8 things to do in Rome

19 June, 2024|Destinations, Europe|
8 things to do in Rome The Travel Psychologist

By Dr Charlotte Russell, Clinical Psychologist & Founder

Known as the ‘Eternal city’, Rome really is a place that has and will stand the test of time. Whether you are looking to explore the city’s fascinating history or find hip places to have your photo taken, Rome has it all.

I’ve visited this beautiful city twice now – more than 10 years apart. It was my first ever city break back in 2008. All I can say is that it only got better, especially with a little more travel experience to get the most out of the trip.

Rome is perfect if:

  • You want the ultimate city break
  • You love exploring historical places
  • You don’t mind splurging a little

Without further ado here are my top things to do in Rome:

1.     Visit the Colosseum

Visiting the Colosseum is an absolute must when visiting Rome. It is one of the Modern Seven Wonders of the World, announced in 2007.  It is easy to see why; the sheer scale of it is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

The Colosseum stands as an iconic symbol of ancient Rome. Its grandeur and historical significance continue to captivate visitors from around the world.

Construction of the Colosseum began in the first century during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. The decision to construct this massive amphitheatre was both practical and symbolic. It showed the power and significance of the empire.

Unlike earlier amphitheatres, which were often carved into hillsides for support, the Colosseum stood as a freestanding structure of stone and concrete housing up to 50,000 spectators.


8 things to do in Rome The Travel Psychologist


When visiting it is essential to buy your tickets in advance and you will choose a specific entrance time. Your ticket will also allow you toc access the Roman Forum, Palatine and Imperial Forum for the following 24 hours.

2.     Have dinner and drinks Trastevere

Trastevere is a bohemian district in Rome with countless bars and restaurants. It is a pretty place to visit during the day but it really does come alive at night.

We found the food all over Rome to be very good but in Trastevere it was accompanied by a bustling atmosphere and a sense of the distinct coming alive once the sun set. This included street performers and the hustle and bustle of people out for a lovely evening.


8 things to do in Rome The Travel Psychologist


3.     Make a wish at the Trevi fountain

The Trevi fountain is one of the most famous and visited sights in the world and for good reason. It stands over 26 metres tall, and 49 metres wide – in other words, its massive!

It was constructed in the Renaissance period was Rome’s only source of water for over a century. The fountain later underwent a dramatic transformation in the early 18th century, within the Baroque period.


8 things to do in Rome The Travel Psychologist


It is tradition to throw a coin into the fountain when you visit- do this backwards and throw the coin over your left shoulder. This is said to ensure that you will revisit the Eternal city one day!


4.     Visit Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’ Angelo has a rich history having been a mausoleum, a Papal residence, a Fortress and a prison. It’s changing uses have reflected how it has withstood the test of time.

Today it is a museum and a genuinely interesting place to look around. We visited on a very hot September day and it was super-humid climbing all of the stairs. However it was totally worth it because the view over the city from the top was just breathtaking.


8 things to do in Rome The Travel Psychologist


As well as enjoying the views, there is a museum internally and some highly decorated rooms that you can explore.

5.     Eat at Ristorante Margot

Located in the Prati district, Margot Restaurant was our favourite meal in Rome. It also happened to be a stone’s throw from our hotel, more on this later. The restaurant which serves traditional Roman food with a modern twist. They have an outside area decorated with fairy lights, which was very pretty and romantic.


8 things to do in Rome The Travel Psychologist


If you are looking for other activities nearby, check out this guide from a fellow travel blogger Here’s Why Locals Love the Prati Neighbourhood in Rome

6.     Visit the Cat sanctuary

Located in the Torre Argentia, Rome’s Cat Sanctuary is a small but lovely place to visit. Regular readers will know I am a huge cat lover, so it was nice to be able to find out more about the brilliant work they do. Many of the cats have disabilities and you can see that they are well cared for.

You can visit each day from 12 – 4.30pm. Don’t plan to spend a lot of time here as it is a small place to visit, and during the day time it is likely that the cats will not be at their most active. You can make a donation or there are a few souvenir items you can buy in support.


8 things to do in Rome The Travel Psychologist


7.     Listen to live music at the Jazz Café

The Jazz Cafe Roma is a great little place with live Jazz music from 9.30-11.30pm each night. The musicians and singer performing when we visited were just fantastic and we really enjoyed the vibe. They served a good selection of drinks and dinner if you want to eat here.


8 things to do in Rome The Travel Psychologist



8.     Do some window shopping

Romans are known for their sense of style, so no visit to Rome would be complete without a bit of shopping or even some window shopping!

There is so much to choose from so check out the Best Shopping Streets in Rome Italy From a Local


Where to stay in Rome

I would highly recommend Domus Terenzio in the Prati district. This is a fairly small guest house in a much larger building, which is a common set up across Italian cities. We found the room to be beautiful and very spacious. Breakfast was plentiful with friendly staff. There is also a small courtyard garden which is lovely to sit out in the warmer evenings (which is most of the year round in Rome!).

The other advantage is that it is well located for evening activities. Margot restaurant is just around the corner and the Jazz café is around a twenty minute walk. Trastevere is around a 40-minute walk or a short taxi ride.

Domus Terenzio is very close to the Vatican so is a good choice if you plan on visiting. We navigated mainly by walking or using buses to attractions which were further away (including the Colosseum). It was easy to navigate the buses using google maps and you can buy a 48-hour travel pass which is valid across the buses and metro system.

Last but not least..

If you are feeling hedonistic – eat some delicious pizza. You really will be blown away but the quality here. I am usually not a big fan of pizza, but even I could get on board with a slice or two here!

If you want a sense of accomplishment – wear your step-counter and as you will be a lot of exploring in Rome. There is just so much to see!

Reasons to be optimistic – I’m a huge fan of city breaks because of how they can help us recharge our curiosity when we are feeling a bit stagnant and need a break from our routine. Rome really has got so much interesting history and beautiful architecture. I’m sure you could always find more to explore and learn, even if you’ve visited many times before.

Please note our destination guides provide personal recommendations and not professional advice