The capital city of Italy, and a cultural and historical icon on its own accord, Rome is a treasure trove of memorable experiences. At each turn of the ancient city is a monument or a church from a time long past, which lends the city much of its grandeur, while also rooting it firmly in world history.
Within its city limits lies the revered Vatican City, making it a must-visit destination for people, specifically Catholics, around the world. If you're looking to explore the best of Rome in a day , our 24 hour itinerary should help you hit up all the prime spots in a timely fashion. Scroll down to know how!
1 Day in Rome - How To Spend Your Day
Rome In A Day - Detailed Itinerary
Morning - Discovering The Vatican City Jewels
St. Peter's Basilica
Begin your third day at arguably one of the most important museums in Europe, the Vatican Museums. While the Vatican Museum opens only at 8:30 AM, we have an exclusive Early Access Ticket To Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel that will allow you to enter the premises before anyone else and delve right into the heart of art and culture in Rome, in complete solitude. A collection of 54 galleries, including the Sistine Chapel, that host almost 20,000 pieces of art, the Vatican Museum is undeniably one of the most impressive displays of art in the world.
- If you push your Vatican Museum to sometime later in the day, expect to waste 2 hours in queues on your 24 hour trip. Bonus, Sistine Chapel tickets come free with Vatican Museum tickets.
- Remember to dress appropriately when visiting the Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica: shoulders, thighs, knees, midriffs, and cleavage should not be exposed.
Hot Local Tip
Most people wish to see the famous spiral staircase right away. Keep in mind, this is at the very end of your visit- even after the Sistine Chapel!
What To Know About Vatican Museums Before Your Visit: The Complete Travelogue
The prominence and notability of the Vatican museums culminates into the most spectacular of all, The Sistine Chapel. The fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the frescos that decorate the interior designed by Raphael and the ceiling painted with The Last Judgment by Michelangelo about 500 years ago.
- Entry to Sistine Chapel comes free with your Vatican Museum Tickets. You cannot buy a ticket for Sistine Chapel alone, so make sure to buy a Vatican Museum ticket if you are interested in seeing the frescos of the Sistine Chapel.
- The best days to visit are Tuesdays and Thursdays. Mondays, Fridays, and weekends are very crowded. On Wednesday, you have the Papal audience to look out for.
- Winters are typically the low-season months, so if you want to beat crowds, head out to the Vatican then.
Hot Local Tip
Don't rush to the Sistine Chapel. It is the last part of your tour, so make sure you enjoy all the sights along the way.
Your Ultimate Guide To Exploring The Sistine Chapel in Rome
St. Peter's Basilica is one of the holiest Catholic shrines in the world, making it the most visited church in the world too. It has a capacity of over 60,000 people, covers 22,300 square meters and is one of the world’s largest churches. There are two levels below St Peter’s Basilica; the first level is known as the Vatican Grottoes, and is a large underground graveyard where the tombs of 91 Popes are buried. The level below this is the Vatican Necropolis and houses St Peter’s Tomb.
- While entry to the St. Peter's Basilica is free, it doesn't hurt to have a guide who takes you through this famed church.
- It is known to attract thousands of religious visitors daily, hence expect a minimum 2 hour queue.
- The best way to visit the St. Peter's Basilica is buying a combo ticket for Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica that gives you entry to the Basilica from a secret passage near Sistine Chapel instead of queueing up outside. You can also buy Skip the Line tickets with a guided tour to save time and make the most of your visit.
- We recommend buying St. Peter's Basilica tickets online. The wait time could be anywhere between 45 min - 3 hours.
- No shorts, mini skirts, or bare shoulders allowed in the basilica.
Hot Local Tip
Don't forget to visit the dome of the St. Peter's Basilica. Climbing the dome is an experience itself. You can admire incredible views of St. Peter’s Square as well.
