4 Days in Rome itinerary – a detailed travel guide to what to do in Rome in 4 days, the best tours and day trips.
Rome is one of the most visited cities in Europe. It’s home to renowned masterpieces of art, ancient Roman ruins, centuries-old churches and mouth-watering food. It’s an inspiring city that you should visit at least once in your lifetime.
How many days in Rome
How many days do you need? Are 4 days in Rome enough?
The city is full of attractions and definitely can’t be seen in a day. You’ll encounter stunning churches, picturesque squares and fountains, great museums and Roman ruins at every corner.
The easiest way to get around the city is by using a hop-on-hop-off bus.
To tour the most popular sites you’ll need 3 or 4 days. Four days is the better option if you don’t like to be in a hurry and want to visit some museums.
This is the best way to taste the famous Roman cuisine.
My first trip to the Eternal City was for 3 days and it was exhausting. Although I had a detailed itinerary and booked in advance many of the tickets, I had no time to enjoy the city. Therefore, my next visit was for 4 days. It was a lot better. I managed to see the most popular sites again, plus a few off the beaten path.
So, if it’s possible I strongly suggest spending at least 4 full days in Rome. This is the perfect amount of time to explore and get the best of the city.
It’s a unique 4-star hotel with a perfect location – next to Piazza Navona.
What are the best days of the week to visit Rome
For me, the best days are from Monday to Friday including (arrive on Monday and leave on Saturday for example). If possible avoid the weekends, especially Sunday. There are a lot more tourists during the weekends, therefore you’ll spend more time waiting in lines.
Plus, some of the museums are free every first or last Sunday of the month and the crowds are unbearable.
iQ Hotel Roma – Best for families
A 4-star charming hotel in a safe area, only 300m away from the Termini Station.
9.4/10 Rating – See hotel images and 1,660+ guest reviews
Hotel Artemide – Best for couples
A 4-star boutique hotel with an excellent rooftop restaurant and a spa centre.
9.4/10 Rating – See hotel images and 1,580+ guest reviews
Primo Piano Suites – Apartments
Comfy and well-equipped apartments right next to Piazza Navona.
9.2/10 Rating – See apartment images and 800+ guest reviews
Find out more good hotels in where to stay in Rome.
How to save money on your 4-day Rome itinerary
The city is full of tourists at any time of the year. So even if you’re travelling out of the season, you need to buy tickets in advance. What’s worse is that for every ticket bought online there is a reservation fee added to the price.
The best way to save all this trouble (plus save some money) is with the Vatican & Rome City Pass.
The pass includes:
- free entry to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
- free entry to 2 attractions (including Coliseum, Palatine Hill, Borghese Gallery and Castel Sant’Angelo)
- fast track entry to St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums and Coliseum
- discounted entry to another 30 popular attractions
- free hop-on-hop-off bus tour
- travelcard for unlimited access to the public transport system
- detailed guidebook and map of the city
The pass is valid for 3 consequent days, so use it for the first three days of this itinerary. I’ve done the math for you, so you can see how much you’ll save by using it. Plus, you’ll get a fast-track entry to the most popular attractions. This will save you hours of waiting in lines.
By using the pass (€113 for 3 days) you will save minimum €21.
- Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill – €12 (+ €2 reservation fee)
- Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums – €28 (+ €4 reservation fee)
- Reserved entrance to St Peter’s Basilica with Audio Guide – €20.00
- Castel Sant’Angelo – €14 (+ €1 reservation fee)
- bus tour – €35
- 72-hour travelcard – €18
Total without the pass – €134
With the pass – €113
Total savings – €21
4 Days in Rome itinerary
How to see Rome in 4 days? With so many attractions and must-see places, it’s not easy to craft the perfect itinerary. Plus you need to book some tickets in advance unless you want to spend hours waiting in lines.
Follow this 4 days in Rome suggested itinerary to ensure that you’ll get the best of the city during your vacation. It includes the most popular attractions, the best places to eat and tips on how to avoid the crowds. Find a detailed map of the itinerary here.
