A Fantastic Itinerary For 4 Days In Rome

A Fantastic Itinerary For 4 Days In Rome

If you have 4 days in Rome, you really will be able to see a lot of the city. Provided you are a fast paced visitor and that you carefully plan in advance, with a detailed day to day itinerary and booking the entrances to the various attractions, you will be able to go through all the main tourist attractions, and you’ll even manage to explore some of the ones that – despite interesting – are often skipped due to lack of time.

I know Rome quite well – though mind you, the city is so big that one is never really quite done exploring. Anyways: I have been there many times, and I have even lived there for a while. So, I thought I’d take the stress out of having to plan your Rome in 4 days itinerary. All you’ll have to do is book your flights, accommodation and tickets for the attractions that require advanced bookings.

In this post, I will tell you what you can see and do if you have 4 days in Rome, and share some insights on how to skip the lines at the most popular attractions, save a buck or two, and overall enjoy your time in the Eternal City.

Make sure to read my post 27 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome.”

Continue reading to discover all the things to do in Rome in 4 days.

A Day By Day Itinerary To Spend 4 Days In Rome

One thing I have to point out before anything else is that if you really want to make the most of your 4 days in Rome, you need to book entries to the most popular tourist attractions. Some of them only allow a capped number of visitors for strict time periods, thus getting sold out fast. If you don’t book these attractions in advance, you may end up being stuck with no way of getting in. Or you may actually get in, but only after a very long line at the ticket counter.

Don’t worry tough: I will tell you whenever you should be making reservations for the attractions mentioned in this itinerary to see Rome in 4 days. And if you follow my tips and this itinerary, you’ll have a memorable time.

For this itinerary, I will just assume that you have a minimum of 4 full days in Rome (which means you’re planning on sleeping there a total of 5 nights).

If you are coming from the other side of the world, you probably won’t have much energy to explore the city even if your flight lands in the morning – besides, keep in mind that it will take you at least two full hours (if not more) to clear customs, pick up your luggage, find your way to the city and finally make it to your hotel.

TIP: For your first day in town, the one when you literally just get there, I recommend taking it easy and just explore the immediate surroundings, and perhaps doing a guided food tour in the evening, after you have rested a bit. This food tour is an excellent option as it starts at 5:15 pm. You can book it here.

Curious to find out more about the best street food in Rome? Make sure to read this article.

TIP: I recommend to start your day of exploration very early, to avoid the large crowds and, if you are traveling in the summer, the peak heat hours.

The itinerary I have drafted that is seriously packed, but it is logic in the sense that I recommend  visiting attractions that are at an easy walking distance one from the other, so that you can minimize the time spent on public transportation.  

TIP: Have lunch on the go to maximize the amount of time left for exploring. Go for street food such as pizza al taglio, supplì al telefono or some amazing gelato and then have a proper sit down meal at a restaurant in the evening.

These are the best restaurants in Rome.

TIP: Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll have to do a lot of walking.

Finally, let’s get to the fun bits. Continue reading to discover my suggested itinerary for 4 days in Rome.

4 days in Rome

The Colosseum is the obvious starting point when visiting Rome

Day 1: Ancient Rome

This 4 day Rome itinerary starts with what I think are the simply unmissable attractions in Rome – those you’d regret not seeing. Your starting point is the Colosseum. After visiting that, you’ll continue exploring Ancient Rome by visiting the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill and Circus Maximus, and the Baths of Caracalla. You will then continue towards the Mouth of Truth. You’ll have a stop at the Orange Garden for some of the most breathtaking views of Rome. You’ll finish off with Piramide and Testaccio.

Please note that you can completely invert this itinerary leaving the Colosseum as the last place to visit. In that case, you’ll have to opt for a night tour of the Colosseum. More about that below.

Map of day one Rome itinerary

For a better idea of the walking itinerary for day one, I thought I’d link to the map so you can see how far each place is from the other. If you enlarge the map you can even see all the places where you can stop for a drink or a bite. You can see the map by clicking here. Feel free to adjust it to your interests and needs and to remove the places you are not interested in.

The Colosseum

Close your eyes and think about Rome. What’s the first image that comes to your mind? I bet it is the Colosseum. This is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world; a beautiful sight during the day and a breathtaking one at night, when it is beautifully illuminated. There’s no other way around it: you can’t go to Rome and skip the Colosseum.

The bad news is that there usually are very long lines to get tickets to enter the Colosseum.

In my post Five Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines” I detail all the ways you have to skip the line at the Colosseum. Make sure to read it, as it will give you some tips on how to get in – and you can even get money saving tips.

To make a long story short, however, let me just say that the only way to skip the line at the Colosseum is by getting skip the line tickets online. You’ll still have to go through security, but that line doesn’t even compare to the one at the ticket counter.

TIP: During high season the Colosseum gets easily sold out. If you are traveling during the peak months, buy your tickets well in advance. If you buy tickets on the website of the Colosseum you will have to go to a separate website to specify the date and time you intend to visit.

TIP: You may want to invest in a guided tour of the Colosseum via a third party site. This way, you can specify the day and time of the tour and they will be doing any subsequent arrangements.

These are some good group tour that include skip the line tickets to the Colosseum:

TIP: Be sure to read the full description of the tour and all the inclusions and exclusions. Some tours only include the main floor, others go to the underground and the second ring as well.

4 days Rome itinerary

Sunset over the Colosseum, as seen from the Arch of Constantine

Visiting the Colosseum at night 

If you would like a more intimate experience, you can go on a guided night tour of the Colosseum. Night tours usually start at 9:30 pm and last around 2 and a half hours. In this case I recommend starting your day in Testaccio and working your way towards the Colosseum. In fact, this option may allow you a bit more time to explore the other attractions.

TIP: I recommend having dinner before your night tour of the Colosseum.

Night tours of the Colosseum include access to the underground, the first and second ring, and the arena floor – they are generally more comprehensive than other tours. They cost around €87 per person, thus being more expensive than a regular tour. If you ask me, it is totally worth paying that extra money!.

These are some good night tours of the Colosseum:

The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Circus Maximus

The same ticket that gives you access to the Colosseum can be used to visit the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. This is a rather big site, so you may want to do a guided tour to maximize your time and make the most of it. In fact, most tours that go to the Colosseum include a visit of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

These are some of the best guided tours that combine a visit of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum:

A few facts about the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill and Circus Maximus

The Roman Forum is one of the most interesting archeological sites in Rome. At the time of the Republic, it was a place thriving with life and the heart of the city. It was at the same time a market, a place of worship with lots of temples, the location of the House of the Senate and of brothels. During the time of the Roman Empire, it was used as a ceremonial center.

According to legend, the Palatine Hill is where the twins Romolo and Remo were raised by the wolf, and where Romolo killed his brother and then founded Rome. This is the area where the emperors and aristocrats of Rome used to live.

Circus Maximus is an ancient chariot racing stadium and entertainment venue located between the Palatine and the Aventine Hill. It is now a large urban park that is often used for concerts and other popular events.

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum is a must see site

Baths of Caracalla

Very close to the Colosseum you will find the Baths of Caracalla, an enormous bathing complex where a whopping 1600 persons could all bathe at the same time. Contrary to many other sites in Rome, the Baths of Caracalla do show the passing of time. They still remain a very interesting site to explore, and since they don’t get nearly as many other tourists as other places in Rome, they may be a good place to cool down after the crowds of the Colosseum and a nice addition to this 4 day Rome itinerary.

Practical information: Admission to the Baths of Caracalla costs €11. You can buy your ticket in advance here. The tour with the audio guide costs €17 and lasts 1.5 hours. You can get it here.

Mouth of Truth

La Bocca della Verità, or Mouth of Truth in English, is located by the entrance of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, close to the Baths of Caracalla and the Colosseum. It’s a large marble mask that was placed by the side of the church in 1632 (though the actual mask dates back to the 1st century, when it was actually a manhole).

A Medieval legend says that the mouth bites off the hand of liars. It’s a fun place to visit for a photo.

INTERESTING FACT: The Mouth of Truth became internationally famous with the movie Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.

Rome in 4 days

A breathtaking view of Rome

Orange Garden

After you leave the Mouth of Truth, head to the Giardino degli Aranci, or Orange Garden. This is one of the most unique places in Rome, from where you will get incredible views of the city and especially of St. Peter’s Basilica. The gardens were designed in 1932 by Raffaele de Vico and nowadays they are among the most pleasant parks in Rome.

Pyramid of Caius Cestius

At just 15 minutes from the Orange Garden and on the way to Testaccio there’s Piramide, or Caius Cestius Pyramid. Built around 12 BC, this used to be the tomb of a prominent public figure. Though the tomb has been ransacked, the fact that it’s built within the Aurelian walls helped its preservation. Sure enough, finding an Egyptian looking pyramid in the center of Rome is a fun thing!

The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome

At just a few minutes from Caius Cestius Pyramid, you’ll find the Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome. The resting place of some notable non-catholics such as poet Percy Shelley and now hosting a large cat sanctuary, the cemetery is the best place to get encompassing views of the pyramid.

Testaccio

The last place you’ll visit on your first full day in Rome is Testaccio. This is one of the most interesting areas of Rome, which can still count on a local atmosphere. Among the spots you shouldn’t miss in Testaccio, there is the market and the main square (Piazza Testaccio). Testaccio is also Rome’s original foodie neighborhood, so definitely a good place to stop for a meal at the end of the day.

TIP: If you are keen on eating in Testaccio, try to book a table at Flavio Al Velavevodetto – one of the best restaurants in town.

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain is a must see, but go early to avoid the crowds

Day 2: The Historic Center of Rome

After an intense first day, you may want to take it a bit easier on your second day in Rome. That’s why your day 2 of your 4 days in Rome is a bit more chilled. You will be walking some, but not nearly as much as on day 1; and you won’t have the stress of making reservations to skip the lines. You can just go at your own pace, stay in whichever place as long as you wish.

Map of day two Rome itinerary

You’ll find a map for this day’s itinerary here. As you will be exploring the heart of Rome, you won’t find a shortage of places where you can stop for a meal or a drink. If you want, you can add the Spanish steps on this itinerary (in which case they should be your starting point) – but keep in mind I suggest visiting them on day 3.

Trevi Fountain

There is little doubt that Trevi Fountain is one of the most iconic attractions in Rome, and it is only obvious to include it in the list of places you should visit in Rome in 4 days.

After some major renovation work in recent years, the fountain has been brought black to its original splendor and it’s an incredible sight.

TIP: Trevi Fountain is an incredibly crowded attraction, so head there as early as possible if you don’t want to find large crowds of tourists.

TIP: Do not even think of jumping in Trevi Fountain, or in any other fountain in Rome. There are cameras and police officers everywhere in town and if you get caught you will get a hefty fine.

Montecitorio

Continuing on, you will pass by Piazza di Montecitorio, the seat of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. You may have seen it on TV news at times. You can stop by for a moment or two to take in the building, planned by Bernini for Ludovico Ludovisi, who was a young cardinal nephew of Pope Gregory XV. It was Carlo Fontana who completed the construction. He added a a bell gable above the main entrance. The building was designed for social and public functions so it serves the purpose of hosting the Chamber of Deputies quite well.

4 days in Rome

The Pantheon is one of the most iconic buildings in Rome

The Pantheon

Between Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona you’ll find the Pantheon, which is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Rome and an absolute must see when you have 4 days in Rome. The building was commissioned by Emperor Hadrian and built in the 126 AD. Its Dome is thought to be the best preserved building from antiquity. Once a temple, the Pantheon became a church – which is why inside you will find the tombs of famous Italian artist Raphael and of King Victor Emmanuel II.

