5 days in Rome is just about the perfect amount of time to explore the city and to even push yourself beyond the city limits if you wish. Mind you: this doesn’t mean you can improvise. Rome is the kind of place that requires careful planning, because it gets such a large influx of tourists that, if you don’t want to get stuck in lines at every single ticket office, you have to buy your tickets in advance.
You can really see and do a lot in Rome in 5 days: visit the most famous attractions and even the ones that people often skip – because they don’t have time, or because they don’t even know about them. But you need to know where to go. This is why I am here!
I know Rome very well. I have been there many many times, and I have even lived there for a while. Mind you – the city is so big that one is never done exploring. But you get the point: I am here to take the worry of having to plan your 5 days in Rome. All you have to do, after reading this post, is booking your flights, your room, and tickets for those attractions that require advanced reservations (I’ll be sure to point them out each time).
Continue reading this post to discover what you can see and do if you have 5 days in Rome, and get plenty of insights on how to skip the lines at the most popular tourist spots, save a buck or two if possible, and overall make the most of your time in the Italian capital.
Make sure to read my post “33 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome.”
Keep reading for a great itinerary for your 5 days in Rome.
A Day By Day Itinerary To Spend 5 Days In Rome
Before I go on to draft a great day by day itinerary for your 5 days in Rome, let me stress that even if you feel you have plenty of time to explore the city, you still have to book entries to the most popular tourist attractions. There really is no other way around it. Some cap the number of visitors they let in for well determined time shifts, and they get sold out even weeks in advance. If you don’t book, you may end up being stuck in line at the ticket counter looking for last minute tickets, and you may even risk not getting a ticket in the end.
Good news though: I am here to suggest whenever you have to make reservations for the attractions included in this 5 days in Rome itinerary. Rest assured that if you follow my tips and this itinerary, you’ll have a fantastic time.
The assumption behind this itinerary is that you have a minimum of 5 full days in Rome – which means you’re planning on sleeping there a total of 6 nights – or 5 if you get there very early in the morning, or fly out late in the evening.
Keep in mind that even as an expert traveler I know that after a long haul flight you may not have much energy to go exploring, so let’s just assume that even if your flight lands in the morning, you will use that day to freshen up, rest and explore your whereabouts, and prepare for a big day of exploration the day after. In any case, keep in mind that if you are coming from outside of the EU, it may take you up to 2 hours between having to clear customs, picking up your luggage, finding your way to the city and finally making it to your hotel.
TIP: Take it easy the day you land in Rome. Explore the immediate surroundings, and at most do a guided food tour in the evening, after having slept a bit. This food tour is an excellent one and the good news is that it starts at 5:15 pm. You can book it here.
If you are interested in street food in Rome, make sure to read this article.
Make sure to read my post “All The Food In Rome You Should Eat: 25 Delicious Dishes.”
TIP: On any given day of this 5 days in Rome itinerary, I suggest to start exploring very early. This way you will manage to avoid the large crowds and in the summer you may be able to avoid having to walk around during the peak heat hours.
This itinerary is packed, but it is logic. You will visit attractions that are close to each other all on the same day, so that you don’t have to rely on public transportation. In case you do, you can get your Rome Public Transportation Card (ATAC) here.
TIP: Comfortable shoes and clothing are a must when exploring Rome!
TIP: Having lunch on the go allows you to have more time to explore the various sites. Rome is packed with places where you can get a quick bite. Local specialties include pizza al taglio, supplì al telefono, tramezzini or some amazing gelato..
These are the best restaurants in Rome.
Continue reading to discover my wonderful itinerary for 5 days in Rome.
Day 1: Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo and Galleria Borghese
Day 1 of your 5 days in Rome itinerary is quite packed – so make sure to have a good night’s sleep. You will visit the Vatican, including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Spanish Steps and finish off at Galleria Borghese.
Map of day one Rome itinerary
You can download a map of your day 1 itinerary here. It’s easy to follow, and you won’t have to rely on public transportation other than to get to your starting point and, once you are done exploring, get back to your hotel if you staying far from that.
St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel
My tip for this day is to have a very early start. Head out no later than 7:00 am for an early morning tour of the Vatican, which will leave you plenty of time to explore the other places for the rest of the day.
