1 Day in Rome: What to do and see

Buongiorno and welcome to Stefano Rome Tours!

As cliche as it sounds to say “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you can see it in a day”, it’s true that we can show you many of Rome’s most famous landmarks, squares and churches in just one day on our private tours of Rome. Whether you are staying in Rome or are on a Rome Shore Excursion from Civitavecchia, you can see the best of Rome in just one day.

How can we squeeze so many key sites in Rome in one day? 

All our luxury Rome tours are chauffeur-driven tours by car with your own personal English-speaking driver who will take you close to each site you visit to minimize walking distance and maximize your sightseeing opportunities efficiently and effortlessly. 

Forget about maps, walking for miles, trying to figure out Rome’s confusing public transportation, or looking for taxis - all of which take up SO much valuable time from your day and greatly reduce the number of places you will be able to see, missing out on so much! 

Bus tours will not get you into the historical center where most of the famous squares and monuments are located as tour buses are restricted from accessing the city center. Since buses can only stop around the perimeters of Rome’s historical center, it means having to walk for many blocks each time to just see a few sites.

If you have just 1 day in Rome, here’s what to do and see on a private tour of Rome.


1 Day in Rome: What to Do and See


If you have just one day in Rome, you may spend your day visiting Rome’s most famous squares, admiring magnificent churches, and seeing Rome’s best ancient monuments.

We included Rome’s most famous squares, ancient Roman monuments, and churches that are Must See in Rome which our guests enjoyed on our private Rome tour by car.

Visit Rome’s Most Famous Squares:

  • Trevi Fountain
  • Spanish Steps
  • Piazza Navona
  • Piazza Venezia
  • Campo dei’ Fiori
  • St Peter's Square


See Rome’s best ancient monuments:

  • The Pantheon
  • Panoramic view of the Roman Forum from Capitoline Hill
  • Drive through Piazza Venezia and see the Vittorio Emanuele Monument
  • View the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine from Colosseum Square
  • See the Circus Maximus

Rome’s Most Famous Churches:

  • St Petar’s Basilica
  • St Paul Outside the Walls





Trevi Fountain - Rome's iconic Baroque fountain


Trevi Fountain One Day in Rome What to Do and See Stefano Rome Tours in limo

Trevi Fountain is at the top of everyone's list of what to do and see in Rome.

As soon as you hear the tranquil melody of water gushing forth, you will know that you are close to Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi  in Italian), the largest and most beautiful Baroque fountain in Rome, and the most well-recognized in the world! 

This  Baroque masterpiece was designed by Nicola Salvi  who won the design competition in 1732 and completed by Giuseppe Pannini  in 1762.  Trevi Fountain abuts Palazzo Poli creating a scenic wonder by combining the palazzo with the fountain.

The fountain stands at approximately 85 feet dominated by the pagan god Neptune riding a seashell chariot drawn by seahorses accompanied by tritons. The fountain sculptures also feature the statues of Abundance and Health against the backdrop.  The fountain is fed by water from the ancient aqueduct Acqua Vergine.

Trevi Fountain’s fame has been cemented in classic films such as “Three Coins in A Fountain”, “La Dolce Vita”, and “Vacanze Romane”.  Vacanze Romane / Roman Holiday is such a treasured classic that many of our guests book our Vacanze Romane / Roman Holiday Tour of Rome which was also featured on Travel & Leisure.

Keep the tradition going by tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain!

The Tradition of Tossing a Coin in the Trevi Fountain

According to tradition, by tossing one coin into the Trevi Fountain over your shoulder with your back to the fountain, you will return to The Eternal City of Rome.  By tossing two coins you will fall in love when you return to, and by tossing three coins find love and marry.  About 1.5 million Euros in coins is collected from the fountain each year and donated to a Catholic charity that helps the impoverished and homeless.


The elegant SPANISH STEPS / Piazza di Spagna


Spanish Steps what to do and see in Rome in one day tour


Admire the picturesque Spanish Steps with its graceful stairway that unfurls to connect the square below that features the Fontana della Barcaccia (the Fountain of the Old Boat) to the Church of Trinity and obelisk on top of the steps.

The Spanish Steps was named after the Spanish Embassy that was located there in 1647 and later became the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See.  

As you begin to climb the Spanish Steps, the beautiful palazzo on your right is the  Keats-Shelley Memorial House,  the famous English writer John Keats lived.


The lively Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona What to see and do in Rome in One Day tour


The lively Piazza Navona is graced by 3 magnificent fountains along the spacious oblong square surrounded by warm-toned historic buildings and the church of Saint Agnes in Agone

Local artists display varieties of colorful paintings and drawings, and street artists sometimes perform for small audiences of onlookers adding to the charm and vibrant atmosphere of Piazza Navona.

Piazza Navona takes its unique perfectly oval shape and name from the 1st century AD Ancient Roman stadium commissioned by Emperor Domitian to be used for athletic games and competitions. The name "Navona"  evolved from “agone”, the ancient word for games.

The imposing 17th-century Baroque fountain that dominates the square’s center is the Fountain of Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi) created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. This masterpiece of stone represents the four major rivers of the four known continents of that time: Rio de la Plata (America), Danube (Europe), Ganges (Asia), and Nile (Africa). 

The fountain is further surmounted by an ancient Egyptian obelisk commissioned by Pope Innocent X whose symbol was placed on top of the obelisk.

Shop at the outdoor market in Campo dei’ Fiori


Best things to do in Rome in one day tours


Campo de’ Fiori translates to “field of flowers”, a name that was first given to this area during the Middle Ages when it was actually a meadow. Flowers are still an important feature of this square but only as sold by vendors in beautiful bouquets.

Campo dei Fiori is one of Rome’s wonderful squares that comes to life each morning with its open-air market held from Monday to Saturday where you will experience a market day in Italy!

This busy daily market has been a staple in the square each morning since the late 1800s. Discover a vibrant cornucopia of beautifully displayed fruits and vegetables burst with color and fragrance, clothing, kitchen wares, souvenirs, and countless Italian products and delicacies that tempt your eye and palate.


Revel in the magnificence of St Peter's Square

St Peter Square Vatican One day in Rome What to do and See


One of Rome’s most esteemed is Saint Peter’s Square which welcomes millions of visitors within the embrace of “the maternal arms of the Mother Church” created by the elliptical colonnade.

The sweeping elliptical square in front of St Peter’s Basilica was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini to define the square and accommodate a large number of the faithful when the Pope gives his blessings to the masses. The 284 colossal Doric columns that appear as two embracing arms are arranged in 4 rows. Above the colonnade are 140 statues of various saints.

In the center of Saint Peter’s Square is the 84-foot tall ancient Egyptian obelisk brought to Rome by Emperor Caligula in 37 AD from Heliopolis, Egypt.

On each side between the obelisk and the colonnades is a magnificent ornamental fountain:  one created by Carlo Maderno in 1612 and another one by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1667.


Drive by the remarkable Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia What to do and see in Rome in One Day Tour in limo


Driving through the grand roundabout of Piazza Venezia is quite exciting as it offers the opportunity to see the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, the architecturally magnificent structure that was dedicated to the first king of Italy.

Built of pure white marble from Botticino, Brescia, the moment vaunts all Corinthian columns, sublime stairways,  a colossal equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel II,  two statues of the pagan goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas (a chariot drawn by four horses abreast), and beautiful fountains at its base.  

The base of the monument houses the Museum of Italian Reunification.

The construction of this monument was controversial as it required demolishing a large area of Capitoline Hill along with a medieval neighborhood to create sufficient space to build it. The locals believed that the monument was too large and too pompous with its modern architecture and blindingly white marble among the aged ochre-colored palazzi around it.




Next on our 1 Day in Rome: What to Do and See is exploring the ancient Roman monuments.

