Is 4 days in Rome enough? Honestly, we don’t think so. However, if you can only afford 10 days or two weeks in Italy, this is roughly how much time we suggest you devote to the capital.
This is why we came up with a great 4-day Rome itinerary telling you what you can do in such a short time to optimise your stay and giving you some local’s insight on where to eat and where to stay.
What to Do in Rome in 4 Days – A Practical Itinerary
With the right planning, four days in Rome can actually be enough for at least the main historic sites. Here is a handy itinerary to help you explore the most important landmarks like the Colosseum and the Vatican, and the most famous neighbourhoods such as Trastevere.
- Day 1 – Discover Ancient Rome
- Day 2 – Explore the city centre
- Day 3 – Visit the Vatican
- Day 4 – Trastevere and the Jewish Quarter
- Tips for planning your 4-day Rome itinerary
What to see in Rome in 4 Days
Day 1 in Rome – Discover Ancient Rome
1. Colosseum and Roman Forum
We all have either read or heard about the Roman gladiators, so among the first things to do in Rome even if you stay only 4 or even 3 days, there sure is their Colosseum. We suggest doing this first thing in the morning. If you manage, get there early, even before it opens, to avoid huge queues.
There are parts of the Colosseum open to the general public where you can access with the single ticket, and others where you can enter only with a guide or a tour. To skip the line, either booking online or a guided tour to the Colosseum is your best bet.
As the Roman Forum is right beside and the ticket the same you buy for the Colosseum, we suggest you do both of them on the same day, or better on the same morning. If you feel too overwhelmed and prefer doing something else right after the Colosseum, you can as the ticket is valid for two days.
You can also visit the Colosseum underground in one of the many underground tours of Rome.
2. Caracalla Baths
After enjoying the beauty of Colosseum and the pulsing heart of Roman ancient life in the Roman Forum, head to the Baths of Caracalla. Here, you will be taken back to Ancient Rome and their love for spa and pampering themselves.
This is a very fascinating site that you can totally spare an hour for in your 4 or even 3 days in Rome. Visit these ancient baths and see how they were organised, comprising of several spa areas, pools, gym and even a library.
3. Walk along the Fori Imperiali
Round off your historical tour of Rome by walking along the Imperial Fora (Via dei Fori Imperiali). This is the long road of almost 1 km that goes from the Colosseum to Piazza Venezia.
While it’s not possible to actually enter, you can see a lot from outside. Here is where emperors and orators made their speeches. Some of the most important forums are the ones of Julius Caesar, of Augustus, of Nerva and of Traianus.
4. San Clemente Basilica
When you enter, this is a medieval church, but we are including the site in the first day devoted to the imperial times because as you get underneath the modern-day street level, you are right in ancient Rome.
On the second layer, you will visit an early-Christian basilica, but don’t stop there. Make your way down one more level and walk around Roman tiny alleys, visit the Roman mint, and a Mithraic school and temple.
5. Museo Nazionale Romano – Diocletian Baths
A fantastic addition to your first day in Rome devoted to the ancient city is a visit to the Museo Nazionale Romano. This is a museum dislocated in several spaces, but the main one is where the Diocletian Baths are, right close to Termini station.
Walk the ancient baths as you enter and then carry on to the permanent exhibition of findings and remains from ancient Rome, from tools to decorations to Mithraic images. It’s really big, but in one or two hours you can really see a lot.
Day 2 in Rome – The City Center
1. Piazza di Spagna (The Spanish Steps)
With the long Trinità dei Monti staircase, Piazza di Spagna is one of the most famous squares in Rome. Named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, on the piazza, you can see the Barcaccia, Baroque sculpture by Pietro and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Going up the famous staircase, a beautiful view will start unfolding. On the right side of the staircase is the house of British poet John Keats who lived here until 1821, when he died aged 25. His house has been turned into a museum that can be visited every day except Monday. The staircase was built in the 18th century to connect the Spanish embassy to Trinità dei Monti church on top.
