Remember my ultimate guide to eating in Italy? It’s the one I’ve put together after my Grand Tour of what is my favourite country on the planet. And the best country in the world also has the best city on Earth as its capital. Rome is simply the best, it’s my go-to, my rhythm and muse. I love the scenery, the ancient landmarks, the food, the chaotic traffic and all else.
What’s great about Rome is, you can see everything it has to offer in about 4 hours of walking. You don’t need any trams or metros to get around. It is not small but compact. Which is great for a half-day walking tour in which you can admire all of the amazing landmarks of the Eternal City. All you need is water, comfortable boots and, surely, Google Maps.
Stop #0: Elettra
You’re in Rome, so you’re probably at the Termini Central Station. This is where all trains stop and all taxis and busses arrive from the two airports of the city, Ciampino and Fiumicino. There is this place right near the station you have to check out. You can’t go to war without a full stomach. Ask Marcus Aurelius if you don’t trust me enough as an influencer!
Before starting your 4-hour journey, take a seat at Elettra and order a porcini and ham tagliatelle pasta, a Moretti beer (small, you don’t want to be tipsy while visiting the Vatican) and a tiramisu. You need this fuel not just for your stomach and feet, but for your soul. Why wouldn’t you start your Rome tour with a bowl of the most delicious pasta I’ve ever had?
Stop #1: Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore
Walk for a few hundred meters and you’ll find this church, the Santa Maria Maggiore basilica. The entrance is free and the insides of this church are truly breathtaking. Like with most Italian churches, to be honest. Even if you’re not a practising Christian or any other religion or believer, just sitting down admiring the inside works of this place is going to make your day.
Stop #2: The Colosseum
Located just a 15-minute walk from the train station, well, more like a 25-minute walk. 15 if you’re a fast-paced walker like I am. Okay, located very close to the Termini train station, the Colosseum is the absolute must when you’re in Rome. As this is a walking tour, I’ve not included the going in part here, which is not really something I’d recommend unless you have a ton of time on your hands. I’ve been to Rome 3 times and have never gone inside. The view is spectacular from the outside, it’s free and you can admire it for as long as you want.
Stop #3: The Roman Forum
Walking along the street that’s right in front of the Colosseum towards Piazza Venezia, you’ll find yourself admiring some of the most important landmarks of Rome. On your left you have the Roman Forum, the place where the heads of the Roman Empire used to live, work and do their one-two things. On the right and near the square you have the Trajan Column, the famous artwork depicting scenes from the wars Romans won over the centuries. It’s a sight to see!
Stop #4: Altare Della Patria
If you happen to find this place open, which for some reason hasn’t happened to me during my last two trips, you can climb up some stairs and get some great views over Rome. You can also take a 5 Euros elevator to the very top and admire the city from even higher. For me though, as a budget traveller, I’m fine with the free “walking up the stairs” package.
Stop #5: The Pantheon
The oldest church in Rome. Largest circular dome ever made. One of the most beautiful squares in front of it in all of Rome. Nice little cafes and restaurants all around for the perfect view and a little break. The Pantheon is one of my favourite spots in the Eternal City. There’s just something about it… I cannot describe it, but it makes me happy and excited about the city.
Stop #6: Piazza Navona
You can have lunch here or admire the Fountain of the Four Rivers, one of the most incredible fountains in the world. The work of the sculptor, some guy they called Bernini, is simply spectacular. You’ll need more than a few minutes admiring it but you can take all of the time in the world because, like most things in Rome, this attraction is also free to visit.
Stop #7: Sant’Angelo Castle
Take the North exit from the Navona square toward the Tiber river and once you reach the river make a left turn towards the castle and the bridge dedicated to the angel, the symbol of all that is Christian. Both the castle and the bridge of the angels are incredible. In my opinion, you’re missing out if you don’t stop here for a few minutes. They’re both right next to the Vatican, so it makes sense to visit the place and take some pictures. You don’t have to listen to me say this if you’ve read “Angels & Demons” by now…
Stop #8: The Vatican
Vatican City is a country within the capital city of Rome. Its imposing walls will open up at St. Peter’s Square, where the most famous and largest church on Earth, the St. Peter’s Basilica can be found. You have two options here: first, you can just admire this incredible building from the outside in a few minutes and then leave, or second, you can wait in the huge line and go inside (it’s free, yes, I know, Rome is a dream for budget travellers!) for some really crazy memories. You’re still just about 3 hours into the tour so it makes sense to wait in line for an hour. You will not regret it, trust me on that!