A Complete Guide To Visiting Orrido Di Ponte Alto Gorge, Trentino

A Complete Guide To Visiting Orrido Di Ponte Alto Gorge, Trentino

Orrido di Ponte Alto is a very narrow canyon with two scenic waterfalls that dive right into it, located at a very short distance from the center of Trento, in the lovely region of Trentino, in Northern Italy. If you happen to visit Trentino in the summer, you should make it a point to go.

Still undecided on where to spend your summer holidays? Check out my post Ten Reasons To Visit Trentino In The Summer.”

In this post, I will share some background information on Orrido di Ponte Alto and share some useful tips to plan your visit and make the most of your time there.

Ponte Alto

The canyon of Ponte Alto, carved by the Fersina river

Some Background Information About Orrido Di Ponte Alto Gorge

Trentino is packed with beautiful waterfalls. I had visited the one over Rio Ragaiolo, where there also is a suspended bridge, in the winter – you can read more about it on my post A Winter Guide To Val Di Sole.” However, Orrido di Ponte Alto is more than just a waterfall.

The canyon of Orrido di Ponte Alto has been carved by the waters of the Fersina stream over the course of thousands of years. Fersina is a river that springs from Erdemolo lake, an Alpine lake located at 2600 meters above sea level in the Mocheni Valley, and a tributary to Adige river.

Fersina heads to the valley where Trento is located, from an area located at around 1800 meters above sea level and it does so in a very short distance – thus gaining a lot of force in its descent and thus posing a great threat to Trento as it caused frequent flooding, submerging the city, damaging the houses and the agricultural land around it.

It was in the 1500s that the local population started attempting to control the flow of the water, building two different dams which were intended to slow down the river and hold at least part of the debris it carried to the valley.

Throughout the centuries, several works have been done to control the river.

The first dam on Fersina was built in 1537 upon orders of Bernardo Clesio. This was entirely made of wood and just 20 meters high – in today’s term, it may be considered quite rudimentary, but back in the day when it was built it was a truly revolutionary work. The dam was meant to stop all the material carried by the Fersina river to the valley, and prevent it from causing damages.

This dam worked for a period of 6 years, but after a period of heavy rain the damn was destroyed and all the material it held was flushed down to the city of Trento, causing enormous damage.

The dam was then built again – higher and stronger. However, once again it was destroyed after a few years, once again leaving Trento unprotected.

The fight between the city of Trento and the Fersina river continued throughout the centuries. More consolidation works were undertaken even during the Habsburg Empire – leading to the latest version of the dam which dates back to 1850 and which is entirely built of stone.

The dam caused the creation of two beautiful 40 meters high waterfalls, which jump directly from red rock cliffs and create gorgeous sound and light effects.

With all this information, it’s easy to see how Orrido di Ponte Alto is a place of striking natural beauty as well as of historical importance. 

Orrido di Ponte Alto

A nice, easy day trip from Trento suitable for the whole family

Visiting Orrido Di Ponte Alto Gorge

Orrido di Ponte Alto is very close to Trento. It’s an easy and quick day trip out of the city, so it would be a pity to miss it when in town. It’s an easy place to visit, suitable even to families with children (though keep in mind that the trail isn’t suitable for strollers). There isn’t an actual trail – it mostly is steps. The site has been closed from the 1980s until 2017, when major renovation work made it once again safe to visit.

What to expect when visiting Orrido di Ponte Alto Gorge

As soon as you arrive at Orrido di Ponte Alto, you’ll spot a flight of stairs going down. This go deep into the gorge carved by the mighty Fersina river. But before going down, you’ll be meeting a guide that will give you plenty of information about the dams, their historical importance, and which will lead you safely around the site.

The first part of the visit of Orrido di Ponte Alto consists of an in depth explanation about river and the dams built to slow down its course. After that, you will head to a first panoramic point, which overlooks the first waterfall that flows right under the beautiful bridge, right by the first dam known as Controserra Madruzza. It’s a really beautiful sight, especially when after heavy rains the waterfall is flowing in all its power.

From there, you’ll go back on the trail and then continue walking down, along the river and towards the second dam. That’s when you’ll be able to fully appreciate how the river has carved the rock, giving it interesting shapes and beautiful colorings.

Finally, you’ll get to the best part of the visit, close to the oldest dam, and you will be able to go all the way above the river and admire the second waterfall from above, and the river as it impetuously goes through the narrow gorge.

But this is not the last stop. Indeed, the guide will open a small door from where you’ll head to a narrow, spiral staircase that takes you to a small balcony from where you’ll be able to observe the waterfall from behind. It’s not really easy to explain what I mean. You will be basically standing behind the waterfall, admiring water as it goes down, listening to its deafening sound.

That’s the ending point of the visit, from where you will walk back up to the entrance following the same trail.

Orrido di Ponte Alto entrance

The entrance is right by this restaurant, on its side

Practical Information To Plan Your Visit To Orrido Di Ponte Alto Gorge

How To Get To Orrido Di Ponte Alto

Orrido di Ponte Alto is located at just 4 km from Trento. The best way to get there is by bus. You can take bus n. 9 from Piazza Dante (right by the train station) and get off at Cognola Scuole. It will take about 20 minutes. From there, it is another 10 minutes walk until you get to what looks like a restaurant (see picture above).

You can also get there by car, in which case you’ll have to park at Cognola sports complex in Via Ponte Alto.

Guided tours of Orrido di Ponte Alto Gorge

For security reasons, you’ll only be allowed to visit Orrido di Ponte Alto on a guided tour. There is no need to book in advance. Guided tours leave every hour between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM every Saturday and Sunday from March to November, and between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM from December to February.

Groups of maximum 22 people are allowed at once. If you are visiting during high season, I recommend heading to the starting point a bit before the tour is supposed to start to make sure you have a spot, or else you may have to wait for a full hour for the next tour.

For group tours and tours during other days of the week, bookings are required.

The visit lasts between 45 minutes and an hour, depending on the group and its speed.

Tickets

You can visit Orrido di Ponte Alto for free if you have a Trentino Guest Card. Otherwise, admission costs are €5 euro for adults, and €3 euro for children between 6 and 12 years of age. It’s free for children under 6 years of age.

Recommendations upon visiting

Make sure to be dressed appropriately. You won’t really need hiking boots, but as there are lots of stairs and the water sprays everywhere, it may be slippery in places, so a pair of actual walking shoes are better than flip flops or sandals. Once you get all the way down the gorge, it gets quite chilly (especially once you go down the spiral staircase to see the waterfall from behind). You may want to carry a rain proof jacket or a poncho to cover up and keep you dry then.

As in most other places in Trentino, dogs are welcome at Orrido di Ponte Alto. But keep in mind that they may be uncomfortable with the noise and the metal trail. I saw no dogs when I visited.

If you are looking for a great itinerary for Trentino, make sure to read my post “A Great Itinerary For A Summer Week In Trentino.”

Are you planning to hike during your time in Trentino? Make sure to read my post Three Short But Rewarding Hikes In The Dolomites Of Trentino.” If you are visiting in the winter, you may want to check out my post 10 Perfectly Good Reasons To Ski In Val Di Sole.”

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Seven Smart Ways To Get Galleria Borghese Tickets And Skip The Lines

Seven Smart Ways To Get Galleria Borghese Tickets And Skip The Lines

Getting Galleria Borghese tickets is easier than you can imagine. Follow this easy guide and find the ones that best suit your needs and interests.

There is little doubt that Galleria Borghese is the best museum in Rome and one of the best art galleries in the world, and if you happen to be in Rome it would be a real pity to miss it. The good news is that contrary to the majority of famous places to visit in Rome, here you won’t find any big crowds. In fact, Galleria Borghese (or Borghese Gallery) caps the number of visitors to 360 at a time.

The bad news, however, is that with such strict limitations on the number of visitors who are allowed to get in at once, you will have to plan your visit in advance or you risk being unable to visit.

But worry not! In this post, I will explain you everything there is to know to get Galleria Borghese tickets and share a bunch of useful tips to plan your visit and make the most of it. Before getting to the juicy bits, however, let me share some information on what you can expect when visiting Galleria Borghese.

Canova Borghese Gallery

Canova statue at Borghese Gallery – photo courtesy of George M. Groutas (flickr)

Why You Must Visit Galleria Borghese When In Rome

I have been to Rome more times than I can remember; I have even lived there for a while; and I go any time I have a chance. This is one of my favorite cities in the world, one that I am never done exploring. I believe that a lifetime isn’t enough to visit Rome. However, I appreciate that most people don’t have more than a few days to make the most of the city, which is why they have to plan their time there smartly.

To discover the best that Rome has to offer, make sure to read my post 27 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome.” 

There are many museums and art galleries in Rome – but if you only have time to visit one, it has to be Galleria Borghese. This, also known as Villa Borghese, is one of the best private art collections in the world, put together in the 17th century by Cardinal Scipione Borghese.

At Galleria Borghese you will be able to see beautiful examples of ancient Roman art, though these are a minority. Most of the pieces on display are from the 15th to the 18th century, with various pieces of Renaissance and Baroque art and works of artists such as Bernini, Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio (my personal favorite), Rubens and many more.

Some background information about Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese was built in the early 17th century by architect Flaminio Ponzio on a piece of land that used to belong to the Borghese family, one of the most prominent ones in the city. When in 1605 Camillo Borghese became Pope Paul V, his nephew Scipione Borghese, who was made a Cardinal and who was a lover of art (so much so that he was one of the patrons of Bernini), started putting together his collection.

Some of the works you will see at Villa Borghese were bought by Scipione Borghese; whereas others were donated and others he had obtained in a less than honorable way, by simply confiscating them from their legitimate owners.

In 1902 the Borghese family, unable to pay some of its debts, sold the villa and its contents to the Italian authorities, which then turned it into a museum in 1903.

Galleria Borghese is located in the heart of a gorgeous public park, which can be easily accessed from Piazza del Popolo, one of the largest and most famous squares in Rome and minutes away from the Spanish Steps.

The park itself is a great place to relax away from the crowds and catch your breath – especially in the summer time, when the temperatures in Rome are so high that it is almost unbearable to stay out. You will find several statues scattered around in what is known as Giardini del Pincio (Pincian Hill), a lake, and plenty of shade.

Borghese Gallery spreads over two floors. The ground floor is where you will mostly find sculptures; whereas on the first floor you will see paintings and a few statues. The various rooms take their name from that of the main piece on display – so for example you will find a room that is called Sala della Paolina, which is where the sculpture of Paolina Borghese by Antonio Canova is on sight.

INTERESTING FACT: In the 1800s, Camillo Borghese married Paolina Bonaparte, sister of Napoleon (the same Paolina whose statued was created by Canova). At the time, Rome was under French rule and in 1807 Camillo Borghese was forced to surrender 500 pieces of his collections to Napoleon. That’s why some pieces of the original Borghese collection can today be found at the Louvre, in Paris.

Continue reading to discover the best ways to get Galleria Borghese tickets and avoid any hassle when visiting.

Galleria Borghese tickets

Incredible art – photo courtesy of Sonse (flickr)

Seven Ways To Get Galleria Borghese Tickets And Avoid Any Hassle

There are several ways to get Galleria Borghese tickets. In this post, I will highlight all the main solutions and point out which one is the most suitable one depending on the kind of traveler you are.

In general, I recommend getting skip-the-line tickets. This solution really is the easiest as you don’t have to go to any other site to book a time slot, and this way you will save a lot of time both in the booking process and once on the site.

TIP:  Remember that you absolutely need to book a time slot for your visit to Borghese Gallery, as only 360 visitors are allowed during each time slot.

You will see that there are several options for skip the line tickets to Borghese Gallery – some including just the entry ticket, and some having a live guide. Of all the ways of getting Galleria Borghese tickets, my favorite one is through a guided tour. Indeed, I find that unless you are an art historian, joining is the only way to make sense of all the incredible pieces of art you are going to see there.

Way N. 1: Take a guided tour of Borghese Gallery

Perfect for: Art geeks who want to learn everything about Borghese Gallery

Advantages: You have a live guide you can ask questions to so the tour is fairly interactive; you book your time slot directly through the third party that sells the tour.

Disadvantages: The group may be bigger than you’d like.

The easiest option to get Galleria Borghese tickets is by booking a guided tour through an official 3rd party reseller. Guided tours are an excellent way to learn more about the place you are visiting, and booking them via a 3rd party means avoiding the hassle of having to make phone calls or sending emails to reserve a time slot.

You simply indicate the day and time of your visit while buying the tour, and if a day or time slot isn’t available you will immediately see it.

Another advantage of going on a guided tour sold by a 3rd party reseller is that even when guided tours are sold out on the official site, some may still be available there. Of course, they will be a bit more expensive than on the official site – but it is a small price to pay to avoid the nuisance of running around in circles trying to make a reservation.

On a guided tour, you will have a qualified guide taking you around the museum and sharing interesting facts about the pieces you will be observing. Most tours also include a visit of the gorgeous gardens.

You have the option of selecting guided group or guided private tours – which one you pick entirely depends on your travel taste and budget. Prices vary between €45 per person for a group tour and €295 (per group) if you want a more private tour.

These are the best guided tours:

Borghese Gallery

A guided tour is the best way to enjoy Borghese Gallery

Way N. 2: Buy skip-the-line Galleria Borghese tickets via a 3rd party reseller 

Perfect for: Those who want to go straight to the point 

Advantages: You book your time slot via the third party that sells the tickets.

Disadvantages: You don’t have a guide; it’s a bit more expensive than going directly via the official website of Galleria Borghese.

If you want to visit Galleria Borghese but don’t care for a guided tour, and yet don’t want to go through the hassle of booking tickets via the official site (see below for more details), you can book skip-the-line tickets to Galleria Borghese via a 3rd party reseller.

Tickets costs between €25 and €30 depending on which 3rd party you use, but keep in mind that the cheapest options often don’t allow cancellations.

These are the best skip-the-line tickets to Galleria Borghese:

Tickets to Galleria Borghese

Bernini art can be admired at Borghese Gallery

Way N. 3: Get the Rome City Pass

Perfect for: those planning to visit other attractions in Rome

Advantages: You get skip-the-line tickets and discounts at other attractions around town, including the Colosseum.

Disadvantages: You don’t really save any money and you have to go to a different website to book the time slots to enter the various sites.

The Rome City Pass is an excellent option to get Galleria Borghese skip-the-line tickets in case you are planning to visit other attractions while in town. It includes other popular places to visit – depending on the pass, you get tickets to the Colosseum and even to the Vatican, and they are all skip-the-line.

There are a bunch of Roma Pass options on sale – I have highlighted the advantages of them and how to make your purchase worth it in my post The Best Roma Pass Options And How To Make The Most Of It.”

TIP: Remember that even when you have a Roma Pass you need to make reservations for your visit to Galleria Borghese. In this case, you won’t have to pay the €2 booking fee.

In order to book your time slot, you can call the museum at +39 0632810 or email them at info@tosc.it. When calling or emailing to book your time slot, make sure to keep your Roma Pass handy as you will need to specify its number upon booking. You should receive an email confirmation of your reservations within a few working days.

The phone ticket office is open from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. The office is closed on Sundays and during holidays.

Here, I have selected a couple of Rome City Pass options that will provide you Galleria Borghese tickets:

  • Omnia Card 72 hours: it’s the best option if you also want to visit the Colosseum, the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. You don’t save much on the total price of the attractions you end up visiting, but at least you’ll get skip-the-line tickets. It costs €113
  • Rome tourist card: this pass includes skip-the-line tickets and audio guide to many attractions such as the Colosseum and the Vatican, and a 20% discount to Galleria Borghese tickets, and discounts on a bunch of them. It’s a good money saver option if you make smart use of it. It costs €67.50.
Galleria Borghese tickets

You can book your visit of Galleria Borghese directly on the site

Way N. 4: Get your ticket through the official website of Galleria Borghese

Perfect for: no frills travelers

Advantages: It’s the most budget friendly option.

Disadvantages: The website is only in Italian. You don’t have a guide – you have to pay for any extra.

The most obvious solution to buy Galleria Borghese tickets is to go via the official website of the museum. Once you click on “acquista” (which means “buy”) you are taken to another website, and then another one, where you can buy the tickets.

The reason I don’t mention this as the first and best solution is that the various websites you have to go through are only in Italian, which works just as well for me since it is my first language; but may not be quite the same for you.

While the museum takes its time to finally put up an English version of the site, I suggest using Google Translate or your intuition to make sense of the website and book your ticket.

This is the price to pay if you want to opt for the one which appears to be the most budget friendly option.

COSTS: As of July 2019, buying Galleria Borghese tickets via the official website cost €20 – that’s €18 for the ticket + €2 for the booking fee. If you want to add a guided tour, the total price will be €26.50. EU Citizens aged between 18 and 25 pay €9 for the ticket or €15.50 for the guided tour. Visitors under 18 only pay the €2 reservation fee or €8.50 for the guided tour.

TIP: If you want to go for this budget friendly option, make sure to book your tickets and time slot well in advance as they sell out fast. This is especially relevant if you plan to add a guided tour to your visit and are looking for a tour in English. While tours in Italian are more easily available, tours in English sell out fast!

LAST MINUTE TICKETS: If your preferred time slot isn’t available online, or if you haven’t reserved a time slot in advance, you may want to call the museum at +39 0632810 to see if there are any last minute cancellations.

Let me once again stress that you really do need to book your Galleria Borghese tickets and time slot well in advance. 

Galleria Borghese

The gardens or Galleria Borghese are a must

Way N. 4: Get an audio guide tour through the official website of Galleria Borghese

Perfect for: those who want a bit of guidance but would rather not join a guided tour

Advantages: You still get some information about the collection; it’s more budget friendly than a guided tour.

Disadvantages: It’s not an interactive tour. You buy tickets via the official website which, as I have already said, is only in Italian.

This option is very similar to the one mentioned above – you go via the official website of Galleria Borghese and book your tickets and time slot. Once you are at the museum, you can add an audio guide – which however can’t be booked in advance. Audio guides are available in English, Italian, French, German and Spanish.

COST: The price for the audio guide is €5 to be added to the €20 for the tickets to Galleria Borghese. Since there is only a €1.50 cents difference between the audio guide and a live guide, I wholeheartedly recommend opting for a live guide for a more interactive tour.

Way N. 6: Take a guided tour of the best of Rome

Perfect for: Those who have very limited time in the city

Advantages: It’s an excellent option if you are planning to visit other places on the same day; it takes away the hassle of making separate reservations for the various attractions.

Disadvantages: The tour may end up being more rushed than you had hoped for.

If you don’t have much time in Rome but still want to visit its most famous attractions, including Borghese Gallery, you may want to join a guided group of the city that will take you to all the highlights. Most of these tours will include a guide; some of them will be more budget friendly than others and only offer an audio guide. All of these tours provide skip-the-line tickets to the attractions included in the tour.

These are a few guided tours of Rome that also include Galleria Borghese tickets:

  • Full day Borghese Gallery, Colosseum and Roman Forum – this tour includes skip-the-line tickets to the Colosseum and to Galleria Borghese, as well as a visit to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. You will have  a live guide that will take you around each site. Transportation to the various places is not included.
  • Private limousine tour: Best of Rome – this tour is a more expensive version than the one above, but it includes transportation in a comfortable car, a visit of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto.
Pincian Hill

You can access Galleria Borghese via the Pincian Hill

Way N. 7: Get your tickets from “bagarini” right outside the museum 

Perfect for: Those who forgot to make reservations

Advantages: You may be able to get in even if you haven’t made any reservations and if you can’t find last minute tickets by calling the museum.

Disadvantages: It will be more expensive than other options.

Should anything else fail – should you be unable to book your Galleria Borghese tickets and time slot in advance; and should you be unable to call the museum to see if there have been any last minute cancellations, you may still be able to get tickets by showing up at the museum. Chances are that those people we in Italy call “bagarini” (resellers) will be standing there reselling tickets they have previously purchased in blocks.

These people are obviously taking advantage of tourists who have failed to plan their visit and reselling tickets at much higher prices than the actual fee – so it is up to you to buy a ticket through them.

I strongly discourage you to buy anything from these resellers as it is a phenomenon I wish to end. Which is why I once again stress the importance of planning your visit of Borghese Gallery in advance.

Other Useful Information For Visiting Galleria Borghese

Book in advance

Let me stress it one more time: all visitors need to specify a time slot for their visit to Galleria Borghese. This is why you need to buy your tickets to Galleria Borghese (and reserve a time slot for visiting) well in advance.

If you are visiting Rome during peak season, I strongly recommend booking your tickets and time slot at least a month in advance.

You may be able to get tickets to Galleria Borghese on the same day if you visit during low season, but I recommend checking the website for availability.

Make sure to arrive well in advance before your scheduled visit. If you show up late you will be denied entry.

Number of people allowed 

No more than 360 people are admitted to Galleria Borghese for each time slot, which is of two hours. Guided groups go from a minimum of 5 participants to a maximum of 15 visitors.

Official prices of Galleria Borghese tickets

The price of Galleria Borghese tickets for adults via the official website is of €20 – that’s €18 for the ticket + €2 for the booking fee.

EU Citizens aged between 18 and 25 pay €9.

Visitors under 18 years of age only pay the €2 reservation fee.

A guided tour costs €6.50 and should be added to the price of the ticket – no matter the age or nationality.

The audio guide costs €5 and can’t be booked in advance.

Tickets bought via 3rd party sites are slightly more expensive.

Free visits

Like other attractions in Rome, Galleria Borghese used to be free every first Sunday of the month. To be honest, that’s the worst time of the month to visit Galleria Borghese as it inevitably gets very crowded, so consider this option only if you are on a very strict budget.

Please take care to notice that as of spring 2019 the rules regarding the free Sundays have changed. Free Sundays are now available only between October and March included; whereas they are not available between April and September, which are the busiest months.

Galleria Borghese can be accessed for free on the last 3 time slots (1:00 pm, 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm) of each second Wednesday of the month.

TIP: Keep in mind that even when entrance to Galleria Borghese is free, you need to book your time slot and pay the €2 reservation fee. 

Galleria Borghese exterior

Advanced bookings are a must to visit Galleria Borghese – photo courtesy of Carmelo Peciña (flickr)

What to do if Galleria Borghese tickets are sold out

If you haven’t reserved your tickets and booked a time slot, or if nothing is available for the day and time you wish to visit, you may be unable to visit the museum. However, you may wish to try your luck for last minute tickets to Galleria Borghese by showing up at the ticket counter 45 to 30 minutes after the starting time of each time slot. If there have been cancellations, you may be allowed to get in.

TIP: You can call the museum at +39 0632810 to see if there are any last minute cancellations.

Please take care to notice that last minute tickets are very limited and depend on cancellations and that in case you get in on a last minute ticket, your visit will only be of 90 minutes as opposed to 120 minutes.

Opening times

Galleria Borghese is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm (last entry is at 5:00 pm). The museum is open until 9:00 pm (last entry at 7:00 pm) on Thursdays.

The museum is closed on Mondays and on 25 December and 1 January.

Tickets to Galleria Borghese

The gorgeous Borghese Gardens

7 tips to maximize your time at Galleria Borghese

Bring your ID

Chances are that you won’t be asked to show your ID card at the ticket counter, but take it with you anyways as you never know. In any case, although by Italian law you aren’t obliged to carry your ID with you at all times, you may be stopped and searched by the police, which may ask to provide your full name and date of birth.

Factor enough time

You should factor up to 4 hours for your visit of Galleria Borghese – that’s 2 hours for the time spent browsing around the museum as per the time slot you will be assigned, plus some time to browse the small gift shop, the gorgeous gardens and enough time to get to the museum (which obviously depends on where you are coming from) and sort a few things out before the visit.

Though it is recommended to arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled visit, I recommend arriving 45 minutes early. Indeed, remember that upon arriving you will have to pick up your tickets, check in your bags, perhaps use the toilets or get a drink at the coffee shop, arrange a guide or audio-guide.

If you are on the last time slot, visit the gift shop before you get in

The gift shop closes at 7:00 pm sharp, so if you are scheduled to get in on the last time slot (which means you will finish your visit at 7:00 pm) and think you may want to buy a small souvenir from the gift shop, make sure to go a bit earlier than scheduled to browse the shop before your visit starts.

Check in your bags

You really can’t take anything other than your camera or phone inside Galleria Borghese. You will be required to leave bags, large camera bags, selfie-sticks, backpacks, strollers and umbrellas at the cloak room – which is free.

Take your camera

You can take your camera inside Galleria Borghese as photos are allowed, but remember that flash photography is  is not, so turn your flash off before walking in.

But no food or drinks

Food and drinks – including water – aren’t allowed inside the museum, so leave anything you have inside the bag you will check in at the cloak room.

Start on the top floor

This tip is for those who are visiting Galleria Borghese independently and can decide where to start their visit and how much time to spend in each room.

Only 90 people at once are allowed in the paintings galleries on the top floor, and they can stay inside for no more than 30 minutes. Start your visit from the top floor, as the rest of the people – especially those on guided tours – will be visiting the ground floor first. This way, you can have the painting galleries to yourself and avoid the crowds.

Toilets and other facilities at Galleria Borghese

Toilets and a coffee shop are located in the basement.

Accessibility of Galleria Borghese

Visitors with reduced mobility or on wheelchairs can access Galleria Borghese from the backdoor in Piazzale Scipione Borghese n. 5. There is an elevator to get to the upper floor, but keep in mind that this is very small – after all we are talking about a building that dates back to the 17th century – and it won’t fit a large wheelchair. Wheelchairs are available on all floors.

Dogs are not allowed in the museum, with the exception of guide dogs who on the other hand are welcome.

Access to Borghese Gallery

You can access Borghese Gallery from Piazza del Popolo via the Pincian Hill

How to get to Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese is located at Piazzale Scipione Borghese n. 5, inside the Borghese Gardens on the Pincian Hill.

Getting to Galleria Borghese is actually very easy, as you can easily access the Pincian Hill from Piazza del Popolo, one of the best known squares in Rome.

Getting to Galleria Borghese by bus

The best option if you want to travel to Galleria Borghese by bus is taking bus n. 52, 53 or 910. Get off at Via Pinciana (just 3 minutes away from the museum) or Piazzale Brasile, from where it is an easy 10 minutes walk. I recommend actually going through the park.

Getting to Galleria Borghese by metro

The closest metro station is Spagna, from where it you will have to follow the signs taking you to Galleria Borghese. It’s a 20 to 25 minutes walk.

Further readings about Rome

If you have limited time in Rome, make sure to check out my itineraries to help you plan your visit:

If, on the other hand, you are planning to stay a bit longer in the Eternal City, you may also want to get out. In this case, make sure to read my post “20 Great Day Trips From Rome.”

For more tips on how to make the most of your time in Rome, read my tip-packed posts:

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The Perfect Itinerary For 3 Days In Rome

The Perfect Itinerary For 3 Days In Rome

With 3 days in Rome, you won’t be able to cover everything that the city has to offer, but you can really see a good deal of it and get to all the most famous attractions. If you prepare in advance, planning your itinerary, booking entrances to the various attractions, sticking to the plan and keeping good timing you’ll definitely be able to cover all the highlights and perhaps also have a chance to relax and take in the incredible atmosphere of the Eternal City.

Since I have been to Rome many times and I have even lived there for a while, I thought I’d help you with the planning bit and I have put together a 3 day Rome itinerary, so that all you’ll be left with is making reservations for your flights, attractions and places to stay.

In this post, I will not only explain what you can see and do if you have 3 days in Rome, but I will also share some useful tips to help you skip the lines at the most popular attractions, save a bit of money here and there, and make the most of your time in the Italian capital.

Make sure to check out my post 30 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome.” 

Continue reading to discover all the things to do in Rome in 3 days.

3 days in Rome

With 3 days in Rome, you absolutely have to visit the Colosseum

A Day By Day Itinerary To See Rome In 3 Days

Let me first stress that if you really want to visit Rome in 3 days, you need to book entries to the most famous attractions or there will be high chances that you’ll be stuck in line trying to get ticket and may even find out that these are sold out at times.

I will make sure to point out whenever you need to make advanced reservations for the attractions mentioned in this 3 day Rome itinerary. Follow my itinerary and advice, and you’ll have 3 memorable days in Rome.

The assumption of this itinerary that you have at least 3 full days in Rome (which means you’ll sleep there 4 nights). You’ll have to start your day very early, heading out on a mission to explore. I have created an itinerary that is logic in terms of visiting attractions that are more or less all in the same area on the same day, and where you can walk from one to the other thus minimizing the use of public transportation.

I have included all those places in the historic center of Rome that you really have to see, and a few ones that will be a nice addition to your time there. This itinerary is packed. I recommend heading out early (no later than 8:30 AM), and at times even earlier;  having lunch on the go enjoying some of the best street food of Rome (go for pizza al taglio, supplì al telefono or gelato) and then opt for a sit down meal in the evening.

Finally, without any further ado, let me give you the ultimate itinerary to see Rome in 3 days.

3 days in Rome

Don’t skip the Forum when you have 3 days in Rome

Day One: Ancient Rome

This 3 day Rome itinerary starts with a bang. Your first stop is the Colosseum, and you’ll then explore the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Later on you’ll discover other beautiful places, including the Altare della Patria of Piazza Venezia, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and other iconic squares of Rome.

Map of day one Rome itinerary

To get a better idea of the itinerary you have to follow on this day, I thought I’d link to a map that I have specifically created for you. You can see it by clicking here. This will give you a good idea of what there is to see and do along the itinerary, walking distances and times, places to stop for a bite or a drink. You can adjust it to remove places you are not interested in, or add more if you feel you want to pack your itinerary further.

The Colosseum

Few places scream Rome as much as the Colosseum. This is one of the most visited attractions in the world; a mighty sight during the day and a simply stunning one at night, when it is completely illuminated. You just can’t miss it.

However, I have some bad news for you: there often (or shall I say always?!) are endless lines to enter the Colosseum.

In my post Five Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines” I have explained all the options you have to skip the line at the Colosseum. I suggest reading it, as it will give you some good insights on how to avoid the lines (and some of them don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg).

Let me however sum it up here: the only real way to skip the line at the Colosseum is by buying skip the line tickets online. Mind you, even then you’ll have to go through security. But that’s a much faster line.

TIP: Keep in mind that the Colosseum is often sold out. Make sure to buy your tickets well in advance. If you just buy tickets with no guided entrance, you will have to go to a separate website to specify a date and time for your visit.

TIP: It may be easier, less time consuming for you and overall a better option to invest in a guided tour of the Colosseum. This way, all you’ll have to worry about is to indicate the time of the tour upon purchasing it, and the company you’re buying from will worry about all the other arrangements.

These are some excellent group tours with skip the line tickets to the Colosseum:

Make sure to read the full description of the tour to see what it includes – the basic tours only go to the main floor, while others also access the underground.

Taking a night tour of the Colosseum

If you are looking for a more intimate, and a truly unique experience, you may want to opt for a night tour of the Colosseum. Night time tours typically start at 9:30 pm and last around 2 and a half hours.

TIP: If you are doing a night tour, have dinner beforehand and head back to the Colosseum in time for the tour.

Night tours give access to the main areas of the Colosseum that you’d normally get to see on regular tours – the first and second ring, the arena floor; as well as the undergrounds.

Night-time tickets to the Colosseum cost around €87 per person. It is significantly more expensive than a regular tour, but it may be well worth it.

These are some good night tours of the Colosseum:

things to do in Rome in 3 days

Another must see is the Roman Forum

The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill 

With the same ticket you use to visit the Colosseum, you will have access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. This is a very large site, so consider doing a guided tour to make the most of it. Most of the tours of the Colosseum also go to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

These are some of the best guided tours of the Roman Forum:

A few facts about the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

The Roman Forum is one of the unmissable sights in Rome. It used to be the heart of the city when this was a Republic; an incredibly busy place. It was a market, as well as packed with temples, brothels and even the House of the Senate. At the time of the Roman Empire, it became a ceremonial center.

The Palatine Hill is the place where the twins Romolo and Remo were raised by the wolf, and Romolo founded the village that later on became Rome after having killed his twin brother. The Palatine used to be the residence of the emperors and aristocrats of Rome.

The Jewish Ghetto

By the time you are done visiting the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, head to the Jewish Ghetto. It will be a great addition to this itinerary to see Rome in 3 days and an excellent place to grab some lunch.

The Ghetto was established by Pope Paul IV five centuries ago, and forced all the Jews living in Rome to move into a walled quarter on the banks of the Tiber River. The area was surrounded by walls the Jewish community had to pay for, and had gates that were locked at night.

Though life in the Jewish Ghetto was hard, the community managed to thrive, developing its own dialect as well as its own cuisine. Nowadays, Roman Kosher cuisine is one of the most famous in the city, and if there is something you shouldn’t miss when in Rome that’s the carciofi alla giudia – fried artichokes with mint and garlic. Make sure to read this post for inspiration on where to eat in the Jewish Ghetto.

Piazza Venezia

After lunch, head back to Piazza Venezia, where you’ll be able to see Trajan’s Column and the massive monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, built in 1911 to celebrate the first king of unified Italy. It’s a very central part of Rome, the kind of place where locals gather to protest or for public celebrations. If you happen to be in Rome on 2 June, during the Festa della Repubblica, you’ll be able to see a parade going right by it.

3 day Rome itinerary

Cat lovers have to stop at the cat sanctuary of Largo di Torre Argentina

Largo di Torre Argentina

This 3 day Rome itinerary is bound to include my favorite places in the city. Since it is really close to Piazza Venezia and you’ll walk by it on your way to Piazza Navona, and after all it is an archeological site, it would be a pity to miss Largo di Torre Argentina when exploring ancient Rome.

Known as the place where Julius Cesar died – although this information isn’t accurate, since he died on the steps of the Theater of Pompey, which is a couple of blocks away – Largo di Torre Argentina is a series of ruins of some of the oldest temples of Rome.

If this is not enough to catch your attention, you may find it interesting to know that it’s also home to the oldest cat sanctuary in Rome. To be completely honest, it’s what attracted me in the first place. Mind you, I had seen the ruins. But it was when I spotted cats relaxing on the columns that I was curious to find out more about it.

If you walk around the site, you’ll get to a small entrance where you’ll find a shelter and a small shop that sells gadgets to raise funds to be used to care for the cats. You can go to the shop – it’s one of the coolest things to do in Rome in 3 days – play with the cats, buy a nice souvenir (Cats of Rome calendars are a great, easy and light thing to carry in your suitcase) and make a donation.

You can even donate online on the official website of Largo di Torre Argentina cat sanctuary. If you aren’t as much of a cat lover as I am, you can just continue walking onto your next stop.

Campo de’ Fiori

South of Piazza Navona, Campo de’ Fiori is one of the prettiest squares in Rome. The name, which translates as “field of flowers,” refers to the fact that in Medieval times this area was a meadow. Paved in 1456, since the late 19th century it’s been home to a beautiful market that sells fruits, vegetables and flowers. You’ll find several bars and cafés, and a lot of people hanging around.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona is one of the prettiest squares in Rome and at a short walk from Largo di Torre Argentina, so it can be easily added to the places to visit in Rome in 3 days. Paved over the 1st century Stadio di Domiziano in the 15th century, it’s home to one of the many markets of Rome. Here you’ll be able to see the Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed in 1651 by Bernini, and the Baroque Sant’Agnese church, built in the 17th century.

3 days in Rome

The Pantheon is one of the most iconic buildings in Rome

The Pantheon

On the way from Piazza Navona di Trevi Fountain, there are several places you can visit. One of them is the Pantheon, one of the most famous and unique attractions in Rome. It was commissioned by Emperor Hadrian and built in the 126 AD. Its Dome is considered the best preserved building from antiquity. Inside there are the tombs of famous Italian artist Raphael and of King Victor Emmanuel II.

Admission to the Pantheon is free, and you won’t find much of a line. You may consider getting an audioguide to take you around (the audio-guide tour lasts 35 minutes) for just €5 euro. You can get yours here.

Montecitorio

If you continue following this itinerary, you’ll walk by Piazza di Montecitorio, which is the seat of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. Chances are you have seen it on TV news. It’s worth stopping for a few moments, to admire a building whose construction was initiated by Bernini for Ludovico Ludovisi, a young cardinal nephew of Pope Gregory XV. The building was completed by Carlo Fontana, who added a bell gable above the main entrance. It was designed for social and public functions.

places to visit in Rome in 3 days

You have to see Trevi Fountain!

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain is one of the most iconic places to visit in Rome, and an easy addition to this itinerary to see Rome in 3 days. In recent  years, the fountain underwent major renovation work and it’s been covered for a while – but it’s finally been brought back to its original splendor.

You’ll soon notice that this is one of the most crowded attractions in town, yet it’s a gorgeous place and it would be a pity to miss it.

TIP: Remember that jumping in fountains or putting your feet in them is forbidden. If you do that and get caught, a hefty fine will follow.

3 day Rome itinerary

A beautiful view of St. Peter’s Basilica from Via della Conciliazione

Day two: Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo and Galleria Borghese

Day two of your 3 days in Rome itinerary will be just as packed as your first one. You will visit the Vatican, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Spanish Steps and finish off with Galleria Borghese.

Map of day two Rome itinerary

Click here to download a map of your itinerary for your second day in Rome.

St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel 

I suggest heading out no later than 7:00 AM for an early tour of the Vatican, so that you’ll have plenty of time to explore other places afterwards.

The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel officially open to the public at 9:00 AM, while St. Peter’s Basilica opens at 7:00 AM. Lines to get into the Vatican Museums start forming as early as 7:30 AM. However, you can get an early access Vatican tour. I recommend getting one that includes a dedicated entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica.

Alternatively, you can opt to visit St. Peter’s Basilica as soon as it opens at 7:00 AM and then head to the Vatican Museums – but keep in mind in this case you won’t have a dedicated entrance and you’ll have to walk all the way around to get in.

TIP: Remember that the lines at the Vatican Museums are some of the longest in Rome. Make sure to avoid them! Check out my post How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line” for more information.

