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  • Colosseum-dusk-Rome - A color-enhanced view of the Colosseum in Rome at dusk.
  • Vatican-Museum-Library-Rome - Inside the Vatican Museum Library.
  • Colosseum-panoramic-Rome - The Colosseum in Rome was long the largest amphitheater in the word, holding 50,000 to 80,000 spectators who watched gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. It was built between 70 AD and 80 AD.
  • Palatine-Panorama-Rome - A shot of Palatine Hill in Rome. Legend says this is where Romulus killed his twin and founded Rome in 753 BC.
  • Spanish-steps-Rome - Sunset at the Spanish Steps (Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti) in Rome offers a perfect venue for people-watching. It's been a magnet for visitors since the 1700s.
  • interior-st-peters-vatican-city - Interior scene from St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City.
  • piazza-della-repubblica-rome-italy - The Piazza della Repubblica in Rome.
  • view-st-peters-rome-italy - View toward St. Peter's Basilica from Palazzo di Giustizia (Palace of Justice) in Rome.
  • Vatican-Museums-Gallery-of-Maps-ceiling - Visit the Vatican Museums as part of your Rome excursion, and linger at the 16th-century Gallery of Maps to gaze on the beautiful ceiling frescoes.
  • Vatican-Museums-Sistine-Hall-ceiling - All roads — and Mediterranean cruises — lead to Rome and the Vatican Museums, or at least they should. The beautiful Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library, one of the oldest libraries in the world, shows why.
  • View-Castel-Sant'Angelo-Rome - Looking down on the Ponte Sant'Angelo and the Tiber River from the top of Castel Sant'Angelo, Campo Marzio, Rome.
  • Trevi-Fountain-Rome - Trevi Fountain in Rome. Careful not to get hit by flying coins!
  • St-Peters-Basilica - Aisle leading up to the altar in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
  • St-Peters-Basilica-panorama - A panorama of the inside of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
  • Ostia-Antica - Ostia Antica, a large archeological site, was once the main harbor of ancient Rome. Today it's near the modern suburb of Ostia, and you can wander through ruins of Roman streets and many buildings.
  • Sistine-Chapel-ceiling - Michelangelo's masterpiece: The iconic ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.
  • Palatine-Hill-Rome - A shot of Palatine Hill, or the Palatino, in Rome, between the Roman Forum and the Circo Massimo.
  • painted-dome-st-peters-vatican-city - The interior cupola of St. Peter's Basilica Dome in Vatican City.
  • st-peters-square-vatican-city - St. Peter's Square in Vatican City at night.
  • sunset-rome-italy - The Tiber River in Rome at sunset.
  • spiral-stair-vatican-city - Vatican Spiral in the Museum in Vatican City.
  • st-peters-vatican-city - Inside St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
  • santa-maria-della-vittoria-rome-italy - Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome, Italy.
  • Pieta-st-peters-vatican-city - Pietà by Michelangelo in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
  • ponte-sant-angelo-rome-italy - Ponte Sant' Angelo — a bridge completed in 134 AD by Roman Emperor Hadrian to span the Tiber River — in Rome.
  • via-di-san-callisto-rome-italy -  Via Di San Calisto in Rome, Italy.
  • piazza-del-popolo-rome-italy - Piazza del Popolo in Rome.
  • Arch-of-Septimius-Severus-Rome - The white marble Arch of Septimius Severus at the northwest corner of the Roman Forum in Rome was dedicated in AD 203 following a military victory.
  • Santa-Maria-Sopra-Minerva - The elaborately painted blue ceiling of the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome.
  • Church-of-Sant'Ignazio-Rome - Andrea Pozzo executed this vault fresco in Rome's Church of Sant'Ignazio in 1694 celebrating the success of the missionary activities of the Society of the Jesuits. (The light of the Gospel illuminating the four corners of the world.)
  • military-parade-rome-italy - A military parade held in Rome to celebrate Italy's Republic Day on June 2.
  • Italy-Rome-Flowers - Cruise to Rome, Italy, one of the world's greatest cities.
  • Creation-of-Adam-Michaelangelo-Rome - "The Creation of Adam" (c. 1511), fresco painting by Michelangelo, part of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.
  • violinist-rome-italy - A pinstriped violinist on Via del Corso in Rome.
  • Trevi-Fountain-Rome-Tere-Moana - Visit charming Trevi Fountain in Rome. Don't forget to bring a penny and make a wish!
  • Pantheon-light-Rome - One of Rome's iconic sights, the 2,000-year-old Pantheon is the city's best-preserved ancient monument.
  • Piazza-dei-MercantiIn-Transtever-Rome - Dusk approaches at La Taverna dei Mercanti restaurant in the Trastevere district of Rome.
  • Colosseum-Rome - Detail of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
  • Roman-Forum-excavation.jpg - The Arch of Septimus Severus and the Temple of Saturn (built in 476 B.C.), right, at the Roman Forum.
  • colosseum-rome-afternoon.jpg - The world-famous Colosseum in Rome seen during an afternoon excursion.
  • trevi-fountain-with-tourists.jpg - Trevi Fountain, a popular tourist spot, is an example of Baroque architecture. It opened in 1762.
  • Vatican-Museum-interior-art - Plan your Rome excursion to include the Vatican Museums, repository of some of the world's most important masterpieces of Renaissance art and classical sculpture.
  • arch-st-peters-vatican-city - Interior of St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City.

