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The Ultimate 4 Day Rome Itinerary For First-Timers – What to see & do in 2022

Rome is an incredible city and could keep visitors entertained for weeks if not months. With so many incredible and awe-dropping sights, this is the ultimate 4 day Rome Itinerary that ticks off all the major things to do in Rome in one quick trip.

We celebrated my partner’s birthday in Rome at the end of February. It was his first time visiting the Eternal City, and although I had been in 2006, it felt all brand new to me.

Rome is a surprisingly walkable city and over the 4 days, we walked 41 miles (67 Kilometres) as we traversed the city from one end to the other. We just loved walking around the city and admiring its history and architecture that we didn’t even notice the mileage we had done.

Don’t worry there are plenty of buses, metros and electric scooters to take you around the city, but I highly recommend wearing comfortable shoes when visiting.

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The Best Time to Visit Rome

Rome is magical any time of the year but it has to be said that if you can avoid visiting it during the month of August, I would avoid it like the plague.

Rome during the Spring and Autumn is when the crowds are still relatively quiet and the temperatures are sublime. You may even experience some rainy days and with so many things to do in Rome that are indoors, that’s not always such a bad thing.

The evenings are cool yet you’ll still find outdoor dining possibilities and areas like Trastevere pulsating no matter what temperature it is.

The summer months are when Rome reaches its hottest temperatures and suddenly your 4 day Rome itinerary can seem like an unclimbable mountain. The easiest solution to visiting during the months of July & August is to take everything really slow and visit the highlights really early in the morning.

Avoid anything strenuous in the middle of the afternoon and indulge in the typical Italian lifestyle by having a siesta between 2 pm and 4 pm. Spend as much time in museums or shopping to savor the cool AC.

I recently visited and the weather at the end of February was beautiful, with clear blue skies and lots of sunshine. We even got too much sun as we walked around the Roman Forum. The evenings were chilly but as we wandered around the alleyways of Trastevere you’d barely notice the cold.

The Ultimate 4 Day Rome Itinerary

Day 1 of 4-day rome itinerary – Exploring Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain & Spanish Steps

Discover just how remarkable Rome is on your first morning in the city. On day 1 of your 4 day Rome itinerary as you discover the city and explore the sites, you’ll begin to realize just how incredibly ancient Rome is.

And not only how old it is, but also how well it has been preserved considering the history of Europe that includes bountiful wars and sieges.

As you walk around the city, you will stumble upon buildings that have histories that date back over 2000 years. It’s almost impossible to grasp just how old that really is. Save the map below for a detailed route planner and what exactly to see on Day 1 of your 4 Day Rome Itinerary.

Pantheon


The Pantheon is a remarkable building constructed over 2000 years ago that stands proudly in Rome’s center. It’s almost bewildering as you stare at it, how perfectly it has been preserved considering all the elements that could have destroyed it. Part of the reason for its longevity is that it originally served as a Temple of Gods, before becoming a part of the Catholic Church in the 7th century.

The Pantheon’s dome is perhaps its most impressive feature. It is still considered the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world, and its central opening allows all the earth’s elements to enter. When it rains in the Pantheon, the floor has small openings and runoff to allow the water to flow through and into the subterranean chambers beneath.

It is the best-preserved Ancient Roman building in the world and moves me every time I turn the corner and see it, as if for the first time. It’s quite difficult to put into words how impressive the Pantheon is. Admission is free to enter Monday through Friday, with bookings necessary during the weekends and public holidays. Considering its past and its importance in Roman history, I would recommend a tour of the Pantheon. We paid €8 for our audio guide tour, which I think is great value considering its long and deep-rooted history within Rome.

Metro Stop: Barberini (Line A)

Piazza Navona


You’ll find a lot of Piazzas in Italy. It essentially translates to an open space or square. In this case, Piazza Navona is not a square but a concourse. It used to be a stadium where chariot races would take place during the early 1st century.

Nowadays it is a popular piazza ringed with restaurants, hotels and a church. In the center lies a baroque fountain, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi by Bernini. The piazza also plays host to a Christmas market and is a good place for people watching.

