Dreaming of staring in awe at the Sistine Chapel, stepping inside the Colosseum, tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, and eating some of the best pasta of your life? If so–this 4 day Rome itinerary is for you!
The capital of Italy is an endlessly enchanting place, and one of our favorite cities in the world–and after spending 4 days in Rome, we think you’ll agree.
Home to incredible art, one of the most beloved cuisines on the planet, an endless number of neighborhoods to explore, and impressive history that has been folded into the very fabric of modern Rome–not to mention the fact that there’s literally another country nestled inside the city–it’s impossible to avoid finding something to love about Rome.
… That is, as long as you know where to look.
After many repeated trips to Rome (including 2 trips where we rented an apartment in Rome for an entire month), we have lots of advice to share–and luckily, a 4 day trip to Rome gives you quite a bit of time to work with!
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You’ll have the opportunity to see Rome’s iconic highlights and also weave in some more offbeat experiences, including some interesting under-the-radar spots that hide in plain sight.
This 4 day Rome itinerary winds its way through several neighborhoods and historical time periods, focusing on 1-2 geographic areas each day.
We’ve designed this itinerary for Rome in 4 days with a traveler taking their first trip to Rome in mind, but we hope even return visitors will find something new to love here!
(Also, thanks in part to the fact that I can’t always resist the temptation to point out nearby hidden gems and unique details, this is a very long Rome blog post! Feel free to use the table of contents below to navigate to the section you’re looking for.)
Table of Contents
- How We Structured This Rome Itinerary
- The Perfect 4 Day Rome Itinerary
- Where to Stay For 4 Days in Rome
- More Than 4 Days in Rome?
- Getting Around During 4 Days in Rome, Italy
- Safety Tips for Your Rome Itinerary
- The Best Time to Visit Rome
- What to Pack for Visiting Rome, Italy
- Map of Your Itinerary for Rome, Italy
How We Structured This Rome Itinerary
We’ve spent months playing tourist in Rome over the course of many, many trips–including twice where we stayed in town for a month straight!
We initially crafted this Rome itinerary after our first month-long stay in the city, and since then it has (like most of the other itineraries on Our Escape Clause) been a living document, updated with each return visit to our favorite city.
From the best things to do in Rome to what attractions to skip, we’ve packed this travel guide with everything that we know about planning the perfect trip to Rome.
This itinerary is designed for first-time visitors to The Eternal City who are hoping to hit all the top attractions but also hope to see some of Rome’s many hidden gems too.
We’ve also included a downloadable map of each day’s route at the bottom of this blog post to help you navigate the city as you explore.
While 4 days in Rome is long enough that you could very reasonably take one day to enjoy one of the best day trips from Rome, there is simply no limit to the number of captivating things you can find within the city itself, and we’ve planned this itinerary with that in mind.
The Perfect 4 Day Rome Itinerary
Day 1 in Rome: The Colosseum, Roman Forum, The Jewish Ghetto + Beyond
Start your trip to Rome at the Colosseum.
What better place to start your 4 days in Rome itinerary than at one of the most iconic sights in the world?
Step inside the Colosseum and marvel at the ancient history beating inside–but before you do, be sure to climb the steps on the north side of the Colosseum (turn left after exiting the Colosseo metro stop) and get those classic photos in front of the Colosseum’s exterior.
Before starting your day at the Colosseum, you’ll want to book tickets ahead of time to skip the (legendary) line.
With 4 days in Rome to work with, you may be willing to wait in what are often very long lines, but if you hate lines as much as we do, you’ll consider the small extra cost well worth it.
Trying to decide whether or not to take a guided tour?
Guided tours are typically sold as a package that includes the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.
Our personal take is that the tour of the Colosseum isn’t as necessary… but it’s absolutely worth it to have a guide for the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, and therefore recommend signing up.
This is the tour we took and greatly enjoyed (though fair warning, our guide’s passion meant that the tour did run past its predicted time).
And, while we didn’t structure this itinerary for Rome this way, I do want to mention that we have also toured the Colosseum at night and loved it–if that’s something that appeals to you, you can easily adjust this itinerary to accommodate it (this is the tour we loved).
Prefer to explore independently?
Head to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Less than a 5-minute walk from the Colosseum, depending on the entrance and exit used.
While the Colosseum is one impressive monument of Ancient Rome, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill boast several!
From senate houses to public squares to palaces, these areas are archaeological and historical treasure troves.
They are absolutely best appreciated with a guide–I can’t even describe how much more we got out of our guided visit than our unguided ones, especially on the lower level of the Forum!
If all goes well, you should walk away in awe of both the depth and breadth of history in the Eternal City.
After touring the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill both with a guide and without, we strongly believe that the context given by a guide is well worth the price.
We used and loved this tour–and while the Colosseum guide was less necessary, having the Colosseum skip-the-line portion and tour included definitely helped justify the cost!
Check out the additional forums.
About a 10-minute walk from the Roman Forum, depending on the entrance and exit used.
Though the Roman Forum is the most popular to visit, it’s far from the only remaining forum of Ancient Rome visible in the city today.
The Imperial Forum, Forum of Augustus, Forum of Caesar, and more are all just a short walk away from the famous Roman Forum.
And, unlike the Roman Forum, all of the other ancient forums are free to enter.
Though visiting all the forums is probably a little much for all but a passionate Ancient Roman historian, be sure to at least slow down look enough to take a peek at one or two during your 4 days in Rome!
Stop by Piazza Venezia and Piazza del Campidoglio.
10-minute walk from the Forum of Augustus.
The Piazza del Campidoglio is one of my personal favorite piazzas in Rome.
Shaped into a perfect oval and surrounded by beautiful buildings, it is a peaceful place to relax for a moment and take in the fact that you’re in Rome.
If you stop by on a Saturday as we did during one of our trips to Rome, you’ll likely also have the chance to admire lots and lots of wedding parties!
The piazza’s beauty isn’t particularly surprising when you know who designed it: Michelangelo himself.
While we haven’t specifically included them on this 4 day Rome itinerary (sadly there’s not time for everything!), it’s worth pointing out that this is also where you’ll find the main section of the Capitoline Museums, which have an incredibly impressive collection of Ancient Roman statues, among other things.
If you tend to prefer quieter museums, you can consider adding a visit here!
(In any other city, they’d be packed–but the Capitoline Museums have some legendary competition when it comes to museums in Rome to visit).
On your way to the Piazza del Campidoglio, you’ll also pass right by the Piazza Venezia, with the impressive Altar of the Fatherland (the enormous white building topped with chariots that is visible from just about every viewpoint in Rome) dwarfing everything around it.
Since you were just on Palatine Hill, climbing it isn’t necessary–but it is home to one of the best views of Rome if you’d like to see it for yourself!
The monument was built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of unified Italy.
Pay a visit to the Campo de’Fiori.
14-minute walk from the Piazza del Campidoglio.
This market square may be touristy, but it’s also beautiful, bustling, and worth stopping by during your 4 days in Rome.
Markets are some of our favorite aspects of any city trip, and Rome is among the best of the best.
Of course, if you choose to purchase any Rome souvenirs or a meal at the market, you will pay a slight upcharge.
If you’re particularly hungry, we did have tasty, if somewhat overpriced, pasta carbonara at (where else?) La Carbonara on the edge of the Campo de’Fiori.
If you’re looking for something more local, Da Sergio is just around the corner and a great option, but get there when they open, because it fills up (Address: Vicolo delle Grotte, 27, 00186 Roma RM, Italy).
Visit the Largo di Torre Argentina.
7-minute walk from the Campo de’Fiori.
This set of ruins is home to two points of interest that are wildly different from each other: the place where Julius Caesar was assasinated, and a cat sanctuary.
The ruins are open-air, laid out in the center of the square, and are made up of the remains of several temples as well as part of Pompey’s Curia–the Roman Senate–where Julius Caesar perished just under 2,000 years ago.
As if that wasn’t enough of a reason to stop by during your 4 days in Rome, the archaeological site doubles as a cat sanctuary!
There’s an organization onsite that works to feed and care for them, and I can only imagine that they have a delightful life living in what is essentially the world’s most elaborate set of cat trees!
I’m sure it will come as no surprise to cat lovers that we’ve seen more than one cat perched on top of the remains of surprisingly tall columns.
Explore the Jewish Ghetto.
About a 25-minute walk through the neighborhood, depending on how directly you travel.
Rome’s historic Jewish neighborhood is an incredibly peaceful place to get lost down the back streets.
Nestled against the Tiber, some of the smaller streets of the Jewish Quarter are quiet enough to almost forget that you’re within walking distance of the crowded madness of the Colosseum.
While you’re here, be sure to marvel at the exterior of the Great Synagogue, check out the Teatro Marcello (it looks a bit like a smaller Colosseum!), stop by the lovely Porticus of Octavia, and visit the charming Piazza Mattei with its adorable Turtle Fountain.
If you’re a fan of classic movies, channel your inner Audrey Hepburn with a visit to the Mouth of Truth (but fair warning, whether or not it’s worth visiting is a bit of a debate–all the better reason to find out for yourself, if you ask us!
