One of the very first questions you want to ask when planning a trip to Italy is “how many days should I spend in Rome?”. Even though pretty frequent, this is a very tough question. This guide of ours wants to help you decide how many days you need in Rome and what you can do with the time you have allocated to the city.
Are you ready to start planning and wondering long to stay in the Eternal City? If you have a limited amount of time in Italy or a fixed vacation, it’s not easy to decide how long to stay in each place you included in your itinerary. But really, how many days do you need in Rome? Are 2 days enough? Three days?
We are here to make your Rome trip planning easier and help you decide how long to devote to our beautiful city by laying clearly how much time you need in the most famous landmarks, how long you need to move around, and some precious tips to save time.
Table of Contents
- 1 How many days in Rome is enough?
- 2 Should I spend more time in Rome or Florence?
- 3 Is Rome a walkable city?
- 4 How can you save time in Rome?
- 5 What landmarks take more time in Rome?
How many days in Rome is enough?
There is no easy answer to this question. How many days you need in Rome only depends on your very personal choices and needs. If you are spending only 2 weeks in Italy, then I would suggest devoting to Rome for at least 4 days as it’s the largest city and boasts millennia of history and art under its collective belt.
However, if you are staying longer in Italy or if you are only traveling to the capital, I suggest spending at least one week in Rome. This is the perfect amount of time to see the main sights, enter the museums and attractions you’ve always wanted to visit, explore some lesser-known neighborhoods, and even take a day trip.
Can I visit Rome in 1 day?
If you are on a layover and have no other choice, then I’d say make the most of your day in Rome. But if there is any chance you can stretch your trip a little longer, then keep in mind that one day is very little time to do most of the things Rome is famous for.
What can you do in 24 hours in Rome? To start, you can walk around Rome’s Centro Storico and see all the artistic and historical landmarks you can find open-air. If you have only one day in Rome, probably you won’t manage to enter any of the attractions and you will be mainly walking
If it’s your first trip ever to the city, in such a small amount of time, I suggest spending one day in Rome’s historic center as it’s packed with art and history, from the churches full of artwork to the noble palaces.
Without entering the Colosseum, in one day you can also view the vestiges of Ancient Rome. By walking along Via dei Fori Imperiali from Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum, you will have a great view of the Imperial Fora, while from Capitoline Hill, behind the Capitoline Museums, you will be able to enjoy a privileged view of the Roman Forum.
>> For more planning tips, read our guide to visiting Rome in a day.
Is 2 days enough in Rome?
Let’s say you can only afford a weekend in Rome. While it’s not enough to fully explore the city, with proper planning, you can see much of the historic center and even enter a few of the major landmarks.
If you are into Ancient Rome, devote half a day to visiting the Colosseum and the large archaeological sites of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. If you enjoy exploring museums, in 2 days you can fit in an entrance to the Capitoline Museums, Museo Nazionale Romano in the Diocletian Baths, or noble palaces displaying huge art collections such as Palazzo Barberini and Galleria Borghese.
>> For more tips, read our suggestions to plan a great 2-day Rome itinerary.
Is 3 days enough to visit Rome?
Three days in Rome is a fair compromise between a long weekend and a short holiday. I’m not saying that 72 hours will give you plenty of room to see Rome far and wide, but in 3 days you will have time to actually enjoy your trip without choking on your lunch to keep running.
Staying in Rome for three days you will have the time to make it a diverse holiday and include a mixed range of sights and activities. If it’s your first time in Rome, start with the archaeological sites of Ancient Rome, carry on with the Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces of the historic center, and visit the famous sights of the Vatican.
Keep in mind that the archaeological sites of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill will take up roughly half a day and afterward, you will be pretty tired. If you are doing this in the morning, once you are done, I suggest you enjoy a relaxing meal and take your time to stroll around the city center and visit a piazza or two. Leave the Vatican until the next day otherwise you will really risk draining all your energy immediately and not enjoying the rest of your trip.
If you plan properly and follow your schedule, you can even fit in a walk around the alleys of the lovely Trastevere neighborhood and enjoy a relaxed meal there.
>> For more tips, read our tips for a great 3-day Rome itinerary.
Are 4 days in Rome too much?
Four days is definitely not too much for such as big city like Rome packed with historical sites and artwork. I find that it’s actually a good amount of time to set for Rome when planning your trip to Italy. Why? Because in four days, you can better enjoy the city, take your time inside a museum, sip a cocktail in a rooftop bar, or go for an aperitif.
Certainly, four days give you more time to engage in some extra activities such as taking a cooking class, visiting a local market, or exploring offbeat landmarks and neighborhoods such as Ostiense and Testaccio.
