Arrival: Squares and fountains
By the time you’ve landed, found your hotel and dropped your luggage off, there will probably not be enough time to visit any monuments. What should you do? The best plan is to take a walk through the city centre and get to know its streets, squares (piazzas) and fountains.
Once in Piazza di Spagna, take the Via dei Condotti, one of the city’s most important high streets, until you get to the Via del Corso. Here, turn left. Walk down the street and cross the Piazza Colonna (where the Column of Marcus Aurelius is located). Two streets further down, turn to the left and take the Via delle Muratte.
Walk a few meters until you are hit by a breath-taking sight: the Trevi Fountain. This is a great place to stop and enjoy the beauty of such a monument. If you are superstitious, you might want to throw a coin into the fountain. The legend has evolved and now ensures a return to Rome. Stand with your back to the fountain and throw the coin over your left shoulder to make sure it comes true.
Walking back down Via delle Muratte, cross Via del Corso and continue along Via di Pietra. Five minutes later, you’ll arrive at the Pantheon, the best preserved monument from the Roman Empire. If you’d like to enjoy the views, you can order a cappuccino in one of the many terraces of the piazza.
Leave the Pantheon via Salita de Crescenzi street and follow the signs until you get to Piazza Navona. This impressive square houses the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, the Fontana del Moro and the Fountain of Neptune, as well as the Obelisk of Domitian.
Exit the square from the south side (by the Fontana del Moro) and you’ll arrive at Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, a wider street. If you head down this street, on the left side, you’ll come across the Area Sacra dell’Argentina, an excavation where you’ll be able to see the remains of Roman architecture from the Roman Republic. This area is especially beautiful when lit up.
Continue in the same direction until you visualize the Altare della Patria (Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II), a monument built in honour of Italy's first King, Victor Emmanuel III, after the country’s unification. The building’s observation deck offers one of Rome’s most stunning views of the city.
If you have time to spare, you can walk over to see the Piazza del Campidoglio, one of the city’s most impressive squares designed by Michelangelo.
Choose a restaurant nearby and if you’re not too tired you can go and have a drink at Campo dei Fiori, one of Rome’s liveliest squares.
Day 1: The Vatican City
If you’re visiting Rome during the weekend, you should dedicate the first day, Saturday, to explore the Vatican City, since on Sundays the Vatican Museums are closed (apart from the last Sunday of each month).
To make the most of your time in Rome, you should make it to the Vatican City no later than 9 am.
After having taken in the splendid views of St Peter’s Square, join the queue to entre St Peter’s Basilica, one of the holiest temples for Christendom.
Inside the Basilica it is definitely worth climbing to the top of the dome (446 ft - 136 m tall) to get a bird’s eye view of Rome and the Vatican City. The ascent is a little exhausting (especially if you choose the stairs), but it is also part of its appeal.
Once you’ve been blown away by the views, head down and follow the signs to the Vatican Museums. If you’re lucky, the line shouldn’t be too long and you’ll be able to more or less enter immediately. These feature some of the most renowned art work from the Renaissance period and visitors can easily spend hours exploring its collections. The admissions ticket includes the access to theSistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s masterpiece, which should be visited at least once in a life time.
On finishing your visit to the Vatican, take Via della Conciliazione from St. Peter's Square. On this street is located the Castel Sant'Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel) and the bridge, Ponte Sant’Angelo, a Roman bridge which is considered one of the most beautiful ones in Rome. The castle is now a museum, definitely worth exploring.
If there are still some hours of daylight and you wish to relax a bit, head to Villa Borghese, one of Rome’s most romantic public parks. Here you can lay on the grass or go for stroll and discover its lake and numerous buildings. If you’re travelling with children, they will love this green-space.
At night there is nothing better than to wander aimlessly through the city streets taking in the Rome’s lively atmosphere and extraordinary architecture. If you didn’t have time to visit Campo dei Fiori the previous day, why not go today and have a relaxing drink.
Day 2: Imperial Rome
If you enjoy history you will have left the best for the last day, since today we shall visit the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum.
To get to the Colosseum, you can take the metro and get off at the Colosseo station.
The metro entrance is located at the feet of the Ancient Roman stadium, therefore as soon as you come out you’ll have the wonder of ancient Rome before your eyes and the city’s icon: the Colosseum. If you see that the queue is very long, we suggest visiting the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill first. The entrance ticket is combined so you’ll be able to access the Colosseum without having to join the line.
After visiting these three archaeological sites, head to the Capitoline Hill, the most important of the seven hills of Ancient Rome, by the north side of the Forum. Here, you’ll find the Capitoline Museums. On arriving at the Piazza del Campidoglio, designed and created by the architect Michelangelo Buonarroti, don't miss the statue of Romulus and Remus, which is located just outside the square and not easily found.
Take the “Cordonata” stairs that lead to Via del Teatro Marcello and stay on the left side of the street. In less than 10 minutes you will get to Santa María in Cosmedin, where the Mouth of Truth is found.
Once you’ve visited the church, cross the river Tiber and you’ll find yourself in Trastevere, one of Rome’s most charming neighbourhoods. The atmosphere is very authentic and the restaurants are good and have very affordable prices. You can finish by having an ice cream in Santa Maria in Trastevere square.
Staying in Rome for over 2 days?
If you’re staying in Rome for over two days, why not check out our list of the most important museums or the catacombs. Rome is such an impressive and unique city that visitors will be organizing their next trip to the city before it has even ended.