By Rick Steves and Gene Openshaw
After considering Rome's major tourist sights, I've covered just my favorites. You won't be able to see all of these, so don't try — you'll keep coming back to Rome. After several dozen visits, I still have a healthy list of excuses to return.
Rome in a Day
Some people actually try to "do" Rome in a day. Crazy as that sounds, if all you have is a day, it's one of the most exciting days Europe has to offer. Start at 8:30 at the Colosseum. Then explore the Forum, hike over Capitol Hill, and cap your "Caesar Shuffle" with a visit to the Pantheon. After a quick lunch, taxi to the Vatican Museum (the lines usually die down mid-afternoon). See the Vatican Museum and take a short-cut from the Sistine Chapel directly into St. Peter's Basilica. Taxi back to Campo de' Fiori for dinner then walk to Piazza Navona for dessert.
Rome in Two to Three Days
On the first day, do the "Caesar Shuffle" from the Colosseum to the Forum, then over Capitol Hill to the Pantheon. After a siesta, join the locals strolling from Piazza del Popolo to the Spanish Steps. On the second day, see Vatican City (St. Peter's, climb the dome, tour the Vatican Museum). Have dinner on the atmospheric Campo de' Fiori, then walk to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. With a third day, add the Borghese Gallery (reservations required) and the National Museum of Rome.
Rome in Seven Days
Rome is a great one-week getaway. Its sights can keep even the most fidgety traveler well-entertained for a week.
Do the "Caesar Shuffle" from the Colosseum to the Forum, Mamertine Prison, Trajan's Forum, Capitol Hill, and Pantheon.
Morning — National Museum of Rome and the nearby Baths of Diocletian. Afternoon — "Dolce Vita Stroll" and shopping.
Vatican City — St. Peter's Basilica, dome climb, and Vatican Museum.
Side-trip to Ostia Antica. Walk from Campo de' Fiori to the Spanish Steps.
Borghese Gallery (reservation required) and Pilgrims' Rome (the churches of San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore, and San Clemente).
Side trip to Naples and Pompeii.
You choose — Hadrian's Villa, Appian Way with Catacombs, E.U.R., Castel Sant'Angelo, Testaccio sights, Baths of Caracalla, Cappuccin Crypt, shopping, or more time at the Vatican.