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33 Unusual Things to do in Rome in 2024

When I first visited the Eternal City, I kind of doubted there were any unusual things to do in Rome.

After all, I kept thinking about iconic Rome landmarks like the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the Colosseum.

As a result, I mistakenly thought that the number of unusual things to do in Rome was pretty small.

However, after my third or fourth visit to this epic city, I quickly realized that there were a ton of non-touristy things to do in Rome.

Plus, many of these unique things to do in Rome are hidden in plain sight.

So, you don’t even need to leave the city center to get off the beaten and to plan a 2-day Rome itinerary that will take you away from the crowds.

Therefore, if you want to explore some of the coolest places in Rome then check out this expert’s guide.

It’s filled with tons of insider advice to help you plan the very merry Roman holiday of your dreams.

After all, I have been to Rome countless times and want to share all my secrets with you so that you can have the best trip possible.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

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Unusual Rome Attractions

1. Visit Romeow Cat Bistro Vegan Cat Cafe

View of a cat on a whicker chair at a cafe in paris.

Now, you might be wondering, what is the big deal about a cat cafe and is that really one of the unusual things to do in Rome? I mean, people eat at home with their cats every day.

Well, I am not one of those people. Sadly (sob), I do not have a kitty to call my own. So to get the kitty lovin’ that I needed, I headed straight for the Vegan Cat Cafe in Rome.

Because seriously, cats + food = Girl with the Passport heaven (during my twenty-four hours in Milan, I also had some great cafes but I didn’t see any cafes of the kitty persuasion).

But wait: Is it any good? Let me put it to you this way. I felt like I died and went to heaven.

Almost like my wannabe hipster and giddy school girl self-fused together and exploded in a rainbow filled with giant giggles of delight. In case you missed it, that means I really liked the Romeow Cat Bistrot.

Okay, What’s the downside? While I did get to pet six divinely cute little kitties and yes, the food was delicious, I did feel that the plates were a bit small and pricey at about €13 a piece.

I just rolled with it though since you are paying for the novelty of a cat cafe and I wanted to experience one of the best hidden gems in Rome.

That’s why I kind of expected the high prices. But you can’t go that wrong with soba noodles, a bean burger, and specialty cappuccinos to top it all off.

But no worries because I devour food, so I can totally eat yours and mine.

Just remember that Romeow Cat Bistrot doesn’t start serving food until after 8:00 pm (eating dinner too early is a classic Italy travel mistake).

Plus, not surprisingly, I’m not the only one who loves cats and food, so this place is pretty popular. Therefore, I would make a reservation at least a week in advance.

Pro Tip: If you’re on a budget, just order a drink while you’re there and then go eat somewhere else. But when you sit down, you do have to order something for each person in your groupd

Address: Via Francesco Negri, 15, Rome, Italy, 00154

Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 11:30 pm (again, kitchen opens after 8:00 pm)

Price: Sweets start at around €9.00

How to Get There: Take the blue line “B” to Piramide station and walk from there.

2. Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary

Haven’t had enough kitty cuteness yet? If you answered yes then be sure to check out the Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary.

Currently, 150+ cats now reside in the ruins where Ceasar, you know, met a rather sticky end.

But since Caesar hasn’t been on the Portico of Pompeii since 44 BCE, the feral cats made themselves at home.

Today, volunteers come to spay, neuter, feed, and adopt out the cats while tourists come to “Ohh” and “Ahh” at the insane cuteness of these fine felines.

So, if you want to check out one of the most unusual things to do in Rome then head to the entrance at the corner of Via Florida and Via di Torre Argentina.

Address: scavi archeologici, Largo di Torre Argentina angolo, Largo Arenula, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 4:30 pm.

Price: Free

How to Get There: Take the 30/40/46/62 to Argentina and walk from there.

3. Basilica di San Clemente

The mundane, brick exterior of the Basilica di San Clemente in rome. It's one of the most unusual things to do in Rome. It has an arch over the front door supported by four columns.

⭐️ Rating: 4.7/5.0 (44 Reviews) Price: $52.75 per person Duration: 1.5 hours 📍Meeting Point: S. Clemente Basilica Operator: EcoArt Travel Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

One of the grandest hidden gems in Rome lurks in the shadow of the Colosseum.

The humble yet holy Basilica di San Clemente was built in the 12th century atop a 4th-century church and former pagan temple.

“So blown away by the history in this tour. Our guide was so enthusiastic and interesting and seemed to love our questions. Loved that we toured it before other key sites and were able to identify Mithras throughout Rome. Saw many people touring on their own and feel that we got an entirely different experience with our amazing guide. Totally recommend this tour.”

Erica (read more reviews now)

Furthermore, the remains of several houses are buried amid the excavation zone.

FYI, it’s free to visit the Basilica di San Clemente and see the gold mosaic in the nave.