Right in front of the stairs, you will see the exclusive shopping street Via dei Condotti with some of the most luxurious Italian and international fashion brands.
2. Via del Corso
Walk along Via del Corso, famous shopping street in central Rome where you can find literally every time of shop, store and boutique. Either along the same Via del Corso or its parallel street Via del Babuino.
Some of the brands you are going to find in Via del Corso are Zara, Doppelganger men’s clothes, Mango, H&M, Guess, Desigual, Intimissimi and more.
3. Trevi Fountain
Hardly in need of any introduction, the Trevi Fountain is in the top list of any first-time Rome traveller, and even if you have only 3 or 4 days in Rome, this is a must.
Stunning and huge Baroque fountain, its theme is the sea and the large statue in its middle is the Ocean by Pietro Bacci, dating back to the late 18th century. The origins of the fountain are actually much more ancient as it was a Roman aqueduct that remained operative up to today.
This is a very touristy area, so you might want to be extra careful if you want to eat here. You can order a good meal at Il Piccolo Buco (Via del Lavatore 91), Colline Emiliane (Via degli Avignonesi 22), Baccano (Via delle Muratte 23) or, for a great gelato, San Crispino (Via della Panetteria 42).
Ancient temple devoted to all gods, whether you are spending 1, 2 or 3 days in Rome, the Pantheon is one of the unmissable landmarks. Especially if you are in the city for the first time.
Even after 2000 years, its dome is one of the largest in the world. On top, you can see the oculus, a hole aimed at connecting directly with the divine. Today the Pantheon is a Catholic church that hosts the graves of several members of the former Italian royal family as well as the relics of painter Raphael Sanzio.
This, too, is an area always packed with tourists, so sometimes restaurants offer not the best quality. But you can also find some great eats. Some example Armando al Pantheon (Salita de’ Crescenzi 31), hands downs one of the best restaurants in Rome, Ginger e Sapori (Piazza Sant’Eustachio). For a fantastic gelato, head to Gunther Gelato Italiano (Piazza Sant’Eustachio), one of the top ice cream shops in Rome.
5. Piazza Navona
Crossing Corso Rinascimento from the Pantheon, you get to Piazza Navona built on top of Domitian Stadium that hosts Bernini’s Four Rivers’ Fountain and the Baroque church of Santa Agnese in Agone.
On the side of the piazza is the palace of the Doria Pamphilj noble family, where Donna Olimpia used to live, now occupied by the Brazilian embassy. Apart from the majestic Four Rivers’ Fountain in the middle, there are also other two beautiful fountains on the two ends of the stadium-shaped square.
Ice cream lovers can enjoy a delicious gelato from GROM in Piazza Navona.
6. Campo de’ Fiori
With an easy stroll from Piazza Navona, cross Corso Vittorio Emanuele and you will end up in Campo de’ Fiori. Historic piazza that hosts a daily morning market selling foods, clothes, and kitchenware, in its centre stands tall the statue of Italian friar and philosopher Giordano Bruno. Right in this spot, he was burned at the stake with the accusation of heresy by the Holy Inquisition in 1600.
Historically the place of the veggie market, today Campo de’ Fiori is a hangout place for locals, tourists and young people thanks to the many restaurants and cafes surrounding the square.
READ MORE: Check out our complete guide to planning a 2-week Italy itinerary.
Day 3 in Rome – The Vatican City
1. Vatican Museums
We suggest tackling the Vatican Museums first not only because you will likely find a long queue to enter, but also because they are huge and with so much to see.
Displaying some seven centuries of artwork gathered by the popes either by commission or donations from kings and leaders from all over the world, the Vatican Museums enshrine a huge wealth of history and culture.
Some of the most famous areas, alongside the world-renowned Sistine Chapel, are Raphael’s Rooms, the Statues Courtyard, and the Gallery of the Maps, of the Tapestries and of the Candelabra.
2. The Sistine Chapel
This is a chapel inside the Vatican Museums but it deserves its own spot on the list because it’s so famous that you can’t possibly skip it.
