Rome 5 Day Itinerary
Visit the Eternal City – Rome 5 Day Itinerary
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Rome is often at the top of everyone’s travel bucket list. It certainly was on mine and I visited this fantastic Italian city on my first ever international vacation more than 20 years ago. It was everything I had hoped it would be and have visited again and again! On YOUR Rome – 5 day itinerary, you’ll want to see all the famous sights in the Eternal City.
What’s not to love? Rome has great food, gorgeous people, stunning art and architecture along with a rich history in both the secular and religious world. Of course, Rome is on everyone’s bucket list!!
Make the most of your family vacation in Rome, hit all the highlights and enjoy La Dolce Vida in 5 days!
**Rearrange the order of days if sites are close**
Rome 5 Day Itinerary Day 1 – Vatican City
Unless your first day to Rome is a Sunday, when the Vatican museum is closed, make Vatican City your first stop. This country within a country is fascinating. It is also a really big and intense place to visit with so much to take in. You won’t want to exhaust yourself by seeing every inch of it so be prepared to see the highlights.
If you are traveling with the kids, you’ll want to get the Vatican City Activity Travel Guide written just for kids! This just for the kids visiting Vatican City gives them information they can understand and digest along with great fun activities to help them stay engaged and even learning (shhhh) while they travel! In all honesty, adults will love the information review as well.
Vatican City – How to Skip the Lines
This fantastic spot is often crowded and you’ll want to SKIP THE LINES with these tips:
- Reserve tickets online. Get your ticket and entrance time reservation online. Then, when you arrive you can skip the main lines and head to the much shorter line “Entrance with Reservations”.
- Book a guided tour through any of these options:
- The Vatican (vatican.va)
- Context Rome
- Enjoy Rome
- Rome Walks
Vatican City – Ticket Cost
Entrance fee to Vatican City is 15 euros plus 4 euros reservation fee.
Cost for guided tours varies:
Escorted Skip the Line Tour of Vatican City Museum and Sistine Chapel 40 euros
Guided Tour of Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica 56 euros
Early Access to Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel 50 euros
Early Access Small Group Tour St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel 74 euros
Full Day Express guided tour of Colosseum, Vatican Museums, and Sistine Chapel 86 euros
Vatican City Hours
Monday – Saturday 9:00 – 6:00 (last entry at 4:00)
The Sistine Chapel closes one hour BEFORE the museum. Watch your time so you don’t miss it!
CLOSED Sundays except the last Sunday of the month
NOTE: Carefully check your dates. Vatican City is often closed on holidays.
Vatican City Dress Code
Of all the places you’ll visit on your Italian family vacation, the dress code will be most strictly enforced here. Don’t try to get in thinking they’ll let you slide. They won’t and honestly – they shouldn’t. Be respectful of their thoughts on what you should wear. It is a religious site so keep that in mind when you choose your outfit.
NO shoulders showing. So, no spaghetti straps or tank tops or sundresses. No matter how hot it is, if you plan to see the inside of the church, plan to cover your shoulders.
NO bare knees showing on ANYONE. This means NO shorts – even on guys and children.
Think you are ready to see the Sistine Chapel? Michelangelo did NOT paint the ceiling lying down. That is a myth.
Rome 5 Day Itinerary – Day 2 Colosseum and Roman Forum
The Colosseum is another iconic spot that can’t be missed when you visit Rome. This amazing feat of engineering is fascinating she you scratch the surface of information about it.
*Built between 70-80 DA with a brand new invention – concrete!
*used for fights gladiator vs animals
*NOT used for Christian persecution
*We took the kids to see the Colosseum and what an amazing experience!
8:30 am till 1 hour before sunset – Last entrance 1 hour before closing (2 hours before sunset)
Use your combination ticket (12 euros) to see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum together. They are right next door to each other which makes it simple.
If you take the kids with you or want a cheat sheet for information on all the ancient history that Rome has to offer, consider the Kids Travel Activity Guide to Rome.