The official opening time of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel is 9:00 AM, while St. Peter’s Basilica opens at 7:00 AM and St. Peter’s Basilica Dome at 7:30. I have noticed that lines to get into the Vatican Museums start forming as early as 7:30 AM.
My take is that you should opt to do an early access Vatican tour which also includes a visit with a dedicated entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica.
Otherwise, you can opt to visit St. Peter’s Basilica as soon as it opens. But then, you will have to get out and walk for around 1 km to reach the Vatican Museums.
TIP: The lines at the Vatican Museums are horrific. Don’t spend hours waiting in line! Check out my post “How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line” for more information.
As I have already said, I advise you to go on an early guided tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. This will save you a lot of time, and you will also enjoy having a guide that takes you around sharing interesting information about the Sistine Chapel, as well as facts about the best pieces of the Vatican Museums collection. An early has the additional benefit of having the place to yourself when it is still virtually empty. At the end of the tour, you will be showed to a dedicated entrance and enjoy a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica.
If you go on an early access tour of the Vatican, you will be done roughly by 11:00 AM.
TIP: For breathtaking views of the Vatican and Rome, climb the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. Get tips on how to avoid the lines there in my post “A Complete Guide To Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica Dome.”
These are the best tours of the Vatican that allow early access and entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica:
- Exclusive early morning Vatican tour
- Early morning Vatican tour
- Pristine Sistine early entrance small group Vatican tour
- Early entry Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica express service
- Early access Vatican Museum with Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica
- Vatican VIP experience: exclusive breakfast at the Vatican with early access to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
- Early access Vatican Museum small group tour with Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica
A few facts about the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica
The Vatican Museums are one of the largest museums in the world: they count 54 chambers and a huge collection of art. If you ask me, however, The Last Judgement, Michelangelo’s masterpiece painted on the Sistine Chapel, steals the show. It’s one of Renaissance’s greatest works of art.
St. Peter’s Basilica is the most important church for Catholics. Built by Michelangelo, Bernini and Bramante over a site where the tomb of St. Peter was placed, it’s a huge church with 11 chapels, 45 altars and more mosaics than you can imagine. That’s where you’ll find Michelangelo’s Pietà, Bernini’s Baldacchino, and Chair of St. Peter.
Read more about St. Peter’s Basilica in my post “How To Get St. Peter’s Basilica Tickets And Skip The Line.”
TIP: Remember that modest clothing is a requirement to get inside the Vatican, and cover your shoulders and knees!
TIP: Photos inside the Basilica are allowed. Photos inside the Sistine Chapel are not.
With 5 days in Rome, you probably have enough time to visit Castel Sant’Angelo. This castle was once a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian which then became a prison. It is now a museum with a good collection, though to me the most interesting thing about visiting is discovering more about the building itself, and getting the marvelous views of St. Peters. You will walk by it on your way towards the Tiber River and the Spanish Steps.
If you are keen to go in, skip the line tickets bought beforehand will save you some time. These are some good options:
- Fast track advance ticket to Castel Sant’Angelo
- Castel Sant’Angelo tickets
- Castel Sant’Angelo Entrance With Digital Audio-Guide
- Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s Square Tour
- Castel Sant’Angelo skip the line
- Castel and Ponte Sant’Angelo Guided Tour
The Spanish Steps
Piazza di Spagna (the Italian name of the Spanish Steps), is one of the unmissable places to visit in Rome and has to be included in any 5 days in Rome itinerary. The famous 185 steps lead to the beautiful Trinità dei Monti church and face Via Condotti, a famous luxury shopping street. Walk up the steps to enjoy the views.
The square is often crowded with tourists but still a pleasant place. The metro station Spagna is nearby.
TIP: Do not even think of putting your feet in the fountain at the center of Piazza di Spagna, or in any other fountain in town. It is strictly forbidden and if you get caught a fine will follow.
Piazza Del Popolo
At the bottom of the Pincian Hill, as you walk from Piazza di Spagna, you will find Piazza del Popolo, one of the largest and prettiest squares in Rome home of the obelisk of Ramesses II from Heliopolis – the second tallest in the city. The square, which is used for events such as the concerts of May 1st and other public gatherings, leads to the Pincian Hill and terrace via a flight of stairs. The view of the square from the terrace is beautiful.
