Things To Do In Rome For A Week

By Go City Expert

Soak up the culture, discover the history and embrace the Roman lifestyle with our top tips on things to do in Rome for a week!

Are you planning a trip and looking for things to do in Rome? With 280 fountains, more than 900 churches and world-famous monuments spanning more than 2,700 years of history, the Eternal City is full of beautiful surprises. If you’re lucky enough to be staying for a week, look no further than our favourite top tips. However, you’d be well advised not to over-plan, and to leave some time to just wander and soak up the atmosphere in the piazze.

Day 1 – Guided tours

Why not use your first day to find your bearings? There are lots of different kinds of guided tour to help you orient yourself and make getting around during your stay that bit easier. Choose from hop-on-hop-off bus tours with audio commentary, excellent (and often free) guided walks, bike tours (with or without the help of an electric motor) and even segway tours. While Rome is well known for being a ‘walkable’ city, it’s also famous for being built on seven hills. If you are planning on cycling, a reasonable level of fitness will be needed! Once you have worked up an appetite why not choose a ‘trattoria’, a type of informal restaurant, and settle down to a traditionally Roman pasta dish of ‘cacio e pepe’ or ‘amatriciana’?

Day 2 – the Vatican

The Vatican is one of the must-see attractions for most visitors to Rome. Although the Vatican sights are always busy, you may want to plan your visit for a Tuesday, Thursday or Friday and to consider a fast-entry ticket. The museums are closed on Sundays except for the last Sunday of the month when there is free entry - and mind-boggling numbers of people. St Peter’s Basilica and its Necropolis, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums and the thousands of famous paintings and sculptures mean that you could easily spend the day here. If you spent a minute looking at each painting in the museums’ collections, you would have to stay for four years!

Day 3 – Ancient monuments

Follow in the footsteps of the Ancient Romans, starting with a visit to the Colosseum, the amphitheatre that is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Forum with its ruins of ancient government buildings and Palatine Hill with its views over the oldest parts of Rome, are only a short walk away. The Pantheon, the temple built around 120 AD by Emperor Hadrian, is another must-see landmark. Did you know that concrete was a Roman invention? The Pantheon has a completely unreinforced concrete dome, which is larger than that of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Day 4 – Ostia Antica

Although there’s more than enough things to do in Rome to keep you busy, there are also some great options for day trips. Why not check out the archaeological site at Ostia Antica, the ruins of Rome’s old sea port, just 30 minutes from central Rome? Wandering around the ruins, you’ll see the remains of homes, baths, docks and warehouses, as well as an amphitheatre and a small museum. Trips to other Italian towns and cities are also possible, including Florence, Orvieto, Naples and Pompei.

Day 5 – Museums

If you’re looking for a quieter, more reflective day, why not head to the Capitoline Museums and the Museum of Rome? The Capitoline is remarkable in itself, dating back to 1471, and most of the exhibits come from the city of Rome and relate to its history. Particular crowd-pleasers include the collection of classical sculpture and picture gallery with masterpieces by the likes of Titian, Tintoretto, Rubens and Caravaggio. The museum includes a famous sculpture showing Remus and Romulus being suckled by a she-wolf, part of the legend of Rome’s foundation. This image has come to represent Rome and can be seen around the city. There are many other captivating museums in Rome including Maxxi and Macro for modern art and the Museum of Rome, which has over time become primarily an art museum too.

Day 6 – Castel Sant’Angelo

Take in some fresh air with a visit to Castel Sant’Angelo, on the banks of the Tiber. Built in the 2nd century AD, it was originally designed as a mausoleum by the Roman emperor Hadrian. Over the centuries it has been used as a fortress, papal residence and even a prison, before becoming a museum in 1901. As you walk up the wide ramp into the castle, a statue of the archangel Michael appears overhead, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague of 590. The views from the Castle’s rooftop over the city are beautiful and it’s well worth leaving time for a stroll by the river and to explore the magnificent grounds.

Day 7 – Villa Borghese

Finish your stay with a visit to Villa Borghese. Although you couldn’t tell from the name, this is a fairly large public park, which houses a popular art gallery and other attractions. Tickets for the gallery have to purchased online in advance. Within walking distance of the park are the Spanish steps and the Trevi fountain, two other popular Roman landmarks. Tradition has it that if you throw a coin into the Trevi fountain, you will return to Rome. In fact, every night about 3,000 Euros are swept up from the bottom of the basin and donated to the charity Caritas, to provide services for families in need. This concludes our suggestions for things to do in Rome for a week. We hope that you have an amazing trip!

