3 Day Itinerary for Rome

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Tiber River in Rome

This 3 day Rome itinerary is ALL about ancient Rome. So history buffs, prepare to fry your brains out with endless amounts of historical knowledge! If you're on a budget, consider purchasing a 48 or 72-hour Roma Pass as it might help you save money when visiting the archaeological sites/museums around the city. Depending on which Pass you buy, you will get free access to one or two museums, and then discounted tickets to any sites you visit after that. You can also use the city's public transportation network (metro, trams and buses) for free with the Rome Pass - yay!

There is also a more expensive pass called the OMNIA Pass, or the OMNIA Vatican and Rome Pass. However, I wouldn't personally recommend it as it's not necessarily worth the price if you have a limited time in Rome (>2 days). It does allow you to skip the queue at some sites though, so perhaps it might be worth it for you?

Do note though that if you enjoy walking and can do so between the sites, then even passes like the Rome Card might not be needed. Just buy your tickets to the attractions online beforehand to skip the long lines and gain quicker entry. This is just one of the many tips you should keep in mind before you head to Rome.

Even three days in Rome is not enough time to explore everything this 3,000-year-old city has to offer, such as beautiful classical art and over ten types of world-known architecture (i.e. the Colosseum and Pantheon). But even if you are not a fan of history or art, Rome is so much more than just these two things and must be a part of your Italian bucket list! It also has excellent food, charismatic Italians and beautiful landscapes, of course.

So, if you decide to visit this famous historical city, you need to be ready for a lot of walking and exploring and be able to process a vast amount of information in a short few days.

Aside from Rome, there are also many other sites and cities to visit and explore in Italy. Some of these places include Sorrento, the Almafi Coast, Milan, Florence, Cinque Terre, the Dolomites, Puglia and more! Or, if you plan on visiting Venice before or after Rome, do make sure to pay a visit to the Venetian Islands just outside the city as well as they can be done in a day!

  • 3 day itinerary
  • Average of 5 stops per day

A History Lesson in the Vatican City

St. Peter's Basilica Lit Up
St. Peter's Basilica Lit Up
St. Peter’s Basilica from Afar
St. Peter’s Basilica from Afar
The Never-ending Winding Staircase at the Vatican Museums
The Never-ending Winding Staircase at the Vatican Museums
Vatican Gardens
Vatican Gardens
Top View of St Peter's Square in the Vatican City
Top View of St Peter's Square in the Vatican City

The Vatican City, a city-state in Rome known as the 'Holy See,' is home to the Pope and the Catholic Church. It is the smallest country in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is visited by thousands of pilgrims each year. It is not only a sacred site but also home to some of the world's most well-known pieces of art and monumental architecture, such as Michelangelo's Pieta and Saint Peter's Basilica. Michelangelo's Pieta can be found in the 16th-century Dome, the 'Cupola'.

The first day of this itinerary will focus on exploring the sites inside the Vatican City, such as St. Peter's Basilica and Square and the Vatican Museums and Gardens.

St. Peter’s Basilica

Located in the heart of the Vatican City, right by the Piazza San Patro, is a 16th-century shrine built on top of St. Peter's grave from 64 AD. Inside the shrine, which is St. Peter's Basilica, you can admire many pieces of renaissance art, including the Michelangelo-designed Dome, and climb 491 steps to the top. You can also head down to the basement to see the many graves of noted saints. The graves are in the mausoleum and grottoes, which includes the tomb of St. Peter himself.

The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are a group of art museums under one name. All of them have mostly Christian themes and are within the boundaries of the Vatican City. There are about 20,000 pieces of art on display across all the museums. Everyone should be able to find something that interests them there. From Egyptian art to the Gallery of Maps, which contains Dante's painted maps, and the infamous Sistine Chapel with its Revelation fresco, there is A LOT to see here. For those who prefer to be in the open air, head to the Octagonal Courtyard to see its renowned Roman sculptures.

