Best tours in Rome – highlights, Colosseum, Vatican and more

Best tours in Rome – highlights, Colosseum, Vatican and more

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Rome is one of the most incredible places on earth and you barely scratch the surface exploring on your own.

Hire a Rome tour guide or join a tour and you will discover the stories and beauty of the Eternal City with expert knowledge. They can even help you skip long lines at the major tourist attractions.

Here is our guide to the best tours in Rome.


Pro tip – Make sure to book early. In peak tourist times – most of the year in Rome – tours and attractions sell out fast.


Rome sightseeing tours

I always recommend first time visitors take a highlights tour of Rome.

This way you can get a feel for the city, its ancient past and evolution over the centuries.

We’ve chosen sightseeing tours to suit your travel style and situation

Rome walking tours

pantheon rome walking tour

There is no shortage of “free” walking tours in Rome.

Free tours like these ones also tend to be big and cater for the masses. It’s important to remember also that they are only free if you don’t offer a tip at the end of your tour.

And as this is what the guides rely on for their income – please tip! Around €10 per person is reasonable.

We recommend joining a small group walking tour to take in the city highlights like the Pantheon, Trevi fountain and Piazza Navona.

This way you can ask lots of questions and hear the guide properly.

Some Rome walking tour suggestions:

▪️ Best of Rome walking tour [2.5 hours]

▪️ Piazzas of Rome at sunset [3 hours]

▪️ Ancient monuments of Rome [3 hours]

Private tours take it one step further and will cater the tour to your interests and needs. Check out this link for an insight into costs for a private tour of Rome


Remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring water with you on your walking tour


Bike tours of Rome

Rome bike tour

Honestly, getting around Rome by bike is probably not the easiest thing to do.

Crowds and traffic are a constant battle and you would need to be a confident rider to navigate all that plus the cobblestones.

But if you are determined to do a bike tour in Rome we suggest joining an electric bike tour of the Via Appia (Appian Way).

This beautiful area just outside Rome is home to ancient ruins, catacombs and a stunning national park.

>Click here for more info and prices

Bus sightseeing tours of Rome

spanish steps rome bus tour

Hop on, hop off tours are our pick for families with small children and those with mobility issues.

Take a bus tour and you ride around the city’s major sites listening to a recorded guide of the city. You can hop off at stops along the way and rejoin the bus tour after visiting your favourite sites.

Our favourite Rome bus tour offers complimentary walking tours at the Vatican, Roman Forum and Spanish Steps. Tickets can be purchased for 24 or 48 hours and start when you join your first bus.

>Click here for tour times and prices

Note – bus tours do not include tickets to attractions and landmarks

If you want the flexibility of a private tour that covers the same areas – you could try a golf cart tour of Rome.


Pro tip – Take a full circuit of the bus route in the late afternoon/evening of your first day to get your bearings


Segway tours of Rome

The latest in fun tour options, a segway tour is a great way to see Rome.

On a segway, you can dive down small streets and laneways away from the traffic. Most tours last from 2-3 hours and cover the history of Rome and its ancient past.

 

Plus, it’s almost like riding a Roman chariot!

If you are young at heart or travelling with teenagers this tour is for you

>Click here for ticket info and prices

Explore the famous sights of Rome

Colosseum

Once you have taken in the highlights, it’s time to explore some of the main sights of Rome a little deeper.

Joining a tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum or Vatican gives you priority entrance to these must see attractions in Rome.

When you see the queues snaking around St Peter’s Square and outside the Colosseum you will be SO GLAD you booked your tour in advance.

Plus, your guides will know the best vantage points for photos and getting the most out of your visit to these iconic places.

Skip the line Colosseum tours

Most Colosseum tours are combined with a visit to the nearby Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. It is well worth exploring these sites for a full picture of Ancient Rome.

The most basic option is a skip the line Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine with Colosseum audioguide – this self paced tour allows you to explore at your leisure and is great if you are travelling on a budget. Plan to spend at least half a day exploring this area.

We prefer small group tours as you can ask lots of questions and get the full inside knowledge from your guide including avoiding those dreaded lines and moving about the area quickly.

On a three hour tour of the Ancient Roman sites you will learn about this incredible civilisation, its heroes and its villains. Without a a guide we could have walked right by the tomb of Julius Caesar!

Caesar hh.jpg
By Howardhudson at English Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5, Link

>Click for more info and ticket prices

Colosseum virtual reality tour

As self-confessed tech nerds, this virtual reality tour of the Colosseum is our favourite.

Using start of the art technology, the Colosseum is recreated in all its former glory. You actually feel like you are in the arena watching gladiators fight lions. Contrasting the ruins with the recreated arena is a very special and unique experience.

There is a backstage glimpse at the preparations underneath the main arena and your guides help you to understand the history behind one of the world’s greatest marvels.

>Click for more info and to book tickets

Skip the line Vatican tours

vatican tour rome

The Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel are on many bucket lists and rightly so. You really must see the incredible works of Michelangelo and other great artists with your own eyes.

