Visiting Rome for 4 days and wondering what to see and how to best plan your time? In this article, we share a perfect itinerary for 4 days in Rome, with maps, essential info, and tips to make the most of your stay in the Eternal City. Find out!
Rome is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Italy and an absolute must-see! Whether you are planning a city break in Rome or it’s part of a longer trip through Italy, it’s well worth taking a bit more time to explore this beautiful city and not just rush through the main attractions.
This Rome 4 days itinerary brings you to ALL the must-see places in the city. In addition, it also includes quite a few of Rome’s hidden gems, some of the best views in the city, and some amazing underground sites that will make your visit so much more memorable.
We also share hotel and restaurant recommendations and other useful tips that will help you plan a perfect trip and explore the city just a bit deeper than most standard itineraries.
Good to know: We recently spent 4 days in Rome and this itinerary is based on the trip that we did and is very detailed (including suggestions where to eat or where to find the best gelato, etc.). We share our experience-based tips and advice, the tickets we booked and tours we did, what we’d do differently, and why.
It should save you hours and hours of research and help you plan an amazing visit and make the absolute most of your four days in Rome. None of the activities, restaurants, or accommodations are sponsored, so if we recommend something it’s only because we actually liked it.
TIP: Use this itinerary just as an example of what can be done each day and switch the days around if you have to. Before deciding where to go on which day, be sure to check if all the places you want to visit are open!
For example, we had to adapt our itinerary because the Vatican Museums weren’t open on the day we wanted to visit.
PRO TIP: For the Vatican and the Colosseum, it’s essential to book your tickets or tours in advance, so be sure to do that first, before planning anything else! Below, you can find all the information about tickets and tours for these and other sights in Rome.
READ ALSO: Tips for Visiting Rome
How to see the best of Rome in 4 days? With so many landmarks, must-see attractions, and countless interesting sights scattered in and around the city, there’s not one perfect itinerary.
But if you want to see the very best of Rome, this 4-day plan will not disappoint. I spent a lot of time creating this itinerary for our own trip and I’m quite confident that you’ll love it as well! At the bottom of the article, you’ll also find a MAP indicating all the places to see, restaurant suggestions, and even the meeting points of some tours we recommend.
Of course, you can just pick the places that interest you the most, see fewer places, and explore deeper. But this gives you an idea of what to see, how to plan your time, and what can actually be done in four days in Rome.
TIP: Prepare to walk a lot (wear comfortable shoes!!!) and if you can, make an effort to get up early so that you can see some of the most beautiful places without the crowds. Also, stay in the heart of the city center! We stayed at 9HotelCesari, just a few minutes’ walk from the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. We always stay in this area when visiting Rome – it just makes everything so much easier and more enjoyable.
- DAY 1: Historic Center, Colosseum, several hidden gems, Trastevere
- DAY 2: The Vatican, Food Tour & Jewish Quarter
- DAY 3: Markets, Galleries, Crypts, Shopping, City Views
- DAY 4: Appian Way, Aqueducts & Catacombs Tour, most interesting churches, Colosseum at sunset
- Map & getting around
- Additional suggestions if you have more time
- Where to stay
Day 1: Historic Center, Colosseum, Baths of Caracalla, Aventine Hill, Mouth of Truth, Trastevere
PLANNING TIP: Be sure to book the tickets or the tour of the Colosseum in advance! We did and recommend this all-in tour. If you rather go on your own, you have the choice between regular tickets or tickets that include Arena Floor as well.
Here’s what your first day in Rome could look like:
7 – 8 AM: Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Breakfast
Start your first day in Rome with an early walk through the city center. I recommend going to see the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain first thing in the morning. These are the most visited landmarks in the center and they are always crowded. But if you come here early, you have a chance of seeing these places without too many people around.
If you stay in the heart of the city center, it’s really easy to see these places without the crowds. Our hotel was so centrally located that we woke up at around 6.30 AM, took a quick shower, dressed, and were at the Trevi Fountain just before 7 AM. It was magical to see it empty and actually be able to enjoy it and take the time to admire this masterpiece!
It’s also nice to see the Pantheon and Piazza della Rotonda without people. You won’t be able to visit inside the Pantheon this early, but you can come back for that later. If you have a bit more time, you can walk to Piazza Navona and see it without the crowds as well (it’s just a 3-4 minutes walk from the Pantheon, so really not a big detour).
Go back to your hotel for breakfast. Alternatively, you can have breakfast at one of the many cafés in the city center.
READ ALSO: The Best Area to Stay in Rome
8.30 – 10 AM: Piazza Venezia, Capitoline Hill, Via dei Fori Imperiali
Next big stop – the Colosseum. It’s just a 20-30 minutes walk from the city center. You could take a taxi, rent an electrical scooter, or simply walk. We recommend walking because you can see so many other landmarks along the way, especially around Via dei Fori Imperiali.
On your way to Colosseum, you’ll pass Piazza Venezia. This is a huge and very busy city square with a colossal monument (Altar of the Fatherland) and the equestrian statue of Vittorio Emanuele II. This is one of the must-see places in Rome!
TIP: If you have some extra time, you could visit the monument and take the elevator to the top. The panoramic views are stunning, but it costs about 12 EUR (at the moment of writing) and can take quite some time if it’s busy. Yet, it’s definitely possible to squeeze it in your itinerary if you plan well.
Then, take the wide staircase on the right side of the monument and visit Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio). This staircase and the square were designed by Michelangelo. On top of the stairs, you’ll see impressive palaces that house Capitoline Museums.
With just four days in Rome, you’ll have to be very selective about where to go and what to see. If you want to visit these museums and the Colosseum + Forum Romanum on the same day, it’s definitely possible, but you’ll have to skip most of the other suggestions for this day.