Hack To Cover The Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica in 3 hours
If you're in Rome for just one day and are looking to explore the underbelly of the Papal seat of power, we have just what you need. Voted a bestseller by past travelers, the Skip The Line Guided Tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica is a true win. It allows you to skip the average 2 hour queue, entrusts you with an expert historian guide and takes you through the best of these Roman treasures in just 3 hours. Doesn't get better right? Or maybe it does!
If you're planning to cover the Vatican City attractions (Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica) & Ancient Rome (Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palantine Hill) during your 24 hours in Rome, we have an Express Guided Rome Tour that is a complete money saver and a proven favourite amongst travelers. With an expert local guide and Skip the line entry to all 6 attractions, expect to cover the best of Rome in just 6 hours with the Express Guided Rome Tour!
St. Peter’s Basilica Guidebook: Discover The Most Visited Church In The World
Afternoon - Exploring The Ancient Ruins Of Rome
After a hearty meal, make your way to the Ancient Rome. The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is possibly the most well-known landmark in Rome and the world. It was used for gladiator contests and other public spectacles like animal fights, mock sea battles, etc. This oval amphitheatre, with ties to the Roman Catholic Church, was made entirely of sand, and could hold up to 80,000 spectators back in the day. Check out the best Colosseum guided tours available online and grab them at discount on Headout.
- Going from the Vatican City to Ancient Rome should take you 20 min, so factor that in if you have booked a tour slot.
- The first Sunday of the month means free entry into the Colosseum, but we recommend not to go then because it is very crowded. Browse through the best Colosseum Skip the Line tickets to beat queues & crowds anytime, anyday.
- Since the tour is entirely open-air, make sure you check the weather forecast the day before.
- A trick to beat the crowds would be to visit the Roman Forum before the Colosseum- it's usually less busy.
- Consider taking a Colosseum Underground tour for access to an exclusive, lesser-known part of the Colosseum.
Hot Local Tip
There are 2 entrances: one for the Colosseum, and one for the Roman Forum + Palatine Hill. Once you're done with the Colosseum, you may take a break outside before entering the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill. Keep in mind, once you exit, you may not re-enter. If you're visiting around lunch time, take your break immediately after visiting the Colosseum.
Next, head to the Roman Forum. Today, the Forum is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations. And while much of the Forum is in ruins, there’s still plenty left to admire, which is why almost 4.5 million tourists visit it every year! The Forum holds remains of some iconic buildings like the Temple of Antoninus Pius, Temple of Castor and Pollex, Arch of Septimius Severus among others.
After checking out the heart of Ancient Rome, head to Palatine Hill to discover the birth of the city. Many legends have been associated with the Palatine Hill- one such legend is of when Hercules struck Cacus with his characteristic club. The blow was so hard that it formed a cleft on the southeast corner of the hill, where later a staircase bearing the name of Cacus was constructed. A visit to Palatine Hill gives you the opportunity to discover even more of such amazing legends.
- Tickets to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum are mostly bundled together in a combo package.
- A self-guided tour is just as fun as a guided tour. Make sure you download the Parco Colosseo app beforehand.
- Bring a bottle of water and snacks with you- there is a bit to walk, but there are also a few benches in the area.
Local Travel Tip
Keep in mind that the entrance to both attractions is the same. If you wish to take a break after your Roman Forum visit outside, and wish to re-enter for the Palatine Hill part of your tour, this is not possible. You may not re-enter.
Hack To Cover The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palantine Hill in 3 hours
Now, you must be wondering how you're going to be able to cover the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill in just 3 hours? Don't worry, because it is completely doable and you don't even have to scurry! All you have to do is purchase the Skip The Line Guided Tour of Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palantine Hill for just €38. Leave the rest to your expert local historian guide who take you through the best of these three historic monuments in 3 hours!
Once again, if you're planning to cover the Vatican City ( Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica) & Ancient Rome ( Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palantine Hill) during your 24 hours in Rome, we have an Express Guided Rome Tour that is a complete money saver and a proven favourite amongst travelers. With an expert local guide and Skip the line entry to all 6 attractions, expect to cover the best of Rome in just 6 hours with the Express Guided Rome Tour.