It is free to enter the Pantheon. You may want to opt for an audioguide to take you around (the tour lasts 35 minutes) for just €5 euro. You can get yours here.

If you are curious to know more about the Pantheon, read my post A Complete Guide To The Pantheon.”

Piazza Navona

I think Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful and pleasant squares in Rome. It’s close to the Pantheon and there are bus stops nearby in case you wish to skip other places on this day’s itinerary. The square was paved over what used to be the 1st century Stadio di Domiziano during the 15th century. Nowadays Piazza Navona is home to one of the many markets of Rome. The main point of interest is the Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed in 1651 by Bernini, and the Baroque Sant’Agnese church, which was built in the 17th century.

Campo de’ Fiori

Campo de’ Fiori is located South of Piazza Navona and considered one of the most charming, scenic squares in Rome. The name (which means “field of flowers”) refers to the fact that in Medieval times the area over which the square was built was a meadow. It was paved in 1456, and since the late 19th century it’s been home to a popular market where you’ll find fruits, vegetables and flowers. There also are several bars and cafés.

Rome in 4 days

Did you know that the cats of Rome are famous?

Largo di Torre Argentina

If you are half as much a cat lover as I am, then you have to visit Largo di Torre Argentina during your 4 days in Rome. It’s located between Piazza Navona and Piazza Venezia. It is a beautiful archeological site mistakenly thought to be the place where Julius Cesar died.

In fact, Cesar was murdered a couple of blocks away, at the Theater of Pompey.

Roman history aside, what first caught my attention the first time I stumbled across Largo di Torre Argentina was the cats sleeping undisturbed on top of columns and ruins. Indeed, this place is home to the oldest cat sanctuary in Rome.

You can walk around the site to reach a small entrance where you’ll find a shelter and a tiny shop that sells gadgets in order to raise funds for the care of cats. You can make a donation, by a cool souvenir (ie a Cats of Rome calendar) and play with the cats a bit.

If you prefer to keep things official, you can donate online on the official website of Largo di Torre Argentina cat sanctuary.

The Jewish Ghetto

The Jewish Ghetto of Rome is an excellent place for a lunch stop and a nice area of Rome to explore.

Established by Pope Paul IV five centuries ago, the Ghetto is where all Jews living in Rome were forced to move in. It was surrounded by walls that were built with (forced) contributions of the local Jewish community, and it had doors that were kept locked at night.

Inside the Ghetto, the Jewish community developed its own language and mastered some of the most interesting dishes of Roman cuisine. This is where you should go to try kosher dishes such as carciofi alla giudia – fried artichokes with mint and garlic.

Piazza Venezia

The gorgeous Altare della Patria in Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia

After eating in the Jewish Ghetto, walk back a bit towards Piazza Venezia to admire Trajan’s Column and the massive monument to Vittorio Emanuele II. The latter was built in 1911 to celebrate the first king of unified Italy. Piazza Venezia really is the heart of Rome, where locals gather to celebrate as well as to protest. It’s where the parade of the Festa della Repubblica takes place on 2 June.

Tiber Island

Tiber Island is the only island inside the Tiber River that you’ll find in Rome. It is connected to the city by Ponte Cestio and Ponte Fabricio. It used to be home of the Temple of Aesculapius, which was built in honor of the Greek god of medicine and healing, Aesculapius, by orders of the Senate of Rome during a terrible plague. The temple no longer exists, but in 1584 a hospital (Fatebenefratelli) was built.

As the island is tiny, it won’t take you long to walk around before you move on to the last stop of your day 2 itinerary.

Trastevere 

Trastevere is located on the other side of the Tiber River and it is one of the most charming, lively and interesting areas of Rome. It’s a series of narrow alleys and charming streets, with nice squares where locals and tourists alike gather at night – this is you will find the best nightlife in town, with lots of pubs, wine bars, cafés and restaurants.

It’s the perfect place to end your day of exploration with a drink in hand, unless you want to go on a food tour. In this case, I recommend one that starts in the late afternoon such as this one or this one. If you want to add wine to the equation, book this tour.

4 days Rome itinerary

You can’t skip St. Peter’s Basilica

Day 3: Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo and Galleria Borghese

Day 3 of your 4 days in Rome itinerary will be almost as packed as your first day. You will visit the Vatican, including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Spanish Steps and finish off at Galleria Borghese.

Map of day three Rome itinerary

You can download a map of your day 3 itinerary here.

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

On this day, I recommend heading out no later than 7:00 AM for an early tour of the Vatican. This means you will have plenty of time to explore the 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 and St. Peter’s Basilica Dome at 7:30. Lines to get into the Vatican Museums start forming as early as 7:30 AM.

I think you should get an early access Vatican tour that includes a dedicated entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica.

Alternatively, you can decide to visit St. Peter’s Basilica as soon as it opens and then walk around the square to head to the Vatican Museums.

TIP: The lines at the Vatican Museums are among 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 suggest going on an early guided tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica as it is a huge time saver, not to mention you’ll have the benefit of a guide taking you around sharing interesting facts about the Sistine Chapel and pointing to the best pieces of the Vatican Museums collection. An early tour also means seeing the place when it is still virtually empty. At the end of the tour, you will be guided to St. Peter’s Basilica.

If you opt for an early access tour of the Vatican, you will be done by 11:00 AM at the latest, which means you will have plenty of time to continue exploring the city.

TIP: For incredible views of the Vatican and Rome, make sure to visit the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. Find out more about it and get tips to skip the line in my post A Complete Guide To Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica Dome.”

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 among the largest museums in the world: there are 54 chambers and a very large collection. The real show stealer however is the Sistine Chapel, home of Michelangelo’s masterpiece – The Last Judgement. This is one of Renaissance’s greatest works.

St. Peter’s Basilica is the most important church for Catholics. It was built by artists such as Michelangelo, Bernini and Bramante over a site considered to be the tomb of St. Peter. The church has 11 chapels, 45 altars and an incredible number of mosaics. 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 a requirement to visit the Vatican: cover your shoulders, chest and knees.

TIP: You can take photos inside the basilica, but no photos are allowed inside the Sistine Chapel. If you get caught taking one, you’ll be escorted out of the museums.

places to visit in Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo is another impressive sight

Castel Sant’Angelo

If you have 4 days in Rome, you probably have enough time to visit Castel Sant’Angelo. If you don’t want to go in, you can still walk by as you make your way towards the Tiber River as you continue to the Spanish Steps.

The castle was originally a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian which then became a prison. Nowadays it is a museum.

If you would like to go in, I recommend to buy a skip the line ticket beforehand to save some time. These are some good options:

The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps, or Piazza di Spagna as we call it in Italy, is one of the most famous places to visit in Rome and can’t be missing in a 4 day in Rome itinerary.  The 185 steps that lead to the beautiful Trinità dei Monti church were built in the 18th century and face Via Condotti – one of the most famous shopping streets in Rome. The views from there are lovely. The square is often crowded with tourists but it’s a must see. There is a nearby metro station (Spagna).

Piazza Del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo is located at the bottom of the Pincio (the Pincian Hill) and you will have to walk through it on your way from the Spanish Steps to Villa Borghese. It is one of the largest squares in Rome, which is often used for concerts and large social gatherings. At the center of the square you’ll be able to see the obelisk of Ramesses II from Heliopolis – the second tallest in the city. Take the steps that lead to the gorgeous Pincio Terrace for splendid views of the square (and to go to Borghese Gallery).

Rome in 4 days

Borghese Gallery has a fine art collection

Galleria Borghese 

Taking the steps from Piazza del Popolo to the Pincian Hill you will find a trail that goes through the park and takes you to Galleria Borghese, a museum that you absolutely have to visit if you have 4 days in Rome.

Borghese Gardens are absolutely gorgeous and Borghese Gallery has one of the finest art collections in the world, with paintings and sculptures of artists such as Bernini, Canova, Caravaggio and Titian.

Galleria Borghese has timed entrances and only allows 360 visitors at once. This means that it’s never really crowded. However, if you want to visit at a specific time you have to book in advance. In fact, I recommend booking in advance because it gets sold out in the peak season.

Make sure to arrive at the gallery at least 30 minutes before your visit – keep in mind that it takes up to 30 minutes to walk there from Piazza del Popolo.

For a more complete post about Borghese Gallery, read Seven Smart Ways To Get Galleria Borghese Tickets And Skip The Lines.”

For tickets and tours of Borghese Gallery, consider the following options:

St. John in Lateran

A detail of St. John in the Lateran church

Day 4: Lesser known Rome

On your last day in Rome, I recommend going to places that aren’t as famous as the rest, but just as interesting. You will start with a couple of churches and then move to the Catacombs and the Appian Way, but if churches aren’t your thing you can just skip them. You can even head directly to Garbatella for a walk in one of the nicest neighborhoods of Rome. Finally, if you feel like you want to get out of town completely, skip this itinerary and consider going on a day trip.

For the best day trips from Rome, make sure to read my post 20 Great Day Trips From Rome.”

Map of day four Rome itinerary

The map for your fourth day in Rome can be found here. Once you open it, you will notice that the distances are a bit longer than on previous days, so you may want to a bus or a taxi to move from one place to the other. If you click on the train icon on the map you will get the public transportation options.

San Clemente Basilica

If you enjoy visiting churches, make sure to go to San Clemente Basilica. Not even people who visit Rome regularly go – I only visited a couple of years ago for the first time!

The church was built on a site where Christians used to pray when they still couldn’t practice their religion freely. There are various levels of the church, following a number of excavations that uncovered remains from the 1st century as well as the 4th. Apparently there even is an older level of a building that was destroyed by the fire caused by Nero in 64 AD.

San Clemente is quite close to the Colosseum and small and easy to explore. There are panels explaining everything, but in case you want to join a guided tour, there are some good ones.

Some of these tours also go to the Catacombs:

St. John in the Lateran

I used to live in Esquilino, a few blocks away from St. John in Lateran, and walked by it (and marveled at it) every day on my way to class. That’s why I thought I’d include it in my list of places to visit in Rome in 4 days.

You may ignore this, but this church actually is the cathedral of Rome, and the seat of the Pope in the city. It’s the oldest basilica in town, but doesn’t nearly get as many visitors as St. Peter’s Basilica.

Standing in front of the church there’s the Lateran Obelisk, known as the largest standing Egyptian obelisk in the world. The church is known for its Scala Sancta, a stairway of 28 steps thought to be those that Jesus walked up while heading to his trial in Jerusalem. You may know them as those steps that pilgrims climb on their knees. In fact, this is the only way visitors are allowed to ascend.

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

things to do in Rome

The Appian Way is one of the most pleasant places to visit in Rome

The Catacombs and the Appian Way

The Appian Way is a nice addition to this itinerary. It was built in 312 BC and remains one of the oldest surviving roads in the world. At the time of the Roman Empire, it connected Rome to other important cities such as Naples and Brindisi, and it was used for military and commercial purposes.

Along the Appian Way, make sure to stop by the Church of Domine Quo Vadis, built in the 9th century, and the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and St. Sebastian. St. Callixtus catacombs is where 16 popes and several martyrs have been buried.

If you want to join a guided tour of the Appian Way and the Catacombs, these are a few good options:

Garbatella

Garbatella has yet to become a big tourist attraction. This remains one of the most local neighborhoods in Rome, and gained a lot of popularity in Italy when it was used to film a famous TV series. The neighborhood was first built in 1918, and had the reputation of being a dangerous place. This has evidently changed and it is now thought to be one of the nicest areas to live in Rome.

