Rome has always been a dream destination for me. I have been fascinated with the Romans ancient history and with Christianity’s adoption and usurpation of and hatred towards Paganism. As the previous Caput Mundi (capital of the world), Rome is dotted with treasures, ancient ruins, myths and legends; Making the city unlike any other. I based my Rome Travel Itinerary on a trip I recently did, and it’ll show you what you can do in Rome in just five days.
Having five days in Rome is a great way to get a feel of the city’s mysteries and glamour and is certainly enough time to see everything. However, I’d recommend staying for a full week if you’d like time to relax. Follow my Five-day itinerary to ensure you have enough time to taste delicious freshly cooked food, uncover the classic landmarks and discover the city’s secret alleyways. You will have time to bask in the sun whilst sipping cocktails on the cobbled piazzas and marvel at the juxtaposition between the ancient Roman Forum and the Baroque Churches. There’s no doubt Rome will take you on a journey back in time.
My 5- Day Rome Travel Itinerary
Rome Travel Itinerary: Day 1
September 1st: Evening Flight to Rome
My journey to Rome started at Bristol Airport in England. We flew at night, arriving around 9 pm local time. I prefer to travel in the evening/overnight as it means less hassle. I highly recommend doing this as you can dedicate an entire day to travel and not have to fit in travel, arriving at the accommodation and going out sight-seeing all in one day. Who needs that kind of stress?
Rome Travel Itinerary: Day 2
September 2nd: Day acclimatising in Rome
After arriving in Rome the night before, we wanted to take it easy, so we took the morning to relax. We brought some food and water for the apartment and had a stroll around the local area.
Then we wandered to the gorgeously illuminated Trevi Fountain or the Fontana di Trevi. Designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Pannini, the fountain is a great example of Baroque art and one of the world’s most famous fountains.
It is worth remembering that it is likely to be crowded here. If you’d like to avoid this, I highly recommend going for lunch or cocktails on one of the rooftop bars in the area. It is a great way to avoid the hassle of crowds and ensure the perfect camera shot!
We then walked to the Piazza Venezia, the central hub of Rome. On our way there we came across a deserted alleyway and followed it. Here, we found a gorgeous church, unknown to many tourists, the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola. You will, like I did, admire the highly decorative and theatrical style of the Baroque facade. You can’t help but see that the church’s dramatic architecture was built to impress and inspire awe.
It is free to enter and I highly recommend doing so. The interior space is equally, if not more, impressive than the facade. You’ll see that in the true Jesuit tradition, it is richly decorated with marble, stucco, gilded ornaments and magnificent frescoes. Please remember to cover up your shoulders and knees because it is a sacred site and place of worship.
Finally, we did the short walk to the Piazza Venezia. Here, you’ll find great restaurants, cafes and bakeries, shops and the impressive monument of King Vittorio Emanuele II.
Once we had some lunch, we made our way to the Roman Pantheon. This is probably one place I had been looking forward to the most and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It is the most complete and best-preserved Roman building in the world. Such a sight to behold.
What you must see in the Pantheon is the Oculus at the top of the dome. As the only source of light, the Roman’s intended the Oculus and the dome to symbolise the arched vault of the heavens. It is not surprising that the Pantheon caused Michelangelo to wonder whether it was the work of angels or humans. Apart from this, you must see the monumental tombs set into the walls, honouring the artist Raphael (on the left side as you enter). You are advised to stay silent and again cover your shoulders and knees.
Somehow, we then ended up at the famous Piazza Navona. Everywhere you walk, you will see the piazza lined with Baroque palaces, a magnificent church, shops, quaint cafes, and elaborate fountains. One of the lovely things is that everything still looks the same way it did when it was originally built.
It has remained unchanged since the 17th century! It was originally a circus, and like it was then the piazza is still a lively place filled with energetic tourists, colourful casts of street art, live acustic music and Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. You can also see another two fountains – Fontana del Moro and Fontana di Nettuno – these three lavish fountains speaks of the wealth of architectural beauty Rome has to offer.
Our final stop for our first day was the Spanish Steps. Another great must-visit during your time in Rome. The steps are free to visit and the fountain is another great architectural feat but be aware; the area gets crowded, so I highly recommend either going early in the morning or late evening. These are also perfect timings because at the top of the steps you get a great panoramic view of the city. And what’s better than catching this sight with the sunrise or sunset? It offers a very Romantic experience.
Rome Travel Itinerary: Day 3
September 3rd: The Vatican City
The next day, we woke up at 5 am for a 6 am pick up from our apartment to take us to the Vatican City – a place that has been on our bucket lists for ages! It’s incredible that the Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, where the Pope is head of the state.
Whist it only took around 15 minutes by taxi to get to the Vatican; We left plenty of time to find our tour guide. We booked with a company called City Wonders Tour and we chose the 7:20 am Skip-the-line, early access, private tour because it meant that we got to experience the Vatican, Vatican museum and The Sistine Chapel before any of it opened to the public.
