Rome Italy is one of the most popular places in Europe for travelers. Also known as The Eternal City, it’s full of historical landmarks, beautiful architecture, incredible art, and of course the delicious Italian food. There’s so much to do and see in this city that you may be having a hard time trying to narrow down what you should do. I’ve created the perfect 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary so you won’t have to.
Located in Europe, Rome is the capital of Italy. Founded nearly 3000 years ago, Rome was where the beginning of one of the largest empires in the ancient world began: the Roman Empire. It’s control stretched throughout Europe, Northern Africa, and into western Asia. Ancient Rome has significantly contributed to the world in ways that can still be seen today. Religion, technology, law, government, and architecture are just a few of ancient Rome’s contributions. Eventually, the empire would fall after 2200 years in power.
Can you see Rome in 4 days?
Is it possible to really see Rome in just 4 days? Yes, it is definitely possible! Will you get to see all of it? Unfortunately, no. Rome has so much to offer through it’s historical landmarks and museums that 4 days is truly not enough time to see it all. But with a good organized plan, like my Perfect 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary, you will definitely get to see the main attractions and get to know this beautiful city. You could spend a whole day just wandering through streets and alleys marveling at the architecture. I’m sure you will fall in love with Rome and come back again to see more!
Getting to Rome
If you’re flying from another city, you will likely arrive at Rome Airport Fiumicino (FCO)/Leonardo Da Vinci Airport. The airport is located about 30km or 19m from the center of Rome. Once you arrive, you will have to get some form of transportation to the city. There are several options for that.
*NOTE: if you think you need to rent a car while in Rome, you don’t. It’s not necessary at all. Save your money and just let someone else do the driving.
The easiest and most budget friendly way to get from the Airport to Rome, is by train. Luckily, the airport has a train station that takes you straight to the city center. The train leaves every 15 minutes and only takes about 30 minutes to reach Rome. To get to the train, you head to Terminal 3. Just follow the signs for the train which is about a 10 minute walk. Once you get to the station you’ll need to choose a train. You have 2 options.
- Leornado Express: This train goes straight to the Termini Station in the center of Rome and doesn’t make any stops anywhere. It takes about 30 minutes and costs €14. This train runs from 6:23am to 11:23pm
- Regional Train: This train makes three other stops before reaching Rome. The Regional Train’s stop in Rome is called Tiburtina Station. This station is located in the western area of Rome and it takes about 1 hour to reach the station and only costs €8. If your hotel is located close to the Tiburtina Station then this would be a good option.
You can take a taxi from the airport to Rome and it will take you straight to your hotel. Unfortunately, you can expect to pay a lot for this. The price of a taxi will start at €50. It’s a good option if you’re sharing the taxi with at least 3 other people, assuming that all of your luggage can fit into one taxi.
There are several bus companies that offer services to Rome. They all go from the airport to the Rome Termini Station in central Rome and it only costs about €5-7, which is about half the cost of the train. However, it does take about 1 hour and you will have to wait for everyone to get on. The bus stations are near Terminal 3 so look for the signs. Make sure you go to the restroom and grab snacks before heading out to the station because there are none out there. Just look at their bus schedules at the link above to pick the one that you want.
Now that you made it to Rome, let’s jump into what you should do while you’re here. This Rome Italy itinerary is assuming you have 4 FULL days. So day 1 will start on your second day in Rome. If you arrived early in the morning on your first day then feel free to adjust the schedule and pick something to do on that day or add something else to your schedule. There’s no shortage of things to see in Rome!
*Tip for sightseeing in Rome: Getting up early will always help you avoid big crowds. The first site on the itinerary for the day should be done when the site opens or you’ll be dealing with a lot of people. And, morning light is always so good for photos!
DAY 1: Perfect 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary
For Day 1 of the Rome Italy Itinerary you’re going to hit the major sites of ancient Rome. Make sure you grab some snacks and water because it’s going to be a full day. You’ll be going to the Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, Palatine Hill, The Roman Forum, Capitoline Hill, the Capitoline Museums, and Vittoriano and Palazzo Venezia. If there’s something on the list you’re not interested in, feel free to skip it.
First up on day 1 of the Rome Italy itinerary is the Colosseum. The Colosseum is open 7 days a week, 364 days a year, only closed for Christmas. The Colosseum opens at 8:30am and closes between 4:30pm and 7:15pm, depending on the month. Around 19,000 people a day visit the Colosseum so you HAVE to reserve tickets. There’s several ways to do that.
Ticket Option 1: Purchase and explore on your own
Option 1: Go straight to the official Colosseum website and reserve/pay for them online. You will pick an entry time for the Colosseum (you should pick 8:30am) and you need to show up 15 minutes before your scheduled time at the entrance gate. This ticket is €18 and gives you access to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, The Roman Forum, and the Imperial Forum. You only need to show up at the Colosseum at your reserved time. You have a one time access to all the others for 24 hours.
Ticket Option 2: Purchase a Roma Pass
Option 2: You can purchase a Roma Pass that is valid for 72 hrs (perfect!) for €52. The Roma Pass will get you entry into the Colosseum (you still have to reserve your time), Palatine Hill, and The Roman and Imperial Forums. You also get another free entry to another site. You can choose to use it at the Capitoline Museums, which is on the list for today, or something for another day. The list of options for the 2 free sites are here. Just make sure to check whether or not you need to make a reservation for your other choice.
You do not need to use both free entries in one day. You have 72 hours to use it. The Roma Pass will also get you reduced entry into dozens of other sites (listed on the Roma Pass website), a map with the locations of all the places the Roma Pass can be used, and free transportation on public buses and the subway.
Ticket Option 3: Book a Tour
Option 3: Another way to see the Colosseum is through a tour. There are a ton of options through numerous companies so I’ll only list a few here that are well trusted. With a guided tour you get the knowledge of the guide telling you about everything you’re looking at. The first place to book a tour is through Get Your Guide. You can choose a tour with a guide for the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum or maybe you want access to restricted areas such as the underground area of the Colosseum. The prices vary depending on what you want so read through your options.
Ticket Option 4: Buy a multi-site pass
Option 4: A fourth option for tickets is a site called Tiqets. I have not used this site but I definitely plan to on my next visit to Rome. For $125 you get access to 5 different things, including the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum. You also get access to the Day 3 itinerary, The Vatican Museums, Sistene Chapel, and a guided tour of St Peter’s Basilica. To me, this is a steal!
Arch of Constantine, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum
Okay, after you see the Colosseum, feel free to take a break and grab something to drink and eat for lunch. There are plenty of places around the Colosseum or walk a few streets away from all the sites where you might find somewhere cheaper to eat. Afterwards, walk over to the Arch of Constantine (free) on your way to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. You’ll likely spend about 1.5-2 hours here. The Roman Forum is open from 9:00am – 4:30pm seven days a week.
Next up, walk over to Capitoline Hill (free) and take in the view of the Roman Forum and marvel at the architecture. In 1536 Michelangelo was commisioned to redesign the square and designed the architecture for some of the buildings. Right next door is the Capitoline Museums. If you purchased a Roma Pass, you can use it here, otherwise it costs €16. The museum is open from 9:30am – 7:30pm daily.
Vittoriano e Palazzo Venezia
The final stop of Day 1 of the Perfect 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary is the Vittoriano e Palazzo Venezia. There are several parts to this monument to Italy’s first King, Victor Emmanuel II. The monument and Altar to the Fatherland is free. This is what is outside: the building. However, inside are museums and a terrace with amazing views of the city that are not to be missed. Entry to the museum and terrace is €15. It’s open every day from 9:30am to 7:30pm, with the last entry of the day at 6:45pm. You’re sure to get some amazing sunset views from the terrace!
Day 1 of our perfect 4 day Rome Italy Itininerary is over. Find an amazing restaurant for dinner before heading off to bed. Day 2 will be here before you know it.
Day 2: Perfect 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary
For Day 2 of the Rome Italy Itinerary you have the option to sleep in a little and get a later start. Today you’ll be seeing a lot of smaller sites, all just as beautiful as yesterday’s ancient ruins. Most of today’s activities on the 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary are FREE. You’ll see The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Teatro Marcello, and the Bocca della Verita.
First stop on the Perfect Rome Italy Itinerary will be the Trevi Fountain. It’s totally free and open 24 hours a day. The Trevi Fountain is an amazing piece of sculpture that cannot be missed. I’m putting this as the first stop of the day because it gets insanely crowded the later it gets (see image below).
I know I mentioned you could sleep in but if you did want to get up early, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll practically have the whole place to yourself! Don’t forget to throw a coin into the fountain. Make sure you use your right hand and throw it over your left shoulder. After the Trevi Fountain, stop somewhere for coffee and pastries.
After the Trevi Fountain (and breakfast), head over to the Spanish Steps. Again, this is free. Enjoy the architecture and views from the top of the stairs, 135 of them. At the top of the stairs is the church of the Trinita dei Monti.
The Spanish Steps is also another place that gets really crowded. Let’s face it: everything in Rome is crowded. But, if you can get to some of these places early then it will be less crowded and that’s a win. Don’t miss the Baroque fountain at the bottom, Fontana della Barcaccia or Fountain of the Longboat.
The Pantheon is probably one of my favorite pieces of architecture anywhere. It’s hard to believe that this magnificent building has been standing for 2000 years. And it’s condition is superb. Again, it’s completely free but also gets very crowded.
Take your time walking around the building, explore the inside, and walk around the square. I could just sit and stare at this place for hours. There are restaurants and cafes all around The Pantheon and on the surrounding streets so it might be a good time for some lunch (and wine).
The Piazza Navona is the most popular public space in Rome. The space dates back to the 1st century AD and was once a center for games. When the Roman Empire fell the square was abandoned and eventually quarried. In the 1600’s the space was transformed with the addition of fountains that included sculptures, one by Bernini.
While you’re here, step inside Sant’Agnese, a church built in Baroque style. There are four different chapels and a crypt. Entrance to the church is free.
The Theater of Marcellus looks very similar to the Colosseum, except it’s older by about 100 years. It was Julius Caesar that commissioned the project, although he never got to see the final product. It was once used for plays and other performances.
Although the inside is not open to the public, the gates are open during the day from 9:00am – 7:00pm and a new pathway has been constructed so visitors can walk around and admire the architecture. Right next to it are several ruins of ancient temples.
Bocca della Verita
Just a 7 minute walk from the Teatro Marcello is the Bocca della Verita, or Mouth of Truth. This is the last thing on Day 2 of our 4 day Rome Italy itinerary. The Bocca della Verita is a large round sculpture of a bearded face with holes for the eyes, nose, and mouth.
The legend says that a husband did not trust his wife so he took her to the sculpture. If she put her hand in the mouth and lied, her hand would be bitten off. The first time I came to Rome it was free to walk up and take photos. Today, it costs a mere €2. The Mouth of Truth is open from 9:30am – 5:50pm.
Day 3: Perfect 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary
Day 3 of the 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary is going to be another big day. The majority of it will be spent at Vatican City. You’ll see the Vatican Museums, The Sistine Chapel, Saint Peter’s Square, Saint Peter’s Basilica, a hike up to the top of the Duomo, and Castel Sant’Angelo. The order in which you see things will depend on whether or not you’ve booked a tour with a guide. If you do, then disregard the order of things here.
*Fun Fact: Vatican City is it’s own country! You do not need to bring your passport though. But you do get to mark another country off your list!
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Today you will start with the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. If you decided to get a pass from Tiqets for the Colosseum, then you can use it for the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel as well. If not then you will have to buy tickets. You’ll have to decide if you want a guide or not. With the guide, you will only have 2-3 hours in the museums. The museums are huge and there is a lot to see.
If you feel like a guide would be useful to be able to point out the most important works of art, then get a guide. It does cost about $20 more but it could be worth it. Personally for myself, I prefer to peruse art on my own. I don’t want to be locked in to a spot for long periods of time.
You can buy a ticket to explore the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel on your own here. It’s $28 and there is no time limit. The museums are open from 9:00am to 6:00pm. Again, choose the 9am time slot to avoid the crowds. Trust me on this. You will be shoulder to shoulder with people if you go later than that. If you want a guide you can book that here. It costs about $45 and it won’t be a one on one tour. You’ll be in a group with 15-25 people.
