Saint Peter Basilica dome reflection on Tiber Riber

Best of Rome Highlights Vatican Day 2

Welcome to Rome!

Want to see the best of Rome in a day? Here’s a simplified itinerary of the highlights of Rome that you must visit in your one-day itinerary.  

This guide is a walking itinerary that allows you to see each highlight by walking through the city, and it’s planned for a full day of exploration. Feel free to adjust it based on your interests and available time. And if you’re short on time, be prepared to skip a few things.

For a memorable trip, consider visiting the Colosseum and the Vatican on separate days. Make sure to secure your tickets well in advance, as they tend to sell out quickly. And don’t forget, both sites are filled with fascinating museums and attractions, so plan accordingly to explore everything they have to offer!

Check out also Best of Rome Highlights Colosseum Day 1.

To make the most of your time, we recommend starting your visit early in the morning, so you can manage to see all the attractions we have listed below.

As a low-budget alternative, you can also skip the visits to the main attractions and just explore them from outside! (You will not be disappointed and it is the best way to avoid crowds and long waiting lines to enter!)

*Remember to wear comfortable shoes, stay hydrated, and be prepared for the crowds.

Welcome to Rome! the capital of Italy and also the eternal city, famous for its millennia of history, vibrant culture, and fascinating Roman ruins. In this guide, I will take you on a captivating one-day journey through the historic center of Rome, where you can discover its hidden treasures, admire iconic monuments, and immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere of this historically rich city.

Let’s start our journey and make the most of your day in the Eternal City!

The walking itinerary starts at the Colosseum and ends at Villa Borghese by sunset.


“First thing in the morning is a good Italian breakfast at the local BAR, you will get good energy for the day starting with a good Cornetto and Cappuccino!!”

You can find our recommendations for the best BAR here.

Walking Itinerary in Rome Saint Peter
St. Peter’s Basilica is a significant site for religious ceremonies and gatherings.

The Vatican City is a small, independent city-state within Rome, home to iconic religious and artistic treasures, including St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Pope’s residence.

Begin your Vatican exploration by arriving early in the morning at St. Peter’s Square, where you can marvel at the stunning architecture, iconic obelisk, and the surrounding colonnades designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, before heading into St. Peter’s Basilica to explore its magnificent art and perhaps take the optional climb to the dome for panoramic city views.

If you wish to enter the Vatican Museums, we recommend scheduling an early visit, as it opens at 9.00 in the morning. You’ll need to plan and book your tickets far in advance, as availability can be limited, especially during summertime. 

Check the official website for up-to-date information on opening hours, ticket availability, and other important information.

If you are looking for a low-budget plan, every last Sunday of the month, access to the Basilica and the Vatican Museums is free. You will need to pick up your free tickets on the day from the ticket offices. (But be prepared for crowds and extended waiting lines!).

St. Peter’s Square, the iconic piazza with an obelisk and colonnades.
The Majestic St. Peter’s Basilica, iconic Renaissance church with Michelangelo’s dome. Climb the dome for a stunning view of Rome.
Michelangelo’s awe-inspiring frescoes at Sistine Chapel.
Vatican Museums with its vast art collection spanning centuries.
Stunning frescoes by Raphael in his Rooms
Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope.
Walking Itinerary in Rome Castel Sant Angelo
The Archangel Michael statue on Castel Sant’Angelo is a significant symbol of historical and religious importance.

Once your visit is over you can head to Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, which is a timeless masterpiece in the heart of Rome.

This historic fortress-turned-museum boasts a rich history, serving as a tomb for Emperor Hadrian and his successors before becoming a papal residence and a prison. With its stunning cylindrical design and a commanding presence along the Tiber River, it stands as a symbol of Rome’s enduring heritage and is a must-visit for history and architecture enthusiasts.

Access to Castel Sant’Angelo will require tickets that can be reserved on their official website

Discover the luxurious Papal Apartments used by popes as a refuge and escape route in times of danger.
 Admire the stunning statues and architectural details in the picturesque Courtyard of the Angel.
 Ascend to the top to the Angel’s Terrace with panoramic views of Rome and the Tiber River.
Visit the dungeons and cells of the Papal Prisons, providing a glimpse into the castle’s darker past.

Now we will cross the Ponte Sant’Angelo, a stunning pedestrian bridge adorned with angel statues, spanning the Tiber River and connecting Castel Sant’Angelo to the heart of Rome’s historic center and we will walk for about 10 minutes until you reach the Piazza Navona.

Walking Itinerary in Rome Ponte Sant Angelo
Angel-adorned Tiber bridge to Rome’s center.
Walking Itinerary in Rome Piazza Navona
Rome’s lively square with stunning Baroque architecture, fountains, and vibrant street culture.

Piazza Navona is a dynamic and picturesque square in the heart of Rome. It’s renowned for its stunning Baroque architecture and is adorned with three magnificent fountains, including the famous Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini.

