Rome isn’t all stones, rocks and ancient sites. I mean, there’s a lot of that, and it’s fascinating, but there’s more to it than that.
There are a lot of cool things to do in Rome, but first you obviously need to experience what everyone goes to Rome for, and see the ancient history and monuments.
And then, there’s the food.
But then, that’s when you get to experience a more unique side to the city, and explore the cool things in Rome you don’t find in all the guidebooks.
One of the best ways to see all the attractions as economically as possible is with Rome Bus Tours. Click the link to check them out.
Cool things to do in Rome
Of course, you go to Rome and you want Colosseum tickets, to see the Pantheon and St Peters. If you want to know about them in a little more depth, then I’d totally recommend joining a tour. You can wander around them by yourself to save a few euros, which is what I did. But, it sometimes helps to have a bit more depth to what you’re looking at, right?
1. Check out the street art in Ostiense
Ooo you can’t beat a bit of street art in a city for some free entertainment, can you?
There’s faded marble and colourful facades on almost every corner in Rome, but it’s Ortiense where you’ll find the largest collection. Check out Pigneto and Quadraro for the highest concentration and the coolest murals there.
You could rent a bike to get round to see as many as possible.
2. Get your photo outside the House of the Owls
The Casina delle Civete is a surreal work of art. They don’t make houses like this anymore!
3. Explore the Coppede District
And if you liked the House of the Owls, then take a look around the Coppede District in Rome. Here you’ll find some really cool architectural wonders, that look straight outta the art of Gaudi in Barcelona.
How about some Tuscan turrets, liberty sculptures, moorish arches, gothic gargoyles and frescoed facades for your Instagram?
This hidden neighbourhood isn’t as popular with tourists yet, so get there quick, before everyone reads this blog and they’re queueing outside.
4. Get up and out before everyone else
Rome is one of the most popular cities to visit in Italy so it’s busy year round. If you’re going in summer though, you need to book your tickets early and be prepared for crowds.
Me in 2010 – those crowds!
And that was before Instagram…
One of the best ways to avoid them, and one of the coolest things to do in Rome, is to get up early when you have more of the city to yourself.
Get up and out when the sun comes up and head straight to the Trevi Fountain – one of the busiest spots in the whole of the city.
5. Look up at Galleria Sciarra
Just by the Trevi Fountain you’ll find the art nouveau building, the Galleria Sciarra. The courtyard was built in the 19th Century and was meant to be a shopping centre but is now home to some of the most beautiful offices in Rome, surely.
Well, from the outside anyway.
6. Tour the Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini
If you love to see how multimedia technology is used to bring old ruins to life, then you need to go on a tour of the Le Domus Romane. With buildings from the 1st to 4th C AD, your guided tour takes you round the hot and cold baths of the ruins. Light, music, visuals and audio show you what it would’ve looked like back in the day.
‘Palazzo Valentini’ refers to the 15th century Rennaissance villa, which was built on top.
7. Drink at the Eitch Borromini Rooftop Bar
Oh you can’t beat a rooftop bar, can you?
The Eitch Borromini Rooftop Bar has one of the best views in the city. You’ll need to book this hotel bar before you go, as thanks to the 360 views it’s a popular place. You can see St Peter’s, the Pantheon and Piazza Venezia from the comfort of your seat.
8. Go round the Stefano Rotondo
It was the first circular church in Rome and is absolutely beautiful inside. Definitely worth a look!
8. Venture into the Capuchin Crypt
Kinda awesome, kinda weird and kinda disturbing. This crypt uses actual human bones for decoration – even the lighting is made out of poor old souls’ skeletons.
The Crypt is beneath the Santa Maria della Concezione, and the bones you see are those of the deceased friars. All the body parts are grouped together, so you can pick your favourite pelvis, skull, or shoulder blade.
9. Photo the Aventine Keyhole and the Orange Garden
I love this. It’s just a keyhole shaped break in the shubbery that reveals a perfectly framed view of St Peter’s Basilica. Obviously very popular with the Instagram crew, so get there early.
Nearby you’ll find the Orange Garden – more great views over Rome from a quieter spot.
10. Go on a food tour
As you can imagine, there are lots of food tours in Rome to choose from. I really feel like you can’t beat a good food tour to help you understand a city.
You get advice and tips on the best places to see and eat and drink, and you get some food too.
11. Testaccio Market
There are loads of food markets in Rome, but the Testaccio Market is one of the best. Grab yourself a picnic and go and sit in the Orange Garden to eat it up.
12. Cycle or walk the Appian Way
The Appian Way is one of Italy’s most important roads and takes you all the way down to Brindisi in the south. You can cycle it but be prepared for a bumpy ride.
I wouldn’t suggest doing the whole thing (it’s take you a few days / weeks) but the section in Rome is a really beautiful way to connect with wildlife, and the Italian countryside.
13. Go on an Il Passetto tour
Go up the pope’s secret passageway (oo err) and explore the walkways that connect the important buildings in Rome. The elevated passageways link the Vatican City with the Castel Sant’Angelo. Definitely worth a look!