However, there is a cost to visit the underground levels (and you’ll not want to miss them).

So, it makes far more sense to book a guided tour and hear about all the awesomeness that this church has to offer.

Address: Piazza di S. Clemente, 00184 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Also open on Sunday from 12:00 pm to 5:30 pm.

Price: Free to enter the Basilica

How to Get There: Take line “A” to Manzoni station and walk from there.

4. Villa Farnesina

A view of the well-manicured paths and green trees and lawns that make up the gardens of Villa Farnesina. It's one of the most unique things to do in Rome.

⭐️ Rating: 4.7/5.0 (7 Reviews) Price: $185.70 per person Duration: 2 hours 📍Meeting Point: Entrance of Villa Farnesina Operator: Through Eternity Tours Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

Resting on the riverside south of Vatican City, Villa Farnesina is a splendid Renaissance mansion.

Essentially, the star attraction is the frescoes painted by Raphael in the halls. They depict scenes from Roman mythology, rural landscapes, and the wedding of Alexander the Great.

“Our tour of the Villa Farnesina with our guide, Guia, was outstanding. She was not only knowledgeable about the architecture and art, but she also provided other important perspectives. She understands and was able to clearly communicate the context of the Villa and its artwork, so it is possible to appreciate not only what are you seeing, but why it was built or commissioned. We came into the tour with a fair amount of knowledge of renaissance art and architecture, and we’re thrilled with what we learned on our tour!”

Anonymous (read more reviews now)

All in all, this is one of the best hidden gems in Rome for art buffs.

In fact, you can even splurge and take a private tour of Villa Farnesina.

This takes you through the collection with a fine tooth comb and it’s far cheaper than going back to college.

Address: Via della Lungara, 230, 00165 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Price: €12.00 each

How to Get There: Take the 23, 280, n3s to Lgt Farnesina and walk from there.

5. Baths of Caracalla

View of large columns that make up the ruins on the Baths of Caracella. They are surrounded by tall trees with green leaves and this is one of the non-touristy things to do in Rome.

⭐️ Rating: 4.0/5.0 (545 Reviews) Price: $23.15 per person Duration: 1 day 📍Meeting Point: Bath of Caracalla Operator: GetYourGuide Tours & Tickets GmbH Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

Back in the day, the Romans would have done a bit of skinny dipping at the Baths of Caracalla.

It’s kind of ironic to say this gigantic public bathhouse is one of the hidden gems in Rome. However, they seem to be far less popular than other complexes.

But, the thermal Baths of Caracalla are exceptionally well-preserved.

“The site is pleasant and impressive! Some floor mosaics are complete and well preserved, the height of the walls gives an idea of the scale of the site. Despite the explanatory signs, it takes a little imagination to convey the splendor and colors of the thermal baths. I recommend reading Alix’s Travels on Rome for the reconstruction of the ancient monuments of Rome, including the Baths of Caracalla. When will there be tablets or 3D headsets to visualize the beauty of Rome?”

Pierre (read more reviews now)

Built-in 216 AD, the ruins contain a frigidarium (cold water suite), a caldarium (hot water plunge pool), and a tepidarium (warm relaxation room).

Save time standing around in the heat and pre-book a Baths of Caracalla entrance ticket. This way, you can explore at your own pace – mind, no bathing is permitted.

Address: Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm.

Price: €13.00 each

How to Get There: Take metro line “B” to Circo Massimo and walk from there.

6. Centrale Montemartini

Centrale Montemartini is one of the coolest places in Rome since it is a sculpture museum housed in a former power plant.

In fact, much of the machinery is still in situ. So, exploring the galleries has an industrial vibe that strikes a bizarre contrast with the classical marble that surrounds you.

Yup, this is one of the most surprising hidden gems in Rome.

Note, Centrale Montemartini is part of the Roman Empire Museum (or, Capitoline Museums).

Therefore, you can enjoy decent savings when you buy a Capitoline Museums combo package.

Address: Via Ostiense, 106, 00154 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Price: €8.54 each

How to Get There: Take line “B” to Garbatella station and walk from there.

7. Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio

A gate and green leaffy trees lead you into Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio. It has a stone building with archways supported by columns. This one of the unusual things to do in Rome.

No need to be fluent in Italian to suss out what makes Santo Stefano Rotondo one of the most unique things to do in Rome!

In fact, this is the oldest circular church in the Eternal City. And, it’s both a basilica and a titular church.

Another curious tidbit, the church is dedicated to both Saint Stephen and King Stephen I of Hungary.

Funnily enough, the round church is only 10 minutes from another (very famous) elliptical landmark.

Pro Tip: This is one of the best hidden gems in Rome that you can visit during a private Vespa tour. You can’t get more Roman Holiday than that.

