3 Days in Rome, Italy – A Complete Itinerary
We recently spent 3 days in Rome and fell in love with Italy’s capital city! While 25 centuries old, it’s always finding new and interesting ways to charm around 7-10 million tourists annually. From Vatican City to the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and more, this city has so much to offer in terms of history, character, interesting attractions, and of course, delicious food.
Considering Rome is such a huge city, 3 days in Rome isn’t nearly enough time to cover everything we wanted to do. But 3 days in Rome is perfect for seeing the highlights such as the Pantheon, the Colosseum, Vatican Museums, and more.
This Rome itinerary is perfect for those visiting Rome for the first time or someone who has visited a few times but might find some new recommendations! As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” so let’s get started!
Where is Rome?
Rome is the capital city of Italy. It is located in the Lazio Region of Italy in the Central Western part of the country.
When is the Best Time to Visit Rome?
Spring in Rome
Average High Temperatures: 62-75℉ (16-23℃)
Average Low Temperatures: 43-56℉ (6-13℃)
Spring is a great time to visit Rome! We visited Rome in early May and found it to be a very enjoyable time to visit. The weather was beautiful (not too hot yet) and the crowds were moderate. If we were to go back in the spring I would say April would be my preferred month solely because I think May is when peak tourist season starts.
Summer in Rome
Average High Temperatures: 82-88℉ (27-31℃)
Average Low Temperatures: 63-67℉ (17-19℃)
While summer is a popular time to visit Rome it is not the time I would suggest. It’s hot and incredibly crowded during these months. That being said, if it is the only time that works best with your schedule to visit Rome it’s okay! You can still enjoy your trip! Just make sure you book all of your reservations for restaurants, attractions, and trains (if traveling from another city in Italy) really early because things book up FAST. Also make sure you plan for time to take breaks during the day, drink lots of water, and apply sunscreen rigorously. That summer sun is NO JOKE.
Autumn in Rome
Average High Temperatures: 62-81℉ (16-27℃)
Average Low Temperatures: 45-60℉ (7-15℃)
Another fabulous time to visit Rome is during the autumn months. Again, the weather is cooler and crowds are far fewer than summer months. But the days do tend to get a bit shorter as the fall months continue on. Another thing to keep in mind is that November tends to get a bit more rainfall as well as the winter months.
Winter in Rome
Average High Temperatures: 55-57℉ (12-13℃)
Average Low Temperatures: 38-40℉ (3-4℃)
Winter isn’t one of the more popular times to visit Rome but don’t let that deter you. Yes, the weather will be much more chilly and the outdoor scenery such as the gardens won’t be nearly as pretty, but off-season travel is great for busy places like the Colosseum and other popular attractions and museums. Keep in mind that daylight hours are much shorter during this time which means that many attractions change their hours as well.
Roman Holidays & Festivals
Although this section may not be applicable to your 3 days in Rome there are some holidays when restaurants, attractions, and shops close down so I would say that it would be best to avoid traveling to Rome during this time unless you want to visit Rome for a specific event. From what I understand, traveling to Italy in mid-August isn’t ideal due to Ferragosto and many attractions, restaurants, and shops are closed.
National Holidays in Rome
- January 1: New Year’s Day
- January 6: Epiphany
- Easter Sunday and Monday (Varies each year)
- April 21: Rome’s Birthday (Rome specific holiday)
- April 25: Liberation Day
- May 1: Labor Day
- June 2: Republic Day
- June 29: Saint Peter & Paul Day (Rome specific holiday)
- August 15: Ferragosto
- November 1: All Saint’s Day
- December 8: Immaculate Conception
- December 25: Christmas Day
- December 26: The Feast of Saint Stephen
How to Get to Rome
Getting to Rome by Plane
There are two airports located in Rome that you can fly into. The first is Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO) which is located around 20 miles from the city center. If you are flying internationally you will most likely fly in and/or out of this airport.
From FCO the best way to get to the city is a direct train called the Leonardo Express train that travels to Rome’s Termini Station or a local train from Trenitalia (an Italian train company) to get to Ostiense or Trastevere Stations.
The second airport in Rome is Ciampino (CIA) which is around 10 miles from downtown Rome. This airport is popular with many low-cost airlines.
There are no trains that link to CIA but there are shuttle buses that will take you from the airport to a few different stops. You can also consider taking a taxi which has a flat rate of €50 to/from FCO and €30 to/from CIA or coordinate with your hotel to see if they offer shuttle services.
Getting to Rome by Train
If you are planning to visit Rome from another city in Italy or another country in Europe then you can most likely find an easy route to Rome by train. When we visited Rome we came from Florence which has a direct route to Roma Centrale Station. Both Trenitalia and Italo, Italy’s two train companies have routes to Rome but Italo usually only has routes from other major cities while Trenitalia’s lines are a bit more expansive.
You can purchase your train tickets at any train station, online, or on the Trenitalia or Italo apps. There are also third-party websites that you can purchase tickets from that occasionally offer discounts but sometimes you have to exchange them at the station so be sure to get to the station early if that’s the case.
One important thing to remember when traveling by public transportation in Italy whether it’s between cities or from sight to sight is to validate your ticket. For tickets purchased in advance online or on one of the apps, you do not need to do this step because your ticket is already validated. However, if you purchase your ticket at a station you will need to do this or risk getting a hefty fine. Don’t worry, these small green machines to validate your tickets are all over the stations and it only takes a moment!
