Post Overview: A complete Rome 3 day itinerary with helpful tips and vivid photos.
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Rome five times, three of which were month-long stays. But no matter how long I’m in the Eternal City I just can’t get enough.
So when a close friend texted me a few weeks ago asking for help planning a Rome 3 day itinerary I started to panic, I didn’t want her to miss a thing! I started racking my brain thinking of what’s truly a must-see spot and what would have to wait.
With the stress of a parent having to choose a favorite child I made a list of all of Rome’s major attractions and got to work. The more I worked my way through the landmarks the more I realized, maybe 3 days in Rome is enough.
And by the end of it I came to the conclusion that although 3 days in Rome is not enough time to soak in all its magic, it’s still enough time to fall under its spell.
So with that in mind I opted to write this article and share the 3 day itinerary. I understand that sometimes all you have is a long weekend, or Rome is a pit-stop on a trip across Europe. So with that in mind we’re going to make the most of it.
You shouldn’t settle for just the tip of the iceberg! And this 3 day Rome itinerary will give you the best of what Rome has to offer. If you’re willing to walk, I’m willing to lead.
But hey, enough of the small talk. What do you say we get to the good stuff?
Who is this 3 days in Rome itinerary for?
I’ve written this 3 days in Rome itinerary for folks who will be visiting the Eternal City for the first time and don’t know where to start. Visiting a new city is daunting enough, so this article takes care of the planning for you.
In this guide I’ll take you through Rome’s most iconic landmarks. And along the way I’ll pepper in recommendations on where to eat, what to do and what to see. This itinerary will give you a robust feel for the best of Rome while giving you ample reason to return for more.
Is 3 days in Rome enough time?
If you’re wondering if 3 days in Rome is enough to get the full experience, the answer is, kind of? I know, I know — that’s the worst answer in the history of the world, but let me explain.
Rome has the benefit of being an extremely walkable city and most of its landmarks are in close proximity to one another.
3 days in Rome isn’t enough to wander every charming alley or learn all the intricacies of the ancient world, but it’s a great introduction. Think of 3 days in Rome as an appetizer, which doesn’t replace a meal but is nonetheless stimulating and exciting.
With proper planning you can glide through its streets, getting a sense of what makes the Eternal City so bewitching. Three days in Rome gives you time to sample the food, meet the locals and fall under the city’s spell.
Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning.Giotto di Bondone
Tips for visiting Rome for the first time
Before spending the next 3 days in Rome here are a few suggestions to keep in mind.
- Comfortable walking shoes are non-negotiable: Rome’s cobblestone streets weren’t designed for heels, no matter how cute you look in them. (Pro-tip: I bring mine in a tote for photo-ops) Plus, during your 3 days in Rome you’ll be putting in some serious miles, so minimize sore feet or a sprained ankle by wearing comfortable walking shoes!
- Learn some basic phrases in Italian: When visiting a foreign country it’s important to remember, we’re not in Kansas in anymore. Although English is widespread in Rome don’t assume everybody speaks it. Not to mention it’s just plain ol’ good manners when visiting someone’s home to abide by their customs. Some good phrases to learn include hello (ciao), yes (si), no (no), please (per favore) and thank you (grazie).
- Make reservations ahead of time: The last thing you want to your 3 days in Rome to look like is a game of pinball, bouncing back and forth trying to find a place to eat. It’s even worse when you start getting a little hangry (we’ve all been there) and settle for a sub-par meal. The best spots in any city are swarmed by crowds, so plan ahead and make reservations whenever possible.
- Dress appropriately when visiting places of worship: Rome is a destination for millions of folks thanks to the sheer amount of jaw-dropping holy sites. Remember that these churches, cathedrals and basilicas are still functioning houses of worship and have strict dress codes. Bottoms must extend below the knees and tank tops and spaghetti straps are a big no-no, they won’t let you in!
- Keep some spare euros on you for small expenses: You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how inexpensive things are during your 3 days in Rome, especially small snacks. Coffee, gelato and souvenirs can easily be found for under €3! Keep a few small bills and especially coins for little, spur of the moment treats.