There are various attractions in Garbatella: museums, art galleries and churches such as St. Paul’s Outside The Walls. Here you can still enjoy an authentic local meal, without any of the crowds of the historic center.

where to stay in Rome

Ottaviano is a great place to stay for easy access to the Vatican

Practical Tips For Your 4 Days In Rome

Where to stay in Rome 

There are many excellent hotel options in Rome – some of them quite pricey, actually. I recommend staying in the historic center, so that you have easier access to all the main attractions and don’t have to count on public transport all the time. Ottaviano offers easy access to the Vatican; while Esquilino, which has more budget friendly options, and Monti, are closer to the Colosseum.

These are some good places to stay in the area of Ottaviano:

These are some good places to stay in Esquilino:

These are good places to stay in Monti:

For more information about accommodation in Rome, head over to my post “A Complete Guide To Where To Stay In Rome.”

Guided tours of Rome

You can walk this itinerary for 4 days in Rome on your own. I recommend joining guided tours to make the most of the various attractions you visit – especially since they will take the stress of having to make separate reservations for the entry time.

You may want to consider a guided tour of Rome that goes to all the most famous attractions. Here are a few good options:

Vatican Museums

The Roma Pass may be a good option

Using a 72 hours Roma Pass 

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

You may consider getting a 72 hours Roma Pass even though you actually have 4 days in Rome, and use it to go to all the main attractions and get discount for others,  access public transportation and, in some cases, even have transportation to the airport.

These are some good 72 hours Roma Pass options:

  • Omnia Card for Rome and Vatican City: 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. Tickets to the Colosseum are not included.
  • Visit Pass Rome Gold – a pass that offers fast track access to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums; St. Peter’s Basilica and Castel Sant’Angelo; the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hills. It also includes an app to draft your itinerary and link to download an audio guide for the Forum and the Palatine. Public transportation is included.
  • Visit Pass Rome Platinum –  a more expensive option than the others, but you get an actual guide inside St. Peter’s Basilica.
  • Omnia Vatican and Rome card – the most expensive option, but it really is the most inclusive pass with all the most popular attractions included. You even have a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket valid for 72 hours.
  • Best of Rome all access pass – this pass provides 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. It’s not clear whether transportation is included.

Whichever pass you pick, make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions.

Keep in mind that even when you have the Roma Pass you are required to book your entry to sites such as the Colosseum and the Borghese Gallery. That’s why booking individual tours and skip the line tickets may be a better options.

These are the best tours with skip the line access to the site:

Colosseum and Roman Forum:

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

When to visit Rome

It is always a good time to visit Rome, but I feel the city is at its best in October: the days are still nice and long-ish,  temperatures mild (not as hot as in the summer, but incredibly pleasant), and sites are slightly less crowded. Keep in mind that in the late spring and early summer months you can take advantage of the longer days and of the longer opening hours of the various sites.

Avoid going in August if you can. It’s when Italians get out of the cities, so you won’t really find locals and the lines of tourists at sites are the longest.

Rome

Getting to the center of Rome from the airport is very easy

How to get to Rome

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

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

You’ll have more options to travel from Fiumicino Airport to Rome. The cheapest mode of transportation 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.

TIP: Remember to validate your ticket  before getting on the train! There are machines along the platform. If you fail to validate, you may have to pay 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. There are many train stations in Rome but the long distance trains usually go from Roma Termini station. You can buy tickets and check the train timetable here. 

How to move around Rome

You can’t count on Uber in Italy, so if you think you may need a taxi every now and then, download MyTaxi.

Unless you are staying really far away from the center, the best way to get around Rome is on foot, and this itinerary for 4 days in Rome is meant to maximize the amount of things you can see in any given area and allows you to avoid having to use the metro or the buses.

Locals may have a different opinion, but public transportation in Rome is quite efficient and there are many buses and two metro lines (a third one is still being built). Remember to validate your ticket before getting on the bus or metro.

You can get a Rome public transportation pass valid for 72 hours here. It may seem pricey but keep in mind it includes transfer from Ciampino airport.

TIP: Do not ride horse pulled carriages. With the traffic and noise in Rome, those animals suffer and you surely don’t want to contribute to their pain.

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

Luggage storage in Rome

If you need to check out of your hotel in the morning but your flight or train is not until the evening, you may want to leave your luggage in storage at a central place. Check out this one or this one. Termini train station may overall be a better option as that’s where you’ll have to go to catch your train to the airport or to other cities.

Other useful tips 

Mind the dress code

Remember to dress appropriately, or you may be denied entry to certain sites. Keep your knees, shoulders and chest covered if you intend to visit churches, even during the summer. Wear a long linen skirt or pants and take a scarf or shirt to wear when you are meant to walk inside.

Get a data plan for your smartphone

Make sure you can use your smartphone in Italy and that you can access data to follow maps and use the internet if needed. Download maps that you can use offline, just in case.

Get a guide book

You may want to carry a good guide book with  information about the places to visit in Rome in 4 days, as well as some good pop out maps – just in case you can’t access internet.

These are some good guide books:

Stay hydrated 

Regardless of the season, drink plenty of water throughout the day. Carry a bottle you can refill on the go: tap water is safe to drink in Rome and there are fountains everywhere. If you are at a restaurant, ask for “acqua” and you’ll usually be served bottled water.

Mind the scams 

Tourists are a target of scams anywhere in the world and Rome is no different. Locals in Rome are friendly,  but beware of overly friendly people; always keep your stuff with you to avoid pickpockets; don’t accept help from strangers who offer to carry your bags or help getting tickets at the train station (and never surrender your own ticket) and never touch things that are offered to you ie a rose or a bracelet. A polite but firm no is a good way to go, though my favorite is to ignore any offer.

Get a good travel insurance

Regardless of how long you plan to stay in Rome, make sure to get a good travel insurance. Check out my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.” Get your travel insurance here.

Further readings about Rome

Check out my other itineraries:

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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.”

Make sure to read my post A Complete Guide To Where To Stay In Rome.”

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

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Discover how to get Galleria Borghese tickets - via @clautavani

The Perfect Itinerary To See Rome In 2 Days

The Perfect Itinerary To See Rome In 2 Days

You can only scratch the surface of Rome in 2 days – but if that is all you have, you may as well find a solution to make the most of it. This is a city that deserves a lot of time – I’d dare say a lifetime – to be fully discovered. I have visited countless time; I have even lived there, and I still feel there is more to explore.

The good news is that with two days in Rome, you’ll be able to see most of its highlights. But the only way you can do it is if you follow a well planned route – one that is crafted to minimize the amount of time you spend moving from one attraction to the other, and that in fact allows you to see places along the way. You’ll also have to keep good timing; probably eat lunch on the go, and chuck down an espresso or two to boost your energy levels.

I know that planning an itinerary can be a bit of a hassle – especially if you are not an expert. That’s why I thought I’d do it for you.

In this post, I will explain what to see and do in Rome in 2, and share some useful tips to help you skip the lines at the famous tourist attractions and save a buck or two. Follow this itinerary, and you’ll hopefully have a blast in the Italian capital. , save a bit of money here and there, and make the most of your time in the Italian capital.

Make sure to read my post 30 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome” for inspiration on all the great things you can do there. 

Continue reading to discover all the places to visit in Rome in 2 days.

Rome in 2 days

With two days in Rome, you have time to visit the Vatican

A Fantastic Itinerary To See Rome In 2 Days

Before I get into the details of this post, let me stress that if you really want to visit Rome in a days, you have to book entries to the tourist attractions – and you have to do so well in advance. If you don’t do so, there will be high chances of being stuck in line for a long time, or – worst case scenario – that the attraction you want to visit is sold out and there is no way you can get it.

To help you with the planning, I will make sure to point out any time you need to make advanced reservations. Follow this route and my tips, and you’ll have two unforgettable days in Rome.

The starting point in planning this route is that you have at least 2 full days in Rome (which means 3 nights). My recommendation is to start your day very early (ie at 7:00 when you visit the Vatican) and to have lunch on the go (opt for a sit down meal in the evening). This itinerary is logic in terms of visiting places that are more or less all in the same area on the same day, so that you can walk from one to the other and minimize the use of public transportation.

I have selected those places in the historic center of Rome that are an absolute must, and a few more that will be a nice addition. Mind you: this is a packed itinerary.

For each day, I will point out the starting point and then a walking route to the other places. You may use public transportation to get to your starting point, and then back to your hotel in the evening. For each day, you’ll also get links to a map of the recommended itinerary.

Continue reading to discover what to see and do in Rome in 2 days.

Rome in 2 days

You have to visit the Vatican Museums if you have two days in Rome

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

Day one of your 2 days in Rome itinerary will be packed. You will visit Vatican City, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Spanish Steps and – if you are into fine arts – finish at Galleria Borghese. I have opted to let you visit the Vatican on your first day because I count on your excitement for being in the Eternal City to push you out of bed really early.

Map of day 1 Rome itinerary

Click here to open up the map for your first day in Rome. You’ll be able to see the walking distance from one place to the other, and to drag and rearrange things to better suit your tastes and needs.

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

Head out no later than 7:00 AM for an early morning tour of the Vatican. Opting for an early morning tour you’ll be out by no later than 11:00 AM, thus having time to visit the other places too.

The official opening time of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel officially is 9:00 AM, while St. Peter’s Basilica opens at 7:00 AM. Lines to get into the Vatican Museums start forming at around 7:30 AM. But if you only have two days in Rome, you really should get an early access Vatican tour – better if it also includes a dedicated access and tour of St. Peter’s Basilica.

You could also opt to visit St. Peter’s Basilica first, as it opens at 7:00 AM (and you can get in for free) and then walk to the Vatican Museums – but keep in mind that there is no dedicated entrance if you follow this route and you’ll have to walk for 1 km around St. Peter’s Square to make your way to the entrance of the museums.

TIP: Check out my post How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line” for more ideas on how to get in fast!

My humble opinion is that an early guided tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica will help you save a lot of time. You’ll also have a guide that will take you around and share a bunch of facts about the Sistine Chapel that you wouldn’t get otherwise, and pointing you to all the most important pieces of the Vatican Museums collection. Another bonus of an early tour is the possibility to enjoy the place when it is still virtually empty. Some tours include a guided visit of the Basilica too, others just a dedicated entrance.

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

Some background information about the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica

The Vatican Museums are some of the biggest in the world: there are 54 chambers and a massive collection. Yet, I must admit that to me the real show stealer is the Sistine Chapel and The Last Judgement – one of Renaissance’s greatest works and Michelangelo’s masterpiece.

St. Peter’s Basilica is another work of art of Renaissance, built by Michelangelo, Bernini and Bramante, over a site that is thought to be the tomb of St. Peter. The church has 11 chapels, 45 altars and a myriad of mosaics. This is where you’ll find Michelangelo’s Pietà, Bernini’s Baldacchino, as well as the Chair of St. Peter.

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

If you are keep on climbing to the dome, make sure to also read my postA Complete Guide To Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica Dome.”

TIP: don’t forget that modest clothing is required to visit the Vatican.

TIP: No photos are allowed inside the Sistine Chapel.

two days in Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo is one of the most famous attractions in Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo

If you are done by 11:00 with the Vatican, your should have enough time to visit Castel Sant’Angelo, a great addition to your 2 days in Rome. You will walk by it on your way to the Tiber River, as you try to reach the Spanish Steps on the other side of the river.

Originally a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian, Castel Sant’Angelo saw different uses throughout history. It was a prison for a while, and it now is a museum.