Address: Via Santo Stefano Rotondo, 7, 00184 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Price: Free

How to Get There: Take the 81/nMC to Navicella/Villa Celimontana station and walk from there.

8. Domus Aurea

A view of the interior of the dome that forms the ruins of Domus Aurea. It is a circular, white brick building with a circular hole in the roof and four square doorways along the floor of the building

⭐️ Rating: 4.4/5.0 (320 Reviews) Price: $52.55 per person Duration: 75 minutes 📍Meeting Point: Viale Serapide, 00184 Roma RM, Italy Operator: Elisabetta Barbaro Details: Read more on Viator now!

Translating to “Golden House”, Domus Aurea was the residence of Emperor Nero.

Therefore, this is one of the best hidden gems in Rome for getting acquainted with how the other half lived.

Now, Domus Aurea is conveniently located in Parco del Colle Oppio near the Colosseum.

“Omg I’ve been wanting to do this tour for years but each time I come to Rome it’s been booked out Finally did it and I can honestly say it was even better than I had expected. Absolutely amazing and the guide was fabulous.”

Mike (read more reviews now)

It’s an archeological site but tourists are welcome. In fact, tours culminate in a snazzy VR experience for a deeper understanding of how the house would have appeared.

However, access to this underground home is limited. As such, advance booking is necessary for Domus Aurea tours.

Address: Viale Serapide, 00184 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 9:15 am to 5:15 pm.

Price: €19.08 per person.

How to Get There: Take metro line “B” to Colosseo and walk from there.

9. Appian Way

Pedestrains walk along the Appian Way. It's a long, straight, paved road lined with trees and is one of the best things to do in Rome off the beaten path.

The OG highway, the Appian Way was Rome’s gateway to the east and one of the best things to do in Rome off the beaten path.

Built in 312 BC, it connected Rome with Capua near Naples. Later, it connected the Eternal City with the seaport in Brindisi.

As you know, Romans liked their roads nice and straight and that’s what you find with the Appian Way.

Therefore, this is one of the best hidden gems in Rome for cyclists. After all, it’s easy to rent a bike and spend the day exploring the route independently.

Another option is to try the Appian Way e-bike tour, which includes a stop at the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus and a visit to the aqueducts.

10. Palazzo Pamphilj

The domed central area of  Palazzo Pamphilj with two bell towers on either side.

At the southern tip of Piazza Navona, Palazzo Pamphilj (or Palazzo Pamphili) is an outstanding 16th-century palace.

In fact, it was the residence of the Pamphilj family into which Cardinal Giovanni Battista Pamphilj was born. Later, he became known as Pope Innocent X.

Now, this is one of the best hidden gems in Rome for Baroque architecture. However, these days it is home to the Brazilian Embassy in Rome.

However, it does host public tours and special events. I mean, you can’t beat dinner and an opera performance at Palazzo Pamphili if you’re looking for one of the coolest things to do in Rome at night.

Address: Piazza Navona, 14, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm and Friday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Price: Varies

How to Get There: Take buses 46, 62, 64, and 916 to C.So Vittorio Emanuele/Navona and walk from there.

11. The Owl House

A stained glass window in the Owl House where a a woman with long blond hair is reaching down to the coean and picking up pebbles inside one of the coolest places in Rome.

I love Rome but man is it packed with tourists like me. Can’t they just all leave while I’m there?

Well, the good news is you can escape tourist mania by heading to the Owl House, a uniquely exquisite piece of architecture set within the Villa Torlonia’s park.

Back in the day, it was a gift to Mussolini from the Torlonia family.

Anyway, to find this magical wonderland of Architecture, all you have to do is walk along via XX Settembre, past the British Embassy, through the Porta Pia, and along via Nomentana.

You’ll know you’re there when you see a huge brick wall on your right that surrounds a park, with Villa Torlonia at the center of the main entrance. Things just got real at Hogwarts.

Now this small museum is totally worth a visit, but the real highlight here is the Owl House. However, to purchase your tickets to the Owl House, you’ll need to buy them at the ticket office in Villa Torlonia.

The Worst Part? There are no signs and it’s totally counterintuitive but no one wants to walk all the way to the owl house (go left of the villa and continue towards the back of the park.

You won’t miss it with its distinctive architecture) just to go back to the main entrance to purchase tickets.

Actually, the more walking you do the more gelato you can justify eating but that’s all up to you.

The best part is no way will you miss the Owl House because it is one of the oddest buildings I’ve ever seen, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Think Gaudi only with the weirdness volume turned down a bit. Sorry, but Gaudi is the king of weird ass architecture that we all love.

Watch out for the rather stern-looking man at the door who will validate your ticket and the rest is up to you. J

Just make sure you have your camera ready because the unique design elements and vibrant, stained glass windows are the stuff that make this one of the coolest places in Rome.

