The ultimate itinerary for 4 days in Rome, Italy

Wondering how to best spend 4 days in Rome, Italy? Rome, also known as the eternal city, is famous for being one of the most historical and cultural cities in the world. Wandering the streets of Rome can sometimes feel like walking at a museum. With countless historical sites, colorful streets, excellent food, and vibrant street life, the city won’t leave you disappointed. Let this guide help you plan an unforgettable itinerary for 4 days in Rome.

This 4 day Rome itinerary takes you to all the major sights of Rome at a reasonable pace. Even so, this itinerary includes a lot of walking. Wear comfortable shoes and stop for lots of gelatos to get some rest.

The cosy market Campo de’ Fiori in the heart of Rome.

Day 1: Strolling around the heart of Rome

Before lunch: Campo de’ Fiori, Pantheon, and Fontana di Trevi

Start your trip to Rome with a stroll around the city center. With most of the tourist attractions located within walking distance of each other, and cute streets being attractions in themselves, Rome is a perfect city for walking.

After a solid breakfast (probably containing nothing but white bread and espresso) you should head to Campo de’ Fiori – the field of flowers. Campo de’ Fiori is a market that is open daily and houses dozens of vendors selling everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to cheese, herbs, and even clothes.

The magnificent Pantheon, a former Roman temple. 

A ten-minute walk from Campo de’ Fiori lies Piazza della Rotonda and the remarkable Pantheon, according to me one of the most spectacular sights of Rome.

The Pantheon is a former ancient Roman temple, but now a Catholic church, that was built in 125 B.C. The building consists of a rectangular vestibule that leads you to the magnificent rotunda. The real glory is the coffered concrete dome with a height of 58 meters.

The dome has a central opening to the sky that gives a spectacular ray of light inside. When it’s raining you can see the raindrops fall peacefully like a grand shower.

There’s no admission fee to go inside the Pantheon, but there can be a big line of people waiting to go inside as it is one of the most popular sights in Rome.

Did you know? Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the largest unsupported dome in the world. Today Pantheon has the informal title as the church of Santa Maria Rotonda.

The iconic Fontana di Trevi fountain.

Now you’re close to the iconic Piazza Navona, a square that is built on the site of the old Stadium of Domitian, which is why the square today follows the form of a stadium. As the square is lined up with restaurants this is a great place to stop for a coffee.

Then, continue walking towards the famous fountain Fontana di Trevi. This is probably the most rushed place in Rome, with thousands of tourists visiting every day. Fontana di Trevi is beautiful, but also done in a few minutes. Go there, be aware of pickpockets, take a photo and leave. And don’t buy anything nearby since everything is ridiculously overpriced.

Tips! Do you want to experience a more relaxed side of Rome, without so many tourists? Get up really early and walk the streets all by yourself. Rome is at its best at 7 am.

Ready for lunch? Before you continue your city tour, make sure to fill your stomach with some freshly made pizza. You are not far away from Enoteca e Taverna Capranica, a restaurant that serves great pizza and pasta.

The Spanish steps with Trinità dei Monti on top, the view from the top of the Spanish steps.

After lunch: Piazza di Spagna, Spanish steps and best gelato in Rome

Continue north to Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish steps. This is a rather fancy area of Rome, with many brand stores to enter if you are interested in that. If not, I suggest you walk up the Spanish steps to Trinità dei Monti church which is located at the top. From here you have a stunning view of Rome.

Since you walked all the way up you might as well sit down for an aperol spritz at Il Palazzetto, a restaurant with a sunny terrace overlooking the steps.

Drinks at Il Palazzetto terrace, cute Roman streets.

Spend the rest of your afternoon sipping Italian coffee or eating ice cream. From the Spanish steps you have a 15-minute walk to Gelateria del Teatro, serving what might be the best gelato in Rome.

Tips! Make sure to visit at least one of the many grand churches while walking around in the old parts of Rome. They might not look so spectacular from the outside, but the inside is often beautiful. A great option would be Santa Maria Maggiore.

The view of Saint Peter’s Basilica from Piazza San Pietro, the large arches that stretch out from the entrance of St Peter’s Basilica.

Day 2: The Vatican City

While in Rome, you must take a day trip to the Vatican City. Although the Vatican City is a separate country, it’s actually located in the center of Rome. Even though it’s easy to enter the official border of the Vatican City, the line to the actual sights in there can be major.

While in the Vatican City you must at least visit Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, where Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is located. Many people think that the Basilica and Vatican Museums are the same things. The fact is, they are actually different sights that have separate entrances, even though they are very close to each other.

There’s a lot to see and do in both Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. Make sure you have enough time and energy to handle the crowds.