We recommend just passing by here. On top of the hill, check out one of the best viewpoints in Rome, Belvedere di Via Monte Tarpeo which overlooks over the Roman Forum. On the other side of the Senatorial Palace, you’ll see a small statue of the Capitoline Wolf. This statue depicts an old legend, according to which a wolf saved and cared for Romulus and Remus, the twins that later founded the city of Rome.
After leaving Capitoline Hill, turn left and walk to the main street – Via dei Fori Imperiali and in the direction of the Colosseum. This road is like a museum in itself – with the Roman Forum on your right, Forum of Augustus and other historic places on your left, and impressive statues of Roman emperors around you.
10.30 AM – 1.30 PM: Colosseum Tour + Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
If you booked your tickets or a tour for the Colosseum, you can now visit the Colosseum inside. All tickets also include an entrance to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. So plan on spending the next 2-4 hours here. In fact, the tickets include a few other places, but those are not a must. Just as with so many other places in the city, you could spend the whole day here, but with just 4 days in Rome, we recommend only focusing on the musts.
There are several options for the Colosseum. Most people just get a regular ticket and visit on their own, but you should also know that there is a slightly more expensive ticket that includes Arena Floor. In addition, I recommend visiting the underground level as well. And for that, you need a guided tour.
I’ll spare you all the details about all the ticket and tour options and to keep things short, just say that after lots of research we booked this tour that includes Colosseum (all levels), Palatine Hill, and Forum Romanum. It was absolutely worth it and I highly recommend it.
Good to know: We booked a tour at 10.30 AM. You could also rush and come here first thing in the morning, but it’s ALWAYS busy at the Colosseum anyway, so it won’t really enhance your experience. And if you prebook your tickets in advance, there’s no need to hurry or worry about anything.
Going with a tour, we didn’t have to stress about where exactly to go, which line to stand in (we actually skipped most of the lines, but the security check), or where exactly to go once we were inside the Colosseum.
We saw all the levels of the Colosseum – the Underground, the Arena Floor, and all the regular areas accessible to everyone. It was an amazing experience and our guide made it a smooth, informative, and very enjoyable visit.
Afterwards, we walked to the nearby Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. Once again, it was great to have a guide here. I’ve been to these places before, without a guide, and it’s only now that I realized how much I missed.
These areas are so vast and there’s so much to see that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and miss some of the highlights. Also, the guide tells you stories, anecdotes, and helps put things into perspective and better understand what you are seeing. Our tour ended at the Roman Forum, giving us more time to explore it.
1.30 – 2.30 PM: Lunch near Colosseum
After all the walking and sightseeing, you’ll want to sit down for lunch! So find a nice restaurant near Colosseum and enjoy a quiet lunch. We thought that we’d just get something quick for lunch and go on, but it was actually nice to take a break and I highly recommend you do the same!
We headed to the small neighborhood east of Colosseum – this is where you’ll find lots of restaurants and cafes. And yes, many of them are really touristy, but there are some good places to eat here as well. The biggest problem is to find a table here in the afternoon…
For a quick bite, you could try L’Antico Forno. If you have some time to sit down, check out Trattoria Luzzi. This is one of the most popular and good value restaurants near the Colosseum, but if you want to find a table here at lunch, try to reserve in advance.
We had lunch at La Pace del Cervello, which didn’t have the best reviews, but had a free table outside and we didn’t want to waste more time looking around. The service was super fast and friendly, the pizza was one of the best we had in Rome, and the prices were very correct as well.
TIP: The best way to find where to eat in Rome is to simply take a look at the reviews on Google Maps of the nearby restaurants and pick a place that looks more local (to start with, no pictures on the menu). But – once again – it’s usually so busy near Colosseum at lunch that you will be happy to find a free table. And if you just get a pizza and some drinks, as we did, you can’t really go wrong anyway.
3 – 3.30 PM: Baths of Caracalla
If you want to get a bit off the beaten path in Rome, I highly recommend visiting the Baths of Caracalla. Located about 20 minutes walk from the Colosseum, this is one of the most remarkable Ancient Rome sites that most tourists never see. Yet, it’s absolutely worth a visit!
Caracalla Baths were built at the beginning of the 3rd century and were one the largest Roman public baths. It’s a huge complex that used to house several baths, saunas, an Olympic-size swimming pool, sports facilities, and even a library. The baths were heated via a series of underground ovens and it’s absolutely impressive to see how advanced and luxurious this place was.
Nowadays, it’s an archeological site/ outdoor museum. Some parts are still very well preserved and restored, with some stunning mosaics that give you a glimpse of how grand and decorative these baths were.
To us, the Baths of Caracalla is one of the most special places in Rome. And yes, it’s not an absolute must, but I highly recommend including it in your Rome itinerary. This is one of those places that will make your visit more special. And it’s also a nice place to escape the crowds.
Good to know: The Baths of Caracalla are open daily except on Mondays and some public holidays. Here you can find the official opening times and also get tickets online, but it’s not really a must – you can just buy a ticket at the entrance. You can also visit here with a tour, but it’s quite expensive compared to just the ticket price (8 EUR for adults and free for kids when we visited).
After visiting the Baths of Caracalla, you could see some of the lesser-known places in Rome. None of these is a must, but nice to do if you don’t mind a lot of walking and have some time to spare. You can visit all of them or just pick the ones that interest you the most.
TIP: You could also rent one of the electric scooters that you’ll find all over Rome for getting to these places. It would make it much quicker and easier.