If you are keen on going in, opt for a skip the line ticket. These are some good options:

Rome in 2 days

The Spanish Steps – one of the most iconic squares in Rome

The Spanish Steps

The next stop on your two days in Rome itinerary will be the Spanish Steps. It’s such an iconic place in Rome, that it would be a pity to miss it. Piazza di Spagna, as Italian call it, has a whopping 185 steps that lead to Trinità dei Monti church. The steps were built in the 18th century, overlooking what now is one of the most famous shopping streets in the country – Via Condotti. That’s where Antico Caffé Greco – one of the most famous and oldest cafés in Rome – is located.

LUNCH TIP: By the time you get to the Spanish Steps you’ll probably be hungry. The area is very touristy, and you’ll end up spending an arm and a leg if you go for a full meal. Opt for something quick that you can eat on the go, such as gelato or some street food. You can also go to Pastificio Guerra, in Via della Croce 8 (at the far end of Piazza di Spagna, as you make your way to Piazza del Popolo) for some take away pasta. For a mere €4 euro you’ll get a hearty portion of a local specialty and a carb overload to keep you going till dinner time.

Piazza Del Popolo

Piazza del Popolo is located right at the bottom of the Pincio (the Pincian Hill). This is one  of the largest squares in Rome, at the center of it you’ll find the obelisk of Ramesses II from Heliopolis,  the second tallest in the city. As you walk up the stairs to get to the Pincio Terrace and make your way to Borghese Gallery you’ll get splendid views of the square.

two days in Rome

Borghese Gallery – the final stop on your first day in Rome

Galleria Borghese 

Continue walking for little under 2 km through the beautiful park to get to Galleria Borghese. If you are an art lover, you have to visit even if you just have 2 days in Rome.

While the gardens are gorgeous, the museum has one of the finest art collections in the world. You’ll be able to see works of Bernini, Canova, Caravaggio and Titian.

Only 360 visitors at once are allowed inside Galleria Borghese, so it’s never really crowded. However, this means that entrances are timed and that you’ll have to pick a time slot for your visit; buy tickets online beforehand; and keep good timing to be sure to get there in time for your visit – it takes around half hour to walk there from Piazza del Popolo.

You can buy tickets for Galleria Borghese directly on its website. If they are sold out, you may want to opt for a guided tour which, though more expensive, usually has more availability.

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.”

Rome in 2 days

The Colosseum is the ultimate place to visit in Rome

Day two: Ancient Rome

On your second day, you’ll visit all the most beautiful attractions of the Historic Center of Rome. According to this itinerary, your starting point is the Colosseum and the final one is Trevi Fountain. If you want, however, you can opt to do it the other way around and go on a night tour of the Colosseum.

Map of day 2 Rome itinerary

You can see the map for your second day in Rome by clicking here. Check out the walking distances and times from one place to the other, and rearrange to fit your needs and interests.

The Colosseum

The Colosseum is the ultimate tourist attractions in Rome, one of the most visited in the city and in the world. A beautiful sight during the day, it’s splendid at night, when it is illuminated. You wouldn’t want to miss visiting.

The bad news is that there usually are very long lines to enter the Colosseum.

My Five Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines” explains in detail all the options you have to skip the line at the Colosseum. Make sure to read it for further insightful information.

In short: the best way to skip the line at the Colosseum is by purchasing skip the line tickets online. With that, you’ll just have to go through security.

TIP: In the peak season the Colosseum is often sold out. Buy your tickets well in advance. If you decide to buy tickets with no guided entrance, you will have book your date and time slot on a separate website.

TIP: It’s a bit more expensive, but much less of a hassle to invest in a guided tour of the Colosseum. You’ll just have to point out the date and time of the tour, and the tour company will make sure to arrange everything else for you.

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

Read the full description of the tour to see what it includes, especially if you are keen on visiting certain specific parts of the site – the basic tours only go to the main floor, the most expensive ones also to the underground.

Going on a night tour of the Colosseum

As I have said before, you can walk the itinerary for your second day in Rome the other way around, and actually finish at the Colosseum. If this sounds like a good idea, make sure to have dinner before heading there for your tour.

Night tours of the Colosseum typically start at 9:30 pm and last around 2 and a half hours. Only a limited amount of visitors are allowed every night, which means you’ll have a more intimate experience.

Night tours give access to the main areas of the Colosseum as well as the undergrounds.

Tickets to the Colosseum cost around €87 per person.

These are some good night tours of the Colosseum:

two days in Rome

With two days in Rome, you have enough time to visit the Forum

The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill 

Your ticket to the Colosseum also gives you access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Most of the tours of the Colosseum also go to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill and since this is a large site you may well want to have a guide to take you around.

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

Some background information about the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

The Roman Forum used to be the heart of Rome at the times of the Republic. It was a very busy place, with a market, temples, brothels and even the House of the Senate. During the the Roman Empire, it became a ceremonial center.

The Palatine Hill is thought to be the legendary place where the twins Romolo and Remo were raised by the wolf, and Romolo founded Rome after having killed Remo. It’s where the emperors and aristocrats of Rome used to live.

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia is the very heart of Rome. There, you’ll  be able to see Trajan’s Column and the massive monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, built in 1911 to commemorate the first king of unified Italy.

two days in Rome

A kitty at Largo di Torre Argentina cat shelter

Largo di Torre Argentina

On your way from Piazza Venezia to Piazza Navona you’ll walk by Largo di Torre Argentina, probably my favorite place in Rome (you’ll soon found out why).

Mistakenly known as the place where Julius Cesar died – in fact, he died on the steps pf the Theater of Pompey, a couple of blocks away – Largo di Torre Argentina has the ruins of some of the oldest temples of Rome.

This should be enough to make you want to stop there. But if you are a cat lover, you’ll be happy to know that it is also home to the oldest cat sanctuary in Rome. You can walk around the site to find the entrance to the shelter, where an association takes care of the cats and works to raise fund for them. You can visit to play with the cats, buy a Cats of Rome calendar as a souvenir, or even make a donation.

You may also want to get on the official website of Largo di Torre Argentina cat sanctuary to make a donation.

LUNCH TIP: In Largo di Torre Argentina you’ll also find a few places where you can grab lunch on the go. Pizza Florida is a good place to try “pizza al taglio,” one of the local specialty – and it is very budget friendly.

Campo de’ Fiori

Before you go to Piazza Navona, make sure you stop at Campo de’ Fiori. I believe it is one of the prettiest squares in Rome. The area was paved in 1456 and since the 19th century it’s been home to a lovely market that sells fruits, vegetables and flowers. There also are lots of cafés to hang out.

Piazza Navona

Another beautiful square that you can add to the places to visit in Rome in 2 days. It was paved over in the 15th century over the 1st century Stadio di Domiziano. It now is where one of the many city markets are located. It’s also home to the Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed in 1651 by Bernini, and to the 17th century Sant’Agnese church.

Rome in 2 days

Make sure to stop at the Pantheon!

The Pantheon

You walk by the Pantheon on your way from Piazza Navona to Trevi Fountain. Its dome, thought to be one of the best preserved building from antiquity, is one of the most iconic structures in town. Its construction was commissioned by Emperor Hadrian, and it was built in the 126 AD. Inside there you’ll find the tombs of famous Italian artist Raphael and of King Victor Emmanuel II.

You can walk in for free, but if you have time (and energy) you can opt to get an audio guide to tour around for about 35 minutes. It costs €5 euro. You can get yours here.

Check out my post A Guide To Visiting The Pantheon, Rome + What You Should Know About Pantheon Tickets.”

Trevi Fountain

One of the most iconic places in Rome, Trevi Fountain is an easy addition to this itinerary to see Rome in 2 days. It’s been recently renovated and brought back to its splendor. It’s a crowded place, so forget about those romantic solitary pictures. But it’s a must see!

TIP: Do not even think about jumping in this or other fountains in Rome. It’s forbidden and if caught you will be fined!

Rome

Beautiful streets of Rome right by the Pantheon

The Jewish Ghetto

At the end of your second day, head to the Jewish Ghetto. It’s a 15  minutes walk from Trevi Fountain, and a fantastic dinner spot.

Established by Pope Paul IV five centuries ago, the Ghetto is the place where all the Jews living in Rome were forced to move. It was walled and had gates that were closed at night.

Nowadays, the Jewish Ghetto is famous for its Roman Kosher cuisine. Go there for dinner to try some of the best specialties such as carciofi alla giudia – fried artichokes with mint and garlic. Read this post for inspiration on where to eat in the area.

Guided Tours Of Rome

The itinerary I have drafted to help you see Rome in 2 days is completely doable independently. If you want to make the most of the attractions you may want to join a guided tour here and there – in fact, I recommend that to avoid the hassle of having to book everything separately.

These are a few good guided tours of Rome:

Rome in 2 days

The beautiful Altare della Patria in Piazza Venezia

Using A 48 Hours Roma Pass 

My post “The Best Roma Pass Options And How To Make The Most Of It” gives a good overview of what the Roma Pass is and tips to use it to its full power.

In general, a Roma Pass may be a good thing to have if you are spending two days in Rome. You can make the most of it by visiting all the attractions included and get discount for others, and most pass options also give you access to public transportation. Some even include a one way transfer to the airport.

These are some good 48 hours Roma Pass options. Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions before buying your pass:

  • Roma Pass 48 hours – a very good budget option with free admissions to a variety of museums, but take care to notice that tickets to the Colosseum are not included.
  • Visit Pass Rome Gold – a pass that gives you 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. It includes a public transportation pass for 48 hours.

One thing to be aware of 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. You may end up being better off booking individual skip the line tickets or guided tours.

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

Colosseum and Roman Forum:

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

Rome in 2 days

Such a beautiful city!

Practical Tips To Make The Most Of Rome In 2 Days

Where to stay in Rome 

There are many good hotels in Rome. I recommend staying in the historic center for easy access to attractions. If you stay by Ottaviano metro station, you’ll have very easy access to the Vatican which is the first place you should be visiting. Alternatively, opt to stay in Monti for quick access to the Colosseum.

These are some excellent hotels in the area of Ottaviano:

These are some excellent hotels in the area of Monti:

Read my post A Complete Guide To Where To Stay In Rome.”

When to visit Rome

You can visit Rome at any time of year. I find it marvelous in October, when the temperatures mild, and sites are a bit less crowded. You may want to opt for late spring or early summer to have longer days and squeeze in more places to visit. I’d also recommend to avoid going in August. It’s when Italians go on holidays, the city empties of locals and is packed with tourists.

How to get to Rome

The two airports of Rome are Fiumicino, for intercontinental flights and major airlines; and Ciampino, domestic and European flights with budget airlines. Both are well connected to Rome city center.

The cheapest way to get from Ciampino to Rome city center is by bus. Terravision has regular buses. You can book tickets here.

From Fiumicino Airport to Rome you have more options. The cheapest one 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. 

Taxis have a €48 flat rate.

Alternatively, these are some good transfer 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 other cities in Italy. There are several train stations. The main one is Termini. You can buy tickets and check the train timetable here. 

two days in Rome

Trevi Fountain is the most beautiful one in Rome

How to move around Rome

Uber isn’t a thing in Italy, so if you want to get a taxi you will have to either stop it in the street or use the app MyTaxi.

I believe that the best way to get around Rome is on foot. This itinerary to see Rome in 2 days is meant to maximize the amount of places you can see in one area without having to rely on public transportation. In case you do need to use public transport, you’ll be glad to know that it is quite efficient, with several buses and metro lines.

