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 are definitely required to book your tickets and select a time slot for your visit in advance.
In other words: you just can’t show up at the museum and get tickets there.
You can get your tickets for Galleria Borghese by calling the museum or sending them an email; or – better – you can buy your tickets on a variety of sites.
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 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.
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.
Incredible art – photo courtesy of Sonse (flickr)
Six 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.
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:
Way N. 3: 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.
Aside from the language barrier, the website is absolutely confusing – you don’t just have to pay for the ticket AND the online booking fee, but there is an additional €2 fee for “commissioni” (commissions, I gather) which is by no means explained.
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 costs €24 – that’s €20 for the ticket + €2 for the booking fee + €2 commission (so €24 per person in total for a full price ticket). If you want to add a guided tour, the total price will be €28.50 + the €2 commission, for a total of €30.50. EU Citizens aged between 18 and 25 pay €13 for the ticket (that includes the €11 for the ticket and €2 for the booking fee) or €19.50 for the guided tour. Visitors under 18 only pay the €2 reservation fee or €10.50 for the guided tour.
AUDIO GUIDES: Audio guides are available in English, Italian, French, German and Spanish. They cost €5 but they can’t be booked in advance.
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.
The gardens or Galleria Borghese are a must
Way N. 4: Call or email the museum
Perfect for: those who like doing things the old way
Advantages: You can talk to a real person (if you call) and ask questions about your visit
Disadvantages: You need to calculate the time difference for the call center office hours
If you want to book your tickets via phone, you need to call +39 06 32810. Press 2 for support in English.
The Call Center is open Mondays to Fridays, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Saturdays, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm – all timings are intended as CET.
Alternatively, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request individual and group tickets.
You can book your visit of Galleria Borghese directly on the site
Way N. 5: 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.
You can access Galleria Borghese via the Pincian Hill
Way N.: 6 Go to the museum in person
Perfect for: The optimists
Advantages: You may actually find a ticket at the desk
Disadvantages: You may end up spending less time than you’d like in the museum.
If you really want to visit Galleria Borghese but haven’t made any reservation, you can try your luck and go to the museum in person. You may be really lucky and they may have tickets available for a specific time slot. You won’t have to pay the €2 online reservation fee, but if you have to walk in right away you may have less than two hours at the gallery.
The worst case scenario is that you may be turned away entirely.
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.
WARNING! This option really should be a last resort and I do not recommend using it!
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.
Once you get to the museum, head to the counter located on the left side of the main stairways and show your voucher. That will be exchanged for a physical ticket which will be scanned as you enter the museum.
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 €24 – that’s €18 for the ticket + €2 for the booking fee + €2 commission per ticket – so one full price ticket will cost €20 + €2 booking fee + €2 commission = €24 in total.
EU Citizens aged between 18 and 25 pay €13 (€9 for the ticket + €2 booking fee + €2 commission cost).
Visitors under 18 years of age only pay the €2 reservation fee.
A guided tour costs €8.50 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.
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.
Any time there is a special exhibit at Galleria Borghese, the price of the tickets may go up. Keep this in mind when purchasing your ticket directly via the website.
Using the Roma Pass to visit Galleria Borghese
At the time of writing, the Roma Pass can’t be used to visit Galleria Borghese.
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.
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 for Galleria Borghese are valid for the following time slots:
9:00 to 11:00 am
11:00 am to 1:00 pm
1:00 to 3:00 pm
3:00 to 5:00 pm
5:00 to 7:00 pm.
Last entry is at 5:00 pm. You can stay in the museum for your entire booked time slot, after which you will be asked to leave.
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.
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.
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:
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 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.
GOOD TO KNOW: As only 3000 visitors at once are allowed, and this rule is strict, you may experience a slight delay in getting in. Just be patient!
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!
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.
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.
As of 1 November 2019, tickets to the Colosseum (including access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill) cost €16. This ticket is valid for one day. Two-day tickets (which allow you to visit the different sites on two consecutive days) now cost €18.
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 €18 – that’s €16 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.
GOOD TO KNOW: For groups of 13 visitors or more (up to 50 participants), you need to use a special booking procedure.
Remember to print your ticket and take it with you!
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Once you buy your ticket via the official website, this can’t be reimbursed and you can’t modify the reservation or change it to another date.
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.
GOOD TO KNOW: All guided group tours of the Colosseum follow a more or less strict schedule, so you can’t really stay at the Colosseum after the tour, unless your tour is only focussing on the Colosseum, without the Forum and the Palatine Hill.
These are the best guided group tours with skip the line tickets to the Colosseum:
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:
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.
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: Tours 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:
Rome: the Eternal City in a day – the best of all the guided tours to see the highlight of Rome, as it goes to all the main attractions with a live guide and with skip-the-line tickets. The tour costs a lot – €1200 euro. But if there are a few of you willing to split, it may be well worth the price to see the best of the city.
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.
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 siteto 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.
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 €16 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.
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.
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.
TIP: 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! As a general rule, make sure to get to the meeting point at least 15 minutes in advance.
Modifications to the reservation and refunds
Keep in mind that once you purchase your ticket via the official website, the date of the visit can’t be changed and the ticket can’t be reimbursed.
The same doesn’t apply for tickets bought via third party sites, in which case you can cancel or modify your reservation and get a refund.
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
As of 1 November 2019 tickets to the Colosseum cost €16 and include a visit to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Tickets are valid for 24 hours after purchase, with one entry per site. The €18 tickets are valid for 48 consecutive hours, during which you have one entry into each site.
The cost of tickets for citizens of the European Union between 18 and 25 year old is €2. All citizens under 18 can get in for free.
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.
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 in Via dei Fori Imperiali, 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 with reduced mobility.
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:
With one full week in Rome, you will really get to know the city well and can even push yourself beyond the city limit. A week in the city means having enough time to appreciate the top tourist attractions and to explore the lesser known ones.
Mind you: even if you have 7 days in Rome, you should still to do some planning. Places like the Colosseum, the Vatican and Borghese Gallery require advanced bookings, and as they set limits to the number of visitors that can get in at once, they get sold out quickly. You are better off booking your visit as soon as you are certain of when you’ll be in Rome.
Since I know Rome quite well – I have been countless times and I even lived there at some point in my life – I thought I’d help you by drafting an itinerary to see Rome in a week. It’s a nice paced one, whereby each day you will have a lot to see and do, but also have time to chill. All is left to do for you is booking your flights, your room in town, and get tickets for the attractions that require advanced bookings (don’t worry, I will tell you which ones).
In this post, I will explain everything you can see and do if you have one week in Rome, providing insightful information on the most popular attractions and sharing some tips to organize your visit.
Continue reading to discover how to spend a wonderful week in Rome.
The Colosseum is the most iconic attraction in Rome
A Fantastic Itinerary To Spend An Amazing Week In Rome
Before I get to the fun bits and tell you all there is to see and do in one week in Rome, let me stress one thing: even with that amount of time, you really do need to book entries to the most popular tourist attractions.
Keep in mind that places like the Colosseum or Borghese Gallery cap the number of people they let in at a given time period, and they even get sold out at times. If you don’t book them in advance, you may end up spending hours in line for a ticket only to find out you can’t even get in.
I will make sure to point out any time you should be get skip the line tickets beforehand. Rest assured that if youfollow my suggestions and this itinerary, you’ll have a fantastic week in Rome.
TIP: Even though you have quite a bit of time to explore Rome, I recommend to have an early start every day, so that you can avoid the largest crowds and (in case you are visiting in the summer) the hottest hours.
The itinerary I am going to draft is not too packed. It is meant to minimize the time you spend on public transportation by grouping attractions that are close to each other on the same day, so that you can walk from one to the other.