3 days in Rome Itinerary
In Rome one had simply to sit still and feel.E.M. Forster
3 Days in Rome Itinerary: Day one
Okay, the plane is still hot on the runway and you’re excited to spend the next 3 days in Rome. Where to start? Day one will feature the most iconic of ancient Roman attractions: the Colosseum. You’ll also enjoy a meandering stroll through one of the city’s most charming neighborhoods. It’s a relatively easy day but we’ll cover a lot of ground, so buckle up!
Top sights for day one:
- Colosseum/Roman Forum/ Palatine Hill
- Altare della Patria + Campidoglio
- Campo de’ Fiori
- Aventine Hill + Giardino degli Aranci
Rome Itinerary, Day 1: Morning at the Colosseum
Before I even dive into what makes the Colosseum so dumbfounding I need you to do me a favor: buy your tickets now. The days where you can buy your tickets in person are long-gone. As soon as you start planning your 3 day Rome itinerary the first thing you should do is buy tickets.
They sell out weeks, even months in advance so don’t go to bed tonight until you have a confirmation email in your inbox. While booking you’ll get to choose your entry time, I suggest visiting as early as possible.
With an early entry you’ll get a head start on your 3 days in Rome and also avoid afternoon heat. You won’t necessarily avoid crowds, but there is a less-chaotic feel in the morning (maybe because folks are still waking up).
Keep in mind that there are different tickets available, some allowing you to walk on the arena floor or visit at night. Or consider taking an underground tour, a new option that takes you below the arena floor into the tunnel system used during the games (which is still an active archeological site).
Did you know the Colosseum is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World? The marvel hosted an imposing 50 to 80,000 spectators, which is astonishing for a nearly 2000 year old structure. For comparison, the 2023 Super Bowl had 68,000 folks in attendance in a stadium built in 2006.
There isn’t a time limit as to how long you can spend in the Colosseum. Instead, you’ll find a designated, one-way path that takes about an hour to complete (and yes, that time-frame provides ample time for selfies).
After the Colosseum the next items on your 3 day Rome itinerary are visits to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
First up we have the Forum which was essentially ancient Rome’s downtown, home to government, religious and social buildings. Can’t miss sites include:
- Via Sacra (or the sacred way) was the main road in the Roman Forum. It runs from the top of Capitoline Hill to the Colosseum. It was also the site of celebrations and marches after successful Roman conquests.
- Temple of Saturn was created as a temple for the god of agriculture but was later transformed into a treasury. Most images of the Roman Forum feature the temple’s columns that stand an impressive 30 ft.
- The Senate House was a government building and home to the senate, although it later was turned into a church. Over its history it was rebuilt several times, with the building standing today built around 280 AD.
- Arch of Titus was built in 81 AD by Emperor Domitian in celebration of his brother Titus’ victory in the Siege of Jerusalem. The Via Sacra runs underneath the arch, and you can too.
Within the Roman Forum is Palatine Hill, one of the Seven Hills Rome was founded on. According to legend, it was in a cave in Palatine Hill where the twins Romulus and Remus were saved by the she-wolf Lupa. Romulus would go on to found (and be the first king of) Rome, and Palatine Hill was where it all originated.
When walking Palatine Hill you’ll find them old homes of wealthy and influential aristocrats and even emperors. From Palatine Hill you’ll also have a phenomenal view of Circus Maximus, an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium that at its peak swelled with over 150,000 spectators!
These two spots can be found at the Colosseum’s doorstep, practically as soon as you exit. The best part is you won’t even need to purchase a ticket. Your tickets to the Colosseum includes entry to the Forum & Palatine Hill.
Your ticket will be good for an entry into the Forum within 24 hours of your entry into the Colosseum. Confusing? Here’s an example: if your ticket to the Colosseum is for Monday at 10AM, you have until Tuesday at 10AM to visit the Forum and Palatine Hill.
Rome Itinerary, Day 1: Afternoon Exploring
Once you’ve gotten your fill of the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill you’ll march up along the Via dei Fori Imperiali. Walk for about 15 minutes and find the Vittoriano, also known as the Altare della Patria.
In English that translates to the Altar of the Fatherland, but it sounds so much more badass in Italian (even with an accent). The epic monument pays homage to Victor Emmanuel II, the first King of unified Italy and has gone on to represent Italian nationalism as a whole.
