This one day in Rome itinerary will help you plan a quick layover to this beautiful Italian city and see as much as you can.
While I don’t recommend spending only 24 hours in Rome on your first visit to the city, if you are returning to Italy or are traveling onward and get the chance for a day in Rome, then this should help you plan it out so you don’t miss a thing.
If you have more time, spend at least two days here or as long as a week, there really is that much to see.
I have visited Rome three times and each time is like the first time. I am always in awe of its history and wowed by the delicious food.
This most recent trip, which was only 24 hours in Rome, was because I was flying into the city and heading onto Ventotene in the Pontine Island Archipelago the next day (I highly recommend checking this place out!).
Map of Things to Do for One Day in Rome
Getting to Rome
Rome Airport which is fully named the Rome–Fiumicino International Airport Leonardo da Vinci, airport code: FCO, is located about 30 minutes from downtown Rome.
You can fly into Rome from almost any major airport around the world, including airports in New York, Atlanta, Orlando, London, and even my local little airport in Vilnius, Lithuania.
There are two very simple and relatively affordable options to get from Rome Airport to Roma Termini (the main train station in Rome).
You can take the Leonardo Express, which is my preferred option, or you can take the airport bus.
The Leonardo Express leaves roughly every 15-20 minutes from the airport train station (simply follow the signs for the train station when you come through arrivals). It costs €14 per person and takes 35 minutes.
The bus from the airport to the station costs €11 per person. They all leave from the same location at the bus stop outside of the arrivals area at the airport. The bus takes about 50 minutes.
Where to Stay in Rome for 24 Hours
If you are only staying in Rome for one day, you will want to stay very centrally (near the train station is a good option). I recommend booking a hotel over an Airbnb so that you can have a place to store your bags when you check out in the AM and a place that includes breakfast so you can quickly and easily fuel up before your adventurous day.
For my one day in Rome itinerary, I stayed at Hotel Raffaello.
It’s located less than 10 minutes from the Roma Termini train station and in the opposite direction, is about a 10-minute walk to the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain. It’s also well-located on Via Urbana, a street packed with great restaurants.
The breakfast was fantastic; a buffet with a freshly made cappuccino, eggs, meat and cheese, pastries, and yogurt with fruit. They let me leave my bags at the front desk for most of the day until I came back to catch my train. The staff were really fantastic here, I can’t recommend them enough.
Rooms start at $120 per night. Book a stay at Hotel Rafaello here.
These are a few other hotel options in Rome that I absolutely love at a few different price points depending on your budget.
Getting Around Rome in a Day
Since you only have one day in Rome, I actually think it’s best to stick to the center of the city and use your feet as your guide.
By walking around the city, you will be able to sightsee (and stop for snacks!) as you wander between the different main sights to see.
However, a whole day of walking around the cobbled streets of Rome may be too much, especially if this 24 hours in Rome is coming at the end of your Italy trip.
The metro is a great option for getting around the city quickly. It’s a great option if you want to visit neighborhoods like Trastevere or get over to the Colosseum a bit quicker.
There are also buses and trams that cover places that you can’t get with the metro. The beautiful and terrible thing about public transportation in Rome is that whenever the road gets dug up to make new tram lines or when digging was done for the metro, so many Roman ruins were discovered.
It’s why the metro doesn’t take you to every location, especially close to a lot of the ruins. The same for the wonky tram lines. The bus is really the most direct way between spots around the city.
You can get tickets at any Tobacchi shop around the city or within the metro stations if you are taking the metro.
One Day in Rome Itinerary
If you arrive to Rome the evening before your full day, don’t waste a meal! Get yourself out to a fantastic local restaurant.
If you are staying near Via Urbana as I did, you have a few nice options. Click the links on the names to see the Google locations of each of the restaurants.
- Non c’è trippa pe’ gatti – This old-school spot does awesome Rome classics like Cacio e Pepe as well as decent enough pizza. They have tons of great seating outside and a nice wine selection, too.
