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3 Days in Rome: The Perfect Itinerary for Your First Visit

Rome attractions: View of the Via dei Fori Imperiali and Colosseum from the Victor Emmanuel II Monument

Looking forward to spending the perfect 3 days in Rome? Awesome! But, there’s so much to see and experience in the Eternal City that knowing where to start can be difficult during the limited timeframe of your visit. That’s where we come in. In our customized itinerary, we outline our opinionated list of what we consider to be the best things to do in Rome in three days. Ideal for both first-time and repeat visitors.

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Getting To Rome

If you’re traveling to Rome by air, you’ll either be flying to Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, popularly known as “Fiumicino” (FCO), or the smaller Giovanni Battista Pastine Airport, known as “Ciampino” (CIO). Fiumicino Airport is located about 30 km (18 miles) southwest of Rome where as Ciampino Airport is located approximately 20 km (12.5 miles) southeast of the city.

The easiest and quickest way to get from Fiumicino Airport to the city center is by taking the Leonardo Express. The non-stop journey lasts 32 minutes and the trains run every 15 minutes from about 06:00-23:00. 

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, you can also take a bus from Fiumicino Airport to the city center of Rome. The journey from Fiumicino Airport to Termini Station (Rome city center) lasts about 45-60 minutes depending on traffic. There are about 15 transfers per day and tickets cost €7.

As there are still no direct rail connections between Ciampino Airport and the city center of Rome, the best option is to take one of the dedicated bus services. The journey from Ciampino Airport to Termini Station lasts about 40 minutes depending on traffic. There are about 10 transfers per day and tickets cost €6.

Is 3 Days Enough To See Rome?

NO. Rome is the type of city that never ceases to amaze and entertain. Days, weeks, or even months could be spent in the Eternal City without being bored. 

There is simply way too much to see, too much history to explore, and too many fascinating and jumbled layers of art and beauty to admire. However, 72 hours in Rome is a great amount of time to scratch the surface of this historically rich capital. 

However, 3 days in Rome gives you just about enough time to experience the top attractions in Rome including outstanding ruins, museums, ancient sites, and monuments.

How To Get Around During Your 3 Days in Rome

The best way to get around Rome is to walk – you’ll see more and will better appreciate the city. Most of the attractions we’ve included in our 3 days Rome itinerary are within comfortable walking distance of each other.

While Rome is a fabulously walkable city and walking is definitely the most pleasurable way to get around, you should definitely use public transport and save some precious time. Getting from one area to another in Rome using public transport is pretty easy and convenient.

For public transport in Rome, you can choose between the metro (subway) and buses. Rome’s public transport network also consists of trams and the urban railway but they are not really of any use for the sights we’ve covered in this itinerary. 

The Rome Metro is the fastest means of transportation in the city, operating daily from 05:30-23:30 (until 01:30 on Friday and Saturday). Rome also has a comprehensive bus network and serves parts of the city where the metro doesn’t reach.

For your 3 days in Rome, you can purchase the following tickets for public transport: 

  • BIT (Integrated Time Ticket) – €1.50 – A single ticket valid for 100 minutes; in that time it can be used on all forms of transport, but only once on the metro)
  • ROMA72 – €18 – Valid for unlimited use for 72 hours on all forms of transport from the moment you validate it

Rome public transport tickets are available from bars, tourist booths, convenience stores, tobacconists (called tabacchi), newspaper kiosks that display the ATAC emblem, and vending machines in all metro stations and at major bus stops. 

Keep some cash and coins on you before purchasing a ticket at one of the ATAC vending machines as not all of them accept cards.

Pro Tip

Remember to validate your ticket when you first use it. By failing to do so, you’ll be risking a hefty fine (minimum €54.90).

I wouldn’t recommend taking a taxi in Rome as it’s not necessary and you can cover all the best places by walking or with the aid of public transport. However, if you really need to take a taxi, the easiest way is to go to one of the city’s numerous taxi stands (fermata dei taxi). 

Official taxis in Rome are white in color, say “Comune di Roma” on the side, and bear a “TAXI” sign on the roof.  Alternatively, you can call for a taxi in Rome by calling +39 060609 (Rome city council) and +39 063570 (largest radio-taxi operator in Rome).

Your Perfect 3 Days in Rome Itinerary

Seeing the must-see attractions in Rome in 3 days requires having to rise early in the morning, good planning, and a bit of stamina, but it’s actually quite feasible. Obviously, you won’t have time to fully explore the attractions in depth. 

This is a relatively packed itinerary that will eat up a good chunk of your time. Of course, everyone travels at a different pace so feel free to choose the destinations according to your own pace. If you find the pace too fast, you could also easily stretch it over three days.

You really should spend your time on whatever catches your own interest. The earlier you start your day the more time you’ll have to see the attractions. 

Keep in mind that you may have to modify this itinerary in case one of the days you’re in Rome happens to fall on a Sunday (when many things are closed, and those that remain open tend to operate on shorter hours) or on a Monday (when most museums are closed). 

Below I have compiled a list of the best things to see in Rome over the course of 3 days:

Day 1 in Rome

Day 2 in Rome

Day 3 in Rome

Day 1 in Rome

Day 1 of this ‘3 days in Rome itinerary’ covers the highlights of ancient Rome and is an ideal way to get acquainted with the Eternal City.

1. Colosseum

3 days in Rome, Italy: View of Colosseum at twilight,

What better way to start your 72 hours in Rome than at the Colosseum (Colosseo), the city’s most iconic sight. Such is its importance, that the medieval English monk Venerable Beda  famously prophesied “Rome will exist as long as the Colosseum does; when the Colosseum falls, so will Rome; when Rome falls, so will the world.”

The Colosseum was commissioned by Emperor Vespasian in 72 AD as a gift to the Roman people and was completed eight years later. In its heyday, the giant arena was synonymous with mock naval battles, animal hunts, prisoner execution, and gladiator combat.

Fun Fact

The Roman Colosseum has not always been called “the Colosseum.” The giant arena was originally known as the “Flavian Amphitheater” after the Flavian Dynasty, which commissioned its construction. The name “Colosseum” was only introduced in medieval times and is widely believed to be derived from the “colossal” bronze statue of Emperor Nero that once stood outside of the Amphitheater.

The Colosseum is truly a breathtaking structure and is a marvelous testament to Roman imperial power. Standing 48 meters in height, it consists of four levels whose outer walls have three levels of arches, framed by Ionic, Doric, and Corinthian columns.

With the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Colosseum began to deteriorate. It suffered centuries of neglect and continuous damage from natural disasters and was even used as a source of material for other construction work around the city.

Must-see Rome: Panoramic view of interior of the famous Colosseum arena. PC: Viacheslav Lopatin/Shutterstock.com

Take a tour of the Colosseum’s interior and be awed by the mighty arena as you stand on the arena floor. Imagine what it must have been like for the gladiators and the poor animals to be thrust under the limelight and have the roar of 50,000 spectators greeting them. 

The best part about accessing the Colosseum arena floor is that it accords you the possibility to enter the arena through the so-called “Gladiator’s Gate,” which is an exhilarating feeling.