Day 1: Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, Knights of Malta Keyhole, Trastevere
Day 2: Vatican Museums, Castel Sant’Angelo
Day 3: St. Peter’s Basilica, Pantheon, Doria Pamphilj Gallery, Altare della Patria, Piazza Navona
Day 4: Galleria Borghese, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
Day 1 – Roman ruins and Trastevere
Morning – Roman ruins
07:30 AM – 08:30 AM
Start your first day with a breakfast at 081 Caffè or Antico Caffe Del Brasile.
08:30 AM – 10:00 AM
Colosseum (Colosseo) is the largest amphitheatre in the world. Emperor Vespasian commissioned its construction in 72 AD. Colosseum was used for gladiatorial fights and it could accommodate up to 80,000 spectators. Romans even flooded it for boat battles.
Many gladiators found their death here. To be more precise over 500,000 people and twice as many animals. The last gladiatorial fight took place in 435 AD.
As one of the most famous city monuments, Colosseum is highly popular among tourists. You need to book your ticket in advance.
Another option to skip the lines is to book a guided tour of Colosseum.
Also don’t miss to see the Colosseum at night, when it’s beautifully illuminated.
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Palatine Hill (Palatino) is the ancient part of the city. In fact, it’s the birthplace of the Eternal City. According to the legends Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, lived in a cave here on Palatine Hill.
During the reign of Augustus, the Palatine Hill was a thriving place, a home to the wealthy Romans. You can still see the remains of the imperial palace of Augustus and his wife Livia.
Palatine Hill is huge and there is a lot to see. You’ll need more time compared to the Colosseum. And don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes.
12:00 PM – 02:00 PM
Stop for a lunch at Fuorinorma or Mizio’s Street Food. Fuorinorma is the perfect place to taste some wine, cheese and salami platter. For a quick lunch and awesome sandwiches, visit Mizio’s Street Food.
Afternoon – Trastevere
02:00 PM – 03:00 PM
The Roman Forum (Foro Romano) was the beating heart of ancient Rome. It was the centre of the political and cultural life of the city. All the important monuments, temples and courthouses were located here.
Today, you can still see the ruins of the royal residence, Temple of Saturn, Temple of Vesta and many other significant buildings.
Knights of Malta Keyhole
03:20 PM – 03:40 PM
Knights of Malta Keyhole reveals one of the most unique city views. When you peek through it, you’ll see the dome of St. Peter’s perfectly situated in its the centre.
The door in question leads to the Priory of the Knights of Malta. Therefore, the view shows three countries at once – Italy, Vatican and Malta.
However, the keyhole is not marked in any way. Just look for a green door at the intersection of via di S. Sabina and via di Porta Lavernale.
04:00 PM – 05:00 PM
Trastevere is the most picturesque district. Cobblestone streets, small markets and coffee shops, Roman trattorias, artisan workshops, it has it all. It’s the perfect place to wander and get lost.
If you look for some delicious Roman food, this is the place to go. The area is full of small and traditional restaurants and cafés, that serve mouth-watering food.
Finish the first day of the itinerary with a dinner at I Pizzicaroli Trastevere or La Tavernetta 29 da Tony e Andrea. For a lighter dinner with salami and cheese platter visit I Pizzicaroli Trastevere. If you look for a lavish meal, then La Tavernetta 29 da Tony e Andrea is your place.
Day 2 – Vatican Museums and Castel Sant’Angelo
Morning – Vatican Museums
08:00 AM – 08:30 AM
Start your second day with a breakfast at Sciascia Caffè 1919 or Forno Feliziani.
08:45 AM – 01:00 PM
Vatican City is the smallest state by area and population (800 people) in the world. Yet, it has its own post office and you can send a postcard from there to your friends!
It’s is an absolute monarchy ruled by the Pope. However, the popes haven’t lived always in the Vatican City. Their first home was the Lateran palace in Rome. At the beginning of the 14th century when a French Pope was elected, the papacy moved to Avignon.