4 – 5 PM: Pyramid of Caius Cestius and/or Aventine Hill
The Pyramid of Caius Cestus is about 20 minutes walking distance from the Baths of Caracalla, and you pass some very local areas of the city. The Pyramid looks like the ones you see in Egypt and was actually built as a tomb in 18-12 BC. It is possible to visit the Pyramid inside, but it’s only open a few weekends per month and requires an advance booking, but you can just see it from the outside, as we did.
Next to it, there’s also an old 3rd-century city gate, Porta San Paolo, part of the old city walls. There’s a small museum here and you can walk up to the top of the tower for nice views.
Next, head to Aventine Hill. Best known for the Knights of Malta Keyhole, there are also several churches here and the Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci) offering nice views of Rome.
The keyhole is the main attraction here and it is exactly as it sounds – a keyhole in an old door. But what makes it special is that through it, you can see the view of the green garden pathway with St. Peter’s Basilica perfectly framed in the middle.
This is one of the more popular hidden gems of Rome and often, there’s a long queue of people waiting to look through this keyhole. I’ll let you decide if it’s worth your time waiting in line for it, but a visit to the Aventine Hill is worth it either way. The three churches are really interesting to see, especially Basilica di Santa Sabina all’Aventino, and also the city panorama from the nearby gardens is really nice.
5 – 5.30 PM: Mouth of Truth
Finally, head back towards the river and the city center and stop at Santa Maria in Cosmedin church. Here you’ll find the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verita), a marble face with an open mouth. The legend has it that the mouth will bite off the hand of any liar.
In the past, you could just stop by here, put your hand in the mouth, take a picture, and move on. However, it’s become a very popular tourist attraction, and so also here, you’ll have to stand in a long queue in order to take a picture with your hand in it. There’s now even a small gate, a donation box, and staff keeping an eye on the crowds and regulating ‘traffic’.
We chose not to waste our time in line and took a picture of the mouth through the gate (you can see it from the street). The church itself is also nice to see, and there’s also an underground crypt of Pope Adrian I (8th century) that’s quite interesting as well. If you don’t have to stand in line for the Mouth of Truth, a visit here will only take 5-10 minutes.
6 PM: Trastevere & Dinner
Trastevere is one of the nicest (local) neighborhoods in the center of Rome. The name Trastevere comes from ‘trans Tiberim‘, which means ‘beyond the Tiber’. And indeed, it’s located on the other side of the river, just over the bridge from the Mouth of Truth.
This is a really nice area with narrow cobbled streets, colorful houses, countless restaurants, cafes, and bars. If you are looking for a nice place to have dinner, Trastevere is the best foodie area in Rome!
Before heading to dinner, you could also visit a few churches here. The most famous is Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, located on the most picturesque little square. Don’t miss it!
Also check out Basilica Santa Cecilia in Trastevere – a real hidden gem, best known for the sculpture of St. Cecilia that was originally found in the Catacombs of St. Callixtus (and that we recommend visiting – see day 4 of this itinerary).
TIP: If you like exploring with the locals, you could book this food tour of Trastevere. It covers all the main landmarks of the neighborhood, plus you get to taste some delicious food as well. There are normally tours at around 5 or 6 PM, so it’s possible to fit it in this itinerary.
Or simply find a nice restaurant and enjoy a quiet dinner – you definitely deserve it after all the walking! Some of the best places to eat in Trastevere are Trattoria Da Enzo al 29 (close to Basilica St Cecilia) or Osteria Nannarella (close to Basilica St Maria). Be sure to try fried artichoke (carciofi alla giudea), one of the local specialties.
Day 2: The Vatican, Food Tour & Jewish Quarter, Historic Center
PLANNING TIP: Be sure to check if the Vatican is open on the day you want to visit and reserve your tickets/ tour for the Vatican Museums (Sistine Chapel) online! See below for the best tour suggestions. The tickets are timed and they always sell out at least a few days in advance. Also, be sure that you wear clothing that covers your knees and shoulders! Also be sure to book the food tour in advance!
Here’s how you could plan your day:
Early morning: St. Angelo Bridge & Castel Sant’Angelo
If you walk to the Vatican from the city center, you’ll pass the Sant’Angelo Bridge and Castel Sant’Angelo. This area gets crowded during the day, but if you come here early, you’ll be able to enjoy it without the crowds.
TIP: Some of the best views of the St. Angelo bridge with St. Peter’s Basilica in the background are seen from the Umberto I Bridge and the southern side of the river between the two bridges.
Morning: Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
Together with the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums (where you’ll find the famous Sistine Chapel) is the most popular tourist attraction in Rome. It’s essential to book your tickets (or a tour) in advance!
We have been to the Vatican Museums with a tour in the past, and so on this 4-day Rome trip, we just got the regular tickets instead of taking a guided tour. Big mistake! Next time, I’d definitely go with a tour. Here’s why.
Our experience: Once you enter the museums, you find yourself in a beehive with a labyrinth of halls and corridors and staircases… And yes, you get a plan and there are signs pointing to some parts of the museum, but it’s absolutely not clear where to go. All the routes point to Sistine Chapel and so eventually, you do get there (and see a lot along the way), but you have no idea what exactly you are seeing, whether you have missed something or not, and what’s worth it the most…
TIP: So if you want to save yourself all the stress and be sure that you see the best that the Vatican Museums have to offer, consider going with a guided tour. I’m a bit hesitant to recommend a guided tour with the official guide of the museum because we saw lots of frustrated people inside who were sent from one place to the other, looking for the official group tours. Instead, you can book a tour with one of the local companies. That way, you meet your guide outside, enter the museums together, and can actually relax and enjoy your visit.
Here are 2 of the best tours of the Vatican:
- Early Entry to the Vatican & the Sistine Chapel. If you want to see Sistine Chapel before it opens to the public, this is the best tour. It starts very early, but gives you an extraordinary experience, incomparable to any regular daytime tours. In addition, this tour visits St. Peter’s Basilica and enters it directly through the museum saving you lots of time.
- Skip-the-Ticket-Line Vatican Tour and Sistine Chapel. This is the most popular (and great value) tour of the Vatican Museums. A good alternative to visiting on your own.
Good to know: The Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays, except on the last Sunday of the month when they are also free to visit (expect even bigger crowds if you visit on a free day). The museums are also closed on most religious holidays and on some other occasions.
When you pre-book your tour or tickets, you’ll immediately see if the date of your choice is not available, and can adjust your itinerary at that time.
Noon: Lunch near the Vatican
After your visit to the Vatican Museums, you’ll definitely want to sit down and rest your legs. All that slow walking is really tiring…
There are several restaurants and a café inside the Vatican museums, so you could have lunch there. But there are also quite a few nice restaurants in the nearby neighborhood. We chose to dine at one of the local restaurants.
We had lunch at La Locanda di Pietro, just a few minutes walk from the museum. It’s a very nice local restaurant with very friendly staff and truly good food. There are quite a few good restaurants in this area. For low-key simple Italian dishes, check out Ristorante dei Musei, or – if you prefer something different- head to La Cucaracha that serves Mexican food.
TIP: Try to go for lunch at around noon. When we visited, most restaurants were still quiet at 12, but half an hour – an hour later, there were hardly any free tables left (and only inside).
1.30 – 4 PM: St. Peter’s Square & Basilica
Unless you book a tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica together, I recommend visiting St. Peter’s in the afternoon. In fact, the later in the afternoon you go, the quieter it usually is.
We booked this tour of the Basilica that included a Dome Climb and the Underground, and it started at 2 PM. So after lunch, we headed to St. Peter’s Square, explored it a bit on our own, went to see the Swiss Guards, and sent some postcards from the Post of the Vatican.
At 2 PM, we met our guide, waited at the security to enter the Basilica (the lines weren’t nearly as bad in the afternoon as they were in the morning). While you don’t really need a guide to visit the church (and the entrance is free of charge), we actually enjoyed having a guided tour here. Our guide told us so many stories and explained so many things that we would have totally missed otherwise (and actually did miss on the previous visits here).
TIP: If you go without a tour, consider getting the official audioguide – that way, you can better appreciate what you are seeing.
We then visited the crypts where some of the Popes are buried. You can also see St. Peter’s Tomb here, but only the tomb that’s officially accessible to the public (the actual St. Peter’s tomb is located yet deeper under the Basilica and can only be visited with official Vatican tours if/when they run and are very limited in numbers).
After exploring the church, you can opt to go to the top of the Dome. Our tour included this, but if you go on your own, you can do this as well. The entrance is located on the far right side of the church and you can buy a ticket here. You can opt for the stairs or the elevator. We suggest taking the elevator to the rooftop because you’ll still have to do over 330 steps to the actual top of the Dome.
A visit to St. Peter’s Dome is one of the most special things you can do at the Vatican. So if you are fit enough for the 330 stairs (up and then down again), don’t miss it! Not only can you see the rooftop of the Basilica, the stunning views of the Vatican and the city from the Dome, but you also get to walk inside the actual dome with the whole church right under your feet. People look like little ants from this height and you realize once more how colossal the building is.
A very unique experience!
4.30 PM: Campo de’ Fiori
After the Vatican, head back to the city center and walk to Campo de’ Fiori. It’s about 25-30 minutes walk.
Campo de’ Fiori is one of the nicest town squares in Rome and a bustling market. Visiting here in the afternoon, you can actually see the square and not just umbrellas and the food stalls.
In the center of the square, you can see a statue of Giordano Bruno. He was a 16th-century philosopher who was burned here for his progressive thinking.
However, it’s also a special experience to see the Campo de’ Fiori market when it’s open. So if there’s no market anymore when you visit here in the afternoon, I recommend coming back here the next morning as well. See more info on day 3 of this itinerary.
5 – 8 PM: Street food tour & Jewish Quarter
The street food tour was one of the best experiences of our 4-day visit to Rome. If you want to discover a more local side of Rome, I highly recommend taking a food tour! It’s such a great way to get a bit off the beaten path and taste some local specialties.
We’ve been to Rome many times before, but we still learned new things, tasted some of the most delicious food, and saw some places we would have never seen on our own.
We took this highly-rated food tour and I can highly recommend it! The tour starts at 5.15 PM at Piazza del Biscione, which is a tiny town square right at the northeastern corner of Campo de’ Fiori. Be sure to check the starting times and location at the time of your visit, in case something would have changed!
On this tour, you visit a traditional food store from the 19th century and still run by the same family, have Roman pizza, and try other regional specialties at several excellent local restaurants. Our tour also included a tasting of Italian wine, local beer, and delicious gelato. They can also cater to people who have special dietary requirements and, of course, alcoholic drinks can be replaced by water or soft drinks.
We also passed some really nice local areas and also visited the Jewish Quarter (Ghetto). Together with Trastevere and Testaccio (a bit further away from the center), this is one of the best neighborhoods for food in Rome. If you are still hungry after the tour (can’t imagine you would be, but you never know), this is a nice place to come back for dinner. Or come here at another time, as we did.
The tour also visits Largo di Torre Argentina and ends close to the Pantheon. It takes about 2.5 hours.
Evening: Explore the historic city center in the dark
If you still have some energy afterwards, walk around the city center and see Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain nicely lit in the dark.
How dark it actually is will, of course, depend on the season when you visit. In November, it gets dark at 5 PM, whereas in June, it stays light until after 9 PM.
