Rome itinerary: 4 days to see the best of the Eternal City

4 day Rome itinerary to see Rome must see, taste the best Rome food and explore off the beaten path areas for a truly authentic and unforgettable Rome experience.

Rome is a world.

A world of beauty, art and food that casts a spell on most visitors, who leave the city starry eyed and in love with its dusty charm. Rome is also a messy world, a living and breathing city with traffic, workers and more tourists than its famous cobbled streets can take.

Because of this, if you are going to Rome for 4 days, you may want to plan ahead: this is what I hope I can help you do with this article.

Hare,  I share my tried and tested 4 day Rome itinerary, the one I use to show off the city to friends and family every time they give me the chance.

Why should you trust me, you may ask?

Well, Rome is my hometown and I am also a Roman History graduate, something that meant during university years I found myself at the desk studying as often as on the streets looking at buildings and historical sites. Yes, I was really lucky!

I believe following my 4 day itinerary of Rome you will see the best of the city and get a sense for the spirit of the city.

If this is tour first time in the city, you may also want to check out my Rome tips and tricks for first timers here. 

Ready? Let’s go!

Rome 4 day itinerary
Detailed itinerary to see the best of Rome in 4 days including main sites and off the beaten track attractions for an authentic Rome experience

Please note: this post contains affiliate links and, should you make a purchase though them, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Rome in 4 days: before we start

Rome is a vast city and some of the main city attractions are walking distance from each other.

I have crafted this itinerary to make the most of this proximity and allow you to walk, rather than using public transport as much as possible.

However, some attractions will require you getting onto the bus (or the metro, depending on where you are staying).

If you are going to Rome for 4 days, I highly recommend getting a bus card: you can find a selection of ticket types here, so you can choose the most suitable to you.

If you are planning on seeing many museums, you may also want to invest in a Rome discount card; however, this is not needed for the itinerary below. 

To make the most of your time in Rome if you only have 4 days, I recommend finding accommodation in the city centre.

I recommend you look at the following addresses:

Rome in 4 days, what to bring

Following this Rome itinerary, you will find yourself walking a lot and a good pair of walking shoes is essential.

Despite what you may have heard, in Rome sneakers are perfectly acceptable and I highly recommend them for long walking hours. 

You can find a thorough selection of the best shoes for Italy that will keep you comfortable without making you stand out for all the wrong reasons here.

In general, people in Rome dress in what many define as ‘smart casual’: jeans and fashion sneakers are common for the under 40; trousers (linen, cotton) and walking shoes are common for the 40+.

Clothes for women and men tend not to be too revealing but there are no hard and fast rules about the length of skirts or shorts.

Just make sure you are properly covered up to visit churches and especially the Vatican as indeed there are dress codes there are they are enforced.

You can also check my full packing lists for Rome, by season:

My best Rome itinerary for 4 days in the Eternal City.

For this itinerary you will need:

Rome itinerary 4 days: day 1

Day one of this Rome itinerary brings you to the ancient part of Rome.

Morning: the ancient city, the Colosseum and Roman forum

Start your day at the Colosseum and spend your morning visiting both the amphitheater, the Forum and Palatine Hill.

These attractions are beside each other and have a combined ticket that allow entrance to both areas over one or two consecutive days.

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

I highly recommend buying tickets in advance and opt for skip the line ones. The Colosseum gets awfully crowded and you rind the risk of spending hours in line.

You can opt for several types of tickets but my recommendations are for the following 3 types:

  • Colosseum full tour with CoopCulture (official seller) including underground are and top tier. This is a wonderful tour with reserved entrance (no lines). It includes a self guided tour of the forum that you can visit on the same day or the day after your visit to the amphiteater
  • Colosseum and forum tour: excellent if you want a guide to both sites (the forum has poor info panels) and a fully personalized experience
  • Standard tickets: these are the best options if you are on a budget. If you choose these, make sure you get to the Colosseum before opening times of the line will the prohibitively long

Overall, the visit to the Colosseum and Forum will take about 3 hours.

You can find all my tips on how to skip the lines at Rome’s main sites and a breakdown of several tickets available here 

Coffee break + lunch

Walk to Piazza Venezia and climb to the top of the Campidoglio Hill. Get coffee at the museums cafeteria and then walk to the back of Campidoglio square for incredible views over the forum.

Once refreshed, climb to the top of the Vittoriano, nearby, for excellent views over the city

Lunch: Lunch in nearby Birreria Peroni. 

Piazza del Campidoglio with Marcus aurelius statue in the centre
Beautiful Piazza del Campidoglio

Afternoon: city centre and Spanish steps

After lunch, you will get the first glimpse of Rome’s city centre.

Take a stroll along Va del corso and its shops (high street) then take a right onto Via Condotti: admire its gorgeous high-end boutiques and let yourself be swayed by the Spanish steps, just in front of you.

Sweet stop? Have tiramisu in historical Pompi cafe and taste their legendary Tiramisu.

More ideas for a coffee fix in the area are here. 

Aperitivo in Piazza del Popolo

Follow via del Babuino until Piazza del Popolo and rest your feet sipping aperitivo in the piazza. 

Dinner at the Trevi Fountain

Follow beautiful Via Margutta and its galleries back to the Spanish steps and stretch your legs for the last stop of the day: Trevi fountain.

This is the best time to see it as the crowds tend to have left and the lights make it sparkle. Have dinner in Piccolo Arancio for an informal yet excellent meal. 

Please note: getting to Piazza del Popolo and back to the Trevi fountain is a little bit of a stretch.

If you are tired, you can get back towards Trevi on one of the small electric buses serving Via del Corso. 

You cannot miss fontana di Trevi when visiting Rome
No matter how short a time you have in Rome, the Trevi Fountain is easy to add to your Rome itinerary

Rome itinerary day 2

Since we covered a lot of grounds on day 1, we are staying in a more confined area today,  but one that is packed with things to see.

