If you’re planning a dream vacation to Italy, figuring out what to do in Rome for 3 days might be a challenging task because let’s be real — this city simply has too much to offer. Perhaps I’m biased; after all, I did spend 12 years growing up in Rome. But this also means I’ve gotten to know the Eternal City like the back of my hand, which is why I’m sharing all the most worthwhile things to do there — from the classic must-see attractions to the hidden gems that most tourists miss.
This 3 days in Rome itinerary is not your typical tourist guide. It is packed with insider tips that will help you avoid tourist traps, discover incredible secret spots unknown to most travelers, find the best sunset spots, and enjoy Italian cuisine in the most locals-approved eateries. Yes, there are tons of yummy food recommendations in this guide, as well as tips on how to budget and skip the long lines! So without further ado, I hope you enjoy this unique local’s guide to Rome in three days.
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Planning the Perfect 3-Day Trip to Rome
- ✈️ Find the best flights to Rome with Expedia
- 📑 Get your Italy visa through iVisa if you don’t want to fill out the forms yourself
- 💸 Get reliable travel insurance from World Nomads
- 🚖 Book your private transfer from the airport to your hotel with Expedia or Get Your Guide
- 🏨 Find the best accommodations on Booking.com, Expedia, or Airbnb
- 🧔🏻 If you’d like a tour guide, here’s an awesome Ancient Rome full-day tour
- 🍕 If you love pizza and wine, join the best Rome wine-tasting & food tour
- 🚗 To rent a car to visit places outside of Rome, get great deals on Rentalcars.com
- 🎒 Pack an anti-theft backpack, a universal adapter, and a power bank
- 📚 Read SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome and Lonely Planet Rome (City Guide)
- 🇮🇹 Get familiar with these 65 interesting facts about Italy!
Rome for 3 Days: The Best 3 Days in Rome Itinerary
If you’re wondering how many days to spend in Rome in order to cover all the best things to do in Rome, 3 days is the minimum amount of time I’d recommend. There are simply too many historical attractions and cultural experiences to enjoy in this city that spending less time here would make your trip very rushed. If you want to have enough time to truly soak in the beauty and history of the attractions you see, then this 3 days Rome itinerary is perfect for you.
Day 1 in Rome: Centro Storico + Villa Borghese
1. Piazza Navona
Visit time: 30 mins – 1 hour
Suggested start time: 9 AM
Start your 3-day Rome itinerary with a stroll in one of the most magical squares in Centro Storico, the historic center of the city. The minute you step foot into Piazza Navona, the majestic monuments, stunning fountains, and artsy vibes inside this square will take your breath away. If you get there very early in the morning (before 8 am), you’ll also get to enjoy it with barely anyone around — just you and a few locals walking their dogs. Seeing the piazza practically empty is totally worth getting up early for; it seriously feels like walking into a beautiful painting!
At the center of the piazza is the impressive Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi designed by Bernini in 1651. This fountain showcases some truly amazing sculptural art, which is best admired with a gelato in hand — yes, there are plenty of gelaterias near this square! While in the past, Piazza Navona hosted festivals and sporting events, today, it’s a hub for street performers, artists, and musicians. The atmosphere in this square is especially lively during the day because of this, and you can even buy some charming paintings of Italy from the artists’ stands!
🍕 Insider Tip: You’ll see many restaurants inside Piazza Navona, and many waiters will try to lure you into them. The vast majority of the restaurants in this square are tourist traps — not authentic and excessively pricey as well. You’ll find plenty of great, authentic restaurants in the historic center, so I don’t recommend eating here.
Visit time: 20 mins
5 min walk from Piazza Navona
The Pantheon is one of the most well-preserved and ancient structures in the Eternal City, and it’s a staple of any 3-day itinerary for Rome. Completed between 126 – 128 AD, this Roman temple was dedicated to the gods of pagan Rome and was eventually converted to a Christian church. The architecture of the Pantheon is simply marvelous; so much so that when Michelangelo visited it, he famously said, “it was the design of angels, not of man”. To understand what he meant, take a walk inside this monument and admire the view from underneath its oculus — the central part of the dome which opens up to the sky!
Today, the Pantheon is also the burial place of important Italian figures such as Vittorio Emanuele II (the first king of Italy) and Renaissance artists like Raphael. This monument also continues to function as a church and Catholic Mass is regularly held there.
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday: 8:30 am - 7:15 pm | Sunday: 9 am - 5:45 pm Entrance fees: Free
3. Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill)
Visit time: 15 mins
13 min walk from Pantheon
At the top of the Capitoline Hill — the most important of Rome’s seven hills — lies Piazza del Campidoglio, the first modern square designed in the Eternal City (by no other than Michelangelo). This beautiful square is a lot quieter than most other attractions in Rome, and its magnificent sculptures of Marcus Aurelius and the she-wolf make it an even more interesting sight. Head to the back of the square for an incredible view of the Roman Forum (which you will visit on day 2 of this 3 days itinerary in Rome). If you’re a fan of art, sculptures, and paintings, you can also check out some exhibitions inside the Capitoline Museums which frame this square!
🎫 Please note: Visiting the Capitoline Museums will take roughly 1-2 hours, and doing so might mean you’ll miss out on other more worthwhile activities on day 1. I only recommend visiting these museums if you have more than 3 days in Rome or if you don’t plan on checking out Galleria Borghese, which is recommended for later on in the day. Personally (and according to most reviewers as well), Galleria Borghese is a lot more impressive, so I’d go with that if you had to choose.
Capitoline Museums opening hours: 9:30 am - 7:30 pm daily Capitoline Museums entrance fees: €15 ($17 USD) | Free with the Roma Pass or OMNIA Card
4. Altare della Patria (Piazza Venezia)
Visit time: 45 mins
4 min walk from Piazza del Campidoglio
Right next to Piazza del Campidoglio is one of the most majestic and eye-catching monuments in Rome: the Altare della Patria in Piazza Venezia. Inaugurated in 1911, this building was constructed as a tribute to Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy. Its beautiful architecture is bound to leave you speechless; you’ll see rows of Corinthian columns and endless stairs all made of stunning white marbles. Take a walk around Piazza Venezia to see and capture this grand monument from different angles, but don’t forget to climb up to its panoramic terrace (which can be done via elevators). The view of Rome’s historic center from there is definitely impressive!
