5 days in Rome

Five days in the capital of Italy will be more than enough to discover the city and visit its museums and monuments. I propose you an itinerary to visit Rome in these days

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

20 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 in which every day is a must, 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: Rome's main monuments 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 city's grandest side, that of its imperial monuments and ruins.

Visit to the Colosseum

The Colosseum| ©Unsplash
The Colosseum| ©Unsplash

Regardless of how long you will be in Rome, it is best to find out how to buy your tickets for the Colosseum in advance, which saves you from waiting in line at the ticket 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 Colosseum, with which you do not have to wait in line to access the monument and have the narration of a guide specializing in ancient history. Please note that if you have purchased the Roma Pass you have to book your ticket for the Colosseum and it is best to do it as soon as possible to ensure the first time slot in the morning.

Useful information

  • How to get there: by metro to the Colosseo stop (metro line B). More info at How to get to the Colosseum of Rome
  • Opening hours: from 8:30 am to 7 pm. Closed on December 25th and January 1st.
  • Tickets: You can book in advance to avoid queues at the ticket office.

Book your tickets to the Colosseum

Visit the 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, and a must visit. So don't hesitate and book a visit to the Forum.

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.

Book your tickets to the Roman Forum

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 book a food tour of Rome where you'll enjoy some of Italy's top culinary delights.

Another option is to head 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 located at Via Claudia, 24.

Book a gastronomic tour of Rome

Tour Piazza Venezia and the Campidoglio

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

In the early afternoon, I recommend you to book a tour of fountains and squares of Rome in which you will get to know the most beautiful corners of Rome.

In addition, you can visit 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 experience, although recommended.

Afterwards, I advise you to 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.

Book a tour of fountains and squares in Rome

Delve into the Jewish Quarter

Details of the Jewish Quarter| ©Unsplash
Details of the Jewish Quarter| ©Unsplash

After marveling at the greatest monuments of Ancient Rome, enter a very different side of the city: the Jewish quarter or ghetto of Rome.

If you book a tour of the Jewish quarter, you can get to know it and you will see that it is a very quiet place where it is ideal 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 walk through the Jewish quarter, get close to 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.

Book a tour of Trastevere and the Jewish Quarter

Discover the Piazza della Bocca della Verità

The Bocca della Verità| ©Unsplash
The Bocca della Verità| ©Unsplash

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 Vacation in Rome, you'll remember the scene where she reaches in instantly. According to legend, the Bocca della Verità knows how to recognize liars, so 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. This will be one of the places you visit on the tour of fountains and squares of Rome.

Afterwards, you can take a walk and return to the Jewish quarter for dinner and a drink. I recommend you try the famous Jewish artichoke dish served in most of the restaurants in the area, but 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.

Book a tour of Rome's fountains and squares

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 be told about the historical details that the most emblematic places of the city have. I'll tell you what they are:

Let yourself be dazzled by the 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 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 feel as if you have 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.

If you want to know all the history it hides, book a guided tour of the Pantheon. On your way out, I recommend a walk around the outside of the building to really understand how incredible the structure of this temple is.

Book a guided tour of the Pantheon

Stroll through the most beautiful squares of Rome

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

After visiting the Pantheon, take a stroll around the surrounding squares. The most beautiful 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. It is also another of the squares you will visit if you book the tour of fountains and squares of Rome. Scattered around the square you will find restaurants, bars, cafes and street performers.

The oval shape of the square is due to the fact that in ancient times this was the site of Domitian's Stadium, 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.

Book a tour of Rome's fountains and squares

Stop for lunch

Fiametta| ©Ristorante Fiametta
Fiametta| ©Ristorante Fiametta

Near Piazza Navona, at Piazza Fiammetta, 10, is Ristorante Fiammetta, a trattoria tucked away on a street of antique stores. It makes 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 price not too exaggerated, about 20 or 25 € per person. Totally recommended.

Book a gastronomic tour of Campo de' Fiori

Take a tour of Campo de' Fiori

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

After lunch and coffee, return to Piazza Navona and walk south along Via della Cuccagna towards Palazzo Braschi, an ancient palace that is now 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 you will find 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 or enjoy a gastronomic tour of Campo de' Fiori. 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.

Book a gastronomic tour of Campo de' Fiori

Visit the district of 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 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 continue along 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. It is home to 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 and you can also get to know it in detail if you book a tour of Trastevere.

Book a tour of Trastevere

Relax on the Gianicolo Terrace

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 you should head, about 15 minutes walk from Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere.

If on the other hand you are 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.

Book a private tour of Rome

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 the dome, from where you will be able to 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.

Do not miss the Vatican Museums

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

Many people buy a ticket for the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel without queues 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 besides 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.

Here are some tips and information of interest for your visit:

  • I recommend you to dedicate a good time to discover everything that hides this place. 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.
  • 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 morning guided tour of the Vatican and the 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.

Book an early morning visit to the Vatican

Visit St. Peter's Basilica

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

The other must-see Western cultural must-see 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.

Before your visit, please note the following information:

  • You don't need to buy a ticket to enter St. Peter's Basilica, but the lines 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 arrive 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 climb 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.
  • Something very important is to respect the dress code: shoulders and knees must be covered, so on this day you should wear long pants and a sweater or scarf, and leave your cap or hat in your backpack.

When to visit St. Peter's Basilica? The truth is that you are going to find a lot of people in this visit whenever you go, so as I indicate in this itinerary it is best to go after seeing the Vatican Museums, which is worth visiting with the least possible crowds. 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.

Book a tour of St. Peter's Basilica and the dome

Enjoy the art in the Borghese Gallery

Borghese Gallery| ©Wikimedia
Borghese Gallery| ©Wikimedia

The Borghese Gardens are home to the well-known Borghese Gallery, a museum where you can see an impressive collection of art with some of the most famous works by 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 you book a guided tour for the Borghese Gallery, which will save you time and avoid the tedium of waiting in line.

At the end of your visit you can take a walk to Piazza del Popolo and enjoy a nice little while in the shade and even enjoy the beautiful views of Rome from the Pincio Terrace.

Book a guided tour of the Borghese Gallery

Day Four: Excursion to Florence and Pisa or Pompeii

Florence| ©Wikimedia
Florence| ©Wikimedia

Since you are going to spend a few days in Rome and after getting to know all the secret corners, why not visit 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 to Pisa to see its famous leaning tower, or exploring the ruins of Pompeii where one of the most faithful images of life in the ancient world is preserved. Choose your own adventure!

Discover Florence and Pisa

Florence| ©Wikimedia
Florence| ©Wikimedia

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, 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), among others.

The full day excursion to Florence and Pisa from Rome lasts approximately from 12 to 14 hours and is priced at $279, and 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.

Book an excursion to Florence

Visit Pompeii

Pompeii| ©Wikimedia
Pompeii| ©Wikimedia

The other option for an excursion from Rome is to book an excursion 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 learn more about what not to miss once there, I recommend you read this complete guide to this experience: Pompeii Day Trips from Rome.

Book an excursion to Pompeii

Day five: discover Rome's hidden gems and say goodbye to the city in style

Finish your trip by visiting some of the corners of Rome that you might not have time to see on a shorter trip. However, they are no less interesting to visit.

Visit the Castel Sant'Angelo

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

Ten minutes walk from Piazza Navona is the Castel Sant'Angelo, on the other side of 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 nowadays as a museum for visitors.

It is worth spending the morning visiting this emblematic building and going up to its rooftop, from which you can see Rome from another perspective. To avoid queues, you can buy online your tickets to Castel Sant'Angelo with audio guide or if you prefer you can take a tour of 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.

Book tickets to Castel Sant'Angelo

Stroll along the 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).

Walking 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 go 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 for offering a more extensive tour and being 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 by booking a guided tour of the catacombs and the Appian Way. 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.

Book your guided tour of the Catacombs and the Appian Way

Take a lunch break

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 crunchy 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 the Eternal City.

Look for 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 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 walk around while enjoying the smell of orange trees and, in the evening, admire the sunset from one of the favorite viewpoints of the locals. Consider booking a tour of hidden Rome to get to know this and other off-the-beaten-path attractions.

From October to February, the park is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. from March to September and from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. from April to August. I recommend you take your place at the observation deck about an hour before sunset to enjoy the sunset and say goodbye to the amazing journey you are about to experience.

Book a tour of hidden Rome