Fun Fact

For his 2000 Hollywood epic “Gladiator,” director Ridley Scott went through all the red tape and bureaucracy required to film the movie at the Colosseum. Despite getting permission to film inside the most famous amphitheater in the world, Scott later decided the Colosseum was full of pockmarks and didn’t look impressive enough. Instead, he built a replica of about one-third of Rome’s Colosseum in Malta at the estimated cost of $1 million to film the movie. Go figure!

It is now also possible to explore the Colosseum hypogeum – the intricate series of subterranean passageways beneath the wooden floor. These walkways once held cages and rooms where prisoners, animals, and gladiators waited to pass through trapdoors to enter the arena above their heads. It’s at once thrilling and revolting.

Practical Information for Visiting the Colosseum

The opening hours of the Colosseum vary throughout the year. However, it is open daily from 09:00–approx one hour before sunset (last admission: 1 hour before closing). 

Advance booking for the Colosseum is required and no tickets are sold on-site. On your visit to the Colosseum, you can either wander inside on your own, take the audio guide tour, or join a guided tour.

You will still likely encounter lines as you have to go through airport-like security. Even if you have to stand in line, don’t worry too much as a Colosseum visit is worth the wait.

Tickets can be purchased online through the CoopCulture website, the official ticket agency for the Colosseum. Tickets cost 18 EUR but are non-refundable under any circumstances.

I like to book refundable tickets and don’t mind paying a small surcharge knowing I can always get my money back if my plans alter. I always either book through GetYourGuide or Tiqets. 

Keep in mind that access to the Colosseum arena requires a special ticket. Book early as tickets tend to sell out fast.

Access to the underground passages is only possible with a special ticket. The best way to experience the remains of it is by taking a Colosseum Underground Tour where a local guide fills you in about its best-kept secrets. This tour also offers access to the Colosseum arena.

2. Arch of Constantine

Visit Rome: Architectural details of the Arch of Constantine at sunrise

Located right beside the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine (Arco di Costantino) is the last great monument of Imperial Rome. It was built in 315 AD to celebrate Emperor Constantine’s victory over the Rome-based usurper Maxentius in a bloody civil war a few years earlier.

At 21 meters in height and 26 meters in width, the Arch of Constantine is the largest of the three surviving ancient triumphal arches in Rome. Though it is among the most famous relics of its era, the Arch of Constantine was controversial because most of its decorative sculptures and reliefs are from earlier Roman monuments.

For instance, the Corinthian columns date from the Flavian era, the round medallions are taken from a temple from the Hadrian era, and the statues of Dacian prisoners were taken from Trajan’s Forum. From an artistic point of view, the different architectural elements add to the flamboyance of the monument.

Fun Fact

The Arch of Constantine served as the finish line for the men’s marathon event at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. The first man across the spectacularly torch-lit arch was the Ethiopian Abebe Bikila, who ran the entire race barefoot!

3. Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

Rome Historical sites: People walking among the ruins of the Roman Forum on a sunny afternoon

The spectacular Roman Forum (Foro Romano) is unsurprisingly one of the must-see Rome attractions. It is the most impressive, most imperious, and most mournful sight conceivable and will always remain our place to visit in the Eternal City.

Though it now appears as a disordered set of ruins for the uninitiated, the Roman Forum was the nerve center of Imperial Rome and the most important civic space in all of Western civilization for much of antiquity.

Filled with stately and extravagant temples, palaces, shops, and taverns, the Forum was the city’s main area where citizens of every social class carried out their daily religious, political, and commercial activities. 

Unfortunately, with the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Forum fell into a state of decrepitude and was ripe for looting. Many of its buildings were plundered for their stone and marble which is why so little is left today.  

Nevertheless, walking around the maze of ruins is a quintessential Roman experience.

Some of the things not to miss in the Roman Forum are the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Septimus Severus, the Column of Phocas, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Curia, the Temple of Vesta, and the Arch of Titus.

The Stadium of Domitian on the Palatine Hill in Rome, Italy

Considered the most important of Rome’s seven hills, the Palatine Hill is widely referred to as the mythical founding site of Rome. Legend holds that it was here in 753 BC that Romulus, after killing his brother, Remus, started a settlement that he named after himself.

In the days of the Roman Republic, the Palatine was the most coveted address in Rome and sported many elegant houses. It was home to many of Rome’s emperors, each of whom tried to outdo his predecessor by building increasingly lavish palaces.

The highlights of the Palatine Hill are the ruins of majestic dwellings such as Domus Augustana, Domus Flavia, House of Livia, and the Stadium of Domitian.

Fun Fact

The English word “palace”, the Italian “palazzo” and the French “palais” all owe their origins to the Palatine.

Large, verdant, and free of tourist hordes, the Palatine Hill is certainly the most pleasurable of all the historical sites in Rome to visit. It is definitely worth the visit, even if you aren’t a history buff.

Practical Information for Visiting the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

The opening hours of the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill are the same as the Colosseum which means they vary throughout the year. The Roman Forum is open daily from 09:00–approx one hour before sunset (last admission: 1 hour before closing). Tickets to the Forum also include entry to the Colosseum.

Though the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill are fascinating places to explore, it can be difficult to know where to start! The area is quite vast, and given that it’s often crowded, it’s not easy to get your bearings and make sense of the ruins. 

To get the most out of your visit, I strongly recommend considering doing a guided tour of the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill.

4. Imperial Forums

Rome points of interest: Trajan's Markets, which are part of the Imperial Forums

Not to be confused with the Roman Forum, the Imperial Forums (Fori Imperioli) is a complex of five grandly conceived squares flanked by colonnades and temples. These forums were the hub of politics, religion, and economics in the ancient Roman empire.

The Imperial Forums were built between 46 BC and 113 AD by Caesar, Augustus, Vespasian, Nerva, and Trajan in response to the overcrowding of Rome’s older forums. At the time of their construction, they were more impressive than the buildings in the Roman Forum.

Though the forums of Caesar, Vespasian, Nerva, and Augustus are impressive, the grandest of all the Imperial Forums is the Forum of Trajan, once regarded as one of the architectural wonders of the world. 

The Trajan’s Markets were a massive, multilevel brick complex of shops, walkways, and terraces that was essentially an ancient shopping mall.

Things to see in Rome: Architectural details of Trajan's Column in the Imperial Forums

Trajan’s Column shows a remarkable series of intricate bas reliefs spiraling up the column celebrating the emperor’s victories over the Dacians in today’s Romania.

All of the Imperial Forums are clearly visible from the street and are free to view. The Forum of Caesar sits directly adjacent to the Roman Forum, while the others lie across the Via dei Fori Imperiali.

5. Lunch

Rome Food: A plate of Pasta Carbonara, a tradtional Roman dish

For a well-deserved lunch and a break from sightseeing, you can go to Armando al Pantheon, a highly acclaimed restaurant serving authentic Roman classics like Cacio e Pepe, Carbonara, and Saltimbocca alla Romana.

6. The Pantheon

Rome Instagram: Woman posing in front of the Pantheon and obelisk in Piazza della Rotonda

Not only is the Pantheon one of the major points of interest in Rome but it is also one of the best-preserved relics from the Roman Empire. Since its creation in the early second century by Emperor Hadrian, the Pantheon has remained in constant use, originally as a pagan temple and then as a church since the early seventh century.