And, of course, be sure to sample the fried artichokes that are synonymous with food in the Jewish Ghetto of Rome–even if you’re not a big vegetable fan, these are worth trying!
Hop over the Tiber River for a Trastevere food tour.
Trastevere is one of Rome’s most picturesque and beloved neighborhoods–and while this won’t be your last visit during your quest to see Rome in 4 days, it’s a good opportunity for a first (literal) taste.
We’re big fans of opening trips with food tours–off the top of my head, we’ve taken at least 6 in Italy alone–as they are not only a wonderful way to get to know a city, they also help you gain a lot of confidence with ordering local food!
We loved this food tour in Trastevere and can confirm that after taking it, you will walk away with a solid base knowledge for ordering food throughout the rest of your trip to Rome… and be extremely full.
From wine to cheese to Rome’s classic pastas to contorni (sides) to obligatory (incredible) gelato, every bite is a delight.
Day 2 in Rome: Centro Storico + Classic Rome Attractions
Start at the Piazza del Popolo.
The Piazza del Popolo is another one of my personal favorite piazzas in Rome, and is a great way to kick off the second day of your Rome itinerary!
You’ve probably heard the phrase that “all roads lead to Rome”–and specifically, they all led to Piazza del Popolo, which was once a traditional entrance point to the city.
Today, you’ll find the piazza filled with visitors, street performers, and of course, an obelisk.
The “twin churches” of Santa Maria in Montesanto and Santa Maria dei Miracoli that stand at one end of the piazza are beautiful, of course–but it’s the comparatively plain exterior of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo on the other side of the piazza that art lovers should keep an eye out for, because it’s home to 2 Caravaggio paintings.
After exploring the Piazza del Popolo, be sure to climb up to Pincio Terrace for some beautiful views over the piazza and Rome itself!
Tour the Galleria Borghese.
20-minute walk from Pincio Terrace.
A beautiful stroll from Pincio Terrace through the Borghese Gardens will lead you right to the Galleria Borghese and arguably one of the most impressive–though not one of the largest–art collections in Italy!
(The good news about it being a smaller museum, of course, is that it’s easier to squeeze into your vacation in Rome).
Housed in a former palace, the Galleria Borghese is absolutely stunning and worth a visit during your 4 days in Rome, especially for art lovers.
It is required to purchase tickets in advance to visit the collection, though, and tickets do book up.
If you have your heart set on visiting the Galleria Borghese, be sure to get tickets ahead of time!
Prefer the context of a tour?
This one gets rave reviews!
Optional: pay a visit to the Capuchin Crypt.
9-minute walk from the Spanish Steps.
I’ll be honest: this stop on our suggested 4 day Rome itinerary isn’t for everyone, but it is absolutely fascinating and I can’t resist pointing it out.
In the 17th century, the Capuchin Crypt was slowly built with the skeletons of the friars that died at this monastery.
Skeletons are arranged as works of art in several small chapels here, and including everything from full skeletons in the robes of a monk resting on a bed of bones, to chandeliers made of small human bones.
The chapels bear unsettling messages like: “As you are, we once were. As we are, soon you will be.”
Clearly, not a place for small children or those not comfortable around the dead–but the level of detail of the… art (for lack of a better word) is a sight to behold.
This is one of the least toured crypts in Rome (and of course, it’s technically an ossuary), but it is conveniently located to work in a stop during your 4 days in Rome, and if it sounds like something that might interest you, it’s definitely worth the short walk!
(And if you also find this fascinating, it’s worth noting that it’s not the only place of its kind in Italy–Milan, Palermo, Monterosso al Mare in Cinque Terre, and more are home to religious places decorated with bones).
Stroll to the Spanish Steps.
21-minute walk from Galleria Borghese.
After a stop off at the Galleria Borghese and possibly the Capuchin Crypt, most of the second day of this 4 day Rome itinerary focuses on iconic Roman sights and popular tourist highlights, starting with the famed Spanish Steps.
The Spanish Steps, like many popular highlights in Rome, are almost always crowded, but there are options if you want to have them to yourself: we got up at dawn in February for the below photo!
Sadly, the tradition of sitting on the Spanish Steps was banned in 2019 (and as of December 2022, we can confirm it’s definitely still being enforced), but they’re still absolutely worth visiting during your 4 day Rome itinerary!
Depending on time, if you’re a fan of the Romantic poets, you may also want to tour the small Keats-Shelley Memorial House that overlooks the steps and functions as a museum of the Romantic poets (and also features great views of the steps and piazza).
Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain.
8-minute walk from the Spanish Steps.
What’s a Rome itinerary without a stop at the Trevi Fountain?
I’ll confess: on my first visit to Rome, I was more excited to see the Trevi Fountain than almost anything else, and it did not disappoint!
The fountain is truly magnificent, and after more than a dozen visits, I’m still in awe of how gorgeous it is (and also of just how many people can squeeze themselves around it, but hey, that’s just the reality of traveling to popular places in Rome).
Be sure to throw a coin in the fountain to ensure that you’ll always come back to Rome!
If you want to enjoy the view at bit but avoid (some of) the crowds, you can often grab a seat on the steps of the Church of Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a Fontana di Trevi to relax for a minute.
Stop by the Galleria Sciarra.
Located less than a 5-minute walk from the Trevi Fountain and yet almost never crowded, the Galleria Sciarra is an excellent way to escape the crowds of Rome’s popular tourist attractions and take a breather before continuing on to the Pantheon.
The Art Nouveau frescoes painted by Giuseppe Cellini in the late 19th century that adorn the walls are an excellent example of how beauty and exceptional artwork is truly around every corner in Rome.
The frescoes have a specific theme: women, or even more specifically, female virtues.
Feel free to take a moment to admire them for yourself–the courtyard will probably feel incredibly quiet and peaceful after the hectic crowds at the Trevi Fountain!
The building itself is used for offices today, so you can find the small courtyard open to visitors during standard business hours.
Step inside the Pantheon.
7-minute walk from the Trevi Fountain.
The Pantheon is nothing if not mysterious: its age, how it survived the Barbarian raids, and even what exactly it is made out of are all questions that remain unanswered.
Built originally as a temple to all gods and later turned into a church, the Pantheon is worthy of its status as one of the best-known sites of Ancient Rome left in the city.
No 4 day Rome itinerary would be complete without a chance to marvel at the Pantheon, so be sure to step inside (it’s free to enter) and stare in awe!
Check out the Piazza Navona.
5-minute walk from the Pantheon.
The beautiful, wide-open space known as the Piazza Navona has always been busy throughout Roman history.
It has served as a stadium, as a food market, and even as a spot for public water parties!
Today, it is known as one of the prettiest and most popular piazzas in Rome, boasting three ornate Baroque fountains that are perfect for perching on the edge of and watching the world go by.
It’s one of the most popular piazzas in Rome to visit, so expect crowds, especially near the baroque fountains–but it’s popular for a reason.
(Rome travel tip: want to escape the crowds for a second? Head around the corner to Piazza di Pasquino, see the talking statue, and grab a glass of wine from the expansive list at Enoteca Cul de Sac).
Head over to Castel Sant’Angelo.
11-minute walk from the Piazza Navona.
A walk from Piazza Navona to Castel Sant’Angelo will lead you through not only more of Centro Storico, but across the Bridge of Angels, one of the prettiest bridges in Rome, which dead-ends into the Castel Sant’Angelo.
Castel Sant’Angelo, despite its name, was never built to be a castle at all, but a mausoleum.
As the tomb of Emperor Hadrian and some of his family, Castel Sant’Angelo (in its original form, anyway), is an impressive nearly 2,000 years old–and it, whether or not you choose to go inside as part of your 4 days in Rome itinerary, is worth stopping by while in Rome.
(It also usually has genuinely impressive buskers out front–we usually stop to sit along the Tiber, enjoy the music, and admire the view at least a couple of times on every trip to Rome).
While you’re there, be sure to head to the nearby Ponte Umberto for a gorgeous view when you look back toward the Bridge of Angels and St. Peter’s Basilica.
If you time it right, this is a fantastic place to watch the sunset in Rome!
Day 3 in Rome: Explore Vatican City + Trastevere
Start your day bright and early at the Vatican Museums.
The Vatican Museums, with their magnificent art treasures, incredible map room, spectacular Sistine Chapel, and more, are an absolutely unmissable experience when planning to experience Rome in 4 days.
Plus, as a bonus, visiting means that you’ll actually be able to say you visited a whole other country!
Due to the severe crowds and ridiculously long lines, it is nearly essential to pre-book your visit to the Vatican Museums.
If you’d like to brave the odds on a rainy day in February, may the force be with you, but we once walked by the line to the museums nearly daily for a month as October bled into November, and the lines stayed at “Wow, okay, I’ll give that scalper whatever he wants to end this wait” levels.
Definitely book ahead to help your 4 day Rome itinerary go more smoothly!