Once you get to the Pincian Hill you will find a trail that leads to Galleria Borghese, a museum that you absolutely must see if you have 5 days in Rome. The Gallery has one of the finest art collections in the world, with pieces of artists such as Caravaggio, Bernini, Canova and Titian. And the gardens surrounding the villa where the gallery is located are beautiful.
Galleria Borghese has timed entrances and only 360 visitors at once are allowed. It never gets really crowded, but booking in advance is a must – especially if you are on a schedule. The museum often gets sold out in the peak season.
Try to be at the gallery 30 minutes before your visit – consider that it takes around 30 minutes to walk there from Piazza del Popolo.
For a more full guide about Borghese Gallery, read “Seven Smart Ways To Get Galleria Borghese Tickets And Skip The Lines.”
For tickets and tours of Borghese Gallery, these are some good options:
- Borghese Gallery Reserved Entrance Ticket
- Borghese Gallery With Optional Guided Tour
- Borghese Gallery small group guided tour
- Borghese Gallery And Gardens Half Day Tour
- Borghese Gallery tour and tickets
Day 2: Ancient Rome
Today is a crescendo of emotions and sights. You will start in Testaccio, one of the prettiest parts of Rome, and walk your way through Piramide, the Orange Garden, the Mouth of Truth, the Baths of Caracalla, the Roman Forum and then, finally, to the Colosseum, which is the cherry on the cake. I thought I’d leave the Colosseum last because you can opt for a night tour, which – despite being more expensive than a regular ticket – leaves you plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the day, as the visit starts at 9:30 pm.
If you feel the urge to visit the Colosseum first thing, you can simply start this itinerary the other way around.
Map of day two Rome itinerary
For a better idea of the walking itinerary for day two, I have created a map so that you know the exact route to follow and how far each place is from the other. If you enlarge the map you find names of places where you can stop for a quick meal or a drink. The map is here. You can modify it according to your interests and needs.
You will start your day in Testaccio, a part of town you really should not skip when you have 5 days in Rome. This is one of the most up and coming areas of Rome, where you can still enjoy a great local atmosphere. In Testaccio, make sure to visit the market and the main square (Piazza Testaccio).
TIP: If you are keen on eating in Testaccio during your stay in Rome, try to book a table at Flavio Al Velavevodetto – one of the best restaurants in town.
The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome
Close to Testaccio, on the way to Caius Cestius Pyramid, you’ll find the Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome. THis is the resting place of some notable non-catholics and now home to a large cat sanctuary. From there, you can get incredible views of the pyramid.
Pyramid of Caius Cestius
Piramide, or Caius Cestius Pyramid, was built around 12 BC as the tomb of a prominent public figure. Though the tomb has been ransacked a long time ago, the building remains fascinating to see. Besides it’s kind of random to find a pyramid in the center of Rome. A cool spot to discover during your 5 days in Rome.
At around 15 minutes from Caius Cestius Pyramid, you will find the Orange Garden. You’re probably wondering why I am sending you to a park on your second day in Rome, but you will quickly get it once you are there – this is likely to be the nicest view you’ll get during your 5 days in Rome.
Giardino degli Aranci, as we call it in Italian, was designed in 1932 by Raffaele de Vico and is one of the nicest parks in Rome. More importantly, it offers spectacular views of the city and especially of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Mouth of Truth
La Bocca della Verità, or Mouth of Truth in English, is right by the entrance of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, not far from the Baths of Caracalla and the Colosseum. This large marble mask used to be a manhole, and dates back to the 1st century, but in 1632 it was placed by the side of the church.
According to a Medieval legend, the mouth bites off the hand of liars. It’s a fun place to spend a few minutes, and the lines to put the hand in the mouth of the mask are never too long.
INTERESTING FACT: The Mouth of Truth became world famous after the movie Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn was released.
Baths of Caracalla
Between the Mouth of Truth and the Colosseum you will find the Baths of Caracalla. These were an enormous bathing complex. They are an interesting site to explore, and since they aren’t nearly as famous as the Roman Forum or the Colosseum, you will be enjoying the place without the crowds and I find it a nice addition to this Rome in 5 days itinerary.
