Oh, beautiful Rome – the ancient capital of the world. A city filled with treasures that transport you back in time. Rome is a city that will give you an unforgettable trip, no matter how long you stay there. It’s one of those places that you’ve seen on pictures, read about and studied back in school. But to actually stand amidst all that history is something on another level. To make your holiday planning a little easier, I’ve put together my ideal 4 day Rome itinerary. I visited the city myself in 2015 and had a wonderful time, but also learned a few things I would do differently if I were to return. Please enjoy this guide and I hope it helps you on your own trip!
4 Days in Rome
Spending four days in Rome is the perfect amount of time to see the best hotspots in the city and a little bit more. Feel free to adjust this itinerary to your wishes – I’d love to hear where you’ve been in Rome in the comments!
Day 1: Colosseum & Ancient Rome
When in Rome… You cannot miss out the Colosseum. What better place to start your four days in Rome then here? 2000 years of history are packed in these walls. It is probably one of the main reasons people jump on the plane to visit the city. And who can blame them? Look at it! It is stunning!
The Colosseum is the largest ancient amphitheatre in the world, and it only took the ancient Romans 10 years to build. It is by far one of the world’s most impressive architectural wonders that still stands today. Despite its beauty, the Colosseum doesn’t have the happiest history. After construction, it was used for gladiator battles and other types of entertainment. Entertainment that usually involved death… Slaves, gladiators and rare, exotic animals. It is estimated that 500.000 people and over a million animals were killed inside these walls.
After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum wasn’t used for centuries. Between the 5th and the 18th century, this beautiful piece of architecture was left for nature to slowly toll away at its structure. This was until the Catholic Church decided to protect it in the 18th century. It now brings in millions of tourists every single year, being one of Rome’s main attractions.
Visiting the Colosseum was something that had been on my wishlist for years and actually standing inside of it was magical. Knowing how much history this building carries, how many people have stood exactly where I was standing – it only confirmed my love for travel more. It’s incredible that I get to visit these places.
If you only learn one thing from this itinerary, let it be that you NEED to buy tickets in advance when visiting the Colosseum. The queues can literally steal hours away from your day. You can also purchase a Rome Pass or a Vatican & Rome Card – which give you access to the Colosseum.
NOTE: Since March 2019, you still need to reserve your prefered entree time at the Colosseum even with pre-booked passes and tickets.
Arch of Constantine
You probably have already glanced over to the Arch of Constantine when visiting the Colosseum, because it is literally stood right outside. But it’s definitely worth taking a closer look at this beautiful arch.
It’s another step back into ancient Rome. The Arch was built between 312 and 315 AD and dedicated to Constantine the Great. It is one of the best-preserved monuments from this time and the rich decorations are true craftmanship. It fits in so perfectly with the Colosseum and the Roman Forum which will be the next things on our itinerary.
Roman Forum & Trajan Forum
As you probably expect, Rome is filled with some of the world’s most amazing archaeological treasures. The many forums in the city play a huge part in this. Only a few minutes from the Colosseum, the Roman Forum is located. These ruins are more than just a few bricks and stones – they carry so much history.
Your Colosseum ticket also includes access to the Roman Forum. If you are planning on visiting both (and not buying a Roma Pass or Vatican & Rome Card), I’d recommend going to the Roman Forum first. The queues are usually shorter and the tickets give you access to both the Colosseum and the Roman Forum – saving you some time queuing!
If you want to make the most of your visit to the Roman Forum, consider getting a tour guide or buying the audio tour. It really helps you understand everything better and appreciate the ruins a lot more. But even if you decide not to do this, seeing these ruins in real life is an amazing experience!
Rome is filled with beautiful ruins like the Roman Forum. The Roman and Trajan Forums are probably the most popular ones, but alternatively, you can visit the Imperial Forum, Forum of Caesar or Forum of Augustus. Most of these can be visited (or viewed at) for free rather than having to pay an entrance fee.
Piazza Venezia (Altare della Patria)
Located close to many tourist sights (including the Trajan Forum), Piazza Venezia can be found. This central hub in Rome is hard to miss. On it, you can enjoy the national monument for Victor Emmanual II – the first king of Italy. If you’re looking for a beautiful view across the Eternal City, you can take the lift up the Altar of the Fatherland.
Day 2 in Rome
On our second day in Rome, we’re ticking some more Rome Bucket List items off our list. Starting with the famous Pantheon. The ancient Romans definitely knew how to create some of the world’s most amazing structures. The Pantheon is almost 2000 years old and used to be a temple to the Roman gods until it was converted into a Christian Chruch a few hundred years later.
