The Ultimate 3 Days in Rome Guide: How To See It All!
Rome is one of those places that’s on everybody’s bucket list. With so much to see and so much to do, it can get very overwhelming if you’re only there for a couple of days. This Ultimate 3 Days in Rome Guide focuses on the must-see sites and areas of Rome, including the Colosseum, the Vatican, Trevi Fountain etc., whilst giving you enough free time to explore the ancient streets of Rome. I have also included our favorite restaurants, aperitivo bars, and gelaterias!
This Ultimate 3 Days in Rome Guide has been personally tried and tested by myself on my trip to Rome with my husband. We both left happy and content, feeling we saw everything and had a great trip.
Before We Begin, Let’s Talk Essentials
- Don’t visit attractions on the first Sunday of the month. Admission is free but they are incredibly crowded!
- Always wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking a lot!
- Bring a water bottle with you when exploring. You can fill them up on water fountains all over the city for free!
- Roma Pass is a great option if you will be using a lot of public transport. If you stay in the center of Rome, however, you can get pretty much everywhere on foot.
- Recommended hotels in the heart of Rome: Victory Suite (budget), Romantic Navona Nest (mid-range), Eitch Borromini (luxury).
Day 1 – It’s All Ancient History
Start at the Roman Forum as soon as it opens at 9 o’clock. Tickets cost €12 per person and include the Palatine Hill and Colosseum. This ticket is also valid for two days. I recommend purchasing the tickets in advance to avoid the long lines.
When walking across the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, you can choose to get a guide as there aren’t a lot of information signs around the ruins. However, we didn’t choose to have a guide and still had a great time figuring it all out and taking in this amazing area of Rome.
If you want to get all the inside tips and information about the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Colosseum, I recommend this 3-hour guided tour with a professional guide and the ability to skip the line.
Continue your walk over to Piazza Venezia and take in the impressive square. Navigate to the Pantheon and you’ll pass countless little cobblestone roads in charming areas of Rome along your way. Grab some gelato on the way at one of the many gelaterias.
Once you’re at the Pantheon, admire it from outside and even walk around it a little to explore. It doesn’t look that big standing right in front of it but you’ll realize its true size when circling around it. Admission to the inside of the Pantheon is free. Don’t forget to look up to admire the hole in the ceiling, the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
One of the best areas to explore in the evening in Rome is the charming neighborhood of Trastevere. To get there, take a stroll over the river Tiber and head to Piazza Trilussa. A lot of people head here to listen to great busking or chat with friends.
Not too far from here is one of my favorite restaurants in Rome, Osteria Da Zi Umberto. I would advise you grab the delicious Cacio e Pepe here, a must-eat pasta dish when in Rome. If you want something a little bit different, take part in an authentic Rome home dining experience. You dine at a local’s house with other travelers and have true Roman Dinner!If you’re in Rome between July and August, head to the Tiber Banks as the Annual Lungo Di Tevere Festival will be held. There are food stalls, markets, and music from in the evening until late at night!
Day 2 – Vatican Museums & St. Peter’s Basilica
Once you get to Rome, you’ll realize that the Vatican actually comprises a couple of different sites, mainly the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. The museums and the chapel are in the same location but the basilica has a different entrance. It’s smart to purchase a skip-the-line ticket for both in order to avoid long lines. This saves you time and probably a sunburn because you’ll line up outside in the scorching heat (at least in summer) often for an hour or two.
Das skip-the-line ticket for the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel costs $42 per person and gets you access without waiting. It doesn’t include a tour, however. If you wish to book a tour and don’t want to stand in line, for only $12 more, you can purchase the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica Tour for $56.
You’ll easily spend 3 hours enjoying the museum and Sistine Chapel. The chapel is the final stop of the Vatican Museums and it’s the only place at the Vatican where you are not allowed to take photos. However, take your time and really admire the impressive frescos by no one other than Michelangelo, including the world-famous fresco The Creation of Adam. You can spot it in the center of the ceiling.
I also highly recommend heading up the copula at St. Peter’s Basilica to get the iconic view of St. Peter’s Square. This will cost you an additional 10 EUR but it’s absolutely worth it. Before you leave the Vatican, send a postcard home from the Vatican post office and take a picture of the Swiss guards right next to it.
By the time you’re done exploring the Vatican, it’s most likely already afternoon – and you’re going to be starving! There are a couple of good restaurants nearby. One of the most popular ones is Bonci Pizzarium, Rome’s acclaimed best sliced pizza. There are plenty of varieties for all tastes and the pizza is cut with scissors and the price is set by weight.
After the pizza, walk back towards the Vatican and you’ll pass Old Bridge Gelateria, one of the best gelato joints in the city. Try some of the all-time favorites like lemon and stracciatella or explore some of their daily flavors.
Head to the Spanish Steps and explore this buzzing shopping area of Rome. Stores are open late until 8 or even 9 PM. Piazza di Spagna, on the foot of the steps, boasts a large fountain called “Fontana della Barcaccia” (Fountain of the Boat) commissioned by the Pope in 1623 to Bernini. I also loved the Column of the Immaculate Conception depicting Virgin Mary to the right of the fountain when looking at the steps. Every year, Roman firemen offer a wreath of flowers to the sculpture by Giuseppe Obici.
This area is also perfect for having aperitivo, a drink and/or a light meal at the end of the workday as a kind of warm up to dinner. I highly recommend Ginger, where we had 2 Aperol spritz for 10 EUR each and were served light snacks along with it for free. The drinks were delicious and the food fresh.
Day 3 – Do as the Romans Do…
Start the morning with an #instagramworthy breakfast at Piazza Navona. Le Panier is a popular breakfast delivery service but now also serves delicious breakfast right in Piazza Navona. They have lip-smacking options like waffles with fresh fruit and panco, a combination of a pancake and a taco, and delicious coffee.
Next stop: Trevi Fountain. On your way over, you’ll also pass the Pantheon again. It’s best to arrive at the fountain as early as possible to avoid the crowds. While I knew that the Trevi Fountain was a beautiful attraction in Rome, it was a lot more impressive when standing in front of it. It’s truly huge and stunning. Don’t forget to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain to make sure you’ll return to Rome one day!
Bonus tip: If you really want to avoid the crowds at the Trevi Fountain (and at the Pantheon actually), head there right after sunrise. I was there at 6:30 and there were only a few people there. I really had time to get great shots and admire the intricate structure without any people bothering me.
Last Lunch in Rome
Before heading to the airport and back home, grab some lunch at the amazing Cantina e Cucina on Via del Governo Vecchio. This stunning little hosteria and pizzeria is known for its delicious pasta dishes. The entire atmosphere of the place is truly Italian, yet modern and hip. A true gem and a must-try when in Rome!
Afternoon: Back To the Airport
Heading back to the airport is super simple and fast. Take the Leonardo Express train from Rome Termini nonstop to Fiumicino International Airport “Leonardo da Vinci”. The ticket will cost you 14 EUR one way and the ride only takes 32 minutes. The bonus: you’ll see some interesting outskirts of Rome along the way!
Recommended Hotels in Rome
The hotels recommended below are hotels I have personally stayed at and recommend to other travelers.
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