Wonders of Ancient Rome are evident throughout Rome’s historical center which was an important hub of the ancient Roman Empire.

Impressive Roman ruins, monuments, and archaeological sites let your imagination wander to ancient times and imagine what Rome may have been like when it was a city of marble when men walked through the Forum dressed in togas and gladiators fought fierce combats in the Colosseum.

While it’s not possible to see or visit ALL the remarkable ancient sites, here are the most important ancient Roman sites to see in Rome in a day.


Gaze in reverence at the Pantheon


Pantheon top things to see and do in Rome in one day tour


Not to be missed when in Rome is seeing the Pantheon, Rome’s most renowned ancient Roman temple located in the lively Piazza della Rotonda.

Popular with both locals and tourists, Piazza della Rotonda features a large central baroque fountain topped with a 20-foot ancient Egyptian obelisk originally commissioned for the Temple of Ra in Heliopolis by Egypt’s Pharaoh Ramses II.

The rotund Pantheon is a remarkable 2nd-century AD ancient Roman pagan temple dedicated to all gods. In 609 AD, it was converted into the church of Santa Maria dei Martiri.  This important transition helped preserve this ancient monument from a destructive fate that most other monuments suffered. Even though the Pantheon was stripped of bronze adornments, many other ancient Roman structures were quarried during the Medieval and Renaissance eras for building materials.

The Pantheon is not only one of the world’s most inspirational ancient Roman architectural masterpieces with its large unreinforced dome that has marveled architects for centuries, the Pantheon is also the single ancient monument in the longest continuous use.

When you enter the Pantheon you can’t help but look straight up where you will notice the oculus in the center of the coffered dome. This circular opening (the oculus) allows light and rain to fall through it and into the monument’s interior. Underground drainage systems allow rain to escape through holes in the floor.

The Pantheon is also a mausoleum where some of Italy’s most distinguished figures are buried inside, namely Italy’s King Vittorio Emanuele II, King Umberto, Queen Margherita, and the famous artist Raphael.


Marvel at the Colosseum’s grandeur 


Colosseum One Day in Rome Top Things to do and See in Rome


Piazza del Colosseo is a spacious cobblestoned pedestrian square surrounded by some of Rome’s most magnificent monuments: the Colosseum, the nearby Arch of Constantine, and the Roman Forum.

The Colosseum was commissioned by Emperor Vespasian in approximately 70 AD, and when it opened in 80 AD with 100 days of gladiatorial combats, games, wild animal hunts, and more entertainment for the populace. It was built large enough to accommodate 50,000 spectators around the oval arena where all the action took place. 

Over time, the entertainment inside the Colosseum expanded to include mock sea battles, theatrical plays, and public executions. 

Originally names the Flavian Amphitheater, the monument became known as the “Colosseum” due to the colossal statue of Nero as Apollo that once stood next to the Colosseum.

The partially ruined monumental amphitheater is made up of 4 arcaded levels with the lower 3 levels consisting of 80 arches each. The Colosseum’s earthy tones are due to the travertine stone out of which it was built, but originally, the Colosseum was sheathed in fine white marble and embellished with 160 larger-than-life statues placed inside niches within the arches. What a spectacle it must have been in its ancient splendor!

A combination of time, nature, and human activity has taken its toll on this ancient monument. During the Medieval and Renaissance eras, the Colosseum was quarried for its precious marble, and stones there were recycled as building material to be used for building projects in Rome.


Arch of Constantine Rome in one day tour what to see and do

Near the Colosseum, you can’t miss the magnificent triumphal arch of Emperor Constantine commemorates his victory over Emperor Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD. Also known as Constantine the Great, the emperor is credited to legalize Christianity in Rome during the time when Christians were persecuted for their religion.


Admire the Ancient Roman Forum


Roman Forum best things to do and see in Rome in One Day luxury tours


If you are short on time but wish to see the Roman Forum, we make it easy! A special stop to a tucked-away terrace behind Capitoline Hill will reward you with a breathtaking postcard-perfect panorama of the Roman Forum below you.

