Ah, Rome, the beautiful, historic city that tops the list of must-see places in the world. Rome is an amazing juxtaposition between the historic and modern world. A world that will engulf you and leave you wanting more and more.
Granted, one day in Rome is not a lot of time, but with some careful planning and decision making, you can definitely get a good feel for all that this great city has
Rome is one of our favorite cities in Italy. We have visited it several times, each time uncovering more and more of the fabulous city. Rome always leaves us wanting more. Hence, the reason we keep returning to the Eternal City.
I will warn you though; this is not a leisurely itinerary. You are going to be going non-stop!
So, grab your walking shoes and follow our tips and tricks listed below to plan your action-packed day in Rome.
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One Day in Rome Itinerary
Our Rome in a day itinerary assumes that you have one complete, full day in Rome. This plan assumes that you can start early and finish late.
Even with this full day in mind, we are still only hitting the top highlights of the city. If you have find yourself without a full day in Rome, then please make adjustments as needed and desired.
Of course, you can easily make this part of your extended Italy itinerary as well.
Vatican- A Must on Your One Day in Rome
The smallest state in Europe, Vatican City is comprised of a population of about 1,000 people. Although small, this city is POWERFUL and a visit here has to be included on your one day in Rome itinerary.
Inside this small piece of Italy, you will find countless treasures. Home to the Pope, St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica, and, of course, the world-famous Sistine Chapel.
In addition to these monuments, the Vatican is also home to the Vatican Museum which is filled with countless treasures of art and history.
Plan on being at the Vatican nice and early this morning (like by 8:00 am). For time’s sake, I would definitely recommend booking an early access tour.
This allows you to enter the Vatican complex an hour earlier than the public. Not only that but you will be paired with a great guide that will help to explain all of the treasures contained in the Vatican.
Of course, you will be able to see The Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the best galleries in the Vatican Museum.
It is important to note that you must be properly dressed to enter the Basilicas on the property. No bare knees, midriffs or shoulders. This is one of the things to know before visiting Rome that will help you enjoy your visit so much more!
The iconic Spanish Steps are located in the heart of the historic district in Rome. Built in 1725 by architect Francesco de Sanctis, these 135 steps lead from Piazza Spagna to the Trinita dei Monti church.
The unique design of the steps has made it a popular place for artists throughout the years. The artists in the area attracted models that attracted rich Roman men, and thus the gatherings around the Spanish Steps were born. LOL!
At the bottom of the stairs, there is a beautiful Italian fountain depicting a sinking ship. This fountain was created by renowned Italian artist, Pietro Bernini.
This is the perfect Instagram moment to capture a picture of yourself standing on the Spanish Steps. Do take note though, sitting on the stairs in prohibited so make sure you keep standing!
Grab Lunch on the Go
There are many restaurants and cafes around the Spanish Steps. As much as I would love to refer you to one of the many great restaurants that we visited in this area, we don’t have time for that! LOL!
Instead, we would recommend that you grab a slice of pizza and eat it while walking to your next destination. Honestly, this will save you a lot of money as well.
No trip to Rome is complete without a trip to the Trevi Fountain!
Known as the most beautiful fountain in the world, the Trevi is definitely a sight to behold. Because of this, be ready for the Trevi Fountain to be crowded.
Honestly, we have visited at different times of the day and it is ALWAYS crowded!
The fountain originated back in the days of the ancient Romans. It was built at the end of the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct as a source of drinking water for the Roman people.
Today, you might have recognized the fountain in movies that you have seen. The fountain has been featured in loads of films including Roman Holiday and The Lizzie McGuire Movie.
There is even a replica of the fountain at Disney’s Epcot Center!
Throwing a coin over your shoulder and into the fountain is a must and is said to guarantee that you will return to Rome one day.
With that thought in mind, make your way through the crowd, throw your coin in the fountain and grab a selfie in front of this beautiful structure in Rome. Don’t worry, all of the money goes to charity!
The Romans truly knew how to build structures that last, and the Pantheon is definitely a testament to this.
Originally built around 126 AD, the Pantheon is an amazing structure that makes us stand in awe each and every time we visit. Having the largest unreinforced concrete dome in existence, the Pantheon is truly an incredible structure.
