Are you looking for the perfect 4 days in Rome itinerary? If so, then this is the post you need to read! There are only so many hours in a day and days in a week. If you are looking to book a quick trip to Italy or have a quick stopover between destinations and want the biggest bang for your time in Rome, this 4 day itinerary is ideal for you.
Italy is one of the number one destinations for travelers. With all of its history and captivating beauty it is no wonder people seek this country out in their travels. While Italy has many provinces and all with many things to enchant the traveler and inspire the wanderer, Rome is undoubtedly the hub for it all. This whirlwind tour will take you and help you manage your time to see Rome in 4 days.
4 Days in Rome Itinerary
Pro Tip: With international travel and time zone changes, your arrival day should not be the first day of your tour of the city. Use your arrival day to acclimate and prepare yourself for this perfect 4 days in Rome trip. Explore the area around your accommodations, find some good local food, and get a good nights rest before your amazing whirlwind tour of Rome begins!
The Perfect 4 Days in Rome Itinerary [+ Skip the line details]
Day 1: Begin your 4 days in Rome with the history and visit Ancient Rome
To start Day 1 of your 4 days in Rome, get up early and be prepared to excite your imagination as you are transported back to Ancient Rome. This first day you will get to see ancient architecture, lifestyles, and see how early Romans conducted politics and business. As mentioned, an early start is best to fully experience this excitingly packed day.
Stop 1: The Colosseum
Italy is a country rich in history and tradition, the Colosseum is no exception to both of those. When starting your 4 days in Rome, the Coliseum should be on the top of your list. The Colosseum is located in the very center of the city. The Colosseum was built from travertine, volcanic rock, and brick faced concrete. It is the largest amphitheater ever built, designed to hold 50,000 spectators. This architectural marvel was built to host re-enactments of hunts, battles, and the very well know gladiatorial events! Roman architecture was ahead of its time using underground tunneling systems (hypogeum) to transport its animals, competitors, and actors, which would then be elevated above ground through a shaft. Very little of the main arena floor exists now, but you can still see the hypogeum.
Skip the Line: The Colosseum is one of the busiest destinations in Rome, for that reason, you will want to go early and start your day there. There are many tours available that allow you to skip the line and bypass all the general tourism. There are many company’s that offer these tours and at affordable prices. Make sure you check them out and book them ahead of time. Double check their cancellation and trip insurance policies too, that way you are guaranteed a worry-free time.
Stop 2: Arch of Constantine
Next to the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine and a great second stop on day one of your 4 days in Rome. This arch was a tribute to Constantine and include a collage of historical Roman History carved into its edifices. This is the last standing triumph arch in Rome, it has three archways all made of brick and faced with marble. When looking at the arch, make sure you take in the details of the Roman history and one of the last known arts and structures erected as Greek styling fell away to Roman structure.
Skip the line: The Arch of Constantine is located between the Colosseum and Palatine Hill. It is not as heavily trafficked as the Colosseum but still has a lot of visitors. As you cannot get near the arch, a tour is the best route. Book a tour that will take you through all the historical art carved into the building. There a quite a few skip the line bundles for the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, depending on your budget, this may be the best way to see both.
Stop 3: Palatine Hill
As you work your way down the list for your Rome in 4 days tour, Palatine Hill is right after the Arch of Constantine. Palatine Hill is the center of the seven hills of Rome. From the top of the hill you can see the Roman Forum. This hill was the ancient Roman Beverly Hills and is where the rich and people of note built their homes and lived. Palatine, meaning palace, is where the mythological battle between Hercules and Cacus occurred. Through excavation, this hill has shown to have inhabitants up to a century before the early establishments of Rome. Make your way to this majestic hilltop to see how the ancient celebrities lived.
Skip the line: This tour is also available in a package that includes tours for all the Ancient Roman destinations. We highly recommend you do your research on the best skip the line tickets and pricing for your specific needs. To guarantee that you see the sights and not spend all your time in line, there are a lot of options for bundling and saving money, there is sure to be a package that firs your budget.
Stop 4: Roman Forum
The original town center for Rome, this area housed government buildings, a marketplace, and a gathering place for town socializing. The forum hosted elections, public trials, gladiatorial trials, and speech making. Many important and ancient buildings are in the forum, including the Temple of Vesta, the surrounding complex of Vestal Virgins, the Comitium, and the original Senate. This destination definitely needs to be on your list for day one!
Skip the line: Tickets are available to skip the line for these ruins. Much like the other stops in Ancient Rome, the early part of the day offers the least amount of traffic and tourists, so skip the line is definitely advised to save time and have more time to explore instead of standing in line.