If you’re particularly interested in seeing the Sistine Chapel without a few hundred of your new closest friends, we’ve had friends of ours absolutely rave about the experience of the early access tour, where you can gain access to the museums and Sistine Chapel before they officially open for the day.
While it is a pricier option, word on the street is that if it’s in your budget, it’s 100% worth both the money and the effort spent getting out of bed early in the morning.
After personally touring the Vatican Museums both independently and with a guide, we’re personally of the opinion that a tour (especially one that takes place outside of peak hours) is enormously beneficial, and can highly recommend this one for an early-morning experience.
Also, bear in mind when planning your 4 days in Rome itinerary that the Vatican Museums are closed on Sundays, with the exception of the last Sunday of the month, when the museums are open and free to visitors who are able to enter before 12:30 PM (they then close at 2:00 PM).
From April to October each year, the Vatican Museums are also open on Friday nights, and we personally loved our Friday night tour.
Prefer to explore independently?
Book skip-the-line tickets to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel!
Step inside St. Peter’s Basilica.
11-minute walk from the Vatican Museums (depending on where you exit).
St. Peter’s Basilica is, hands down, the most impressive church we have seen in all of Italy (even if it technically isn’t in Italy at all).
Once you arrive out front, take a few minutes to admire the iconic oval Piazza del Pietro, and then hop in line to enter the basilica–and don’t worry, the line moves a lot faster than it looks.
The basilica itself is free to enter, but if your legs are up for it, we strongly recommend paying a bit extra to climb the dome (as long as you’re not particularly claustrophobic, that is).
The views from the top, especially of the Piazza del Pietro, are fantastic (the first photo in this Rome blog post is of the view).
Once you get back down, head into the basilica itself.
Keep in mind that St. Peter’s Basilica does have a dress code that is enforced: cover your shoulders and knees, and avoid cleavage.
Push comes to shove, if you’re not dressed for the occasion, there are always plenty of salesmen hanging around the line to get into St. Peter’s that are more than willing to sell you a scarf to throw over your outfit.
Stroll to the Villa Farnesina.
17-minute walk from St. Peter’s Basilica.
This fresco-covered Renaissance palace is a quiet, fresco-covered beauty, making it a distinct departure from the congested Vatican Museums from earlier in the morning.
Stop by to admire the artwork (Raphael’s frescoes are particularly celebrated), the loggia, and the ornate rooms of the palace.
If you’re “museumed-out” after a morning at the Vatican, you can easily skip the Villa Farnesina as well–but we love it for its much quieter atmosphere and a chance to escape the crowds.
Explore Trastevere indepedently.
23-minute walk to Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere from Villa Farnesina.
You already had a taste during your food tour–with 4 days in Rome, once is not enough when it comes to enjoying Trastevere.
Trastevere is one of Rome’s most beautiful and–for lack of a better word–Roman-feeling neighborhoods.
This is where you’ll find some of the best examples of the iconic shuttered windows, colorful buildings, and narrow cobblestone streets that we all imagine when dreaming of visiting Rome, Italy.
Once considered an offbeat destination in Rome, the secret is out about Trastevere, and it’s a popular spot for visitors to grab a meal and wander.
Though you’ll be far from the only visitors around, Trastevere is definitely still worth the stroll along the Tiber required to reach the neighborhood.
While you’re there, but sure to head to the Piazza di Santa Maria, which is an adorable piazza, and to duck inside the Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere, which boasts some magnificent mosaics.
Trastevere is also a very popular place for aperitivo, so if you’re looking for that iconic spritz-on-an-outdoor-table-along-a-cobblestoned-street vibe, Trastevere is the place to be.
Ascend to the Janiculum Terrace.
15-minute walk from Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere.
It’s entirely possible that at this time in your Rome itinerary, your feet will be aching and the idea of climbing up to a viewpoint will sound completely terrible!
And, if that’s the case, no problem: find yourself a cute restaurant in Trastevere and start your evening aperitivo.
If you’re up for a bit more walking, however, head up to Janiculum Terrace (bear in mind that this does involve climbing a bit of a hill) for some incredible panoramic views of Rome, and perhaps even a beautiful sunset!
Day 4 in Rome: Testaccio, Aventine Hill + Some Hidden Gems
Start your day with a 2,000-year-old pyramid.
Pyramids aren’t exactly the first image that comes to mind when we think of Rome, but the impressive Pyramid of Caius Cestius has been standing proudly in Rome for 2,000 years!
Start the final day of your Rome itinerary by setting off to Testaccio to see both the Pyramid and several other unexpected attractions.