You can book tickets to visit the Vittoriano and attempt to absorb all the intricate architecture, statues and symbolism. But if I’m being honest – 3 days in Rome is not enough time for a trip inside. Is it beautiful? Absolutely! But unless you have time for a tour or to take your time perusing, in my opinion, it’s not worth it.
If the grandeur of the Vittoriano is too enticing and you choose to visit anyways, you can’t miss the panoramic terrace. There are 360° views of Rome that are mesmerizing!
My suggestion is to walk its perimeter, gawking at its statues and majestic columns. Brave the busy streets and cross into the Piazza Venezia for a photo before continuing to the next spot on your Rome 3 day itinerary.
And the next stop isn’t far, in fact it’s right behind the Vittoriano. The Piazza del Campidoglio, or Capitol Square, was designed by Michaelangelo across several years during the 16th century.
At its center is a statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, but I’ll let you in on a secret, it’s actually a replica! The original was brought into the Capitoline Museum (which is also in the square) to preserve it from the elements.
I’ll be honest – the Capitoline Museum is one of the best in Rome, but (it pains me to say) this 3 day Rome itinerary does not include a visit inside. In an effort to maximize your 3 days in Rome we must keep moving. The Piazza del Campidoglio is just a pit-stop, albeit it a memorable one.
Not to mention, moving on gets easier when you learn the next stop on your 3 day Rome itinerary is a Michelin Guide recommended meal.
Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina is a family business that has grown in both business ventures and popularity. Originally a bakery, and then a salumeria (a deli) and now a full-fledged restaurant, the Roscioli family has excelled at every step of the way and our bellies should be thankful.
You’ll find an array of meats, seafood, wines and of course, pastas! If there was ever a time to give a meal six stars out of five, it’d be now. I’ve tried the carbonara, caccio e pepe, oxtail ravioli and amatriciana. Each meal is deserving of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, they’re that damn good!
You’ll need to make reservations ahead of time, and if you don’t you should look for a different spot for lunch. Roscioli’s popularity has gone global and folks make the pilgrimage for the beloved carb-loaded dishes year-round.
After lunch (you may need to be rolled) make your way to the nearby Campo di Fiori market. The name translates to “field of flowers” and the market is vibrant and full of life.
I will admit, its become a bit of a tourist trap. But Campo di Fiori is one of the oldest markets in Rome and so close to Roscioli I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest you drop by. There are souvenirs, flowers, and produce for sale so be sure to bring small bills in case something catches your eye.
Interesting fact: The statue at the center of the market is of Giordano Bruno. He was an Italian philosopher that was gruesomely executed in 1600 in Campo di Fiori for heresy. The statue, erected in 1889, faces the Vatican unapologetically and became a rallying point for proponents in favor of freedom of thought.
Depending on how tired you are, this next item on your 3 day Rome itinerary is optional.
Essentially you’ll be exploring Rome’s trendiest, most bewitching neighborhood, Trastevere. But, If you feel like your legs are done for the day, it’s okay to skip ahead.
If I’m honest Rome has pockets of charming streets everywhere. With that said, few neighborhoods have become a sanctuary for inspiration like Trastevere.
There’s a youthful exuberance that juxtaposes the old-world, ivy covered homes poetically. Trastevere is always bustling with both tourists and locals alike pin-balling from the wine bars, gelato shops and boutiques. Take some time and join in on the fun, perusing until it’s almost sunset.
Take the time to soak it all in and simmer in the neighborhood’s ubiquitous charm. I know you only have 3 days in Rome, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t slow down and smell the roses. 😉
Rome Itinerary, Day 1: Evening at Aventine Hill
We’ll be winding down the first of your 3 days in Rome taking in the sunset from Aventine Hill. If you remember from earlier, Rome was founded on seven hills, and Aventine is the southernmost of them.
After a short and easy climb you’ll find yourself at Giardino degli Aranci, or the Garden of Orange (trees). From here you get to take in one of the most beautiful viewpoints in all of Rome, with a straight-shot at St. Peter’s Basilica.
When the weather is nice you’ll find vendors selling nuts and sometimes even wine. Not to mention you walked over three miles today, so it’s nice to rest your feet while enjoying the cotton candy skies.
