Welcome to the Eternal City and vibrant capital of Italy! From the Colosseum to the Pantheon and Vatican City, this Rome 5-day itinerary is perfect for first-timers and is ideal for any time of the year. It will show you all the best things to do and guide you through everything you need to know to make your Italian city break unforgettable.
I visited Rome at the end of December with my partner Matt, and I truly fell in love with this city. It was a beautiful discovery, and I was amazed by its culture and history and loved wandering through its narrow streets. I could not recommend you visit it enough, even for a few days!
In this 5-day travel guide, I share the best itinerary covering the top attractions in Rome so you can make the most of your time away. I also provide you with easy eco-tips for travelling responsibility. Enjoy!
My Rome experience: Duration 5 Days Dates visited Dec 29 - Jan 4 Season Winter
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- Overview: how to see Rome in 5 days
- Rome 5-day itinerary – Map
- Rome travel tips: things to know before you go
- Detailed itinerary: 5 days in Rome
- Day 1 – The Ancient Rome
- Day 2 – Vatican City
- Day 3 – The Roman Forum & Pantheon
- Day 4 – Trastevere
- Day 5 – Piazza di Spagna & Villa Borghese
- Cooking experiences I recommend
- My top 6 pizzerias in Rome
- How to get to Rome
- How to get around Rome
- Where to stay in Rome
- Best time to visit Rome
- Sustainable travel in Rome
- Rome travel planning guide
- 5 days in Rome, Italy – FAQ
Overview: how to see Rome in 5 days
- Day 1: Colosseum, Altare Alla Patria & Trevi Fountain
- Day 2: Vatican Museums, Chapel Sistine & St Peter’s Basilica
- Day 3: Roman Forum, Pantheon & Piazza Navona
- Day 4: Trastevere, Piazza Santa Maria & Janiculum Hill
- Day 5: Piazza di Spagna, Piazza del Popolo & Villa Borghese
Rome 5-day itinerary – Map
Click on the top left of the map to display the list of stops and locations.
Rome travel tips: things to know before you go
- Book tickets for popular attractions in advance.
- Avoid tourist restaurants.
- Always carry cash.
- Wear comfortable shoes to walk around.
- Bring a reusable water bottle to refill anywhere.
- Prepare your itinerary, but do not over plan.
- Do not try to see the Vatican and Colosseum on the same day.
- Keep museum closures in mind.
- Buy bus tickets before boarding.
- Museums are free every first Sunday of the month.
Shop the printable travel itinerary
Plan your dream city break & live a unique green experience in Rome.
Detailed itinerary: 5 days in Rome
This Rome guide covers all the best things to do and see in 5 days and is perfect for travelling with family, friends or as a couple, whether it is your first time in the city or you have been there before.
On the other hand, remember that this itinerary is only a guide with recommendations. You can spend more days in the Italian capital or add other stops to your trip.
READ MORE: Rome Winter Guide: 10 Magical Things to Do
Day 1 – The Ancient Rome
1- Visit the Colosseum
We began our journey with the Colosseum (Colosseo). I was super excited to discover this impressive monument, and I could not stop thinking about the film Gladiator (we watched it the next night).
Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Colosseum is an iconic ancient Roman structure located in the heart of Rome. Built during the Flavian dynasty, it was completed in 80 AD.
This colossal amphitheatre, made of concrete and sand, could accommodate 50,000 to 80,000 spectators and was renowned for hosting gladiator contests, animal hunts and other public spectacles.
With its distinctive oval shape and imposing exterior adorned with arches and columns, the Colosseum is a testament to the skills of Roman engineering and is a globally recognised symbol of ancient Rome – a must-visit on your city break!
UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES I RECOMMEND
Once there, I was not disappointed – the outside looked incredible! However, even though we had booked our tour tickets in advance, we had to wait in a long queue to collect them, so I recommend arriving early in the morning.
Inside, we used audio guides to help us better understand the history of the Colosseum. You can also book a tour with a guide, but we wanted to do that ourselves. Plus, the audio guide will explain which way to go.
