10 Things to do in Rome (other than main sites)

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Things To Do in Rome - Gianicolo

If you’re coming to Rome I’m sure the Vatican and Colosseum are both on your list. But there is so much to do while you’re here. Here are 10 more Things to do in Rome other than the main sites. Enjoy!

Below is the list of things, in case you want to jump straight to something specific 🙂

1) Enjoy a Panoramic Sunset.
2) Eat lots of Italy’s Street Food.
3) Do a Yoga Class in the Centro Storico.
4) Sip on a Spritz in Monti’s central Piazza.
5) Peek through a Special Keyhole.
6) Go for a Gelato Passeggiata.
7) Picnic in the Park.
8) Listen to Live Music in Bustling Roman Bar.
9) Enjoy the Traditional Breakfast.
10) Go on a Day Trip.

1) Enjoy a Panoramic Sunset.

Things To Do in Rome - Gianicolo

Rome is particularly beautiful during the golden hour. So, when in Rome, be sure to watch the sunset from a lovely viewpoint at least once. There are a few spots to watch the sunset, but one of my favourites is on Gianicolo Hill.

Gianicolo Hill Panoramic Views

Gianicolo Hill, or the Janiculum, is west of the Tiber River, right by the popular Trastevere neighbourhood.

At this viewpoint, you’ll get to enjoy incredible panoramic views of the city, as far as the eyes can see. You’ll be able to spot some of Rome’s special attractions, like St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, Piazza Venezia, and Castel Sant’Angelo.

You can visit Gianicolo any time of the day, from sunrise to sunset. The hill can be accessed 24 hours a day, free of charge.

If you visit at noon, you’ll be around for the daily 12 pm cannon. This cannon has been going off for the past 165 years, to proclaim the time of day.

If you visit at sunset, you’ll get to see panoramic views in golden light. There is something special about the eternal city in the golden hour, so this is by far my favourite time of day to enjoy a view like this. You can enjoy a gorgeous sunset, and then perhaps head down the hill to one of the many restaurants in the nearby Trastevere neighbourhood.

Things To Do in Rome - Gianicolo Terrace

Strolling along the Janiculum Terrace

When get to the Janiculum Terrace, Terrazza del Gianicolo, you’ll be blown away by the sweeping panoramic views. You’ll find people hanging around the main square, sitting or leaning against the terrace wall, simply enjoying the views of the city. It’s rather sensational.

On the terrace looking at the view, with the huge Giuseppe Garibaldi statue behind you, you’ll see a little bar, Bar Stuzzichini, on the lefthand side. Here you can get a drink or coffee to go with your view. Last time we were here for sunset, they kindly gave us a tray to take our coffees and snacks to the wall with us.

Things To Do in Rome - Gianicolo at Sunset

From the terrace, you can continue along a pathway called Passeggiata del Gianicolo. If you are looking at the view, I’d recommend walking left. You’ll reach another smaller viewpoint with a Il muro della Costituzione Romana – The Wall of the Roman Constitution. The installation is a fifty-meter-long concrete wall with the text of the Constitution inscribed on it.

Things To Do in Rome - Gianicolo Stroll

Things To Do in Rome - Gianicolo Constitution Wall

That’s what’s so lovely about Gionicol Hill, there is so much to see, making it a lovely way to spend a couple hours as the day closes.

Another great spot to check out is on the other side of the Giuseppe Garibaldi statue, opposite to the main terrace. Here you’ll find a lovely little peek-a-boo of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica. It’s amazing.

Things To Do in Rome - Gianicolo Dome of St Peters Basilica

How to get to Gianicolo Hill

Walking from Trastevere: You can reach the summit of Gianicolo by walking up Via Garibaldi from the Trastevere neighbourhood. It is a bit of a climb, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who struggles to walk. As you walk up Via Garibaldi, you’ll reach the beautiful Paola Fountain, Fontana dell’Acqua Paola. From the fountain, you can either continue up Via Garibaldi to Porta San Pancrazio and then take a right into “Passeggiata del Gianicolo” which takes you to the main viewpoint, Terrazza del Gianicolo. From the Paola fountain so can also skip Porta San Pancrazio, and take the first right into “Passeggiata del Gianicolo” leading you straight to the main viewpoint terrace. You’ll know when you’ve reached the main viewpoint as you’ll see a big square, a giant monument to Garibaldi, and… views that take your breath away!