Pro Tip: The gardens themselves are also worth a visit since they feature charming walking paths, scenic ponds, and other distinctive buildings that include granite obelisks, statues, temples., and more.

12. Doria Pamphilj Gallery

A view of the well manicured garden with trees and bushes that is surrounded by the Doria Pamphilj Gallery in Rome.

⭐️ Rating: 4.4/5.0 (320 Reviews) Price: $29.56 per person Duration: 70 minutes 📍Meeting Point: Via del Corso, 305, 00186 Roma RM, Italy Operator: TOURISTATION Details: Read more on Viator Now!

Now, the Doria Pamphilj Gallery is a 15-minute walk east of the palace.

In reality, this place is just as impressive as the actual palace since it features eavily frescoed halls that showcase works from Raffaello, Tiziano, Rubens, Titian, and Caravaggio.

Meanwhile, the lush courtyard is another hidden gem in Rome that is just waiting to be explored.

“Great museum, not well known by tourists. with explanation of most of the works of art. It is a must in Rome.”

Claudia (read more reviews now)

A huge bonus is that the gallery doesn’t get half as busy as some of the other museums in Rome.

However, word is getting out there and as such, it’s wise to pre-book Doria Pamphilj Gallery skip-the-line reserved entrance.

Address: Via del Corso, 305, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Monday/Tuesday/Thursday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, Wednesday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Friday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Price: €17.02 each.

How to Get There: Take bus 51, 62, 63, and 80 to Corso/Ss. Apostoli station and walk from there.

13. Altar of the Fatherland Observation Deck

The enormous Altar of the Fatherland structure. it has a giant green stature in the mild and out front while the actual structure is made of white marble columns and topped on eityher side by chariots with horses.

Obviously, the Altar of the Fatherland (the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II) is no hidden gem in Rome.

I mean, this gigantic marble temple is almost as big as the Colosseum. It’s even known as the Wedding Cake due to its grandiose architecture.

But, what you might not know is that you can visit the top of the Altar of the Fatherland and score an epic panoramic view of the city.

It’s also free to walk up the stairs. Otherwise, you can pay to ride the elevator.

Pro Tip: The elevator is expensive (16 EUR/17 USD). And, it’s not really necessary unless you have mobility or health issues.

If you do take the elevator, you may as well go all out and purchase the audio guide.

Address: Piazza Venezia, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm.

Price: Free, unless you take the elevator.

How to Get There: Take bus 51, 85, 87 and 118 to Fori Imperiali/Campidoglio station and walk from there.

14. Non-Catholic Cemetery

It’s a known fact that the Catholic church is pretty well established in Rome!

However, not all residents practice Catholicism which is why the Non-Catholic Cemetery exists.

In fact, it’s one of the oldest burial grounds in Europe in continual use, making it one of the non-touristy things to do in Rome.

Here, you’ll find tombs of the romantic poets, painters, and thinkers who relocated to the Eternal City.

Pro Tip: the cemetery is right next to the Pyramid of Caius Cestius. Therefore, you can visit these two hidden gems in Rome at the same time.

Plus, that private Vespa tour also swings by the cemetery.

Address: Via Caio Cestio, 6, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and on Sunday from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm.

15. Pyramid of Caius Cestius

A giant white pyramid sits next to the San Paolo gate which features two circular towers made of brick with a connecting arch.

The Egyptian-style Pyramid of Caius Cestius is one of the most unique things to do in Rome. Because, well, since when did Rome have pyramids?!

Since a wealthy Roman magistrate called Caius Cestius took a fancy to having one built as his future tomb.

At the time of construction, the interiors were richly painted. However, the frescoes have faded over the years and it’s generally closed to the public.

How to find it? Well, the Piramide Metro Station is a bit of a clue.

Address: Via Raffaele Persichetti, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Price: Free

How to Get There: Take metro line “B” to Piramide station and walk from there.

16. Galleria Sciarra

Stunning fresco of people in Victorian-era garb sitting around a table on either side of the window. The window has gold trim and the background of the building is maroon with lots of intricate patterns.

One of the most beautiful places in Rome is tucked away right around the corner from the Trevi Fountain.

See, Galleria Sciarra is the atrium of an office complex adorned with astonishing Art Nouveau paintings.

Giuseppe Cellini painted the frescoes according to the theme of the Glorification of Women.

As such, they represent virtues associated with women like justice, faithfulness, and strength.

Nowadays, Galleria Sciarra is open to the public (and free!) during office hours.

Address: Via Marco Minghetti, 10, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Monday and Tuesday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Price: Free

How to Get There: Take bus 62, 63, 83, or 85 to Corso and walk from there.

17. Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls

The Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls is located in the Ostiense district, south of the Centro Storico.

Now, this papal basilica was built to commemorate Paul the Apostle after his execution.

So, head to the front of the portico and you’ll spot a sculpture of the saint. Plus, his tomb rests inside the basilica.

