Things to do in Rome – How to spend 4 days in the capital of Italy

Italy has always been on my bucket list of travel destinations, and I think it took a while for us to start exploring this country. My sister, who lives in Paris, had a planned trip to Croatia this summer and invited us to meet them there. However, we decided to take advantage of the trip to include another destination, and the choice could not be other than Italy. We stayed in Rome for four days – there was an extra day before we got back, but I won’t even tell you because it was pure laziness – and, in this post, I’m going to list everything we did – and ate – in the Italian capital between the 25th and 28th of August.

Where to stay in Rome

We stayed in two different hotels – the first one was Tourist B&B, close to the Coliseum. We spent four nights there, and I highly recommend it. It was not a traditional hotel – it’s like an huge apartment in a normal building, and it had 5 or 6 single rooms with individual bathrooms. The building has an elevator. Everything is very simple but well-equipped and clean. Our room had lots of natural light, air conditioning, fridge, hairdryer, small table… It was very quiet. You just need to pay attention to the check-in time and let them know, as the staff is only there from 10 am to 2 pm. Tourist B&B is very close to the Coliseum and has many cafes and restaurants close by, as well as a subway station. Our rate included a breakfast – but for breakfast, read coffee and croissants at the reception.

The other accommodation where we stayed was the Hotel Labelle. Same style as Tourist B&B, one floor in a regular building, same area. But, I didn’t like it and wouldn’t stay there again. It was only two nights, but we heard a lot of noise from the corridors and everything was old – air conditioning, hair dryer, plastic door in the bathroom… I also found our room dark.

Weather in Rome

I already knew that summer in Europe could be intense. But honestly, I thought the end of August would be mild. How foolish of me to think like that. Yes, we got beautiful days – but super hot. It felt like the sun was kissing my neck. There wasn’t much of a breeze to cool off. It wasn’t pleasant to walk down the streets at certain times – but it is what it is, right? With only a few days in the city, you can’t afford to waste time. Also, air conditioning is not something common in Europe as it is in the US… so sometimes I had to deal with my blood pressure dropping because the stuffy feeling was real. So, that was it, “we sweated like crazy” during these four days in Rome, and I swore to myself that I would never go back to Europe – to do urban tourism – in the summer (July and August).

  • Speaking of heat, be aware that there is plenty of water fountains around the city to refill your bottle. By the way, I know it may sound silly, but the water in Rome is the best I’ve ever had in my entire life haha.

What to wear in Rome for the summer

I did something I thought was impossible a few years ago – I only traveled with a carry-on bag. I found it very easy, and I’ve written a post about this topic and you can check it here. We need much less than we think – not to mention that nowadays, it is very easy to count on laundry services worldwide.

  • What to bring: I packed a dress, skirt, shorts, pants and tops. You have to prioritize fabrics like linen and cotton, they are great for summer. I also packed a white sneaker – it matches everything! – and a Birkenstock sandal, which is probably the most comfortable sandal ever! Seriously. I walked more than 8 miles wearing these sandals – and when I talked about it on my stories I received several messages from other girls who are fans!
  • Backpack – in addition to the carry-on bag – I also traveled with a super practical backpack – linked below – which fits perfectly under the front seat on the plane and was my “personal item”. It has several pockets, and you can pack many things inside of it!
  • How to travel with only carry-on luggage – summer edition!

Transportation in Rome

  • Rome is a city to be explored on foot, as every corner of the city has something to be seen. And I found the distances ok in the tourist areas. So, my tip is to prepare your legs and bring comfortable shoes, because you will be walking a lot!
  • There is a subway – but it doesn’t cover the whole city. However, depending on where you stay, it can serve you well – especially if you’re visiting the Vatican.
  • Uber is a bit limited – there is only Uber Black – but you can get a taxi through the same app. We use the Uber app to/from the airport – I recommend getting a taxi, because in order to take Uber at the airport you have to leave the Arrivals area. I know there is also a train that goes from the airport to the city.
  • And finally, the city is full of e-scooters and e-bikes – a nice way to explore the city, especially in the heat. The services available are from Lime and Bird, which have their own apps.

Using your phone in Rome – wireless plan

My plan in the US includes international roaming – but if you need a SIM card for your cell phone, I recommend Airalo, Airalo is the world’s first eSIM store and offers eSIMs for over 190+ countries and regions at the most affordable rates from around the world. eSIMs offer you both connectivity and freedom. You’ll no longer have to change SIM cards or carry multiple SIM cards, wherever you may go. All you have to do is buying a data package on your eSIM – the majority of new smartphones count on this technology.

