I’m not going to lie: if Rome wasn’t built in a day, it’s equally impossible to see it all in one day. However, as with Jack Bauer, a decent wanderer can do the unimaginable in twenty-four hours. A day is enough to see a lot of the city and have a taste of what once was the capital of the world and still remains as one of the biggest and most charming European capitals. Whether Rome is in your bucket list or you’re just there transiting between countries, the following route will give you a good glimpse of the city and save you tons of time, allowing you to do more in your stay or leaving you with plenty of good pictures and eager to come back to discover more.
As a Rome lover and self-proclaimed expert, I have created a route plan to explore the city by foot, in my opinion, the best way to feel and connect with a new place. Attractions like museums and galleries that need more time to be visited were avoided in this route plan. Leave them for when you have enough time to spend! The suggestions below are “stop points”, but in Rome it’s best to keep your eyes wide-open – you never know which surprises are ahead. Enjoy it!
STARTING POINT: TERMINI STATION
The main railway and metro station in Rome is also the starting point of this journey. By crossing the Piazza del Cinquecento right in front of the station you reach the Baths of Diocletian, the first point of interest on the route. Built in the first centuries AD, they were the largest imperial baths and now the most well-conserved. The visit is paid and prices vary according to the age of the visitor. Know more about the Baths of Diocletian here.
NEXT STOP: SPANISH STEPS
At the left side of the Baths, more precisely, in front of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri church is Piazza della Republica. Take the right into Via Barberini and follow ahead until Via dei Due Macelli, turning right and following until the end. In Via di Propaganda turn right and wait until you see Piazza di Spagna, probably the most famous piazza in Rome. There you will be able to see and photograph the Barcaccia Fountain sculpted by the Berninis (Pietro & Gian Lorenzo). Piazza di Spagna is also a good place for those who enjoy some expensive shopping: the best designer brands can be found there. Know more about Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps here.
NEXT STOP: PIAZZA DEL POPOLO
From Piazza di Spagna, follow right into Via del Babuino until Piazza del Popolo, which is where, for centuries, public executions took place and where you will be able to see the Egyptian Obelisk of Rameses II. You can also pay some attention at the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, the Porta del Popolo and the Neptune’s Fountain, other main features of the square. Know more about Piazza del Popolo here.
NEXT STOP: CASTEL SANT’ANGELO
Taking Via Ferdinando di Savoia, behind the Neptune’s Fountain, follow ahead crossing the beautiful Tiber River and turn left following the path parallel to the river until you get to the castle on your right. The castle that was actually a mausoleum is now a museum and is always holding some interesting event that is worth to be seen. Know more about the Castel Sant’Angelo here.
NEXT STOP: PIAZZA NAVONA
Crossing the Sant’Angelo bridge (right in front of the Castle), turn left and walk the other side of the river back in direction to Piazza del Popolo. Turn right in Piazza di Ponte Umberto I (in front of the next bridge) and follow until Piazza di Tor Sanguinea, turning left and then right in Via Agonale. Piazza Navona is an incredible place for a lunch break, with elegant restaurants (with affordable prices) in a beautiful setting, where the white baroque architecture predominates. Know more about Piazza Navona here.
NEXT STOP: PANTHEON
Back in Via Agonale (same direction you came from), turn right and then right again into Piazza delle Cinque Lune (Corso del Rinascimento). Turn left into Via San Giovanni d’Arco and follow ahead until Via della Rosetta, turning right then and following until Piazza della Rotonda. The Pantheon is by far my favourite attraction in Rome. It’s free to visit, but I highly recommend buying an audio guide that explains exactly what is what in the building. The surrounding area is also full of nice shops and restaurants that are worth a look. Know more about the Pantheon here.
NEXT STOP: TREVI FOUNTAIN
At the left of the Pantheon, follow Via del Seminario until Via del Corso, then turn left. Turn right into Via delle Muratte until you see a big crowd of people. The Trevi Fountain will be on the left, somewhere behind them. Probably the most famous in the world, the Trevi Fountain is a baroque masterpiece already featured in several films and overly visited by people from all over the world, what means a big dose of patience will be needed in order to get some pictures. It’s not as bad as it sounds, considering the best ice cream shops of Rome are just a few yards away – you can have a very sweet distraction! If you have the chance, don’t leave without throwing a coin over your shoulder for a best luck bet. Know more about the Trevi Fountain here.
NEXT STOP: COLISEUM & PALATINE HILL
Turn right at Via di San Vincenzo (first street almost in front of the fountain). Turn left in Via della Dataria until the Salita di Montecavallo, a long flight of stairs. At the top of the steps, it’s the Quirinale Obelisk, in front of Via del Quirinale where you turn left and then right in Via della Consulta. In few minutes, it takes you to Via Nazionale, a large avenue with plenty of shops and potential places for a quick snack. Crossing Via Nazionale, immediately in front of Via della Consulta is Via dei Serpenti, where you should be able to see the magnitude of the Coliseum at distance. Follow ahead until there.
The Coliseum needs no introduction – it’s certainly the most recognisable Roman postcards ever, but also the Pallatine Hill and nearby ruins should be prioritised – as a good traveller, I’m sure you will want to see where Rome was first originated. Know more about the Coliseum and the Palatine Hill here and here.
NEXT & LAST STOP: BASILICA OF SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE
Take the Via degli Annibaldi at the right of the Coliseum (opposite side of the Arch of Constantine) and follow it until Via Cavour, then turn right. Keep walking for about a mile and you will see a huge church and another obelisk at your right side at some point. The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore is an impressive piece of architecture full of beautiful ancient mosaics and frescoes for the sake of the art lovers. Know more about the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore here.
Back in Via Cavour, keep following ahead and you will end up in Piazza del Cinquecento, where everything started and must also ends.
Although my route is really easy to follow, I highly recommend checking google maps online beforehand, just to get familiarised with the course. Also, if you are the kind of person who gets lost even in shopping centres, your phone GPS can be quite useful… Furthermore, I hope you fall in love with the eternal city as much as I did. Happy exploring!
You can see more pictures of my trips to Rome here.
If you think you might need to get around by public transport, check out my tips HERE.
What about you? Have you ever been to Rome? Did you like the city? Let us know in the comments! (And don’t forget to share it if you like it!)