One Day in Rome: Essential Things to See

Are you planning to visit Italy and spend just one day in Rome? Our members ask us pretty frequently for recommendations on what they definitely shouldn’t miss if they only have limited time in each of the big Italian cities: Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan. 

Sometimes there’s only one day allotted to each city, so when members such as these plan an Italy trip, they have to be very strategic about what they build into their itineraries.

If you’re planning to spend just one day in Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan—or any combination of those cities—this article series is for you! We’ve put together our best recommendations from our partner, ItaliaTours, starting with the Eternal City.

One Day in Rome

It’s no secret that Rome is home to some of the most famous monuments in the entire world. A one-day visit to Rome should touch on these “biggies,” and then a future visit can focus more in-depth on some of the lesser-known sights when there’s more time to linger.

One day in Rome means you have to choose which of the big attractions you want to see most, since you certainly won’t have time for all of them. 

However, if you really don't want to narrow down your list, go all out with the Rome in a Day tour. On this 8.5-hour extravaganza, you'll get skip-the-line access to four different venues and be able to tick more than a dozen sites off your bucket list.

First, narrow it down to an itinerary that focuses on either touring ancient Rome or visiting the Vatican. Once you decide which of these two to focus on, you can choose what particular sights or tours you have time for.

One day in Rome: touring ancient Rome

If you want to focus on ancient Rome, make sure your itinerary includes visiting the Pantheon, which is free and doesn’t require a ticket to enter. Check out the Bernini obelisk nearby in Piazza Minerva. If you want the perfect introductory walk, check out our Heart of Rome tour that lasts about 90 minutes and gives you a fantastic overview of the city. 

Continue your ancient Rome tour itinerary with a visit to the Colosseum and Roman Forum. We really recommend taking a tour, because without a guide it’s difficult to understand all the particulars since only portions of these archeological sites are actually left physically standing. A guided tour can help bring these historical places to life and give you a lot of context and perspective to enrich your visit, especially since you only have a limited amount of time.

One day in Rome: touring the Vatican

If you want to focus on visiting the Vatican, you’ll be going to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s important to book a guided tour if you want to visit the Vatican Museums because the lines can be unbelievably long, and a tour lets you skip the line. In addition, the Vatican Museums are incredibly vast, and it is essential that you have someone who can take you to see the most important and significant works in the museums. 

If you want to see as much of the Vatican as you can on your one day in Rome, book an Entire Vatican Tour and St. Peter's Dome Climb or splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime Private Vatican Tour.  If your time is really limited, you can book a Best of the Vatican Fast Track Highlights tour.

All this exploring is sure to make you hungry, so for ideas about the best places to eat in Rome, check out Italy Magazine's list of Five of the Best Historic Restaurants in Rome.