The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Circus Maximus
The Roman Forum is a very big site, so I suggest doing a guided tour to make the most of your time there. Usually, tours that go to the Colosseum also include a visit of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill – keep in mind that tickets to the Colosseum also include a visit to the Roman Forum.
These are some of the best guided tours that combine a visit of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum:
- Colosseum underground, Roman Forum and Hill tour
- Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill with Audio-Guide
- Skip The Line Colosseum And Ancient Rome Walking Tour
- Skip The Line Colosseum and Forum Walking Tour
- Colosseum: Priority Entrance + Arena Floor, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill Package
- Colosseum: Priority Entrance + Roman Forum & Palatine Hill Package
A few facts about the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill
At the time of the Republic was the heart of the city. It was a market, a place of worship (there were several temples), home to the House of the Senate and it had several brothels. At the time of the Roman Empire, it became a ceremonial center.
According to legend, the Palatine Hill (which is located nearby) is where the twins Romolo and Remo were raised by the wolf, and where Romolo founded the city after having killed his brother. It used to be the area where the emperors and aristocrats of Rome lived.
The Colosseum is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world. You just can’t go to Rome and skip the Colosseum – especially if you have 5 days in Rome. A beautiful sight during the day, it really is stunning at night, and I would love you to experience it then.
The bad news is that there typically are very long lines to get tickets to enter the Colosseum.
In my post “Five Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines” I explain all the tricks to avoid the lines. Make sure to read it!
Anyways, let me save you some time here: the only way to skip the line at the Colosseum is by getting skip the line tickets online. This won’t spare you from having to go through security, but that is a much quicker line.
TIP: The Colosseum often gets sold out. If you are planning to visit Rome during the peak months, buy your tickets well in advance.
TIP: I recommend investing in a guided tour of the Colosseum via a third party site. This way, you don’t have to bother going to a separate site and making the time and date reservations yourself.
These are some good group tour that include skip the line tickets to the Colosseum:
- Skip the Line: Colosseum, Forum & Ancient Rome Guided Tour
- Ancient Rome Skip-the-Line Tour with Colosseum Underground
- Ancient Rome Tour: Colosseum Underground, Arena & Forum
- Colosseum and Ancient Rome: Skip-the-Line Originals Tour
- Premium Colosseum Tour with Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
- VIP Colosseum underground tour with Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
- Colosseum underground guided tour
- Colosseum fast track entrance
- Colosseum fast track entrance with a video-guide
- Colosseum: Priority Entrance + Arena Floor, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill Package
- Colosseum S.U.P.E.R – seven unique experiences in Rome
TIP: Be sure to read the full description of the tour to find out what it includes and what it is not included before purchasing. Some tours are very basic and only include the main floor, others go to the underground and the second ring as well.
Visiting the Colosseum at night
The Colosseum at night is amazing. As only very few people are allowed, you are bound to have a more intimate experience. Night tours start at 9:30 pm and last around 2 and a half hours.
TIP: Make sure to have dinner before your night tour of the Colosseum.
Night tours of the Colosseum include access to the underground, the first and second ring, and the arena floor. They cost around €87 per person – much more than a regular tour. But they are generally more comprehensive than other tours. If you ask me, they are totally worth it.
These are some good night tours of the Colosseum:
- Colosseum by night tour with Colosseum underground
- Underground Colosseum, Arena Floor, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
- Colosseum and underground arena night tour
- Colosseum underground by night
- VIP Colosseum night tour with underground and arena floor
Day 3: A day trip to Ostia Antica or Tivoli
If you have 5 days in Rome, you may as well enjoy a day out of the city – but go to a place that is within easy reach. The reason I decided to insert this on day 3 of your itinerary is that if you end up buying a Roma Pass (more about it below) this is the last day you can use it to access public transportation to get out of the city.
Otherwise, you can go on your last day and just buy a train ticket. I am suggesting two options for a day trip nearby – Ostia Antica and Tivoli. Pick whichever one resonates the most with you.
