Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Can you imagine a glorious 3 days in Rome the Eternal City?

There are many things to do and see in Rome, but if you are visiting the Eternal City for the first time, you should head to the main important places. The Colosseum and Saint Peter Basilica, Castel Sant’Angelo and Capitol Hill are among the sites you will discover visiting Rome in 3 days.

Night view at St. Peter's cathedral in Rome, Italy

But if you only have 3 days in Rome to discover its delights let us guide you to all the best things to do in Rome the Eternal City.

The Italian capital with its thousands of years of history and its tremendously rich cultural heritage might make you want to extend your stay to discover more gems. Rome is full of archaeological sites and you may not get a chance to see them all in your 3 days in Rome so make sure you have a list of the ones you must see before setting out.

If you are researching a trip to Italy then you need to know the best area to stay in in Rome. Depending on your budget, what you are interested in and what you want to see you need to know the different areas you could stay in.

To take full advantage of this 3-day itinerary to Rome your best bet is to arrive early in the morning or the night before so you have a full 3 days to visit. The Eternal City is chock full of things to see and it’s impossible to check them all on your bucket list but this Rome Itinerary will give you the best sites to see on your first visit.  You must remember to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain so you will return someday.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

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Itinerary for 3 days in Rome

To take full advantage of your 3 days in Rome itinerary may I suggest arriving as early as you can? Preferably the night before so you have a full three days in the city. There is just so much to see it could be a very tiring trip.

3 days in Rome how to spend your time a view of the city

Best times to visit Rome?

A big tip is not to visit Rome in the summer from June to August. You will find it hot, stuffy and so jammed with tourists you will have a hard time getting around and seeing the things on your 3 day Rome itinerary. The best times to visit Rome are from March to May in Spring or in the fall from September to November. 

Getting to Rome

You can fly to the Leonardo da Vinci airport which is the international airport or if you want to fly to Rome from Europe see if you can get a flight into Ciampino neither is near the City Centre but you can find some cheap flights from Kayak to both airports. 

If you are planning on a Meditteranean cruise be aware that the cruise ships stop at Civitavecchia cruise ship port Civitavecchia is about 80km northwest of Rome.  There is a train station in the town with several trains going to Rome’s central station termini these take about an hour and 20 minutes. 

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Once you disembark the Cruise you will have quite a walk to the train station so I suggest taking a taxi from the port it will save your feet for walking Rome. 

If you are planning to take 3 days to visit Rome make sure your cruise ship stays in port for that length of time as many cruises to Rome only stay a day. I will tell you from personal experience while it may be a lot cheaper to take the train to Rome you will have very little time as Rome’s traffic is horrendous and getting to Rome is not easy due to the traffic.

In fact, we nearly missed our cruise out of Rome thanks to attempting to get a fast train back to the port and it was a nightmare. 

How to get from the airport to the centre of Rome

From the airport, you can share a shuttle bus for around € 18-20. The ride takes around an hour the Leonardo Express train goes direct from the Fiumicino airport straight to Termini, the main station in the heart of Rome. 

There is also local transit such as Terravision buses these run around €6 euro to the city centre and run around every half an hour or so.

How to get around Rome

By far the best way to get around Rome is walking but public transit is another option if walking forever sounds exhausting. Buses run 24 hrs. a day and cover the entire city. Bus tickets and subway metro tickets are interchangeable within the time validity of the ticket.

Validation begins by punching them into the ticket counter found on both the bus or subway. Do not throw away your ticket as you will need it to prove you have paid your fare. 
Tickets can be purchased in advance at any tobacconists (easily found by the blue sign with a capital T outlined in white found throughout the city ) and from vending machines at both the train and metro stations. 
Different choices of tickets include:

  • The BIT, €1,00, the. most common and economic lets you ride any bus or metro within a time period of 75 minutes.
  • The BIG, €4,00, is a full-day ticket and valid for unlimited rides on buses and the metro until midnight of the day it was purchased.
  • The BTI, a special ticket for tourists, €11,00, is valid for unlimited bus and metro travel for 3 days in Rome from the date validated. 

We used the Hop on Hop Off bus as our guide to Rome it took us around all the sights with audio commentary in English and allowed us to get our bearings and jump off when we found what we wanted to see. For us, this was a little easier than using public transit.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Where to stay in Rome for 3 days

The Esquilino central station area is the perfect place to stay if you are not up to massive amounts of walking. This area is very close to some great public transport as both subway lines that serve the city centre converge here. The A-line goes to the Spanish Steps, the Vatican, San Giovanni, and the Trevi Fountain. The blue line will take you to the Colosseum and Circus Maximus.

La Casa di Amy

Home away from Home La Casa Di Amy offers air-conditioned rooms and free WiFi throughout. Rome Termini Station is 200 m away.

La Casa di Amy’s rooms are individually decorated. Each has tea and coffee making facilities and an LCD TV.