Opening hours: 9:30 am – 7:30 pm daily (last admission at 6:45 pm) Entrance fees: Adults - €7 ($8.50 USD) | Youth under 18 & seniors over 65 - €3.50 ($4 USD)
5. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Visit time: 20 mins
18 min walk from Altare della Patria
The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of Rome’s four major basilicas as well as the largest church dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the capital. Unlike most other attractions in central Rome, this basilica is quite a hidden gem and usually isn’t very crowded — making it one of the most peaceful stops on your itinerary for 3 days in Rome. Built in the 4th century and renovated in the 18th century, this church showcases a stunning mix of different architectural styles such as Christian, Renaissance, and Baroque.
If you think the basilica’s exterior façade is impressive — just wait until you head inside. The gorgeous ceiling, ionic columns, and mosaic art inside this church are simply breathtaking. The coolest thing is that different parts of this basilica belong to different periods of Roman history. In fact, the architecture of this church is a manifestation of the development of Christian art in Rome!
Opening hours: 7 am – 6:30 pm daily Entrance fees: Adults - €3 ($3.50 USD) | Students & seniors over 65 - €2 ($2.30 USD)
6. Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain)
Visit time: 30 mins
19 min walk from Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Any trip to Rome would be utterly incomplete without a stop at the Trevi Fountain, the largest Baroque fountain in the Eternal City and undoubtedly, one of the most impressive sights in all of Italy. In fact, this is a monument that you can visit again and again, and yet still feel as though it’s the first time you’re laying eyes on it! At least that’s how I feel as a Roman myself.
A famous tradition when visiting the Trevi Fountain is to throw a coin into the water with your right hand over your left shoulder. Legend has it that tossing one coin means you’ll return to Rome; two coins — you’ll return and fall for an attractive Italian; three coins — you’ll end up marrying that person. Whether or not you believe this myth, the coins go towards a great cause at the end of the day! In fact, roughly 1 million euros worth of coins get collected from the fountain every year to be donated to local charities.
🌅 Top Tip: The Trevi Fountain is always swarming with tourists during the day, but come back very early in the morning — right after sunrise — and the atmosphere will be completely different. You’ll be able to enjoy this place in peace as there will only be a few other early risers around, and you’ll even get a chance to take pictures without people getting in the way!
🍕 Food Tip: Hungry? Avoid the tourist traps directly outside the Trevi Fountain. Instead, walk 5 mins to the locals-approved Ristorante Sora Lucia and enjoy their delicious carbonara and tiramisù.
7. Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps)
Visit time: 30 mins
10 min walk from Trevi Fountain
From the Trevi Fountain, head on north on Via del Corso to make your way to the iconic Spanish Steps, one of the most famous landmarks in Rome. I recommend walking through Via del Corso because it’s the most important shopping street in the historic center. Lined with fashion stores and a few gelaterias, the atmosphere there is incredibly lively, making it a great place to people-watch as well. You’ll spot local teenagers walking arm in arm, and incredibly stylish people who’ll make the whole street feel like a runway!
Once you reach the splendid Spanish Steps, take a moment to admire the Baroque-style Fontana della Barcaccia (“Fountain of the Leaky Boat”) at the foot of the square. This fountain was built to remember a particularly bad flood of the River Tiber in 1598 which left a boat behind in Piazza di Spagna once it ended.
It’s definitely worth climbing up the 174 steps to the top of the steps, where you’ll be greeted by artists painting portraits as well as the beautiful Trinità dei Monti Church, which is absolutely worth checking out. The view from the top is also incredible, but make sure to stop mid-way at the first terrace during your climb — you’ll get an amazing view of Via dei Condotti, the fashion shopping hub of Rome!
💸 Please note: As of 2019, it is no longer allowed to sit on the Spanish Steps (in order to preserve this UNESCO Heritage Site). You can also get fined up to €400 ($475 USD) if you’ve dirtied or damaged the steps in any way.
8. Villa Borghese & Galleria Borghese
Visit time: 2-3 hours
25 min walk from Spanish Steps
The next stop on your itinerary for Rome in 3 days is the most charming park in the city — Villa Borghese. Taking a stroll inside this peaceful park is a great way to escape the crowded and busy streets of the historic center. Lined with trees and green fields, Villa Borghese is also home to many beautiful Roman sculptures and fountains. Stop by the lake (Laghetto Di Villa Borghese) if you’d like to rent a boat and row around for an extra relaxing experience. Or, simply relax on one of the many benches around and take in the vibrant atmosphere of the park — local families with kids roaming around, skaters showing off their tricks, and young love blossoming in the corner.
🚴 Insider Tip: A really fun way to explore Villa Borghese is to rent a bike. This is especially refreshing to do in the summer to get some breeze! You can rent bikes in either Viale Goethe or Viale dell’Uccelliera — both locations are inside the park. You can choose between regular bikes, 2-people tandem bikes, and even 4-people quadricycles (perfect for families with kids)!
One of the main highlights of Villa Borghese is the Galleria Borghese (Borghese Gallery) at the eastern end of the park. This gallery and museum showcases an impressive collection of 15th – 18th century art, including masterpieces by famous painters such as Raphael, Botticelli, Caravaggio, and Tiziano. Walking around, you’ll see stunning frescoes on the walls and ceiling, breathtaking mosaics, and incredible sculptures by Bernini and Canova in each hall.
🎫 Important note: Galleria Borghese is very popular, so booking your visit in advance is mandatory — only visitors with a pre-paid ticket will be let in. To ensure tickets don’t sell out, I highly recommend booking your visit online a few days in advance. You can also reserve your ticket by calling +39 06 32810.
