Welcome to Rome!
Far more than a city, Rome is a series of eras stacked atop one another. Ruins, churches and palazzi provide spectacular detail to this modern metropolis that is, despite its fast pace, quite pleasant. Wide pedestrian boulevards, splendid parks and grand piazze - the spaces where residents and tourists converge - give Rome the feeling of an open-air museum. No other city in the world can compare.
To get the most out of your adventure, please make sure to read this itinerary from front-to-back. It is sectioned into three parts: prep, daily itineraries, and an appendix identifying everything you need to print (lodging, train tickets, etc).
Today – Now
PLANNING & BOOKING
The dreaded part of any vacation - planning! Every savvy traveler knows that it’s always better to plan and book early in advance to bag those irresistible bargains. Not only do you get to save up to 25% on flight and hotel prices, but you also get to never settle for second-best! Lower flight prices, room deals and early bird discounts are only some of the many benefits of booking your tickets, excursions and accommodation early on. We recommend planning and booking 3 to 6 months in advance – a surefire way to have a worry-free pre-holiday buzz when the time to travel is near!
Unforgettable Moments - Rome Highlights
The majority of Rome's sites are located within the historic center (Centro Storico), which is traversed by the River Tiber, bounded by the ancient Aurelian walls and laden with some of the most significant landmarks of antiquity. This area also contains bustling, café-lined squares (Campo de' Fiori, Trastevere), chic shopping and strolling districts (Piazza di Spagna, Via Veneto), architectural treasures (Fontana di Trevi), medieval relics (Castel Sant'Angelo), the halls of government (Montecitorio, Quirinale, Campidoglio) and enormous cathedrals housing priceless artworks. Beyond the cobbled alleyways of the center rises EUR, a marble concept city built in the early 20th-century to recall Rome's past grandeur.
Evidence of Rome's earliest roots is scattered throughout the city. The Colosseo, looming large as a symbol of Rome's past, casts a shadow on many other remains from the empire, among them the Forum, the Fori Imperiali and the Palatino, legendary birthplace of the city's founders Romulus and Remus. Triumphal arches, temples and victory columns abound in almost every neighborhood, particularly in the Centro Storico and along the Appian Way. Most of the Appia Antica, the "Queen" of Rome's ancient roads, is preserved parkland, thereby providing visitors a glimpse of ruins without the distractions of modern urban life.
Day 1: Arrival + Getting Acquainted
Buongiorno! Welcome to Rome! We know the feeling, having your excitement of landing at a new place being replaced by the dread of customs, luggage and how you’ll be reaching your hotel. Don’t worry though, if you have everything planned beforehand, you’ll find that you’ll be done in no time.
Nearly all visitors who fly into Rome fly through Leonardo da Vinci Airport at Fiumicino. The airport is located 16 miles southwest of Rome. Ciampino Airport concentrates on low-cost flights and is located 10 miles southeast of Rome. For information about both airports www.adr.it.
We suggest taking a flight that arrives at the Airport as early as possible so you can spend the rest of your day getting acquainted with the city.
Fiumicino is linked to the center by train: services to Roma Termini (Leonardo Express €10 – €15 one-way) depart every 30 min from the airport. Four COTRAL night buses loop between the airport, Termini and Tiburtina stations from. Tickets are €2 - €7. Fiumicino's stop is outside the arrivals hall.
A taxi to the city center takes 35-45 minutes from both airports. Use only the authorized white and yellow cabs at the taxi stand.
We absolutely get it, your first morning is bound to be rife with jet lag. So the best to orient yourself with the city is by having a great breakfast followed by a historical tour to get you acquainted with the city and excited for the next few days.
Start at the Colosseum, also called the Flavian Amphitheater from the original Roman name. It is estimated that when it was built it could hold about 80,000 spectators. The arena was used for gladiator contests, races, and for a short time as a theater including for reenactments and sea battles. The building was in use up until the early medieval time but was then converted to workshops and a Christian shrine with the ethos of the time.
Continue to the Roman Forum, just west of the Colosseum. Exit near the Mamertino prison in the direction of Piazza del Campidoglio, and wander around the collections in the Capitoline Museums.
Head to the Pantheon, the historic church and tomb built from a converted Roman temple. The building is circular with a large granite portico and Corinthian columns underneath a pediment. The dome of the circular structure is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. This is one of the best preserved ancient Roman buildings. There is a huge selection of statues and friezes as well as murals inside the Pantheon.
In the evening, stroll on Piazza della Rotonda through narrow streets lined with curio shops, to Piazza Navona. Savor a gelato on the way, from i Tre Scalini (Piazza Navona 28). Linger over coffee, as buskers croon beside the piazza's uplit fountains and Rome enjoys its evening passeggiata.
Day Two: Vatican, shopping, and romantic dinner.
If you’re interested in art and religion should spend the morning at St Peter's and the Vatican (even a brief taste requires at least half a day). The most recognized part of the Vatican St Peter's square is a large plaza in front of St. Peter's Basilica. It is part of the papal enclave. There is an Egyptian Obelisk that was brought to the area in 1586 before the square was even built at its center.
The Basilica is one of the most renowned pieces of Renaissance architecture in the world and is regarded as one of the holiest shrines by Christians. It is a famous pilgrimage destination and popes have been interred in the crypts since early Christian times. The tomb of St Peter is directly below the High Altar. The central dome of the basilica is easily recognizable in the Rome skyline. It is a cruciform shaped church that has an enlarged nave covered in a dome that stretches across the span of the building.
Admire the Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna, then explore Rome's main shopping street, Via del Corso. It’s a family-friendly shopping that also has plenty of small snack bars scattered around; though it's very busy with tourists more than locals. Beware of the “made in Italy” leathers here as many are real Italian leather but made in China which is why the price is so much cheaper. This is a really long shopping road and you could spend hours here. There's also the Galleria Colonna a large mall shopping center about halfway up which has a cinema.
Nearby both del Corso is the Via del Babuino which has high-end jewelry and antique stores. There are also several large boutique stores such as Armani. It's less crowded but pricier. The Via dei Condotti also runs parallel to the del Corso which is home to high fashion names like Hermes and Moschino. Other nearby notable streets with shops include the via Frattina, via della Croce, via Vittoria, Campo de'Fiori, and the Piazza Navona. The via Nazionale is also a great place to go for budget-friendly shopping.
The district of Trastevere is perfect for an authentic Roman dinner at one of its many small trattorie. Finish, as every trip must, at the Fontana di Trevi, romantically lit in the evening. It is the largest fountain in Rome and has been featured in several films. The location is named for the junction of three roads (Tre Vie) and was once the terminal point for the Roman Aqueduct Virgo that brought in water from a freshwater source 8 miles outside the city and also supplied the Baths of Agrippa. It was part of Rome's municipal water supply for 400 years.
Day 3: Take out your walking shoes!
Today, you'll be walking along part of the Appian way and if you'd rather avoid the gruesome catacombs you can swap to walking the entire route instead. Start your day at the Catacombs of St Domitilla and enjoy the contrast with how white and pristine these are compared to the others you will see. Continue on to the Catacombs of St Callixtus, one of the first Christian burial grounds in the city. Then finally stop at the Catacombs of St Sebastian to see the stunning minimalist early Christian murals on the walls.
Once you're done with the catacombs walk up the Via Appia towards the Via Aventino and catch a bus up to Capitoline Hill. Capitoline Hill is home to the Capitoline Museum where you can see plenty of Roman artifacts, the Sanatorium, Palace of Conservation, and the buildings that were designed by Michaelangelo when the area was restored after the 16th Century.
Continue from Capitoline hill down to the Circus Maximus, the largest arena in Roman Rome which once held chariot races, constructed in the 3rd century BC. Walk up Aventine Hill to Santa Sabina, one of the oldest churches in the city. For a little rest on the way, you can stop at the Giardino degli Arancini (garden of oranges) which is considered one of the most romantic locations in the city. From the church, it's a short walk to see the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, a unique monument set into the wall.
Finish off the day in 8 Millimetri bar in Trastevere, a hipster paradise. It has a crazy décor with mismatched vintage furniture, painted wall murals, and kitsch cocktails. There's also a large free heaving buffet of aperitivo (served between 1830-2200) which you can enjoy with house cocktails. The atmosphere becomes more lively at the weekends but it's pleasantly laid back otherwise.
Day 4: Ostia Antica Day-Trip!
Ostia Antica has long been one of the most popular day trips from Rome. The city's ancient port, which is easily accessible by rail and minutes from the seashore, boasts impressive ruins, including an amphitheater and forum.
Situated where the River Tiber flows into the Mediterranean, Ostia was one of the Roman Republic’s first colonies, and gradually became Rome’s main port. Under early emperors between Claudius and Trajan, the town expanded rapidly. It became deserted when Rome fell in 476 AD, and buildings fell into disuse. They were subsequently covered by sand and mud from the river, which preserved them.
Today, Ostia showcases life in an ancient Roman commercial town at the height of the empire, like Pompeii showcases life in a slower-paced vacation town.
From Termini station, take Metro B to Piramide station. The ride takes around 30 minutes.
To get the most out of Ostia, we recommend purchasing a local map or a route guide, so you know what the ruins are.
Start with the Forum and Capitol. The temple’s podium, along with walls of the cellar where the cult statues were kept, are still intact today. You’ll be awed by the massive scale of Roman temples, even though most of the walls have fallen.
The Piazza of the Corporations was the commercial center of the town. Trade guilds and merchants from across the empire had offices here, each identified by its unique mosaic floor.
Ostia’s apartment buildings are very well-preserved. They were once the living quarters of poor dock workers and used to rise to several precarious stories in height. Today, you can go up to the first floor through narrow stairways and corridors, and take a look at the tiny rooms the poor Romans lived in.
For comparison, visit the remains of wealthier houses, such as the House of Cupid and Psyche, which still boasts of luxurious marble decorations.
You can spend your last hours in Ostia Antica visiting the remains of wealthier houses, such as the House of Cupid and Psyche, which still boasts of luxurious marble decorations.. Take the metro back to Rome and you’ll be home in no time!
Day Five: – a little bit of history!
Start at the busy Piazza Venezia dominated by the imposing bulk of the monument to Vittorio Emanuele II and continue towards the Santa Maria d'Aracoeli steps. After pausing to admire the Renaissance elegance of Piazza del Campidoglio, spend some time in the Capitoline Museums with a panoramic coffee break on the café terrace (Palazzo del Conservatori).
The Chiesa del Gesù, with its magnificent interior, is just a short walk away. From here, continue to the Pantheon, an exceptional domed structure dating from 10 B.C. and then on to Piazza Navona. Piazza Navona, established in the 15th century, preserves the shape of the ancient Roman Stadium of Emperor Domitian. Buildings have replaced the stands where Roman spectators once sat watching chariot races.
Today, the square is off-limits to traffic, hence a popular spot to take it slow – sip coffee, shop, and people watch. There are several monuments on the square. Look for the two masterpieces by Baroque artists Bernini and Borromini.
The nearby church of San Luigi del Francesi houses masterpieces by Caravaggio. Others well worth a visit include Santa Maria della Pace, the hidden gem of Sant'ivo alla Sapienza and Sant'Andrea della Valle.
Just behind “Termini”, Rome’s main train station is the vibrant nightlife district of Nomentano. Other than being a center of entertainment after dark, the area also has a small street market with food and clothing, and unpretentious cafes frequented by students from nearby universities.
Start your day early at the colorful market in Piazza Campo de' Fiori, and barter for the fresh produce or flowers, which gave this vibrant square Its name. The Piazza is used as a market during the day, while students, lovers, and tourists stroll at night when it is lit by street lamps. You can find a statue of a hooded figure – Giordano Bruno, in the middle. The excommunicated Dominican monk and one of the earliest cosmologists to have conceived the idea of an infinite universe was burnt at the stake on this spot in 1600.
Next door is the quieter Piazza Farnese with grandiose fountains of Egyptian granite which was adapted from the ancient Baths of Caracalla. A stroll along Via di Monserrato and the elegant Via Giulia brings you to Castel Sant'Angelo. This papal fortress lies close to the center of religious Rome.
Via della Conciliazione leads directly to St Peter's. After admiring the famous square and a short tour inside the basilica, make your way to the magnificent Vatican Museums to visit the Sistine Chapel. The chapel is where the papal conclave is held and is decorated in stunning frescoes. The most notable is the ceiling of the Last Judgment by Michelangelo. Other notable panels are by Botticelli, Perugino, Pinturicchio, Ghirlandaio, and Roselli. There are several Papal portraits here as well as frescoes dedicated to the life of Christ.
A fancy dinner would be a great end to your day and we recommend La Pergola. This is the pinnacle of fine dining in Rome and you'll have a stunning view across the city while you're at it. The restaurant also boasts an impressive wine cellar with over 50,000 bottles and is adorned with original sculptures and art pieces. It's often voted as the best in Rome and can be found inside the Cavalieri hotel. The gourmet menu includes squid, venison, and Amberjack.
Day 7: addio Rome!
We recommend taking an evening flight out of Rome so you can have a few extra hours to explore the city.
For the last few hours, we recommend:
· Have breakfast at Il Maritozzaro.
· See the Pyramid of Cestius.
· Throw a coin into Trevi Fountain.
· Head to Street Market.
Take a Bus Autostradale from Vatican to the Rome Fiumicino Airport, a trip that will last you about 45 minutes. We recommend leaving for the airport at least three hours before your scheduled departure.