Rome travel guide & photo tour

our guide

The vibe

Rome, one of the oldest named cities in the world, dazzles the eyes at every turn with glorious architecture and lively piazzas adorned with elaborate fountains and sculpture. Innumerable sidewalk cafes serve as places to perch while art- or people-watching. Truly the Eternal City, it’s a blend of ancient empire, Renaissance treasures and up-to-the-minute fashion and energy.

Cruise passengers arrive at Civitavecchia

Civitavecchia, also referred to as “Port of Rome,” is about 45 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of the city. Civitavecchia (pronounced shi-va-sha-VECK-i-a) is a major ferry and cruise port, connecting central Italy to the other destinations in the Mediterranean, including Barcelona, Sardinia and Malta. 

Top reasons to go

  • Old Rome has beautiful squares, cathedrals, ruins and plenty of laid-back dining.
  • The tiny country of Vatican City and its endless treasure of art, relics and the Vatican Museums.
  • The evocative remains of ancient Rome, including the Colosseum, Forum and Pantheon.
  • Plenty of places to enjoy La Dolce Vita (the sweet life) by lingering in sidewalk cafes and inviting piazzas.
The white marble Arch of Septimius Severus at the northwest corner of the Roman Forum in Rome was dedicated in AD 203 following a military victory.
Robert Lowe / Creative Commons BYThe white marble Arch of Septimius Severus at the northwest corner of the Roman Forum in Rome was dedicated in AD 203 following a military victory.

What to do & see in Rome

Vatican City

Millions of visitors make the pilgrimage each year to visit Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica, where you’ll find such masterpieces as Michelangelo’s Pieta and Bernini’s papal altar. The Sistine Chapel is just one of many marvels showcased within the Vatican Museums complex.

Ancient sites

Many of Rome’s ancient wonders are clustered within walking distance of each other. The Colosseum, where gladiators once thrilled spectators, is across the street from  the Roman Forum, whose ancient streets and ruins recall the days of Caesar. Built as temple to honor the pagan gods and later consecrated as a Catholic church, the Pantheon is one of the best preserved examples of ancient architecture in the world.

Ostia Antica, about 45 minutes outside of the city, holds  the ruins of an ancient port city dating  to the 4th century B.C.

Renaissance to modern times

Galleria Borghese, Rome’s premier art museum, displays masterpieces by Titian, Bernini, Raphael and Caravaggio in a splendid setting of frescoed ceilings and marble walls.

Trevi Fountain played a central role in "La Dolce Vita," "Three Coins in the Fountain" and other movies. Legend holds that if you toss a coin in the waters,  you’ll come back to Rome.  The largest and most beautiful Baroque fountain in town was completed in 1762.


Beautifully crafted leather goods, including handbags, shoes and jackets, are among  top merchandise to search for in Rome. The city’s smartest shops are clustered along the Via Veneto and Via Condotti. Smaller boutiques and art galleries abound in Trasteverre, a hip neighborhood across the Tiber River. Morning flea markets beckon at Campo dei Fiori, a lively plaza lined with sidewalk cafes.

All roads — and Mediterranean cruises — lead to Rome and the Vatican Museums, or at least they should. The beautiful Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library, one of the oldest libraries in the world, shows why.
Courtesy of Royal CaribbeanAll roads — and Mediterranean cruises — lead to Rome and the Vatican Museums, or at least they should. The beautiful Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library, one of the oldest libraries in the world, shows why.

Don’t miss

Piazza Navona: This lively square lined with wrought-iron balconies and filled with street artists is a delightful spot to linger at a sidewalk café and admire Bernini’s spectacular Fountain of the Four Rivers.

YOLO (You only live once!)

Countryside & Catacombs: These tours take participants beneath the streets of Rome through a maze of tunnels where early Christians worshipped in secret. The tours also head along the Appian Way, where you can enjoy villages and wineries outside the city.

Best bets for dining

It’s a Roman ritual to enjoy a coffee, glass of wine or heavenly dish of pasta at a sidewalk cafe. The most classic of them all is Antico Caffe Greco on the chic Via dei Condotti. Another landmark is Tre Scalini, which serves savory pizzas and pasta dishes on Piazza Navona.

Best time to go

Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit, with plenty of mild, sunny days. Summers are hot and the visitor attractions are at their most crowded. Winters are fairly mild but with rainy spells. 