When they returned to Rome 70 years later, the Lateran palace was in ruins. The popes decided to move to the Vatican City and since then it’s their home.
Although the state is small, it has the largest complex of museums in the world. They contain masterpieces of art and sculpture collected by the popes through the centuries. The most famous artwork is the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel that features the Last Judgment by Michelangelo.
You can see the art of Michelangelo brought to life by attending a light musical show in the Sistine Chapel.
How to visit the Vatican Museums?
Vatican Museums are huge and you’ll need days to see everything. It’s one of the most popular sites and the queues are huge even before the opening times.
In this way, you’ll get a fast-track entry and use a separate queue to enter. Do it as early as you can, as you have to choose a time slot and the ones in the morning are sold out quickly.
Moreover if possible, visit the museums early in the morning, because there are fewer people. Later in the day, there could be queues even for the fast-track entrance.
Other option to skip the lines is to book a guided tour of the Vatican, that also includes St. Peter’s Basilica.
The best day to visit the Vatican museums is Wednesday morning. This is only in case you don’t want to see the Pope. The Papal Audience takes places every Wednesday at St. Peter’s Square. So most of the tourists are at St. Peter’s Square at that time.
My advice is not to visit St. Peter’s Basilica after the Vatican Museums. Leave it for the next day, so you can go very early in the morning. The waiting lines for the basilica are outrageous. Yet, if you prefer to do both sites in one day, buy a reserved entrance for St. Peter’s Basilica, that also includes an audio guide.
01:00 PM – 03:00 PM
For one of the best pizza in the city, visit Ristorante dei Musei. If you prefer salami and cheese platter, go to The Loft. After lunch, try the gelato at Lemongrass (my favourite one).
Afternoon – Castel Sant’Angelo
03:00 PM – 05:00 PM
The Roman emperor Hadrian built the castle as a mausoleum for his family in 123 AD. However, its purpose changed several times over the centuries.
During his reign, Emperor Aurelian transformed the mausoleum into a military fortress. He also incorporated it in the city walls. The purpose of the fortress was to defend the northern entrance of the Eternal City.
In the 13th century, a covered fortified corridor (called Passetto di Borgo) was constructed. The corridor connects the Vatican City and the castle. You can take a glimpse of this secret corridor if you take the Angels and Demons tour.
From the beginning of 14th century, the papacy took control of the fortress and converted it to a castle. Papal apartments were built to ensure a comfortable stay in case of a siege.
Castel Sant’Angelo was also used as a prison. Many executions took place in its inner courtyards. This castle was the place where Benvenuto Cellini, Cagliostro and Giordano Bruno were imprisoned before their executions.
Nowadays the castle is a museum. It represents various exhibits, including Renaissance paintings, military weapons, furnishings and sculptures.
The castle took its name from the large statue of Archangel Michael, situated on the top of the building. According to the legends, the city was struck by plague in 590 AD that ended with the apparition of the Archangel Michael above the mausoleum.
To learn more about the history of this gorgeous place, take a guided tour of Castel Sant’Angelo.
Finish the day with a dinner at Wine Bar De’ Penitenzieri or La Fraschetta di Castel Sant’Angelo. Both restaurants serve authentic Italian food.
Day 3 – St. Peter’s Basilica and palaces
Morning – St. Peter’s Basilica
08:00 AM – 08:45 AM
Start the third day of the itinerary 4 days in Rome with some pastry and coffee at Bar Pasticceria Gelateria Parenti Silvano.
St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square
09:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Located in the Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world. It is also one of the four major basilicas in the Eternal City. Among them are – the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Santa Maria Maggiore and St. Paul outside the Walls. All the four basilicas are truly beautiful, so if you have enough time, don’t miss to visit them.
St. Peter’s Basilica is constructed on the burial site of Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. The first temple on that place was built in the 4th century by emperor Constantine the Great. In the 15th century after years of neglect during the period of the Avignon Papacy, the church was in a desperate need of restoration.
