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Let’s go to Rome! It’s the city that once ruled them all.
Centuries of history, a modern living metropolis and some of the best food collide in this most magnificent of cities.
For the first time visitor, or even those returning after a long while, with a 5 day Rome itinerary you will have ample time to visit the classic sights and uncover some of the city’s lesser known secrets.
Over 5 days in Rome you can marvel at some of humankind’s greatest creations, bask in the sun in a cobbled piazza and eat gelato beside baroque fountains.
You might even stand in the very spot Julius Caesar was assassinated. Doesn’t that give you goosebumps?
This itinerary is based on a trip we did recently with adjustments for what we learnt.
- practical information to help you plan your trip
- tips for getting around
- ideas for where (and what) to eat including the best gelato stops
- recommended hotels
- ticket information and recommended tours
5 days in Rome overview and highlights
This itinerary is arranged so you have time to explore Rome and visit all the major highlights with stops for gelato, shopping and exploring in between.
We recommend keeping your first day in Rome low key so you can recover from your journey. That way you can see the big sights – Colosseum and Vatican – when you are nicely rested. There is a lot to take in!
There’s room at the end to explore your favorite parts of the city, some secret spots or even take a day trip to Tivoli or the medieval towns north of Rome.
We hope you enjoy our guide to Rome in 5 days.
What's in this article
- 1 5 days in Rome overview and highlights
- 2 Day 1 – Explore the Centro Storico
- 3 Day 2 – Ancient Rome
- 4 Day 3 – Villa Borghese, the Tiber and more
- 5 Day 4 – Vatican
- 6 Day 5 – Roman secrets or a day trip
- 7 Practical information
- 8 Our final thoughts on Rome
Day 1 – Explore the Centro Storico
Once you have settled into your accommodation (you can see our recommendations below if you haven’t booked already), walk off your travel weary legs by taking a leisurely stroll around Rome’s centro storico – historic old town.
This is the cuore (heart) of Rome and it’s impossibly romantic. Cobbled streets open onto wide piazzas with gushing baroque fountains.
Around every corner there is an ancient monument waiting to be discovered. This is your day to wander and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Rome.
This area is very compact, and with a few exceptions, quite flat. So it is easy to walk around and enjoy. In any case, if you get tired you can eat a gelato or relax with a coffee. When in Rome right?
Must see sights of Rome
Of course you have probably seen all these places in photos but there is nothing quite seeing them up close. Make sure you have your camera ready!
- Spanish Steps – built in the 18th century, the Spanish Steps connect the Piazza di Spagna to Piazza Trinita dei Monti where a church of the same name overlooks the city. There are 135 steps to climb to reach the prize views of Rome.
- Trevi Fountain – immortalized in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, this cascading baroque marble fountain is an icon of the city that must not be missed on any trip to Rome. Don’t forget to toss a coin over your shoulder into the water – they say it guarantees you will return to Rome!
Did you know.. over €3,000 is collected each day from the Trevi Fountain. The funds are donated to charities supporting Rome’s homeless and needy
- Pantheon – standing intact for over 2,000 years, the Pantheon was once a Roman temple before being consecrated as a Catholic church. Most impressive is the giant dome that sits on top of the structure. It is the largest unsupported dome in the world to this day and an incredible architectural feat. Light is let into the Pantheon by the giant oculus or hole in the dome. It has a very spiritual feel so it is not surprising that it caused Michelangelo to wonder whether it was the work of angels or humans.
- Piazza Navona – once the site of an ancient Roman stadium, this area was transformed in the 17th century into impressive Piazza Navona with its three ornate fountains. The most impressive is the central Fountain of the four Rivers with its Egyptian obelisk.
As you wander, make sure to duck into some of the 900 churches in the city – many hold priceless art. A favorite, the Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola [Via del Caravita, 8a], is a baroque masterpiece.
Close to Piazza Navona, the area around Campo de’Fiori market square is a great place to stop for dinner. Once the market stalls are packed away, the area is bustling with tourists and locals enjoying their evening.