Right next door to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum. See it with the combo ticket (12 euros) which you used for entrance to the Colosseum.
This once thriving area was the most important part of town. The Roman Forum had religion, politics and commerce all in one spot.
Caesar himself spoke here and thanks to Shakespeare, most people are familiar with him. He wasn’t loved by all at the time because he brought a lot of changes. Remember these phrases from literature class? It all happened right here:
“Beware the Ides of March”
“Et tu, Brute?”
“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears.”
You can see the spot where Julius Caesar’s body was burned and remember the man who loved Rome.
Just outside the gate, vendors sell books which show photos of the ruins. Then, with a clear plastic overlay you can see what things looked like originally. I highly recommend buying one because these ruins make it hard to visualize what was going on. Being able to see why the area was so important is critical for making the most of the experience, especially for children.
Wear really good shoes because the area is rocky and can be slippery when wet. The right travel shoe can make or break your much longed for family vacation. Don’t skimp on shoes – even for the kiddos.
Without extra information or a guide, the Roman Forum is really hard to appreciate. Consider these options:
*audio tour from ITunes by Rick Steves
Passeggiata – The Evening Walk
After your evening meal, take part in the Italian tradition called passeggiata which is an evening stroll. This is a wonderful way to get out and watch the locals. Soak up the culture you have come so far to see. If you left room in your stomach after your evening meal, grab a bite of gelato and take to the street like the locals. This time is for relaxing and reconnecting. You’ll see people of all ages – from the very young in strollers to the very old strolling along arm in arm.
Gelato is not at all like ice cream in the US. BUT you’ll want to test that theory yourself to decide for sure! In my humble opinion it is much better than ice cream!
Rome 5 Day Itinerary – Day 3 – Villa Borghese Gardens and Museum, Cappuchin Crypt and Spanish Steps
Villa Borghese Gardens and Museum
Like Central Park in New York City, the 3 acre green park in the northern side of Rome is enjoyed by locals of all ages. Take some time to stroll and let the kids run around. The area is beautiful and has great kid stuff like birds to feed, a train to ride, and a merry go round!
After you let the kids stretch their legs, head to the Galleria Borghese museum for a real treat to see some of Bernini’s greatest work. I love his statues and this is one of my all time favorite museums. This museum is also the start of The Educational Tourist’s travel activity guides for kids so it is extra special to us!
The Borghese Museum is one of my all time favorite. The statues are beyond words. It was our first big trip with the kids and while I admired the gorgeous statues I told them the mythology stories behind them. They were entralled! The Educational Tourist educational travel activity guides were born right there!
This very small and very creepy/cool sight in Rome is worth popping in for a peek. It is definitely an off the beaten path in Rome type of place! If you are traveling with a tween it is a MUST visit. Below the church of Santa Maria della Immacolata Concezione is the crypt for the friars, not monks, of the Franciscan order.
More than 400 years ago, soil from Jerusalem was brought as a holy place for the deceased friars to rest. After their ‘turn’ is up, the bones are exhumed and stored in the various rooms of the crypt. Eighteen friars are currently buried in the holy soil.
Kids love the creepy and fascinating Cappuchin Crypt and to be honest, so did the adults in our group!
Next, this evening head to the Spanish Steps. This iconic spot is especially pretty in the spring when pink azaleas are set out in planters on the steps for a month. The local young people love to hang out in the evening for the traditional evening stroll – the passeggiata. When in Rome, do as the Romans and join in!
So, why are these the Spanish Steps…in the middle of Italy? I’m so glad you asked!
These steps, all 135 of them, were built between 1723 – 1725 to link the French church at the top, Trinitia dei Monti, with the long Spanish square at the bottom. The Spanish square is named for the Spanish Embassy and thus….the Spanish Steps.
There are several reasons the Spanish Steps area is one of the most famous in Italy. We loved visiting there at different times of day. It is the perfect people watching, gelato eating spot!
