5 days in Rome
5 days in Rome will be more than enough to discover the city and visit its museums and monuments. I propose you an itinerary to visit Rome in 5 days.
Rome promises adventure for as long as you go. However, five days is the exact measure of a perfect trip to Rome: you can stroll leisurely through its streets, see all its sights and some secret corners and take your time to really enjoy the city instead of rushing from place to place.
It's easy to make a five-day itinerary in Rome where every day is a must-see, but only if you know what to see each day. Spending time in the Eternal City is something that pays off in spades, and in the following lines I'm going to tell you why.
1. Day one: The main monuments of Rome and a stroll through the Jewish Quarter
In my experience, starting a trip to Rome with the Colosseum and the Roman Forum is a spectacular way to get your first glimpse of the grandest side of the city, that of its monuments and imperial ruins.
Visit to the Colosseum
Regardless of how long you will be in Rome, it is best to find out how to buy your Colosseum tickets in advance, which allows you to skip the line at the box office. You will have to wait in line to get in, as this monument receives a huge influx from opening to closing. Therefore, it is best to go as early as possible.
Another option is to take a guided tour of the Colosseum, with which you do not have to wait in line to access the monument and you have the narration of a guide specialized in ancient history.
Please note that if you have purchased the Roma Pass you must reserve your Colosseum ticket and it is best to do so as soon as possible to ensure the first time slot in the morning.
To get to the Colosseum, take the metro to the Colosseo stop (metro line B) and as soon as you get out you will see on your left the ledge on which so many people take a photo. The Colosseum is open from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm. The Colosseum is closed on December 25 and January 1.
Next to the Colosseum, there is a huge archaeological site known as the Roman Forum. This was the center of Ancient Rome, where the main buildings of political life as well as temples and markets were located.
The Roman Forum is on top of the Palatine Hill, and the main entrance is very close to the Colosseum. You can also enter through the Via di San Gregorio entrance. If you don't feel like walking or are not in a hurry, just go to the main entrance, where you can see the impressive Arch of Constantine, almost 1,700 years old.
Once inside the Roman Forum, keep your eyes peeled for the Arch of Titus, which was built to celebrate the conquest of Jerusalem, the Basilica of Maxentius, a public meeting place that you may recognize as an inspiration for other Renaissance-era buildings, and the Temples of Antoninus and Faustina and of Vesta.
Stop for lunch
If you're getting hungry, something that can happen literally every step you take in Rome, I recommend heading to the Taverna dei Quaranta, whose cozy atmosphere makes it a great place to enjoy a good meal and relax. With its vaulted ceilings and checkered tablecloths, the slightly retro style of this place goes hand in hand with exquisite traditional food. It is in Via Claudia, 24.
Piazza Venezia and the Campidoglio
In the early afternoon, stop by Piazza Venezia, presided over by the monument to Victor Emmanuel II (also known as the Altar of the Fatherland). There you can go up to what is known as the Terrace of the Quadrigas, or popularly 'Roma dal Cielo', and enjoy beautiful views of the square itself, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.
The entrance fee is 7 € for adults and 3.5 € for children and teenagers between 10 and 18 years old, so this is a totally optional but recommended experience.
Afterwards, climb the hill of the Campidoglio and sit in the square of the same name. Its oval structure, the statue of the emperor and thinker Marcus Aurelius in the center, and the beautiful buildings surrounding it make it, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful squares in Rome, so take your time to enjoy it. From its belvedere there are also nice views of the Roman Forum.
After marveling at the major monuments of Ancient Rome, enter a very different side of the city: the Jewish quarter or ghetto of Rome.
The Jewish quarter of Rome is a very quiet place where the ideal is to get lost in its narrow streets: located next to the Tiber, in its corners peace reigns and you will magically forget that you are actually very close to the crowded Colosseum.
