Rome. A city rich in history and known for its delectable wine, pasta and spectacular artwork. If you are planning on visiting this magical city, it’s important to do your research ahead of time because there is a lot to see, especially if you are short on time.
In this Ultimate 4 Day Itinerary for Rome, Italy, I will share with you all the must see attractions, popular restaurants, affordable types of lodging and transportation, as well as give you tips and advice so you can make the most of your trip.
With that said, let’s not waste any time and get right into it!
When to Visit
Rome is a very popular city so it’s important to know when to go so you can avoid the crowds. High season (aka most popular with tourists) is typically from May – September. Low season equals fewer tourists and is from the end of November – February. Shoulder season, as you probably already guessed, is in between the high and low seasons, and is from March – April and October – November.
If you could only choose one time to visit Rome, I highly recommend going sometime during the shoulder seasons. Why? Well, mainly because the weather will be just right..not too cold and not too hot. In addition, prices for hotels won’t be too high and the lines for major attractions won’t be too long compared to high season.
Where to Stay
- 59 Steps Trevi: Located 2 minutes from the Trevi Fountain and in the heart of Rome, this bed and breakfast is the perfect place to stay at because it is affordable and walking distance to all the major attractions. The B&B has all the basic amenities you need, free WIFI, free continental breakfast, daily housekeeping, and so much more. Although the room is somewhat small, I personally enjoyed the B&B, and wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again. Book Now
- HT6 Hotel: This luxurious, boutique hotel is located in the heart of the Jewish quarter and also walking distance to some of the main attractions like the Colosseum and Pantheon. BOOK NOW
- Palazzo Navona Hotel: If you prefer staying in a hotel and don’t mind paying higher prices, then this is a great option. Located between the Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona, this upscale, beautiful hotel is located in a great area, has a fitness center, FREE wifi and a rooftop bar. BOOK NOW
There are a number of different options for transportation in Rome including the bus, metro, taxi and walking. For the metro, you can choose a variety of different tickets including a 100 minute ticket, 1 day ticket, or a weekly ticket, and you can easily purchase them at the metro station. Please be aware that most of the automated ticket stations only take euros and not credit cards. Taxis are another great option if you need to get somewhere far and fast. The taxis are much more expensive than the metro system and the cost can quickly add up. Rome is one of the most walkable cities in the world and it’s the best way to see the major sites.
Where to Eat
- Armando Al Pantheon
- Grazia and Graziella
- San Crispino
- Gelato del Teatro
- Panino Divino
- L’Antico Forno Di Fontana Di Trevi
The Ultimate 4 Day Itinerary for Rome, Italy
FONTANA DI TREVI
One of the most famous attractions, without a doubt, is the Fontana Di Trevi. Also known as the Trevi Fountain, it is located in the Quirinale district, and is massive at 85 feet tall and 65 feet wide. It’s honestly a beauty, especially in person!
Tradition says that you should face your back to the fountain and throw a coin over your shoulder because rumor has it that it ensures your return back to Rome in the future. Who doesn’t want that, right?!
Roughly 3,000 euros is collected daily from the fountain, which is then donated to a charitable organization called Caritas.
Tip: Since the Trevi Fountain is so popular, it’s almost always crowded with people to the point where it’s impossible to get to the edge of the fountain. To beat the crowds and to ensure good photo opportunities, make sure to get to the fountain EARLY (preferably 6:30 am – 8 am)
After the Fontana Di Trevi, head on over to the Pantheon, which is approximately a short 10 minute walk. The Pantheon means “honor all Gods” in Greek, and is one of the best preserved monuments, considering its large size and age. While most of the other monuments have slowly degraded over time, the Pantheon remains intact with minimal destruction.
Although a reservation is not required to enter, there may be a short line to get in during extremely times.
The Pantheon is circular in shape, and, if you look up, you will see an oculus in the center of the dome which allows for light to penetrate through. Many people are immediately struck with amazement because of its grand splendor and beauty.
As you walk through the Pantheon, you will find the tombs of infamous painter Raphael and King Vittorio Emanuele III. Outside of the Pantheon directly in front, you will find a small fountain with a beautiful marble statue.
Also located in the front of the Pantheon is a restaurant that serves pizza, pasta, and delicious drinks. If you get hungry for lunch, stop by this place and you won’t regret it.
The next stop is Piazza Navona, one of the most beautiful plazas in all of Italy. Piazza Navona used to be a stadium for festivals and sporting events many years ago. In the 15th century, however, the stadium was paved over and made into a public square with 3 unique fountains. The fountains include: Fontana dei Quattro Fuimi (Fountain of the Four Rivers), Fontana Del Nettuno (Neptune Fountain), and Fontana Del Moro (Moor Fountain).
In addition to the fountains, you can find many outdoor cafes, street performers, and nightclubs in this square. Sit down, rest your feet and relax at Piazza Navona before your next destination!
As one of the most popular attractions in all of Rome, you’ve probably seen it in photographs or read about in National Geographic. Whether you’ve seen it or never heard of it before, the Colosseum is a must visit when in Rome.
