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
While Rome was not built in a day, it is entirely possible to visit the best of Rome in a day! We have crafted this itinerary keeping in mind the queues, the distance between the attractions and the feasibility of doing them all in a day. Simply plug and play for an epic day in Rome.
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. When you visit the Vatican Museums, you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time visiting all the art galleries, especially since the total length of the Museums comes up to a massive 9 miles! Famous rooms and galleries in the Vatican Museums include Raphael Rooms, the Gallery of Maps, the Sala Rotunda and the Gallery of Statues and the Hall of Busts.
- 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.
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. With truths of faith in Christianity speaking from all sides, Sistine Chapel is one of the most prominent artistic achievements of human civilisation that has changed the course of Western art. Over 10 million people visit this art museum each year, making it one of the most visited museums world over.
- 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.
St. Peter's Basilica is one of the holiest Catholic shrines in the world, making it the most visited church in the world too. This beautiful landmark was the primary creation of Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini and rests atop the tomb of St. Peter. Situated on Vatican Hill, St Peter’s Basilica dominates the skyline of Rome. 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 does not hurt to have a guide who takes you through the biblical history of this famed church.
- It is known to attract thousands of religious visitors daily , hence a minimum 2 hour queue can be expected if you visit later on in the day. 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 minutes to 3 hours.
- No shorts, mini skirts, or bare shoulders allowed in the basilica.
- Need help figuring out the best St.Peter's Basilica entrance? Save time and energy at the location.
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!
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. At 157 feet, the Colosseum was also the tallest amphitheatre ever built, falling only 26 feet short of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Colosseum stands tall as an architectural marvel from a time long past and each nook and corner in its 6-acre area has a story to tell. 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 about 20 minutes, 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.
Next, head to the Roman Forum. If the Roman Forum had to be described in one word, the word would be epic. The landmark looks strikingly similar to something straight out of a fantasy movie, with tall buildings, pillars, columns, arches, etc., which used to function as the city center of Rome a long time ago. 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. The centermost of the seven hills of Rome, the Palatine overlooks the Roman Forum on one side and the Circus Maximus on the other. There are numerous exciting legends 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. It is highly recommended to purchase them together for a better economical deal and to save time from standing in multiple queues.
- A self-guided tour is just as fun as a guided tour. Just make sure you download the Parco Colosseo app before heading out.
- Bring a bottle of water with you- there is a fair bit of walking through the site and you'll need to hydrate!
- Bring along a snack to munch on. There are a few benches in the area or you can plop down on the grass for a quick bite if you'd like.
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 €39. 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. Centered around 3 lavish fountains - Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro and Fontana di Nettuno ; Piazza Navona is a hive of activity that amuses anyone and everyone flowing through Navona with purpose and joy. It flaunts Bernini sculptures, 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.
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.
- The best recommended time to visit for the full expeirence is around noon. When the sun shines through the oculus, make sure to stand straight under it and look up.
- Be careful on rainy days as the floor may be slippery.
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.
- Be alert of your surroundings: people will be brushing up against each other, so keep your belongings and valuables safe.
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: €82
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 Itinerary Options?
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!
More Rome Guides
Here are a few detailed guides that will help you plan your trip to Rome better.