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With so much to see and do in Rome, it’s hard to get it all done in one day. But if a day is all you have, we suggest picking and choosing the city’s best offerings. For a day of highlight-hitting, start early and try to bypass the lines at major tourist attractions like the Colosseum and the Vatican (you can skip the Colosseum line if you purchase a Roma Pass in advance; you can skip the Vatican line if you book your tickets ahead of time online).
Start with the Colosseum and the Roman forum. Next, walk to the Pantheon, and be sure to go inside; the Pantheon is one of the best preserved ancient sight in Rome. From there, it’s an easy loop to visit the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and Piazza Navona. Take a lunch break (there are plenty of outdoor cafes to choose from in Piazza Navona), then grab a bus or cab to Vatican City, where you can visit the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. End your day as the Romans do — with a glass of wine and dinner alfresco.
Though Rome was not built in a day, it is quite possible to see the Eternal City in a single twenty-four hour period. With a bit of research, a great pair of walking shoes and a lot of protein, get ready to conquer Rome in one day. First and foremost, know what you want to see. Rome's most visited, and subsequently most important attractions, include the Sistine Chapel (Vatican Museums), Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Avoid the crowds and tedious waits by taking advantage of the 21st century with advance purchase tickets for Vatican Museums and Forum/Colosseum tickets. The Vatican Museums ticket is a timed entrance, and best left for an after lunch visit to avoid the crowds. The Roman Forum/Colosseum ticket is an open entrance, but if visiting Rome in the summer months, the best advice is to start in the early morning for cooler temperatures.
With your morning and late afternoon bracketed with two must-see visits, the rest of the day (and Rome) is yours to tailor to your preferences. Rome has a gregarious squad of "hop on/hop off" double-decker buses that circumnavigate the city, providing great perspective on the dimensions of the city and its unlimited cultural heritage. Hop On/Hop off buses are as generic as the standard Red Bus tour known as Trambus Open 110, which visits almost all of Rome's historic piazzas (including Trevi and Navona) and sites (Vatican, Colosseum), or else they are themed to relevant topics such as archaeology and christianity.
Finally, the evening is yours. Rome's piazza are best seen under the glow of street lights and an inky blue black sky. Walking around Rome's beloved piazzas like Navona, Popolo, Trevi, Venezia and even Barberini in the evenings re-creates that dolce vita atmosphere and if you haven't already done so, you will definitely fall in love with Rome. In the summer months, end the evening with a late night visit to Castel Sant'Angelo, the former tomb/papal stronghold hosts concerts, has panoramic restaurant and allows visitors to walk the medeival passetto until 1 am.