While visiting the Aventine Hill I strongly encourage you to check out the Knights of Malta Keyhole. It’s a keyhole found on a green door that sits in an impressive, stone facade. When you look inside there’s a tunnel of greenery with St. Peter’s Basilica on display in the distance.
It’s a little detail but if you’re in the area during your 3 days in Rome it’s worth the stop. Both Google and Apple Maps can route you to it, and it’s hard to miss because there’s usually a small line of folks waiting to take a peek.
When you’re ready to come back into the fold head back towards the city center and look for dinner. With the first of your 3 days in Rome in the books celebrate by treating yourself to a hearty Italian meal.
My suggestion is to head back towards Trastevere. This way you can visit any restaurants that piqued your interest while exploring the neighborhood earlier in the day. Go with what feels right, it’s hard to go wrong!
If you really need a suggestion, I recommend Tonnarello’s. It’s a popular tourist destination so odds are there will be a line, but it moves quickly. You’ll find satisfying Italian plates served in a casual setting, perfect for your first night in Rome.
Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.G K Chesterton
Rome Three Day Itinerary: Day 2
I hope you plugged your feet in to charge last night because day two will have you walking a bit more than yesterday. Today will feel like a series of hit and runs where you stop by, snap a photo, and keep it moving. You’ll see the most iconic attractions in Rome that are frequently used on postcards (and in today’s world, TikToks).
Top sights for day two:
- Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore + Piazza della Reppublica
- Trevi Fountain/The Pantheon/Piazza Navona
- Castel Sant’Angelo
- Piazza del Popolo
- Spanish Steps
- Borghese Gallery and Villa
- Passeggiata del Pincio
Rome Itinerary, Day 2: Attractions Before Crowds
We’ll start day two of your three day Rome itinerary at the foot of the magnificent Basilica Papale di Sant Maria Maggiore (Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major).
The basilica is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome, a major Catholic pilgrimage. You’ll be glad you visited in the morning before the flocks of tourists perch themselves in the plaza with selfie-sticks like seagulls waiting for crumbs.
The facade dates back to the 18th century when the basilica went through a major facelift. However there are parts within the church that date much, much later than that. It’s also free to enter, so I encourage you take a peek!
According to Catholic lore, the Virgin Mary appeared to Pope Liberius on August 4, 352 at the very location where the basilica stands today. She asked him to build her a church and that night there was a miraculous snowfall. The snow outlined the floor-plan of what would become the first version of the basilica.
Continuing on with your 3 days in Rome you’ll head in the direction of Piazza della Reppublica. A beautiful circular piazza that has the Fountain of the Naiads at its center. Framed majestically by buildings that contour to the piazza’s curve.
Don’t hang out for long though, the Piazza della Reppublica won’t be a highlight of your 3 days in Rome. It just so happened to be on the way to our next destination: the Trevi Fountain.
To me personally, the Trevi Fountain is by far the best (free) attraction you’ll find during your 3 days in Rome. Spanning a staggering 160 ft. wide and 80 ft. tall, the thing is as massive as it is beautiful.
The water comes from the only aqueduct from the days of ancient Rome (built in 19 BC!) still functioning today. But although the aqueduct is ancient that doesn’t mean the fountain is, it was built in the 18th century.
The theme of the Trevi Fountain is taming the water. At its center there’s an imposing statue of Oceanus, the Greek Titan God of the river Oceanos. He stands over the Gods of the Sea that are taming hippocampus’ (sea-horses) below him.
And I hope you have some spare change because you can’t spend 3 days in Rome and not throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain! But don’t feel bad about tossing your money. Each year the euros tossed into the Trevi Fountain are donated to charity. It’s estimated more than a million euros a year are collected!
According to myth, if you throw a coin into the fountain using your right hand over your left shoulder you will return to Rome. If you throw in two coins you will fall in love with an attractive Italian. And if you throw in three coins you will marry that attractive Italian in Rome.
My husband and I are looking to upgrade so we threw in three coins each, fingers crossed! 😉
After you’ve had your fun at the Trevi Fountain head towards the Pantheon. One of the most recognizable buildings (only second to the Colosseum). Folks are welcome to tour the inside free of charge, making this one of the best free things to do during your 3 days in Rome.