Everything is done online through Airalo app, and it’s a much faster and more practical way to secure internet plans when traveling! I find this option super convenient – not to mention that plans are available for several countries. There are 3GB plans for Italy for $7!

Things to do in Rome

Before I start sharing my itinerary, I wanted to clarify that my style of traveling is very easygoing – I mean this in the sense that I didn’t have a minimally planned itinerary of what to do in Rome – regarding tourist things. My biggest concern when I travel is choosing good restaurants – and you’ll see on my map at the end of the post that I mean it. All the recommendations for restaurants in Rome came from a Roman – friend of a friend of a friend – and from the staff from a pasta class that a friend took in Rome.

Day 1

We took an overnight flight – that is, we left the US at the end of the day but landed in Rome around 7 am – and the flight lasted just over 7 hours. Rome is 6 hours ahead of NYC time, so we skipped the night, and look, I’m a person that doesn’t function when sleepy. We took an Uber to our hotel – about 40 minutes from the airport to the Coliseum area, and it cost €60. Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we had breakfast at Ciardi Bar & Restaurant, close to the hotel. We had cappuccino – and then I found out why everyone talks about Italian coffee, very good! – croissant, sandwich, and another pastry there that I can’t remember the name of. We love this place! They have pizza and sandwiches, all delicious and fresh. I don’t remember how much we paid, but it wasn’t expensive.

Plaza Venezia

As I said, I’m not a person that functions well when sleepy, so after breakfast, we could check in and rest for about 3 hours. After that, with a little more dignity, we started to explored Rome. We chose a restaurant for lunch and decided to walk to get to know the city. On the way, we pass by Plaza Venezia, which is a spectacle of beauty. We continued the walk to Osteria Fortunata – we spent a total of €70 on a starter (capresi salad), a ravioli, a caccio e pepe pasta, an Aperol Spritz drink and a wine. It wasn’t the cheapest restaurant on the trip. The ravioli was very tasty, but the caccio e pepe, in Thiago’s opinion, was ok.

From there, we headed to Frigidarium to try our first – of many – gelato. Gelatos start at €2.60, and on my first lick, I understood why Italy has such a good reputation for ice cream. In terms of food, this was what surprised me the most.

Afterward, we walked to Sant’Angelo Bridge– it was late afternoon and the light was simply magical. On the other side of the river is Castel Sant’Angelo, and if you walk to the west side, you can see the San Peter Basilica- Vatican – from afar. A fantastic view.

On the way back, we stopped at the famous Trevi Fountain – and hey, I had been warned that the place was always packed, but the crowd exceeded my expectations. The place is really beautiful, but I confess that the crowd ends up taking a little bit of fun.

Day 2

After a night of sleep (but trying to get used to the time zone), we set out in the morning to explore the city. We started with breakfast at La Licata Cafe. Everything was ok, but honestly, it wasn’t a good choice as the menu was very Americanized – read eggs and avocado toast. From there, we decided to walk to the Trastevere neighborhood, which many people very well recommended – there are many good restaurants and the streets are charming. There, we ate an Arancini at Suppli Roma for €2 – they have these “street foods” in Rome, and it’s worth a try, it was delicious. We ended up sitting nearby at another restaurant and ordered a beer and then we headed to a pizzeria on our list and we found it was closed. Another “bad thing” about this time in Rome is that many establishments are closed! So we missed the opportunity to go to several restaurants on our list.

We wanted to eat pizza and ended up going to Farina. It did not disappoint! Delicious pizzas ranging from €7 to €9 – we spent a total of €23 on two pizzas, a beer and an appetizer. Of course, after that, we got another gelato because you can’t miss the opportunity, especially in the heat. Our choice was Otaleg.

From there, we decided to take an Uber to the hotel – where we made a quick pit stop before heading to the next stop: Coliseum. We decided to go at the end of the day, and it was the right decision because even though it was hot, it was much nicer than the morning sun. The Colosseum is impressive inside and out. Surreal, I would say. Reminded me a lot of the movie Gladiator. It is worth remembering that tickets to the Coliseum give access to the Roman Forum, the center of the ancient city, and Palatine Hill, where the ancient emperors lived. I loved this place so much! It’s giant! Be sure to climb one of the viewpoints to have a more fantastic view of the whole place and be even more jaw-dropped!