Evening - Strolling Through Central Rome
Piazza Navona is one of most treasured piazzas (squares) in Rome. It flaunts Bernini sculptures, 3 elaborate fountains, a magnificent church, colourful casts of street artists, quaint cafes and lots of open space, bathing in sunshine and brimming with tourists. Locals like to call this place where the liveliness of Roman life is explicitly tangible!
- Going from Vatican City to Piazza Navona, located on the opposite bank of River Tiber should take you around 10 minutes via cab. If you're up for a 20 minute stroll, you can walk across Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II with the River Tiber gushing behind, Vatican city to one side and the metropolitan half of Rome to the other.
- Try roasted chestnuts while walking through Piazza Navona- a quintessential activity here!
- Visit the piazza during spring or autumn when the weather is ideal for walking.
Local Travel Tip
Beware of pickpocketers. Piazza Navona at any time of the day is known for being crowded. Keep an eye on your belongings!
The Pantheon is undoubtedly the best-preserved monument from Ancient Rome. Situated about 350 m away from Piazza Navona, a quick 5 minute walk will take you to this magnanimous structure, built around 126 AD! If you're a Roman Mythology fan, a tour of the Pantheon is an absolute must! The Dome of the Pantheon, also known as the eye of the Pantheon or the oculus remains the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome till date!
- Looking to beat the crowds? Visit the Pantheon an hour before closing time.
- Be careful on rainy days as the floor may be slippery.
Local Travel Tip
Want to know what the best time to visit the Pantheon is? Try anytime between 11 AM & 1 PM. Make sure you stand right under the Oculus and look up- you'll see the sunlight streaming in through the Oculus beautifully!
Roman Pantheon: A-Z Guide for First Time Visitors
Another quick 10 minute stroll away lies the famous Fontana di Trevi or Trevi Fountain. No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain – the largest fountain amongst the 2000 odd fountains in the city and questionably the most beautiful example of Baroque architecture in the world. There's no better way to end your day in Rome than with the age old tradition of tossing a coin into Trevi fountain. Legend goes that you will one day return to Rome if you stand with your back facing the fountain and flip a coin into the water.
- For the first 3 activities of day 2, we recommend booking the Navona Underground, Pantheon and Trevi Fountain Walking Tour in advance.
- Be alert of your surroundings: people will be brushing up against each other, so keep your belongings and valuables safe.
Local Travel Tip
Make sure you carry a coin along with you and follow through with the age-old tradition of tossing a coin into Trevi fountain.
Spend A Day In Rome Under 100 Euros
There are two ways of going about spending your day in Rome. You can either opt for an organized tour that will take care of your tickets, guide and transport or you can buy indiviual tickets for each attraction that you'd like to see. Either way, here's an approximate budget of how much a day in Rome will cost you.
Organized Tour Budget
If you're looking for an organized tour that takes care of everything from A-Z, here's a good deal - Express Guided Tour of Colosseum, Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel . With this tour, you can expect the company of a historian local guide who will take you around the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palantine Hill, Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica in just 6 hours. With Skip the Line access and entry tickets inclusive in the tour, you get to save money and time!
Express Guided Tour Through The Best Of Rome
Headout Price: €99
Self Guided Tour Budget
If you're one to prefer a leisurely self guided tour that gives you just entry tickets to Roman attractions, here is an approximate budget for your tickets alone:
Morning : Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & St. Peter's Basilica
Afternoon : Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
Evening : Piazza Navona, Pantheon & Trevi Fountain
Book your Rome Attractions tickets on Headout, and spend under €50 on attraction tickets! Use the rest of your budget to explore the local cuisine of Rome. Hit up all the prime attractions in the Eternal city and save more while you explore more.
