travel

How to do Rome in 24 hours

By Bija Knowles

Published August 29, 2019

Courtesy Wenjie, Zhang | A Certain Slant of Light/Creative Commons/Flickr

It's taken more than 2,700 years to build the city of Rome as it is now, so is it possible to see it in less than 24 hours? Yes … but you'll need a foot massage at the end of one crazy, jam-packed day.

Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Here's how to do it:

Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

8:30 a.m. St. Peter's Basilica

You'll have more time to admire Michaelangelo's famed dome and the Pietà, his marble sculpture of Mary holding the body of Christ.

Courtesy TripAdvisor

10 a.m. Vatican Museums

At which point, it's a quick march around the walls of Vatican City to the entrance of the Vatican Museums. Savvy visitors book ahead online to avoid the queues.

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

12 p.m. Ice-cream pit stop

If you get yourself out of the Vatican Museums by midday, there's time for a well-earned pit stop at a tiny gelateria.

GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images

1 p.m. Three Squares

From the Vatican Museums, walk back toward St Peter's Basilica and up via della Conciliazione. Walk over the pedestrian Ponte Sant Angelo and along via dei Banchi Nuovi and then via del Governo Vecchio. This will bring you into the area of three of Rome's most atmospheric public squares: Piazza Navona, Campo de' Fiori and the Pantheon.

TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images/file

2 p.m. Lunch

Campo de' Fiori has a market most mornings and is a good place for lunch

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images

3:30 p.m. Palazzo Doria Pamphilj

Palazzo Doria Pamphilj has a delightful and not-too-long tour of grand ballrooms and galleries housing works by Jan Brueghel, Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio and Garofalo.

Anthony Majanlahti/flickr

5 p.m. The Colosseum

A single ticket gets you into the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill, a great viewpoint from which to admire Circus Maximus, the Capitoline Hill and Rome's many church domes and bell towers in the late afternoon sun.

Courtesy Rome Cavalieri

8 p.m. Pizza or pasta?

You've seen the major sites of modern and ancient Rome: the last decision of the day is where to eat.

courtesy pexels

11 p.m. After hours

If you've an ounce of energy left, a good choice is to head to a nightspot and enjoy a few drinks while listening to live indie music.

ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

If you've made it this far, we make that around 18 hours of soaking up this fantastic city. Time to sleep! You've earned it.

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Editor's note: This article was previously published in 2012. It was reformatted and republished in 2019.

See more travel stories at CNN.com/travel