Ostia Antica may well be the best addition to your itinerary for 5 days in Rome. The medieval quarter of Ostia is a nice place to go for a walk, but it’s the archeological site of Ostia Antica that you should head straight to.
Ostia is located at only 30 km from Rome. It used to be a commercial port where goods were stored and then shipped to Rome via the Tiber river. Ostia reached a whopping 100000 inhabitants – it was twice bigger than Pompeii. It was a very wealthy city – hence the many villas and residential areas of which you can see the remnants. There were shops, taverns and temples, a political forum, an amphitheater and thermal baths.
You can visit Ostia Antica independently, or go on a guided tour that departs from Rome.
If you prefer going by yourself, use your Roma Pass to hop on the train Roma Porta San Paolo Station towards Roma-Lido. The trip to Ostia Antica takes around 40 minutes.
Otherwise, these are some good guided tours:
- Ostia Antica half day tour from Rome by train
- Guided walking tour of Ancient Ostia and the Necropolis
- Ancient Ostia small group day trip from Rome
Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este, Tivoli
Tivoli is home to two of the best preserved Roman villas – Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este. The first was built in the 2nd century by Emperor Hadrian, who made it his official residence in his final years. It was so large that it looked more like a village. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s been kept in incredibly good conditions. You’ll be able to see the remains of temples, palaces, libraries and barracks. There’s also a beautiful park.
Villa d’Este, where the son of Lucrezia Borgia used to live, is a 16th century villa. There is a stunning garden with some of the prettiest fountains and waterfalls you’ll ever see.
You can go to Tivoli by yourself, or on a guided tour. If you go by yourself, take the train that leaves from Rome Tiburtina station. It takes less than one hour to get to Tivoli. You can buy tickets to Villa Adriana here or here.
If you’d rather go on a guided tour, these are some good ones:
- Day tour to Villa d’Este and Hadrian’s Villa from Rome
- Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este half day tour
- Tivoli day trip from Rome with visit to Villa d’Este and Hadrian’s Villa
- Tivoli day trip from Rome – with lunch
Day 4: The Historic Center of Rome
After taking a break from the chaos of the city, you will enjoy jumping right back into it. On your fourth of your 5 days in Rome, you will be walking quite a bit – but won’t have to make reservations as there are no attractions that require you to do so. You can just go at your own pace and enjoy the day.
Map of day four Rome itinerary
You can download a map here. As you will be right in the historic center of Rome, you’ll find plenty of places where you can have a bite or a drink.
Trevi Fountain is one of the most beautiful ones in Rome, and you absolutely have to visit it if you are spending 5 days in Rome. It was recently renovated and after being covered for a long time, you can now enjoy it in all its beauty.
TIP: Go to Trevi Fountain as early as possible to avoid the large crowds.
Continue walking towards Piazza di Montecitorio, the seat of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. The building was designed by Bernini for Ludovico Ludovisi, a young cardinal nephew of Pope Gregory XV. Carlo Fontana who completed the construction.
Located between Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona, the Pantheon is one of the most iconic buildings in Rome and a total must. It was a temple commissioned by Emperor Hadrian and built in the 126 AD, which then became a church in Christian time. Its Dome is thought to be the best preserved building from antiquity. Inside you will find the tombs of famous Italian artist Raphael and of King Victor Emmanuel II.
There is no admission fee to get inside the Pantheon but you may want to invest in an audioguide to make the most of it (the guided tour lasts around 35 minutes). It costs €5.5 and you can get yours here.
For more information about the Pantheon, read my post “A Complete Guide To The Pantheon.”
You will visit many squares during your 5 days in Rome. Piazza Navona is one of the nicest ones. It’s at a few minutes from the Pantheon and there are bus stops nearby if you want to use it as your starting point. Now, it is used as a market but the area used to be a stadium at the time of Domitian. The Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed in 1651 by Bernini, and the Baroque Sant’Agnese church, built in the 17th century, are the main attraction points.
