Be honest: there are few cities as evocative as Rome. An ancient, hot-blooded and thrilling city, it remains on the lips of tourists the world over – and for good reason. There’s a lot to see, but we’ve managed to condense it into a nifty 24-hour jaunt. Whether you want to eat and drink your way around, or you’ve got your eyes on a historical tour, we’ve officially got you covered.
Rome’s an A-list city and there are lots to see, so we’d advise an early start – let’s say 9 am. Roscioli Bakery should definitely be your first port of call. With four generations of history, it’s been a bakery since 1872 and it hasn’t let up ever since.
Some light pastries and cappuccino here will get your day started nicely. Here’s another option: less central, but close to the San Giovanni metro station, is the Materia Cafe. Bright and airy, it serves a whole host of healthy breakfast eats, including salads and grilled sandwiches. More trendy than storied, it’s a cafe that shows off Rome’s more modern side.
You can expect crowds at some of the most popular attractions, which means of the sights are best seen in the morning – such as the Trevi Fountain. Arguably the most famous fountain in the world, it’s a baroque wonder that’s featured in many films (from La Dolce Vita to Roman Holiday) and is famous for its coin toss.
It’s customary to throw the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder and to this day approximately 3000 coins are there. Nice fact: said coins have been used to subsidise a city hospital for the needy.
From there, head to the Pantheon before lunch. One of the city’s best-preserved churches, it was built as a temple by emperor Hadrian in 105AD. With the world’s largest unreinforced domes, it’s a classic sight that is nigh on unmissable.
Lunchtime and afternoon
Time for some lunch. Mariolina, in the city’s Monti district, is a top-notch option, offering up an affordable express pasta lunch of the highest standards. Known particularly for its ravioli, this is a hole-in-the-wall self-service joint where the focus is firmly on the food. Also worth noting: whether it’s morning, lunchtime or night, Tiramisu Pompi is well worth a visit, offering up the city’s most renowned tiramisu, which comes in many varieties.
Back to the sightseeing trail. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t see it all in one either – so we’ll give you some freedom to attack the headline sights at your own pace. Here you could fit in a visit to the Colosseum, only the world’s most famous and iconic amphitheatres.
Or visit the Vatican City, the home of the Roman Catholic church, and such famous sites as St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. Please note: we’d advise a minimum of three hours for a visit here. Then there’s also the Roman Forum, the ruins of ancient central Rome, including a number of temples, basilicas and public spaces.
We’d usually advise going off the beaten trail, but these attractions are unassailable. Find time for them in your schedule.
With all that antiquity done, it’s time to let your hair down a bit. Trastevere is a glorious area, a warren of mazes and contorted alleys, and it’s an area of Rome that’s long been known for its artistic and bohemian vibe.
Freni e Frizioni is the perfect place in the area for an aperitivo, a bona-fide Italian tradition: a bite to eat with a long drink. Summertimes are about an aperitif on their popular terrace whilst in winter the chandeliers and modern art of the interior blend nicely with a young, trendy crowd. On a budget? A summer’s evening at neighbouring Piazza Trilussa is a classic, with a mix of locals and tourists drinking in the square.
Don’t forget: dinner in Rome doesn’t really get started until after 9 pm. La Gatta Mangiona offers up craft beer and creative pizzas and is a sign of Rome’s traditional dining scene getting weird. Strangely enough a cat-themed joint, the restaurant is the purrfect – sorry we had to! – a place for a more off-the-wall dinner.
Equally tasty, but more traditional, we can also highly recommend Checco Er Carettiere, a venerable institution serving up classic Roman dishes. Don’t miss their cacio o pepe – literally translating as “cheese and pepper” – a dish that, despite its simple appearance, can prove quite a challenge in the kitchen.
Let’s paint the town red. Rome is a top-notch place for a night out and some places don’t close until the early hours (we’re talking 7 am). We’re a big fan of the dive bar and here’s one that practically defines it. A tongue twister for the ages, Macchésietivenutiafà stands for What The Hell Are You Doing Here? Located near the aforementioned Piazza Trilussa, it offers a mighty selection of craft beers and rowdy vibes until late.
Mixology aficionados: head back over the river and try the famous Jerry Thomas Speakeasy. A bar which has made the World’s 50 Best Bars list on multiple occasions – and which arguably started the city’s craft cocktail wave – it’s a bar which brings back some forgotten classics, whilst also focusing on the storied favourites. With only 30-40 guests allowed in at a time, a reservation is necessary. For this, you need to answer a secret question first on their homepage. Time to wrack your brain – or just plain old Google – to secure your reservation.
Stay another day?
What a day. If you’re going to spend a bit longer in the Eternal City, or you’re ready to explore more of Italy, Sixt makes it easy to get around. There’s our many car rental stations in Rome, as well as the new SIXT Share, a premium carsharing service available on your phone with the SIXT App. Enjoy!