Erected in 126CE, the Pantheon served as a temple for Romans of all denominations (pantheon is Greek for “all the gods”).
The Pantheon is important for two reasons: First, it speaks to the unparalleled engineering and architectural skill of Romans. Secondly, the building has undoubtedly withstood the test of time. Clocking in at an impressive 2,000 years, the Pantheon is considered Rome’s best-preserved ancient monuments.
Fun fact: The inscription above the Pantheon’s entrance reads “Marcus Agrippa, the son of Lucius, three times consul, built this.” And do you know what else Marcus Agrippa built? Aqua Virgo. The aqueduct that gushes water into the Trevi Fountain, so will somebody please give this guy a medal or something!
By now you’ve probably worked up an appetite and my suggestion is to swing by All’Antico Vinaio for a sandwich. Just know these aren’t your typical Subway sandwiches, these are expertly crafted works of art.
It’s incredible that the simple combinations of crisp veggies, savory meats and fresh cheeses have propelled the shop to such success. But all it takes a bite to understand the hype.
A mere two minute walk from the Pantheon you’ll find one of their Roman shops. Usually accompanied by a line out the door. But the line moves quickly and the sandwiches are inexpensive (compared to their U.S. counterparts).
And after you pop out with your easy lunch from All’Antico Vinaio you can start heading towards Piazza Navona, the most famous of Rome’s city squares.
At its center is the most famous of the piazza’s three fountains, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or the Fountain of the Four Rivers. In the middle of the fountain is an ancient Egyptian obelisk meant to to represent Papal authority.
The four statues encircling the obelisk symbolize the four major rivers in the continents where the Catholic Church had spread to. The Nile in Africa, the Ganges in Asia, the Rio de Plata in the Americas and the Danube in Europe.
The other two remaining fountains also keep the ocean theme going. The Fontana del Moro to the south depicts a moor wrestling a dolphin. On the north end is Fontana del Nettuno with Neptune fighting an octopus at its center.
Fun fact: Piazza Navona is (literally) built upon the ruins of an ancient stadium, which is why it’s so big. You can still tour parts of the Stadio di Domiziano (Stadium of Domitian) with the purchase of tickets.
Rome Itinerary, Day 2: Afternoon Sightseeing
From Piazza Navona meander the city’s streets working your way towards the Ponte Sant’Angelo (St. Angelo Bridge). You’ll know you’re in the right place because at the end of the bridge is a castle (named the Castel Sant’Angelo).
Seriously, the only thing that would make the scene more Disney-like is if you rode in on a chariot. It almost doesn’t seem real, so you’re definitely going to want a photo from the bridge to remember the moment.
Castel Sant’Angelo is also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian because it was originally designed to be the resting place for Emperor Hadrian and his family. Several Emperors remains’ went on to be kept in Castel Sant’Angelo, including those of Marcus Aurelius.
Over its thousand-plus year history its also been a fortress, church, and prison. You can tour the inside of the castle (which has been transformed into a museum) but with only 3 days in Rome I suggest you keep it moving.
Walk across the bridge to the castle and take a right, where you’re faced with two options. You can either walk along the Tiber River or cut through the Prati neighborhood on your way to Piazza del Poppolo.
Both routes take the exact same amount of time, so the option really is a matter of preference.
Once you arrive at Piazza del Poppolo you should stop to breathe it all in. Although this isn’t Rome’s most beautiful square (that doesn’t mean it’s ugly) it’s one of the most historic.
Translating to The People’s Square, the piazza sits just inside the Aurelian Walls of ancient Rome. Before the use of trains most visitors to Rome came through the Porta del Popolo, a gate in the Aurelian Walls. Which sits at the north end of the square.
Can you imagine being a tourist 500 years ago, visiting Rome for 3 days and walking through the monumental gate? What a thrill that would be, especially considering most visitors came from small farm towns.
From the Piazza del Popolo meander your way through the charming Roman streets on your way to the Spanish Steps. If you find yourself lost just follow the sound, the closer you get the more you hear voices and chatter.
In the 16th century the Trinita dei Monti church atop the Spanish Steps sat on a slope with no connection to the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square) below it. It wasn’t until 1723 that the 135 steps began being built. Creating what would become one of the best things to see during your 3 days in Rome.