During the 16th century, Pope Julius II decided to build a new church in the place instead of repairing the old one. Bernini was entrusted with the interior of the basilica.
Some of the masterpieces he designed are the baldachin (a large bronze pavilion, beneath the dome), the throne of St. Peter and the tomb of Alexander VII. The throne of St. Peter is a large bronze throne, which enshrines a chair claimed to be used by the apostle.
One of the most famous monuments in the basilica is the Pietà. It is a marble sculpture of Mary holding the body of her dead son after the crucifixion. Michelangelo created the sculpture in 1499-1500. After a visitor vandalised this piece of art with a hammer in 1972, it is now protected by bulletproof glass.
Climbing the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica
If you want to climb the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, prepare yourself for a lot of stairs. You can skip the first part of the stairs by taking the elevator to the basilica’s roof level. From the roof level to the top the only option is to take the stairs.
The climbing of the rest 320 steps is not easy – the staircase is narrow and the walls are slanted. Also, it can become crowded and stifling. If you consider climbing the dome, do it before visiting the basilica, because after that you will exit directly in the church.
The entrance to the basilica is free, but you have to pay to climb the dome. Go as early in the morning as you can, because the waiting lines are enormous.
The dress code is very strict, so skip the shorts, bare shoulder tops and the miniskirts. You will be turned away at the entrance if you are not dressed properly. In addition, to enter the basilica you have to pass through airport-style scanners and security.
St. Peter’s Square is the place where the papal audience takes place every Wednesday. To attend the papal audience you need to reserve your ticket in advance.
11:45 AM – 01:30 PM
Stop for an early lunch at Likeat or Pane pane vino Ar Vino. Both places offer super tasty sandwiches.
Afternoon – Roman temples and palaces
01:30 PM – 02:00 PM
Continue this Rome sightseeing itinerary with a visit to the Pantheon. Pantheon is the best-preserved monument from Ancient Rome. Its exact construction date is unknown, but it’s considered that it was built in the period 27 BC – 14 AD.
The most fascinating feature of the Pantheon is its dome. It’s the largest unsupported dome in the world! Nowadays, this former Roman temple serves as a church.
To learn more about the history of this magnificent temple take a Pantheon audio guide tour.
Doria Pamphilj Gallery
02:15 PM – 04:00 PM
Doria Pamphilj Gallery is housed in a gorgeous palace that dates back to the 16th century. The gallery features one of the richest private art collection in Rome. Even if you aren’t into art, it’s worth visiting to see the lavish state apartments. There is a free audio guide, that is narrated by Jonathan Pamphilj himself. Today, Doria Pamphilj family still owns the palace.
Altare della Patria
04:15 PM – 04:45 PM
Altare della Patria is also known as National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II. It’s one of the most imposing buildings in the Eternal city. Altare della Patria is a monument built to honour the first king of Italy, Victor Emmanuel.
Don’t miss to take the lift to the panoramic terrace for some great city views.
While you’re in the area, take a look at the Trajan’s Column (Colonna Traiana). It commemorates the victory of the emperor Trajan in the Dacian Wars.
05:00 PM – 05:30 PM
Piazza Navona is a charming square and a popular meeting spot. It’s surrounded by small restaurants and there are regularly street artists.
Finish the day with a dinner at Mimì e Cocò or Osteria del Pegno.
Day 4 – Galleria Borghese and Trevi Fountain
Morning – Galleria Borghese
08:00 AM – 08:30 AM
Start your last day of this 4 nights in Rome itinerary with breakfast at D’Angelo Caffè or Trecaffè. Both coffee shops offer super tasty sandwiches and pastries.
08:45 AM – 11:15 AM
Galleria Borghese occupies the summer residence of the noble Borghese family. And it is a must-see for every art lover. Its amazing collection features artworks of Caravaggio and Bernini.
