Rome, Italy is an obvious choice for an incredible vacation, no matter what you choose to do while you’re there. In this 4 day Rome Itinerary, we’ll share our favorite picks for how to spend your time while in Rome, including side trips to Naples, Pompeii, and of course a day sightseeing Vatican City.
4 Day Rome Itinerary
Day 1: Rome
There is so much to see in Rome! You’ll most likely want two full days to see everything the main city of Rome. We did it all in a single day, but it took 12 hours and over 20,000 steps walking. I wouldn’t recommend it!
On your first day in Rome, hit the major sites with a tour. You’ll really want a tour to make the most out of the sites and really learn about the history here.
Our tour took us through the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. We learned a ton, and it was incredible seeing all the history here. You can add a few other of your top picks for the city on your first day in Rome, but don’t overdo it.
Getting to Rome:
We started our 2-week girls trip in Switzerland and opted to take the overnight train to Rome. It was a long trip and we didn’t sleep great, but we arrived in one piece and it saved us a day (and a night’s hotel!)
This is one train accommodation to opt for upgrades or the faster train, where budget might allow. We certainly were not in “Comfort” despite what our train car suggested.
Top Things to See in Rome:
- Palatine Hill
- Roman Forum
- Arch of Constantine
- Circus Maximus
- Mouth of Truth
- Altar of the Fatherland
- Trevi Fountain
- Spanish Steps
- Piazza del Popolo
- Villia Borghese
Day 2: Vatican City
Hop on a bus or taxi and head your way over to see Vatican City. You’ll need most of the day here. We took the public bus and it was a quick and easy commute that took us about 30 minutes from where we were staying.
Things to See in Vatican City:
- St. Peter’s Square
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- Sistine Chapel
- Vatican Museum
- Ponte St. Angelo Bridge
- Castel Sant’Angelo
- Piazza Navona
St. Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica:
You will of course want to check out St. Peter’s Square and Basilica while you are there. The endless columns that encircle the square are really impressive!
Unfortunately for us, the line to enter St. Peter’s Basilica wrapped around the entire inner circle of St. Peter’s Square and was hardly even inching forward.
I would recommend double checking the Pope and Vatican schedule before heading here, as that can drastically impact the tourist count. The Pope was hosting an event in the square the morning we visited.
Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel:
If you enjoy museums, you can venture into the Sistine Chapel. It starts by winding through the Vatican Museum which takes hours weaving in and out of the exhibits. There’s no way out of the long lines and winding path, so be ready for a lengthy walk and endless art.
We felt like the museum portion was way too long with no way to shortcut past specific exhibits you’d rather skip. It was incredibly busy, as well, which overall left us wishing we had skipped the museum. By the time we reached the small single room that is the Sistine Chapel, we were over the crowds and the art and didn’t appreciate the space as much as we otherwise might have.
Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Angelo Bridge:
From Vatican city, visit the nearby Castel Sant’Angelo and Ponte St. Angelo Bridge. We didn’t make our way into the Castle, but even walking around the grounds was neat.
We really loved the beautiful St. Angelo Bridge. It is lined with a series of different angels holding one of the articles relating to the cruifixition, such as casting lots, a thorn for his side, or the crown of thorns.
We also really loved the unique perspective walking the short distance away from Vatican city gave us as we looked back towards the city through the busy streets.
Day 3: Rome
Finish checking off everything from your must-see list on your second full day in Rome. Make sure to take time to see Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Altar of the Fatherland (and more!)
You can make your second day a slower paced day, or consider taking a Vespa tour to see the city in a really unique way!
Day 4: Pompeii & Naples Tour
We weren’t sure about Pompeii and read mixed reviews, but we really enjoyed the day tour. Plan for your entire day to be consumed, but since someone else is handling all the transportation it’s a laid back day overall.
After comparing the prices of booking our own train tickets and needing the fast train to make Pompeii even work in a day, the price of the train tickets alone was almost the same as the tour — so a tour was an easy pick for us.
You can book your train tickets in advance for lower prices and be able to make it to Pompeii on your own without a tour at more affordable prices.
Our tour started in Naples where we were guided around some of the downtown sites including the Piazza del Plebiscito, Castel Nuovo, and a gorgeous shopping mall Galleria Umberto.
After visiting the sites, we were treated to a classic Naples lunch included with our tour price. We got to try pizza, pasta, appetizers, and a funky dessert, Sfogliatelle, classic to Naples.
Naples was really neat and we learned a lot, and I was so glad we didn’t miss the chance to try Naples pizza, which really is fantastic and so different than American pizza.
From there, it was on to Pompeii which as a chilling site, but also so very fascinating. Our tour started at a Cameo factory, which was actually pretty interesting to see but we quickly moved on from there.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in Pompeii. We were all surprise by how vast the city was, there were a ton of ruins to explore! It was very helpful to have a guide to teach us about some of the different points of interest in Pompeii.
One thing we learned about, that was so interesting, is how they would use these raised stones to create a “crosswalk” for pedestrians to keep them out of the water and mud that might flow through the lower street level.
There was space between these stones, though, to allow the chariots and carts to drive over the crosswalk and we could see the grooves carved into the stone from lots of travel on these old ruined roads.
Of course, the most difficult part of the trip was seeing the casts of human remains. In order to preserve the bodies in their state, early excavators poured concrete into the hardened ash shell around the decomposed bodies to create the molds we see today.
This particular person was believed to be a young teenage girl in the early stages of pregnancy. There was also a man and a young child along with the cast of a dog we saw during our visit. They were all equally hard to see and imagine the life they once lived.
You can spot Mount Vesuvius in the background of this picture filled with ruins of the city of Pompeii. As we walked the streets, it was fascinating to imagine what life would have been like here. The area and nearby mountain created stunning views and the ruins painted a picture of what a beautiful, thriving city Pompeii once was.
We were all very glad we took the time to see these two different cities as it really enriched our trip!
More Things to See
and Do Near Rome
If you have an extra day or two and want to squeeze in another outing during your trip, try one of these highly recommended destinations near Rome!
Other Ruins – If you love exploring ancient cities, you may find one of these other destinations near Rome a good choice for a day trip!
- Ostia Antica – A ruined port city about 15 miles from Rome
- Herculaneum – Another city destroyed by Pompeii that is better preserved, more colorful, but also much smaller in size.
Amalfi Coast – Spend a day or two soaking up the sun on the beautiful Amalfi Coast with sandy beaches and jutting cliffs.
Capri – There you’ll find an unforgettable location to swim, sail, and visit the Blue Grotto – a famous sight where the water inside this cave looks to be glowing electric blue!
Saturnia Hot Springs – This destination isn’t an easy one to get to, but the hot water and gorgeous pools that spill down from one to the next will build in some natural relaxation.
Civita di Bagnoregio – This “Dying City” can only be accessed by a walking bridge up to the top of the plateau. It’s a 20-minute hike up into the Medieval town, but arguably worth the steep trek.
What sites and destinations are on your must-see list when you visit Rome and Italy? Follow along with our 2-week Girls Trip around Switzerland and Italy for even more vacation inspiration!