By Bus: There are buses to Gianicolo Hill, but they have always been very delayed or haven’t arrived, in my personal experience. I have always ended up walking instead of waiting for a bus. So be prepared. Buses that go to Gianicolo include bus #115 and #44.

If you have the cash and feel like making it super easy for yourself, you could always get a taxi using the MyTaxi app for the way up the hill. Walking down is always easier 🙂

2) Eat lots of Italy’s Street Food.

Things To Do in Rome - Street Food

Of course, eating as much food as possible is one of the most important things to do in Rome! 🙂

But don’t spend all your time at sit-down restaurants, and save some time to enjoy Italy’s tasty street food. There are many spots to visit, and you can literally hop from place to place, tasting a few different foods while discovering Rome all at the same time.

Suppli (fried rice balls), Pizza al Taglio (pizza by the slice), Trapizzino (pizza-pockets with yummy fillings), Panini (sandwiches) and lots more.

You can take yourself on your own self-guided street food tour, or keep it simple and let a local foodie show you around.

If you’d prefer to go on a street food journey with a local, check out this awesome Airbnb Street Food Tour. On this experience, you’ll visit some of the very best street food spots, and you’ll get all the insider info from a local Italian foodie.

If you’d like to do your own self-guided tour, you could visit the Trastevere neighbourhood to start. Here are some places to eat in Trastevere to get you started. Or you could do the same in the Monti – here are some places to eat in Monti to get you started in this neighbourhood. Put 2-5 places on your list, and create a walking route. Enjoy your foods out on the street, as you stroll, or sitting on the steps of a piazza.

Immerse yourself in Italy’s street food scene, and give your taste buds something to remember! 🙂

3) Do a Yoga Class in the Centro Storico.

Things To Do in Rome - Yoga Class

If you’re a yoga-lover coming to Rome, do something a little different and enjoy a class right in the historical centre while you’re here.

One of the best studios to visit is Zem Yoga Studio.

I love Zem for a few reasons.

The studio is well-located, right in the Centro Storico, the Historical Centre, on one of Rome’s main streets, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.

The studio is small, but the interior is well-designed with everything you need. As you walk in, there is an entrance room where you sign in and get mats, towels and water. There is one yoga room where all classes take place, with wooden floors, lovely lighting, and surrounding windows. There is also a changing room, with showers. Overall the decor has a lovely, warm and relaxing atmosphere.

The staff are always friendly and bubbly. Any time I’ve visited Zem, I’ve been greeted with happy faces and big smiles.

The classes are top quality. I’ve always opted for the Friday Community Class, which is a heated vinyasa class at 6:30 pm. I love the Friday Community Classes, as they’re classes that encourage you to meet other people, with a little introduction before the classes begin. They are also taught by the founder, Amity, who is a fantastic teacher with a warm personality and a great sense of humour.

I have tried other yoga classes, like at Ryoga. While the class at Ryoga was great, I prefer to go to Zem.

Every time I’ve gone there, I’ve left floating. The atmosphere is incredibly soothing, and little things add to the whole experience. Towards the end of a Friday Community Class, Amity sprays a homemade essential oils mix into the air, gives each person a little neck massage, and plays a Tibetan sound bowl for some amazing sound therapy. All these special little touches really add to the wholesome experience, inspiring all the senses, and leaving you feeling relaxed and happy afterwards.

Even if you aren’t a yogi, try something different when you come to Rome. After all that walking, sweat and stretch it out in a juicy yoga class. Who knows, you may even make a friend at the same time!

4) Sip on a Spritz in Monti’s central Piazza.

Things To Do in Rome - Monti Piazza Spritz

When in Rome, a Spritz needs to be on your menu. This is a classic Italian cocktail, prepared with prosecco (or champagne), wine, and a dash of some bitter liqueur like Aperol or Campari. When in Italy, depending on what you prefer, ask for an Aperol (less bitter) or a Campari (more bitter) spritz.

The best time to enjoy a Spritz is during Aperitivo – This is a wonderful couple of hours, from about 6-9pm, where locals can relax after work over a drink and some snacks. As many Italians eat later at around 9 pm, Aperitivo is perfect to work up an appetite for dinner afterwards.