The tickets are always in high demand, as only 360 people are allowed in at a time. During the booking, you have to choose a time slot and the length of your visit can’t exceed 2 hours.
Other option to visit the museum is to book a guided tour of Galleria Borghese.
11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Spanish Steps is one of the most city emblematic spots. The staircase connects Piazza di Spagna with Trinità dei Monti Church. The Spanish Steps are truly beautiful in late April when they are decorated with 300 white and lilac azalea plants.
12:00 PM – 02:00 PM
Stop for some tasty panini and salad at Ami Bistrot or Burro e Alici.
Afternoon – Trevi Fountain
02:00 PM – 02:30 PM
Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) is the largest and most beautiful fountain in the city. It’s a must-see when in Rome. And don’t forget to throw out a coin over your shoulder in the fountain. This will ensure a return to the Eternal City.
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
02:50 PM – 03:30 PM
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the four major basilicas in the Eternal City. It’s an outstandingly beautiful church from the 5th century. The basilica is built on the same spot, where according to the legends snow has fallen in the summer of 358 AD.
I didn’t include many sites in the last day, so you can easily add a few extra by your choice from the suggestions below. Moreover, if you’re not an art lover, skip Galleria Borghese and take a day trip from Rome (check out the most popular ones).
Finish this 4 days in Rome itinerary with dinner at Ristorante Nerone or Colline Emiliane. Both are a perfect place to spend a wonderful last evening in the Eternal city.
What to do in Rome in 4 days – more ideas
Take a food tour in Testaccio
Testaccio is the place, where the original Roman cuisine was born. Therefore, no better place exists for taking a food tour. Take a Testaccio food tour and experience Rome as a local.
Tour the city in a different way
Become a gladiator
Train to be a gladiator at a school in Rome. Learn the basic techniques of sword fighting and find out more about how the gladiators lived in ancient Rome.
Archbasilica of St. John Lateran
Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is the most important of the four papal major basilicas. In fact, it’s the mother church of the Roman Catholic faithful. That’s why it’s called an archbasilica. St. John Lateran Archbasilica is also the oldest church in whole Europe.
Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls
Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls is located a little bit out of the city centre. However, it definitely worths a visit! It’s one of the four major basilicas and it’s stunningly beautiful. Decorated with gold mosaics and enormous marble columns is a feast for the eyes.
Church of the Gesù
Church of the Gesù is one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in the Eternal City. The most striking part of this 16th-century church is the ceiling fresco, that looks three dimensional.
Church of St. Louis of the French
Church of St. Louis of the French is another Baroque gem from the 16th century. It houses the three world-renowned canvases of The Calling of St Matthew by Caravaggio.
Largo di Torre Argentina
Largo di Torre Argentina is a square from Ancient Rome. You can see the remains of Theatre of Pompey and four temples from the 4th century BC. Moreover, it was the place where Julius Caesar was murdered.
Nowadays, the ruins are home to a large number of cats. There is even a cat sanctuary right next to Largo di Torre Argentina.
Baths of Caracalla
Going to baths was an important part of daily life of the Romans. It was a place to socialize, gossip and even discuss politics.
Baths of Caracalla were the largest thermal baths in the world during the 3rd century. In fact, Terme di Caracalla was a spa complex, that includes also reading and exercising areas, gardens and restaurants.
Although today only ruins are left from this place, you can still feel its splendour.
Palazzo Colonna is an art gallery that features leading Italian and foreign artists from the 15th-16th century. It’s a beautiful 14th-century palace still owned by the noble Colonna family. Unfortunately, this gorgeous place is open only on Saturday morning.
Villa Farnesina is a true masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance with its beautiful frescos and ceilings. It was built for the wealthy Sienese banker Agostino Chigi in the 16th century. Located in Trastevere, the villa is a little oasis away from the crowds of tourists. Keep in mind, that Villa Farnesina is open only in the mornings.