Suggested guided tours
Some people like to explore on their own, and others use a guidebook. We enjoy small group guided tours to hear about the stories, history and culture of the places we visit.
In fact, we love them so much we have a whole article on the best tours to take in Rome. But if you are interested in a highlights tour and introduction to Rome these are our favourites
- Free walking tour of Rome [expect a big group – tips expected] – >click here for info
- Piazzas of Rome at sunset – >click here for details
- Best of Rome walking tour – includes gelato or hot chocolate! –>more information
- Best for families – Marble Zoo scavenger hunt tour with Rome4Kids – >read our full review
Where to eat
Try Roscioli [Via dei Giubbonari, 21] near Campo de’Fiori for their classic spaghetti carbonara or Pane e Salame near the Trevi Fountain [Via Santa Maria in Via, 19] for quick and delicious meat and cheese platters Roman style.
Day 2 – Ancient Rome
Once a small town on the Tiber river, Rome became the most biggest city in the world. Rome was the centre of the Roman Republic, and later the Roman Empire, that spanned 1,500 years.
At its peak the Roman Empire covered 5 million square kilometres and governed 70 million people – around 21% of the world’s population.
It is impossible to overstate the impact of this period on world history. Our language, architecture, art and political customs and institutions are all founded on Roman principles.
On your second day in Rome, it is time to walk in the footsteps of emperors and marvel at what they created.
Rise early and beat the crowds to view the Colosseum. This huge stadium is the largest amphitheatre ever built and once held up to 80,000 spectators cheering on their favorite gladiator.
The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an iconic monument of the Roman Empire and is a must see site in Rome.
In its heyday the amphitheatre was clad in ivory travertine marble, though this was plundered throughout the centuries. What remains are the foundational materials made of concrete sand.
The Colosseum was used for mass entertainment. The people of Rome came there to watch gladiators in combat, animals fighting and it was even flooded for mock naval battles.
Must see sights at the Colosseum
- Arena floor – where all the action happened
- Hypogeum – underneath the floor where slaves and animals were held
- Special boxes – where the Emperor and Vestal Virgins sat
- Podium – reserved for the Senators
- Maenianum primum tier – where the noble class and knights sat
- Maenianum secundum tier – seating for ordinary Roman citizens
- Maenianum secundum in legneis – for women, slaves and the poor
The Roman Forum
Next to the Colosseum there is a huge field of ruins known as the Roman Forum. This was the center of ancient Rome and where all the important government buildings and temples once stood.
To the untrained eye it is a mound of ruins, but if you take a tour or use a guidebook (we recommend this one) you will learn just how important this area was in Roman life.
Before you enter the Forum, admire the magnificent 1,700 year old Arch of Constantine dedicated to a famous battle between Constantine and Maxentius in 312AD
Must see sights at the Roman Forum
- Arch of Titus – celebrates the conquest of Jerusalem
- Maxentius’ basilica – a place for public meetings that inspired Renaissance architects
- Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
- Temple of Vesta – home to the sacred flame of Rome
Nearby Palatine Hill was a residential area for Roman nobility. This is one of the seven hills of Rome and provides incredible views of the city, Colosseum, Circus Maximus and ruins below.
Must see sights at the Palantine Hill
- Flavian Palace
- House of Augustus
- House of Livia
- Stadium of Domitian
Tickets for the Colosseum and ancient sites
Unless you are visiting the Colosseum in winter it is advisable to prebook tickets or a tour.
This is because when you have limited time you don’t want to waste it spending time in a line – and believe me, they are long (over an hour at peak times).
There are 2 types of tickets – both are the same price – €12 + €2 booking fee for adults if you book via the completely confusing official site
- Scheduled entrance – a set time starting from 08:30am (get there half an hour prior to your time slot)
- Open ticket – you must enter after 14:00pm
These tickets allow access to the ground, first and second tiers of the amphitheatre. If you want to visit the arena floor, underground area and belvedere (3rd level) you will need to do that as part of a tour.
Note – Both types of tickets to the Colosseum also include entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. You can only enter each site once but the ticket is valid for 2 consecutive days.