TIP: You may occasionally need to have lunch on the go so that you can continue exploring. The good news is that street food in Rome is delicious. Things such as supplì al telefono, pizza al taglio and even gelato are all good to give you lots of energy.
TIP: Wear comfortable shoes as there will be quite a bit of walking to do.
And now, to the fun bit! Continue reading for a wonderful itinerary for one week in Rome.
The mighty sight of the Colosseum at night
Day 1: Ancient Rome
This itinerary for one week in Rome starts those attractions you really do not want to miss. Your first stop is the Colosseum, after which you’ll go to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, the Baths of Caracalla, the Mouth of Truth and the Aventine Hill.
TIP: If you are keen on visiting the Colosseum at night, start from the last stop and then head to the Colosseum area later in the day. More about night tours of the Colosseum below.
Map of day one Rome itinerary
Click here for a map of your first day’s itinerary. You can see the distances between the various attractions, and even adjust it to your interest and needs by adding or skipping places.
I am quite certain that the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Rome is the Colosseum – and I can’t blame you for that. It’s an incredible sight, during the day and even more so at night. You simply can’t skip it.
However, there usually are very long lines to get tickets to visit the Colosseum.
In my post “Five Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines” I explain in detail how you can skip those lines. You really should read it, but let me get straight to the point here: the only way to skip the line at the Colosseum is to get tickets in advance – which you can do online. You’ll still have to go through security, but that’s a fast moving line.
TIP: If you plan to travel in peak season, you will have to buy your ticket to the Colosseum up to a couple of months in advance.
TIP: Guided tours of the Colosseum can be bought via third party sites that take care of all the arrangements, so that you don’t have to bother going to a different site and specify the time and date of your visit.
These are some good group tour that include skip the line tickets to the Colosseum:
TIP: Tours vary a lot one from the other: some include more thorough visits of the various levels, others are very basic. Make sure to read the description!
Visiting the Colosseum at night
For a more private experience, I recommend doing a night tour of the Colosseum. Night tours usually start at 9:30 pm and last around 2 and a half hours. If you are opting for a night tour, you should reverse the itinerary for the day and you will have more time at the other attractions.
TIP: Have dinner before your night tour of the Colosseum!
Night tours of the Colosseum go to the underground, the first and second ring, and the arena floor – thus being more comprehensive than the average tour. They cost around €87 per person. They are significantly more expensive than other tours, but they are worth the price!
The ticket to the Colosseum also gives you access to the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. In fact, most tours of the Colosseum also go there. A guided tour is probably a good idea, since the site is quite big.
These are some of the best guided tours that combine 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 best sites in Rome. It used to be the heart of the city at the time of the Republic: there was a market, temples, the House of the Senate and even brothels. It became a ceremonial center during the Roman Empire.
The Palatine Hill is where the twins Romolo and Remo were raised by the wolf (at least that’s what the legend says), and where Romolo founded the city after having hilled his brother. It’s where the emperors and aristocrats of Rome used to live.
Baths of Caracalla
Not far from Colosseum there are the Baths of Caracalla, an enormous bathing complex that unfortunately has suffered the passing of time. They still remain a nice place to explore; not to mention they get way less tourists than the Forum and the Colosseum. So, you may want to visit it if you have a full week in Rome.
Practical information: Admission to the Baths of Caracalla is €11. You can buy your ticket in advance here. If you want to get an audio-guide, it costs €17 – the visit lasts 1.5 hours. You can get it here.
Mouth of Truth
At an easy walking distance from the Baths of Caracalla, there’s La Bocca della Verità, or Mouth of Truth in English, which is located by the entrance of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. Originally a manhole that dates back to the 1st century, this large marble mask that was placed by the side of the church in 1632.
According to legend the mouth bites off the hand of liars. You may give it a try! Though there may be a line when you visit, rest assured as it moves quite quickly.
INTERESTING FACT: Wondering where you first saw The Mouth of Truth? It probably is in the movie Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.