Continue reading


The Life of Gladiators in Rome

Roman gladiators are some of the most iconic characters in history and they have defined how we think of entertainment in ancient Rome. Their portrayal in films and through stories have turned them into archetypal legends who faced death on a daily basis – certainly something not to be taken lightly. The expectations of gladiators are incomparable to anything we see or do today, making their lives even more fascinating and yet inconceivable. We tend to associate gladiators with an image of blood, gore and brutality but we wanted to give them a bit more credit and explore the real history behind these characters to learn about what ‘being a gladiator’ was really like. The term gladiator is derived from the Latin gladiatores in reference to their weapon the gladius – short sword. Many historians believe the tradition of gladiator fighting dates back to the Etruscans who hosted the contests as part of religious rites of death. However, it’s been disputed that the contests were also to commemorate the deaths of distinguished aristocrats and wealthy nobles, forcing condemned prisoners to fight, with the act of combat and bravery representing to the virtues of those who had died. The sport of gladiator fighting ran for over 650 years – a proof of its popularity! Spanning throughout the Roman Empire it was a fixture in the Roman entertainment calendar from 105 BC to 404 AD and the games mainly remained unchanged bar a few small rules. Early on, most gladiators were condemned prisoners and slaves, who were sacrificed by their Emperors. Later, when the Coliseum opened in 80 AD, being a gladiator proved a lucrative career move and thanks to this change in trend, gladiator schools were set up to train these volunteer fighters, enticing free men with the hope of winning a stake of the prize money and ultimately, glory. These new fighters included retired soldiers, warriors and desperate men looking to make a living. Some were even knights and nobles who wanted to prove their pedigree and show off their fighting skills. Rome had three notable training schools, Capua being one of them for the calibre of gladiators it produced. Agents would scout for potential gladiators to try and persuade them to come and fight for their honour. These gladiator schools offered both safety and captivity, comparable to a prison with its gruelling schedule, yet offering the comfort and security of three hearty meals a day and the best possible medical attention. Although these men were free men, they had to live in shackles and were not allowed to speak at mealtimes but they were allowed to keep any rewards and money if they won a fight. Their diets consisted of protein and carbohydrates like barley porridge and cereals – with no option of wine, water only. Although the gladiators were fighting fit, most of them were a little on the round side as it was preferable to have some extra padding around the midsection to protect them from any serious damage from superficial wounds. Gladiators were an expensive investment for those who ran the gladiator schools, so it was preferable that the fighters did not die on the field – meaning they had to be strong enough to last more than one fight. Contrary to popular belief, not many gladiators actually fought to the death. Some historians say 1 in 5 died in battle, others 1 in 10, yet most only lived to their mid-twenties which compared to today’s average is shocking! However, it was also common place at fights held at the Coliseum for the Emperor to have the final say as to whether the combatants lived or died – often invoking the opinions of the audience to help decide on the matter. So whether you fought well or not, your fate could lie ultimately in the hands of your ruler. When we think of gladiators in ancient Rome we tend to stereotype and think of men; warriors or slaves. But interestingly female slaves were also forced into the pit to fight alongside their male counterparts, or as Emperor Domitian preferred, to face them against dwarves for his particular entertainment. Women fought in gladiator fights for 200 years until Emperor Septimius Severus banned their participation from these blood thirsty games. The brave, strong gladiators not only had their strength to bring into the pit but also their swords. The type of armour and weapons they fought with depended on their social ranking as a gladiator. There were four main classes of gladiator: the Samnite, Thracian, Myrmillo and Retiarius. The Samnites were equipped with a short sword (gladius), rectangular shield (scutum), a graeve (ocrea) and a helmet. The Thracians fought with a curved short sword (sica) and a very small square or round shield (parma). The Myrmillo gladiators were nicknamed ‘fishmen’ as they wore a fish-shaped crest on their helmets and also carried a short sword and shield, like the Samnites, but their armour consisted only of padding on arm and leg. Finally, the Retiarius were the most exposed of all, with no helmet or armour other than a padded shoulder piece, and whose defence included a weighted net used to entangle the opponent and a trident. Although gladiators may have seemed well equipped, the strength and courage it must have taken to step into battle and face death on a regular occurrence is unfathomable. We can be grateful that this brutal form of entertainment came to an end in 404 AD thanks to the Emperor Honorius who closed down the gladiator schools, years before. Who knows when this diversion might have ended had he not have stepped in and called it a day? Learning that the majority of gladiators weren’t actually slaves, but free men who had volunteered for a slice of glory and winnings, makes gladiator fighting seem all the more bizarre and barbaric; opting into a blood battle over traditional forms of trade and commerce. However, it doesn’t take away from the pedestal on which we will always place them – venerating those who survived as heroes and legends of their time. But in the context of the 21st century, I think it’s safe to say that this is one sporting game we’re glad hasn’t come around again!
Go City Expert

