Rome is a popular travel destination with a rich history, unique culture, and incredible sights. Known as the “Eternal City”, Rome is considered one of the most powerful ancient empires in the world. Its history spans several thousand years of cultural influence that led to many modern conveniences that we use today, such as roads and highways or surgical tools.

As the capital of Italy, Rome is also filled with delicious dining options that keep travelers coming back for more. There are plenty of upscale restaurants, local cafes, and swanky bars to choose from. From pizzas to pasta to authentic Roman fares like maritozzi or porchetta, the city’s fabulous cuisines can’t be beaten.

Of course, you can’t visit the city without touring some of its most historic sites. Many of these sites are home to a number of famed paintings such as Borromini’s Prospettiva or Raphael’s Fire In The Borgo. Aside from paintings, you can find plenty of other works of art, including ancient statues and monuments, ornate fountains, and unique architectural buildings.

With so many things to see and do, it can be challenging to find the time to explore Rome in its entirety. If you’re planning to visit Rome for a short time, it can be even more difficult to navigate. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to maximize your trip to Rome even with limited time.

Whether you’re planning to visit for the art or the local foods, Italy’s capital is a gem that’s well worth exploring. Here are eight ways to spend one day in Rome:

1. Visit the Famous Colosseum


Visiting the famous Colosseum is at the top of many travelers’ to-do list. Also called the Flavian Amphitheatre, this historical center was constructed centuries ago, between 70 and 72 CE. It was an entertainment venue that was home to many gladiator fights and animal hunts. It’s a great place to learn some fascinating things from history.

There are plenty of things to see while visiting the Colosseum. The Colosseum provides guided tours to visitors so they can maximize their short time there. Because of its popularity, it’s important to purchase Colosseum tickets in advance as they can sell out.

2. See Fascinating Works of Art at the Sistine Chapel

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As the official home of the Pope, the Sistine Chapel is a first stop for many travelers each year. Located in Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel houses beautiful works of art from wall frescoes to holy paintings. Be sure to look out for historically famous paintings like “The Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo and “The Handing of the Keys to Saint Peter” by Perugino.

You can purchase in-person admission to the Vatican Museums, which includes access to the Sistine Chapel. But much like the Colosseum, the best way to guarantee your entry on busier days is to buy tickets ahead of time online.

3. Cover the Vatican Museums

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Speaking of the Vatican Museums, they’re one of the ancient city’s main attractions, and for good reason. Walking through the various museums is like taking a trip back in time to ancient Rome. Because there are so many beautiful things to see, it’s easy to experience a sensory overload.

When visiting, it’s important to take your time to appreciate what speaks to you. Here are some must-see areas to start with:

  • The Spiral Staircase with its DNA-inspired, double helix design
  • “Raphael’s Transformation”, a historic painting that depicts the dual nature of Jesus Christ
  • The Apollo Belvedere, which is considered one of the most magnificent ancient sculptures ever made
  • The Porphyry Basin inside the Rotunda Room
  • Pinecone Courtyard with its 13-foot pinecone statue
  • The Tapestries Hall, known for its intricately-designed, hanging tapestries

To further maximize your time, guided tours provide a quick but comprehensive walk-through of the site. There are also affordable online options for small groups to book a day tour of the Museum.

4. Hit the Shops at Piazza Navona

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Piazza Navona is a definite hot spot for many travelers. This bustling site is a great resting spot for tourists to grab a bite to eat or watch some talented street performers. It’s also filled with various places to shop, including stores carrying designer apparel, handcrafted bags, and vintage accessories.

For food, Piazza Navona boasts a collection of nearby eateries. Some popular places to try include Ristorante Fiammetta for its authentic Roman cuisine or Armando al Pantheon, a restaurant beloved by many celebrities. For a casual dining experience, Ai Tre Tartufi is a bar that also serves as an ice cream parlor and bistro. Also, Tucci Restaurante is a cafe that serves delicious pizzas, pastas, and gelatos.

5. Smell the Flowers at the Villa Borghese Gardens

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The Villa Borghese Gardens are an ideal place to rest for weary travelers. The picturesque garden is home to a number of notable sights from famed monuments to an actual replica of Shakepeare’s Globe Theatre.

Another lovely garden feature is its man-made lake surrounded by lush trees and plants. The Villa Borghese Gardens also houses an incredible variety of plant and flower species that are fantastic to capture in photos. Nature enthusiasts will notice the various tree species that decorate the garden from eucalyptus to laurels. Visitors also enjoy taking pictures of the many ornate statues and fountains in the garden.

6. Take the Spanish Steps

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The Spanish Steps of Rome can’t be missed. Brightly colored buildings line the stairs, which make way to three separate terraces called the Holy Trinity. Speaking of buildings, Casina Rossa or “little red house”, located on the right of the steps, is where famed poet John Keats lived and died in 1821.

There are 135 steps that lead from Piazza di Spagna to Trinita dei Monti, a famous French monastery church. They’re considered the longest and widest steps in all of Europe. Many fashion shows were held at the steps, including ones in which top model Naomi Campbell walked.

7. Grab Some Gelato

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As the saying goes “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Fortunately, many of the locals in Rome enjoy eating gelato. This isn’t surprising as it’s a sweeter, creamier version of ice cream. And if that’s not enough, Italy is the birthplace of gelato so you know it’s good.

When visiting Rome, it’s nearly impossible to avoid seeing a place that sells gelato somewhere in the city. Some of the best gelaterias sell out-of-this-world flavors that are hard to find anywhere else. Gelateria del Teatro, a tourist favorite, sells flavors like white chocolate and basil, ginger cream, and lavender and white peach.

8. Go on a Shopping Spree at Porta Portese

Porta Portese is an outdoor marketplace that takes place every Sunday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. There you can find plenty of different things to buy, but the marketplace is best-known for its fashion. Vendors at Porta Portese sell a variety of both new and used apparel and accessories, from dresses to handbags and purses.

While some prices are fixed, plenty of vendors will consider a good counter-offer so visitors may bargain on some items if they so choose. While getting a good deal is beneficial, it’s important to remember that some vendors sell handmade products that they worked hard to create. Be mindful of this before asking them to come down on their prices for certain items.

Related: The Eternal Beauty of Rome’s Art and Architecture