What’s on the menu tonight? Pasta or Pizza? You are in the right city for BOTH!
Rome 5 Day Itinerary Day 4 – National Museum of Rome, Trevi Fountain
National Museum of Rome Visit
*Closed on Mondays*
The National Museum of Rome is a showcase of ancient Roman art and is proud to have the world’s largest collection. Plan to see the highlights only. Like most museums in the world there is too much to see in just one visit.
Must see statues
Minerva – This is a wonderful example of how statues were once painted!
Busts of emperors –
Julius Caesar – yes, that Julius Caesar.
Important World Leaders –
Alexander the Great
Roman Gods and Goddesses –
Every Day Rome
Check out the second floor to find items from every day like coins and jewelry.
After a full morning in a museum you’ll welcome the chance to rub elbows with the locals at one of Rome’s most iconic sights – the Trevi Fountain.
One early engineering marvel to come out of Rome is the Roman aqueduct. These creations were a way to get water from one place to another. Rome’s earliest aqueduct was built in 312 BC and brought 75,5000 cubic meters of water into Rome each day. Aside from using the water for cattle, public baths and latrines, the water was used for decorative purposes in fountains throughout the city.
The Trevi Fountain is in the Baroque Style (fancy wording for very, very ornate and intricate) was completed in 1762. Water sprays or pours from 24 different spouts to create this wonderful and ICONIC spot in Rome. The fountain seems VERY large as it sits in the middle of a very small square.
Legend has it that if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain that you are sure to return to Rome. (It worked for me!) Coins thrown by hopeful travelers equal to more than 3000 euros a day and are collected by the city for the food for the needy.
The Trevi fountain is always crowded but be sure to visit anyway!!
Rome 5 Day Itinerary – Day 5 Appian Way and Catacombs
Catacomb Visit Planning
**Choose the day of the week that you visit carefully according to closures of catacombs!*
BEST days to visit: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday because the main sights are open.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME.
This is the road that started it all. Built in 312 BC it was named after a Roman official, Appius Claudius Caecus. That must have been exciting for him to have such an important road named after him! I wonder what he would think about that now? His namesake, the Appian Way, is still being used 2000 years later, but no one has ever heard of him.
At the time, it was the greatest road ever built and connected Rome to the port of Brindisi where ships left for Greece and Egypt. Now use this still amazing road to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Eternal City of Rome and enjoy walking and bicycling. Also you can visit some churches and catacombs.
Cool places to visit along the Appian Way:
Tomb of Cecilia Metella
Circus and Villa Maxendius
Catacombs of San Callisto
Domine Quo Vadis Church
San Sebastian Gate and Museum of the Walls
Here is the origin of the ‘milestone’. A stone was placed at every mile and was engraved with the emperor’s name.
Remember Spartacus? He was a captured soldier who was forced to become a gladiator. He escaped and led the largest slave rebellion of the Roman Empire. The conflict lasted for 2 years and while the slaves fought bravely, they were defeated in the end. The slaves were crucified here along the Appian Way as a deterrent to anyone else thinking of crossing the emperor. Imagine the sight…the smell while walking down a road literally lined with 6,000 crucified slaves.
Before your Rome 5 Day Itinerary – Do this!
Watch a film about Rome
On a happier note…want to brush up on your knowledge about Rome and do a bit of daydreaming before your trip? Check out these films!
Read Books about Italy to the Kids
I’ve gathered a list of kids books for you! Find the perfect book on gladiators, gelaot, pasta and more! Reading before a trip helps the kids get an idea of what they will see. This means they’ll be more interested, more engaged and less nervous about your adventure.
Also, reading before you go, helps the kids understand more of what they see – at a deeper level, and retain more information about your trip. Teach your kids through travel!
We LOVED Rome and you will, too!
Happy Travels – Caio,
Natalie, The Educational Tourist