Aperitivo is a great way to experience local culture and to relax after a busy day exploring on foot. Get yourself a classic Italian Spritz, which is delightfully refreshing at the end of a long day.

You pay for your drink (a cocktail, beer, a glass of wine, or whatever you want), and then you’ll get nibbles with it.  Different places do Aperitivo different in Italy – Some places served simple snacks like chips and peanuts with you. Other places, like Freni Frizioni, serve huge buffets which can become dinner 🙂

Spritzing in Monti:

There are many places to enjoy Aperitivo time in Monti. One of my absolute favourites is to simply get a Spritz and enjoy it standing Piazza della Madonna dei Monti, the neighbourhoods central litte square.

Many of the locals hang out here, and it gets particularly lively during Aperitivo time. Locals and some travellers will hang out on the steps of the fountain or simply around the square, chatting and sipping on their drinks.

If you’re in Monti from 6 pm onwards, make your way to Piazza della Madonna dei Monti. Standing in the piazza, you’ll see a vine-covered bar called La Bottega del Caffè. If you’re looking at it, on the left is an outside section where you can sit down or on the right, there is a little bar where you can just get a drink and take it out onto the piazza. I’ve done both, so take your pick and enjoy!

Note: When you get a drink at the bar and take it out onto the piazza, you won’t get snacks with it. If you want some nibbles, get your spritz at the sitdown section on the left – They usually serve peanuts and crisps. If you’re hungry for more, you can also pop into nearby Analemma Cafe, where you’ll get a buffet of food with your drink during Aperitivo hours.

5) Peek through a Special Keyhole.

Things To Do in Rome - Malta Keyhole

This is one of those things I recommend to all travellers coming to Rome. And surprisingly enough, almost none of them have heard of it.

The Knights of Malta Keyhole is one of Rome’s hidden gems and can be found on the Aventine Hill. Through this keyhole, you’ll get to see a beautifully framed dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s a very special view.

The Keyhole is part of a property owned by the Priory of the Knights of Malta. The Knights of Malta was a Roman Catholic religious order of crusader knights. The gate where the keyhole is, is the gate to the headquarters of the Knights of Malta. When you look through the keyhole, you look through the gardens of the Villa del Priorato di Malta, one of the Rome properties of the famous Knights of Malta.

How to Get to this Special Keyhole?

You can simply walk up to the Aventine Hill from Circus Maximus, the ruins of an Ancient Roman horse-racing arena. Look for Piazzale Ugo la Malfa on google maps, and walk up from this side of Circus Maximus. If you’re standing in Piazzale Ugo la Malfa and looking at Circus Maximus, you need to walk left and through the Botanical Rose Gardens.

Walk all the way up to the end of a cul-de-sac, and you’ll be sure to see a few (or lots) of people standing in line waiting to look through the Keyhole of a big green door.

What else is there to see on the Aventine Hill?

After peeping through the Keyhole, be sure to visit Giardino degli Aranci, The Orange Garden. Here you’ll find an epic panoramic view of Rome.

You can also pop into the pretty Basilica di Santa Sabina all’Aventino if it’s open.

The Mouth of Truth is also less than 10 minutes walk from the keyhole.

6) Go for a Gelato Passeggiata.

Things To Do in Rome - Gelato Passeggiata

In Italy, there is a custom called a “Passeggiatta“. This is basically a leisurely walk, usually taken in the early evening for the purpose of socializing. It’s such a lovely simply tradition that all travellers should do when here. Rome is, after all, best discovered on foot.

A Passeggiata usually happens in the evening between about 5 pm and 8 pm. But it can also be enjoyed after dinner, to work off your meal and get some fresh air before bed.

Stroll down the pretty Via Giulia.

There are many streets to stroll down in Rome, each offering something different. On a street like Via del Corso, for instance, you’ll get a busier atmosphere with lots of shops lining the street. But, if you want something more peaceful and quiet, head to Via Giulia.

Via Giulia is one of Rome’s prettiest streets, found right in the historic centre of the city. An easy way to find it is to start off at the Ponte Sisto bridge. When standing on the bridge, make your way to the riverside opposite the Trastevere neighbourhood, and you’ll find the start of Via Giulia running to the left.