A sweet and savoury continental breakfast is served daily, and gluten-free options are available on request.

BOOK LA CASA DI AMY 

Be First BnB

Be First is a modern property located in a central area of Rome filled with shops and restaurants, just 200 m from Vittorio Emanuele Metro Station. It offers free Wi-Fi throughout and comfortable accommodations. Breakfast is fresh-baked croissants and great coffee.

BOOK THE BE FIRST BNB 

Hotel Bergamo

A 2-star budget hotel with fantastic reviews. A good basic hotel very close to everything and the station.

Hotel Bergamo offers rooms with a TV, 100 m from Rome Termini Train Station, giving you excellent public transport links around the city. WiFi is free in shared areas. The hotel is located on the 2nd floor of a historic building with an elevator. 

BOOK THE HOTEL BERGAMO

How to spend 3 days in Rome 

You probably know that Rome is one of the most visited cities in the world with over 9 million tourists visiting each year. What that means for your visit is that you can expect wait times of a few hours to get into some of the city’s historic attractions.

You actually have 2 different cards you can purchase to save money and lots of time during your 3-day visit to Rome.

Rome Tourist Card

The “Roma City Pass” is a really convenient card with this you can bypass all the line-ups and have priority entrance to some of the most famous tourist sites in the City. Another huge advantage is that the card is 100% digital you don’t have to print tickets that come to you via email.

This Rome City pass includes the following:

  • Colosseum entrance ticket with audio guide + Roman Forum + Palatine Hill
  • St. Peter’s Basilica: entrance + audio guide
  • Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel 
  • 10% discount for museums and tourist attractions such as the Castel Sant’Angelo or the Galleria Borghese.

Rome and Vatican Pass

Another way to visit Rome in 3 days and get fast track access to the best places to visit in the city is to buy the “Rome and Vatican Pass”. with this pass, you can enjoy entry to Rome’s historic sites, such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Colosseum, with a 3-day combined city pass. Get discounted entry to more than 30 sights, and explore Rome on the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus.

  • Skip the line with free admission to the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums, and Michelangelo’s miraculous ceiling at the Sistine Chapel
  • Discover Rome’s eternal sights on a hop-on hop-off bus tour
  • Enjoy special offers from both the OMNIA Vatican and Roma Passes
  • Take advantage of free unlimited public transport
  • Enjoy discounted entry to Rome’s top museums
  • Orient yourself with a free guidebook and map of Rome and Vatican City

Conquer the best of Rome in 3 days

3 days in Rome – Day 1

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary
Map of attractions in Rome – click for a downloadable version

The Colosseum

Start your 3 day trip in Rome with a visit to the Colosseum, probably the most renowned monument in the city. This is the only European place to be listed among the Seven Wonders of modern times.

Coliseum at night with colorful blurred traffic lights.

This ancient amphitheatre, once known as amphitheatre Flavius, was built under Emperor Vespasian in 72 and completed under his successor Titus in 80. For over four centuries the Colosseum housed gladiator games.

3 days in Rome

During these shows, there were dreadful battles among men or men and fierce animals like lions. Entering the Colosseum, you will step into the history discovering the high level of engineering and architectural knowledge gained by Roman.

The Fountain is closed on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM for coin removal, they collect 3000 euros per day that are donated to charitable causes of Rome.

Palatine Hill

Here, according to the legend of Rome’s birth, Romulus and Remo founded the city in 753 BC. Palatine houses on its premises an interesting museum, as well as Augustus and Livia’s houses with impressive frescos.

The Stadium of Domitian on the Palatine Hill in Rome

Avoid the ticket line at the Colosseum by purchasing Tickets in Advance. You can buy a combination ticket at the entrance to Palatine Hill where apparently a line is rare. The official website sells a combination ticket which is good for the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Museum and of course the Colosseum. This ticket is good for 2 days. You will still have to wait in line to go through security but at least you won’t be in the long-ass ticket line.

Ordinary admission includes the three locations mentioned above and the cost of an adult ticket is € 16.00, for the Ordinary admission plus the underground tour in English the cost is € 23,00. These ticket prices include service fees and charges. Get your guide also does brilliant audio and skip the line tour of all three locations from € 22 per person.

Food Tours of Rome

Your visit to all three locations will take around 3 hours and it’s now time for lunch. The food of Rome is a gastronomic treat.  Another option would be to do a Street Food Tour with a local guide. These tours take around 2.5 hours and combine a walking tour with samples of some fabulous Roman cuisine.

Capitol Hill 

In the afternoon take via dei Fori Imperiali and visit Capitol Hill. Home of the city hall, this hill hosts a scenographic square designed by Michelangelo. From here you can fully enjoy a unique view of the Roman Forum.

