wherever you look, you find art and ancient ruins. While some are ticketed, there are many sites you can see by simply walking on the street. If you are spending only one day in Rome and don’t want to miss the vestiges of the ancient city, take Via dei Fori Imperiali from Piazza Venezia and view the whole site of the Imperial Fora from above.
From Piazza Venezia, you can also see the facade of Trajan’s Markets and the emperor’s forum, while if you climb Capitoline Hill and go behind the Capitoline Museums, you will have a wonderful view of the Roman Forum from above.
If you are into Renaissance and Baroque art, take a stroll around Rome’s Centro Storico and you will be surrounded by masterpieces.
There’s plenty to do for free
There are so many things to do for free in Rome that if you are traveling on a budget, you won’t need to give up on having an interesting and culture-full holiday. By walking around the different neighborhoods, you will be surrounded by art and history, and it’s all free. Visiting a park in Rome is free of charge and all the main public gardens were founded as notable mansions so boasting a long history and several artworks.
Entering a church in Rome is free and all churches display important masterpieces from Italian painters, sculptors, and architects. Even strolling along the river Tiber is a free activity and only crossing its bridges is a full immersion in the city’s art and history. The list goes on and potentially, in Rome, you can do plenty for free or by spending very little.
Admire its wonderful architecture
Roman architecture is like no other architecture. Imposing yet elegant, majestic yet sophisticated. A style that has been influenced by the different periods of history, starting right from imperial times, and carrying on during the Renaissance and Baroque ages.
Alongside palaces and noble residences, Roman urban development and planning are constantly studied and referred to, and its famous aqueducts are still in use.
It has gorgeous squares
Rome is full of stunning piazzas that behold a long and interesting past as well as display valuable art masterpieces. If you want to blend in with locals, experience the piazza lifestyle, sit on a bench, and do some people-watching maybe while enjoying artisan gelato from the nearest gelato shop.
Whatever your expectations are, I’m pretty sure Rome’s squares will meet and exceed them. Do you want to visit large squares? Think Piazza Navona and Piazza del Popolo, scenic and packed with artwork. Are you more into local, intimate piazzas? Head to Piazza Testaccio or to Piazza Mattei in the Jewish Quarter.
In the lively and always-packed Piazza di Spagna, you can admire the monumental Spanish Steps staircase on one side and the glamorous surroundings of the most exclusive shopping streets on the other.
Its fountains are art masterpieces
From Bernini to Giacomo della Porta to Maderno, the fountains of Rome are the works of important Italian artists. Sculptors and architects have collaborated throughout the centuries to make Rome the gorgeous city that we can see now.
Artistic and monumental fountains have been built for specific reasons. Some were meant to be a celebration of the end of ancient aqueducts, such as the Trevi Fountain as the end of Aqua Virgo or Fontana del Mosè as the end of the Aqua Felix water system. Others were commissioned to give a boost to notable clans and for this reason, their crests were carved in the fountain.
Tuck into delicious food and wine
Eating, too, in Rome is quite affordable. Many restaurants offer an unlimited buffet for lunch, usually on weekdays. Near Campo de’ Fiori you can try different delicacies in small bites at Supplizio (Via dei Banchi Vecchi 143), one of Rome’s top street food places. At Margutta (Via Margutta 118), one of the most popular vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Rome, you have a brunch on weekdays with soup, one buffet plate, bread, water, and cake or fruit salad for 15€ per person.
Always more restaurants are also serving the pre-dinner aperitif in the form of an unlimited buffet. Usually, it starts around 6.30 pm and until 8 pm and prices range from around 10€ per person, one drink included. If you are used to an early dinner, this is perfect for you.
Enjoy artisan gelato
Among the most delicious reasons to visit Rome, we can’t possibly forget the gelato or Italian-style ice cream. Even though falling in the above food category, gelato deserves its own space. With different flavors, shapes, and ways to enjoy sweet creams, you can find great gelato in many places in Rome.
Try Gelato San Crispino near the Trevi Fountain or Fatamorgana in several neighborhoods in Rome, La Romana in Piazza Cola di Rienzo and Via Ostiense, where they pour some liquid chocolate in your cone before the ice cream scoops or GROM in their many shops across the city and where flavors change every season.
It has beautiful street art
You are never too far from a beautiful mural in Rome. Whether it is the historic center or the lesser-known district, street art projects are taking over the eternal city. From the Quadraro neighborhood to Ostiense to Tor Marancia, street art is quickly imposing itself as one of the trendiest reasons to visit Rome.
