Remarkable Rome itinerary 1 day (from €36). Explore Rome on a budget with a self-guided walking tour and The Roman Guy.
They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but is it possible to see this wondrous city in just one?
In reality, you could easily spend 3-5 days here and not even begin to get bored. But time isn’t always on our side and sometimes we have to make the most of what we have available.
My Mum and I had been planning to take a three-week trip to Italy, starting our journey in Rome. Thanks to the help of Sian, from The Roman Guy, I had a full two days planned including their Colosseum Night Tour. As often happens with travel, plans changed and we had to reduce our trip to just one full day in Rome.
So here was our one-day itinerary for Rome, including a self-guided tour of the city, a guided tour of The Vatican with The Roman Guy, and budget breakdown. If you are short on time and want to include many of these attractions into one comprehensive tour, consider the Rome in a Day Tour with the Roman Guy.
Self-guided walking tour of Rome
Rome is an ancient city with so many historical and archeological sites, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Luckily, Sian from The Roman Guy provided me with a list of popular attractions that I could use to create my own self-guided walking tour. I saved each location into Google Maps so that I could navigate even when offline.
We started the day by catching the metro to the Spanish Steps and went by foot to each site after that. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and take lots of cappuccino breaks because this itinerary requires a lot of walking. If you get tired, the Metro is very efficient and easy to use. Just keep in mind that it closes at 11:30 pm on a weekday but there should be a night bus in its place.
If you are lucky to be in Rome on the first Sunday of the month, many of the museums and attractions are free. The Vatican is also free on the last Sunday of the month, see opening days and times for more information.
1. Spanish Steps (Scalinata di Trinita dei Monti)
The Spanish steps join Piazza Trinita dei Monti with Piazza di Spagna (Plaza of Spain). The steps are hugely popular with tourists and busy even early on in the day. If you climb to the top where the church is, there is a nice view from above.
2. Trevi Fountain
The biggest fountain in Rome and possibly the most famous in the world, the Trevi fountain does not disappoint at almost 30 meters high. The custom is to throw three coins backward over your left shoulder into the fountain. The first is to return to Rome, the second for a new romance, and the third for marriage.
The Pantheon was originally built as a temple and is now one of the oldest functional buildings in the world.
4. Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is a classy plaza with street artists, grand buildings, and the Fountain of the Four Rivers as its centerpiece.
5. Campo d’Fiori Market Square
Get into the middle of the hustle and bustle of a street market with Italian goods such as leather and pasta.
6. Ponte Sisto Bridge
Rather than walking directly over Ponte Sisto, I would recommend crossing at Ponte Garibaldi and walking up towards Trastevere Santa Maria Square to get this marvelous view.
7. Trastevere Santa Maria Square
Trastevere is well known as a trendy neighborhood with plenty of great restaurants and bars. This would be a great place to stop for lunch. Both Sian, and a friend recommended the restaurant, La Prosciutteria in Trastevere. I had planned to double back to have dinner here, so we had lunch at the nearby Le Tartarughe Eat & Drink. I ate the vegetable pie and my Mum had a salad – both were amazing!
Afternoon Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel
I have wanted to visit the Vatican City since my first trip to Rome in 2009. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it then due to a bad run-in with swine flu and eight days in the hospital (the medical treatment I received in Italy was top notch by the way!). But I made sure to see the Vatican this time.
The history of the Vatican is intriguing, and at one time included a war between the government and the church over ownership of land. Today, Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world and a billion-dollar business, run as a monarchy headed by the Pope.
To begin our afternoon tour with The Roman Guy, we met our guide, Ilaria, across from the entrance of The Vatican Museum. Ilaria gave us all an introduction to the history of the Vatican and explained why you aren’t able to take photos inside the Sistine Chapel.
Thanks to being on a tour with The Roman Guy, we were able to skip the lines and made a quick entrance inside the Vatican, where we received our headsets so we could always hear Ilaria perfectly when she was sharing her in-depth knowledge of Vatican City.
The Vatican Museums hold thousands of pieces of artwork and could take years to see each piece, so I was glad to have Ilaria show us the highlights in just over two hours. The tour included Candelabra Gallery, Gallery of the Tapestries, Gallery of the Maps, and Raphael Rooms.
As much as the Sistine Chapel is considered a historical masterpiece, I would have to say that the Gallery of the Maps and Raphael Rooms really stood out to me. I was so amazed by the ceiling of the Gallery of the Maps and couldn’t stop gazing up and pointing our intricate detail.
The Raphael Rooms includes some of the most famous works of Raphael, such as “The School of Athens”. Ilaria shared the background behind these works before we headed towards the Sistine Chapel. Before entering the chapel, we received an explanation and a colorful handout of the Sistine Chapel’s vault and the Last Judgement showing the name of each important figure in the paintings.
On the Afternoon Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel, you have the option to get special access to St Peter’s Basilica. After we finished admiring the Sistine Chapel, my Mum and I felt like we had seen enough and decided to skip this. Overall the tour was the perfect duration and included the right amount of highlights for us.
My travel budget for Rome (2020 update)
Rome Travel Costs
All costs are quoted for one person and in the local currency (EUR). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.
Accommodation: We stayed in a twin room at an Airbnb near Tuscolana Train Station (€40 per night for 2 people). See a list of available accommodation in Rome.
Food: Breakfast of cappuccino and cornetti at Gallo Umbro (€1), lunch of vegetable pie and beer at Le Tartarughe (€10), gelato (€2.70).
Activities: Afternoon Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel.
Transport: 2 one-way metro tickets (€3).
Average daily spend: €36.70 EUR ($43.75 USD and $54.69 AUD as of 6 September 2017) does not include the Afternoon Vatican Tour with Sistine Chapel as well as transportation in and out of Rome.
*This daily amount could be reduced by buying ingredients to make your own lunch from the supermarket.
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