Last Updated on 12th February 2023 by Sophie Nadeau
Sunday in Rome is a relaxing day of rest for many people, and a religious day of worship for other Romans, as well as within Vatican City. So if you happen to be in the Eternal City during the weekend, then here’s how to spend the perfect Sunday in Rome, as well as what to know before visiting (including monument closures!).
Rome, the Italian capital city, is renowned for its illustrious history and cultural richness. With a storied past dating back to April 753 BCE, the city was once the beating heart of the Roman Empire.
Ancient Rome was the driving force behind much of Western civilisation’s development, spreading its reach to vast regions of Europe, the Mediterranean, and even parts of Africa and Asia.
Rome’s beauty and awe-inspiring architecture are reflected in its many historical landmarks, such as the magnificent Colosseum, the grandiose Roman Forum, and the Pantheon, to name just a few. Rome is also home to Vatican City, one of the smallest self-governing states in Europe.
The legend of the birth of Rome stems from the myth of the twin brothers Romulus and Remus. According to ancient Roman mythology, they were abandoned as helpless infants and taken in by a compassionate she-wolf.
The twin brothers grew to become strong and brave young men, with Romulus eventually founding the city of Rome in 753 BC. The iconic image of the nurturing she-wolf, cradling the two baby brothers, has become a revered symbol of Rome, scattered in numerous museums and public spaces throughout the Italian capital.
Is Rome busy on a Sunday?
As you might imagine, Rome can get pretty busy on the weekends when many people traditionally have the day off work and so are out enjoying the city, on top of the usual tourist crowds.
If you want to visit somewhere particularly popular, such as the Trevi Fountain or the Colosseum, then you’ll want to visit as early in the day as possible (and for Trevi Fountain, visit at sunrise if you can get yourself up that early).
Is everything open in Rome on a Sunday?
The majority of major tourist attractions are open in Rome during Sunday, with a few notable exceptions (which you should plan to visit during another day of your trip instead). Some important spots which remain open to visit on a Sunday include St Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, and the Colosseum.
With this being said, one of the most important sites in Rome is closed on Sunday due to religious reasons: Vatican City. The Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays, as well on religious Catholic Holidays. The sole exception to this is that the Vatican Museums are free on the last Sunday of every month.
Free Sundays in Rome
Much like during Paris on certain Sundays of the month, many top Rome attractions are free on a certain Sunday of each month. In Rome, on the first Sunday of the month, a number of museums and monuments are open to free for absolutely everyone.
Free Sundays happen all across Italy, including in cities such as Florence and Naples. Not all museums and monuments are free on free Sundays. Some state run museums and private-run sites are not free, including Domus Aurea and Doria Pamphilj.
Some of the most popular attractions that are free to everyone on the first Sunday of the month in Rome include (just be warned that they are particularly popular on this day and so you’ll want to arrive just prior to opening to avoid having to queue for too long):
- Baths of Caracalla
- The Borghese Gallery (you still have to pay the nominal booking fee of a few euros)
- Castel Sant’Angelo
- Casa Museo Maria Praz
- Colosseum / Roman Forum / Palatine Hill (this doesn’t include the underground tour)
- Galleria Spada
- Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli
- H.C. Andersen Museum
- Museo Napoleonico
- National Museum of Musical Instruments
- National Museum of Oriental Art
- National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography (EUR)
- National Rome Museum (Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Diocletian Baths)
- Ostia Antica
- Palazzo Barberini
- Palazzo Corsini
- Palazzo Venezia
- The Museum of Folk Arts and Traditions
- The Museum of the Early Middle Ages
- Trajan’s Market
- Villa d’Este in Tivoli
- Villa Giulia (Etruscan museum)
Sunday activities in Rome
Go for brunch
Over the past few years, brunch has become quite an affair in Rome, just like in many other major cities in Europe. Though most places continue to serve up traditional Italian fare, even on a Sunday, other cafés and restaurants have embraced dishing out dishes like eggs Benedict and fry ups.
Some of the best brunch spots in Rome include Coromandel (who sell, pancakes and pastries, among other breakfast goodies), Marigold Roma (expect all of your usual breakfast staples here), and Barnum Roma (they boast speciality coffees on the menu).
Take a cooking class
If you’re looking to learn even more about Italian food, then a great way to indulge in some local cuisine is by taking a cooking class. From learning how to make pizza just like a Neapolitan to discovering the secrets of pasta making, you’re sure to come away having learnt a new technique or two.
Take a day trip
One of the best ways to fully immerse in the spirit and local vibe in Rome is to get away from its most touristic spots in order to discover a different atmosphere. If you’re ready to leave the chaotic Roman traffic behind to embark on a journey of discovery and exploration, here are some of the best day trips from Rome.
Things to know before visiting Rome
Though there is far more to see in Rome than you would have time to visit in a day, or even a week or month, sadly sometimes all you have is a short time to enjoy a city. If you’re planning a trip to the Eternal City, be sure to check out our guides for spending one day in Rome and spending 3 days in Rome.
One of the more important things to bear in mind when dining in Rome is that the coperto (cover charge) is actually illegal in the Lazio region, where Rome is based. This means that, if you see it added onto your bill, it’s not meant to be there! the cover charge is not a tip and should not be confused as such.
What to wear when exploring Europe
In the summer, you can’t go wrong by pairing a cute midi dress with classic white tennis shoes for a laid-back smart casual look that’s just as chic for walking around a city’s cobbled lanes as it is for wandering coastal paths. I love this dress and have it in several colour ways. In terms of tennis shoes, this is my go-to shoe.
When it comes to winter in Europe, most places (with the exception of a few islands) can get pretty cold and so warm layers is a must. I find that cute ankle boots like these ones are the perfect mix of practical meets cute.
Shoulder seasons (spring and summer) in Europe tend to come with a mix of rainy and sunny days and so, again, layers are a must. Trench coats and sneakers are the best uniform to explore the continent in.
Finally, a cross-body bag like these ones is a must. I personally use a crossbody bag by this brand and love its shape, size, and versatility. As well as being convenient and compact, it’s one of the safest ways to transport your valuables, all the while looking chic. I also recommend bringing along a travel adapter like this one so you can charge all of your electronics during your stay!
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