Be warned though, this is an attraction that takes some planning. Queues for the Vatican are legendary so choosing a skip the line Vatican tour is just common sense unless you like standing in lines all day. We do not!

This highly recommended 3 hour tour of the Vatican not only lets you skip the line but you will learn about the intrigues and mysteries of popes past and present. During the tour you visit St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and Vatican museums. This activity will no doubt be a highlight of your trip to Rome.

>Click for more info and tickets

Combined Colosseum and Vatican tours

If you have a short time in Rome, you might consider doing a full day of touring. Cover the major attractions in one day with this full day tour of  Rome including the Colosseum and Vatican museums.

Your guide will help you navigate the city and help you learn all about its ancient and imperial past.

>Click for more info and tickets

Rome food tours

Rome food guide

Food tours and cooking classes are our favourite way to get to know a city. And after all, after all that culture and exploring you are bound to be hungry!

In Rome we had a blast exploring the neighbourhood of Trastevere and around the Campo de’Fiori market on a wonderful food tour. We even took our kids and it was such a fun family activity.

Avoid the tourist traps and discover Rome’s food culture with these delicious tours. Just remember to wear your stretchiest pants!

▪️ Campo de’Fiori and Trastevere food and wine tour [4 hours]

▪️ Rome street food tour [3 hours]

▪️ Rome pasta making course [3.5 hours]


Click here to read more about our foodie adventures in Rome


Best tours  in Rome for families

Marble Zoo Rome4Kids

We took the kids on our last visit to Rome and had a brilliant time.

This was mostly due to some excellent family tours we did of the Colosseum and hidden Rome.

If you haven’t tried taking your kids on a tour while on vacation, I highly recommend that you do. Not only did the kids have a lot of fun but we learnt a lot too.

Plus, family tour guides usually know where the best gelato shops are!

These self guided family activities for Rome look great too.

Rome night tours

trevi fountain rome night tour

Rome is so beautiful after dark. The city’s impressive monuments are lit up and people enjoy street performances and an evening stroll. It’s an experience not to be missed.

If you are not keen to wander on your own then why not join a night tour of Rome. Stroll from the Spanish Steps to Piazza Navona with stops along the way at the Trevi fountain which, as you can see, looks incredible at night.

For people who like to be a little spooked (I do not!) you can join an after hours tour of the catacombs and Capuchin monk bone crypt.

An unforgettable experience, that you can only have in Rome, is a tour and opera concert at the magnificent Throne Hall of the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj. Held on Tuesdays, the concert features arias from Italian greats Puccini and Verdi.

Top day trips from Rome

Rome has plenty to keep you occupied but if you are using the city as a base to see more of Italy, then here are our favourite day trips from Rome.

Tivoli – Roman ruins and Renaissance gardens

villa deste tivoli tour from rome

With the exception of Villa Borghese there are few parks and gardens in Rome. A day trip to Tivoli will have you out in the sunshine enjoying the ruins of emperor Hadrian’s villa – one of the biggest and most luxurious in Ancient Rome.

Explore the many baths and fountains of this former palace once considered a more important site than Rome itself.  At Tivoli you also visit Villa D’Este, a Renaissance masterpiece with ornamental fountains and magnificent gardens.

>Click for more info and tickets

Wine tasting tour in Frascati

When in Rome, you must drink wine right? This wine tour takes you to the Frascati countryside near Rome where you learn about the centuries old tradition of wine making.

Explore the beautiful vineyard and of course, taste some wine!

>Click for more info

Umbrian hill towns tour – Assisi and Orvieto

assisi day trip from rome

While we love Rome and Italy’s other big cities, the hill towns will make you fall in love with Italy.

Visit Assisi and Orvieto on a day tour from Rome and you pass through rolling hills and olive groves before reaching these picture perfect medieval towns.

Explore the beautiful basilicas and enjoy incredible views as well as trying the local produce – olive oil, cheese and wine. This is Italy at its most charming in my opinion

>Click for more info

Rome tours with a difference

fiat 500 tour rome

Have you see Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck?

A vintage classic, it’s one of my favourite movies. Set in Rome in the 1950s, it features the stars taking in the sights on the back of a Vespa scooter.  It’s ridiculously romantic and cool and guess what?

You can ride a Vespa 125cc around Rome too! This vespa tour of Rome takes in all the major sights.

If you are not so sure about weaving in and out of Roman traffic (it can be a bit scary it’s true!), how about joining a convoy of Fiat 500s on a tour of the city?

Having done a similar tour in a classic Citroen in Paris, we would love to do this one day too!


We adore Rome and really value the tours we have taken for teaching us about its incredible history and culture. Having visited as students many years ago, our experience this time was all the more richer for hearing the stories and background of the city from our Rome tour guides.


We recommend booking tours through the Get Your Guide online portal – click here for a full review of Get Your Guide plus tips on how to use it to find the best tours in Rome.


Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. All opinions and Rome obsessions are our own. Please visit our disclosure page to read our full affiliate policy.


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