The Colosseum is open from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm daily except January 1st, May 1st and December 25th. You can take advantage of later opening times in summer.
There is no charge for children under 18 but they still need a ticket that incurs a booking fee – more information
As I mentioned, I frequently visit the official Colosseum site and find it extremely confusing. We booked tickets via our favorite online tour booking system Get Your Guide and it was easy (read our full Get Your Guide review here)
If you have not pre-booked tickets start at the Roman Forum as there is rarely a line. You will need to enter the Colosseum after 14:00pm on your open ticket in this case.
Tips for visiting the Colosseum
Take the metro Line B to Colosseo, Line 3 tram or bus lines 75 – 81 – 673 – 175 – 204
Wear comfortable shoes and bring water and a snack. The site is open to the elements so if it is cool you will need a jacket or coat and in summer a hat and sunscreen are advisable.
Be prepared for lines for security checks. You may not bring large bags or backpacks into the site.
There is a lift at the Colosseum to take those with small children or mobility issues to the upper levels.
There are minimal catering facilities on site, bring some snacks.
Suggested guided tours of the Colosseum
You can absolutely visit these sites on your own, with a guidebook or audioguide. I have done that several times and enjoyed it.
But I learnt so much more when we took a guided tour and to access some areas of the Colosseum – arena, level 3 viewing area, underground – you must take a tour.
There are 1000s of tours offered for this area – here are the ones that are easy to book and cover the most exciting sights.
- Small group tour of the Colosseum, Forum and Palantine Hill – >click here for info
- Large group tour of major Roman sites –>click for details
- 2 hour arena and underground Colosseum tour –>click for information
- Virtual reality tour of the Colosseum (so cool!) – >more information
- Upper tiers (opened 2018) tour of the Colosseum –>click for more details
- For families – we joined Rome4Kids on their special Colosseum tour – read our review
Remainder of day 2
Expect your visit to the ancient Roman sites to take around 3 hours. After that, you might like to explore the delightful Monti district nearby.
Monti is perfect for wandering, stopping for a drink or gelato and browsing boutiques
Or continue your immersion into ancient Rome by visiting Trajan’s Market – the commercial hub of Ancient Rome. There is an interesting museum of artifacts here too – >more information
Lastly, go to Piazza Venezia to marvel at the Altar of the Fatherland, the huge classical style monument to Italy’s first king and soldiers who served in the first world war.
You can take a lift to the Terrazza delle Quadrighe for incredible views of the ancient sights of the city. Access is from the main entrance – >more information
Where to eat
If you want to stop for lunch near to the Colosseum, we recommend Alle Carrette [a casual pizza restaurant in the Monti district near the Colosseum.
In the evening we recommend taking a food tour of the Trastevere district. If you have never been on a food tour, you are in for a treat.
They are a great way to discover the best places to eat and drink in any city. In Rome you taste the famous local pasta and pizza and delicious wines from the region as your guide tells you about the city and vibrant Trastevere district. If you have food preferences or allergies, don’t worry, they work around this.
We recommend The Roman Guy Trastevere food tour – you can get a 5% discount on their tour with our code ‘UntoldItaly‘
Day 3 – Villa Borghese, the Tiber and more
On your third day in Rome, slow the pace down a little and take some time to explore some of the lesser known sights of the city.
Head to Piazza del Popolo, the site of the city’s north gate and where the largest obelisk in Rome stands. This huge cobbled square is an example of Renaissance town planning. Several large streets radiate from the piazza to form the backbone of modern Rome.
Depending on where you are staying, catch metro Linea A to Flaminio stop at Piazza del Popolo, one of several buses or even walk.
From the piazza take the stairs up to Terrazza del Pincio for impressive views over the rooftops of Rome. Try and count the church domes and spires, there are hundreds on the skyline. You can also see St Peter’s basilica and the Vatican in the distance.
