So I have a degree in History and Ancient History so clearly I tend to gravitate toward historical Sites. Rome is literally the Holy Grail for History Lovers but there is almost too much to fit in. Crazy, I know.
I have created a three day Itinerary which I have personally tried and tested twice before with two different groups of people and we managed to do all of the following sites/areas with time to spare. Warning: if you have what I like to call a Moody Michael who hates walking...prepare for them to be very moody indeed. There's a lot of walking required but it is worth it.
Start at the Colosseum as soon as it opens, tickets cost €12 per person, valid for two days and include the Roman Forum as well; buy the tickets before you go to avoid the huge queues. Do not buy the Audio Guide! A waste of money, get yourself on a €5 guided tour instead.
Walk across to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, make sure you have a guide as there are a lot of ruins and not much in the way of information so it's best to get an expert who can bring it all to life for you. Otherwise, you will find it mind-numingly boring, and I do not want that for you as it's actually a really interesting area of Rome.
Walk up the Via Dei Fori Imperiali, to the Piazza Venezia. Walk to the top of the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument for a great view of Rome. You now have a few options:
1. Capitoline Museum - home to Rome's most precious artefacts, including this iconic statue:
2. Head round the side of Vittorio Emanuele, there are some Roman Tenant blocks still standing which no one ever notices. (I love looking at these as it makes you appreciate the genius of the Roman Engineers to create these huge tenant blocks). Carry on down this road to the Theatre of Marcello and the Cat Sanctuary.
Take a stroll over Tiber Island to the wonderful neighbourhood of Trastevere. My favourite area of Rome. Visit the Santa Maria Church then take a seat in the square with a Prosecco or cocktail and watch the world go by.
If you visit in July - August, make your way to the Tiber Banks as the Annual Lungo Di Tevere Festival will be open. Food, Market and Craft Stalls line the banks, it's buzzing all night.
It's time to hit the Vatican and it's museums. Make sure you buy your tour and tickets online before you go, the queues here are horrendous. General Admission €16, however, there are small group tours (16 people max) €20 each - both include Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Paul's Basilica.
Spend a good 3 hours enjoying the Museum. You can send a postcard home from the Vatican post office.
Walk up from the Vatican to the Castel Sant'Angelo, Hadrian's Mausoleum. Costs €10.50 to enter here. It's an impressive monument and once you have ascended the 400ft Spiral ramp you get some amazing views of the Vatican.
It's worth noting that the Bridge of Angels, opposite the Castel Sant'Angelo (you cannot miss it), looks stunning at night, so if you are in the area, make sure you go and take a picture.
As I love history, I always direct people to the Ara Pacis, Augustus' mausoleum. The craftsmanship of this tomb is sensational and considering he was the greatest Emperor, in my humble opinion, go check it out. Admission costs €10.50 and it's not very big so you will only need 45 minutes at best.
Continue up to Piazza Del Popolo. Walk south to the main shopping area of Rome, stores are open late until 8pm so now is a great time to get into Nike, H & M etc. Enjoy the evening walking around this area.
Start the morning at Campo De Fiori to see the market place. Head on over to Piazza Navona and take in this once impressive Roman stadium! If you have a little bit of extra cash. have a morning coffee here and do a spot of people watching.
Make your way to the Pantheon, this is one of my favourite buildings, over two thousand years old and it still retains the title of the world's biggest unsupported dome. Impressive.
Now it's time to brave the crowds and see the Trevi Fountain! To be fair, it is worth the arging and barging to see this incredible piece of architecture. Just so you know, I've been to Rome three times and I have never once thrown a coin in the Trevi Fountain (I booked those flights each time without the help of a bloody fountain!) save those Euro's for an ice cream instead.
With your Gelato in hand walk up the Spanish Steps, head left until you reach the Borghese Gardens and the area named Pincio. Marvel at the Roman sky line, take some photos, wander around the beautiful gardens or visit the Borghese Galleries
So there you have it 3 days in Rome and you've covered all the major sites! You can spend the rest of your time as you like or maybe tick of some other sites like Trajan's Markets, Baths of Caracalla, or the Circus Maximus.
In Rome Longer?
- Cycle the Appian Way and visit the Catacombs
- Visit Ostia Antica
- Day Trip to Pompeii. Check out my Top Tips here
- Siena or Florence
- Avoid Attractions on the First Sunday of the month as they are free - meaning lots of tourists
- Take a water bottle with you as you fill up from fountains along the way
- Roma Pass is a great resource if you will be using a lot of public transport
- Stay in Trastevere area, I rented an Airbnb but there are some cute boutique hotels too
- Rome Tourism Board - the official board of Rome
- Rome.info - More historical information and what's on in Rome
- Italy Sightseeing - has free resources such as audio books that you can download
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