Transportation in Rome
Rome is a big city and by that, I mean that it’s pretty spread out! That’s why I tried to make this Rome itinerary as streamlined as possible so you wouldn’t have to constantly backtrack but there are a few times that you will simply because there is just so much to see and do! That being said, you will have to walk a lot in Rome but there are a number of public transportation options you can utilize as well.
Public Transportation in Rome
ATAC: Buses and trams
Metropolitana: The subway/Metro
Trenitalia: Commuter rail service
One of the most budget-friendly things to do is get a Roma24H ticket which is valid for 24 hours from the moment it’s first validated. It gives you access to all public transit in Rome including ATAC buses, COTRAL urban bus services, the Metro, and trains for Lido and Viterbo. However, if you are planning to buy the Roma Pass (more on this in a minute) buying a Roma24H ticket isn’t necessary because your transportation will be covered. We utilized both the buses and metro during our time in Rome and used Google Maps to determine timetables and stops.
Integrated Daily Ticket
|Roma24H||24 hours after first validation||€7|
|Roma48H||48 hours after first validation||€12.50|
|Roma72H||72 hours after first validation||€18|
|CIS (Carta Integrata Settimanale)||One week after first validation||€24|
A Quick Guide to the Roma Pass
If you plan to visit the majority of popular attractions in Rome then the Roma Pass is definitely worth considering. There is a 48-hour and 72-hour pass available for purchase. We bought the 72-hour Roma Pass for our 3 days in Rome and it was extremely easy to use. We ordered our passes online and picked them up at Roma Termini Station when we arrived in Rome.
For the 72-hour Roma pass, the first two attractions are covered whereas you get discounts to other main exhibits after. With the 48-hour pass, only the first attraction is covered and then you get discounts on the rest. The Roma Pass also covers public restrooms and all public transportation in Rome including the buses, streetcar, metro, and trains.
Once you order your Roma pass you’ll want to make reservations for some of the top sights like the Colosseum, Borghese Gallery, and more. You can do so on the Roma Pass website or by emailing Rome Pass directly with the dates, preferred times, and attractions. Keep in mind that only the first two places are free (it’s redeemed in consecutive order) and the rest are discounted.
Roma Pass Prices
Rome is one of the only Italian cities that actually offers rideshare like Uber however we found that taxis were much more affordable. We looked at Uber a few times and compared it to taxi rates and the Uber rates were twice the cost. This could have been due to the time we looked or the time of year (we were there in May) but I would encourage you to double-check prices so you don’t overpay!
That being said, taxis in Rome are fairly affordable and we used them on a few occasions when public transportation wasn’t as accessible or we needed to get somewhere a bit faster than our option by bus.
Walking in Rome
Rome is a relatively walkable city and in my opinion, taking public transportation doesn’t always save you time depending on where you’re staying and where you are going throughout your 3 days in Rome. There were many times we had to walk 10 minutes to get to a bus stop and then ride the bus for another 15-20 minutes when we could have just walked there within 20 minutes total.
BUT, an important thing to note is that if you plan to walk everywhere you will most likely feel very fatigued. That’s why planning out your Rome itinerary in a way that makes sense is extremely helpful!
Driving in Rome
As someone who has taken many road trips through other countries I can, without a doubt, say that driving in Rome is not only unnecessary, it’s a waste of time and money. Parking in Rome is difficult, traffic is heavy, and public transportation in Rome is accessible and affordable. If you plan on doing some driving in Italy it would be better to get your car after spending your time in Rome.
Rome Packing Guide
- Universal Adaptor: Italy takes what is called a Continental plug which has two or three round prongs at 220 volts so if you are arriving from somewhere like the United States you’ll definitely want a universal adaptor.
- Reusable Water Bottle: Since you’re going to be doing a lot of walking in Rome make sure you stay hydrated! Having a reusable water bottle is also nice in Rome because there are fountains that you can fill up with fresh, clean water all over the city!
- Comfortable Shoes: Again, with the amount of walking and standing you’re going to be doing be sure to bring comfortable shoes. Logan and I prefer tennis shoes with good insoles like the ones from Superfeet.
- Sweater, shawl, or scarf: If you are a woman visiting Rome in a warmer season and plan to wear shorts or sleeveless tops/dresses you will need to bring something to cover your legs and/or shoulders if you are planning to visit any places of worship such as the Pantheon or Vatican Museums. I brought a lightweight sweater for my trip in May and a hair scarf that I wore in my hair most of the day but took out when I went to the pantheon to act as a coverup for my shoulders.
- Portable Charger: You’re probably going to be using your phone a lot whether it be for directions, photos, or videos so one thing I recommend bringing is a portable charger with a charging cable so you can charge your phone on the go!
- Wool Socks: Logan and I both prefer wearing wool socks when traveling because they help wick away moisture and prevent odor. They’re also quite easy to clean in a sink or bath if you bring along some travel soap and lay them out to dry.
- Travel Insurance: We never go on an international trip without some sort of travel insurance! Some of our credit cards offer good travel insurance coverage for short trips but we also recommend SafetyWing and World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Wet Wipes/Hand Sanitizer: Wet wipes are great for wiping down your tray table on a plane and train, a table at an outdoor cafe, or a dirty seat. We usually bring a travel pack of these each time we go on a trip. While we frequently wash our hands, especially before eating, I also carry a small hand sanitizer for when we need it!
- Travel Umbrella: A small portable umbrella doesn’t add much weight to your backpack and saves you from having to purchase one in a pinch if it does start raining!
- Sunscreen: Regardless of what season you visit in bring sunscreen that is at least SPF 30. One of the worst things is to get a sunburn on a trip! Two of my favorites are Supergoop and La Roche-Posay.