Trevi Fountain

Perhaps the most famous fountain in the world, the Trevi Fountain is gorgeous. With throngs of crowds, this is one of the most popular spots in the city. The best time to visit the Trevi Fountain is early in the morning before any crowds arrive, you may even find it entirely to yourself.

Trevi Fountain was built in 1792 and is enormous, towering over 80 feet and 161 feet across. The water that flows through the Trevi Fountain is carried by an aqueduct over 10 kilometers from Rome.

Traditionally people throw coins into the fountain for good luck, with an estimated 3000 euros thrown in every day. Using your right-hand throw the coin over your left shoulder and good luck will be yours.

There is a strong police presence at the fountain due to the petty thefts that occur on a pretty regular basis. Keep an eye out for your belongings here.

Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps are one of the stranger tourist attractions in Rome. They are in essence, just steps, but for some reason, tourists flock to them. With 135 steps that climb to the Trinita dei Monti church at the top, the steps are a pleasant way to take in views of the city from a moderately elevated height.

Eating on the Spanish Steps is strictly forbidden, however, no one seems to pay this rule much notice and you’ll find many people eating gelato and panini’s on the steps.

Afternoon: Lunch & Largo di Torre Argentina


Grab lunch in any of the delicious trattorias & enjoy a long leisurely lunch after all your walking and exploring.

Largo di Torre Argentina is an example of Ancient Rome emerging from the ruins. During the 1920s as the city expanded and developed, the city planners uncovered one of the most important archaeological sites in Rome – Largo di Torre Argentina. The 4 temples that they uncovered date back to the 2nd century and were used as places of worship for the Roman gods. It also happens to be the place where Julius Caesar was assassinated (his murder was plotted in the Roman Forum).

The site is also a good example of how much the modern city of Rome has grown on top of the sunken Ancient Roman ruins. The site continues to be uncovered and it’s a fascinating look at what once was.

We loved it because it’s home to a large cat colony. An army of volunteers takes care of the cats who have made this archaeological site their home. You can even visit them until 5 pm each day.

Evening – A Food Tour

One of the best ways to explore a new city and to understand its culture is to take part in a Food Tour. We try to do one in at least each new city we visit to get a better understanding of the local cuisine and learn something new. We loved our food tour in Rome so much that we visited all the places throughout our stay multiple times.

With Italian food being so important to Italians and their heritage, it was a wonderful experience to learn about typical Roman dishes and regional food from around the country. Our tour guide, Elizabeth, was incredibly knowledgeable and we had great fun with the other members of our tour group. We sampled traditional Roman pizza, cured meats from a very famous town called Norcia, Suppli, Jewish Artichokes, and of course Gelato.

Along the way, Elizabeth explained Rome’s history and that of its food. How Romans pair their food with certain things, such as chilled red wine and cured meats to enhance the flavor of the meat and not overwhelm the aromas of the wine. As a non-red wine drinker, I found chilled red wine absolutely delicious! We organized our tour through Get Your Guide and there were options for a tour in the morning or the evening. We will definitely be doing the morning tour the next time.

Day Two of 4-day Rome itinerary – Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

I’m a little bit biased but day two of the 4-day Rome itinerary is one of my favorite days in Rome. As you approach the Colosseum from Via dei Fori Imperiali, you’ll pass sections of the Roman Forum which was once the beating heart of Ancient Imperial Rome. The Colosseum is incredibly striking from a distance and even more impressive up close. This is one activity in Rome not to miss out on. It even might be the highlight of your 4 day Rome itinerary.

The experience is enhanced with a tour guide. We opted for a 3 hour guided tour through the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and Colosseum. We would have been looking at piles of rocks and not understanding their importance or the history behind the place. We booked our guided tour through Tiqets and I can’t recommend it enough.

Our tour guide was fantastic and the 3 hours weren’t enough. We had so many questions and easily could have done an entire day exploring the past. This is a part of Rome that is littered with history.

Tour prices vary as some include access to the underground section of the Colosseum where the Gladiators would await before entering the arena. These tours offer in-depth analysis of the mechanics of the subterranean levels, which included really impressive pulley systems and storage areas for scenery and exotic animals.

The Roman Forum is absolutely breathtaking when viewed from Palatine Hill. It’s easy to see how this part of Rome was the epicenter of the city for over a thousand years. Decisions that would shape the continent of Europe and beyond were put into place here. This was one of my favorite parts of the tour and could easily have spent the entire day learning about life in the Roman Forum.