After you leave the Mouth of Truth, head to the Giardino degli Aranci, or Orange Garden. You probably have never heard of it, but it’s a really gorgeous place – it’s a well kept garden, designed in 1932 by Raffaele de Vico, from where you can get impressive views of the city and especially of St. Peter’s Basilica. Not a bad place to end your day of exploration!
Trastevere is a lovely area to explore
Day 2: The nicest neighborhoods of Rome
This is meant to be a fun, easy day during which you will explore two of the most authentic, interesting neighborhoods in Rome. There will be some sightseeing, but for the most part I recommend to enjoy your walk, taking in the lovely views, and try all the food that you can get your hands on. Indeed, Testaccio and Trastevere are the best places to visit in Rome to try local specialties.
Map of day two Rome itinerary
You can download a map of the itinerary for your second day in Rome here. If you enlarge the map, you will see that there are a lot of bars and restaurants in the area.
TIP: If you are keen on eating in Testaccio, go to Flavio Al Velavevodetto – make sure to book in advance.
The Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome
On your way from Testaccio to Trastevere, make sure to stop at the Non-Catholic Cemetery. It’s the resting place of famous non-catholics such as poet Percy Shelley, and it’s currently home of one of the largest cat sanctuaries in Rome. Besides, you get incredible views of the pyramid.
Pyramid of Caius Cestius
Given you are in Rome, finding an Egyptian looking pyramid is slightly odd. Caius Cestius Pyramid was built around 12 BC, as the tomb of a prominent public figure. The tomb has been ransacked since, but the pyramid is well kept and a nice sight.
As the name says, Trastevere is right on the other side of the Tiber River. I find this to be one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Rome, and more than anything a good place for nightlife as it is packed with bars, pubs, restaurants and cafés. Most people who visit Trastevere go there for the food – so you may do the same and join a food tour. You can go on this one or this one. Or eventhis tour, in case you also want wine.
You can’t skip St. Peter’s Basilica if you have a full week in Rome
Day 3: Vatican City and Castel Sant’Angelo
After a relaxing day in Testaccio and Trastevere, it’s time to go to some well known tourist attractions again. Today you are going to visit the Vatican, including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel and Castel Sant’Angelo.
Map of day four Rome itinerary
You can download a map of your day 3 itinerary here. Though it looks like there isn’t much walking, rest assured this will be a tiring day as the Vatican is quite big!
St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel
If you would rather avoid the crowds, head out no later than 7:00 am to go on an early tour of the Vatican. If you do this, you’ll be done no later than 12:00 pm, meaning that you’ll have the rest of the day to just relax.
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. Please note that the lines to get into the Vatican Museums start forming as early as 7:30 AM.
My tip is to get an early access Vatican tour with which you also get a dedicated entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica.
Alternatively, you can go to St. Peter’s Basilica as soon as it opens and then visit the Vatican Museums (there is no dedicate entrance this way around).
All in all, I prefer recommending an early morning guided tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, which means you’ll also geta guide and visit the place when it is still virtually empty.
At the end of the tour, you can then hang around a bit longer to climb St. Peter’s Basilica Dome for incredible views.
A few facts about the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica
The Vatican Museums huge, with a whopping 54 chambers and a very large collection. Right next to them, the Sistine Chapel is home to one of Renaissance’s greatest works, Michelangelo’s masterpiece – The Last Judgement.
St. Peter’s Basilica, the most important church for Catholics, was built by Michelangelo, Bernini and Bramante over a site thought to be the tomb of St. Peter. The church has 11 chapels, 45 altars and beautiful mosaics. Inside there are Michelangelo’s Pietà, Bernini’s Baldacchino, as well as the Chair of St. Peter.
TIP:Modest clothing is a must to visit the Vatican. Make sure to cover your knees and shoulders.
TIP: Photos inside the Basilica are allowed, but not inside the Sistine Chapel.
If you have a week in Rome, make sure to pop into Castel Sant’Angelo. Built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian, it subsequently became a prison and it is now a museum. The building itself is the most interesting part, and the views of the Vatican from the roof are splendid.
