How many days in Rome will be enough to see everything worth seeing?
If you’re thinking about visiting Rome, then this guide will help you plan an itinerary and give you the best tips for getting around Rome.
In this article, I will offer insights into lesser-known spots and tell you what’s worth visiting and what tourist traps to avoid. On top of that, I’ll give you a few suggestions on what you can do in Rome that you won’t be able to do anywhere else.
How many days in Rome?
How long should you spend in Rome? With 4 days, you will have enough time to visit Rome’s main attractions such as Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum, and way beyond that. It allows you to enjoy this historical city without being in a rush.
Planning your trip to Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the Lazio region, a city with nearly 3 millennia of history, located at the heart of the Italian peninsula. It’s known for its ancient ruins, testaments of the powerful Roman Empire, and the headquarters of the Catholic Church, the Vatican City.
The best time to visit Rome is from September to April when the summer crowds have dispersed and the accommodation prices are lower. It does get a bit chillier in the winter months, but the city never loses its charm and it’s always worth visiting, even if it means bundling up a little.
Rome in 1 day
Is your time in Rome limited to 24 hours? Maybe you’ve decided to visit the city whilst on a layover to another destination, or you’re on a spontaneous day trip… Nevertheless, there’s enough time to visit the highlights, if you can make it through the day without taking much of a breather.
The entire city of Rome is essentially an open-air museum and the monuments are its masterpieces. I recommend starting with the Colosseum, the main symbol of Rome, which will surely transport you back nearly 2,000 years and offer you a glimpse into what the ancient society of the Roman Empire was like.
Not too far, you’ll find the Arch of Constantine, one of the best-preserved monuments of Ancient Rome, and the Roman Forum, the hub of social, political, and cultural activity of the Roman citizens. You can almost picture how it was over 20 centuries ago when Julius Caesar himself roamed through this very same spot.
In the afternoon, head over to the city center, where you’ll find the iconic Piazza di Spagna, with its monumental staircase, a popular set for several movies. At the heart of the square, there’s the Barcaccia fountain, shaped like a boat and decorated with bees and suns, symbols of the architect Bernini’s family.
Two other must-sees in this area are the Trevi Fountain, Rome’s most beautiful and renowned, where it’s tradition to throw coins for romantic luck, and the Pantheon, Ancient Rome’s best-kept building and one of the biggest architectural masterpieces of the Italian capital.
If time allows, do pay a visit to Navona Square, known for its three magnificent fountains, and Campo dei Fiori, a perfect location for dining.
Rome in 2-3 days
A good two or three-day itinerary for Rome is one that will take further away from the center, into the Vatican City.
The Vatican is a city-state that is located in the heart of Rome, known worldwide for being the headquarters of the Catholic Church. It’s also the smallest state in Europe, with only 0.44 square kilometers and a population of fewer than 1,000 people.
This is where the Pope lives, in a palace surrounded by gardens that may be visited with prior reservation.
The most iconic feature is St Peter’s Square, one of the largest and most beautiful squares in the world. Located at the foot of St Peter’s Basilica, it was built by Bernini in the mid-17th century and can hold more than 300,000 people.
St Peter’s Basilica houses the Holy See, as it is the most influential religious temple of Catholicism and the church where the Pope performs the most important liturgies. Several architects participated in its construction, among which the legendary Bramante, Michelangelo, and Carlo Maderno. It’s named after the first Pope in history, Saint Peter, whose body is buried within it.
The most iconic point is St Peter’s Square, one of the largest and most beautiful squares in the world. It is located in the Vatican, at the foot of St Peter’s Basilica. It was built by Bernini in the mid-17th century and can house more than 300,000 people.
With more than 6 million visitors every year, the Vatican Museums are one of Rome’s main tourist attractions. Inside there are thousands of works gathered by the Roman Catholic Church. The origin of these museums dates back to 1503 when newly appointed Pope Julius II donated his private collection.
Lastly, but perhaps more importantly, in the Vatican is where you’ll find the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s masterpiece. Known both for its decoration and for being the temple where Popes are chosen and crowned.