Palatine Hill is the birthplace of Rome, and one of the original villain origin stories – twin brothers Romulus and Remus. This was the site of their supposed birth and the founding of the city after they fought about where to start their new home, with Romulus murdering his twin brother Remus. Whilst only a myth, it’s a great story, and walking around the beautiful Palatine Hill is incredibly peaceful and tranquil.

Visiting this part of Ancient Rome was one of the best parts of our 4 days and taking a guided tour really helped our understanding of what it once was like. I think we would have been incredibly lost without it.

Metro Stop: Colosseo (Line B) – Transfer at Termini for Line A

Afternoon: Lunch & Rest

Take the afternoon off and enjoy a long lazy lunch discussing what you’ve learned over the past 3 hours. Your feet will be sore from all the walking and your brain might need a break. Luckily the area, Monti, beside the Colosseum is a good place to grab some food and sit in the sunshine on the many terraces of the trattorias. Soak up the atmosphere and recharge your batteries.

Evening: Rome’s Jewish Ghetto

Explore and dine in the Jewish Ghetto, a district of Rome close to the Roman Forum. It’s famous for one of the most traditional Roman dishes – Artichokes. You can get this in two styles, Roman Style or Jewish Style. I recommend trying the Jewish style, served deep-fried, leaves intact, and with a sprinkling of lemon. It’s delicious.

Day Three of 4 day rome itinerary: Morning: Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel

Start day 3 of your 4-day Rome itinerary by spending the day exploring the world’s smallest state – Vatican City. It’s home to the Pope and is the headquarters of the Catholic Church. This small state is really only a few streets across and even has its own post office, bank, and radio station. Whether your religious or not, it’s a fascinating place and is known for its incredible art collection.

The Vatican Museums are enormous and you could easily spend weeks exploring the wealth of incredible ancient artifacts and pieces that span a huge period of time. The Vatican Museums are also one of the most popular sites in all of Italy and you won’t believe the lines of people queuing for access to them. We went on the last Sunday in February and had thankfully booked a 3 hour guided tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. The entry line for access was a kilometer in length. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Prebooking your tickets for access to the Vatican Museums means that you can skip the entire line and save yourself 2 hours. We booked our guided tour through Tiqets and I am thankful that we did and didn’t have to line up for the entire morning.

Our guided tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel was absolutely amazing. We are not art enthusiasts, but our guide was excellent at explaining all the details that we wouldn’t have even noticed without her pointing them out. There are so many masterpieces in the museums that not everything can be on display at the same time, so the guide selected pieces that she wished to talk about and gave us in-depth knowledge about them.

Photo by Calvin Craig on Unsplash

The Sistine Chapel is outstanding and surprising. The guide prepares you for the visit beforehand, explaining important details about Michelangelo’s work that to the ordinary eye you wouldn’t appreciate. Respectfully there is no talking in the chapel and there is a hushed silence as you stand and appreciate the artwork of Michelangelo and its details. There is also no photography or recording allowed.

Afternoon: St. Peters Basilica

Stunning St. Peters Basilica is the largest church in the world and where the Pope gives Mass on special occasions throughout the year. Construction started in 1506 and was eventually completed in 1626, and was designed and influenced by Michelangelo, Bernini & Donato Bramante.

Much like the line for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, Saint Peters Basilica is equally as popular, and booking tickets in advance is recommended. We opted out of a tour for the Basilica and I regret this decision upon entering the church. Its an incredible structure and its history nicely coincide with that of the Vatican Museums and some of the religious iconographies found there.

You can climb the dome, which also happens to be the largest dome in Rome, and has outstanding views across Vatican City and Rome. The climb is tiring but the views are worth it in the end.

In the Evening grab a pizza and beer near your hotel. You’ve earned it after all the walking, exploring, and learning.

Day 4 of 4 day rome itinerary: Villa Farnesina, Botanic Gardens & Trastevere

Welcome to day 4 of your 4-day Rome itinerary! You’ve explored a huge portion of the magnificent city of Rome and have barely scratched the surface. Here’s an example of how to spend your fourth day in Rome.

