- From Short Trips to Traveling the World & Living Abroad -

24 Hours in Rome, Italy: What to See & Do

The Highlights of Rome in One Day

I had the pleasure of spending the rainy months of January and February living in Rome so I know the city reasonably well. And even though it rained a lot and was quite a bit colder than I imagined romantic Rome to be, I fell in love with the city.

A few weeks ago I boarded my impossible flights: I was traveling from the Netherlands to Tokyo, Japan, but for some reason the cheapest flight (and if you travel as often as I do you value cheap flights…) would take me first to Rome and then to Tokyo 19 hours later.

Also Read: How to Find the Cheapest Flights

So I decided: why not? I’ll just jump on a bus from the airport and then I’ll have almost one day in Rome to revisit some of my favorite places…

What Is It About Rome?

One of the things I love about Rome is that, as long as you are staying somewhere in the center, you can walk anywhere. Ok, you have to enjoy walking because from one end of the center to the other end might take you 40 minutes, but I found that doable and loved it!

Rome is such a beautiful, old city with such a rich history. I feel there is something new to discover around every street corner…

And yes, even if you are not all that much into history I guarantee that you will love the streets of Rome. Beautiful old buildings, narrow streets leading up to hidden squares and all those lovely romantic restaurants and cozy bars…

What to Do in Rome in 24 Hours?

Ok, so I had barely 24 hours in Rome, to enjoy it to the fullest and of course to revisit some of the well-known sights.

And yes, I would say you need much more than one day in Rome to really explore this city. But if you ever end up in Rome for just 24 hours (or so) then this is what I would recommend you to do:

One Day in Rome Itinerary

First of all, if you are traveling to Rome from either Fiumicino or Ciampino airport, pre-book your bus ticket through Terravision (Terravision.eu24 Hours in Rome, Italy: What to See & Do) for both your way into and out of Rome.

The bus is comfortable and an easy way to get in and out of the city and when you pre-book you save both time (not having to wait in line) and money (you get an online discount).

The Terravision bus drops you off at Termini, the central train station. From there you can easily walk into the city or take a taxi if your hotel is located a bit further away.

Drop off your bags and start exploring!

If you arrive late afternoon or early evening then I would say start with an aperitivo in the neighborhood called Trastevere (map).

Ok, probably a bit of a walk from wherever you are staying so you might want to ask your hotel how to get there by public transport or check this website: www.rome.info/transportation

But Trastevere is such a lovely area and going for an aperitivo (just pick any of the bars, you can’t really go wrong) is what the locals do so it will make your Rome experience just that little bit more authentic…

24 hours in Rome: what to see & do - Aperitivo in Trastevere
Don’t miss the aperitivo in Trastevere – 24 hours in Rome, Italy

Aperitivo is meant as a pre-dinner meet-up, often offered in bars between 7 and 9pm, where normally you pay a set price for any one drink (have a good cocktail or a lovely glass of wine) and unlimited food…

Although officially Aperitivo is not supposed to replace dinner and any real Italian is probably going to hate me for saying this but most places in Rome offering Aperitivo serve such a great selection of food with it that it has replaced many of my dinners in Rome…

And, most importantly, it’s a great way to experience Rome’s local culture, to people-watch, to unwind with a drink after work or after a long day of sightseeing…

Spend the rest of the evening and any time you have before dinner roaming the streets and checking out a few of the must-sees in Rome:

What to See in Rome in One Day

1. The Colosseum and Roman Forum

What to see & do in Rome in 24 hours - colosseum in Rome, Italy
24 hours in Rome – Colosseum

The Colosseum, the largest amphitheater in the world, is THE image of Rome and a truly beautiful sight.

Only a short walk from the Colosseum you’ll find the Roman Forum: now some impressive ruins but for centuries the center of Roman public life. The area attracts a nice crowd in the evening (and during most days) and you’ll often find live music here.

Tip: To save time, and the annoyance of waiting in line, you can book a skip-the-line tour of the Colosseum.

2. The Spanish Steps

What to see & do in Rome in 24 hours - Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy
24 hours in Rome – Spanish Steps

This monumental stairway might get a bit too crowded at times so don’t dedicate too much time to them but do walk up the steps to enjoy the view and the Trinità dei Monti church at the top of the stairs.

3. The Trevi Fountain

What to see & do in Rome in 24 hours - trevi fountain rome italy
Rome in 24 hours – Trevi Fountain

The Trevi fountain is one of those other well known images of Rome.

