See Rome’s Highlights In 24 Hours

Culture, history, religion and art – Rome has it all. And with a history spanning 2,800 years, there’s lots of it. With hundreds of monuments, restaurants and museums to choose from, there is so much ground to cover in the Ancient City that many Romans have yet to see it all. But you don’t need to be a local to catch the highlights. In fact, 24 hours should do the trick. We called on the expertise of local guides to create the perfect itinerary so you can enjoy Rome like a Roman in just one day.

In the Morning

As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm. The Ancient City can be a melting pot of chaos in the middle of the day, so it’s best to explore Rome’s streets and piazzas before the rest of the world wakes up to join you. Local guide Mauro Girella from Tour Guide In Rome recommends starting your journey in the heart of the city to get an overview of the Ancient Capital and its rich history. And with most of the sites within easy walking distance, you can save precious time getting from A to B.

  • Colosseum

Standing as the largest amphitheatre in the Roman world, the Colosseum hardly needs an introduction. Once the site of brutal public battles and gladiator contests, its fascinating history still captivates travelers today. Thousands of tourists pass through the doors each year to catch a glimpse of the arena, which is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture in history. The doors open at 9am, so get in fast before the crowds catch up.

  • Palatine Hill

History buffs will appreciate this historical gem; thought to be the site on which the Roman Empire first began in the tenth century BC. Palatine Hill is one of Mauro’s favourites, largely because of its links to Roman mythology. It’s believed twin brothers Romulus and Remus were found by a female wolf that kept them alive, and as time wore on, Romulus built the city of Rome on the same site.

  • Roman Forum

Visitors would be remiss not to see the Forum when visiting Rome. Once a place for processions, elections, criminal trials and gladiator matches, the Forum was like an ancient Wall Street with a Roman Stock Exchange. Today it’s a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments including the Arches of Septimius Severus, the Temple of Antoninus & Faustina and the Temple of Saturn.

  • Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill is the smallest but most significant of Ancient Rome’s seven hills, serving as a natural fortress which was crucial for the city’s development. Nowadays you can reach it from a flight of steps which Michelangelo planned for the reception of Charles the Fifth in 1536. You can also marvel over spectacular views of the ruins of the Roman Forum.

Treat your Taste buds

With so many restaurants to choose from in the city centre, it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to that delicious Italian fare. But don’t despair; we’ve got a few recommendations from the locals to take away the guess work. You won’t even need to whip out your pocket book to figure out what Piatti del giorno means in English. If you’re still in doubt, sign up for a Traditional Flavors Tour to treat your taste buds.

  • Tre Scalini

Many locals roll their eyes at restaurants that serve up “traditional” food like spaghetti Bolognese that isn’t actually Italian at all. Tre Scalini in Piazza Navona, however, is a local favourite that dishes out traditional Italian pizza in the heart of town. Delish!

  • Indulge in the Classics

Pizza is synonymous with Italy, so it’s hardly surprising that Rome has its fair share of pizzerias. If you’re planning to dine downtown, Irene from Elebike Rome recommends Ciro in via della Pace (Piazza Navona) for tasty and inexpensive fare. If you’re on the run (or trying to squeeze your trip into 24 hours) she recommends Forno Campo Dei Fiori for delicious takeaway. Stuffed with tasty goodness, she says you won’t be disappointed!

  • Ambasciata d’Abruzzo

Another one of Mauro’s favourites is family-owned restaurant Ambasciata d’Abruzzo in the Parioli district. Serving up salumi antipasto, bruschetta, amatriciana, and of course tiramisu, this place is frequented by locals. His recommendation: order the Cacio e Pepe!

  • Treat your Sweet Tooth

No trip to Rome would be complete without indulging in a scoop (or three) of traditional gelato. Our guides suggest you skip the overrun cafés at Trevi Fountain and head straight for the real deal at boutique cafés such as Gelateria del Teatro off Via dei Coronari. This charming café serves up top notch gelato made with all natural ingredients. You can also sample creative flavours such as white chocolate & basil or garden sage & raspberry.

In the Afternoon

After a brief introduction to ancient history and Italian cuisine, there is more ground to cover on your brief Roman encounter. Our guides recommend spending the afternoon around Via del Corso, one of the main city streets. Squeeze in some shopping, visit the Spanish Steps or explore the Vatican City if you’re after a cultural encounter. The options are endless, so take your pick.

  • Spanish Steps

Bet you didn’t know the Spanish Steps were built back in the 1720s to link the Bourbon Spanish Embassy and the French Church to the Holy See? This monumental stairway is a popular gathering place, meaning you’ll most likely have to battle the crowds in the afternoon. The Roman Baroque architecture will make it worth your while, and you can take a few snaps of one of the most photographed sites in the world.

  • Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is renowned for its synthesis of Greek mythology, Baroque architecture and sculpture. Legend has it that anyone who throws a coin into the fountain will one day return to Rome. There’s only one way to find out!

  • Pantheon

If you’ve stopped at the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, you may as well catch a glimpse of the Pantheon while you’re nearby. Considered the most preserved and influential building of ancient Rome, the Pantheon is dedicated to the gods of pagan Rome. Interestingly, its design continues to baffle architects today and engineers are still unsure how its arches were constructed back in 120AD.

  • Vatican Museums

Here’s a fast fact for you; the Vatican City is the world’s smallest country, which occupies 0.44 sq km. It’s also home to over nine miles of art, including some of the world’s most important relics. Try and take in as much in as you can, or join a guided private tour and skip the queues with VIP access.

  • Take an Electric Bike Tour

It’s quite a feat to try and cram Rome’s highlights into just one day, but you will cover more ground on two wheels. Elebike Rome has the perfect solution – a guided tour that covers Rome’s scenic gems in just 3.5 hours. See most of the highlights in a fraction of the time!

When the Sun goes Down

Rome can transform even the most skeptical romantic when the stars come out. The crowds have dissipated, monuments twinkle under the evening lights and you can take your time to explore the relics at your own pace. If you’re looking for some action, the city’s vibrant nightlife won’t disappoint.

  • Vespa Tour

If you want to shake things up a bit, catch the city lights from the passenger seat of a vintage Vespa. There are a number of operators that will show you Rome’s narrow alleyways and immense squares by night. Stop off for dinner, grab a scoop of gelato and cruise at your own pace.

  • Visit the Trastevere District

The Trastevere neighbourhood comes alive when the sun goes down, especially during the summer weekends when the roads are closed to the traffic for pedestrian-only access. Shutters are raised to reveal bars, nightclubs and restaurants bursting with diners and revellers. Mauro’s tip is to look for traditional trattorias with a wood oven, as they often serve up the best pizza.

  • Go Vintage

Hiring a local driver will allow you to catch the highlights in the nick of time, but why not travel in style in a Vintage 500 Fiat? Discover the Eternal City like a true Roman of the ’60s and admire the wonders of Rome through the sunroof of a vintage car.

  • Retrace your Footsteps

If you’ve still got some juice left in the tank after a hectic day of sightseeing, our guides recommend re-visiting the major sites when the sun goes down. The Colosseum, Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain are spectacularly lit up in the evening and the summer nights are long enough for you to take a leisurely post-dinner stroll. If your feet need a rest, Rome By Limo offers guided evening tours departing from your hotel door.

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