My city is called the ‘Eternal City’ so I’ve got good news for you, Rome itinerary seeker.
With an eternity you’ll likely have enough time to see it all!
With this post I hope to encourage a lifetime of travel (especially in Italy) but in the meantime we’ll start off with seeing Rome in 2, 3, 4, and 5 days.
Have any questions? Get at me in the comments below for custom advice.
1 Day Rome Itinerary
One day in Rome is never enough but if that’s all the time you have (and it’s your first time) I suggest cramming as much as possible in.
We’re going all out on day one so get a double espresso and some walking shoes.
Need to lighten up the walk a bit with a left luggage place? I suggest utilizing Nannybag and its countless commercial locations throughout the city from about €6.00 per day.
Colosseum and Roman Forum
What better way to start than with one of the seven wonders of the world? To get here we simply hop on metro line B to the Colosseum stop.
This former 50,000 seat limestone amphitheatre dating back to 70 AD needs no introduction. To fully appreciate the scale and the madness I suggest getting a guided tour.
Just make sure you start the tour early in the morning especially in summer.
Once you’ve finished at the Colosseum it’s best to explore the nearby Roman Forum. Some of the ancient government buildings of this once powerful civilization still stand today.
Highlights include the Arch of Titus, Arch of Constantine, and Temple of Venus and Rome.
Leave around 3 hours to do it all.
Piazza Venezia and the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument
Cross Via dei Fori Imperiali and in ten minutes you’ll get to the historic Piazza Venezia.
It’s dominated by the massive Altare della Patria (Alter of the Fatherland): an imposing monument commemorating the unification of Italy.
Take the elevator up to the terrace where there’s a good bar for a coffee with a view.
Right next to here you’ll find Piazza del Campidoglio: this symbol of Roman politics was created by the great Michelangelo.
Here you find one of Rome’s top museums: the Capitoline Museums. These are a good alternative to visiting the Colosseum if it’s not your first time in Rome. It’s one of my favorites.
Hungry by now? Let’s get some grub.
We head to the Largo Argentina area which is famous for two things: a cat colony and pizza.
On sunny spring days my favorite thing is to take a nice piece of pizza margherita and savor it on one of the benches overlooking all that history.
Take a break if you want, but when we continue our journey through history it’ll be by entering the city center towards the epic Trevi Fountain.
Along Via del Corso there are a ton of shopping options but make sure you’ve got some change!
Legend has it that if you toss a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder with your back to the fountain you’re assured a return to Rome!
Poppycock? Probably. If you wanna come back just check out Skyscanner 😉
If you’ve still got room in your stomach (there always is in Italy) it’s gelato time.
If you’re a true gelato beginner I suggest going for nocciola (hazelnut) or pistacchio (pistachio). If you have to venture into something fruity then amarena (cream and sour cherry) is as far as you should go.
Piazza di Spagna
We take Via del Corso and turn onto Via Condotti: the historic center of Italian fashion.
It’s not a great area for souvenirs but if you have to head to Castroni – it has all the Italian culinary products that in my opinion is far superior to a standard postcard or fridge magnet.
Once we’ve made it through the glittery shop windows we reach Piazza di Spagna!
Make sure to climb the Spanish Steps to the top for a great view. Remember: As of 2019 it is illegal to sit down on any of the 135 steps so be careful – you could get a fine of up to €400.00!
At this point you’re free to head back to the hotel.
If you’ve still got some energy left though we’re going to take a last walk to the Rione Monti.
To do this we’re going to hop on the Rome metro and get off at Cavour. This is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Rome and full of shops, restaurants, and bars.
Especially for young people it’s a great place to grab a drink.
My favourite is i Tre Scalini for its cheese platters, IPA beer, lasagna, and porchetta.
2 Day Rome Itinerary
After two days in Rome you’ll be a veteran! Grab a cappuccino (only before noon otherwise you’ll be made fun of by the locals) and a cornetto (a chocolate stuffed croissant) like a true Italian.
You should be able to get a fairly decent one in most cafes around your hostel or hotel. If you’re looking for any suggestions, please ask away in the comments.
Again, we’re going to need an early start to visit the Vatican Museums.
Go directly to St. Peter’s Basilica to try and dodge the queues at the entrance .
Visiting Saint Peter’s for the first time will take your breath away. Bernini’s many works and Michelangelo’s Pietà and its majestic dome require at least an hour to visit.
If you want to climb the 537 steps to the top then budget two hours.
After having a good lunch and settling down from the emotion of the morning we continue at Castel Sant’Angelo (The Mausoleum of Hadrian).