On your stroll through the Jewish quarter, approach the Great Synagogue of Rome (which you can only visit inside on an official tour), pass by the Portico of Octavia, which in ancient times housed a library and several temples, and sit in Piazza Mattei to enjoy the murmur of the water of the charming Fountain of the Turtles.
Piazza della Bocca della Verità
Piazza della Bocca della Verita, a short walk from the Jewish quarter, is home to one of Rome's most popular curiosities, inside the portico of the beautiful medieval church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. It is, of course, La Bocca della Verità, an image carved in marble depicting the face of a man with his mouth open.
If you've seen Audrey Hepburn's 'Roman Holiday', you'll remember the scene where she reaches in instantly. According to legend, the Bocca della Verità knows how to recognize liars and that's why she bites off the hand of those who have put it in her mouth.
In the same square you can also see other minor points of interest, such as the Temple of Hercules, the Temple of Portunus and the Arch of Janus.
Afterwards, you can take a stroll and return to the Jewish quarter for dinner and a drink. I recommend you try the famous bean artichoke dish served in most of the restaurants in the area, although if you want a recommendation go to Giggetto al Portico d'Ottavia, in Via del Portico D'Ottavia 21/a-22, where they serve this traditional recipe as well as a delicious pasta.
Day 2: Walking tour of Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the streets of central Rome
On the second day you will continue to see the city center and other important monuments. I recommend you to take a guided tour to learn about the historical details of the most emblematic places of the city. I'll tell you what they are:
Piazza della Rotonda is home to one of the most interesting and beautiful places in the whole city: the Pantheon of Agrippa, also known as the church of Santa Maria Rotonda.
In the 7th century, what had been built as a temple dedicated to the Roman deities was converted into a Catholic church, and so the best preserved building of Ancient Rome has come down to us today.
The Pantheon is an architectural marvel, and inside you will have the feeling of having been transported to another world. The first instinct upon entering is to look up and marvel at the dome and the round opening at the top of it, an oculus that lets in sunlight and creates a magical atmosphere that fills the entire space.
The opulence of the Pantheon's walls includes monumental tombs of Italian kings and the artist Raphael, as well as carefully cared-for mosaics and sculptures that glow with a special light.
Entrance to the Pantheon is free, so simply walk inside from the square and be prepared to enjoy yourself. On your way out, I recommend taking a walk around the outside of the building to really understand how incredible the structure of this temple is.
Walk through the most beautiful squares
After visiting the Pantheon, take a walk around the surrounding squares. The nicest ones are Piazza di Petra, which has some very nice ruins and quite a lively atmosphere, Piazza della Minerva and Piazza Sant'Eustachio, famous among other things for Sant'Eustachio Il Caffè, a coffee shop that serves one of the best espressos in all of Rome.
Piazza Navona is one of the most famous squares in all of Italy, and no wonder: whether for its three impressive fountains, the most beautiful of which is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi with its huge obelisk, or for the baroque church of Sant'Agnese in Agone that provides a beautiful backdrop to the walk through the square.
Scattered around the square you will find restaurants, bars, cafes and street performers that animate tourists and locals, almost like in any main square of a large city.
The oval shape of the square is due to the fact that in ancient times this was the site of the Stadium of Domitian, a prominent place of public life in imperial Rome where festivals and sporting events were held.
A stroll through Piazza Navona is a classic of any self-respecting itinerary in the Eternal City, to enjoy the beauty of its architecture while breathing the atmosphere of Rome.
Near Piazza Navona, at Piazza Fiammetta, 10, is Ristorante Fiammetta, a trattoria tucked away in a street of antique stores. It makes perfect sense, since this restaurant maintains all the quality, flavor and good work of the Roman food of a lifetime.
You can eat both inside and outside in a cozy little terrace and for a not very exaggerated price, about 20 or 25 € per person. Totally recommended.
Campo de' Fiori
After lunch and a coffee, go back to Piazza Navona and walk south along Via della Cuccagna, towards Palazzo Braschi, an ancient palace that today is known as the Museum of Rome.
