ROME IN 1 DAY: tips and tricks for where to go in Rome and how to enjoy it!

Are you going to Rome without a tour operator and on your own? Planning to visit Rome in one day? Check out our itinerary of attractions and sights not to miss when visiting Rome for 1 day.

Updated 6. 9. 2022

Rome is home to some of the most beautiful sights in the world, and not all of them can be seen in one day. That’s why it’s important to plan your city tour in advance and make an itinerary so you can see the best of Rome. The itinerary also includes a map so you can plan your trip quickly and easily.

Is it possible to reach Rome in one day?

Is it even possible to reach Rome in one day? You can easily do the whole historic centre and 2 gelato with it. But you have to take into account that you won’t be able to see most of the sights. Rather, you’ll just soak up the atmosphere and find that you need to go back to Rome and explore the city again.

Italian gelato is a must even in cold November :).

A minimum of 3 days is required to explore Rome in depth. You can also use our itinerary, which can be easily spread over 3 days. Or read the separate itinerary for Rome for 3 days for a map of the routes for each day and other useful tips.

Rome in one day: route map

What to see and visit in Rome in 1 day? Itinerary and tips

The main historical centre of Rome is small, so you can walk around. I recommend proper shoes because Rome is known for its uneven pavements. If you’d like to see some of the sights, see the separate article on sights in Rome for information on entrance fees and opening times.

Rome in 1 day: the Colosseum – Forum Romanum – Palatine Hill

We begin poetically in ancient Rome. Where it all began for Rome. This is where we started, because we were eager to see the Colosseum.

Colosseum

Visiting Rome and not seeing the Colosseum is like being in Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower or skipping Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

The Colosseum in Rome can hold up to 80,000 spectators. It is the largest amphitheater ever built. It has survived earthquakes, fires, wars and riots. Gladiatorial fights and animal fights took place here. Or it was flooded for a mock naval battle.

We were thrilled with the Colosseum. It was live exactly as we imagined it. Colosseum. The trash around and lots of street vendors with selfie sticks were no longer in our imagination.

If you want to take a photo with the Colosseum at your back, from Termini Station go through the Parco del Colle Oppio. The park is not very well maintained, but there are other remains of ancient Rome here and at least you get a different view of the Colosseum.

Tour of the Colosseum, Forum Romanum and Palatine Hill

You must book your ticket in advance for the Colosseum. The ticket is combined and includes the adjacent Forum Romanum and Palatine Hill, where there is a common entrance. I recommend booking tickets first thing in the morning when it’s less crowded – you book a specific time you need to be there. Security checks are fast. Allow about an hour for the Colosseum tour itself. The whole area, including the Forum Romanum and Palatine Hill, will take you 2-3 hours.

Tip: Skip the queue and book ticket to the Colosseum with the Forum Romanum and Palatine Hill online with free cancellation 24 hours in advance.

Forum Romanum and Palatine Hill

The Forum Romanum is directly opposite the Colosseum. It reflects the importance of the whole Roman Empire. Ruins of temples, palaces, government buildings. If you don’t have enough time, you can see the Forum Romanum on the way to Piazza Venezia – from the Colosseum, head slightly uphill along Via dei Fori Imperiali.

Monuments of Ancient Rome - Forum Romanum
Forum Romanum

Palatine Hill is connected to the Roman Forum. It is an elevated area that used to be a residential area for the Roman nobility in the past. There are also good views of the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus.

Monuments of Ancient Rome - Palatine Hill
view of the Roman Forum from Palatine Hill

The entrance to the Palatine Hill and the Forum Romanum is shared. Both seats are included in the ticket to the Colosseum. Unlike the Colosseum, you don’t have to book a specific time here.

TIP: Would you like to save money on entrance fees and transport around Rome? Or do you want to simplify things and use one card for everything? Take a look at my comparison of the Roma Pass and Rome&Vatican Pass which get you free or reduced admission to more than 45 monuments, unlimited public transport, a sightseeing bus ride and other bonuses.

Rome in 1 day: the Piazza Venezia and the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II.

The road to Piazza Venezia from ancient Rome is full of Roman ruins and interesting places. History really oozes from every piece of stone here. On your right you’ll see the impressive Trajan’s Markets, but unfortunately there’s no time for them in such a short itinerary for Rome in one day.

Trajan's Markets Monuments of Ancient Rome
view from Trajan’s Market on Via dei Fori Imperiali

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia is in the heart of Rome. The traffic gets pretty thick here, so you better look around three times before you cross. Italians on the road…it’s worth it. In other countries, they would soon be without a driver’s license :).

