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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.

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

19 min read

5 days in Rome

Views of Rome | ©Christopher Czemrk

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 one place to another.

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.

But before you start, you should keep in mind something you may not know: on a 5-day trip to Rome you will use public transportation quite a lot and visit a good number of attractions for which you need a ticket. If you have just enough time to organize your trip, or you just like the convenience of the tourist passes, I recommend you to buy a Roma Pass.

You can buy a Roma Pass for 48 or 72 hours, and it includes entrance to the Colosseum, Castel Sant'Angelo, the Capitoline Museums, the Borghese Gallery and a lot of other sites, as well as allowing you to travel free on public transport.

1. Day one: The main monuments of Rome and a stroll through the Jewish Quarter

Visit to the Colosseum

The Colosseum| ©Unsplash
The Colosseum| ©Unsplash

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.

Regardless of how long you will be in Rome, it is best to buy your tickets for the Colosseum 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.

Either way, the good thing is that the tickets to the Colosseum, whether you visit on your own or take a tour, include access to the Roman Forum, so you have a small two for one with which to save time on the next visit.

Please note that if you have purchased the Roma Pass you have to book your Colosseum ticket and it is best to do it as soon as possible to ensure the first time slot in the morning.

To go 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.

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Roman Forum

The Triumphal Arch in the Roman Forum| ©Unsplash
The Triumphal Arch in the Roman Forum| ©Unsplash

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.

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Stop for lunch

A good plate of Italian pasta| ©Gabriella Clare
A good plate of Italian pasta| ©Gabriella Clare

If you're getting hungry, something that can happen literally every step you take in Rome, I recommend you head to 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

Piazza Venezia| ©Michelle Bitetto
Piazza Venezia| ©Michelle Bitetto

In the early afternoon, stop by Piazza Venezia, dominated by the monument to Victor Emmanuel II (also known as the Altar of the Fatherland). There you can climb 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, go up 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.

Jewish quarter

Details of the Jewish quarter| ©Unsplash
Details of the Jewish quarter| ©Unsplash

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 magically you will 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.

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Bocca della Verità Square

La Bocca della Verità| ©Unsplash
La Bocca della Verità| ©Unsplash

The square of the Bocca della Verita, a short walk from the Jewish quarter, is home to one of the most popular curiosities of Rome, 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 instantly reaches in. 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.

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Day 2: Walking tour of Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the streets of central Rome

Pantheon

The Pantheon| ©Christopher Czermak
The Pantheon| ©Christopher Czermak

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 all 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 allows sunlight to enter 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 prepare to enjoy yourself. On your way out, I recommend you take a walk around the outside of the building to really understand how incredible the structure of this temple is.

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Walk through the most beautiful squares

Piazza Navona| ©Grabiella Clare
Piazza Navona| ©Grabiella Clare

After visiting the Pantheon, take a walk around the surrounding squares. The most beautiful ones are Piazza di Petra, which has beautiful ruins and 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 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.

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Lunch stop

Fiametta| ©Ristorante Fiametta
Fiametta| ©Ristorante Fiametta

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, taste and good workmanship 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

Campo de' Fiori| ©Wikimedia
Campo de' Fiori| ©Wikimedia

After lunch and a coffee, return to Piazza Navona and walk south along Via della Cuccagna, in the direction of 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.

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Trastevere

Trastevere| ©Shutterstock
Trastevere| ©Shutterstock

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 the statue of Giordano Bruno as a reference point). Go down Via dei Giubbanari to the narrow alleyway 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.

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Gianicolo Terrace

Gianicolo Viewpoint| ©Wikimedia
Gianicolo Viewpoint| ©Wikimedia

After touring Trastevere, and if you still have time to see 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.

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3. Day three: The grandeur of the Vatican and the Borghese Gallery

Vatican Museums

The Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Museums| ©Wikimedia
The Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Museums| ©Wikimedia

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 stand with your mouth open 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, stop by the Galleria Chiaramonti, full of Roman sculptures, go see the 'Apollo of Belvedere' and the awe-inspiring 'Laocoonte 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.

The best thing to do for this visit is to go as early as possible in the morning, even before opening time. How is this possible? With the Early Bird tour you will have access to the Vatican before it opens to the public.

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.

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St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica| ©Wikimedia
St. Peter's Basilica| ©Wikimedia

The other must-see for Western culture to be found in the Vatican is, of course, St. Peter's Basilica: the most imposing church, both inside and out, in the entire 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 there earlier, 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.

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Borghese Gallery

Borghese Gallery| ©Wikimedia
Borghese Gallery| ©Wikimedia

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.

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4. Day Four: Excursion to Florence and Pisa or Pompeii

Florence| ©Wikimedia
Florence| ©Wikimedia

Since you're spending a few days in Rome, why not see one of Italy's most beautiful cities on a day trip or go to one of the world's most famous ruins?

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

Florence| ©Wikimedia
Florence| ©Wikimedia

This tour not only takes you to see the most unforgettable sites of 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, Palazzo Strozzi, 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 tour of Pisa will focus on taking you to see the tower and its surroundings.

  • The tour includes round-trip air-conditioned bus transportation, but not lunch.

The full day tour to Florence and Pisa from Rome has an approximate duration of 14 hours and a price of $ 118, 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.

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Excursion to Pompeii

Pompeii| ©Wikimedia
Pompeii| ©Wikimedia

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.

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5. Day five: discover Rome's hidden gems and bid farewell to the city in style

Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo| ©Wikimedia
Castel Sant'Angelo| ©Wikimedia

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.

Compare the best places to visit in Castel Sant'Angelo

Appian Way and the Catacombs

The Catacombs of Rome| ©Wikimedia
The Catacombs of Rome| ©Wikimedia

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.

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Stop for lunch

Ai Fienaroli| ©Ai Fienaroli
Ai Fienaroli| ©Ai Fienaroli

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

The lock of the Knights of Malta| ©Unsplash
The lock of the Knights of Malta| ©Unsplash

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 gate 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.

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Alex's Traveller Tip

Your 5-day trip to Rome gives you time for one excursion. You can visit the highlights of Florence, but you will be left wanting more, or go to Pompeii, an excursion that fits perfectly in one day.