TIP: As a responsible tourist, I strongly advise you against riding a horse pulled carriage. With the traffic and noise in town, those poor animals are bound to be stressed and you don’t want to contribute to it!

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

Luggage storage in Rome

If you  must to check out early in the morning from your hotel but your flight or train is late in the evening, you may want to take advantage of the time you have to explore a few more places. Most hotels will allow you to leave your bags in storage, but it may be more convenient to take them to a luggage storage service where you can pick them up before heading to the airport. Most train stations have luggage storage and I’d recommend using one of them. I’d recommend opting for one near Termini train station as chances are that’s where you’ll  be taking your train to other destinations or to the airport. Alternatively, you can use a luggage storage place on town. Check out this one or this one.

Other useful tips 

Get a guide book

Make sure to bring along a good guide book to get more information about the places to visit in Rome in 2 days. Check that it has a map!

These are some good guide books:

Get a data plan for your smartphone

Top up your smartphone so that is has enough data and make sure it has a plan that allows you to navigate the internet if needed, so that you can go on Google Maps if needed. You can also download maps to use them offline.

Drinking water 

Tap water is safe to drink in Rome – carry around your own bottle to refill at public drinking fountains. Most restaurants only served bottled or filtered water.

Mind the scams 

Beware of scams! As in any big city, tourists are a target for scams in Rome. Keep attention to people being overly friendly; keep an eye on your stuff; say no to people who offer to help you at train station with things such as tickets and luggage.

Mind the dress code

Make sure to be dressed modestly if you plan to visit churches, especially for the Vatican. You’ll have to cover your legs, chest and shoulder.

Get a good travel insurance

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

Further readings about Rome

For more itineraries, read my posts:

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Seven Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines

Seven Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines

Getting tickets to the Colosseum in Rome is easier than you can imagine. Continue reading to find a way that suits you!

You have finally arrived in Rome, the Eternal City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ve had a great time till the moment you’ve laid foot there. The Colosseum from a distance looks mighty, and you can’t wait to get in and explore it. But the minute you approach the entrance, you’re in for a bad surprise: the line to get tickets to the Colosseum is almost as mighty as the site itself. You are ready to give up and settle for just a photo from the outside.

Don’t give up just yet! There are ways to get into the Colosseum without waiting in line for hours, and some excellent Colosseum tours that you are guaranteed to enjoy.

In this post, I will explain how to get tickets to the Colosseum so that you don’t have to wait in line for hours. But first, let me provide some information on what you can expect when visiting the Colosseum.

Why You Must Visit The Colosseum When In Rome

Rome is a gorgeous city, one I enjoy visiting any time I have a chance. Apparently I am not the only one, as tourists crowd it any time of year. I don’t think a week would be enough to visit all the main attractions in Rome (read more about the various things to do and see in Rome in this post). Anyways – whether you have just a day there, or a month, you simply can’t skip visiting the Colosseum.

This is one of the symbols of Rome, heritage of the Roman Empire and usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the city, and first in the line of places people want to visit when there. Known as the Flavian Amphitheater, it was where the battles between gladiators and wild animals used to take place.

Needless to say, a good traveler wouldn’t dream of going to Rome without visiting the Colosseum – save for those who make it a point to stay out of the tourist track. Don’t get me started on what I think of those obsessed with off the beaten path travel (I have often claimed I am an unsuccessful backpacker, because I am more than happy to go to all the most touristy places). Let me just say this: no sane traveler would dream of going to Rome and skip a visit to the Colosseum. It is – quite simply – a must; no matter how hard it is to get tickets to the Colosseum.

tickets to the Colosseum

Tickets to the Colosseum include also a visit to the Roman Forum

Why is the Colosseum always packed?

The Colosseum is – by far – the most iconic attraction in Rome, if not in Italy. I’d dare say that it is obvious that such a place attracts large numbers of visitors. In 2018, a whopping 7.4 million people visited the Colosseum – which means that it received on average more than 20000 people per day, with some days seeing up to 30000 visitors.

Only 3000 people are allowed to get inside the Colosseum at once, and with increased security measures (which all visitors have to go through) this means that – unless you have a skip-the-line ticket, you can expect to stay in line for up to two hours.

If you have limited time in Rome, or if you are visiting in the summer when it’s terribly hot, you’re probably going to hate yourself for not having found other solutions to get tickets to the Colosseum.

But worry not! I am here for you. Indeed, I am a massive fan of getting online skip the line tickets for famous tourist attractions. They usually include a guide, which in the case of the Colosseum is particularly handy as this way you may also have access to the underground, the arena floor and the third ring.

IN SHORT: These are the most popular tours and tickets to the Colosseum what will allow you to skip the lines:

PLEASE NOTE: All visitors, including those that have skip-the-line tickets, have to go through security checks and have their bags scanned when visiting the Colosseum, so expect to wait in line for that – though that is a much shorter and faster line than that to the ticket counter.

TIP: Avoid carrying large bags when going to the Colosseum. Only small bags and backpacks are allowed. There is no cloak room at the Colosseum but you can leave your bags in a luggage storage nearby (I will point out where at the end of this post). Otherwise so make sure to leave any bulky stuff in your room.

TIP: As of 30 September 2018 all tickets to the Colosseum have to indicate a specific entry time and they will be for individuals or group. You will have to indicate a specific date and time slot for your visit when you buy your tickets.

Continue reading for more tips on how to make the most of your time when visiting the Colosseum and, most importantly, to avoid the lines to get in!

Colosseum tickets

The Colosseum is a must see attraction in Rome

Visiting the Colosseum more in depth

The basic tickets to the Colosseum include visits of the main floor and the second tier. The basic visit will take you at least one hour. If you want to visit the arena, the underground and the third ring you will have to get special tickets which are inevitably more expensive, and you will have to calculate a bit more time. Keep in mind you need to add waiting time at the security line as well.

Having said so, I wholeheartedly recommend getting tickets to the Colosseum that include the underground and the third ring, as they are the best preserved parts and the most interesting ones.

The underground has pretty much remained buried from the end of the Roman Empire until around 100 years ago. There are gorgeous marble coatings; some of the structures built on orders of Domitian and even traces and parts of the elevator that lifted wild animals and gladiators to the arena floor.

Even the channels that used to carry water all the way inside the Colosseum are still visible – apparently water was used to flood the arena to recreate the perfect environment for naval battles! – as well as the sewage system thanks to which various objects testifying to the way of life of the spectators have been found.

To me, this is enough to make me want to invest in tickets to the Colosseum that include a guided tour of the underground! Indeed, while the rest of the Colosseum is certainly nice to visit, it’s a bit bare as throughout the centuries it’s been plundered of its marble and all the other decorations (did you know that in medieval times it was used as a sort of quarry?).

Some very steep steps take to the third ring. Getting there isn’t the easiest thing, but that’s where you’ll get the best view of the Colosseum, as well as that of the Roman Forum and the nearby Constantin Arch. This part of the site can’t be visited with just the standard ticket: you’ll need to get tickets to the Colosseum that include a guide and access to underground, arena floor and third ring. It’s surely more pricey but trust an expert: it’s worth it!

TIP: Keep in mind that the only way to get to the Colosseum underground (as well as the arena floor and the third ring) is on a guided tour. Regular tickets to the Colosseum don’t allow visits to these parts of the site.

These are the best tours of the Colosseum that also go to the underground:

Continue reading to discover the best ways to get tickets to the Colosseum and skip the lines.

tickets to the Colosseum

When visiting the Colosseum, make sure to also go to the arena floor

Seven Absolutely Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines

There are several ways to get tickets to the Colosseum and skip the lines. Below, I will highlight all the possible solutions you have, pointing out which one is more suitable for any kind of traveler and budget.

In general, skip-the-line tickets to the Colosseum bought online via a third party are the best way to avoid standing in line for hours. There are different kinds of skip the line tickets, depending on the kind of tour you want to opt for – group tours, private tours, night tours etc.

Of all the ways to get tickets to the Colosseum, my favorite is the night tour one. It is the most expensive one – because it also is the most exclusive one, with only limited numbers allowed each night. Yet, I find that there is something special about visiting the Colosseum at night, when it glows in the darkness.

I will share more details on how to do night tours of the Colosseum in a bit. Meantime, here are all the best ways to get Colosseum tickets.

Way N. 1: Buy your tickets to the Colosseum at the ticket office of the Roman Forum

Perfect for: off season and last minute travelers.

Advantages: It is very budget friendly.

Disadvantages: Entrance to the Colosseum is timed, and certain time slots are often unavailable, especially in the high season. This way to get tickets to the Colosseum requires some flexibility, as you may not necessarily get your preferred time slot to enter the Colosseum. There may be no tickets – yes, at times tickets to the Colosseum are sold out!

Whenever you buy tickets to the Colosseum, regardless of which one you get, you’ll get a pass for the Roman Forum. A tour of the Colosseum usually includes a visit to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. The vice-versa is also true: in other words, if you buy tickets to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, you can also visit the Colosseum.

My advice is to go see the Roman Forum first, and then the Colosseum. The line to the Roman Forum is much much less, and once you are done with your visit you can proceed directly to the Colosseum with your tickets in your hands already. And since the ticket has a 48 hours validity, you don’t even have to visit both on the same day.

Tickets to the Colosseum (including access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill) cost €12.

In case you decide to visit the Colosseum before the Roman Forum, make sure to get there nice and early – I’d say at least 30 minutes before opening time (more about the opening times later).

Some background information about the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill

The Roman Forum is one of the most incredible places to visit in Rome, and it is right next to the Colosseum – so most people visit it on the same day. Tickets to the Colosseum often include also a guided tour of the Roman Forum.

When Rome used to be a Republic, the Roman Forum was a thriving place, with food stalls, temples, brothels and the House of the Senate. The stalls were later substituted with a proper mall and tribunals, and the Forum became a ceremonial center during the empire.

The Palatine Hill is one of the nicest places to visit in Rome. According to legend, this is where the twins Romolo and Remo were raised by the wolf, and Romolo, having killed his twin brother, founded the village that later on became Rome. Historically, the Palatine used to be the place where the emperors and the aristocrats lived. Many online tickets to the Colosseum include a visit to the Palatine – it’s a great way to complete a tour of Imperial Rome.

Way N. 2: Buy the official Colosseum tickets online

Perfect for: no frills travelers.

Advantages: It is very budget friendly; it includes an audio guide.

Disadvantages: You have to reserve a specific time entrance separately.

This is the official website to get tickets to the Colosseum. Online tickets for adult visitors cost €14 – that’s €12 for the actual ticket, and €2 for the online handling fee. Visiting the Colosseum is free for children up to 18 years of age. The price of this ticket also includes an audio-guide.

Remember to print your ticket and take it with you!

visiting the Colosseum

Skip the line tickets to the Colosseum are the best way to fully enjoy your time there

Way N. 3: Take a guided group tour

Perfect for: Learning more about the Colosseum

Advantages: You have a guide or audio-guide that explains you loads about the Colosseum; you don’t have to worry about booking a time slot for your visit (the company running the tour will do that for you).

Disadvantages: You will be in a group of up to 20 visitors, meaning you won’t really be going at your own pace.

I am a big fan of guided tours when it comes to archaeological sites. A place like the Colosseum deserves an expert guide that is able to give you detailed information about its history and architecture.

More than that, with a guided group tour you don’t have to worry about standing in line to get your tickets to the Colosseum. Indeed, you will enter the site through a gate reserved to groups, and security checks will be more lax and thus faster.

All you have to do is picking a guided tour that best suits your interests and needs. I am a fan of in depth visits, so I recommend one that gives you access to areas that are normally closed to the visitors who have the basic tickets to the Colosseum – ie the underground, the arena floor and the third ring.

Guided group Colosseum tours cost an average of €45 per person depending on the tour, and last around 3 hours.

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

Way N. 4: Take a guided private tour

Perfect for: Anybody who doesn’t enjoy large group tours.

Advantages: You are the one dictating the pace of the visit; the tour company will take care of all the arrangements.

Disadvantages: It’s more expensive than the guided group tour option.

Guided group tours often imply a slow moving group: there always is someone who takes forever in taking photos; or who asks questions you may not find interesting. It often means seeing less, because someone moves to slowly and ends up holding down the rest of the group. If this is something you’d rather avoid, then you may want to invest in a private guided tour of the Colosseum.

Private Colosseum tours prices depend on the number of persons in the group. The starting price is usually €70.

Private guided tours of the Colosseum have the same advantages of the group ones – not having to wait in line, being able to access areas normally close to the public, etc. But in this case, you will have a guide all to yourself and won’t have to wait for the group.

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

tickets to the Colosseum

Get night tickets to the Colosseum for an incredible experience

Way N. 5: Buy night-time tickets to the Colosseum with access to the underground 

Perfect for: A unique, exclusive experience.

Advantages: You really get to see everything; it is a very intimate experience.

Disadvantages: It’s the most expensive option.

If you think that the sight of the Colosseum during the day is amazing, try picturing it at night. I once saw it from the plane as I was landing in Rome and let me tell you, it was splendid! As I have anticipated before, this is my favorite way to visit the Colosseum, and of all the various options I have given to get tickets to the Colosseum and skip the lines, this is the one I recommend the most!

But there’s more: as only a few people are allowed at night, visiting the Colosseum this way means having a special, private and truly unique experiences.

Night tours of the Colosseum start at 9:30 pm, so you have time to have dinner before your visit. Tours last around 2 and a half hours.

The guided night tours give you access to the main areas, the first and second ring, and the arena floor. And you’ll also have access to the undergrounds.

TIP: If this is an experience you want to do, you have to act fast and book well in advance – as I have said, only a few people are allowed inside the Colosseum at night, so tickets sell out fast.

Night-time tickets to the Colosseum cost around €87 per person.

These are the best night-time Colosseum tours:

Colosseum tours

A guided tour of Rome may be an excellent idea to skip the line at the Colosseum

Way N. 6: Take a guided tour of Rome

Perfect for: Those who have very little time to visit Rome.

Advantages: A good guided tour that takes you to all the most famous attractions; you don’t have to worry about making separate reservations as the company running the tour will do that for you.

Disadvantages: Tour can be a bit rushed and they can be quite expensive.

If you have very little time in Rome but still want to make the most of it, you may want to opt for a guided tour of the city that takes you to all the most famous attractions. Most tours include a guide; some budget friendly options will only have an audio-guide; all of them provide skip-the-line entrances to the various attractions.

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

Way N. 7: Buy the Rome City Pass

Perfect for: Those planning to see more attractions in Rome.

Advantages: You get skip the line entrances to a bunch of other attractions in the city.

Disadvantages: It hardly is a money saver; you have to reserve a time slot for your visit on a site different from the one you use to buy the pass, so it may be confusing.

The Rome City Pass is a good option if you are planning to visit many attractions in Rome as it normally includes tickets to various attractions, including the Colosseum. There are several Roma Pass options on sale – you can have a better idea of what the advantages and the inclusions of the Roma Pass are in my post The Best Roma Pass Options And How To Make The Most Of It.”

For the purpose of this post, I have selected 3 different city passes that will allow you to skip the line at the Colosseum:

  • 72 hours Roma pass: the least advantageous option of all, it includes tickets to the Colosseum and it’s valid for 72 hours.
  • Vatican and Rome card: perfect if you also want to visit the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. You only really save €10 on the total price of the attractions visited, but at least you’ll be able to skip the lines.
  • Rome tourist card: this pass includes skip-the-line tickets to many attractions including the Colosseum, and discounts on a bunch of them. It is the best option, if you make good use of it. It costs €67.50.
Colosseum Rome

The mighty sight of the Colosseum at night

Other Useful Information For Visiting The Colosseum

Book in advance

I can’t stress this enough, really. Depending on when you intend to visit Rome, you have to buy your tickets to the Colosseum up to four months in advance – that’s how popular a site it is. Even if you are a last minute traveler, make sure to check out availability online before going all the way to the Colosseum to discover that you won’t be able to visit.

What to do if tickets to the Colosseum are sold out

If you visit Rome during the busy summer months or if for some reason you don’t book well in advance (once again, let me stress you really have to book in advance, but I appreciate yours may be a last minute trip), you may find that you can’t find a suitable time slot for the basic entry tickets to the Colosseum are sold out – I am referring to the tickets that don’t include a guided visit or an audioguide.

If this is the case, there are still a few things you can do to get in, but they will obviously involve investing a bit more money (a small price to pay, in my opinion!).

Firstly, take a can look at this site to see if anything is available – they are just regular fast track tickets with no guide options, but the site is very user friendly – tickets cost €18, so it is a bit more expensive than buying them at the official site.

If nothing is available on that site, then consider investing in one of the more expensive ticket options – ie those that include a videoguide or an audioguide. Check out this tour to see if it is available. 

Alternatively, opt for a proper guided tour with access to the various exclusive places – it’s going to be significantly more expensive than the basic €12 ticket, but you will enjoy the service of a guide sharing plenty of details about the Colosseum. You can pick from the many options I have outlined above.

How to get to the Colosseum

The Colosseum is in (errr) Colosseum Square. The best way to get there is to either get subway B getting off at Colosseo, or the cablecar n. 3.

Opening times

These are the opening times of the Colosseum:

From the last Sunday of October until 15 February – 8:30 am until 4:30 pm;

From 16 February to 15 March – 8:30 am to 5:00 pm;

From 16 March to the last Saturday of March – 8:30 am to 5:30 pm;

From the last Sunday of March to 31 August – 8:30 am to 7:15 pm;

From 1 September to 20 September – 8:30 am to 7:00 pm;

From 1 October to the last Saturday in October – 8:30 am to 6:30 pm.

Keep in mind that the Colosseum is closed on the main Italian national holidays – 1 January, 25 December, and the morning of 2 June (it opens at 1:30 pm). It also closes early on the Friday before Easter, to allow the Via Crucis.

Good to know

As of March 2019 all skip-the-line ticket holders will have to indicate a specific date and time for their visit, which means you will have to pay that extra €2 for the reservation fee. If you buy your tickets directly on the Colosseum official site, don’t forget to do this or you’ll risk having to wait in line as precedence will be given to those visitors that have reserved a specific time slot.

Remember to be punctual and respect the time slot you have been allocated. Make sure to get to the Colosseum in advance, as the personnel actually does check the time on your ticket and won’t let you in if you are late!

The best time of year to avoid the crowds at the Colosseum

The Colosseum tends to be crowded year round, but certain times are worst than others. In general, if you are flexible with your travel dates I’d suggest visiting in the winter months, between November and February, which is low season in Italy.

If you visit in the low season and during a weekday, you’ll have better chances to avoid the crowds.

If, on the other hand, you visit Rome in the peak summer months (from May to September) you’ll find there won’t be much of a difference between weekdays and weekends in terms of crowds.

Prices for tickets to the Colosseum and free visits

Tickets to the Colosseum cost €12 and include a visit to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Tickets are valid for 48 hours after purchase, with one entry per site.

Like in all museums in Rome, in theory the Colosseum is free to enter each first Sunday of the month. However, keep in mind that as of 2019 the rules have changed and there are no free Sunday entrances between April and the first Sunday of September.

In any case, I hardly recommend trying to enter the Colosseum on a free Sunday, as the line is humongous and the site terribly crowded.

Security checks

Please beware that as of April 2016 new security policies have been adopted, which means that anybody wishing to visit the Colosseum, including those who have skip-the-line Colosseum tickets, have to go through the metal detector. Security checks can take up to one hour, so keep this in mind when you plan to visit. Also remember that backpacks and large bags aren’t allowed.

Toilets and other facilities at the Colosseum

There are toilets at the Colosseum, but I honestly recommend using toilets before getting in, so that you really make full use of your time at the site.

There are no other facilities such as a kiosk or even a cloak room inside – but there are plenty of places right outside where you can get a drink if you need it.

Accessibility of the Colosseum

When getting your tickets to the Colosseum, you should double check whether the ticket is suitable for people with limited mobility. In general, despite being such an ancient building, the Colosseum is quite accessible. There are no steps to get through the main entrance, and there is an elevator for visitors with limited mobility so that they can access the arena floor. There are signs that point to the accessible route.

Much like the rest of the historical center of Rome, the area right outside the Colosseum is cobblestone – so not exactly easy for people on a wheelchair.

Luggage storage facilities near the Colosseum

As I have said before, there is no cloakroom at the Colosseum and you aren’t allowed to bring bulky items inside. You should leave any large bags in your hotel room. However, if you are in Rome just for a day, in transit while you head somewhere else, you may need to leave your luggage in a storage facility. If you are passing by Roma Termini station, you may be better off leaving your stuff there. Otherwise, you can opt for a luggage storage which is located in Via dei Chiavari, at about 2 km and 20 minutes walk from the Colosseum. You can check it out here.

Other attractions near the Colosseum

Don’t forget that right by the Colosseum you will find two among some of the most famous attractions in Rome – the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. In fact, your tickets to the Colosseum will also give you access to them. Within easy walking distance there also are the Circus Maximus, the Baths of Caracalla and the Capitoline Museums.

Other than those, not far from the Colosseum you will find the beautiful Altare della Patria in Piazza Venezia, and the archeological site of Largo di Torre Argentina, now one of the most famous cat colonies in the Italian capital.

Further readings about Rome

For more information on how to make the most of Rome, great itineraries and tips to skip the lines, make sure to read the following posts:

Have you ever been to the Colosseum? What are your best tips to make the most of it and how did you get tickets to the Colosseum?

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Discover how to get tickets to the Colosseum and skip the lines - via @clautavani

30 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome

30 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome

For as many times as I have been there, I have never had troubles finding incredible things do to in Rome. The range of Rome attractions is just fabulous. I don’t think many other places in the world can offer such a great mixture of historical landmarks, archaeological sites, churches, museums, antique and modern art. The only one I can think of is Jerusalem, and even then the Israeli capital, to me, lacks the grandeur that Rome has.

To read more about Jerusalem, check my post “Traditional And Alternative Things To Do In Jerusalem.”

But aside from the many tourist attractions in Rome, I enjoy its amazing restaurants and “trattorie” – where the locals also go; I would never stop eating the fantastic street food and gelato; and I find the attitude and the dry sense of humor of the locals incredibly funny.

Rome is vibrant and lively; it’s chaotic yet lovely; it’s dirty yet utterly gorgeous. It is a place anybody should travel to, at least once in a lifetime – but more than that, if possible. I have lived there and could not get enough of it: there are simply too many places to visit in Rome.

There’s only one issue that you and other travelers may have when they visit Rome: it is a major tourist site and tourist attractions in Rome do get crowded, with lines that can at times be discouraging and make you regret going, especially if you only have a couple of days to visit. Sure enough, I don’t like waiting in line for hours. But worry not! I know what the most famous attractions in Rome are, I know what to do in Rome for fun, and I have tips to avoid the lines and still visit all the iconic attractions.

So, here’s an outline of all the things to do in Rome and a few tips about on how avoid the massive lines.