If you are considering going in, get a skip the line ticket. These are some good options:
If you have one full week in Rome, you will feel the need to get out of city. Some people venture as far as Florence or Naples, but I think you should stick to the region and go somewhere close. There are plenty of incredible places to visit within an hour or 90 minutes reach. For your fourth day in Rome, I suggest going to Ostia Antica or Tivoli.
Ostia Antica is at just 30 km from Rome. There, you will find a wonderful archeological site. The city – which at its peak had more than 100000 inhabitants – is right on the Tyrrhenian Sea and it used to serve as a commercial port to store and ship goods to Rome. It was incredibly affluent – that’s why you will find remnants of villas, shops, taverns, temples as well as thermal baths and an amphitheater.
Ostia can be visited independently – the train leaves from Porta San Paolo station and you need to go towards Roma Lido. It takes about 40 minutes.
Alternatively, there are some good guided tours departing from Rome. These are some recommended ones:
Two of best preserved Roman villas in the surroundings of Rome are located in Tivoli.
Hadrian’s Villa was built in the 2nd century by Emperor Hadrian, and it was his official residence in his final years.It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in incredibly good conditions, and inside you’ll find the remains of temples, palaces, libraries and barracks.
Villa d’Este used to be the home of the son of Lucrezia Borgia. It was built in the 16th century and it is surrounded by a gorgeous garden with lots of scenic fountains.
If you want to go to Tivoli by yourself, take the train that leaves from Rome Tiburtina station. It takes less than one hour to get to Tivoli. You can buy tickets to Villa Adriana here or here.
Day 5: Borghese Gallery and the Historic Center of Rome
After a day out of the city, you will be ready to get right into it. On your fifth day, you will be visiting Borghese Gallery, one of the best art collections in the world, and explore the historic center of Rome. Once you are done with the gallery, you will literally have no obligations to be anywhere at a specific time – so you can take it easy.
Map of day three Rome itinerary
You’ll find a map of today’s itinerary here but keep in mind that not all places mentioned in the itinerary appear on the itinerary. They are easy to get to, though.
Borghese Gallery and Gardens are among the most pleasant places to visit in Rome. The Gallery has a fantastic art collection, with paintings and sculptures of artists such as Bernini, Canova, Caravaggio and Titian.
Galleria Borghese has timed entrances and only allows 360 visitors can get in at the same time. This means that you won’t ever find it crowded, but it also means that you absolutely have to reserve your time slot in advance, especially if you are visiting in the peak season.
Make sure to be at the Gallery 30 minutes before your scheduled visit.
If you walk through the park from Borghese Gallery you will get to the Pincian Hill and terrace, from where you can get beautiful views of Piazza del Popolo. This is one of the largest squares in Rome, at whose center you’ll see the obelisk of Ramesses II from Heliopolis – the second tallest in the city.
The Spanish Steps
At a short distance from Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps, or Piazza di Spagna as we call it in Italy, is one of the most iconic places in town, and you absolutely have to visit if if you have one week in Rome. It will be crowded, but it’s worth it. The 185 steps that surmount the square lead to the beautiful Trinità dei Monti church, from where you will see Via Condotti – a luxury shopping streets.
TIP: Don’t put your feet in the fountain. It’s prohibited!
The fountain went through renovation work in recent years, and it’s been brought back to its splendor.
If you feel like it, make a quick stop at Piazza di Montecitorio, the seat of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. The building was planned by Bernini for Ludovico Ludovisi, the nephew of Pope Gregory XV. Carlo Fontana completed the construction.
The Pantheon is simply unmissable
The Pantheon is one of the unmissable attractions in Rome, and one of its most iconic buildings. It dates back to 126 AD, when it was commissioned by Emperor Hadrian and served as a temple (it then became a Catholic church). Its Dome is thought to be the best preserved building from antiquity. Inside you will find the tombs of famous Italian artist Raphael and of King Victor Emmanuel II.
