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St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro)

#2 in Best Things To Do in Rome

St. Peter's Basilica picture in Rome
The pope at St. Peter's Basilica picture in Rome
Inside St. Peter's Basilica picture in Rome
Michelangelo's Pietà picture in Rome
St. Peter's Basilica from Ponte Sant'Angelo picture in Rome
St. Peter's Basilica at night picture in Rome
St. Peter's Basilica picture in Rome
The pope at St. Peter's Basilica picture in Rome
Inside St. Peter's Basilica picture in Rome
Michelangelo's Pietà picture in Rome
St. Peter's Basilica from Ponte Sant'Angelo picture in Rome
St. Peter's Basilica at night picture in Rome

Key Info

Price & Hours

  • Free
  • Hours vary seasonally

Details

  • Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing Type
  • 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
5.0
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    5.0
  • Facilities
    5.0
  • Atmosphere
    5.0

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The epicenter of Roman Catholicism, St. Peter's Basilica is centered in Vatican City and open daily for free. (Though it's closed on Wednesday mornings for pope appearances.) Many visitors enjoy trekking to the top of the dome. For a fee of 6 euros (about $7.50), you can climb the 551 steps to the summit; for a fee of 8 euros (about $10), you can take an elevator to a terrace where you'll climb just 320. Regardless, you'll take in a panorama of Rome's spectacular landscape. If you've come hoping to catch a glimpse of the pope, you should consider attending the Wednesday General Audience, when he address the crowd in St. Peter's Square with prayers and songs. It's free to attend, but tickets are required. You'll also want to make sure he is in residence; check the Vatican website to view the schedule. No ticket is required to see the pope on Sundays, when he usually address the crowd in St. Peter's Square at noon.

Keep in mind that this is an active church with daily Mass services. Likewise, a stringent dress code is enforced: No short skirts, hats or bare shoulders. And because St. Peter's Basilica is one of the area's major attractions, there is almost always a long queue – though it tends to go fast. Recent travelers recommend you spring for a tour guide; the depth of insight they bring to the basilica really makes the experience.

St. Peter's Basilica is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. between April and September, and every day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. from October to March. To get here, visitors can take the metro line A (red) to the Ottaviano station. To learn more, visit the Vatican City State's website.

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#1 Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) A must-see on many travelers' itineraries, the Trevi Fountain is situated amongst a high concentration of hotels, shopping and nightlife. Finished in the mid-1700s, the Trevi is a powerful example ... Read more » fotoVoyager / Getty Images

#2 St. Peter's Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) The epicenter of Roman Catholicism, St. Peter's Basilica is centered in Vatican City and open daily for free. (Though it's closed on Wednesday mornings for pope appearances.) Many ... Read more » Mark Williamson / Getty Images

#3 Pantheon The Pantheon, a former Roman temple and now a present-day church, is known for its perfect proportions, which is amazing, seeing as it was raised in A.D. 120. While ... Read more » Kathryn Donohew Photography / Getty Images

#4 Colosseum (Colosseo) The site of many bloody gladiatorial fights, the Colosseum, which was opened in 80 A.D., could then hold about 50,000 spectators. With a circumference of 573 yards and ... Read more » scaliger / Getty Images

#5 Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel You'll find one of Vatican City's most notorious attractions housed within these walls – the Sistine Chapel (and Michelangelo's famous frescos). A tour of the Vatican Museums grants ... Read more » Dennis Jarvis / Flickr

#6 Roman Forum (Foro Romano) Not as popular as the Colosseum (but located nearby), some say the Roman Forum is more interesting. The Roman Forum comprises much of the Ancient Rome's most important ... Read more » Suphanat Wongsanuphat / Getty Images

#7 Church of San Luigi dei Francesi If you're a fan of Caravaggio, you'll want to visit the San Luigi dei Francesi. Inside this church in Piazza Navona are three of the baroque artist's ... Read more » OlegAlbinsky / Getty Images

#8 Santa Maria della Vittoria This featured chapel from Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" is now heavily trafficked by Robert Langdon wannabes. But baroque art fans might want to brave the crowds for a ... Read more » Yves Grau / Getty Images

#9 Trastevere If you want a look at the real Rome, experts and travelers strongly recommend you visit Trastevere. Located south of Vatican City, this neighborhood is home to the Santa Maria ... Read more » Olga_Gavrilova / Getty Images

#10 Basilica di San Clemente Archaeology buffs might find the Basilica di San Clemente interesting as it's a veritable nesting doll of churches. It's a second century pagan temple, underneath a fourth-century church ... Read more » Michael Foley / Flickr

#11 Piazza Navona Perhaps one of the best known of Rome's public squares, the Piazza Navona dates back to the end of the 15th century. Today, it fills with modern people sipping ... Read more » Hiroshi Higuchi / Getty Images

#12 Gianicolo Hill (Passeggiata del Gianicolo) To the west of the Tiber River (near another top attraction, Trastevere), Gianicolo Hill, or the Janiculum, is just waiting to be climbed. Although a hike, the site provides ... Read more » enzart / Getty Images