Close to the terrace you can hire electric bikes to ride around the Pincio and Villa Borghese gardens. We enjoyed clearing our heads with this activity in these beautiful surrounds
Highlights of the gardens
- Fontana dei Cavalli Marini – beautiful fountain in the heart of the gardens
- Temple of Aesculapius – a 19th century structure built on the park’s artificial lake
- Globe theatre – a reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe right in the heart of Rome!
- Bioparco di Roma – Rome’s small city zoo – worth a visit with small children
- Playground near the Porta Pinciana gate useful with kids too
The main reason people head to this part of the city is to visit the incredible collection of Renaissance and ancient treasures at the Galleria Borghese (Borghese Gallery)
Once the private residence of the powerful Borghese family, the 22 rooms of the villa are bursting with masterpieces by Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Rubens.
What to see at Galleria Borghese
- Young Woman with a Unicorn – Raphael’s portrait inspired by the Mona Lisa
- Apollo and Daphne – exquisitely detailed marble statue by Bernini
- Sleeping Hermaphrodite – an ancient marble statue of a sleeping nude woman
Tips, tickets and tours for Galleria Borghese
Visitor numbers are strictly limited to the gallery and managed by pre sale time scheduled tickets. You need to book well in advance (around a month) to secure a time slot.
This is the official site but once again, it is complicated to navigate.
Here is a link to an English language site alternative – >click here for tickets
The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 08.30 to 19.30
This gallery is almost too much to take in. Although compact, there are so many brilliant pieces of art on display that if you are an art lover, a guided tour is recommended – >click here for details
Cameras and bags are not permitted inside the Borghese Gallery, but there is a cloakroom where they can be checked.
Unfortunately there is no lift inside the gallery so the visit is not suitable for those with mobility issues.
After the gardens and gallery it is time for lunch. There are lots of great places to eat in this area – our suggestions are below.
After lunch take a walk down the main street of Rome – Via del Corso.
This cobbled thoroughfare is also the city’s main shopping street with the usual European brands H&M and Zara well represented. If you want to browse the Gucci, Bulgari or Chanel designer boutiques, visit Via Condotti.
Otherwise continue your walk down picturesque Via dei Coronari where the only thing to do is soak up the atmosphere, browse antique and jewelry shops and stop for gelato at Gelateria del Teatro – details below.
A walk along the Tiber
I don’t know about you but viewing art and shopping always makes me tired. A walk along the Tiber river is just the thing to recharge the batteries before dinner. As an added bonus the sunset over Castel Sant’Angelo is absolutely beautiful.
From the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II you can do a little circuit that takes you in front of the castle and across the ancient Ponte St Angelo or Bridge of Angels named for its ten beautiful statues designed by Bernini.
Where to eat
Elegant Dal Bolognese at Piazza del Popolo 1 serves traditional dishes from the Emilia Romagna region. Or for something less formal Ristorante Rosati Roma [Piazza del Popolo, 4/5a] is one of the original bars in the city.
Day 4 – Vatican
On day four of your 5 day tour of Rome it is time to explore the area known as the Vatican.
The Vatican City is in fact an independent state within the city of Rome with its own government and political structure. The Pope is the head of the Vatican City State and members of the Catholic church hold the high positions of authority in the government.
You technically enter another country when you visit the Vatican which is pretty cool but unfortunately they don’t issue stamps for your passport.
While you are exploring the area, keep an eye out for the Vatican’s Swiss Guard. They are dedicated to safeguarding the Pope and wear a traditional Renaissance style uniform.
There are two main sites in the Vatican – St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. You must visit both sites once in your lifetime even if you are not Catholic or religious. They are both incredible places to visit for their architecture, art and history.
Family travel tip – If you are traveling with kids under the age of 10 or who are easily bored and frustrated I would skip the Vatican Museums unless you book a special family tour. Spend your time at St Peter’s and Castel Sant’Angelo instead.
St Peter’s Basilica
Imposing St Peter’s basilica dominates the western side of the Tiber River and you can’t fail to be impressed by the grandeur of this monument to Christianity.
The Pope himself appears here in the Piazza san Pietro most Wednesdays to address the crowds. If you want to take part in the Papal Audience you should prepare yourself with these tips.