Essentially, this is one of the most interesting things to do in Rome that is a great alternative to the far more touristic St. Peter’s Basilica.

Address: Piazzale San Paolo, 1, 00146 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm.

Price: Free

How to Get There: Take metro line B to Basilica S. Paolo station and walk from there.

18. Vicus Caprarius

Known as the Water City, Vicus Caprarius is an underground aqueduct right beneath the Trevi Fountain.

While this cistern dates back to the first century, it was only discovered a couple of decades ago.

So, embark on a guided tour that will introduce you to a plumbing system that is very much functional.

Now, despite being one of the most unique things to do in Rome, you can’t just show up.

Yeah, advance reservations via WhatsApp are mandatory for weekends and recommended for weekdays.

Address: Vicolo del Puttarello, 25, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Price: €4.00

How to Get There: Take the 492 bus to Tritone/Fontana Trevi station and walk from there.

19. Roman Catacombs

Some of the bones stacked in the catacombs in Rome.

⭐️ Rating: 4.6/5 (2,582 Reviews) Price: $64.72 per person Duration: 3.5 hour 📍Meeting Point: Meet your guide in the centre of Piazza Barberini Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

I was sharing the details of my trip to Rome with my dad and I said something like, “Dad, I even saw the catacombs in Rome. I didn’t even know they had any. I only knew about the Catacombs in Paris, France.”

To which he replied, “Oh really? Doesn’t everyone know about the catacombs in Rome?”

Now this clearly means that I live under a social media rock that shields me from anything and everything mildly intellectual.

I had no idea Rome had Catacombs, but clearly, they do because I saw them and they were and are insanely impressive.

“Vanessa is a superb guide – she’s an excellent story-teller, connects amazingly well with her group and has the most positive attitude ever! She gave the backstory to the Roman crypts and catacombs in an enjoyable, engaging manner while taking the time to answer individual questions along the way. Couldn’t recommend a better tour guide than Vanessa!”

Mark (read more reviews now!)

It gets better. They don’t really have the ick factor of the ones in Paris since all the bones have been taken from the graves.

But, these relics of Roman history are probably the coolest historic artifacts that I have ever seen in my life; and that’s saying a lot since I have a degree in history and frequent museums like it’s my job.

Now, the Catacombs of St. Callixtus are the catacombs that I visited and they are located just outside the city walls.

Originally founded in the second century, these underground tunnels served as a burial ground for Christians living in a mostly pagan Rome.

Hidden amongst these tunnels are various statues, tombs of saints, and mosaics that allude to the rich cultural history of this beautiful city, minus all the executions over varying religious beliefs.

Yeah, I found this site to be an enlightening journey into Rome’s history. That’s why I give this site two enthusiastic thumbs up and enjoyed it as part of one of the best ghost tours in Rome.

Address: Via Appia Antica, 110/126, 00179 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open every day, except Wednesday, from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm and from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

Price: Starts at €8.00 per person.

How to Get There: Take bus 118 to Catacombe S.Callisto and walk from there.

20. Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden of Rome)

Clear your head and give your legs a workout at the ultra-lush Orto Botanico di Roma.

See, the Botanical Garden in Janiculum Garden is one of the loveliest hidden gems in Rome if you want to connect with nature.

Sitting just north of the foodie haven, Trastevere, this park features a wealth of plant and tree species from all over the globe.

Easy to access, epic for photographers, and calmer than most places in the Eternal City: this is where to go to wind down.

Address: Largo Cristina di Svezia, 23 A – 24, 00165 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Price: €4.00 each.

How to Get There: Take bus 23 to Lgt Vallati/Pettinari station and walk from there.

21. Belvedere del Gianicolo

Now, Belvedere del Gianicolo is one of the non-touristy things to do in Rome that you can visit in tandem with Orto Botanico.

Because Belvedere del Gianicolo is located on Janiculum Hill which is the namesake of the park.

This viewpoint looks out over St. Peter’s Basilica and the Altar of the Fatherland.

While the view is insane at sunset, it will still knock your socks off at any time of day.

Address: via Garibaldi, Salita di Sant’Onofrio, 00165 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open 24/7

Price: Free

How to Get There: Take bus 710 to Carini/S. Pancrazio station and walk from there.

22. Keyhole Viewpoint on the Aventine Hill

The keyhole view of St. Peter's Basilica from Palentine Hill. The church can be seen through several green bushes.

Flee the crowds of the Palatine and Capitoline hills and make a beeline for the quieter Aventine Hill.

“Buco della Serratura dell’Ordine di Malta” is a keyhole. Once you peer through, you’ll get a view of St. Peter’s Basilica beautifully framed by the surrounding bushes.

Alright, word has gotten out about this former hidden gem in Rome. Now, it’s standard to wait in line for a glimpse of the view.

