If it’s your first time in Rome of course you need to see all the big hitters. But if you have more than a few days, have been to The Eternal City before or simply want to escape the crowds, this list of the more unique things to do Rome is for you.
Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Forum and Palatine Hill, Vatican City. They are the most popular listed sights when tourists are searching for what to visit in Rome.
And for good reason. We agree with them all. Well except the Sistine Chapel. We thought that was overpriced and rather boring to be honest. And don’t get us started on the audio guide!
Anyway I digress, because there are so many alternative things to in Rome that it is virtually impossible not to fall in love with the city.
Here’s our thirteen favourite unique things to do in Rome.
Unique Things To Do In Rome
Walk Down Via Giulia
I have no idea why this street isn’t busier with tourists than it is because it’s so charming. But then again if it was, it probably wouldn’t be on our list of unique things to do in Rome.
The street runs almost parallel to the river Tiber and has some unusual places to visit in Rome, namely Farnese arch and via Guilia’s Mascherone.
The story goes that the Farnese arch was supposed to extend into a private bridge over the river Tiber to connect the Farnese family mansion to another of their residences, but it was never completed.
Further down the street towards Ponte Sisto bridge you’ll find the via Giulia’s Mascherone, meaning grotesque face overseeing a fountain.
Fun fact. If the inside of a fountain is smooth it is made from an ancient recycled Roman bath. However, if it is rough, it’s made from a reused coffin. I know which I’d rather drink from. How about you?
Chill Out in the Orange Garden
If you really want to escape the crowds with one of our unique things to do in Rome, check this elegant spot out.
Located atop Aventine Hill, it’s one of the more serene parks in Rome. Which is surprising given it has, in our opinion, one of the best views of the city.
It is also known as Savelli’s Park, simply because it has belonged to the Savelli family since 1200. Inside, only the remains of the family fortress remain. It was demolished in 1613.
Look Through the Aventine Keyhole
Near the Orange Garden is another of our recommendations for unique things to do in Rome, the peephole vista of the perfectly framed dome of St Peter.
You can’t enter the gardens that are part of the Priory of the Knights of Malta, so there’s nothing more do to that put your eye upto the big green metal door.
Nevertheless it’s still a pretty fun activity to do in Rome if you are in the area.
Fun Activities To Do In Rome
Rock Out at Piazza Trilussa
When we were asking around for what to visit Rome, this place was recommended a few times by people who live in the city so we knew we had to check it out and were so glad we did.
By day it’s just a square but come dusk it comes alive with evening entertainment and the steps in front of the fountain are lined with people watching buskers perform in 30 – 60 minute sets.
It’s one of the cheaper evening alternative things to do in Rome instead of hanging out in the bars. Locals and tourists alike grab a few beers or a bottle of chilled prosecco from one of the small shops around the square.
Just a note on drinking in public In Rome. Before 10pm anything goes. But between 10pm and 12am any alcohol has to be in plastic containers and after 12am it’s banned.
And another note on tipping the buskers. It’s their job. Don’t be the dick, sitting there watching them perform and not give anything. Get up off your bum at the end of their set and show your appreciation with a few euros.
If you do fancy a few drinks in a bar instead, nearby Mr Brown’s on Vicolo de’ Cinque, 29 is a good choice. And their cocktails are half price at €3.50 until 10pm. Bonus tip for you there!
Take A Segway Tour
During our time hanging out in the Eternal City, we took a segway tour with Turtle Tours Rome. Our guide Camila was genuinely one of the best we’ve had on our travels.
As well as the big hitters, she took us around some of the more unusual places to visit in Rome. We learnt so much about the city that we would otherwise not have known and just generally had a really fun afternoon buzzing around and chatting away.
It was our first time riding them so we were a little apprehensive given all the crowds of tourists in Rome. But they are surprisingly easy to control.
If you are want to put some unique things to do in Rome on your travel itinerary, this should be one of them. It’s a fun activity to do in Rome if you are short on time too. Wow did we cover some ground!
The tours range from €50 – 80 each and last between 2 – 4 hours. Click here to check out the exact tour we did.
Different Things To Do In Rome For Lunch
Gorge on Pasta on Via Dei Coronari
Okay let’s dive into one of the main reasons so many people visit Italy in general. For the food!
Of course a capital city plus tonnes of tourists mean restaurant prices are often hiked up. And that’s exactly why it’s best to scout out more unusual places to visit in Rome when it come to food.
We stiffed out a whole street where you can get loads of great lunch time deals on some seriously delicious pasta. Some are just takeaway spots but some have a few tables inside where you can go in and sit.
Typically there are mix and match pasta and sauce options.
Our favourite was called Pasta Imperiale where you could grab a plate of yummy pasta for €5 and a small glass of wine for €2. Alright the wines not the best we’ve tasted but for that price, who cares right?! It’s still one of the fun activities to do in Rome.
Another good spot for grabbing a cheap lunch in Rome is Pastificio Guerra on Via Della Croce, right near the Spanish Steps. At 1pm sharp they serve up freshly made pasta for €4, this time with a free small glass of wine!