The Pantheon’s real importance lies in its construction and for over two millennia its groundbreaking design has been the subject of countless imitations and references. The Pantheon consists of three sections: a portico with a classical design with three rows of Corinthian columns—eight in the front and two rows of four — topped by a triangular pediment.

Things to do in Rome, Italy: The cavernous interior of the Pantheon. PC: TTstudio/Shutterstock.com

The Pantheon’s interior is simply breathtaking and the first thing that comes to your mind is the harmonious unity of the building. At 43 meters, the diameter of the interior of the dome is exactly equal to its height.

With no visible arches or vaults to hold the dome up, the Roman engineers were truly ingenious and the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome! This was achieved by gradually decreasing the dome’s thickness and using lighter volcanic materials such as pumice and tufa as it gets higher. 

The circular 8-meter wide oculus, or opening, right at the apex of the Pantheon’s dome might be the edifice’s most iconic feature. Besides being the Pantheon’s only source of natural light, it’s been theorized that the oculus also functioned as a kind of massive sundial marking the passage of the hours.

Being a working Catholic Church, the Pantheon is the resting place of Italian kings and prominent Italian artists. Most notable is the tomb of Raphael, between the second and third chapel on the left. The artist’s body rests below a Madonna.

Practical Information for Visiting the Pantheon

The Pantheon is open daily from 09:00-19:00 (last entry 6.30 pm). The entrance is free (only on weekdays) and costs at least 8.50 EUR on weekends. It is not necessary to make a reservation for the Pantheon if you are planning to visit on weekdays.

However, to visit the Pantheon on weekends and public holidays, it is necessary to make a reservation in advance. This means you will need to book either a Pantheon Guided Tour or a Pantheon audio guide ticket.

I strongly recommended booking your audio guide ticket or guided tour well in advance to avoid disappointment on the day.

Finally, expect to encounter lines stretching across Piazza della Rotonda every day. However, there is no question that the Pantheon is worth the wait.

7. Largo di Torre Argentina

Ancient ruins at the Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome, the place Julius Caesar was murdered

Home to one of history’s most notorious assassinations, ruins of ancient temples, and a local colony of stray cats, Largo di Torre Argentina is one of the most remarkable places to visit in Rome. 

The sunken square of open-air ruins, which just sits in the midst of bumper-to-bumper traffic, contains the ruins of four Ancient Roman temples. 

Since archaeologists don’t possess enough evidence to determine who the temples were dedicated to, they have simply been named A, B, C, and D. 

Largo di Torre Argentina is most famous for being the place where Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15 – the infamous “Ides of March” – in 44BC. In an act that has become a metaphor for political skulduggery and devious plotting, Caesar was murdered on the steps of the Curia of Pompey, having been stabbed 23 times by a group of his own senators.

Today, Largo di Torre Argentina is just as well known for its cat shelter. Hundreds of stray cats strut and stand around like silent sentinels amongst the ruins and every day dedicated volunteer cat caretakers feed, clean, and look after the homeless felines.

8. Victor Emmanuel II Monument

Rome landmarks: View of the massive Victor Emmanuel II monument on a sunny morning

The Victor Emmanuel II Monument (Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II) aka Vittoriano or Altar of the Fatherland (Altare della Patria) is one of the most prominent landmarks in Rome. Standing at a colossal 70 meters in height and 135 meters in width, this humongous Neoclassical structure looms large over Piazza Venezia.

Completed in 1925, it was built by the Italian government to celebrate the unification of Italy and the first king of unified Italy, Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy. It is well known for its elaborate symbols, fountains, friezes, staircases, columns, and statues that represent the various Italian regions geographically and allegorically. 

Despite its impressive appearance, the Vittoriano is detested by many locals as much of the surrounding medieval neighborhood was destroyed to create space for its construction. 

For its ostentatious design and its incongruity with much of the surrounding architecture, the Romans have bestowed the monument with rather unflattering nicknames such as “The Typewriter”, “The Dentures”, and “The Wedding Cake.”

Love it or loathe it, the gleaming white marble monument is impossible to ignore and deserves to be admired. Plus, its terrace offers spectacular 360-degree views of Rome.

The Victor Emmanuel II Monument is open daily from 09:30-19:30 (last admission at 18:45). You can enter the monument for free but it costs 12 EUR to access the panoramic terrace. It’s a little pricey but totally worth it for the stunning views.

9. Capitol Square

Rome must-see: The Cordonata or broad ramp of stairs leading up to Capitol Square

While it is not the most famous square in Rome, Capitol Square (Piazza del Campidoglio) remains my favorite one. The square, which sits atop Capitoline Hill was designed by Michelangelo and completed in the 17th century. 

I love everything about Capitol Square beginning with the broad sloping ramp stairs (Cordonata) leading from the foot of the Capitoline Hill to the square which makes for a dramatic approach. At the foot is a pair of granite Egyptian lions, and the top of the ramp is guarded by Classical statues of the Dioscuri – Castor and Pollux.

Sightseeing Rome: The majestic Piazza del Campidoglio in the early morning. PC: ValerioMei/Shutterstock.com

The square itself is perfectly proportioned in the shape of a  trapezoid and is embellished with Classical sculptures. It is home to the lovely Palazzo Senatorio on the longer side (the seat of the city council’s administrative offices) and the identical facades of Palazzo Nuovo and Palazzo dei Conservatori (home to the outstanding Capitoline Museums) on either side. 

At the center of the piazza stands a bronze replica of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. The main star of the square is the magnificent pavement, which features a twelve-pointed central star representing the signs of the zodiac.

10. Capitoline Museums

Rome Museums: The famous Capitoline She-Wolf statue in the Capitoline Museums

Arguably the best museum in the Eternal City, the Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolini) is a must-see in Rome. A little known fact is that the Capitoline Museums are the world’s oldest public museums dating to 1471,

Divided between two palaces on either side of Capitol Square, the Capitoline Museums house a varied collection of artworks, from ancient statues to Baroque paintings, which constitute some of Rome’s most important treasures.

People admiring a bunch of paintings inside the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Italy

The Palazzo dei Conservatori’s frescoed halls contain a large sculpture collection and art galleries with works by Caravaggio, Van Dyck, and Tintoretto while the Palazzo Nuovo contains some exquisite examples of Roman statuary.

Start off your visit in the Palazzo dei Conservatori (to the right as you come up the Cordonata) where you cannot miss some of the most surreal body parts ever: a giant head, foot, elbow, and imperially raised finger across the courtyard are what remains of the fabled seated statue of Constantine I.

The original equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius inside the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Italy

Two of the most iconic exhibits of the Capitoline Museums in this palace are the original equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius and the Capitoline She-Wolf, a 5th century BC Etruscan bronze showing a she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus.

Other highlights include Spinarius, a graceful 1st-century-BC bronze statue of a boy removing a thorn from his foot. Notable canvases are Caravaggio’s curious St. John the Baptist and Guercino’s huge Burial and Glory of St. Petronilla.