That night, after the tours, we had dinner at Trattoria Al Tetarello (this one we Googled, close to the hotel), and we loved it! I got meat with gorgonzola sauce, but the star of the night was the risotto that Thiago got. It only cost €9, a super generous portion, and it was spectacular! I don’t remember the exact description, but it had lobster as an ingredient. Sensational!

Day 3

We had breakfast at Casa Manfredi, a super cute cafe close to Circo Massimo – which we only saw from the outside, but I found it simply imposing and incredible. At Casa Manfredi, we ordered two cappuccinos, of course, plus two sandwiches and two croissants, and one water and spent €23. These sandwiches were made with croissant dough and were just amazing. Casa Manfredi also has lots of pastries and everything else.

On this day, we avoided being outside during the peak heat time, so after breakfast, we went back to the hotel. We rested and later we took the subway to go to the Vatican area, which was our main activity for the day. We had lunch at a restaurant that Thiago googled, called Pescaria. As the name suggests, the focus is on seafood – but the restaurant is very casual, you order at the counter and then they bring the food to the table. I made a huge mistake in my choices – I ordered oysters, which I didn’t think were good, and also a seared tuna, for relying too much on my understanding of Italian when reading the menu haha. But Thiago’s choice was a sandwich – with octopus – and from what I understand this sandwich is one of the house specialties. It was very tasty!

From there, we walked to the Gelateria La Romana to, of course, have another gelatto. And from there we headed to the Vatican, as we had tickets to the Vatican Museum. Remember I said at the beginning of the script description that I’m not the person with a full list of places to visit? In Rome, one of the few places I really wanted visiting was the Sistine Chapel, which was painted by Michelangelo. It is located in the Vatican Museum. The museum is gigantic – it has an infinity of canvases, sculptures, carpets – a bit of an exaggeration and which to me sounds a little hypocritical for a religious institution. But criticisms aside, it’s very beautiful. The Sistine Chapel is pretty much the last thing you see in the museum – and get your legs ready, because like I said, the museum it’s gigantic.

  • Don’t forget that the dress code inside the museum requires that the length of skirts and dresses above the knee, at least, and the shoulders must be covered.

From there, we left the museum and went around to visit St. Peter’s Square and visit the Basilica which, unfortunately, was closed. A pity, because I also really wanted to see the place from the inside. The idea, after this tour, was to go to L’Osteria di Birra del Borgo, which features pizzas and beers – but unfortunately, the place was closed. We also tried to go to Terrazza Les Étoiles Roma, but there was no availability. We ended up having dinner at a restaurant called Ginny which was a pleasant surprise – a modern atmosphere and contemporary Italian food, all fresh and delicious!


Day 4

On this day, we gave some rest to our legs, as we decided to rent scooters and bikes to tour the city and it was a very good decision. We started the day with breakfast at Trecaffè –  two cappuccinos, a sandwich, a water and a slice of cake for €16. All delicious and fresh. From there, we passed by the Pantheon, and also by the Trevi Fountain – to see the place in daylight, spoiler: it was crowded – and I took the opportunity to follow a follower’s tip and stop by Pompi, a place specializing in Tiramissu. I’m not a Tiramissu fanatic, I think it’s good, but I can live without it hahaha, but it was very tasty, they have classic Tiramissu and also other flavors – we had a pistachio one. It costs €5 each and the portion is generous.

We rented a bike and cycled to Villa Borghese, which I affectionately nicknamed as “Central Park” of Rome. And again, the decision to rent a bike couldn’t have been better. We managed to have a beautiful view of the park, because we biked everywhere in the park – and I got tired just imagining myself walking there, it would be too tiring, because the park is huge and it was very hot. One of the highlights is Terrazza Viale del Belvedere, which has a beautiful view of the city, I loved it!

After exploring the park, we looked for a restaurant to have lunch. Thiago was in the mood for pasta, and we ate at Antica Trattoria al Gallinaccio. I ordered an Amatriciana pasta and he got a Carbonara – probably his favorite pasta in Rome. Prices averaged €13. After that, we went back to the hotel to pack our things as we had a flight to Croatia the next day. We said goodbye to Rome with a drink at the Rooftop Spritzeria Monti, which is close to our hotel. Cute!

  • I hope you enjoyed this post and my Rome tips!
  • On the map below, you can find all the places mentioned in this post – in addition to everything that was on my list!

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