Stop 5: Trajan’s Market
This large collection of ruins sits at the opposite end of the Colosseum. These ruins, once thought to be the oldest shopping mall, are unearthing new secrets during excavation and rehabilitation. These buildings are also now thought to house administrative offices, living quarters, a library, and YES a shopping mall. You won’t be able to shop this mall, but you will definitely get to explore all the areas of Roman life and how Roman’s interacted in their day to day activities. You can still access much of this multilevel structure. If you go exploring, please remember to be respectful of these ancient and time captured buildings!
Stop 6: Jewish Ghetto
This area is also known as the Roman Ghetto and was established in 1555. Due to a Papal Bull, this area was constructed to house the nearly 2,000 Jewish citizens of Rome and confine their living to one area of the city. The ghetto was a walled area with gates that were locked at night to keep the Jewish community segregated. While there are no great buildings of note in the ghetto, there is plenty of architectural beauty to mystify the mind and stun the eye. Make sure to check this neighborhood out and see how the communities lived less than 500 years ago.
Stop 7: The Pantheon
The Pantheon was built sometime around 126 AD, exact dates are unknown as it replaced an older building and those original inscriptions were kept and dedicated to the new building. The Pantheon, once a temple to honor the Roman Gods is now a modern church. One of the best preserved buildings in Ancient Rome, you can be transported back in time to see how the Romans saw the world around them. Make sure you stop here and see the granite Corinthian Columns and coffered concrete dome, truly amazing architectural wonders!
Skip the line: The Pantheon is a major attraction, especially because of the quality of its preservation and continued function. For that reason, skip the line tickets are highly encouraged. We recommend going towards the end of the day after the early afternoon traffic has started to die down.
Stop 8: Piazza Navona
Built to house small games for the viewing pleasure of the Romans, this Piazza houses three fountains. Two are at the southern end of the piazza, one of which is the Fountain of Neptune. In the center of the Piazza Navona is the Fountain of Four Rivers with en Egyptian Obelisk rising from the center. This mixing of cultures truly defines how far the Roman reach was and how much other cultures influenced their world. The Piazza Navona is beautiful to behold at sunset and will be a perfect way to cap of your first day on your 4 days in Rome.
Day Two: Holy Rome + The Vatican
Day 2 of your 4 days in Rome will be dedicated mostly to the Vatican Museums and St. Peters Basilica. Even with tickets to skip the line, these are heavily trafficked destinations and will require your patience and planning. After dedicating time to the first three stops, finish up your day with some lighter trafficked destinations.
Stop 1: The Vatican Museums
Located within the city walls of Vatican City, lies the Vatican Museums. You will want to plan on starting early day two and be prepared to spend the bulk of your morning exploring the Vatican Museums. Be prepared to go back in time with history as you see the vast collections of art and sculptures from Popes of the past. This stop is sure to be one of the time worthy events on your 4 days in Rome.
Skip the line: Tickets sell out fast, so you will also want to get your tickets in advance. Due to the size and traffic of other tourists and Romans, this will be the place you will need and want to take your time.
Stop 2: St. Peters Basilica
Located in the Piazza San Pietro, St. Peter’s Basilica is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. This stunning shrine was built in 1506 during the Italian Renaissance. Visually stunning, the interior of the Basilica is jaw dropping and will not disappoint. Catholic tradition holds that Saint Peter, one of the Apostles of Jesus is buried here, making it a desired stop for many tourists and those of the Catholic religion.
Skip the line: Make sure to book tickets in advance, because while access to St. Peter’s Basilica is free, you will wait in line a really long time if you don’t purchase entrance. Plan on the first two stops of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica taking up the bulk of your day with 6-8 hours of dedicated time.
Stop 3: Climb the Dome of St. Peters Basilica
Finishing your visit to St. Peter’s Basilica MUST include climbing the dome. While the entrance to the Basilica is free, there is an admission cost to climb the dome and it’s cash only so make sure you are prepared. The cost is worth it though to get to the top and see the amazing vistas of Vatican City and Italy. A perfect way to cap of this religious experience before heading to the next stop.
Stop 4: Via Farnesina
Next on the stop for your 4 days in Rome, visit Via Farnesina. Built during the Renaissance this villa located in Trastevere. This villa was built for Pope Julius II treasurer, this stunning building will captivate you and make you think of a modern castle. This villa was decorated with a stunning garden and amazing frescoes. After the overwhelming size and magnitude of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, this will be a nice reprieve from the overwhelming spaces. Don’t let that fool you though, this villa is stunning and its architecture will dazzle you.
Stop 5: Santa Maria in Trastavere
Santa Maria Trastevere is a smaller basilica, but filled with amazing art to look at. Your last stop of day two for your 4 days in Rome itinerary will not disappoint. On the throne there is an inscription that it was the first church dedicated to the Mother Mary in Rome and within that they put all their heart and soul in resining this artistic masterpiece. While very common and simple on the outside, the inside will leave you breathless with its stunning and amazing mosaics. The stunning artisan work will leave your head reeling and be a perfect wrap up.
Day Three: Classic Rome
Your 4 days in Rome itinerary would not be complete without experiencing classic Rome. When you think of old black and white movies, or Roman Holiday, or any time stories reference the romance of Rome, classic Rome is where it all takes place. The next six stops on this third day of your 4 days in Rome will not disappoint.
Stop 1: Spanish Steps
This steep staircase has 174 steps from bottom to top. This impressive staircase connects Piazza di Spagna and the church Trinita dei Monti. A common meeting ground for locals and tourists a like, the stairs offer a nice seating space for those who wish to take a break on their whirlwind tour. Make sure to start your day as early as possible to see the Spanish Steps. This popular spot is sure to be bombarded by locals and tourists alike, so you will want to get there early.
Stop 2: Trevi Fountain
After visiting the Spanish Steps, you will want to make your way to this iconic fountain which hosted the movie Roman Holiday. You will also want to get to Trevi Fountain early in the day as it gets very crowded. The original sketches for the Trevi Fountain were found inadequate by Pope Urban VIII and so he commissioned to have something more grandiose designed and erected. Without his foresight, we would not have the architectural marvel we have today. While you cannot wade in the blue waters of the fountain, you can certainly sit by it and have your picture taken.
Stop 3: Altar of the Fatherland
Altar of the Fatherland, also known as the Vittorio Emmanuele II Monument, or Altar della Patria, was built in a neo-classical rendition of the Roman Forum. This monument is revered by Romans and all Italy alike, it represents the unification of Italy and the strength of being one country in solidarity. This establishment is very much Italy’s sign of patriotism. While there, make sure you take time to look at the fountain and all the sculptures, including the bronze rendition of Victor Emmanuel II.
Stop 4: Castel Sant’Angelo
On your fourth stop for your 4 days in Rome, visit the Castel Sant’Angelo. This towering building is a mausoleum and contains the tomb of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. This mausoleum has had a variety of intended uses, from military staging to castle. Castel Sant’Angelo is also the destination for many sculptures, including the famous Michael the Archangel sheathing his sword. Definitely worth a stop to see the history, sculptures, and Tiber river.
Skip the line: Castel Sant’Angelo can get quit busy depending on the time day and year. To be safe, make sure you secure tickets to help bypass any crowds or locals that may be waiting to see this magnificent mausoleum and fortified castle.
Stop 5: Piazza del Popolo
The Piazza del Popolo, or the “peoples square,” houses the twin churches. These two side by side churches are separated only by the Via del Corso exits. In front of these two churches also rests the Egyptian Obelisk of Ramsses the II. Walk through the Porta del Popolo to explore this amazing spot. After viewing the churches and the obelisk, make sure you explore and see the various fountains that decorate the square.
Stop 6: Walk Around Vatican City at Night
There are fewer things more stunning or as awe-inspiring as the Vatican at night. While the buildings themselves are closed at nighttime, you can explore the city and take in the absolute serene beauty of the lit up buildings and piazzas. There are guided tours that sell tickets to take you around this amazing city and we recommend finding tickets and joining one of these tours. While the tourism may be less at night, there are still quite a few people roaming around this Roman destination.
Day 4: Offbeat Rome and Day Trips
Your fourth and final day of your 4 days in Rome itinerary, sets you up to see some unique sights or spend your time exploring surrounding areas. This is a perfect day to see some more obscure aspects of Rome or some additional destinations to round out your trip. In addition to the below recommendations and stops, we added a couple other quick day trip stops to wrap up your day.
Stop 1: The Pyramid of Gaius Cestius
With modern Rome surrounding this ancient pyramid, you will find it hard to believe that it was built in 12-18 BC. This pyramid stands 100 Roman feet high with a 125 Roman feet base. A tomb for Gaius Cestius, the inside of the pyramid has a burial chamber. When opened in the 1600’s, it was discovered that the inside was covered with multiple frescoes and nothing else. While you cannot access the inside, the outside is definitely worth checking out.
Stop 2: Aventine Hill
One of the seven hills and sister to the Palatine Hill, Aventine Hill is the southernmost hill i the chain. The hill originally not included in the city of Rome or as part of it, is now encapsulated in the city. This hill houses elegant residences, churches, gardens, and the basilica of Santa Sabina. This hillside attraction marries modern Rome with Ancient Rome and allows you to enjoy and experience both in one stop on tour 4 days in Rome.
