Rome, Italy, is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world. Its history dates back more than 28 centuries, and it served as the center of the Roman Empire, Europe’s ruling force, for more than 400 years. Its globally-recognized landmarks, like the Colosseum and Vatican City, attract more than nine million international tourists each year, making it one of the top tourist destinations in Europe.
Unlike major cities such as New York City, London, and Paris, Rome is exceptionally compact and walkable. You can walk to and see five of its most famous sights in less than two hours. Here’s how:
Of the five landmarks on this route, Vatican City is the furthest west, so that’s where you’d start your journey. Since it became independent from Italy in 1929, Vatican City has been the smallest country in the world by area and population. It is home to religious and cultural sites of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, the latter serving as home to Michelangelo’s famous ceiling mural. The Vatican also serves as the Pope’s official residence, but he’s not there too often.
If you don’t want to view the world’s smallest country from outside, you can purchase a 17 euro ticket to the Vatican Museums. There can be, however, as many as 20,000 visitors a day in the summer, so it’ll likely be a bit crowded.
Walking from Vatican City to the Pantheon brings you over the River Tiber and should take around 30 minutes. Unlike the heavily-barricaded Vatican, tourists can walk up to and inside the Pantheon without buying a ticket or worrying about security. The Pantheon is described as “one of the best-preserved monuments of Ancient Rome” by History.com and includes the tombs of former Italian kings.
If the scene isn’t too crowded, head inside the Pantheon for some amazement. There are no windows inside the ancient structure — the only light source is through an oculus at the top of the concrete dome that shines through during the day time.
Just a 10-minute walk from the Pantheon is one of the most magnificent sights in Rome, Trevi Fountain. Because of its beauty, it will almost always be surrounded by tourists waiting to sit on the edge and throw a coin, or three, in the fountain. An estimated 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day.
Towering above the crystal blue water are several sculptures, the most prominent one being Oceanus, the Greek god of the sea. The backdrop for the brilliant white carvings is the Palazzo Poli, a palace with white symmetrical pillars and windows, adding to the already breathtaking aesthetic of the fountain.
If there’s one thing missing at this point in the journey, its a place to sit down and relax for a bit. The Spanish Steps are just another 10 minutes away from Trevi Fountain and allow tourists to do just that. The Trinita Dei Monti church overlooks the steep steps, which are spacious enough for visitors to sit on without disrupting people scaling them. Take this time to recharge for another 30-minute walk to arguably the most famous monument in all of Rome, the Colosseum.
For most people, when you think of Rome, you think of the Colosseum. Other than Vatican City, this is the only other stop in the journey that requires tickets to go inside. Otherwise, you’re limited to just walking around the world-famous structure. Tickets range from 16 to 22 euros, depending on which “experience” you opt for.
Don’t underestimate the size of the Colosseum just because half of its south side was destroyed by an earthquake in the 14th century, resulting in the monument’s now-iconic look. When it was in use, the Colosseum could seat 80,000 people, more than all but five professional sports stadiums in the United States. Its circumference is more than a quarter-mile wide.
Complete this sub-two-hour journey on foot, and you can say you’ve seen the sights of Rome. Of course, there is more to the Italian capital than just its famous landmarks, and some tourists may not want to deal with crowds around the aforementioned spots. Luckily, seeing all of them takes up a mere fraction of your day, leaving plenty of time to explore other parts of the city. Happy traveling!