I know. Sad, but true. I did this a few years ago and it was one of the most unusual things to do in Rome. Now, blech, people are everywhere.

Even so, it’s totally worth your time if you’re in the neighborhood. Use your judgment and jump in the line if it’s moving at a decent pace.

Pro Tip: To get this view you literally look through a rather insignificant-looking keyhole that sits on a green door in a large piazza on the Aventine Hill.

Address: Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, 4, 00153 Rome RM, Italy

Hours: 24/7

Price: Free

How to Get There: Take metro line “B” to Circo Massimo station and walk from there.

23. Villa Doria Pamphilj

Villa Doria Pamphilj is one of the hidden gems in Rome that requires extra effort to visit since it’s situated in Municipio XII (Monteverde).

Indeed, this is another estate belonging to the Pamphilj family. Here, you’ll find an elegant mansion set amid luxuriously landscaped gardens and water features.

Essentially, this is an awesome destination for a brisk morning walk, a summer picnic, or a stunning sunset view.

Seeing as it’s so large and quite far from the center, it never feels busy.

So, if you want to enjoy one of the most unique things to do in Rome then buses here take around 15 minutes from Trastevere.

Address: Via di S. Pancrazio, 00152 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: 24/7

How to Get There: Take bus 791 to Leone XIII/Villa Pamphili station and walk from there.

24. The Keats – Shelley House

Halfway between the Pantheon and Villa Borghese, the Keats – Shelley House is where the English poet John Keats spent his final days.

Inside, you’ll find several tributes to romantic poets plus a spellbinding library stocked with rare tomes.

Therefore, this is one of the hidden gems in Rome for lovers of literature.

Note, it’s also attributed to Percy Bysshe Shelley as he lived locally. Lord Byron, Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Oscar Wilde are also represented in the exhibition.

Address: Piazza di Spagna, 26, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Price: Starts at €6.00 each.

How to Get There: Take metro line “A” to Spagna station and walk from there.

25. Passetto del Biscione

Passetto del Biscione is one of those easy-to-miss hidden gems in Rome.

See, this is a teeny passage linking the site of the Theater of Pompey and Piazza del Biscione.

It’s a simple yet stunning affair that features elegant tiles and sublime frescoes on the walls and ceilings.

Note, the passageway is sometimes locked. But, it’s usually accessible during daylight hours.

Pro Tip: There are several hotels and restaurants located next to the Passetto del Biscione.

26. Portico of Octavia

A view of the small ruins that make up the Portico of Octavia . There is a small white roof and a domed doorway on the light with three columns on the left.

Right around the corner from Lago di Torre Argentina and Teatro Marcello, the Portico of Octavia is what remains of a 2nd-century walkway.

One of the free-to-visit hidden gems in Rome, this was built to link two temples dedicated to Jupiter.

FYI, that was the chief deity in Roman times. So, it would have been like Ancient Rome’s answer to a cathedral or St. Peter’s Basilica.

Nowadays, it stands in ruins but you can’t not be impressed by the remaining columns and friezes.

Address: Via del Portico d’Ottavia, 29, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: 24/7

How to Get There: Take bus 280 and get off at P.Za Monte Savello station.

27. Tiber Island

A view of a yellow mansion sitting on Tiber Island in Rome. Arched bridges connect the island to the mainland in either direction.

Tiber Island floats in between Trastevere and the Jewish Quarter

While it’s not exactly a hidden gem in Rome, the isle is often skipped during typical itineraries.

Both the Ponte Cestio and the Ponte Fabricio (Rome’s oldest bridge) provide pedestrian access to one of the most unusual things to do in Rome.

Kind of like Île de la Cité in Paris, it’s pretty small yet worth a visit for the monuments and views.

Over on the east, you’ll find a majestic basilica. Meanwhile, there is a hospital on the west side. In fact, this is due to the island’s storied past as a place of healing.

28. Orange Garden

A stone’s throw from the keyhole, the Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci) is another of the hidden gems in Rome’s Aventine Hill area.

Here, the fragrant citrus trees provide much-needed protection from the summer sunshine.

Plus, the views of the Tiber and Rome are phenomenal. In essence, it’s a rad spot to digest a day of sightseeing and eating your way around Rome.

29. Rose Garden

Likewise, the Rose Garden (Roseto Comunale) is another of the botanical hidden gems in Rome for flower lovers.

And, the garden is just across the Via di Santa Sabina from the Orange Garden.

Roses of all colors bloom from late April to mid-June and frame the Circus Maximus.

Sadly, that’s your limited window for seeing the roses. But, it’s super cool if you time things right.

30. Galleria Spada

First and foremost, Galleria Spada is an art museum dedicated to paintings collected by Cardinal Bernardino Spada.

But, the complex harbors one of the coolest hidden gems in Rome.