The illuminated Galleria Lapidaria in the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Italy

To reach the Palazzo Nuovo section of the museum, take the Galleria Lapidaria – an underground passage eight meters beneath Capitol Square. One of the best Rome Instagram spots, the attractively illuminated epigraphic gallery contains 130 inscriptions which are displayed on both sides.

Two of the most outstanding rooms in the Palazzo Nuovo are the Hall of the Emperors and the Hall of the Philosophers. The Hall of Emperors displays the busts and portraits of Roman emperors of the Imperial Age while the Hall of the Philosophers contains a rich mix of Greek portrait busts of the greatest Hellenic poets and thinkers.

Capitoline Museums Rome:  The Capitoline Venus - a superb 1st-century BC statue of the goddess of love

The other must-see things of the Capitoline Museums in this palace are the legendary Dying Gaul – a beautifully evocative statue of a fatally wounded warrior and the Capitoline Venus – a superb 1st-century BC statue of the goddess of love rising voluptuously from her bath, attempting to cover herself.

Practical Information for Visiting the Capitoline Museums

The Capitoline Museums are open daily from 09:30-19:30 (last admission at 18:30). The entrance costs 13 EUR. Tickets can either be booked online through the museum website or via Tiqets.

11. View of the Roman Forum

Must-visit Rome: View of the illuminated ruins of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum in the evening

Cap off your first day of Rome sightseeing by treating yourself to a sublime view of the Forum from Capitol Square. Just walk around the right side of the Palazzo Senatorio to a terrace overlooking the Roman Forum.

As beautiful as the Forum looks during the day, it looks even more impressive in the evening as it is dramatically floodlit. With the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum as a backdrop, the ruins look just heavenly and the view is simply to die for!

Day 2 in Rome

Day 2 of this ‘three days in Rome itinerary’ covers the must-see sights of the Vatican, the smallest independent country in the world. It also covers parts of the Prati neighborhood and Rome’s historic center.

1. St. Peter’s Square

Places to see in Vatican City: An empty St. Peter's Square on an early winter morning

St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) acts as a wonderful prelude to St. Peter’s Church. Many people in their haste to go inside St. Peter’s Church often don’t take the time to admire the square which is a shame since it’s undoubtedly one of the most outstanding architectural spaces in the world. 

Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1656–67 for Pope Alexander VII, the design of St. Peter’s Square resembles that of a keyhole. The most impressive part of the square is the 284 Doric columns and 88 pilasters that flank the square in a colonnade of four rows. 

Atop it stands a gesticulating crowd of some 140 saints. The way the two colonnades are laid out represents the motherly arms of the Catholic Church embracing and protecting the brethren.

In the center of St. Peter’s Square is an Egyptian obelisk, brought back to Rome by Emperor Caligula in AD 37 from the ancient city of Heliopolis on the Nile delta. This is the only surviving Egyptian obelisk in Rome.

St. Peter’s Square is open 24/7 and is free to visit.

2. St. Peter’s Basilica

Things to do in Rome: The imposing facade of the marvelous St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

No matter how many photos and videos you’ve seen of St. Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro), you just don’t get the hype until you see it in person. The beating heart of Roman Catholicism, St. Peter’s is famous as the church where most Papal ceremonies take place.

Fun Fact

Contrary to popular belief, St. Peter’s Basilica is neither the Pope’s official church nor the principal church in Roman Catholicism. In fact, it’s not even a cathedral. Although a lot of papal ceremonies take place at St. Peter’s Basilica, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran in Rome is the official seat of the Bishop of Rome – the Pope. Considered the “mother church”, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is the oldest basilica and the number one ranking church in Catholicism.

Completed over a span of 120 years from 1506 to 1626, the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica experienced the reign of 18 different popes, incalculable costs, and the direction of 12 different architects. It is believed to have been built upon the burial site of Saint Peter, the first apostle to recognize Christ as the messiah.

As you make your way inside don’t forget to get a good look at the Holy Door, which is opened during a special year designated by a pope called a Jubilee Year (usually every 25 years). The door’s 16 bronze panels illustrate scenes from the life of Jesus.

 Architectural details of the dome and Bernini's baldachin in St. Peter's Basilica. PC:silverfox999/Shutterstock.com

With an area of 15,160 m², St. Peter’s is by far the largest church in the world (the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in the Ivory Coast has a greater exterior area but the church proper is smaller than St. Peter’s). The vast dimensions explain why people seem to shrink when they enter the church.

Though St. Peter’s is not the most beautiful church you’ll see, you won’t find any other church in the world that compares to its grandeur. The fabulous wealth and extravagance of the Catholic Church through the ages are celebrated without restraint in St. Peter’s.

Michelangelo's celebrated Pieta sculpture on display inside St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy

One of the main things to see at St. Peter’s Basilica is Michelangelo’s Pietà. This exquisite statue shows Mary seated on a rock holding Christ’s lifeless body, her face filled with sorrow. 

Going further down the immense nave, your eyes will inevitably be drawn to Bernini’s ornate baldachin resting over the papal altar, which itself stands over St Peter’s original grave. Reaching a height of 29 meters, its twisting columns were made with bronze taken from the Pantheon.

The famous bronze statue of St. Peter inside St. peter's Basilica in Vatican City

Halfway down the nave is another well-known relic of St. Peter’s, a 13th-century bronze statue of St. Peter by Arnolfo di Cambio which shows St. Peter holding the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. It is so widely venerated that its foot, kissed by devout pilgrims for over seven centuries, is almost worn away.

Finally, take some time to admire St. Peter’s legendary dome, magnificently designed by none other than Michelangelo. The interior is beautifully decorated with glittering golden mosaics.

For some astounding views of Rome, go up to the roof of the dome. From the roof, you can admire the arms of Bernini’s elegant colonnade encircling St. Peter’s Square.

Practical Information for Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica is open daily from 07:00-19:00 (April-September), and 07:00-18:30 (October-March). The dome of St. Peter’s is open daily from 07:30-17:30 (April-September), and 07:30-16:30 (October-March).

Cost: Free entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica. You will need to buy a ticket to access the viewpoint at the top of the dome of St. Peter’s. A ticket costs 8 EUR to walk up all 551 steps or 10 EUR to take the elevator up to the terrace, from where you will still need to climb 320 steps.

As with many of the top Rome attractions, if you get up super early you can beat the rush. If you arrive at St Peter’s very early in the morning, the queues, if there are any at all, will be small. Consequently, the basilica will be less crowded and you’ll get more out of your visit.

However, there are a few ways to skip the line at St. Peter’s Basilica as it can be very exhausting to wait in lines for hours on end. These are: 

Tips for Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica

1. St. Peter’s Basilica has a strict dress code for both men and women: no shorts, no skirts above the knee, and no bare shoulders. Avoid wearing clothing with writing or pictures that could risk giving offense. You will not be let in if you don’t come dressed appropriately.

2. Keep in mind that the climb through the double shell of the dome of St. Peter’s to the top is a fairly claustrophobic one. Plus, as there is one stairway for going up and a different one for coming down, you can’t change your mind halfway and turn back. You should skip the ascent to the dome if you’re either in ill health, uneasy with confined spaces, or acrophobic. 

3. Unless you want to witness a papal audience with the Pope, avoid going to St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday mornings. The Papal Audience is held almost every Wednesday at 10:00 or 10:30 in St. Peter’s Square (in winter, it’s sometimes held indoors at Paul VI Audience Hall, which is to the left of St. Peter’s Basilica). Whenever the Pope appears in the square, the basilica closes and the crowds are substantial.

3. Vatican Museums

Founded in the 16th century, the Vatican Museums boast one of the world’s greatest art collections. With over 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) of art displays, the Vatican Museums are so stuffed with booty and antiquities as to put most other top European museums to shame. 

There’s no point in trying to see everything in one visit otherwise you’ll collapse from museum fatigue before you’ve even got to your most important target of interest.

With that in mind, the following are some of the must-see highlights of the Vatican Museums:

Woman admiring various artworks of the Pinacoteca gallery inside the Vatican Museums

1. Pinacoteca: An absolute must-see on any visit to the Vatican Museums, the Pinacoteca houses paintings and tapestries arranged in chronological order from the 11th to the 19th centuries. Raphael’s Transfiguration and Caravaggio’s Deposition are just two of the masterpieces that you do not want to miss here.

2. Pio Clementino Museum: Home to some of the best examples of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures found anywhere in the world. The adjoining Octagonal Courtyard holds two statues that proved a huge influence on Renaissance artists – the serene Apollo Belvedere and the incomparable Laocoön.

The Pine cone fountain (Fontana della Pigna) in the Vatican Museums

3. Pinecone Courtyard: Designed by world-famous architect Donato Bramante, the Pinecone Courtyard is one of the things not to miss in the Vatican Museums. The Courtyard is named after the giant bronze pinecone statue that adorns the front wall of the courtyard.

Woman admiring the illustrative maps and gilded ceiling of the splendid Gallery of the Maps in the Vatican Museums

4. Gallery of the Maps: The 120-meter-long gallery contains 40 frescoes, detailing the Italian regions and the papal territories that existed during the time of Pope Gregory XIII in the 16th century.

The golden barrel-vaulted ceiling of the Gallery of the Maps is a masterpiece in itself. It’s no wonder that this is often regarded as one of the best Rome Instagram spots.

The famous School of Athens fresco in the Raphael Rooms inside the Vatican Museums in Rome, Italy

5. Raphael Rooms: Probably second only to the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael Rooms are beyond doubt one of the main things to see in the Vatican Museums. The four rooms decorated by Raphael feature stunning frescoes that are among the highlights of the Renaissance. 

The School of Athens fresco, representing the triumph of philosophical truth, in the Stanza della Segnatura, is the main scene-stealer.

6. Sistine Chapel: No visit to the Vatican Museums would be complete without visiting the inimitable Sistine Chapel. Painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, its multi-paneled ceiling illustrates the story of Genesis from the Creation to Noah and the Great Flood. 

Essentially, the narrative depicted in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel shows the creation of humanity, its fall from grace, and ultimate redemption. The realistic dynamism of the human figures and the mastery of color and light are still astonishing to this day.

Fun Fact

Although it’s a common belief that Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel while lying on his back, he never worked in this position. Instead, Michelangelo and his assistants actually worked while standing on a curved scaffold that Michelangelo had built himself. Due to the scaffolding’s unique design, Michelangelo often had to bend backward and paint over his head, which caused permanent damage to his eyesight and neck.

7. Spiral Staircase: Designed by Italian architect Giuseppe Momo in 1932, the so-called snail staircase consists of two intertwined stairways that curve in a double helix  The staircase marks the end of the museum visit and is the route that all visitors take when leaving the building.

Practical Information for Visiting the Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are open from 09:00-18:00, (Monday-Saturday, last entry at 16:00). Tickets cost 21 EUR.

On the last Sunday of every month (barring it’s a religious holiday), the Vatican Museums are open (09:00-14:00, last entry 12:30) and free for everyone. However, unless you are on a tight budget, I highly recommend you avoid going this day as the place gets mobbed.

The lines to enter the Vatican Museums are often very long. We are talking up to 3-hour waits on the busiest days. To avoid queuing up to enter the Vatican Museums, I HIGHLY recommend buying a skip-the-line ticket in advance.

If you want to visit the Vatican without the crowds, you can also opt for an amazing early morning tour. Starting bright and early at 07:15, you get to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel before they officially open to the public.

Photography: No photos are allowed in the Sistine Chapel, but photos without flash are permitted elsewhere.

pro Tip

Just like at St. Peter’s Basilica, you have to adhere to a strict dress code when visiting the Vatican Museums. Men should avoid wearing hats, shorts, or sleeveless tops, while women are asked not to wear short skirts, shorts, or tank tops.

4. Lunch

ear the Vatican. La Locanda di Pietro, Da Romolo, and Angrypig Birretta e Porchetta are some good lunch options near the Vatican.

5. Castel Sant’ Angelo

Rome must-see: Woman posing for a photo in front of the imposing Castel Sant' Angelo on a sunny day

Standing between the Tiber and the Vatican, the Castel Sant’ Angelo is probably one of those things that you’ll want to tick off your list if you are only in Rome for 3 days. 

This imposing castle was initially built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family in AD 139. It has since served as a place of residence, a prison, a court, military barracks, and a fortress. 

Due to its position near the Vatican, the Castel Sant’Angelo was most famously used as a refuge for the popes. It was connected to the Vatican by an infamous secret tunnel called the ‘Passetto di Borgo’, thus allowing the pope to flee the Vatican and reach this fortress in times of siege or invasion throughout the Middle Ages.

Today, the castle is home to a museum that boasts a large collection of sculptures, paintings, marble finds, furniture, and a wide-ranging selection of ancient arms and armor. It offers a rare glimpse at medieval and Renaissance Rome. 

People admiring the lavish frescoes of the Sala Paolina inside Castel Sant' Angelo in Rome, Italy

Some of the best things to see at Castel Sant’ Angelo are the Renaissance-style papal apartments, with their coffered ceilings and lush decoration. Don’t miss the Sala Paolina with its lavish frescoes of scenes from the Old Testament and the lives of St. Paul and Alexander the Great.

You can also climb to the top terrace of Castel Sant’ Angelo for another one of those spectacular views of the Eternal City. Located on the fifth floor of the castle, this terrace acted as the setting for the final act of Giacomo Puccini’s famous opera Tosca.

The lovely vaulted Hall of Apollo inside the Castel Sant' Angelo in Rome, Italy

Other highlights include the dank Staircase of Alexander VI, the vaulted Hall of Apollo, and the beautiful courtyards.

Practical Information for Visiting Castel Sant’ Angelo

Castel Sant’ Angelo is open Tuesday-Sunday from 09:00-19:30 (the last admission is at 18:30). The entrance costs 12 EUR. No reservation is necessary. If you would like to avoid long queues, you can purchase a skip-the-line ticket.

6. Via dei Coronari

Beautiful streets in Rome, Italy: Woman posing for a photo on the lovely Via dei Coronari in the afternoon

Make your way across the Tiber to one of the most enchanting streets in Rome, the Via dei Coronari. Closed to traffic, this postcard-perfect cobbled street offers travelers a quieter break from the busy throngs of tourist-filled places of the bustling historic center making it one of the best photo spots in Rome. 

The street was formerly a pilgrim route to the Vatican and gets its name from the rosary sellers (coronari) who used to hawk their wares to pilgrims as they passed en route to St Peter’s Basilica.

Today, it’s the hub of Rome’s antique trade and is lined with specialty restoration and antique stores, intersected by dozens of quaint alleys. The street maintains the character of an Italian Renaissance street and still has many original buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries.

7. Gelato at Gelateria del Teatro

Sure, you’re obviously going to love the history, art, and architecture in the Eternal City, but one thing that qualifies as an absolutely must-do in Rome is tasting gelato, that heavenly Italian frozen dessert.

A winning location and creative flavors combine to make Gelateria del Teatro one of the best gelato shops in Rome. A true artisanal gelateria, the gelato here is light and fluffy, low in sugar, and also free from emulsifiers and artificial flavors. It’s (almost) completely sin-free 😉

8. Piazza Navona

Places to visit in Rome, Italy: People in the popular Piazza Navona on a sunny winter afternoon

Almost every visitor who steps foot in Rome inevitably finds themselves at Piazza Navona, undoubtedly the city’s most famous piazza. Often teeming with locals, tourists, artists, and pigeons, Piazza Navona is Rome at its most characteristic with its showy fountains, exuberant pastel-colored baroque palaces, and busy pavement cafes.

Similar to many famous places in Rome, the site on which Piazza Navona now stands was the location of a stadium constructed for Emperor Domitian in the 1st century AD. It was magnificently refurbished in Baroque style by Pope Innocent X in the 17th century.

The famous Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona, Rome at dawn

Piazza Navona is famous for its trio of splashing fountains, the most celebrated of which is the lovely Fountain of Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi). The monumental allegorical sculptures ringing Bernini’s theatrical centerpiece symbolize four rivers representing the continents – the Ganges (Asia), the Danube (Europe), Rio de la Plata (the Americas), and the Nile (Africa).

Pull up a chair in one of the lively bars or cafes to enjoy a cappuccino or a drink and indulge in unparalleled people-watching in Piazza Navona.

Day 3 in Rome

Day 3 of this ‘Rome in 3 days itinerary’ covers the parts of the historic center, Villa Borghese, the Tridente area (the northern part of Rome’s city center), and the quaint Travestere neighborhood.

1. Campo de’ Fiori

Rome landmarks: Numerous vegetable and fruit stalls in Campo de' Fiori in Rome, Italy

Start your day early by heading to the vibrant Campo de’ Fiori square. A lively fruit and vegetable market in the morning (Monday–Saturday 07:00-14:00) and a trendy meeting place the rest of the day (and night). 

The square’s name refers to the ‘field of flowers’ because the space used to be a meadow that sloped down towards the Tiber River. Surrounded by restaurants, cafés, food shops, bakeries, and much more, Campo de’ Fiori is in many ways Rome’s most appealing square.

The numerous stalls at Campo de’ Fiori are filled with fresh produce, cheese, meats, fresh fish, flowers, and more. It’s a real feast for eyes and palate! You could even pick up a souvenir or two here.

Given its convivial atmosphere today it’s hard to believe that Campo de’ Fiori had a reputation for being a carnal, pagan place and was once a site of public executions. In 1600, the famous Italian polymath Giordano Bruno was notoriously burnt at the stake here for claiming that the earth was not the center of the universe but revolved around the sun.

2. Jewish Ghetto

A narrow, cobblestone street in the Jewish Ghetto of Rome, Italy

Although the Jewish Ghetto is sometimes mentioned as one of the off-the-beaten-path places, it’s really not as it’s located smack in the historic center. It is certainly one of the more unique Rome neighborhoods though.

With the first wave of Jewish settlers coming in the 2nd century BC, Rome is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world outside of the Middle East. 

Rome’s Jewish Ghetto was designated during the Italian Renaissance when Pope Paul IV issued a series of punitive laws that forced them into what was then one of Rome’s most squalid districts. Only after Italian unification did the ghetto open up in 1870.

The Jewish population in Rome currently numbers about 15,000 (though only a few hundred remain in the Ghetto). The Ghetto, while mostly a Jewish neighborhood in name only, remains the spiritual and cultural home of Rome’s Jews, and that proud heritage permeates its small commercial area of Judaica shops, kosher bakeries, and restaurants.

Though there are a couple of worthwhile things to see in the Jewish Ghetto like the Portico of Octavia and Palazzo Mattei di Giove, it’s best to just amble about the colorful hodgepodge of narrow streets and admire the occasionally derelict buildings.

Pro Tip

Head to the delightful Pasticceria Boccione for some authentic Jewish-Roman-style tarts.

The Jewish Ghetto of Rome consists of roughly only four blocks and lies in the area between Largo di Torre Argentina, the Tiber River, Via Arenula, and the Marcello Theater.

3. Borghese Gallery

Visit Rome: The beautiful facade of the Borghese Gallery on a sunny afternoon

No list of Rome attractions would be complete without including the spectacular Borghese Gallery (Galleria Borghese). Even if you aren’t an art aficionado, the Borghese Gallery is most certainly worth visiting and shouldn’t be missed.

Containing what is often referred to as the “queen of all private art collections”, the Borghese Gallery is filled with sublime Baroque and Renaissance works by stalwarts such as Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian, Rubens, Canova, and Raphael. 

The Borghese Gallery is housed in an elegant 17th-century palace and is divided into two parts: the ground-floor museum and the upstairs picture gallery. The following are some of the must-see Borghese Gallery highlights:

Antonio Canova's famous Venus Victrix (Pauline Borghese) sculpture inside the Borghese Gallery in Rome, Italy

1. Venus Victrix (Pauline Borghese): Napoleon’s sister almost went the full monty for this sculpture by Antonio Canova. Swathed in classical drapery, Pauline reclines half-naked on a Roman sofa and strikes the pose of Venus as the conqueror of men’s hearts.

2. Apollo and Daphne: Arguably the highlight of the entire Borghese Gallery collection, Bernini’s most famous masterpiece is a breathtaking sculpture that magically captures the moment when Daphne, fleeing from Apollo, transforms into a tree.

Various artworks on display inside the Borghese Gallery in Rome, Italy

3. Deposition: The breakthrough painting of Raphael’s career, this famous renaissance painting depicts the deposition, lamentation, and entombment of Christ.

4. David with the Head of Goliath: With six of Caravaggio’s paintings, the Borghese Gallery is home to the greatest collection of Caravaggio anywhere in the world. While they are all great, David with the Head of Goliath is the stand-out one here.

In it, David displays the severed head of Goliath, having conquered his superior foe. Caravaggio painted his own face on the grisly Goliath. The grisly Goliath bears a striking resemblance to Caravaggio and is believed to be a self-portrait.

5. Sacred and Profane Love: This mysterious and yet-unsolved image by Titian with two female figures – one semi-nude, one clothed is one of the best things to see at the Borghese Gallery.