The entrance and the interior of Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Saint Peter’s Basilica

Saint Peter’s Basilica is a must when visiting the Vatican City. Saint Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world, and astonishing in its greatness. Admission is free, and you don’t have to make a reservation. A pro tip is to be there early, the line can be long already at 7 am. While in, there are a lot of things to see. Read through the folder you get at the entrance and decide what you want to prioritize.

The view from the top of Saint Peter’s Basilica.

A must-see is the dome on the roof. If you don’t mind confined spaces you should definitely walk all the way to the top from where you have a magnificent view of Rome. The dome costs 10 EUR for a return ticket with the elevator or 8 EUR by stairs.

Tips! Here’s a free audio guide to Saint Peter’s Basilica

The ceiling inside the Vatican museum, the Vatican museum spiral staircase.

The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums is most known for The Sistine Chapel with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo – but has a large selection of other famous paintings and sculptures.

To enter the Vatican Museums you must have a ticket. The best way to avoid the huge line is to buy a small group tour ticket. If you don’t have a ticket before you go, you risk spending your whole day in line.

We paid 66 € for two tickets to a group tour, with an entrance ticket, guide and earphones included. The perks of booking a guided tour, besides not standing in line, is that you get an expert telling you the history behind the building and the art inside. Without the guide, it might be hard to understand what wonders you are actually looking at. With a group tour ticket, you have a specific time slot and can enter the building without queuing. You just walk past the line and present your voucher to the customer care staff outside the entrance.

 Read more: Buy a ticket to the Vatican Museums here

Pro tip: If you are planning to visit the Vatican Museums, you can go directly to St. Peter’s Basilica via the museum and skip the line. I wish I knew this before my trip to the Vatican City.

When you leave Vatican City, make sure to walk past the Castel Sant’Angelo. An impressive building initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum, but later used as a fortress by the popes. Today it’s a museum.

The impressive Colosseum amphitheatre.

Day 3: Colosseum and the trendy Monti area

Before lunch: Colosseum and Foro Romano

If you are not fed up with historical sites, I suggest you spend a day visiting Colosseum. Colosseum is probably the most popular sight in Rome, and well worth a visit. Again, this site requires pre-booked tickets. The best option is to buy your ticket from the official Colosseum website.

The ticket to Colosseum also includes entrance to Roman Forum (in Italian Foro Romano). Roman Forum is a plaza surrounded by ruins of several important ancient government buildings. Both Colosseum and Roman Forum date back to ancient Rome and hold a great deal of history.

In my opinion, Roman Forum is actually more interesting than the Colosseum, so don’t miss this one! Spend at least half a day visiting these two sights.

Note: Don’t forget to bring water, and make sure to eat before you enter. You can’t buy any food inside, besides questionable plastic-wrapped cakes from vending machines.

 Read more: Buy your skip-the-line ticket to Colosseum here

The grand Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emmanuele II monument at Piazza Venezia, a street in Monti.

Take a lunch break at the cozy square Piazza della Madonna dei Monti – just a short walk from Colosseum – where you can sip on an aperol spritz and eat cacio é pepe at the lush outdoor dining area.

After lunch: Strolling around the Monti area

Take a stroll around Monti. Monti is a trendy area with many second-hand shops and restaurants. There are not as many tourist attractions in this area as in the rest of the city center, meaning fewer tourists and more locals. If you suddenly get a craving for gelato while you’re here, you should pay a visit to Fatamorgana. They serve great gelato!

Before ending your evening at one of the many great restaurants in Trastevere you might want to stop by Aventine Hill. Rome is a city of many hills, and Aventine is one of them. Here you can visit the beautiful Orange Garden, a park filled with orange trees and umbrella pines. From Orange Garden, you have a beautiful view of the city. For an even more unusual view, follow the road to find the secret keyhole – one of the most beautiful hidden sights in the city. From the keyhole, you can see the entire dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica from a perfect angle. Be prepared for the huge line to the keyhole!

The lush green park Villa Borghese, located just above the Spanish steps.

Day 4: Picnic in Villa Borghese

Above the Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish steps you’ll find Villa Borghese, a big park which is the perfect place for a picnic. Buy some cheese, vegetables, bread, herbs and preferred drink at a local market (preferably at Campo de’ Fiori) and walk through the city to enjoy a day in the lush green park. If you want, you can rent bikes and go for a bike tour around the park. It’s a cozy way to spend your last day in Rome, and also a well-needed contrast to the more touristy activities the days before.

If you’re not fed up with museums yet, I can recommend the nearby Galleria Borghese. The Galleria Borghese is an art gallery housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana, on the outskirts of the park.

For the evening I suggest you create your own aperitivo and enjoy it at one of the best viewpoints of Rome. Terrazza del Gianicolo is located in Trastevere, on top of the park Parco del Gianicolo. Sit here and enjoy the sunset before heading to one of the great restaurants in Trastevere for dinner.

More Rome travel tips

Rome has so much to offer. These travel guides might come to use as you plan your Rome trip:

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