#13 Campo de' Fiori The Campo de' Fiori is worth visiting twice in a trip – once during the day for its bustling market, and again as the sun sets for its convivial nightlife. According ... Read more » Roberto Taddeo / Flickr

#14 Porta Portese Porta Portese is a Sunday morning market (about 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.) in Trastevere that travel experts say fashionistas won't want to miss. While vendors sell ... Read more » Alessandro Malatesta / Flickr

#15 Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna) Found at the Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish Steps (which get their name from the nearby Embassy of Spain among the Holy See) are another must-do for many travelers. Here ... Read more » belenox / Getty Images

#16 Galleria Borghese A favorite among travelers to Rome, the Galleria Borghese is half-villa/half-museum, and it has some resplendent gardens too. Originally commissioned by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 17th century to ... Read more » John Karwoski / Flickr

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# Explora Museum Read more » Courtesy Explora IL Museo Dei Bambini Di Roma

Trevi Fountain at night picture in Rome
St. Peter's Basilica picture in Rome
The Oculus of the Pantheon picture in Rome
The Colosseo picture in Rome
Sistine Chapel picture in Rome
The Roman Forum  picture in Rome
Church of San Luigi dei Francesi picture in Rome
Santa Maria della Vittoria picture in Rome
Trastevere picture in Rome
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Gianicolo Hill picture in Rome
Campo de' Fiori picture in Rome
Porta Portese picture in Rome
Piazza di Spagna  picture in Rome
Galleria Borghese picture in Rome
Constantine is in Pieces! picture in Rome
Via Appia picture in Rome
Cooking classes picture in Rome
Gladiator School picture in Rome
Explora picture in Rome
Trevi Fountain at night picture in Rome
St. Peter's Basilica picture in Rome
The Oculus of the Pantheon picture in Rome
The Colosseo picture in Rome
Sistine Chapel picture in Rome
The Roman Forum  picture in Rome
Church of San Luigi dei Francesi picture in Rome
Santa Maria della Vittoria picture in Rome
Trastevere picture in Rome
Basilica di San Clemente picture in Rome
Piazza Navona picture in Rome
Gianicolo Hill picture in Rome
Campo de' Fiori picture in Rome
Porta Portese picture in Rome
Piazza di Spagna  picture in Rome
Galleria Borghese picture in Rome
Constantine is in Pieces! picture in Rome
Via Appia picture in Rome
Cooking classes picture in Rome
Gladiator School picture in Rome
Explora picture in Rome

The Trevi Fountain at night is a sight to behold. fotoVoyager / Getty Images

If the Vatican is considered the center of Catholicism, then St. Peter's Basilica is the church. The church took 150 years to build, and it definitely shows travelers say it's easily the most spectacular church in all of Rome.  Mark Williamson / Getty Images

One of the most famous details of the Pantheon, the Oculus, is never covered. Keeping the weather in mind, the architect built holes in the floor of the structure, draining any water or snow that might enter.  Kathryn Donohew Photography / Getty Images

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Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the Sistine Chapel Dennis Jarvis / Flickr

Consider taking a stroll through the Roman Forum at night, when the ruins are all lit up.  Suphanat Wongsanuphat / Getty Images

Though the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi's exterior is simple, its interiors are a sight to behold. OlegAlbinsky / Getty Images

The Santa Maria della Vittoria is widely known for being featured in Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons." Yves Grau / Getty Images

For those looking for a break from the crowds that surround many of Rome's biggest attractions, Trastevere, which is located on the other side of the Tiber River, is a great place for a stroll and a bite to eat.  Olga_Gavrilova / Getty Images

The Basilica di San Clemente is architectural inception, as a pagan temple sits beneath a fourth-century church that is underneath the visible 12th-century church.  Michael Foley / Flickr

Piazza Navona is one of the liveliest squares in Rome.  Hiroshi Higuchi / Getty Images

The Gianicolo Hill is unofficially counted as the eighth hill that makes up the Eternal City. Being the only actual hill, travelers and locals agree it provides some of the best views of the ancient city. enzart / Getty Images

Along with Porta Portese, Campo de' Fiori is considered one of the most popular markets in Rome. Roberto Taddeo / Flickr

A contender for one of the best Sunday markets in Rome, Porta Portese sells just about everything, from antiques to pet food. Whether you're buying for your living room or Fido, make sure to keep your belongings close as pick pocketers are known to strike. Alessandro Malatesta / Flickr

Take a page out of Balzac or Byron's book: climb the piazza's romantic Spanish Steps. belenox / Getty Images

The Galleria Borghese is filled with masterpieces, many of which date back to the 15th and 18th centuries. The museum is so popular visitors must reserve in advance, as only a certain amount of people are let in at one time. John Karwoski / Flickr

See fragments of this sculpture and more at the Capitoline Museums. gichristof / Flickr

The Appian Way was one of the Roman Empire's most important roads, connecting Rome with cities in southeast Italy. piola666 / Getty Images

You'll learn how to make homemade pasta with Cooking Classes in Rome. zi3000 / Getty Images

Michael Schmitz / Flickr

Courtesy Explora IL Museo Dei Bambini Di Roma

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