See, there is a colonnaded passageway that appears to be over double the length that it really is.

At the end, you’ll see a statue of Mars, the God of War. It has a height of 31 inches although it appears to be lifesize.

Essentially, it’s one big optical illusion and one of the coolest things to do in Rome.

Address: Piazza Capo di Ferro, 13, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open Wednesday through Monday from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm.

Price: €6.00 per person.

How to Get There: Take bus 54 to C.So Vittorio Emanuele station and walk from there.

31. Teatro Marcello

A view of the archways and  green grass that stands in front of the ruins of the Teatro Marcello in Rome. This is one of the best hidden gems in Rome.

Before there was the Colosseum, there was the Teatro Marcello.

See, Julius Caesar oversaw this building project and it was inaugurated by Augustus in 12 BC. On the other hand, the Colosseum was built between 72 and 80 AD.

Furthermore, the theater is one of the best free things to do in Rome.

However, you can only visit the exterior. Because, the top floor of the structure has been turned into private apartments – Rome’s most coveted address, surely.

In addition, the theater does hold the occasional summer concert so keep an eye out for that.

Address: Via del Teatro di Marcello, 00186 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Price: Free

How to Get There: Take bus 170 to Teatro Marcello/Ara Coeli and walk from there.

32. Rome Ghost Tours

⭐️ Rating: 4.4/5 (114 Reviews) Price: $27.42 per person Duration: 1.5 hours 📍Meeting Point: Meet on the steps of the San Andrea della Valle Church Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

Look, I know it may seem like I have an unhealthy obsession with the dead (one of the reasons why I loved Pompeii so much), but I swear I don’t. I haven’t even seen an episode of the Walking Dead.

I was just one of those kids that loved to be creeped out by Goosebumps books, Are You Afraid of the Dark and my personal favorite, Unsolved Mysteries (only the Robert Stack episodes will do).

That’s why when I saw a ghost tour in Rome, I went for it. The one I booked was through Dark Rome Tours and it seemed like one of the fun things to do In Rome at night.

The tour lasted about an hour and a half and as you meandered through the quaint streets of Rome and listened to ghastly tales about the darker side of Rome that no one at the Vatican will talk about.

On the downside, the tour meets at S. Andrea della Valle Church and they give you directions that totally confused me. In fact, my taxi driver didn’t even know where this church was.

Therefore, give yourself plenty of time to get there and enjoy one of the most unique things to do in Rome.

“Elisabetta was an absolute joy and overall lovely guide. Her English was great and she spoke clearly and loud for all of us to hear. She was patient with the pace of everyone and knew tons of stories about the city. The walk was a nice small winding trail through beautiful streets, alleys, and squares. Would 100% recommend to anyone looking for a fun little unique tour through Rome.”

Morgan (read more reviews now!)

My verdict was this the best ghost tour I’ve ever been on? No. Was I super scared? No. Did I have a good time? Yes. So I would definitely recommend this tour.

Not only is it a fun way to learn about a side of Roman history that is not often found in textbooks, but the guides are super helpful, super informative, and super enthusiastic.

My guide was a loud New Yorker like me so we bonded and I may be a tad biased in his favor. But I do think this is one of the best Rome night tours around.

The tour guides are locals so be sure to ask them where to eat and what to see. I mean, my guide told me to eat at Pizzarella (Near Castel Santangelo and the Tiber River) and this pizza nearly changed my life.

33. Capuchin Crypt Rome 

⭐️ Rating: 4.7/5 (860 Reviews) Price: $41.96 per person Duration: 45min – 1hr 📍Meeting Point: Meet in front of the church. Details: Read more on Get Your Guide Now!

You’ve seen one crypt you’ve seen them all right? Wrong! I guarantee that this Crypt in Rome is unlike anything that you have ever seen in your life! Unless you are into some pretty dark voodoo magic.

See, each chapel is located under the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini and is adorned with the bones and mummified remains of brothers from the Capuchin order of monks.

The rooms are even named for the bone that is most predominantly found in that chapel. Therefore, you’ll find a femur room, a cranium room, a pelvis room, and more.

One chapel is entirely devoid of bones but the rest are absolutely full of them.

On the surface, these decorations may appear to be rather macabre and disturbing, but the message conveyed by these decorations is rather uplifting.

See, many of these men were considered saints. Therefore, their bones were considered relics and were decorated in this manner to show people how short life is and to inspire them to make the most of it.

In total, the bones of nearly 4,000 individuals were used to remind citizens that there was a beautiful, eternal life in heaven awaiting them after their time on Earth.

So while the idea of using people’s skeletons to create inspirational art is indeed a bit strange and kinda of awkward, the message behind the art is beautiful and inspires us to live in the now.

Once inside,  you will see that the church has a created a museum that explains not only who the Capuchins were (no they weren’t monkeys) and how the order developed.