Galleria Borghese opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 9 am - 7 pm (last entry at 5 pm) | Closed on Mondays Galleria Borghese entrance fees: Regular - €13 ($15.50 USD) | Aged 18-25 - €2 ($2.30 USD) | Free with the Roma Pass or OMNIA Card (but still need to book the visit in advance)
9. Terrazza del Pincio – Sunset
Visit time: 20-30 mins
20 min walk or 10 min bike ride from Galleria Borghese
Villa Borghese has one more must-visit attraction for your three days in Rome itinerary: the magnificent Terrazza del Pincio, a terrace that offers the most spectacular view of Rome at sunset. Visiting this observation deck is an unforgettable experience. As the sky turns pink and orange and the city starts to light up, unwind to the fabulous view of Piazza del Popolo right beneath the terrace, the famous Altare della Patria rising above historic buildings, and the dome of the St. Peter’s Basilica far in the distance.
What makes this experience even more special are the talented musicians providing the perfect soundtrack to this surreal view. As someone who has watched this sunset countless times growing up, the experience still moves me profoundly to this day. It’s hard to stress just how magical the view paired with the live music is — it’s something you have to witness in person.
Check the sunset time in Rome so that you don’t miss this experience!
🍝 Food Tip: Antica Osteria Brunetti is just a 6-min walk from Terrazza del Pincio and unlike the many tourist traps in the area, they serve traditional authentic local dishes. Try their tonnarelli alla gricia and you’ll see what I mean!
10. Evening Walk in the Historic Center
Visit time: 1-2 hours
After dinner, you can easily revisit many of the places you saw during the day — this time, to see them lit up in all their glory in the dark. Aside from the sheer beauty of these monuments in the evenings, another advantage is that there are fewer people around at night, so the atmosphere is a lot calmer. Some of the key places to stroll by in the evening include the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Altare della Patria, and the Colosseum (which is on day 2 of this itinerary Rome 3 days). If you have extra time, head over to Piazza della Repubblica to see some more gorgeously lit up buildings and fountains!
🛵 Top Tip: Want to make your evening in Rome even more special? I suggest joining one of the many night tours of Rome to explore the city in unique ways! You can find everything from haunted tours to photography walks, as well as e-bike, segway, and Vespa tours!
Day 2 in Rome: Ancient Rome + Trastevere
Visit time: 1-2 hours
Suggested start time: 8 AM
Start the second day of your three days Rome itinerary by exploring the iconic symbol of the city — the majestic Colosseum. With almost 2,000 years of history, this monument provides an amazing glimpse into life during the ancient Roman Empire. After the Colosseum was built (between 72 AD and 80 AD), it became the greatest amphitheater in the Roman world and was the main entertainment hub of the Roman Empire. In fact, this venue could hold more than 50,000 people, who watched on as gladiators brutally fought exotic animals and each other in the arena. The games took place for over 500 years, and sadly, over 500,000 people and 1 million wild animals have lost their lives here.
Since the 6th century, the Colosseum suffered damages from earthquakes, lootings, and WWII bombings. That’s why only part of it is still standing today. Regardless, it’s listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions. What does this mean? Unless you book your ticket in advance, you’ll be standing in line for hours. But first, let’s look into why joining a guided tour is the best way to visit the Colosseum.
Why You Should Visit the Colosseum on a Guided Tour
Given the sheer amount of tourists visiting the Colosseum, there will always be a line at the entrance even if you book your tickets in advance. Discovering the Colosseum on a guided tour is the fastest way to get into the Colosseum and the best way to maximize your time: your guide will navigate you to all the key spots inside so you won’t have to spend time finding them. After all, if you can only visit Rome in 3 days, there’s very little time to waste 🙂
Moreover, your expert local guide will give you tons of fascinating information about the history of the Colosseum, allowing you to appreciate the most important site of Ancient Rome more in depth. Depending on the tour you book, you can also get exclusive access to restricted areas of the Colosseum such as the Arena and the Underground.
The 3 Best Guided Tours of the Colosseum
- Colosseum Underground, Roman Forum & Hill Tour — The most comprehensive tour of the Colosseum with exclusive access to the Underground, Arena, and the upper tiers, from where there’s a splendid view of the city.
- Colosseum, Arena Floor & Ancient Rome VIP Tour — Get exclusive access to the Arena floor and walk through the gladiators’ gate; imagine what it must have been like for them to step out under the eyes of thousands of noisy spectators. Visit the gladiators’ dungeons as well.
- Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill Tour — A regular Colosseum tour + a guided tour of the political, social, and religious hub of the Roman Empire + breathtaking views of the Colosseum from Palatine Hill.
Top Tips for Visiting the Colosseum Without a Guided Tour
- Buy your ticket in advance on the official website here — it’ll cost an extra €2 but can save you hours of waiting in line.
- The best time to visit the Colosseum is at 8:30 am, right when it opens. Reserve your timeslot when you book your ticket (it’s mandatory) and arrive at least 30 mins before opening time to get through the entrance faster.
- You can get free entry to the Colosseum with the Roma Pass, the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card, or the Best of Rome All Access Pass. It’s still mandatory to reserve your timeslot online in advance though. You can do so on the official website under the Roma Pass section.
- If tickets on the official website are sold out for the day you want to visit (yes, there is a cap on the number of visitors per day), don’t worry! You can still buy your ticket via Tiqets here.
- You’ll see considerably fewer crowds at the Colosseum from November to March (low season).
- Visiting with kids: Anyone under 18 gets free entry to the Colosseum, but their visit cannot be booked online. If you’re an adult who booked your ticket, your child will receive their free ticket when entering with you. If you’re under 18 and visiting without an adult, you’ll have to get your free ticket at the ticket office on-site (by standing in line).
Opening hours: 8:30 am to an hour before sunset, daily — check varying closing hours here Entrance fees: (Combined Colosseum + Roman Forum + Palatine Hill ticket) Regular - €16 ($19 USD) | EU citizens aged 18-25 - €2 ($2.30 USD) | Free for anyone under 18 years old
2. Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
Visit time: 1-2 hours
5 min walk from Colosseum
A ticket to the Colosseum automatically includes same-day entry into its stunning next-door neighbors: the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. If you don’t buy your ticket in advance and decide to get it on-site instead, do so at the Roman Forum or Palatine Hill ticket offices and visit these places first. The lines there are shorter than at the Colosseum ticket office. However, keep in mind that they will not be able to let you into the Colosseum if all the timeslots for the day are booked up, which happens often during the high season. They also only sell same-day tickets, so booking your ticket online or visiting with a guided tour is always your safest bet.