I cannot stress enough how amazing this was. Whilst it was more expensive and obviously an early start, it meant that there was only a maximum of 30 people viewing. This is in stark contrast to the thousands of people around Vatican City after opening hours.
Whilst at the Vatican City, take your time to marvel at San Pietro, otherwise known as St. Peter’s Basilica. It is free to enter and no matter what your faith is; It is definitely worth going inside. It’s so extraordinary to see and you’ll hardly be able to believe it, but none of the paintings inside the church are paintings. Every single one of the ‘paintings’ is actually a mosaic, done with painstaking detail and they add an elaborate and wealthy feel to the interior.
If you are not too exhausted after an early start, walk towards Castel Sant’Angelo, otherwise known as St. Angel Castle. The Castel Sant’Angelo was initially built by the Roman Emperor Adrian to be his mausoleum and then was later used as a fortress by the Popes. With this incredible history, I expected a lot more from the Castel. However, one thing you do not want to miss is going to the top of Castel Sant’Angelo because it has a viewpoint that sees all of Rome, including the Vatican City, Colosseum, The Roman Forum and many more must-see sites. This place is free for children under 18 and €14 for adults!
Rome Travel Itinerary: Day 4
September 4th: Ancient Rome
Just like the day before, we rose early and did an early access and skip-the-line tour of the Colosseum with City Wonders Tour. This tour included access through the Gladiator’s Gate and a survey of the entire colosseum from the Emperor’s box which tourists don’t get to experience. I would highly recommend spending at least an hour or more here because it is a huge stadium, the largest amphitheatre ever built with a capacity for 80,000 spectators. And you really don’t want to miss a single bit of this space.
If you’re in doubt, then I seriously cannot stress enough that you need to see; the Arena floor – where all the action took place, the Hypogeum – the underneath floor where slaves and animals were held (this can be seen from the Arena floor and is included in the tour we took); The Emperor’s box; The Maenianum primum tier – where the noble classes and knights sat; The Maenianum secundum tier, where the ordinary Roman citizens sat. There is also a third tier but unfortunately you can’t go there but this was were women, slaves and the poor sat.
Outside the exit is an enormous arch, this is the Arch of Constantine dedicated to a famous battle between Constantine and Maxentius in 312 AD.
Walk on from the Arch to the Roman Forum. Whilst this might just seem like a huge field of ruins, it was actually the centre of ancient Rome, where the important temples and government buildings once stood. Within the Roman Forum is the Palatine Hill, and this is quite honestly the place you want to be! It gives you a birdseye view of the entire forum juxtaposed with modern Rome. It gives you an appreciation for the sheer scale of the Forum and shows the power and wealth that once inhabited the area.
Next, we went to the Capitoline Museum. It is home to many ancient Roman statues, a collection of medieval and Renaissance art, jewels, coins, and most famously the statues of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, mounted upon a horse. I really enjoyed visiting here because it was a break from ancient Rome and instead offered a glimpse into the more refined and artistic side of Italian culture. It made me fall in love with marble and statue work.
I have to admit before going on holiday I had never heard of the Baths of Caracalla. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I don’t know why not. They’re just as big as the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill or even the Colosseum and they’re certainly equally impressive. Stumbling onto a hidden gem really brightened up my day, especially since it was dirt cheap – only €5!
They’re one of the largest and best-preserved ancient thermal complexes in the world and on top of this you are given privileged access to the extensive underground heating system.
Rome Travel Itinerary: Day 5
September 5th: A Day for Nature Lovers
This crypt is decorated with the bones of over 4,000 friars and is definitely an overlooked and often unheard of attraction in Rome. It is open 9 am to 6:30 pm every day and costs only €5 each! Bargain! Not only is the series of six chapels hauntingly beautiful but you also get access to the museum that is devoted to the history and the development of the Capuchin Order.
Please be aware that this is a rather macabre stop, so not recommended for anyone claustrophobic or squeamish about death or human bones. Additionally, it is still the home of the Capuchin order so please dress appropriately, meaning knees and shoulder/chest must be covered!
The Galleria Borghese and Gardens
Next, we walked to the Borghese Gardens, which is a huge open space filled with massive green trees, serene lakes and energetic fountains. This led us to the Borghese Gallery. Costing €15 per person, the gallery is home to the most incredible collection of Bernini sculptures, including Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, David and Pluto and Persephone. There are also many famous paintings including Raphael.
If you walk towards the end of the Borghese gardens, you will come to the Terazza del Pincio which overlooks the Piazza del Popolo and provides fantastic panoramic scenes of Rome. Definitely a great way to end a busy day, sit, relax and watch the bright sun over the ancient city.
Rome Travel Itinerary: Day 6
September 6th: Train to Florence
The reason I don’t call this my 6-day trip to Rome is because we woke up really this day and took the train to Florence before the sun had properly set in the sky.
If you liked my post and want to find out more about my trip to Florence, check out my blog to find out more. Alternatively, see how much this trip ticked off of my Ultimate Travel Bucket List.