A Full Day in Rome From Sunrise to Sunset

June 28, 2023

Rome is known for its ancient ruins, stunning architecture, and delicious food. From the Spanish Steps to the Colosseum, from the Jewish Quarter to Trastevere, there is so much to see and do in this incredible city. And while Rome may be known as the Eternal City, if you’re just visiting for a short time, here’s how to make the most out of a full day in Rome!

After arriving to our hotel and getting familiar with the historical center in which we were staying, our second day in Rome was packed full to the brim. Learn from our experiences and swipe my recommendations for the best things to do during a full day in Rome.

How to Make the Most of Your Full Day in Rome


The day starts early in Rome, and the best way to experience the city is to get up before the crowds. So this day will be starting at sunrise!

Take early morning photos before the crowds

Our photographer, Katie Capo, offered to take photos of anyone that wanted to get up early. I rolled out of bed, barely dressed, no makeup, and rushed out the door. I was exhausted, but also knew how special it would be to see the city practically empty. Yes, it was worth it!

The Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain are two of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome, but they can get incredibly crowded during the day. We briefly stopped by these landmarks during our walking tour on our first day in Rome, but visited again in the morning to get photos with fewer people around!

I suggest heading to these locations around 6 a.m., when they’re practically empty! The early morning light is perfect for taking photos, and you can enjoy the beauty of these landmarks without the hustle and bustle of the crowds. The only other people at the Spanish Steps were a bride and groom pair, and we got to the Trevi Fountain so early we saw them cleaning it! It was all so quiet and magical when we were there.

Visit the Colosseum before it opens

After taking in the beauty of the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, we went to the Colosseum for some more early morning photos. The Colosseum is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Rome, and it is a must-see for anyone visiting the city.

History buffs will know the Colosseum is one of the iconic pieces of architecture from ancient Roman times, and this one, in particular, is the largest ancient amphitheater ever built! The amphitheater was completed in 80 AD and was used for gladiator contests and public spectacles.

If you don’t plan on going inside the Colosseum but still want to take in the enormous monument from afar, go early! The best time to visit the Colosseum is at 7:30 a.m. before it opens to the public at 9 a.m. This is the perfect time to take photos without the crowds and to enjoy the beauty of this ancient structure. We ran around the Colosseum and got some incredible photos before the crowds started arriving at 8:30 a.m.

Breakfast at Don Nino

Once you’ve crossed the Colosseum off your list, it’s high time to find some food after that early wake-up! We headed to Don Nino for breakfast, despite some terrible Google reviews. They were so bad, I almost didn’t eat there, but we were already near the Spanish Steps and I was hungry, so we gave it a shot.

We sat outside with a beautiful view and all ordered the American breakfast, which came with delicious yogurt, Nutella pancakes, a lovely pastry, and several other things. We all really enjoyed the meal!

Honestly, I’d go back again. The only downsides were that they charged 3 euros per person for service, which is a bit high, and their gelato is way overpriced!

After breakfast, we headed back to our hotel to get ready for the rest of our full day in Rome.


Cooking demonstration and wine tasting

At noon, it was time to head to Rimessa Roscioli for a cooking demonstration of cacio e pepe. Rimessa Roscioli is a restaurant and cooking school in Rome that offers cooking classes and demonstrations for visitors. While you can certainly experience Italian cuisine just by dining at restaurants in Rome, it was fascinating to go behind the scenes and learn more!

Before the demonstration, we first enjoyed a tasting of four wines – one sparkling, one white, one red, and one dessert. The pairings and meal were all explained by an incredible female sommelier. Paired with the wine was a selection of meats and cheeses, including mozzarella, burrata, ricotta, smoked fish, press pesto salami, prosciutto, and caponata. We were also offered a tasting of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, two Italian staples!

During the cooking demonstration, we learned the secrets of how to prepare cacio e pepe, a traditional Roman dish that is made with pasta, cheese, and black pepper. The best part? We got to enjoy a giant plate of it! We ended the meal with dessert, and their tiramisu was the best I’ve ever had. I honestly didn’t think I liked tiramisu, but I think it’s because I’ve only had the American version. It’s not the same!

Shopping and Strolling

After our meal, we headed to the streets of Rome to do some exercise by walking through the amazing shops and hefting our shopping bags back to the hotel! Honestly, Rome has the best shopping ever! And an afternoon spent exploring the city – and, yes, shopping – was just what we needed!


Food tour through the Jewish Quarter

We ended the day with a food tour through the Jewish Quarter. Rome’s Jewish Quarter is the oldest Jewish community in Europe, being established in 1555. Now, it’s home to some of the most beautiful architecture, delicious restaurants, and a magical atmosphere, despite being one of Rome’s lesser-known attractions.

The food tour took us through the narrow streets of the Jewish Quarter, bordered by the Tiber River, where we sampled traditional Jewish dishes like fried artichokes and drank even more wine (and Prosecco).

Drinks in Trastevere

Finally, we ended our night in Trastevere for drinks. Trastevere is a neighborhood in Rome that is known for its lively nightlife and trendy bars. It’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, and it is the perfect place to end a day in Rome!

The neighborhood is filled with narrow streets and colorful buildings, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. Whether you want to enjoy a glass of wine or a creative cocktail, Trastevere is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day of sightseeing.

We had an absolute blast and ended the night dancing in the rain. Best. Day. Ever.

Thinking about visiting Rome yourself? Here are five fun facts about Rome you might not have known:

  1. Rome has a secret underground city. Beneath the streets of Rome lies a hidden city that dates back to ancient times. The underground city is made up of tunnels, catacombs, and hidden chambers, and it was used for everything from storing food to hiding from invaders.
  2. Rome has its own pyramid. Yes, you read that right. Rome has a pyramid that is over 2,000 years old. The Pyramid of Cestius was built as a tomb for a Roman magistrate, and it is one of the best-preserved ancient pyramids in the world.
  3. Rome has a talking statue. The statue of Pasquino, located near Piazza Navona, is known as the “talking statue” because people used to post anonymous messages on it to criticize the government. Today, the tradition continues, and the statue is still a popular spot for political commentary.
  4. Rome has a museum dedicated to pasta. This one makes sense, right? The National Museum of Pasta is located in Rome, and it is dedicated to the history and culture of pasta. The museum features exhibits on the different types of pasta, how it is made, and its role in Italian cuisine and culture.
  5. Rome has a cat sanctuary. The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary is located in the ruins of an ancient Roman temple, and it is home to over 150 cats. The sanctuary is run by volunteers, and it provides a safe and loving home for stray cats in the city.

During our first full day in Rome, we were on the go from sunrise to sunset, and even well beyond… but it was so worth it. Rome is a big city, but most of the sights of interest for travelers tend to be centrally located, which makes it easy to pack a lot into one day.

If I could give you one overall piece of advice for making the most of your time in Rome it’s that you prioritize the things that matter to you, not just what travel websites say you should do.

Our group didn’t feel the need to do a full Colosseum tour, so we didn’t. Instead, we had time to sample delicious Italian food and have some free time for wandering and exploring. With a group so big, it was also easy to find little smaller groups of people who like to do the same things as you so you always have company for the things you want to experience!

I’m already longing to go back, so much so that I’m planning another Italy trip for 2024! If you want to be the first to book and get more details about the trip, join the list here!

📸 Photo credit: Catherine Ann Photography

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