Morning: Explore Villa Farnesina, the stunning 16th-century villa in Trastevere where you can see frescoes by Raphael.

Across the street, you’ll find the gorgeous Botanic Gardens of Rome. With bamboo forests, Japanese gardens, Butterfly Garden, and flora and fauna from around the world, this is a wonderful place to go and saunter around. We loved our stroll around the gardens that we spent an hour sitting on a bench with the most incredible view of Rome in front of us.

At the very top of the gardens is an exit point where you should definitely exit from and visit the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola which is a beautiful fountain that has epic views over the entire city.

Afternoon: Explore the market in Campo de’ Fiori that sells flowers, spices, and oils. Visit Norcineria Viola for some of the best-cured meats and pick up some delicious cookies and desserts at Il Fornaio. Or grab a slice of pizza or panini and sample authentic Roman food in a very traditional setting.

Evening: Head to Trastevere and soak up the incredible atmosphere in Rome’s best neighborhood for eating and drinking. Small alleyways meandering through the neighborhood complete with some of the best trattorias on this side of the Tiber river. There is an undeniable buzz in this part of the city, and it’s quite infectious.

More Things to do in Rome

There are so many sites to see in Rome that with each visit you can easily see something new or revisit a favorite site from the past. The 4 day Rome Itinerary can be adjusted as needed.

The Catacombs – The spooky Catacombs of Rome are underground burial chambers used throughout the past 2000 years of which 40 have been excavated and uncovered. This is something on my list for my next visit to Rome, but I have heard that people who suffer from claustrophobia are advised to skip the Catacombs.

Villa Borghese – A beautiful gallery in Rome that has exquisite gardens and is the third-largest public park in Rome. The gallery is home to artworks by Caravaggio, Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens & Bernini.

Day trip to Tivoli – Delightful Tivoli is a very cute town 30 minutes outside of Rome that has beautiful ornate streets and incredibly impressive architecture and villas. The most famous is the villa that was built for the Emporer Hadrian and his former home is magnificent.

Doria Pamphilj Gallery – A private gallery that is considered the largest in Rome with a unique heritage and family. The collection includes pieces by Caravaggio, Raphael & Titian and highlights art from the Renaissance period.

Castel Sant’Angelo – If you haven’t had enough of the Vatican and need another fix, head to Castel Sant’Angelo, a 2nd-century castle that now houses paintings from the Renaissance period and has wonderful views over the River Tiber and Rome.

Victor Emmanuel II Monument – Visible from around Rome, the monument dedicated to the first King of Italy is an incredible and imposing building. The monument celebrates the unification of Italy and Victor Emmanuel’s role in bringing the country together. The views from the top of the monument are spectacular and overlook the Roman Forum and Colosseum in the distance.

Victor Emmanuel II Monument Rome


The Best Time To Visit Rome

Rome is magical any time of the year. I’ve been fortunate to visit during Winter & Summer months and the best time to visit would be during Spring & Fall. Try and avoid the months of July & August when the weather is almost unbearably hot and extraordinarily busy. Lines for museums and experiences can be nightmarishly long.

Spring: The city is vibrant, lush, and starting to turn green. The weather is perfect for dining outdoors (a light jacket needed in the evenings), and endless blue skies.

Blue Skies over Trastevere

Summer: The city is busy, hot and hotel prices soar. Temperatures in Rome can be uncomfortable in the months of July & August, with Romans escaping the city and fleeing to the coast.

Fall/Autumn: Beautiful weather and gorgeous mild temperatures in October. Expect occasional rain.

Winter: Cold with a biting chill that sneaks into your bones. The crowds have thinned and the hotel prices are at their lowest. A perfect time to visit the city to escape crowds, visit Christmas Markets and soak up cozy evenings in trattorias.


Where to Stay in Rome


There are endless options of places and locations to stay in Rome. We spent our 4 days in Trastevere as we wanted restaurants and bars on our doorstep. We loved the buzz of this district and it was a perfect location for exploring the city as part of our 4 day Rome itinerary.

Tankara Suite


We stayed in the delightful Tankara Suite for our stay and it was perfect. Located within a traditional 17th-century building, our room was enormous and had an adorable balcony that overlooked the neighboring buildings. It felt very local and authentic, just what we were looking for when staying in Rome. Its location in Trastevere couldn’t have been better either, restaurants were on our doorstep, and small minimarkets for picking up snacks and supplies for our day exploring the city.

