Rome is the capital city of Italy and is like setting foot into an open air museum. Although Rome is wall to wall full of historic sites it’s not just for the history buffs. If you love food, architecture, a buzzing city culture and great wine then Rome could be perfect for your next city break.
We have visited Rome a few times and you can see all the highlights in a day – but you will need a lie down afterwards, it is a full on day if you attempt it. We think a weekend in Rome strikes a better balance and allows you a short time outside of the city too.
Here’s our guide on what you should not miss when planning a city break in Rome.
If you can find an early flight then go for it. Aim to land in Rome early afternoon on your first day. Book accommodation in the city centre, or at least near a metro station. If your accommodation is located in the centre then as soon as you arrive you can drop your bags and head right back out to start exploring.
To get your first taste of Rome we recommend you head to the Colosseum, which conveniently has a metro station right outside. The Colosseum is an iconic site in Rome. Even if you don’t pay to go inside it’s worth stopping by to admire the exterior. If you do want to go inside – it is worth it if you set aside the time – then book your tickets in advance. You can choose a skip the line option which in summer will be worth every penny as the queue is usually extremely long! Book your Colosseum tickets directly through the Colosseum Website.
From the Colosseum head towards the Piazza Venezia on Via dei Fori Imperiali. The entrance to the Roman Forum which you can see opposite the Colosseum is on Via dei Fori Imperiali. You can get a combined ticket for both these sites on the Colosseum website.
After visiting these two enormous historical sites it will be early evening. There are so many places to eat in Rome you will be spoiled for choice. As with any capital city eating is Rome is not cheap, restaurant prices are in line with other European capital cities.
If you cross through Piazza Venezia we can recommend Capranica for dinner which is just a short walk away. It’s fairly priced and if you are in Rome outside of peak season you should be able to walk in and get a table. If you can wait a bit longer for food call in at the Pantheon on route as it closes by 7pm, earlier on Sundays. It doesn’t take long to have a look inside the Pantheon but it is worth doing while you’re nearby.
After you have finished dinner you will find even more sites nearby. the Obelisk of Montecitorio, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps are all a short walk away. Take advantage of seeing the Trevi Fountain in the evening while you’re nearby. It will be way less crowded than it is in the day.
Your main day of your weekend in Rome! I’m going to suggest something that you won’t find in many (maybe any) other Rome weekend guides. For half of your main day in Rome I would actually recommend getting out of the city for a few hours. This is due to such an awesome experience I had on my last trip to Rome that I’d recommend everyone give it a try.
On my last visit to Rome I went on a half-day wine tour with The Old Frascati Wine Tour and it was fantastic. You can book direct through the Old Frascati website. Frascati is just 25 minutes outside of Rome by train, so very easy to visit from the city. Although most visitors to Rome won’t be considering heading out of the city plenty of Romans do head to Frascati during the weekend to get out of the city – so when in Rome do as the Romans do and go to Frascati!
The tour starts with exploring the historic centre of Frascati where you get to see some of the beautiful historic buildings – without the crowds! You also get to try some local food from a family deli. We got to try breads, cured meats, homemade wine and my favourite – Pangialli. It is kind of a cake made from chocolate, nuts, raisins and I’m pretty sure there’s some honey in it too.
After spending time in Frascati you are taken to the Old Frascati Vineyard just on the outskirts of the town. The vineyard has a beautiful setting and when we visited we were treated like family. First we were shown around the vines then the cellars where they have bottles dating back to the 1940s!
Above the cellars you have the opportunity to try three of the wines produced at the Old Frascati Vineyard along with some nibbles bought from the deli visited in Frascati. Lunch is included in the tour and your favourite wine from the tasting is served with lunch back in Frascati town at a local restaurant. We were served so much food for lunch that I would have been happy not eating again that day and it was all so good!
After returning to Rome you will be ready to walk off some of the delicious food from Frascati. Rome is covered with piazza after piazza of historical monuments. Spend the afternoon and early evening exploring those you didn’t make it to on your first day in Rome. Some of our favourites are Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Navona and Piazza Venezia, and they are all very different.
Piazza Venezia is buzzing with traffic and people passing through or visiting the huge Altar of the Fartherland in the centre of the chaotic traffic and nearby Trajan’s Column.
Piazza Navona is a wide open square with a fountain and obelisk in the centre. In Piazza Navona you have a good chance of seeing some street artists. This is also a great area to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat (if you aren’t still full!) and people watch.
Piazza del Popolo translates to “People’s Square”. It is a huge square where along with more fountains and obelisk you can find the twin churches of Santa Maria dei Miracoli and Santa Maria in Montesanto which stand right next to each other. Although this square is huge like Piazza Venezia the Piazza del Popolo is pedestrianised so no need to worry about traffic while you’re exploring the sites here.
This is likely to be your last day of your weekend in Rome. Depending on what time your flight leaves will determine what you can see on your last day. If you have pretty much a full day then you could consider spending it at the Vatican City. I wouldn’t advise heading to the Vatican unless you do have a full day as it is enormous – a city in its own right. You can’t do justice to a visit to the Vatican in just a few hours. You will spend half your time in queues.
Assuming you don’t have a full day at your disposal spend the morning having a last leisurely stroll around the city. It is worth having some flexibility in your schedule while in Rome. Don’t underestimate the time you will spend queuing to get into the popular sites – this is a busy city.
If you didn’t get chance on your first day then call in and see the Pantheon this morning. It doesn’t take long to visit and so will leave you plenty of time to have a last coffee break while in Rome before you head for the airport.
We hope you find this guide for a weekend in Rome useful. Let us know what your favourite sights are in Rome in the comments!