Museums in Rome

The museums in Rome are second to none and known around the world for their cultural and historic offerings, from paintings, sculptures, ancient ceramics and more. Rome is a city that benefits from a wide range of these museums and every visitor should make the most of the smorgasbord of what’s on offer. From the iconic Vatican Museums to the MAXXI, Castel Sant Angelo and the Borghese Gallery, each museum has its own subject matter and specialty waiting to be discovered. Vatican museums The Vatican Museums are considered some of the best museums in the world in terms of their priceless artifacts and historic pieces of art, sculpture, and tapestries. Its contents are an estimated €15 billion and covering over 9 miles, the Vatican Museums are definitely packed with plenty to see. The Raphael Room, the Papal Entrance, the portraits of the Popes and the Sala Rotonda are some of the best things to see – and don’t miss the iconic Sistine Chapel, an exhibit in itself! Address: Viale Vaticano, 00165 Roma Metro: Ottaviano-S.Pietro-Musei Vaticano (Metro A line) Visit Duration: 4 hours Museum of Rome The Museum of Rome is a fine example of Baroque architecture and within champions some of Rome’s best art from the medieval ages to the twentieth century. It’s a fascinating museum in Rome to discover the forgotten art and artists, see frescoes, ceramics, and paintings you wouldn’t usually see. The Palazzo Braschi in which its housed is an important historic building in itself, built for Pope Pius VI’s nephew Luigi Braschi Onesti. Address: Piazza San Pantaleo, 10, 00186 Roma Tram: Arenula/Cairoli (Tram 8) Visit Duration: 2 hours Borghese Gallery If you like your art, the Borghese Gallery is considered one of the finest museums in Rome for classical antiquities and paintings, as well as sculptures. You’ll find famous pieces on exhibit from Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath, as well as Young Sick Bacchus, and sculptures by the iconic Bernini dating back to the 1620s – including the iconic Apollo and Daphne. There are over two thousand years of works to admire, not to mention set in the stunning Villa Borghese Park offering you a picturesque setting once you’re finished. Address: Piazzale del Museo, Borghese, 5 - 00197 Rome Bus: Pinciana- Museo Borghese Visit Duration: 3 hours Capitoline Museums The Capitoline Museums are the oldest national museums in the world, founded originally by Pope Sixtus IV in the 15th century. He donated a collection of bronze statues, making it the first museum open to the public and people of Rome. The museum is set within three historic buildings with a beautiful piazza in the middle. The museum is dedicated to art from Ancient Rome and features the She-Wolf, Hall of Tapestries and historic sculptures, artifacts, and mosaics. Address: Piazza del Campidoglio, 1 - 00186 Rome Metro: Colosseo (Metro line B) Visit Duration: 2 hours Ara Pacis Museum Commissioned by the Roman Senate in 13 BC to honour the return of Augustus, this magnificent sculpture-come-structure depicts the Augustan victory in intricate engravings. Made purely of marble, it’s a spectacular example of the fine classic Roman skill and sculpture. It’s considered one of the most important pieces of ancient sculpture in Rome and is not one to be missed. Address: Lungotevere in Augusta, 00186 Roma Metro: Spagna (Metro line A) Visit Duration: 2 hours Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica: Palazzo Barberini One of Rome’s best museums and art galleries is the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica at Palazzo Barberini. Home to a fantastic collection of 16th-century tapestries, as well as works by Raphael and Caravaggio, visitors can admire the private collection within the former home of Pope Urban VIII. The palazzo itself is a testament to the Roman architecture of the time, complete with marble pillar and an orange garden. Address: Via Delle Quattro Fontane, 13, 00186 Roma Metro: Barberini (Metro line A) Visit Duration: 2 hours National Museum of Castel St. Angelo Sat proudly on the northern bank of the River Tiber, Castel Sant’Angelo is Rome’s ancient fortress and mausoleum with a fascinating museum dedicated to exploring its past, from the role it played guarding the city, to being a papal refuge. Castel Sant’Angelo is over 2,000 years old – so that’s over 2,000 years of history to uncover within the museum. See the papal apartments, the statue of the angel and learn about the secret passageway into the Vatican… Address: Lungotevere Castello, 50 - 00186 Rome Metro: Lepanto (Metro line A) Ottaviano (Metro line A) Visit Duration: 2 hours MAXXI Museum The MAXXI museum and art gallery in Rome is one of the finest museums in the world for the art of the 21st century. A real contemporary art gallery and museum, it was designed as a ‘multidisciplinary space’ by Zaha Hadid in 2010 and has been deemed to be the architect’s finest design to date. For those who like contemporary art and architecture, this museum is a must. See the permanent exhibitions and new works, commissions, and ones-to-watch. Address: Via Guido Reni, 4a, 00196 Roma Tram: Flaminia-Reni Visit Duration: 3 hours
Go City Expert