So, why visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill? The Roman Forum was the center of political, religious, and social life during the Roman Empire. Walking around the area today, you’ll see ruins of what used to be the oldest and most important monuments of Ancient Rome, including temples and shrines. The Forum became abandoned, forgotten, and buried under the earth after the fall of the empire, and was only excavated in 1898. Next to the Forum is the beautiful Palatine Hill, considered by many as the birthplace of Rome. While it’s home to lots of ancient arches and temples, the best thing about it is the magnificent panoramic view of the Colosseum you’ll get from there.
Opening hours: 8:30 am – 7 pm daily Entrance fees: (Combined Colosseum + Roman Forum + Palatine Hill ticket) Regular - €16 ($19 USD) | EU citizens aged 18-25 - €2 ($2.30 USD) | Free for anyone under 18 years old
3. Terme di Caracalla (Baths of Caracalla)
Visit time: 1-2 hours
20 min walk from Palatine Hill
If you’re curious to see what ancient Roman public baths were like, head over to Terme di Caracalla, the next stop on your Rome in 3 days itinerary. Built between AD 212 and 216, the Baths of Caracalla were some of the biggest and most impressive thermal complexes back in the days. The Romans loved going to public baths; it was their favorite way to socialize. Terme di Caracalla housed more than just baths though — for over 300 years, people exercised there, visited the libraries in the complex, strolled through the gardens, and worshipped the gods at the temples.
Today, you merely see what’s left of the complex, but its splendor totally shines through the ruins. Unlike the Colosseum, this place isn’t super busy, so you can enjoy a peaceful stroll away from the large crowds. If you’re a fan of opera, you can also watch a spectacular concert at Terme di Caracalla! You can check the concert program here.
🎧 Top Tip: I highly recommend getting an audioguide as it will enrich your visit and help you better understand the history behind the Baths of Caracalla. To immerse yourself even more in the ancient Roman world, you can also grab a set of virtual reality goggles for an extra €7. With it, you’ll see the digital reconstruction of how each site actually looked back in the days, and it’s a super cool experience!
Opening hours: It varies — check it real-time here Entrance fees: Regular - €8 ($9.50 USD) | EU citizens aged 18-25 - €2 ($2.30 USD) | Free for anyone under 18 years old
4. Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth)
Visit time: 10-20 mins
20 min walk from Terme di Caracalla
After the Baths of Caracalla, it’s time to make your way to the Trastevere neighborhood, but there are a few worthwhile stops along the way. The first one is the famous Bocca della Verità, which you may have seen on Roman Holiday. This marble mask has a well-known legend behind it: it will bite the hand of those who have lied. When you get to this place, you’ll most likely see a line of people waiting to get a picture with their hand inside the Mouth of Truth. If you’re a fan of myths and legends, it’s worth stopping by here for a quick peek/photo.
Opening hours: 9:30 am - 5:50 pm daily Entrance fees: €2 ($2.30 USD)
5. Giardino degli Aranci – Fall/Winter Sunset
Visit time: 20 mins
9 min walk from Bocca della Verità
Not far from the Bocca della Verità is Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Garden), one of the most peaceful and romantic gardens in Rome. Named after the orange trees growing there, this garden offers a really quiet and serene atmosphere — a great contrast to the busy morning you’ll have spent at the Colosseum. The highlight of this park, though, is the stunning view of Rome it offers from its belvedere (lookout). Grab a bottle of wine and soak in the beautiful view of the St. Peter’s Basilica surrounded by the ancient buildings of Rome. If you visit during the fall or winter, it’s likely that sunset will occur around the time you’re here — making the view even more spectacular.
Opening hours: 7 am - sunset, daily Entrance fees: Free
6. Trastevere & Piazza di Santa Maria
Visit time: 1-2 hours
21 min walk from Giardino degli Aranci
The next big stop on your Rome three day itinerary is the splendid medieval neighborhood of Trastevere, well-known for its colorful houses, narrow cobblestone alleys, and most importantly — the best restaurants in the entire city. In fact, this district is dubbed the foodie neighborhood of Rome; it’s the absolute place to be in if you want to taste true Italian food. Some of the best restaurants here are Nannarella, La Tavernetta 29, and Grazia & Graziella. If you’re looking for some aperitivo (a traditional Italian pre-meal drink), head over to Bar San Calisto, where the locals are.
Another thing you’ll love about Trastevere is that it’s a lot quieter than the historic center of Rome. You’ll see a lot fewer tourists and a lot more locals in this part of town and can enjoy its charming colorful streets in peace. While there are plenty of small churches and museums hidden inside the picturesque alleys of Trastevere, one place that you definitely shouldn’t miss is Piazza di Santa Maria, home to one of the oldest churches in Rome. The atmosphere inside this square is simply fantastic, and it’s definitely one of the most enchanting places in Trastevere.
7. Gianicolo (Janiculum Hill) – Spring/Summer Sunset
Visit time: 30 mins
15 min walk from Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere
Not too far from Trastevere is another hidden gem of Rome that most tourists don’t know about — Gianicolo, a hill that offers a breathtaking 360° view of the entire city of Rome. For this reason, Gianicolo is commonly known among locals as the gathering place for couples (especially teens). It’s not hard to see why — the views from the top of this hill are absolutely remarkable, and even more romantic when enjoyed with a bottle of wine. If you’re here during spring or summer, the sun will likely set around the time you’re here, and watching the sky turn orange above the most famous monuments of Ancient Rome is definitely a sight you don’t want to miss!
🍕 Insider Tip: If you don’t get a chance to grab dinner before visiting Gianicolo, don’t worry — there are tons of authentic restaurants nearby. I suggest making your way to Dar Poeta for some of the most delicious pizza in Rome.
The Gianicolo is absolutely worth checking out even if you can’t make it for sunset (check sunset time in Rome here). The view of the city lit up in the dark is just as mesmerizing!
8. Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) – Summer Evening Drinks
Visit time: 1-2 hours
22 min walk from Gianicolo
If you’re planning to visit Rome for 3 days in the summer, there’s one more activity you absolutely shouldn’t miss — drop by Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) for some refreshing evening drinks and an unforgettable nighttime atmosphere! Isola Tiberina is a charming little island in the middle of River Tiber. Though it’s interesting to see during the day as well (it’s home to the beautiful Basilica di San Bartolomeo), it’s at nighttime when this place truly comes to life. On summer evenings, rows of pop-up bars fill the riverbanks of the island. As soon as you approach the area, you’ll hear live music and the vibrant chatters of locals unwinding with drinks. There are also tons of restaurants all year round on the island, as well as an outdoor cinema in the summer!
Day 3 in Rome: Vatican City + Food Tour
1. Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
Visit time: 3-4 hours
Suggested start time: 8:30 AM
The last day of your 3 days in Rome itinerary will be largely spent in Vatican City, an independent country in the center of Rome. As you may already know, the Vatican is the heart of the Roman Catholic Church and the residence of the Pope. If you’re in Rome during Christmas or Easter, you’ll be able to hear the Pope speak from St. Peter’s Square, which surrounds the famous St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. But to maximize your time in Rome, I highly recommend starting your visit to Vatican City with the Vatican Museums, and to see the basilica afterward. This is to avoid the long lines you’ll encounter at the museums if you go later in the morning.
There are so many remarkable rooms and hidden gems inside the Vatican Museums. Among the best ones are the Gallery of Maps, the Raphael Rooms, and the Gallery of the Chandeliers. The key attraction inside the Vatican Museums, though, is obviously the famous Sistine Chapel, which Michelangelo spent 4 whole years painting. The frescoes that cover the walls and ceiling of this chapel are simply jaw-dropping. You have to see this masterpiece with your own eyes to fully appreciate why it’s so well-known around the world.
Top Tips for Visiting the Vatican Museums
- Book your ticket online in advance to avoid the incredibly long lines at the ticket office.
- Book a skip-the-line entry ticket if you want to completely avoid the lines and enter the museums through a separate entrance (the fastest one available).
- Get free entry and skip the lines with the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card or the Best of Rome All Access Pass!
- During the peak season (May to mid-September), arrive at least 15-30 mins before the opening time to avoid the long lines.
- Avoid visiting on Mondays or over the weekend as that’s when the museums are the busiest and most crowded (almost all other museums in Rome are closed on Mondays, making the Vatican especially popular on that day).
- The museum is free every last Sunday of each month, but be sure to arrive early in the morning if you don’t want to stand in line for hours! (Check official real-time updates as this offering is sometimes suspended.)
- Be sure to dress appropriately — both men and women should have their shoulders, thighs, and necklines covered.
Why You Should Visit the Vatican Museums on a Guided Tour
- You’ll get guaranteed skip-the-ticket-line entrance
- Some tours provide you with exclusive access to the museums before opening hours so that you can beat the crowds and enjoy the attractions in peace and quiet.
- Enter the St. Peter’s Basilica through a restricted passageway that’ll save you 20 minutes of walking and even more time lining up!
- You’ll get to learn a lot more about the attractions inside and understand their historical significance.
The 3 Best Guided Tours of the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
- Classic Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Tour — This tour takes you to all the key sites in the museums as well as the hidden gems that tourists often miss. Your expert guide will give you tons of interesting information about the history, politics, and architecture of the Vatican.
- Pristine Sistine Chapel Early Entrance Small Group Tour — Get entry into the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel a full hour before the general public is allowed inside and enjoy them without the crowds. An expert guide will take you around the museum and explain everything in detail.
- First Entry Morning Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums — Enter the museum 30 mins before any other tour group and 1.5 hours before the general public. An escort will show you the way to the Sistine Chapel, but you’ll be left free to explore the museum at your own pace without a guide.
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday: 8:30 am – 6:30 pm (last entry at 4:30 pm) | Closed on Sundays except the last one of every month; 9 am – 2 pm with last entry at 12:30 pm | Opening hours vary frequently so always check it real-time here. Entrance fees: Adults - €17 ($20 USD) | Youth & students under 25 - €8 ($9.50 USD) | Free for children under 6
2. St. Peter’s Basilica & Cupola
Visit time: 1-2 hour
2 min walk from Sistine Chapel through a restricted passageway
After visiting the Vatican Museums, it’s time to explore the majestic St. Peter’s Basilica and the view from its cupola (dome). This basilica is the holiest and most important pilgrimage site of the Catholic Church and can accommodate up to 20,000 people. Walking inside, you’ll be mesmerized by all the incredible pieces of art, which include Michelangelo’s famous Pietà sculpture. A visit to St. Peter’s Basilica would be incomplete without climbing up to the top of its cupola. You’ll get a breathtaking view of St. Peter’s Square and almost the whole city of Rome from up there — it’s truly a sight you won’t want to miss!
🎨 Insider Tip: If you visit the Vatican with a guided tour, you’ll get access to a restricted passageway reserved for tour groups that takes you from the Sistine Chapel straight into the St. Peter’s Basilica in 2 mins. If you visit individually, though, you’ll have to exit the Vatican Museums and walk for 20 mins back to St. Peter’s Basilica and then stand in line to enter. If you want to avoid this detour but don’t want to join a guided tour, try to tag along with one of the many tour groups when the guards aren’t looking.
🍕 Food Tip: Most of the cafés and restaurants immediately surrounding Vatican City are overpriced tourist traps. A 10-15 min walk will get you to some really authentic and high-quality eateries though! Try Osteria dell’Angelo for delicious pasta, 200 Gradi for yummy sandwiches, and Pizzarium Bonci for the local specialty pizza al taglio.
Basilica opening hours: October to March: 7 am - 6:30 pm | April to September: 7 am - 7 pm Basilica entrance fees: Free Cupola opening hours: 8 am - one hour before the Basilica closes, daily Cupola entrance fees: Lift to the terrace + 320 steps: €8 ($9.50 USD) | Climbing all 551 steps by foot: €6 ($7 USD)
3. Castel Sant’Angelo
Visit time: 20-30 mins
10 min walk from St. Peter’s Basilica
Once you’re done with the St. Peter’s Basilica, walk down the famous Via della Conciliazione which will lead you straight to the stunning Castel Sant’Angelo, a fortress that dates back to AD 139. This castle was built under the orders of Emperor Hadrian, who intended to use it as a tomb for himself. In the course of its history, Castel Sant’Angelo has protected the Pope during various sieges.