St Peter’s is free to enter and view its incredible artwork and beauty including Michelangelo’s Pieta sculpture and dome also designed by the artist.
If views are your thing, then climb the stairs or take the elevator part of the way to the top of the dome (saving 300+ stairs). To get to the very top there are over 230 more stairs. It costs €10 with the elevator and €8 without. You can buy tickets at the kiosk after you pass security to enter the basilica.
You can also visit the tombs of kings, queens and former popes interred inside the basilica’s crypt.
St Peter’s is open daily 7:00am to 19:00pm with exceptions for events.
The Vatican Museums
The Vatican’s collection of art and artefacts is one of the most extensive in the world.
Inside these walls are masterpieces by some of the most talented artists in history – Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci.
The Vatican Museums are a truly awe-inspiring place. It is the ultimate palace covered in gold, artwork, sculptures and other treasures.
This is the most popular sights in Rome and attracts millions of visitors a year. Expect to spend 2-3 hours in the museums before you reach the finale – the Sistine Chapel
The Vatican Museums are open from Monday to Saturday from 09:00 am to 18:00 pm. An adult ticket is €17  Note – they are closed on most Sundays and other days throughout the year – check their site for more information
Highlights of the Vatican museums
- Sistine Chapel with its famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo
- Spiral staircase designed by Giuseppe Momo
- The Raphael Rooms – frescoes by Raphael and Michelangelo
- Gallery of Maps – 120 metres of painted topographical maps
- Sala Rotonda – a smaller scale version of the Pantheon
Unlike the rest of the complex, the Vatican Gardens are a haven away from the crowds. These stunning manicured gardens feature fountains, grottoes and statues and have sections with English, French and Italian landscaping styles.
The gardens are the only place from which you can see Michelangelo’s dome of St Peter’s in its entirety.
The only way to visit the gardens is on a 2 hour tour with a live or audio guide. Included in the price are fast track tickets for the Vatican Museum and St Peter’s so it is well worth considering
Tickets for the tours sell quickly. You need to book at least a week in advance. The official site is here but we can also recommend this combination tour of the Vatican sites on Get Your Guide where you can read exactly what you will be seeing and what others thought.
St Peter’s tomb
St Peter’s tomb is one of the most sacred sites for Christian’s around the world. The Vatican offers a one and half hour tour of the Necropolis way below the ground floor of St Peter’s to visit the tomb.
Only 250 visitors are allowed each day so you must book well in advance using a special form and process that you will find here
Tips for visiting the Vatican and surrounding area
Visiting St Peter’s and the Vatican Museums is a half day activity [3-4 hours] involving a lot of walking and crowds. We strongly advise that you prebook tickets to make the most of your time in Rome.
The closest Metro stop is Ottaviano-S. Pietro on Line A. From there it is a 5 minute walk from to both St Peter’s Square and the Vatican Museums.
Lines to pass through security for St Peter’s average 45 minutes after 11:00am so plan to arrive early if you are there just to visit St Peter’s and not the museums.
If you are visiting the Vatican Museums there is a separate line. This one can be as long as 2-3 hours in the summer. We strongly recommend buying skip the line tickets or a tour of the Vatican – details are below. If you want to brave the lines you will need to arrive very early – around 08:00 before the tour buses arrive at 09:00am. Or wait until after midday when the lines are slightly shorter.
Mondays are usually the busiest day at the museums as they are closed on Sundays.
A strict dress code applies in both venues – knees and shoulders must be covered, no shorts and no hats can be worn.
Sistine Chapel – no photography is allowed and you must visit in silence
You may not bring large bags or backpacks into the basilica or museums but they can be checked at the cloakroom.
Recommended tours of the Vatican
As you might have guessed by now – we love tours! But I have to say, if there is one place where I think a tour is mandatory it is the Vatican. There is just simply too much history and symbolism to absorb and understand that you will completely miss without some explanation.
