What to see in Rome on your own in 1 day
What to see in Rome in 1 day and how to plan your itinerary on your own, what to take from the “Eternal City” to the maximum. Knowing that most guidebooks give just a list of sights without any connection between them, BlogoItaliano decided to offer a plan of walking around the center of Rome that will allow you to see the main things. And the best place to start is the Vatican.
Useful tip: If you are planning a busy day in Rome, consider installing a mobile audio guide for iPhone or Android [link] with an internet-free map and GPS navigation that will allow you to easily find your way to the nearest attractions, even if you are in the city for the first time.
The audio tour includes 62 points on the popular route from the Vatican to the Colosseum. A 5-point test version is available for free [the full tour costs only €5.99], so you can try it out without risking anything. You can try out the iPhone app here and the Android app here.
Morning at the Vatican
The Vatican is not Rome, nor is it Italy at all. It is a separate state, as evidenced by the white and yellow flags on the walls. We should warn you right away – Vatican is a religious state, in the holy places in short shorts and skirts above the knees you will not be allowed.
You need to have something “hip” and long, which you can quickly put on and then easily remove. Even if you forget it, you can easily buy it from local vendors (there are a lot of them around the Vatican).
The Vatican is not just a city within a city, it’s a small state within a large city.
In Vatican City there are a lot of interesting places where you can “hang out” for a long time. Be sure to visit St. Peter’s Cathedral and walk through the museums to see the real treasure of the Vatican – the Sistine Chapel.
It is better to come to Vatican by its opening to have some time left in reserve for Rome, and to buy tickets in advance online, so as not to lose precious hours in queues. Although visiting St. Peter’s Cathedral is free, but in museums and the Sistine Chapel without tickets you will not be allowed.
When planning a visit to the Vatican, be prepared to lose a total of several hours in lines. About what they are and how to get around them to save a few precious hours, the author of BlogoItaliano told in a short video below:
You can buy tickets to get into the Museums and Capella without queuing on this special page. We also recommend reading our more detailed article on how to buy tickets to the Vatican and visit all the highlights.
Another way to “quickly” see the most important things in the Vatican is to do it as part of a group or individual tour covering the most important things.
The links to such tours are given below. If you do not have much time in Rome, an individual tour is preferable, because you can start early to have time to see other sights.
A day in Rome
Time in the Vatican flies quickly. To see the Papal Republic is best before noon, otherwise the dream of seeing Rome in 1 day may remain just a dream. Therefore, without wasting time, let’s hit the road.
The first thing to do is to cross the Tiber River over the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II bridge and continue along the avenue of the same name until on the left hand side you see the monument to the Italian politician Marco Mingetti in Piazza di San Pantaleo.
Here, turn left into the narrow Via della Cuccagna, which leads to Rome’s famous Piazza Navona.
The dominant architectural features in Piazza Navona are the Church of Santa Agnes and the Fountain of the Four Rivers
Piazza Navona is a true incarnation of Baroque with all the elegance and luxury of this architectural style. There are several 17th century palaces, two churches and the Fountain of the Four Rivers.
The church of Sant’Agnese in Agone is a must-see. It was built in honor, as one can easily guess, of the martyress Agnes by Pope Innocent X.
The main relic in the temple is the head of Agnes herself. The next time you plan to go to Rome on your own, read about this place. There’s a mystical and slightly creepy legend associated with it.
Opposite the church of Sant’Agnese you can find the Fountain of Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi). This work of art was not originally conceived as an independent object, but as a decoration of an obelisk, which in ancient times was brought from Egypt.
But the author of the project – the great architect Bernini – in this case “overdid it a little”, as the obelisk itself was lost against the background of the magnificence, richness and diversity of the sculptures of the fountain composition itself.
From Piazza Navona, it’s not far to another Rome attraction worth seeing when planning a self-guided tour of Rome for 1 day – the Pantheon (free to visit).
The Pantheon was once a pagan sanctuary
The Pantheon is something unimaginable. Completely unfathomable architectural monument, built back in 126 by Emperor Hadrian.
It was built as a pagan temple dedicated to all the gods. In the Christian era, it was consecrated and thus “converted” to a Christian cathedral. The interior is still well preserved, not least because the temple was never empty or abandoned.
