Rome, the eternal city that is on everyone's bucket lists. A city so steeped in history, it's literally the Holy Grail for History Lovers but there is way too much to fit in, especially in a few days. However, you can see all the must-see attractions of Rome in three days.
With so many things to do, I have narrowed it down to the Must See sites and areas of Rome, like the Colosseum, the Vatican, Trevi Fountain etc, whilst scheduling free time for you to wander the ancient streets of Rome.
This three days in Rome guide has been personally tried and tested twice with two different groups of people and we managed to do all of the following sites/areas with time to spare for much gelato and vino!
Before we begin, let's talk essentials
Avoid Attractions on the First Sunday of the month as they are free - meaning lots of tourists
Wear the most comfortable shoes you own, you're going to need them
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 for a real locals experience. *Hotel Santa Maria or Residenza San Calisto are both great options with that typical Roman decor we all know and love. Want to be in the heart of the historic centre, if you're splashing out try Palazzo Navona Hotel or want more for your money head to the incredibly chic The Inn at the Roman Forum. If you are not sure where to book a hotel, read my Guide to the best affordable luxury hotels in each neighbourhood here
Never eat near to a historic site, the prices are extortionate. Explore into the back streets or a few blocks away, you'll get a better service, tastier food and more for your money.
If you are not sure where to book a hotel, read my Guide to the best affordable luxury hotels in each neighbourhood here
Andiamo a Roma (Let's go to Rome!)
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.
I would advise you grab a bite to eat here. Da Enzo or La Tavernaccia are my go to restaurants! If you want something a little bit different check out Federica & Barbara of BB Kitchen . You can dine at their house with other travellers and have an authentic Roman Dinner.
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.
Haven't got long? Download your free copy of my Must See Guide to Rome now, print it off and take it with you!
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) €33 each - both include Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Paul's Basilica.
Spend 3 hours enjoying the Museum. You can send a postcard home from the Vatican post office which always goes down a treat back home.
Walk up from the Vatican to the Castel Sant'Angelo, Hadrian's Mausoleum. It 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 and a wonderful picture of Rome.
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, it's worth checking 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. Looking for somewhere to eat, Il Gabriello was stunning, hidden down stairs in a vaulted room, it had romance and delicious fresh pasta.
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.
Things to do near Rome?
- Cycle the Appian Way and visit the Catacombs
- Visit Ostia Antica
- Day Trip to Pompeii. Check out my Top Tips here
- Siena or Florence
- How about combining your trip with Venice? You can take a high speed train to Venice which takes 3 hours!
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
Get in the mood and watch some Films, From Rome with Love and A Roman Holiday are two of my faves.
Where to stay in Rome - my guide to the best affordable luxury hotels to stay in Rome.
I usually use Booking.com for hotels as they offer the secure now, pay later scheme which gives me flexibility. Tap your dates into the search bar below and see if you can snag yourself a great deal!
* Disclaimer: I have added affiliate links to this post, which means if you click and book I will earn a little commission which means I get to write these guides for you :) I have asterisked the links to make you aware, thanks for booking!
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