Today, you can go inside this fortress to see the rooms where the Pope used to reside and to get some nice views of the city from the terrace, but to be completely honest — the visit isn’t worth the high ticket price. You will see a lot more impressive rooms in other museums in Rome, such as Galleria Borghese or the Capitoline Museums mentioned earlier in this itinerary for Rome, Italy. Instead of going inside this castle, I suggest strolling the Ponte Sant’Angelo — the big bridge right in front of the building. There are some gorgeous statues on this bridge, and the perspective from there gives you lots of great photo ops!
🎆 Insider Tip: Every year on June 29th, there are stunning fireworks at Castel Sant’Angelo to celebrate the Festa di San Pietro e Paolo (Feast of Saints Peter and Paul), a public holiday in Rome. The atmosphere at the fortress is simply incredible then, so be sure to drop by at night to witness this magic!
Opening hours: 9 am – 7:30 pm daily* Entrance fees: Adults - €15 ($17.50 USD) | EU citizens aged 18 – 24 - €7 ($8.50 USD) | Free for children under 18 *These hours and entrance fees are only for entering the castle. You can walk around it and on the bridge in front of it anytime without a ticket.
4. Lungotevere & Ponte Umberto I – Sunset
Visit time: 20-30 mins
Start right under the Castel Sant’Angelo bridge
Castel Sant’Angelo is right next to the famous River Tiber, meaning there are tons of scenic bridges and riverbanks surrounding it. From the Ponte Sant’Angelo right in front of the castle, take the stairs down to the Lungotevere — the waterfront alley that runs along the river — and take a peaceful and romantic walk right by the water. Bring a bottle of wine and some snacks for a lovely picnic on the riverbank. Walk towards the bridge Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II and then to Ponte Principe Amedeo Savoia Aosta for marvelous views of Castel Sant’Angelo reflecting in the water.
Before leaving the Lungotevere, head back the other direction to Ponte Umberto I, the one bridge you shouldn’t miss during your 3-day tour of Rome. This is the bridge you should aim to be on by sunset time because you’ll get to witness the sky turning a beautiful pink above the St. Peter’s Basilica, which is splendidly reflected in the water as the city dims. If you want to get one of the most magical views of the Vatican and River Tiber, don’t miss out on Ponte Umberto I!
5. Campo de’ Fiori + Evening Food Tour
Visit time: 4-5 hours
12 min walk from Ponte Umberto I
Finish your 3 perfect days in Rome by embarking on the most exquisite foodie adventure. Start it off by making your way to Campo de’ Fiori, a public square that hosts farmers’ markets during the day, but that turns into the center of Rome’s nightlife in the evenings. Depending on how much time you have, I suggest sitting down at a bar in the square and enjoying the Italian tradition of aperitivo, a pre-meal drink specifically meant to open up your appetite.
Afterward, it’s time to taste some delicious local specialties with an expert tour guide! Why join a guided food tour in Rome, you may ask? This is a chance to truly immerse yourself in the local culture and taste some unique specialties you’d have a hard time finding on your own. The various evening food tours of Rome will take you to the absolute top food establishments in town — eateries that have been in business for centuries and that are widely adored by locals. You’ll also get to learn some secret Italian food tips from expert chefs!
The Top 3 Guided Evening Food Tours of Rome
- Traditional Rome Food & Wine Tasting Tour — This tour starts right from Campo de’ Fiori and takes you to various eateries to enjoy local cheese, artisanal salamis, traditional Roman pizza al taglio, and exquisite wine. End the night with gelato. Starting time: 5:30 pm
- Jewish Ghetto & Campo de’ Fiori by Night Food Tour — This tour starts at Piazza Mattei (5-min walk from Campo de’ Fiori). You’ll taste various traditional specialties, learn local recipes, and have a traditional dinner among the ruins of an ancient Roman theatre! Starting time: 5:45 pm
- Rome 20+ Tastings Food Tour by Night — This tour starts at the Cipro Metro station (30 mins by bus from Campo de’ Fiori). You’ll learn secret food tips from local experts and enjoy 20+ delicious tastings of prosciutto, pasta, cheese, pizza, gelato, and more. Starting time: 5:30 pm
Rome 3 Day Itinerary Map
Here’s a map of how to spend 3 days in Rome including all the places and activities mentioned in this itinerary. You can click here to see it in full on Google Maps.
3 Day Itinerary Rome Overview
Here’s a summary of what to do in Rome in 3 days, with all the activities mentioned in the itinerary above. This is the perfect trip plan for a long weekend in Rome!
Day 1: Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Piazza del Campidoglio (+ Capitoline Museums if there’s time), Altare della Patria (Piazza Venezia), Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Galleria Borghese, Terrazza del Pincio
Day 2: Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill, Terme di Caracalla (Baths of Caracalla), Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth), Giardino degli Aranci, Trastevere & Piazza di Santa Maria, Gianicolo (Janiculum Hill), Isola Tiberina
Day 3: Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica & Cupola, Castel Sant’Angelo, Lungotevere & Ponte Umberto I, Campo de’ Fiori, guided evening food tour
Where to Stay in Rome for 3 Days
If you want to be close to the best places to visit in Rome in 3 days, I highly recommend staying in Centro Storico, the historic center of the city. This will allow you to be within walking distance of almost all the main attractions in Rome. There are tons of great hostels and hotels in the historic center. My top picks are:
- Otivm Hotel (⭐ 9.0) — Perfectly located right next to Piazza Venezia, this hotel has a rooftop terrace with incredibly gorgeous views of Altare della Patria and Campidoglio.
- Hotel Martis Palace (⭐ 9.4) — Located next to Piazza Navona, there are breathtaking views of the historic center from the rooftop terrace of this hotel.
- Relais Trevi 95 Boutique Hotel (⭐ 9.0) — Located next to the Trevi Fountain, this hotel has a modern and chic rooftop terrace with cheery, colorful surroundings.
The Best Time to Visit Rome
It’s important to take both the weather and the crowds into account when planning a trip to Rome for 3 days. The Eternal City never truly has a low season — tour buses fill the historic center all year round. But of course, some months see fewer crowds than others. So if you’re trying to figure out when is the best time of the year to visit Rome, here are some things to consider:
- Low season: Mid-November to mid-December and mid-January to early March are the best months to visit Rome if you want to see the least amount of crowds. This is obviously due to the cold weather (3-13°C / 37-55°F). Note that Christmas and New Years are exceptions and see an increase in tourists.
- Shoulder season: Mid-March to early May and mid-September to early November will see a moderate amount of crowds, but definitely much less than the high season. This is the best time to go to Rome if you want to enjoy warm weather (10-27°C / 50-80°F). Do keep in mind, though, that the shoulder season is liked by many, so definitely book tickets for attractions in advance!
- High season: Mid-May to early September is when Rome is at its busiest. The crowds in the city center can get so dense that it’s actually hard to move around town, so I recommend avoiding this season if you can. It is also scorching hot during this time of the year (17-34°C / 62-91°F).
How to Get to Rome From the Airport
Figuring out how to get from Rome airport to the city center can be overwhelming, but it’s actually quite simple when you know what the options are. There are two airports in Rome: Fiumicino (FCO) and Ciampino (CIA). If you can freely choose the airport you fly into, I suggest going with Fiumicino because even though it’s further from the city center, it’s a lot better connected to the city and gives you more transportation options.
How to get From Fiumicino Airport to Rome
By Car / Taxi
If you’re wondering how to get from FCO to Rome, the fastest and easiest way is to book a private transfer from the airport to your hotel with Expedia or Get Your Guide. This is a great option if you don’t want to take public transportation and would like to skip the long lines for taxis at the airport.
🚗 Insider Tip: Booking a private transfer is actually cheaper than taking a taxi — you can save almost €8 ($10 USD)! But if you prefer taking a taxi, always take an official white taxi from the taxi stand outside the terminal and do not go with the drivers waiting inside the terminal. A taxi ride from Fiumicino to the center of Rome will cost you a fixed rate of €50 ($60 USD).
There are two trains connecting Fiumicino to Rome’s city center: the regional train and the Leonardo Express. A regional train ticket costs €8 ($10 USD) and stops at Trastevere (30-min journey), Ostiense (30-min journey), and Tiburtina (50-min journey). You will then have to connect from one of those stations; if you need to take the Metro, get off at Ostiense and walk to the Piramide Metro station.
I recommend taking the Leonardo Express train as it is a lot more convenient — in 30 mins, it takes you directly from the airport to Roma Termini, which is on both Metro lines A and B and located a lot closer to the historic center. A ticket for the Leonardo Express costs €14 ($16.50 USD) and is totally worth the price. You can book it here.
How to get to Rome from Ciampino Airport
By Car / Taxi
A taxi from Ciampino Airport to the city center of Rome should cost €30 ($35 USD). The problem is that unlike Fiumicino, many taxi drivers in Ciampino don’t go by the fixed rate and will make up reasons to charge you more. To avoid this hassle, you can book a private transfer or shared shuttle from the airport to your hotel with Expedia or Get Your Guide.
There are no trains or Metro stations connecting Ciampino Airport to the city center, so the only other way to get there is by public or private bus. The most popular private bus company is Terravision, which costs €10 ($12 USD) and will take you directly to Roma Termini in 40 mins. From there, you can connect to either Metro lines A or B.
Taking the public Bus No. 720 is the cheapest way to get to the city center from Ciampino — it costs only €1.50 ($1.70 USD). However, the journey is longer and more complicated because the bus takes you to the Laurentina station (30-min journey). From there, it’s another 30 mins to the city center via the Metro. I suggest taking the private bus instead if you don’t mind paying more to lessen the hassle.
Getting Around Rome for 3 Days
Getting around in Rome is quite easy as almost all the tourist attractions are within walking distance of each other. That’s why the best way to get around Rome is by walking. In fact, the city center of Rome is incredibly pleasant to stroll in. You’ll truly discover the best hidden gems by getting lost in its cobblestone alleys and wandering around without aim. Being a Roman myself, I might be biased, but I truly believe that every corner of the historic center is worth seeing, and there’s no better way to do it than on foot.
Alternatively, you can also take the Metro if you feel tired or are running short of time. There are three Metro lines in Rome: Line A (red), Line B (blue), and Line C (green). Most tourist attractions in Rome are connected by the Metro, and it’s likely you’ll have to take it when visiting the Vatican, which is a bit of a walk from the historic center.
You can also take public buses to travel around Rome, although I personally don’t recommend this. Traffic in Rome is really bad, so getting around by bus or car can get time-consuming. The buses in the city center are also usually incredibly crowded and as a result, a breeding ground for pickpockets. I suggest taking the Metro instead for efficiency, but watch out for your belongings there as well!
🎫 Top Tip: You will need a BIT ticket (biglietto semplice) to ride public transportation in Rome. A one-way ticket costs €1.50 ($1.70 USD) and is valid for 75 mins. It can be used for the Metro, buses, trams, and urban trains inside Rome. You can buy tickets inside any Metro station, at a tabaccheria (tobacco shop), or edicola (newsstand) around town. You will not be able to buy tickets inside buses so make sure to have one with you before boarding!
Rome 3 Day Passes: Save Money & Skip the Lines
There’s an easy way to save time and money while traveling in Rome for 3 days: tourist passes that give you discounts and fast track entry to the most crowded attractions in the city. The 3 best Rome tourist passes out there are the Roma Pass, the Best of Rome All Access Pass, and the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card (my top recommendation). Let’s look at each of them in more detail below.