Top 10 Things for your Rome Bucket List

Be adventurous, put the guidebook down and think outside the box with this bucket list of top things to do in Rome. Aside from the popular Rome attractions like the Coliseum and Vatican – which are a given – there are so many more places to go and see. So we’ve spoken to the locals and got some recommendations for you to make your trip to Rome even better. Have an ice cream at Fatamorgana Rome is one of the best places to go for good food and good wine. Among the many options to suit everyone you can’t miss the delicious organic and authentic gelateria Fatamorgana in the uber trendy Monti district. Just a 5-10 minute walk up from the Coliseum and Roman Forum it’s a great place to go to cool off and get a sugar hit. From sweet sorbets to creamy chocolates it’s well worth a visit. Toss a coin into Trevi Fountain and make a wish One of Rome’s most iconic landmarks, Trevi Fountain is undeniably bucket list worthy. In these selfie stick days at least it makes getting a picture in the crowds that bit easier! Did you know that throwing a coin into the fountain is meant to bring you good luck and ensure you will return to Rome? You may as well throw in a handful to raise your odds! We also recommend visiting Trevi Fountain after dark when the baroque marble is lit up, plus it's normally a lot quieter. Walk around the Orange Garden A hidden gem, the Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci) is a quiet sanctuary right in the middle of the bustle of Rome. You wouldn’t know it but just a few streets up from the busy road circulating the Circus Maximus you’ll find this orange tree filled garden. It’s a great place to watch the sun go down, especially if you've planned with a bottle of wine for a romantic picnic. Have a selfie with a Gladiator One of the main symbols of Rome are the Gladiators stationed outside the Coliseum and Roman Forum 24/7. Dressed up in their Spartan gear, a selfie is mandatory before you leave the Eternal City. Don’t forget with the Roma Pass you can skip the lines and visit the Coliseum and Roman Forum for free! Views at the top of St Peter’s Dome Undeniably one of the best views of Rome is from the top of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica. Nothing can quite prepare you for the breathtaking panorama over Rome from this unrivalled vantage point at the centre of the Vatican, overlooking the rooftops of Rome in the distance and the iconic piazza underneath. With 360 degrees of uninterrupted city it really is a non-mover on the bucket list. Walk around the ruins at Appia Antica Not many people think to venture that far out of Rome but there is so much more to discover outside the city centre – if you just dare! Vast ruins lie waiting to be explored, such as Appia Antica, one of Rome’s historic attractions, an archaeological site that was built back in 312 BC to connect the road to the south. Stroll through the Appia historic park and you’ll see tombs, ruins and catacombs that will unlock Rome’s rich past. Hire a go cart around Villa Borghese Villa Borghese is a must-visit during your trip to Rome as it’s one of the most accessible parks in the city. In the summer you’ll find it busy with sunbathers, picnickers and roller-bladers, but what’s even more fun though is if you hire a go-kart and have a go at pedalling your way around yourself. You can hire these at various locations around the park, usually for one hour or even half a day. It’s great fun and definitely not something you’d do every day! Make sure the more confident driver is at the wheel as there are a few bumpy bits and steep inclines! See the dome in Sant’Ignazio One of Rome’s best hidden gems is the church of Sant’Ignazio just around the corner from the Pantheon. From the outside this church doesn’t look anything out of the ordinary, in fact it looks a lot like every other city church. However, when you step inside and look up at the ceiling you’ll be taken aback by the optical illusion painted on the roof. Don’t be fooled into thinking the church’s dome is actually concave; the painter, Andrea Pozzo, painted it on a flat surface with the 3D effect! Very clever... See the traditional guards at the Vatican London’s Tower of London has its Beefeaters, but at the Vatican, visitors can see the (semi-equivalent) Papal Swiss Guard in all their finery. At St Peter’s Basilica you will see them stationed at various posts in their yellow and purble robes. Their institution dates back to the 15th when and they traditionally served as guards to foreign European courts, now, the Swiss Guard's role is like a bodyguard to the Pope and they have to match a certain criteria such as having completed basic training with the Swiss military. Campagna Amica Market The Forum Boarium, the oldest Roman Forum, is home to two ancient temples and was once Rome’s ancient cattle market. It’s now a selling point of the most exclusive neighbourhoods with unparalleled views over the Forum, Circus Maximus and the Capitoline Hill. On the weekend, we recommend you head down to the Campagna Amica market to sample some locally sourced delicacies from smooth olive oil to fresh prosciutto. If you want to make a morning of it, why not have a coffee at Cristalli dello Zucchero first to get your caffeine hit.
Go City Expert

Dreaming of that Rome city break?

Sign up to receive top travel tips

  • Thick check Icon