Morning – The Pantheon

Join a local tour and explore the pantheon area.

Several tours cover this area, usually packing in also a glimpse of the colosseum and the forum, but since you have a few days Rome, I recommend getting a specialized tour covering a limited area such as this one of the Pantheon and Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

If you prefer to explore on your own, make sure you see at least Piazza del Pantheon, the church of San Luigi dei Francesi (it has a wonderful Caravaggio), Piazza della Minerva and Piazza di Pietra.

They are all in the same area and easy to reach on foot.

Pantheon Rome with fountain
The Pantheon and its piazza

Coffee break with the ‘best coffee in Rome’ 

Have coffee in Piazza Sant’Eustachio,  allegedly the best in the city (contains sugar, careful if you need to avoid it for health reasons)

Reach Largo di Torre Argentina and get a glimpse of the site of Caesar’s murder (currently close to the public but visible from the piazza).

If you are a cat lover, pop in the the cat sanctuary now hosted here!

Lunch in Forno Roscioli

Follow charming via del governo vecchio and have lunch here (Forno Roscioli is an institution) or in Campo de’ fiori, a bustling historical square.

Afternoon: Piazza Navona

Cross Corso Vittorio and head into Piazza Navona, one of the most beautiful and famous squares in Rome.

Piazza Navona with fountain and Santa Agnese church in the background
Piazza Navona and its famous fountains

The piazza is a beauty in itself and a place not to be missed.

Here, you can visit the interesting Palazzo Braschi, with a beautiful art collection and stunning views over the piazza, visit nearby Chiostro del Bramante and its art collection or just take a stroll in the nearby street. 

This is a great area for taking it easy after all the walking done so far!

Dinner at Cul de sac

Don’t stray too far and have dinner in Piazza Pasquino at Cul de sac enoteca or in one of the many authentic restaurants on the same street. 

Rome itinerary day 3

Day 3 brings to a very different part of Rome, across the rivers.

Morning: The Vatican and St Peter

Start your morning with a trip to the Vatican.

If you are visiting the museums, make sure you get your reserved entrance tickets in advance and book a slot early in the morning.

Even better, if the budget allows, book the early morning exclusive tour before official opening hours: it is truly special!

If you don’t want to see the museums, it is anyway worth coming to the Vatican.

Check out the square and its colonnade, visit the basilica if lines allow and take a stroll towards Castel Sant’Angelo for beautiful views of the castle and the river.

Lunch in Borgo

Have lunch in one of the many restaurants in Borgo, the area around the Vatican. I personally love ‘Borghiciana Pastificio Artigianale’ which has an informal atmosphere and excellent pasta dishes

Afternoon in Trastevere

Devote your afternoon to discovering Trastevere, a charming and lively part of old Rome.

For the longest time, people talked about Trastevere as the ‘real Rome’ and while it has now been on the international tourism path for a long time, it is still a wonderful part of town to visit.

Make sure you see at least Santa Marina in Trastevere and it mosaics (one of my favorite free things to see in Rome), via Garibaldi, Piazza in Piscinula and Piazza Trilussa but don’t be afraid of getting lost.

If you stray too far, the tram will bring you back to the river in no time.

Aimless wandering is the best way of all to see Trastevere! If you prefer some guidance and are into food, this is also a great area to explore with an evening food tour

Trastevere cobbestone street with restaurant
Trastevere comes to life in the evening, when small restaurants and bar open both their indoor and outdoor spaces

Dinner in Trastevere

Have dinner in one of the many restaurants in the area such as Dar Poeta or I Marmi, two Rome institutions when it comes to pizza!

Rome itinerary day 4

On day 4 I recommend straying away for Rome’s busiest streets and head to quieter areas.

If you feel like getting away from it all, I recommend spending the morning in Ostia Antica, about 30 minutes out of Rome (you can read how to reach it and why I recommend it here)

Otherwise, you can still have a calm day staying in the city. 

Morning in Villa Borghese

Head to Villa Borghese, one of Rome’s biggest parks right in the city centre, and visit famous Borghese Gallery.

Get tickets in advance (booking is compulsory) and spend the morning between the gallery and the park.

This is an excellent place to relax and unwind: f you head to the Pincio terrace, inside the villa, you get gorgeous views over the city. 

Lunch on the ‘lake’

Have lunch in the park in the café in front to the villa’s pond. Pompously called ‘laghetto’ (small lake) this is just a pond with turtles and rowing boats but it is beautiful and atmospheric, overlooked by a fake ancient temple.

Villa Borghese pond with temple
The small temple overlooking Villa Birghese’s pond (not ancient, it was built as a decoration only but it looks good!)

It is a little pricey but romantic and a very ‘Roman’ spot.

Afternoon in the Coppede’ District

After lunch, get the tram to Piazza Buenos Aires and explore the gorgeous area called quartiere coppede.

Unique in Rome, this is a beautiful residential area with whimsical architecture and still only little know by tourism (although visitors are catching up with it and is becoming more and more a destination people know about).

This is a wonderful, small area perfect for architecture lovers. Well connected to the city centre by bus and tram.

Evening in the Jewish ghetto 

Get the bus back into Piazza Venezia, indulge in some shopping and then have a stroll and dinner in Rome’s Jewish ghetto.

This is an incredibly beautiful part of Rome just behind the ‘mouth of truth’ and Marcello’s theater and close to the river Tiber. 

Order artichokes (they are a specialty) and don’t miss the desserts: the Jewish cuisine of Rome is special and this will make a wonderful last meal to mark the end of your time in Rome. 

I hope you enjoyed this Rome itinerary for 4 days and it helped you plan your Rome trip! Safe travels!!

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