Among the newest projects, Pop Stairs was a pleasant surprise. Here street artist Diavù painted a portrait of famous actresses such as Ingrid Bergman and Michèle Mercier or the Italian Anna Magnani and Elena Sofia Ricci on different stairs around Rome.
Whether you want to take a selfie or snap postcard-worthy pictures, ideally all corners of Rome are a great subject for photography. Famous Rome landmarks like the Colosseum, Saint Peter’s Square, and the ancient aqueducts are among the most photographed sights, but narrow alleys, secret passageways, and forgotten courtyards make as well charming Instagrammable spots.
There are several panoramic viewpoints in Rome, but really, you don’t need to go for a long climb or book a table at an expensive rooftop restaurant because the city is a treasure trove of gorgeous views.
You are inside a movie set
Countless movies have been shot in Rome. Among these are American famous moving pictures such as Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts, and Angels & Demons starring Tom Hanks. Some of the popular Italian films set in Rome include Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and Vittorio De Sica’s Ladri di Biciclette (Bicycle Thieves).
Of course, that’s not all. TV series and movies are being shot every day in Rome. Only recently, we drove to the city center and several streets were closed because a movie company was setting up the scenes. A few months earlier, an Italian TV movie was being shot in Piazza della Minerva near the Pantheon. This happens on a daily basis around the beauty of Rome.
There is something for everyone
Are you a history buff? Ancient Rome is there to be explored. An art enthusiast? You can pick your period and style among medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, or modern and contemporary art.
Are you traveling with your family? You can easily navigate Rome with a baby, enjoy the eternal city with a toddler, and book plenty of exciting activities for children, kids, and teenagers. From specifically tailored tours and experiences to interactive activities and museums, your kids will love Rome.
It’s very green
Apart from the long tree-lined roads, thanks to its beautiful parks, Rome is one of the European cities with the largest green area. Strolling in a park in Rome doesn’t only mean immersing in nature but also delving into the local culture and history.
Most of Rome’s parks were built as noble villas and this is why they are decorated with statues, beautiful fountains, monuments, and gardens, and are usually home to one or more notable palaces. In Villa Borghese, you will see Galleria Borghese, now an art gallery but originally the residence of the Borghese family. Villa Torlonia hosts several mansions such as Casino Nobile formerly inhabited by the members of the Torlonia family.
Great fashion shopping options
Let’s face it, Italians know a thing or two about clothes and fashion. The “Made in Italy” signature is held with pride and trust. In Rome, head to Via del Corso or Via Nazionale for some trendy and affordable shopping, or Via dei Condotti facing Piazza di Spagna if you feel like forking out good cash. Here you can spoil yourself with some exclusive brands such as Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, or Bulgari among others.
Lesser-known streets, lesser-known brands. Sometimes small alleys hide some true fashion pearls that will leave you as happy as bigger brands.
⇒ Need help packing? Check out this packing list for Europe
It’s the capital of Christianity
Although Rome has always been the home to emperors and their pagan gods, when Christianity arrived, the followers of the new religion refused to worship them. After years of persecution, in 313 Constantine, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, issued the Edict of Milan ordering tolerance towards the new faith, while in the 4th century, Rome became the kingdom of Christianity.
Today religion and faith are certainly among the most important reasons to visit Rome and exploring the Vatican is one of the major things to do in the eternal city. Here are Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, his beautiful sculpture La Pietà at the entrance of Saint Peter Basilica, and the Cupola (Dome), while the Colonnato (Colonnade) is the work of architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. If you are into history, go down below the Basilica and visit the ancient necropolis where the remains of Saint Peter are kept.
It has beautiful weather
Rome is blessed with mild weather. This is why all seasons, with their own highlights, are good to travel to the Italian capital. In wintertime, you can enjoy the Christmas festive atmosphere in Rome with lights, markets, and events for New Year’s Eve. April 21st is Rome’s birthday, turning 2776 this year, yet looking always young.
During summer, Rome is quite hot but still packed with tourists. If you can choose, pick another season to avoid soaking in the crowd. Autumn is a lovely time to visit Rome, with its romantic light, falling leaves and not-so-hot weather anymore. Whether you travel to Rome in November or in April, any season is a good season to visit the eternal city.
It’s not that expensive
Compared to some other European cities, Rome is not that expensive. Accommodation options vary in price and type. You will find both luxury hotels for 1.500€ per night and B&B or guesthouses for around 50€. Depending on the season and obviously the neighborhood, prices will be very different.
Transport-wise, taxis are pretty costly, while Rome’s public transport is not expensive. A single ticket lasting 100 minutes costs €1.50 and it’s valid for a metro ride, a train ride and as many bus rides as you can fit before the minutes expire.