Rome was one of those trips that will always hold a special place in my heart. We went for Darryl’s birthday at the end of the 2017 summer, and it was the most amazing four days exploring the city under the sun, eating hearty meals whilst watching the world go by and getting slightly drunk on Aperol Spritz cocktails.
If you’re heading to Rome soon, here’s the ultimate four-day itinerary to follow.
Read more: How to spend a lazy afternoon in Rome
Day One: The Pantheon, Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain
Our flight arrived into Rome from London Luton the evening before, which meant we had a few extra hours to find out hotel (which was useful because we got very lost), and settle ourselves in before our first full day.
Morning: Wander into the city and head straight for the Pantheon, which is a former Roman temple, now a church. It’s free to go inside and is 100% worth elbowing your way through the crowd to get there. It’s incredible, and there’s just no way to describe the sheer size of it. The Pantheon sits within a huge square, which is a great spot to grab some breakfast or brunch and watch the hustle and bustle of the city unfold.
Lunchtime: Head over to the Spanish Steps. They look nice from the bottom, but it’s the view from the top that are worth seeing. It’s a bit of a climb, but once you’re up there, you can use the slope to wind your way back down to the city. This area is lined with designer shops and snazzy restaurants, so I’d recommend grabbing a bite to eat before you head up.
Afternoon: As the sun begins to cool off, head to my favourite place in all of Rome, the Trevi Fountain. This courtyard was absolutely stunning and there was such a good atmosphere. We stood there for a while, saw two proposals, got chatting to a local and stayed long enough to see the sun go down. But a word of advice, don’t get too close with a gelato, because security will blow their whistles at you.
Evening: Find a good spot to carb-load. We finished our first day eating Italy’s finest pasta, drinking beer and roaming around the back streets like we had all the time in the world. We also had a second amazing gelato (highly recommend the melon flavour).
Day Two: The Vatican, St Peter’s Basilica & Janiculum Park
Morning: Grab an early breakfast and make your way to The Vatican. Our hotel was really close to this area so getting there wasn’t too difficult, and as we’d already pre-booked our tickets, we got to skip the gigantic queue that wrapped around The Vatican walls as early as 9am.
I’d really recommend this, as the Italian heat is pretty intense when you’re dressed to cover up most of your body (which is mandatory to enter The Vatican).
Take your time exploring so you don’t miss things like the ‘Creation of Adam’ painting, like us, which meant we had to loop round The Vatican twice.
Lunchtime: Find some lunch on route to your next stop, and then head inside St Peter’s Basilica. Up until a few years ago, this was the largest church ever built and remains one of the holiest sites. The size of the square and the buildings surrounding it cannot even be put into words. There’s so much to look at, and even going underground to see the tombs of previous popes, although slightly creepy, is an experience.
St Peter’s Square alone takes your breath away. But keep in mind that you will probably have to queue for a fair while to get inside, so remove your layers from The Vatican and put your sun cream on!
Afternoon: If you’re got some energy left and fancy a walk, head up to Janiculum Park. There are some insane views, and it’s not too far to go if you don’t mind climbing a few dozen steps. From here we could see just about everything, including the Colosseum.
Evening: Reward your climb with another Italian meal. We ordered pizza and beer in a local restaurant, before heading back to St Peter’s Square to watch the sun set behind the church.
Day Three: The Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
Morning: Grab an early breakfast and head to the Colosseum. We pre-booked fast-track tickets to avoid standing in the heat for too long. I’d really recommend this, as the ticket also gives you access to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. If you’d like to know more about the history of the Colosseum, you could book a guided tour instead.
The Colosseum itself is exactly what you’d expect it to be; huge, ancient and even more impressive in real life. One of the best views is from the park on the opposite side of the road, or your next stop, the Roman Forum.
Lunchtime: There are plenty of place to enjoy a bite to eat before heading to the Roman Forum. This site is huge, but there is no shade, so you might want to take this part of the day fairly easy. We decided to take ourselves round the site, but many people opted for a guided tour to learn more about the history of the Forum.
Afternoon: Once you’ve seen all there is to see at the Forum, wander up the slope to Palatine Hill. This is also a very exposed site, but by the time you get there, it should be significantly cooler. We took our time to explore and take in the views, before heading back down for more food.
Evening: This day was Darryl’s birthday, so I booked a surprise dinner right next to the Colosseum. Before our reservation we ended up getting slightly too tipsy on Aperol Spritz cocktails at a local bar, and then wandered over to Ristoro Della Salute, where we were lucky enough to get an outside table with the Colosseum towering above us.
Here we ordered a pasta dish each, a pizza to share and more drinks. The waiter almost looked repulsed by the amount we ordered. What he didn’t know is that we then stopped off for Nutella gelato on our way back to the hotel.
Day Four: Explore Rome at your leisure
Our flight back to the UK was in the evening, so we still had almost an entire day to see Rome at a slow pace. We choose to have a chilled morning, and a very lazy afternoon, just wandering around Piazza Navona and soaking up the last of the sun. And bruschetta. And pizza. And limoncello. Oh, and one last gelato.
This itinerary is quite full on, but if like me you can’t visit a new destination without a bit of adventure, then hopefully you’ll find it to be the perfect guide to enjoying your city break in Rome.
Follow my route
Heading to Rome soon? Save this map to use whilst you’re there!
Simply click the star icon to add it to your collection. To find it again, open the left-hand tab in Google Maps and click Your Places > Maps.
New to this tool? Learn more about My Maps in this post.
Have you been to Italy before? Is Rome on your bucket list?