St. Peter’s Basilica and Dome
St. Peter’s Square (the outside) and St. Peter’s Basilica are free. You might have to wait to get inside if there’s a lot of people. If you want to climb to the Dome for the awesome view of the city (you should) that will cost either €8 or €10. There are 551 stairs to the top and to climb them all will cost €8. If you want to skip 231 stairs and only climb 320 of them, you can pay €10 and take an elevator part way.
Another option is a guide. This guide is $35 and gets you access to the dome (with elevator) and when you’re done a guide will take you on a tour of the basilica AND you get a tour of the underground crypts.
*Note: St Peter’s Basilica is open every day from 7:00am – 6:00pm except for Wednesdays and Sundays when it doesn’t open until 1:00pm.
The last thing on our 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary is Castel Sant’Angelo. It’s right outside the Vatican and is a fortress that was originally built as a Mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian. It was completed in the year 139. Castel Sant’Angelo means Castle of the Holy Angel. Legend has it that the Archangel Michael appeared at the top of the mausoleum signaling an end to the plague of 590.
Castel Sant’Angelo has had many different uses over the centuries from a refuge for popes in times of war, housing, military barracks, and a prison. Today it’s a museum of military history. There are six levels to explore and the terrace at the top provides panoramic views of the city. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00am – 5:30pm and tickets are €12.
Day 4: Perfect 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary
It’s Day 4 of our Rome Italy Itinerary, your last full day in Rome, and there are multiple options for today. You do not have to do everything on today’s list but pick a few and spend some time strolling through alleyways and just soaking in your last day of the Eternal City. You’ll go to Villa Borghese and the Borghese Gallery, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome Catacombs, Jewish Ghetto, and Trastevere neighborhood.
Borghese Villa and Museum
First up on our Rome Italy Itinerary is a visit to Villa Borghese and the Borghese Gallery. This is known as one of the world’s best museums. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00am – 7:00pm. Tickets are €13 and you will have 2 hours to explore the museum. You have to reserve your ticket in advance. Either before or after the museum you can stroll the grounds for free.
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
Santa Maria Maggiore is the first church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is one of four major Papal Basilicas. The outside may not look like a church but inside you’ll find beautiful architecture, mosaics dating back to the 400’s, paintings, gold ceilings, sculptures, and more. This is a working church and entry is free. It’s open from 7:00am – 6:30pm every day.
There are more than sixty catacombs in Rome but only five of them are open to the public. I’m not recommending you see them all but see at least one of them. The underground burials began in the 2nd century solving the problem of lack of space. The Catacombs of San Sebastiano is supposed to be the best ones to visit. It’s open Monday to Wednesday and Friday to Sunday from 10:00am – 5:00pm. It is closed from November 25th to December 25th every year. Tickets ar €13 for a 30 minute tour.
Jewish Ghetto of Rome
This is the first of two neighborhoods in Rome that shouldn’t be missed. It’s the oldest Jewish community in Europe and the neighborhood is full of history. Located near the Teatro Marcello, the neighborhood is filled with churches, synagogues, and restaurants, and ruins. There is a Jewish Museum of Rome (€10) if you’d like to know more about the history of the area.
The other neighborhood in Rome to explore is the Trastevere Neighborhood. It’s just across the the river from the Jewish Ghetto and south of the Vatican. Trastevere is a picturesque neighborhood with narrow alleyways, cobblestone streets, medieval houses, and lots of restaurants and cafes. It’s really the quintessential representation of Italy. If you happen to be here on a Sunday, head over to a large flea market held in the morning until 2pm at the Porta Portese gate. This ends the 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary.
Perfect 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary
4 days in Rome really is the perfect amount of time to get to explore the major sites of the city and experience the Italian culture. You’ll have had a really good introduction to the Eternal City.
There is still so much more to see so if you are staying more than 4 days you could break up the 4 day Rome Italy Itinerary or add some more museums and churches to the list. You could even take some day trips outside the city. If 4 days wasn’t quite enough, you can always come back!