TIP: If you still have some space left for another gelato, check out Giolitti or Gelateria Della Palma – these are the two best places for ice cream in Rome. We stopped for ice cream here every time we were around…
We ended our day with some drinks on the beautiful rooftop terrace of our hotel. I think you can also come here for drinks even if you are not a guest at the hotel, but I’m not 100% sure. The drinks are quite expensive compared to the prices at the nearby restaurants though. But if you aren’t having dinner (not likely you’ll still be hungry after the food tour), it’s actually not easy to find a restaurant that will want to seat you just for the drinks. So for that, this bar is perfect.
Day 3: Campo de’Fiori, Pantheon, Doria Pamphilj, Capuchin Crypt, Villa Borghese, Terrazza del Pincio, Piazza del Popolo, Shopping, Spanish Steps
Early morning: Campo de’Fiori
In the past, a field of flowers (thus the name), nowadays Campo de’ Fiori is a bustling food market. The market is open Monday to Saturday, usually from around 7 AM to 2 PM.
The market is really touristy, but locals shop here as well. You’ll find stalls selling fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat, pasta, Italian limoncello (and other colorful drinks), and also flowers.
It’s always a nice place to visit when in Rome – it’s lively, colorful, you can buy all kinds of food, fruit, and also stock up on some (edible) gifts to take home.
9 AM: Pantheon
You will have passed the Pantheon several times by now, but it’s one of those places that you really should visit inside. Seeing the famous dome with a hole (oculus to the sky) in the middle is a must when visiting Rome!
Originally built in 27 BC and rebuilt in the 2nd century, the Pantheon is probably the best-kept monument from the old Roman times. The name ‘Pantheon’ means ‘temple of all the gods’ and – originally – it was a pagan temple indeed. In 609, Roman emperor Phocas gifted the Pantheon to the Pope, and it was turned into a church. This is one of the reasons why it’s still so well preserved.
A visit to the Pantheon doesn’t require much time. However, it’s always busy here, so if you don’t want to waste too much time, be sure to come here a bit before it opens.
Good to know: The Pantheon is usually open from 9 AM. It’s a working church, so there are no tickets and – normally – no advance reservations are needed. However, with the pandemics, they now require reservations on weekends and public holidays (you can still visit without any advance reservation on weekdays). See the official website for more up-to-date info.
TIP: You can pre-book an audio guide for a specific date and time, and – at the moment – this also counts as a reservation. But you’ll have to stand in line with everyone else, in order to get in. You don’t really need a guided tour for the Pantheon, but an audio guide is a nice way to learn more about this unique landmark.
10-11 AM: Doria Pamphilj Gallery
One of the hidden gems right in the historic city center, Doria Pamphilj Gallery is a private art collection that belongs to the princely Doria Pamphilj family. This is one of the largest and most impressive private art collections in Rome and it’s open to the public.
This vast art collection has been started in the 16th century and contains a large number of paintings, furniture, and sculptures. You can see various works by Caravaggio, Raffaello, Velázquez, and many other famous Italian artists. But what makes it truly special is the sheer number of pieces of art covering the walls from the floor all the way to the ceiling.
TIP: Be sure to pick up an audio guide at the entrance (included with your ticket). It’s a great way to learn more about the palace, the art collection, and the family behind it. The English narrative is spoken by Jonathan Doria Pamphilj, and he shares some fun stories and anecdotes about the family as well.
Good to know: Doria Pamphilj Gallery is located in a 17th-century Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, about halfway between the Pantheon and the Trevi fountain, about 7 minutes walk from either of the two. It’s open daily from 10 AM. Their website says that you need to prebook the tickets in advance, but we were able to visit without an advance booking. Here you can book cancelable tickets as well.
11 AM: Galleria Sciarra
As you walk from Doria Pamphilj Gallery to the Capuchin Crypt (about 15 min walk), you’ll pass another nice secret gem of Rome, Galleria Sciarra. Located just steps from the famous Trevi Fountain, this beautiful place is completely overlooked by most tourists.
Galleria Sciarra is a small glass-covered gallery/patio with beautiful frescos pained on all the buildings surrounding the courtyard. It dates from the late 19th century and is a fine example of the Art Nouveau style.
Good to know: The courtyard is always open, accessible, and free. A visit here only takes a minute or two, so definitely take a look inside!
11.20 – 11.50 AM: Capuchin Crypt
If you like quirky places, you may want to check out another interesting hidden gem of Rome, the Capuchin Crypt (Museo e Cripta dei Frati Cappuccini).
The 500-year old monastery houses a small museum telling more about the Capuchin monks and the history of the friary. But the main highlight are the underground crypts that contain really special and artistic creations made of human skeletons.
We’ve been to several bone chapels in various places in Europe in the past, but this one really stands out from the rest. There are several different crypts, each with its own unique ‘composition’, and it’s fascinating to see how someone created a real art from human bones… It doesn’t even feel creepy or spooky, but more artsy…
Good to know: Capuchin Crypt is open daily from 10 AM to 7 PM, except on some public holidays, and you can just get a ticket at the entrance. More information on their website. They have an audio guide available and also run guided tours.
Lots of organized city tours include a visit here together with some other crypts and catacombs visits in Rome. But if you just want to see the crypts and the museum on your own, 20-30 minutes is more than enough time here.
12 – 1.30 PM: Lunch
After visiting the Capuchin Crypt, continue in the direction of Villa Borghese Gardens (about 10 minutes walk to the entrance of the park or 15-20 minutes walk to the gallery).
On the way, you’ll pass several restaurants. If you are feeling nostalgic for some American food, stop at the Hard Rock Café (you can even pre-book skip-the-line lunch here).
Alternatively, there are plenty of local restaurants as well. If you don’t mind splurging a bit and are looking for something special, check out the historic Harry’s Bar. And there are lots of other cheaper and simpler places to eat in this area.