It’s not known for its architecture but rather the frescos that cover the walls and the ceiling, especially Michelangelo’s acclaimed Creation of Adam and The Last Judgement.
If there’s still time on your third day, another interesting place to visit would be the Catacombs, underground galleries used as a burial place for several centuries. The burials of pagan, Jewish, and early Christian citizens in Rome in the catacombs began in the 2nd century and would only end in the 5th century.
There are over sixty catacombs but only five of those are opened to the public: San Sebastiano, San Callisto, Priscilla, Domitilla, and Sant’Agnese.
Rome in 4-5 days
Now that you’ve seen Rome’s main attractions, it’s time to head over to lesser-visited spots, like Trastevere, one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city, with its delightful bohemian and peaceful atmosphere. Stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets of Trastevere and enjoy its hidden treasures, like the modest medieval churches, quaint boutiques with the most unique items, and the best restaurants in Rome.
Another excellent location is Villa Borghese, one of the largest urban parks in Europe, the perfect combination of nature and art in Rome. In its gardens, you might see sculptures, monuments, and fountains of famous artists from different eras. Here you’ll also find the Borghese gallery, one of the most important museums in Rome, which contains paintings by artists such as Raphael, Titian, or Caravaggio.
Some other good places to visit the Baths of Caracalla, one of the largest and most spectacular ancient thermal locations; Circus Maximus, located between the Aventine and Palatine Mountains, once Rome’s largest stadium for chariot races; and Castel Sant’Angelo, a fortress on the right bank of the Tiber river, near the Vatican City.
Rome in 6-7 days
In case you’re staying in Rome for a longer period, I’d invite you to explore beyond the city limits. Maybe venture out to Villa Adriana (Tivoli), Emperor Adriano’s charming haven, or the old Roman city of Pompeii, buried by the great eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Here are a few other options for great day trips:
- Villa D’este
- Ostia Antica
- Cinque Terre
Getting around Rome
Surely you’ve heard of the habit of riding Vespa’s around the Italian capital, mostly due to the narrow streets, some completely impenetrable by the average car. But Rome’s public transport network, although not very wide or particularly punctual, is quite inexpensive.
The Rome Metro has only three lines and is actually one of the smallest in Europe, although it reaches nearly all landmarks. It opens every day from 5:30 in the morning until 11:30 in the evening, extending until 1:30 on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets may be purchased at subway stations and stalls.
Rome has 338 day bus lines, 22 night buses, and 8260 stops. Although it seems that everyone gets in without paying, the truth is they’re not validating the ticket because locals usually have a monthly pass. Remember that you can enter through any door, but never forget to validate or you could end up paying a hefty fine.
As for taxi cabs, it’s said that in Rome the fares are very expensive and that taxi drivers always try to trick customers. Although a controversial claim, it rings true for many tourists.
Travel tips for Rome
Learn some Italian: Although Romans, especially the younger ones, are no strangers to the English language and might be able to help a confused tourist even if they’re a bit rusty, locals will appreciate it even if you just say “ciao” (hello/goodbye) and “grazie” (thank you).
Carry cash: Smaller cafés and shops will be highly aprecciative of cash payments, especially in coins. Also, although most restaurants allow card payments, they don’t traditionally split the bill so cash is prefered, mainly when traveling in a group.
Beware of pickpocketers: The city’s pretty safe overall, but make sure to tuck away your wallet and precious goods when visiting major tourist attractions.
Wear comfortable shoes: The cobblestone pavements might take a toll on your feet, especially if you’ve opted to walk through Rome’s narrowest streets instead of taking public transportation.
Other Rome FAQ
Can you do Rome in 3 days? Although three days are definitely enough to visit the most famous landmarks and enjoy some tasty authentic Italian food, it won’t leave much time to take a necessary breather.
Is 4 days in Rome too much? Personally, 4 days are just the right timeframe to explore Rome, especially for a first-timer.
Is 5 days in Rome too much? It’s not too long if you’re willing to venture beyond the city limits, to the neighboring charming locations or historical town – it really comes down to how much you wish to see.
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