The Pantheon is still used as a place of worship and serves as the final resting place to many notable historical figures.
If you have 2 days in Rome, then I would recommend taking a guided tour of the Pantheon. A guided tour allows you to have a greater understanding of the significance of this building to Rome and its people.
Take a few minutes and visit the Piazza Navona. Here you will find the Fountain of the Four Rivers, a beautiful work of art that was completed in 1651 by Bernini, a famous Roman artist.
This Piazza has been host to the city’s main market for hundreds of years. It is also home to the church of Sant’Agnese. If you are interested, take a few minutes to go inside to see the design of churches in this area. They are gorgeous!
Colosseum-Has to Be On Your Day in Rome Itinerary
Did you think that we would do a one day in Rome itinerary and not include the Colosseum? No way!
Although the Colosseum is starting to show its age, it is still an incredible structure and one of the most iconic structures in the world.
Taking a tour here is an absolute must! If you can time it out just right, we suggest that you take an underground tour as this allows you into parts of the Colosseum that are off-limits to the general public.
The Colosseum can be extremely crowded, so please read our guide to visiting the ruins in Rome to learn all about the tips and tricks to make a visit to the Colosseum as painless and efficient as possible. As you are on a very limited time schedule, it is important that you plan prior to your visit in order to make the best use of your time.
Read Next: Capri, Italy: The Ultimate Guide to the Isle of Capri
If time allows and you aren’t too tired, then you might want to also consider visiting Palatine Hill.
Palatine Hill was the “lifestyles of rich and famous” during the Roman Empire. Not only can you see some great ruins of Rome, but there is also a nice museum.
If nothing else, it is worth a trip up to Palatine Hill just to see the amazing views of Rome and especially the Roman Forum from this vantage point.
This area was the hub of Rome during the Roman Empire. Here you would find everything from temples to government buildings.
The Forum is large and spread out, so be sure to choose what exactly you want to see here so that you are conscious of your time.
The Roman Forum is fascinating and definitely worth your time on your day in Rome. Again, we have more detailed information our guide to Ancient Rome that is reference above.
Additional Activities for One Day in Rome
If you find yourself with additional time during your one day in Rome, or if you want to substitute some of the activities on our list, then allow us to introduce you to some additional activities in order to do so.
Castel Saint Angelo
Castel Sain Angelo is a circular fort complex that has had many identities during its time in Rome. Created in 129 AD, Castel Saint Angelo was built to serve as a mausoleum for the Emporer Hadrien.
Since then it has been used by the Vatican Popes as a fortress and a castle, a prison, and today is a museum.
If you are an art lover, then the Galleria Borghese is right up your alley. Not only is the building itself an impressive work of art, but the Galleria Borghese contains countless works of art from Italian masters. While visiting, remember to allow enough time to view the gardens as well. They are stunning!
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Of course, Rome is packed full of incredible churches. If you so desired, you can easily replace some of the above listed items with one or more of the fabulous churches sprinkled throughout Rome.
The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the largest churches in Rome and is stunning!
Recognized by its large bell tower that rises above the other buildings, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is a masterpiece both inside and out.
If you want to see authentic Roman day-to-day life, then a visit to Trastevere is in order for you. Located west of the Tiber river, this Roman neighborhood is brimming with life. Here you will find ancient houses, cobblestone streets, and numerous cafes and restaurants.
Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine was built to celebrate the victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge and was dedicated to Emperor Constantine.
Located right outside of the Colosseum, this is an easy addition to the above mentioned itinerary for your one day in Rome. Standing at 21 m high, it is easy to stop this historic structure.
Final Thoughts on One Day in Rome
I could go on and on about all of the fabulous things to do in Rome. This city is truly brimming with history. You see it in every turn. I love that each time we return to Rome was find a new item to explore. We hope that we have given you a great start to planning out your one-day in Rome itinerary.