Continue to Corso Vittorio Emanuele and cross the street until you reach Via dei Baullari, at the end of which is Campo de' Fiori square.
During the day it is a bustling market and at night it becomes an area where you can go out for a drink. In the market you can find all kinds of food and even flower stalls, as it is actually quite tourist oriented but you can still find some quality typical gastronomic products.
In the square of Campo de' Fiori used to carry out public executions, so in the center of the square there is a statue of the astronomer Giordano Bruno, condemned for his cosmological studies.
From Campo de' Fiori, you are just a short walk from the last stop of the day: Trastevere. Head to the southeast corner of the square, right across from where you entered (I recommend using the orientation of Giordano Bruno's statue as a reference point). Go down Via dei Giubbanari to the narrow alley of Via dell'Arco del Monte.
If you look down here you can see Ponte Sisto in the distance. Continue along Via dell'Arco del Monte and cross the bridge to cross to the other side of the Tiber.
Turn left and follow Via del Moro to the end of the street, and on the right you will have Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, the main square of this famous neighborhood. Here you will find one of Rome's most interesting tourist attractions, the iconic basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, which is definitely worth a visit to marvel at the impressive mosaics inside.
Trastevere is a wonderful neighborhood to stroll around and enjoy the evening, either in the vicinity of the Isola Tiberina or on the terrace of a bar. It has some of the most charming dining restaurants in Rome.
After touring Trastevere, and if you still have time to watch the sunset, I recommend you to go up to the Gianicolo and enjoy the sunset over Rome. The Fontana dell'Acqua Paola, in front of which is the most popular viewpoint, is the direction to head, about a 15-minute walk from Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere.
If, on the other hand, you're running late or don't want to walk any further, I recommend relaxing with a Peroni and a pizza on the terrace of the pizzeria Ai Marmi, in Viale di Trastevere, 53-59. Although the atmosphere there is anything but quiet, you will taste one of the most delicious pizzas in all of Rome, well deserved after a day of walking.
3. Day three: The grandeur of the Vatican and the Borghese Gallery
Day three starts with a visit to the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica. There are guided tours that include entrance to both and of course to the dome, from where you can see the best views of the Roman city. You will finish this day in which art is the protagonist contemplating the wonderful works of art that houses the Borghese Gallery and stroll through its gardens.
Many people visit the Vatican as soon as they land in Rome, and no wonder. In this tiny country you can find two of the most important places in the Western world, both for the History of Art and for Catholic worship.
One of them is the Vatican Museums, a lavish museum in which in addition to an impressive Hall of Maps and the Vatican Picture Gallery, which displays works by Raphael, Caravaggio and Da Vinci, you can see the famous Sistine Chapel and be left open-mouthed before the frescoes of Michelangelo's Last Judgment.
I recommend you to spend some time discovering all that this place has to offer. In addition to the aforementioned rooms, visit the Galleria Chiaramonti, full of Roman sculptures, go see the 'Apollo of Belvedere' and the breathtaking 'Laocoon and his sons' in the Pio Clementino museum, the Rooms of Raphael, a series of rooms decorated by the artist himself, and the Chapel of Nicholas V, one of the jewels of the Vatican Museums that goes unnoticed by many visitors.
Even if you are going to visit the Vatican Museums on a 5-day trip to Rome and you can take it easy, it is still essential to prepare your visit in advance. I recommend you to buy your tickets for the Vatican Museums online to avoid the exhausting queues at the entrance.
If you prefer a guided tour, the official tour of the Vatican Museums, allows you to skip the queue to access this place, and have at your disposal an expert guide who will offer you a very complete narration with which to understand everything you see.
It is best to go as early in the morning as possible, even before opening time. How is this possible? With the Early Morning Guided Tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel.
In this experience you will tour the main rooms of the Vatican Museums in a small group, and at a time when tourists are not yet allowed to enter. Enjoying the Sistine Chapel in silence is, frankly, an experience that everyone should have.