Rome attractions

Without a doubt, visiting St. Peter’s is one of the things to do in Rome

15 Unmissable Things To Do In Rome – And How To Avoid Waiting In Line To Get In

Visit the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica

Without the shadow of a doubt, visiting the Vatican is one of the unmissable things to do in Rome. St. Peter’s Basilica is the most famous church in Christendom. The church is sumptuous and splendid in its Renaissance and Baroque style, and inside there are works of Bernini, Michelangelo’s Pietà, and Vignola’s cupolas.

Right next to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums well deserve to be included among the best things to see in Rome. This is where the Sistine Chapel and Raphael Rooms are located. They are incredible works of art. The rest of the collection of the Vatican Museums is stunning: some of the most important world art. The museums are housed in palaces originally built for Renaissance popes.

Every time I go to Rome I promise myself that I will pay a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. I have been to the Basilica a few times already, and to the museums once. I would love to go again. But visiting the Vatican isn’t that easy: last time I was in town I saw a line so long that I was completely put off. I could not work out the patience to stand for hours at end – not even if visiting is among the top things to do in Rome.

Check out my posts How To Get St. Peter’s Basilica Tickets And Skip The Line” and “How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line.”

But I finally realized what to do in Rome to avoid the humongous lines at the Vatican. So here’s my tip for you: you can either get a fast track admission online, or you can even opt to skip the line entirely and on top of that, you will even have a guide to take me around. That means saving a lot of time that you can use to explore other Rome attractions, and you don’t even have to print the voucher because mobile vouchers are accepted (I love it when I can save paper).

Unfortunately, these fast track and skip the line tickets don’t include access to St. Peter’s Top of the Dome, one of the most amazing tourist attractions in Rome, but I know of a way to get there. Continue reading to find out.

These are some of the best tours of the Vatican:

Rome attractions

One of the prettiest things to see in Rome is the view from the Dome of St. Peter’s

Walk up St. Peter’s Top of the Dome

There aren’t many places to get a proper view of Rome (though I know a few – more about it below). Yet, one of the best things to see in Rome is precisely that – a gorgeous panorama. St. Peter’s Top of the Dome has the most spectacular view ever, I think. It shows St. Peter’s Square, Via della Conciliazione, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Tiber River. In other words, it would be a pity to miss it.

The bad news is that there’s always the longest line to reach the elevator that goes all the way to the first level of the Dome (and then there’s stairs to get to the top). Last time I went to the Top of the Dome it was 2006 and I remember standing in line for a while, with my ex boyfriend becoming increasingly impatient despite me saying that this was one of the unmissable things to do in Rome.

The good news is that there are ways to skip this line: you can now get online tickets, which can either be printed or saved on the phone. No more excuses not to go!

These tours of the Vatican all include a visit to the Dome of St. Peter’s:

Make sure to read my postA Complete Guide To Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica Dome.”

what to do in Rome

Castel Sant’Angelo is one of my favorite tourist attractions in Rome

Explore Castel Sant’Angelo

Visiting Castel Sant’Angelo is bound to become one of your favorite things to do in Rome. It is a massive fortress whose construction started in 139 AD. It was initially intended as Emperor Hadrian’s mausoleum but it then became a medieval citadel, a prison and a place of safety for popes during times of political unrest – there is a corridor that connects the Vatican Palace to the Castle and that provided an escape route for popes.

One fun fact about Castel Sant’Angelo is that it was the the set of Angels and Demons, one of Dan Brown’s most famous novels. One more reason to include it in your list of things to see in Rome.

The lines to get inside Castel Sant’Angelo are not nearly as bad as those at St. Peter’s Basilica and at the Vatican. Yet, you’ll be better off booking your ticket in advance and get in through the fast track than have to wait for your turn to then dodge money out of your purse and wait for change. Sure enough, getting a fast track advance ticket to Castel Sant’Angelo is what to do in Rome to get a chance to visit this awesome place.

Here’s some of the best tours of Castel Sant’Angelo:

Discover the Capitoline Hill and Museums

Among the things to do in Rome, I recommend paying a visit to the Capitoline Hill and Museums. The palace was designed by Michelangelo and it is a real work of art in and of itself – easy to see why it is one of the top tourist attractions in Rome.

Inside the Capitoline Museums there is a fabulous collection of classical sculptures kept there since Pope Sixtus IV donated a group of bronze sculptures to the city of Rome in 1471. There’s also paintings by Caravaggio.

A guided tour of the Capitoline Hill and Museums generally includes a visit to the St. Mary of Aracoeli Basilica. I recommend getting tickets online in order to skip the line and avoid any hassle.

Here’s the best tours of the Capitoline Hill:

places to see in Rome

Visiting the Coliseum is quite simply one of the unmissable things to do in Rome

Go to the Colosseum

In proper unsuccessful backpacker style, hitting all the places that many avoid labelling them as “too touristy” and trying to distinguish themselves from tourists and pointing out they are travelers, I would never dream of suggesting to visit the Italian capital and skipping what is considered to be one of the top tourist attractions in Rome – the Colosseum.

Learn how to care less about what other travelers think on my post “How to be an unsuccessful backpacker.”

Visiting the Colosseum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with the historic center or Rome, definitely is among the ultimate things to do in Rome. This is one of the most iconic and photographed tourist attractions in Rome. I still think that not even the best photos do it justice. It is just that beautiful that nobody with a pinch of salt in his brain would dream of skipping it when in Rome.

Yes, the line to get inside the Colosseum is long and if you have limited time in the city, it can be annoying. But once again, you can get online and buy a guided tour with a skip the line entrance: this is what to do in Rome in order to enjoy one of its top attractions completely hassle free. The bonus is that the guided tours usually include a visit of the arena floor, of the third tier and at times even of the undergrounds.

If you want to know more tricks on how to avoid the lines to the Colosseum, read my post Five Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines.”

Here’s some of the best tours that include a visit to the Colosseum:

what to do in Rome

The Roman Forum is one of the best tourist attractions in Rome

Head to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill

The Roman Forum is one of the greatest things to see in Rome, and it is located right next to the Colosseum – so you can visit in on the same day. In the early Republic days this was a chaotic place with food stalls, brothels, as well as temples and the Senate house. Eventually the food stalls were replaced by business centers and law courts and the Forum remained a ceremonial centre under the Empire.

As this is one of the top tourist attractions in Rome, there obviously is an entrance fee to go in – well worth the price in my opinion. However, on certain days the line to get in is long and you may be discouraged. Trust me though, it is worth the effort.

Anyways, if you can’t be fussed standing in line to get a ticket, getting an online ticket for a guided tour and to skip the line is among the things to do in Rome. The good news is that tours of the Roman Forum sold online are generally sold together with visits to the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill, thus allowing you to visit of three of the best tourist attractions in Rome in one go and skipping the lines for all of them.

The Palatine is one of my favorite places to visit in Rome. According to legend, this hill is where the twins Romulus and Remus were brought up by a wolf and where Romulus, having killed his brother, founded the village that later on became Rome. Historically speaking, the Palatine was once the residence of emperors and aristocrats.

You surely shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit all these tourist attractions in Rome in one go, especially if you could do it completely hassle free.

These are some of the best tours that include a visit to the Roman Forum:

Visit the Baths of Caracalla

Not far from Colosseum, the Baths of Caracalla are one of the coolest places to visit in Rome. This is an enormous bathing complex (around 1600 people could bathe there at the same time). It suffered the passing of time way more than other sites in Rome, but it is still pleasant to explore – especially as it gets way less visitors than other places in Rome. It costs €11 to get into the Baths of Caracalla. You can buy your ticket in advance here. If you want to get an audio-guide as well, the ticket costs €17 – the visit will last around 1.5 hours. You can get it here.

places to visit in Rome

The Pantheon is an unmissable attraction

Marvel at the Pantheon

One of the unmissable things to do in Rome is visiting the Pantheon. This was built in 126 AD, upon orders of Emperor Hadrian and served as a temple. It later on became a Catholic church. Its Dome is considered one of the best preserved buildings from antiquity. Inside you will be able to see the tombs of famous Italian artist Raphael and of King Victor Emmanuel II. There is no admission fee for the Pantheon, as it is a church. But if you want, you can get an audio-guide which will take you around for about 35 minutes. It costs €5.5. You can get yours here.

Check out my post A Guide To Visiting The Pantheon, Rome + What You Should Know About Pantheon Tickets.”

Explore the Domus Aurea

If you want to visit a unique place, head to the Domus Aurea. This is a beautiful villa built upon orders of Emperor Nero after the great fire of 64 AD destroyed most of the city. The site only opened to the public a few years ago, and excavations continue – to the point that visitors have to wear a hard hat.

At the time of Trajan, the villa was used as a foundation for his public baths and he demanded that doors and windows were sealed and art covered – yet it is still possible to see some of the frescoes. Most of them are still covered in dirt, while restores painstakingly bring them back to their original beauty.

The Domus Aurea is opened on weekends only, and you need a guide for your visit. You can book this tour, which also goes to the Colosseum.

Marvel at Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

Built in the 17 century upon orders of Pope Innocent X, Palazzo Doria Pamphilj is located in the heart of Rome, in Via del Corso 305. It’s a great art gallery and palace where you can admire paintings and ceilings made by artists such as Caravaggio, Caracci and Bernini.

I recommend hiring a guide for your visit. These are the best tours available:

Rome attractions

Villa Borghese is one of the coolest places to visit in Rome – photo courtesy of Jean-Pierre Dalbéra (flickr)

Go on a tour of Galleria Borghese and Borghese Gardens

Villa Borghese is one of the most interesting places to visit in Rome. The gardens are a truly enchanting place – especially the Pincio terrace. But art lovers also enjoy the incredible art exhibit with paintings and sculptures of Bernini, Canova, Caravaggio and Titian.

Going on a small group tour of Villa and Galleria Borghese is one of the nicest things to do in Rome to fully enjoy this incredible place – not to mention, purchasing the tour in advance allows to save time and to skip the lines at the entrance. They even have VIP tours, for an even more intimate experience.

Here’s some tours of Villa Borghese:

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

views of Rome

A breathtaking view of Rome

Admire the most amazing views of the city

I did say that the views from St. Peter’s Basilica Dome are impressive. But did you know there is another place where you can admire the city and which is completely free to access? The Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci) is located on the Aventine Hill, at an easy walking distance from the Colosseum. The gardens were designed in 1932 by Raffaele de Vico and very well kept. From there you will get the most impressive views of Rome and the Vatican.

Visit San Clemente Basilica

If you want to visit a lesser known church in Rome (at least to foreigners!) head to San Clemente Basilica. This is one of the oldest church in town, built over a site that Christians used to pray when they still had to hide their faith. Subsequent excavations brought out various levels of the church: one dates back to the 1st century, and one to the 4th. Apparently there’s an even older one that went destroyed during the 64 fire caused by Nero.

San Clemente is located close to the Colosseum and you can visit it independently thanks to the panels that share precious information.

If you’d rather join a guided tour, these are some good ones:

And St. John in the Lateran

St. John in Lateran is located in the Esquilino neighborhood. It is the seat of the Pope in the city of Rome and the oldest basilica in town. There, you will be able to see the Lateran Obelisk, thought to be the largest standing Egyptian obelisk in the world and located right outside the church, which is famous for its Scala Sancta, a stairway of 28 steps said to be the one Jesus climbed to go to his trial in Jerusalem.

Explore the The Catacombs and the Appian Way

The Appian Way is one of the nicest places to visit in Rome. This famous road was built in 312 BC to connect Rome to cities such as Naples and Brindisi. It was used for both commercial and military purposes. Along the Appian Way, you can visit the Church of Domine Quo Vadis, built in the 9th century, and the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, where 16 popes have been buried.

