Rome Sightseeing Guide

Sightseeing at the Tempio di Ercole Vincitore in Rome

Tempio di Ercole Vincitore (Temple of Hercules Victor)

Visitors to Rome often make the mistake of trying to see and do "everything" during their trip. Two thousand years of rich and diverse history means this just isn't possible, so it's important to plan ahead and prioritise in order to make the most of your visit.

It's not just tourists who have trouble getting through it all: Rome's most cultured residents, and even professional guides, have lists of sites and museums they've not yet had a chance to visit, and regularly discover new things to do in the city. This diversity and richness makes Rome an exciting place to visit or to live in (and an important hub of academic study), but it can be a little overwhelming for the casual tourist.

"Rome reminds me of a man who lives by exhibiting to travellers his grandmother's corpse."

James Joyce had a less enthusiastic take on Rome's attractions

Once you've accepted that you won't see everything, make a shortlist of sites that you particularly want to visit, and be sure to leave plenty of time for simply wandering around, which is one of Rome's greatest pleasures.

Bear in mind the weather too: in July and August, the heat can make walking around Rome slow and tiring, so leave gaps for rest in your schedule, and don't plan too many activities during the hottest part of the day.

Once you've put together your shortlist, try not to worry too much about the places that don't make the cut. You can always come back to Rome next year...

Using these pages

The menu on the right (or below if you're on mobile) has a list of some of Rome's most famous sights, or you can see our guides to churches and museums and art galleries.

The difference between the city's sites isn't always so clear cut: some of the best artworks are displayed not in galleries but in churches, many of the ancient buildings have churches tucked into their corners, while museums are often arranged around archaeological sites. We've tried to categorise each location according to what it's best know for (for example, you'll find the church of Santa Maria ad Martyres listed as the Pantheon). If you don't see what you're looking for in one category, take a look at the others, or try the search box at the top right of the page.

If you'd like to browse Rome's sights a little more visually, take a look at our Rome sightseeing map. All of the main sights are marked on the map, and clicking them will take you to the relevant information pages.

Things to do outside Rome

If you you want to get out of the city during your visit, there's plenty to see in the countryside around Rome, including Tivoli, Ostia Antica (the ancient port) and Ostia Lido (the beach). If you just want to get away from the noise and rush of Rome city centre for a while, then take a stroll around the Villa Borghese gardens, or along the ancient Appian Way.

Hiring a tour guide

There are a lot of tour guide companies in Rome. Some are very, very good; others aren't worth your time, let alone your money. See our page on tour guides in Rome for more information about what to consider when looking for a guide, along with a couple of recommendations.