If you opt for an Early Bird tour of the Vatican, you will be finished by 11:00 a.m. at the latest, which means you will have plenty of time to enjoy St. Peter's Basilica and the rest of the city.
The Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays except for the last day of each month (a day to avoid, as admission is free and therefore crowds are massive). The official opening hours to the public are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
St. Peter's Basilica
The other must-see for Western culture in the Vatican is, of course, St. Peter's Basilica: the most imposing church, both inside and out, in the whole world.
Just seeing it from the outside, admiring the magnitude of St. Peter's Square, is spectacle enough, but accessing its interior is like becoming a miniature and being transported inside a painting that you can walk around and feel. It will surprise you in every corner, regardless of your faith.
You don't need to buy a ticket to enter St. Peter's Basilica, but the queues are usually quite long, especially around noon. If you don't want to wait in line, take the Early Bird tour of the Vatican Museums to get in early, or take a guided tour of St. Peter's Basilica, again with an official Vatican guide, which allows you to skip the line.
Once inside, you can marvel at the Baldacchino, Michelangelo's Pieta, and the tomb of Alexander VII, some of the jewels hidden in St. Peter's Basilica, plus of course its dome, which you can ascend to see in detail (and enjoy, on the outside, breathtaking views of Rome).
If you want to make a thorough visit on your own, you can't miss the bronze statue of St. Peter, located on the right side of the central nave of the basilica. It is a bronze carving from medieval times, whose foot is kissed or rubbed by the thousands and thousands of faithful who make the pilgrimage to St. Peter's Basilica every year.
Also, access the Vatican Grottoes, subway galleries in which are kept the remains of several famous popes including those of John Paul II. You can also see the tomb of St. Peter himself, located just below the main altar of the basilica.
When to visit St. Peter's Basilica? The truth is that you are going to encounter a lot of people on this visit whenever you go, so as I indicate in this itinerary it is best to go after seeing the Vatican Museums, which are worth visiting with as few crowds as possible. Just avoid Wednesdays: St. Peter's Basilica does not open until 1 p.m. for the papal audience. The basilica is not open to the public on Sundays.
Something very important is to respect the dress code for access to St. Peter's Basilica: shoulders and knees must be covered, so on this day you should wear long pants and a sweater or scarf, and leave the cap or hat in your backpack.
The Borghese Gardens house the well-known Borghese Gallery, a museum where you can see an impressive art collection with some of the most famous works of Caravaggio, Raphael, or Titian.
Beyond paintings, the gallery is known for its catalog of sculptures, which includes 'Apollo and Daphne', 'The Rape of Proserpina' and Bernini's 'David' and Canova's 'Victorious Venus'.
I recommend buying your tickets online for the Borghese Gallery, which saves you time and avoids the tedium of waiting in line.
At the end of your visit you can take a walk to the Piazza del Popolo and enjoy a nice time in the shade and even enjoy the beautiful views of Rome from the Pincio Terrace.
4. Day four: Excursion to Florence and Pisa or Pompeii
Since you are going to be in Rome for a few days, why not get to know one of the most beautiful cities in Italy on a day trip or go to one of the most famous ruins in the world?
I'm talking about, of course, taking a trip to the city of Florence, with its incredible cathedral, and on the way stop by Pisa to see its famous leaning tower, or explore the ruins of Pompeii where one of the most faithful images of life in the ancient world is preserved. Choose your own adventure!
Excursion to Florence and Pisa
This tour not only takes you to see the most unforgettable sites in Florence, but also passes through Pisa to see the iconic leaning tower that has made the city so famous.
A local guide, an expert in the history of both cities, will take you to see all the must-see sights: Florence's Duomo square, the Palazzo Strozzi, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Galleria dell'Accademia, where you can see Michelangelo's famous David (if you select this option when booking the experience).
- The visit to Pisa will focus on taking you to see the tower and its surroundings.
- The tour includes round-trip air-conditioned coach travel, but not lunch.