Built around 70 A.D., the Colosseum was originally named the Flavian Amphitheater. Titus succeeded the throne after his father’s death, and became emperor from 79 A.D to 81 A.D. During his rule, he designated the Colosseum to be used as entertainment in the form of gladiatorial combats and wild animal battles.
Seeing the Colosseum in person is something you will never forget. Since every single tourist wants to check this attraction off their bucket list, the crowds can get insane.
To decrease the amount of time spent waiting in line to get into the Colosseum, make sure to book your admission tickets ahead of time HERE.
Each ticket costs 16 euros, plus a 2 euro online reservation fee. Although you may be hesitant to pay the reservation fee, purchasing your ticket online will save you at least an hour of waiting in line. An added benefit of this ticket is that it includes access to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, both of which are located just a short 5 minute walk from the Colosseum.
ROMAN FORUM & PALATINE HILL
As one of the most ancient parts of Rome, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are both full of history and are unbelievably breathtaking to see in person.
You may be wondering, what were the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill used for in the past? The Roman Forum was the main center for political and social events, including but not limited to, gladiatorial matches, judicial trials, speeches and social gatherings. Although it is now in ruins due to old age, the Roman Forum contained many important buildings, such as the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Curia Meeting Place and the House of the Vestals.
The Palatine Hill, on the other hand, is full of majestic hills overlooking the Roman Forum, and is even more magical when the sun starts to set.
There is a slight steep walk to the top of the Palatine Hill, but along the way, you will see beautiful plants and wildflowers that you can stop and look at. The top of the hill offers some of the most spectacular panoramic views of the entire Roman Forum and of the rest of Rome. In my opinion, the Palatine Hill is a great place to relax and end your long day before a nice hearty meal of fresh pasta.
ST. PETER’S BASILICA
First thing in the morning, head on over to St. Peter’s Basilica, and get there early!
If you don’t , you’ll stand in a line that goes all around the square for at least an hour. If you can’t already tell, I dislike standing in line and I’m sure you do too, so I’m trying to save you as much time as possible.
St. Peter’s Basilica is located in Vatican city and is one of the most revered and holiest Catholic shrines in the world. In order for a church to be considered a basilica, it has to be built into the shape of a cross and the pope has to give it special privileges.
While there, I highly recommend climbing the 400+ stairs to the top of Michelangelo’s Dome for the most surreal 360 degree views of Rome. Getting into the Basilica itself is free, but it costs 6 euros via the stairs and 8 euros via the elevator to get to the top of the dome. The difference between the two tickets is that the “6 euro stair ticket” requires taking the stairs all the way up, whereas the “8 euro elevator ticket” has a short elevator ride from the first floor to approximately 1/4 of the way up. The rest of the way up to the top requires going up a spiral staircase.
Tip: Since St. Peters is a church, please be mindful and dress appropriately by covering your legs and arms, or you may not be allowed to go inside.
VATICAN MUSEUM & SISTINE CHAPEL
The Vatican Museum, located in Vatican City, is an extraordinary museum with rooms of artwork and sculptures by well known artists like Raphael, Buonarroti, Titian and Leonardo Da Vinci.
Since this particular museum is notorious for its long lines, regardless of the time of day, make sure to book your tickets online. Depending on your preference, you have two choices: a non-guided tour or guided tour. Some of the most popular features of the museum include the Michelangelo’s ceiling artwork, Greek bronze statues, a Ramses II statue, the famous School of Athens painting, and so much more. Expect to spend at least 2 hours here and I recommend researching ahead of time so you know exactly what exhibits you want to see.
The Sistine Chapel is another must visit, conveniently located in the Vatican Museum, and is renowned for its magnificent Renaissance art. The reason why this chapel is popular is because the ceiling and the walls are completely covered with renaissance frescoes. You won’t want to miss this!
Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as Hadrian’s Tomb, is a large castle located next to the Tiber River.
Originally, Castel Sant’Angelo was intended as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family. On the top of the castle is a statue of an angel to symbolize the end of an epidemic plague that devastated the city back in the late 500’s.
In the year 1277, the Pope commissioned the construction of a corridor that connected Castel Sant’Angelo with the Vatican in case there was a war and he needed a place to escape to. When visiting the castle, you can climb the spiral staircase to see the tombs of several notable people who were incarcerated there.
Additionally, the castle is full of beautiful paintings and has a nice panoramic view at the top.
BORGHESE GALLERY AND GARDENS
Ah, the Villa Borghese, quite possibly my favorite place in Rome.
Open from 9 am – 7 pm Tuesday – Sunday, the Galleria Borghese is one of the finest museums in all of Rome. It allows a maximum of 360 people at a time for 2 hour blocks.
In 1613, Cardinal Borghese, an avid art collector, commissioned this grand villa to house a wide variety of impressive artwork. Some of the popular art pieces here include Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne sculptures, as well as paintings by famous artists Caravaggio, Titian and Raphael.
Although significantly smaller than the Vatican museums, the Borghese Gallery has several advantages. These advantages include fewer rooms, thus making it more manageable to see everything. In addition, because of the limited amount of people who can enter the museum at a time, the crowds are much smaller and way less overwhelming, with a more intimate feel to it.
IMPORTANT: Booking a ticket to the Gallery online ahead of time is required. Don’t expect to simply walk-in to buy tickets because you WILL be turned away.
After your visit to the museum, take a nice and relaxing stroll in the beautiful Gardens, which is a nice change of scenery from the hustle and bustle of Rome. Stretching 226 acres all the way from Piazza Del Popolo all the way to the top of Via Veneto, the Borghese Garden is equivalent to Central Park in New York City. Not only can you take a nice long walk, but you can also have a delightful picnic.
Tip: The best way to see the Borghese Garden is by bike because its immense size. You can choose a single bike or a 4 person electric bike.
PIAZZA DEL POPOLO
As one of the most popular Plazas, Piazza Del Popolo literally translates to “The People’s Square.”
At the center of the plaza is a large Egyptian obelisk dedicated to Ramesses II. The plaza also has many shops and cafes.
To get a view of the entire Piazza and the Obelisk, climb the stairs to the eastern part to Pincio Park. This is definitely one of the underrated parts of Rome.
The beautiful Spanish Steps are located in between Piazza Di Spagna and the Trinita Dei Monti, a French church with Italian Renaissance architecture. From the top of the stairs, you get a great view of the entire plaza and rows of streets down below. The Spanish Steps get very crowded very fast, so come early if you want to avoid the people.
After exploring the Spanish Steps and the Church, head down to the shops, which include Gucci, Fendi, Mango, Valentino and Balenciaga.
Once you finish shopping, you can also grab a scoop or two of some fresh gelato. Yum!
Did you know that the Capitoline Museums are the oldest public museums dating all the way back to the late 1400’s?
Connected by an underground tunnel, the two museums feature an impressive array of Italian paintings, mosaics, and sculptures. To get to the Capitoline Museum entrance, you have to climb the Cordonata, an elegant staircase designed by the famous Michelangelo.
Once you reach the top of the stairs, you will arrive at Piazza Del Campidoglio, and you will immediately see the enormous and iconic bronze statue of an Emperor on a horse.
It truly is fascinating to see in person!
Tickets to the museums cost approximately 12 – 18 euros, depending when you go and whether or not there is a special exhibit going on.
Oh Trastevere, what a charming little city you are.
In all seriousness though, Trastevere is one of the most beautiful and authentic parts of Rome with an eccentric and lively personality.
Here, you will find cobblestone floors, delicious Italian food, cafes serving delectable desserts and drinks, quaint boutique shops, nightclubs and so much more!
I recommend visiting Trastevere both during the day and night so you can get a feel of what it’s like throughout the entire day. Located next to the Tiber River, you will find many alleyways lined with vines and green plants, making for the perfect photo shoot location!
The main plaza in Trastevere is called Piazza di Santa Maria, which is located in the center of Trastevere. Here, you will find the Basilica di Santa Maria, one of the 5 ancient Basilicas of Rome, with mesmerizing and sparkling mosaics.
Take your time and enjoy all the sights and food that this beautiful little city has to offer. It might just become your favorite part of Rome.
Frequently Asked Questions (Bonus Tips and Advice)
1. Is the water in Rome safe to drink?
Yes, the water in Rome is safe to drink. It is cold, refreshing and clean. You can even refill your water at the fountains, but watch out for the ones that say non-drinkable. Drinking tap water can help save you lots of money rather than pricey water bottles, which can range from 1 – 4 euros per bottle.
2. Should I worry about pickpocketers?
Rome, in general, is a very safe city because there are many police and military personnel stationed at popular attractions to ensure safety; however, you need to be very careful about pickpocketers. Pickpocketers in Rome are very skilled and prey on the vulnerable tourists, so take precautions to avoid being a target. Make sure to keep your valuables with you at all times, don’t walk in dark alleyways alone, be aware of your pockets and try to have your purse or backpack in front of you.
3. Should I book a tour for certain attractions?
A common question for many tourists is whether tours should be booked? Honestly, it depends on your preference to whether you exploring at your own pace or if you having a guide teach you about the history behind the specific attraction. A lot of attractions offer audio tours in lieu of guided tours, which still allows you to explore at your own pace.
4. Is there a lot of walking required in Rome?
Yes, there is definitely a lot of walking in Rome so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
5. Do people in Rome speak English?
The majority of people in Rome speak English so you don’t have to worry too much about not being to able to communicate with them.
6. What is the method of payment in Rome?
When in Rome, you can use a combination of credit card and cash (euros). Make sure to carry at least 50 euros with you at all times, just in case a restaurant or store does not take credit card.
7. Is there WIFI?
Most restaurants offer FREE wifi, which is great for tourists who don’t have service while abroad.