For anyone who lives in the Western world, Rome is the apotheosis of preserved history, the long-time mecca from which all adventurers would depart and often return (hence the eternal maxim, “all roads lead to Rome”). To put it metaphorically: Rome is that billionaire that hit it big early on and continues to sit back in its leisurely twilight years, living off of the interest of its investments. Although modern centers of economy and culture have long since moved to other parts of the globe, a great debt is owed to Rome, and that is why we come here; to revel in the pure scope and beauty of that debt.
Landmarks like the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain, the multitude of piazza after piazza; these are the heart of Rome. This is also where every tourist will be milling about, so if you want to beat your own path through Rome, strike out for the smaller piazzas and cafes interspersed through the city's historic center, as well as more authentic hot spots in Ponte Milvio, Trastevere, and San Lorenzo. A few of these neighborhoods are located on the other side of the Tiber near the Vatican, a technically autonomous state known as home to the Catholic Pope and one of the world's premiere collections of art and antiquity. There are also some beautiful viewpoints of the city, including the seven hills upon which Rome was developed and Janiculum Hill, which is looked at in spirit as the "eighth hill of Rome." Check out our more in-depth analysis of Rome's culture here.
For nightlife, you’re not going to see a ton of clubs and discos, at least not as many as you’ll see in most big European cities, but the Testaccio district is quite popular and nearby resort areas like Ostia get really packed with quality nightlife during the summer. As far as getting away from the city, there are numerous seaside resorts to the east, while a quieter, natural world awaits further inland, with a superlative national park like Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga. You'll not be wowed by towering heights or long-distance treks, but a national park like Abruzzo combines a variety of hikes with typical Italian castle ruins or small, mountainside communities. Still, an active sense of adventure can still exist within a few hours of Rome, despite the fact that Rome's reputation has solely been built on its singular place in history.
Getting around in central Rome may be best on foot, both because there are so many attractions packed into the area and because it really isn't overwhelmingly large. The city is well served by a metro and bus transportation, even late into the night, while Rome on a Vespa or bike is a classic way to get to and from the sights.
Even if you're one to travel your own path and avoid congregations of rampant tourism, you'd have to make an exception for Rome. There is no other city in the Western world so tangibly ripe with the past; even the lively lanes of local neighborhoods like Trastevere have the Roman magic of vibrant trattorias, cobblestoned walks, centuries old churches, and Italian chatter that make you want to just walk aimlessly for hours without an itinerary. Start making one anyway once you've browsed our selection of activities and videos or interacted with the Embark community. Rome can't be missed.