For many centuries the Roman Forum served as Rome’s political, social,  judicial, commercial, and religious center from where the empire was governed, designating it as the Navel of the City of Rome (Umbilicus Urbis Romae). 

The impressive ruins that were once temples, basilicas, and important buildings glistened in fine white marble and were covered with terracotta roof tiles, are physical reminders of Ancient Rome’s glorious and powerful past.

From this spot, you will see for yourself the very square from where the Roman Empire was governed. To the right is the Palatine Hill where ancient Roman emperors and patricians built their opulent domus, palaces, and villas. A domus was a spacious house that wealthy and middle-class families owned in ancient Rome and could be found in almost all of the major cities of the Roman Empire.

Peeking through the ruins from the distance, the Colosseum peeking from the distance.  Be sure to grab your camera because this is one of the most photographed places in Rome!


Circus Maximus - remains of Ancient Roman chariot race track


Circus Maximus One Day in Rome What to See and Do


In its heyday, Circus Maximus was the large ancient stadium in ancient Rome where thrilling chariot races were held for the pleasure of Roman patricians and plebians alike. Let your imagination wander and you can almost hear the roar of the crowds and the galloping of the horses’ hooves as they race around the hippodrome like in the famous film Ben Hur.

Majestically sitting behind the stadium, you can see the grand remains of villas on Palatine Hill.  

If you are staying in Rome longer, there are many other ancient Roman monuments worth seeing: Trajan’s Forum, Trajan’s Market, Baths of Caracalla, Teatro Marcello, and outside the city, the Ancient Appian Way.


Visit Rome’s top churches


Last but not least on our list of 1 day in Rome: what to see and do, is visiting Rome's top churches.  Rome has more than 900 churches, but only a handful are considered among the top must-see churches in Rome.

Here, we will include the most famous church in the world and the runner-up.

St Peter’s Basilica


St Peter Basilica Vatican What to do in Rome in One Day Tour from Civitavecchia


St Peter’s Basilica is the world’s most famous and grandest church. It was commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1506 to replace the previous 4th-century-old St Peter’s Basilica that was built by Emperor Constantine.

It took 120 years to complete the Basilica, and its magnificence was due to contributions by the Renaissance’s greatest: MichelangeloDonato Bramante, Gian Lorenzo Bernini,  and more of Italy’s Renaissance greatest architects and artists.

The basilica's enormous popularity which draws millions of visitors and pilgrims makes it also challenging to visit due to huge crowds and potentially long security lines as all visitors must first clear security checkpoints to enter. If the security lines are too long to visit St Peter’s Basilica, you consider visiting the less crowded the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.


Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls


Basilica Saint Paul Outside Walls  one day in Rome what to do and see from Civitavecchia


Originally commissioned in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine, the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls was to be built over the burial site of Saint Paul the Apostle.   Saint Paul's tomb is about 4.5 feet below the altar beneath a marble tombstone.

The Basilica is the second largest basilica in Rome, and one of the four highest-ranking churches in Christendom known as Papal Basilicas.  Currently, the basilica is among the top pilgrimage destinations for millions of Christians around the world. 

This remarkable basilica was destroyed by fire in the early 1800s, however,  thanks to the generosity of donors from around the world, the basilica was perfectly restored to its previous glory.

In addition to being an architectural masterpiece that rivals Rome’s major papal basilicas, St Paul Outside the Walls also features a graceful portico and cloister of the monastery. 

As this Basilica is more easily accessible to visitors than St Peter’s Basilica, it makes for a wonderful substitute when you are short on time and wish to see as much of Rome as possible in one day.

We hope this travel blog 1 Day in Rome: What to Do and See, has inspired you to travel to Italy and delight in a panoramic Rome tour to enjoy the best the Eternal City has to offer.

Thank you for reading our travel blog and for choosing Stefano Rome Tours for your private tours in Rome.  We look forward to seeing you in Italy!