Suggested agenda for five days in Rome

Jul 29th, 2004, 02:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 68
Suggested agenda for five days in Rome

My wife and I are finally going to Italy for a month beginning in mid September, and are so looking forward to it. However, we've been reading the guide books and are overwhelmed trying to work out a sight seeing schedule for Rome. There's just so much to see!!
I'd appreciate suggestions from experienced Rome visitors for a sight seeing schedule for five days for first time visitors. We arrive mid morning on a Thursday after a 16 hour journey from California, so the first day is a little problematic, and I'm thinking of doing one of those "hop off, hop on" bus tours which give you an overview.
Any suggestions would be welcome. We're staying at the Hotel Palatino near the Coliseum and Forum.
PS, we also did schedule a tour of the excavations under St. Peter's which is set for 9:30 AM on Saturday [the second full day there].
rexmor is offline  
Jul 29th, 2004, 02:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,612
So you have 4 days in Rome?
Click at the top of this screen on Destinations and you will find suggestions on what to see and do in Rome for relatively short stays.
THe Eyewitness guidebook series has shorter versions called "Top Ten" for major cities. If they have one for Rome, that would be helpful.

You need a good map. Streetwise Rome is good for an overall orientation and for most streets, but Rome has a lot of small alleys that are not labeled on the map. Roma Tascibile, published by Michelin, is a small map-book available on, and I find it very helpful.

I have a long file on Rome; if you'd like to see it, email me at
[email protected]

Suggestions: After your St Peter's Scavi (excavations) tour, arrange in advance for a guided walking tour of the Vatican. Recommended agencies include Scala Reale (my personal fave), Enjoy Rome, and Through Eternity.
Vatican tours run 3-4 hours. It will be very helpful to your sightseeing pleasure and will actually make the most use of your time.

I personally wouldn't want to sit on a bus after a 16 hour flight (I'd likely fall asleep on the bus.) If you book any walking tour with Scala Reale, they also give you a 'free' Orientation Walk or Hike, which is only 2 hours, and I found to be a good first day activity.
Choose the Hike, it's not that strenuous, just covers more ground than the Walk.
elaine is offline  
Jul 29th, 2004, 11:25 PM
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We flew to Rome from California in June. It's a long and exhausting flight, even if you manage to get some sleep on the plane, you will still be tired. We arrived in Rome at 6:00 pm and were very ready for bed when it was bedtime! Since you are arriving in the morning, you will need to stay awake all day until bedtime to get on Italy time, and after a 16-hour flight that isn't easy.
so my advice for the day or arrival is don't schedule any tours at all...get a map from a California book store before you leave called "Streetwise Rome". It's a plastic-coated map with an index of streets and piazzas. Using this map, choose some interesting outdoor sights that you can walk to on your first day...That way you can stay flexible and get an afternoon nap if you want!
Since your hotel is near the Colosseum and the Forum, read up on this area, there's lots to see, and just walk around your first day.
For the very next morning, schedule a guided walking tour of the Ancient Rome area, including the Colosseum, with a private licensed guide. The cost is about 40 euros an hour for your family or small group. I recommend Francesca Caruso if you can get her. Schedule a 3 or 4 hour walking tour for this morning, including the colosseum, Roman forum, Piazza Campidoglio, and the Pantheon. Return to your hotel for an afternoon rest. Then do dinner and maybe a wonderful evening stroll near the Pantheon, Trevi fountain, Piazza Navona, and the Spanish steps. Get a taxi or publc bus if you want 1 way, or you can walk.

For the next day do the VAtican Museums and St. peter's Basilica. This will consume a whole day's worth of energy and it is really amazing, an awesome experience.

That leaves you with 2 more days, I believe. Be sure that you leave at least 1 whole day entirely unplanned, and make this your last day in rome. Trust me, by your last day in rome you will have a favorite place that you want to return to! that's what we did on our final day in Rome, and we were really glad we did! We had 4 nights in Rome, which is basically 3 full days. We had 1 full day for the Ancient Rome private walking tour and for exploring the Trevi fountain, Piazza navona, and Spanish steps (near our hotel), 1 full day for the Vatican Museums and St. peter's basilica, and 1 full day as an unplanned free choice day. The whole family really enjoyed that free choice day and everyone knew exactly how they wanted to spend it! I spent my free day alone, writing poetry, and returning to my favorite piazzas...the rest of the family decided to return to St. peter's basilica to see it a second time and to climb up the dome, which we hand't had time to do on the first visit.

Have a wonderful time! If you have any more questions post them.
Jul 30th, 2004, 05:34 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,126
The "hop on/off" buses are okay, but may be agood idea for your first few hours there. Sit on top, bring your map and get oriented.
Everyone's different re. jet-lag. We tend to try and stay busy our first day and get our internal clocks adjusted to "Italian time" by not getting to bed until 9-10 their time.
Contact your hotel to see if you can check in at noon (assuming you can get there by then). Go have a nice lunch sitting outside.
Take your bus tour and maybe get off and on once or twice.
Go back to your room and freshen up and have an early dinner (7pm).
With only 4 days left, I would want to enjoy my first day in, especially if I arrived mid-morning.
Do try and get some sleep on the plane.
Lot's of possibilities for your next day.Check the weather forcasts. If Friday's not rainy, you may want to spend the day doing the forum, colosseum,Nero's house,etc.
Depending on your energy and time-frame you could do an afternoon tour (Scala Reale or another that fits).
Sat. you'll be finished with your Scavi at 11:00. Go then the St. Peter's and get a free tour. This should be finished around 12:30. If you want,and I recommend it, head straight to the Vatican museum (no lines).
You might be a bit hungry, so bring some snacks to tide you over. You could get a quick bite nearby and still enter around 1:15 and be okay.
I would self tour the museum. I realize that it would be better if you were with a tour, but it also would "tie you down" to that tour's time frame.You could always get close to other tour groups in each room and "overhear" much information.
Depending on how much time you desire there (figure a minimum of two hours) ,you will then be tired a ready to refresh at your room.
head over to piazza novona and Pantheon area. Walk a bit, sit in the piazza at a nice outdoor cafe and have a drink while people watching.
Have dinner in that area, a nice gelatto and then be prepared to be very ready for bed.
From here on you can plan around a lot of possible places to see and enjoy as listed in many threads.
I know that I've packed in a lot for your first three days, but there's a LOT to see and enjoy.
Enjoy planning your trip!
jabez is offline  
Jul 30th, 2004, 06:40 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 631
Do find some time for a visit to the Castel Sant'Angelo. The top offers a stunning view of Rome and the Vatican at any time of day (not raining, of course), but the views at sunset are particularly beautiful. It is variously also known as Hadrian's Tomb, the rooftop from which Tosca jumps to her death, and one of the places highlighted in the book "angels and Demons." And, at its foot is the Bridge of the Angels, featured famously in the film Roman Holiday.
eliztrav is offline  
Jul 31st, 2004, 08:35 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 68
Thanks to all for your helpful suggestions.
I followed Elaine's advice about scheduling private tours before I got the remaining messages, and basically followed the guide's advice, which was very similar to Melissa's. We're doing the "overview" walk around on arrival day, [probably using the hop on buses], then doing private tours of Ancient Rome the first full day, the Vatican the second day, Historical Rome the third day, and leaving the fourth full day open at this time.
Thanks again. This site is great.
rexmor is offline  

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