- Small First Aid Kit: We always travel with a small DIY first aid kit when we travel that includes bandages, alcohol wipes, motion sickness medication (for flights or certain activities), ibuprofen, allergy medicine, and prescription medications. Again, you may not need all of these items but having a small first aid kit has proven helpful countless times for us!
CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES
I (Kallsy) dressed in a mix of prints and solids so I could mix and match what I wore on my Italy trip. I found that Italian fashion is classic and comfortable but you can truly wear whatever you feel best in. I will say that I didn’t bring shorts on my trip to Rome because I knew we’d be visiting a number of churches and I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of changing. I also prefer skirts, dresses, and pants to shorts.
- Skirts: I brought a variety of mid-length flowy skirts that worked well for warm weather and paired with my white tennis shoes.
- Dresses: I usually bring a few dresses on every trip because they’re comfortable and work well in a number of settings.
- Neutral Blouses/Tanks: I brought a beige, black, and dark green tank that paired well with my skirts.
- Pants: On most of my trips I bring one pair of my favorite jeans or a few pairs of my favorite pants because they go with everything!
- Bike Shorts: I usually bring a few pairs of bike shorts in tan and black so that I can wear them under my dresses and skirts. This allows me to not worry about my dress blowing up and prevents chafe when walking a lot (especially when it’s hot outside!).
- Shoes: As I mentioned above, I prefer wearing a nice pair of white tennis shoes when traveling but I also brought along some sandals that I had already broken in. Depending on the season you visit you might also consider bringing a pair of boots instead of sandals.
- Crossbody Purse: I always like having a purse for when I go to dinner instead of lugging around my backpack (although I do occasionally bring that with me to dinner instead!)
- PacSafe Backpack: I’ve had this backpack since 2018 and it’s my absolute favorite! I love that it’s stylish but also holds a lot. It has a number of extra security features too so you don’t have to worry as much about pickpockets or someone stealing your bag.
Logan’s wardrobe was a bit more minimalist for our trip to Rome and I think it really depends on the season. In the late spring, summer, and early fall shorts are great to wear in Rome because the weather can be hot. But in the fall, winter, and early spring, pants are a better choice.
- Shorts: Logan usually brings a combination of athletic shorts and nicer shorts to wear out.
- T-Shirts: Of course, the classic solid color t-shirt is great to bring in a variety of colors.
- Button-up Shirts (Short Sleeve and/or Long Sleeve): Again, pending the season and the activities you plan to do, a few short sleeve button up or long sleeve button up shirts are great to bring to Rome.
- Jeans: A nice pair or two of jeans are great to bring to Rome because they are versatile. You can also wear them to most restaurants if you are wanting to dress up a bit more than shorts.
- Dress Pants (optional): Logan didn’t bring any dress pants on this trip because none of the restaurants we ate at required them and the weather was nice and warm. But this is something he has brought on other trips.
Things to Know About Rome
- Rome is actually Roma in Italian. In fact, all Italian cities that you might be familiar with such as Venice and Florence are often referred to by their exonym but when you arrive in Italy they will be referred to by their Italian names. Which, makes sense considering well… you’re in Italy. So anyways, Rome = Roma!
- When visiting any religious building all visitors are expected to avoid short skirts, dresses, or shorts that fall above the knee, and shoulders and chests must be covered. If you are visiting in the summer you might consider bringing a light scarf as a shawl to cover up.
- When entering a restaurant or shop it is common to enter with a greeting. A simple good morning or hello should suffice.
- Regardless of where you are staying in Italy, the emergency call number is 113. It’s important to keep in mind that not all operators will speak English.
- Public restrooms are not commonplace so I recommend using the restroom whenever you’re at an attraction or at a restaurant.
Italian Phrases to Learn
I also recommend downloading Google Translate and also downloading Italian for free!
- Buongiorno → Good morning
- Buona sera → Good evening
- Grazie → Thank you
- Prego → You’re welcome
- Arrivederci → Good-bye
- Si/No → Yes/no
- Per favore → Please
- Scusi → Excuse me
- Parla inglese? → Do you speak English?
Areas of Rome
Rome is broken up into many different districts or areas and knowing a little about each one ahead of time is helpful for planning your Rome itinerary.
- Ancient Rome: Most people immediately think of Ancient Rome when people bring up this historic city. This area has the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum, and many other historic sites.
- Piazza Navona, Campo de’ Fiori, and the Jewish Ghetto: These areas are home to some of the most popular restaurants and attractions in Rome including the Pantheon.
- Piazza di Spagna: Here you’ll find the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and a number of upscale shopping areas.
- Repubblica and Quirinale: This area is considered to be a business area.
- Villa Borghese and Piazza del Popolo: Here you’ll find expansive gardens.
- Trastevere: This hip neighborhood has a number of restaurants and wine bars. In addition, you can get a great view from Janiculum Hill here.
- Aventino and Testaccio: Less touristy areas of Rome, more homes and working people.
- Vatican City: While most people include The Vatican as part of Rome interestingly enough it is an independent sovereign state. This is where the Pope resides and is also home to the popular St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums.
- Moni, Esquilino, Celio, San Lorenzo, San Giovanni, Pigneto, and the Via Appia Antica: Some of the least touristy neighborhoods with artisanal shops, restaurants, bars, boutiques, and more.
Where to Stay in Rome
Did I mention that Rome is huge yet? Haha! But seriously, picking a place to stay in Rome isn’t always an easy task! Especially when there are so many options to choose from like budget-friendly accommodations to high-end, luxury hotels. But of course, we also have to dive deeper into the neighborhoods of Rome! Don’t worry we’ll cover both.
- Vatican City: Personally, Vatican City wouldn’t be my top choice for an area to stay in for your 3 days in Rome unless you plan to spend the majority of your time there. It’s not especially close to other top attractions in Rome and transportation isn’t as readily available from my experience.
- Piazza Navona Area: This area is home to a number of good restaurants and many of Rome’s top attractions making it easily walkable and a favorable location. However, convenience comes at a price. Hotels often cost a bit more here and it can be a bit noisier at night depending on where you stay.
- Piazza di Spagna Area: This is where the majority of the high-end hotels are located so if you are looking for luxury, this is where you’ll want to look! However, keep in mind it isn’t as close to many of the top things to do in Rome.
- Repubblica: Near the train station which is a huge plus, especially if you are wanting to do day trips from Rome. Hotels here are often a bit less expensive than in other areas.
- Trastevere: This area of Rome has a number of terrific restaurants, hip bars, and cafes and is popular with a younger crowd.
Hotel Recommendations for Rome
BUDGET HOTELS IN ROME
Hotel Amalfi: We have stayed in Hotel Amalfi before on our first 3 days in Rome and found it to be conveniently located by Roma Termini Station and walkable from a few spots in this Rome itinerary. Overall we enjoyed our stay, the staff was so pleasant and I loved that each room has a gorgeous fresco painting on the ceiling. But being in a historic building, the room is quite small and the shower in our room was also tiny which made it hard for Logan to shower because of his height. Just something to keep in mind when booking this hotel! If we were to stay here again we’d book a room that has a balcony.
MID-RANGE HOTELS IN ROME
The Britannia Hotel: This historic 19th-century hotel is close to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and Roma Termini. But despite the age of the building, there is every modern luxury inside each of the 33 rooms here.
Marcella Royal Hotel: This hotel prides itself on offering its guests convenience, comfort, and affordability – even offering free breakfast. It is located in between Roma Termini and Villa Borghese making it a great location for this Rome Itinerary.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY HOTELS IN ROME
The Westin Excelsior: This 5-star hotel has been highly regarded for its impeccable service and comfortable rooms for families that are spacious! It is located close to Villa Borghese making it easily accessible to many other areas in Rome.
BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN ROME
Nerva Boutique Hotel: This hotel is located in the historical city center close to the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia making it walkable to many different attractions in Rome. It has beautifully decorated and comfortable rooms with great breakfast each morning.
The Liberty Boutique Hotel: This hotel is often described as a charming place to stay near many attractions in Rome. It has a number of luxurious amenities and a garden area for guests to enjoy. It is also close to Roma Termini making it convenient for airport access, day trips, and close to a number of bus stops.
LUXURY HOTELS IN ROME:
Hotel Palazzo Manfredi: This hotel is a historic villa that has been noted as one of the top “Small Luxury Hotels of the World.” Not only is this the decor stunning in this hotel, but the views are as well. In fact, it offers one of the best views of the Colosseum right outside the windows of their rooms and from their rooftop restaurant and bar.
Hotel Indigo Rome: This stunning hotel is located next to the Tiber River and a short distance from the Trastevere neighborhood and Vatican City making it perfect for finding great dining options and conveniently located within walking distance from a number of attractions. They have terrific service, comfortable and quiet rooms, great breakfast options, and a rooftop bar where you can enjoy a drink while looking out at the city lights in the evening.
Dining in Rome
Much like the rest of Italy (and many other parts of Europe), meals in Rome are often longer and later. I highly encourage you to make reservations at restaurants you want to visit. If you cannot make a reservation on the restaurant’s website see if they have an email address or social media account linked on their website that you can contact.
Otherwise, we have also contacted our hotels with the preferred reservation information so they can call and coordinate with the restaurant. Although having a reservation isn’t always required, it is highly recommended, especially during busy seasons.
Of course, there are some restaurants that don’t take reservations so be sure to get to them a little early so you can queue and have a backup plan in case you run short on time.
Each region of Italy has its own specialties and style of Italian cuisine. Rome is no different. However, one unique factor for Rome is that since it is the capital of Italy, it does have an influx of influence from other regional specialties.
Don’t worry, we’re going to give you a number of recommendations for places to eat in Rome!
What to Know About Restaurants in Rome
- Ristorante: Typically a more upscale, high-end, and expensive restaurant.
- Trattoria: A more relaxed, home-style, and traditional restaurant.
- Osteria: Casual wine bar that often sells food.
- Enoteca: Wine bars.
- Caffe: Counter service spot for coffee, pastries, or other quick bites.
How to Order Food in Italy
No matter what style of restaurant you choose you will most likely be expected to order at least two courses which usually consist of an antipasto (starter) and primo (first course – pasta/appetizer) or secondo (second course/main course). However, this rule does not apply to places like pizzerias where you can order just one dish.
Tipping in Rome
From what I understood of my time in Italy, tipping customs vary greatly by city. Although tips are universally not expected in Italy, it is common practice to leave a few euros at restaurants. Another thing to note is that it is common to see a small service fee on your bill.
Foods to Try in Rome
- Artichokes: In Rome, there are two traditional ways to try artichokes – carciofi alla romana which are artichokes filled with mint, garlic, and pecorino cheese then braised in olive oil, white wine, and water. The other way is carciofi alla giudia which are whole deep-fried artichokes.
- Fritti: A classic appetizer to get in Roman trattorias is fritti which are a variety of fried foods like fiori di zucca (zucchini flowers), suppli (rice balls stuffed with mozzarella), and more.
- Pizza: Another Italian staple and in Rome it comes in two varieties – tonda and al taglio. Tonda refers to a round pizza that has a very thin crust and is cooked in a wood-fired oven. On the flip side, al taglio pizza is a thicker, almost focaccia-style crust that is typically cut into squares and sold by weight.
- Cacio e pepe: Cacio e pepe directly translates to “cheese and pepper” which is practically what this pasta dish is! Although it sounds simple because the ingredients are so, it is a Roman staple and absolutely delicious!
- Bucatini all’amatriciana: This rich and spicy pasta dish is prepared with a red sauce made from tomatoes, crushed red pepper flakes, and the most important ingredient – guanciale or cured pork jowl.
- La Gricia: This pasta dish is very similar to bucatini all’amatriciana but instead of having a red sauce, it is made with pecorino cheese and cured pork jowl creating a lighter but savory flavor.
- Gelato: Of course, no trip to Italy would be complete without a little or in my case, a lot of gelato. If this is your first Italian gelato experience allow me to help you with some tips! As you may imagine, there are many gelaterias in Rome so it can be hard to pick one! My advice is to find one that has gelato with more “natural” looking gelato instead of ones brightly colored. Quality Italian gelato is more about using natural ingredients that pack a powerful flavor profile than making it look more appetizing or Instagrammable by adding food coloring. You also want to avoid places that have big scoops piled up on top of their gelato tins. True Italian gelato has a less frills presentation.
Places to Eat in Rome
CAFES/BREAKFAST IN ROME
- L’Antico Forno Di Piazza Trevi: Small cafe that’s close to the Trevi Fountain has good coffee and pastries.
- Molino: Cafe with freshly squeezed juices, delicious pastries, and full breakfast options plus pizza and sandwiches.
FRITTI IN ROME
- Mami: Specializes in a variety of fritti and pizza such as suppli, zucchini flowers, and codfish.
- Supplizio: Another small restaurant that has a variety of fritti including different styles of suppli and croquettes.
APERITIF SPOTS IN ROME
- Oro Bistrot: While this is a restaurant you can make a reservation for the terrace to enjoy some light snacks and drinks. An Aperol Spritz might cost you a bit more here but the views of the Imperial Forum and surrounding area are quite incredible.
- Pane e Salame: This bistro located close to the Trevi Fountain has huge platters of meats and cheeses to enjoy alongside some delicious Italian wines or another favorite drink.
PIZZA IN ROME
- Emma Pizzeria: Offers traditional Roman-style pizza with many fresh, organic ingredients.
- Li Rioni a Santiquattro: This pizza spot is close to the Colosseum. They have delicious pizza, fritti, and beers on tap. This was our favorite place for pizza in Rome!
- Bonci Pizzarium: Near Vatican City, Bonci serves up pizza al taglio which is sheet pans of pizza cut and sold by weight. This is a great place to try a number of different flavors of pizza.
- Pizzeria Dar Poeta: Another place for great Roman pizza located in the Trastevere neighborhood.
PASTA IN ROME
- Osteria da Fortunata: This restaurant was recommended to us by so many people we had to check it out! Although it is a bit touristy, the food was still excellent! One of my favorite things was watching the staff make the pasta right next to our table.
- Trattoria Da Enzo al 29: This is a well-known restaurant in Rome that serves up a number of traditional dishes, they have no reservations but you can queue. Just make sure to show up early!
- Roma Sparita: We make an effort to visit restaurants that have been visited by the late Anthony Bourdain and Roma Sparita is one of those. We had the best experience here and loved the ambiance.
DESSERTS + GELATO IN ROME
- Gelateria del Teatro: Delicious gelato made daily that has a number of unique flavors such as ricotta, fig, & almond, chocolate wine, and candied orange.
- Giolitti: This is a very popular gelato shop in Rome and it makes sense why! They have many traditional flavors to try and even some pastries to select from.
- Regoli Pasticceria: Well-known pastry shop that sells delicious pastries such as strawberry cream tarts and maritozzi con panna, a Roman sweet bread with cream.
- Two Sizes: If you’re looking for tiramisu this is the spot for you! They have a few different flavors like caramel, pistachio, and original in, of course, two sizes.
3 DAYS IN ROME: DAY ONE
Considering much of Rome is so spread out, Ancient Rome is a relatively compact area making it easy to get to these attractions by foot. However, because of its long history, I recommend spending a full day in Ancient Rome if you want to truly immerse yourself in the sights and history here.
I also want to say that having an audio guide is essential when visiting Ancient Rome (guided tours are also very informational!) So many times we would walk by something that looked like regular rocks only to find out they had special historical significance due to our audioguide. We used the free Rick Steves Europe audioguide app for most of our Ancient Rome tours but you can rent an audioguide for around 6 euros at most places as another option.
APPROXIMATE TIME NEEDED: 1-2 hours (depending on how you tour)
Kicking it off with one of Rome’s top spots, the Colosseum! The Colosseum was built between 72 AD and 80 AD when Rome was at its peak. Its original name was the Flavian Amphitheater and it was a venue that would become a monumental part of Roman history.
At the pinnacle of its time, the size of the Colosseum was truly impressive at 160 feet high and nearly a third of a mile around. It was covered with brightly painted trim and had statues of Greek and Roman gods placed mindfully in the arches of the second story overlooking the arena grounds.
The Colosseum could hold over 50,000 people who came to observe gladiators ruthlessly fight one another to the death. The games were always free to all and were sponsored by the wealthiest in order to bribe the people’s approval.
At the base of the Colosseum were the ringside seats which were reserved for the emperor, politicians, and other important people. The next level was for nobles followed by ordinary Roman citizens. At the top, what we’d call the “nosebleed” section you would have found wooden bleachers for everyone else – those who were considered poor, foreigners, the majority of women, and those enslaved.
One thing I found amusing was that the seats that the emperor and other nobles sat in were in direct sun so they had to endure the blistering heat whereas the seats reserved for those deemed poor got to enjoy the shade.
At its inauguration in 80 AD, there was a festival held for 100 days. During this time, it is said that 2,000 men and 9,000 animals were killed starting a grotesque tradition that would last for over 500 years. It is estimated that within these 500 years over 50,0000 people and 1 million animals lost their lives here. Honestly, it’s pretty horrific to think about this being such a popular spectator “sport.”
When planning your 3 days in Rome I would suggest booking tickets for the Colosseum first thing in the morning (before 10am) or in the late afternoon (after 4pm). Regardless of when you visit, it will be crowded but those time frames seem to be best in order to avoid the more crowded times and the heat of the day.
There are three different ways I recommend visiting the Colosseum:
- Paying for a guided tour of the Colosseum. This will give you a more personalized experience and additional information compared to audioguides. The only downfall is that group tours tend to take a bit more time than using an audioguide and touring the Colosseum independently.
- Renting an audio guide provided by the Colosseum. Keep in mind that sometimes there are lines to get audio guides too so PLAN FOR A LITTLE EXTRA TIME THERE.
- Downloading the Rick Steves Audio Europe app and listening to the free Audio Tour of the Colosseum (make sure you download the app and the guides you think you’ll use before visiting!). This is what we did for our tour of the Colosseum and found it to be informational. Just make sure you have your headphones!
LOCATION: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
HOURS: 9am-7:15pm daily
COST: €16 (includes entry to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill)
APPROXIMATE TIME NEEDED: 1 hour-1.5 hours
After visiting the Colosseum head over to the Roman Forum which was the once-booming center of ancient Rome once full of marble buildings, temples, markets, and homes. You’ll make your way down the Via Sacra, the main street within the forum, which runs through a path of trees and between the building ruins. It is here on this road that parades were held when Roman generals returned with treasures from their conquering.
Within the forum, you’ll find a number of historical sights that without an audio guide (or guided tour) we would have thought were just a pile of rocks. But everything has significance here. Some of the sites you’ll find here are still in good condition or are able to be imagined at their prime such as the Arch of Titus, Basilica of Constantine, the Temple of Antoninus Pius, and Faustina, and the Temple of Vesta, one of Rome’s most sacred places. There is also the Temple of Julius Caesar which is where his body was burned after his assassination in 44 BC.
LOCATION: Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6, 00186 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
HOURS: 9am-7:15pm daily
COST: €16 (includes entry to the Colosseum and Palatine Hill)
APPROXIMATE TIME NEEDED: 30 minutes
Near the Roman Forum, you’ll find Palatine Hill which is considered to be the birthplace of Rome. Today you’ll find ruins of Roman Imperial palaces, temples, and baths but what really stands out is the fabulous view of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum from above. The walk is steep but the view is worth it!
LOCATION: 00186 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy // MAP
APPROXIMATE TIME NEEDED: 1 hour
After your visit to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill consider heading over to Circus Maximus for a really unique way to see ancient Rome. Although this spot doesn’t seem like much at first glance, it is a famous historical site once known for chariot races. While much of its grandeur has since been demolished and grown over, you can experience what it once was with augmented and virtual reality headsets! There are eight different stops on this virtual tour giving you a glimpse of what life looked like in Ancient Rome and the dramatic chariot races.
LOCATION: Via del Circo Massimo, 00186 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
HOURS: Tuesday-Sunday 9:30am-7pm (summer) 9:30am-4:30pm (winter)
COST: €12 regular admission, €10 Roma Pass and under 26, €22 family pass (two adults, two children), or free admission for those under age 6.
Mouth of Truth
APPROXIMATE TIME NEEDED: 15-30 minutes
Now I’ll admit that the Mouth of Truth could be a bit overrated for some, it’s been a place I’ve wanted to visit ever since watching Roman Holiday and even more so one of my favorite romance movies, Only You. If you’ve seen either of these movies you’ll immediately recognize this carving that appears to be of a man’s face. While the Mouth of Truth is popular due to the movies, it is also visited due to a famous myth. It is said that the Mouth of Truth bites off the hand of people who lie!
Next to the Mouth of Truth is Santa Maria in Cosmedin which you can visit after testing your luck at the Mouth of Truth. It’s a small church but does have an interesting attraction inside, a crypt! The Crypt of Adrian I was created by Pope Adrian I and once held many relics belonging to the church.
LOCATION: Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18, 00186 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
COST: Free to visit
APPROXIMATE TIME NEEDED: 30 minutes
While the Colosseum is always busy, the nearby Marcello Theater which is wildly similar to the Colosseum is not as crowded! At least from our experience. But while Marcello Theater does resemble the Colosseum the events that took place here were vastly different. It was more known for the arts such as plays, theater, singing, and music. Marcello Theater was started by Julius Caesar and was completed around 17 BC.
TIP: If you wanted to get a nice photo at the Colosseum but were surrounded by 150,000 other people then try for Marcello Theater!