The Pantheon is a short walk away from another famous Roman square, the Piazza Colonna. It got its name from the erected Column of Marcus Aurelius. In addition to the column on the square you can see the palazzo Chigi (Palazzo Chigi) of the 16th century, which now houses the residence of the Prime Minister of Italy.
Of course, you will not be allowed into the residence, but a good compensation will be one place where Schiller, Stendhal, Goethe and other legendary personalities often visited. It is a cafe “Greco”. Via dei Condotti, 86, is not far away.
Trevi Fountain – the biggest fountain in Rome
Via dei Sabini from Piazza Colonna leads to the Trevi Fountain, another of the most “eye-opening” places to see in Rome on your own. It is not only the most beautiful fountain in the city, but also the largest – almost 26 meters.
The Trevi Fountain is a kind of constituent element of the facade of the Palazzo Poli. Is it necessary to explain that it is necessary to throw a coin into the fountain? By the way, in the right part of the fountain near the hat on the ledge there are so called “lovers tubes”, from which you can drink water.
Moving on in our brisk attempt to get around Rome in 1 day. Return along Via dei Sabini or the neighboring Via delle Murate to Via del Corso, which is also not to be overlooked.
Via del Corso is one of the most “boutique” and “shopping” streets in Rome. It is true that, contrary to the official advertising, there are not many really expensive and luxurious boutiques here – they are scattered in the neighboring streets, but for a more budget shopping Via del Corso is a treasure trove.
It’s another matter how you, laden with packages, will continue your walk, but at least you can price and remember the place for your next trip to Rome on your own. In fact, the most “concentration” of stores will be just at the intersection of Via dei Sabini.
Slow walk along the boutiques of Corso Street will lead you to Piazza Venezia, which is also worth to be included in the itinerary of a walk in Rome in 1 day.
Vittoriano – a monument to the greatness of the first king of Italy
Piazza Venezia would not be particularly remarkable if it were not for one big “but” – the majestic Vittoriano. It’s a monument erected in honor of Italy’s first king, Victor Emmanuel II, who ascended to the throne after the unification of the lands.
You might think that the monument is the central statue, but no. All this snow-white structure, which by its size pulls on a small palace – this is the monument of Vittoriano. Impressions are guaranteed!
After you had enough of taking pictures, turn to Via del Plebiscito and go forward. After more than 100 meters you’ll see Il Gesù, the main temple of the Jesuits. Sketches of the facade were drawn by Michelangelo himself. Giacomo Barozzi da Viñoly began to build the church with Michelangelo, but Giacomo della Porta finished it without him.
One block from Il Gesù is the square of Torre Argentina. Here you can admire the remains of what used to be a prestigious area of ancient Rome.
Now, half-destroyed columns rest in the sparse vegetation on a fenced-off area. If you ever decide to walk through Rome in 1 day, and get here at night, count yourself lucky – in the moonlight this place looks incredibly mystical!
Rome began on the Capitoline Hill
Another interesting place to see on your own in Rome is Capitoline Hill. It is located just behind the monument to Victor Emmanuel II. It’s an integral part of the very cradle of Rome – the legendary Seven Hills – the area where the Eternal City was founded.
Here in times immemorial, according to legend, a she-wolf found the brothers Remus and Romulus and saved them by feeding them with her milk.
The way to the Capitoline Hill is by the broad Cordonata Stairs, which are also considered a peculiar landmark of Rome.
Evening and Night in Rome
Deciding to see Rome on your own in 1 day, by the evening there will be little energy left. But there are two more places that are worth seeing for sure. So we’ll have patience and plan a quick stop at a nearby cafe.
The Roman Forum, one of the few remaining treasures of the Roman Empire
Right next to the Capitoline Hill sits the Roman Forum. Unfortunately only picturesque ruins of the Roman Empire have survived, but even they leave you in stupor with the majesty, power, and dazzling beauty that the Eternal City was once the embodiment of.
It has its own attractions: the Black Stone, the Golden Mile, the Nipple of the Earth and others. When visiting Rome on your own, don’t miss this place by any means.
The Colosseum in the moonlight is a fantastic sight
And from the Forum, the Colosseum is a short walk away. It’s just a short walk along the wide and spacious Via del Fori Imperiali.