In the present the steps are an iconic landmark thanks to the panoramic views of Trinita dei Monti and is rarely empty. You’ll find the area around the Spanish Steps to be full of stores (including luxury designers, hello), cafes and restaurants. This is also a good time to grab an afternoon espresso. 😉
By now you might be running on fumes, and if you are I’m sorry! I’m just trying to make the most of your 3 days in Rome. I’m praying the excitement of the landmarks and a hearty amount of espresso’s keep you chugging along.
Plus, at this point you’ll be heading to your second to last stop of the day – the Borghese Gallery and Villa. A spellbinding collection of art is housed in an equally impressive former home of Cardinal Scipione Borghese.
You’ll get to peruse Borghese’s art collection that has works spanning back to the first century. Most of the art however are sculptures and paintings roughly from around 1500 to 1700.
Tickets should be purchased in advance if you choose to visit the museum during your 3 days in Rome. However, should you choose not to, you should still peruse the Borghese Villa’s gardens.
The gardens are a masterclass in serenity. There’s curated paths that meander between trees to the singing of birds. You can even rent a rowboat and paddle with your lover across the lake while enjoying the sun.
The best part is, the gardens are free to enter so there isn’t an excuse not to visit during your 3 days in Rome. Just be sure to take your time wandering the gardens. The only thing that can ruin the experience is rushing it.
Rome Itinerary, Day 2: Evening Sunset
Want to keep the tranquil vibe of the Borghese Gardens flowing? Scoot on over to the Passeggiata del Pincio for an inspiring view of the sunset.
If your feet are barking at you to sit down I promise you won’t have to walk far, the viewpoint is on the edge of the Borghese Villa. The Passeggiata del Pincio overlooks the Piazza del Popolo, so if you’re thinking to yourself “hey, that looks familiar” you’d be correct. 😉
From here just enjoy the sunset and fresh air, and take your time getting up to leave. Tomorrow is an easier day and you’re more than halfway through this 3 days in Rome itinerary.
Rome was a poem pressed into service as a city.Anatole Broyard
3 Days in Rome Itinerary: Day 3
Day 3 of this 3 day Rome itinerary will bring you within the borders of a whole new country: the Vatican. Indeed. the Vatican is the smallest country in the world, standing at less than a quarter square mile in size. Don’t let its small footprint fool you though, the city-state is rife with art and historic artifacts.
Top sights for day three:
- Vatican Museums
- St. Peter’s Basilica
- Gardens of Vatican City
- St. Peter’s Square
Rome Itinerary, Day 3: Morning in Vatican City
I never know how much time to allocate to visiting Vatican City. It gets 20,000 visitors daily and the lines are no joke. That’s why my suggestion is to spend the last of your 3 days in Rome taking your time exploring the city-state without the added pressure of a time-limit.
The swarms of people will have you sympathizing with sardines stat. Do yourself a favor and don’t rush the experience. Also, please wear appropriate clothing (no tank tops, hats or shorts/skirts above the knee). The last thing you want is to be rejected entry after waiting in a long line.
Start the morning perusing the Vatican Museums, which display more than 20,000 pieces of mind-blowing of art. You should purchase tickets in advance and show up early because when the crowds come it’s like Walmart on Black Friday.
As you work your way through the museum’s 24 galleries you’ll walk amongst ancient sculptures, renaissance paintings and modern religious art. All the galleries build up to the grand-finale, the legendary Sistine Chapel.
The magnificent chapel is home to the papal conclave (the process where a new pope is elected) and features Michelangelo’s two most significant frescoes (a type of mural).
One of the frescoes is on the ceiling, so don’t forget to look up. It depicts scenes from the Book of Genesis, including the creation of Adam. The other was created 25 years after the ceiling and can be found behind the altar, titled The Last Judgement. This fresco depicts the Second Coming of Christ.
You should also know you are not allowed to take photos inside the Sistine Chapel. There are signs plastered everywhere and the guards pay close attention. So don’t be a jerk and try to sneak one.
After you work your way through the Vatican Museums you can bee-line towards St. Peter’s Basilica.
A master-class in Renaissance architecture it’s hard not to feel small standing in the shadow of it’s monumental facade. Said to be built over the tomb of St. Peter, two basilicas have been built in this location. The first basilica was built around 300 AD by Emperor Constantine the Great.
