rome tours

Rome tours: what are the must-see sights? There are hundreds of great museums in Rome, and the time in the city is never enough. 

Here’s a list of the highlights that you should include in your itinerary, mostly if it’s your first time in the city. 

1. The Colosseum

"rome tours

The most famous amphitheater in the world is a must-see. While almost all tour companies provide Colosseum Tours, there can be a big difference between the products.  

Try to book a tour that includes also the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. They’re included in the Colosseum ticket, and they’re amazing archaeological sites. 

Many travelers who book a Colosseum tour end up liking the Forum and the Palatine even more than the Colosseum. 

If you can, buy a tour that allows you to have access to the arena and the underground of the Colosseum; you’ll have a richer experience. 

But, if the tickets for these areas are sold out, don’t panic: you can see both the underground and the arena from above. 

It’s more important to get the “right” guide with the “right” tour company rather than choose a company that you like less just because they have tickets to the underground.

A good guide will make you forget that you have not visited the underground; a bad guide won’t do a good job even if he takes you everywhere. 

If you’re traveling in the summer, book your tour in the morning (8.30 or 9.00) or in the afternoon (3.00 or 4.00 pm)  to avoid the hottest hours of the day. 

2. The Vatican

rome toursThe Vatican is one of the most fascinating places in the world, and it’s a place that you should include in your Rome tours list if it’s the first time you visit the city.

Most Vatican tours include the Vatican Museum highlights, the Sistine Chapel, and the Basilica of St. Peter’s, and they last about 3 hours. 

Some companies include the Raphael Rooms too. They’re gorgeous, but they can get extremely crowded during the high season (from April to October). If you’re traveling during the hottest months, it’s better to skip them; you’ll be back in the wintertime and enjoy them fully!

Keep in mind that it will be impossible to see JUST the Sistine Chapel: you have to go through the whole museum to reach it as there is no direct access. 

Even if that is the most famous highlight, th

e rest of the museum is also amazing, so don’t rush to the Sistine but enjoy the whole experience. 

Did you know that you can visit the Basilica of St. Peter’s for free? But, there is no skip-the-line service, so unless you go at 8.00 or 8.30 am, you will find very long lines. 

Tour groups have the privilege of going from the Sistine Chapel to the Basilica of St. Peter’s directly skipping the line. Keep that in mind when you book a Vatican tour: you’ll save a lot of time. 

The best time to book a Vatican tour is early in the morning, from 7.30 to 8.30 am. 

Later, the museum becomes much more crowded and hot. Most rooms don’t have air conditioning, so it’s definitely a great idea to go early. 

If you have already seen the Basilica of St. Peter’s, or if you’re not interested, then you might consider booking a tour in the late afternoon, at 4.00 pm, for example. The Basilica is usually not included for later tours, but the museum will be much more pleasant than at 10.00 am or 2.00 pm. 

When you book a Vatican tour you need to consider a very important fact: it can be really, really crowded, hot, and uncomfortable. We recommend you visit the Vatican in January, February, March, November, and the first half of December. It will be much more pleasant. 

3. Piazzas and fountains

rome tours Most tour companies provide walking tours of the main piazzas and fountains in Rome. 

Usually, the tours include the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and Piazza Navona. 

The Pantheon requires an entrance ticket. Make sure that the tour you book includes that since it would be a terrible shame to miss the inside of such a gorgeous building. 

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the Trevi Fountain is usually shut down until 11.30 am or so for cleaning. Make sure that your guide will show you the fountain when the water is running, so you can throw your coin and – as the tradition says – come back to Rome. 

All of these sights will be crowded; if you’re traveling during the high season, it’s better to see them in the morning (starting around 8.30 am) or in the afternoon (from 4.00 pm on). 

4. Trastevere and Jewish Ghetto

rome tours

Trastevere is a charming, lively neighborhood across the Tiber River. It’s a very medieval-looking area, full of old churches and fascinating corners. You should make time for it and include it among your Rome tours. 

Most companies provide walking tours of Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto. That’s a great combination since the two neighborhoods are close, and have a lot of history in common. 

In between the two areas, you will also see the Tiber island, which offers breathtaking views of the Tiber. 

Both the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere are full of restaurants. In the Ghetto, you can have some unique Jewish-Roman dishes, which are the result of the contamination between several Jewish traditions and Roman cuisine. 

In Trastevere, there are lots of nice bars and restaurants as well, and it’s the perfect place to have an aperitivo before dinner, followed by a big pasta dish. 

Therefore, we believe that you should book your tour at 5.00 or 6.00 pm so that you can finish by dinner time (Italians don’t eat before 8.00 pm, and most restaurants won’t open until 7.30 pm). 

Borghese Gallery

5. The Borghese Gallery

The Borghese Gallery is a marvelous, small museum full of masterpieces by Bernini, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, and many other famous artists. 

The collection is hosted in a gorgeous Renaissance building in the Borghese Villa, the most fascinating park in Rome’s city center. 

You can combine the tour of the Gallery with a walk through the gardens, and explore one of the most charming parts of the Eternal City. 

The Borghese Gallery limits the number of guests per day very strictly; that’s why it can be really hard to find tickets. But, it is never too crowded, and you can enjoy the masterpieces in a very comfortable environment. 

Make sure you book your tour at least one month in advance; it’ll be almost impossible to find last-minute tickets. 

We always recommend choosing a private or tailored tour rather than joining a big group when you book your tours in Rome. 

Even if they are usually more expensive than group tours, you can ask your tour designer to tailor your itinerary around your needs, including pick up a your hotel or transportation, and you can choose the starting times. 

Also, if you have a guide just for you, you can ask all the questions you want, go at your own pace, and have the guide’s undivided attention. 

Contact us for more info about private tours in Rome!