Visiting the Pantheon is free but you may want to get an audioguide to take you around (the tour lasts 35 minutes) for just €5 euro. You can get yours here.
Piazza Navona is one of my favorite squares in Rome. It was paved in the 15th century over the 1st century Stadio di Domiziano during the 15th century, and is now used for a lovely local market. There you’ll be able to see the Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed in 1651 by Bernini, and the Baroque Sant’Agnese church, built in the 17th century.
Campo de’ Fiori
South of Piazza Navona, Campo de’ Fiori is one of the most scenic squares in Rome. In Medieval times this used to be a meadows (literally, a field of flowers, hence its name). The square was paved in 1456, and started being used as a market in the late 19th century.
Did you know that the cats of Rome are famous?
Largo di Torre Argentina
Cat lovers, make sure to stop at Largo di Torre Argentina at least once during your week in Rome. It’s located between Piazza Navona and Piazza Venezia and it is a nice archeological site where, according to legend, Julius Cesar died. In fact, he was murdered at the Theater of Pompey, a couple of blocks away.
Roman history aside, Largo di Torre Argentina is home to the oldest cat sanctuary in Rome. You can visit the sanctuary, pet the cats and buy a souvenir and even make a donation to the organization that helps them.
Piazza Venezia is where you’ll be able to admire the beautiful monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, built in 1911 to celebrate the first king of unified Italy. It’s a must see in Rome.
The Jewish Ghetto
The last stop for the day – and ideally you’ll be there in time for dinner – is the Jewish Ghetto of Rome. This part of town was created upon orders of Pope Paul IV five centuries ago. He literally wanted to lock in all the Jews of Rome, and that’s why there were walls and gates that were locked at night.
Nowadays, this area is famous for its delicious kosher cuisine. Make sure to try carciofi alla giudia – fried artichokes with mint and garlic.
The Appian Way is one of the most pleasant places to visit in Rome
Day 6: Lesser known Rome
If you have a full week in Rome, you might as well go to places that are a bit lesser known (at least to foreigners) but just as interesting to explore. Start with two beautiful churches and then move to the Catacombs and the Appian Way – you can skip the churches if these aren’t your thing. Your last stop for the day will be Garbatella, one of the nicest neighborhoods of Rome.
Map of day six Rome itinerary
You can find the map for today here. Distances are a bit longer, so I recommend clicking on the train icon to find the transportation options to move from one place to the other.
San Clemente Basilica
San Clemente Basilica is a lovely, lesser visited church. It was built over a site that Christians used to hide to practice their faith when their religion was still illegal in Rome. Various excavations brought out different levels of the church – one dates back to the 1st century, and one to the 4th. There apparently is an even older level that went destroyed during the 64 AD fire caused by Nero.
San Clemente, which is close to the Colosseum, can be easily visited independently. The panels inside the church share enough information.
If you’d rather join a guided tour, these are some good ones:
Located in the lovely Esquilino neighborhood, St. John in Lateran is the seat of the Pope in the city of Rome and the oldest basilica in town. In front of it you’ll find the Lateran Obelisk, thought to be the largest standing Egyptian obelisk in the world. The church is famous for its Scala Sancta, a stairway of 28 steps which is said to be the one Jesus climbed to go to his trial in Jerusalem. If you want to climb it, you will have to do so on your knees.
These are some good tours that go to St. John in the Lateran church:
The Appian Way is a lovely place to visit if you have a week in Rome. Built in 312 BC as a way to connect Rome to cities such as Naples and Brindisi and used for military as well as commercial purposes, it is thought to be one of the oldest surviving roads in the world.
Along the Appian Way, there are the Church of Domine Quo Vadis, built in the 9th century, and the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, where 16 popes have been buried, and St. Sebastian.
These are some good guided tours of the Catacombs and the Appian Way:
Garbatella is still out of the main tourist route in Rome, so a nice place to visit if you are in Rome for a week. Unknown to most foreigners, it became very popular in Italy a few years ago after a TV series was filmed there.