Then in the early 1500’s Pope Julius II, wanting to leave a lasting legacy, made the decision to demolish the Old St. Peter’s Basilica (which at that point had stood for over 1000 years!). The new basilica that would take its place is the one you’ll be visiting during your 3 days in Rome. More than 500 years later might I add.
You’ll notice the unrelenting display of art including Bernini’s Canopy over the altar, Michelangelo’s Pietà depicting Mary and Jesus, and of course the dome which is a marvelous architectural feat.
Speaking of which, you can climb the dome which is the tallest building in the historic center of Rome. It’ll cost you an additional fee. But it’s a memory of your 3 days in Rome that will last a lifetime.
From St. Peter’s Basilica you’re free to peruse the Gardens of Vatican City, one of the most serene places you’ll visit during your 3 days in Rome. They look like royal gardens you’d see in a movie, with perfectly manicured greenery and statues peppered along the way.
Then end your day at the Vatican by snapping some photos in St. Peter’s Square. I left it for last because I don’t think you should prioritize the square before the attractions. The square will welcome you well into the afternoon, so leave it for last.
Rome Itinerary Day 3: Afternoon to Yourself
The end of this 3 day Rome itinerary is an afternoon to yourself. Take the time to visit any spots you feel you didn’t have enough time at. Or just enjoy the evening sipping on cheap aperol spritz’ at a hole in the wall restaurant.
This is also the best time to buy souvenirs because now you have an idea of what it is you want to remember. Whether it’s the Colosseum where we started your 3 days in Rome or the Vatican where we ended, you can commemorate it with a postcard, tote, sweater or magnet.
I sincerely want to thank you for reading my 3 days in Rome itinerary. I hope you’ve grown to love Rome as much as I do, and if you’re anything like me you’re already looking at flights to come back!
Below I’ll give a few more suggestions for your 3 days in Rome, and any return trips you’ll be planning. 😉
You might have noticed during your 3 days in Rome that the local nightlife is thriving. Most Italians don’t even sit down for dinner until 8 or 9PM, so you can imagine a few rounds of drinks going well past sundown.
Rome is also a safe city (when you use common sense) so being out into the night shouldn’t be a concern. Just be mindful of your noise level when walking residential streets and you’re good to go.
There are plenty of wine and cocktail bars that warrant a shout-out, not to mention the abundance of casual restaurants for a beer or aperol spritz. Below I’ll recommend a few you can visit during your 3 days in Rome.
- Drink Kong: Ranked the 16th best bar in the world, Drink Kong is a swanky nightclub-esque establishment serving masterfully crafted cocktails. The Japanese-inspired bar approaches drinks like science projects with labels for bitterness, sweetness and acidity and is open until 2AM.
- Freni e Frizioni: A popular cocktail bar with a grungy street vibe, you’ll be impressed with the level artistry the mixologists posess. There’s also a buffet full of appetizers to pair with your cocktails. If you want to visit during your 3 days in Rome I suggest visiting as soon as they open since the tables fill up quickly.
- Il Goccetto: If you’re in search of an unfussy wine bar to spend a few hours with good company, you can’t find much better than Il Goccetto. There’s a global selection of wine and small bites that’ll help keep conversation flowing and the charming vibe only adds to the warm comfort.
More Worthwhile Roman Attractions:
Need more spots to visit during your 3 days in Rome? Way to go, overachiever! Here are a few more iconic attractions in the Eternal City I recommend.
- Circo Massimo: An ancient Roman chariot racing stadium near the Colosseum that could host more than 150,000 spectators. Best of all, access is free!
- Caracalla Baths: The second-largest ancient bathhouse in Rome, built during the third century. You can walk the different rooms of the bathhouse and gawk at its size but don’t bring a swimsuit, there’s no water left. 😉
- Bocca della Verita: A 16th century, stone mask that supposedly bites liars who place their hands in its mouth. Its purpose remains disputed, but the mask became famous after being featured in the film Roman Holiday (1953).
- Janiculum Hill (Belvedere del Gianicolo): The second tallest hill in Rome, overlooking the Tiber River and the ancient city. Both locals and tourists alike flock to the viewpoint for sunset.