These are some good guided tours of the Catacombs and the Appian Way:

Rome attractions

Meeting the locals is what to do in Rome for fun

10 Absolutely Fun Things To Do In Rome

Most people who visit Rome go there to immerse themselves in its incredible history and millenary culture. However, Rome is an incredible vibrant and fun city. Places like Campo de Fiori, Piazza Navona, Via del Corso are not only among the best tourist attractions in Rome, but also the go-to places for a stroll, for a bit of shopping and to enjoy a good gelato (the best gelaterie are Grom in Piazza Navona and Lemon Grass in Via Ottaviano, by the way).

But going for a stroll, shopping, eating gelato, going to open air concerts and to the White Night are old classics. So I have put together a short selection of things to do in Rome just for fun.

Put your hand in the Mouth of Truth

According to a Medieval legend, the Mouth of Truth bites off the hand of liars. You can give it a try. It’s located right by the entrance of Santa Maria in Cosmedin church. It was originally a large marble manhole that dates back to the 1st century and which was placed right by the church in 1632. The Mouth of Truth became internationally famous thanks to the movie Roman Holidays, with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.

Rome attractions

Driving a vintage Vespa is one of the most fun things to do in Rome – photo courtesy of Jarred Elrod

Go on a Vespa tour

I grew up watching old movies like Roman Holidays and La Dolce Vita, and with the myth of Vespa scooters – I used to have one, but sold it once I moved overseas. Needless to say, going around in a Vespa scooter is one of the coolest things to do in Rome to appreciate the city a bit like the locals do. Vespa Tours can be booked online. Some can be done independently and they include itinerary and maps.

If you are not too confident to dodge the streets of Rome by yourself you can opt for a guided Vespa tour. Personally, I’d prefer that: Rome is huge and it is easy to get lost in the maze of boulevards and narrow alleys. A local guide is bound to take you to the nicest places to visit in Rome without getting lost.

Other cool tours are the Vintage Vespa one – but it’s only for those who already know how to drive a manual transmission Vespa; and Rome by Night. Considering that public transportation in Rome isn’t the best at night, a night tour may be what to do in Rome to enjoy a bit of sightseeing and nightlife at the same time.

The following are some of the coolest Vespa tours in Rome:

Or drive an Ape Calessino 

One of the most fun things I did in 2016 was touring Sardinia on an Ape Calessino (tuc tuc). I can only imagine how much fun it would be to go around Rome in one and I am really glad to find out that it is now possible to rent Ape Calessino to drive around town – this is certainly one of the most fun things to do in Rome.

places to see in Rome

Who said that art can’t be fun? Spotting street art is what to do in Rome – photo courtesy of Valeria Preci (flickr)

Spot all the street art 

It is only obvious that art galleries rank among the best known tourist attractions in Rome. But let’s face it: art can at times be a bit boring. I enjoy a museum every now and then, but I find street art and urban renovation projects to be more fun – even if only because they need to be discovered throughout a city.

Going to Quadraro is what to do in Rome to admire some incredible street art projects. This part of town is not nearly as touristy as the rest, so the benefits in going are many: it is local, it is free and it is fun.

Go on an off-the-beaten path tour

All travelers like going local – including a proper tourist like myself. But in a city like Rome this isn’t exactly easy, because it is huge and extremely touristy. The good news is that there is a company, called Withlocals, that offers off-the-beaten track tours guided by a local. This is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Rome if you to learn a bit more about the culture and way of life of its people (without getting lost). You can even get a local to walk you around. Check out local guides in Rome here. 

Join a food tour

If there is one thing that I truly enjoy in Rome, that’s eating. I am not even a foodie at all, but the food in Rome is heavenly. Whether eating at a fine restaurant or at a local trattoria; grabbing gelato on the go; biting into some street food it’s really hard to go wrong. Going on a food tour is what to do in Rome to enjoy all of its flavor.

The good news is that there’s a variety of tours that can all be bought online. There are wine and food tasting tours; beer and food tasting tours; day tours and evening tours; Michelin stars food tours for extremely refined palates; Withlocals Roman Food Tour: the 10 tastings (I’d personally opt for this: eating street food is what to do in Rome!). They even organize food tours based on location – Testaccio food tours and Trastevere food tours are just two examples.

Here’s the best food tours in Rome:

Take a cooking class

We all love Italian food, and one of the perks of visiting Rome is the chance of eating all the delicious pasta, gelato, saltimbocca, abbacchio (lamb), and the many specialties of Roman Kosher cuisine (did you know that one of the largest Jewish communities outside Israel lives in Rome, by the way?). One of the most fun things to do in Rome, that unveils at least some of the secret of Italian cuisine, is joining a cooking class. It’s a great way to learn a bit more about the Italian culture and way of life!

These are some of the best cooking classes in Rome:

things to do in Rome

Did you know that the cats of Rome are famous?

Visit a cat sanctuary

If you love cats as much as I do, then you will have a great time visiting one of the many cat sanctuaries in Rome. The oldest and possibly the most famous one is that of Largo di Torre Argentina, which is very central (right between Piazza Navona and Piazza Venezia). It’s located in an archeological side thought to be the place where Julius Cesar was murdered (though in fact he was killed a couple of blocks away, at the Theater of Pompey).

The sanctuary is open to visitors who are welcome to pet the resident cats, and who can shop for small souvenirs such as a cat of Rome calendar (it’s actually a very popular souvenir to get in Rome) and even make a donation to support the charity that runs the sanctuary.

Explore Rome’s coolest neighborhoods

Testaccio, Trastevere and Garbatella: you may have heard of them already. Either way, make sure to at least go for a walk in each of them.

Testaccio is known as Rome’s original foodie neighborhood – there is no way to avoid it if you are a food lover. There you will also find the Non-Catholic cemetery of Rome and the Pyramid of Caius Cestius – which was built as the tomb of a notable roman at the time when Rome was a fan of all things Egypt.

Trastevere is the nightlife hotspot of Rome – it is packed with cool bars, cafés, pubs and restaurants, and it is overall very lively. It’s maze of pretty alleys is simply fun to explore.

Garbatella is often unknown to foreigners. It became popular with Italian tourists when an incredibly famous Italian TV series was filmed there. The neighborhood, which was first created in the 1920s, used to have a bad reputation but it is now thought to be one of the best ones to live in rome.

Go in search of Art Nouveau

If you are a fan of Art Nouveau, you really have to go on a search for the gems you can find scattered around town. Some of the best examples of this artistic trend can be found in Quartiere Coppedé, which is not far from Borghese Gardens.

Another place to look for Art Nouveau is Galleria Sciarra, which is at a short distance from Trevi Fountain. This was built between 1885 and 1888 upon orders of Prince Maffeo Sciarra and was meant to serve as an upscale shopping mall, but it now hosts mostly offices.

places to see in Rome

Ideas on what to do in Rome that is budget friendly: walking along the Tiber river

5 Things To Do In Rome That Are Budget Friendly

I won’t deny it: Rome isn’t exactly a budget friendly destination. Any long term traveler will agree with me if I say that the best way to travel on a budget is to travel slow and spend longer in a place. Flash packers who only have a few days to enjoy tourist attractions in Rome are bound to book hotels in the city center, to eat out all the time and will benefit from all the skip the line tickets. However, I also know what to do in Rome when on a tight budget.

Stay at a self catering apartment

My first advice is to rent an apartment rather than go to a hotel or bed and breakfast. That means having a kitchen and being able to cook, thus saving massively on meals – besides it is fun to shop for groceries in the many markets of Rome and to cook using fresh local produce.

Opt for trattorie rather than restaurants

I know that eating out is one of the most fun things to do in Rome, and it is still possible to do so – eating in trattorie or gorging on street food is what to do in Rome in this case.

Visit all the squares

The good news is that there’s a wide range of tourist attractions in Rome that are completely free to visit. All the squares in Rome can be accessed for free. Going to places like Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna, Piazza di Trevi (with its famous fountain) and even Piazza Venezia with its view of Campidoglio is what to do in Rome to enjoy free attractions.

And the churches

Visiting churches is one of the most budget friendly things to do in Rome – they are usually free to visit (at times there is a really small fee to access the cloister).

Take advantage of free admissions to museums on Sundays

But there’s more: a bunch of museums and other tourist attractions in Rome, including the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine, and Castel Sant’Angelo – are free on the first Sunday of each month. The entire list can be seen here: it’s in Italian (no equivalent on the English version of the site) but it is rather self explanatory. Of course, free access implies waiting in line to get in, but if time is not an issue this is definitely what to do in Rome if on a tight budget.

2019 UPDATE: Free admission Sundays are only available from the first Sunday of October to the first Sunday of March.

Rome attractions

Picking a room with a view is definitely what to do in Rome – this is the view from Orange Garden B&B dining room

Other Useful Tips For Your Trip To Rome

Where to stay in Rome

As any proper tourist destination, Rome has a wealth of accommodation options that range from budget backpacker hostels, to holiday rentals, guest houses and bed and breakfasts, hotels and luxury hotels. Choosing where to stay in Rome is more a matter of location than anything else – checking what unmissable tourist attractions in Rome are nearby may be a good way to select a hotel.

I find that staying in the area around Vittorio Emanuele metro station is one of the things to do in Rome to have easy access to a number of attractions, including the Colosseum which is a bit of a walk, but totally doable, and San Giovanni in Laterano Church. Not to mention my favorite restaurant in town (Trattoria Vecchia Roma) is located there. A good place to stay in Vittorio Emanuele is Zefiro Home.

If visiting the Vatican is one of the top things to do in Rome, the Orange Garden B&B may literally be the top choice. I stayed there during one of my last visits in Rome and the view of the Dome of the Vatican from the dining room is simply stunning.

For more accommodation options, read my post A Complete Guide To Where To Stay In Rome.”

what to do in Rome

The Pantheon is one of the iconic tourist attractions in Rome

How to get to Rome

As one of the world’s most visited city, Rome is really easy to get to. There are two airports: Fiumicino, which is the main airport, a bit outside of Rome; and Ciampino, which is closer to the center and used by budget airlines.

While there are no trains connecting Ciampino to Rome city center, getting the train from Fiumicino to Roma Termini Station is what to do in Rome to get there on the cheap – a one-way ticket costs €14.00 euro. Tickets can be bought online on Trenitalia website, or directly at the station.

An even cheaper way to get from either Fiumicino or Ciampino airport to the center of Rome (where all the nicest tourist attractions in Rome are located) is via bus or shuttle. Tickets can be bought directly online. There’s even shuttle and transfer services connecting Civitavecchia (the nearest port) to Rome – they also can be bought online.

Check out my post on How To Get From Fiumicino Airport To Rome City Center.”

Best time to visit Rome

If you ask me, it is always a good time to visit Rome. Yet, there are some months where the nicest tourist attractions in Rome are even more crowded than usual. I tend to avoid the summer months for example, because it is too hot and there are too many tourists (and even if I can get skip the lines tickets, I still don’t enjoy a place when it is too crowded).

I find that going in October is what do in Rome to be able to enjoy great weather, less tourists and all that the city has to offer.

Have you ever been to Rome? What are your recommendations on things to do in Rome? Do you have any tips to avoid the lines at tourist attractions in Rome?

Check out my post The Best Roma Pass Options And How To Make The Most Of It.”

Make sure to read my other posts about Rome for more itineraries and ideas:

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Discover what to do in Rome - via @clautavani

 

Find out what to do in Rome - via @clautavani