If you are an art lover, consider taking an early morning or evening tour of the Vatican Museums. That way you can enjoy the masterpieces in (relative) solitude.
- Best selling 3 hour tour covering the museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s – >click here for info
- Vatican tour including a visit to the gardens – >click for details
- Early morning Vatican tour [07:30 – no crowds!] –>more information here
- Evening Sistine Chapel and Vatican tour –>learn more
After your visit to the Vatican
Depending on what sites you decided to visit and when, you will certainly be hungry. Catering on site at the Vatican is not brilliant so we suggest that you enjoy a long lunch or dinner nearby (suggestions below).
If you are looking for things to do, attractions close to the Vatican worth visiting include:
Otherwise known as Hadrian’s tomb, Castel Sant’Angelo is almost 2,000 years old and has served as a castle, fortress, and prison as well as the emperor’s tomb.
It is now a museum and view point for the sights of Rome. History buffs and children will enjoy the armour on display in the castle.
This attraction is free for children under 18 (adults €14) and there are usually buskers out the front too making this a great family friendly alternative to the Vatican Museums. It is open daily from from 09.00 to 19.30 – >click for ticket info
Vatican Post Office
Send a letter or postcard from the smallest country in the world. Complete with a Vatican stamp! This is a fun activity for kids and stamp enthusiasts. You can find the post office in St. Peter’s Square. It is open yMonday-Saturday from 08:30-18:30 all year round.
Tip – post your other postcards here too – the mail service is much faster than the general Italian mail
Passetto di Borgo
Who doesn’t like a secret passage? The Passetto di Borgo is an elevated passageway that links the Vatican City with the Castel Sant’Angelo. Constructed in the 13th century as an escape route for the popes, it has been used twice for exactly this purpose.
The corridor is approximately 800 metres (2,600 ft) long and while you can’t visit inside, you can walk its length along Via Dei Corridori.
Where to eat
Lunch suggestions – Secondo Tradizione [Via Rialto, 39, Roma] – classic Roman pasta dishes as well as gourmet cheese and cold cut meats or Osteria delle Commari [Via Santamaura, 23] – for a more traditional menu.
Day 5 – Roman secrets or a day trip
Having seen the Colosseum, Vatican, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, you may think by now that you have “done Rome”. But actually you are just getting started.
Spend day 5 of your Rome itinerary exploring the lesser known areas of the city, take an in depth tour or even take a day trip out of the city.
Baths of Caracalla
Once the second largest public baths in Rome, the Baths of Caracalla were built in 212 and were in use for around 300 years.
Today you can visit the huge site, which was really more of a wellness centre with gymnasiums, athletics tracks, saunas and massage rooms. Even a library!
It is not hard to imagine scenes of Romans enjoying their bathing rituals in the ornately decorated bath houses even among the ruins.
This is also a working archaeological site so it’s interesting to watch the excavations happening in front of you.
The Baths of Caracalla [Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 52] are open Monday to Friday from 09:00 am to 13:00 pm and from 14:00 pm to 17:00 pm, Saturday from 09:00 am to 14:00 pm
How to get there: Metro: Line B stop Circo Massimo or Buses 760 or 628
Get your prepaid tickets for the baths plus an audioguide here
Bocca della Verita
At the entrance to the church of Saint Mary in Cosmedin you can visit the Bocca della Verità (the Mouth of Truth).
This unusual mask is thought to be of one of the pagan gods worshipped by the Romans, though which one is a matter of dispute.
Legend has it that if you place your hand inside the mouth of the mask and tell a lie then your hand will be cut off. Many people line up daily to test out this Roman story (and take a photo). Most leave with their limbs intact (including our kids!).
The church itself is very beautiful. It is covered in ancient mosaics and frescoes that reminded me of Byzantine churches in Eastern Europe and Greece.
The Bocca della Verita [Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18] is open 09.30-17.00 daily and an hour later in summer.
How to get there: Metro: Line B stop Circo Massimo
Nearby – the Circus Maximus (Circo Maximo) the ancient chariot racing arena. It is a big open field, windswept and desolate. The city really needs to do something creative with this space!
