Rome in a Day

What to see and do if you have only one day to spend in Rome, Italy

Tourist info:

City museums:
Ancient sites:


Rome wasn't built in a day, so don't expect to see it all in one. Still, you can give it your best shot.

Note: This is the itinerary to follow if you actually have one full day in Rome. I say that because many of you will be arriving in Rome from somewhere else to start your Italian vacation, in which case—sad to say—you don't actually have three full days to spend here, since much of that first morning will be spent arriving (at the airport or train station), perhaps clearing customs, getting into town, and settling into your hotel.

Below is the itinerary if Rome is just another stop on your itinerary and you genuinely have a full day to spend. (This separate page has a one-day itinerary for those arriving in town this day but who are headed out of Rome tomorrow morning.)

1 Day in Rome

The Sistine Chapel cieling
The Sistine Chapel cieling.

Take a tour
If you prefer an expert guide for your sightseeing, here are some walking tours from our partners that cover many of the sights featured on this day:

Best plan for fitting in all of this day's activities on guided tours (in slightly different order; not that the afternoon walk ends 6:30pm and the Vatican evening tour starts at 7pm, so you'll have to hustle):

A la carte (pick your own tours):

Vatican/St. Peters:

Tiber Bend:

MORNING: Be up bright and early so that you beat the legions of tour buses to the grandiose church of St. Peter's Basilica, which opens at 7am. See Michelangelo's Pietà and the other amazing sights inside, and tour the tombs of popes under the basilica before climbing its dome (opens at 8am) for a panoramic sweep of the city across the river.

By 8:45am, have exited the church, turned left under the start of the colonnade surrounding St. Peter's Square out front, and be walking around the Vatican walls to get to the entrance to the world-famous Vatican Museums, which open at 9am.

You'll have time only for the highlights of its artistic wonders : the Pinacoteca painting gallery with Raphael's Transfiguration and Caravaggio's Deposition, the Raphael Rooms, and Michelangelo's incomparable Sistine Chapel ceiling.

AFTERNOON: By 11am, head out of the galleries and grab lunch on the run as you cross the Tiber River into the center of Rome to see the Roman Forum.

After taking a gander at the Colosseum, check out the Pantheon and Piazza Navona and then wander the churches and piazze of the Tiber Bend area. Make sure you stop by the elegant Spanish Steps for a peek. Also make sure you stop for some gelato (Italy's divine ice cream). In fact, if you have to choose between gelato and the Spanish Steps, well...

Mingle for a while at the Spanish Steps, then window shop down fashionable Via dei Condotti and the surrounding streets.

EVENING: By the time you get to the Corso, one of Rome's main drags, the evening passeggiata stroll will be in full swing and you can strut your stuff with the Romans until it's time for a hearty and well-deserved dinner in the old city.

Before you turn in for the night, be sure you stroll to the famous Trevi Fountain, into which it is tradition to toss a few coins in order to ensure that, one day, you'll return to the Eternal City.


Related pages

Guided tour of Tuscany


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This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in April 2013. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 2008–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett