Rome’s history and beauty make it one of the most popular European tourist destinations. You could take many visits to Rome over the course of your lifetime and experience only a fraction of what the city has to offer. Choosing what you want to do, where you want to eat, and the perfect place to stay is an exciting, if slightly overwhelming, adventure in planning a vacation. Ultimately, you get to see Rome exactly as you want to. Create a memorable and meaningful visit to this amazing destination.

Breakfast: Eat on the Go

Rome is a gorgeous place to simply walk and observe, so don’t waste your breakfast time by sitting down for an hour. Instead, grab a coffee and a pastry to go, and start your morning meandering. Try Café Café, which puts you on the Via Dei Santi Quattro, right near the Colosseum. This little spot is typically a lunch destination, so try a smoothie and some delicious Italian espresso for breakfast.

Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria is another delicious coffee spot where you can get delectable pastries, too. The selection of morning pastries is great, especially the danishes and the croissants. It’s quite near Campo dei Fiori, a great morning walking spot featuring gorgeous architecture. You can also take a trek to the nearby Tiber River.

Colosseum
The Colosseum in Rome.

Mid-Morning: Visit the Colosseum

You cannot visit Rome without seeing the Colosseum. Because people queue up every day to see this famous landmark, book your tickets online. The ticket will get you into the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palantine Hill, though the three sites have different entrances. Consider taking a guided tour of the Colosseum to see parts that aren’t open to the general public. Or, simply enjoy walking around the Colosseum yourself, before heading to the Forum and the Hill. Either way, this will be a spectacular morning.

Lunch: Find Pizza and Lighter Fare

After all that walking and exploring, you’re certain to be hungry. From your morning adventures, walk to Via dei Fori Imperialli, which will put you near several delicious lunch spots. Angelino “ai Fori” dal 1947 is a little pizza and Mediterranean spot where you can sit and watch people go by. If you want to save money, 100 Montaditos Colosseo is a bit like an American fast food restaurant (but with better food). The menu is inexpensive, and you can find light options if you plan to do more walking in the afternoon.

Pantheon
The Pantheon in Rome.

Afternoon: See Piazza Navona and the Pantheon

One of the beautiful things about Rome? Many of the attractions are very near to each other. So, in your early afternoon wanderings, you can hit the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, which is about a five-minute walk.

Start with the Piazza Navona. This square is the anchor of Rome’s historical center, and it boasts gorgeous architecture and popular attractions like the Fountain of the Four Rivers. If you want to hit a museum while in Rome, visit the Museo di Roma, which has a collection specifically devoted to Rome. Next, head to the Pantheon, the gorgeous former temple that has lasted for almost 1,000 years.

If you have time, you can walk to the Basilica di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, located a block away from the Pantheon. This is a hidden wonder because the basilica looks pretty ordinary from the outside. Inside, however, you’ll be treated to vaulted ceilings and marble statues.

Trevi fountain
The Trevi Fountain in Rome.

Late Afternoon: Shopping Near the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is debatably the most popular free spot to visit in Rome. This baroque fountain depicts Neptune in gorgeous detail, and though it was built in the 18th century, it has recently been extensively restored to display its true beauty.

Near the Trevi Fountain is tons of shopping, which is why you should make this your late afternoon shop. Head here around 3 p.m., get pictures of the fountain, then head into boutiques before finding a dinner spot. The neighborhood around the Trevi Fountain has tons of restaurants and nightlife, too, so you can spend the rest of your evening here if you choose.

Dinner: Delight in Traditional Roman Cuisine

Dine near the Trevi Fountain at a family owned and operated traditional Italian restaurant. Surprisingly, many restaurants near the fountain lack that annoying touristy atmosphere. Ristorante Sora Lucia is inexpensive, offers delicious antipasti and pasta dishes, and has tons of wine, which you can order by the carafe. The only thing missing is outdoor seating, but after being outdoors all day, dinner inside isn’t the worst thing.

Trattoria Della Stampa is slightly less likely to be packed full of locals than many food destinations near the fountain, which is just one reason you should eat dinner here. Dinner is simple but delicious, and you’re very likely to be waited on by a member of the family who owns the restaurant. No matter what else is on the menu, you’ll discover a few great pasta dishes.

Evening: Go out for Drinks and Music

Your Rome adventure need not only focus on the historical attractions this ancient city has to offer. Make your late evening all about having some fun. Near your dinner destination, you’ll discover several bars and clubs where you can get a delicious drink and hear some music. Trevi Club by Micca is your destination if you want to go dancing. They play all kinds of music, from classic hits to modern. Sometimes the club has live burlesque shows or specialty nights focusing on music from certain eras.

Quinrietta is a little bar and club hidden away in the vicinity of the Trevi Fountain. It has a concert venue, where you can see some fabulous Italian acts play. The Social Bar part of the venue is quieter, typically with some sort of live music, and some seriously hipster drinks. This is a fun place to sit down and have a chat before heading back to your hotel.

Travel away from the Trevi Fountain area and head to Canova Tadolini. This bar used to be a 19th-century sculptor’s workshop, and the space is littered with sculptures of all kinds. The bar owners have recreated the space, bringing in the cluttered, close feel of an artist’s workspace while still bringing you a clean drinking environment. You can drink outdoors on the terrace or inside at the bar. The wine and beer list is great, and you can also get tea or espresso.

Santa maria sopra minerva
The Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome.

Where to Stay

Hotels

Stay in luxury while you’re in Rome by choosing a five-star spa hotel. Both the Boscolo Exedra Roma, Autograph Collection and The St. Regis Rome are lavish choices where you’ll be pampered in comfort. With gorgeous buildings outside and in, amenities like spas and restaurants, and gorgeous rooms, you’ll feel like an aristocrat when you choose an upscale hotel in Rome.

You don’t have to spend big to find nice accommodations in the city, however. Modern and casual offerings are available for less than $100 a night, with amenities like Wi-Fi and free breakfast. Check out Hotel Rome Pisana or Eurostars Roma Aeterna for that perfect blend of comfort and affordability. To truly save when staying in Rome, the budget hotels are your best bet, and they’re quite adorable even so. Piccolo Borgo or Hotel Felice will save you money while offering a cozy spot to sleep every night.

Hostels

Like many European cities, Rome is full of hostels. Options include dorm-style hostels and private rooms, complete with different amenities at various price points. Typically, you’ll spend between $10 and $30 a night in a hostel in Rome. One of the most popular options is Hostel Mosaic Central, which is located within short walking distance of central rome, and offers private rooms for under $30. If you’d like to save more and get a spot in a dorm for less than $20 and still be able to walk everywhere, The Yellow and Palladini Hostel Rome are great choices.

Vacation Rentals

A vacation rental is the perfect way to experience Rome a little more like an Italian. Rent a room in someone’s house, or get an apartment to yourself. Vacation rentals vary in price the same way hotels do, so you can use them to save money or to get the specific amenities you want. A vacation rental is a fabulous choice for someone who plans to do a lot of cooking to save money on vacation. When you’re traveling with a larger group, a vacation rental keeps you together instead of splitting you between hotel rooms. The sooner you get a vacation rental, the more likely you are to find a good price.

Rome is truly a spectacular city. You may have one day or you may have several weeks; either way, the picturesque landscape of this ancient location is open to you. Seek out Roman food, visit boutique shops, and experience the attractions that interest you most. Though there are popular tourist destinations, there’s no spot you “have” to see over any other, because you’ll be pursuing your own desires and experiences.