2 – 5 PM: Borghese Gallery & Gardens
Villa Borghese is a large landscaped garden, one of the biggest and most beautiful public parks in Rome. There is a lot to see and do in the park and you could easily spend half a day here, but the most famous place is the Borghese Gallery.
If you are interested in art, this is one of the best museums to visit in Rome! Here, you can see a big collection of masterpieces by Caravaggio, Raphael, Canova, and many others. Also, the interior of the palace is absolutely impressive!
Good to know: The Borghese Gallery is very popular, the tickets are timed, and usually sell out long in advance (especially if you are visiting in high season). So if you want to be sure to visit here, it’s essential to reserve your tickets in advance!
You can opt for a regular entrance ticket, and there are also guided tours available that cover the museum as well as the beautiful gardens. A tour might actually be a good idea here since the gardens are really large and there’s a lot to see.
Alternative suggestion: If you are not interested in the museum or the gardens, or want to see as much as possible and don’t mind walking quite a bit more, you could also visit the Quartiere Coppedè nearby.
It’s a small neighborhood with some of the most special architecture you can find in Rome. You can read more about it in our guide of Rome’s hidden gems.
This beautiful but rather compact neighborhood is located about 20 minutes walk from Villa Borghese (so you need about 1 hour in total to walk there and back and see the highlights). However, if you could rent an electric scooter, you could probably visit in about 30 minutes.
It’s also easy to combine it with a visit to the Coppede district and that of the Borghese Gallery. It really depends on your interests and how much you are willing to walk.
5.30 PM: Terrazza del Pincio
Terrazza del Pincio is a popular viewpoint offering nice views of Piazza del Popolo, the city center of Rome, and St. Peter’s Basilica in the distance. This is a popular place to come at sunset too.
There are, in fact, two viewpoints here and the views are nice from both (the other one doesn’t have an official name and is located right under Terrazza Viale del Belvedere, but is often confused with Pincio Terrace). Anyway, I indicated them both on our map.
These viewpoints are located about 15-20 minutes walk from the Borgese Gallery, and the walk through the park is really nice in itself.
From Terrazza del Pincio viewpoint right above Piazza del Popolo, take the stairs on the right side and walk down to this town square.
READ ALSO: Best Views & Viewpoints in Rome
6 – 7 PM: Piazza del Popolo & Shopping Streets
Piazza del Popolo (the People’s Square) is one of the largest and best-known town squares in Rome. Located at the Aurelian city walls, there’s still an impressive city gate here.
If you are coming from the hill at Terrazza del Pincio, the city gate will be on your right. If you want to experience the ‘wow’ effect of the square as first-time visitors to Rome did in the past, you can walk through it and come back to the square that way, but it’s really impressive either way.
Piazza del Popolo is a place where three big streets come together. In the center of the square, you can see an Egyptian Obelisk and the Fountain of the Lions. There are two other fountains with impressive statues at the sides of the square. And it’s also flanked by two impressive churches Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria di Montesanto.
The area to the south of Piazza del Popolo is one of the most popular shopping neighborhoods in Rome. You’ll find all kinds of fashion stores here – from the cheaper main street brands to the most expensive designer stores like Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabanna, Tiffany & Co, and pretty much any other big name in the fashion industry.
The most famous shopping streets are Via del Corso (popular brands) and Via dei Condotti (high-end designer shops), but the whole area is really a shoppers’ paradise. If you are more interested in sightseeing than shopping, check out Via Margutta. It’s a very picturesque and much quieter street that became famous thanks to the film Roman Holiday.
Good to know: Most stores here are open until 7.30-8 PM, but if you are planning to do some shopping here, you’ll probably want to come earlier. You could easily spend an entire day here too, but with just 4 days in Rome, I’d only come here to do some window shopping.
7.30 PM: Piazza di Spagna, Spanish Steps & Dinner
Piazza di Spagna and the famous Spanish Steps is one more of the ‘must-see’ landmarks in the historic city center that you really shouldn’t miss in Rome.
Surrounded by all the shopping streets, this is a very popular area that’s always crowded. In the summer, it’s often difficult to even see the staircase through the crowds. It is now, therefore, forbidden to sit or eat on the stairs.
If you take the staircase up, you’ll be walking in the direction of the Villa Borghese Gardens that you visited earlier today. At the top, there’s also a church – Trinità dei Monti – and you could visit inside if it’s still open.
But, frankly, the stairs are the most impressive when seen from the bottom and the interior of the church is not that special. There are some nice viewpoints at the top, but if you already visited Terrazza del Pincio viewpoint before that, going up the stairs is not really a must. Unless you are here at around sunset and want to see some nice twilight views from above – in that case, definitely go up.
TIP: For dinner with a view, check out Caffè Ciampini di Marco Ciampini, a short walk to the left at the top of the stairs. Otherwise, you will find lots of nice restaurants in the historic city center. I indicated a few nice restaurants on the map.
Day 4: Appian Way, Aqueducts & Catacombs tour, San Giovanni in Laterano, St. Clement Basilica, Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, Colosseum at sunset
PLANNING TIP: Book this e-bike tour in advance (possible for all ages). If biking isn’t your thing, this bus/ walking tour has a very similar itinerary (and takes less time), but – at least at the moment, it only runs a few times a week and only in high season. Also, keep in mind that St. Callixtus Catacombs are closed on Wednesdays. You can still do the e-bike tour, but you’ll likely visit the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian instead.
