While we’d much rather take our time traipsing through Rome, sometimes trips have to be short and sweet. The Eternal City wasn’t built in a day, but you can see many of the city’s highlights in just 24 hours. Here’s how to make the most of a day in Rome:
Vatican City. Carve out a few hours in the early morning to see Vatican City. Get there when the gates open to avoid spending hours in line. Keep in mind that you’ll need your passport to get into Vatican City — it’s technically an independent country. And cover up: You will be denied entry to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and all other Vatican spots if you have bare arms or legs.
Castel Sant’Angelo. You’ll pass this on the way to Vatican City, and it’s worth snapping a few photos. Built between A.D. 135 and 139, this historic structure was originally used as a mausoleum for Roman emperor Hadrian and later as a fortress and refuge for many popes, as well as a prison. Today, it’s a museum.
Piazza Navona. This is one of our favorite piazzas in Rome. It’s dominated by the Fountain of the Four Rivers from great Italian sculptor Bernini. You may recognize the fountain from the Tom Hanks flick Angels & Demons. Grab a bite at one of the restaurants that line the square — preferably pizza — and settle in for some people-watching.
Pantheon. It’s believed that construction of the Pantheon began as early as 27 B.C. The building we know today was rebuilt as a temple to all Roman gods in A.D. 126. Step inside the iconic attraction to see the legendary domed ceiling, which, in addition to the entrance, is the structure’s only source of light.
Roman Forum. On your way to the Colosseum, stroll through the Roman Forum, where you’ll discover ruins from thousands of years ago. What was once the center of Rome is now an amazing museum. As you wind through the ruins, you can almost picture what the city looked like at the beginning of civilization.
Colosseum. We’ve all seen Gladiator and know the legends of the Colosseum, but seeing it up close is a different experience. Completed in A.D. 80, this massive, still-standing structure is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering.
Spanish Steps. The Spanish Steps are a great place to hang out while sipping a cappuccino, and we love the shops that surround them. The streets here are lined with just about every designer boutique you can think of (with a few souvenir shops sprinkled in). It’s shopper heaven.
Hotel Hassler. Sitting at the top of the Spanish Steps, Hotel Hassler is the most well-known luxury hotel in the city. If you don’t plan to stay the night, at least check out the hotel’s stellar views of Rome.
Alfredo. Taste the original fettuccine Alfredo at the namesake restaurant where it all began. Visited by celebrities and tourists alike, this spot boasts skilled servers who will prepare the famed pasta dish right at your table.
Trevi Fountain. Arguably the most famous fountain in the world — thanks to La Dolce Vita by Fellini and Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck — Trevi Fountain is a must-do in Rome. It’s the perfect place to end your adventure-packed day in the city. Throw a penny in, make a wish and vow to return to Rome as soon as you can.