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How to spend a week in Rome

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A city view of the Roman Forum, Rome, Italy with many old stone buildings stretching into the distance
Rome, Italy

Alright people, let’s talk about spending a week in Rome. 

Who doesn’t get excited thinking about going to Italy?! Everything from the food to the shopping is *chefs kiss*. When I visited Rome for the first time over a decade ago during my study abroad in Barcelona, I thought it was just “meh”, but now I know I just didn’t do it “right”.

This time around was a whole different experience, and Rome has quickly become one of my favorite cities in the world.

Similar to my guide to Madrid, this guide has a heavy emphasis on Italian culture and food while spending a week in Rome to see the main sights. I’ll highlight my top things to do in Rome, where to shop, eat, and stay so you don’t have to do as much research. It can be so daunting to boil down a whole city in just a few days.

When is the best time to travel to Rome

Italy in summer is unbearably hot, so I would recommend going during off season in Italy or the “shoulder season”. Since it’s not a beach destination, you don’t have to visit in summer and can get an incredible experience year-round.

How long should you spend in Rome

I’ve stayed for one week in Rome both times I’ve been here, but you can easily see the sights in 3-4 days. You can squeeze everything into a couple of days if you want to, but part of Rome’s charm is getting lost in the streets and neighborhoods.

Rome is also very walkable, so bring your most stylish and comfortable pair of sneakers and be prepared to walk 10-20K steps a day! Believe me, you’ll want to walk off all the eating you do!

Top 8 things to do during a week in Rome

Roman Forum & Colosseum

The most obvious and ultimate to-do in Rome is to visit the ancient Roman ruins and the Colosseum. My family and I opted for a private guided tour because we are very interested in history and archeology which was a major highlight of the trip.

I highly recommend a tour because you miss out on so many details and incredible history if you just walk through yourself. The forum is STUNNING and the views are incredible. My favorite thing to see was the actual spot Julius Caesar was cremated (*mind-blown*).

The Colosseum is also incredible to see in person too, I couldn’t stop staring at it. When I was inside, I didn’t know if I wanted to channel my inner Gladiator or Lizzie McGuire… regardless, it’s a MUST.

Hot Tip: Do a tour of both together since they are right next to each other. 

Trevi Fountain & Spanish Steps

The Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps are about a 10 minutes walk from each other, so you can easily see both together. The Trevi Fountain truly takes my breath away every time I see it. Go super early in the morning to see both without a huge crowd.

I went at 7 am one morning to take it in, and it was magical. The Spanish steps are also a sight to see and in the main designer shopping area.   

The many carved statues out of stone  in front of an ornate stone building at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy
Trevi Fountain

Pantheon & Campo di Fiore

Ancient Rome is so cool because you can be casually walking in the city and then BOOM something ancient and incredible appears right in front of your face. That’s how it feels when you see the Pantheon.

The Pantheon is an ancient temple and is worth going inside especially since it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. My favorite part was seeing the tomb of Raphael (the artist), whom I am a huge fan of (not to mention one of my kitties is named after him).

After the Pantheon, walk on over to Campo di Fiore. Campo di Fiore is a daily local market where you can buy produce, cheese, and souvenirs.

Hot tip: you don’t need tickets for the Pantheon if you go during the weekdays. Go early to avoid any lines. 

The Vatican

The Vatican: Visiting the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican Museums is a whole-day affair. It’s overwhelming because there is so much to see, so some kind of guided experience would help.

The museum has some of the world’s most famous works of art. My favorite is the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo (who my other cat is named after).

Hot Tip: Your shoulders and knees must be covered to enter the Vatican.

Villa Borghese

Another stunning museum/gallery to visit is Villa Borghese which is located right outside the Roman city walls in a beautiful park. Villa Borghese is an opulent gallery that is also home to some of Bernini’s incredible sculptures (no, I don’t have a cat named Bernini).

If you’re into art, Bernini was one of the most influential sculptures of the Baroque era. If you are not into art or architecture, you can skip Villa Borghese gallery. 

A very ornate colorful painting of many classical figures at Villa Borghese
Villa Borghese

Shop ‘till you drop in Rome

I stick with local designers when I shop in a specific country, and here I was in the mecca. Some of the coolest things to see are the flagship designer stores around the Spanish Steps and Via dei Condotti. I did some damage at Prada and Patrizia Pepe – it was my birthday after all. Some other great neighborhoods to shop in are Monti and around the Vatican. 

Trastevere

This neighborhood is known for its buzzing nightlife with cool restaurants and bars. I was surprised at how much graffiti was on the walls of these stunning buildings, but I guess it added to the whole “hipster” thing.

I did a food tour which was a nice way to get to try a bunch of spots and local dishes. Check out Freni e Frizioni while you’re in the area for a unique bar experience.

A cobblestone street with many old rust colored buildings in the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome. Green ivy are hanging off the walls and potted plants are lining the street
Trastevere neighborhood

Aperitivo

At around 4-6 pm you’ll see everyone sitting outside with an Aperol spritz and some light bites. A spritz is my favorite, so you better believe I was on the hunt and my trip wouldn’t be complete without one! Turns out, literally everywhere has them, so you really can’t go wrong.

Nina in black at an outside seating area in Rome holding a glass of orange Aperol Spritz
Aperol Spritz in Rome

The best Rome restaurants and bars

Any Italian city warrants its own dedicated and detailed food guide, but here is my quick reference to my favorite places:

  • Zia- Michelin experience
  • Pizzarium Bonci- Pizza featured on Chef’s Table Pizza
  • Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina- vibey trattoria
  • Antico Forno Roscioli- casual bakery for lunch 
  • Pierluigi- best seafood in Rome
  • Drink Kong- one of the “world’s best bars”
  • Jerry Thomas Speakeasy- a moody late-night experience
  • Giolitti- gelato 
  • Two Sizes- best tiramisu to-go 

Where to stay for 1 week in Rome

Similar to there being no shortage of restaurants in Rome, there is no shortage of Airbnbs and hotels. However, where you stay in Rome makes a huge difference in your experience.

I highly recommend staying close to the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, or Pantheon to be central and walkable to everything which makes it one of the best areas to stay Rome. I stayed at the Rome Style Hotel, which is a very simple but well-done hotel.

It’s located between the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. The décor was cool, the room was large, and the staff was very helpful and warm. 

There you have it, my top highlights to add to your one week in Rome itinerary!

Want to see more? Check out my IG reel!

A pinnable image with 3 images of Rome with text that says,"A week in Rome, Italy".

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