This is about the most crowded area in Rome but despite all the tourists, the area around it (when facing the fountain turn right and walk up the street) is really a very pretty area with lots of nice restaurants.

4. Piazza Venezia

What to see & do in Rome in 24 hours - piazza venezia, Rome, Italy
Rome in one day – Piazza Venezia

The Piazza Venezia is a very centrally located square, so you will probably end up here without even trying.

The Palazzo Venezia is a very impressive building and if you end up here during the day it is worth having a quick look inside.

5. The Pantheon

What to see & do in Rome in 24 hours - Pantheon, Rome - must visit
24 hours in Rome – Pantheon

The Pantheon is the largest non-reinforced concrete dome in the world.

It is free to enter and located next to a lovely, very lively square (Piazza della Rotonda) and a great area for lunch or dinner.

24 Hours in Rome

Yes, sorry, if you only have 24 hours in Rome you probably will have to skip the Vatican. But, if you have a little more time then the Vatican cannot be missed! 

Have Breakfast Like an Italian

The next morning, try to get up early and start the day like the Italians do: with a good Cappuccino!

There’s not much more to their breakfast than that, unfortunately. They might grab a croissant or some other sweet pastry with it but that’s about it.

So, keep your breakfast short and sweet and spend the rest of your time exploring the sites you weren’t able to visit the day before.

And if somehow you have already seen all the sights, then you are privileged enough to be able to explore the real Rome… Just roam the streets, walk away from where the tourists are going, stop to look at all the amazing buildings and I assure you, you will have a great morning!

Grab a final slice of pizza to go or one of those lovely fresh sandwiches with prosciutto or flavorful mozzarella and then, wishing you could stay much longer, get ready to leave this incredible city.

Tip: If you only have limited time in Rome and want to see as much as possible, the hop-on hop-off bus is a great option.

Best Time to Visit Rome

When I was in Rome in January it was cold and rained frequently. Not ideal you’d say and I, absolutely hating the cold, would normally agree. But in January I saw the Spanish Steps empty, I remember walking around Rome one evening thinking the city was deserted: for those few hours the city was mine… quiet, breathtakingly beautiful and the romantic city people described…

When I visited in May the weather was perfect: not too hot to walk around during the day but nice and sunny with little to no rain. Unfortunately, that is what most people enjoy and therefore the streets were packed. Day and night. Hotel rates go up and the city starts to feel like an overcrowded tourist trap. Rome is one of the best places to visit in Italy and therefore it does get crowded.

So, for good weather visit Rome during Spring or Fall. But, if you want Rome to yourself… go when it’s cold and rainy!

I hope you will enjoy Rome, even if you have to see Rome in 1 day!

Also Read:

Like this article about what to see & do in Rome in 24 hours? Pin it!

24 Hours in Rome: What to see & do. Highlights not to miss in Rome on a short visit. #Rome #visitRome #citybreak #traveltips

This post about 24 hours in Rome contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using these links it might buy Spend Life Traveling a cup of coffee at no extra cost to you. This way we can stay awake to continue publishing travel articles for you. Thanks!

Sanne Wesselman

Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing.
I spend most of my time living and working abroad and use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.

7 thoughts on “24 Hours in Rome, Italy: What to See & Do”

  1. Hi Michelle,
    That’s a good question… I think if I had a private guide in Rome I would do one of two things: I would either use their local knowledge to show me more “off-the-beaten-path” things (there is so much beauty in Rome and many buildings, statues, etc have stories worth hearing about) or I would have them help me jump queues. If you want to enter the Colosseum, Vatican, etc you can end up in queues for hours. The guide can show you how (by paying extra) you can jump these and help you decide for which ones that is most important.

    Have a great time in Rome and on your cruise!

  2. I am going to Rome in June to jump on a cruise but have about 36 hours. I booked a private guide for the first day and we will do our own thing on the next day before we get on our boat.
    My question is, which of the above would you say ” use your private guide” vs “you can do yourself”
    We only have our guide for 4 hours.

  3. Thank you for all the information. Wanted to give a tip to who is in Rome the first Sunday of the Month, that the Colosseum is completely FREE. There is a Colosseum Free Tour. You can book the tour through eventbrite: search for “Colosseum Free Tour” or you can also book through the website: Colosseumfreetours.com
    Thank you

  4. Wow 24 hours seems like such a small amount of time. Rome has so much to offer but, thanks for narrowing down the best places. I’m sure to keep them in mind!

  5. I’m going to Rome in April this year for the first time! Thanks for sharing this I’ve pinned as a reminder of everything I should do!


Leave a Comment