Rome is a great place to start your trip to Italy. Many connections to other places in Italy go through Rome, and since many of the cheapest flights are to this incredible city, there’s a good chance that you’ll be seeing Rome in a day at the very least.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it really shouldn’t be seen in a day, but sometimes when you plan a trip to Italy, chances are you’ll spend at least one day in Rome, and it’s best to have a plan with such a small window.
When I took my niece to Italy this summer, I knew we would only have one day to see the city and I was determined to make the most of it.
Rome is quite a large city, covering nearly 500 square miles built over seven main hills. Don’t worry, you won’t need to cover all of those miles in one day to get the most out of the city.
There are so many things to do in Rome that it may be hard to pick and choose if you’ve only got one day. There are hundreds of tours in Rome, offered by large companies and small local businesses that allow you to get the most out of your time in the ancient city.
Things to do in Rome in One Day
Get Up Early
If you’ve only got one day in Rome, wake up early! It will be worth it. Strolling the ancient streets as the sun rises is a beautiful thing. Plus you’ll beat the crowds and get the best pictures!
If you’re staying near Piazza Navona you can easily walk through the square and admire the fountains. Then head to the Pantheon which is a beautiful site in the early hours. You can almost feel what it would be like hundreds of years ago!
From there, walk to Trevi Fountain. It won’t be too crowded early in the morning but guaranteed you’ll catch a few brides there at the right time of year. Toss a coin in the fountain if that’s your thing.
From the Trevi Fountain, walk to the Spanish steps and climb up before anyone else is there.
Stop for a hot chocolate or espresso (or if you’re like me, gelato) on your way back to the hotel and then prepare for your next adventure!
Take a Vespa Tour Through Rome
Much of Rome can be done on foot if you’re in good shape and don’t mind walking long hours on cobblestone streets, but I recommend a faster and much more fun mode of transport to see the sites. If you’re going to see Rome in a day, this is the way to go!
If you really want to feel like a local Roman and see most of Rome in a short period of time, taking a Vespa tour of the city is a great choice. If you like the thought of zipping down windy streets and feeling the wind in your hair as you cruise by the Colosseum, but don’t want the stress of driving a Vespa yourself, TripAdvisor offers an amazing Vespa Tour.
I booked our Rome Vespa Tour, which was a simple process. Our guides were right on time and picked us up directly from our hotel. Tours leave at 10 am, 3 pm, and 7 pm.
I like to recommend doing the Vespa Tour first thing in the morning so that you get your bearings around the city.
I was a little nervous hopping on the back of the Vespa, but it was much more comfortable and felt safer than I had imagined. By the end of the tour, I was taking selfies and riding hands-free! I was really impressed with the amount of area we covered around Rome.
But the tour wasn’t all riding. We took multiple breaks to stop and talk about interesting things around Rome. We didn’t only cover the main touristic sites, but our guides took us to interesting historical places, hidden churches, and incredible views across Rome.
I was really impressed by all the history that our guides knew. Not only did we have a blast riding around Rome, but we learned so much about the history and culture of Rome!
This is the best tour I’ve ever done…anywhere! And that’s saying a lot!
Take a Cooking Class
Rome is known for its incredible food. From homemade pasta, sauces, pizza, gelato, tiramisu, Suppri, artichokes, cheeses, fish, meat, bread, and more. Taking a cooking class in Rome provides you with a way to really connect with the food and the people of this city.
There’s no better way to experience the food scene in Rome than by taking an authentic cooking class. For our class, we met at the famous Campo de Fiori, the oldest market in Rome, where we experienced how locals shop and tasted oils, vinegar, and truffles.
Our teacher was amazing!We then walked to the home of our teacher and learned to make pasta dough, sauce, and tiramisu. We learned different techniques for cutting pasta, and then, the best part, we ate our creations!
I’ve taken many cooking classes and this one has by far been my favorite! Sylvia was an amazing host and teacher and I’m so excited to take all my Italian cooking knowledge home with me. I love booking tours and classes on Airbnb because you get such an authentic experience! You can book Sylvia’s cooking class here.
Eat Dinner in Trastevere
Spend some time walking along the Tiber River and then head to Trastevere, one of the oldest and most authentic neighborhoods in Rome, and eat dinner here. There are many amazing restaurants and the look and feel of the area is like a movie set, with laundry hanging from windows and narrow cobbled streets.
Finish the Day with Gelato
A trip to Rome, even one done in a day, wouldn’t be complete without eating at least a few scoops of gelato. Your Vespa tour will include gelato, but at the end of the evening, I recommend walking to Gelato del Teatro from Trastevere (you’ll work off your dinner by then) and grabbing a scoop from my favorite shop.
If you’re into Sorbetto like I am, then this place will be your favorite. Freshly made flavors like fig, peach, pineapple mint, lime basil, grapefruit, and more are staples here along with the more traditional Straciatella, Niocolo, and Fragola.
Obviously, there is so much more to do in Rome, but this is a great taste of the city for just one day. If you don’t want to do a tour, you can also check out this list of free things to do in Rome. And if you’re lucky enough to stay for a few more days, check out this itinerary for three days in Rome. And be sure to read this if you’re visiting Rome with kids.
I hope you have an amazing day in Rome! It’s definitely a city I could spend years exploring, but after several trips to this beautiful culture-rich city, this is my favorite one-day itinerary for Rome!
Have you been to Rome? I’d love to hear what your favorite thing to do in Rome is? What would you do if you only had one day?