- La Prezzemolina – This is a fantastic place to come to the center of Rome for Roman-style pizza. Unlike pizza from Napoli that you may be more familair with, Roman pizza tends to be square and have a firm and crispy bottom. It’s almost like a pizza on top of crispy focaccia. It’s heavenly and this place does it very well.
- La Forchetta d’Oro – This little trattoria is cheap and cheerful. The staff are friendly and the food is wonderful. They make their own pasta and the sauces are all very delicious.
Then it’s time to head back to your hotel and get a good night’s sleep. You’ll need it for your full day in Rome tomorrow!
One Day in Rome Itinerary
There’s no time to waste. Be sure to set your alarm early enough to catch the start of breakfast at your hotel and then hit the streets.
This one-day in Rome itinerary will give you all of the options for simply walking past and seeing up close the best of Rome.
However, feel free to make this itinerary your own and if you really want to go inside one of these monuments or museums for a tour, then just know that you will have to sacrifice seeing some things in order to use that time for going inside.
Colosseum and Roman Forum
The closest thing to do in Rome to the main train station is the Colosseum and it is my personal favorite.
It’s possible to walk around the outside of the Colosseum and enjoy the beauty of this structure up close.
However, if you want to go inside, I highly recommend booking the Colosseum and Roman Forum tickets together with this package. It will save you money and time because you don’t have to wait in line.
It includes a downloadable map and costs only $23 USD per person.
As you walk past the Colosseum and Roman Forum, you will eventually make your way to Piazza Venezia and the very large monument known as the Altar of the Fatherland.
You can cross the road (very carefully) and walk along the steps of the monument and get up close to it. It is one of the most popular sights to see in movies that are filmed in Rome and is a pretty cool sight to see up close.
Mid-morning Snack (or Lunch for later)
As you walk along towards more wonderful sights to see, you may find yourself a bit peckish. I highly recommend grabbing either a slice of Roman-style pizza, a sweet treat, or a suppli.
Suppli are the Rome version of arancini, rice balls that are mixed with tomatoes, basil, and often filled with mozzarella or mozzarella-like cheese before being breaded and deep-fried.
Grab something to go from one of these places and make the short walk over to Piazza Navona to do some amazing people watching while you fuel up.
Located only a few blocks from Piazza Navona, the Pantheon was built between 118 and 125 AD and despite its age, it is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
It is best to pre-book entry to the Pantheon because, like everywhere in Rome, the line is usually enormous. Entry with an audio guide costs €8.50 or about $10 USD. You can pre-book your tickets on the Pantheon website here.
This tiny little piazza and the fountain that calls it home is one of the busiest places in Rome. It’s the place to come for a photo of this 18th-century fountain.
It’s famous because you come to this fountain to make a wish. Usually, that wish is that you will one day return to Rome.
What makes the fountain and this piazza famous, and something that perhaps most of the visitors posing for selfies don’t know, is that this fountain sits at the site of one of the most important Roman aqueducts which brought water to Rome from the springs of the Aqua Vergo for 400 years.
The sculpture depicted in the fountain is of the moment that the waters of the Acua Vergo were discovered.
Via del Corso and Via Condotti
From the Trevi Fountain, you’ll want to make your way to the start of Via del Corso, one of the main shopping streets in Rome.
The street is lined with beautiful architecture and some really wonderful boutiques if you are interested in doing some shopping while you are in Rome for the day.
If not, simply enjoy the sights and then keep your eyes out for Via Condotti, where you’ll make a right turn and head along towards the Spanish Steps.
Via Condotti is one of the most exclusive shopping streets in Rome and is home to the world’s luxury brands. If that’s your thing, this is where you’ll want to spend a bit of time. If not, head straight on to the end of the street to get to the next stop on your one day in Rome itinerary.
The Spanish Steps consist of 135 steps that were built between 1723 and 1725 to link the piazza below with the church at the top. There are three platforms between the steps, which are in reference to the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit).