Garbatella was first built in 1918. For a long time it was thought to be a dangerous place, but it is now considered to be one of the best areas to live in Rome. There, you will find some museums and art galleries, and the nice church of St. Paul’s Outside The Walls.
If you have a week in Rome, Viterbo is a lovely place to visit
Day 7: A day trip to Viterbo or Tuscia
Once again, I suggest going on a day trip outside of town. And once again, I recommend staying in Lazio and not going too far. I know that most of you will be tempted to head far away to famous cities, but Lazio has some of Italy’s best kept secrets and if you give it a chance you will discover places that aren’t crowded with tourists, that have retained their local character, and that are truly scenic and worth visiting. In other words: trust a local!
TIP: If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can actually rent a car and visit Viterbo and Tuscia in a day. It makes for an excellent road trip.
In a way, I hope the secret will never spell: Viterbo, at about 100 km from Rome, is one of the prettiest cities in Italy. My dad is from Viterbo, so growing up I’d regularly visit my grandparents there. Aside from my obvious attachment, the city is objectively very pretty.
Viterbo has a very well preserved medieval center. It’s completely surrounded by walls and has gated entrances. During the 13th century, for about 24 years, Viterbo was the seat of the pope. You will be able to visit the Papal Palace. Other places of interest are the Duomo of San Lorenzo and the Church of Santa Maria Nuova. The oldest area of Viterbo is San Pellegrino, a maze of tiny alleys and scenic squares.
On 3 September Viterbo holds Santa Rosa festival, in honor of its protective saint. An enormous, beautifully illuminated papier-mache statue is carried around the darkened narrow alleys of the city by a team of 100 porters. It’s such a unique show that it became UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage in 2013.
Last, though not least, in Viterbo you can enjoy the beautiful thermal baths – they are very cheap too!
You can travel to Viterbo independently by train, departing from Rome Aurelia train station. The journey takes around one hour and 45 minutes. You can checkthe train timetable andbuy train tickets here. Once there, you can either explore by yourself or join a guided tour such as this one.
Alternatively, there are some good guided tours of Viterbo that depart from Rome:
The name Tuscia refers to the word Romans used to refer to Etruscans, who ruled the part of Italy that spreads across northern Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany’s lower Maremma between 700 and 300 BC. This is a region of lovely, smooth hills and gorgeous medieval villages. It’s a place calling for a long term hike (the Via Francigena crosses the region). But if hiking isn’t your thing or you have no time for it, a road trip is just as good.
Among the places you should visit there are Bolsena, a village by a lake of volcanic origins; Bomarzo, in the Cimini Hills, Soriano nel Cimino which has a gorgeous castle and a beech forest which also became a UNESCO site; Calcata, on top of a hill and whose views from a distance are breathtaking; and Bagnaia, home of the stunning Villa Lante.
Yet, I believe that the prettiest village in the area is Vitorchiano – which is also the closest village to Viberbo.
Since there are many good guided tours of Tuscia, the best way to enjoy this region is by renting a car. You can check out the prices of car rental here. While in Tuscia, make sure to try local food: lombrichetti is the local pasta and it is delicious!
A breathtaking view of Rome
Practical Tips For Your Week In Rome
Where to stay in Rome
You won’t find shortage of good places to stay in Rome. I recommend getting a room in the historic center for easy access to all the attractions and so that you don’t have to rely on public transportation too much. Ottaviano is perfect if you want easy access to the Vatican; Esquilino is best if you are looking for a budget friendly option; and Monti is close to the Colosseum.
These are some accommodation options in Ottaviano:
A 72 hours Roma Pass can be used across 3 days to access to all the main attractions and get discount for others, access public transportation and, in some cases, it includes a transfer 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 most famous attractions in the Vatican, for which you also get an audio guide. Tickets to the Colosseum are not included.
