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Rome - Top Ten Attractions (The Classics)

Apr 23, 2012  What we love about Rome
4.5 of 5 bubbles based on 13 votes

Having visiting Rome quite a few times over the years, we decided to create a personal Top Ten (Classic) list based on the attractions that we have most enjoyed spending time during our visits to the city.

This is a personal list that will not be consistent with everyone else. It simply reflects which of the classic attractions in Rome we have enjoyed most during our trips there, something we hope will prove helpful to others in researching and planning their own travels to the city.

Inclusions in our list are arranged by their similarity and not in a favourite-to-least favourite or chronological order.

Rome Top (Classic) Attractions

1.) Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (Ancient Rome)
2.) Castel Sant Angelo (and Ponte Sant Angelo)
3.) Vatican Museum (and Sistine Chapel)
4.) St. Peter's Basilica
5.) San Giovanni in Laterano (The Mother of All Churches)
6.) Santa Maria della Vittoria
7.) Trevi Fountain
8.) Piazza Navona
9.) Pantheon
10.) Galleria Borghese (The Queen of Private Art Collections)

We have written reviews for each of these attractions during our recent trips to Rome. These reviews (w/pictures) can be viewed below if useful.

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Rome, Vatican City
  • Category: Perfect day
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Shopping, Active/Outdoors, Never been before, Repeat visitors
  • Appeals to: Business travelers, Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Families with small children, Families with teenagers, Large groups, Seniors, Students, Budget travelers, Active/adventure, Tourists, Pet owners
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Colosseum (One of the World's Awe-Inspiring Sights)
    Colosseum, Rome, Lazio

    Click the above link to read our review of the Colosseum. This review provides some tips for how to best visit the Colosseum.

    History, Scale, Impact and awe-struck first impressions - few places on earth have the impact on first time visitors, like the nearly 2,000 year old Colosseum in Rome. This is the heart of what is referred to as Ancient Rome.

    Even now, when seeing the Colosseum, for the umpteenth time, it never ceases to amaze and impress me. How can anyone not be impressed when standing before this mighty and colossal structure, which is such an important and significant piece of our history.

    The Colosseum should be at the very top of your list of place so to visit in Rome, especially if you are a first time visitor. Hopefully you've time to spend wandering around the Forum grounds and Palatine Hill as well. Collectively, this makes an excellent way to spend 2-4 hours in Rome.

  • 2. Castel Sant Angelo (and Ponte Sant Angelo)
    Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, Lazio

    When you think of Ancient Rome, Castel Sant'Angelo should also come to mind.

    Before the Vatican, St. Peters Basilica and the many lovely piazzas, statues and fountains that sprang up in Rome during the Baroque and Renaissance periods, there was Castel Sant'Angelo. This attraction has a long and important role in shaping Roman history.

    And don't pass up the opportunity to admire Ponte Sant' Angelo (Bridge) which has a very long history spanning back to Hadrian's time in the second century. It is such a a beautiful bridge to cross. In the 17th century, Bernini started on a project to put ten angelic statues on the bridge. While he only finished two of them, the rest were eventually completed and are now perfectly situated across this bridge to Castel Sant'Angelo.

    A very good way to visit Castel Sant'Angelo is to combine it with a visit to the Vatican and St. Peters. Because crowds are much lighter here, you can visit the Vatican and St. Peter's first and make the lovely walk towards Castel Sant'Angelo and the Tiber River along Via D. Concilizaione

  • 3. Vatican Museum (and Sistine Chapel)
    Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Lazio

    Click the above link to read our review for the Vatican Museum. This review includes some tips for how to visit the museum.

    The Vatican Museum, is one of the finest museums in the world. Some of the most important, famous and beautiful Renaissance period work by the Italian masters are housed here, including the iconic Sistine Chapel, The Last Judgement and Raphael Rooms among so many others.

    What is important is that you take the time to learn a bit about what you can see here and for you to slow down your visit once inside so that you can enjoy all that is on display here, not just the Sistine Chapel.

    The Vatican Museum is as good as it gets anywhere in terms of museum visits.

  • 4. St. Peter's Basilica
    St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Lazio

    Click the above link to read our review of St. Peter's Basilica. This review includes tips for how to visit St. Peter's Basilica.

    St. Peter's Basilica is another treasure in the Holy See (Vatican City) and Rome. It is one of the very finest and most important church in the world, a place all first-time visitors to Rome should make time to see, along with the Vatican Museum.