Jewish Ghetto, and Theatre of Marcellus
The Jewish Quarter is a fascinating part of Rome worth taking a few hours to explore. We started at Isola Tiberina, a tiny island in the middle of the Tiber river that has some lovely cafes and views down the river.
Crossing over the river you can’t help by notice the Great Synagogue which is the focal point of the neighbourhood, one of the largest Jewish enclaves in Europe for centuries.
Close by there are some incredible ruins you must visit:
- Portico d’Ottavia built in the 2nd century was once home to a large market
- Teatro Marcello – predates the Colosseum and once held 20,000 spectators. It now holds luxury apartments but you can walk through the grounds
This area is also the place to eat and learn about the kosher influence on Italian cuisine. Head to Nonna Betta [Via del Portico d’Ottavia, 16] and order the artichokes!
All roads lead to Rome right? Well this is the original and the best. The Appian Way was the major route into Rome in ancient times and is a fun place to visit today.
The Appian Way is 10 miles of parkland where you will find many ancient monuments like the Catacombs of San Sebastiano and San Callisto.
You can rent bikes at the Appia Antica Café [Via Appia Antica, 175] and explore on your own. Alternatively join a tour of the catacombs and the Appian Way – your guide will be on hand to explain the sites and their significance in detail.
How to get there on your own: Take the metro to the Circo Massimo stop. Then catch the #118 bus – it runs every 40 minutes, seven days a week.
This wonderful vibrant neighbourhood on the western banks of the Tiber comes alive at night but is well worth exploring during the day.
Start in the pretty Piazza Santa Maria and admire the fountain. The church of the same name is one of the oldest in Rome. It dates from the 3rd century and it’s worth a look inside – the interior is covered in mosaics.
Or just hang out on the steps in front of the Fontana di Ponte Sisto with the locals and watch the city go about its business.
If you are hungry, Dar Poeta [Vicolo Del Bologna 45] makes amazing pizza.
Day trips from Rome
There are a wealth of options if you want to do a day trip from Rome. These are our favorites.
Tivoli – Villa D’Este and Hadrian’s Villa
You can get there by train and on foot from Roma Termini train station in just over an hour. Alternatively join a guided tour with transfers from Rome –>click for Tivoli day trip information
Wine tour of the Frascati Region
You can’t go to Italy without tasting the local wine. This half day wine tour takes you to the beautiful Frascati countryside near Rome where you learn about the centuries old tradition of wine making.
Explore the ancient vineyard and of course, taste some wine and local olive oil >Click for more info
Visit Assisi and Orvieto on a day tour from Rome and you pass through rolling hills and olive groves before reaching the picture perfect medieval towns.
Explore the beautiful basilicas and enjoy incredible views as well as trying the local produce – olive oil, cheese and wine. This is Italy at its most charming in my opinion >Click for tour info
Where to stay in Rome
Upscale – Hotel Indigo Rome – St. George
5 star luxury hotel in the heart of the old city near vibrant Campo de’Fiori. Some rooms have balconies and there is a roof terrace
Midrange – Antica Dimora Delle Cinque Lune
Close to the Vatican and Piazza Navona, this hotel has a rooftop terrace with sweeping views of the city
Budget – Eccelso Hotel
This small hotel close to the Vatican is clean and modern and delivers tons of value
Family – Hotel Cosmopolita
Offers quadruple rooms (queen plus 2 twin beds) in a great location close to the Trevi Fountain and Roman Forum
Getting to Rome from the airport
The express train between Fiumicino Airport and Rome’s main train station – Stazione Termini – costs €14 and the journey takes about 30 minutes.
The train arrives Termini station at track number 24 and runs every half hour at 23 and 53 minutes past the hour between 06:30am until 23:30pm. It is a 10-15 minute walk from the airport terminal to where you catch the train.
You can take a taxi from the taxi ranks at the airport. Prices are capped at €50  for journeys into central Rome. Bear in mind that taxis are small and can generally hold 3 adults and 3 large cases comfortably.