The pretty cobblestoned Via Giulia goes on for quite a while. It is also a nice and wide street with ample space to walk. And it’s pretty quiet. Lined with pretty churches, cultural buildings, as well as some rather fancy homes.

The street starts with an ivy-covered arch designed by Michelangelo. This arch was part of an unrealized plan to connect the Palazzo Farnese (now the French Embassy) with the Villa Farnese on the other side of the Tiber River. The connection was never made, so the arch instead functions as a sort of majestic entryway.

The Campo de Fiori piazza is also nearby, which is bustling in the evening, in case you want to include this in your stroll.

Don’t forget the Gelato!

One of my favourite Passeggiatas is a 6 pm stroll down Via Giulia with a Gelato in hand. Especially after a busy day exploring, this is a relaxing way to enter into the golden hour.

Get yourself a tasty gelato from nearby Punto Gelato to take along with you on your stroll. Especially in summer, a Gelato is always a good idea! From Punto Gelato, Via Giulia is about 2 minutes walk away.

Alone or with a companion, enjoy your gelato and simply soak up the atmosphere as you stroll down Via Giulia. It’s these simple experiences that really give you the space to appreciate the city.

7) Picnic in the Park.

Things To Do in Rome - Picnic

There are a few lovely parks in Rome to enjoy a picnic. I always recommend this, as it’s a lovely different way to experience the city, and you get some fresh air at the same time.

While you can go to the better-known Villa Borghese park, I recommend visiting Villa Doria Pamphilj park for a more local experience.

Villa Doria Pamphilj is a historic residence that includes the largest public park in Rome. It’s close to the Trastevere neighbourhood. Here you will find many nature trails and picnic spots to choose from. There is also the Doria Pamphilj Villa, a lake with terrapins and lots more.

The park is open from 7 am to sunset every day.

There are many entrances to the park, with the main entrance along Via di S. Pancrazio. However, because it’s so big, there are many entrances from Via Aurelia Antica, Via Leone XII, Largo M. Luther King, Via Vitellia, and Via della Nocetta. Depending on where you’re staying, see which entrance is closer to you. You can catch a bus, take a taxi with the Mytaxi App. Check out this website link for more info on the park.

Pack your own special Italian picnic spread before you go. Packing picnics in Italy is so easy – Just visit a convenient supermercato (supermarket) – Simply, Conad, Carrafour are some to look out for. You’ll have no problem finding fresh bread, different cheeses, different cured meats, olives, and lots more. Have some fun and turn it into a foodie experience.

8) Listen to Live Music in Bustling Roman Bar.

Things To Do in Rome - Live Music at Pimm's Good

There is lots of live music in Rome. From classical to contemporary. Outside on the streets, in bars, amphitheatres, you name it.

You can simply stroll through the streets of Rome, and you’re sure to bump into a few live buskers.

In squares like Piazza Trilussa and Piazza della Rotonda, you’ll often find live music acts in the early evening. Very close by to Piazza della Rotonda there is another darling little square Piazza della Maddalena, which also has a live musician playing almost every evening. In the late afternoon to early evening, when live music fills tiny piazzas like these, it’s very special.

Live Music Thursdays at Pimm’s Good

One of my favourite spots to go to for some live music is Pimm’s Good.

Pimm’s Good is a bustling little Roman Bar in the heart of the Trastevere neighbourhood. I first visited this place for Aperitivo, and was impressed. Along with my Spritz came lovely little breadboard of tasty snacks.

Then, by chance, one Thursday night I popped in with some friends for a drink after dinner, and was thrilled to discover live music playing. I love these unplanned discoveries! The place is small so the group of 4 or 5 musicians filled up a lot of space inside, as they played their classical instruments passionately. It was fun, with the musicians right there in amongst all the people, in this bustling bar. It’s the chaotic beauty I love most about Rome, and this place on a Thursday evening reminds me of that.

If you’re in the Trastevere neighbourhood on a Thursday night, be sure to pop in for a cocktail after 9:30 pm when their live music starts. It’s a fun way to spend a couple hours, as the start of a long night or as an after-dinner nightcap. With live music of course.

You could get to Pimm’s earlier and get a nice table. Here you can enjoy Aperitivo from 6 pm, with a Spritz (or other drink) and a platter of snacks that come with it. You could just hang out here all the way to 9:30pm when the band comes on.