View of Piazza Venezia from the Vittorio Emanuele II monument.

Vittorio Emanuele II Memorial

The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument is a beautiful, imposing building built in honour of King Vittorio Emanuele II. It has nothing to do with ancient Rome and is infamously nicknamed the Whipped Cream Cake by locals, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Guests can climb to the upper terrace for a fee and view the surrounding area.

Rome in one day

Rome in 1 day: the Trevi Fountain – Pantheon – Castle of the Angels

Trevi Fountain

From the Piazza Venezia, we head to Bernini’s Trevi Fountain. This is one of the most beautiful places not to be missed when visiting Rome. Even if you only have one day. The Trevi Fountain symbolises the abundance and health that water brings. The backdrop for the sculptures is the Palazzo Poli, which today houses the National Institute for Graphic Arts.

Rome in one day

Tradition says that if you throw a coin into the fountain (from your right hand over your left shoulder), you will return to Rome one day. If you toss 2 coins there, you will meet love and 3 coins will bring marriage. Get ready for the coins to fly and maybe you’ll get some in your head like we did :).

Things to see in Rome

The square around the Trevi Fountain is tiny. Most of it is actually taken up by the fountain itself. This gives it an even greater impression of monumentality. You feel like you are standing on a theatre stage watching an amazing performance. Everybody wants to see it, so there are lots of tourists during the day and late in the evening. If you would like to see the Trevi Fountain without tourists, you must arrive early in the morning. But this is difficult to combine with a one-day itinerary. Queues and crowds of tourists are common in Rome. In some places even in the low season.

From the Trevi Fountain, it’s a few minutes to the Spanish Steps. A beautiful place, but in our opinion not one of the top must-see places in Rome. Especially if you only have one day or plan to catch the Vatican.

Pantheon

The Pantheon is just a few minutes from the Trevi Fountain. It is an incredible building that will absolutely amaze you. I can’t even describe the atmosphere here.

Pantheon Rome / Rome in 3 days

The Pantheon is a church and mausoleum that was originally used for the worship of planetary gods. It is especially famous for its dome, which is the largest dome of unreinforced concrete in the world. In the upper part of the dome there is an opening with a diameter of 9 meters, through which, in addition to the door, the only daylight enters the church.

Pantheon in Rome

Admission to the Pantheon is free and be sure to at least take a peek. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Piazza Navona

We’re coming to Piazza Navona. One of the most famous and beautiful squares in Rome. Tourists abound here, so prices are inflated. If you’re not hungry by now, I recommend eating near Piazza Navona. In one of the side streets where there are several great restaurants. We ate well at the Quelli de’ Coronari restaurant.

Piazza Navona is a large square famous for the Fountain of Neptune, the fountain of the four rivers with the river gods, who symbolize the largest rivers of the 4 major continents. Another wonderful work by Bernini, whose work has been seen in many places in Rome and the Vatican.

Angel Castle

From Piazza Navona we continue to the Angel Castle. Another place that must be on the list of things to see in Rome. The streets towards the castle are narrow, cobbled and charming. We go to the Tiber River, over which the Angel Bridge with the Angel Castle is crossing.

The Angelic Castle is called Hadrian’s Tomb after the Roman emperor who had the castle built as a mausoleum for himself and his family. It is one of the oldest buildings in Rome.

Rome in one day: the Vatican

From the Angel’s Castle, you can almost see Svatopetrské náměstí. After crossing the Angel Castle, turn left along the river and in 10 minutes you are at the foot of the Basilica of St. Peter.

Basilica of St. Petra

St. Peter’s Basilica is an important pilgrimage site and one of the holiest and largest churches of the Catholic Church. It is the place where the Pope presides over many liturgies throughout the year.

St. Peter’s Square with the Basilica of St. Petra

Entrance to the Basilica of St. Petra is free and if you have the time, be sure to drop by. There are many beautiful churches and basilicas in Rome and the Vatican, and it would be a shame not to visit any of them. It should be late afternoon after a full day in Rome, so there will most likely not be crowds of tourists. The biggest queues start to form later in the morning and in the morning. Basilica of St. Petra is open until 19:00 in high season and 18:30 in low season.

Basilica of St. St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican

For a fee (€8, or €10 if you take a partial lift; pay in cash) you can go up to the dome and enjoy the view of St Peter’s Square. The dome closes about an hour before the basilica.