The inside of the Colosseum was just as impressive as the outside. I could not believe gladiators were fighting there more than 2000 years ago! I also could not believe the monument was still in such good condition – it is something you must see!
2- Discover Vittorio Emmanuelle II Monument
After finishing our tour, we went to eat and, unfortunately, it was too late for the Roman Forum (Foro Romano). Instead, we visited the Vittorio Emmanuelle II Monument (Altare alla Patria), an impressive building in terms of size, especially considering how long ago it was built!
The Victor Emmanuel II Monument, also known as Altare della Patria, is a grandiose national monument. Completed in 1925, it was erected in honour of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy.
The monument is characterised by its massive white marble structure, grand staircase and an imposing central equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II. It is also home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, symbolising the Italian soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.
With its neoclassical design, the Victor Emmanuel II Monument is a prominent landmark you should not miss. In addition, it offers panoramic views of the city from its terraces – especially great at sunset!
🎟️ Book your entrance to the terrace: Panoramic Glass Elevator Ticket with Audio App.
I was amazed each time we passed it during the week. We did not visit the museum part but went up into the building to admire the view.
You can also go on the roof with an elevator, but we found it a bit expensive for what it was (10€), especially when you already have a beautiful view for free.
3- Marvel at the Forums
We then walked down Via dei Fori Imperial to discover other Forums, including the Forum of Trajan, Forum of Augustus and Forum of Nerva. You can not go inside them, but you can often get quite close, and it was still lovely to see. It is something completely different from things you can see in other cities!
Via dei Fori Imperiali is a grand boulevard in the heart of Rome, connecting the Colosseum to Piazza Venezia. Built by Benito Mussolini in the early 20th century, it runs alongside the ancient Roman Forum and passes by several important archaeological sites, including Trajan’s Forum and the Imperial Forums.
I would recommend taking the time to see the Trajan’s Forum, a monumental complex built by Emperor Trajan between 107 and 113 AD. It consists of a large open space surrounded by a series of impressive buildings, such as the Basilica Ulpia, Trajan’s Column and Trajan’s Market.
The entire complex is a remarkable example of Roman imperial architecture and is considered one of the most significant and well-preserved forums from antiquity.
🎟️ Book your tour: Trajan Markets Experience with Multimedia Video.
4- Admire the Trevi Fountain
Finally, we ended our day with the magnificent Trevi Fountain. On our way, everything was quiet, and suddenly it was there, in a small place.
The Trevi Fountain is a renowned Baroque masterpiece located in the historic centre of Rome. Completed in 1762 by architect Nicola Salvi, the fountain is a grandiose structure adorned with elaborate sculptures and reliefs.
The central figure represents Oceanus, the god of the sea, riding a chariot pulled by seahorses and tritons. The fountain is not only a captivating artistic display but also a popular and iconic attraction for travellers from around the world.
The blue colour of the water and the white status made it really special. Unfortunately, it was so crowded, but we still managed to make our way to the fountain. We did not throw a coin in, but you can do it – it is a tradition and brings luck!
🎟️ Book your tour: Uncover the Trevi Fountain and Underground Tour.
Day 2 – Vatican City
Vatican City is one of the emblems of Rome. We started to walk to the Piazza San Pietro, and the crowd was very impressive. Fortunately, we pre-booked tickets for a guided tour of the Vatican Museums and The Sistine Chapel, which made us skip the queue.
1- Tour the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
The Vatican Museums constitute one of the most extensive and impressive art collections in the world. Established by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, the museums house an array of masterpieces, sculptures and historical artefacts accumulated by different popes over the centuries.
Notable highlights include the Sistine Chapel with the iconic frescoes by Michelangelo, the Raphael Rooms and the Gallery of Maps. The Vatican Museums are undoubtedly an experience to add to your bucket list, as they offer a rich journey through the history of art and culture.