The towering cylinder was once the tallest building and Rome and has been used as a fortress, chapel, castle, and even a prison.
If you decide to go in and discover the history make sure you get all the way up to the terrace for a breathtaking view – and to burn off all those pizza calories!
The visit lasts about an hour and a half.
It’s now mid-afternoon so we head back to the city center after crossing the il Ponte degli Angeli (Bridge of Angels) and get lost in the little cobblestone alleys until we reach Piazza Navona.
PIAZZA NAVONA and the PANTHEON
This is my favourite square in the whole city and maybe the world.
I could stay here for hours and people watch, take in the street performers, and study the reactions of tourists the first time they see the legendary Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Four Rivers Fountain).
The towering Egyptian obelisk topped with a dove holding an olive twig is flanked by four river gods, each representing a continent where papal authority reigned.
Sit around and soak it up for as long as you need.
We continue further on towards the Pantheon but first we make two pit stops at two famous churches: the San Luigi dei Francesi and San’Agostino.
Here you’ll find four Caravaggio masterpieces.
With our eyes just burning with beauty we’re going to go back to another classic Italian tradition: gelato! Our second scoops go down at Giolitti, Venchi, Grom, or San Crispino.
If you’re more in a coffee mood then go to Tazza d’oro.
We’ve barely had time to finish our snacks when we find ourselves standing right in front of the imposing Pantheon – the city’s best preserved ancient building that dates back to 125 AD.
Leave about an hour for this.
It has been another long day so it’s time for some well deserved relaxation.
We’re now just 10 minutes from the famous Campo dei Fiori which is a popular market during the day and a lively square full of bars during the evening.
Forno Campo De’ Fiori is one of the best bakeries in the entire city. It’s divided into two adjacent spaces serving amazing pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice), panini (sandwiches), and its famous homemade mortadella.
You also can’t go wrong with Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina via dei Giubbonari.
Looking for authentic Roman street food? Dar Filettaro is a great place to grab some fried baccalà (cod fritters) in a rustic, no nonsense joint that’s been serving up quality since forever.
Then it’s time for Trastevere.
Rome’s most beautiful neighbourhood with its signature alleys and lively mix of tourists and locals is a hit with all my visiting friends. Here you’ll have enough bars and restaurants to last a lifetime.
Make sure you see Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere.
3 Day Rome Itinerary
After three days in Rome you might be sick of Italian breakfasts: a couple drops of strong espresso and a dainty pastry just don’t satisfy.
Start the day at Homebaked with a full American breakfast with crunchy bacon, pancakes, scrambled eggs and the works.
I won’t judge you 🙂
BASILICA DI SAN GIOVANNI
We’re still keeping our walking shoes on even on day three.
Grab Metro line A to S. Giovanni station at a reasonable hour to get to the Basilica of San Giovanni. This is the official seat of the Bishop of Rome – the Pope!
What we’re looking for here are Giotto’s frescoes and his wonderful ciborium and baptistery.
It’s the middle of the morning and we head back to the Domus Aurea (Golden House in Latin) – a landscaped palace built by Nero after a 64 AD fire that nearly wiped out the entire city.
Walking takes about twenty minutes but I prefer taking Rome transport. So take bus 85 and get off at Colle Oppio. The visit lasts about two hours and I assure you that it will not disappoint you.
If coming back to Ancient Rome has made you want to see the Colosseum again, don’t worry, we have to go right there. In five minutes on foot we are again in front of our favorite amphitheater and if we want a perspective from above we can pass by with Via di Fagutale for a great view.
I also recommend a small detour to the church of San Pietro in Vincoli which houses an incredible sculptural group with Michelangelo’s Moses.
Here there’s also the engineering department of Rome’s first university. In the area there are various bars where you can have lunch.
After lunch it’s only one stop by metro or a 15 minute walk to the ancient chariot-race stadium Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus).
This immense 621 meter (2,037 feet) long space used to hold 150,00 spectators. You can imagine the magnitude of the shows that used to take place here! Today it’s a public park.
You’ll get the best view from atop Palatine Hill.
GIARDINO DEGLI ARANCI
With a little effort we get to Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Tree Garden).
The steep climb might discourage you a bit but I assure you that the breathtaking view you’ll have from there is definitely worth it.
At the end of the road we find yet another noteworthy spot: Sant Alessio Church where you’ll see the Knights of Malta Keyhole. It’ll be a long line, but the incredible framing of St.Peter’s Dome is worth the wait.
The last stop for the day is Santa Maria in Cosmedin Church with its world-famous Bocca della Verità (mouth of truth).
