Piazza Navona Walking Tour

Piazza Navona in Rome
Piazza Navona in Rome

By Vicky · Published Mar. 21st, 2024

This self-guided walking tour leads you to all the top sights around Piazza Navona in central Rome, with churches, galleries, ruins and more.


This walking tour starts from Piazza Navona in the heart of Rome. To get here via public transport, take the bus to one of several nearby stops. The Rinascimento Bus Stop is probably the closest bus stop to Piazza Navona.

Piazza Navona Walking Tour Map

Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with Maps.me on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the Maps.me bookmarks.

Tips for Piazza Navona Walking Tour

  • Book tickets to The Pantheon online (see below) to avoid the long on-site queue. Outside of the summer, tickets are available at most times so you can simply book them a few minutes or hours beforehand.
  • Many churches are closed for the lunchtime siesta, roughly 12:30-3pm or 4pm, so the best time to go on this walking tour around Piazza Navona is in the morning or late afternoon.
  • To explore Rome further, check out our Rome Ancient Centre Walking Tour, Trastevere or the Lateran & Aventine districts to explore other areas of Rome. For some great walks slightly further from the centre, walk along Via Appia Antica, check out Ostia Antica, discover the Park of the Aqueducts, or for more walking tours and hikes see our Italy page.

Top Things to See near Piazza Navona

On this self-guided tour, you’ll visit the main sights around Piazza Navona, including several historic churches, ancient Roman ruins and art galleries. Sites you definitely shouldn’t miss include Piazza Navona itself, the Theatre of Marcellus, Gesu Church and The Pantheon. If you prefer, a guided tour* is a great way to get more out of what you’re seeing and really dive into the history of Rome.

  1. Piazza Navona
  2. St. Ivo alla Sapienza
  3. St. Luigi dei Francesi
  4. Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Altemps
  5. St. Maria della Pace
  6. St. Maria in Vallicella
  7. Palazzo della Cancelleria
  8. Campo de’ Fiori
  9. Palazzo Farnese
  10. Galleria Spada
  11. Tempio Maggiore
  1. Tiber Island
  2. Theatre of Marcellus
  3. Largo di Torre Argentina
  4. Gesu Church
  5. Doria Pamphilj Gallery
  6. St. Ignazio di Loyola
  7. Temple of Hadrian
  8. Piazzas Colonna & di Montecitorio
  9. St. Maria Maddalena
  10. The Pantheon
  11. St. Maria Sopra Minerva

Piazza Navona Walking Tour Route

This walking tour starts from Piazza Navona.

1. Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona, the first stop on a walking tour of central Rome

Piazza Navona is one of the most famous squares in Rome, known for its beautiful Baroque architecture and grand fountains. In the middle of the square is the Fountain of the Four Rivers, designed by Bernini. Each side represents the four major rivers on the four continents known at the time; the Danube, Nile, Ganges and Rio de la Plata. Cafes and restaurants line the square and can get busy in the afternoon.

Directions: After exploring Piazza Navona, walk out of the square to the left of the Museo di Roma and turn left on the first street. The courtyard of the church at the next stop is through a door to your right.

2. St. Ivo alla Sapienza

St. Ivo alla Sapienza courtyard designed by Borromini

Key Information: Open 9-11am Sundays.

St. Ivo alla Sapienza is a Baroque church designed by the renowned architect Francesco Borromini, and it’s considered one of his masterpieces. Sometimes the doors are open and you can look into the wonderful courtyard, but the church itself has very limited opening times.

Directions: Head around the front of the church and turn left up the street to the next church facade.

3. St. Luigi dei Francesi

St. Luigi dei Francesi

Key Information: Open Mon-Sat 9:30am-12:45pm & 2:30-6:30pm, Sun 11:30am-12:45pm & 2:30-6:30pm.

The church of St. Luigi dei Francesi is dedicated to Saint Louis IX, the patron saint of France who was also King of France in the 13th century. The church interior is famous for its Caravaggio paintings. The most famous is called ‘The Calling of Saint Matthew’, but it’s rather dark.

Directions: Walk back towards Piazza Navona, but instead of entering the square turn right.

4. Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Altemps

Courtyard of Museo Nazionale Romano, Palazzo Altemps

Key Information: Open Tue-Sun 9:30am-7pm. Tickets cost €8, or €12 for all four museums within the Museo Nazionale Romano.

The Palazzo Altemps is one branch of the Museo Nazionale Romano (the others are the Baths of Diocleziano, Palazzo Massimo and Crypta Balbi). It houses the state collection of Greek and Roman sculptures, displayed in the gorgeous setting of a 15th-century palace.

Directions: Head along the road to the outside of Piazza Navona and walk right along a small alley towards the side of a rounded church wall.

5. St. Maria della Pace

St. Maria della Pace designed by Bramante in Rome
Raphael painting in St. Maria della Pace

Key Information: Open daily 9:30am-6pm.

St. Maria della Pace was built in part by the great architect Bramante, who designed the cloisters behind the church. Inside, the first thing on your right, you’ll find a fresco above the niche by Raphael called Sybils receiving instruction from Angels.

Directions: Head down the street away from the church entrance, then take the first right then first left. You’ll come out by the next church on a square by a main road.

6. St. Maria in Vallicella

St. Maria in Vallicella, a church in central Rome, Italy

Key Information: Open Mon-Sat 7:30am-12pm & 5-7:30pm, Sun 9:30am-1pm & 5-8pm.

St. Maria in Vallicella, despite being built in the 16th century, is also known as the Chiesa Nuova (New Church). Its rich interior was created by some of the top artists of the time, with the ceiling by Pietro da Cortona and the altarpiece by Rubens.

Directions: Cross the main road and head straight onward to the next small street. Turn left here to walk along this cute street to the next stop.

7. Palazzo della Cancelleria

Palazzo della Cancelleria and the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, Rome, Italy

Key Information: Open Mon-Sat 7:30 am–8 pm, Sun 9:30 am-7pm.

The Palazzo della Cancelleria is an elegant Renaissance palace from the 16th century, designed like many great buildings of the time by the renowned architect Bramante. The only part of the palace you can visit is within the Leonardo da Vinci Museum (discover more and get tickets here*). In this fun and interactive museum, you can play with reconstructions of many of his inventions and learn more about his interesting life.

Directions: Leaving the Palazzo della Cancelleria turn right and you’ll soon enter the next square.

8. Campo de’ Fiori

Campo de' Fiori, a stop on a walking tour around central Rome and Piazza Navona

Campo de’ Fiori (literally ‘Field of Flowers’) is a lively little square with a popular daily market. Vendors sell flowers, fresh produce, spices and much more, with cafes and restaurants surrounding the square. If you’re looking for a bakery, Forno Campo de ‘Fiori is a great choice.

Directions: Head down the small street in the middle of the market to another square lined by grand buildings.

9. Palazzo Farnese

Palazzo Farnese, the french embassy in Rome

Key Information: Open Mon, Wed, Fri with guided tours at 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30 pm. You must book these tours in advance and go through a security check before entering the Palazzo.

The Palazzo Farnese was originally built for the Farnese family, one of the most influential noble families in Renaissance Italy, and a name that can be found in several places around Rome. Michaelangelo designed part of the palace, now used by the French as their Embassy. On a guided tour, you can admire elegant rooms and a rich collection of art and furnishings, including frescoes by renowned artists.

Directions: Leave this square via the far left corner, and look out for the discrete Galleria Spada on your right.

10. Galleria Spada

Galleria Spada, one of the top art galleries in central Rome

Key Information: Open Wed-Mon, 8:30am-7:30pm. Tickets cost €7/3.

The Galleria Spada is a beautiful art gallery known for its impressive collection of Renaissance and Baroque artworks. One of the highlights is the perspective gallery, designed by Borromini. This clever work of architecture uses columns of diminishing size to create an illusion of a long corridor, whereas in reality, the space is quite small.

Directions: Continue onwards and wind your way through the narrow streets, across a larger road with a tram track, and into the Jewish Quarter.

11. Tempio Maggiore

Tempio Maggiore, the main Jewish synagogue in Rome

Tempio Maggiore is the main synagogue of Rome, located in the former Jewish ghetto area. Built in the early 20th century, its design reflects an eclectic mix of architectural styles, including Moorish, Byzantine, and Roman influences. The inside is richly decorated and also houses the Jewish Museum. In the surrounding streets, you may notice artichokes on display outside restaurants. These are used to make the famous dish ”Carciofi alla Giudia” (artichokes Jewish style), invented in this neighbourhood. If you’re interested in trying it, check out this street food tour* of the area.

Directions: Cross the bridge on the far side of the synagogue to reach the island.

12. Tiber Island

Tiber Island, a stop on the self-guided Piazza Navona Walking Tour of Central Rome

Tiber Island is a picturesque island in the middle of the River Tiber, and it’s a relatively peaceful place to stroll around. Since ancient times the island has been associated with healing and medicine, first as a temple to the Greek god of medicine, and then as a hospital in the Middle Ages. Today there’s still a hospital on the island. The bridges leading to the island are some of the oldest in Rome. If you want to walk around the edge of the island, head down the steps at the far side.

Directions: On the other side of the river is the district of Trastevere, which you can explore on our Trastevere Walking Tour. For now, return across the bridge and round the other side of the synagogue. You’ll see an ancient ruined arch, the Portico d’Ottavia, backed onto a church. Head down the walkway here to an old Roman road and turn right to the atmospheric Roman ruins.

13. Theatre of Marcellus

Theatre of Marcellus ancient Roman Ruins
Theatre of Marcellus, a hidden gem in central Rome and a stop on a self-guided walking tour

The Theatre of Marcellus is a real hidden gem in the centre of Rome. It looks a little like the much more famous Colosseum, but you may well have these ancient ruins to yourself. You can freely wander through the complex and several information boards dot the area. The theatre was built around 13 BC with a seating capacity of roughly 15,000, an audience who came to watch plays and other forms of entertainment. During the Middle Ages, the Theatre of Marcellus fell into disrepair and was partially dismantled for its building materials. However, locals incorporated some of its structures into later buildings and it remains an impressive sight.

Directions: Head away from the theatre and out the gate at the top. Turn left on the road and past a church on your left. Head onwards and right just after another church. At the main road turn left and you’ll be at a large square with Roman ruins.

14. Largo di Torre Argentina

Largo di Torre Argentina, a highlight of a walking tour from Piazza Navona

Key Information: Open Tue-Sun, 9.30am-7pm in summer and 9.30am-4pm in winter. Tickets cost €5/4 to descend to the ruins.

The Largo di Torre Argentina is a large square and archaeological site in the centre of Rome. You can freely walk around the outside and look down on the ruins below, you only need to pay if you want to descend into the square itself. In the ruins, you can see the remains of four ancient Roman temples and the remains of the Pompey Theatre, where Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. This site was only discovered in the early 20th century when a Medieval Palace located here was demolished. Builders found fragments of a huge marble statue below, leading to further excavations.

Directions: Leave the square in the far right corner and you’ll soon come to a large church by the road on your right.

15. Gesu Church

Gesu Church
The interior of Gesu Church, one of the most interesting churchs in central Rome, Italy

Key Information: Open Mon-Sat 7:30am-12:30pm & 4-7:30pm, Sun 7:45am-1pm & 4-8pm.

Gesu Church is one of the most interesting churches in central Rome. It’s far less crowded than the similar St. Ignazio di Loyola church (see below) yet is probably more impressive. Gesu Church is the mother church of the Jesuit order. It’s renowned for its Baroque architecture and at-the-time innovative layout, which has since been copied all over the world. The ceiling fresco, titled “The Triumph of the Name of Jesus,” is a masterpiece of Baroque art, renowned for its dynamic composition and dramatic use of light and colour. Near the back of the church is a mirror in which you can fully admire the ceiling.

Directions: Continue along the road until you see the grandiose Monument to Victor Emmanuel II across the square to your right. You can explore this area on our Rome Ancient Centre Walking Tour but for now turn left up Via del Corso, a famous shopping street. Soon you’ll see the famous Doria Pamphilj Gallery on your left, though the entrance is quite discrete.

16. Doria Pamphilj Gallery

Walking past the Doria Pamphilj Gallery on a tour of central Rome from Piazza Navona

Key Information: Open Mon-Thu 9am-7pm, Fri-Sun 10am-8pm. Tickets cost €16. Book online in advance to guarantee entry at your preferred time.

The Doria Pamphilj Gallery is one of the largest private art collections in Rome. It includes an impressive array of paintings, sculptures, furniture, and decorative arts with works by Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, Velázquez, and Bernini among others. Visitors to the gallery can also explore the palace’s grand halls, galleries, and private apartments.

Directions: Continue along the road until you see the grandiose Monument to Victor Emmanuel II across the square to your right. You can explore this area on our Rome Ancient Centre Walking Tour but for now turn left up Via del Corso, a famous shopping street. Turn left a couple of streets later into a cute little square with an interesting-shaped building opposite the church entrance.

17. St. Ignazio di Loyola

Frescoed ceiling of St. Ignazio di Loyola

Key Information: Open Mon-Thu 9am-8pm, Fri-Sun 9am-11:30pm.

St. Ignazio di Loyola is a daughter church of Gesu Church, another Jesuit church. One of the most famous artworks in the church is the ceiling fresco in the nave. This masterpiece creates an illusion of a dome, even though the church does not have one, and is renowned for its trompe-l’oeil effect. Like at Gesu Church, there’s a mirror you can look into to see the ceiling better, but unlike at Gesu Church there’s often a long queue here to do so.

Directions: Walk behind the building opposite the church to the next square.

18. Temple of Hadrian

Temple of Hadrian in central Rome

The Temple of Hadrian is a remnant of a temple and much larger complex dedicated to the cult of Hadrian, constructed by his successor Emperor Antoninus Pius. Today all that remains is a wall of Corinthian columns on the edge of a little square.

Directions: Continue along the small street and you’ll a larger piazza, with the next piazza almost adjacent to the left.

19. Piazzas Colonna & di Montecitorio

Piazza Colonna, a victory column celebrating Marcus Aurelius
Egyptian Obelisk in Piazza di Montecitorio

The Piazza Colonna and the Piazza di Montecitorio are two large and generally quiet squares. The first has at its centre a 30-meter-high victory column celebrating Marcus Aurelius. The scenes depicted show his many victories, mostly over barbarian Germanic tribes (as in the first scene of the movie Gladiator). The palace of Montecitorio and an Egyptian Obelisk dominate the second square, the Piazza di Montecitorio.

Directions: Leave via the obelisk and turn right.

20. St. Maria Maddalena

St. Maria Maddalena church in central Rome

Key Information: Open daily 8:30am-12:30pm & 5-8pm.

The church of St. Maria Maddalena is a lovely little church on a little courtyard. The design is rather recent, Neoclassical from the 18th century, though much of the interior decoration is older.

Directions: Follow the tourists down the small street leading to the famous Pantheon.

21. The Pantheon

The Pantheon, a highlight of a self-guided walking tour of central Rome from Piazza Navona
The interior of the Pantheon, a highlight of a self-guided walking tour of central Rome from Piazza Navona

Key Information: Open daily 9am-7pm. Tickets cost €5 and you can either buy them on-site (often very long queues) or reserve a timed ticket online (see below).

The Pantheon is one of Rome’s top ancient sights and it’s definitely worth a look inside. Built in the 2nd century AD by Emperor Hadrian, today it’s one of the best-preserved ancient Roman buildings in the world. It never fell into disrepair because it was converted into a church in the 7th century and maintained since. Originally, however, it was dedicated to all the Roman gods, hence its name, which means ‘all gods’ in Greek.

The most striking feature of the Pantheon is its massive dome, which remains the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. The dome’s interior is a perfect hemisphere, with a diameter of 43.3 meters. It’s open at the top with a circular opening called the oculus, which allows natural light to enter the interior. When it’s raining, drops fall gently downwards making it perhaps even more atmospheric.

How to Buy Pantheon Tickets Online

To buy Pantheon Tickets Online, go to the official Musei Italiani website and click Buy a Ticket in the top right. Search by name for the ‘Pantheon’. Occasionally this search function doesn’t work and you have to search by region instead. If this is the case, select the region ‘Lazio’ and scroll down until you reach the ‘Pantheon’. Click on this, then register for an account if you haven’t used the system before.

You’ll then have a selection of month, and then date and time of the Pantheon ticket you want to reserve. After choosing, simply click the number of tickets you want (€5 full price, €2 18-25 year, under 18s free). After clicking ‘Add to Cart’, you then have to click ‘Go to Cart’ in the top right. You must then click ‘Finish and Pay’ before entering your card details. If you don’t have a Travel Card already (a debit card that can be used in multiple currencies without high bank conversion fees), I’d highly recommend a Wise Card* to conveniently pay for things when abroad.

Alternatively, for a slight extra fee you can easily buy tickets to the Pantheon on GetYourGuide*.

Directions: Walk around the Pantheon. At the back, you can see a couple of columns, the only remains of another ancient temple. You’ll then reach another square with a rather plain-fronted church.

22. Basilica di St. Maria Sopra Minerva

Egyptian on an elephant sculpture in Rome
Dark blue ceiling of Basilica di St. Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome

Key Information: Open daily 11am-1pm & 3-7pm.

The last stop on this walking tour around Piazza Navona, the Basilica di St. Maria Sopra Minerva, was constructed in the Gothic style during the 13th century. Its location on the former site of a temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva gives it its name. One of the most distinctive aspects of its interior is the lovely midnight-blue ceiling, while outside the entrance is an ancient Egyptian obelisk atop an elephant sculpture from the 17th century.

Directions: This is the end of the Piazza Navona Walking Tour. From here you can continue to explore Ancient Rome, head across the river to Trastevere, or a little further to the Lateran & Aventine districts.

Best Guidebooks for Exploring Rome

Lonely Planet Rome*

DK Eyewitness Top 10 Rome*

Lonely Planet Italy*

For some great walks slightly further from the centre, walk along Via Appia Antica, check out Ostia Antica, discover the Park of the Aqueducts, or for more walking tours and hikes see our Italy page.

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