Are you planning a trip to Rome, but wondering if Rome is a walkable city? We got you covered with these complete walking guides alongside the most famous highlights of Rome.
The old city center of Rome (Municipio 1) spans over 7,7 square miles. Most of the historical highlights, like Colleseum, St. Peters Square, and the Trevi Fountain, are located within this area, making it a perfectly walkable city. When you’re tired of walking, it is easy using the extensive public transport network in Rome to get around.
We’ve been to Rome multiple times over the last few years and always explored the city while walking around.
I created a few walking routes through Rome, which are easy to follow, and bring you alongside all the essential historical highlights of the city. Let’s find out how to explore the historic, walkable city of Rome!
Walking Routes in Rome
There’s a lot to explore in Rome. It is one of the most important historical cities in the world. Rome, and Vatican City, host together 55 different listed Unesco World Heritage sites.
Colleseum, St. Peters Basilique, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps are just a few of them. Visiting all the Unesco World Heritage sites in Rome will take a lot of time, and most people visit the city only for one or two days.
So for your convenience, I created two walking routes through Rome. I added everything in one day and split the walking routes before and after lunch. However, you can easily divide these routes in multiple days if you like to stay longer. When you’re staying longer in Rome, you also have more time to go inside several museums.
Walking Route in Historical Rome #1
I recommend starting your day early, so you’ll have enough time to explore the highlights of Rome. Let’s begin the walking route with one of the biggest landmarks of the city; the Colleseum.
The best time to start the walking route is between 09:00 – 09:30 in the morning. Most tourist groups and guided tours begin around 10:00. It is more relaxed, and often much less busy early morning at the Colosseum, which makes it a smooth start of the day.
This first walking route will guide you alongside the following highlights;
- Roman Forum
- Capitilone Museum
- Altar of The Fatherland
- Piazza Navano
- St. Peters Square
- St. Peters Basilica & Vatican Museum
- Villa Borghese
It is the most famous and popular attraction in the imperial city of Rome. The Colosseum, also known as the Roman Amphitheater or Flavian Amphitheater, is built between 70 – 80 AD. Over the centuries, the building had several functions. Most famous is, of course, that it was used for gladiator contests. The Colosseum could hosts up to 80.000 spectators at once, making it one of the largest stadiums in the world.
The building is listed as one of the New7WorldWonders. It is the world’s most popular tourist attraction, with over 7 million visitors every year.
2. Roman Forum
Wondering how ancient Rome looked like? The Roman Forum is a unique area containing several ruins of temples, basilicas, and public places. The Roman Forum first developed around the 7th century BC. Over time it grew to one of the most important areas of ancient Rome. The central place for commerce, politics, and for many people to socialize.
Archaeological excavations started around the 18th century, and are still going on today. Overtime many unique sightings got lost due to the hand of time, but also because of ruination and people stealing the marble stones. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the forum was primarily abandoned and fell into disrepair. Same as many other buildings and cities of the old Roman Empire.
However, the Roman Forum was probably the most essential area of the ancient Roman Empire. One of the most unique ruins is Tempio di Giulio Cesare (Temple of Julius Cesar). It is the temple where Julius Cesar was cremated after he was assassinated in 44 BC.
3. Capitoline Museum
It is one of the best historical museums in Rome, and maybe all over Italy. The museum shows an extensive collection of ancient arts, statues, and artifacts. Which are all closely related to the city. It is also one of the oldest public museums in the city, dating back to 1471.
In that year, Pope Sixtus IV dedicated many statues to the people of Rome. They located the museum on purpose on Capitoline Hill, making the building stand out and creating even more value for the Roman citizens.
Over time the museum’s collection has grown to a renowned collection of ancient, medieval, and renaissance art. Where the city of Rome is an open-air museum on its own, the Capitoline museum is a must-visit and a tremendous informational trip among the world’s history.
4. Altar of The Fatherlands
Also known as ‘Altare Della Patria.’ A monument dedicated to Victor Emmanual II, the first king of a unified Italy.
The building is located at Piazza Venezia, a large square, and connects the ancient part of Rome, with the modern city. Construction of the massive monument started in 1885, 7 years after King Victor Emmanual II had died. It took the Italian 50 years (until 1935) the complete the construction works!
Almost 20 years before the construction works were finished, the Italian already officially opened the monument on the 4th of June 1911.
The monument is designed as a symbol for a unified Italy. Its design is much inspired by the ancient Roman Forum. The architectures created on purpose a huge building that belongs to the big square. Making it a public place for Roman citizens, which emphasized the unification of the Italians.
This monument also hosts The tomb of the unknown soldier, a war monument that became a sacred place, created after the first world war, as a remembrance for those who have fallen or went missing during the wars.
5. Piazza Navano
This large square is a public space since the 15th century. During centuries before that, it was used as a competition area for athletic games. The design of this square looks like an Olympic stadium. That’s because it is built on the site of a former stadium, stadium of Domitian. Which was a sportslike stadium during the first century AD, also known as ‘circus agonalis,’ which means competition area.
Today the square is known for its many centuries-old fountains. Fontana del Moro, built-in 1575, is located on the southern side of the square. On the northern side of this square, you’ll find the Fountain of Neptune, which dates back to 1574. Both fountains were designed by the Italian architect Giacomo Della Porta.
The most famous fountain on Piazza Navano is found in the middle of the square, the Fountain of the Four Rivers. Developed in 1651 by the Italian sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. His design was the winning design in a competition created by the family of Pope Innocent X, who lived with his family in a palace looking over the square.
6. St. Peters Square (Vatican City)
Probably the most famous square in Rome, Italy, and maybe all over the world. Officially the square is located in Vatican City, which is an independent city-state within the borders of Rome.
Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, and home to the pope. It is the headquarters of the Roman-Catholic Church. For comparison, it covers around 100 acres (0.4 square kilometers), which is only 1/8 of the size of Central Park in New York.
St. Peter Square is the central square of Vatican City and located in front of St. Peters Basilica.
In its current state, the square was redesigned in the late 17th century, ordered by Pope Alexander VII. He wanted to create a square which made it possible for ‘the greatest number of people seeing the pope gives them their blessing.‘
It is an impressive square to visit, even when you’re not a catholic. The remarkable size of the square, with the church looking over it. In the middle, the giant Egyptian Obelisk, reaching 25 meters to the sky. And of course the famous colonnades, the open hallways with massive pillars. According to the architect Bernini that redesigned the square in 1667, the colonnades are the maternal arms of Mother Church, which encloses the visitor when entering the square.
7. St. Peters Basilica & Vatican Museum
The famous church located at st. Peters square is actually free to visit. It is a great thing to do if you have enough time. The waiting line for a free entrance is, on average, 2 – 3 hours. So it can take a good chunk of your day.
A more practical option is buying tickets for the Vatican Museum in advance. This option allows you to visit all the museums within the Vatican. Depending on the ticket you select, you’ll be able to visit St. Peters Basilica, the Vatican Museum, and the Sistine Chapel. It is recommended taking a guided tour because you’ll learn a lot more about the interesting facts while visiting with an experienced guide.
When you stay in Rome for one or two days, you might be better off not going inside the basilica and Vatican Museum, simply because it saves you a lot of time. On the other hand, visiting the Vatican museums is an exciting visit and not something you’ll do every day.
If you decide to visit the St. Peters Basilica and Vatican Museums, I recommend planning at least two days for your stay in Rome. This way, you can schedule one day exploring Vatican City and all the museums, and the other day exploring Rome following this walking itinerary.
8. Castel Sant’Angelo
This building is also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian. The great Roman emperor had this building designed as a mausoleum for him and his family. Hadrian was the emperor of the Roman empire between 117 and 138 AD (until his death).
The castle or mausoleum is used to place the remains of many Roman emperors. Many popes used the building as a fortress, but it also functioned as a prison building during the 16th and 17th centuries. It imprisoned many philosophers and artists during that time.
Since the early 1900s, the Italian government created a museum within the building displaying many Italian masterpieces and artworks.
The bridge, with massive buildings of angels towering on the edges, that’s leading to the Castel Sant’Angelo, creates a unique scenery and vibe in Rome.