Enjoy the bustle!

9) Enjoy the Traditional Breakfast.

Things To Do in Rome - Breakfast

When I moved to Rome, breakfast was a totally new experience for me. Back home in South Africa we never eat sweet breakfasts. But here in Italy, a sweet pastry for breakfast is totally normal.

The typical breakfast will usually consist of a caffe (espresso) and a cornetto (Italy’s version of a croissant). “Cornetto” is for singular, and “Cornetti” is for plural. You can get plain cornetti, or cornetti filled with crema (cream), cioccolato (chocolate), marmellata (jam), and more. For those wanting the ‘healthier version’, you can get yourself a “Cornetto Integrale” (wholegrain) or a “Cornetto Simplice” (plain, without a filling).

When in Rome, throw that diet out of the window, and go local in the morning. Get your preferred coffee, and a cornetto. Kick off your day with something sweet, Italian-style. I mean, if you’re going to eat sugar, you may as well eat it at the start of the day for some extra energy for that busy day ahead of you 🙂

Stand up Breakfast.

Take it one step further and have breakfast standing up.

In Italy, breakfasts at the local bar are usually done standing up at the counter. Often locals will enjoy their caffe (espresso) at the bar, like a caffeine-shot. Then they’ll munch on their cornetto in a serviette, sometimes even taking it away with them to enjoy while walking.

When in Rome, do as the locals do and pop into the nearest local bar. Use your nose to smell the bars with the freshest pastries. You’ll find that some smaller bars get their pastries delivered in the morning. And other bigger bars will actually make their own.

This doesn’t mean you always have to stand up and eat, but it’s worth a try. Especially before an early morning Vatican Tour if you don’t have a lot of time. A few minutes walk from the Vatican Museums entrance is Caffè Delle Commari, where you can stand or sit down while enjoying a lovely Italian breakfast. This is a lovely breakfast spot before a Vatican Tour, and it’ll keep you nice and full for the entire time.

10) Go on a Day Trip.

Things To Do in Rome - Day Trip

Rome is so well-positioned. If you have time, go on a day trip outside of the city for a day.

There are so many places to choose from, depending on your preferences. Florence, Naples, Tivoli Gardens, Orvieto, Frascati, the beach. The options are endless. My favourites include Naples, Florence, and Sperlonga.

Naples is a great city to visit for those foodies out there. You can hop on a train and be in Naples an hour later, with the whole day to spend exploring and eating along the way. When we go, we arrive in Naples at about 10:30 am and head straight for the famous L’antica Da Michele Pizzeria for a Neapolitan Margherita pizza. Yes, at 11 am we are already eating pizza 🙂 The old city has a unique and captivating raw beauty about it, and coupled with a ridiculous amount of food to eat, as well as other sites, your day will not be disappointing.

Florence is the perfect easy day trip from Rome. It’s so easy to get to by train, but it’s also super easy to navigate. When you arrive in Florence, you’ll see what I mean. Everything is so close together, making the city easy to explore. We almost always rent out shared MoBike bicycles for part of the day, as it’s a much more bicycle-friendly city compared to Rome. It’s nowhere near as crazy as Rome. Simply download the MoBike app onto your phone, connect your card, and hop on any of the bicycles dotted around the city for as little as €1 an hour. This renaissance city has lots to offer. Local Tuscan food & wine, amazing gelato, famous artworks like Michelangelo’s David, and lots more.

Sperlonga is a great option for a beach day at a blue flag beach. There are other nearer beaches, but if you have the time go a little further south to Sperlonga. This is my favourite beach near Rome so far because the water was the cleanest and most beautiful. Such gorgeous water, that I hardly remember anything else.

I have even gone to the Amalfi Coast for the day a few times. My heart is along the Amalfi Coast, so I make the effort to just do it and it’s worth it. If you have more time, spend a few days on the Amalfi Coast, in Spring (May) or at the end of Summer (September), when it isn’t crazy-busy but still has lovely warm temperatures.

I hope that this post has been useful. There are so many things to do in Rome, but these are some of my favourites. I hope you’re going to add a couple of these to your next visit, and if you do, let me know in the comments!

Happy travels 🙂


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