All in all, I believe that an early guided tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica is a huge time saver, not to mention you’ll also have a guide that will take you around providing all the most relevant facts about the Sistine Chapel and pointing to the must sees of the Vatican Museums collection. Furthermore, an early tour will mean that you can enjoy the place when it is still virtually empty and by the end go to St. Peter’s Basilica, where you’ll once again be guided.

If you do an early access tour of the Vatican, you should be done by 11:00 AM at the latest, leaving plenty of time to continue exploring the city.

These are the best tours of the Vatican with early access and entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica:

A few facts about the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica

The Vatican Museums are huge: there are 54 chambers and an infinite collection. The real show stealer is the Sistine Chapel, where Michelangelo painted his masterpiece – The Last Judgement – thought to be one of Renaissance’s greatest works.

St. Peter’s Basilica is the most important church for Catholics. It was built by Renaissance most prominent artists –  Michelangelo, Bernini and Bramante, over a site thought to be the tomb of St. Peter. The church consists of 11 chapels, 45 altars and more mosaics than one can count. Inside there are Michelangelo’s Pietà, Bernini’s Baldacchino, as well as the Chair of St. Peter.

Find out more about St. Peter’s Basilica in my post How To Get St. Peter’s Basilica Tickets And Skip The Line.”

TIP: Modest clothing is required to enter the Vatican: cover your shoulders, chest and knees.

TIP: No photos are allowed inside the Sistine Chapel. If you are caught taking one, you’ll be immediately escorted out.

things to do in Rome in 3 days

If you have 3 days in Rome, you have to visit Castel Sant’Angelo!

Castel Sant’Angelo

If you have 3 days in Rome, you have enough time to visit Castel Sant’Angelo. You will walk by it as you make your way to the Tiber River, walking towards the Spanish Steps.

Castel Sant’Angelo was originally a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian. It was subsequently used as a prison, and it now is a museum.

If you are thinking of visiting, I recommend opting for a skip the line ticket in order to maximize your time. These are some good options:

The Spanish Steps

The next stop on your 3 day Rome itinerary will be the Spanish Steps. It’s one of the most famous places to visit in the city, and if you have 3 days in Rome you just can’t skip it.

Italians call it Piazza di Spagna. There, you’ll find 185 steps that lead to the beautiful Trinità dei Monti church. The steps were built in the 18th century and face Via Condotti – a famous shopping street. Make sure to walk up and take in the lovely views before you move on to your next stop.

Piazza Del Popolo

Right at the bottom of the Pincio (the Pincian Hill) there is Piazza del Popolo, one of the largest squares in Rome often used for concerts and large social gatherings. At the center of it there is the obelisk of Ramesses II from Heliopolis, which is the second tallest in the city. The best views of the square are from the steps that lead to the Pincio Terrace – which I also recommend visiting.

3 days in Rome

Galleria Borghese is one of the best art collections in the world

Galleria Borghese 

If you walk up the stairs from Piazza del Popolo to the Pincian Hill and continue walking for little under 2 km through the gorgeous park, you will reach Galleria Borghese, a place that you absolutely have to see if you have 3 days in Rome.

Not only Borghese Gardens are absolutely gorgeous, but the actual museum has one of the finest art collections in the world, with paintings and sculptures of Bernini, Canova, Caravaggio and Titian (I guess the bolding gives in to which one is my favorite among them!).

Galleria Borghese only allows 360 visitors at once, so it’s never really crowded. The other side of the coin, however, is that entrances are timed. This means 3 things: you’ll have to pick a time for your visit; you need to buy tickets online beforehand; you have to keep good timing to be at the museum right on time for the tour – keep in mind that it will take you between 25 to 30 minutes to walk there from piazza del Popolo.

These are some recommended tours of Borghese Gallery:

Make sure to read my post Seven Smart Ways To Get Galleria Borghese Tickets And Skip The Lines.”

3 days in Rome

A detail of St. John in the Lateran church

Day three: Lesser known Rome

On your last day in Rome, I suggest visiting places that aren’t perhaps as famous but which will be just as rewarding as the others. If you feel you have already seen enough churches, you may want to head to the Catacombs and the Appian Way directly, or just head to Garbatella for a walk in what is one of the most interesting neighborhoods in town.

Map of day three Rome itinerary

You can download your map for your third day in Rome here. You will see that the distances are a bit greater so you may consider getting a bus or a taxi to move from one to the other. If you click on the train icon on the map that should give you all the public transportation options.

San Clemente Basilica

If you are not churched out already, San Clemente Basilica is one of the places to visit in Rome in 3 days. I only discovered it a few years ago, when a friend mentioned it, saying that this is thought to be the site where Christians used to pray when they were still prosecuted.

Various excavations have uncovered remains that date back to the 1st century, as well as the 4th. In fact, there even is an older stratum, thought to contain buildings that were destroyed by Nero’s fire in 64 AD.

The church, which actually is very close to the Colosseum, is small enough and easy to explore. However, you may want to join a guided tour to get a bit more information than that which can be found on panels.

These are few good tour options – some of them also go to the Catacombs:

St. John in the Lateran

I used to live a few blocks away from this church, and walk right by it on my way to class every day, so I want to make sure you get to see it if you spend 3 days in Rome. This is the cathedral church of Rome, and the seat of the Pope in the city. The oldest basilica in town, it’s significantly less visited compared to St. Peter’s Basilica.

In front of the church, you’ll find the Lateran Obelisk, known as the largest standing Egyptian obelisk in the world. The church is famous for its Scala Sancta, a stairway of 28 steps believed to be those that Jesus walked up while heading to his trial in Jerusalem. You may have heard of those steps in Rome that the pilgrims climb on their knees – the only way visitors are allowed to ascend. It’s these!

Here’s a selection of the best guided tours of St. John in the Lateran:

3 day Rome itinerary

The Appian Way is one of the most interesting places to visit in Rome in 3 days

The Catacombs and the Appian Way

One of the most interesting things to do in Rome in 3 days is visiting the Appian Way. This was built in  312 BC and is considered 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, allowing the fast movement of military troops and goods.

There are many interesting things to see along the Appian Way. The most interesting ones are the Church of Domine Quo Vadis, which was built in the 9th century, and the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and St. Sebastian. St. Callixtus catacombs is where 16 popes, and a variety of martyrs have been buried.

To make the most of this vast site, I recommend doing a guided tour. These are a few good options:

Garbatella

Garbatella is one of the most local neighborhoods in Rome, one that has yet to become a major tourist site. It became increasingly popular among Italians when a famous TV series was filmed there. The area was built starting from 1918, and for a long time it was considered a dangerous area of Rome. Now, it’s thought to be one of the most pleasant places to live in the city.

This part of Rome is packed with interesting attractions: museums, art galleries and churches (this is where St. Paul’s Outside The Walls is located). More than anything, it is a place where you can still enjoy an authentic local meal, away from the crowds you’ll find in the historic center of Rome.

Altare della Patria

The beautiful Altare della Patria in Piazza Venezia

Practical Tips For Your 3 Days In Rome

Where to stay in Rome 

Rome is packed with excellent hotel options (if only a bit pricey). I recommend staying in the city center, so that you can more easily move around and won’t have to always rely on public transportation. The areas I recommend are Ottaviano, for easy access to the Vatican, Esquilino, where you are bound to find more budget friendly options, or Monti, which is very close to the Colosseum.

These are some excellent hotels in the area of Ottaviano:

These are some excellent hotels in the area of Esquilino:

These are some excellent hotels in the area of Monti:

I will soon be writing a post about the best places to stay in Rome.

Guided Tours Of Rome

The itinerary I have drafted for your 3 days in Rome is completely doable independently. I suggest joining a couple of guided tours to make the most of the attractions. The good thing about a guided tour is that you only have to book that – the company will take care of booking the attractions.

These are a few good guided tours of Rome that go to all the most famous attractions:

things to do in Rome in 3 days

Consider joining a tour or two to make the most of your time in Rome

Using A 72 Hours Roma Pass 

My post “The Best Roma Pass Options And How To Make The Most Of It” provides a full overview of what the Roma Pass is and how you can make the most of it.

In general, a Roma Pass is worth it if you have 3 days in Rome, since that’s its maximum duration and you can make the most of it by visiting all the many attractions and get discount for others, and you can even access public transportation and, in some cases, have a one way transfer to the airport.

These are some good 72 hours Roma Pass options. Whichever one you pick, make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions:

  • Omnia Card for Rome and Vatican City: there is a 24 hours and a 72 hours version of this pass. It includes 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. However, it doesn’t include tickets to the Colosseum.
  • Visit Pass Rome Gold – with this pass you get fast track access to a variety of sites including the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums; privileged access to St. Peter’s Basilica and Castel Sant’Angelo; skip the line tickets to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hills. You’ll also get an app to help you  draft an itinerary and an audio-guide for the Roman Forum and Palatine. It includes a public transportation pass.
  • Visit Pass Rome Platinum –  a more expensive option than the one above, because you get a live guide for  St. Peter’s Basilica.
  • Omnia Vatican and Rome card – possibly the most expensive option, but keep in mind it really includes everything – skip the line tickets to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, St. John Lateran Basilica and to one attraction among the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, Galleria Borghese and Castel Sant’Angelo. You also have a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket valid for 72 hours.
  • Best of Rome all access pass – a pass that gives you 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 can’t say if transportation is included – but it’s cheaper than the previous two so a good option if you’re going to walk anyways.

One thing to consider is that even when you have the Roma Pass you will have to book your entry to sites such as the Colosseum and the Borghese Gallery in advance. All in all, you may be better off booking individual skip the line tours.

These are the best tours that include skip the line access:

Colosseum and Roman Forum:

Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica:

When to visit Rome

Any time is good to visit Rome. Personally, I find it has something special in October: the days are still nice and long-ish, the temperatures mild, and sites are a bit less crowded. If you are trying to squeeze in as much as possible, try to go in the late spring and early summer months, when sites are open a bit longer and even days are longer.