Get there on time though to this recommendation of unique things to do in Rome. That pasta goes quick.
Pig Out On Some Serious Porchetta
If your heading to or have just come out of the Vatican City and are feeling peckish, this is the perfect stop off to fill your belly up. And it won’t blow a hole in your travel budget either.
Here’s the address: Angrypig Birretta e Porchetta, Via Tunisi, 38.
There’s a selection of several different sandwiches with fillings such as sun dried tomatoes and grilled aubergines accompanying the perfectly cooked porchetta.
There’s a good range of beer or wine on offer, just help yourself. And you can even leave your review of the place on the walls. Really cool place on our list of unique things to do in Rome.
More Foodie Alternative Things To Do In Rome
Get Your Sugar Fix in Trastevere
I guess this isn’t so much one of the most alternative things in do in Rome. However, if you buy a huge bag and just eat that for your lunch it’s definitely different.
We’re not even massive fans of sweet stuff but when we walked past this window full of pastries we just couldn’t help ourselves. I mean look at it!
And then we didn’t know which to choose and so ended up with a selection of pretty much all of them. We felt slightly sick afterwards but definitely didn’t regret it. Definitely a fun activity to do in Rome.
Here’s the address: Biscottificio Artigiano Innocenti, Via della Luce, 21.
But take your time finding it. The trastevere neighbourhood is our favourite in Rome. It’s so pretty and is great for just wandering and getting lost. That’s how we found this place.
Well Off The Beaten Track Restaurant
If you fancy taking a little trip and going to a genuine Italian neighbourhood that sees very few tourists for one of your unique things to do in Rome, this fab restaurant will be right up your street.
I’m not going to lie, there’s not anything else to do around here, so there’s no need to allow for more time than an evening at this place. But if you want some proper delicious Italian food in an authentic atmosphere, this is the place.
All the pasta dishes hit the spot, but if you fancy something a little different try the pear and gorgonzola pizza. The prices are so reasonable and they serve a good house wine at €2 for half a litre. That’s not a typo.
We only happened upon it because we were staying a little outside of Rome near some friends, but this is hands down the best restaurant we ate at in Rome. We went 4 times!
Here’s the name and address: Capraecavoli, Via Capraia, 64.
It’s gets super busy with big italian family meals so it’s best to call ahead and book. The menu is in Italian only but most waiters speak English. Get off at the Jonio metro stop and it’s 10 minute walk for one of the more alternative things to do in Rome.
Unusual Places To Visit in Rome
Take in the Views on Pincian Hill
As Rome’s largest green space, the gardens of Vila Borghese are a great place to while away a few hours. Either exploring by foot or by renting one of the golf buggies. If you’ve not been yet, yes the park really is that big!
So don’t miss the best view while you’re up there. The romantic Pincio balcony overlooking Piazza del Popolo and stretching out across the city to St Peter’s Dome and the Vatican City.
Picnic at Circo Maximus
Onto another romantic but unusual place to visit in Rome. Circo Maximus or Circo Massimo in Italian is an ancient chariot racing stadium. It’s ruins lay in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine Hills.
The stadium itself is now not much more than a dusty basin of grass with a few ruined structures at one end. However the views from the seats, overlooking it onto the forum ruins in the background, are spectacular.
It’s also a lovely spot in Rome to bring a picnic and enjoy a quieter viewpoint if you’re tired of the eating at bustling Rome restaurants. Or trying to watch your pennies.
Quirky Things To Do In Rome
Visit John Keats Grave
The Protestant Cemetery in Rome is, amongst many others, the final resting place of the English poets Percy Shelley and John Keats. Both young and tragic deaths.
Keats travelled to Rome after contracting tuberculosis and his doctor futilely advising him to go somewhere warm. And Shelley drowned in a storm while aboard a boat in the gulf of Spezzia in Northern Italy.
Packed with history and beautiful monuments, it’s one of the oldest burial grounds in Europe that is still in use. Historically the site was used to bury ‘Roman society outcasts’ as the sign outside explains.
It’s also home to a feral cat colony who are looked after by the volunteers. The graveyard doesn’t receive any government funding yet it’s free to enter. You can and should leave a donation towards the upkeep of the place.
Campo de’Fiori Market
One of the oldest markets in the city, this has to be on your list of unique things to do in Rome. Traders have been coming here from the countryside since 1869 and there’s lots of tasty food samples to try.
Come afternoon the market is packing up and the restaurants around the square begin to roll out their tables and chairs. It’s a very picturesque and multifunctional square.
So multifunctional that what most tourists aren’t aware of is that it was also previously a place of public executions.
The statue in the centre of the square is philosopher Giordano Bruno who was burned at the stake in that very spot in 1600.
Honouring him and the freedom of thought, the shrouded figure stands defiantly facing the Vatican City.
We hope you’ve found this guide helpful in your trip planning of what to visit in Rome. As always if you have any questions? Thoughts to add? Or other unusual things to do in Rome that you’d like to share. Hit up the comments below!
Full disclosure. Our segway tour with Turtle Tours Rome was complimentary in return for an honest review and associated promotion. As always, all opinions are own and were in no way obligated to provide a positive review.