The square is a hub of activity, with street performers entertaining visitors, while restaurants and cafes offer the perfect spot to people-watch and enjoy Italian food, coffee, or gelato.

Fountain of the Four Rivers, a masterpiece by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, featuring sculptures representing the world’s great rivers.
Fontana del Moro with a central statue of a Moor wrestling with a dolphin, also designed by Bernini.
Fontana del Nettuno with Neptune as the centerpiece, located at the northern end of the square.
The Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone.
“Lunch: treat yourself to a classic Roman lunch. Find a local trattoria or café and indulge in traditional dishes like pasta carbonara, cacio e pepe, or a delicious pizza. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a refreshing Italian beverage”
Walking Itinerary in Rome campo de fiori
Rome’s lively square with a bustling market and rich history.

Our next stop is Campo de Fiori, a 5-minute walk from Piazza Navona. It is a beautiful square in Rome known for its vibrant daily market, historic charm, and lively atmosphere, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists to explore and soak in the city’s culture.

The statue of Giordano Bruno, a philosopher and martyr, which stands in the center of the square.
Admire the charming architecture and buildings that surround the square.
Enjoy traditional Roman cuisine at the various cafes and trattorias that line the square’s perimeter.
Experience the vibrant nightlife as it transforms into a popular spot for Aperitivo and entertainment.
Walking Itinerary in Rome largo argentina
Roman square with ancient temple ruins and a haven for stray cats!

After 7 minutes of walking from Piazza Navona, we reach Largo Argentina in the heart of Rome. A captivating square where history mingles with a unique love for feline friends. Discover ancient temple ruins alongside a sanctuary for stray cats, making it a one-of-a-kind stop for both history enthusiasts and cat lovers.

Wander among the well-preserved Roman temple ruins and visit the cat sanctuary!

Now it’s time to head to the Tiber River and its small island called Isola Tiberina, it will take 10 minutes to walk through the beautiful streets of Rome!

Walking Itinerary in Rome Isola Tiberina
Rome’s peaceful island getaway with history and river views.

Isola Tiberina is one of my favorite places and a hidden gem in the heart of Rome that graces the Tiber River with its serene beauty. This charming island boasts the Fatebenefratelli Hospital and the Basilica of San Bartolomeo all’Isola. It’s a peaceful haven for travelers seeking a tranquil escape, where you can savor leisurely walks, soak in the soothing river views, and relish the island’s serene ambiance, offering a unique slice of Rome’s enchanting character.

Admire the beautiful church Basilica of San Bartolomeo all’Isola and its ancient origins, which date back to the 10th century.
Enjoy leisurely walks along the Tiber River’s picturesque banks, taking in the serene views and fresh air.
Discover the ruins of the ancient Ponte Rotto (Broken Bridge), which was once a vital river crossing in Roman times. Explore its historical remnants and learn about its intriguing past as you stroll around Isola Tiberina.
Walking Itinerary in Rome Isola Tiberina
Roman bridge ruins on the Tiber.

Next up is the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church, located a 10-minute walk away to see the famous Bocca della Verità.

Walking Itinerary in Rome Bocca della Verità
Famous Roman mask for truth tests.

The Bocca della Verità, affectionately known as the “Mouth of Truth”, awaits curious travelers within the enchanting Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. According to the legend, if you tell a lie while placing your hand inside the mouth, it will snap shut and bite off your hand. This iconic symbol of truth and superstition adds a touch of mystery to Rome’s rich cultural tapestry, making it a must-visit for those seeking a touch of mystery and tradition.

Access to the church and to see the Bocca della Verità is free. Check opening hours at the official website

When you visit Bocca della Verità at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome.  Place your hand inside the mouth of the sculpture while formulating a statement or answer a question that requires a “yes” or “no” response and see if it bite off your hand!

It’s time to set your sights on our final destination to catch a beautiful sunset at Giardino degli Aranci.

Walking Itinerary in Rome Giardino degli Aranci
A serene Roman oasis with orange trees and stunning city views.

Giardino degli Aranci is a tranquil oasis offering respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. This charming garden is renowned for its fragrant orange trees, which provide refreshing shade and a burst of color throughout the year.

As you explore, you’ll discover a picturesque terrace offering breathtaking panoramic views of Rome, including a captivating vista of St. Peter’s Basilica framed by the branches of the orange trees. It’s the perfect spot for a stroll, a romantic picnic, or simply soaking in the city’s skyline as the sun sets.

Enjoy the city’s views, relax among orange trees and capture memorable photos!
Walking Itinerary in Rome Giardino degli Aranci
View from the terrace of Giardino degli Aranci.

Our second day of exploration in Rome ends here, but if you have missed Day 1 at the Colosseum and Rome City Center then you can click here!

Tips for your visit:

Remember that the preservation of all historical sites is very important and it’s essential to respect and follow the regulations set by the respective authorities at each location to ensure their preservation for future generations to enjoy.

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