Campo de’ Fiori
Campo de’ Fiori, south of Piazza Navona, may well be my favorite square in Rome. The name refers to the meadows over which it was built in Medieval times. Since the late 19th century it’s been home to a popular market that sells fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Largo di Torre Argentina
Feel free to skip this place if you aren’t into cats. If you do like cats, however, you will be in for a treat. Located between Piazza Navona and Piazza Venezia, Largo di Torre Argentina is a nice addition to a 5 days in Rome itinerary. It is a decently kept archeological site mistakenly thought to be the place where Julius Cesar died – who in fact died a couple of blocks away, at the Theater of Pompey.
Upon passing by, you will immediately notice that cats steal the show there. This is where the oldest cat sanctuary in Rome is located. You can visit it, spend some time with the cats, and even make a donation of buy a souvenir if you want – all profits are used to support the colony and its cats.
The Jewish Ghetto
The Jewish Ghetto of Rome is where you should stop for lunch – something tells me that you will go there regularly during your 5 days in Rome, as it is a truly charming part of town.
The area was created five centuries ago by Pope Paul IV, who forced all the Jews of Rome to move in, and built a wall and gates that were locked at night. It’s where the famous Roman Kosher cuisine was born and developed. You will find some excellent restaurant to try local kosher specialties such as carciofi alla giudia – fried artichokes with mint and garlic.
After exploring the Jewish Ghetto, go to Piazza Venezia to admire Trajan’s Column and the massive monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, which was built in 1911 to celebrate the first king of unified Italy. This is where the parade of the Festa della Repubblica takes place on 2 June.
Tiber Island is the only island inside the Tiber River in Rome. It is connected to the city by Ponte Cestio and Ponte Fabricio. Once home of the Temple of Aesculapius – the Greek God of medicine and healing, in 1584 it saw the construction of the Fatebenefratelli hospital. It’s a tiny island and it won’t take you long to explore.
On the other side of the Tiber River you’ll find Trastevere, one of the most charming and lively areas of Rome, which is especially popular for its nightlife. There are lots of pubs, bars, cafés and restaurants. As it is your last stop for the day, go for a drink or, if you are hungry, opt for a food tour – I recommend this one or this one. If you want a food and wine tour, book this one.
Day 5: Lesser known Rome
For your last day of your 5 days in Rome, you can visit places that aren’t perhaps as famous but which are just as interesting. After exploring a couple of churches you will go to the Catacombs and the Appian Way. If you aren’t a fan of churches, just skip them. You can even head straight to Garbatella to just walk around, or take another day trip out of the city.
Map of day five Rome itinerary
Today’s map can be found here. Distances are a bit wider today, so I recommend taking a bus or taxi to go from one place to the other. If you open the map and click on the train icon, you’ll see the various options for public transportation.
San Clemente Basilica
If you have 5 days in Rome, you can visit some of the lesser known churches. This church was built over a site where Christians used to pray when it was still forbidden to profess themselves Christians. Excavations brought out various levels of the church – one dating to the 1st century and one to the 4th. Apparently there even is an older level, where there was a building that went destroyed by Nero’s fire in 64 AD.
San Clemente is easy to explore as there are panels with explanations everywhere, but you may opt for a tour. Most also go to the Catacombs:
- San Clemente and Quattro Coronati Church small group tour
- Crypts and Catacomb tour with Bone Chapel visit
- Christian Rome and underground basilica tour
St. John in the Lateran
St. John in Lateran is located in Esquilino and is a must see if you have 5 days in Rome. This church is the seat of the Pope in the city, not to mention the oldest basilica in town – though not nearly as crowded as St. Peter’s. Outside the church there’s the Lateran Obelisk, which is the largest standing Egyptian obelisk in the world. The church is known for its Scala Sancta, a stairway of 28 steps famous for being those that Jesus walked up while heading to his trial in Jerusalem. Visitors have to walk them on their knees as well!
Here’s a selection of the best tour that go to St. John in the Lateran:
- The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran
- Catacombs and St. John in the Lateran combo tour
- St. John Lateran, holy stairs and baptistery private tour
- Cristian Rome afternoon tour
The Catacombs and the Appian Way
One of the coolest things to do if you have 5 days in Rome is head towards the Appian Way. This was built in 312 BC and is one of the oldest surviving roads in the world. During the Roman Empire it connected Rome to other important cities such as Naples and Brindisi. It served for military and commercial purposes.