On Capitol Hill visit the Capitoline Museums with a unique collection of Roman antiquities, and the famous equestrian statue of emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Roman ruins in Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain

Proceed with your discovery of the Eternal city by climbing the steps of the Ara Coeli church. Crossing Piazza Venezia, visit the church of Santi Apostoli with a beautiful bas-relief in the porch by Antonio Canova and then arrive at the Trevi Fountain.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

3 days in Rome – day 2

Spanish Steps

Start your day strolling around downtown Rome and visiting some of the most important highlights like the Spanish Steps, Piazza di Pietra, and the Pantheon.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Piazza di Pietra

The square owes its name to the presence of the remains of the ancient Hadrianeum, a large temple dedicated to the emperor Hadrian by his son and successor Antonino Pio. The building, which opened towards the present Via del Corso, was built in 145 AD in the centre of the arcaded square. Of the ancient structure of the temple, 11 of the original 15 columns of the northern side remain.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary
©Turismo Roma

The Pantheon

Dedicated to the pagan gods of pre-Christian Rome the Pantheon is one of the most ancient and well-preserved sites in Rome. Completed between 126 – 128 AD, this Roman temple was eventually converted to a Christian church.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

The architecture of the Pantheon is so incredible that when Michelangelo visited it he said it was “it was the design of angels, not of man”.

Vatican City

While Rome is the capital of Italy, it hosts another state among its walls: Vatican City. Spend the afternoon of your second day in Rome wandering among the beauty of this small state. Try to book a tour to the Vatican Museums in advance to skip the line.

BOOK YOUR SKIP THE LINE VATICAN TOUR NOW

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Sistine Chapel

Once there, experience the wanderlust of the frescos of the Sistine chapel depict by Michelangelo. Wander among the map room and enjoy the wall painted by Raphael showing the Athens school. Then walk for ten minutes to enter the Basilica and discover some of the prime art treasures. Among them, you will see the Pietas by Michelangelo, and the baroque baldachin and Alexander VII’s funeral monument by Bernini. From the Basilica you can climb the Dome and enjoy one of the most rewarding views over Rome.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Castel Sant’Angelo

Leaving the Vatican City head to Sant’Angelo Castle, a fortress built under emperor Hadrian that wanted to use it as a mausoleum for himself and his family. In 1277 an underground corridor was built to connect this place to the Vatican City and to serve as an escape for popes in danger. It was then used in 1527 by Pope Clement VII who found refuge in the fortress.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Piazza Navona

After visiting this place cross St. Angel’s bridge and stroll around via dei Coronari, one of the more charming streets of Rome famous for its antique shops. This walk will lead you to Piazza Navona, the square famous for its Baroque architecture.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Once a Roman Stadium hosting horse and chariot races, it was transformed under Pope Innocent X into the stunning space you can admire nowadays. The Four Rivers Fountains by Bernini dominate the core of the square. Visit the churches in the piazza as well as the nearby church of Sant’Andrea della Valle.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Day 3 in Rome

Villa Borghese

Spend your last day in Rome discovering the Villa Borghese, one of the most beautiful green areas of the city. After a boat ride around the lake, proceed to the Borghese gallery museum where you can admire some of the most famous sculptures by Bernini, as well as masterpieces from Caravaggio, Titian, and Raphael. Reservation is mandatory to access, and you can book your entrance ticket in advance online. From there, walk until the Pincio’s terrace to enjoy one stunning view over Rome.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

BOOK YOUR VILLA BORGHESE & GARDENS TOUR NOW

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Circo Massimo

Using the metro, take a trip to the Circo Massimo and visit the ancient stadium. Built under Emperor Augustus, it hosted chariot races. The famous Truth mouth is nearby.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Portico d’Ottavia – Jewish Ghetto

From Via dei Cerchi, after a few bus stops, get off at Marcellus Theater and explore the area of Portico d’Ottavia, also known as the Jewish ghetto.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Spend the afternoon of your last day in Rome, exploring the area of the Jewish ghetto. Here, in 1943, the Jewish community of Rome suffered mass deportation. A marble plate reminds these horrible facts. In the neighbourhood, you can wander around the Tortuga fountain and try some delicatessen made in the local bakery shop.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

Trastevere

From here cross the river and end your day in the picturesque area of Trastevere. In this neighbourhood, where coloured ochre houses face narrow cobblestone streets, you will find some lovely trattorie (simple fare restaurant offering local cuisine) alongside more fine dining options. Sipping a cocktail in Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore is a must-do experience to conclude your three days in Rome tour.

Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

When you only have three days in Rome it’s important to know where to eat here is an article on Food in Rome and the art of eating like an Italian it includes traditional Roman dishes and cuisine and where to find them.

This guest post was written by Federica Provolenti. Federica is an Italian journalist and travel writer. Born and raised in Rome, she studied the History of ancient art before embracing her career path as a storyteller. Leading by chance an ex-pat life, Federica tells her travel stories on A stroll around the world and on her Instagram page.

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Best 3 days in Rome itinerary

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