Roma Pass: 48 or 72-Hour City Card
- Free skip-the-line admission to 1 (48-hours pass) or 2 (72-hours pass) museums or archaeological sites (such as the Colosseum) ✅
- Discounted ticket prices for all other museums and/or archaeological sites visited afterward ✅
- Free unlimited use of Rome’s public transportation (buses, trains, Metro, etc.) ✅
- Free guidebook + map of Rome ✅
- Does not include fast track entry or discounts for the Vatican ❌
Best of Rome All Access Pass
- Free skip-the-line admission to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hills, Vatican Museums, and Sistine Chapel ✅
- Fast track entry to St. Peter’s Basilica (can save you hours) + free audio guide ✅
- Valid for 72 hours ✅
- Does not include admission to St. Peter’s Basilica’s Cupola (dome) ❌
OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card (Recommended)
- Includes the 72-hour Roma Pass and all its benefits ✅
- Free skip-the-line admission to 2 museums/archaeological sites (such as the Colosseum) ✅
- Free skip-the-line admission to the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel ✅
- Fast track entry to St. Peter’s Basilica (can save you hours) + free audio guide ✅
- Discounted ticket prices for 30+ museums and archaeological sites ✅
- Free unlimited use of Rome’s public transportation (buses, trains, Metro, etc.) ✅
- Free panoramic 3-day hop-on hop-off bus tour of Rome ✅
- Free guidebook + map of Rome & Vatican City ✅
- The Rome 3 days pass with the best value for money ⭐
Luggage Storage in Rome
At the Roma Termini Station
While most hotels in Rome will let you store your luggage with them before checking in/after checking out, there’s an easy way to store your luggage at the Roma Termini station as well. Head over to Via Giovanni Giolitti 127 and you’ll see the luggage storage store on the sidewalk across from the station. You can also book this service online here. Roma Termini is the most well-connected station in the entire city; it’s on Metro lines A and B and is the final destination for a lot of airport trains and shuttles. If you’re traveling to Rome by train from other cities in Italy, Termini is where you’ll arrive at.
At the Centro Storico (Historic Center)
Alternatively, if you prefer to store your luggage in the historic center of Rome, you can do so at this STARBIKE shop near the Colosseum. There’s also another luggage storage service with locations in Piazza Navona, Piazza Venezia, Pantheon, and the Vatican — you can check them out here.
Where to Eat in Rome for 3 Days
No itinerary for Rome 3 days would be complete without some foodie adventures. While this itinerary already has tons of insider food tips, here are some more top-notch eateries — from the best ice cream shops to the most authentic places in town to taste delicious Roman specialties.
- Roscioli — A few steps from Campo de’ Fiori; their pasta dishes are absolutely spectacular.
- Felice a Testaccio — Definitely make a booking before going, and try their tonnarelli cacio e pepe; you won’t regret it!
- Forno Campo de’ Fiori — This place has some of the best pizza in town; try the Roman specialty of pizza bianca with mortazza!
- Cantina & Cucina — A few steps from Piazza Navona, this place has incredible pizza and pasta. Try their fried octopus as well!
- Gelateria Come il Latte — One of the top authentic gelaterias in town; just the smell inside the store will bring you to heaven.
- Two Sizes Tiramisù — The best tiramisù in Rome is here; try their pistacchio tiramisù as well!
3 Days in Rome Budget
For budget travelers, the daily cost of traveling in Rome should be around €50 ($60 USD) in total. This means you’d be staying in cheap hostels and getting pizza/panini on the go rather than sitting down in restaurants. Comfort travelers are likely to spend around €100 ($118 USD) per day, staying in boutique hotels and spending moderately at restaurants. Luxury travelers are likely to spend over €175 ($200 USD) a day. Here’s a quick breakdown of the budget:
🏨 Accommodation (per night): €7-22 ($8-26 USD) budget / €40-85 ($50 – $100 USD) comfort / €85-450 ($100 – $550 USD) luxury
🍝 Meal (per person): €15 ($17.50 USD) at restaurants / €3-7 ($3.50-8.50 USD) for pizza/panini on the go
🚇 Transportation: €1.50 ($1.70 USD) per every Metro, bus, tram, or urban train ticket | Free with the Roma Pass or OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card
🎫 Admission to museums/attractions: €7-17 ($8.50-20 USD) depending on the attraction | Free with the OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card, the Roma Pass, or the Best of Rome All Access Pass
Travel Insurance for Italy
Having travel insurance always gives me peace of mind, and I highly recommend getting it if you weren’t considering it before because let’s be real — the last thing we want on any trip is for accidents and mishaps to get in the way. With travel insurance, I can at least make sure I’m protected if things go wrong. I use a service called World Nomads and highly recommend them — they offer affordable prices, amazing coverage, and a reliable 24/7 on-call service.
Tips for Safety in Rome
Rome is generally safe to travel in, but there is one important thing to keep in mind: pickpockets thrive in the city center, especially at the main tourist attractions (such as the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and the Vatican), on buses, and on the Metro. Pickpockets in Rome are unfortunately extremely skilled at what they do, so always keep an eye (and hand) on your belongings!
🚌 Top Tip: The risk of theft is especially high at the Termini station and on the popular Bus No. 64, which is usually swarmed with tourists as it goes from Termini to the Vatican. Be extra careful at the crowded Metro stations of Spagna, Barberini, Cipro, and Colosseo as well. Also, never leave your backpack hanging off the back of a chair at a restaurant.
Here are a few items you can pack to make your Rome 3 days trip safer:
This Slash-Proof Purse has slash-resistant body panels and shoulder straps, which can be secured to a stationary object. It also comes with RFID blocking to protect your cards & IDs so you can travel with peace of mind.
This Anti-Theft Travel Backpack comes with a fixed anti-theft password lock, RFID blocking which protects your cards and IDs, and a USB charging port. It also works great as a laptop bag or a hiking daypack!
My Rome Photography Gear
This is the photography gear I used to capture most of the pictures featured in this guide. You can also see my recommendations for the best cameras for bloggers for more options other than the ones listed below.
- Cameras: Nikon D610 + Sony A6400 (check out the best Sony lenses)
- Main lens: Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8
- Wide-angle lens: Tokina AF 16-28mm f/2.8
- Prime lens: Nikon 50mm f/1.4 G
- Tripod: Manfrotto Element Traveller Tripod (Ball Head)