For More Inspiration on Rome Check out These Posts:
25 Awesome Things to do in Rome
20 Incredible Things To Do In Sorrento, Italy
3 Days In Venice: A Great Itinerary
50 Italian Drinks That You Must Try in Italy
85 Quotes About Italy to Inspire Your Wanderlust
6 Reasons to Take a Food Tour in Rome
Tivoli: The Perfect Day Trip from Rome
50 Things to Do In Venice On a Budget
Sorrento to Capri: All You Need to Know for the Perfect Day Trip to Capri
Taking the Naples to Capri Ferry: All You Need to Know
2 Days in Florence: A Great Florence Itinerary
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Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight:
We love using CheapOAir, Kayak, and Kiwi to search for the best flight prices. We love using these search engines because they search the web for airlines worldwide to ensure you get the best deal! In addition to flights, you can also find great hotel prices on Kayak and Kiwi.
Book Your Vacation Package:
If you want to book an entire vacation package, we suggest using Expedia. We love how easy Expedia is to use, and we always find good deals on entire vacation packages on their site.
Another great site for vacation packages is BookVIP. BookVIP offers super cheap vacation packages to incredible destinations. You are sure to save money using their site!
For full guided vacations, including hotels, some meals, transportation, and guides, then we book with Trafalgar. Trafalgar is a trusted tour company that will meet all your needs while ensuring a great experience.
Trip.com allows you to book flights, hotels, train tickets, rental cars, airport transfers, tours, and more all on one site. Owned by the parent company that also owns Skyscanner, this is a trusted resource for travel booking and a great “one-stop shop.”
Book Your Accommodations:
We always begin our search by checking out honest reviews on TripAdvisor hotels. This allows us to narrow our search for specific properties once we are ready to book. Of course, you can also book directly on the TripAdvisor site!
There are several accommodation sites that we like to use. One of our favorites is Booking.com because it offers a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses at a good price.
Another “go-to” hotel booking site for us is Hotels.com. We love their loyalty program that allows you to earn free nights, and their “secret prices” for members are fabulous deals!
HotelsCombined is another cool site. They allow you to compare all the top travel sites with one search to ensure you find the best deal out there. Kayak works in this way as well.
If you want a luxurious all-inclusive vacation, consider checking out the Sandals/Beaches properties. Sandals properties are for couples only and Beaches are for families. We have visited Sandals in the past and absolutely love the attention to detail and the service they provide.
Tour Companies We Trust:
We love taking guided tours when visiting new places. Our go-to tour companies are Viator.com and Get Your Guide. Both of these companies have been in business for years and provide excellent customer service. You can trust booking tours from their sites for sure!
For a guided city tour, check out City Sightseeing and BigBus Tours. These bus tours are so much fun and easy to hop on and hop off at top attractions in cities around the world.
CityPass is a great way to save money when visiting large cities. CityPass allows you to get free admission to major attractions once you buy their pass. The savings add up quickly with this pass, often saving 50% with combined admissions.
Another great pass to save money in larger cities is the Sightseeing Pass. This pass allows you to save valuable time and money by combining admissions to major attractions. They also have a handy app that keeps everything you need at your fingertips.
Looking to Save Time and Money?
Check out our resource page for all of our favorite vendors. These companies help us to save time and money on our travels!
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About The Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.
Thursday 24th of September 2020
I hope to visit Rome soon, hopefully for longer than a day but this is a great guide for a short stop in the city!
Friday 7th of August 2020
If everything works out - respectively if things don't change - I'm off to Rome end of this month. Hence, I'm grateful for your guide and all those great inspirations - totally bookmarking this for my own trip. :-)
Friday 7th of August 2020
Oh this sounds incredible. I hope you have a great time!
Friday 7th of August 2020
I loved Rome when I visited. So it would be hard to pick just a few things to see if I only had one day there. Thanks for making it a little bit easier.
Friday 7th of August 2020
I know!! We spent weeks there and still went back. It's such an awesome city!
Wednesday 5th of August 2020
I remember being so in awe of the Pantheon. There's just something about the way it sits there, surrounded by modern cafes. Also, if I had a single day in Rome, I may eat my way through the whole day! But if I couldn't do that, this list is pretty perfect!
Wednesday 5th of August 2020
Haha! I like the way you think! Eating my way through Rome sounds amazing!
Tuesday 4th of August 2020
I often find I can do 1 day in most cities, but with Rome I think I would stay for a few days as there is so much I want to see. I love all of the history there!
Wednesday 5th of August 2020
I know, it would be so hard to do. We wrote this post because we were being asked that question a lot, so this was our answer. We actually spent almost 3 weeks there and still went back a few years later.