It’s okay if it hasn’t happened yet. Learn to enjoy the feeling of waiting, the reward will be that much sweeter.
As the capital city of Italy, Rome, also known as the Eternal City, is a popular destination for travelers all over the world. It has a rich history and is home to many famous landmarks and attractions that are UNESCO World Heritage sites. With a Mediterranean climate, Rome has hot summers and mild winters, making it the perfect destination for a trip with friends, and family, a honeymoon, or to live a few months abroad. Additionally, it provides visitors with easy access to nearby cities like Florence and Milan to experience even more of what Italy has to offer.
We spent 4 days in Rome, and I feel like it was the sweet spot to see most things. Rome is so rich in art, culture, and history that you would probably need much more time to discover it all. Yet, in four days, you can get the vibe and feel of the city. I am sure that on your way back, you will already be dreaming of returning to Rome.
Here is what I believe to be the perfect four-day itinerary to visit Rome. However, I have also provided some variations at the end for fewer days, in case you don’t want to stay for four days.
Day 1 of 4 days in Rome
Visit the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.
The first thing you should do is book this tour to visit the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. If you book it from anywhere else, make sure you get VIP access to the arena. It costs a little bit extra, but it is so worth it. We didn’t know this before purchasing our tickets and regretted it big time!
When we think of Rome, the Colosseum (Colosseo) is often the first landmark that comes to mind. Close by, you have the Roman Forum (Forum Romanum) and Palatine Hill (Palatino). These landmarks are incredibly rich in history. The Colosseum was the site of countless gladiatorial battles and other spectacles, while the Roman Forum was the center of political and social life in ancient Rome. Palatine Hill was home to many of the city’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens.
You can see the ingenuity of the architecture in the remaining ruins. It is simply breathtaking to know that all of these structures were created before modern machinery existed. The underground passages, temples, and arches are all true marvels of engineering.
These landmarks were so pivotal in history that you will want a guide to explain everything to you and share anecdotes about ancient Rome. Plus, with that three-hour tour, you get fast-track access, which is similar to skip-the-line.
Location of the Colosseum / Location of the Roman Forum / Location of Palatine Hill
Visit the Capitoline Hill
Right next to the Roman Forum, you will find Capitoline Hill. But on your way there, make sure to find a restaurant to have lunch at and read the reviews beforehand. We made the mistake of not checking reviews before going to a restaurant and ended up eating at one of the most disgusting places I have ever been to. Be smart and don’t make the same mistake we did.
Capitoline Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome located in the heart of the city, holds a lot of historical significance. The main attractions to visit are the Piazza del Campidoglio, the statue of Marcus Aurelius, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, and the Capitoline Museums.
The Piazza del Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo in the 16th century, is located in the center of Capitoline Hill. In this square, you can find important buildings including the Palazzo Senatorio, the Palazzo dei Conservatori, and the Palazzo Nuovo. Moreover, the museums showcase everything from ancient statues and sculptures to mosaics and frescoes.
In the center of the square stands the statue of Marcus Aurelius, one of the most respected and admired leaders in Roman history.
At the top of the hill, you can find the beautiful Santa Maria in Aracoeli church, built in the 6th century, with a stunning interior and ornate decorations. It holds significant religious importance to this day, with hundreds of pilgrims visiting the church every year. Legend has it that the large staircase leading to the church was brought to Rome from Jerusalem by St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine.
However, the biggest perk of Capitoline Hill is the stunning view of Rome you get from the top. You can see as far as Vatican City and it is a beautiful place to watch the sunset.
Day 2 of 4 days in Rome
The itinerary would be incomplete without visiting Vatican City, an independent city-state surrounded by Rome. It is the smallest country in the world, covering only 44 hectares, and has a population of only 800 people, all working for the Church.
You are essentially visiting a different country while in Italy! However, don’t forget to dress modestly, meaning your shoulders and knees should be covered when entering to show respect for the religion.
To stay in tune with art and masterpieces, you can find many famous creations in the Vatican. The most famous is the Creation of Adam, a fresco painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. From the same artist, you can find the Pieta sculpture in St. Peter’s Basilica or the Laocoön and His Sons sculpture in the Vatican Museum, to name a few.
I would suggest you get this tour of the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel with access to St. Peter’s Basilica. The Vatican is a holy place that brings many people daily, and St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest cathedral in the world. With this tour, you can skip the line, which is a huge time saver! You could easily wait a few hours without it, especially in the summer. The tour lasts 3 hours, but you can stay longer, as they also have amazing gardens you can visit and relax in.
Now, a little disclaimer: You don’t have access to the Sistine Chapel for too long; you get ushered out quite fast, and you can’t take pictures inside. The Creation of Adam doesn’t stand out compared to all the art on the ceiling, so you need to keep your eyes open to spot it. Don’t let the security guard intimidate you into leaving the Sistine Chapel before you see the Creation of Adam.
Lastly, you can even climb to the top of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica to have an amazing panoramic view of the city.
Grab some food on your way to Castel Sant’Angelo. The castle is located in the middle of a park, which is the perfect location to have a little picnic and give your feet some rest. Once you’re done with your delicious Italian food, you can visit the castle and learn all about its history.