If you’re really feeling it you can take one last walk in search of dinner.
Head towards the river and you’ll end up in front of Tiber Island and if it’s summer you’ll see plenty of bars and food truck-like things along the embankment.
If you want Roman cuisine head to the Jewish Ghetto.
Besides being able to admire the Teatro Marcello and Portico d’Ottavia (an ancient Roman walkway) you can try some of the best Roman- kosher restaurants in the capital.
One of the best and most well loved by locals is Ba’Ghetto.
There are also a ton of amazing bakeries behind the Great Synagogue.
There it is – the perfect 3 day Rome itinerary!
4 Day Rome Itinerary
Most people only come for a weekend so 4 days in Rome is really bonus time! We’re not going to waste it here but my recommendation: sleep in a little 😉
We’re going to gear down a bit and get going in the middle of the morning: 10:45 am.
PIAZZA DEL POPOLO
After the long walks of the previous 3 days, my advice for day 4 is to start the morning with in Piazza del Popolo: People’s Square in English.
This used to be the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire.
At Santa Maria del Popolo Church you an admire works by Caravaggio and Bernini.
VILLA BORGHESE and the GALLERIA BORGHESE
If you feel like you want to relax a bit there’s no better place than the Villa Borghese Gardens which you can easily can access from Piazza del Popolo.
Beside admiring the romantic view from Pincio Terrace, here you can take a boat ride in the little lake of the Temple of Aesculapius or just have a stroll and a picnic.
Inside the Villa and not far from the House of Cinema there’s one of my favorite museums: the Borghese Gallery. Here you’ll find a substantial portion of the Borghese Collections made up of old masters and more modern artists.
Visits here last exactly two hours and are regulated by specific time slots. My advice is to pick an early afternoon slot.
VIA VENETO and PIAZZA BARBERINI
As usual, time flies and once the visit is over it’s already mid-afternoon. Lucky enough Via Veneto is just a 10 minute walk away from Galleria Borghese.
The road is downhill and we walk it till the end to get to beautiful Piazza Barberini.
I’ve you’ve fallen in love with Bernini after your Borghese Gallery visit then head for the Santa Maria della Vittoria to admire yet another of his amazing masterpieces: the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.
5 Day Rome Itinerary
Having five days in Rome is great because it allows you to discover less touristy spots and even to venture outside the city centre.
That’s what we do here.
There are over 40 of these ancient burial sites in the city but the top two locations are found inside Caffarella Park.
We can choose to visit one or both of Saint Callixtus and Saint Domitilla. They are both beautiful but if you are tight on time and have to pick go for Saint Callixtus. There are over 20 km of passageways here filled with 16 pontiffs and countless martyrs.
Getting there is easy. Just take a bus from San Giovanni, Circus Maximus, or Piramide. Considering the time to get there and back, a visit to the Catacombs will take you the whole morning.
After exploring this incredible underworld, take a bus to Piramide to check out the nearby Testaccio district – one of the city’s most authentic and full of the city’s best restaurants. It’s no wonder that it’s here that the bulk of the Romans’ food supply arrived.
This used to be the home of Europe’s largest slaughterhouse, giving way for the invention of many meaty Roman meals like oxtail stew or trippa alla romana (Roman tripe).
Here I highly recommend you to have lunch in my personal favorite: Da Felice. Reservation is mandatory and should be done well in advance but I promise you’ll be glad you did.
Here pasta cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) and tiramisù are two absolute musts!
While you’re in the area it’s a good idea to check out the old Egyptian-style pyramid
SAN PAOLO FUORI LE MURA
After lunch take the metro back to Piramide to go visit the majestic, medieval church San Paolo Fuori le Mura. This massive medieval building is one of four major basilicas in Rome.
Here you’ll find the (disputed) Tomb of Saint Paul, which was only found during excavations in 2002.
TERME DI CARACALLA
We’re finally at the end of our Rome itinerary!
I have one last suggestion for you though. Take the metro one more time to Circo Massimo and visit the Baths of Caracalla.
If you are in Rome during summer and if you book well in advance you can be able to see a classical opera show inside the Roman ruins…would there be a better way to to round off your Roman holiday?
Rome Itinerary Map
Keep the Planning Rolling
I’ve given you an in-depth Rome itinerary but it doesn’t have to stop there.
If you’ve got any questions about the city, or are looking for any custom advice remember that I am always here to answer you in the comments below!
And don’t be afraid to join the Rome holiday discussion by first giving me a like on Facebook and then joining my group I’m Off to Rome – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, and chat with fellow travellers.
Until next time 🙂