10 Unique Guided Tours in Rome

Visit Rome in a Fiat 500, Ride a Vintage Vespa, or Go Underground

The Domus Aurea in Rome, Italy

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

For those who want something more than the usual tour, Rome has lots of options. You can tour Rome on a vintage Vespa or in a Fiat 500. Take the family on a tour designed for children, become a gladiator for a day, go underground at the Colosseum, or enjoy an after-hours visit to the Sistine Chapel with these unique tours.

The following are some of our favorite unique and special-interest tours of Rome.

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Sistine Chapel Private After-hours Visit

Sistine Chapel
@Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis/VCG/GettyImages

Visit the Sistine Chapel without the crowds on this special after-hours tour. Your two-hour tour inside the Vatican Museums with an English-speaking guide includes several of the most important galleries, including the Raphael Rooms and the Gallery of Maps as well as the stunning Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo's masterpiece. This tour can be arranged as an exclusive—and expensive—private visit, or you can join a small group tour at a lower price.

Both Select Italy and The Roman Guy offer private or small-group before- or after-hours hours Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel tours.

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Be a Roman Gladiator for a Day

Gladiator for a Day
Gruppo Storico Romano

Have you ever dreamed of being a Roman gladiator? With this unique interactive adventure, you can become a gladiator for a day. You'll start with a tour of Rome's Gladiator Museum where you'll learn about the daily life of a gladiator. Then you'll dress in gladiator armor and enter the training arena for a lesson that includes using the weapons and defending yourself. This is a great family activity suitable for ages 6 or older and those who prefer not to participate in the lesson can watch free of charge. This activity is held on the Via Appia Antica, the old Roman Road, outside the historic center.

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Colosseum Dungeons and Upper Tiers

rome colosseum photo
by Martha Bakerjian

You'll need to reserve in advance for a limited-access tour of the underground passageways and dungeons of the Colosseum. You can then continue to the upper tiers, or Belvedere, for an unforgettable view of Rome. Entrance to the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum is included in the ticket, good for two days, but they are not a part of the guided tour. 

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Tour Rome in a Vintage Fiat 500

What could be better than seeing the Eternal City as a passenger in a Vintage Fiat 500, or Cinquecento, a famous Italian icon? Guests get a view of Rome's top attractions while riding with an English-speaking driver-guide who will tell you about the sights as you drive by them. Day- and nighttime tours are available from several companies, including ItalyXP.com and Select Italy, and many hotels will book you a Fiat tour as well.

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Scoot Through Rome on a Vintage Vespa

If you've seen the movie Roman Holiday, you may imagine yourself doing as Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck did—scooting through Rome on a Vespa. Motor scooters are really the best transportation for navigating the narrow streets of Rome's historic center. With DeaRoma Tours, you're the passenger on the back of a Vespa, transported by an English-speaking driver-guide. With MyScooterinRome, you drive your own Vespa in a group ride/tour.

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The Domus Aurea, Nero's Golden House

The Domus Aurea in Rome, Italy

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

The Domus Aurea, or Golden House, was the massive, vastly extravagant palace of Nero, one of Rome's most despotic emperors. When he died, his successors ordered the palace to be filled in with rubble. Now, English-language tours of the underground archaeological site, set near the Colosseum, are offered on Saturdays and Sundays with advance reservations. Hardhats are provided to tour the scaffolded site; remember to bring a light jacket. Near the end of the tour, a transfixing virtual reality experience takes visitors back to the Domus during its heyday.

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Underground Rome and Catacombs With The Roman Guy

Exterior of the catacombs

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

This small-group guided tour leads you through the layers of history under San Clemente Church, then takes you to the Appian Way (transportation included) for a look at the old road and a guided visit to the Catacomb of​ Domitilla, the oldest and one of the best preserved of the Roman catacombs.

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Crypts, Bones, and Catacombs with Walks of Italy

Basilica di San Clemente in Rome, Italy

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

The Crypts, Bones, and Catacombs Underground Tour of Rome includes one of Rome's eeriest sights, the Capuchin Crypt, as well as a tour of catacombs with the oldest known image of the Virgin Mary and the Roman ruins and remains of both an early Christian basilica and pagan temple underneath the Basilica of San Clemente.

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Rome for Children

Rome4Kids offers a number of family-friendly itineraries geared to teens and younger kids, but suitable for all ages. Options include scavenger hunt tours, golf cart tours, and underground Rome.

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Eating Italy Food Tours in Testaccio or Trastevere

On these food tours, you'll get out of the historic center to walk through one of Rome's traditional neighborhoods. You'll visit small food shops and bakeries for tastings, have pasta in a Roman restaurant and finish with a gelato. You'll also get a bit of history and culture during the walk.

Updated by Elizabeth Heath