The fact that it has withstood wars, natural disasters and the natural ageing over 1900+ years blows my mind. The Pantheon is free to visit, so make sure to check the insides of this architectural wonder.
Gelateria Della Palma
Italy is known for its amazing cuisine. Pizza, pasta, espresso and… gelato. Especially when visiting in the spring, summer or early autumn, ice cream is never a bad shout. Even though there are countless gelato shops scattered across Rome, Gelateria Della Palma stood out for me. It’s located really close to the Pantheon, making it a great next stop for a quick refreshment.
For lunch, head over to Piazza Navona. This is one of the most popular and picturesque plazas in Rome. The plaza has acted as a meeting place and host for a local market since the 15h century. With three beautiful fountains, many streets artists and lots of restaurants – it’s a great place for a bite. Do always make sure to ask for the menu (with prices!) as some places tend to charge a lot more for setting outside.
What’s a trip to Rome without stopping by the Trevi Fountain? Another one of Rome’s absolute must-sees. It is the largest Baroque fountain in the world. The stunning decorations are so extra – I LOVE IT. The fountain was built in the 18th century and has attracted many people to the city.
Legend has it that you are guaranteed to return to Rome if you throw a coin into the fountain. This lovely legend earns the fountain about 3000 euros every single day. Luckily, the money is collected every evening and donated to a charity.
When I visited Rome back in the summer of 2015, we weren’t able to see the Trevi Fountain properly due to refurbishments. Even though I didn’t get to throw a coin in, I hope to go back to Rome one day to see the finished results!
Spanish Steps & Trinita Dei Monti
On the Piazza di Spagna, another Rome highlight can be found: the Spanish Steps. This prominent monument consists of 135 steps guiding people from the Spanish embassy to the Trinita dei Monti. It’s a beautiful sight, but due to its popularity, also quite busy. Beware of pickpockets here!
Note: Since August 2019, it is forbidden to sit on the Spanish Steps. You could actually be fined 400 euros for doing so because it has been classed as an official monument.
Day 3 in Rome
Vatican City & Vatican Museum
The third day in Rome will be spent in Vatican City. Officially an independent state inside of Rome, Vatican City came into existence in 1929 and is home to the Pope. It’s actually the smallest country on Earth! You cannot spend four days in Rome and not visit Vatican City with its incredible museum (including the famous Sistine Chapel.
The Vatican Museum is – as you may already expect – a very popular tourist attraction. If you want to add this to your itinerary, please do book tickets in advance. You’ll waste valuable hours queuing otherwise. It’s just not worth waiting three hours outside when you only have four days to explore Rome! With the Vatican & Rome Card you can skip the queue at the Vatican Museum. Please also keep in mind that the museum is closed on Sundays (except for the last Sunday of the month).
Please remember to dress the part. No shorts and keep your shoulders and knees covered at all times. It is, after all, a religious place.
In the Vatican Museum, you get the chance to see one of the most famous pieces of art on the planet: the Sistine Chapel ceiling with The Last Judgement and The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo. Especially having studied art history in high school, it was crazy to see these works in the flesh (or… you know… on the wall?)
Saint Peter’s Square & Basilica
After the Vatican Museum, head over to Saint Peter’s Square and the Saint Peter’s Basilica. The Basilica is by far one of the most amazing churches I’ve ever seen – it’s also the largest church in the world.
The lines outside of Saint Peter’s Basilica are kind of crazy. Being such a popular and beautiful sight to see, almost every tourist wants to go here. The best way to avoid the queue is to either go super early or book an audio tour (which also gives you a reserved time and skip-the-queue ticket).
If possible, check out Saint Peter’s Square on a Wednesday (that is if you want to see the Pope). The Papal Audience is held every Wednesday if the Pope is in Rome. If you’re able to pop by, I think it’s worth the effort!
It’s free to enter the Basilica, but there is a small fee you have to pay if you want to get to the top – which is totally worth it. I mean, look at that view! It is absolutely stunning! The same dress code counts here: no shorts and keep your shoulders/knees covered.
Day 4 in Rome
Castel Sant’Angelo & Bridge of Angels
And then our last day in Rome has arrived. In the morning, we head over to Castel Sant’Angelo. This fortress was built between 123 and 139 AD as a mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Since then, it was also used as a prison, a garrison and the Popes’ refuge. With 7 floors and tons of things to see (including some stunningly decorated rooms), Castel Sant’Angelo also gives you a wonderful view across the city. It is free to visit on every first Sunday of the month, otherwise
Leading up to the Castel Sant’Angelo, you can walk across the Bridge of Angels (or St. Angelo Bridge). Like the Castel itself, the bridge dates back to the first century and was ordered to build by Emperor Hadrian. It acted as a way to connect Antique Rome with his newly built mausoleum. For years, it was used as a passageway to go to Saint Peter’s Basilica.
