So, you have only 24 hours in Rome and have no idea on how to stretch your time to sightseeing? Where to start? There are so many beautiful places to go that it was a difficult task to choose only a few spots to fit in your schedule. I had to leave behind a lot of amazing places, but this would be a good excuse for you to return to this Eternal City.
In this post, I will guide you around Rome to get the best of what the city can offer, in such a short time.
Rome, also known as ‘Caput Mundi’ (capital of the world in Latin) became the capital city of Italy in 1870, taking Florence’s place. The Eternal City has more than 280 fountains and 900 churches and has infinite alleys leading one into another, that’s why is said, all roads lead to Rome! It is not only one of the oldest cities in Italy, but also the most populated city in Italy.
Although 24 hours is definitely not enough to visit every single amazing alley, church, fountain or restaurant in Rome, I tried to fit in the most outstanding and famous ones. So, if you’re trying to make your 24 hours stay in Rome unforgettable, then you’re on the right article.
Arriving in Rome
Once you arrived at Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport, you can take the Leonardo Express train (they really like that bloke). It runs every 15 minutes and will take you to the city center Termini Station in 30 minutes. Please, note that the first departure from the airport is at 06:23 and last at 23:23. The ticket cost €14 and can be purchased at the train station at ticket machines or the official ticket desk.
Another option is the bus, which departs from the arrivals level at the end of terminal 3. There are 4 bus companies working on the same route. The cost is around €6, but with the traffic, it could take you more than an hour to get to the city centre.
Please note that most of the low-cost airlines arrive in Ciampino Airport.
Starting at the Colusseum
Although Rome has only 3 subway lines, the best way to start your journey is taking the subway to the Colosseum stop. When you get out of the station, you will have a breathtaking view of this imposing amphitheater just in front of you.
The Colosseum was completed in AD 80 under the emperor Titus. It served to the gladiators as a battleground against each other, exhibitions of exotic animals also commonly occurred. Executions of prisoners happened frequently as well. It’s well worth a visit inside. I suggest you buy the tickets online, in order to skip the line. Included in your Colosseum ticket price are the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum.
Once you finish visiting the Colosseum, you can go to the Palatino Hill, which is where Romulus supposedly founded the city in 753 BC and Rome’s emperors lived in palatial luxury. From the hill, you have a spectacular view of Circo Massimo, Roman Forum and Colosseum.
Getting down the hill you will be basically inside the Roman Forum, go through the ruins, imagining how life could be in ancient times until you reach the end and arrive at Piazza Venezia. Here, you can’t miss the enormous monument: the Vittoriano.
It was built between 1885 and 1911 to celebrate the uniting of Italy as a nation.
You can climb the stairs, but the only way to get to the top is with the panoramic elevator. It takes you to the terrace of the Vittoriano where you can admire a spectacular view. Inside the Vittoriano you often get historic and art exhibitions.
Right in front of it, you will find Via del Corso. Walk along for approximately 10 minutes and on your right, you will see the indication to Trevi Fountain. Just follow it and you will arrive at one of the most beautiful Baroque fountains in Rome: Trevi Fountain, an extraordinary masterpiece of Italian art. You will need some coins because a tradition legend says that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain they are ensured to return to Rome. At the end of each day, more than €3000 is collected and donated to Caritas for children in need.
Now it’s time for lunch! Go back to Via del Corso, and cross it to the other side. Follow the directions to Pantheon. In this area, you will find many options for restaurants and Roman trattoria. You can take a seat outside of one of them and enjoy a glass of good wine and a typical pasta while you admire the view of the narrow streets and the historic buildings of the ancient city.
After having recharged your batteries, you should be ready for the next stop: the Pantheon. This masterpiece is the most beautifully preserved building from ancient Rome, it was completed on 126 AD. Around the Pantheon, there are many ice cream shops. You cannot leave Rome without tasting at least one of them! My bets are on Fiocco di Neve or Grom, but I’m sure you won’t be disappointed if you try a different one.
Now, you can head towards Piazza Navona, just follow the signs and after a few minutes, you will reach this beautiful square with 3 fountains, including Bernini’s masterpiece Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. Piazza Navona was the original location of the Stadium of Domitian, built in the 1st Century A.D. and was used as an arena for sports and festivals. My tip here is to stop at Caffe Braschi, at Palazzo Pamphili. Grab a table outside and while you taste a coffee or tea and, why not, a glass of wine. You can appreciate the stunning view of Piazza Navona. Since we don’t have much time, it’s better to take a taxi to Via dei Condotti, where you can start your shopping adventure among the famous designer shops. At the end of this street, you will be at the Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna, one of Rome’s most renowned squares. For a beautiful view, climb the steps till the top and you reach Pincio, an amazing spot for a picture, especially during the sunset.
Let’s go back to your hotel because I’m sure after refreshing yourself, you will be ready to go out for dinner. There are tons of places to eat in Rome, but for a real Italian/Roman good food experience, my suggestions are the Trattorie, but it’s better to book in advance.
Here are my favourites:
- Felice @ Testaccio (don’t miss the Tiramisu’!)
- Enzo al 29 @ Trastevere
- Lo Scopettaro @ Testaccio
- Da Danilo @ Esquilino
If you want a more glamour place, your choices could be:
- La Veranda @Hotel Columbus
- Zuma @ Palazzo Fendi
- Giulia @ Lungotevere Teobaldi
- Madre @ Roma Luxus Hotel
After dinner, to burn a bit of those calories you just gained, I would go for a walk along the Tiber River or around the maze of Trastevere’s streets, or Campo dei Fiori, where the city never sleeps.
You cannot come to Rome and not visit Vatican City! If you still have some time left the next morning, definitely go there.
Arriving on the San Peter Square, you must pass through the security control to get inside the basilica. San Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world and the holiest temple for Christians. The construction of the basilica began in 1506 and it took more than 100 years to finish.
On Wednesdays, there is the Papal Audition in the square. Usually, the Pope comes outside to give the blessing. On Sunday the Pope usually does the Mass on the square, so the church is closed for visitors in the morning.
Make sure you wear clothes that cover your shoulder and knees, otherwise you won’t be allowed to get into the basilica.
Another must-see is the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo’s frescoes and a big selection of Vatican treasures. You’ll need a few hours to visit it, so if you are short in time you better choose between the museum or the basilica. It’s better always to book online, to avoid the long queues. You can also book an English guided tour which will save you time and queue. The entrance fee is €16.
Good to know
In Italy, the voltage is 220V. You might need a power adaptor.
At the Duty-Free Shop in Rome’s airport, you can get a 10% OFF showing your crew badge.
Every last Sunday of each month, Museums and state archaeological sites in Rome are free, although be aware of long queues.
SPQR stands for Senatus Populusque Romanus. You will find the letters SPQR everywhere in Rome, if you have the chance, try looking at the manholes leading to the sewers. Most of them have SPQR written on them.
If you are a tourist from outside the European Union, with a minimum purchase sum of €154.94, you can submit a VAT refund. Remember this money should be spent in one time, in the same store and ask before you buy if they have a VAT refund. You must show your passport and they will give you a VAT refund form. When you are leaving Italy, you have to show this form at customs to be stamped, your passport and the goods you bought. Only after being approved and stamped, you can go to the VAT refund desk to have your money back, which is a maximum of 22%.
5 Things to try when in Rome
- A real Italian Espresso coffee
- A homemade ice cream
- A good glass of wine
- Typical roman Pasta, like Cácio e Pepe, Gricia, Carbonara, Matriciana