You’ve all heard Rome wasn’t built in a day. Similarly, your experience won’t be completed in a day. But, no matter the amount of time spent in La Cittá Eterna (The Eternal City), there are places to visit and activities to do that will give you an introduction or deeper understanding of our beloved Roma. Here are a suggestion of Rome itineraries depending on how long you have to stay in the city.
With just a mere 24 hours in a city that offers so much, it’s time to lace up those comfy walking shoes and get to work with this first Rome itinerary. Start at the Colosseum- save your time and energy and join an Express VIP Colosseum Arena Floor Tour that gives you access to the restricted area of the arena floor and allows you to skip the line. When the tour is over and you’ve conquered the Colosseum thanks to your Colosseum tour, I recommend this order of activities:
- Take a stroll up Fori Imperiali – a cobblestone road lined by ruins and the Forum, and the powerful Colosseum behind you.
- Head to Piazza Campidoglio, at the top of Capitoline Hill – A flawlessly designed square by Michelangelo and offers an incomparable view of Rome in the front and, at the back of the square, an aerial view of the Forum below.
- Hungry? Enjoy local food, wine, and olive oil for lunch at Terre e Domus, just a 5-minute walk from the square.
- Ogle at the wedding cake-like monument in Piazza Venezia – it’s a regal monument to King Vittorio Emanuele ll. Climb the small set of stairs in the front of the building to see the “Tomb of the Unknown Solider.”
- Via del Corso – stretched in front of you from Piazzza Venezia. This is the main shopping street in Rome and is a common place for the Roman passeggiata, or walk.
- Next, visit the Pantheon. It’s free to enter and worth the time to just sit and watch with amazed eyes.
- Gelato time! Grab some of the best gelato in town at Giolitti. Only a 4-minute walk from the Pantheon.
- Back track to Via del Corso and head to the Trevi Fountain – have your 3 coins ready to toss in the fountain to guarantee your return to the city.
- Just around the corner is the Spanish Steps. Relax, climb, and be beautiful.
- At the top of the Spanish Steps, turn left. This leads you to the “Central Park” of Rome – Villa Borghese. Take in the sunset views of Rome at the Pincio Terrace in the park and then entertain your taste buds at one of the best aperitivo spots in the center – Gusto, just a short walk from the terrace. Pay for your cocktail, roughly €10, and celebrate with their all-you-can-eat buffet.
- Still hungry? Head to the characteristic neighborhood of Trastevere and eat at Da Enzo, my favorite local place for a cozy Roman dinner. End the day by meandering through the cobblestone streets of Trastevere.
Another 24 hours in Rome is a gift! After your fun filled first day, here is a suggested plan for your second day of adventure in Rome:
- Wake up early and head straight to the Vatican. On an Early Entrance Express Vatican tour, you’ll get you in ahead of the line, one hour earlier than the general public, and show you the Sistine Chapel without the crowds. There are so many vatican tours to choose from.
- Refuel after a morning of art at one of our recommended restaurants next to the Vatican.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth at Gelateria La Romana – at the end of Via Cola di Rienzo, the major shopping street in the Vatican neighborhood, Prati.
- Take a short stroll up the Tiber River to Castel Sant’ Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Tickets €10, open daily 9-7:30 with the ticket office closing at 6:30
- If you’re feeling energetic, meander to Gianicolo Hill for a sunset overlook of Rome. Want to relax immediately after the castle? Head straight up the river to Trastevere for a pre-dinner cocktail and snacks at Pimm’s Good, my favorite place for cocktails in all of Rome. No jokes.
- Have a Roman pizza dinner at Ivo a Trastevere or Pizzeria ai Marmi.
With more time in Rome comes a deeper appreciation for all that the city has to offer. So it’s time for an art museum.
- For a major museum I recommend the Capitoline Museums – you saw the entrance on your first day in Piazza Campidoglio. Tickets are €15. For a quainter experience, check out, Palazzo Spada and Borromini’s Perspective in the museum’s interior courtyard. Tickets are €5.
- Tummy rumbling? Grab a yummy but quick lunch at Zazà Pizza. Make sure to try to the truffle/ricotta pizza. Location here.
- Top off your lunch with the best coffee in Rome at Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè, directly across the street from Zazà. This coffee bar is a Roman institution- they’ve been specially roasting their coffee the same way since the 1940’s.
- Piazza Navonna– arguably the most beautiful square in Rome with showy fountains, colorful buildings, and an array of street performers.
- Cross the street to Campo de’ Fiori. They have a food market Monday-Saturday from early morning-3pm.
- The Italians have an expression “dolce far niente” (the sweetness of doing nothing). Take this time to revisit any sites you want to see again – whether it’s a good book in Villa Borghese or securely sealing your fate with extra coins at the Trevi Fountain.
- Enjoy your last Roman dinner with a big bowl of pasta at Ristochicco — they serve each pasta dish in the pan so you literally get your own pan of pasta for dinner. It doesn’t get much fresher than that. Needless to say, come hungry. Location here.
Longer than three days
An extended time in Rome is perfect to get off the beaten path, or even spread your wings on some day trips. Here are my recommended hidden gems of the city and my friend “The Crazy Tourist” also has a great list of top sights and hidden gems to visit in Rome!
There are also a number of charming towns very near Rome that are reachable by train. Any of these towns would make a memorable addition to your holiday:
- Tivoli and Villa d’Este. Once the summer home of Emperor Hadrian, the Tivoli Gardens and Villa are a living Eden full of inviting fountains and breathtaking scenery.
How: Train from Roma Termini or Roma Tiburtina to Tivoli | Duration: 1-2 hours | Price: €3 one-way
- Castel Gandolfo. A beautiful lake town just 15 miles from Rome, it is known for being the Pope’s summer residence.
How: Train from Roma Termini to Castel Gandolfo | Duration: 45 minutes | Price: €2.10 one-way
- Frascati. A charming hilltop town 12 miles from Rome, it is known for excellent wine, food, and views of Rome. For a wonderful wine or pizza tour we recommend our friends here.
How: Train from Roma Termini to Frascati | Duration: 30 minutes | Price: €2.10 one-way
- Ostia Antica. Rome’s solution for a closer Pompeii. See our complete guide with cost, transport, and even restaurant recommendations here.
For more on our recommended day trips from Rome click here.
- Want to explore more of hidden gems in Rome? Check out our neighborhood guide to Monti. Coming to Rome with your family? We’ve got you covered here.
- We’re here for you every step of your Roman Holiday- contact our trip planning should you need anything along your way. Spread the Italian love by Sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube!