This Rome 3 day itinerary will help you make the most of only a short time in the Eternal City.
Rome is the most popular jumping-off point for touring most of Italy. Most inexpensive flights from the US come into Rome and it’s the capital of Italy. Rome is an easy place to base yourself for many day trips or shorter trips around the country. And honestly, the city has so much to offer that you really can’t go wrong spending any amount of time here!
Three days in Rome is a good amount of time to be able to see all of the main sites and experience the culture of this beautiful and historic destination. I’ll walk you through this Rome itinerary and help you to make the most of your short time in Rome!
Here's a Shortcut
- Day 1 – Get an Overview of the City
- Day 2 – Explore Iconic Rome Sites
- Day 3 – Early Morning & Cooking Class
- Where to Stay in Rome for 3 Days
- 3 Days in Rome Itinerary Map
Day 1 – Get an Overview of the City
One your first day in Rome you will most likely be jetlagged, but it’s important to push through the exhaustion and stay awake until bedtime. This will help you to adjust to the time zone more quickly and enjoy your trip more thoroughly.
The best way to get your blood flowing and also to get an overview of a large city like Rome is to take a Vespa tour. Hop on the back of a vintage scooter and explore the ancient ruins and modern monuments.
Your tour guide will zip you around Rome explaining the sites and telling you stories and legends. It’s very informational and super fun! I always recommend doing this tour first so that you can get a good look at anything you might want to come back to in the next few days. This is the tour I recommend: Half Day Vespa Tour
Explore Villa Borghese Gardens
If the weather is nice on your first day in Rome, explore the Villa Borghese Gardens and get some fresh air and great views of the city. You can tour the Villa Borghese that is home to some incredible art and architecture. You can book a tour of the gardens and the villa.
After your half-day of touring Rome by Vespa, spend the afternoon exploring the beautiful neighborhood of Trastevere, one of Rome’s most picturesque areas. Grab dinner while you’re there from one of the many amazing restaurants.
Day 2 – Explore Iconic Rome Sites
On the second day of your Rome itinerary, you’ll explore the most iconic places to see in Rome.
Wake up early and take a tour of the Vatican before the hordes of other tourists arrive. This is the best way to see the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican museum and is totally worth the early wake-up call.
Keep in mind that you cannot visit the inside of the Vatican on Sundays and Wednesdays. You can book the Early morning Vatican Tour here.
St. Peter’s Square & Basilica
St. Peter’s Square is the front entrance to the Vatican, a country within a country. The massive square, which is actually circular is an amazing site and a great place to people watch. Check out the beautiful statues and columns lining the square.
Explore St. Peter’s Basilica and view some of the most famous artwork in the world. The Basilica can get very busy, so I recommend booking a skip the line ticket.
Castel Sant Angelo
This iconic round castle was built in 129 AD and is one of the most beautiful places in Rome. It is now a museum and you can visit the inside and also climb atop the ramparts for incredible views of the Taber River and Rome.
Of course, a trip to Rome would not be complete without visiting the Colosseum! This ancient
The Colosseum is a must see in Rome! It’s most likely the first thing you think of when you close your eyes and think of Rome. Well, maybe that or gelato! The Colosseum is one of the many famous buildings in Rome, and one of the most famous in Europe!
Rome without the Colosseum would be like Paris without the Eiffel Tower! It’s hard to even imagine it. Constructed around 70 AD, the Colosseum was used as a large amphitheater for Roman entertainment. It held around 80,000 people who viewed gladiators, animals, and all sorts of sport and show. Don’t skip going inside the Colosseum!
There is some incredible history to be learned from within this massive stadium and when will you get another chance to stand inside a 2,000-year-old structure and picture what life was like in ancient Roman times.
The best way to avoid waiting in long lines at the Colosseum is to book a tour. It’s worth paying a little more to enjoy a few extra hours of your visit to Rome. You can book your private tour here.
After you see the Colosseum, head over to the Roman Forum next door. The Roman Forum was the center of life for the ancient Roman inhabitants and also the political center of the city. It’s amazing to see many of the structures still partially standing along with the foundations of many important buildings such as important Roman Temples.
Rome is built on 7 hills, and they’re all worth visiting, but Palatine Hill is a must do in Rome. This is one of the most ancient areas of Rome, and legend has it that this is where Romulus and Remus, the brothers who were raised by wolves and who eventually went on to found Rome, were born. While on the hill be sure to see Flavian Palace and the Temple of Cybele which still stand today. You can access Palatine Hill by booking the Colosseum and Roman Forum. The hike up the hill is worth it for the view alone!
Day 3 – Early Morning & Cooking Class
If you’re wondering what to do in Rome in 3 days and if you can fit it all in, the answer is yes, but you’ll have to make use of the early hours of the morning. For the last day of your three days in Rome, you’ll want to get up early again and take advantage of a crowd-free city. Walk the empty streets and explore these sites.
The Spanish Steps
Get your morning workout in on the Spanish Steps! They are also a great place to sit down, take a break, and people watch if you don’t get there early.
These 138 steps have a long history being built in the 1700s. You can visit the Trinita dei Monti church at the top of the steps or the Piazza di Spagna at the bottom of the steps.
It’s a great place to sit and relax in the afternoon with a drink or a gelato, although recently there has been chatter that Rome will soon be discouraging and even outlawing people to sit and eat on the steps. As one of the top sites in Rome, it suffers from the usual effects of overtourism.
One of the main attractions in Rome right in the heart of the eternal city is Piazza Navona. This large elliptical-shaped public “square”, built on the site of an ancient Roman stadium is full of amazing fountains and busy restaurants, and is conveniently devoid of cars and scooters, making it a great place to relax. Be sure to see the Fontana del Moro and Fountain of Neptune. If you’ve seen the film Angels and Demons you’ll recognize these fountains!
This beautiful work of art by Nicola Salvi was produced in 1762 and is probably the most famous fountain in the world! Not to mention, the busiest. Even at 6 a.m., it will most likely be packed!
It’s also one of the oldest sources of water in Rome, built at the end of an aqueduct. Around 3,000 in coins are thrown into the fountain EVERY DAY! Legend says that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain that you’ll be guaranteed a trip back to Rome.
Luckily those coins don’t go to waste. Every night the coins are collected and given to a charity called Caritas who provides rechargeable cards to the needy to help them buy groceries. So don’t feel bad throwing your coins in there. You’ll get a trip back and give to charity at the same time. Win-win!
Also, a word to the wise: don’t remove coins from any fountains in Rome. It’s bad luck, and just plain rude!
The Pantheon is one of my favorite buildings in Rome. Almost as old as the Colosseum, the Pantheon has worn many hats over the years. Teetering between Pagan and Christian churches, whatever you believe, it’s still an impressive building.
Be sure to look up at the dome to find the Oculus where the sun will be shining through! The Pantheon is free to enter, but it’s so great to book a guided tour to learn more about this ancient building’s fascinating history.
There are so many things to do in Rome in 3 days, but you should not leave without taking a cooking class!
One of my favorite things to do in Italy, but especially in Rome is to take a cooking class from a local professional or home cook. If you’re a minimalist or you value experiences over things, this is a great choice because you’ll be able to take a little piece of Rome home with you in the form of knowledge.
If you don’t have time to take a cooking class in Rome, at least be sure you at least try the best food in Rome. Read my Food Guide to Italy.
Where to Stay in Rome for 3 Days
There are so many places to visit in Rome in 3 days. Luckily they are all fairly close together. You’ll want to be sure you’re staying in the heart of it all so that you’ll be able to get around Rome easily and mostly on foot. Read my Rome Neighborhood Guide to find the best accommodations in the right areas.
3 Days in Rome Itinerary Map
I hope you have an amazing 3 days in Rome and you’re able to enjoy the city to the fullest! It’s truly an amazing and memorable place and I can’t wait for you to fall in love!