1-day Itinerary in Rome
Explore the best things to do in Rome in 1 day based on recommendations from local experts.
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The site of many bloody gladiatorial fights, the Colosseum, which was opened in 80 A.D., could then hold about 50,000 spectators. With a circumference of 573 yards and sitting on marshland, experts say the Colosseum is an engineering wonder… not to mention an animal- and human-rights atrocity.
Today, the massive complex is a favorite site amongst travelers. That said, you'll find lengthy lines almost anytime you visit. To beat the queues, you can purchase a ticket at the Roman Forum, which allows you admittance to both, as well as Palatine Hill, and a line jump at the Colosseum.10 minute walk
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Not as popular as the Colosseum (but located nearby), some say the Roman Forum is more interesting. The Roman Forum comprises much of the Ancient Rome's most important structures, from shrines to government houses to monuments. Although much of the complex is in ruins, you can see the remains and imagine the former glory of the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus and the House of the Vestal Virgins, among other structures.
Recent travelers called a visit to the Roman Forum a "must," but they do advise future visitors to rent or stream an audio guide or hire a local guide (according to reviewers is little written on the informational plaques). Past visitors also suggest allotting plenty of time to see the ruins and wearing weather-appropriate attire (there is little to no shade at the site).15-20 miunutes by bus; 25-30 minute walk
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A must-see on many travelers' itineraries, the Trevi Fountain is situated amongst a high concentration of hotels, shopping and nightlife. Finished in the mid-1700s, the Trevi is a powerful example of a baroque design with a distinctly mythological character. The god of the sea, Oceanus, emerges from the pool, flanked by his trusty Tritons. The fountain underwent an extensive, mutlimillion euro restoration and reopened in its full splendor in November 2015.
According to Roman lore, throwing one, two or three coins into the Trevi, with your right hand over your left shoulder ensures you'll return to Rome; you'll fall in love with an attractive Roman; and you'll marry that same Roman.10 minute walk
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The Pantheon, a former Roman temple and now a present-day church, is known for its perfect proportions, which is amazing, seeing as it was raised in A.D. 120. While you're there, you can also pay your respects to Raphael, as well as Italian kings Victor Emmanuel II and Umberto I, who are all buried there.
Recent visitors described this free attraction as a must-see; they also say the Piazza della Rotonda, in which it's located, is a cozy setting for a coffee, pizza slice or gelato. Other recommended paying for a tour guide to better understand the ancient history you're seeing. Beat the crowds by visiting early in the morning.10-15 minutes by car
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The epicenter of Roman Catholicism, St. Peter's Basilica is centered in Vatican City and open daily for free. (Though it's closed on Wednesday mornings for pope appearances.) Many visitors enjoy trekking to the top of the dome. For a fee of 6 euros (about $7.50), you can climb the 551 steps to the summit; for a fee of 8 euros (about $10), you can take an elevator to a terrace where you'll climb just 320. Regardless, you'll take in a panorama of Rome's spectacular landscape. If you've come hoping to catch a glimpse of the pope, you should consider attending the Wednesday General Audience, when he address the crowd in St. Peter's Square with prayers and songs. It's free to attend, but tickets are required. You'll also want to make sure he is in residence; check the Vatican website to view the schedule. No ticket is required to see the pope on Sundays, when he usually address the crowd in St. Peter's Square at noon.
Keep in mind that this is an active church with daily Mass services. Likewise, a stringent dress code is enforced: No short skirts, hats or bare shoulders. And because St. Peter's Basilica is one of the area's major attractions, there is almost always a long queue – though it tends to go fast. Recent travelers recommend you spring for a tour guide; the depth of insight they bring to the basilica really makes the experience. For more information on tours, read our tips for visiting the Vatican and its attractions.15 minute walk
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You'll find one of Vatican City's most notorious attractions housed within these walls – the Sistine Chapel (and Michelangelo's famous frescos). A tour of the Vatican Museums grants access to various sections of the palaces, the Sistine Chapel included. But don't overlook the treasures housed within the museums themselves, including the spiral staircase and the Raphael Rooms. The Vatican Museums are so immense that guided tours are highly recommended though they make the price of visiting pretty expensive. Audio guides are a much cheaper alternative.
Recent visitors gushed about the Vatican Museums, but warned future visitors to reserve tickets online well in advance. Others suggested splurging for the guided tours as they offer a wealth of knowledge (and may allow you to skip the line or enter the site before it opens to the public). If you don't want to spend on a guided tour, consider doing your homework and reading up on the site before visiting – a recommendation from past travelers. For more information on tours and things to see in Vatican City, read these tips.
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