Arrive in the morning, walk from train station to hotel and check-in or leave your bags at the front desk
The Pantheon is located almost exactly in the center of Rome, so depending on the location of your hotel, you can visit this destination at any point in your trip. Our hotel was mere blocks from the Pantheon, and I was so excited to see it, that it simply had to be our first stop.
While the location is quite crowded, there are rarely any lines to get inside the Pantheon. It’s more like a mob moving in and out of the front doors. But, once you are inside, there is plenty of room for photos, to gaze up at the rotunda, and to scurry from one beautiful painting to the next.
Hours: The Pantheon is only open during certain times, so be sure to visit between 9:00 am and 7:30 pm (unless you visit on a Sunday, when the doors close at 6:00 pm)
Walking down to the Colosseum is an adventure in of itself because there is so much to see! The walk from the Pantheon to the Colosseum officially takes about 30 minutes, but I would plan on doubling that commute because you will be stopping every few minutes to take pictures!
Plan 2-3 hours for the Colosseum itself. Half of that could very well be spent in line, so prepare for the worst. It all depends on the time and day that you visit. We waited in line for about an hour, and spent another hour inside the Colosseum. But, don’t even bother asking if the wait is worth it, because we all already know the answer to that! (Hint: it so is… one simply cannot go to Rome and not see the Colosseum!).
There are lots of ways to avoid waiting in line at the Colosseum, most of which are online. We did not take advantage of this because we were unsure which day we would be in the area. But, if you do have a set schedule, online options may be a good place to check. Just please, please do your research! There are lots of scams online that will charge you way more than you should pay for entrance to the Colosseum.
Hours: 8:30 am – 3:30 pm
Price: Adults €12, EU citizens between 18-25 years – €7, Free for visitors 17 and under
You will want to plan to visit both the Colosseum and the Roman Forum in the same day, for two reasons: one, they are right next to each other, so it seems silly not to; two, when you purchase a ticket for the Colosseum, you also get a ticket to the Roman Forum.
Put on your walking shoes (which you should already have on) before you tackle the Roman Forum! This destination is quite expansive, and there it lots to see. Also make sure to fill up your water bottle before wandering past all of those beautiful ruins!
Hours: 8:30 am until 1 hours before sunset
Price: See Colosseum prices, and remember that tickets include entrance to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill
altare del patria
If you are walking towards the Colosseum from the north, there is no way you’ll miss this elaborate building. It’s beautiful! Just keep moving up the many stairs on both the inside and the outside of the building, and eventually you will find yourself overlooking the entirety of Rome.
Hours: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Price: Wandering around is free, but if you want to take a lift up to the roof, the price is €7
Now that you explored some of the most iconic places in Rome, finish the day wandering through the streets, until you stumble upon a perfect little restaurant to enjoy dinner and Italian wine.
campo de’ fiori
Head to this square just south of the Piazza Navona early in the morning to visit the daily market.
Hours: The market is open Monday-Saturday, from early in the morning until around 2:00 pm
trevi fountain visit #1
There are two times to see the Trevi Fountain, in the daytime and at night. Each has its perks. In the morning, before crowds of tourists have set out on their daily explorations, the Trevi Fountain is far more accessible. Even at 9:00 am, there were hardly any tourists around. That of course, changes as the day goes on, so be sure to arrive early!
Also, don’t forget to take part in the Roman tradition of throwing a coin in the fountain! Legend says that the first coin, thrown with your right hand over your shoulder, ensures that you will one day return to Rome. A second coin leads to romance, and a third leads to marriage.
Price: Just the cost of the coins you choose to toss into the fountain
I won’t go into too much detail with this one. The Spanish steps are an iconic part of Rome, so at least deserve a walk-by and some photos. While they are beautiful, I wouldn’t plan to spend too much time here. The Spanish Steps are a good stop to make between the Trevi Fountain and Vatican City.
vatican city, the sistine chapel, and st. peter’s basilica
This destination deserves to be the center stage for your day! It is amazing! Even the walk over to Vatican City is beautiful and timeless. This is also the day that you should budget a good portion of your spending money. Why? Because I highly recommend taking a group tour through the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.
The first reason for this is that groups tours get to bypass the line into the museum. Which is already worth the €50, because the line is often 3 hours long otherwise. Second, tour guides know so much more than you will ever read in the brochures you receive. Honestly. Our tour guide had been giving tours through the Vatican for 8 years, and he knew everything about not only Vatican City, but Rome in general. That wealth of information is priceless.
Overall, it comes down to money versus time. Would you rather spend some money to see Michelangelo’s amazing work in the Sistine Chapel, or let the long lines scare you away? In the end, it depends on you personally and your goals for your trip. But, I will say, that I’ve been all over Italy, and the Vatican will forever be one of the most awe-inspiring places I’ve ever seen.
Oh, and your tour ends inside St. Peter’s Basilica, which is huge and another wonder all it’s own.
Hours: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (except for Sunday’s, of course)
Price: €16 for non-tour general admission. Tours often cost approximately €50 for a three-hour guided tour, and are completely worth it.
Full of fountains, art, gifts, and restaurants, the Piazza Navona is not to be missed. You can spend hours wandering around buying souvenirs, and then settling into a restaurant to watch other tourists stroll by.
trevi fountain visit #2
The Trevi Fountain is a different place at night, and you must experience it. Full of people, but magical as the fountain lights glow against the turquoise water. I did prefer one time of day over the other, but I highly suggest visiting the Trevi Fountain in both elements.
Rome is a place that I see myself visiting again and again. Unfortunately, we did only have two days in this beautiful city, but I believe that we made the most of it. And who knows, maybe the coin that I tossed in the Trevi Fountain truly will aid my return to Rome someday.