For peace of mind and if you are traveling in a group book an airport transfer. We use Blacklane for airport transfers in Italy and around the world. They are fairly priced and reliable >click here for information and prices
Transport in Rome
Rome is mostly a walkable city but you may need to access transport depending on where you stay.
The metro in Rome is small with only three lines. It is completely inadequate for the transit system of a major city so gets very crowded. Having said that, you can reach all the major attractions via Metro if needed.
Line A – Orange line – Vatican, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Villa Borghese
Line B – Blue line – Termini (train station), Colosseum, Fiumucino (airport)
The metro runs every day from 05:30 am to 23:30 pm. On Friday and Saturday, the metro runs until 01:30 am. Here is a map of Rome’s metro system.
We find the bus system to be slow and complicated and prefer to walk or use the metro. If you want to find a bus route we suggest using the free Citymapper app to plan routes using public transportation.
An individual ticket for bus, metro, tram and trains inside the municipality of Rome costs 1.50 € and is valid for 75 minutes.
You can buy tickets at metro stations, tabacchi or news stands. Remember to validate your ticket on the bus to avoid a fine.
Where to eat in Rome
We love writing about our food experiences in all the destinations we visit but there is something very special about Rome.
Here you will find some of Italy’s most ancient pasta dishes, discover the impact of the Jewish culture on Roman cooking and enjoy the relaxed art of eating Italian style. In other words – savour every mouthful
We wrote a full guide to eating in Rome – you can read it here
What to pack for Rome
Your packing strategy will depend on the season and activities you will be doing. We have a full guide to packing for Italy – read it here.
The most important thing is to bring comfortable shoes as there will be a lot of walking. I like to carry a crossbody bag that carries all my essentials for the day including my camera, phone and wallet.
You will need a coat in winter and in summer a hat is useful.
Other items that are useful in Rome:
What to read before your trip
If you like to fully immerse yourself in your destination before you visit like I do, here is some suggested reading for Rome:
We’ve been using Lonely Planet guide books for years. Their practical information is excellent and thoroughly checked – buy the Lonely Planet guide to Rome
DK guides are great for context and visualisation. They outline the history, culture and ideas behind the attractions you visit and are a valuable reference point with pictures and diagrams – buy the DK Rome guide
If you want to learn about the history of Rome and about the Roman Empire, Mary Beard’s SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome is a fantastic place to start. It’s an easy to read history that breaks down the myths, legends and main events of the city. I loved it! (Note – I am a history nerd) You can buy it on Amazon here
A vivid and uncompromising account of life in the Eternal City, Coins in the Fountain is the account of a American couple’s adventures in Rome – the food, the history and chaos. You’ll wish you were on the plane to Italy tomorrow – get it on Amazon
Italy is a modern country with an excellent healthcare system. That being said, you should always buy travel insurance for your trip. Among other things it covers repatriation costs if you need to be flown home.
Travel tips for Rome
The main thing to do is relax and enjoy yourself. Rome is a big city with the usual big city problems but we have always felt safe in the major tourist areas and neighbourhoods.
- Bring a refillable water bottle like this one so you can fill up at the city’s free drinking water fountains
- People dressed up as centurions will expect money if you want a photo taken with them
- Be respectful – knees and shoulders should be covered when entering churches
- Public restrooms can be hard to find – use the facilities where you dine and always bring tissues
- Learn a few words of Italian – a smile and ‘bon giorno!’ go a long way
You can read all our travel tips for Italy and Rome in this article.
Our final thoughts on Rome
After 5 days in Rome you are sure to be smitten with this wonderful city with its ancient ruins, baroque fountains, food culture and glorious piazzas.
Rome is a city we return to time and again for all of those reasons and more.
And what of the place of Julius Caesar’s assassination? Yes, you can visit the very spot where the great Emperor was overcome by senators in the Curia of Pompey on March 15, 44 B.C
Archaeologists believe that this was under where we find the Largo di Torre Argentina (pictured above) today.
Are you planning a trip to Rome soon? What highlights are you seeking out?
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