The gist of the story is that the other monks got corrupt so they created a new, more devout order.

Once through the Museum, you will then walk along a long corridor and peer into the crypts which will be on your right.

“Our guide, Eva, was amazing so knowledgeable, I could not imagine doing that tour without a guide. The friars that put these beautiful crypts together were truly artists and commemorated their deceased brothers in a beautiful way. Would highly recommend this tour”

Susan (read more reviews now!)

You might be wondering if I should book a Catacombs and Crypts tour? Yes, a thousand times yes! A site like this needs explanation.

Otherwise, you’re just going to be sitting there, thinking that these monks had some weird fetish for the grotesque.

They’ll get you into the museum and crypts, as well as transport you to several other historical sites. (Expensive but worth it).

Address: Via Vittorio Veneto, 27, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm.

Price: €10.00 each.

How to Get There: Take the metro to Barberini station and walk from there.

Map of the Best Hidden Gems in Rome

Map of the best hidden gems in Rome. Blue dots sit on a map and represent 30+ spots in Rome.

Unusual Rome Attractions FAQ

What to do in Rome if you don’t like history?

Rome is known for its rich history, but if historical sites aren’t your cup of tea, don’t worry! The Eternal City has plenty of unique attractions that will pique your interest. Here are some offbeat places to visit:

The Monster Park (Garden of Bomarzo): This extraordinary garden is filled with bizarre and whimsical sculptures, including giant monsters, mythical creatures, and surreal architecture.

It’s a perfect blend of art, nature, and fantasy. It is perfect if you are in Rome with kids and they are super bored with all the numerous historical sights

Coppedè District: Coppedè is an enchanting neighborhood known for its unique architecture.

The buildings feature intricate designs, whimsical details, and a mix of artistic styles, creating a magical atmosphere. It’s like stepping into a book.

Centrale Montemartini: This museum is an unexpected fusion of ancient art and industrial machinery. Classical sculptures are displayed alongside colossal engines, creating a unique juxtaposition of old and new.

The reason why it is so interesting is because you will find that the old and the new merges together. So if you’ve found yourself with fatigue after visiting ruin after ruin, this will be a total refresher.

What are the prettiest parts of Rome?

Ah, the Eternal City! Rome is brimming with picturesque spots that will make your heart skip a beat.

Answering this question is tough because everywhere I turned, I saw some amazing places. Like almost every turn had a view that was Instagram gold!

Some of the prettiest areas include the charming Trastevere neighborhood with its narrow cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, the vibrant Piazza Navona with its stunning fountains, and the breathtaking views from the top of the Spanish Steps.

But some of the best wineries near Rome are pretty lovely too. Also, don’t forget to toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain for good luck.

Can you walk around Rome at night?

Absolutely! Rome is enchanting at night. You will find that the city has beautifully lit landmarks and lively atmosphere.

While it’s generally safe to walk around popular areas like Trastevere, the historic center, and the Spanish Steps, it’s always a good idea to use common sense and stick to well-lit and populated areas.

You have to realize that Rome is one of the pickpocket capitals in the world so make sure to keep your bags close by. To be honest, this is something you should do in the day too!

As with any city, it’s wise to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

There you have it! That wraps up this guide to the best hidden gems in Rome.

Tell me, did your picks for the most unusual things to do in Rome make the list? If not then let me know now.

And if you found this post useful, be sure to join our email list and Facebook group for even more awesome travel info.


Wednesday 12th of December 2018

Must say you captured Rome pretty well !!


Wednesday 12th of December 2018

Thanks so much!


Tuesday 13th of March 2018

On the pin - that got me here-, is a wrong picture ... I would change it because that's Florence and not Rome.... just saying... great story though! ?


Wednesday 14th of March 2018

Thanks! I already changed it! Just forget to edit it here!!


Monday 12th of March 2018

I absolutely love this! I didn't make it to Rome when I was in Italy but I am so checking out the Cat Cafe when I go! And I'm not even Vegan!!


Monday 12th of March 2018

Me either! But I love a good cat cafe and can't wait to get back to Rome to explore more.


Saturday 3rd of March 2018

OWL HOUSE?? Take me there now please!! Where has this been all my life? Also, that crypt sounds pretty darn cool too.


Wednesday 7th of March 2018

Right? The Owl house was amazing. I have to post some more photos from this beautiful place.


Saturday 3rd of March 2018

I love the idea of a ghost tour. I went on one at st fagans live museum in wales once. Its basically full of homes through the ages and they transferred the actual houses so when they take you inside, turn the lights off and tell ghost stories - its just brillliant! So now I love finding other ghost tours! Its something thats a bit different to do!


Wednesday 7th of March 2018

I love ghost tours too. I always try and find them wherever I travel. I love when the tour guides dress the part.

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