9 AM – 3 PM: E-bike Tour of the Appian Way, Aqueducts & Catacombs
On the fourth day in Rome, we recommend that you get a bit outside the city and visit some of the ancient Roman sites nearby. The main highlights that are worth it the most are the Appian Way, the Park of the Aqueducts, and the Catacombs of St. Callixtus (or the nearby Catacombs of Saint Sebastian).
Hands down, this was one of our favorite days of the 4-day visit to Rome! So if you are comfortable on an e-bike, I highly recommend considering this tour.
There are other similar bike tours as well, but we chose this one because it has the most complete itinerary, includes (delicious warm) lunch, uses good quality electric mountain bikes, and has the best reviews. Also (take my word for this), you really don’t want to do the Appian Way with a regular bike!
I’m not going to list the complete itinerary of this tour, but below are some pictures that will give you a short overview of what you can expect to see. Since you go with a local guide, you have nothing to plan or worry about. Just enjoy the day and soak in the incredible 2000-year old sights.
We loved every minute of this tour and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Also, my teenage son said that it was the absolute best thing we did on the entire trip (and he really enjoyed the rest of Rome as well, with the food tour on day 2 of this itinerary being his second favorite).
3.30 – 4 PM: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano
Just 10 minutes walk from where your bike tour ends, you can visit the main church of the city, the Cathedral of Rome, Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano. It is this church (and not the St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican) that is considered as the ‘Cathedral of Rome and of the World’. The Pope is the reigning bishop of the city of Rome.
The reasoning behind this is quite simple – while the Pope stands above the cardinals and the bishops, St. Peter stands above the Pope. So St. Peter’s Basilica is a whole other league compared to any other church, and Rome – just as any other city – deserves its own cathedral, of course.
Anyway, the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano is absolutely impressive. The cathedral is massive, very richly decorated, and the statues of the Apostles inside are just as majestic as the ones at St. Peter’s. In the middle, you can also see the tomb of Pope Martino V, and on the far left corner of the church, there’s an entrance to a 13th-century cloister. You have to pay a few euros to visit here, but consider it as a donation to the church and be sure to check it out.
It took me quite a few visits to Rome before I finally made the time to visit this church, and I can tell you that it’s absolutely worth a detour. And since the bike tour ends just nearby, it’s really easy to add it to your 4-day Rome itinerary. A visit is free of charge, and it’s incomparably quieter here than at the Vatican.
4 – 4.15 PM: Scala Santa
Just across the street from the Basilica, there’s one more little-known gem of Rome, Scala Santa (the Holy Stairs). This is a small catholic sanctuary with a papal chapel and three impressive staircases leading to it. The middle of the three staircases is the Holy Stairs.
According to a Christian tradition, Jesus Christ climbed these stairs before his crucifixion. It’s believed that these stairs have been brought from Jerusalem to Rome in the 4th century. This staircase is considered sacred and is reserved for pilgrims who come here to pray and climb to the top on their knees hoping for a plenary indulgence. Millions of people have climbed these stairs on their knees, including many popes.
On top of the right staircase, there is a nice chapel, with an adjacent smaller papal chapel in the middle.
The papal chapel Sancta Sanctorum (the Holy of the Holies) itself is normally closed to the public and can only be seen through a small opening at the end of the middle stairs. It was exceptionally open when we visited, but I’m not sure if it will remain open to the public in the future. It contains lots of relics, some of which have been moved to the Vatican.
Even if you can’t visit the Holy of the Holies, a visit here is more than worth a few minutes of your time. The staircases are really impressive and so is the bigger chapel. And you can see the other one through a small opening too.
Good to know: Scala Santa is open daily in the morning and in the afternoon. There’s no fee to enter and no reservations are needed and you only need a couple of minutes. If you want to visit the papal chapel of Sancta Sanctorum (and it’s open), there’s a small fee (at the moment, 3.50 EUR). You can find more info about this sacred place and the opening times on their website.
4.30 – 5 PM: St. Clement Basilica
After a visit to Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano and the Holy Stairs, walk back in the direction of the Colosseum, and be sure to stop at St. Clement Basilica. From the outside, it might look just like any other of 900+ churches in Rome, but it houses a lot of secrets inside. This is one of the most unique places you can visit in Rome! Yet, despite its proximity to the Colosseum, only very few tourists know about it or ever come here.
St. Clement Basilica was constructed in the 12th century. With its cozy interior and beautiful mosaics, it looks really nice, but – not that special, you’d think. There are tens of other very similar churches all over the city…
What makes it extraordinary is that underneath there’s an archeological site containing two underground levels. Right under the church, there’s the original Basilica, built in the 4th century. AND – yet another level deeper – there are 1st and 2nd- century buildings used by the members of the cult of Mithras. This seemingly ordinary church actually has three layers that literally take you back in time through centuries of Roman history.
There are several places in Rome where you can literally touch the 2000-year old walls, but this is probably one of the most authentic sites (it probably feels like that because there are very few tourists) AND it’s so easy to visit! You don’t need any advance reservations, there are no queues, and it’s just a stones’ throw from the Colosseum! So even if you are not doing the bike tour and plan your Rome itinerary differently, you could easily come here when you are visiting the Colosseum.
Good to know: The Basilica’s Archeological Excavations are open daily except on Christmas Day. You can check up-to-date info for the opening times and buy a ticket on their website (10 EUR at the moment of writing). Or pay 2 EUR more and simply get a ticket at the entrance. Kids under 16 are free of charge.
5.15 – 6 PM Domus Aurea
Domus Aurea, aka the Golden House of Emperor Nero, is located just next to the Colosseum and is well worth a visit as well. It’s an ancient archeological underground site where you can see the remains of the extravagant villa built by Nero after the great fire in 64 AD had destroyed a large part of the city.
The Golden House was huge, with over 200 rooms, pavilions, gardens, and even an artificial lake in the center, and was built to impress and entertain.