The full day tour to Florence and Pisa from Rome has an approximate duration of 12 hours and a price of $ 278, and it is a perfect way to include a getaway in your trip to Rome as you will not have to organize anything, just meet your guide at the meeting point and start enjoying yourself.
If you want to prepare this tour on your own or have other options to visit Florence, I recommend you to read this article where I tell you everything you need to know: Florence Day Trips from Rome.
Excursion to Pompeii
The other option for an excursion from Rome is to go to Pompeii and discover the history of this place and what happened there almost two thousand years ago.
On this day trip to Pompeii and Vesuvius from Rome you will climb up to Vesuvius, an active volcano from whose crater you will have a breathtaking view. Afterwards you will be taken for lunch at a Neapolitan pizza restaurant and in the afternoon you will tour the ruins of Pompeii and all its archaeological sites.
To discover other excursions to Pompeii or to know in depth what you can't miss once there, I recommend you to read this complete guide about this experience: Pompeii Day Trips from Rome.
5. Day five: discover Rome's hidden gems and bid farewell to the city in style
Finish your trip by visiting some parts of Rome that you might not have time to see on a shorter trip. But they are no less interesting to visit.
A ten minute walk from Piazza Navona is the Castel Sant'Angelo, across the Tiber across the beautiful Ponte Sant'Angelo, one of the most beautiful in Rome. It is a majestic building that was built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian, and throughout its history has served as a fortress for popes and today as a museum for visitors.
It is worth spending the morning visiting this emblematic building and going up to its roof, from which you can see Rome from another perspective.
To avoid queues, you can buy online your tickets to the Castel Sant'Angelo with audio guide or if you prefer you can take a tour of the Castel Sant'Angelo.
If you decide to visit it on your own, I recommend you to read this article to know in advance the most interesting things about this place: Rome Castel Sant'Angelo Tickets: how to buy, prices and schedules.
Appian Way and the Catacombs
The Appian Way is the ancient Roman road that connected the city with the southern sites for the transport of troops and goods. It is still quite well preserved and along its route you can visit an archaeological park full of interesting sites, the Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica(one of the most beautiful in Rome).
Strolling along the Appian Way is a great way to enjoy another side of Rome away from the hustle and bustle of the center. My recommendation is to visit the Appian Way on Sunday, when it is closed to traffic as it takes on a very special atmosphere.
Start the walk at the visitor center, until you reach the tomb of Cecilia Metella and the Circus of Maxentius. On the way, if you feel like it, you can visit the Catacombs of Rome: either the Catacombs of St. Callixtus or the Catacombs of St. Sebastian. The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are the most popular because they offer a more extensive tour and are the resting place of the first sixteen popes as well as some Christian martyrs.
If you decide to try this experience, you should know that it can only be done on a guided tour. Read the complete guide to the Catacombs of Rome, where I tell you everything you need to know before booking a tour: Rome Catacombs Tickets: how to buy and prices.
Stop for lunch
For lunch, I recommend Ai Fienaroli, in Via Piemonte, 125. In their menu you can find some delicacies such as red tuna tartar with crispy bread and fennel cream, a delicious carpaccio of sea bass with pistachios and black truffle, and they also have some great artichokes with beans. Although the price is around 40 € per person, it is worth a treat on your last day in Rome.
The lock of the Knights of Malta
At the top of the Aventine Hill, the southernmost hill in Rome, there is an area of lavish mansions and gardens that hides a secret: the Garden of Oranges, known by locals as the Giardino degli Aranci.
It is a park where you can find a door through whose lock you can see, in the distance, the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, framed by trees.
In addition to this curiosity, the area is a delight to stroll around while enjoying the smell of orange trees and, in the evening, admire the sunset from one of the favorite viewpoints of the locals.
From October to February, the park is open from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. from March to September and from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. from April to August. I recommend you to take a place at the lookout point about an hour before sunset to enjoy the sunset and say goodbye to the amazing journey you are about to live.