Hotel Martis Palace


With a rooftop terrace to die for and views of the incredible city, staying in Hotel Martis Palace is a dream come true. It’s also only 50 meters from Piazza Navona, which essentially means all of the great sights of the Pantheon and Largo di Torre Argentina. The rooms are stylishly decorated and there is a spa only 100m, which you’ll need to avail of after long days of exploring Rome.

Anantara Palazzo Naiadi


An opulent 5-Star Hotel, the Anantara Palazzo Naiada is located in the stunning Piazza Della Republica, visitors will be delighted to find a large outdoor swimming pool to cool down in after a sweaty day exploring the city. The rooms are decorated in a classic style with marble features throughout the rooms. A top choice for visitors who wish to experience one of the best hotels in Rome.

The Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel


The Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel is the perfect location for exploring the best sights in Rome. Mere steps from the iconic Pantheon, you can enjoy drinks on the Divinity Terrace Lounge Bar which enjoys incredible views over Rome’s rooftops. What a way to unwind from a day. A stunning hotel with incredible rooms and stylish furnishings. Add it to your bucket list of places to stay when next visiting Rome.

Getting Around Rome

I grouped the days around sites that are in the same area which means you can easily walk between places. Rome is a very walkable city and is walking is one of the best ways to discover new hidden gems or sights that would pass by you unnoticed on a tour bus.

There are other ways of getting around the city, some more fun than walking or taking a bus. During the summer months and when Rome starts to heat up, it’s advisable to try to use public transportation as much as possible to avoid overheating. Although do be warned that these can easily get overcrowded and too warm too. Either way you’re the best judge of yourself and how you handle heat as you navigate the 4 day Rome itinerary.

Electric Scooters

The electric scooter craze that started in 2018 isn’t going anywhere yet. With companies such as Lime, Go, & Bird setting up electric scooters in Rome, they prove to be an affordable way to move from A to B. Signing up for an account for each electric scooter company is easy, all you need is your credit card and proof of identity and you can be whizzing around the city in less than 5 minutes. We just hope the suspension is capable of supporting people over the cobblestones of Rome.

Photo by Vlad B on Unsplash

Metro

Of course, walking is not for everyone, and some of the further sites can be accessed by Rome’s metro which has 3 lines. Line A & B are the lines that most tourists will use to see the major sights and are within a 5-minute walking distance of a metro station.

Bus

Rome has a super bus system that connects the city far and wide. Bus tickets cannot be purchased on board, but from the nearest Tabacchi Shop where you can buy multiple tickets and passes for however long, you need them.

How to get to Rome

Flying to Rome


There are two airports in Rome, Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO) in Fiumicino and Rome Ciampino Giovan Battista Pastine Airport (CIA). All trans-continental flights from North America and beyond arrive at Fiumicino airport. It is also well connected to other transport hubs in Europe such as Paris, Brussels, and Madrid.

Ciampino is an airport that is served by low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet.

From Fiumicino Airport the easiest way to get to the city is by taking the Leonardo Express train which takes 31 minutes and arriving directly at Rome’s Termini Station (the main train station in Rome). We actually used a taxi service which costs 50euros and came as a free part of our stay when we booked through Booking.com.

From Ciampino Airport the only way to get to the center of Rome is by bus. Terravision and SITBus are two companies that offer a direct service to Rome’s Termini Station.

Arriving by Train


Traveling around by train in Italy is an incredible experience and shouldn’t be missed out on. Trains pass via Rome’s Termini Station. The train station itself is not the most beautiful of places, and most people hop straight on the Metro or Bus pretty quickly. It’s not the most pleasant of areas.

Conclusion

It’s almost impossible to be bored in Rome or struggle to find something to do. Whether this is your first visit or the 15th, there is always something new to discover. The best way to enjoy Rome is to just go with the flow, whether that means hanging out in an Espresso bar with Romans or meandering the Appian Way, you’re going to have a great time. Make sure to join my newsletter for the latest updates on my blog and leave me suggestions of what I missed out on the perfect 4 day Rome Itinerary.

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