One day in Rome: perfect itinerary through the heart of the city

Our Rome itieneraty for a walking tour to remember

How much of Rome can you see in one day? What Rome attractions can be visited on the same day and what is the best itinerary to follow? Find our best itinerary to see Rome in one day in this article by a local. Good walking shoes essential!

Romans say ‘A lifetime is not enough to know Rome’ and, Roman that I am, I agree.

There is just so much to see in Rome, so many layers of history, beauty and so much going on in this very busy city, that you can live here all your life and still not even scratch the surface of her many secrets.

However, I believe it is possible to get a taste of Rome in a day if you have the right itinerary and tips for visiting.

I lived in Rome most of my life and I have created this itinerary so you can explore the heart of Rome and see the very best Rome has to offer, even if you are short on time

Photo of Piazza Navona with 1 day in Rome text overlay
Follow our itinerary and discover Rome in one day. From the Colosseum to the splendor of Baroque times, follow our footsteps as we show you the best of Rome in just 24 hours

How much can you see with just one day in Rome?

Rome is a big city but many of its must-see attractions are walking distance from each other.

Following this itinerary, in one day in Rome you can see:

  • Ancient Rome highlights such as the Colosseum, Forum and the Pantheon)
  • Piazza di Spagna (=the Spanish steps) and Trevi fountain, among the most iconic of Rome sights
  • Rome main piazzas including Piazza Venezia, Piazza Navona and Campo de’ fiori,
  • Rome’s historical neighborhood of Trastevere
  • Suggestions on food stops for lunch, snacks and dinner during your day in Rome

You will need to allow a full day for it and I recommend you equip yourself with the right gear, namely good walking shoes  (find our favorite shoes for Italy here) and a bottle of water refill freely from Romes’ famous street fountains.

Can you see Rome in one day?

Here are answers to come of the most frequent questions about making the most of one fay in Rome city centre.

Can you see the Colosseum and the Vatican in the same day?

It is technically possible to see the Colosseum and (part of) Vatican city in one day.

They are a short bus ride away from each other and it is possible to start your day in the Vatican, for instance, and then the afternoon visiting the Colosseum

I don’t believe this would be the best time of your one day in Rome as you are likely to feel rushed and you won’t have time to see any of the city. A better way to see the Vatican is to combine it with nearby Castel Sant’Angelo.

However, if this is the only option to see the both, the best way to do see the Vatican and the Colosseum in a day is to invest in early entrance to the Sistine chapel and skip the line tickets.

Read all my tips for skipping the lines in Rome (without spending a fortune) here

What is the best way to get around Rome?

The best way to get around Rome city centre is on foot.

The attractions in this article are all a few minute walk from each other and do not require the use of the bus. If you wish to avail of them, you can buy tickets at the bus terminus in Piazza Venezia.

Rome in one day walking itinerary

Morning stop 1 – The Colosseum

I love to start my tour of Rome from the ancient part of it.

It is stunning, unique and convenient, thanks to the metro station and the many buses stopping nearby.

Ancient Rome is conveniently located at the very centre of the modern city!

The Colosseum is your first must see.

Colosseum top tier rome
The top floor of the Colosseum,visited with reserved entrance ticket

It is a magnet for tourists and the sea of baseball caps, umbrellas and ‘gladiators’ expecting you as you step under its magnificent shade taints the mystique of the place.

However, the monument itself is so beautiful and its remains to imposing I believe excluding it from your itinerary would be a real shame.

If you want to visit inside, I recommend you start your morning early (be here at about 8.30) and get skip the line tickets. A visit to the Colosseum and forum takes easily 3 hours: if you add waiting in line, this would kill the rest of this itinerary. 

You can get your skip the line tickets online here

Whatever you decide to do,take the time to climb to the hill just in front of the Colosseum for a beautiful photo op!

Morning stop 2 -Fori Imperiali (Roman forum) and Piazza Venezia

From the Colosseum, you can walk along the ancient forum following the modern Via dei Fori imperiali.

This follows the ancient Roman fora and give you a glimpse of what the city must have looked like in Roman times.

Views over the Roman forum from Il Vittoriano

At the end of this road you find Piazza Venezia, which is a busy but historically important piazza: from sinister Palazzo Venezia, Mussolini used to reel the crowds and declared the beginning of the II world war.

The most impressive monument here is il Vittoriano: it is one of the most recognizable monuments in the whole of Rome and one worth seeing at least from outside.

Once in the piazza you cannot miss it: remember that its nickname is the trypewriter or the wedding cake and you will spot it straight away!

On top, there is a terrace open to the public. The views of the Roman forum from here are stunning (access to the middle terrace is free)

Morning stop 3 – Campidoglio hill

Just behind Piazza Venezia you find one of the most beautiful bits of Rome: the Campidoglio hill.

Climb its imposing steps and take in the beauty of the main piazza, with Marcus Aurelius towering above it from his horse, and make sure you walk to the back of it for an impressive view over the forum (free). 

Lunch Stop 4

At this point you are likely to want to stop for lunch.

In this area you have plenty of options, from take away pizza to sit down meals. Two I like are Antica Birreria Peroni and Cavour 313.

