You’ve got just a few hours – maybe a day – to discover Rome? Here’s the page for you! “The perfect day in…Rome” provides information about THE things to see and do in a day. Just keep in mind: Rome has not been built in a day…there’s a lot to see, and you’re not going to see everything in a day.
7:30 – 08:30
Italians like their morning coffee, but the habit of downing it while standing in a small bar needs getting used to for central Europeans…In particular, if you’re supposed to do a lot of sight-seeing and walking afterwards. Thus, I prefer to have a comfortable breakfast, seated and considerably more extensive than just a ristretto or cappuccino. Therefore, I usually prefer a hotel that offers this kind of breakfast. Just have a look at my suggestions below.
08:30 – 10:00
If you consider my suggestions regarding the hotel location, you can start your sightseeing tour right at the front door of your hotel. For just a 1-day-visit my suggestion would be to skip the Vatican Museums – if you would like to visit them, you should definitely spare more than just 2-3 hours. There’s the saying that Rome has not been built in a day…Instead of the Vatican museums, I suggest a walk through the old town and visit of the famous landmarks like the Trevi Fountain,
the Pantheon (an absolute must-see!),
the Spanish Steps (crowded as ever),
the Piazza del Popolo (maybe extend this to the Villa Medici and/or the Villa Borghese?),
and the Piazza Navona (not really my favorite due to the very touristic ambience).
10:00 – 10:15
Grab a coffee somewhere on your way! Or maybe a famous Italian ice cream? Just be careful with the Spanish Steps: it is strictly forbidden to consume any food or drink on the steps, and police is checking constantly!
10:15 – 12:00
And finally cross the Tiber river via the Sant’Angelo bridge (beautiful by day and night), pass the beautiful Castel Sant’Angelo
and join the crowds flooding to St. Peter’s Square
and St. Peter’s Basilica. There will be a long line to get into the Basilica, but usually the line moves forward quite fast – it should not cost you too much time. And – being almost the biggest church on earth – it’s worth a glimpse inside:
There’s the chance to get to the rooftop of St. Peter, which you should do. The view from up there is spectacular, inside down the cupola
as well as outside over St. Peter’s square.
Done with St. Peter, and probably hungry.
12:00 – 13:30
Lunch break! Hopefull, the weather is fine and you can look for a nice place to sit outside. Personally, I like very much the garden of the Villa Borghese – but that’s a bit offside your route. So better choose a place around the Vatican. There are many options if you walk from the Vatican towards the metro station Ottaviano.
13:30 – 16:00
Now it’s time to move to the “antique” part of Rome (although that’s not true – there are Roman ruins everywhere!). However, the most popular ones are the Coliseum and the Forum Romanum, the Roman Forum, and both are definitely spectacular and worth the visit. You’ll have to go there by metro and probably change lines at “Termini”, the main station in Rome. Be aware that this can take some time, as the termini station is huge and a little bit confusing “for beginners”.
To get into the Coliseum without standing in line for hours, you should definitely book tickets in advance, and preferably the combi-ticket for Coliseum and Forum Romanum (https://www.coopculture.it/en/colosseo-e-shop.cfm).
The Coliseum – despite having broken down for a good part – is still very impressive, due to it’s sheer size and age. It’s crowded, but that’s OK – you can very well imagine how it might have been two thousand years ago and with 50.000 Romans inside. Take your time and climb up as far as possible.
16:00 – 16:30
Coffee Break! Next on your list is the Forum Romanum – the entrance being just on the other side of the square in front of the Coliseum. However, you might be a bit hungry or thirsty – then go for a short “pit-stop” into one of the adjacent lanes, like the Via di S. Giovanni in Laterano or Via dei Santo Quattro. This is a really touristy area, but OK for just a small sandwich and a coffee. Keep in mind that there are NO cafes or restaurants in the Roman Forum! So, grab some food and drink for the hours to come!
16:30 – 18:30
Forum Romanum is my personal favorite! Before my first visit there, I thought it might be very touristic, crowded and not worth the time. The first two issues being true – but still worth the visit. The area is huge and you can very well find places just for yourself. And to walk between the ancient Roman buildings is really fascinating. My suggestions is to go there in the late afternoon or early evening. The pictures of the red glowing stones that you can take in the early evening are great!
The Roman Forum is the center of the ancient Rome – so to say you’ll walk along the main street of Augustus…
stumble over columns that are twothousand years old…
…and watch the sun set over the red glowing ruins:
18:30 – 19:30
If you’re still in time, you can think about walking up to the “Altar of the Fatherland”, the Altare delle Patria. You can walk up to a rooftop terrace with a great view!
But then: time to get some rest and get ready for the evening. I suggest that you go back to your hotel for a brief rest – Rome is huge, and thus it takes you some time to go from A to B. Or from the Forum Romanum back to your hotel. And from there further to the dinner place.
19:30 – 22:00
Hopefully refreshed, it’s time for a nice Dinner! My personal favorite is a small place with a tree-shaded courtyard just around the corner of Piazza Navona called “Santa Lucia” (ristorantesantaluciaroma.it). They serve fantastic pasta with Truffles!
Besides that, there is the famous “Trastevere” quarter, which is full of nice restaurants. My favorite here: Sette Oche. But of course, there are many others – just check out Tripadvisor.
And finally a place really off the beaten tourist path: L’Angolo Cottura, which we found just by chance – it was located near a vacation rental. And the food was great; my favorite: the typical Roman dish “Tonarelli cacao e pepe” – pasta just with cheese and black pepper. It will take you about 30 minutes to get there from the city center, but it’s a truly authentic experience!
If you should happen to be in Trastevere, then you’ll find ample options where to continue the night. Another nice place is the “Isola Tiberina”, an island in the middle of the Tiber, close to Trastevere. During the warm summer months, there’s a kind of “beer garden” in the small park at the eastern end of the island. Or walk along the Tiber up to the Castel Sant Angelo Quarter.
If you’re familiar with “the perfect day in…”, you’ll know that I LOVE rooftop places. And thus, here are my recommendation for nice rooftop bars in Rome:
- Rooftop Bar of the Gran Hotel de Minerve, close to Pantheon (a bit expensive, though)
- Les Etoiles Rooftop Garden: close to the Vatican and great view of St. Peter
- Il Palazzetto, right at the top of the Spanish Steps; of course frequented by lots of tourists – still a great location
And here some general hints for your visit to Rome
Where to stay?
If you’ve got only little time, then look for an accommodation that gives y ou easy and fast access to the old town. Which I would define as the area between the Vatican in the west, the Piazza del Popolo in the north, Piazza Venezia in the south and the Piazza della Repubblica in the east. In between there are hundreds of options for accommodation, from 5 star hotels to rental apartments via the usual portals like Tripadvisor. Preferably there should be a metro station nearby, in order to save time for getting around. Here are some hotels that I have visited and found OK. My experience is that you can get good bargains from time to time.
- Palazzo Naiadi, The Dedica Anthology, Autograph Collection (formerly: Boscolo Exedra Roma): location between the main station and the main attractions in the old town of Rome; advantage: the hotel’s got a metro station just in front.
- Residenza A – The Boutique Art Hotel: location in Via Veneto, the exclusive shopping area in Rome
- Hotel 89 Eighty Seven: not cheap (below 100 Euros is good – look out for bargains!), but central location close to the metro station Barberine, and a great treat: a rooftop hot tub.
- Last Alternative: Palazzo Cardinal Cesi, almost on St. Peter’s Square, middle price range
However, Tripadvisor ranks more than 1.280 hotels in Rome – so there are LOTS of others, just check out the hotel reservation portals, like Trivago or Tripadvisor. Not to speak about the lots of B&Bs and vacation rental apartments.
Best travel time:
During summer, in particular July and August, Rome is awfully hot – we tried it once and will never repeat it! A lot better are the late spring or early autumn months like May or September.
Transfer from the airports:
First of all, there are two major airports in the Rome vicinity:
Ciampino: closer to the city, you may consider taking a taxi to your hotel, which will cost you about 30-40 Euros depending on where you need to go (don’t forget to fix the price in advance); used by the cheap airlines like Ryanair
Fiumicino: almost 50 km outside Rome – try to avoid it! Tthere’s a train to “Termini”, the main station in Rome, which will take almost an hour.
Last but not least – here’s my favorite Recipe from Rome: Tonarelli Cacio e Pepe
There’s a fine line between clump and cream, and making a smooth sauce from dry cheese and water is not easy…
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 200 g Pasta (preferably Tonarelli, could be substituted by Linguini, Spaghetti, Tagliatelle or any long noodle)
- 80 g Pecorino Romano, fine grated, at room temperature
Cook the pasta in salted water, withdraw 100 ml of the water after approx. 5 minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta and keep it warm. In the meantime, place the cheese and most of the pepper in a large bowl and whisk in some of the pasta water gradually. The sauce should get a creamy consistency. Then add the pasta and toss vigorously until everything is well mixed.
Overall, it’s a very simple recipe (just cook the pasta and add cheese and pepper), but there are several pitfalls to downgrade the result:
The pasta’s supposed to be Tonarelli (a kind of irregular cut, square spaghetti), but if you can’t get them, Linguini or even Spaghetti might go as well. The cheese should be Pecorino, but in case that it’s not available, you may substitute it by simple Parmesan (but the taste isn’t the same!). The cheese should be grated fine and the pepper grinded fresh. You may roast the peppercorns before grinding – then the flavor comes out even more intensively.
*According to a German Court decision, all texts containing links to commercial pages (e.g. links to Tripadvisor, Airline, hotel or restaurant websites) have to be identified as “commercial” (in German “Anzeige”). As my texts do contain links like that, I therefore identify each post and page containing a link as “Anzeige”. However (and referring to the “About Me” page) I would like to point out that I do NOT post any sponsored content in my texts; I pay for all my trips myself.