Sometimes, in order to make traveling a reality, sacrifices have to be made. In a perfect world, time would be on our side. Our vacations would last forever and every destination would be reachable. Unfortunately, though, that isn’t the case. Most times, our trips are limited. Let’s say you want to visit 10 countries in eight days. These types of trips can be whirlwinds of wonder and joy, but they can also be extremely overwhelming. It can be hard to know exactly what to see in any given location when time is of the essence. But have no fear; we’re here to help. If your plan is to visit Rome, Italy, in one day, consult the list below. We’ll tell you exactly what to see and when to see them. Rome might not have been built in a day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see the very best of it in that time. Here are our recommendations:
Voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and considered the greatest monument of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum is truly an authentic and inspiring experience. It is etched with history and is testament to man’s ingenuity. When you visit, pay particular attention to the Roman numeral IV climbing the walls. Then, explore the Forum, which is a nearby rectangular plaza that was historically surrounded by the most important Roman government buildings. For centuries, the Forum was the center of public life in Rome, causing it to be called the most celebrated meeting place in the world and in history. The best time to visit these historical sites is early morning, when lines are shorter and crowds are thinner. Purchase your tickets online beforehand and skip guided tours.
Picture of the Colosseum on a sunny day ( and it is certainly a lot more crowed than what this picture is showing, so plan ahead).
To Michelangelo, the Pantheon was the work of angels. It is a perfect sphere that rests on a cylindrical base. The only source of light comes from the oculus, which is the circular opening in the center of the dome, and the floor is slanted to drain rain. Considered one of the most popular buildings in the world, its architecture and design has been emulated many times. In fact, Thomas Jefferson admired it so much he modeled his home and the Rotunda, at the University of Virginia, after it. His memorial in Washington D.C. is also designed to look like the Pantheon. For almost 1,800 years – from 125 A.D. until the 20th century – it was the largest concrete structure in the world. It is the burial site of the artist Raphael and houses the tombs of King Vittorio Emanuele II, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Pantheon is spectacular and definitely a must-see during your time in Rome.
This picture shows the beautiful dome of the Pantheon.
This picture shows sunlight coming through the oculus around noon.
This picture shows the outside of the Pantheon.
- Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is one of Rome’s most iconic sites. Located in the Trevi district, the Fountain is believed to be the most recognizable and beloved fountain in the world. Towering above all is the grandeur statue of Oceano and his intricately designed shell-shaped chariot. Designed by Roman architect Nichola Salvi, it a perfect blend of classicism and baroque. Each year, an estimated 7 million to 10 million tourists visit Rome, and 95 percent of them visit the Trevi Fountain. The other 5 percent have already seen it! Like all masterpieces, the Trevi Fountain tells a story. The fountain’s statues and relics are allegorical, and symbolize and convey a specific concept. Legend states that if you throw one coin in, you’re guaranteed to return to Rome. If you toss in two coins, you’ll fall in love with an Italian, and three coins mean you will marry an Italian! Mama Mia! As the Fountain has just recently reopened after 17 months of restorative work, seeing it now will truly be a highlight of your 24 hours in Rome.
Curious about what happens to all the money thrown in the Trevi Fountain? Each night, hundreds to thousands of Euros are collected from the bottom of the fountain, and the money is donated to a Catholic charity, which helps Roman families in need.
Picture of the Trevi Fountain
Another picture of the fountain from a higher perspective
- Spanish Steps
Without a doubt, the Spanish Steps provide one of the best views of Rome. Weaving in between historically rich buildings and surrounded by beautiful flora, the Spanish Steps lead to an early baroque fountain called Fontana della Barcaccia, or “Fountain of the Old Boat.” According to folk legend, a fishing boat was carried to this exact spot during a massive flood of the Tiber River in the 16th century.
Contrary to its name, the Spanish Steps were not built by the Spaniards. Following a competition in 1717, the steps were designed by Francesco de Sanctis, an Italian architect, and financed by French diplomat Etienne Gueffier’s bequeathed.
As you climb to the top of the stairs, you will want to visit the left hand side, as the view from this position is utterly breathtaking. Before you embark on this journey, though, we recommend you wear good footwear. There are a lot of steps!
A picture of the Spanish Steps in the summer (These steps are part of the Spanish Square or, in Italian, Piazza di Spagna). As of the writting time of this article, Spanish steps is currently under restoration :( so it doesnt look exactly like in the picture but it is still a great place to hang out!
A picture of the Spanish Steps in front of the fountain
A trip to Rome is incomplete without seeing the smallest city-state country in the world, the Vatican. Home to Pope Francis, the city is an inspiration to people from all walks of life. In case you are not familiar with this tradition, the best place to sneeze in all of Italy is near the Vatican. You may get lucky and be blessed by the Pope!
To make the most of your time, we recommend visiting the Vatican Museums first. Displaying the immense collections built up by Popes throughout the centuries, the Museums originated from the sculpture collection of Julius II in the 16th century. As with the Colosseum, buy your tickets online to avoid waiting in line.
Most notable is the unparalleled Sistine Chapel. As the site of the Papal conclave, you will notice breathtaking frescos painted throughout history. And if that isn’t enough to satiate your hunger for rich culture and art, walk over to St. Peter’s Basilica for another magnificent view of Rome. An Italian church, the Basilica is considered one of the most renowned works of Renaissance architecture and is one of the largest churches in the world.
Vatican from above: St. Peter´s Basilica
An aerial view of the Vatican
The creation of Adam on the Sistine Chapel´s ceiling (Michelangelo)
- Night Stroll Through Trastevere
To finish off your day in Rome, you must visit Trastevere for dinner and a nightly stroll. Crossing the Tiber River, you will be charmed by this medieval district that runs at a much slower pace than the tourist-packed highlights of Rome. Known for its captivating personality, you will thoroughly enjoy Trastevere’s pizza, craft beer and wine. It is honestly the best way to discover Rome’s hidden treasures and history.
At the end of the day, you will sleep soundly knowing you have seen the very best of Rome.
Although seeing Rome in one day can be challenging, it’s not impossible. Just follow these tips and you will have no problem crossing off everything on your must-see list. Don’t worry! If you tossed a coin in the Trevi Fountain, you are sure to come back! See you later, gladiator!
Picture of this picturesque neighborhood: