How To See Rome In A Day
Updated April 2020, One Day in Rome was originally written in January 2019
It Wasn’t Built In A Day But You Can See It In One: A One Day Rome Itinerary
Rome in one day? The naysayers will say it’s impossible. History buffs and the classic art lovers will scoff in disbelief at the mere thought of it. It’s unthinkable, absurd…
Let me stop you right there… it’s 100% f*&@ing possible
Will you get the most out of all the sites on this list with only one day in Rome at your disposal? Of course not. This is a fast-track, high-tailing, gonna-need-a-foot-massage afterwards kind of day.
Maybe you have a full day layover in Rome, maybe you’re on a fast track rail lap around Europe, maybe you’re in Rome on business and have one free day, or maybe you’re a cruise passenger trying to make the most out of a too short port-of-call… whatever your reasoning, I’m not here to judge you, I’m here to help.
The following one day in Rome itinerary is based on the one day tour of Rome I gave my friend Tay on the final day of her short trip to Italy. I’ve been to Rome so many times I’ve lost count at this point.
One Day In Rome Itinerary
- Vatican Museums
- St Peter’s Basilica
- Spanish Steps
- Piazze Navona
- Gelato at Trevi Fountain
You’ll likely be starting your one day in Rome tour near Roma Termini, especially those coming in for a day from either airport or by train.
Strap on your best trainers because you’ll be on your toes sun up to sundown. Make your way to the nearest Pasticceria, rock up to the counter and order your espresso (or cappuccino or macchiato) and one of the delicious Italian pastries on display. I usually go for a ciaccolato cornetto or a cannoli (I have a serious cannoli addiction, or it might just be my Sicilian blood). Eat standing at the counter, otherwise, that’s an additional charge.
Next, make your brisk walk to one of Rome’s most famous sites.
It’s massive, hard to miss and the beating heart of Rome. There is one great vantage point up a set of stairs on the edge of Parco dei Colle Oppio to get your photo in front of the Colosseum from.
Some of you will be pleased just to see the outside of the uber famous structure, while many will want to go inside. Entrance tickets to the Colosseum will set you back €17 if bought at the ticket booth and include visits to the Forum Roma and the Palatine Hill. You can purchase your tickets online ahead of time here. Online tickets cost €19, plus a €1.75 surcharge.
Those of you who do plan to tour the inside of the Colosseum, I encourage you to roam through the Forum Roma and Palatine Hill. This will tack on some time, so I recommend axing a few sites off your schedule (Navona and the Spanish Steps) to accommodate this. Or possibly move them to the late evening.
Next hop on the metro at the Colosseo stop bound for Rebibbia, switch at Termini and get on the metro headed for Batitstini and get off at Cipro- Musei Vaticani. Download a map of Rome’s metro system here.
Check out this 1/2 day tour of the Colosseum, Forum Roma & Palatine Hill
The Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica
It’s a short walk from Cipro-Musei Vaticani Metro stop to the Vatican Museum entrance. For those of you that need a jolt of energy before embarking on the museums, get off at Leptano or Ottaviano stops and make the short walk to Sciascia Cafe for one of their famous chocolate-lined-cup espressos (worth the stop, trust me! Or you can opt to stop on your way out).
My top recommendation for visiting the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel is to pre-book your ticket online here to save you from waiting in line (though if you book a tour, it will typically include your admission ticket). Admission tickets to the Vatican Museums (which also includes the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica is no charge) is €17, pre-sale tickets purchased online are an additional €4. Wintertime visitors (aside from major holiday times) won’t need to worry so much with this as it’s fairly quiet around here this time of you, but those planning to visit especially between late April and late October should definitely plan ahead.
The Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s are A LOT to see. People that are into history and art could need an entire or even several days here, while others may do a quick walkthrough and hit the highlights in two hours or so. If you are a big history and art buff I’d probably save your visit for another time when you have longer to spend admiring the artwork.
There are several different routes through different halls you can walk to meander through the Vatican Museums, however, you will end up at the Sistine Chapel at the very end. Upon exiting the Sistine Chapel. head over to St Peter’s Basilica as it is very near.
Want a guided tour? Check out this Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica 3 hour tour
You’re probably starving after the long walk through the Vatican Museums. Grab lunch somewhere in the Vatican City, or hop back on the metro from the Ottaviano stop and get on a metro car bound for Anagnina and get off at Spagna. This station will take you to the Spanish Steps where there are oodles of restaurants to choose from.
After breaking for lunch head over to the Spanish Steps. The Spanish steps climb a steep slope between the Piazze di Spagna and Piazze Trinità dei Monti, where Trinità dei Monti sits at the stop looming over the steps.
Next, take a 1 km walk to go see the Pantheon.
The Pantheon is a former Roman Temple turned church. It was completed around 126 AD. This is one of the best preserved ancient Roman structures and still to this day is the world’s largest unreinforced dome. There is no admission fee for the Pantheon. If visiting outside the summer and holiday rushes you typically can walk right into the Pantheon without any wait. In summer expect it to be very crowded.
Nearby to the Pantheon is the Piazze Navona. Piazze Navone is a great place to see Roman Baroque architecture as the buildings were decorated in the 1600’s under the reign of Pope Innocent X.
By this point the sun is probably starting to set and your feet growing tired. Treat yourself to a nice dinner (and a glass or three of Prosecco) between your visits to Piazze Navona and Trevi Fountain.
Gelato At Trevi Fountain
The final stop, Trevi Fountain. Completed in 1752, Trevi Fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world. These days the fountain is illuminated at night, making it an ideal stop after the sun goes down and the crowds die off. Now go grab yourself a gelato (there’s one on the corner of Trevi Fountain), and toss the change in with your right hand over your left shoulder and make your wish that you can come back with more time to explore Rome.
Wanna Take The Planning & Logistics out?
Check out this One Day In Rome Tour
Got More Than One Day In Rome?
Some people spend an entire week in Rome and still feel like they’ve missed half of it, and rightly so. Rome has 2,700 years of history packed into. This itinerary would be much more ideal with at least 3 days from my experience in the city.
Where To Stay In Rome
There are heaps of hotels and hostels in Rome. I usually stay somewhere near Roma Termini for simplicities sake as most my trips through Rome were headed back to Terracina or headed somewhere from it.
Rome is a fairly walkable city as most sites aren’t usually much more than a kilometer from each other. However, many of you will want to make use of the public transport system in the city. I found getting around by metro to be the quickest and most efficient way to travel around especially if you’re trying to see Rome in one day. Ticket fares are as follows:
- One way BIT ticket (good on metros, buses, trams and urban trains for 75 minutes): €1.50
- Day pass BIG ticket (good for unlimited use on metros, buses, trams and urban trains until midnight the day you validate it): €6
- Week pass CIS ticket (good for unlimited use on metros, buses, trams and urban trains 7 days): €24
Want To Go Beyond Rome?
Check out these day tours from Rome
- Discover the ancient Ruins of Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius from Rome
- Visit the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii on a day trip from Rome
- Explore Pisa & Florence from Rome
Have Any One Day In Rome Itinerary Questions?
Ask in the comments below!