If you wish to take a break from the hastle of the big city, in four days you can plan a day trip from Rome and explore the surroundings, the Lazio region, or even stray further to lovely cities in the Umbria and Tuscany regions.
>> For more tips, check out our guide to spending 4 days in Rome.
Should I spend more time in Rome or Florence?
Knowing both cities fairly well, I suggest you spend more time in Rome than in Florence. Rome is much larger and so is its historic center compared to Florence’s one. Even though also Florence has a huge collection of artifacts, Rome is a much bigger city, it requires more time to go from a neighborhood to another one, and has more historical sites to visit.
Both cities have fantastic foods, traditional dishes, and restaurants, but while in Florence most places to visit will be close or within an easy reach from each other, Rome will require more walking and the occasional use of public transport.
Is Rome a walkable city?
Rome is a very walkable city. In fact, in the city center, I totally suggest you walk in between landmarks so that you don’t miss masterpieces by important artists that are just in the open forming a giant city-wide museums. These can be fountains, palaces, squares, and decorative sculptures that can be found anywhere in the Centro Storico.
The historic center is pretty large and surrounded by other neighborhoods such as Monti, Oppian Hill, Caelian Hill, and Esquiline Hil that are also popular destinations because rich in historical places and artwork.
But really, how many days do you need in Rome if you have to walk everywhere? While I suggest walking in the city center, if you are limited in time and want to see one of the neighboring areas, you might want to resort to public transport: metro trains are frequent and connect several place.
How can you save time in Rome?
There are a few tricks you can use to save time in Rome, especially if you are staying only a few days and want to visit as much as you can.
Join a tour
This is one of the first things I would suggest to someone who’s in Rome for a very limited time and want to see as many famous landmarks as possible. There are many types of private tours in Rome showing different areas and different aspects of the city.
There are sort of “welcome” tours, often running in the evening where a local guide will take you directly to see the most famous landmarks saving you the time to find your way in a city that you still don’t know.
Or there are also tours of big draws such as the Vatican Museums that are very useful because they include the famous masterpieces it would take you a while to find in such a huge gallery. The same goes if you want to visit places that are far from the city center, such as the tour we took of the Appian Way, because the tour usually includes a private vehicle and you get to the destination faster than you would using local transport.
Buy skip-the-line tickets
If you are an independent traveler and don’t want to join a tour, you can save time by purchasing a skip-the-line ticket online. This is available for most attractions but it becomes necessary in places like the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums because the queue there is always very long.
This might not be necessary for more quiet attractions such as the Baths of Caracalla or Centrale Montemartini in Ostiense, but it can be useful for other places such as Galleria Borghese, where in the high season previous booking is required, and Palazzo Pamphilj in Via del Corso.
Use public transport
To save some time moving around, I suggest using Rome’s public transport. While within the historic center walking is probably easier, if you are really short in time, you can take the metro or some local buses, especially those that have a circular route.
If you are going to neighboring districts such as Monti or Prati, you can take a bus, tram, or metro. This is obviously more true if your hotel is not in the city center. Even if you are not too far, if you only have a few days in Rome and want to start sightseeing early morning, using public transport will get you to destination quicker.
Stay near the metro
A clever ruse to cut on moving around is to book your hotel room near a metro station. Rome’s metro counts three lines and is quite widespread. Reaching several districts, this is a great trick to adopt if you are traveling on a budget and booked your room far from the city center to save some bucks.
By taking the metro, you will reach the city center and most of the important landmarks much faster than by bus. Trains are also a fast means of transportation in Rome and there are several train stations, so this is also a great option to keep in mind when you are looking for a hotel room.
Eat on the go
Among the reasons that drive people to Rome, food certainly plays a big role. If you are in a rush, however, lingering too long in a restaurant will be too time-consuming and will take up too much time from your sightseeing. But don’t worry, the capital of Italy has something that fits anyone’s needs, especially food-wise.
If you don’t have the time to stop at a restaurant for lunch, grab a delicious meal on the go and keep on exploring the city. Thankfully, there are many fantastic street food places in Rome so literally, every taste bud and preference is met.
Of course, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go to a restaurant in Rome if you have limited time, but maybe you will want to leave it for dinner once your day of sightseeing is over.
Start bright and early
Another great way to optimize your time in Rome is to leave your room early in the morning and start your tours and visits as soon as the landmarks open. This will allow you to visit as many attractions as possible before they close and also take your time to walk from one another.
What landmarks take more time in Rome?