You’ll be able to catch your first glimpses of the pyramid after exiting the Piramide metro stop, but the best views are actually from inside the Non-Catholic Cemetery, so save most of your picture-taking for those spots!
Visit the Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome.
4-minute walk from the Pyramid of Cestius.
This beautiful cemetery is unique in the historically extremely Catholic city of Rome and houses some notable non-Catholics, including the poets Percy Shelley and John Keats.
It’s a lovely and peaceful place, and the views of the Pyramid of Cestius make an interesting contrast to the more recent headstones.
In addition to being the final resting place of plenty, the Non-Catholic Cemetery is also the home of some very lively cats!
Rome’s Non-Catholic Cemetery doubles as a cat sanctuary, and you’ll likely spot several beautiful felines resting amongst the headstones and prowling through the landscape.
Head to the Testaccio Market.
11-minute walk from the Non-Catholic Cemetery.
As compared to the Campo de’Fiori market noted earlier on this 4 day Rome itinerary, the Testaccio Market (and Testaccio in general) has a distinctly local feel.
True, this neighborhood isn’t unknown to tourists–but it’s also far from overrun by them, and you’ll find plenty of Romans shopping among you at the indoor Testaccio Market.
Check out clothes, shoes, and housewares, or head right to the food–both prepared food and groceries are available in the market.
Stop by Piazza Testaccio.
5-minute walk from Testaccio Market.
You won’t necessarily need long in this quiet and small piazza–but that’s exactly why you should take a moment to stop by.
So many of Rome’s piazzas that you’ll see during your 4 days in Rome tend to be completely packed (did you know that the area around the Trevi Fountain is actually called the Piazza di Trevi? It’s definitely not peaceful these days…).
Strolling through Piazza Testaccio, on the other hand, is a great opportunity to enjoy a more laid-back version of this classic feature of Roman life.
If you want to relax and enjoy the piazza for longer than a quick look, we can recommend grabbing an aperitivo at Oasi della Birra!
Snap a photo at the Keyhole on Aventine Hill.
12-minute walk from Piazza Testaccio.
If you peer through the keyhole on Aventine Hill, you’ll be greeted with a beautiful view: the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, framed by garden hedges.
It’s a lovely spot… that we totally missed the first time we tried to visit on account of (apparently) skimping on research.
When I had seen the many photos of this spot in the past, I mistakenly assumed that the “keyhole” in the name was merely referring to the small break in the hedges that framed St. Peter’s–but no, you do indeed peer through a literal keyhole to see it.
Don’t make our mistake and end up walking right by without checking it out!
Stroll through the Orange Garden.
4-minute walk from the Keyhole on Aventine Hill.
The Orange Garden is a gorgeous place, and a perfect spot to pause and relax during your 4 days in Rome.
Home to–what else–a grove of orange trees, the garden is meticulously manicured and a very peaceful place to take in the stunning views of Rome that are available from the terrace at the back of the garden.
The Orange Garden is an incredibly relaxing place and a great spot for resting your feet and people-watching for a bit.
If you’re a history buff, stop by Circus Maximus.
8-minute walk from the Orange Garden.
I wouldn’t necessarily consider seeing Circus Maximus to be an essential stop on this itinerary for Rome in 4 days, but as it’s so close by, it’s worth mentioning for any Roman history buffs that are visiting!
Circus Maximus was the first stadium in Rome and was known for its chariot races.
Located between Aventine and Palatine Hills, you can still see remnants of ancient palaces staring down over Circus Maximus.
Today, the site is a public park and is essentially a field with very few ruins remaining, hence why I don’t think it’s an unmissable stop on your Rome itinerary.
But, that being said, it is very cool to see modern Romans exercising in the exact spot where chariots once raced!
See a less-visited side of Ancient Rome.
By this time in your trip to Rome, you’ve had a chance to sample a wide variety of the Eternal City’s history, from the works of a Republic followed by Emperors in Ancient Rome, to the realm of popes and kings and beyond.
As you get close to the end of your trip, consider going back to the beginning and visiting one of Ancient Rome’s less crowded sites!
Domus Aurea requires a bit of planning ahead, but you won’t forget the experience anytime soon!
If you’re curious about Ancient Rome but more interested in museum settings than archaeological ones, this is a good chance to loop back to the Capitoline Museums, as well.
Close our your 4 days in Rome itinerary by stepping inside Rome’s catacombs.
Lurking underneath the surface of Rome are 60 catacombs, dug by early Christians in the days before the city as a whole converted–and of those 60, 5 are open to the public.
For a side of Rome that you definitely haven’t seen so far, descend underground for a visit!
