Ready to go all out? Or all in? Whatever the saying, this post’s all about how to make the absolute most of your precious days in Rome. This is a guide to planning the ultimate Rome itinerary. Have only a few days in Rome? Follow this regiment daily. Have a week (bless you, child)? Do this every other day. Just remember the saying, “You can sleep when you’re dead.”
The Ultimate Rome Day is not for sleepy heads. This is an intense Rome itinerary planner. You came here to live not sleep. Therefore, hit the streets for a morning stroll at 6AM. The ruins, piazzas, monuments and fountains are no finer than when you’re enjoying them with the street sweepers and joggers. Not a gaggle of tourists. Grab breakfast around 6:30AM.
Once 7AM strikes, be at your first attraction of the day: a Roman church. Almost all churches open around 7AM on weekdays. The most obvious church to visit is St. Peter’s Cathedral. There are, however, many lesser-known (but insanely gorgeous) churches in Rome. Consider visiting the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore near Termini Station. Or the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva near the Pantheon for a more intimate church-going experience. Both churches open at 7AM on weekdays.
Side note: You could also replace a church with the Colosseum. The Colosseum usually opens at 8:30AM. This gives you time to sip your cappuccino outside the Colosseum entrance. Enjoy this quiet moment before the tour groups arrive.
After admiring one historic Roman house of worship, it’s time to play “dodge the tourist hordes.” Seriously, 10AM is peak tourist-craziness hour, so it’s best to head to a “hidden gem” attraction during this time of day.
Stroll one of Rome’s parks or visit a unique museum. For example, walk through the city’s Botanical Garden and then visit the nearby Galleria Corsini. Both are close to the “Lgt Gianicolense/Regina Coeli” bus stop. Alternatively, you could book a tour of the famous Borghese Gallery for 10AM. This reservation-required museum admits only 360 guests every two hours.
After all that walking around Rome, it’s time to get your foodie-face on. Some of the best places to pick up a quick bite in Rome are at Testaccio Market or in the historic Jewish Ghetto. Wherever you go, don’t worry about eating like a pig. The next step in our Ultimate Rome Day is to take an epic nap! Or at least relax in the shade or a cool space. As Rome swelters under the intense sunshine, read, nap, play cards in your (hopefully) air-conditioned hotel room or Airbnb for a couple hours.
Since the heat lingers till about 6PM, head to an indoor attraction around 4PM. Thankfully, tour groups are wrapping up their adventures by this time. So it’s a great idea to tackle one more major attraction. Consider visiting the Pantheon, Castel Sant’Angelo or even the Vatican Museums during this time.
Once you’re done with your last major site, join the locals in what’s known as a passeggiata. Usually taking place around 6PM, a passeggiata refers to an evening stroll where Romans enjoy the mediterranean sunset and cooler evening temps. Work your way to one of Rome’s great piazzas. Then, sit back at a cafe and people-watch with a pre-dinner drink (AKA an apertivo).
By 8PM, be at your dinner destination. Um, you got a reservation beforehand… right? Yeah, do your restaurant research in advance so you don’t look like a starving fool at this hour. Sure, you could chance it, but that’s risky if you’re traveling to Rome during the height of tourism season.
Romans eat late into the night, so don’t worry about lingering at your restaurant for hours. As a final treat, consider a nighttime stroll to see some of Rome’s great fountains, monuments and piazzas all lit up. Heck, why not grab a little vino (Rome has no open-container laws) and a gelato (or two) as you head back to your hotel? When in Rome, right?
My free newsletter will help you skip crowds and experience Europe's rich culture like a savvy local. Sign up today and receive two free books: 10 Perfect Days in Paris and Paris for €10.
Authentic European travel is just a click away.