- Papal Archbasilica of Saint John in Lateran: One of the four major basilicas in Rome, St. John in Lateran is the official seat of the pope (not St. Peter’s). Plus it’s free to visit, just show up early to avoid the line.
- Lateran Obelisk: Found in the square across from the Basilica of St. John in Lateran, the Lateran Obelisk is the largest standing, ancient Egyptian obelisk in the world.
- The Appian Way: The first major Roman road lined with tombs and catacombs, as well as a church built where St. Peter had a vision of Jesus. You can take a stroll over the same stone path used 2000 years ago.
When is the best time to visit Rome?
The best time to visit the Eternal City is in the spring, namely in April. The sun makes its presence known and the festivities of Easter and Natale di Roma (Rome’s birthday on April 21st) give the city an undeniable buzz.
It’s can still be a bit chilly, especially in the early mornings and evenings so bring a warm coat or sweater for your 3 days in Rome. During the day it’s perfect exploring weather, where you won’t be ringing out your shirt after a sweaty walk through a neighborhood or shedding layers every time you sit down for a meal.
Furthermore, your 3 days in Rome during the spring will be colorful thanks to the vibrant greenery and blooms on display. Attractions like the Spanish Steps decorate in a lively display of flowers that won’t be the same any other time of the year.
Here are the average temperature’s in Rome in the spring:
- March: High of 62° and low of 43°
- April: High of 67° and low of 48°
- May: High of 75° and low of 56°
This might sound counterintuitive, but avoid visiting Rome in the summer. The landmarks are practically all outside and you’ll be walking everywhere with this 3 day Rome itinerary, and by the end of the day you’ll be burnt toast. Try visiting in mid to late spring, when the weather is ripe for exploration.
Where to stay in Rome:
Surprise! I have an entire post dedicated to where to stay in Rome. This is a helpful article when planning your 3 days in Rome because I give helpful tips for choosing a neighborhood and things to consider before booking.
I even mention two areas to avoid, but you’ll have to read it to find out what they are. 😉 Here’s my article on Where to Stay in Rome for First Time Visitors to help you plan your Rome 3 day itinerary.
How much to budget for 3 days in Rome
You’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that spending 3 days in Rome is relatively affordable. Assuming you have your flights and lodging already taken care of, the only things you really have to plan for are food and attractions.
Based off my calculations (and experiences) $100 a day is more than enough to cover a fun 3 days in Rome.
Assuming you eat out every meal and spend €15 per meal (which covers a non-alcoholic drink and typical dish at most restaurants), that’s only €45 on food per day.
Budget €20 for entrance into museums and attractions and you’ll still have €35 for souvenirs, desserts, and drinks at the end of the night. With proper planning you can pencil in a nice dinner during your 3 days in Rome and still have euros to spare.
3 Day Rome Itinerary (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the best way to spend 3 days in Rome. In other words, the ideal Rome 3 day itinerary.
Rome Itinerary | Day 1
- Start your morning at the Colosseum
- Visit the Roman Forum
- Walk over to the Vittoriano
- Explore The Piazza del Campidoglio
- Head on over to Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina for a bite
- Peruse the Campo di Fiori market
- Optional: wander the streets of Trastevere
- Take in the sunset from Aventine Hill
Day 2 | Rome Itinerary
- Start your morning at Basilica Papale di Sant Maria Maggiore
- Head in the direction of Piazza della Reppublica
- Toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain
- Swing by the Pantheon
- Grab lunch at All’ Antico Vinaio
- Explore Piazza Navona
- Walk to Ponte Sant’Angelo
- Wander Piazza del Poppolo
- Gawk at the Spanish Steps
- Check out the art at the Borghese Gallery and Villa
- Visit Passeggiata del Pincio for an inspiring view of the sunset
Rome Itinerary | Day 3
- Start your morning in Vatican City
- Check out St. Peter’s Basilica
- Stroll the Gardens of Vatican City
- Explore St. Peter’s Square
- Spend the afternoon roaming the streets
- Take it easy and enjoy Rome for all its glory
Again – I want to thank you for taking the time to read my Rome 3 day itinerary. I put in some serious thought into this post because I want you to have the best time possible in the Eternal City. I hope you enjoy your 3 days in Rome, and hope to chat soon.