READ MORE: To skip the lines in both the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, you will need to either reserve your ticket online or book a guided Vatican tour.
3. St. Peter’s Basilica
Stunning and free to enter, St. Peter’s Basilica is a must for anyone visiting the city for the first time, even if you are in Rome for only 4 days.
Inside it’s a huge basilica with several mosaics, statues, side chapels, the gorgeous dome, Bernini’s canopy and the wonderful sculpture La Pietà by Michelangelo Buonarroti. From Inside the basilica, you can also go down one level and visit the crypt where several popes are buried.
Before entering the basilica, do stop to stare at the gorgeous colonnade by Gian Lorenzo Bernini framing the huge St. Peter’s Square. On the piazza are also several statues, among which Saint Paul’s and Saint Peter’s, an obelisk and the fountains.
4. The Roman Necropolis
For this, you will have to book weeks in advance, so you definitely need good planning. This ancient necropolis lies some 13 metres below St. Peter’s Basilica and right next to Nero’s Circus, where Saint Peter was martyred.
In this necropolis is where St. Peter’s is buried, and this is one of the reasons you might want to visit it. It’s a Roman cemetery, so you will see several pagan graves lying side by side to the tombs of their Christian slaves.
It’s a very fascinating site where history, symbols and religion are intertwined.
READ MORE: For more about what to visit in the Vatican and how to book the different landmarks, check out our detailed Vatican guide.
5. Castel Sant’Angelo (Hadrian Mausoleum)
Located in front of St. Peter’s Square, right at the end of the long Via della Conciliazione, the Hadrian Mausoleum is a very interesting building and historical site to explore.
In the centuries, it served different purposes. Built as the tomb of Emperor Hadrian in 135 AD, Castel Sant’Angelo has also been a medieval stronghold, residence and political prison. It’s connected to the Vatican through the so-called “Passetto”, a long wall erected to protect the Vatican from the Saracen invasions and allow the Pope and high prelates to seek shelter in Castel Sant’Angelo.
Day 4 in Rome – Trastevere and the Jewish Quarter
1. Walk around Trastevere neighbourhood
Even just walking around the cobbled alleys of this quaint district is worth it. Former working-class neighbourhood now gentrified, Trastevere is a favourite hang-out place for tourists and locals alike both day and night.
Sporting a wealth of good restaurants, cafes and gelaterias, here you can easily spend a couple of hours just strolling around, watching the local architecture and stopping for a good gelato (Otaleg, Fiordiluna or Fatamorgana are my suggestions!).
2. Santa Maria in Trastevere Basilica
One of the landmarks to visit in this neighbourhood is the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. Dominating the view of its namesake piazza, this important Catholic church was probably the first official Christian worship place built in Rome. For sure the first one devoted to the Virgin Mary.
Renovated a few times in the centuries, it displays wonderful mosaics both inside and on the facade by Pietro Cavallini from the 13th century.
3. Villa Farnesina and Raphael’s frescoes
If you are into art, don’t miss Villa Farnesina in Trastevere. Beautiful Renaissance building commissioned in Agostino Chigi in the 16th century, today is used by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei for their official ceremonies. At the end of the 16th century, it was bought by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, after whom it later named.
The Villa is worth a visit for its interior decorations, including stunning frescoes by Italian painter Raffaello Sanzio and Giovanni Bazzi among others.
4. Santa Cecilia in Trastevere Basilica
Often neglected because it’s on the other side of Viale Trastevere, so not directly in the tourist heart of the district, this is a truly fascinating church and historic landmark.
Devoted to Saint Caecilia, patron of the music, below the modern-day street level church is a gorgeous Byzantine crypt decorated with a forest of pillars and arches. Going down another level, you can see an ancient domus and an insula from Roman times.
This church is absolutely worth including in your Rome itinerary of 4 days. It won’t take you more than one hour or an hour and a half, it’s easy to reach, and it’s a historical treasure trove.