9. Villa Borghese (Citypark for some relaxing)
The third-largest city park in Rome, an excellent place for relaxing after a long and inspiring walk through Rome. Reaching Villa Borghese park is straightforward when walking from Castel Sant’Angelo. Walking towards the city park takes you through the famous neighborhood Prati, which many people refer to as Rome’s Best-kept Secret.
Prati is known for its large street, stylish boulevards, and many wine bars and trendy restaurants.
Throughout the park, you’ll find many different museums, but I would recommend buying something to drink or a quick bite and find a place to relax in the park. Especially when you’re following this itinerary in one day. There’s a lot of walking to do in the afternoon. So time to rest the feet and chill in the park!
Map of the First Walking Route in Rome
I created a map with directions for this walking route in Google Maps. You can open the complete map on Google Maps with walking directions and all the highlights here or by clicking on the image below.
This first walking route has a length of around 7 kilometers. Depending on how long you stop at the highlights, and if you want to enter any museums, it will take you up to 2 to 4 hours to complete. So take your time, there’s plenty of time for finding a nice lunch spot close to Villa Borghese. When you have multiple days in Rome, I highly recommend entering some museums.
It might be worth it buying a Roma Pass, which gives you discounts for entering museums and using public transport if you’re staying multiple days in Rome.
Travel Must-Have For Every Traveler
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The North Face Backpack:
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Oasis Kindle E-reader:
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Sony Noise-canceling headphone:
A world-leading noise-canceling headphone to make your travel trip more comfortable and less exhausting. One of the best travel products out there. Either for listening to music, podcasts. Or to block all the noise during traveling, for example, when you’re in an airplane.
GoPro HERO 8:
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Check out our recommendations page for more travel gear and recourses.
Walking Route in Historical Rome #2
After lunch, or when starting your second day in Rome, it is time to explore some other unique highlights of the city.
This walk takes you along some of the most beautiful buildings in Rome;
- Spanish Steps
- Trevi Fountain
- Ponte Sisto
- Terrazza del Gionicolo (Janiculum)
- Trastavere Area
1. Spanish Steps
The popular stairs with 138 steps, different terraces, and small gardens are one of the most popular attractions in Rome. Built around 1725, so by Roman understandings, it is very new.
Trinita Dei Monti church and Spanish square are connected via the staircase. In the middle of the square, right at the foot of the steps, you’ll find the Fontana Della Barcaccia. The fountain is built in 1623 and was part of a large project to create fountains on every public square in Rome.
Many people ask why these stairs are called Spanish Steps. It is simply because the Spanish embassy is located on the square, so it is named after the embassy.
2. Trevi Fountain
Probably the most famous fountain in Rome, and maybe in the world. And also a very young building for Roman standards. The fountain was created in 1762. Statues that complete the trevi fountain tells the story of fresh drinking water in Rome.
People believe it brings luck when throwing a coin over the right shoulder in the fountain. It’s a superstitious act, but it is estimated that over 3000 euros a day are thrown into the fountain! The Roman municipality uses the money to provide a supermarket for needy citizens in Rome.
Fun Fact; Since ancient times, the fountains were placed in the city to provide safe drinking water for its citizens.
However, with the new city rules, it is not always allowed to tap water from an ancient fountain.
This former Roman temple is built by the Roman emperor Hadrian. It shows his deep connection with the ancient Greeks, in which he was very interested. Pantheon derives from Pantheion, which means Temple of All Gods.
The Pantheon is one of the best-preserved buildings of ancient Rome. Originally built around 125 AD, and since then, it is continuously in use. That’s probably the reason why it is still in such good shape.
Probably the most famous part of the building is the concrete dome, which is still today the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. The dome has a central opening to the sky, known as an oculus. The unique building is free to visit, but it can be busy, so you might have to wait a few minutes before you can enter the Pantheon.
Several kings are buried in the Pantheon, one of them is King Victor Emmanuel II, which was the first king of unified Italy.
4. Ponte Sisto
The Tiber River runs through the ancient city of Rome. It has always been important to the city as a provider of freshwater, safety, and transport. Many bridges are connecting several parts of the ancient city, but one of the most famous bridges is Ponte Sisto.