The monastery and church at the top, Trinita dei Monti, was built between 1502 and 1587. The monastery was actually French, which seems confusing considering the name of the steps (which were also commissioned by the French).
However, in the 17th century, the piazza at the base of the stairs was home to the Spanish embassy. In fact, the official name of the stairs is actually Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti, but even Google Maps calls them the Spanish Steps.
This gorgeous little street is well worth taking a wander down as you head to the next stop on this Rome itinerary.
Depending on what time of year you are visiting Rome, you will see colorful flowers cascading down the sides of buildings. There are paintings to spot along the way as well.
If you’re feeling hungry, there are some very cute restaurants and cafes along Via Margutta. Osteria Margutta is a bit more expensive than your average spot, but the food here is exceptional.
There’s also a large fountain on this street to refill your water bottle. There are fountains all over Rome, so you never need to buy a bottle if you’ve brought one with you from home.
Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo is a short distance from the Spanish Steps and is a wonderful stop on your one day tour of Rome.
The Piazza del Popolo is home to Rome’s oldest obelisk and is the location of the original northern gate to the city.
This used to be what you saw upon first entering the city of Rome. Head up the steps to your right as you enter the plaza for the best views back over Rome that you’ll have all day.
From Piazza del Popolo, it’s about a 20 minute walk to Castel Sant’Angelo.
If you want to stop for some more food along the way, be sure to do so before you get to this neighborhood. The area around Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican are home the most overpriced and average Italian food you will have, be sure to avoid it.
Mondo Arancina is a good quick stop along the way for arancini (in case you didn’t stop for suppli earlier, you should definitely stop in here for an arancini ball).
For a full sit-down meal, head over to Ristorante Sinatra.
Castel Sant’Angelo may look like a castle (and have the name of a castle), but it was actually originally built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family.
It later became a fort and a castle and is now a museum. You can visit the inside or simply enjoy a walk around the outside and a seat in the shade to relax before you battle the crowds at the Vatican.
If you have never been to Rome before, you should without a doubt make time to visit the Vatican properly on your trip to Rome. You can actually just do this Rome itinerary in reverse and start your day at the Vatican.
If you have already been here, it’s still worth a walk past, at least I think it is.
If you plan to visit the interior and want to get the most out of your day (and not waste any time!) be sure to book your tour of the Vatican in advance and don’t make these common Vatican travel mistakes.
However, if it’s your first time in Rome, I really recommend visiting the Vatican with a tour guide. You will get so much more out of the experience and it really is worth the extra time in the day that you’ll use up.
This tour is absolute bang for your buck at only $35 USD per person. It includes all entry fees and a guide who will take you to all of the best spots around the Vatican as well as explain the history and significance of these places. You can book that tour here.
Dinner at Ristorante La Tavernaccia Da Bruno
There are, of course, tons of restaurants worth visiting in Rome. But heading to this spot will, after all of the walking you did today, be the perfect ending to a wonderful day in Rome.
It’s nothing fancy, it’s just really great Roman-style food. The pasta dishes are absolutely close-your-eyes-when-you-eat good. The antipasti with its meats and cheeses and breads and the wine selection will leave you wanting more (and also not wanting more because you will be so full).
It’s also a nice way to see a different neighborhood in Rome on your quick day here. Trastevere isn’t exactly an unknown spot anymore and has been mostly gentrified, but it still retains that old-school charm that brought visitors from around the world to this little slice of inner-city paradise.
One Last Meal Before You Go
If you are spending the night after your full one day in Rome itinerary, or you split your 24 hours across two days as I did, you will definitely need to take some food with you on the train the next day.
Be sure to stop at Mercato Centrale Roma. It’s located inside the train station and has some of the best food options in this entire neighborhood.
My personal favorites are Trapizzino for their triangle pizzas (the chicken or the oxtail are both heavenly), Gabriele Bonci for the insanely delicious pizzas, and any of the gelato spots you see because there are two and they are both magical.