Along the Appian Way, you can visit the Church of Domine Quo Vadis, built in the 9th century, and the Catacombs of St. Callixtus (where 16 popes were buried) and St. Sebastian.
These are some good guided tour sof the Appian Way and the Catacombs:
- Crypts and Catacomb tour with Bone Chapel visit
- Catacombs and the Appian Way tour
- Catacombs and crypts small group minibus tour
- Catacombs of Rome exclusive after hour tour
- Appian Way, Aqueducts and Catacomb bike tour
- Crypts, Bones & Catacombs: An Underground Tour of Rome
- Alone in Rome’s Catacombs: Exclusive After Hours Tour with Bone Chapel
Garbatella is a cool place to visit when you have 5 days in Rome. It retains all the flavor or a local neighborhood. It became famous after a show that was filmed there was aired in Italy a few years ago. It was first built in 1918 and while in the past it was thought to be dangerous, it now is one of the nicest areas to live in Rome.
In Garbatella, you can visit a couple of museums, art galleries and the church of St. Paul’s Outside The Walls. You’ll also find some good, more local restaurants.
Practical Tips For Your 5 Days In Rome
Where to stay in Rome
There are many good hotels in Rome. Staying in the historic center is the best option when you just have 5 days in Rome – for easy access to all the attractions, and to minimize use of public transportation. Areas such as Ottaviano offer easy access to the Vatican, while Esquilino and Monti are closer to the Colosseum.
These are some good hotels in Ottaviano:
- Polinari Rooms – it features spacious comfortable rooms and it’s very close to the Vatican Museums. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Town House 57 – a good guest house with clean, modern rooms that is also walking distance from the Vatican. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- My Bed Vatican Museum – is the best in terms of location: right across the street from the museums. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Chester Suites – plush rooms in a great location. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
These are some good hotels in Esquilino:
- Hotel Tito Rome – it’s close to the train station. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Charm of Rome – near the lovely Vittorio Emanuele square. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
These are good hotels in Monti:
- Relais Monti – great location and beautiful rooms. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Domus Romana Hotel – an excellent choice for families, with spacious rooms. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
For more places to stay in Rome, read my post “A Complete Guide To Where To Stay In Rome.”
Guided tours of Rome
This itinerary for 5 days in Rome is completely doable independently, and I have pointed out any time you need to go on a guided tour.
You can also join a guided tour of Rome for a day. These are some good ones:
- Full day walking tour of Rome – it doesn’t go to the Vatican. The price is per group.
- Faster than skip the line: Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica tour – a very good three hour guided tour of the Vatican.
- Skip the line ancient Rome and Colosseum half day walking tour – a nice guided tour of ancient Rome with admission to the Colosseum.
- Best of Rome: Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica and Colosseum pass – an audio-guide tour to all the most famous attractions.
Using a 72 hours Roma Pass during your 5 days in Rome
My post “The Best Roma Pass Options And How To Make The Most Of It” gives you an overview of the advantages of the Roma Pass.
You may consider getting a 72 hours Roma Pass if you have 5 days in Rome, and use for the first 3 days to access the sites and public transportation. Some even include transportation to the airport.
These are some good 72 hours Roma Pass options:
- Omnia Card for Rome and Vatican City: it has skip the line tickets to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, preferred access with an audio-guide for St. Peter’s Basilica, access to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and the Mamertine Prison. But it doesn’t include tickets to the Colosseum.
- Visit Pass Rome Gold – it offers fast track access to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums; St. Peter’s Basilica and Castel Sant’Angelo; the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hills. It even includes an audio guide for the Forum and the Palatine and a pass for public transportation.
- Visit Pass Rome Platinum – a bit more pricey, but you get a live guide inside St. Peter’s Basilica.
- Best of Rome all access pass – you get fast track entrances to the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hills, and an audio-guide. I am not sure if it includes public transportation.
Whichever pass you pick, read the terms and conditions and the inclusions very carefully.
The Roma Pass requires you to book your entry to sites such as the Colosseum and the Borghese Gallery separately and via a third site.
When to visit Rome
Any time is a good time to go to Rome, but I love it in October: the days are still nice and longer than they’d be in the fall, temperatures are not as hot as in the summer, and sites aren’t as crowded. On the other hand, sites stay open longer in the late spring and summer months. Try not to visit Rome in August: Italians leave for their holidays and the city will empty of locals and get crowded with just tourists.
