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How To Spend One Day In Rome

One Day In Rome Travel Guide

It is often said that Rome wasn’t built in a day; however, I managed to see it all in only one day. At the end of August, my semester abroad began in Rome. The streets were still full of tourists and the temperature was in the 90s. I managed to see most of this iconic city in only 24 hours by following this guide, which covers how to spend one day in Rome!

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Don’t have time to read the full guide? This is the BEST full-day Rome tour.

The Spanish Steps

Our day began by visiting the Spanish Steps. From the top of these steps, there is a breathtaking view overlooking the city, where even the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica is visible. Walking down the historic staircase will bring you to a marble fountain and the Spanish embassy, hence the name of the stairs.

View of Rome in one day from the top of the Spanish Stairs

Sitting on the Spanish stairs during our one day in Rome

The Pantheon & Piazza Navona

From here, head to the Pantheon in Piazza della Rotonda, a square that is perfect for enjoying a gelato and listening to music. The Pantheon was once built as a Roman temple and was later converted into a Catholic church. It’s dome was the largest in the world until the Duomo was built in Florence.

From here, walk to Piazza Navona, which is a big square with many fountains, artists, and musicians. It’s right around the corner from the Rotonda, allowing you to easily cross off two of the most iconic attractions during your one day in Rome. 

Piazza Navona during one day in Rome

The Colosseum & The Roman Forum

After a quick lunch, we had a guided tour of the Colosseum. As impressive as this famous ruin is from the outside, I highly recommend booking a tour of the inside. The guide will explain the various uses of the amphitheater overtime, including gladiatorial contests and simulated sea battles, where the entire structure was filled with water! If you plan on visiting Rome during the summer months, be prepared for very hot temperatures within the Colosseum. I would recommend booking a tour in the morning to avoid the heat and the crowds.

After touring the Colosseum, walk across the street to the ruins of the Roman Forum. The remains of the entire ancient city center are still visible, including Circus Maximus, the well-known chariot racing stadium, and the homes of several emperors.

If you take anything from this post, it’s that these two sights are absolute MUSTS during your one day in Rome! They’re touristy for a reason, but visiting them at the right time is key. For more helpful Rome travel tips, check out my complete guide here.

Photo of the Colosseum's exterior during one day in Rome

Photo of the Colosseum's interior in Rome, Italy

The Colosseum on a postcard held up in front of the actual Colosseum in Rome

The Trevi Fountain

Once our tour was over, my friends and I walked to the Trevi Fountain for our much anticipated Lizzie McGuire moment. It was extremely crowded, but we pushed our way to the front and took turns throwing coins into the water. Legend says you are destined to return to Rome if you stand with your back to the fountain and hold a coin in your right hand and throw it over your left shoulder. There just so happened to be a Venchi gelato shop in the same plaza as the fountain — don’t miss it!

After we were done eating, we returned to our hotel to rest before dinner at Centro. This restaurant had the most amazing salads and pasta, and is conveniently located near the Roma Termini station.

Pro-tip: A quick word about the trains in Italy — Make sure you stamp your ticket by inserting it into the validating machines before climbing on board! The bus is also a fantastic option! You can read all about the city’s bus routes in my Rome travel tips guide.

Throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

Posing in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome

Bonus: Day Two In Rome

Vatican City

The next day we toured Vatican City and the Vatican Museums, which consists of St. Peter’s Basilica, the museums, gardens, and the famous Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo. The Vatican is the smallest country in the entire world with only 1,000 citizens. It is enclosed by city-walls, governed by the Pope, and protected by Swiss guards. The Vatican mints its own euros, prints its own stamps, issues passports and licenses, and even has its own flag. When I visited the Vatican I toured St. Peter’s Basilica, which absolutely took my breath away. We only had a few hours at the Vatican before departing for our next destination. Luckily, I was able to spend a full day here when I visited Italy in 2014!

I highly recommend arriving to the Vatican early in the morning to avoid crowds. The Sistine Chapel is as beautiful as everyone says it is! However, it is usually very crowded and you aren’t allowed to take any photos.

Pro-tip: Try to visit the Vatican on either a Sunday or Wednesday to experience a blessing or a Mass with Pope Francis, and make sure to get there early to secure a spot! Also, if you purchase a souvenir in one of the many gift shops in the Vatican you can have the Pope bless it for you for free… an experience I would not pass up.

Photo of the Vatican facade in Rome

Photo from the inside of Vatican in Rome

Make sure to subscribe and follow me on instagram (@nicole.rosania) to follow my adventures! You can also check out my complete guide on what to see, eat, and do in Florence here. Enjoy Roma!

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Rome travel guide

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