Capitoline Museums consist of two separate buildings – Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo. The collection mainly consists of statues, sculptures and paintings by renowned artists like Caravaggio, Rubens and Tiziano. Here you’ll also find the original statue of the Capitoline Wolf, the symbol of the city.
Protestant Cemetery (Cimitero dei protestanti) is the final resting place for all non-catholic citizens of Rome. It’s a beautiful and tranquil place filled with stray cats. The Protestant Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Europe and it’s still in use (almost 300 years after its opening). Here you’ll find the graves of the famous romantic poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Capuchin Crypt is a truly unique and fascinating place. When the monks from the Catholic order moved here they brought with themselves 300 cartloads of deceased friars. However, they didn’t rebury the skeletons. They used them to decorate the walls of the crypt, that consists of six chapels. More than 4,000 skeletons were sculptured in various mosaics. You can even see mummified monks, dressed in friar’s clothes!
To learn more about the fascinating history of the crypt, take a Rome crypts and catacombs tour.
Catacombs of Rome
The catacombs are a labyrinth of underground passageways, that are several kilometres long. They were used for burials from around the 2nd to the 5th century AD. After that, the catacombs were abandoned and suffered continuous lootings. There are more than 60 catacombs, but only five of them are open to the public.
Mouth of Truth
The famous Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità) is an ancient lie detector. According to the legends, if you put your hand inside and tell a lie, it will cut off your hand.
Most popular day trips from Rome
If you have a little extra time in the city, check out these awesome day trips.
Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius
This is the most popular day trip from Rome. Visit the infamous city of Pompeii, that was buried in ash and soot in 79 AD. Learn more about its final hours and tragic end of its citizens. Climb Mount Vesuvius and enjoy breathtaking views of the area. The tour includes all entrance fees, an expert guide and a lunch.
4.7/5 Rating – See details and 880+ reviews
Villa D’Este and Hadrian’s Villa Tivoli
These are the two most impressive Renaissance villas in the city’s outskirts. You’ll have the chance to visit the magnificent state mansions and see the spectacular gardens. The admission fees are included in the price of the tour.
4.8/5 Rating – See details and 500+ reviews
Discover the medieval hill towns in the countryside of Tuscany. Visit the Sant’Antimo Abbey and the ancient city of Pienza. In addition, you’ll enjoy a typical Tuscan lunch along with some local wines.
4.7/5 Rating – See details and 110+ reviews
Getting around Rome
The best way to get around the city is by using the subway or hop-on-hop-off buses.
The public transport tickets are one and the same for metro, buses and trams. The single ticket is valid for a 100min. journey and you can switch bus lines.
Don’t forget to validate your ticket on the ticket machine inside the buses and trams. As for the metro – your ticket will be automatically validated when you pass through the barriers.
There are also 24, 48, 72 hour and weekly passes. You can buy them from any metro station, major bus stops or tobacco shops.
How to get from the Rome airports to the city centre
There are two main airports – Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO) and Ciampino Airport (CIA). If you have a very early or late flight, City Center Luggage Storage is a great option to leave your luggage.
Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport is located south-west of the city. It is the main international airport. There are several ways to get to the city centre:
- the easiest one is to book a private transfer directly to your hotel. I love Welcome Pickups because they are always on time and very helpful.
- take a shuttle bus (there are 2 stops – Termini Station and Piazza Cavour for the Vatican City)
- take the Leonardo Express train to Termini Train Station (trains every 15 minutes)
Ciampino Airport is located next to Ciampino city, south-east of Rome. It is the city’s low-cost airline airport. The most convenient ways to get to the city from there are:
Find more self-guided walking tours and historical insights in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Rome.
Visitors often combine Rome with:
- Florence – the gorgeous capital city of Tuscany, Italy. It’s only 1h 30m away by train. Check out the best hotels in Florence.
- Naples – a charming city located next to Pompeii. It’s also the birthplace of Pizza Margherita! You can get to Naples is less than 1h 30min by train. For accommodation check out these lovely hotels in Naples.