Top Sights in Rome to See Other Tourists
Rome is one of the most popular cities in the world for tourists. And I understand why – it’s a wonderful city! It’s packed with history, it’s gorgeous, the food is amazing, and there’s just so much to do there. But Rome’s popularity comes at a price. It’s hard to see the sights without also seeing tons of other tourists. Sometimes the crowds can get overwhelming, especially for someone like me who doesn’t like crowds. Here’s a look at some of the top places in Rome to see other tourists.
The most popular attraction in Rome, the Colosseum sees tons of tourists every day. In fact, it actually funds the rest of the sights in the city because it’s the only one that earns enough money to keep things going. But the lines to get in are maddening and chaotic, which was just one reason I really appreciated being on a tour of the Colosseum last summer. When the tour was over, Andy and I only lasted about 10 more minutes inside before the people really got to us and we decided to leave.
The Spanish Steps are the widest staircase in Europe, and they were built to connect the Trinita dei Monti church at the top with the Spanish Square below. The name comes from the Spanish Embassy located nearby. These steps are famous because they’ve been in a few movies, and they are pretty gorgeous. I’ve read in lots of places that today they serve as a meeting place. A meeting place for whom, I’m not sure because it seems to be loaded with tourists sitting and taking a break from the rest of their sightseeing and touts trying to sell roses.
Legend has it that you will someday return to Rome if you throw a coin over your shoulder into this fountain. The money is collected and given to charity, so even if you’re not superstitious, you’ll be helping a good cause. And the fountain is absolutely gorgeous, so I understand why so many tourists want to see it when they visit Rome. But people get so pushy! This is another place crawling with touts selling all kinds of junk that flashes and makes annoying sounds, offering to take your picture for a fee, and again, the guys selling roses.
While not technically part of Rome, it is surrounded by the city, and most tourists include a visit to this tiny nation while in Rome. Tons of people cram into St. Peter’s Basilica and the hallways of the museum to see all the different artwork. Then there’s the big attraction, the Sistine Chapel. Impressive piece of art. But so many people want to see it that being in that little chapel feels like being in a mosh pit, although it’s a mashpit watched over by a couple of angry guards constantly reminding you to stay silent, not take pictures, and move along. This is another good place to take a tour that gets you in ahead of the crowds.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all saying you shouldn’t visit these places on a trip to Rome. There’s a reason they’re so popular. But if at all possible, go in the shoulder season, or even try the off season. Summer is great for a lot of reasons, but you’ll be wading through people the whole time. Find a few local things to do and neighborhoods to explore to compliment the super touristy sights. Don’t expect to get that postcard perfect photo. And pack as much patience as you can to deal with the crowds.
You might also enjoy:
- Italy Itinerary: Ideas for Planning One Week in Italy
- Discovering Roman Food with Eating Italy Food Tours
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Rome
- Scenes From Siena, Italy and a Steam Train Through Tuscany
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
July 7, 2014 @ 11:23 PM
I have no idea why anyone would meet up at the Spanish Steps—how could you ever find anyone in the huge crowd that is ALWAYS milling about there?
July 8, 2014 @ 10:34 AM
I know, right? I have no idea. But I’ve read that in so many places (guidebooks and those types of websites) and it really baffles me. No thanks, too many people. And I just can’t imagine a local saying, “hey let’s meet at the Spanish Steps!” No.
July 8, 2014 @ 10:49 AM
I also hate crowds and it’s one of the reasons that Venice drives me insane. There are so many European cities that you could do posts like this one on. Another reason that you shouldn’t go in high season is because pushing through crowds is bad enough, but doing it in the heat is 30x worse!
July 8, 2014 @ 11:25 AM
I agree! I think Rome really felt this way to me because it’s one of the few places I’ve been to multiple times, though it was a long time in between visits. I’m sure my memory is warped a bit, but I was there in 1995 and 1999, then last year, and it seemed like a million more tourists this time around as compared with ’95 and ’99. It was overwhelming.
July 8, 2014 @ 11:19 AM
I remember us looking at the postcard picture of Trevi. It is serene and nearly empty. I think we decided it was taken at 4am in February.
July 8, 2014 @ 11:30 AM
Exactly. There’s no way to see places this popular and get that postcard view. They will more likely see it with hoards of people blocking their view.
July 8, 2014 @ 1:10 PM
Just cringing at those pictures, lol. Been there twice and still only seen the Colosseum from the outside actually. I think what they mean is the Spanish Steps are a meeting point for Pub Crawls. Andrew just hit the nail on the head though, Winter time and at night. Bruges actually became the first member of my “I’ll only visit again during weekdays in Winter” club last year, and I think I may have to chuck Rome in their now that I think of it. Things are popular for a reason, but that doesn’t mean you have to enjoy the chaos surrounding that popularity.
July 9, 2014 @ 10:17 PM
Ok I can sort of see the Spanish Steps as a meeting point for pub crawls, especially pub crawls aimed at tourists. I completely understand (and agree) about cities like Rome being so popular, but all those people make it difficult to enjoy sometimes. Looks like we’ll be back in Rome in the fall, so I’m interested to see how much the crowd thins due to the shoulder season.
July 9, 2014 @ 3:39 AM
Ha. Love the title. It’s so true in Rome – there are so many people.
And yet, there’s just something about the city that keeps people coming back, despite the crushing crowds.
July 9, 2014 @ 7:31 PM
Thanks Michael! Sooooo many people! But I agree, it is a great city and I do understand the appeal. I will most likely be back for my 4th visit in the fall, though I’m happy it’s at least the shoulder season.
Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush?
August 4, 2014 @ 11:41 PM
The title of this post must be the most positive way to describe touristy spots anywhere. Do I see a series on the horizon?
August 5, 2014 @ 8:53 AM
Hilarious Peter, though doubtful I’ll turn it into a series.