Bernini's incredibly lifelike 'Rape of Proserpina' sculpture inside the Borghese Gallery in Rome, Italy

6. The Rape of Proserpina: No visit to the Borghese Gallery would be complete without seeing this virtuosic work that depicts the story of the abduction to the underworld of the beautiful nymph Proserpina, daughter of Gaia, goddess of the earth.

The sculpture seems even more remarkable when you pay attention to specific details – the contorted bodies, or Pluto’s strong fingers sinking into Proserpina’s soft flesh as she struggles to break free of his grasp. You really wonder if this is marble or flesh!

Apart from the splendid collection of sculptures and paintings, the Borghese Gallery is a work of art in itself. Don’t forget to admire its decorative ensemble of antique marbles, inlays, mosaics, stuccoes, and inserts.

Practical Information for Visiting the Borghese Gallery

The Borghese Gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday from 09:00-19:00 (last entry at 17:45). You can only visit the Borghese Gallery with a reservation. This means you can’t just turn up, buy a ticket, and walk in.

Reservations are made for two-hour time slots, starting at 09:00. Keep in mind that the Borghese Gallery is very popular, and with only 180 visitors allowed inside every two hours, places can get booked up quickly.

Tickets cost 15 EUR and can be booked through the official website. However, this is a little confusing and tickets are non-refundable. 

For an easier online ticketing option, you can also book your tickets through GetYourGuide or Tiqets. Even though they cost a bit more, this is an excellent way to buy tickets to the Borghese Gallery as it has more availability than the museum website. Plus, they offer free cancellation.

For a more immersive and insightful experience at the Borghese Gallery, consider booking a private guided tour.

4. Villa Borghese

Rome green spaces: A tree-lined avenue inside Villa Borghese, one of Rome's most famous parks

Rome’s premier green space, Villa Borghese is to the Eternal City what Central Park is to the Big Apple. Spread over 80 hectares of grass and woodland, the park is dotted with sculptures, monuments, fountains, gardens, sports facilities, cafes, and even features a small artificial lake.

Taking a leisurely stroll along Villa Borghese’s rolling hills and tree-lined avenues is about as near as you can get to peace in Rome. Some of the things not to miss at the park are the Villa Borghese Lake, the ingenious water clock, and the splendid Neoclassical faux- Temple of Aesculapius.

Villa Borghese is open 24/7 and is free to enter.

5. Pincio Terrace

Woman admiring the skyline of Rome from the Pincio Terrace viewpoint in Rome, Italy

If you want to capture Rome’s spirit in one gorgeous panorama, a visit to the hanging Pincio Terrace (Terrazza del Pincio) is a must. Presiding over the bustling Piazza del Popolo, the terrace offers sweeping views of the city’s domes and terracotta roofs. 

The Pincio Terrace is also rightfully regarded as one of the most romantic spots in Rome. The view is captivating and perfect for paramours planning a tryst.

Pincio Terrace is open 24/7 and is free to enter.

6. Spanish Steps

Must-see Rome: Man walking down the iconic Spanish Steps at sunrise

It’s not often that you get too pumped about a stairway, but then there aren’t many as enchanting and beautiful as the Spanish Steps. Compared to most of Rome’s other top attractions, the Spanish Steps are fairly new additions to the city, and yet they still predate the independence of the United States.

In spite of the name, the Spanish Steps were constructed in the 1720s by the French as a gateway to the magnificent Trinità dei Monti Church that rests atop the staircase. The Spanish Steps take their name from the square (Piazza di Spagna) below them, which in turn took its name from the nearby Spanish Embassy to the Holy See.

Having long been an inspiration for countless artists, musicians, and filmmakers, the Spanish Steps remain one of Rome’s most popular meeting points where locals and tourists come together.

Fun Fact

The Spanish Steps have been immortalized in several films, including the 1953 classic romantic comedy film Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck and 1999’s The Talented Mr. Ripley starring Matt Damon.

Fountains in Rome, Italy: The peculiar Barcaccia Fountain (Fontana della Barcaccia)

Don’t miss the peculiar Barcaccia Fountain at the foot of the stairs which features a sinking, flat-bottomed boat.

The Spanish Steps are free to visit 24/7.

Pro Tip

Feel free to walk in the footsteps of Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday but don’t sit down. Having undergone a major restoration in 2016, the once-popular art of lounging on the Spanish Steps is now strictly prohibited. Police officers patrol the steps and those caught transgressing risk a fine of 250 EUR, which can rise to 400 EUR if the steps are dirtied or damaged.

7. Trevi Fountain

Rome landmarks: The illuminated Trevi Fountain on a cloudy day in the evening

In a city spoilt with architectural wonders, the Trevi Fountain is able to stake a claim as being one of its most impressive sights.  Ensconced between three tiny streets (“tre vie”, which gives the fountain its name), the bubbly fountain is a dramatic aquatic marvel and a sight not to be missed while visiting Rome.

One of the first things that will catch your eye is the fountain’s sheer size, standing an enormous 26 meters in height and 49 meters in width. Famous for its intricate artwork decorated in the Baroque style, the Trevi Fountain was finished in the mid-1700s using Travertine stone from a nearby quarry.

The Trevi Fountain features the sea-god Oceanus, who is shown riding upon a shell-shaped chariot drawn by two powerful seahorses, both of which are tamed by a Triton. Notice how one horse is agitated, the other placid, symbolizing the duality of the sea, sometimes calm, sometimes turbulent.  

The Trevi Fountain has appeared in several films, including Roman Holiday (1953), the eponymous Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), and even The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003). Without a doubt, the most famous movie scene to feature the Trevi Fountain is Fellini’s classic La Dolce Vita (1960) in which Swedish bombshell Anita Ekberg waded into the Trevi wearing a strapless evening gown basking in the gushing water. 

Lastly, don’t forget to partake in the mandatory coin toss ritual.  Legend has it that if you turn your back to the Trevi Fountain and toss a coin over your shoulder, you will definitely return to the Eternal City.

The Trevi Fountain is free to visit 24/7. Expect to encounter large crowds unless you go before sunrise.

Pro Tip

Even though you might get the urge to emulate Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni’s famous Trevi dip in La Dolce Vita, be forewarned that police patrol the Trevi Fountain 24 hours a day to keep out movie buffs and splash-happy tourists alike. Transgressors risk a fine of up to 500 EUR.

8. Trastevere

People in Piazza di Santa Maria, the main square in Trastevere, Rome

Cap off your sightseeing of 3 days in Rome in the Bohemian neighborhood of Trastevere, Rome’s version of Greenwich Village. Set on the western bank of the Tiber River, Trastevere (whose name translates as “across the Tiber”) has historically always been seen as different from the rest of Rome.

The area has a long history as a neighborhood of outsiders and was for centuries heavily populated by immigrants. Over time, Trastevere’s separation from the rest of Rome resulted in the development of a number of its own customs and traditions.

Although Trastevere has become slightly gentrified and is no longer an undiscovered pocket of Rome, it has still managed to retain its idiosyncrasies and old-world charm that sets it apart from the rest of Rome. It remains one of Rome’s most consistently unchanged medieval neighborhoods.