When walking across the bridge, do take a closer look at the angels though. All 10 of them are holding unique objects that relate to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. It’s a small detail many tourists don’t spot!
The afternoon and evening of your last day in Rome will be perfectly spent in Trastevere. This once hidden part of Rome is one of the most beautiful parts of the city and filled with lovely side streets to explore. Add cobblestoned streets to little market stalls and freshly baked pizzas – Italian perfection. It’s a real gem.
You can literally spend a full day in Trastevere and not get bored, but an afternoon fits perfectly into this itinerary. Especially due to its history of artisan cuisine and craft beer, Trastevere is the place for dinner and a few drinks while enjoying the sunset.
Where to stay in Rome
Rome has some great options when it comes to hotels. Whether you’re on a budget or don’t mind spending a bit more – here are some of my top picks in the city.
$ Hotel Vespasiano
$$ Palazzo Navona Hotel
$$$ Hassler Roma
If you rather stay in an Airbnb, Rome has some great options too. Sign up here to get £34/€38 in Airbnb credit that could go towards your stay in Rome.
Travel tips for Rome
Now we’ve covered the best things to do when spending four days in Rome, here are some extra travel tips to make your trip to Rome even better!
If you’re visiting for less time, check out this 3 day in Rome itinerary.
Best times to visit Rome
Rome in Spring: April and May are probably the best months to spend four days in Rome. Be welcomed by lovely mild weather, blossoms and considerably fewer crowds compared to the summer months. If I were to go again, I’d try to go in the spring or autumn.
Rome in Summer: AVOID – AVOID – AVOID! I was clever enough to book my trip to Rome in August. THE HOTTEST MONTH OF THE YEAR. Despite the heat, I still had a wonderful time exploring this beautiful city – but I had to change clothes multiple times a day cause I was absolutely drenched in sweat. My taxi driver – who drove me back to the airport on my last day – thought I was insane for visiting during the summer. I think that proves my point 😉
Rome in Autumn: Similar to the spring, Rome will give you a lovely mild temperature, fewer crowds and cheaper prices compared to the high season. If you are flexible, I’d highly recommend following this 4 day Rome itinerary in either spring or autumn.
Rome in Winter: There is no better way to avoid the crowds than to visit Rome in the winter season. Even though the temperatures do drop in Italy, so do the prices of hotels – allowing you to save quite a bit of money.
How to get to Rome
By plane: Rome has two airports: Fiumicino Airport (also known as Leonardo da Vinci Airport) and Rome-Ciampino Airport. If you are travelling from anywhere in Europe, you can get really cheap tickets with budget airlines such as Ryanair, Easyjet and Wizzair. You can use either public transport, shuttle buses, an airport transfer or a taxi to get to Rome from the airport.
By train: Not a fan of flying or want to give our environment a hand, why not take the train to Rome? With the TGV, you can get to Rome from any larger city in Europe. This also makes it easy to expand your trip to Italy and add cities such as Florence and Milan to your itinerary. Both cities are easy to reach by train from Rome.
Money & Tipping in Rome
The currency used in Italy is Euros (€). The best way to get the most out of your money is by getting an international currency card (like Monzo or Tranferwise). This way, you don’t pay any extra charges for converting your pounds or dollars. The currency exchange of the euro sits around:
$1 = €0.92
£1 = €1.19
Tips are not expected in Rome, but a service charge may sometimes be added to your bill. If you did get great service, it’s good custom to add 5-10% to your bill as a tip, but servers don’t rely on tips to make a living wage. If you want more information about how to tip in Rome, check out this guide.
Save money in Rome
- Buy the Vatican & Rome Card: You can save a ton of money by buying the Vatican & Rome Card before leaving for your 4 day trip to Rome. These will give you free access to many tourist sights in Rome, and discounts for a lot of others. They also allow you to use public transport when in the city, making it a lot easier to move around.
- Ask for your menus: When sitting down for a drink, always ask for the menu and check the prices. Especially in touristy areas, some restaurants charge insane prices for drinks (7 euros for a glass of coke!).
- Bring a reusable water bottle: There are many fountains around Rome that give you access to their fresh spring water you can use for free. This way, you don’t have to buy bottled water. Especially during the hotter months, you really do need to carry a bottle with you!
For more great tips on how to visit Rome for the first time, check out this blog post. It includes pretty much everything you need to know to make your trip as easy and most enjoyable as possible.
I hope you enjoyed this 4 day Rome itinerary and that it helps you plan an amazing trip to this city. Please let me know in the comments if it has been useful and what you’re planning on doing when in Rome.