In summer, you can see the Roman Forum and the Colosseum until 7 p.m., but in the case of the Vatican Museums, you can also get a ticket to the Colosseum. But as in the case of the Vatican Museums, tickets to the Colosseum (and also to the nearby Forum) also makes sense to buy in advance – via the Internet.
The queue here can also last for several hours, and it is already evening and it would be a pity not to get inside. You can stock up on tickets in advance – online – on this page.
By the way, if you want to see as much as possible in Rome in 1 day, without missing anything of interest, you can book our step by step itinerary of the most interesting cities in Italy. With their help you will be able to see much more and learn a lot of valuable tips that will save a lot of time and money.
Any of the similar excursions in Rome or any other city will cost much more. Also, if you’re going to Italy, we highly recommend our free Country Course with lots of valuable tips.
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Photos by: Marco Verch, Fczarnowski, Arpingstone, Diliff, dankamminga, Ricardo André Frantz, Stefan Bauer
Rome in 1 day: what to see on your own. The detailed itinerary
There are only 24 hours in Rome and you want to see the most important sights of Rome in one day?
Every Roman (including me) will tell you that one day is too short, but if you can’t stay longer but want to see the main sights, I’ve compiled a list of the main places to see for you below.
Itinerary “Rome in a Day”
I compiled this itinerary based on walks I’ve taken hundreds of times with friends, my family, and tourists. I promise it will be an enjoyable and unexhausting day.
If you follow the itinerary I suggest, you can get around all the major sights in 1 day. These are the sights:
Below I have posted a map of where I suggest you go:
I’ve included several stops on this tour, pointing out places where you can enjoy fabulous ice cream, coffee and lunch along the way.
In fact, the walk will take you about 3 hours if you don’t stop at all. But it’s worth considering time to eat and rest, take pictures, and see the beautiful views of squares, monuments, and fountains. In the end, you might just get a little lost.
So plan to spend 8-10 hours, including a 1.5 hour stop for lunch. I would start no later than 8 or 9 am.
1. Piazza Barberini
If you want to see the main sights of Rome in one day, start from Piazza Barberini. This is an ideal starting point as it is only 2 stops away, 5 minutes by subway from Termini train station.
- Firstly, in this square you can see some of Rome’s famous fountains, the Fountain of Triton and the Fountain of Bees, created by the Italian architect and artist Giovanni Bernini.
- Second, you’re only a five-minute walk from the top of the Spanish Steps, one of Rome’s highest points, which offers one of the best panoramic views.
2. the Spanish Steps
In Piazza Barberini turn right into Via Sistina and in about 5 minutes you will reach the top of the Spanish Steps.
From here you can enjoy a great view, although it is likely to be very crowded: artists, flower vendors, and other tourists are all eager to visit this place.
If you walk another 200 meters through the crowd, there are fewer tourists and the view is just as good. On your right is the Villa Medici.
After admiring Rome, go back and walk down the steps of the Spanish Steps. You’ll find yourself in Rome’s most famous shopping area, Piazza della Spagna.
Here you can walk along via Condotti, one of the most interesting shopping streets in Rome.
Or walk a little to the left until you reach Piazza Mignanelli, then turn right to go down via Frattina, which I find more soulful and charming.
When you get to the end of via Frattina, cross via del Corso and you will reach Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina.
Take a break for an ice cream. Stop by the Ciampini coffee shop and get yourself a cone of Rome’s best ice cream.
If you decide to visit the café in this beautiful square, have a coffee, eat ice cream or something else, keep in mind that your order will cost significantly more if you sit down at a table. So I suggest you buy an ice cream cone and move on.
So, after Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina, you can walk along Via di Campo Marzio. This is one of the oldest parts of ancient Rome. Continue walking along it without turning anywhere and you will come to the Pantheon.
If you want to learn more about the Pantheon, follow this link.
Admission to the Pantheon is free, and it’s open all day – so go inside. It won’t take you long.
4. Piazza Navona.
From the Pantheon, it’s about a 3 minute walk to Piazza Navona. Don’t miss it. It will be one of the highlights of your stay in Rome because it is one of the most beautiful squares in Rome. Be sure to visit it.
