In Rome for a short while and wondering what to do? Our carefully curated itinerary is designed to show you the best of Rome in 3 days, with the best of the city's culture and history, helping you make the most of every second of your vacation.
Rome in 3 Days: 10 Second Summary
Here's an easy way to go about Rome in 3 days. Cover Ancient Rome on Day 1, where you'll hit up the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palantine Hill and squeeze in a Roman Catacombs visit. On Day 2, put on your best shoes and walk through all of Central Rome - the Spanish Steps to Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and maybe a trip to Villa Borghese as well. Finally, on Day 3 in Rome visit the religious half of Rome, the Vatican City and explore the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica and conclude your day at Castel Sant’Angelo.
St. Peter's Basilica
Rome in 3 Days: A Detailed Itinerary
Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palantine Hill, Trastevere, Roman Catacombs
Exploring The Ancient Ruins Of Rome
Begin your first day in Rome at the most iconic symbol of the Eternal City - the Colosseum. The best part about the Colosseum is that it shares its neighborhood with the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, two of the oldest and most important historic sites in Rome. And it gets better - with a single ticket, you can access all 3 landmarks. To get the most of your first day, it is recommended you go for a guided tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. You will not only get to avoid the ticket queue at these landmarks, but also be in the company of a guide who will help you see all there is to see and learn about ancient Rome. After exploring the complex until you get your fill, you can head to the inconic Trevi Fountains.
• The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill share the grounds and neighbor each other.
• Trevi Fountain is situated 1.5 kms away and is a 10-minute journey on the metro from the Colosseum.
Colosseum (9:00 AM)
The Colosseum is perhaps the most recognized structure in all of Rome. This amphitheatre was used for gladiator contests and other public spectacles like animal fights, mock sea battles, etc. This oval amphitheatre, with ties to the Roman Catholic Church, was made entirely of sand, and could hold up to 80,000 spectators back in the day. At 157 feet, the Colosseum was also the tallest amphitheatre ever built, falling only 26 feet short of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Colosseum stands tall as an architectural marvel from a time long past and each nook and corner in its 6-acre area has a story to tell.
Traveler Tip : Do not visit the Colosseum on the first Sunday of the month. While it is free, thousands descend upon the premises and ruin the whole experience. You'll be rubbing shoulders with others and struggling to stand without being swayed in different directions. Cough up the few bucks and grab a skip the line ticket for an ideal visit.
Roman Forum ( 10:30 AM)
Then, head to the Roman Forum right outside the Colosseum. Once the city centre of Rome, the landmark looks strikingly similar to something straight out of a fantasy movie, with tall buildings, pillars, columns, arches, etc. Today, the Forum is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations. And while much of the Forum is in ruins, there’s still plenty left to admire, which is why over 4 million tourists visit it every year! The Forum holds remains of some iconic buildings like the Temple of Antoninus Pius, Temple of Castor and Pollex, and the Arch of Septimius Severus among others.
Palantine Hill ( 11:30 AM)
Having explored the heart of Ancient Rome, take a trip back in time to discover the birth of the city. Right in the middle of the seven hills of Rome, the Palatine Hill overlooks the Roman Forum on one side and the Circus Maximus on the other. There are numerous exciting legends associated with the Palatine Hill. One such legend is of when Hercules struck Cacus with his characteristic club. The blow was so hard that it formed a cleft on the southeast corner of the hill, where later a staircase bearing the name of Cacus was constructed. A visit to Palatine Hill gives you the opportunity to discover even more of such amazing legends.
Note: Tickets to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are mostly bundled together in a combo package. It is highly recommended to purchase them together for a better economical deal.
Trastevere ( 2:30 PM)
Conclude day 1 in Rome with a stroll around the local's favourite hub - Trastevere. From Vatican city, walk north on the Via della Lungara and you shall reach Trastevere in 15 minutes. Though you can walk around and experience the neighbourhood yourself, exploring the Trastevere neighbourhood with a local is a couthy experience that takes you through spots frequented by the the local Romans. You will get a chance to discover local tastes, learn about Italian cuisine and how it is more than just pizza and pasta. You'll witness a mix of Rome’s most famous food stops and family-run gems, where you’ll get to meet the passionate people whose dedication to this city's cuisine and traditions is fueled by their love for it. If time permits, you can also learn how to make carbonara at an exclusive masterclass!
Roman Catacombs (5:30 PM)
Peel off the many layers of Rome as you go underground to discover the ancient city. This unique tour showcases how the Eternal city developed through the ages and how many historic sites can be found below some of the historic sites. Some of the popular cataombs include the Catacombs of Domitilla and the Catacomb of Santa Priscilla. Some tours are paired in such a way that not only will you see the Catacombs, but also the Basilica San Clemente, a Roman Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Pope Clement I. A guided tour of the Catacombs is recommended as simply walking through the ruins without knowing the history is simply spooky. If you're a daredevil, sign up for the Catacombs and Crypt tour at night with exclusive after hour access!
Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Villa Borghese
Sauntering Through Central Rome
Your second day in Rome is all about walking. Strap on your best shoes, dress for the weather, carry a bottle of water and set out to take Rome by the stride. Central Rome also known as Centro Storico (Historic Center) lies on the banks of River Tiber, brimming with ruins, cobbled lanes and mouthsmacking gelato! Spend your day leisurely walking into the back lanes, and we urge you to get lost because you never know what you may bump into! If you're not much of a walker, you can do a segway tour or cycle tour around this area, however be prepared to brave and dodge crowds as these areas are mighty crowded during peak season.
Piazza Navona (10:30 AM)
Start your day after a hearty breakfast, around 10:30 AM and walk the length of one of Rome's most treasured squares, the Piazza Navona. Centered around 3 lavish fountains - Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro and Fontana di Nettuno ; Piazza Navona is a true example of a hive of activity. It flaunts Bernini sculptures, elaborate fountains, a magnificent church, colourful casts of street artists, quaint cafes and lots of open space, bathing in sunshine and brimming with tourists. If you like a slow start to your day, grab a coffee, catch a nook and spend an hour simply people watching. Locals like to call this place where the liveliness of Roman life is explicitly tangible and we absolutely agree.
Traveler Tip : Roasted chestnuts in Piazza Navona is a must!
Pantheon (11:30 AM)
The Pantheon is undoubtedly the best-preserved monument from Ancient Rome. Situated about 350 m away from Piazza Navona, a quick 5 minute walk will take you to this magnanimous structure, built around 126 AD! Pantheon in a Greek translates to “Honor all Gods” and was first built as a temple to all gods. While the exact age of the Pantheon remains unknown, legend goes that it was built on the very site where Romulus, the mythological founder of Rome ascended from heaven. If you're a Roman Mythology fan, a tour of the Pantheon is an absolute must! The Dome of the Pantheon, also known as the eye of the Pantheon or the oculus remains the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome till date! Once you step out of the Pantheon, make sure to see the “Fountain of the Pantheon” sculpted out of marble by Leonardo Sormani in 1575.
Traveler Tip : If you're interested in visiting the Pantheon with no or less crowds, push your visit to an hour before closing (6:00 PM). Make sure you are not too late as they don’t let people in just before the closing time, but once inside you can stay till it closes and everyone leaves.
Trevi Fountain ( 12:30 PM)
Next, make your way to one what's considered to be one of the most famous fountains in the world. The Fontana di Trevi, or Trevi Fountain, is one of the most breathtaking fountains and stands out starkly from the other 1,352 fountains in Rome. Designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi, it makes for a great sight at both day and night, but do be aware that it’s likely going to be crowded here at pretty much any time of day! Make sure follow through the age old tradition of tossing a coin into Trevi fountain. Legend goes that you will one day return to Rome if you stand with your back facing the fountain and flip a coin into the water, and you definitely want to return to the Eternal city. Right?!
Spanish Steps (2:00 PM)
The Spanish Steps constructed in 1725, earns its moniker from the Spanish embassay that stands on the on the square, also known as Piazza Spagna, or Spanish Square. The steps lead from the baroque fountain - Fontana della Barcaccia at the base, up to the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. It's passport to fame was when the 1953 film, Roman Holiday featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck shows a scene here. After the movie, pretty much everyone came searching for these steps and have their Audrey Hepburn moment here. The steps are free to visit, and a photo of you on them (ideally eating gelato), is pretty much a staple when visiting Rome!