In this section, we suggest what’s the right amount of time to devote to the most famous landmarks in Rome and how long it takes to reach them. This way, you can decide which ones fit your schedule and how many to include in your trip.
We are mainly including the ticketed attractions and museums because these are the most time-consuming. If you visit a piazza, it’s really up to you how long you want to linger to admire the art all around or indulge in some people-watching.
To visit the Colosseum, I would allocate between 1 to 2 hours. Unlike what many people think, there is actually plenty to see in the Colosseum, several floors, several areas, and several sections. On the top floor, you will also see panels narrating everything concerning the structure, the building process, and even what the audience used to do during the shows.
Colosseum + Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
Since the ticket to the Colosseum includes also the rest of nearby ancient Roman ruins, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, and is valid for two days, many decide to visit them all in one go. Rightly so as they are very important.
To visit all these vestiges from Ancient Rome part of the same archaeological site with the Colosseum you are going to need no less than 4 to 5 hours.
The Vatican Museums is also a landmark that will take much of your time for a number of reasons. First of all the initial queue, easily avoidable if you buy a fast-track entrance online, and then because it’s really a huge gallery.
For the Vatican Museums you will need at least 3 hours. This will give you the time to visit the most important sights such as the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Rooms, and the Gallery of the Maps. But if you want to visit also lesser-known sections like the carriages pavilion and the several museums that tell much of the history of Rome and of the Vatican, 5 hours is what you need to visit the Vatican Museums.
Saint Peter’s Basilica
This is another major landmark to include when visiting the Vatican. Rich in history and packed with artwork, the Basilica of Saint Peter is not a ticketed sights and the entrance is free of charge. This means that you can’t really skip the line, unless you join a tour of the Vatican where the basilica is included and you access from inside.
Visiting Saint Peter’s Basilica can take you from 30 minutes up to around 2 hours, depending on how deep you want to go exploring the masterpieces and also if you want to go down the crypt where the popes are buried.
If you want to visit also the fantastic underground site of the ancient Roman necropolis underneath the Vatican Basilica where the actual burial place of the Apostle Peter, you will need to set aside another extra hour and a half.
This fantastic museum inside Villa Borghese gardens displays rich collection of ancient classic sculptures and mosaics, as well as paintings and sculptures dating between the 15th and the 19th centuries.
To visit Galleria Borghese, you need to set aside at least 2 hours. You will also need to consider the time to get there, which will likely involve a walk inside Villa Borghese, and whether or not afterwards you want to visit the other sights of the park.
The Capitoline Museums are one of the most important museums about Rome’s birthday and foundation and history. It comprises several floors and themed halls divided by age and type of displayed artwork.
The exhibition of the Musei Capitolini starts from before Rome to modern age, so the collection is very large. Unless you are taking a tour, I suggest taking your time to read the descriptive panels to better understand what you are seeing. For a complete visit, the Capitoline Museums will take you around 2 hours.
On the upper floor there is a terrace with a fantastic view, a bar, and a restaurant, in case you want to stop there for lunch or take a break with coffee, tea, and pastries.
Museo Nazionale Romano – Diocletian Baths
Museo Nazionale Romano counts four locations in Rome, and the one in the Diocletian Baths near Termini station is the world’s largest collection of ancient Roman artifacts, tools, objects, and sculptures. History buffs will adore this museum.
Depending on how much you are into history, a visit here will obviously take you longer, but generally speaking, I recommend no less than 2 hours.
Baths of Caracalla
To see the Baths of Caracalla, set aside at least one hour. In one hour, however, you will need to go quite fast.
My visit lasted 2 hours because I took my time observing and enjoying the place. The Baths have also an underground floor where is Rome’s largest Mithra temple found so far, the library, and where the slaves would keep the water hot by feeding the furnaces.
Rome Catacombs are some of the most popular and fascinating landmarks, but most of them are not in the immediate city center. This means that you need to consider quite some time for the transfers back and forth.
The closest catacombs are those of Priscilla at the entrance of Villa Ada and the ones in the complex of Sant’Agnese Fuori le Mura in Via Nomentana, while the most famous are along the Appian Way, the Catacombs of St. Calixtus, Domitilla, and Saint Sebastian.
You can’t visit any of these catacombs on your own. Instead, you need to be part of a tour. This can be a private certified tour or you can join the on-site tour run by the local staff.
So how many days do you need in Rome to include all the catacombs?
For each of the catacombs, you need to set at least 2 hours, even more if you are traveling independently and need to wait for the group to form at the entrance of the sight and the tour to start. If you take a private tour, set aside around 4 hours but you will likely be visiting more than one catacomb and certainly other sites too.