Day One

  • Ancient Rome

Start the day at the Colosseum, Rome's huge gladiatorial arena – try to get there early to avoid the queues. Then head down to the Palatino to poke around crumbling ruins and admire sweeping views. From the Palatino, follow on to the Roman Forum, an evocative area of tumbledown temples, sprouting columns and ruined basilicas.

After lunch climb up to Piazza del Campidoglio and the Capitoline Museums, where you’ll find some sensational ancient sculpture. Done there, enjoy great views from the Vittoriano before pushing on to the centro storico (historic centre) to explore its labyrinthine medieval streets and headline sights such as the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.

  • Dinner Dine on quality wood-fired pizza at Emma Pizzeria.
  • Centro Storico

After dinner get a taste of dolce vita bar life. Depending on what you’re after, you could hang out with the beautiful people at chic Etablì near Piazza Navona, chat over coffee at Caffè Sant’Eustachio, or sup cocktails at the Gin Corner.

Day Two

  • Vatican City, Borgo & Prati

On day two, hit the Vatican. First up are the Vatican Museums. Once you’ve blown your mind on the Sistine Chapel and its other myriad masterpieces, complete your tour at St Peter’s Basilica. If you have the energy, climb its Michelangelo-designed dome for fantastic views over St Peter’s Square. But if the queues are bad or you’re suffering art overload, stop first for an early lunch.

  • Lunch Savour Rome's best sliced pizza at Pizzarium.
  • Tridente, Trevi & the Quirinale

Recharged, jump on the metro and head back over the river to check out Piazza di Spagna. Plan your moves while sitting on the Spanish Steps, then push on to the Trevi Fountain where tradition dictates you throw a coin into the water to ensure your return to Rome. Next, head up the hill to catch the sunset on Piazza del Quirinale in front of the presidential palace, Palazzo del Quirinale.

  • Dinner Dine on creative cuisine at fashionable Pianostrada.
  • Centro Storico

Spend the evening in the buzzing area around Campo de’ Fiori. Barnum Cafe is a top place for cocktails and laid-back tunes or hit Open Baladin for a welcome taste of craft beer.

Day Three

  • Villa Borghese & Northern Rome

Day three starts with a trip to the Museo e Galleria Borghese – don’t forget to book – to marvel at amazing baroque sculpture. Afterwards, stroll through Villa Borghese down to La Galleria Nazionale for an injection of modern art.

  • Lunch Fill up on the bargain buffet at the Osteria Flaminio.
  • Tridente, Trevi & the Quirinale

In the afternoon, check what’s going on at Rome’s modernist cultural centre, the Auditorium Parco della Musica, before heading back to Piazza del Popolo. Just off the piazza, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo is a magnificent repository of art. Next, dedicate some time to browsing the flagship stores and designer boutiques in the upscale streets off Via del Corso.

Over the river, the picture-perfect Trastevere neighbourhood bursts with life in the evening as locals and tourists flock to its many eateries and bars. Get into the mood with a glass of Tuscan red and regional snacks at La Prosciutteria before hitting the hard stuff at Pimms' Good.

Day Four

  • Southern Rome

On day four it’s time to venture out to Via Appia Antica. The main attractions here are the catacombs, and it’s a wonderfully creepy sensation to duck down into these sinister pitch-black tunnels. Back above ground, you’ll find the remains of an ancient racetrack at the nearby Villa di Massenzio.

Once you’ve eaten, head north to Stazione Termini and the nearby Museo Nazionale Romano: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, a superb museum full of classical sculpture and stunning mosaics. Then, drop by the monumental Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, famous for its mosaics, and the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, home to Michelangelo’s muscular Moses sculpture. Finish up with some shopping in the fashionable boutiques of the charming Monti district.

  • Dinner Dine on marvellous Umbrian cuisine at L'Asino d'Oro.
  • Monti, Esquilino & San Lorenzo

Stay put in Monti, where there’s plenty of late-night action. Take your pick of wine bar or cafe to see out the day. La Bottega del Caffè is an ever-popular hang-out.