Depending on how fast of a sightseer you are, you may want to choose between this and one of the attractions in the above section–or you may want to squeeze it all in!
When it comes to Rome’s catacombs, The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are the largest and most visited, though all are worth seeing.
While the various catacombs tend to be open until 5:00 PM, for maximum flexibility, consider signing up for this after-hours catacombs tour through Take Walks!
(Note that the tour also visits the Capuchin Crypt, so if you plan to take it, don’t visit the crypt as mentioned on day 2 of this itinerary for Rome).
Where to Stay For 4 Days in Rome
Where to stay for 4 days in Rome depends a lot on your priorities.
Do you want to be surrounded by a beautiful neighborhood? Trastevere is the place for you.
In the center of the action? Head to Centro Storico.
Save money? The furthest reaches of the metro lines.
With 4 days in Rome, though, we consider access to the rest of the city to be the most important deciding factor when deciding where to stay–in other words, choose somewhere within no more than a 10-minute walk to a metro stop.
However, if it’s within your budget, we find Centro Storico or fairly close to it (the closer edges of Trastevere, Monti, or Prati/Vaticano, for example), to be the most convenient place to stay for this Rome itinerary.
When choosing a hotel or apartment, looking at its distance from Piazza Navona and the Pantheon is a good rule of thumb–in a perfect world, you’ll be within walking distance of those.
That being said, we’ve stayed all over Rome and loved each corner for different reasons!
Here are a few well-reviewed properties to keep in mind when deciding where to stay in Rome.
La Cornice Guesthouse — We loved this little guesthouse back in our budget backpacking days! It was extremely clean and comfortable, and very affordable for Rome.
La Cornice is set slightly outside the main tourist areas, but an easy 5-minute walk to the metro and a 20-minute ride got us to the Colosseum and other major sights.
Our favorite part of La Cornice?
Eating a nearby Joseph Ristorante for lunch, a restaurant we have returned to for years–and it all started with a recommendation from the clerk at La Cornice.
Just a 5 minute walk away, their lunch special offered a choice of about 10 main courses plus bread, wine, and one of several desserts for 8 Euros/person–it’s hard to beat that!
The Wesley — We adore this hotel! You can’t ask for a better location for exploring Rome, as it literally overlooks the Castel Sant’Angelo and is a short walk away from all the major Centro Storico sights.
It is a bit of a hike to a metro stop–you’ll probably need to take a taxi when you arrive/leave with luggage–but the location made it worth it for us.
For a mid-range property, The Wesley is a fairly simple one–expect small and extremely simple rooms, and shared bathrooms for some rooms.
Essentially, The Wesley as a guesthouse floats somewhere between budget and mid-range, with a luxury-status-worthy location.
Because of the fantastic combination of more affordable rates and a fabulous location, The Wesley sells out fast–if you want to stay there and see it’s available on your dates, we recommend booking immediately!
Hotel Condotti — Located just a couple of blocks from the Spanish Steps (and consequently the Piazza di Spagna metro station), you couldn’t ask for a better location in Rome!
Well-reviewed and boasting exceptionally clean rooms, Hotel Condotti is the perfect choice for a traveler with a midrange budget (or luxury traveler–this hotel also holds some impressive-looking suites!) who would like to be within walking distance to the best that Centro Storico has to offer.
Enduringly popular and perfectly positioned, you can’t go wrong with checking into Hotel Condotti.
Pantheon Inn — If you’re looking for a building with classic Italian charm in the heart of Rome, this is it.
Located right behind the Pantheon and within reach, the Pantheon Inn offers a quiet, peaceful escape in the middle of bustling Rome.
You will need to walk a bit to the metro stop–but since the walk will take you through the heart of the beautiful Centro Storico, we doubt you’ll mind.
More Than 4 Days in Rome?
If you’re lucky enough to have more than 4 days in Rome, it’s time to start thinking about day trips!
If you plan ahead and use the fast train, you can even take a day trip to Florence!
Pompeii is a popular–and worthy–side trip from Rome, but to accomplish it as a day trip, you really need a tour, and this one is among the best of the best!
Pompeii is about 6 hours of driving round-trip from Rome, longer (and more confusing) via train, and trying to also squeeze in Vesuvius on an independent day trip from Rome would be nearly impossible.
If you’d like to visit Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast from Rome, this extremely popular tour has been reviewed more than 2,500 times with Take Walks and is a safe bet to get you there!
We highly recommend going, it’s an incredible place–just be sure not to overstretch yourself!
Within Rome itself, there’s also plenty to do with extra time!