A picturesque little alley in the neighborhood of Trastevere in Rome, Italy

One of the best things to do in Trastevere is to intentionally get lost and make your own discoveries on its boho-pretty cobbled streets. Keep your camera ready as you come across picturesque piazzas, jewel-box churches, time-burnished Romanesque façades, washing hanging from clotheslines, graffiti, and bougainvillea growing up the walls.

Trastevere is nowadays mainly a hub for eating out and nightlife, with a slew of top-notch bars and restaurants. It is thus the perfect place to embark on a Rome Street Food Tour.

9. Dinner

Some of the great places in Trastevere to have dinner are Ristorante Pinseria Da Massi, Tonnarello, and Otello.

Is the Roma Pass or the Omnia Card Worth It?

For sightseeing in Rome, the two most common travel passes that allow you to access the most important museums for free or at a discounted rate, as well as free access to public transportation are the Roma Pass and the Omnia Card

While some city passes can be great value for money options and save you a lot of hassles with dealing with bookings, we personally feel that neither the Roma Pass nor the more expensive Omnia Card are entirely convincing enough to buy. You’ll probably be better off buying tickets to the attractions individually.

Having said that, you MIGHT be able to get your money’s worth out of the passes, but it depends on what exactly you want to see, in what order, how many other museums or sites you will see, and how often you will use public transportation.

More Than 3 Days in Rome?

If you have more than 3 days in Rome, there are plenty of other things to do in the city. You could – 

Where To Stay in Rome

Being one of the major tourist centers in the world, Rome can offer a full range of accommodations. These range from basic budget accommodations with shared bathrooms to luxury accommodations that feature palatial settings, cloud-nine comfort, stunningly beautiful rooms, panoramic rooftop terraces, and award-winning restaurants.

Deciding a neighborhood to stay in in Rome is key before your trip. If a picturesque location is your main concern, stay in one of the small hotels around Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, or Campo de’ Fiori. Many boutique hotels can be found here, as well as a number of mid-range options.

If luxury is what you crave, head to Tridente and the area east of Via del Corso, towards Via Veneto and around the Spanish Steps, or beyond the city center, where price-to-quality ratios are high. 

The area around Termini Station, Rome’s main train station, is not the most attractive area, but it is well connected with the rest of the city by public transport and provides easy access to many of Rome’s top sights. Despite a few pricey choices, the area is most notable for its concentration of budget hotels and hostels.

Hostel: The RomeHello, funky and elegant, this snazzy hostel is one of the most popular hostels in town. Located just seven minutes on foot from the main train station (Termini), it is located within a 15-minute walk from the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps.

Budget: Hotel Mariano, a rather plain hotel with no-frills rooms and services within 5 minutes of Termini Station and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The rooms are modest but clean. Perfect for frugal-minded travelers who just want a good bed for the night.

Budget Plus: Hotel Nord Nuova Roma, an unpretentious choice within 5 minutes of Termini Station and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Midsize bedrooms are well maintained and conservatively decorated with comfortable yet simple furniture.

Mid-range: Argentina Residenza Style Hotel, situated in the heart of Rome, this chic boutique hotel is within an easy walk of many historical monuments of Rome, including Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum. Rooms are tastefully decorated and feature coffered ceilings.

Splurge: Baglioni Hotel Regina Rome, a sumptuous top-choice pick on the ritzy Via Veneto. The wonderfully decorated Art Deco rooms feature plush antique Italian furniture, Murano glass chandeliers, and silk tapestries.

Rome Travel Tips

In addition to the pointers I’ve already mentioned, here are some additional tips you should know for visiting Rome. 

1. Try to visit during the shoulder season: Visit Rome in April-May or October-November if you can as these months are generally a little less busy, but still have relatively decent weather. Prices are also cheaper, and everything is a little less overwhelming.

If possible, avoid visiting Rome in the summer from late-June to early-September when the crowds are at their fullest, hotel rooms are virtually at peak season, and the climate can be oppressively hot and muggy.

2. Book tickets and tours in advance: I cannot stress this enough but Rome is on everyone’s bucket list and chances are you’ll spend a better part of the day in queues if you do not pre-purchase your tickets in advance online. 

Although you will pay extra for a skip-the-line ticket, it’ll help make the most of your visit, rather than standing in 2-hour long queues to enter the most popular attractions.

We book virtually all of our tours and tickets through either Tiqets or GetYourGuide and highly recommend both companies.

3. Expect to encounter scaffolding: Restoration work is always taking place somewhere in Rome, and there is rarely any indication before you go in as to how much of the building is under wraps. It’s impossible to predict which buildings will be undergoing restoration in the near future so prepare to be disappointed – you are almost certain to come across scaffolding and barriers at some point.

4. Keep a close eye on your belongings:  Be aware of petty crime like pickpocketing, especially at railway stations, markets, and crowded sites. On public transport, particularly the tourist routes, hold your handbag or rucksack in front of you and be extra vigilant over your belongings when people are jostling to get on board.

5. Ditch the heels and get your walking shoes: The streets of Rome are unevenly paved and we strongly recommend wearing comfortable footwear as a day’s sightseeing can be wearisome.  Your feet will thank you by the end of the trip.

6. Don’t pay for water. Use the water fountains instead: One of the best things to know about Rome is that it’s not necessary to constantly buy plastic water bottles when you feel parched. Rome tap water is safe to drink and the city is full of drinking fountains, affectionately called “nasoni” or little noses.

The water from these water fountains is refreshingly cold!  Carry a reusable water bottle along with you as you explore Rome and fill up for free as you go.

7. Public toilets and accessibility: Public restrooms are few and far between in Rome. It’s just much easier to walk into a bar/cafe and use the toilet there. Of course, you’ll be expected to buy a little something—such as a bottle of water or espresso—in exchange for access to the facilities. 

In addition, toilets are free in museums and galleries.

8. Tipping: The bill usually includes service (servizio) of between 10 and 15 percent, but just ask if you’re not sure. Tipping is not obligatory, but it’s always appreciated. It’s customary to leave a small tip (from a euro to 10% of the bill) for the waiter, depending on the quality of service.  

It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers – rounding up to the next euro is enough. Keep small change handy for cleaners, housekeepers, doormen, and porters.

Further Reading For Your Rome Visit

That summarizes our definitive 3-day Rome itinerary. We reckon you’ll find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Rome!

More Information About Italy

Venice: Check out how to spend a perfect 3 days in Venice!

Venice: Find out the 30 best things to do in Venice!

Trieste: Discover the 18 best things to do in Trieste!

Naples: Uncover how to spend the perfect 24 hours in Naples!

Pompeii & Herculaneum: Find out everything you need to know about visiting Pompeii & Herculaneum on your own!


Now, what do you think? How would you spend 3 days in Rome? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

About Mihir

Hi there, I'm Mihir! I was born in India, raised there and in Australia before spending nearly a decade in Finland. I suffer from chronic fernweh and am always looking forward to a new adventure. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, craft beer, classic movies, history, cricket, and Australian Rules Football. Oh, there's also my partner in crime Jacky who's not too bad either 😉

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