    It is one of those very special places, one that having visited many times in the past, we still intend to visit again, as often as possible in the future.

  • 5. San Giovanni in Laterano (The Mother of All Churches)
    Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome, Lazio

    Click the above link to read our review of San Giovanni in Laterano, which is also known as The Mother of All Churches.

    San Giovanni in Laterano is the ArchBasilica in Rome, placing it even higher on the pecking order than St. Peters Basilica in the Vatican City. This is why it is often referred to as the Mother of All Churches and its history is outstanding.

    Being founded by Constantine himself, it was the papal residency until 1309 and official coronations took place here until the 19th century. Thus, while St. Peters grabs most of the attention today, it is San Giovanni that was the Star of the Catholic World for most of the past sixteen hundred years.

    San Giovanni is not just about history. It is a magnificently decorated church with many beautiful things to see. Combined with a visit across the street to the impressive Scala Santa attraction, this is quietly a 'must-see' attraction for those interested in Roman and Catholic history and churches.

  • 6. Santa Maria della Vittoria (Rome's Hidden Gem)
    Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome, Lazio

    Click the above link to read our review of Santa Maria della Vittoria, which we consider to be Rome's best Baroque church visit experience.

    If there are any hidden gems left in Rome, this might be one of them. Not so highly publicized in the guidebooks, Santa Maria della Vittoria is one of our favorite Baroque church visits in all of Europe, making this one a 'must-see' inclusion during trips to Rome, particularly for those interested in churches, the Baroque era or the works of the master, Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

    Overall, Santa Maria dell Vittoria, while quite small by Rome church standards, is a high impact church on the 'wow' factor experience. It can leave you with a dropped jaw if you can appreciate what you are seeing here. This church is a true gift from Bernini to the city of Rome

  • 7. Trevi Fountain
    Trevi Fountain, Rome, Lazio

    Click the above link to read our review for Trevi Fountain where we provide a few tips on how to best visit this attraction.

    Micheangelo's Trevi Fountain might be the most easily recognizable fountain in the world and should be on everyone's list of attractions to see when visiting Rome.

    Yes, its very touristy and busy here. However, its beautiful, iconic and simply a special attraction in Rome and therefore must be seen when you visit the city.

  • 8. Piazza Navona
    Piazza Navona, Rome, Lazio

    Click the above link to read our review of Piazza Navona

    This is one of the most beautiful individual squares in Rome (if not the world) and should be included as very top attraction requirement for anyone making a list of to-do attractions and areas to visit in Rome.

    What most people love about Piazza Navona are the fountains. The Moor Statue and Neptune Statue, backed by beautifully painted buildings, are very camera friendly, helping visitors make memorable pictures of their time here and in Rome.

    Further, the Fountain of Four Rivers, one of Bernini's most intriguing works, anchors Piazza Navona as its centerpiece, and is a marvel of a structure. It comes with a history and story almost as good as the fountain itself. Collectively, these fountains make Piazza Navona simply great.

  • 9. Pantheon
    Pantheon, Rome, Lazio

    Click the link above to read our review of the Pantheon

    The Pantheon building commands your appreciation. It is more or less standing in place as it did after being designed by Hadrian, himself, in 126 AD. You just don't find a lot of ancient buildings this old in the first place, let alone ones that are still functional and in use, like the Pantheon in Rome.

    The interior of the Pantheon is impressive with inclusions such as the tombs of Carracci, Rapheal, and two former kings of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II and his son, Umberto I. You will find nice marble floor patterns and a huge freestanding dome, the largest in Europe.

    With such important history and a nice collection of things to see here, the Pantheon, easily makes it on most visitors 'to see' list in Rome.

  • 10. Galleria Borghese (The Queen of Private Art Collections)
    Borghese Gallery, Rome, Lazio

    Click the above link to read our review of Galleria Borghese, which we find to be one of the finest private art collections in the world.

    The Galleria Borghese is often called the Queen of private collections and for good reason. Here you find approximately twenty rooms, of various size, spread out over two floors, each featuring very special and impressive works of art and/or sculpture from the likes of Bernini, Caravaggio, Ruebens, Titan and Raphael. There are so many pieces of sublime excellence here, its difficult to process all that you are seeing. When you visit, just take your time!

    Overall, the Galleria Borghese is a magnificent attraction, well deserving of raving reviews which it so regularly receives. This is just one of those very special places and a very top attraction in the city of Rome, particularly for art and sculpture lovers.