How to get to Rome
Rome has two airports – Fiumicino, for intercontinental flights and all major airlines; and Ciampino, for budget airlines and flights to Italy and Europe. Both are well connected to the city by taxi and cabs, buses and even trains.
You can get from Ciampino Airport to Rome city center by taxi or bus. Terravision is the most reliable bus company. You can book Terravision bus tickets here.
To get from Fiumicino Airport to Rome you can get the express train, which runs every 15 minutes (or every 30 minutes late at night). You can buy tickets and check the timetable online.
TIP: Always validate your ticket before getting on the train! There are machines along the platform.
Alternatively, you can opt for a taxi (the flat fee is €48) or a private transfer.
These are some good transfers options:
- Fiumicino Airport to Rome private transfer
- Fiumicino Airport to Rome budget private transfer
- Fiumicino Airport to Rome shared shuttle
For more information, check out my post “How To Get From Fiumicino Airport To Rome City Center.”
If you are taking the train to Rome, you will likely arrive at Termini Station. For train travel, you can buy tickets and check the train timetable here.
How to move around Rome
Uber isn’t really a thing in Italy, so if you feel you may need a taxi at some point download MyTaxi.
Unless your hotel is far from the center, the best way to get around Rome is on foot, and this itinerary for 5 days in Rome is meant to minimize the time spent on the bus or the metro. In any case, public transportation does work in Rome (despite locals thinking differently, but I have seen much worst in my travels). Always remember to validate your ticket before getting on the metro or bus.
You can get a Rome public transportation pass valid for 72 hours here. It may seem pricey but keep in mind it includes transfer from Ciampino airport. Alternatively, you can get your Rome Public Transportation Card (ATAC) for just the city (no airport transfers) here.
TIP: Don’t ride horse pulled carriages. For your enjoyment, these animals are suffering in the traffic and noise of the city. Don’t contribute to that.
Check out my post “The Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler.”
Luggage storage in Rome
If your flight is in the evening but you need to check out of your hotel in the morning, it’s probably better that you leave your luggage somewhere central, ie Termini Station where you will surely pass by on your way to the airport or when picking the train to another city. There are a couple of storage places there. Check out this one or this one.
Other useful tips
Mind the dress code
Dress appropriately if you are planning to visit churches: no shorts, no tank tops. Cover your knees and shoulders. Carry a shirt or a shawl to cover up in your bag if you can’t phantom the idea of wearing sleeves throughout the day.
Get a data plan for your smartphone
Make sure you have enough data to surf the web while in Italy, and download maps and itineraries that can be used offline. This will come in handy during your 5 days in Rome.
Get a guide book
A good guide book may be a nice addition with lots of info on what to see and do in Rome in 5 days. Some also have very good maps.
These are some good guide books:
Water in Rome is safe to drink and there are fountains everywhere. Drink plenty and stay hydrated, especially in the summer.
Mind the scams
Tourist scams happen everywhere. In Rome, the typical spots are those around major tourist attractions or the train stations. Beware of people who are overly friendly and offer unwanted help ie to carry your bags or get you a train ticket. Never touch anything a stranger may offer you – whether a rose or a bracelet. A plain but firm no works wonders. Alternatively, do as I do: ignore!
Get a good travel insurance
Further readings about Rome
If you have less time in the city, my other itineraries may help:
- The Perfect Itinerary To See Rome In A Day
- The Perfect Itinerary To See Rome In 2 Days
- The Perfect Itinerary For 3 Days In Rome
- A Fantastic Itinerary For 4 Days In Rome
- A Great Itinerary For A Fabulous Week In Rome
- 31 Incredible Places To Explore Rome Off The Beaten Path
- Where To Get The Best Views Of Rome
Further readings about Italy
Make sure to read my planning tips for Italy in these posts:
- 17 Reasons To Visit Italy As Soon As Possible
- 67 Extremely Useful Travel Tips For Italy
- What To Do And What To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Italy
- A Perfect Italy Itinerary: What To See And Do With 10 Days Or More
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