Stop 3: Villa Borghese/Galleria Borghese
This stop is really two in one. Galleria Borghese Villa was built at the start of the Renaissance and houses Borghese sculptures, paintings, and antiques. After viewing this amazing gallery of artistry, venture into the Borghese Gardens, which have become a tourist attraction of their own. The gardens are the third largest in Rome and feature exspansive landscapes and feature fountains. Take a step back in time and wander this amazing Villa and gardens.
Skip the line: You are able to purchase tickets for Villa Borghese to help you bypass the long lines that wait to enter the gallery and view. The gardens are open 24 hours, so enjoy the gallery before feeling rushed to see the gardens.
Stop 4: Take a Food Tour
Who doesn’t want to experience the best food there is to offer in Rome, Italy? When seeing Rome in 4 days a food tour MUST be one of the activities you partake in. Here are three different food tours to book and enjoy on this last day of your 4 days in Rome itinerary. The first is the Trastevere Street Eats Tour. This tour is three hours long and will take you to explore risotto balls all the way to Trapizzino and everything in between. Next, the Family Market – Food and Art Tour, also a three hour tour. This tour will take you to eateries while learning about history of Rome and its art. Tour three is the Taste of Testaccio and is four hours long. This tour takes you through the iconic city of Rome and lets you see how the locals eat and live. All three tours are amazing and well worth the time and money. Pick the one that appeals to you and your budget and enjoy!
Day Trips from Rome:
Take a trip to Tivoli and explore, this little jaunt is just under an hour. The Amalfi coast, this will be a little longer, plan for just over two hours to drive it and a little longer if you want to stop and eat. For more information on the Amalfi coast please see 10 Prettiest Small Towns in Italy You Must See. Also, Orvieto, which is also just under an hour. If you start early enough you can explore these excursions and the rest of the stop from day 4 and not miss a thing!
Where To Stay In Rome
When staying in Rome, you need to consider your budget and preferred location. Here is a brief list of hotels that cover the gamut in neighborhoods and price. For a more in depth review of these accommodations and neighborhoods, visit MUST READ: Where to stay in Rome By Neighborhood.
Located in Centro Storico: Relais Palazzo Taverna
Set in a 15th-century building, Relais Palazzo Taverna is a convenient and affordable option for accommodation in Rome. Each of the rooms is uniquely designed and offers a relaxing space for when you are not at one of Rome’s many attractions. It is also only a 15-minute walk from the Pantheon, Saint Peter’s Square, and the Trevi Fountain, so you will have many convenient sights to explore.
Located in Testaccio: Hotel Re Testa
Offering a terrace (one that is heated in the winter!), Hotel Re Testa is an excellent option for travelers who wish to relax in an area not crowded with tourists. While in Testaccio, make sure you check out Rome’s largest open-air market, Porta Portese and some of the local restaurants and cafes. Staying here will be a relaxing break, giving you more energy to explore the rest of Rome!
Located in Prati: Le Meridien Visconti Rome
Set between the Vatican on one side and the Spanish Steps on the other, Le Meridien Visconti Rome is the perfect place to stay while exploring Rome! If you are an art lover, you don’t even have to leave your hotel to enjoy the local artwork. There is a collection of contemporary Italian artwork in the lobby.
Located in Esquilino: Radisson Blu Es Hotel
There is certainly no lack of entertainment at the Radisson Blu Es Hotel. With a rooftop pool, spa, and multiple restaurants, there is plenty to occupy your time at the hotel. The hotel is across from Termini, the main train station in Rome, so it is very convenient to explore Rome.
Located in Monti: Monti Palace Hotel
Set conveniently in Monti, the Monti Palace Hotel is the perfect base for exploring Rome. The Colosseum is only a short walk away, and with the metro stop so close, seeing the rest of Rome is incredibly easy! The rooms are stylish and create a relaxing atmosphere. This is really one of the best places to stay in Rome because it is close to everything yet the amenities are wonderful.
Located in Trastevere: Horti 14 Borgo Trastevere
Horti 14 Borgo Trastevere is perfectly located and perfectly designed. It is right outside the center of the lively Trastevere. This means that while you can still be a part of the night scene, you can also go to bed early without worries. Vatican City is also only a 15-minute walk away from the hotel, so if you want to beat the crowds, this is a great place to stay in Rome. All of the rooms are stylish and unique. Just check out some of the murals in the rooms!
So there it is, an activity packed and inclusive guide to your whirlwind 4 days in Rome itinerary. This trip is sure to be nonstop and fun, treating you to history, culture, and modern Italy; all topped off with amazing food! Whether traveling on a tight or generous budget, this guide gives you all you need to know to make sure you make the most and best of your time. Let us know how your 4 days in Rome goes!