The Vatican Gardens

After a busy day exploring and admiring the architecture and art of the Vatican City, it might be nice to relax by spending some time in nature. The Vatican Gardens is a great place to do just that as it has a calming atmosphere with beautiful monuments and impressive fountains. They are located on the Western side of town and require a separate admission ticket. You will also need to join a guided tour as you cannot walk around the Gardens on your own.

St. Peter’s Square

St. Peter's Square is in front of St. Peter's Basilica and is the centre of the Vatican City. Right in the middle of the Square, you can admire an ancient Egyptian obelisk, along with two water fountains, that has been standing there since the 16th century. From the Square, look up to see the famous balcony that the Pope uses to deliver his blessings, which is also located in the middle of St. Peter's Basilica.

More Historical Sights Around Rome

Ingredients Often Found in Italian Food
Who doesn't love Italian food - hello, pasta?!
Vespa on an Old Street
Wizz your way around Rome on a Vespa!
Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain
The Spanish Steps with the Trinita dei Monti Church At The Top
The Spanish Steps with the Trinita dei Monti Church At The Top
Temple of Asclepius at Villa Borghese Gardens
Temple of Asclepius at Villa Borghese Gardens

For your second day in Rome, be like an Italian for a day by riding a Vespa and seeing more of the city's famous landmarks, such as the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. It's possible that on your journey from one attraction to another, you might get lost admiring a fountain in a corner or a piece of architecture you bump into along the way. Or, you'll forget where you were going in the first place. But all that is ok! No matter what path you take on your second day, whether planned or spontaneous, here are some more sites to keep in mind as they are also worthy of your time.

A Vespa Ride Around Rome

Most popular movies set in Rome tend to have at least one scene where people ride around on retro Italian Vespas. This easy-to-use, tiny and cute scooter will take you anywhere you want and can easily be rented out all across Rome. But of course, you need a driver's license! So plan ahead and get crackin' on your driving lessons and skills if you don't have one already ;)

Stroll through the Piazza Navona

Nothing evokes Italian culture more than the Piazza Navona. While walking through the Square, soak in the atmosphere for a couple of minutes. Let the artists offer you their art, let the baroque fountains calm you down with their falling water and let all the amazing smells from the local restaurants make your mouth water.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Santa Maria Basilica is the largest Catholic Marian church in Rome and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It saw its construction begin in 435 AD. It is free to enter and shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes to walk around it once inside. Even though it's a rather quick visit, take your time exploring its different architectural styles and magnificent artworks on its ceiling and walls.

Trevi Fountain

You have probably already noticed that there are a lot of fountains in Rome, and by now you might even be a little sick of them. But stay with me as the Trevi Fountain is not just any fountain. This monument, located a 10-minute walk from Piazza Navona, was built in the 18th century and stands almost 30 metres high and 50 metres wide. The large variety of iconography on this Fountain can keep art lovers and even non-art-lovers busy for quite a while - so keep a lookout for interesting sites!

Spanish Steps - Scalina Spagna

The Scalina Spagna, or Spanish Steps, is a set of 138 Roman Baroque style steps that was built in 1723 and is connected by the Piazza di Spagna at the bottom and the Piazza Trinita dei Monti at the top. The Trinita dei Monti Church also sits at the top of the stairs. For those who cannot climb up them, there is an elevator near the metro that can take you to the top. Do NOT sit on the steps as it is a UNESCO site and you can be fined for doing so.

Villa Borghese Gardens

Once again, it is nice to finish a long day of exploring by surrounding yourself with more nature. So head over to Villa Borghese, the third-largest garden in Rome, which has been around since the 17th century. Its 80 hectares of nature contains not only miles of walking paths, but also multiple temples and museums. For example, the Borghese Gallery and Museum is located here, which is also one of the most famous art galleries in Rome.