UNFORGETTABLE TOURS I RECOMMEND
Our guided tour was very helpful. Without it, I would have had no idea where I was or what I was observing. Moreover, it was not too long – I love museums but in small doses.
The Museums were gorgeous, and we were lucky enough to see some beautiful masterpieces by Michelangelo.
The Sistine Chapel was a masterpiece in itself. I did not even know where to look. And I was delighted to admire The Last Judgement by Michelangelo – a wonder. Unfortunately, you can not take photos.
2- Explore St Peter’s Basilica
After the tour, we continued our way to St Peter’s Basilica, a key religious and cultural landmark worth the visit, despite the crowd!
Small tip: where you are inside the Sistine Chapel, instead of turning left at the end, turn right and continue to the Basilica (for free).
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest and most significant churches in the world. Designed by architects including Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, it constitutes a masterpiece of Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
The basilica is built atop the traditional burial site of Saint Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, and is a major pilgrimage site. Its notable features include the iconic dome, the Baldacchino canopy over the papal altar and numerous works of art, including the Pieta by Michelangelo.
UNFORGETTABLE TOURS I RECOMMEND
We started our visit with the top: the Dome, designed by Michelangelo. You have the choice to take the elevator and some stairs, or only the stairs (good luck). The effort was totally worth it, and the view of Rome and the Piazza San Pietro was gorgeous.
After enjoying the scenery, we went back down and visited the inside of the Basilica, which was also beautiful.
We finished our day with the Piazza San Pietro by night: the colours were magical with the Christmas atmosphere.
Day 3 – The Roman Forum & Pantheon
1- Visit the Roman Forum
Since we did not have time to do the Roman Forum on the first day, we decided to go back on the morning of the third.
The Roman Forum, located in the heart of ancient Rome, is a vast archaeological site displaying the remains of a once bustling centre of political, religious and commercial activities. It served as the focal point of the city for over a millennium, with structures such as the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus and the Senate House.
Surrounded by ruins, columns and triumphal arches, the Forum provides a vivid glimpse into the civic life and architectural grandeur of ancient Rome. It stands as a remarkable testament to the historical and cultural significance of the city.
I was amazed at all these ruins and how people lived before us. We used a map given at the entrance to understand what was there and where we needed to go. We also had a stunning view of the Colosseum and hiked on top of Palatine Hill.
2- Enter the Pantheon
We then headed to the Pantheon, a testament to the ingenuity and skill of ancient Roman builders. It is free and an attraction you need to see!
The Pantheon is a magnificent ancient temple and one of the best-preserved buildings from antiquity. Originally built by Emperor Hadrian around 126 AD, it was dedicated to all the gods of ancient Rome.
It is renowned for its massive dome with an open hole at the top, allowing natural light to illuminate the interior. Its classical design and engineering marvel make it a significant architectural landmark, and it continues today to be used as a Roman Catholic church, known as Santa Maria ad Martyres.
BOOK YOUR ENTRANCE
It was impressive to admire an Ancient Rome monument (the best-preserved) in the heart of the capital. The inside was also unique, with its architecture and hole in the middle of its cupola (we could not help but wonder how they made it).
The hole in the cupola (7,8m in diameter) is the only source of light and represents the connection between the temple and the Gods above (the Pantheon has a Greek origin, in fact, the word Pantheon means “honour all Gods”).
3- Stop by Church Saint-Louis-Des-Français
We continued walking to Piazza Navona and stopped on the way to the Church Saint-Louis-Des-Français (San Luigi Dei Francesi), a Catholic church dedicated to Saint Louis IX, the King of France
Built in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, the church is a fine example of Baroque architecture. One of its notable features is the Chapel of Contarelli, which houses three famous paintings by the Baroque master Caravaggio, depicting scenes from the life of Saint Matthew.
The interior was beautiful, like most churches in Rome. I recommend you go inside as many as you can, this is not something I usually do, but there is something special and unique about Romain churches. We were continuously amazed by their rich architecture and beauty.
4- Relax at Caffè Sant’Eustachio
On the way to Piazza Navona, we also stopped at a historic coffeehouse renowned for its traditional and high-quality espresso: Caffè Sant’Eustachio.
Founded in 1938, it has maintained a reputation for serving some of the best coffee in the city. The café is famous for its unique blend and preparation techniques, including the Gran Caffè method, using a special machine to create a smooth and rich espresso.
With its vintage ambience and a central location near the Pantheon, Caffè Sant’Eustachio is a popular destination for travellers seeking an authentic Roman coffee experience.
We enjoyed our café on the terrace as the weather was lovely – something I recommend.
5- Stroll through Piazza Navona
We then finally reached Piazza Navona, a picturesque square known for its Baroque architecture and vibrant atmosphere. Built on the site of the ancient Stadium of Domitian, the square is home to 3 beautiful fountains, including the famous Fountain of the Four Rivers by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Surrounded by charming cafés, restaurants and historic buildings, Piazza Navona is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike. The square is also often animated by street performers, artists and musicians, adding to its lively and festive ambience!
The atmosphere was great: children were playing, and there was a cute Christmas market in the middle. I also found in this place a great leather shop named Cartoleria Pantheon dal 1910 that I recommend you visit for the superb quality of its products.
We ended our day by wandering through the little streets toward the Tiber. It was one of my favourite things to do, just because of how beautiful and authentic these streets were, with small shops and lights everywhere – such a great atmosphere.
Day 4 – Trastevere
Trastevere is a charming and historic neighbourhood, located on the west bank of the Tiber River. Known for its narrow cobblestone streets, colourful buildings and lively atmosphere, it retains a distinct medieval character.
The area is popular for its vibrant nightlife, with its many restaurants, bars and artisan shops. It is also home to several remarkable churches, such as the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, contributing to its cultural and architectural richness.
I recommend taking the time to explore the area. Trastevere offers a delightful mix of local Roman life and bohemian vibes, making it a perfect place for a relaxing stroll.
🎟️ Book your tour: Trastevere Guided Food and Wine Tour with 20+ Tastings.
Trastevere was the area where we were staying, and one of the best for its active life and beautiful streets. We decided to have a chill day there, and for sunset, we walked on a hill by following the road Passeggiata del Gianicolo to have a beautiful view over the entire city.
Day 5 – Piazza di Spagna & Villa Borghese
1- Explore Piazza di Spagna
We started our day at the Piazza di Spagna, an iconic and bustling square dominated by the famous Spanish Steps, a monumental staircase designed in the 18th century.
At the foot of the steps is the Barcaccia Fountain, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s father, Pietro.
Piazza di Spagna is also surrounded by luxury boutiques, cafés and art galleries, making it a lively and fashionable area, particularly ideal for shopping lovers!
2- Visit Villa Borghese
We went down the stairs and walked to Piazza del Popolo. We could not find anything special to do there, so we went up to the Villa Borghese, a large public park.
Originally a private vineyard and garden of the Borghese family in the 17th century, it was later transformed into a public park in the 19th century. It now features lush greenery, walking paths, fountains and a lake, providing a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Within Villa Borghese, you will also find the Galleria Borghese, which houses an impressive art collection, including works by Caravaggio, Bernini and Raphael, making it a cultural haven amid the natural beauty of the park.
BOOK YOUR ENTRANCE
In addition, the park is a great place for families with children, as you can row boats on a small lake, visit a zoo or watch a play in front of a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. We also had a lovely coffee on the terrace of Casina del Lago.
For sunset and our last evening, we again went to the top of the Vittorio Emmanuelle II Monument. The beautiful colours over Rome made it the perfect way to end our trip and say goodbye to this incredible city.
Cooking experiences I recommend
My top 6 pizzerias in Rome
As you may know, Italy makes incredible pizzas, so we challenged ourselves to eat one daily and rate them.
Here are our favourite 6 pizzerias in Rome:
- Bottega Rocchi, near the Pantheon
- Dar Poeta, in Trastevere
- Il Bersagliere
- La Bruschetta E, near the Borghese Park
- Ristorante Pizzeria Imperiale, near the Colosseum
- CasaRita, in Trastevere
How to get to Rome
The best way to get to Rome will depend on where you come from and your budget, but there are many options to reach the Italian capital.
One of the quickest ways to get to Rome is by plane. If you are travelling from another country or a distant city, you will likely arrive at Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport (FCO), the primary international airport well-connected to major cities in Europe and the world.
Another airport serving Rome is Ciampino Airport (CIA), mainly used by budget airlines. From both airports, you can take a taxi, bus or train to reach the city centre.
One of the most eco-friendly ways to get to Rome is by train. Italy has an extensive and efficient rail network, and Rome is well-connected to major European cities by train. Its main train station is Termini Station, which you will find in the city centre.
Finally, the most affordable option for getting to Rome is by coach. It is a great way to reach the Italian capital if you are exploring Europe on a budget, but it may take longer. Several international and national bus companies operate services to and from Rome via its main terminal, Tiburtina Station. In addition, check out the Eurolines bus service.
How to get around Rome
The great thing about Rome is that it is not a big city so you can easily do everything on foot. That is what we did during our five days there, and it was perfect. And because it can get hot in summer, bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated! Rome has plenty of free fountains offering fresh and cold water.
Rome also has a vast public transportation network consisting of buses, a subway and trams. For example, we used the bus once to reach the Colosseum with the app Moveit. You can also use TicketAppy. It will help you book your ticket on your phone and avoid wasting paper.
Another great way to travel around Rome is by bike. It is ideal for slowing down and appreciating your surroundings. And if you need a boost, rent an electric bike.
Finally, if you want to explore outside of Rome, I would look at buses, trains or small guided tours – depending on where you want to go and for how long.
Planning a city trip to Florence? Check out this article: Florence Travel Guide: Epic 3-Day Itinerary
Where to stay in Rome
The best neighbourhoods in Rome
Are you looking for the best place to stay in Rome? Here is an overview of the top neighbourhoods in the Italian capital:
- Centro Storico: the best area for first-time visitors
- Trastevere: the best area for couples
- Piazza di Spagna: the best area for luxury hotels
- Monti & Colosseum: the best area for history lovers
- Prati & Vatican: the best area for a quiet stay
- Esquilino & Roma Termini: the best area to stay on a budget
- Testaccio: the best area for food lovers
- San Giovanni: the best area for local vibes
🏨 READ MORE: Where to Stay in Rome: 8 Best Areas (& Green Hotels)
My partner Matt and I booked an apartment on Airbnb for five days in Trastevere, an ideal location with everything within easy walking distance. Plus, the view was incredible! We were also lucky to have a small terrace on the roof to enjoy the view of Rome on sunny days.
Want to reduce impact on your trip? Check out this article: Sustainable Travel Guide to Rome, Italy
Best time to visit Rome
Spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) are the best times to visit Rome, as the weather is mild and pleasant with fewer crowds, which is ideal for sightseeing.
In spring, the city comes alive with blooming flowers and diverse events, making it an excellent time for exploring and enjoying outdoor activities. Autumn also enjoys beautiful colours and is a great time to experience the city without the intense heat of summer.
Summer (July to August) in Rome can be hot, with temperatures often exceeding 30°c. It is also the peak tourist season, so popular attractions can be crowded. But despite the crowds, this season offers longer daylight hours, allowing for extended sightseeing and enjoying outdoor cafés.
Winter (November to March) is relatively mild compared to some northern European cities, but it can be chilly and rainy. And whilst it is the low season, you can discover the capital without the crowds – except around Christmas! In addition, some attractions may have shorter opening hours.
I visited Rome at the end of December with my partner Matt, as we wanted to experience the unique city of Rome in winter and spend New Year’s Eve. I loved it! The atmosphere was incredible, and the temperatures were not cold (around 13 degrees). It was busy, and we struggled a bit from time to time, for the Colosseum, for example. Otherwise, everything was perfect. Just book your tickets in advance, and you will be fine!
Fancy an unforgettable Tuscan road trip? Check out this article: Tuscany Road Trip Guide: Perfect 3-Day Itinerary
Sustainable travel in Rome
Sustainable travel means exploring the world whilst being aware of your surroundings and having a positive social, environmental and economic impact on the places you visit.
But how to make your next trip to Rome more sustainable?
Here are some sustainable tips for responsible travel in Rome:
- Book direct flights and offset your carbon footprint. But, do not use carbon offsetting as a complete solution. Combine it with other sustainable practices, like avoiding single-use plastic on the plane and mindfully packing your suitcase to be ready for your green adventure.
- Choose direct flights to reach Rome as it generally requires less fuel than indirect flights. (Skyscanner has an option that only shows flights with lower CO₂ emissions).
- Select an eco-friendly accommodation. It is not always easy to determine whether a hotel has eco-conscious practices, but try to look on their website for green credentials. You can also use Bookdifferent to help you decide.
- Use public transport as much as possible or walk! Rome is easily accessible on foot, and you will not produce any emissions.
- Eat at local Roman restaurants that use produce from the region. It will contribute to the local economy and reduce the carbon footprint by supporting restaurants where food does not come from long distances.
- Always respect the local heritage. Treat people and their surroundings with respect. Sustainable travel is not only about the environment but also about the local communities. So, always be respectful and try to learn a few Italian words!
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
- The Complete Guide to Sustainable Travel
- 10 Best Reusable & Eco-Friendly Travel Mugs
- How to Plan the Ultimate (Eco-Friendly) Road Trip
- 10 Best Sustainable Backpacks for Eco-Travel
Download your free sustainable travel checklist ↓
Rome travel planning guide
Yes, buying insurance is always valuable when travelling abroad. Enjoy your city break to Rome stress-free with one of my favourite providers, Nomad Insurance.
Yes, tap water is safe to drink all over Rome. However, I also recommend travelling with the UltraPress Purifier Bottle, a lightweight filtered water bottle perfect for reducing plastic and staying hydrated.
Yes, renting a car in Rome is easy and is a great way to explore outside of the city freely. I recommend booking yours with Rentalcars.com – they offer a variety of operators for all budgets.
The best way to book your accommodation in Rome is with Booking.com – my favourite platform to compare and reserve places to stay each night, from affordable guesthouses to luxury hotels.
I recommend booking your plane with Skyscanner. It has been my favourite platform for years, as it allows me to book the cheapest flights whilst lowering my carbon emissions.
5 days in Rome, Italy – FAQ
4 days are the perfect amount of time to discover Rome and see the core sights of the city. It will allow you to spend time at the Colosseum, Vatican City, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the vibrant Trastevere – without rushing. Visiting big sites like the Colosseum or Vatican City takes time and energy – and we often had to push back what we had planned afterwards.
Rome has become one of the most expensive tourist destinations in Europe due to its high number of visitors and attractions. However, it also all depends on how much you decide to spend, and there are still a lot of local and authentic places for small budgets.
Spring (March to April) and autumn (September to November) are the best times to visit Rome. These months offer nice mild weather (summer is hot!) without too many tourist crowds, which is the perfect combination to enjoy the best of Rome.
The best way to get around Rome is on foot. Rome is a very accessible city, and many of the best attractions are concentrated together in traffic-free areas. If some places are a bit far from your accommodation, the other best modes of transport would be buses or taxis.
Yes, Rome is considered a safe destination for tourists, including in the evening. Of course, it is always a good idea to stay informed and use common sense. But Rome is a popular and much-visited city, and many tourists take advantage of their evenings to explore its bustling streets and dine in its charming restaurants.
Shop the Rome eco-travel bingo
Learn how to live an unforgettable experience in Rome whilst respecting places and locals.
And you, have you ever visited Rome or would you like to go one day?
Let me know in the comments below!
With love ♡