Traveler Tip : If you're a John Keats fan, you can visit the house he lived and died at near the Spanish Steps. At the corner on the right as one begins to climb the steps, you will find a house converted museum dedicated to his memory, full of memorabilia of the English Romantic generation.
Villa Borghese & Borghese Gardens (4:00 PM)
The Borghese Gallery is a dream come true for art lovers who want to admire Roman art without having to deal with the massive crowds in popular tourist attractions like Vatican Museums. The building that houses the Borghese Gallery is a work of the architect Flaminio Ponzio that for order of Cardinal Borghese began its construction in 1612. The Galleria Borghese, or Borghese Gallery, features one of the world’s greatest private art collections assembled by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 17th century in his Roman garden villa. The collection is rich in ancient Roman, Renaissance, and Baroque art, with major works by Bernini, Titian, Caravaggio, Raphael, Correggio, Rubens, and Canova.
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Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St.Peter's Basilica, Necropolis, Castel Sant’Angelo
Discovering The Vatican City Jewels
No visit to Rome is complete without visiting the Vatican City. The three main attractions in Vatican City are the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel (part of the Vatican Museums) and St. Peter's Basilica. It is advisable that you begin your day at the Vatican Museums since it gets extremely crowded as the day goes on. You not only get to avoid the queue, but also get to enjoy the museum and its collection in peace. After the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, you can head to St. Peter's Basilica.
Entrance to St. Peter's Basilica is free, however, it gets extremely crowded and an inevitable queue forms at the entrance. To avoid this, it is recommended you go for a combo guided tour that allows you to tour the Vatican Museums with a guide and then, using a backdoor access, enter St. Peter's Basilica, thus avoiding the huge crowd it faces.
Vatican Museum ( 9:00 AM)
Begin your second day at arguably one of the most important museums in Europe, the Vatican Museums. A collection of almost 20,000 pieces of art, the Vatican Museum is undeniably one of the most impressive displays of art in the world. When you visit the Vatican Museums, you’ll be spending a considerable amount of time visiting all the art galleries, especially since the total length of the Museums comes up to a massive 9 miles!
The museums have many classical sculptures, tapestries, and paintings by Renaissance greats such as Raphael, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Bernini and Leonardo da Vinci on display throughout all 54 galleries. The Vatican Museums also have a collection of Modern Religious Art with paintings and sculptures from artists like Carlo Carrà, Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dalí, and Pablo Picasso.
Sistine Chapel ( 10:30 AM)
The Sistine Chapel, although a part of the Vatican Museums, deserves a special mention just because of how spellbinding it is! All tickets to the Vatican Museums get you access to the Sistine Chapel. Typically considered one of Michelangelo's finest work, it’s a certified highlight of a trip to Vatican City. The Sistine Chapel, situated in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, is the last room you would visit while on your Vatican Museums tour. Michelangelo's frescoes on the ceiling and the altar are the most famous paintings in the Sistine Chapel. The Last Judgement Altar Fresco and The North Wall of the Sistine Chapel are also a must-see here.
St. Peter's Basilica ( 11:30 AM)
Next, head to the grand St. Peter's Basilica, the biggest church in the world. This beautiful landmark was the primary creation of Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini and rests atop the tomb of St. Peter. Situated on Vatican Hill, St Peter’s Basilica dominates the skyline of Rome. It has a capacity of over 60,000 people, covers 22,300 square meters and is one of the world’s largest churches. There are two levels below St Peter’s Basilica; the first level is known as the Vatican Grottoes, and is a large underground graveyard where the tombs of 91 Popes are buried. The level below this is the Vatican Necropolis and houses St Peter’s Tomb.
Vatican Necropolis ( 12:30 PM)
Two floors under the massive St. Peter’s Basilica lies hidden one of the Vatican’s best kept secrets: the partially excavated Roman Necropolis — a dark city of house-like mausoleums placed along the narrow, dark streets, and adorned with frescoes, inscriptions, and stucco decorations. It was here that, in the early 1940s, a grave was excavated, inscribed with the words “Petros Eni” (Peter lies here) in Greek, which was the language of early Christian community from the Eastern Roman Empire. Inside, the remains of a tall man were discovered, claimed today by the Vatican as the bones of St. Peter, one of the original Apostles.