LOCATION: Via del Teatro di Marcello, 00186 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
HOURS: Open 24 hours
COST: Free to visit
3 DAYS IN ROME: DAY TWO
Vatican City is one of the most interesting places to visit in Rome as it is technically its own sovereign state. It is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and the home of the Pope. I’ve had a few people ask me, “if I’m not religious or Catholic will I still enjoy visiting Vatican City?” To that I say, it depends! I still think it’s interesting to visit at least once because the Vatican Museums are quite expansive and the Sistine Chapel has long been held as one of the most impressive works of art around the world!
St. Peter’s Basilica
APPROXIMATE TIME NEEDED: 2-3 hours (depending on the line)
The first place in the Vatican City area I recommend visiting is St. Peter’s Basilica which is the largest cathedral in the world. In fact, this monumental church took 120 years to build! But its grandeur doesn’t stop there. It also has the world’s largest dome where you can either climb up the 551 steps or take a lift to the terrace and climb the remaining 320 steps to get to the top for a fantastic panoramic view of Rome.
St. Peter’s is also home to Michelangelo’s Pietà sculpture and the entire basilica is full of beautiful artwork. I recommend starting your day here because as the day goes on, it only gets busier! In fact, when we walked by in the late afternoon after visiting the Vatican Museums, the line was wrapped around the church and the street! Be prepared to queue for around 2 hours unless you purchase skip-the-line tickets!
LOCATION: Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City // MAP
HOURS: 7am-7pm (April-September), 7am-6:30pm (October-March), Dome: 7:30am-5pm
COST: Free to visit
Vatican Museums & the Sistine Chapel
APPROXIMATE TIME NEEDED: 3-4 hours
After visiting St. Peter’s Basilica head over to the Vatican Museums. The Vatican Museums are an expansive collection of historical pieces, art, and sculptures that have been acquired by the Catholic Church from all different centuries. It is also home to some of the most prominent works of art from the Renaissance era.
Once again, there are guided tours you can book of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel that last around 3 hours. Another option is to rent an audio guide from the museum or use the Rick Steves Europe Audioguide app for a free audioguide of the museums and the Sistine Chapel (make sure you bring your headphones!).
After making your way through the Vatican Museums you’ll reach the Sistine Chapel which is by far, one of the most famous places in the world. Michelangelo, who was normally a sculptor, spent 4 years painting the Sistine Chapel.
Keep in mind that while you can take photos throughout much of the Vatican Museums, photos and video in the Sistine Chapel are strictly prohibited. You are also asked to respect this place of worship by remaining as quiet as possible. Cannot take photos inside the Sistine Chapel but you can photograph other areas without flash.
Another important thing to know about the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel is the dress code. Much like other places of worship all people are expected to have knees, shoulders, and necklines covered. For men, hats must be removed when entering the chapel. Although pants are preferred for men, they can wear shorts as long as they don’t come far above the knee. They will strictly enforce this! In fact, we saw some people try to get away with tank tops or shorts and they were turned away and had to purchase a scarf from a nearby vendor.
LOCATION: Via Paolo VI, 29, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City // MAP
HOURS: 9am-6pm, Closed Sundays (except the last Sunday of the month)
COST: €17 adults, €8 reduced ticket, €4 students
APPROXIMATE TIME NEEDED: 2 hours
Near Vatican City is Castel Sant’Angelo, a massive fortress that dates back as early as 139 AD. This castle was originally built for Emperor Hadrian who intended it to be used as his mausoleum but it has served many purposes over the years including as a safeguard for the Pope and as a prison.
Today Castel Sant’Angelo is an open-air museum and while it isn’t lavishly decorated like it once was, it’s still a fascinating place to visit. Don’t miss the upper floor terrace where you can get a spectacular view of Vatican City and Rome from above.
Like many of the other places I have mentioned, Castel Sant’Angelo offers guided tours but if you want to explore on your own I recommend renting one of their audioguides.
LOCATION: Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
HOURS: 9am-7:30pm daily
COST: €14 adults, €7 discounted ticket
St. Angelo Bridge
When walking out of Castel Sant’Angelo you’ll immediately see St. Angelo Bridge. This historic bridge was built in 134 AD and has a number of neat statues to look at as you make your way across. During the day you’ll notice artists, musicians, and street vendors nearby or on the bridge but at night the vibe is bit different with the bridge lit up causing the Tiber River below to glisten.
LOCATION: Ponte Sant’Angelo, 00186 Roma // MAP
Explore the Trastevere Neighborhood
The Trastevere neighborhood is well-known for its historic medieval houses, narrow cobblestone alleys, and some of the best restaurants in Rome. If you have some energy after spending all day around Vatican City I recommend spending some time getting lost in the streets here. However, there are a few things to do in the Trastevere neighborhood.
- Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere: This church dates back to the 3rd century and has been often referred to as the first official Christian church in Rome. Of course, inside the church, you’ll find many stunning paintings, frescoes, and mosaics. // MAP
- Belvedere del Gianicolo: Although there are a number of epic viewpoints to get a sight of Rome, this is another that has a breathtaking 360° view of the entire city that is perfect for viewing at sunset. // MAP
- Villa Farnesina: This villa contains a number of art pieces including many by Raphael. // MAP
If you still have some energy left after exploring Trastevere and eating dinner walk over to Tiber Island. This small island is a great spot to grab an after-dinner drink and if you haven’t had dinner yet, a lot of restaurants are here too!
LOCATION: 00186 Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy // MAP
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3 DAYS IN ROME: DAY THREE
TREVI FOUNTAIN + BORGHESE GALLERY & GARDENS
The Trevi Fountain is another one of Rome’s most iconic places to visit. It was completed in 1762 and is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome. Truly, it was so much more magnificent than I even imagined prior to visiting. If you want to enjoy a peaceful moment at the Trevi Fountain I recommend visiting before 9am. There will still be some people there but it won’t be nearly as crowded as it is later in the day.
There is a tradition at the Trevi Foutain where you can throw a coin in the water of the fountain with your right hand over your left shoulder. In doing so, the legend states you will return to Rome. If you toss in two coins you’ll return to Rome and fall in love in Rome and with three coins, you’ll end up marrying that person in Rome! It’s a fun little thing to do to add some excitement to your visit. You might be wondering, what happens to the coins in the fountain? They’re actually donated to charities.
Another thing I recommend while visiting the Trevi Fountain is to visit Vicus Caprarius, a nearby small museum that leads you to the underground area of the Trevi Fountain. If you are visiting the Trevi Fountain early in the morning you’ll have to backtrack to do this since it opens later in the day.
LOCATION: Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
HOURS: Open 24 hours
Borghese Gallery and Museum
APPROXIMATE TIME NEEDED: 1.5-2 hours
The Borghese Gallery and Museum are located in a former villa and contain a wide collection of 15th to 18th-century artworks many of which are pieces by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Caravaggio. The collections span twenty different rooms in the Villa.
LOCATION: Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
HOURS: Friday-Tuesday 9am-7pm, Wednesday 9am-10pm, Thursday 9am-9pm, Closed Mondays
After visiting the Borghese Gallery be sure to take some time to explore the Borghese Gardens. You can also rent different kinds of bikes at this Ascol Bike to explore the property which is what I recommend doing because the gardens are quite expansive.
A few top spots to visit in the gardens are:
- Temple of Asclepius which is located on a lake where you can rent boats.
- Terrazza del Pincio: A 19th-century terrace with prime views of Rome.
LOCATION: Viale dell’Uccelliera, 3, 00197 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
COST: Free to visit
Piazza di Spagna & the Spanish Steps
Another famous area in Rome is Piazza di Spagna which is home to the Spanish Steps and some of the most popular shopping areas in Rome for high-end, luxury brands to boutique stores. The Spanish Steps were built in 1723-1725 and have 135 steps to get to the top! One thing to keep in mind when visiting the Spanish Steps is that you can apparently be fined for sitting on them, so be sure to not try to have a picnic here.
At the foot of the Spanish Steps make sure to take a look at Fontana della Barcaccia which is a Baroque-style fountain you’ll find at the foot of the Spanish Steps. This fountain was built as part of a Papal project that set to build a fountain in every major piazza in Rome.
LOCATION: Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
COST: Free to visit
APPROXIMATE TIME NEEDED: 45 minutes-1 hour (with audioguide)
One of the most ancient and monumental structures in Rome is the Pantheon. It was completed between 126-128 AD and was originally dedicated to the pagan gods of Rome but was later converted to a Christian church.
Keep in mind that since this is a place of worship be sure to wear proper clothing or you won’t be allowed inside (chest, shoulders, and knees are to be covered for men and women). Another thing to note is that is it required to book a visit if you’re going on a Saturday, Sunday, or Roman Holiday.
LOCATION: Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
HOURS: Sunday 9am-5:45pm, Monday-Saturday 8:30am–7:15pm
COST: Free to visit
Piazza Navona is another of Rome’s historic city centers and has been considered one of the most popular. It was commissioned in 86 CE and has a unique elongated shape because it was built with the purpose of being a performance center for athletic competitions. Today it is a bustling area with street vendors, restaurants, shops, museums, and fountains. Here you can find the iconic Fiumi Fountain which signifies the four great rivers – the Donau, Ganges, Nile, and Rio de la Plata.
LOCATION: Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
Largo di Torre Argentina
Although most of Largo di Torre Argentina is currently under construction and restoration, I still feel it’s worth adding to the Rome Itinerary because the plans they have for it are impressive. This square consists of four temples and the remains of Pompey’s Theatre. It is also the famous place where Caesar’s assassination happened and while there is a lot of history there, another reason this attraction is popular is it is now home to a colony of cats! Don’t worry, as the construction project is underway for Largo di Torre Argentina, the cats are here to stay! In fact, this cat sanctuary has offered spaying, neutering, and adoption programs here since 1993 and is protected by Italian Law.
LOCATION: Largo di Torre Argentina, 00186 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
Piazza del Campidoglio & Altar of the Fatherland
APPROXIMATE TIME NEEDED: 2 hours
Piazza del Campidoglio has a ton of museums and churches including Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara Coeli, the Capitoline Museums, and views of the Imperial Forum.
One of the most impressive in this area is the Altar of the Fatherland which was inaugurated in 1911 as a tribute to the first king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II, and for the legacy of a united, independent, democratic Italy. But don’t forget to admire the outside upon arrival or before you leave. The glistening white marble columns and stairs really add to the beauty of the architecture here.
LOCATION: Piazza Venezia, 00186 Roma RM, Italy // MAP
HOURS: 9:30am-7:30pm (spring and summer) and 9:30am-4:30pm (fall and winter)
We are already looking forward to our next trip to Rome so we can keep adding to this Rome itinerary! Not to mention, I’m missing the cacio e pepe and gelato already. Which of these things are you most looking forward to for your 3 days in Rome?
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