Castel Sant’Angelo, the ancient mausoleum of Hadrian transformed into a fortress, is a remarkable landmark in Rome. However, the entrance queue can be intimidating and long. Therefore, you can get this tour with skip-the-line access to bypass the crowds and delve into the castle’s intriguing history and architecture with your guide’s expertise as you explore the prison cells, papal apartments, and internal halls. You will get to see all the different rooms with their unique exhibits and an impressive collection of Renaissance-era art and artifacts. The tour concludes with breathtaking views of the Tiber River and the city from the rooftop terrace.
Head down to the Trastevere neighborhood to end your day. This neighborhood is known for its colorful, funky, and bohemian vibe that clings to its centuries-old, working-class roots. It’s known for traditional and innovative trattorias, craft beer pubs, and artisan shops. It is a lively neighborhood, where there is always action and a lot of young-minded people, whether they are locals, students, or tourists.
I simply loved the narrow, winding streets, colorful buildings, lively music, and great food. The atmosphere is so relaxed and charming, and the people were amazing to talk to.
You will have so many food options, whether it’s trattorias, pizzerias, gelaterias, or cafes to indulge in, and many of them have outdoor seating.
I purchased many of my souvenirs in that neighborhood at local artisanal shops.
Day 3 of 4 days in Rome
If you’re a foodie like me, then you know that the best way to explore a city is through its culinary delights! That’s why I highly recommend going on this small-group food tour. You’ll be in for a treat as you embark on a delicious and fun-filled walking tour through Campo de’ Fiori, Trastevere, and the Jewish Quarter. Your friendly guide will take you to some of the most mouth-watering Italian spots, where you can savor traditional favorites like pasta and gelato, as well as local specialties like the crispy and delightful fried artichokes. This is a great way to experience the authentic flavors and culture of the Eternal City while exploring the neighborhoods on foot. So come hungry, and get ready for a feast for the senses!
After a few days of walking, waiting, and eating, why not unwind with a relaxing spa session? Did you know that public baths or “thermae” were a crucial part of the ancient Roman culture? So why not immerse yourself in this fascinating piece of history while you’re in Rome? It’s a unique and fun way to experience the city’s rich past.
The public baths were a place where people from all walks of life gathered for exercise, socializing, and hygiene. Both men and women were welcome, but they had separate times or days to visit. The baths had hot and cold pools, saunas, steam rooms, and even libraries, gardens, and shops! They were so popular that even after the fall of the Roman Empire, they continued to be used for centuries. So take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and treat yourself to a well-deserved spa day!
Day 4 of 4 days in Rome
Start your day early at the Trevi Fountain, Fontana di Trevi in Italian. It is an unavoidable sight in Rome and is renowned for its stunning beauty and interesting history. The fountain was designed by Nicola Salvi in the 18th century, representing the taming of the waters where you can find intricate sculptures, including the iconic depiction of Oceanus, the god of the sea, flanked by two tritons.
Legend says that if you throw a coin over your left shoulder into the fountain, you will return to Rome one day. If you do it twice, you will fall in love with an attractive Italian; and if you do it a third time, you will marry the person you meet.
It is such a popular attraction that each year about 1.5 million euro is thrown into the fountain! This is why you should go early, as you will see, it gets pretty crowded, pretty fast. And it stays crowded until nightfall. I think the whole world fell in love with the fountain the moment La Dolce Vita came on the screen, and we saw the beauty of bathing freely in the fountain. Unfortunately, we can’t reproduce the scene, but we can throw three pennies in and fall in love instead.
Location of the Trevi Fountain
The Spanish Steps were built with funds from the Spanish Embassy in the 18th century. They were designed by Italian architect Francesco de Sanctis to connect the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See with the Church of Trinità dei Monti, located at the top of the steps.
The steps are bustling with people enjoying a lively atmosphere, indulging in gelato and coffee, and listening to street performers and musicians. If you have the budget, you can also go shopping in the designer boutiques located on the nearby streets.
Originally built as a temple to all the gods, it was later converted into a Christian church. The Pantheon is one of the best-preserved ancient Roman buildings in the world and is worth a visit. It is still an active church so you are required to dress modestly while visiting the interior.
Fun fact, the Pantheon’s dome is made of concrete and is the largest unsupported dome in the world. So even if you don’t go inside to see beautiful frescoes, mosaics, and sculptures, the outside is still breathtaking!
The Piazza Navona offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modern-day entertainment. Just like the Trevi Fountain, or the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona is a great example of baroque architecture. The square’s centerpiece, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, designed by sculptor Bernini, was built on the site of an ancient Roman stadium. There are also several important churches in the area, including the Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone.
The Piazza Navona is a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists to relax at and enjoy the view. It is the perfect spot to end the day with all the restaurants and cafes around the area.
How many days in Rome do you need?
4 days in Rome is the perfect amount of time to visit all the major landmarks. Keep in mind that you will be spending a lot of time waiting in lines, whether it’s for attractions, gelato, or public transport. Rome is the most visited Italian city, so it can get extremely crowded, especially during nice weather.
Don’t forget to purchase all your passes in advance, as they tend to sell out quickly during peak tourism times. It’s also a good idea to avoid visiting on weekends when there are more people.
If you don’t have four days, here are some variations of the itinerary you can follow.
3 days in Rome
Day 1: Visit the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill, Capitoline Hill.
Day 2: Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo, Trastevere.
Day 3: Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Piazza Navona
2 days in Rome
Day 1: Visit the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon.
Day 2: Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo, Trastevere.
1 day in Rome
Vatican City, the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Trevi Fountain.
The high season will soon begin in Italy so grab your plane tickets as soon as possible and go on a new adventure, you will love it,
Until next time,