Get to Know the Famous Romans

Roman Ruins in Rome
Roman Ruins When in Rome
Baths of Caracalla - Terme di Caracalla
Baths of Caracalla - Terme di Caracalla
The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum
Rome City from Palatine Hill
Rome City from Palatine Hill
Colosseum at Night
Colosseum at Night
The Pantheon
The Pantheon
Campidoglio Square with Capitoline Museum on the Right
Campidoglio Square with Capitoline Museum on the Right

I have so far focused on the Renaissance Catholic Church and other historical sites around Rome, but we cannot forget that Rome was founded in 753 BC by the Romans. And despite the passing of time, we are lucky enough to still be able to admire what the Romans are most famous for- their excellent architectural skills. So for the last day of this itinerary, you will visit some of the most well-known Roman sights in 'The Eternal City'.

The first stop of the day, The Baths of Caracalla, might take you 2-3 hours to explore. On the other hand, the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill should take you no more than 3 hours altogether. I would recommend doing the Forum and Palatine Hill first before heading to the Colosseum so you have a better understanding of the area and the history behind it. The Pantheon should also not take you more than 30 mins. If you feel like you'd had enough after these sites, then don't worry about visiting the Capitoline Museum as you have already had a busy 2, now 3 days!

A little tip for you - If you want a 'free' 360-degree view of the Roman Forum, start at the Piazza Venezia and walk along the Via dei Fori Imperiali towards the Colosseum. Here, you get to appreciate the Forum's ruins and statues up close and personal from both sides of the road. The walk itself takes about an hour and can be done during the day or evening.

Baths of Caracalla - Terme di Caracalla

Start your last day at the Baths of Caracalla as they are slightly out of the way, but don't worry, you will work your back up afterwards. The Baths were most likely built sometime between 212-217 AD and were one of the largest public thermal baths in their time. They are a great place to go to get a bit of respite away from the crowds. Walk around at your own pace once inside and do book the 4D virtual reality tour in advance as it is very popular.

Check Out the Public Space at the Roman Forum

Located on the opposite side of the Orti Farnesiani sul Palatino Park, another famous archaeological site can be found - the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum is a rectangular plaza that was once the centre of everyday Roman life and is surrounded by ruins of a couple of government buildings, temples and royal residences.. It held public speeches, executions and even gladiator matches. It also has structures that are much older than the Colosseum, such as the Temple of Vesta which dates back to 7 century BC.

Palatine Hill

Palatine Hill is where Rome was founded and is considered to be one of the most ancient parts of the city. The hike up the Hill isn't strenuous and is only 40m taller than the Forum. However, I would still recommend comfortable walking shoes and always having a bottle on hand, especially if you're in Rome in the middle of summer! Do note, there are water fountains on the premises so you can bring your own bottle. Also, consider getting a guide for your walk so you're not walking around confused.

Colosseum

Nothing brings to mind the ancient Romans more than the famous Colosseum. Built around 70 AD by Emperors Vespasian and Titus, this magnificent amphitheatre was used by the great leaders of the Empire for many public events. These public events included gladiatorial fights, spectacles, executions and the infamous sea battles. Even though a big chunk of the Colosseum is now gone, it is still a great place to go to learn more about Rome's culture and history. Here, you can explore the museum, arena and secret passages underneath.

Pantheon

The last suggestion for Day 3 is the Pantheon - the temple of all gods. Located a 15-minute walk from the Capitoline Museum, this almost 2000-year-old temple will take you back to the times of Olympus gods and goddesses. The beautiful structure is the best-preserved Roman building and is living proof of the fantastic architectural and technical skills the Romans had.

Capitoline Museum

Right behind the Roman Forum is the oldest public museum in the world whose history can be traced back to the 15th century. Capitoline Museum has some great pieces of Roman art, sculptures and inscriptions. Head up to the second floor of the museum to see an interesting bronze work of a wolf nursing the legendary Romulus and Remus.

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Written by Loredana Elena

loredanaelena STAFF Since leaving Vancouver, Canada in January 2015, I have visited almost 40 countries. Currently based in London, UK and enjoying exploring Europe with my camera. I am also passionate about mental and physical health (fitness) and photography.


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