Follow my ultimate guide to 1 day in Rome because spending only 24 hours in Rome is like watching a movie on fast forward; you’ll see some scenes, but it’s hard to get the whole picture. Therefore, I’ve curated a list of sights to see that are easy to get to if you’re strapped for time. Some sites definitely require a few more days in the city (such as the Vatican museums or the Colosseum). And you must book tickets in advance. Nonetheless, you can enjoy a lot of the sights from the outside, giving you more time to try more gelato places.
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Book tours for the Vatican museums if you’re serious about seeing it. Don’t plan on getting up at 4 AM and lining up on the day of (yes, some travellers do that) to get in because you won’t.
Voltage: 230V. See my post on Essential Items to Pack in your Carry-on for tips on what plug adapters to buy.
Main International Airport: Rome-Fiumicino International Airport
Main Train Station: Roma Termini Station
Best Time to Visit: October to November or April to May (but book things ahead of time as tour guides tell me there hasn’t really been a “low” season after COVID).
Take the Leonardo Express train to the city centre in Rome from Rome-Fiumicino airport. The train leaves every half hour and is a comfortable and relaxing way to get to downtown. Of course you can always hail a taxi depending on where you’re staying and how many people you’re travelling with. Buy tickets online to save time, or you’re welcome to buy in person as well from the cashiers at the train station.
Where to Stay
A dormitory-style accommodation where you can book a bed in a room shared with other travellers. It’s in a convenient location steps away from the Termini train station and easy to find. It’s clean and practical, but you’re not getting much privacy and yes, you’ll share a toilet and bathroom with all the guests in the room (which can range up to 8 people per room depending on which room you get). It’s definitely for budget-conscious travellers who are OK with sharing.
This hotel is in an unbeatable location. But the price is a mighty splurge. The hotel is almost right next to the Colosseum, only about a 20-minute walk from the Roma Termini train station, and you’re also right next to the Domus Aurea hill. However, you’re still just far away enough from the tourist crowds to get a good night’s sleep. Now, the rooms are small and accommodates all the basics of a bathroom, shower, and a bed; don’t expect too much in terms of charm and space. It’s a clean, practical, and functional hotel and located in the best area for travellers.
Ultimate Guide to 1 Day in Rome: What to See and Do
Rome is easy to get around on foot, but they also have an extensive subway that’s easy to navigate. Rome subway has 3 lines but the 2 main ones, Line A and Line B, cover most of the city centre and lead to all the major attractions. See Rome Metro – Map, Routes, and Stations for more info on ticket prices and passes.
I recommend seeing some major attractions in Rome that you can enjoy from the outside if you’ve only got a day. Some of the sites listed below are definitely worth touring if you have a few more days because you’ll need to dedicate a few hours to really enjoy them.
Tour the Pantheon
An imposing structure with a round dome and a portico in the center. It’s currently a Catholic church and masses are held daily. It’s a humbling feeling to stand inside under the massive dome and to see light, or even rain, come through the open portico. Unless you’re attending mass, you’ll have to buy entry tickets online to get in.
Toss a coin in Trevi Fountain
The fountain of all fountains, Trevi fountain brings water to the city by collecting it from the aqueducts. Its sheer size and height is impressive (just like all other massive, imposing structures in Rome) but the size of the statues and the elegance of the horses in their wild poses (they look like they’re ready to gallop away) make the fountain a work of functional art.
Hike the Spanish Steps
Located in the Piazza di Spagna, the steps lead from the Trinità dei Monti church to the main square below. What’s so special about these steps and why bother coming here? It has beautiful architecture (like most ancient Roman buildings) and there are 135 steps you can walk up to see the church (great exercise after eating all that gelato). It’s a lovely sight and great for pictures, and besides, it’s easy to get to and admire if you only have a short time in the city.
Visit the Colosseum
There won’t be time to do a tour of inside the Colosseum if you only have a day (unless you’re willing to spend half a day just visiting the Colosseum, which is completely up to you of course!).
But you should definitely walk around the outside and try to catch it at night when all the arches of the Colosseum are lit up.
Stroll in the Domus Aurea
The hill next to the Colosseum is a big park with tree-lined paths and benches. It’s the site of one of Emperor Nero’s palaces as well (buy tickets in advance if you want to visit the museum). It’s a relaxing place to take a break from all the sightseeing. There’s also ancient ruins of a giant, ancient baths which you can walk by. You also get a great view of the Colosseum from between the conifer trees.
Ultimate Guide to 1 Day in Rome: Where to Eat
PIZZA EUROPA RUSTICA
A wonderful little joint for a quick snack or lunch. You order pizza by the 100g and flavours are widely varied. There’s mushroom pizza, pizza calabrese, fresh shrimp salad on pizza for seafood enthusiasts, and a dozen other flavours to try. They also serve pasta and roast chicken if you need a break from pizza. It’s a great joint for quick pizza that’s just as good as a sit down made-to-order restaurant.
For your main dinner meal in one day I recommend choosing one of the restaurants below to enjoy (unless you like to restaurant hop!).
I always try to vary the restaurants during my travels so as to try a bit of everything. Yes, pasta and pizza and lasagne in Italy is great, but there’s also great meat and seafood dishes to be had.
You must make reservations as the place is constantly full and we only got in because a large table cancelled ahead of us.
The portions are a bit bigger but the taste is brilliant. Try their fried cod, fried zucchini flowers, artichoke spread on toast, and their scamorza. Scamorza is almost a cheese fondue-like dish with pancetta and mushrooms. The dishes above are all appetizers, so dine with friends or family at this place to try everything.
For mains, the braised oxtail pasta is hearty and heart-warming. There’s also a pasta with zucchini and guanciale which was absolutely divine.
Now this place is perfect for pasta tasting. There are plenty of classic Roman dishes on the menu and the restaurant itself looks like a historical wine cellar. If you’re in a group, then a pasta tasting is highly recommended. You’ll get to try several classic Roman pasta dishes without having to down all the calories yourself.
Check their site for updates, but as of October 2023 they still had assorted pasta tasting options starting at 2 plates and going up to 9. The server recommended always starting with a smaller amount because they can’t stop the chef once he starts cooking! Order 3 or 4 pasta tasters to start and you can always add more tastings if you didn’t get enough.
The chef prepared us gnocchi with mussels, pasta carbonara, amatriciana, and cacio e pepe. And definitely order a bottle of their organic house wine as it’s made at a family plot of vineyards and tastes sublime.
A lovely outdoor fine dining spot with menus for each day of the week (and a general one served all the time). It’s a nice break from all the pizza and pastas. Try the veal and braised lamb along with the eggplant parmesan. They also serve a beautiful mixed seafood platter. Get it with artichoke hearts and a mixed salad on the side. I know I just said this place is a good break from pastas and pizzas, but their Spaghetti à la Felice is lovely and light.
And definitely order their tiramisu. The zabaione tiramisu was a clever take on a traditional tiramisu. It was decadent, satisfying, and extremely smooth.
GELATERIA DA CONSTANZA
(Via di S. Giovanni in Laterano, 40, 00184 Roma RM, Italy)
The. Best. Gelato. Ever. I had a zabaione gelato and it is THE smoothest gelato ever. The texture is perfectly creamy and delicious. Enjoy your gelato while sitting on a bench with a view of the Colosseum in front of you. It’s pure luxury.
My ultimate 1 day guide in Rome gives you an experience of Rome that’s only a drop of a drop of a drop in a bucket. Definitely return for a longer visit and if you toss a coin into Trevi fountain, it’s almost a guarantee you’ll be back.