Plus, after this visit, you can enjoy an exquisite lunch at the nearby traditional Roman restaurant Da Enzo al 29 (Via Vascellari 29).
5. The Jewish Ghetto
One of Europe’s oldest Jewish Quarter (only Venice one is older), this is a lovely quaint neighbourhood worth your visit even if you are in Rome for a few days. You can get there very easily on foot from Trastevere crossing Ponte Garibaldi bridge or with an easy stroll from Largo Argentina.
In the Jewish Quarter, stop at the beautiful Renaissance Fontana delle Tartarughe (Turtles’ Fountain) and the nearby Portico d’Ottavia, the ruins of an ancient Roman porch.
In Via Catalana, inside the Tempio Maggiore complex, you can also visit the Museo Ebraico di Roma (Rome’s Jewish Museum) to discover the long history and rich culture of Roman Jews.
Planning your 4-day Rome trip
1. Find a perfect hotel
Finding a hotel in Rome can be confusing, but having a planned itinerary will certainly make things easier. Some of the neighbourhoods we suggest booking your hotel are the city centre, probably the best area since it’s close to most of the major landmarks or otherwise well-connected with the other districts via the public transport.
A great neighbourhood for your stay is also around the Vatican, so Trionfale or Prati areas. From here, too, you can easily reach most of the places mentioned in this 4-day Rome itinerary either on foot or by bus/metro/train.
For some budget options, also staying around Stazione Termini is not a bad idea. You can find good accommodation, reasonable prices and for sure you will have all the buses, trains and metro you need at your fingertips.
READ MORE: Check out our detailed guide to the best Rome neighbourhoods where to stay.
2. Get to the city centre from the airport
There are several ways to reach Rome city centre from Fiumicino airport and in all these years we used pretty much all of them.
You can take the public taxi, just stand in the line at the exit and take one of the official white taxis. Or you can book your own private car for example with Blacklane taxi company. We took them once, they were very professional, on time, have affordable prices and regardless of your flight delay time, the driver will be waiting at the airport holding a sign with your name on it (or with whatever you ask).
Or you can simply take the public transport, which is also pretty efficient. There are trains to Termini Station every half an hour (Leonardo Express) for 14 euro, or trains to the stations of Trastevere, Ostiense, Tuscolana and Tiburtina roughly every 15 minutes for 8 euro.
You can also choose to take the bus to reach the city centre or Roma Termini. There are several companies and prices are pretty cheap, around 5 and 6 euro depending on the company. You can buy the ticket at the counter as you arrive or some like Terravision also on your Ryanair flight.
3. Rely on public transport
I know Rome’s public transport has been under the radar for quite some time and it’s true, it can be greatly improved. However, since you are in the city for a short period of time and most of your days will be spent downtown, you can totally rely on the public service for your mobility.
I think most of the time you will be walking, so I guess a single ticket (1.50 euro for 100 minutes validity with 1 train, 1 metro and unlimited bus rides) each time you need it will be enough. You can also purchase a 24h/48h/72h ticket, but I recommend these only for the days when you are actually planning to use public transport a lot as they cost respectively 7/12.50/18 euro.
READ MORE: Check out our detailed guide to Rome public transport.
4. Know where to eat
I might have said this before, but often in the city centre, it’s not too straightforward to find a good place to eat or enjoy some properly made artisan gelato.
Especially around the most popular landmarks, you might find restaurants using enticing words like “antica”, “trattoria”, “osteria”, “tradizionale”, just to give a traditional and genuine impression, but sometimes they are just tourist eateries.
This is why we wrote an extensive guide to the best places where to eat in Rome, where the locals go. You will find places for great pizza, a traditional Roman meal, street food, even vegan or vegetarian restaurants.
5. Carry a small dictionary
While in tourist areas you will find people speaking some English, if you go a bit far from the most popular spots English is seldom spoken. So you better either learn some Italian basic phrases or carry with you a small dictionary or glossary. This will help you get by in situations like restaurants or asking for directions.
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