Rome in one day / Basilica of St. Petra
view from the Basilica of St. St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican

Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel

Do you still have time? How about visiting one of the best art collections in the world and ending a great day in Rome? The Vatican Museums are famous for their collection of Roman statues, masterpieces of Renaissance art and Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel (the chapel is part of the Vatican Museum tour – you can’t miss it on the way).

what to do in rome
Gallery of maps in the Vatican Museums

Just beware that the last entry to the Vatican Museums is at 4 pm. In high season (approx. end of April to the first week of October) the last entry is possible on Fridays and Saturdays until 20:30. Sundays are closed except for the last one of the month, and that’s free – the queues are so long that it’s better to skip visiting the Vatican Museums on Sundays.

From the Basilica of St. The Vatican Museums are about a 15-minute walk from St Peter’s Square. If you want to go straight to the museums without visiting the Basilica, the entrance is from Viale Vaticano – you walk along the walls of the Vatican until you reach the entrance to the Vatican Museums (about a 10-minute walk).

The Vatican Museums include a collection of more than 20,000 objects and art. With limited time, it’s a good idea to plan in advance what you want to see at the museums. You can find out everything you need to know in my articles on the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

The Sistine Chapel is part of the ticket to the Vatican Museums

Tip: Skip the queue and book Tickets to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel online. You’ll save time in queues and get more done in Rome in one day.

Map of Rome

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find a detailed map of museums, monuments and attractions to visit and see in Rome. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show the different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places I mention in my guide to Rome. If you want to save the map, star it. For a larger version, click on the icon in the upper right corner.

Our tips before visiting Rome

  • Wear comfortable shoes. The pavements are often cobbled and not very straight.
  • Try the food outside the main tourist spots. In a hidden alley, where mostly locals visit. Not only will you save money, but your taste buds will enjoy it more. Find tips for great restaurants here.
  • Summer or winter, Italian gelato is a must-try, even if it’s slightly above freezing. The popular ice cream parlour is located right next to the Trevi Fountain.
  • Take in the main tourist spots such as the Colosseum, the Vatican or the Trevi Fountain.
  • Or, alternatively, walk through Rome after dark, when it is beautifully lit up. All the places we passed once more in the dark were almost devoid of people – the Angel’s Castle, the Colosseum or St Peter’s Square (there were a lot of homeless people here, so be careful).
  • The city places great emphasis on safety. The main tourist spots in Rome are guarded by soldiers. Still, be wary of pickpockets and watch out for ticket scams at the Coliseum. Tickets are always purchased online in advance.
  • See if the Roma Pass and Roma and Vatican Pass can save you money. Their comparison can be found in the previous article.

TIP: Would you like to save money on entrance fees and transport around Rome? Or do you want to simplify things and use one card for everything? Take a look at my comparison of the Roma Pass and Rome&Vatican Pass which get you free or reduced admission to more than 45 monuments, unlimited public transport, a sightseeing bus ride and other bonuses.

Where to stay when visiting Rome for the day?

My recommendation is to stay near Termini Station, where you arrive from Fiumincino or Ciampino Airport. There are several nice hotels, many good restaurants nearby, grocery stores (Coop), good metro connections to the whole of Rome and you can walk to the centre in a few minutes.

Cosy and affordable Hotel Impero within walking distance of the centre

Tips for the best accommodation in Rome:

  • Hotel Impero – cheap hotel with excellent breakfast and roof terrace; older facilities but clean and cosy; quiet at night
  • Hotel Borromeo – cosy period rooms with private bathrooms and air conditioning (for 2-4 people); a few minutes from the metro and within walking distance of the historic centre; beautiful roof terrace with seating and sun loungers
  • Hotel California – 2-4 bedded rooms with private bathroom and air conditioning; within walking distance of the main station and the historic centre
  • Hotel Nord Nuova Roma near a busy street but has double windows to avoid most noise; roof terrace for evening sitting; comfortable beds and overall very pleasant rooms
  • The Hive hotel – trendy hotel with modern and clean rooms; rooms and suites for up to 4 people available; spacious roof terrace with seating and restaurant
Modern and spacious rooms at the Hive Hotel

We’re moving more towards the center. If you want to soak up the unmistakable atmosphere of Rome, a stay in the very centre is ideal. My tip is the guesthouse L’antica Locanda Dell’Orso with 2-3 bed rooms near Piazza Navona. Great value for money considering the location in the historic centre.

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Frequently asked questions

Is it possible to reach Rome in one day?

Yes, you can walk through the historic centre of Rome in a day, but you have to expect that you won’t see inside most of the monuments. But the whole of Rome is beautiful in itself and just wandering the streets of Rome is an unforgettable experience.

What sights to visit in Rome?

The great thing about Rome is that the historic centre is relatively small and the vast majority of the sights are located here. Take inspiration from our itinerary and map of the most famous ones that you should not miss during your visit.