Early afternoon stop 5 – Spanish Steps and Trevi 

The Spanish steps and Fontana di Trevi are only a few minute walk from Piazza Venezia and an easy stop at this point of your itinerary.

However, I need to warn you that they are very crowded at this time, sometimes so much to make the visit a disappointment. 

Depending on how much you want to see Trastevere, you may want to avoid crossing the river and come back to this area in the evening instead: there are plenty of nice restaurants here and the crowds tend to leave when the evening sets in. 

Spanish steps
Spanish steps

Mid afternoon Stop 6 – The Pantheon

By far, my favourite part of Rome city centre.

Piazza del Pantheon and the adjacent piazza della Minerva are where you find small winding streets, dusty cafes, gelaterie and as many churches as your imagination can think of!

This part of the city is so packed with things to see the best way to enjoy it is just to get lost with your nose in the air.

It’s also the home of some of the best food in Rome: make sure you stop at ‘caffe’ tazza d’oro’ for a granita or in Piazza Sant’Eustachio for, allegedly, the best coffee in Rome!

Late afternoon stop 7 – Piazza Navona 

Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful and famous square in the whole of Rome and a pleasure to visit.

Despite the crowd and the frequent selfie stick sellers, Piazza Navona is a beauty.

Don’t miss the wonderful church of Santa Agnese in Agone and the Fountain of the 4 rivers just in front and make sure you take the opportunity to learn about the rivalry between the two masters of Renaissance that are Bernini and Borromini.

If you are in the mood for something sweet, this is a good area for gelato too (find out our favorite gelato places here)

Detail of Fontana dei 4 fiumu, Piazza Navona, Rome
Piazza Navona has some of the most impressive statues in Rome such as this one part of the Fontana dei 4 fiumi

Pre dinner Stop 8 – Aperitivo in Campo de’ Fiori

Across the road from Piazza Navona sits Campo de’ fiori, another famous Roman square but very different from Piazza Navona in look and feel.

One is grand while Campo de’ fiori is dusty and charming, bursting with life at all times of day. 

This square is historically important as it is overlooked by the statue of Giordano Bruno, who lost his life here defending science and the light of reason.

It is a wonderful stop at this point of our itinerary as you are likely to want to sit down and rest: pick one of its wine bars and enjoy some people watching: it is as interesting as the sightseeing you just did!

Evening, Stop 9 – optional: dinner in Trastevere

By the time you have seen all this you are likely to be exhausted, but if your feet allow, I think you should cross the river and head to Trastevere.

Trastevere is often described as the most authentic part of Rome and I think this is true, to a point.

Less monumental than the city centre, it has a lovely student-y, arts-y vibe and feels less posh than many other parts of Rome and is full of nice restaurants and pizzerie. 

Don’t let the dusty streets deceit you: it’s not cheap to live here and tourism has discovered Trastevere a good while ago so this is no hidden gem

However, this remains one of the nicest areas for a dinner out and I think a great way to end the day, especially if in front of a pizza!

So, this is my list of things to do in Rome in one day. I hope you found this post useful and helped you answer the questions: what can I see in Rome in one day? Safe travels! 

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This post was originally published in 2015 and has now been fully updated.

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13 thoughts on “One day in Rome: perfect itinerary through the heart of the city

  1. Packing my Suitcase says:

    I love your city, I have been there a few times and I totally agree with you. It’s impossible to know the entire city, but the visit is worth it even if it is only for one day 😀
    Awesome itinerary! Trastevere is my favourite part 😉

    Thank you so much for joining #MondayEscapes

  2. Liz says:

    Thank you for this post! This is definitely helpful. I’ll be going to Italy for 10 days in November and there is so much to see that I want to limit my time in Rome to 2-3 days. I think it can be doable. Thanks again!

    • Marta says:

      I’m so happy you found this useful! November can be fabulous in Rome and definitely, with 2 or 3 days you can already get a first feel for the place. I wish you a great holiday, would love to know your impressions when you’re back

  3. Cristina says:

    I go to Roma every year on my way to Puglia and often it is just for 1 day. I wrote a post last year called ‘un giorno a Roma’ and included quite a few of the same spots as you. I guess great minds think alike! It’s nice to have more time in Roma, as it’s such a fascinating place. I can understand why you think of her as a family member. Ciao, Cristina

  4. Amie says:

    It’s nice to have insider information! I like that you have a map and that a traveler can pick and chose what interests them to make the most of a day trip.

  5. Cathy says:

    I haven’t been to Rome but this is a great itinerary for me- I love seeing lots and getting some walking in:) Looks beautiful and I’m glad ice cream is on the list!

  6. Rob Taylor says:

    Breaking up the city into smaller itineraries is brilliant. I wish we had this for Florence and Paris when we were there last. Thank you for doing the thinking for us!

  7. Carlie says:

    wow, that would be some day! I was fortunate enough to spend 10 days in Rome last year, so I really got to explore some of these places. You are so right! They are all MUSTS, so doing this marathon itinerary would be so worth it!

    • Marta - Learningescapes says:

      Indeed, you must be prepared to walk a good bit for this one! Ten days are a much better way to see the city – you can see a new thing very day or, probably better, pick your favourite spots and really savour them: I love when i have that kind of time to really feel a place!

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