Castel Sant’Angelo ( 2:30 PM)
Originally built as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian, the Castel Sant’Angelo also known as the Hadrian’s Tomb sits on the banks of River Tiber and is one of the oldest buildings in Rome. From its construction to date, it has evolved from being a tomb, to a fortress, to a castle, and finally, a museum. Today it is open to the public, and you can climb right to the top from where you can experience gorgeous views of the city.
Traveler Tip : Note, from spring to fall, last admission to Castel Sant’Angelo is at 6:00 PM. During winters, last admission is around 1:00 PM, so plan your visit accordingly if you're visiting Rome in winter.
A Map of Activities to Cover in Rome in 3 Days Map
Spend 3 Days in Rome Under 190 Euros
Barring your accomodation and food expenses, here's an approximate of how much you'll spend in Rome over 3 days. Headout guarantees the best price on the internet, so simply buy your attraction tickets from the Headout website and get 5% Cashbacks and 6 Euros Discounts on every other purchase!
Day 1 : Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palantine Hill, Trastevere,
Day 2 : Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps,
Day 3 : Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, St.Peter's Basilica,
Vatican Necropolis, Castel Sant’Angelo
Book your Rome Attractions tickets on Headout, and spend just €187 on your 3 day vacation in Rome! Hit up all the prime attractions in the Eternal city and save more while you explore more.
Tips & Hacks For Making The Best of 3 Days in Rome
- Invest in Skip the Line tickets : Would you rather spend 2 hours standing in queues or invest those 2 hours sauntering the length of Rome? For the obvious choice, invest a little extra for skip the line tickets and you can thank us later! Our mantra is Skip the Line or Skip the Attraction. We'd rather you spend your time getting to know the city than standing in excruciatingly long queues.
- Eat like a local : While Tripadvisor will give you a list of the most popular and highly rated restaurants, you must know that most of these restaurants are a tourist trap and can be quite hefty on the pocket. While Italy is all about the food, getting the right food can be a task. Head where the locals flocks and you can bite into some actually authentic Italian grub. If you're interested in squeezing in local food tour on your 3 day trip, check out our list of the Top Local Food Tours in Rome.
- Bike it, Segway it : While we are all in for walking, unfortunately it takes up a lot of time and tires you out quite fast. Why not segway through the city or maybe hire a cycle and peddle through the lanes? You can cover more grounds and it's honestly quite fun too! Here's our selection of the best bike tour and segway tour in all of Rome. Grab them from Headout and get an extra 5% off too!
- The all new Walk On Walk Off Pass : This is a fairly new concept and we are completely blown by it ( you will be too!) .The Flexible Rome Walk On Walk off Tour Pass allows you to unlock Rome through a selection of 10 thoughtfully curated tours with relaxed guided strolls through the history seeped lanes of Rome with an expert local guide by your side. It's economical and the tours are quite off-beat! If you like exploring a city on foot, nothing gets better. Check out our review of the Walk On Walk Off Pass.
- Beware of Scamsters : Rome is infamous for its scamsters and fraudsters, so, keep an eye out for your belongings and keep them near and close. Don’t accept flowers, crafts or anything at all from strangers as you will be forced to pay for merely touching it.
- Water Fountains over Water Bottles : There are many non-decorative fountains along the streets with free-flowing water. This water is perfectly safe to drink , so bring your water bottles and fill them up from here, rather than buying bottles which will run your budget up ( Water is funnily more expensive than beer !)
- No Cappuccinos after 11 AM : While this may sounds really queer, Italians don’t drink cappuccinos after 11 AM. Order an espresso to shun funny looks.
- Mondays are slow : Most museums and sites are closed on Mondays, so if you're in Rome on a Monday, make sure you have a Plan B of things to do.
- Stand at the bar : When ordering a meal, understand there will normally be two prices on the menu – one for standing at the bar/counter, and one for sitting down at a table. It’s obviously cheaper to order while standing at the bar so go for that if you're on a budget.