From Piazza Navona, walk along Via del Governo Vecchio. It’s a fun and pretty cobbled street full of boutiques, vintage stores and cafes.
At the very beginning of this street is Piazza di Pasquino. There’s a great bar there called Cul de Sac, which might be a good stop for lunch if you haven’t eaten yet.
5. Castel Sant’Angelo
After walking along Via del Governo Vecchio, cross to Via dei Banchi Nuovi. Follow it across the bridge to the Castel Sant’Angelo (Castel Sant’Angelo).
It is a very old building from the era of the Roman Emperors. To know more about it, you can read the article about the Castel Sant’Angelo.
6. St. Peter’s Square (Vatican City)
Walk around St. Peter’s Square (if you don’t have time to go into St. Peter’s Cathedral). It’s free, but there will likely be a line and even in low season, it might take you about an hour.
After walking through Vatican Square, return to the Castel Sant’Angelo, but this time walk along via Giulia.
Along this street, reach the archway with hanging vines. This is the back facade of the French Embassy building.
Turn left and follow the walls of the French Embassy, which is called Palazzo Farnese. You will find yourself in Piazza Farnese, one of the most beautiful squares in Rome.
The two large fountains you will see in Piazza Farnese were originally in Caracalla’s thermae. Yes, the ancient Romans bathed in them.
7. Campo dei Fiori
From Piazza Farnese head towards Campo dei Fiori. This is a historic square in Rome that was once the main square for public executions and used to be the site of a real market in the center of the city (until it became a “tourist” market).
Now this square is known for its pubs and nightlife. From Campo dei Fiori walk along via dei Giubbonari to Piazza Largo di Torre Argentina. There you will be able to see the excavated remains of four ancient temples and the site where Julius Caesar was assassinated.
8. Capitoline Hill
From here, walk along Via delle Botteghe Oscure to Piazza Venezia.
Climb to the top of the hill behind the large white monument, the Vittoriano, and you will find yourself on Capitoline Hill.
This is where City Hall is located, as well as the Capitol Museums. Unfortunately, you won’t have time to visit the museums, but right in the square designed by Michelangelo himself you can see a bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius (one of the emperors of Rome). The statue is an exact copy; the original is inside the Capitoline Museums.
9. Roman Forum
Walk to the end of this square and you will get a great view of the Roman Forum from above. You can even see the Colosseum peeking out in the background of the Forum.
Go down this hill, take a left and you will end up in Via Fori Imperliali. From here you can already see the Colosseum.
As I said before, in putting together this day trip to Rome, I didn’t expect you to go inside all the sights. But you can walk around the Colosseum as well. It’s just as amazing on the outside as it is on the inside. I walk around the Colosseum all the time and never tire of admiring it.
By now you have seen most of the major Roman sights and have done most of the route. There is still one more fountain left. But you still have time. The fountain doesn’t close and is probably even more beautiful in the evening.
So maybe now would be a good time for lunch?
Right next to the Trajan’s Column you’ll find a wonderful little Enoteca Provincia di Roma, with huge windows that look right out over the Trajan’s Forum.
It’s the perfect place to take a break from your busy walk. It serves local delicacies and free Wi-Fi.
11. Trevi Fountain.
Walk through Piazza Venezia and turn right into Via IV Novembre. Make a left on Via della Pilotta and you will find yourself at the Trevi Fountain.
From here you can walk in five minutes to Piazza Barberini, where you started your walk this morning. So now you’ve seen the main sights of Rome in one day.
The end of the walk
It’s been a long, full day. And you’re probably hungry by now. Then I’ll make you happy – there are plenty of cafes and restaurants near the Trevi Fountain.
Tips for 1-day travelers
Since one day is too little to see Rome, I recommend taking an individual tour, so you will not just walk around the city, but also learn a lot of new and interesting things about the Eternal City.
Excursion by car
If you can afford to hire a private driver with a car, and even a guide, this can be a great way to take a walking tour of Rome.
You can book a tour with a car here.
Individual tour of Rome
Want to get the most in one day? Then I recommend the “One Day in Rome” tour for 6 hours. During this time you will see the main sights of Rome, see the Colosseum from the inside and get a lot of impressions.
He knows all the attractions of Italy very well. In his spare time he travels around the country and is willing to share his experiences in articles on Italy-Insider.