Consider checking out the Baths of Diocletian, heading out to the Appian Way, visiting the over-the-top neighborhood of Quartiere Coppede, taking a cooking class, or touring more Ancient Roman sites like Santo Stefano Rotondo.
Lesser-known museums like the Galleria Spada and Palazzo Doria Pamphilj are among our favorites and also well worth a visit!
Getting Around During 4 Days in Rome, Italy
We designed this 4 days in Rome itinerary to be as walkable as possible, grouping destinations by geography where we could.
Even still, Rome is large enough that you will need to use other methods of getting around.
The easiest option is simply to use the metro–though Rome’s metro has a mere 3 lines (only 2 of which will likely be of interest to you as a visitor), it connects directly to many of the city’s highlights, including the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and more.
If you can swing it, your 4 days in Rome will be highly enhanced by staying within a short walk of a metro stop.
Rome’s bus system is also an option, though it can be slightly confusing and you cannot purchase tickets onboard.
Pick them up at a nearby tabacchi or metro stop before hopping on, or aim for simplicity and purchase a multi-day pass to the transport network.
Uber and taxis are both also present in Rome, but Rome’s heavy traffic and their high prices make these options best avoided if possible.
For the same reason, we don’t generally recommend Hop On/Hop Off bus tours in Rome, but they do exist if you prefer them.
Safety Tips for Your Rome Itinerary
Despite Rome’s international reputation as a pickpocket hotspot, it is, on the whole, a very safe city.
Yes, you do need to keep an eye on your pockets and bags in crowded areas (pay especially close attention in crowded metro stops like Termini and at tourist hotspots like the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum), but we’ve never had so much as a close call during our visits to Rome.
You will see scammers present in Rome’s crowded areas, including men presenting women with roses to try to elicit payment from her companion, “friendship bracelet” offers for bracelets that are free (until they’re tied on your wrist), etc.
It’s best to ignore these scammers entirely, and brush them off with a polite but firm “no” if necessary.
Also, keep in mind that buying and selling fake designer goods is illegal in Italy as both a consumer and a seller.
Be sure to keep your hands off the bags being touted by salesmen in tourist areas, no matter how convincing the imposter might look from a distance.
The Best Time to Visit Rome
Each season brings a reason to spend 4 days in Rome, and we’ve seen them all in the city!
If you have your pick of dates, though, consider a trip in April or October–both offer high chances of beautiful weather while avoiding the worst of the crowds and prices of the summer high season.
Exploring Rome in winter also has its charms–winters are generally mild in Rome, so if you’re willing to bring along a coat, consider using a winter trip to explore Rome at its emptiest.
Our last choices of times to visit Rome would be July and August, when not only are the prices highest and crowds heaviest, but the weather is also boiling hot.
During summer in Rome, we tend to sightsee in the morning, retreat to air-conditioning in the afternoon, and then come out again starting in the early evening–but it’s not as relaxing as visiting during more mild weather!
(If you are planning a June, July, or August trip, here are our best tips for summer in Italy).
What to Pack for Visiting Rome, Italy
Don’t forget to include these important items when you pack for Rome!
Travel Insurance — We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen, and this is definitely a case of better safe than sorry.
Pacsafe — We can’t recommend our Pacsafe enough: this travel safe is affordable, sturdy, easy to pack, and will help keep your valuables safe in your hotel room (not that you should need to worry much about theft in Italy, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!).
Travel Adapters for Italy — If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll definitely need adaptors for your electronics.
Small Pack of Tissues — Most bathrooms in Italy will have toilet paper, but not all of them (especially in smaller train stations).
Bring a small pack of tissues, toss them in your day bag, and you won’t have to worry about it.
Swiss Army Knife — Want to open wine bottles in your hotel room, slice cheese from the market, or cut up that focaccia from the bakery?
You’ll be so glad you brought along a Swiss Army Knife!
Umbrella — Option A: Plan on buying an umbrella when it starts pouring down rain. Option B: Plan ahead and buy a (probably much sturdier) umbrella before leaving.
Option C: Hope you get lucky with the weather (but fair warning, we’ve never been to Italy and avoided rain entirely!).
Travel Journal — If you want to keep a travel journal, but can’t commit to a huge amount of writing each night, I can’t recommend the One Line a Day Journal enough–I’ve been using it for more than a year now, and adore it!
Map of Your Itinerary for Rome, Italy
Take This Map With You! Click each highlight to pull up the name of the destination. To save this map to “Your Places” on Google Maps, click the star to the right of the title. You’ll then be able to find it under the Maps tab of your Google Maps account! To open the map in a new window, click the button on the top right of the map.