I’d recommend avoiding August. It’s when Italians go on holidays, so the city really empties out of locals and all you’ll see is lines of tourists everywhere.

3 days in Rome

Such a wonderful city!

How to get to Rome

Rome has two airports – Fiumicino, for intercontinental flights and all major airlines; and Ciampino, for flights to Italy and Europe, and a major budget airline hub. Both airports are well connected to the city via cabs, buses and (in the case of Fiumicino) trains.

The easiest way to get from Ciampino to Rome city center is by taxi or bus. Various companies depart regularly – Terravision is probably the most reliable one. You can book Terravision bus tickets here.

There are more options to travel from Fiumicino Airport to Rome. The cheapest way is the express train, which runs every 15 minutes (or every 30 minutes late at night). You can buy tickets and check the timetable online. Remember to validate your ticket at one of the many machines scattered around the station before getting on the train – if you don’t do so, you may be subject to a fine!

Other options include taxis, which have a €48 flat rate, or a private transfer, either shared or private.

These are some good transfers options

For more information, check out my post How To Get From Fiumicino Airport To Rome City Center.”

Rome is well connected by train to the rest of Italy, and it has many train stations. Fast trains usually depart from Roma Termini station. You can buy tickets and check the train timetable here. 

How to move around Rome

Uber doesn’t really work in Italy – so if you want to use taxis, you are better off downloading apps such as MyTaxi.

Unless you are covering really long distances, the best way to get around Rome is on foot, and the itinerary I have drafted for your 3 days in Rome is meant to maximize the amount of things you can see in an area, so as to avoid the use of transportation as much as possible.

Having said so, despite the many complaints of the locals, public transportation in Rome is quite efficient and you can pick between a multitude of buses and two metro lines (a third one is still being built). If you travel by bus you have to validate your ticket as soon as you get on or you may be subject to a fine.

TIP: I recommend not riding a horse pulled carriage. With the traffic and noise in Rome, you wouldn’t want to contribute to stressing out these poor animals!

Check out my postThe Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler.”

Luggage Storage in Rome

If for some reason you have to check out of your hotel early in the morning but your flight or train is only in the evening, you can count on several luggage storage services scattered around town. Check out this one or this one. Both have shops around town, but depending on your next stop you may want to leave your stuff in storage at Termini train station.

Other useful tips 

Mind the dress code

This may be the most useful tip you get. If you aren’t dressed appropriately, you may be denied entry to certain sites. Modest is the way to go – keep your knees, shoulders and chest covered and you won’t have an issue. I know that in the summer months you may be tempted to escape the heat by wearing shorts and a tank top, but just don’t.

Get a data plan for your smartphone

Make sure that your smartphone has enough data and a plan that allows you to navigate the internet if needed, so that you can follow the map in this itinerary. Make sure you can consult Google Maps, and in case download maps you can use offline.

Get a guide book

I advise to bring along a good guide book with plenty of information about the places to visit in Rome in 3 days, as well as some good maps to find your whereabouts.

These are some good guide books:

Stay hydrated 

If you visit Rome in the summer months, the heat may well be overwhelming and you will easily get dehydrated. Make sure to carry a bottle of water with you, and refill it on the go. Tap water is safe to drink in Rome and you’ll find many fountains across town where you can refill your bottle. Keep in mind that in most restaurants, when asking for “acqua” you’ll be served bottled water.

Mind the scams 

Big, touristy cities are fun to explore, but it’s not uncommon for tourists to become the preferred target for scams. While locals are friendly, beware of overly friendly men, keep your stuff with you at all times to avoid pickpockets, don’t talk to people who offer unwanted help at places like the train station (and by all means do not surrender your train ticket), don’t ever put your hands on things that are offered to you – whether a rose or a bracelet (a polite but firm no is a must, but oftentimes ignoring is all it takes).

Get a good travel insurance

No matter how long you plan to spend in Rome, don’t forget to purchase a good travel insurance. Check out my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.” Get your travel insurance here.

Further readings about Rome

Make sure to check out my other itinerary posts:

Are you planning an extra day in Rome? If you want to get out of town, make sure to read my post “20 Great Day Trips From Rome.”

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Find out the things to do in Rome in 3 days - via @clautavani

 

 

 

The Perfect Itinerary To See Rome In A Day

The Perfect Itinerary To See Rome In A Day

Is it possible to see Rome in a day? Well, it is not ideal, really. But it can be done.

I have recently come across a post in a Facebook group, where someone was asking information on the best things to see and do in Rome in a day. Lots of people suggested to give it more time: the Italian capital deserves to be explored at a slow place; and she’d miss out on it a lot if she rushed through it.

But let’s face it: not all of us have weeks off from work to travel. Many people from the United States get a mere two weeks in a year, and they have to make the most of it. If they visit Italy, they will sure enough squeeze in as many places to visit as possible. Others will only happen to be in Rome on a long layover while on their way elsewhere.

The good news, however, is that although it will be a bit rushed, you can still enjoy Rome in a day.

In this post, I will share a carefully crafted itinerary that will allow you to see Rome in one day, and share some useful tips on how to skip the lines at the most famous attractions, save a bit of money here and there, and make the most of your time in the Eternal City.

Make sure to read my post 30 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome.” 

Continue reading to discover my one day in Rome itinerary.

Rome in a day

A bit rushed, but it’s possible to see Rome in a day

Map Of Your Rome Itinerary

To get a better idea of the locations of the places you can see in Rome in a day, I thought I’d share the map with you. You can also see it by clicking here. The map will give you walking distances (km and time) from one place to the other, and by enlarging it you’ll be able to see other interesting things nearby – attractions, places to stop for a drink or a quick bite. You can definitely adjust it to fit your travel needs and interests too.

Guided Tours Of Rome

The itinerary I have drafted for your one day in Rome is completely doable independently, but you may also want to consider joining a guided tour of Rome, so that you have literally zero to worry about (other than actually booking the tour beforehand).

These are a few good guided tours of Rome that go to all the most famous attractions:

Now, without any further ado, let me tell you all about the places you can visit in Rome in a day.

12 Places To Visit In Rome In A Day 

Let me first start with an important tip: if you really want to visit Rome in a day it is absolutely vital that you book all entries to major tourist attractions in advance, or else you’ll end up being stuck in line and will end up seeing very little.

For each of the attractions mentioned in this itinerary and whenever necessary, I will share tips and links on how to book skip the line tickets.

Follow my itinerary and tips, and your day will hopefully be a smooth and enjoyable one. 

The starting point of this itinerary is the assumption that you have 24 hours in Rome (which means at least 12 hours to walk around town) and that you can start your day very early. I have picked the very best of Rome – those places in the historic center of Rome that you’d regret not seeing especially if it is your first time in the city. However, you can adjust it to your interests and needs.

It’s a packed itinerary: you’ll have to head out as early as 6:45 – 7:00 AM, and probably drink a couple of espresso on the go to fuel up.

I have decided to recommend visiting the Vatican first and the Colosseum last because you can get an early entrance to the Vatican and a late tour of the Colosseum (ie a night tour), which means that you can really maximize your time in the city.

I recommend walking everywhere, so that on the way from one place to the other you actually get to see a few more places. I also recommend having a quick lunch on the go – have a huge gelato, or even better try the very local pizza al taglio, which is quick, easy to eat while walking, budget friendly and just delicious.

If you want to follow all of this itinerary, you’ll have to keep good timing and walk a lot. If you have less than 24 hours in Rome, you can just skip the places that you are less interested in.

Rome in a day

You can’t miss the Vatican even if you only have one day in Rome

The Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica

Your day should start at the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Although they officially open to the public at 9:00 AM (which is later than the 7:00 AM entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica), with lines forming as early as 7:30 AM, you can get an early access Vatican tour which includes a dedicated entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica (it can’t be done the other way around).

This is a major time saver, as you won’t have to go out of the Museums and walk all the way around to get to Piazza San Pietro to access the Basilica (it’s a 1 km walk). You’ll just breeze through a beautiful dedicated entrance and find yourself in the stunning Basilica.

An early access Vatican tour will provide you with a guide that will take you around and share all the most relevant facts about the Sistine Chapel and the museum, pointing out the absolute highlights of the collection. Another benefit of an extra early tour is that you’ll be able to enjoy the place when it is still virtually empty. At the end of the tour, you’ll be taken to the dedicated entrance to make your way to St. Peter’s Basilica.

These are the best early access tours of the Vatican:

A few facts about the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica

The Vatican Museums are huge, with a whopping 54 chambers and a lot of artwork on display. To me, however, the Sistine Chapel really steals the show. This is where you’ll be able to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece – The Last Judgement – which he painted over many years and which is considered one of Renaissance’s greatest works.

For more facts about the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel, read my post How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line.”

St. Peter’s Basilica is the most important church for Catholics. Built by Renaissance most prominent artists such as Michelangelo, Bernini and Bramante, this is the largest church in the world and where the tomb of St. Peter is thought to be. The church consists of 11 chapels, 45 altars and a multitude of mosaics. Inside you’ll find Michelangelo’s Pietà, Bernini’s Baldacchino, as well as the Chair of St. Peter.

Find out more about St. Peter’s Basilica in my post How To Get St. Peter’s Basilica Tickets And Skip The Line.”

TIP: Make sure to be appropriately dressed to visit the Vatican. Modest clothing is required: cover your shoulders and wear either long pants or a long skirt or dress.

TIP: Remember that no photos are allowed inside the Sistine Chapel. It’s not uncommon for tourists that don’t respect this rule to be escorted out by the security guards.

One day in Rome

If you only can spend 24 hours in Rome, you probably won’t have time to visit Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant’Angelo

You can see Castel Sant’Angelo, one of the most famous attractions in the city, as you make your way to the Spanish Steps. From St. Peter’s square you will have to go towards the banks of the Tiber river, and you will walk by Castel Sant’Angelo. This was originally built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian, but it was then used for various purposes – including as a prison. It now is a museum.

You don’t really have time to visit Castel Sant’Angelo if you only have one day in Rome, but it’s definitely worth admiring it from the outside.

However, if you have a bit more time (ie a day and a half) you may consider going in. I recommend getting a skip the line ticket in order to maximize your time. These are a few good options:

The Spanish Steps

The next stop during your one day in Rome will be the Spanish Steps.

This is one of my favorite places in Rome. I have great memories of visiting with my dad, who took photos of me as I relaxed by the fountain, trying to give my blistered feet a break. It was such a long time ago that all I had was one of those fun disposable cameras with a film that had to be developed.

The 185 Spanish Steps go all the way to the beautiful Trinità dei Monti church. They were built in the 18th century in what now is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Rome. The stairs face Via Condotti – one of the most famous shopping streets in the world, with expensive designers’ boutiques.

Rome itinerary

A quick stop by Trevi Fountain is a must

Trevi Fountain

Even if you just spend one day in Rome, you shouldn’t skip Trevi Fountain – especially since it is very close to the Spanish Steps. The fountain went through some major clean up and renovation works in the last few years, but it’s been finally brought back to its original splendor. 

Chances are that by the time you make it there it will be quite crowded – so forget about a romantic photo with nobody else in the background. Yet, it’s a gorgeous place and even if only for a few minutes you should definitely go.

TIP: Don’t even begin to think about jumping in Trevi Fountain (or any of the fountains in Rome). Jumping in fountains or even putting your feet in them is forbidden in Rome, and if you get caught up you’ll have to pay a hefty fine.

Rome in a day

The Pantheon is one of the most iconic buildings in Rome

The Pantheon

At a mere five minutes from Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon is one of the most famous places to visit in Rome. Originally commissioned by Emperor Hadrian and built in the 126 AD, its Dome is thought to be the best preserved building from antiquity. Inside you will be able to see the tombs of famous Italian artist Raphael and of King Victor Emmanuel II.

Getting inside the Pantheon is free – as it is in any other church in Italy. Although it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome, there usually isn’t much of a line. You should take advantage of it and pop in even just for a few minutes. If you are running on time or have a half hour to spare, you may even consider getting an audio-guide. It’s only €5 euro and it will be a handy thing to get a bit more information. You can get yours here.

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona – probably my favorite square in Rome – is a very short walk from the Pantheon and a nice addition to your Rome in a day itinerary. The square was paved over the 1st century Stadio di Domiziano in the 15th century, and has been hosting one of the many markets of Rome for around 300 years.

In Piazza Navona you’ll find the beautiful Fountain of the Four Rivers, which was designed in 1651 by Bernini, and the Baroque Sant’Agnese church, built in the 17th century.

one day in Rome

Make sure to pet the cats at Largo di Torre Argentina cat sanctuary

Largo di Torre Argentina

This is probably my overall favorite place in Rome, and if you have been following my blog for a while you will find out why I decided to include it in this one day in Rome itinerary as soon as you get there.

Located at just a few minutes walk from Piazza Navona, this is known as the place where Julius Cesar died – although this information is not accurate, as he died on the steps pf the Theater of Pompey, a couple of blocks away.

In Largo di Torre Argentina you’ll find the ruins of Rome’s oldest temples, as well as the oldest cat sanctuary in Rome. This is what actually attracted me the first time I visited. I kept seeing cats in this beautiful ruins, so many of them that as I followed them I eventually got to the entrance of the site and discovered a small shelter where they live, and a tiny shop that sells gadgets to raise funds for their care.

If you are as much of a cat lover as I am, you may want to stop for a few minutes to visit the sanctuary, pet the cats and make a donation for their care (you can also do it online on the official website of Largo di Torre Argentina cat sanctuary). If you aren’t, feel free to skip a visit and admire the temples as you continue walking to your next stop.

Rome itinerary

Piazza Venezia can be easily added to this Rome itinerary

Piazza Venezia

On your way to the Roman Forum from Largo di Torre Argentina, you will walk by Piazza Venezia. This is where you’ll see 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 such a central part of Rome that it’s where locals go to celebrate victories during sport championships. I happened to be there in the summer 2006, when Italy won the world’s football cup, and it was crazy (as well as a lot of fun).

Rome in one day

The Roman Forum is a nice addition to your one day in Rome

The Roman Forum

On your way to the Colosseum, you will walk by the Roman Forum. If you have time to visit both, explore the Roman Forum first. Both of them close between 4:30 and 7:00 PM – depending on the season, allowing the last visitors in one hour before closing time.

If you follow this itinerary to visit Rome in a day dutifully, you should be at the Roman Forum early enough to visit both sites with no major issues. The good news is that, if you can foresee running late and taking more time than expected, or if you are staying in Rome overnight, you can access the Colosseum at night (but only with a pre-purchased ticket). If on the other hand you are pressed for time or are not interested in the Roman Forum, you may just skip it and head straight to the Colosseum.

Another thing to consider is that your ticket to the Roman Forum will give you access to the Colosseum (and allow you to skip the line at the ticket box so that you’ll just have to go through security). The combined ticket costs €12 euro.

As the Roman Forum is a very large site, I recommend doing a guided tour to make the most of it. I suggest to spend around 90 minutes there before heading to the Colosseum.

These are some of the best guided tours of the Roman Forum:

A few facts about the Roman Forum

The Roman Forum used to be the heart of Rome when this was a Republic. It was a very busy place, at the same time being a market with food stalls, having plenty of temples but also brothels, and being the House of the Senate. In later times, the food stalls were substituted and a proper mall was created. At the time of the Roman Empire, the Forum became a ceremonial center.

Rome in a day

You have to visit the Colosseum – even if you only have one day in Rome

The Colosseum

The last stop – and possibly the cherry on the cake – of your itinerary to see Rome in a day will be the Colosseum.

This is the most iconic place in the city, and possibly the most visited one. An amazing sight during the day, it’s even more beautiful at night, when it’s glowing with all the lights. If you watch carefully, depending on the route followed by your flight (and especially if you land in Rome Ciampino Airport) you can even see it from the plane.

In other words: you just can’t miss it!

The bad news is that there often are endless lines to enter the Colosseum. I have already suggested to visit the Roman Forum first as a way to skip the line at the ticket office at the Colosseum (you’ll just have to go through security), since you can get your ticket there.

TIP: Considering that the Colosseum is often sold out, you are better off booking a guided tour for a specific day and time – and in fact, do so well in advance as tickets are often sold out.

These are the best guided group tours with skip the line tickets to the Colosseum:

Make sure to read my post Five Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines.”

Taking a night tour of the Colosseum

Another thing you may want to consider – if you have a bit more time and are spending the night in Rome – is a night tour of the Colosseum. Night time tours of the Colosseum usually start at 9:30 pm and last around 2 and a half hours.

TIP: If you are considering doing a night tour, I suggest going for dinner beforehand and heading back to the Colosseum in time for the experience.

Only a few night tours are sold, so this would be a very intimate experience and a nice way to end your one day in Rome. Night tours give access to the main areas of the Colosseum, the first and second ring, the arena floor and the undergrounds (not all guided tours allow this, so take it as an added bonus).

Night-time tickets to the Colosseum cost around €87 per person. It is quite expensive, but the intimacy, the access to areas which are otherwise restricted, and the overall experience make it worth it.

These are some excellent night tours of the Colosseum:

Rome itinerary

Spanish Steps – one of the most beautiful squares in Rome

Practical Tips For Your Trip To Rome

Where to stay in Rome

This itinerary can be done if you arrive in Rome very early in the morning (ie at 7:00 AM) and leave again late in the evening (ie at 11:00 PM or so).

Depending on how your trip is planned, you may get to spend 24 or 36 full hours (that’s one or even two nights) in Rome. If that is the case, I suggest booking a good hotel in a very central location from where you will be able to move around easily. I’d also suggest to request a very early breakfast (perhaps at an additional price), so that if you arrive in Rome in the late evening you can have a very early start to explore Rome the day after.

Based on this itinerary, I suggest to stay in Ottaviano as it’s only a 7 minutes walk to the Vatican Museums, the starting point of your one day in Rome.

These are some excellent hotels in the area of Ottaviano:

Stay tuned as I will be writing a full guide on where to stay in Rome.

Using A 24 Hours Roma Pass

I have explained the benefits of getting a Roma Pass in my post “The Best Roma Pass Options And How To Make The Most Of It.” 

In general, a Roma Pass is only really worth it if you are in Rome for at least two or three days (that’s how long most Roma Passes are valid for) and can make the most of it by visiting all the included attractions and getting discounted tickets on other ones, and by regularly using public transportation.

However, there are some 24 hours Rome City Pass options you may want to consider – but make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions before you purchase.

These are some good Roma Pass options if you only have one day in Rome:

  • Metro Card Rome: this is a very basic pass which is only really suitable if you are just interested in sightseeing without actually getting inside in any of the places. You get a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket and a public transportation pass for 24 hours, as well an audio-guide while on the bus.
  • Omnia Card for Rome and Vatican City: definitely better than the above option, there is a 24 hours and a 72 hours pass option with which you can get a skip the line ticket to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, preferred access and an audio-guide for St. Peter’s Basilica, access to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and the Mamertine Prison. The only downside is that it doesn’t include tickets to the Colosseum.
  • Best of Rome: tickets to the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican: probably the best pass option as it includes skip the line tickets to all the unmissable attractions, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine. You also get a free audio-guide to get information about the various places you are visiting.
  • Rome tourist card (including Sistine Chapel): with this card you get skip the line entrances to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums and a 20% discount on tickets to the Colosseum. You also have a one day hop-on-hop-off bus ticket and a one way ticket to Fiumicino or Ciampino airport.

All in all, I believe that If you are planning one day in Rome, you may be better off getting individual skip the line tickets for the  individual attractions you want to visit. Once again let me stress that it is vital that you book your entry in advance, especially if you only have a day to spend in the city.

These are the best skip the line options:

Colosseum and Roman Forum:

Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica:

How to get to Rome

There are two airports in Rome – Fiumicino, where all intercontinental flights and all major airlines land; and Ciampino, which is a budget airlines hub. Both airports are well connected to the city.

The easiest way to get from Ciampino to Rome city center is by either taxi or bus. Several companies depart regularly. You can book your bus ticket here.

If you are landing in Fiumicino, you will have more options to get to the center of Rome. The best and most budget friendly option is the express train, which runs every 15 minutes (or every 30 minutes late at night). You can buy tickets and check the timetable online. 

Other good options include a taxi, which has a flat rate of €48, or a private transfer, either shared or private.

These are some good private transfers options

For more information, check out my post How To Get From Fiumicino Airport To Rome City Center.”

Rome in a day

Walking around Rome you’ll get incredible views like this one

How to move around Rome

Despite the many complaints of the locals, public transportation in Rome is quite efficient and you can choose among a multitude of buses and two metro lines (a third one is still being built, but being the city Rome excavations regularly imply finding archeological remains with subsequent delays).

The metro is probably the best way to move around if you want to make use of public transport, as it avoids the terrible traffic. However, make sure to check that the metro station you need to get off at is actually open – Ottaviano and Piazza di Spagna stations were closed until recently!

Having said so, if you are only spending one day in town and want to follow the Rome itinerary I have drafted for you, my recommendation is to walk. The city is easy to move around and this way you’ll easily reach all the attractions I recommend visiting.

TIP: Do not ride horse pulled carriages. Horses are stressed by the noise and traffic in Rome, and you shouldn’t contribute to that!

Check out my postThe Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler.”

Luggage Storage in Rome

The last thing you want when you are rushing from one place to the other is carrying a bulky bag. Besides, most attractions in Rome won’t let you get in with one – and you’ll waste heaps of time at the cloak room.

If you are staying in Rome overnight, you won’t have the issue of where to store your luggage while you go explore the city – you can leave it in your room if you are still staying there; and if not hotels are usually happy to keep your stuff safe for a day.

Otherwise, you may need to use a luggage storage servicecheck out this one or this one. Both have shops around town, but you’re probably better off leaving your stuff in storage right by Termini station as that’s likely going to be where you’ll take the train back to the airport.

Other useful tips 

Get a guide book

Since you are planning to visit Rome in a day, I suggest to bring along a good guide book with plenty of information about the places you will be visiting, as well as some good maps that you can use to swiftly find your whereabouts.

These are some good guide books you may want to purchase:

Get a data plan for your smartphone

Make sure that your smartphone has a data plan that allows you to get online if necessary. You will especially need this to consult Google Maps to know which direction to take while walking from one attraction to the other.

Mind the dress code

This is especially relevant if you are traveling in the summer months, when you may be tempted to walk around in shorts and a tank top. Remember that places like St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and other churches in Rome (in fact, in Italy) have a strict dress code and you will have to cover your legs, chest and shoulders to get in.

Get a good travel insurance

No matter how long you plan to spend in Rome, I suggest getting a good travel insurance. Check out my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.” Get your travel insurance here.

Further readings about Rome

Make sure to also check out my posts:

 

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Discover what to see and do in Rome in a day - via @clautavani

Discover what to see in Rome in a day - via @clautavani

 

 

How To Make The Most Of One Week In Japan

How To Make The Most Of One Week In Japan

To some travelers, a one week Japan itinerary is a fool’s errand. The country is simply too rich in destinations (and too large, in spite of how it may look on a map) to see any of it in a week, even if you stick to one or two cities.

I offer a different perspective, having taken many a fulfilling short trip to Japan. Several facts about Japan make such trips not only feasible but ideal, from the lightning-fast Shinkansen bullet train, to the country’s many sub-regions and secondary islands. If you have only a short time for your holidays, spending one week in Japan is completely doable – and you can still make the most of it.

Whether you narrow your focus to specific or unique Japan destinations, or simply pack your schedule fuller than a sushi roll, you can definitely visit Japan in just the week you have at your disposal. Here are some ideas as to how.

Why You Can Spend Just One Week In Japan

Although a one week Japan itinerary makes no sense for many travelers, it’s a perfect fit for others. The most obvious reason for this is if you simply lack the annual leave to spend two weeks, three weeks or even a month in Japan, even though you might prefer doing so.

The next main reason relates to the question of where to go in Japan. Obviously, if you want your trip to Japan to be comprehensive or even all-encompassing, a week is just not enough time. However, if you’re interested in a specific experience (climbing Mt. Fuji or skiing in Niseko, for example) or want to hone in on just one or two destinations, you can make a one week in Japan break work.

One week in Japan

Your one week in Japan should probably start in Tokyo

One Week In Japan Itinerary Options

Japan 101

How many days in Tokyo do you want to spend? That’s the first question you need to answer if you want to take a one-week trip to Japan that hits the major destinations. The longer you devote to the capital, the less time you have to explore elsewhere.

To be sure, you’ll also need to carefully curate your list things to do in Kyoto, decide whether or not you want to visit Osaka and see Hiroshima as quickly as possible. In general, assuming you have seven full nights on the ground in Japan, I’d say to spend the first two in Tokyo, the second two in Kyoto and/or Osaka, one in Hiroshima and the last back in Tokyo, so you can easily catch your flight back home.

Japan itinerary

Osaka is one of the most interesting places to visit in Japan

Japan’s other islands

The main island of Honshu is where most travelers focus their energy, but Japan’s other main islands are incredible places to visit. They’re smaller too, so whether you make a circle around Kyushu or plan a Hokkaido summer self-drive itinerary, it’s conceivable that you could take a fulfilling week-long trip to Japan by focusing on one of them.

Find out what you need for your road trips in this post.

A word of caution, however, is that you shouldn’t be fooled by the seemingly small size of these islands. There are enough things to do in Shikoku, for example, to occupy two weeks or even longer. If your week in Japan encompasses just one island, make sure to narrow your focus as much as possible to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

one week in Japan

Have you thought about visiting Japan in the winter?

Japan off the beaten path

Another strategy would be to abandon “popular” destinations all together, and instead focus on discovering authentic Japan. One great place to do this is the Tohoku region, which encompasses the northern portion of Honshu island, including destinations like the city of Sendai, Mt. Zao and its famous “Snow Monsters” and Akita prefecture’s Tsuru no Yo, one of the most acclaimed onsen hot springs in all of Japan.

If you truly want to discover Japan off the beaten path, you could visit San’in, which is the northern half of Chugoku, the westernmost region of Honshu. Home to massive Shinto shrines, sparsely populated islands, forlorn beaches and even a desert, San’in is the least touristic place in Japan, though I doubt that will be the case for long.

Looking for more places to visit off the beaten path? Read the postVisiting Japan Off The Beaten Path: The Gorgeous Shikoku.”

Japan itinerary

The beautiful colors of autumn in Kyoto

Longer Trips To Japan

If a one week Japan itinerary still doesn’t sound ideal to you after the incredible trips I’ve described, then perhaps you’re considering extending your stay. Maybe the thought of waking up at dawn each day to catch a train has triggered your memory—you actually do have a few more days off you can take in November!

Of course, the issue of how many days you should be spending in Japan raises a whole other set of questions. In general, I’d say that about three weeks is the ideal amount of time to spend in Japan, especially if it’s your first trip. When in doubt, however, allow the parameters of your life (namely, time and money) to guide your decision-making process. If you have the time and money, go for a longer trip – travel slower, extend your stay, take in the culture, the people, the landscape and even the food.

one week in Japan

The gorgeous lavender fields of Hokkaido

When To Visit Japan

The best time to visit Japan is somewhat subjective, though there are a couple of obvious answers. If you only have a short time in Japan, I might actually recommend you avoid some specific seasons — which is to say, spring when sakura are blooming and at the peak of autumn colors, aka koyo.

Crowds from these seasonal spectacles will force you to move slower through the country; and prices will be so high you could spend twice as long in Japan during another time of year (specifically May, which is probably my favorite single month to visit).

Of course, there’s no other experience like cherry blossom season in Japan. Assuming you time your trip just right (and be warned: the blossoms are fickle and there is no guarantee you will see them!), you could opt to spend a week in Japan in just one destination, enjoying hanami (cherry blossom viewing) alongside locals every day. Ditto for fall colors, which peak in most parts of Japan in late November or early December.

Japan itinerary

Yes – you can make the most of one week in Japan

The Bottom Line

Is a one week Japan itinerary realistic and would it be a good option for you? That really depends on how you feel, and on what your goals in visiting Japan are. If you don’t mind packing a comprehensive itinerary to the gills, or focusing on a specific range of destinations or experiences, you can absolutely make a week in Japan work. On the other hand, if your Japan trip is more ambitious or even all-encompassing, you’ll want to try and spend as long in the country as you can.

This post has been written by Robert Schrader . He has been to Japan nearly two dozen times over the past decade, having explored all the major regions of the country during all four seasons. He created Japan Starts Here in 2018 as a place where he could share his knowledge, succinctly and with flair, illustrated with beautiful images and personal anecdotes. Follow Japan Starts Here on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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