Visit Pass Rome Gold – you get 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. You get an app to draw your itinerary and you can download an audioguide for the Roman Forum. Public transportation is included.
Omnia Vatican and Rome card – the most expensive yet also all inclusive option,it even includes a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket valid for 72 hours.
Best of Rome all access pass – you get fast track entrances to the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hills, and an audio-guide.
Whichever pass you pick, make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions and remember that you have to book your time slot for the Vatican and Borghese Gallery separately.
Castel Sant’Angelo is another impressive sight
When to visit Rome
Any time is a good time to visit Rome. I find the city is at its best in October, when it is not as hot and as crowded as in the summer, and the days are still quite long. August is the worst by far: it’s as crowded with tourists as it gets!
How to get to Rome
Rome has two airports – Fiumicino, for intercontinental flights and all major airlines; and Ciampino, for budget flights to Italy and Europe. You can easily reach the center of Rome from both.
From Ciampino, you can count on taxis, private shuttles and even on the bus. The best is Terravision, which offers the most reliable service. You can book Terravision bus tickets here.
If you are coming from the other side of the world, you will land in Fiumicino. Keep in mind that between clearing customs, fetching your luggage, and making your way to the city it will probably take you around 2 hours (if not more) to get to your hotel.
You can’t really count on Uber in Italy, so for taxis download the app MyTaxi.
If you are staying in the center of Rome, I recommend walking everywhere. In any case, the metro and bus system is quite efficient, despite some mishaps. You can get a Rome public transportation pass which is valid for 72 hours here. It may seem pricey but keep in mind it also includes transfer from Ciampino airport.
TIP:Do not ride horse pulled carriages. It’s one of the least responsible things to do and remember that those horses suffer for the sake to entertain tourists.
If your flight is late in the evening but you have to check out of your room, you are probably better off leaving your bags somewhere near the train station, from where you will likely take the train to the airport. There are a couple of luggage storage places near Termini Station. Check out this one or this one.
Other useful tips
Mind the dress code
Remember that modest clothing is a requirement to access churches, especially St. Peters. Cover your knees and shoulders. If you are visiting in the summer, carry a shawl or cotton shirt in your bag so that you can wear it right before entering.
Get a data plan for your smartphone
Make sure you can use your phone abroad – it’s a life saver to access the internet, use google maps and other apps to move around town. Make sure to download the maps I have provided so that you can use them offline – just in case.
Get a guide book
A good guide book is a great idea for more information about the places to visit, and it usually has a good pop up map.
Water is safe to drink in Rome, and there are fountains everywhere. Carry a bottle with you and refill throughout the day. Drinking fresh water is important when exploring! Most cafés will allow you to use toilets for either a small fee or a drink.
Mind the scams
Tourist scams are as common in Rome as they are in other crowded tourist places. The places where you have to pay more attention are the train stations. Don’t trust overly friendly people that offer to carry your bags, or to help you getting a ticket, and by all means don’t accept anything from strangers, and if they try to place anything in your hands move away.
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.
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 youfollow 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!.
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.
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.
A breathtaking view of Rome
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The Pantheon is one of the most iconic buildings in Rome
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.
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.
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.
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.
The gorgeous Altare della Patria in 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Castel Sant’Angelo is another impressive sight
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, 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).
Borghese Gallery has a fine art collection
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Continue reading to discover all the places to visit in 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.
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.
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.
TIP: don’t forget that modest clothing is required to visit the Vatican.
TIP:No photos are allowed inside the Sistine Chapel.
Castel Sant’Angelo is one of the most famous attractions in Rome
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:
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 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.
Borghese Gallery – the final stop on your first day in Rome
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:
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Make sure to stop at 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.
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!
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.
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:
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:
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.
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. You can get a Rome public transportation card here.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Hi, my name is Claudia. One day I packed my life and started traveling… except I packed too much. Follow me as I fill my life with dreams, drop the weight and inspire you to live your dreams. View and download my media kit here (updated July 2019). Learn more about me here…