Recommended Experiences for your 1-day Rome itinerary• Priority Entrance Tickets to Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
• Best of Rome: Walking Tour with Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain & Pantheon
• Skip-the-Line Tickets: Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
• Vatican City Tour with St. Peter's Basilica Dome Climb
• Relive History Through These Ancient Ruins in Rome
• 7 Vatican Attractions You Cannot Miss
More Rome Itineraries
Have some more time to kill in Rome? That's alright, we've got other options for you. Check out our other itineraries for further inspiration:
The Ultimate Rome Trip Planner
Public Transportation In Rome
While you can explore the city by car, the traffic in Rome is a nightmare. This is why it is best to travel around the city using the metro or the buses.
The most reliable and convenient mode of traveling in Rome is via metro. Another convenient and cheap way to travel in the city is by using buses. Buses are great for reaching the areas the metro is not connected to. There are also 3 tram lines operating in the city that can be used for short distances.
Visitors will need to buy tickets to use any of the above-mentioned transportations. You can buy the tickets each time for your journey or a travel pass that is valid for 24 hours, 48 hours, or 72 hours. If you will be staying for a week here, then you can buy the weekly ticket for traveling around the city.
Public Transportation in Rome 101
Where To Stay in Rome?
Figuring out accommodation in a foreign country is never an easy feat. That said, if you have an idea of what you're hoping to have a stone's throw away from your hotel, that narrows things down. Ideally, the city center is the best place to stay if you're hoping to get some sightseeing done.
There are plenty of good hotels around the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, both atmospheric and convenient locations if you’re looking to get some sightseeing done. Staying in the city center can get pricey, though, so if you’re looking to stay for 5 days and more, look further afield.
1. Around Piazza Navona:
- Eitch Borromini (5-star)
- Boutique Hotel Campo de’ Fiori (4-star)
- Hotel Damaso (3-star)
- Navona Residenza de charme (guesthouse)
Tips & Hacks For Making The Best of Rome In A Day
- If you're visiting Rome on the last Sunday on any given month, enjoy free entry to the Vatican Museums from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM.
- Plan your Colosseum visit either first thing in the morning like we have ( 9:30 AM) or after 3:00 PM. These hours see a drop in queues and if you do not have a skip the line ticket, you need to save time on ticket lines in order to cover more ground through the day.
- If you can squeeze in a visit to the St. Peter's Basilica dome, you totally must! It costs an extra 6 to walk up the steps or €8 to take the lift but is completely worth every penny when you are greeted with the most breathtaking aerial view of the Eternal city.
- Almost all attractions in Rome allowed discounted prices for children, senior citizens, students and EU citizens. Make sure you take advantage of these discounts if you fall in either of these categories.
- Don't bother with the Rome City Pass or Hop On Hop Off Pass if you're in the city for just one day. However, if your trip extends 24 hours, these passes can come quite handy.
- Go for a central accomodation, preferably someplace around Trevi Fountain. That way, you won't have to waste time commuting to and fro the hotel and attractions.
- Save money on bottled water and drink from the water fountains. They are completely safe and used by locals and tourists alike. Make sure you don't drink from the tourist fountains like Trevi and Bernini however!
20 Rome Travel Tips & Hacks – The Holy Grail For First Timers in Rome
FAQs: Rome in 1 Day - Itinerary
The top things to do in Rome are visiting the museums, exploring the churches and basilicas, taking a tour of the monuments from ancient Rome, and so on.
For a trip to Rome, always pack a reusable water bottle, comfortable walking shoes, and a travel adaptor.
A bus or metro is the cheapest way to get around Rome.
If you want budget-friendly stay options in Rome, then Monti and San Lorenzo are the best places to check out. For those who want to stay close to Vatican City, then Prati is the best place to stay in Rome.
If you wish to avoid the crowds, then spring (March - May) and autumn (September - October) is the best time to visit Rome. For discounts and cheap deals, you can visit Rome in the winter season.