The most remarkable feature was the Octagonal Room with five rooms around it and waterfalls cascading down the walls. The main dining hall – the Octagonal Hall itself – has a big concrete dome with an oculus which is believed to have inspired the architecture of the Pantheon. This room also had a revolving floor – an impressive engineering achievement at that time.
Nero wasn’t loved and his impressive palace was looted and destroyed soon after his death. It was covered in earth and several other structures were built on top of it, including the Baths of Trajan and Titus. The Colosseum was built at a place where Nero’s lake used to be and it also got its name from the Colossus statue that used to stand at the entrance of Domus Aurea.
Good to know: Domus Aurea is normally open daily until 6.30 PM. However, at the moment of writing it’s only open on the weekends and just a few hours a day. All visits are guided and normally also include a VR experience that gives you a good insight into how grand this palace was. Since it’s an underground site, it’s quite cold inside so you may want to take a sweater.
If you absolutely want to visit here, check the current opening times and reserve your tickets in advance. Normally, you can find info and reserve the tickets on this website, but it’s not always updated and can be somewhat unclear too. In the low season, you could probably just walk to the entrance and see if there are tickets available too. And otherwise, check out this organized tour – they’ll only show the dates and the times when a visit is actually possible.
6.15 – 6.30 PM: Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli
Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli is a 5th-century church best known for its relic – the chains of St. Peter and Michelangelo’s statue of Moses that is part of the tomb of Pope Julius II.
Normally, a visit is free of charge and the church is open daily until 7 PM. It’s located just 5 minutes walk from the Colosseum in the direction of the city center. Well worth a few minutes of your time.
TIP: After leaving the church, go to the right and you’ll find a small passage with a staircase on via San Francesco di Paola. It’s a nice hidden gem. If you walk to the center, you can continue via this staircase. Alternatively, head back to the Colosseum for sunset.
Sunset at the Colosseum
Depending on the time of the year (and the time of the sunset), you might find yourself close to the Colosseum at around twilight. Seeing this landmark in a different light (and usually without the crowds of daytime visitors) might be a nice way to end your Rome city trip.
This itinerary is based on our most recent visit to Rome in November. At that time, the sunset was around 5 PM. So we came to the Colosseum after a visit to St. Clement Basilica, and could indeed enjoy the beautiful light. It wasn’t busy either.
There are many restaurants in the Colosseum area too, so you could have dinner here. We walked in the direction of the Jewish Quarter – there are some really good restaurants serving traditional Italian food here, but you have to reserve most of them in advance, definitely in the high season.
Here are some restaurant suggestions for this area that we got from our food tour guide: Giggetto, Sora Margherita, or Al Pompiere Roma (for local Roman dishes), Emma (for pizza and Roman appetizers).
Since the other restaurants opened for dinner even later, we went to Emma’s and were glad to get one of the last available tables (had no idea it would be fully booked on a weekday in November).
Map & Getting Around
Below, you can see a map of this 4-day Rome itinerary.
It contains all the places mentioned in this article, including restaurant suggestions. You can save this map to your phone and use it during the trip. To make it easier, we used four different colors – one per day.
Getting around: We simply walked everywhere (except for the e-bike tour, of course), and it’s definitely doable if you stay in the city center, plan well, and wear very comfortable shoes. However, prepare to walk A LOT.
You could also cover some of the bigger distances by public transport, take a taxi, or – probably the easiest and quickest – rent an electric scooter. They are scattered all over Rome and it looked like it shouldn’t be a problem to find one where and when you need it. Just drive carefully!
How to Use This Map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the left top corner for the index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu button, and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’.
If you have more time
If you have more than 4 days in Rome, you could, of course, take it easier and visit some of the places we indicated in our itinerary on different days. There are also many more museums, churches, etc.
However, if you want to make the most of your visit, I recommend booking a few day tours that take you outside the city.
Here are some of the most popular options for the best day trips from Rome:
- Villa D’Este & Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli
- Pompeii & Mt. Vesuvius OR Pompeii & Amalfi Coast
- Tuscany Taster Tour: Day Trip with Lunch & Wine
- Florence & Pisa in a Day
Where to stay for 4 days in Rome
For this 4-day Rome itinerary, we recommend staying in the heart of the historic city center. Our favorite area to stay in Rome is around Pantheon, but pretty much anywhere between Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain is great.
Staying here, you can easily walk to the main landmarks, and pretty much all the main areas of interest are within 15-30 minutes walking distance.
Here are some of the best-rated hotels close to the Pantheon for all budgets (although low budget options are scarce in this area):
- €€€€€+ The Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel, Autograph Collection (very luxurious 5* boutique hotel).
- €€€€ 9Hotel Cesari (4* hotel; this is where we stayed).
- €€€ Hotel Navona (popular 3* hotel).
- €€ Hotel Primavera (highly-rated 2* hotel; one of the best lower budget choices in the historic center).
READ ALSO: Where to Stay in Rome
So, this is our 4 days Rome itinerary. I hope that all the time indications and the details will help you plan an unforgettable trip to the Eternal City and explore a bit deeper, beyond the main attractions.
Have a great trip!
TIP: If you are looking for more information and tips for your trip to Rome, be sure to check out this article with Rome travel tips for your first trip. It contains all the useful info and info that will help you plan a more enjoyable visit. Take a look!
READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Rome
More travel inspiration for Rome:
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TIP: If you are visiting Italy for the first time and are wondering where to go and how to plan your time, check out this Italy trip itinerary that includes all the must-sees.
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More travel inspiration for Italy:
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- …. For more destinations, be sure to check our Italy travel guide. It contains an overview of all our articles for a big variety of popular places all over Italy.