If you don’t have tons of time to spend in Rome, you definitely want to knock out the city’s main sites in as little time as you can.
Here’s how to do a quick DIY Walking Tour of Rome featuring Il Pincio, Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon. We’ve also included a map with this walking tour itinerary.
Main Sites in Rome
This itinerary hits on the major spots in Rome that you can hit without a guided tour. That said, we highly recommend our Rome in a Day Tour with Colosseum and Vatican Museums to hit not only the sites mentioned below but also skip the line at the Vatican and Colosseum.
You can easily start this walking tour from Piazza Navona or Il Pincio / Piazza del Popolo. I highly recommend taking a taxi to Il Pincio which is in Villa Borghese over top of Piazza del Popolo.
You can walk there and get pretty close by metro but trust us that you’ll have plenty of chances to exercise in Rome. Conserve some energy and get a taxi up to the top so you can walk downhill for the rest of this journey.
- Il Pincio & Piazza del Popolo
- The Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna & Via Condotti
- The Trevi Fountain
- The Pantheon
- Piazza Navona
Distance: 1.5 miles (2.5km)
Time Walking: 30 minutes
Total Duration: 90 minutes to 2 hours
Il Pincio & Piazza del Popolo
Terrazza del Pincio is one of those places you see all over social media but can’t actually find when visiting Rome. Good news, we got you covered. It’s actually very easy to get to. Go to Piazza del Popolo, Piazza of the People, and look for the big hill. Hidden behind the street leading up the hill is a staircase going up to Il Pincio.
Il Pincio is on the outskirts of Villa Borghese. You can start in Villa Borghese and make your way down to Piazza del Popolo or the opposite. Piazza del Popolo is a 10-minute walk from the Spanish Steps, which is 10 mins from Trevi Fountain, which is 10 mins from Pantheon, which is 10 mins from Piazza Navona, and so on.
From Pincio to Spanish Steps, you have two options. First, walk down from Il Pincio into Piazza del Popolo. Probably the best option if you want to walk through Rome’s bustling streets.
Your second option is to walk down viale della Trinità dei Monti. This road is situated above the neighborhood slowly slopes downward. You get a great view fo the area without the crowds. You can peak into the terraces of the Roman elite and the best part is you will arrive at the top of the Spanish Steps. Getting the most out of your trip means conserving your energy.
As you approach the Spanish Steps, you’ll notice that you’re walking into Rome’s posh shopping district lined with high-end designers and brands. You’ll come to a large staircase leading up to the Trinita dei Monti church.
So why are they called the Spanish Steps if we’re in Italy? The Spanish Steps aren’t Spanish at all actually. They are known as that because the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See is located at the base of the steps.
The official name of the steps is actually Scalinata dei Trinita dei Monti. At the base of the steps, you’ll find another one of Rome’s beautiful fountains, Fontana della Barcaccia, or “Fountain of the Longboat.”
If you take time to explore the area, you might notice the Keats-Shelley House, located right at the foot of the Steps. This museum commemorates the iconic English romantic poets, Jonathan Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley and houses countless poems, manuscripts and other works by these authors.
Linked above you can find the route we suggest taking to walk from the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain, which should take about 10 minutes. When you reach Piazza di Trevi, you’ll probably notice a large crowd of people taking the classic coin throw picture in front of the Trevi Fountain.
The Trevi Fountain was built in 1762 and was designed by Nicola Salvi. The Trevi Fountain, or Fontana di Trevi, translates to “Three Street Fountain.” Quite literally, the fountain is located where three roads meet and what used to be the end point of one of Rome’s earliest acqueducts.
The Fountain depicts ancient Greek god Oceanus on a chariot being pulled by two horses. One is obedient and one is resistant, symbolizing the changing tides of the ocean.
Legend has it that if you throw a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder into the fountain, you will return to Rome again. If you throw two, you’ll soon have a new romance in your life, and if you throw three, you’re guaranteed to get married.
The Pantheon is typically considered Rome’s most well-preserved ancient building. Makes sense, since the first two structures that stood in the Pantheon’s place were destroyed, one by the Great Fire of Rome and one by lightning. When Emperor Hadrian built the third, he made sure it was extremely structurally sound.
We definitely recommend going inside the Pantheon if you can, to explore its beautiful rotunda. If you look up, you’ll notice an opening in the ceiling allowing sunlight in called the oculus.
The Pantheon is free to enter, and there is plenty to see inside. After exploring its Greco-Roman architecture from the outside, make sure you see Raphael’s tomb when you enter.
After exploring the Pantheon, walk four minutes away using this route to explore Piazza Navona.
Piazza Navona is an incredibly beautiful square in the center of Rome lined by delicious eateries and shops. The piazza is built on top of what used to be the Stadium of Domitian, where gladiatorial games and public executions used to take place in ancient Rome.
Built around 80 AD, the Stadium of Domitian even served as a replacement venue to the Colosseum, when it was struck by lightning in 217 AD. The restaurants and storefronts that line Piazza Navona today still preserve the shape of the ancient running track. All of the buildings surrounding the piazza were built atop the Stadium’s seating.
In the center of Piazza Navona, you’ll notice a large obelisk with ancient hieroglyphs inscribed in its stone. Although originally located in Circus Maxentius, the obelisk now stands atop the Fountain of Four Rivers and features inscriptions that mention Emperor Domitian.
After your DIY Rome walking tour, you’ll be feeling a little hungry. While there are plenty of restaurants and bars lining the piazza, we recommend joining our Trastevere Food Tour, which meets just a few minutes away from Piazza Navona.
Featuring Rome street food and a traditional sit-down dinner, this culinary experience offers a more local take on the city’s cuisine.