Ostia Antica, a large archeological site, was once the main harbor of ancient Rome. Today, near Ostia, you can wander through ruins of Roman streets and many buildings.
Jean-Pierre Dalbéra / Creative Commons BYOstia Antica, a large archeological site, was once the main harbor of ancient Rome. Today, near Ostia, you can wander through ruins of Roman streets and many buildings.

Fun facts

  • Vatican City is a sovereign state within the city limits of Rome. It’s also the world’s smallest state.
  • The word "palace" comes from Rome’s Palatine Hill, where many emperors built their palaces.
  • Rome was long Europe’s most populous city — until London overtook it in the 19th century.
  • "Unconditional Surrender," a lifesize sculpture in the port of Civitaveccia of a returning sailor kissing a woman,  is one of a series by artist Seward Johnson. Other copies are on exhibit in San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Caen, France; and Hamilton, New Jersey.
  • The former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, sang on a cruise ship in the 1960s. 

When you arrive

Docking information

Cruise ships dock in Civitavecchia, an hour and a half taxi or bus ride from Rome. Most cruise lines offer a motorcoach transfer option.  Free shuttle buses bring guests from the ship to the exit of the port and vice versa. Taxi service into Rome cost about $150 each way, so beware! There is also frequent train service from Civitavecchia into Rome.

Train transportation to Rome

The RCT (Roma Cruise Terminal) shuttle from the ship to the port exit is free and leaves every five minutes in the morning and evening; look for the stop directly in front of the ship. Walking distance to the train station is 500 meters (a quarter of a mile). Train tickets cost 2.5 euros (about $3.15) per adult one direction. Kids age nine and younger under don’t need a ticket. Tickets can be purchased at the train station with an English-speaking agent or at a machine; the machine takes major credit cards. The destination is “Roma termini” (regular train takes an hour to an hour and 45 minutes; that’s the final destination of the train) or “San Pieto”  (which takes about an hour). Trains depart about every 20 minutes. No change of trains is necessary. Ticket needs to be stamped before the start of the journey in a yellow machine of the size of a shoebox. The sequence of stations is: Chivitaveccia, Roma Aurelia, Roma San Pietro (exit possibility), Roma Trastvere, Roma Ostiense, Roma Tuscolana, Roma Termini.

When in Rome

Many of the major historic attractions and shopping areas in central Rome are within walking distance of each other. The city offers an efficient bus system as well as the Metro, a subway system. The train system, alas, has poor signage — in Italian.

Train transportation back to the ship

Trains leave from tracks 25 to 29,  five to seven minutes walking distance from the entry to the main station. Civitavecchia is the final destination for this train.

Free Wi-Fi

Public free Wi-Fi is available in the Civitavecchia downtown area. In Rome, few cafes have wi-fi, but two that do are Chiostro del Bramante, Via Arco della Pace 5, and Circus, Via della Vetrina 5. Most guests in Rome have Wi-Fi in their hotels.

Need to know

Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens will need a valid passport.

Language: Italian is the official language, but many people speak at least some English.

Store hours: Opening times differ a lot around Italy, but are generally from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Shops are closed on Sundays.

Tipping: As in most of Europe, tipping isn’t expected in Italy. A service charge is sometimes added to the bill. 

Currency: The euro

Safety: Civitaveccia is not a dangerous city. Take the usual caution. Rome is famous for its pickpockets and purse snatchers. Carry with you only what you need for the day, leaving the rest on the ship. It is recommended to keep money and credit cards concealed beneath your clothing.  See our safety tips for cruise travelers.

Your take

Have you been to Rome? Please share a story, tip or discovery. Photos, too! What was the highlight of your trip?

Help improve this article! See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

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Maria Lenhart
I am a veteran travel writer who has enjoyed reporting on destinations far and near for many publications. My favorite way to travel is on board a ship, no matter where it's going. 


“Connecting the ritzy shops at the bottom with the ritzy hotels at the top, this (the Spanish Steps) is one of Rome’s liveliest spots, with tourists and locals congregating on the steps and around the fountain at their base. The steps face west, so sunsets offer great photo ops.”

Fodor’s Travel Guides 

“The lines to get into the Colosseum and especially the Vatican and Sistine Chapel can be hours long. Luckily, we were able to bypass everyone waiting in line and walk in right away. It will cost you a few extra euros, but buying a ticket online and printing it out before your trip can save you hours of vacation time. ”

Business Insider

“Guides of varying quality linger outside the Colosseum, offering tours that allow you to skip the line.”

Rick Steves

“Lined with 16th- and 17th-century noble palaces and divided by an ivy-covered arch designed by Michelangelo, Via Giulia passes through the ancient districts of Ponte and Regola. It  is tranquil, beautiful, and seriously posh."

Condé Nast Traveler 

“Choose a couple of major sites and give yourself permission to enjoy some lesser-known monuments as well. Case Romane del Celio, for example, is just a couple of minutes' walk from the Colosseum.”

Porthole magazine

Your take: share your experience