It is believed that since the 4th century, there has been a bridge at this location. The bridge was mentioned by several authors during that time, it was known as Pons Aurelius. The bridge was destroyed halfway the 8th century when Lombard king Desiderius took over Rome.
Pope Sixtus IV ordered rebuilding the bridge in 1473. Since then, the bridge is known as Ponte Sisto, named after the pope. It is a pedestrian bridge, which is the entrance to the trendy Trastavere area.
5. Terrazza del Gionicolo
Also known as Janiculum, a large hill located west of the ancient city. The hill is not part of the famous seven hills on which Rome is built. However, it is one of the best places to have a panoramic view of the city.
It is a bit a walk-up, and that can be a bit of a challenge after a long day of walking. However, once on top, you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic view.
There are guided tours towards this part of the city, but I recommend following the walking route in this itinerary. It saves you a ton of money, and you can enjoy the views as long as you like. Many guided tours offer a visit to the hill as part of a complete city tour.
It can be busy on top, especially during sunset hours. If you’re into photography, it is a great place to take some beautiful panoramic pictures of the city. But it is recommended to go there on time, so you can secure a nice spot.
6. Trastavere Area
This is my favorite area of Rome. I love all the small cafes, bars, and restaurants. Trastavere comes to live late afternoon when its time for aperitivo (drinks and snack before dinner). It is lovely just walking around or sitting at one of the many terraces and enjoying the perfect Italian kitchen.
You can’t really go wrong when picking a place in Trastavere. We’ve been here several times and always had a great experience. When you keen to have dinner at a specific restaurant, it is recommended to make a reservation to secure your spot!
Map of the 2nd Walking Route
Of course, I created a map on Google Maps with walking directions and all the highlights. You can find the map here or by clicking on the image below. I would recommend opening both maps before you leave your hotel or accommodations, so you can use them offline.
It is a shorter route of around 6 kilometers but can take up a bit longer to complete. The first three buildings are very popular, so it can be swamped with tourists while visiting. You might have to wait a while to find a good spot for exploring the buildings.
Roma’s Tourist Rules
Since 2019 there are some new tourist rules in Rome, which you’ll need to follow to avoid getting a fine.
Those rules are to protect the buildings against mass tourism.
Most of them are logical, like; you’re not allowed to enter the fountains, you can’t walk around shirtless, you can’t eat ‘smeary food’ close to the historical landmarks. Some of them are also a bit strange, but still, you need to follow them. Since 2019 no one is allowed to sit on the Spanish Steps or walk from the stairs with heavy suitcases bumping around.
I recommend following the rules, it saves you a lot of money! Fines can go up to as high as 400 euros! Make sure to follow directions of the local police. You can find the explanation of these new rules on the website of the local municipality of Rome here.
Best Places To Stay in Rome
Are you still looking for a place to stay in Rome? There is a lot to choose from, which can be overwhelming. If you’re not traveling with a travel company and thus book your hotel individual, I recommend taking a look at the listings on Booking.com.
I specifically like the customer reviews you can see at the different listings. This way, you’ll get a better understanding of the quality of the hotel. We always look for accommodations with a recent customer rating of 9+. You can find the listings from Rome here.
Recommended Articles Italy
Italy is perfect for spending several days. Exploring ancient history, enjoying perfect Italian cuisine, and relaxing in lovely summer weather on romantic beaches. We went to Italy several times and drove around the country with our own car and a rooftop tent on top. Which was a unique experience!
During this trip, we stumbled upon so many beautiful places in Italy, we thought it would be helpful telling other travelers about it. Also, we couldn’t always found the information we were looking for, so I decided to create the articles myself. They are very helpful when you’re planning a trip to Italy. You can find a list of all our articles about Italy on this category page.
Some articles that I recommend reading are;
This is the article where we tell much more about the history of the ancient city of Rome. It’s a more in-depth guide for all the highlights we mentioned in this walking itinerary.
If you have enough time, I definitely recommend visiting one of the many Italian islands. The Sicily itinerary is a complete travel plan that brings you alongside all the highlights of the most unique island of Italy.